Chapter 1: Angelic Archives Department
The Angelic Archives Department at the Elysion Library, on the planet Elysion, in the Camulodunum System, about a million years later.
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. –Ecclesiastes 1:14, K.J.V.
And it came to pass that the librarian set in-motion the 11th Great Age of Creation, and the Angel did not get
the book he wanted.
Hatshepsut Nefertari Djeserit Fukayna, called Hat, looked up from the Canonical Acquisitions form when the man-shaped shadow fell over her desk. While eyeing the stranger critically, Hat returned her quill to the inkpot, scratched just above her right eye, sighed, and settled back into her chair.
It stood about a foot away from her desk, dressed in a khaki coloured trenchcoat, fedora hat, and sunglasses. She had not heard it come in through her office door.
“Yes, Angel, can I help you?” Hat asked, putting more annoyance into the noun than she actually felt.
“What makes you think I’m an Angel?” the I’m-not-admitting-anything Angel returned.
Hat considered what stood before her. It was over two meters tall, dressed in a long 1950s style khaki trench raincoat, with a matching fedora that did not quit hide its Angelic blond hair, and a pair of large black plastic sunglasses of the style that use to be referred to as “birth control spectacles.” Its body did not move other then to speak, and it had simply appeared in her office.
Let me see, Hat thought. A Demon wouldn’t be caught consecrated in that get-up. Fairies never hide. I know where all the Scions are, even the dead ones. So that leaves Angel, you dope.
“Lucky guess,” Hat said.
Then again, she thought, I don’t really look like what I really am either when it comes to that.
After more years than Hat could remember, which after the “end” of Terra never seemed worth keeping track of, Hat’s face was still that of a young woman in her early twenties.
Hat’s dark black north African Middle Eastern hair was drawn back in a bun roll, and her bright blue eyes looked out at the world. Her skin was a smooth creamy olive complexion that hinted at forsaken desire and the thrills of anticipation. When she nodded, loose curls of her hair rustled around her ears and neck. And, while Hat could be one of the most graceful dancing partners any mortal could ever hope for, her natural instincts bent toward the soft, slow, and deliberate movements of the woman born to be a librarian, or a biochemical engineer, or a neurosurgeon, all of which she was or had been. Hat had worn many different career hats in her unnaturally long life.
The Angel pulled off its fedora allowing its blond locks to fall to its shoulders, but left his sunglasses on. It leaned in on Hat.
Hat pushed her chair further back from the desk.
“I need a book,” the Angel said in what had to be the single worst excuse for a conspiratorial whisper in the whole history of the universe.
“Really?” Hat asked. “I swear- it never occurred to me that someone might come to a library looking for a book. Have you looked at How We Destroyed Humanity Through Television, Movies, Streaming Media, and Simulated Reality Facilities, by the Demon Fruchtbarkeitskultus? I believe you are mentioned in that one several times. One might even go so far as to say you’re an antagonist in that apologetic chronicle.”
“No, not just any book,” the Angel said ignoring the barb. “I need a book about universe creation.”
“Have you tried Genesis?” Hat asked, drumming her fingers on the arm of her chair. “Very popular that one, universe’s best seller.”
“Umm, I was thinking something more practical, sort of a how-to-manual,” the Angel conceded. “Yes, you know, a how to manual for Avatars or whatever, that teaches them how to make a universe.”
More like a how to for dummies, Hat thought.
“You mean a coding book for Simulated Reality Facilities?” Hat asked dryly. “Feeling the need to sow your oats all of a sudden? Talk to the Demons, that’s their gig. I don’t traffic in that sort of thing.”
“No, not a sim reality, an authentic reality. I want a manual with practical instructions on how to create a functional, believable, credible, narrative causality reality. With worksheets if you have them, please.”
“Ah well, Chariots of the Gods,” Hat said. “Very practical that one. Runs circles around itself even. Don’t know about narrative causality though. You’d have to talk to your Boss about that. Not my sphere of influence.”
The Angel winced.
“You trying to reboot humanity or something?” Hat asked standing up. “Best to let dead dogs lay.”
“Well, no, not really,” the Angel said, allowing the slightest hint of exasperation into his voice.
Hat leaned forward, and snatched the sunglasses off the Angel’s face.
