Not Happily Ever After

I remember her first making the comment as we lay together, exhausted, in the afterglow of our third date.  I’d propped myself up on one elbow, turning to look over at where she lay on the dew-dampened grass.

“You know,” I commented, “I think that this was the best date I’ve ever had.”

She turned her head a little, smiling back at me.  Even in the dim moonlight, I caught the little hint of violet in her sparkling eyes.  “I knew it would be,” she murmured back to me.

Her fingers reached out, lazily, their tips dragging across my bare chest.  “Might as well just write the ‘happy ever after’ ending now, huh?” I said, keeping my tone light.  Just a joke, I told myself.  Don’t admit how hard you’ve already fallen for this girl.

“Happily ever after?” she repeated back, her eyebrows furrowing together slightly.  “No, this isn’t happily ever after.” Continue reading

[AGttA] 2.1: Loneliness

Continued from chapter 2.0, here.
Click here to read the entire story from the beginning.

Axiom 2: Gather supplies.

Journal, it’s been close to a week now.  I know this, because I found a calendar covered in cute little pictures of kitties, and I’ve been crossing off the days on it.  Six crossed off days means that it’s been almost a week.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when I run past the end of December.  I don’t think they’re printing more calendars any longer.

Also, have I mentioned how much I hate eating beans? Continue reading

[AGttA] 2.0: Supplies

Continued from chapter 1.2, here.

Axiom 2: Gather supplies.

Well, journal, it’s two days later, and I’m feeling a little better about my situation.

Should I be calling you a journal?  What’s the difference between a journal and a diary?  Ooh, I know, I’ll look it up with my brand new DICTIONARY, right here!

Let’s see…

Okay.  A journal is “a daily record of news and events of a personal nature; a diary.”  Hmm.

Journal, maybe I’m going a little crazy from lack of human interaction, but at least my situation seems fairly good aside from that little issue.

I’m still in the Starbucks.  I’ve decided to make this my home base – it’s got comfy chairs and coffee, after all, and the roof still hasn’t collapsed down on my head.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

But while Starbucks has some very tasty sandwiches stored in the fridge in the back, that’s not going to last me too long.  So I’ve been scouting around in the area, scavenging all the supplies that I can get my hands on, and dragging them back here.

Let’s see, what have I got… Journal, I’m carrying you around with me while I make a tally of all the supplies I’ve gathered so far:

