Skip to content

The Problem of Legs

by

This story is part of, and uses characters from, The Angel Chronicles. Also, as this story was written for Yeah Write’s weekly writing prompt, it relies on a photo prompt included below.

Legs, Window, Car, Dirt Road, Relax, Woman, Outdoor
Image by lisa runnels from Pixabay 

It was early morning at the gas station. Pickup trucks rolled leisurely in and out, their owners swinging by for morning coffee and donuts. A field of corn stretched away in the distance outside. Clouds piled up on the horizon, promising storms. Francesca waited by the door, watching for an opportunity.

Then a car rolled in from the road across from the station, tires scrunching in the dirt. A pair of legs draped out the window. Shoes at the end, no laces. Francesca narrowed her eyes. The legs looked feminine enough. Perfect. Francesca started towards the road, but checked herself just in time and looked for a crosswalk. She didn’t want to go through all that again. “Stupid human traffic rules,” she groused as she made her way towards the car.

“Excuse me, ma’am!” she called. “I need your legs!”

“What?”

“No, I mean, erm, I need to look at your legs.” Francesca coughed. “Let me explain. I’m an angel, see, and I’m on undercover assignment, and I’ve got to get a good human disguise. My last one got blown in Ankara. Long story. I’ve put together a good replacement one mostly, Farrah Fawcett hair, all that, but I’m having a hard time getting those right. Can I look at yours?”

The woman seemed highly insulted. She whipped out a taser from her purse. “You back off right now, sister, or I’m calling the cops!”

Francesca raised her hands slowly. “Oh dear. Look. I’m an angel. I’m okay. Let me just turn on my halo-”

To her alarm, however, her halo wasn’t in her pocket where she had safely stashed it. The next moment, the woman had fired the taser. Francesca fell to the ground twitching and yelping. In human form, tasers worked on angels the same as everyone else.

Later that day, at the same gas station after the cops had left, the same woman lingered. She made her way over to a bank of long disused pay phones, and dialed. “Leon? Me. Yeah. Coast is clear.”

A puff of ash, and a battered form materialized next to her. “Surprised you got out so easy,” she said.

“Ah, halo-head security is for crap,” Leon said. “So. Nice acting.”

“No problem. She’s going to have trouble explaining herself to the local PD. ” she said. “What’s with you and her anyway?”

“She busted me for some stupid thing. I pranked some punk halo-head, she got me back. Got me in trouble with the boss. Then she dragged me up to halo-head jail. Now she’s stuck in Earth jail.” Leon smiled, pulled a halo out of his pocket, tossed it in the air, and caught it neatly. “Perfect.”

Advertisements

Angelwalking

by

This story is part of the ongoing Angel Chronicles, and also refers back to One Who Works in the Dark.

“Right,” Sarah said, nervously tapping her halo, “The court shall….” She paused, checking her scroll for the line. “The court shall come to order.”

There was a busy ruffle of wings. The angels before her sat down on the gathered cloud banks. An awkward silence fell. Sarah paused again, and wiped a smear of dust off the scroll. It had been a long time since this particular one had been needed. She made a tinny cough. “Ahem. Francesca. Angel, third class. Assigned to Intelligence Corps, Shadow Division.” She checked to make sure that Francesca was actually there. The angel in the front cloud bank, just slightly to her left, gave a tiny nod.

Sarah went on. “Okay.  For the record, I’m Sarah, Angel first, I’ll be presiding today. Francesca, you are charged with a violation of Article-“

“Excuse me?”  Another angel, on the cloud bank to her right, raised his hand. “I’m sorry to interrupt, ma’am, but I believe, under procedure, as the JAG here, I’m supposed to present the charges.”

“JAG?” Sarah said, slightly flustered.”

“Judge Angel General, ma’am. Prosecuting attorney.”

“Ah. Right. Of course. Proceed. State your name for the record, then, and go on.”

The JAG unfurled his own scroll. “Christopher, Angel second class,  representing the Heavenly Hosts in the matter of HH v. Francesca, Angel third. Charge I. Specification. That, on or about February 2, Earth year 2019, at approximately 2: 19 Eastern Standard Time, in or around the Earth community known as Pikesville, Indiana, one Francesca, angel, third, did knowingly and deliberately walk or cross a trafficked roadway other than at a suitable crossing point, or otherwise in disregard of traffic rules, and in violation of posted traffic signs. This conduct by Francesca, Angel third, being in violation of Article 212 of the Uniform Code of Angelic Justice, to wit, Angels shall not knowingly or deliberately violate human laws, statutes, or ordinances, save when unavoidable in execution of divine laws, statutes, or ordinances, or when unavoidable in commission of official angelic duties.”