“Mictlantecuhtli,” she said tossing the sunglasses onto her desk. “So, it is you. Why are you skulking around my library?”
The Angel lately identified as Mictlantecuhtli looked about himself in horror before realizing that they were the only ones in Hat’s office, and perhaps the only ones in this wing of the planetary library.
It is important for readers of this raillery tale to understand just what the Elysion Library is, even though the Elysion Library itself does not play a large role in near-future events. The Elysion Library always has and will continue to play a huge long-term role in the near-total preservation of mortal knowledge. But that’s another story and is recorded in The Murder of Basil Berry.
But for now, know that the Elysion Library is not just the “library of the Elysion planet,” or a “library about the Elysion planet,” or even the “official library of the planet Elysion.” The entire whole of the Elysion planet is the library. Which is why both the planet and the library have the same name.
There are over 17 trillion non-fiction books, 242 trillion fictional novels- most of which are considered to be “finished products,” 42 trillion journal series, some 3 quadrillion periodical series, and an untold amount of digital data stored on the planet. None of which has anything to do with the governmental archives of the entire Human species. However, as humanity was never much interested in improving its government when it had one, nobody has since been very interested in doing anything with the governmental archives- except the Demon Amy.
A word about the Demon Amy, who is also called Avnas. According to Johannes Wierus who authored the celebrated Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, the Demon Amy is the 57th, or 58th, or even the 60th great spirit of Hell. But more importantly, Amy is the President of Hell. Meaning the Demon actually wanted the job, campaigned for the job, and won the job. Really, what sort of a rat-rat bastard do you have to be to win an election in Hell? If you ever meet the blockhead, give the Demon a wide berth.
“Are we alone?” Mictlantecuhtli asked.
Hat sighed, picked up the Angel’s sunglasses off her desk, and handed them back to him. After sitting back down, Hat he considered for an instant telling the Angel the truth.
But where would be the fun in that?
And the Angel of the Lord came unto the Librarian and she blew the gaff. The end.
No, that will never do, Hat thought. Need some fun in my life for a change.
Hat had been persuaded that eternity was boring not by the arguments of her cousin Scions, or the temptations of the Demons, or by the seemingly never ending paperwork generated by the bureaucracy in Heaven, all of which she filed for future historians. She had, in the end, been persuaded that eternity was boring by the fact that a couple of years ago she had actually considered watching an episode of “Married With Children” because she had literally seen everything else humanity had ever filmed, even the brutal bits.
“Angel,” she said, “you’re standing in the Canonical Acquisitions section of the Angelic Archives Department of the Elysion Library about a million-billion years after the Final Match at Armagedōn. Ain’t nobody here but us Scions.”
Here we should pause for a few words of explanation:
Concerning time; immortal creatures- not be confused with Immortals, just your regular run of the mill immortal creatures like Angels, Demons, Fairies, gods, and cats pay as little attention to the passing of mortal years as mortals pay to the passing of seconds. Sometimes the years matter, sometimes they don’t. But either way, the main thing to pay attention to when immortals talk about time is whether or not they are using the proper noun form Time, or the past tense time, or the present tense, or the future tense verb form, since the words “a million years ago,” means as little to them as “last season” means to mortals.
And concerning the Final Match; this was the Big War between Heaven and Hell, one game, instant death, no take-backs, and no, absolutely no fans allowed on the field. Some people called this the Apocalypse, but as those people didn’t survive the Final Match long enough to form a consensus about the rhetoric, the oldie name failed to stick.
But whatever it was called, the Final Match did occur at Armagedōn; as in Armageddon from the Greek Ἁρμαγεδών, or the Hebrew הַר מְגִדּוֹ, or the Arabic هرمجدون, or آرماگدن, or Armagedōn, which is obviously correct, and much easier to spell. This was the turf war where the ranked legions of Heaven and Hell got together one late spring day and settled their accounts. As it turned out, Hell owed some 50 trillion Pounds Sterling in library late fees and had to do some pretty slimy double talking to explain why they showed up packing steel to what had been clearly laid out as a skin on skin fight.
