|The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,|
especially if the slow, weak guys know how to cheat.
On her knees, thirteen year old Colleen Serna trembled. This morning, she had pleasured herself in her own bed before her parents awoke. To compound her sin, she had failed to mention it to the priest at confession. Now, she was about to commit the worst sin of all. She was going to take communion with a mortal sin on her soul. She grasped the cup offered to her by the priest. To refuse communion was unthinkable. Yet to tell the priest of her secret sin was even more unthinkable. She raised the chalice to her lips... A bolt of energy sprung wide the gates of Heaven and came screaming through the lower realms. Faster than starlight, full of righteous light and flame, it exploded like lightning through the Earth's atmosphere and descended into the very church where Colleen Serna knelt at the altar. The Angel of Death stood, tall and terrible, before the young communicant. To its flaming eyes, unbound by time and space, the chalice appeared frozen half way to the young girl's lips. The Dark Angel raised its terrible flaming sword, preparing to bring it down on her head... "You got a warrant, pal?" The Angel lowered its sword in amazement. "Who dares!" it boomed. Looking down, it finally caught sight of a diminutive angelic presence, standing near the condemned girl. "I dare, that's who," the little angel said. It whipped out a scroll that read: Barnabas, Guardian Angel, first class, Registration No. 12478349526. "You're going to have to show me a warrant before you go executing my client, pal," said the guardian angel, pointing to the girl. The Angel of Death laughed. It was a bitter, hard laugh, a laugh that sounded like an old man's death rattle, like bare branches scraping together in a wind storm, like a mailed fist scratching on a bolted door. "So, you want to see my WARRANT, little one?" "That's MISTER little one to you, pal, and yes I do." "Very well. I'll show you my WARRANT." The Angel of Death unscrewed the handle of its flaming sword. It reached within the hollow handle with its bony fingers and extracted a tiny scroll. A gilded Gothic lettering shimmered off the ancient parchment. The lettering read:
* * *Barnabas didn't think of himself as a particularly frightening celestial being. So he was a little surprised at the look of dread on Miss Serna's face when he materialized in front of her. "Oh, yeah," he said, "Uh, be not afraid. Thou shalt not die. I bring you good tidings. And all that biz." She backed away from him, wide-eyed. "Listen, missy. I think the Boss would agree with me on this. There is nothing wrong with tripping your own trigger now and then. You carnal beings seem to need to scratch that itch. But if it's time to hit the altar rail, see the priest first and get yourself cleaned up next time, okay? It's nothing he hasn't heard before, after all. You wouldn't go to the prom in sweat pants, wouldja?" Miss Serna had no response. "Well, wouldja?" "No," she said finally, in a very tiny voice. "I've made my point," the guardian angel said, and then he vanished.
* * *There was one thing left to take care of. The Boss wasn't going to be very happy about losing one of his heavy hitters. He'd have to be told, of course. Barnabas timidly pushed open the door to the great throne room, trembling as he approached. "It's like this " he began, but he was interrupted by the most melodious of all voices. WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. FOR I WILL HAVE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE. AND THE CHILDREN OF THE LOWER REALMS ARE WISER IN THEIR OWN WAY THAN THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT. Barnabas left the throne room walking on air. He gave himself two big thumbs up. A good day's work, all in all.
X X XHey Joe, howdja like this one, buddy? I got it first, nyaaah, nyaaah, nyahhh--er, sorry. This pleasant little tale charmed me mightily. Hope you felt the same way. - GM