Sarah blinked. “She did what?”

“Jay-walked, ma’am. Crossed a street where she wasn’t supposed to. While visible, too.”

“Oh. And…that’s a crime?”

“The humans say so, ma’am. ” 

“Oh. Well.”  Sarah checked her scroll again. “Francesca, how do you plead?”

“Not guilty, on account of it’s a stupid rule,” Francesca said. There were some gasps from the crowd. “There wasn’t a car in sight for miles. I’m an angel. I can’t get hurt. A little old lady was doing the same thing a block away!”

“Okay,” Sarah said hesitantly, “Well. You’ll be assigned a defense-“

“No need,” Francesca said with a smirk. “I have a surprise witness.” She tapped her halo. “Send him over, Raph!”

There was a bump, and a bedraggled form materialized in the courtroom, looking very much the worse for wear and smelling of ash. “Guys, meet Leon. He’s a demon posing as an angel. Collared him the other day. Leon, be a good demon and tell ’em what you did.”

Leon whimpered. “I changed the street signs and covered up the crosswalk stripes to get people in trouble for jaywalking.”

“Bravo,” Francesca said. “That’s three years off your sentence. Only, what, 2,799 to go? It’ll fly by.” She snapped her fingers, and he disappeared again. “So?”

“Well….” Christopher said, shrugging.

Sarah threw up her hands. “Not guilty. Court adjourned.”

The angels cheered wildly. Sarah decided to ask whether she could get a transfer to the Puppy division of Search and Rescue. Retrieving puppies from trees was so much easier.

 

One Who Works in the Dark

by

It was really surprising, Raphael reflected, even after all these eons, how much paperwork was still involved in overseeing the heavenly hosts. He was just sorting out various applications from angels wanting to be transferred into the choir when he heard a knock on his office door. “Enter,” he said calmly, without looking up.

“Sir?” Donny said. “Ah, sir, I wanted to apologize again about the, ah, incident with the tennis and the, ah, hyenas, and I wanted to ask if-“

“Let me stop you right there, kid,” Raphael cut in, his voice not without a note of kindness. “Let me guess. You got tricked by Leon, who wasn’t actually an angel but who was working for the other side. So you want to go Down There and get him back, maybe stick a halo up his shorts or something, is that it?”

“Of course not, sir!” Donny said, a little archly. “That would be vengeance, which is strictly forbidden! I just thought I might, you know, find out how he got through our defenses!”

“Right. Sure you did. I get it, kid. The thing is, even if I were inclined to send you on a mission like that, we’re already handling the situation.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. We have a mole down there. Deep shadow conditions, so to speak. She’ll take care of Leon.”

“Ah. And you’re sure I can’t….help?”

Raphael smiled grimly. “If all goes well, she shouldn’t need it.”

***

It was chillingly cold in the lowest level of Hell. An eternal wind howled mournfully across the frozen lake of ice that imprisoned all those guilty of treachery in one form or another. Behind one ice-bound rock, a thin figure emerged from a round hole that had been painstakingly chiseled into the ice. Leon shivered and clutched his jacket tighter around him. He hated getting back into the infernal regions this way, but it couldn’t be helped. All he had to do was make his report to the Boss and then he’d be back up top again tricking the halo-heads. So much more fun than slinking ’round the ice down here, he thought.

“Hey, sailor,” a voice called from behind him, making him jump. One never liked hearing unexpected voices in Hell. Leon whirled around.

“Ah,” he said in some relief. “Francesca. Back from soul reapin’, are you?”

“You might say that,” Francesca said. She was casually holding a long sword with a smokey grey blade in her hand. “One never really is much off duty in this job.”

“Yeah,” Leon smirked. “‘Specially when you have to beat the halo-heads to it. Those guys are the-“

No one ever found out how Leon would have finished the sentence, as Francesca’s sword flashed out and through him. Then, for the first time in a very long time, she popped on her halo. “Raph, I got one!” 

There was a distant, furious rumble in the ice. Before anyone could do anything, however, Francesca’s halo flashed with golden light, and both she and Leon disappeared. 

Angels on the Court

by

“Right, kid,” Raphael said, “You’re on Sports detail now. Here’s your racket.”

“Sports?” Donny said, completely bewildered. He had thought he had been doing a pretty good job as a guardian. The incident with Stacy falling off the telephone pole hadn’t been his fault, really. Could’ve happened to any angel. People fell off telephone poles all the time.

