Once, an angel accidentally fell out of heaven and landed on the Earth. As anyone who’s ever tried can tell you, it’s very hard to get to heaven from the Earth, so for the time being, the angel decided to try to blend in. It saw this as an opportunity to study up-close the creatures that it had loved so much from afar.
Unfortunately, it soon found that humans were best loved from a distance. To an eternal being, it is easy to wave aside the slaughter of millions of unimportant mortals and focus on the incredible creations of beauty from the few, as well as the impressive achievements of the race as a whole. Up-close, however, their pettiness, close-mindedness and selfishness was disgusting to a creature made of pure love.
Doubly unfortunately, the angel soon found that as distanced as it was from the source of all life, it needed to find its energy elsewhere, namely in food. Having never attended university, or indeed any school at all, the angel had no marketable skills, and its physical form was much too frail for manual labor. It did, however, have one remarkable talent. It could sing songs the likes of which the human mind could barely conceive. Up until recently, the angel had lived in the midst of the divine, and could, with its voice, conjure scenes of such sweetness and light that even the most cynical couldn’t help but listen.
Every time it sang, however, it grew more and more depressed, as it reminded itself of the beauty it would never experience again. It tried to cope with its depression in the same way humans do. It tried drugs (both pharmaceutical and otherwise), sex, TV, even religion. Nothing could soothe the soul of the poor creature. Although great damage had already been done, it adopted the human phrase “better late than never,” and quit singing to become a dishwasher. People who had heard it sing tracked it down and begged it to come back.
“You must sing for us!” they shouted, “Your gift is too good not to share! Your songs lift us up and bring us visions of a greater world than this one! Your songs make everyone better for having heard them!”
Although jaded, its love for humanity was still too great to refuse their demands, especially with the knowledge that its songs were making them better. The years went on and the angel’s light darkened, until eventually one day, it didn’t appear to sing at its appointed time. They found it in its bedroom, a bullet hole in its head and a gun in its hand.
And the people wept. Not for the angel, of course, but for themselves because now they wouldn’t be able to hear its songs.
Angels poured out of the rip in the sky in a never-ending stream. The blinding white light shone down from the hole almost metaphorically, as if it were illuminating the spiritual darkness of the city below. And still the angels poured out of heaven, landing in heaps in the streets of Las Vegas.
And this had to happen on the day I’m assigned to take the new guy around, Officer Jarvis sighed to himself.
The kid stared at the sky, his fresh face glowing in wonder and fear.
“Has this ever happened before?” the rookie asked, gasping.
“New one on me,” Jarvis grunted.
By now people were beginning to notice the tear between heaven and earth. Some screamed, some sunk to their knees and cried, some tried to run away.
“But what does it mean?” the kid asked.
“What does it mean?” Jarvis said, surprised the kid didn’t get it. “It means I’m not going to make it home in time to watch Survivor tonight.”
Excerpt from the journals of Robert Witherstone, archeologist.
July 12th, 1894
We made our first excavations into the structure today. Amazingly, it seems to be a library, stretching on as far as the eye can see. I don’t see how a library of this size could have been lost without any record of its existence, unless it perhaps it is the hidden hall of some ancient Indian tribe. If so, this discovery could be a breakthrough in anthropology, finally giving us a written record of the history of this continent before colonization! I have taken a few volumes back to study and attempt to decode them.
July 12th, 1894 (later)
I have made an amazing discovery — the books are in English! The first one I opened turned out to be a history of the American Revolution. Something’s not quite right about it though. The book claims the war ended at the Siege of Yorktown when George Washington ate General Cornwallis. Perhaps this is a mistranslation from an original, different work written in another language, because this can’t be what the author meant to say.
July 13th, 1894
Read more of the books in the library today. Most of the books on science seem fairly normal, but the fiction is perverse and terrible. Worst of all are the supposed “histories.” I found a volume detailing the colonization of Africa, but rather than referring to the cannibalism practiced by the savages there, it described the Europeans as cannibalizing the Africans they killed! All of this is most unsettling, and I am not sure what to think. I am normally the type of man to laugh at silly superstitions, but the fact that today is Friday the 13th does not help my unease. I will continue to examine the volumes contained here in an attempt to get to the bottom of this.
