Arlan Andrews, Sr.
I wash the dusty feet of Jesus; I wipe His Mother’s furrowed brow.
Under the bright lights of the museum’s mobile maintenance cart, my careful inspection of the statue reveals that Michaelango’s Pieta is none the worse for wear. I think, Miraculously, they’ve even repaired the hammer damage, almost out loud. But not too loudly. Who knows what they can hear? Only an hour ago, when I asked aloud for this masterpiece to be brought to me, it had appeared within seconds, literally out of thin air. They must be listening. “Teleportation,” I whisper. “With this kind of technology, we could have had a great new world.”
“But we do, Companion Deckard,” a melodic voice behind me erupts, assaulting me with sincerity, pummeling me with pure love, “We do have a great new world, and so much more. And we wish for you to share it.”
Moaning, I turn to see which Angel they’ve sent this time. Hovering before me, wavering in and out of vision, stands one of the Angels—”numan beings”, they call themselves, but with that golden glow, those beatific faces, the hammering waves of glory they radiate, they are Angels but—
“I hate Angels,” I hiss. “You are the Death of Mankind, the bringers of Disaster, the—”
“Companion Deckard,” the Angel cuts me off, abruptly, though still with respectful overtones, ever those resonances of deepest concern. “This dialogue cannot continue. Although your heartfelt protestations and little temper tantrums have been rather interesting and challenging these last few weeks, we simply cannot waste any more time.” The Angel smiles wearily. “You must come with me, with us; you must come voluntarily, I admit, but you simply must. Eternity is so long to be alone, though if you stay behind you won’t live more than a few years. Lonely, lonely years.”
“Nonsense,” I reply, “I’ve got the entire Museum of Natural History around me, and you Angels have brought me every masterpiece our race ever made.” I wave at the overflowing shelves, the stacks of sculptures, the piles of paintings, the towering plastic skyscrapers of music CDs and DVDs, and I smile back. “Centuries of human culture, years of study, a lifetime of appreciation. All the best of what the race has thought and said and done and created, a legacy in which I, at least, find pride and solace. I’ll be quite content to stay human.”
“No, you will not. For all the others, save you, have Accepted the Words.” Don’t ask me how, but I could Hear. The. Capital. Letters.
At this I am indeed shocked; I hate myself for showing it. “All the others? Ybarra, Aleman, Shaw? I don’t believe you.” For these last few confusing weeks, there have been, like me, a few rebelliously defiant people around the world, real human beings fighting the alien changes that have destroyed our world. If I am the only one left, the Millennium will never come. Earth will be lonely without her own children, those of us who give Her consciousness and meaning.
The Angel shrugs, his rate of unsteady wavering increasing. For a moment he flickers totally out, and I am momentarily stunned at being left alone without even the courtesy of a “goodbye,” taking for granted the overweening politeness, the caring, I’ve come to associate with these new supercreatures. Within fractions of a second, though, the glorious figure re-emerges from whatever holy super-dimension it has been occupying for alternate slits of time. “This is the last conversation we can—afford—Companion Deckard. All of us are ready to depart, and we must depart as One, the One we have become.”
“To Hell with you, Angel,” I spit out bitter words. “You aren’t human any more! Look at yourself, look at all of you—you’ve all been mindwashed into something alien. Get out!” I reach for my nearest weapon. It is the dust mop I’ve been using to clean Michaelangelo’s stone masterpiece. To any observers the scene would look ridiculous, a janitor threatening an Angel with a mop, but I’m not embarrassed; it’s the thought that counts.