“Yeah, sports,” Raphael said. “It’s the big thing now. We go down, find some poor guys who have a completely lousy team, maybe they’ve got a sad backstory, some kid who really wants ’em to win, and then we help ’em win. Kick the ball into the right goal. Give the bat a little extra push. Y’know.”

Donny blinked. “But…is that really fair? What about the other team?”

Raphael shrugged. “I don’t make the rules, kid. Anywho, here’s your assignment. Ashley Morrison. She just entered her college tennis tournament. She’s been having a lousy year. Long story. I made a pamphlet for you.”

Donny skimmed through the pamphlet. It was heart-rending. On top of everything else, Ashley’s pet goldfish had bubbled its last. So, apparently, the night before, Ashley had looked out her dorm window and prayed desperately for some help in her upcoming tennis match. “Now, technically,” Raphael said, “She asked for the patron saint of tennis, not an angel, but Sebastian’s busy with the Olympics coming up, so you’ll have to do.”

“Right,” Donny said. “I’ll help her out, straight away.” He started to make a dive for the clouds.

“You forgot your racket!” Raphael called. Donny wheeled back, slightly embarrassed, and took hold of the extended racket. Unfortunately, he grabbed it by the wrong end. Raphael sighed. “You do know how to play tennis, right, kid?”

“Sure!” Donny said enthusiastically. In actual point of fact, he had no idea how to play tennis. He hadn’t been much of a sportsman even before he’d become an angel. However, he was not about to admit this to Raphael. He had a better idea. Once he had left his superior, he set about looking for an angel his own rank to ask about the rules of tennis.

It didn’t take long for Donny to find one. He had just passed the Pearly Gates when an angel lounging against one of the shining walls flagged him down. “Hey, you. I hear you’re lookin’ for an explainer on how to play tennis?”

“Actually, yeah,” Donny said, “But how did you-“

The angel shrugged. “I hear things. Word gets around. Anywho. Name’s Leon. Angel, second class. I used to be a big-time sports guy when I was alive. ”

“Perfect,” Donny said. “So, how do you play this thing?” He held up the racket, again by the wrong end.

Leon smiled.

Ashley’s first tennis match was the next day. When it was over and Ashley had run away in hysterics (along with half the school and two-thirds of the teachers), Raphael summoned Donny before him. “So,” Raphael said testily. “Would you care to explain to me why you conjured two romantically involved elephants and a pack of hyenas on the tennis court?”

“Because those were the rules?” Donny said. “Once you launch your ball at the other player, they’re allowed to declare the magical exotic animal zone and conjure any animal they can think of onto the field in retaliation. I figured Ashley’s magical skills were lacking, so I thought… I could… you know…. help.”

“That….” said Raphael slowly, “is not how you play tennis.”

“But…. but Leon said….”

“Leon?”

“Angel. Second class. I asked him about the rules.”

“We don’t have a Leon, angel second class. The other side, however….”

“Oh.”

And We’re Back

by

The first thing Maxwell did when he saw the body was to conjure an air freshener and hang it neatly above the shattered windshield. This wasn’t technically standard procedure; as a death angel, his first task was to find the deceased’s soul and escort it to its final destination, wherever that happened to be. But Maxwell thoroughly and literally believed that cleanliness was next to godliness, and he hated an untidy scene. Just because one had the misfortune of being dead, he felt, didn’t mean one had to leave a mess.

He waited as the pleasant scent of pine needles wafted through the battered car. Then, gathering himself and adjusting his halo to the proper angle, Maxwell looked around for the soul.

He was a bit nonplussed when he spotted it, hovering in a bewildered sort of way over the body. Most souls were fairly easy to sort out: they were either shining clear and ready to send up to the good place, or muddy dark, in which case they went the other way. This one was a color Maxwell had never seen before. Since when, he wondered, were souls mauve?

“Excuse me?” he ventured. “Hello, I’m Maxwell, I-“

He didn’t even get the chance to launch into his standard “Hello-I’m-an-angel-and-you’re-dead-now” speech. The soul interrupted, which threw Maxwell completely for a loop. “Look,” the soul said. “This isn’t my first rodeo, so if you’ll just hang on for a minute, I’ll say the incantation, then I’ll resurrect and you can go help someone who’s actually for-real dead.”

“I’m sorry?” Maxwell said.

“I should’ve thought you’d know,” the soul said in irritation. “You’re in Wistwick, right? And what is that godawful smell?”

“First, language,” Maxwell said. “Second, it’s the sparkling freshness of a wintry evergreen forest, which you need because you’re dead and your remains are, ah, somewhat messy. Third, of course it’s Wistwick. Small town, suburb really, rural America, lots of corn. Wal-Mart’s the biggest employer. What does that have to do with anything?”