  • A wheelbarrow.  I found this at a home and garden supply store, and it’s amazingly useful for navigating around the rubble of a broken, destroyed world.  It greatly cuts down on the number of trips that I need to take in order to haul cans of beans, jugs of water, blankets, and other invaluable supplies back to my coffee shop home base.  Four out of five stars, with one star deducted for the time it tipped over and spilled cans of beans everywhere.
  • Water.  For some reason, the faucets don’t seem to work any longer.  All that comes out of them is this brown-red sludge.  This is either a portent of the Apocalypse, or it means that our water system in town is terrible.  In any case, I’ve got a couple hundred gallon jugs of water stacked up in the back room now.
  • Blankets and sheets and pillows.  Sure, the interior of my little personal fortress looks a bit like a tornado struck a Pier One Imports, but it’s comfy!
  • A hammer, nails, and extra boards.  I got a little tired of feeling exposed, so I boarded up most of the windows, as well as the back door.  I still remember that angel smashing apart that poor little devil Furby.
  • Batteries.  A lot of batteries.  All sizes.  I’ve got buckets just sitting around, filled with batteries.  Can’t have too many batteries.
  • Some reading material.  As I mentioned, I stole a dictionary from a nearby bookstore.  Well, is it stealing if no one’s around to ring me up?  I waited at the checkout area for nearly ten minutes before I remembered that this was the Apocalypse.  Besides, my credit card probably doesn’t work any longer.
  • Beans.  Did I mention food?  I’ve got more than beans, of course – I have cans of soup, vegetables, fruit, tuna, and just about any other food that can be crammed into twelve ounces of tin.  But somehow, whenever I reach into my big can bin to grab my next meal, my hand always seems to emerge holding a can of beans.
So, I’m doing all right with supplies, I guess.  It’s not enough to keep me going for the rest of my life, but it’s enough to keep me comfortable while I try not to think about how short the rest of my life might be.  
At some point, I suppose, I’ll have to start making my own food.  I’ve never actually grown anything before, except for some peas, back in elementary school.  My peas didn’t make it to adulthood, although that might have been in part due to my totally-reasonable-at-the-time decision to water it with Mello Yello soda instead of using water.  
I now know that, when growing crops, Mello Yello does not provide extra nutrients.
I’ll also have to start cultivating animals, I suppose.  Do animals generally get a pass on the Apocalypse?  I’d hate to hike all the way out to a farm somewhere, only to find out that all of the cows have been Raptured up to Heaven.  Are some cows evil, and stuck here on Earth?
Journal, these are the sorts of questions that keep me awake at night, staring out through the cracks I’ve left in my boarded-up windows.
Oh, and that reminds me.  On a more sobering note, I do have one other item to add to my inventory list:
  • Handgun.  I found it in the sporting goods store, although I had to smash open a glass case with my hammer to get it.  I had to mess around with it for a while before I figured out how it worked, and I nearly shot my own foot off when it first fired – but now I think I’ve got the hang of using it.  I have successfully put holes in the following items:
    • A large fiberglass deer in the sporting goods store
    • Several store front windows
    • A car tire
    • A medium-sized shrubbery
    • A glass bottle that I set up as a target
    • The crate that held up the glass bottle
    • A tree that had the misfortune to grow next to where I set the glass bottle
    • The ground around the glass bottle
    • A kayak
I originally kept the handgun sitting out, in case another angel came by and I decided to try and defend myself, but I didn’t like looking at the thing.  Something about it just seems sinister.  It’s as if the handgun is reminding me that, if I get depressed enough, there’s always the quick way out.
Journal, I currently don’t have any plans to shoot myself – but I might be tempted if the next can that I grab out of my pantry for dinner tonight happens to be beans.
In fact I’m feeling pretty hungry right now – writing journal entries can be exhausting!  Let’s see what’s for dinner tonight…
To be continued…

[AGttA] 1.2: Coffee!

Continued from chapter 1.1, here.

Axiom 1: Remain calm.

I’d done it!  That’s right, journal readers, whoever you may be – I managed to reach the Starbucks!

And even better?  The place was unlocked!

As I walked in through the front doors, I almost felt normal, at least for a second or two.  There was no Apocalypse, no end of the world happening outside these doors.  No, I was just strolling into my favorite coffee shop chain, here to pick up a boost of caffeine and brewed beans before heading back to work.

And for a moment, as I closed my eyes, I even smelled that classic scent of just slightly too burned coffee beans, the scent reminiscent of Starbucks everywhere.

But then I opened my eyes, and reality came crashing back in.

Looking around the interior of the coffee shop, I was happy to note that the building remained intact.  That, however, was about the only good thing that I could say about my newly chosen base of operations.

The tables were knocked over, with chairs lying everywhere – some of them broken.  No other patrons stood in line in the shop to buy coffee; no one sat at any of the little tables, hunched over a computer or a magazine.  I saw no hipsters with massively oversized headphones, no preppy college students pretending to study as they sipped their massively sugary concoctions, no groups of overweight mothers commiserating about why they couldn’t lose weight as they sipped their extra-large frappuccinos.

Behind the counter, I saw no bored barista, waiting to take my order and mess up my name.  Instead, I just saw spilled coffee beans and untouched espresso machines.  I stuck my head into the back room, still feeling a little like I was trespassing by going in a place intended for Employees Only, and saw that the back area was similarly deserted.  Some of the stacks of boxes in the back store room had toppled over, spilling out bags of sealed coffee grounds.

Heading back out to the main room of the shop, I grabbed one of the fallen over chairs, set it upright, and sat down on it.  Leaning on one of the tables, I gazed around and tried to figure out what I needed to do.

What do you do in an Apocalypse, anyway?  I didn’t have any prior experience in doing this.  I wondered if there were any books available on the topic.  Where was the nearest Barnes & Noble?

