Foreclosing on the House of God

When the angel appeared in Cassie’s living room with a broadsword in his side – bright, blood-stained steel sticking out from between two halves of leaf-thin, gold-plated armour – she was absolutely positive she was having a stroke. When after a moment he not only didn’t vanish but also started talking directly to her, she began to fear she was merely losing her mind.

She’d heard him coming before she’d seen anything – a static crackle and a string of expletives poured out of a celestial fissure that opened right in front of her while she was sitting on her couch, eating a bowl of popcorn and watching the nightly news. The angel materialized in layers, like an X-ray growing fat with detail – pearl-white skin, long, dark hair, wearing a tattered brown overcoat that barely covered his rather ornate-looking armour. And that was to say nothing of the two large, condor-like wings protruding from his backside.

“Hell and damn!” he cried, stumbling forward. He propped himself up, one hand on the arm of Cassie’s couch, the other gripping the hilt of the broadsword in his side. “Fucking holy blades are always lighting on fire when you least want them to.” He wiggled the hilt, cringed. Looked up at the deer in headlights staring back at him. “Give me a hand? Damn thing cauterized as it went in.”

Cassie, her lap filled with spilled popcorn, did not move.

The angel snapped his fingers. “Hello? Wingless, I’m talking to you.”

“M-m-me?” Cassie pointed to her chest like she’d just been called to the front of the class.

The angel glanced around the room with exaggerated aplomb. He glowered at the thirty-five-year-old in grey sweats, her hair lazily pulled back. “Y-y-you see anyone else?”

Cassie reluctantly stood up. The angel angled towards her, and she saw clearly the charred skin cementing the blade in his side. The flesh around the wound resembled charcoal briquettes that had shrivelled into a brittle crust. She felt the contents of her stomach scaling the walls of her oesophagus.

“You want me to—”

“I want you to pull it out,” he said. “Sword-in-the-stone style. Think you can do that?”

Cassie nodded. “I think so. Will it hurt?”

“No, it will feel just like a summer’s breeze. Of course it will fucking hurt!”

“Okay, okay, sorry, I was just asking.”

“Will it hurt . . . Unbelievable.” The angel reached down to a small coffee table next to the couch, pulled a pencil from a jar of writing utensils. He bit down on it and nodded curtly. “A’ight, lesh do ’is.”

“Come again?”

He pulled the pencil out. “I said, let’s do this.”

Cassie hesitantly placed both hands around the hilt then let go a second time. “I-I don’t think I can do this. Who are you and . . . and why are you in my house?”

The angel sighed. “Calm down. I’ll tell you everything you want to know after you’ve pulled this goddamn sword from my side.”

“How are you not dead?” she asked, staring at the blade six inches deep into his flesh.

“Do I really need to explain it to you?” He fluttered his impressive wings.

“Right . . . Okay. I think.”

“So just take a deep breath, wrap your hands around the handle, and give it a good yank, yeah?” He bit down on the pencil again.

Cassie did as she was instructed, but the blade only wiggled as if glued in place.

“’Arder!”

Cassie tried again, tightening her grip and pulling with as much strength as she could muster. After seven or eight seconds of agonizing pain, the charred flesh around the blade finally cracked, and Cassie staggered back holding the blood-encrusted broadsword in her hands. The angel spat out the two pieces of the pencil he’d bitten in half and tumbled to the ground, muttering “Fuck me!” as he fell.

~~~

 

>>The Singularity, issue 4, 2016

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