Axiom 5: Learn as much as possible.
Inside the Starbucks building, Eremiel didn’t grow any less snotty.
“I always forget how dirty you mortals tend to be,” he commented, looking around with distaste. “Compared to the Shining City, you always seem to have dirt bits everywhere, stuck in all the corners.”
“Well, with the whole end of the world and all, we don’t have as much time to clean up and kep things tidy,” I grumped back at him. “You know, since we’re focused mostly on just trying to stay alive and such.”
Eremiel just sniffed and kept on wandering around the interior, looking disdainful.
This time, when I saw Alice glaring at him, I knew exactly how she felt – and agreed with her.
Finally, Eremiel turned to one of the large armchairs. He waved a hand at it, and clouds of dust flew out of the chair, spiraling up on magically summoned gusts of air and sweeping through the doors to outside. I grimaced as a tiny line of little black dots also streamed out of the chair, wiggling their way outside on a multitude of little segmented black legs.
Once he’d magically cleansed the chair, the angel flopped down in it, his pale legs splaying out in front of him as his toga-like robe slid up. He crossed his legs to stack his golden sandals on top of each other. He closed his eyes, looking as if he wanted nothing more than to take a nap.
“What, did flying up here tire him out?” Alice demanded, not bothering to keep her voice down.
Eremiel cracked one eye open, glaring up at my female companion. “I’m attempting to communicate with the forces of Heaven, mortal,” he snapped, before closing the single eye again.
Alice squeezed her lips shut until they were a thin line, but looking over at me, she waved her hands in the air as if to mock the angel’s “look at me, I’m so important and powerful” attitude. I nodded and kept my mouth shut, already guessing that this tension between my two companions would lead to further issues.
After a minute of watching Eremiel sit still with his eyes shut and Alice glare at him with rage in her eyes, I decided to intervene. I reached out and caught Alice’s elbow, leading her into the back area of the coffee shop. She growled at me for touching her, but let me guide her away from the meditating angel.
“Listen, I think we need to give him a chance,” I said as soon as I’d closed the door. I didn’t know how powerful Eremiel’s hearing truly was, but maybe he was too distracted by his psychic communication to pay attention to us. “We need to be nice to him. He might be able to get us out of this mess.”
“Oh, you mean the mess that he got us into in the first place?” Alice snapped back. “He and the other angels caused this whole Apocalypse, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t go out there and make him tell us everything, by force!”
I closed my eyes and tried to find the strength to deal with this forceful woman. “Look, we can always try that later,” I allowed, hoping to appease her. “But why not be nice, at first? More flies with honey than vinegar, that sort of thing.”
She growled at me! I literally heard a growl come out of her throat, low and angry, but she didn’t say anything. Finally, after a few minutes, she gave her head a slight little shake.
“Fine,” she grimaced, as if saying that word cost her dearly. “But I think the whole idea is stupid. You know what works better than either honey or vinegar?”
“A bug zapper,” she spat out, and then stalked out of the back room, leaving me alone.
I pondered this comment for a moment, admitting to myself that it pretty well summed up how Alice approached her problems. Then, after taking a deep breath, I headed back out to the main area.
As I arrived, I saw Eremiel open his eyes and straighten up a bit in the chair, shaking his head. “I was not able to make contact with my superiors,” he said, sounding slightly uneasy. “They may be busy, but perhaps-” He didn’t finish this sentence, but even partially completed, it hung uncomfortably in the air.
Looking over at my female companion, I could see her struggling to hold back her angry comments and questions, but she looked over at me and gave me a slight nod. I guessed that she was giving me my chance to try out the honey approach, and I cleared my throat before she decided to just go for the violent approach after all.
“Uh, Eremiel? Maybe you could answer a few other questions for us,” I began hesitantly, doing my best to smile at the angel.
He frowned back at me, although I didn’t know if he was suspicious of me, or just tired and annoyed in general. “Questions?” he repeated.
“Yes. Maybe you could just start by telling us about this whole Apocalypse thing in general? I’m pretty in the dark.”
If anything, his frown deepened. “There is much to tell, and many secrets are not privy to you mortals,” he began, but I waved my hands at him.
“No, no, just what we ought to know. You know, what brought it on, what happened to everyone else, why now. Surely, you could answer some of those questions?” I tried, doing my best to make these questions sound as reasonable as possible.
A little part of my mind still gibbered at what I was doing. The Apocalypse had happened, and now I was talking to a real life angel to ask him questions about it! I’d probably go mad at some point, my mind just no longer able to handle all of the craziness.
But Eremiel, although still frowning, slowly nodded. “Yes, perhaps I can share some answers,” he allowed. He settled back in his chair. “It will provide some minor distraction while I wait for the channels to Heaven to re-open.”
“Are they normally blocked like this?” I inquired.
His frown deepened as he shook his head. “I can not recall time when I was unable to communicate with my superiors.” He spoke the words readily enough, but something in his tone told me that the lack of communication deeply disturbed him. I wanted to ask more along that line of questioning, but I didn’t want to push too hard, too fast.
So instead, I changed the topic of conversation back to the general Apocalpyse. “So, how did all of this ‘end of the world’ stuff begin?” I asked.
Eremiel paused for a moment, considering, and then began to speak, telling us about the start of the end of the world.