I dug out my phone, hoping to search the internet for answers, but tossed it away when I saw that it had no signal.  Somehow, I didn’t expect to suddenly find myself with any bars any time soon.  Not in the Apocalypse.

With little else to do, I dug out my notebook, pulled out my pen, and started writing.  Hence, this journal!  Maybe someone will find this one day, and they’ll discover what became of me.  Or maybe, if I somehow survive this, I can read from this journal to my children and grandchildren, telling them of the horrors that I endured.

Hah.  Somehow, I doubt that will happen, but I can hope, right?

After getting most of my thoughts down on the journal, I began to realize that I actually had no idea what was going on outside.  What exactly had happened?  My experience so far had just consisted of loud noises, seeing widespread destruction, and watching a winged, Heavenly being destroy a children’s toy.

I didn’t see any television sets in the main area, but I found a radio in the back room, and hauled it out to the front area of the Starbucks.  I propped it up on a table, murmured a brief prayer of thanks that it ran off of batteries, and began searching for a channel.

I prayed too early, it seemed.  After ten minutes of carefully scrolling through the different frequencies, I hadn’t found any channels, nothing but static.  I turned it off, hoping to conserve the batteries, and turned my attention back to the interior of the building – and my growling stomach.

Did you know that Starbucks has sandwiches and pastries?  And that they keep extras in a fridge and freezer in the back room?  I now know that fact.

The sandwiches actually aren’t too bad.  If there’s a chance to leave post-Apocalyptic Yelp reviews, I’m giving these Starbucks sandwiches five stars.  Well worth the addition to your underground bunker’s food stash.

After I’d put some food in my stomach, I turned my attention to my surroundings.  Prowling around the inside of the Starbucks didn’t reveal any cracks, and a lap around the outside of the building showed that it actually looked to have weathered whatever assault hit the area fairly well.  I headed back inside, feeling a bit more hopeful that the place wouldn’t collapse down on top of my head at any moment.

I found a broom in the back area and, feeling like a bit of a fool, tidied up.  I didn’t make it look exactly like the typical Starbucks – I turned most of the tables on their sides as makeshift barricades against the big plate glass front windows, which now seemed far too open for my taste.  But I swept the floor, pulled over one of the big couches to use as a makeshift bed, and even managed to produce a passable cold brew.

Cold coffee in hand, I settled into one of the stuffed armchairs, gazing out at the setting sun.  I needed a plan, I repeated to myself for the umpteenth time.  If I was going to survive this, I’d need a plan.

A plan.  Journal, do you have any idea how hard it is to sit down and think of a plan?  It’s bloody hard, I can tell you that.

But as the sun crept lower over the shattered mall across the highway from my hideout, I began to write down some ideas.

To be continued…

[AGttA] Chapter 1.1: Shelter

Continued from Chapter 1.0, here.

Axiom 1: Remain calm.

When I next opened my eyes, it took me a moment to remember why I was waking up in the back of an unmarked passenger van.  But as I lay back on the thin, scratchy carpet, I felt the wave of memories come rushing back to me.

The explosion at the mall.  The sound of people dying.  The angel, majestic and deadly, hovering in the center of the destruction.  That Furby’s wide eyes before it exploded into shards of half-melted plastic.

I briefly wondered whether I might be able to find a Starbucks that still had some coffee.

With a grunt, I hauled myself up, reaching out for the handle of the van’s back door – but I paused for a moment as my fingers rested on the plastic grip.  What if that angel was still out there?  I didn’t doubt for a second that his flaming sword would cut through me just as easily as it had sliced and diced that Furby.

So instead, I crawled to the front of the van, wincing and biting my lip as I stubbed my knees and toes against innumerable little sharp corners on the inside of the van.  Battered and bruised, I managed to haul myself into the front seat, looking out through the cracked but mostly still intact windshield.

The destruction of the world hadn’t stopped with the mall, I observed.

A few hours previously, the mall had been surrounded by parking lots, most of them empty. On the other side of the parking lots, the highway passed by, filled with zipping cars and trucks.  A couple of satellite shops sat in strip malls on the other side of the highways, each with a big, brightly lit sign to attract hungry, thirsty, or bored highway travelers.

