Axiom 4: Keep clear and open communications.
Eremiel grumbled to himself as he drifted along, following the same path that he’d traced out for the last two months. The grumbling was odd, particularly because Eremiel hadn’t noticed how odd his grumbling truly was.
Angels don’t grumble. What is there for them to grumble about? They are the beloved of God, the chosen messengers who carry his Word far and wide, to all reaches of the Heavens and the Earth. They get to sit and attend with their creator, the most Divine One.
In short, they have the kind of job that would make a recruiter bite a pencil in half.
There’s no reason for an angel to grumble. Besides, even if one of them did entertain thoughts that cast doubt on the incredible kindness and munificence of his employer, he had only to remember what happened to the last angel to raise a few quarrelsome points, and he’d quickly change his tune.
And yet, despite all of this, Eremiel grumbled to himself as he floated onward.
At the moment, he was growling about a small rock.
The rock was really not very different from the hundreds of thousands of other rocks around him. Along his path, stretching exactly one hundred thousand cubits in a perfect circle, he encountered well over ten million rocks.
And in the last sixty days, he’d come to recognize each and every one of them, each with its own unique, slightly different flavor of loathing.
Rocks didn’t do anything. Sure, he understood why the Almighty needed rocks in the universe. All of his great creations had to stand, or fly, or swim, or wriggle, on top of something. Rocks, being so utterly boring, seemed like the perfect display material, not interesting enough to ever detract from the beauty of the creations that the Almighty placed on top of them.
So yes, from a logical, rational standpoint, Eremiel understood the importance of rocks. He understood the importance of every single bit of matter that existed in the known universe, how all of it served the Greater Purpose.
He was very clear on that.
However, he wasn’t so happy with one rock, the small rock that had become the target of his grumbling and annoyance. Until very recently, that small rock had sat on top of a larger pile of bigger rocks, not really doing much aside from conserving its considerable potential energy. It sat there, balanced in the complex interplay between gravity, the strong nuclear force, and the occasional stiff breeze.
Up until one especially stiff breeze swept along, and that small rock decided to shift a little to its left.
On its own, that shifting didn’t do much to change the world around it. But that small rock happened to land on a large rock, which was quite busy with its own balancing act and really didn’t have the time to listen to the small rock’s input. Thrown off balance, both of the rocks tumbled down, landing on more rocks, throwing the whole system further out of whack, until eventually, it all came crashing down.
Right on top of Eremiel’s left wing.
Now, the Almighty created his angels with the intention of making them, if not totally invulnerable, quite durable. They would have to last until the End of Time, after all. No sense in building an angel that fell apart after just a few millenia. And angels were expected to suffer the occasional accident – fall into a ditch, get attacked by angry dinosaurs, accidentally materialize in the middle of a supernova – and survive.
For this reason, Eremiel didn’t bother using his full angelic speed to throw himself out of the way of the falling rocks, and instead ended up catching a heavy blow on his left wing. The wing still functioned, naturally, but it ached something awful, and Eremiel kept on having to fight the temptation to land and massage the wing for a while.
After all, he’d patrolled this passage more than a thousand times, traveling in the same circle, and he never saw anything but rocks. Why did he have to stay on this course? Who would know if he took a couple minutes to rest out his wing, stretch the powerful muscles, and maybe give a couple of these damn rocks a savage good kicking?
No one would know, Eremiel told himself.
Of course, he grumbled, that wasn’t enough motivation to make him stop. He’d keep on doing his duty, carrying out the patrols that his superior had commanded him to undertake. He was an angel, after all, and no angel ever shirked his duty.
But it really wouldn’t kill his superiors to recognize that devotion to duty.
Even just a note, or a little fanfare of Heavenly trumpets when he passed this big rock up ahead, the one shaped like a funny carrot, for the ten thousandth time. After all, he was a Cherub of the First Choir, on the verge of a promotion, and he felt like his valuable work here ought to be recognized.
Instead, however, he knew that he’d just circle around the rock shaped like the funny carrot, and then he’d see more rocks. Nothing but rocks, now. The End of Days had come and gone, now, and the Rapture took away everyone who mattered.
Leaving the suckers like Eremiel to continue patrolling around the dead, empty planet left behind.
He came up on the rock, curving around. Dear Host in Heaven, his wing ached. Perhaps after another lap, if he still didn’t see any signs that he was being observed, he might take a moment to give it a rest.
Just a moment. Surely, he wouldn’t get in trouble for taking only a second or two.
With his thoughts momentarily distracted by the strangely compelling mental image of sitting down, perhaps kicking a few of these rocks to show them who their heavenly boss was, Eremiel didn’t notice that the path ahead of him seemed a little narrower than he remembered. He didn’t even see the thin, metallic strands of some sort of cable, stretching across the passageway in a criss cross web, a bit like a large spider’s drunken attempt at spinning a web to catch her prey.
He only looked up when the strands bumped against his chest, wrapping around and further impeding his wings.
“Now, what is this?” Eremiel began, feeling like the whole world had it out for him today.
In answer, the rocks on both sides tumbled down on him, the wires pulling tightly around his body and dragging him down to the ground.