July 16, 1894
Lord have mercy. I do not know what sort of unholy place we have found, but it has to be destroyed. Today I found a Bible (if, indeed, you can call such profanity a Bible).
The familiar stories were replaced with grotesque and disturbing tales of sadistic violence, culminating in the most awful blasphemy of all. The author of this monstrosity wrote the story of the Lord’s Supper as literal rather than symbolic. Christ order his disciples to literally kill him, drink his blood, and eat him. We have set up a fire in the center of the structure and are burning all the books we can lay hands on. We have also set up explosives to collapse the cave in the morning so that nobody else can stumble on this blighted place.
July 17th, 1894
We collapsed the cave today. Jones was injured in the blast. He is conscious, but his leg is too hurt for him to walk. It is slow going having to carry him.
July 18th, 1894
Returned to the University today. No doubt it is my addled nerves still in shock from the horror I discovered, but something about the students makes me uneasy. I do not like the look in their eyes; it seems alien in some way. While they commonly use strange slang and colloquialisms with which I am not familiar, it recently seems to have gotten even stranger, so much so that I sometimes cannot even tell what they are talking about.
Doubtless I am still in shock from the events of the previous few days and this will pass.
July 19th, 1894
I spoke with Jones’ doctor today. He is a nervous man, continually licking his lips and grimacing. His manner is overbearing, his breath is terrible and his teeth are unpleasant. But I digress. In any case, he told me that Jones’ injuries are much worse than they had appeared at first. Apparently he had a great deal of internal injuries as well. They are not sure if he will pull through.
July 20th, 1894
Jones succumbed to his injuries today. The funeral arrangements are being made.
July 22nd, 1894
Jones’ funeral was today. The preacher was very strange. I’m not quite sure what he meant when he said Jones’ soul was “swallowed up” by the Lord. I did like his point that Jones would be “a part of us forever,” though.
Although there was one good thing. As strange or flippant as it might be to mention, the food at the reception afterwords was fantastic.
The afterlife’s not quite how you learned in church. There’s no final judgement, no splitting off into Heaven or Hell. Oh, there’s a Heaven of course, but not many people go there right away. There’s still too much work to be done. Only the most perfect can be allowed in, of course, or else it wouldn’t be Heaven. But there’s still hope. After you die, you pick right up on where you left off. Only all the distractions are cut out and the journey is all that’s left. No need to eat or sleep, just pure self-improvement, discovery and enlightenment.
The journey’s different for everyone, based on whatever someone’s strengths or weaknesses are. The greedy have to learn to share, the selfish have to learn to put others before them, the paranoid have to learn to trust. And of course the hardest of all — everyone has to learn to love themselves. Truly love themselves, not what passes for it in most peoples’ lives. After all, how can someone who doesn’t think they deserve Paradise possibly deserve Paradise?
Don’t think it’s easy though. There’s no map and there’s no guarantee you’re even going the right way. Most people are still wandering. If it’s taken you 70 years and you’re not ready yet, what makes you think you’ll get there in the next 70?
The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. – Psalm 121:8
That was written in chalk on the sidewalk as I left my apartment. I didn’t think too much about it at the time. It’s really not that uncommon around here for some church group to write Bible verses on the sidewalk for passers-by to see, though they usually pick more well-known ones.
On the way to lunch I passed a few more. I noticed “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. – Psalms 119:35” on a small wall along the sidewalk and smiled at the irony of “Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. – Proverbs 25:16” scrawled outside the McDonald’s I ate at. I was a little puzzled as to how they managed to write “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. – Exodus 14:16” in the crosswalk of a busy intersection, but I had to admire their dedication. All these verses spread so wide, perhaps it was some sort of city-wide event all the churches had decided to do.
My amusement ended when I saw “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. – Matthew 6:19” spraypainted on the front of my office building.
“Hey, you guys see what those Jesus Freaks did?” I asked Jen and Paul as I came back to work. They looked at each other and shrugged.
“They spray painted a Bible verse on the front of the building. Strange that you didn’t see it, they must have just done it right before I got back.” We all shook our heads. The neighborhood sure was going to shit these days.
Seeing “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. – 2 Kings 2:11” painted on the hood of my car didn’t improve my mood any, especially given the heavy traffic I had to sit in on the way home and the strange looks I got.