Now, cracks ran all across the parking lots, turning the asphalt into rubble.  On the far side, the highway looked like broken teeth, the concrete pillars shattered and the road itself split into giant shards.  I saw cars caught in that rubble, crunched and smashed like crushed aluminum cans.  Dust from the broken roadway filled the air, obstructing my long distance view.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this new world, I realized, was the silence.  All of the sounds that I usually ignored as background noise – the rumbling of car engines, the humming of electricity through overhead power lines, the occasional honk of a horn or squealing of tires – were missing.  I could hear nothing, not even the cries of birds.

A little part of my mind still gibbered in fear, wondering what had happened.  Was this some sort of attack from a rogue nation?  Had North Korea finally snapped and gone around the bend, shooting missiles across the ocean at us?  Was this some sort of terrorist attack?

Somehow, I didn’t think so.  Despite the threat of a rogue nation, I couldn’t reconcile the opposing ideas of a terrorist attack and a floating angel.  Did North Korea even believe in angels?  Why would they send over Heavenly beings, and why would they tell said Heavenly beings to bother with destroying Furbies?

Maybe Furbies were the ultimate symbol of Western decadence and needed to be destroyed.  But that idea seemed purely silly.

In any case, I told myself, clamping down on my wildly fretting thoughts, I needed to do something.  I couldn’t just sit in this broken van forever.

I glanced over at the driver’s seat of the van.  Unfortunately, the previous owner of the vehicle hadn’t been kind enough to leave his keys in the ignition – and now that I looked at the crunched front hood of the vehicle, I doubted that the van would even start.

Looked like I would have to huff it on foot.

I peered forward, scanning the dark, stormy looking skies.  No sign of the angel, I noted, although those roiling storm clouds didn’t bode well.  If I wanted to move, to find a better hiding place, I ought to go now.

I reached out, opening the side door of the van, but then paused.  Where was I going to go?  I scanned the dusty view around me, searching for a possible shelter.

Not back into the mall, that much was for certain.  Even if the angel wasn’t still prowling around, I remembered how the other shops were destroyed, flattened under the collapsed roof.  I could head the other direction, away from the mall – but where?

My house – well, my parents’ house, but that minor little unimportant detail didn’t matter – was too far away.  Five miles between the house and the mall hadn’t seemed like much distance at all when I had a working car, but I didn’t want to walk all that way back, especially with those dark clouds looming overhead.  I needed to find someplace else, someplace closer.

And then I saw it.

Across the shattered highway, in the strip mall area.  Most of the lit signs had gone out, the buildings either dark or entirely destroyed, but I saw one sign still glowing, a savior’s sign through the swirling dust.


The calming green and white reached out to me, a single familiar sight amid the madness around me.  Almost without thought, I climbed down from the van’s seat, starting across the sea of destruction between me and that faintly glowing sign.

I soon found the passage tough going.  I had to pick my way across the cracked and half-shattered parking lot, dodging around broken cars.  Thankfully, I didn’t see any dead bodies anywhere, for which I uttered a brief but fervent prayer of thanks – I didn’t know if my fragile mental state would be able to handle finding another person, injured or dead.

When I reached the highway, my progress grew even slower.  The concrete highway had been shattered into huge chunks, big spikes of roadway pointing up into the sky.  I found myself picking my way between the big boulders, occasionally having to turn sideways to scrape through narrow passages or scrambling up over flat boulders.  I felt my jeans tearing as I pulled myself across the rough terrain, but I couldn’t stop now.

And then finally, after what felt like ages, I stood on the other side of the highway, in the long grass.

My eyes were drawn up, as if by strings.  There it was, just ahead of me.  The glowing green-and-white sign still hung over the entrance.  I had one more parking lot to cross, although this one looked much more difficult to navigate due to a higher number of cars.  Still, I felt a surge of energy.

Nearly there.

Gasping for air, I stumbled forward, through the maze of cars in the parking lot.  My eyes remained glued to that sign, the one constant in a world that suddenly made no sense.

