A Vignette, Of Sorts

By Eric Burns


"It's what, then?"

The Cherub looked perturbed. She had been looking perturbed for most of the day, he had noticed. He suspected it had something to do with the dog tag around her neck -- the one that said 'Judgement' with what looked like a little cloak around it. That wasn't the oddity of the Cherub looking perturbed -- not at all. No, the oddity was that she was an oversized lioness (a species not known for their smallness even where he had originally come from) with what seemed to be a twenty-four foot wingspan, and yet gave off the same musty essence of a rather old, rather crotchety, rather annoying librarian he'd once been exposed to during Second Year for months at a time. Said librarian had the uncanny ability to seem both put out and affronted at the same time, in much the same way she had the ability to wear the same grey skirt and white starched blouse for twenty-four straight years without once considering 'fashion' or 'taste.'

"I've told you," she said, finally. "It's called a Cadre. For... well, souls."

"Like me," he said. He hadn't quite gotten the hang of being a soul. He'd just gotten around to getting the hang of the exercycle in the first place. Getting the hang of said cycle being his passage into the world beyond was rather more difficult, he was finding.

"Precisely." She wrinkled her nose. "They write, too."



"Dead writers."


He looked distant, for a moment. "I expect they've gotten rather more popular as a result."

The Cherub sighed. With the Archangel of Creation off doing He know's what in He know's where, the blessed souls that ordinarily would have been processed by his organization were generally being shuffled about to other organizations as need be. The Most Just had suggested she handle this one, as he'd reviewed her last Triad report and remarked dryly that she must have quite a sense of humor to think it was complete and accurate. She hadn't been punished before now. She now understood what just punishment was, in this case. "Look. They're a Cadre of blessed souls of you writers -- the more fanciful ones, mostly -- and they go out and do good things on Heaven's behalf. I thought you might be interested."

"Good things?" The soul looked puzzled again, and compensated for his sudden confusion by putting his hands in his dressing gown. (He hadn't complained about appearing at the Gates in a dressing gown. Oddly enough, it conformed to his sense of the appropriate.) "So... these dead writers are running off to the post for Heaven, picking up Chinese take out, walking the blessed pets and whatnot?"

The Cherub sighed again. "Look. You don't expect we'd send our revered Saints--"

He blinked again. "Saint? I thought I was a Soul!"

"You are a Soul. But if you join up with the Cadre, you become a Saint when you go back down to Earth and--"

"Would I need one of those halos? Or for that matter, would I have to go and perform three miracles? I'm not sure I can -- I'm a fair hand at juggling, if I have enough gin to soften me up, but--"

"No," the Cherub said intently. "You do not need to perform miracles. You would go down to Earth and fight Demons alongsi--"

"Um... pardon. But... did you say fight Demons?"


"I'd rather think my fighting a demon would be a miracle, don't you?"

The Cherub was well aware of the standing restrictions on what the Heavenly Host could and could not say to the Blessed Souls of those who met their Destiny. The Archangel of the Sword was quite clear on that, and the Most Just was quite clear on his support of the Archangel of the Sword. In fact, the Cherub had been directly responsible for chastizing, judging and punishing no less than thirty-three seperate Angels of Choirs ranging from Ofanim to Kyriotates for uncouth and disturbing language and attitudes with the Blessed. She was quite good at it, really. So, she took yet another deep breath, indulged in yet another sigh, and turned back to the Blessed. "Yes. It would. We would teach you Miracles before you went, you see."

"So... I do have to perform three miracles to be a Saint."

"NO YOU SODDING WELL DO N--" She paused, took yet another deep breath, forgoed the sigh, and said. "It is optional, of course. You really should discuss it with Saint Robert if you're interested."

"Mm. Perhaps. Though for right now... well, I feel most terribly embarrassed to ask--"

"No no," the Cherub said, her bearing screaming the depths of the inconvenience this simian in the dressing gown was putting her to. "No no, this is Heaven. Your eternal reward. Please. Feel free to ask anything."

"Well... might I get a cup of tea? I'm feeling rather lost without it."

The Cherub took rather a long pause. Deciding a good sigh would feel lovely right about now, she took it. "Of course. Anything else?"

"Well... perhaps...." The soul considered, and decided. His sense of the appropriate was being bent into different shapes by all this, and as his sense of the practical was about used up from the entire experience of death, he gave it free rein. "I could really use a towel."

"A... towel?"

"Yes. It would make me feel ever so much better."

The Cherub discovered she had absolutely nothing she could say to that. In fact, it was so far out of her experience that she found herself doing the only thing she could. She said, in a clear, almost conciliatory voice, "right... this way, sir."

The soul smiled a touch. He could see he would get along fine here, so long as he could get a cup of tea and a towel. Though really, the place needed a better way to convey information about who and where he was.

Then again, perhaps he'd write one. He was known for guides, and he expected he'd have the time.


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