And there at Armagedōn, the Son returned to Terra and called out his half-brother Satan, The Accuser, The Divine, The First Fallen Angel, called Shaitan, or Shayṭan, or Ha-Satan, The Adversary, The Esquire- Stan to his friends, for being a lousy half-brother that never did his share of the washing up after dinner. And where Diábolos the Slanderer, Father of Lies, and Public Relations Officer for Hell, stepped up and called the Son out of order, pointing out that the Fallen had done plenty of washing up in the millions of years before the Son was incarnated, and that he should mind his own business and that Hell hadn’t a thing in the world on its mind, just now being out for a family stroll.
Whereas the Son said, ‘Oh, go blow it out your ear, you lying mooch.’
And it came to pass that Stan threw the first punch and as these things go, there was a god-awful row and before you know it, the whole place was a wreck, humanity was extinct, and the remaining immortals were all issued restraining warrants.
And so it was written that Stan, not being able to shake off the former Satan thing, was cast into The Pit, somewhere near Danville, Indiana, maybe in Greencastle, and the Son was sent to cool his heels at a bar somewhere in the vicinity of Zeta Orionis.
Unfortunately, that’s when everything went really bad for humanity, as the Israelis fearing an attack in the never ending Canaanite War of Liberation from Eurasian Judaism, nuked Armagedōn, which poisoned the Sea of Galilee, thus causing the Tiberius River to run with the blood, bones, brains, and gore of two armies of immortal creatures, and one Watcher, all of whom were eventually issued new bodies by their respective governing bureaucracies.
The mortals though were not so lucky. It was curtains for all of them. That is to say, the Immortals all eventually got reincarnated or rather reformed as if nothing had happened. Humanity on the other hand, just got dead and stayed that way.
And it came to pass that there truly was no peace in the Promised Land because the people were stiff-necked and couldn’t get along. Sadly, nothing much had changed since then and the appearance of the Angel Mick in Hat’s Angelic Archives Department, in the Elysion Library. Angels and Demons still didn’t get along much, and humanity was still extinct.
“Scions, where?” demanded the Angel, ducking down in front of Hat’s desk.
Hat folded her arms and looked down at the Angel who was crouching down in front of her desk.
“Well, there’s me of course,” Hat said wearily, “and the on in the wall over there.”
“What?” the Angel queried.
“I had a Scion embedded into the wall there,” she added pointing at the wall painting of a mummy sitting upright on a throne reading The Complete Love Letters of Völva and Freyja. “And, there should be several thousand more of us Scions around the planet. In fact,” she continued with a shrug, “I think all of the Scions are somewhere in the Elysion Library now. Birds of a feather and all that.”
The Angel was clearly not listening and remained crouched down on the floor.
Mick’s gaze was arrested by the walls of Hat’s office, which were painted to resemble the insides of ancient Egyptian pyramids. except that the mummy was reading a book about the love life of a Norse goddess and a prophet.
“You do realize that you should hide behind the desk, yeah?” Hat asked. “You know, so somebody coming in the office won’t immediately see you?”
“Do you realize that the book the mummy is reading is an anachronism?” Mick asked.
“That mummy is an idiot,” Hat said without even glancing at the indicated painting. “Rather reminds me of you actually.”
“Yeah, right,” the Angel said standing up. “Very funny, very funny. You got any decent light in here?”
Hat looked around her office and tried to see it from the prospective of an outsider. Smooth sand stone floor, slightly roughed sandstone walls with the pictorial history of the Egyptian people starting with their march out of the city of Wadi Halfa, called وادي حلفا, on the Sudanese shores of Lake Nubia and the governorship of Iry-Hor over the city of Abydos in Upper Egypt, to the end of the Human race at Armagedōn. Synthetic oil burned brightly in dark green oil lamps suspended by golden chains from the ceiling giving off a slight jade effect. The flames cast a bright light; the flames flickered continually around the room giving the illusion of movement to all of the figures and animals upon the walls.
Occasionally, one of the paintings changed its aspect in order to present the viewer with the sense that the paintings were watching them.
Which, they were.
Hat was forced, even if only in her own mind, to agree that the mummy was a miss. She would certainly see that he heard about it later.
“What’s the matter with the light?” Hat asked.
“It’s all weird and eerie,” the Angel complained.
Hat shrugged. “The only other person that complains about the light in here is Basil Berry.”