But when I saw “And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. – Genesis 28:17” painted on my door, it was the last straw. Furious, I called the police. The bored attendant took my statement and said they’d send someone in the morning. Clicking on my E-mail, a message popped up — “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. – Psalms 37:8.” Unknown sender. I hit delete and went to bed, fuming.
The next morning I woke up to find that they had broken into my house overnight. Every possible surface was covered with Bible verses.
I began to go through all the rooms, marking down and noting all the verses I could find. Whoever did this was meticulous. All of the verses were there. Except one. The one that you’d most expect to find.
All the verses written except one. All the surfaces in the house written on…except one. My body.
It was clear now what had to be done. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife (“Jesus wept” carved in beautiful ornate script on one side, “- John 11:35” on the other).
Walking into the bathroom, I stood in front of the mirror, shirtless, and began to write.
“For God so loved the world…”
(Just joining us? Go back to the beginning of the story.)
“Hey lady!” shouted Alex, “Over here!”
They had jumped dramatically through the window of the hotel to rescue Jenny. She caught sight of them and ran over.
“Come on y’all, back in the hotel!” shouted Billy.
The three of them ran back to the hotel and dove through the window not a moment too soon. Jenny’s pursuers howled in heat and anger that their quarry had escaped. The three of them sat on the floor panting, when Billy looked up.
“Oh hey there sweet pea, I wondered where your pretty little self got off to there,” he said, smiling at the woman he met in the bar.
The woman smiled back, but her smile was filled with razor sharp teeth that dripped with blood. She lunged at Alex, biting him on the arm.
“Shit!” he screamed, shaking her off, “Back out the window!”
“Wait!” Billy said, taking a bottle of booze out of his pocket. “Gonna drive off those sons of guns first.” He fashioned himself a molotov cocktail, lit it on fire, then through it out the window. The three followed.
Unfortunately, they found themselves in a writhing mass of horny zombies. To make matters worse, several of the zombies were now on fire. Jenny was the first to go down. By playing hard-to-get, she’d annoyed and upset the zombies even more. Alex was futilely trying to beat of a paramour of his own. Billy, on the other hand, had caught on fire when one of the flamboyantly flaming zombies started to dryhump him.
As Billy went down in flames, he caught Alex’s eyes one last time. Alex looked at him sadly from beneath a pile of writhing bodies.
“Young man,” Billy said, haltingly, “I ain’t known you that long but I got somethin I gotta tell ya.”
“What’s that?” asked Alex, choking back a sob that was partially caused by this heartfelt moment, and partially from the intense sense of violation he felt.
“I gotta tell ya…”
Moaning and groaning.
“…that even though…”
Disgusting slurping noises.
“…you’re just some no-good punk kid…”
“What? What?” Alex shouted, straining to reach Billy, knowing deep in his heart that Billy was going to say what both of them knew, to reveal the powerful forbidden feelings that they’d felt for each other since the moment they’d met. That he would tell him how different things would have been under different circumstances, how this whole horrible apocalypse had ruined everything but still, they’d found a brief moment of happiness in the few minutes they’d spent together.
“…the Baby Jesus loves you.”
(Just joining us? Go back to the beginning of the story.)
Billy walked out of the bar into the main lobby of the hotel, zombie chick in tow. He spotted Alex, who was looking around the room in a panic.
“Well now what’s the problem here?” asked Billy.
“There’s a bunch of sex freaks outside,” Alex said, “And pretty soon they’re gonna be in here! We gotta get out!”
Billy took a look out the front door, which had been shoddily barricaded by Alex. The zombies outside were humping the door furiously in an attempt to get in.
“Well now y’all just calm down,” Billy said, kneeling, “We gotta pray to the Baby Jesus for strength.”
Alex looked around the lobby in a panic as Billy prayed. “We can’t go out the front, I guess we gotta break into one of the rooms and get out the window that way,” Alex said, rushing at one of the doors, trying to break it open.
“Hey now calm down son!” shouted Billy, “Don’t go breakin’ those doors down! I own this place!” He took a key out of his pocket and calmly unlocked the door.
Alex ran to the window and looked out. He gasped in horror as he saw Jenny running towards the hotel. “Look, those perverts are chasing that woman! We gotta save her!”
“Alright,” Billy said, “I guess that would be ’bout the most polite thing to do.”
Billy’s date said nothing, but stood in the room drooling on herself.