Please, I prayed, let there still be some coffee inside.

To be continued…

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And if that doesn’t describe the perfect novel, well, I don’t know what you want.

After the supervillains have won…

The heels of my shoes clicked smartly against the floor as I approached the double doors of the Oval Office.  I paused for a moment outside the doors, checking my hair and running my eyes one last time over the contents of the leather file in my hands, and then stepped through.

“Sir?  I have the latest reports,” I called out to the high-backed leather chair behind the President’s desk.

The chair slowly rotated around.  I carefully avoided rolling my eyes.  The last intern to roll his eyes at the theatrics of our leader had ended up “volunteering” as a test subject for an Explosive Growth Ray, intended to boost meat production by super-sizing cows and pigs.

As it turned out, the “Explosive” part worked a lot better than the “Growth” part.  I heard that the janitors had to scrub the ceiling down for days before they got it all cleaned up.

“Ah, the latest reports, yes,” the man sitting in the chair repeated, the words sounding slightly metallic coming from behind his mask.  Through the two eye slits, dark pupils watched closely as I approached, offering the leather folder out to him.  A hand, covered by a blackened metal gauntlet, accepted the folder from me and flipped it open.

Our leader set the folder down on the desk in front of him, but those dark eyes remained locked on me.  “So, what’s the news?” he asked.


He made a short, impatient gesture, uncomfortably similar to gestures I’d seen him use to order minions to execute hostages in the old archival footage tapes.  “You’ve read the whole thing, I know.  So give me a status update.”

“Well, we’re making great strides in many areas,” I began, electing to start with the good news.  “Thanks to Magneto’s work with recycling and augmenting metal, our construction boom is still providing job growth.  Analysis of Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits is still ongoing, but scientists are fairly confident that we’ll have synthetic substitutes ready for phase II of FDA trials by the end of this year.  And a new joint venture between Loki and Kingpin is claiming that they’ll have portals open between all major cities by next quarter, although we know that Loki’s never been good with deadlines.”

The robed and masked man waved his gloved hand again.  “Yes, yes, I’m aware of that,” he grunted.  “What about the heroes?”

Despite my attempt to keep my face calm and blank, a brief grimace flashed across it.  “Yes.  Well.”

Those dark eyes watched me for another second, and then the man behind the desk rose up to his feet.  Instinctively, I took a step back, and I heard him snort.  “What are you worried about, girl?”

“Er.  I heard about the last intern,” I said, keeping a close eye on his gauntlets.  I knew he had a laser mounted in one of them, but I couldn’t remember which one.

“Oh, him?  Trust me, he had it coming,” the man insisted.  “I’m not planning on hurting you.  Go on, take a seat.”

Still feeling a little on edge, I let myself sink into one of the chairs in front of the desk, crossing my legs and smoothing down my skirt self-consciously.

Behind the desk, the man turned to stare out the tall windows behind him, clasping his gauntleted hands behind his back.  “They fought us,” he said, his words a little grander, a little softer, than when he’d been speaking to me.  “They insisted that our new ideas would destroy their old world, destroy everything they fought to preserve.”

“And indeed, they were right.”

The man – the king, I amended my thought, remembering his official title – shook his head slightly.  “We destroyed the trappings of their old world – the disease, the hunger, the sickness,” he said, staring out at the sunny day beyond the window.  “We used our powers for the greater good, fixing what we found broken – even when that meant remaking society itself.”

“You’ve done a lot of good for the world,” I spoke up, wanting to contribute.  “Poverty, hunger, communicable disease – we’re already seeing so much benefit all across the world-“

“Yes,” he nodded.  Behind his back, I saw one gauntlet tighten into a fist.  “And yet, they still fight back.”

I sensed the man’s mood darkening, but like a true storm, I couldn’t see a way to divert the gathering energy.  “They insist that what we are doing is bad, that it doesn’t match their ‘traditional values’!” he growled.  “They now lead campaigns of fear, of ignorance and bigotry, of destruction and racism against us!”

