Axiom 10: Do what makes you happy.
The woman in the shabby little office had thrown back the curtains, blinding me with the light that came shining in. But when I lowered my hand from in front of my eyes, I was no longer sitting in a small little book-filled room.
Instead, I sat on the same rickety chair – but it was in the middle of a huge amphitheatre, spreading out in all directions, rising up almost too high in the sky for me to see the top.
And every seat in the amphitheatre was filled by angels.
They all stared down at me, a million times a million of them. Big ones, small ones, some the size of giants and other as small as little pixies. The air stirred from millions of flapping wings, pushing the poor oxygen molecules into thousands of tiny currents and eddies. None of the angels spoke, but I felt every single eye peering down at me.
I felt my mouth go dry, my tongue sealing itself against the roof of my mouth. How had I ended up here so suddenly? What was going on?
I tried to look down at the actual interior circle of the amphitheatre so that my mind could try and ignore the infinite number of angels all looking at me. And there, in a further moment of detached reality, I saw the same old, scratched-up wooden desk from the woman’s office sitting in front of me.
“Ignore them,” said the woman, once again sitting behind her desk. “They’re just observing, after all. They can’t actually influence the decision making process; they just supply power. Think of them as batteries.”
The words sounded like nothing more than jumbled sounds, not making any sense to me. “But- I don’t-” I began, but stopped, not even knowing what to say.
“You don’t need to do anything,” the woman replied, giving me a brief little smile. “You’ve already done your part.”
She sighed, set down the paper that she’d been examining so that she could interlace her fingers in front of her. She peered over them at me, giving me the look that I’d seen from former teachers when they wanted to explain exactly why I deserved the C minus on a term paper.
“You told me your side of the story, argued your responses,” she stated. “And now, the tribunal will determine whether your arguments are strong enough for you to win.”
“Wait, that was the actual debate?” I felt panicked. I hadn’t really been trying! I’d barely even considered my words before just throwing them out there, thinking that I was just rehearsing with this woman-
The woman. She still seemed incredibly out of place here, just a typical middle-aged librarian, somehow placed here in the middle of Heaven amid all of these other angels. “You know,” I said slowly, “I don’t think that I ever caught your name.”
“No, you didn’t.” She looked back up at me, put on a small little smile. “I’m Michelle. It’s very nice to meet you by name, Jack Travers.”
Michelle? There weren’t any angels named Michelle- “Michael,” I breathed out as it finally clicked in my head.
The woman looked, strangely enough, rather cross for a second. “Yes, they screwed up that translation, and I’m not happy about it.”
I decided to keep my mouth shut, and the woman turned back down to her paper. But after another few minutes of sitting there, shrinking under the gaze of an infinite number of angels all around me, I finally cleared my throat and opened my mouth again.
“So, now what happens?”
She glanced back up at me, sighing at yet another interruption. “I’m just waiting on the other party to arrive.” She glanced down at her wrist, pushing up the sleeve of her cardigan to reveal a rather chunky and out of style watch. “He’s late.”
The other party? Was that Metatron? I started to say something – and then stopped as I heard a blast of raw, unfocused and unfiltered noise bloom from next to me. I winced, covering my ears as it grew louder and louder, until I feared that my entire head would explode.
And then, suddenly, there was a being standing beside me.
I could barely look at him. Now that, I thought faintly to myself with the little part of my head that wasn’t screaming in agony from the loudness of just being near him, is what a real archangel ought to look like.
He stood close to ten feet tall, black-haired and imperious, dressed in robes of pure, shining white. His wings were pure black, as if they’d been carved from onyx, sweeping out to the back from behind him. He didn’t even bother glancing down at me but stared straight ahead, at Michelle, raising a perfectly shaped eyebrow.
“This whole affair is ridiculous,” he stated, his voice reverberating off of every molecule of air, filling the entirety of the amphitheatre. He didn’t need to speak loudly. His voice just was, taking over everything. I supposed that, as the Voice of God, he could do tricks like that.
Michelle, however, didn’t appear fazed by him. “The mortal has presented an interesting challenge to you, Metatron,” she answered calmly. “And his answers are quite convincing.”
Metatron glanced dismissively down at me. He only locked eyes with me for an instant, but the searing fire that I saw behind his dark pupils was still enough to make me shrink back, scared out of my mind.
“He is nothing,” the great archangel said. “I could crush him with less than a thought.”
“Yet his challenge remains valid.” Michelle leaned back, crossing the arms of her cardigan. “And I’m inclined to believe him.”
All around me, a murmur swept through the assembled angels in the stands, and I felt a tiny, absurd little flicker of hope bloom in my chest. Metatron, however, waved his hand, and all of the murmuring around us cut off as if by a knife.
“Nonetheless, he cannot…” The great archangel paused, frowning down at Michelle. “What in the world are you wearing?”
She looked down at her cardigan. “A sweater. It’s quite comfortable.”
“It looks ridiculous on you.”
She raised an eyebrow archly. “Not all of us care about the trappings of grandeur, Metatron. Indeed, your focus on them is a point against you. Especially considering the stature you have gained since the beginning of the Apocalypse. I notice, however, that our troops have not yet sallied forth against the forces of Satan.”
“Well, there’s still plenty of arming and training that must be completed…” Was it just me, or did Metatron sound a little bit like he was making excuses?
“And yet we haven’t been overrun by demons.”
Metatron looked distinctly uncomfortable now, like an elementary school pupil being cross-examined by a schoolteacher. “It seems that they were also caught off-guard by our declaration, and have not sent out their forces in full strength yet.”
“Yes, I understand.” Michelle stood up, pushing back her chair behind her beat-up desk. “And that’s why I choose to believe that this entire Apocalypse is premature. Neither side is ready, and so the whole thing seems to have jumped the gun, so to speak.”
It took Metatron a moment to understand the implications of this. “Wait,” he protested, taking a half-step backwards but bunching his hands into great fists. “Michelle, you can’t possibly believe that this mortal is-”
“But I do,” Michelle said calmly, placing her palms down on the desk. “And that is why I rule in his favor.”
For an instant, silence fell over the entire amphitheatre, as Metatron’s mouth dropped open in surprise.
And then the whole place erupted into a million voices all shouting out different things, as I finally felt my heart begin to beat again inside my chest.
I’d done it. The Apocalypse was canceled.