Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chapter 1

“So what’s this call for again?”

“Some souls called in a few minutes ago. It’s a disorderly spirits call.”

“I hate these calls. You never know what’s going to happen.”

“True, but we have to treat them with some kind of respect according to Celestial Law. They are still Gods after all, and we should treat them as such.”

“Yeah whatever. You ready to get into character?”

“Yes, I believe so.”

It’s a dark and stormy night in Columbus, Ohio. But then, it’s been a dark and stormy night here for the past 5 nights, and 5 days. That’s why me and my partner are here. My name’s Joe Ruffino, and my partner is Chike Umenyiora. We’re Angels.




Me and my partner had been called to a Disorderly Spirits violation in Columbus after the resident souls around the Statehouse started complaining about a couple of newcomers showing up and making a general mess of the place. Lost souls are the souls of those who never subscribed to a particular religion or belief system in life, so after they die a lot of them just linger around Earth as what most people understand to be ghosts. They putter around like recent retirees, trying to resolve whatever issues they had in life until their applications go through. Ghosts have three options; they can screw around for the rest of eternity as ghosts, apply to heaven, or apply for another go around in reincarnation. Since the divine reincarnation office is all the way in India, the waiting list for reincarnation is enormous. Getting into Heaven is just as hard as you have to present a pretty good case. It’s like going to traffic court without a lawyer; you may get over if you’re really good, but most of the time you’re going to end up having to pay a bunch of money and getting points anyway.

In any event, most ghosts are reasonable people, just like they were in life. They just want to go about living their afterlives in peace. That’s what the ghosts of Columbus where doing up until a week ago, when these two showed up.

We found ourselves in front of the old Statehouse that most of the older, more respectable ghosts called home. As we landed, our wings folded in flat against our backs. It was generally considered bad form to flaunt our wings and halos around ghosts, since they obviously didn’t have either. For the most part we just looked like Feds to them. All angels wear the usual suits and trench coats you’d see any FBI agent in… well, not exactly usual. Angels wear blindingly white suits and trench’s with gold buttons and trim. I mean we have to stand out at least a little, or else where’s the fun of being an Angel? We keep our halos in our jacket pockets though, just like where I used to keep my badge when I became a detective. Our Halos are our symbols of being ambassadors of The Boss, but we usually only wear them on our heads for special occasions. I let Chike take the point, as he has a lot more experience with these sorts of things than I do. Plus he’s 6’4, dark, and way more imposing than a 5’ 11” Guido from the Bronx. I was a New York City Cop for 15 years, but I never had to deal with anything like this before. He knowcked on the door and asked if anyone was in there; a silly question in retrospect, because there were obviously three or four elephants slam dancing in there. “Who wants ta know!” came a literally booming voice from inside. Chike, unfazed, called back “It’s the DBI, Angels Umenyiora and Ruffino. Open up.” I heard what sounded like something big and heavy scraping across the floor and what were either small bombs exploding, or the footsteps of a very large man approaching the door. “Yeah sure… you’re Angels? Where are your Halos? Chike stepped back and pulled out his Halo, lighting up the area for a good 15 feet. There was another reason we don’t like to have our halos out all of the time; they attract a lot of attention, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The doors to the statehouse had glass panels in them, and the tree of a man that approached the doors crouched down to observe what Chike had produced. “Hmph”, he grunted “Angels always showing up to spoil the fun. Dad, get off yer arse and come here. We got trouble.” The doors opened and out stepped the tree of a man in question. He was at least 8 ft tall, and the air around him smelt of ozone and electricity. “Thor”, I said, I never thought I’d actually see you. They told us stories of you in the academy”. Thor puffed out his chest and looked down at me with a look of smug superiority, which isn’t hard to pull off when you’re 8 ft tall. “Aye, an what tales will they tell when they see what I do to you?” At that point Chike, Thankfully, intervened. “Now Thor, this doesn’t have to go the way it always goes with you two. We can all just agree to disagree, and you can stop pelting the city with lightening. You know that you’re violating several Celestial Law Codes, mainly because you’ve broken all of them at some point. So why don’t you and your father just move along, and we can all have a nice, peaceful night.” Thor snorted the snort of a Bull that had just eaten a Jalapeno.

“Hey Da, ya hear that? They say we should move along like a couple of wet behind the ears newborn sheep. Ya think we should?” At that point an equally sequoia-like man with a Raven on each shoulder stepped from the doorway and eyed me lazily. He could only eye me, because, well, he only had one eye. Are ya daft boy. I like this town, and no puny pigeon-winged angels are gonna tell me ta move on when I’ve a mind to stay put.” Thor grinned wildly, electricity in his eyes. Thunder boomed behind us, and I knew that, as usual, these two were going to do things the hard way. He swirled his Hammer, Mjolnir around his hand in short arcs, looking at me the way fat people look at a cake display. I had my poker face on. It was one of those times that I was glad I was dead so I physically as not able to shit myself. There was an entire class on “weapons of the Lesser Gods” at the DBI academy, and I had done pretty well at it. Mjolnir was one of the most destructive carried by a non Archangel. I drew my sword which, of course, seemed painfully undersized for the job at hand. Thor almost giggled at me, which was far more frightening than him outright laughing at me. “An what’re ya gonna do ta me with dat ya lil pigeon? Pick me teeth?” I sighed and looked at Chike, “why do they never, ever pick the easy way?”