Guarding the Borders of Heaven

A short standalone Angels story.

Seraphel, standing beside the portal, couldn’t hold back from sighing as he saw the approaching procession.  Of course, since angels didn’t need to breathe, they really didn’t have to sigh, either, but he felt that it appropriately expressed his mood.

The angel approaching his portal didn’t look quite right.  The wings were sagging, and the halo appeared to be held up with the help of a chopstick and some duct tape.  Instead of glowing with holy light, it had been painted yellow with reflective spray paint.

The “angel” was also pushing a large trolley, on top of which sat several cardboard boxes.  The boxes seemed to be shifting and twitching more than was appropriate for inanimate objects.  The “angel” was struggling a fair bit to get the trolley to roll over the clouds leading up to the portal, but he was still creeping forward.

“Hold it,” Seraphel said, putting out one hand as the other “angel” approached.  He didn’t draw his flaming sword, but he lowered one hand to its hilt, at the waist of his robes.

The “angel” stopped, looking rather frustrated.  “Yeah?” he grunted in gravelly tones.

Again, Seraphel sighed.  “Come on,” he said in gentle tones, still hoping he wouldn’t have to do any smiting.  It always made the air taste all greasy and unpleasant.  “You can’t really be hoping to fool me with this getup.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” came the reply.  “I’m an angel, same as you.”

Seraphel’s eyes narrowed.  “Do you really think I’m that stupid?” he asked, a note of irritation creeping into his voice.  “Your wings are definitely made of cardboard, and one of my kind would never actually push a trolley to move a shipment of things.”

“Oh yeah?” the other figure challenged.  “What would you do then, huh, flappy?”

Ignoring the dig at his wings, Seraphel pointed at the boxes and lifted one immaculate finger.  On their own, the boxes rose up and floated off the trolley, hovering in the air.  Another little twist of his finger, and they flipped upside down, and several rather dirty looking humans came tumbling out onto the clouds.

The angel didn’t feel that he had to say anything more to prove his point.  Instead, he just crooked an eyebrow at the imposter who had been trying to get through the portal.  It was a look that Seraphel had practiced for several centuries, and he was very good at it.

The men on the ground were complaining as they climbed to their feet.  “What gives, man?” asked one, angrily shoving his disguised companion.

The “angel” just shrugged.  “I told you it wouldn’t fool him,” he said.  “They’re not as dumb as devils, you know.”

Seraphel nodded.  “Very true,” he approved.

The disguised man gave him a nod as his companions finished crawling out of the boxes.  “I mean, we gotta try, you know,” he said, trying to explain himself.  “The demons may be dumb as a bunch of rocks, sure, but they still keep trying to do the whole “flay the skin from your body” thing.  I mean, after a couple weeks we all work out that we can’t feel anything, but they don’t get that.  We’ve tried explaining it a hundred times.”

It was all true, but there still wasn’t anything that Seraphel could do about it.  “Better luck next time, I suppose,” he offered.  “Besides, it’s still Hell, you know.  You have to serve out your immortal judgement there.”

“Oh, bugger that,” the disguised man replied, to the murmured agreement of his companions.  The anger had gone out of his voice, however, and he wasn’t making any confrontational moves.  “One of these days, Seraphel.  We’ll get through eventually.”

“Keep on trying,” the angel replied, not unkindly.  He knew that he was assigned to prevent damned souls from getting into Heaven, but he had to admit that he felt a little sorry for them.  Besides, it was a nice break from the monotony of standing beside this portal throughout the millenia.  At least they were creative.  “Maybe next time I won’t notice.”

Seraphel’s hand was still on his flaming sword, but he decided to give the men a break.  “Do I really need to smite you?” he asked.

“Nah,” the man replied, bending down to toss the empty cardboard boxes back onto the trolley.  “I know how you dislike the smell.  We’ll take our time walking back.”

Seraphel leaned back against the gate as he watched the men leave.  One of the fellows who had been hidden in the boxes was still angrily complaining, but he was new.  He’d settle into the natural rhythm soon enough.

Sure, being a border guard was a rather dull job most of the time, but at least it had interaction with mortals.  That helped keep it interesting.

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