Turning back abruptly to face me, he slammed a gauntlet down on the desk, making the entire sturdy wood piece of furniture shake.  “Heroes!” he spat, his eyes blazing behind the steel mask.  “They call themselves heroes!  They have no right to the name!”

I stared, transfixed, into the merciless eyes behind that mask.  I’d always been drawn to power and influence, and I knew that the man before me possessed both in absolutes.  I’d watched his ascension, cheered for him at the polls, listened to his old speeches.

He had brought the very opposite of his name to our country, and then to the entire world.

After a minute, the burning rage in his eyes dimmed, and he sank back down into his chair.  “The news, Sue,” he stated, folding his gauntleted fingers together beneath his chin.

I nodded, snapped out of the trance of his words.  “Yes.  We froze Wayne Enterprise’s accounts, but we’re still receiving reports of the vigilante, mainly conducting industrial sabotage.  Most of the supers have moved south, setting up strongholds in more rural areas where our military forces cannot reach them.  They’ve launched several more attacks; the full list is in the binder.”  I recalled the long list of industrial targets, fusion energy factories, synthetic medicine centers, and other areas that had suffered attacks.

The most powerful man in the free world nodded, and I heard a sigh escape his lips behind the mask.  “Heavy is the head,” I heard him mutter to himself under his breath.

When he raised his eyes to look at me again, however, any trace of weakness was once again scoured away.  “Talk with the Joint Chiefs about troop movements – we’ve got them hemmed, but now we need to close the trap,” he declared.  “Use the robotic droid systems for reconnaissance – we can’t risk more human lives.”

“The Doombots, sir?” I clarified.

He nodded.  “We thought that we’d won,” he said reflectively, leaning back in his chair.  “But we didn’t know how much higher we’d still have to climb.”

I waited a beat longer, but no other comments were forthcoming.  He didn’t dismiss me, but I knew that our conversation was at an end.

Rising up from the chair, I turned and headed out of the office, leaving President Von Doom alone once again.

Planning: An Amateur’s Guide to the Apocalypse [AGttA]

Author’s note: I’m not yet done with my current novel (Apocalypse Before Coffee, coming soon!), but I’m already plotting out my next story.  I’m starting with a working title:

An Amateur’s Guide to the Apocalypse

The book is going to be divided up into several chapters, each one built around a different “survival tip” for the Apocalypse, the Biblical end of the world!  The main story, however, will follow a single character, a young man, as he attempts to journal his continued existence as the world comes crumbling down around him.

Ten essential steps to surviving the Apocalypse:

  1. Remain calm.  Take stock of your surroundings.
  2. Gather supplies.
  3. Search for other survivors.
  4. Keep clear and open communications.
  5. Learn as much as possible.
  6. Formulate a long-term plan.
  7. Remain positive.
  8. Adapt to setbacks.
  9. Don’t lose hope.
  10. Find what makes you happy.
The book will be split into ten smaller sections, each one based around one of these ten steps.  The rest of the story will be in the form of a journal, kept by the main character, Quinn, as he attempts to stick to his ten ‘easy steps’ – or, at least, survive!

Unfortunately for Quinn, surviving the Apocalypse isn’t quite as easy as the ten-step survival guide makes it sound…

I plan on writing many of these chapters as blog posts, so stay tuned for more information – coming soon!

Taking the Piss

“Hold on.  No, hold on.”  I didn’t hear any objections coming from my companions as we stumbled out of the club, heading down to the parking garage, but I still felt the need to protest.  “Hold on!”

Finally, Jack glanced back at me.  “Dude, what is it?”

“I, uh, I need a minute.”  I felt my bladder stretched to its limit, about to explode at any moment if I didn’t relieve the pressure.  “Just hold on, okay?”

Without waiting for an answer, I headed away from the group, up towards the tree line of the nearby woods.  I stumbled in past the first couple of rows of trees, but I couldn’t make it much further before need overwhelmed me and I came to a stop, fumbling for the zipper on my jeans.

Feeling desperation rising along with the water level, I managed to tug my equipment out, aimed it hurriedly at a tree, and then sighed as I let go of that tension.  A powerful jet shot out, spraying against the tree and scattering droplets in all directions.