The soul would’ve rolled its eyes, if it had had them. Instead, it made a sort of mauve rippling motion. “And here I thought angels knew everything. We’re a community of wizards, genius. We hide out here so no one knows. Disguised in plain sight and all that. Look, I’ll demonstrate.” It said something in Latin. Before Maxwell could react, there was a flash and a bang. To his complete shock, the body slumped in the driver’s seat abruptly knit itself back together, sat up, switched off the hazard lights, then looked over at the stunned angel. “See?”

“You were dead!”

“Not anymore. Basic resurrection spell. Wistwick Elementary, first grade. I had Mr. Plum. He fought in the war way back when.”

“Which war- never mind.” Maxwell decided he didn’t particularly want to know the answer to that. “I’m going to have to check with my superiors about this. Once you’re dead, you’re supposed to stay that way!”

“Do tell,” the formerly dead man said, raising his eyebrows. “That’s not the way I read the Scripture. Lots of resurrections going on in Bible times, weren’t there?”

“Yes, well,” the flustered angel replied. “That was, ah, circumstances being what they were, you understand-“

“The point is, I’m not dead anymore, so I’ll be going on home now, okay? Nice to meet you!” With that, the man put the car into gear and drove away. As he tore off down the road, something small and green flipped out the window. Maxwell cautiously approached. It was his air freshener, now lying forlornly on the pavement, still smelling limply of pine.

Maxwell bent down to pick it up. All at once, there was yet another flash and a bang. The air freshener exploded in a spray of green, showering the angel with pine needles and sap. In the distance, he heard the sound of mocking laughter.

“That does it,” Maxwell said. “That is the absolute last time I’m escorting anyone to the afterlife! I have had it!” Extending his wings, he blasted skywards, heading straight for the Pearly Gates. Surely there had to be a spot open in Angel Choir. No one ever got blasted with tree sap in Angel Choir.

Catrina vs. Nessie, Part Two

by

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine and the wizard Merlin had just been transported to Loch Ness thanks to the evil machinations of Catrina’s arch-nemesis Susan. Worse yet, Catrina and Merlin are about to confront the dreaded Loch Ness Monster…

“Stand aside!” Merlin said. “I shall defeat the foul creature!”

“No need.” Catrina said pleasantly. “I have this, thanks.” She raised Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor. “It’ll just be a moment.” Mlrning flashed a blinding white. The waters of the loch suddenly froze solid, locking the monster in place. Before Nessie quite realized what was happening, Catrina had spun the shovel round in a circle, unleashing a flurry of snowballs. “Ah, blast,” Catrina said. “I meant to freeze the thing solid, not pelt it with snowballs.”

“Perhaps now I shall defeat the foul creature?” Merlin said hopefully.

“Give me a second!” Catrina waved Mlrning again. This time a beam of white light shot from the shovel’s enchanted blade, striking the monster dead-on and encasing it in a massive block of ice. “Well, that’s over,” Catrina said. “Now, I believe we were looking for-“

At that moment several SUVs with tinted windows roared in around them, skidding to a halt on the shores of the loch. Several dark-suited men emerged, all thoroughly armed and complete with ominous sunglasses. “Excuse me!” said one of them, approaching Catrina. “We’re going to have to ask you to come with us!”

“Ask?” Catrina said. “Then I politely decline. We’re on an adventure, you see. Not sure who you people are, but-“

Once again she was interrupted before she could finish her sentence. “Name’s not important,” the man said. “We’re with the Monster Preservation Bureau. Our current directive is to keep awareness of the LNM to a minimum, maintaining plausible deniability and the stability of the civilian population. Which is somewhat difficult to do when you’ve frozen her in a giant block of ice for everyone to see.”

“Ah,” Catrina said. “You’re government guys.”

“Yes,” said the agent. “You might say that.”

“Cool. I’m from a constitutional monarchy myself, so we don’t have much call for your types. At least, I think we have a constitution. I should probably look into that. Merlin, remind me when this is all over, check on Shmirmingard’s constitution.”

“Consti-what?”

“Never mind.” Catrina turned back towards the government man. “Look, I can unfreeze the monster, no problem, and then you all can handle her and I’ll be on my way. Deal?”

“Not quite,” said the agent. “It’s usually our policy to wipe the memories of anyone who’s obtained a visual of the LNM. No hard feelings. You understand. We’ll just need a min-”

This time it was his turn to be interrupted, but not by Catrina. She would have interrupted, she was not at all keen to have her memory wiped, but Merlin had got there before her. “You dare?” rumbled the wizard. “You dare?”

