Axiom 4: Keep clear and open communications.
So, one question: how do you go about capturing an angel?
The question proved to be a lot harder than I, or even Alice, anticipated.
The answers, however, began with a trip to the hardware store.
“What are we doing here again?” I complained as I tried to adjust the straps of the backpack slung over my shoulders. We weren’t even halfway through the store, yet, and Alice had already loaded me up with at least twenty pounds of stuff. “And why do we need all of this crap?”
“We need data, Jack,” Alice replied immediately, not stopping. I watched as she paused to hoist a spool of thick wire, and groaned as she turned to me, holding it out to me. “We can’t make bread without flour.”
“We’re making bread?”
She huffed out a sigh. I couldn’t help noticing that a few strands of her dark hair had floated loose from her ponytail, and bobbed around her head from the exhalation. A little part of me itched to tuck those back behind her ear, but I fought the urge. It seemed like a good way for me to ruin the tenuous balance between us.
“No, we’re not making bread,” she responded, turning away to continue down the aisle. “We need to find out more about the limits of these angels if we want to capture one.”
“And all this,” I adjusted the straps of the backpack again, trying to find some spot on my shoulder that wasn’t sore and bruised, “is going to help us? How?”
“You’ll see,” Alice replied, and smiled at me – before handing me a small but very heavy pair of bolt cutters.
Eventually, my backpack could hold nothing more, and Alice declared herself satisfied. We made the laborious trek back to my home base – but as soon as we arrived back, she immediately jumped up again, turning around to head back out.
“Now what?” I gasped, dropping the incredibly heavy bag down on the ground with a sigh of relief, and then collapsing into a chair. I needed about ten hours of recovery, and a gallon of water to drink, I decided.
“Now, we need to go set up our traps!” she exclaimed, popping the backpack open and digging through it. “Come on, I need your help for this!”
“Alice, I’m exhausted!” I managed to drag myself out of the chair to grab a bottle of water. Lukewarm, since the refrigerator didn’t have any power, but at least it was wet. “Can’t we take a break? Is there really any rush?”
“I hate waiting,” she complained, but she reluctantly perched on a chair across from me.
I propped my feet up, drained half of the bottle of water in a single swallow, and sighed. “Yeah, I’ve kind of picked up on that. Really, you need to learn how to just relax and take it easy, stop acting like you’re being timed for everything.”
“So I should be more like you?” she challenged. “Not care about trying to change my situation at all? Just accept everything that happens to me without fighting back?”
I tried to give her my best smile, spreading my arms to take in my base. “You have to admit, it’s working out pretty well for me so far.”
She didn’t laugh, but she did at least give me a few minutes of recovery time before she hopped back up to her feet and dragged me up, out of the chair.
“Fine, fine. So what are we doing, anyway?” I asked, groaning as she tugged me out through the front door of my base.
“We’re going to lay traps for the angels of varying strengths, and see whether they can break free,” she replied, looking around as we stepped out into the afternoon sun. I did the same, making sure that none of those massive, flying creatures was in the area, before we risked stepping out from the safety of our shelter.
She pointed off down one path through the rubble. “I’ve been watching from the roof for the last day or two. I know some of the places where they always go by, heading along the same path. We’ll string up some wires of different thicknesses, and see whether the angels can break through them.”
“Of course they can break through – they’ve got swords!” I pointed out, amazed that Alice missed this obvious fact.
She turned around and glared at me, continuing backwards down the path. “I know that, idiot. We’re just testing if they can break through the wire, or if it stops them. After we’ve found a thickness of wire that they can’t just drift through, we can lay a real trap for them.”
I still didn’t fully understand, but Alice seemed to have her plan all mapped out. I thought about arguing, but decided that it would end up being easier in the long run to just go along with her strange orders.
We spent the next hour or so pulling different pieces of wire across the track, wrapping them around boulders on either side and making knots with the needle nose pliers. By the time that we finished, the entire place looked a bit like a spider’s web, if that spider had been drunk off its ass and able to make strands out of copper and steel. I thought it looked like a disaster, but Alice planted her hands on her hips and grinned with approval at the work.
I was about to point out how crazy this all seemed, but as I opened my mouth to speak, my ears caught a soft flapping noise. My eyes went wide, and I saw from Alice’s expression of surprise that she also heard the sound.
“Get down!” she hissed as she dove at me, dragging me back behind a boulder.
My heart beat rapidly in my chest. I’d always seen the angels drifting around from a distance, never up this close. What if they had heat vision, or super hearing, and somehow knew that we were hiding nearby? I remembered how that Furby had exploded in the angel’s hand, and I shuddered.
“Hold still,” Alice whispered in my ear. She had dragged me back into the shadows behind some rubble, but I still felt horribly exposed. A tiny little bit of me noticed that Alice’s warm body was pressed up against mine, but I couldn’t spare the brain power right now to focus on that sensation.
We waited, all but holding our breath, as the angel drew slowly closer.