“Ohh, yes.”  I closed my eyes, sagging back as I felt my bladder finally, mercifully, beginning to empty itself.  This felt better than sex!

“Um, excuse me??”

My eyes shot open at the unknown voice.  Had someone caught me?  Was I about to be arrested for public urination?  I stared wildly ahead, but the sight didn’t explain anything to my drunk-addled brain.

In front of me stood a luminous figure, a tall man dressed in a white robe, or toga, of some sort.  Below his blonde hair, his face glared at me, his reflection somewhere between furious and utterly bewildered.

“Oh!  Uh…” I took a step backwards.  I hadn’t even heard him approach!

Unfortunately, I’d forgotten about the fact that I was still halfway through the process of emptying my bladder.  I couldn’t cut off that stream halfway through, and my sudden movement back altered the direction of the spray, sending a rush of golden droplets ahead of me-

-directly onto the man standing in front of me.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” I burst out, quickly shoving my hands down and trying to redirect my stream.  There was something bothering me about the sight of the man in front of me, but I couldn’t quite place my drunken finger on it.  “I, um, I can’t stop halfway through!”

Guiltily, I glanced at the bottom of the man’s toga getup.  Sure enough, it looked quite wet, now with a newly acquired yellow hue.  Oops.  Nice going, drunken me.  “I’m so sorry.  As soon as I can stop, I’ll, um…”

Halfway through that sentence, as the man kept on making disgusted little noises and trying to shake drops of wetness off of his hands, my voice trailed off.  Finally, my brain managed to kick in and point out what had seemed odd about him.

Slowly, my eyes rose up to the man’s head – and then kept on rising even higher.

There, floating a couple inches above the top of the man’s golden hair, a ring of light hovered, bobbing up and down slightly.  I peered a little closer, hoping that this was just part of some costume getup, but it didn’t appear attached to anything.  It just hung in the air, glowing.


The word “halo” flitted through my mind, carried in on a golden wave.  Another word followed behind it, one that I didn’t want to consider.

I stared dumbly at the man (but he really wasn’t a man, was he?).  “Are… are you here to punish me?” I asked faintly.

He blinked, looking even more confused.  “Why would I punish you?”

“Er.”  I didn’t want to explicitly point out that I’d just urinated on a Heavenly being, but the fact seemed pretty unavoidable.

Okay, then – redirect.  “Why are you here, then?” I asked instead.  “Are you a prophet?  Are you here to deliver a message?”

The being – fine, the angel – sighed again.  “No.  Except maybe that you need to make some better choices with your life.  Seriously, what are you doing with your limited time on Earth?”

“Um, pissing?  Getting drunk?”

The angel just looked at me for another minute, and then shook his head.  “Maybe this will have to wait for another time,” he muttered to himself.  “Honestly, all the humans to watch over, and I get this one?”

He stepped forward, reached up, and lightly slapped me.

When I opened my eyes after taking that slap, I found myself alone in the forest.

I might have stood there for hours, my equipment still hanging out of my jeans, staring around and trying to figure out what had just happened.  Instead, however, my ears caught a shout, snapping me out of my fugue.

“Hey!  Dude, are you coming?  We got the car!”

That was Jack’s voice.  Hurriedly, I tucked myself back in, not even caring about how a dribble of warmth ran down one leg.  I stumbled back out of the forest, over to the road, where Jack and the girls were already sitting in the car.

Jack eyed me as I approached.  “Everything go okay in there?”

“Uh, no?  Yes.”  I shook my head.  “Let’s just get home.”

Climbing into the back seat, one of the girls we’d met at the club that night (Anita?  I couldn’t remember her name) slipped a hand over my thigh, but then pulled it back in disgust.  “Ugh, you’re wet!”

Any other night, I might have tried to convince her that it was nothing, just dew from the forest.  Tonight, however, I just leaned back, closing my eyes.  Maybe I wasn’t making the best of my life, after all.  And getting with Anita, or whoever she was, wasn’t going to help make things better.

After all, when a guy pisses on his guardian angel, I thought to myself, he’s probably at the lowest point in his life…