Axiom 5: Learn as much as possible.
In the beginning, Eremiel began, existed the Word.
And yea, the Word did come straight from the Lord himself, and it was law. Obviously.
Yea, for the angels leapt to happily obey the Word, and all was good. For the angels knew that the Lord had a plan for the universe, and they did trust in His judgment. Given as how he had brought them into the world, had been as their Creator, well, why wouldn’t they trust said judgment?
However, yea for as more Words came forth, a new problem did emerge. For all created by the Lord was infinite, and nothing that the Lord created was ever truly destroyed, and this included the Word that he spoke. Yea, instead of dissipating after a little while, like normal words, the Words did remain eternal, bouncing around the highest chambers of Heaven and causing all sorts of problems when they snuck up on some of the lower angels who’d just popped in to do a little bit of cleaning and dusting around the place.
So issuances of the Word grew less frequent, and the Lord instead began delegating the running of the Universe to the highest of his angels. This approach also did seem to work, but some of the lower ranks of angels began to worry that there might be some misinterpretation of the Lord’s true desires for the future.
And so, to remedy this, the Books were created.
I sat up, groaning as I rubbed my head. Eremiel looked up as I interrupted his story, but I had to interject.
“Do you really need to say so many capital words?” I asked him, pushing one finger into my ear to try and scratch the itch on my brain. “Those things really give me a headache after a while.”
“But if I don’t emphasize that this is the Word, or the Book-” I winced again at Eremiel’s emphasis, “-how will you know that they aren’t just everyday words or books?”
“We’ll get it from context clues,” Alice insisted. She didn’t look any more thrilled than I felt at hearing the capital letters drop in with heavy emphasis at the start of those particular nouns. “We can figure it out.”
Eremiel frowned at us both, but after letting out a long sigh, he nodded. “Very well. I forget about the weakness of mortal ears. I will attempt to speak more freely.”
“Thank you,” I said, settling back in my chair once again.
Eremiel nodded, and after a moment, continued speaking.
The Books – sorry, the books, you know what I meant – were created using the power of the speech of the Lord himself. No, stop glaring at me, I’m still saying that one with the capital letter. He deserves respect.
Anyway, the books were created using the power of the words that floated about the chamber, imprisoning them in their volumes and simultaneously allowing for them to express much more as they spread across the blank pages. They told us what would happen to the universe and when, and they were given to the archangels to guard, and so that our commanders would know their orders.
Some of the books were relatively mundane in the topics that they covered; they talked about how to make sure the universe continued to run smoothly, checking on some of the trickier subatomic functions, everyday stuff like that. Other books contained instructions for minor miracles, like the 1980 Winter Olympics.
But one of the books, the book entrusted to the archangel Metatron, contained the instructions for the Apocalypse.
The contents of that book were dark and powerful, given as how the Apocalypse was meant to represent the judgment call of the universe, measuring whether this creation of the Lord’s proved to be up to snuff. Metatron guarded his charge fiercely, and we all hoped that the book would not be opened for as long as possible. After building a big tower of blocks, no child wants to have to put away his toys.
But then, Metatron announced to us, the day had come. The book had opened and spoken to him, and the time of the Apocalypse was at hand.
We all went to work.
The end of the universe, you see, is all about judgment – or, more accurately, measurement. Everything has to be weighed, measured, examined, and its value determined. Basically, the angels are tasked with summing up the worth of the universe, all to determine if it meets the criteria listed in the book entrusted to Metatron.
At this point, Eremiel once again had to pause his story, as both Alice and I shot forward with questions.
“We’re just some number to you?” Alice burst out, and I wondered how Eremiel managed to avoid bursting into flames under the heat of her glare. “Really? That’s how you angels see us? We have lives, you know!”
Eremiel shrank back a little from her blazing anger, but he didn’t quite have the good sense to keep his mouth shut.
“Well, had,” he responded, and the fury in Alice’s eyes told me that the angel’s life expectancy had dropped to the point where it was being measured in seconds.
“So what’s the number, then?” I asked instead, jumping in quickly in hopes of avoiding violence. “How good does the universe have to be to pass?”
He shrugged. It’s rather strange, seeing an angel shrug; the wings make the gesture a lot more expressive than it would have been otherwise. “I don’t know. I don’t even know how they do the counting. I’m just assigned to guard the Earth after the counting has begun.”
“Yeah, on that,” I continued, keeping one wary eye on a fuming Alice. “So you took all the good people and bad people up to be judged, right? That’s the point of the Rapture?”
“So,” I finished, “what does that make the rest of us, stuck down here still?”
The angel frowned, shrugged again. “Zeroes?”
This time, I wasn’t fast enough to stop Alice from shrieking bloody murder as she lunged at Eremiel.