Before any of the government people could do anything, Merlin waved his wand and boomed something in Latin. There was yet another blinding flash. Catrina blinked hard. “Remind me to bring a pair of sunglasses on my next thrilling adventure,” she said. “Where did they all go?”

“I turned them all into semi-aquatic salamanders.”

“Newts, you mean?”

“Yes. They’ll get better.”

“I’ve heard that,” Catrina said. “Right. Now, can we try the transporting to the Lady of the Lake again? I’d rather not hang around here until these people get reinforced. Or what’s her name breaks out of the ice.”

“Very well,” Merlin said, and muttered another incantation. This time they disappeared with a simple popping sound, leaving behind them only a collection of bewildered newts in sunglasses and a very irritated, very cold lake monster.

This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. Be sure and tune in next time, as Catrina continues her search for the Lady of the Lake, and the magical sword Excalibur. Little does she know….

Guardians

by

“Right, everyone, listen up!” Raphael called. The angel assembly dutifully fell silent, with only the most minimal ruffling of wings. Raphael ran down the assignment list briefly. “Donny, you’re on guardian detail. Lisa, same. And let’s try and cut back on the head injuries, okay?”

“Sure, boss,” Lisa said, as her fellow angels giggled around her. “But hey, you know a better way to stop people cheatin’ on other people than whacking them over the head with a frying pan, you let me know.”

“How about calm reasonable persuasion?” Raphael said tiredly.

“How about a mailbox? I’ve been thinking about switching to a mailbox. More balance in the swing, and all that.”

“Just try talking them out of it before you clobber them, okay? Now then, Anna, you’re on guardian too. I know you just transferred over from Angel Choir, so make sure you read the packet before you start. This job involves a lot less singing and a lot more stopping bad things from happening. Your charge is about four months from being born, so you’ve got time. You’ll be stationed in…ah. Chernobyl.”

Anna blinked. “Are they letting people in there now?”

Raphael shrugged. “Unofficially, yeah.”

“Cool,” Anna said laconically.

After the assignments were announced, Lisa darted over to where Anna was gathering her paperwork together. “Hey, my guy’s in Chernobyl too. I was just heading down there. Wanna tag along?”

“Sure,” Anna said. “You are not planning on hitting my person with a mailbox, are you?”

“Not unless he grows up and cheats,” Lisa said.

Anna rifled through her packet. “It seems to be a girl.”

“She, then,” Lisa said. “I’m equal opportunity that way.”

“Why is this a thing with you?” Anna asked curiously.

“Pre-angel. Long story.”

Several months went by. Anna was on guard in the corner of the small crumbling brick house. Her charge still hadn’t been born yet, but from what Anna could tell, the child would arrive any day now. So far, the most guardian work Anna had done was making sure the baby wasn’t affected by the radioactivity still lingering in the atmosphere.

The mother was reading a book by the window, although she didn’t seem to be paying much attention. Anna surmised she was worried about the father. Now that Anna thought about it, the man was past his usual time.

Then the door opened, and the father came in, looking rather the worse for wear. “You would not believe what happened to me,” he exclaimed. “I was just coming from taking a tour through the zone, you know how the tourists come all the time now, and one of the tourist women came at me with a mailbox!”

“A mailbox?” the mother said.

“You would not believe,” the father repeated. “She swung it like the superhero in the American movies, the one with the hammer. She was crazy! And then she ran off and the police acted like they couldn’t see her!”

“How curious,” the mother said. Anna was thinking the same thing, until she looked past the father, out the window to the barbed wire fence outside. Lisa stood, grimly clutching a white wooden post in one hand. Anna sighed. This was going to be a complication.

Myna Chang

Dinosaurs. Robots. Kung Fu.

Textwall

The road to the forum is paved with good intentions.

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Delight Through Logical Misery

Taking the sayings,thoughts and themes that make us happy and ruining them with science and logic and then ...um...happiness might come from that. Or at least some sort of smugness that's very similiar.

r a r a s a u r

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

That Darn Kat

curiouser and curiouser

It's Not About A Church

It's about following Jesus ...

Erin McCole Cupp

Hope & Healing for Broken Grown-Ups

that cynking feeling

You know the one I'm talking about . . .

The History of Love

Romantic relationships 1660–1837

polysyllabic profundities

Random thoughts with sporadically profound meaning

Stewartry

Book reviews and general nonsense

Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

You say you want an evolution...

Ned's Blog

Humor at the Speed of Life