The Angel twitched at the mention of the Scion.
“Say not the name of the Demon’s spawn,” the Angel, intoned.
“Whatever,” Hat said.
“Crap, he’s not around here is he?” the Angel asked.
“I should imagine he’s around here somewhere,” Hat said. “You know Mictlantecuhtli, all the Scion work here, and so do most of the free Fairies, Immortals, Hellspawns, and the Numquam Land creatures. We even have a few Demons bunking about the place, but they hardly work.”
“Mick,” the Angel identifying himself as Mick said. “Call me Mick.”
“Yes, Mictlantecuhtli,” Hat said, standing again. “I shall surely do that. Just as soon as you tell me why you are disturbing my eternity. It’s been rather quiet around here lately, and I like it that way. Actually, no, on second thought, I don’t want to know. Good day to you.”
“I need a book I told you, about universe creation,” said ‘don’t call me Mictlantecuhtli’ Mick.
“Yes and what for?” Hat said taking her fingers and outlining from top to bottom a imaginary rectangle in the air, which caused a slim white covered soft paperback book with a drawing of the strand colour coded Deoxyribonucleic acid double helix to appear in the air. The imaginary rectangle turned real book, hovered for a microsecond, and dropped gently into Hat’s hands. The lights reflected off the cover drawing of the Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Phosphorus atoms that formed the structures of double helix D.N.A.
“For instance,” she said straightening her back in a mock attitude of respect. “We have here Worlds I Have Known by L. G. Dusenyi, 1st Edtion, Baker Books, 2009. That what you’re looking for?”
“Umm, no,” the Angel admitted.
“How about Veni, Vidi, Velco, by Colonel Hridaynath Jared Patton IV, 2nd Edition, Infinity Plane Press, 2727? Will that do?”
The Angel rolled his eyes and took a long look at the ceiling.
“That’s fiction,” the Angel said.
“Patton didn’t seem to think so,” Hat said laying the Dusenyi book aside and repeating the procedure again to produce a hardback book with a black dust jacket. The True History of the World by Lucien de Terre. “So, how about this one?”
“Will you stop dicking around?” the Angel said without any effort to hide his disdain.
Hat laid the third book beside the others and stood even straighter than before.
“Sorry,” Mick mumbled.
“Cunt,” Hat said, articulating every sound of the word and turning the t-sound into a knifepoint. “It is cunting-around for people of my particular persuasion. You know the dickless persuasion.”
The Angel’s eyes widened a bit, but remained solidly fixed on the floor.
Hat moved a hand over the two books returning them to their proper nooks halfway across the planet.
“Look here,” Hat finally said, “Take this one.”
The Angel looked up and took the proffered book.
“How to Putte Questiones to the Dark and Understand Its Answeres, by I can’t make it out, it’s all smudged,” Mick said rubbing his finger over the ancient leather binding and succeeding in worsening the damage. “Look here Hatter, this bloke can’t even spell.”
“Take it, or leave it,” Hat said with a shrug. “Either way, get the Hell out of my office before I beat you to death with frustrated sarcasm.”
“Yeah, right, thanks Muhammadin,” the Angel tossed back over his shoulder along with a flick of his long blond hair.
“I’m the daughter of an Egyptian goddess you dolt,” Hat yell at the Angel’s back.
Her office door slammed behind the Angel.
“My people settled the Americas before Ishmael was even born,” Hat muttered to no one in particular.
Opening the top drawer of her desk, she took out her own copy of Bradshaw’s Guide to the Bookworld by Commander Trafford Bradshaw, CBE, placed it upon her desk, and then removed from the drawer the book that the Angel was supposed to get.
Hat looked down at the second book and then placed it squarely in the centre of her desk, on top of the Bradshaw, and hesitated for a moment.
The Scion of Sešat then went over to a bookshelf behind her desk and pulled down her own personal copy of the Prognosticated Peerage, and flipped to the entry for Mictlantecuhtli, Angel. She then changed her mind and flipped to her own entry just to check if there had been an update on her in the last couple of days since she had last skimmed it.
While readers of this chronicle might have found Hat’s behaviour odd, those familiar with the Prognosticated Peerage would not. No one is entirely sure who, whom, or what created the prognosticating book of gods, immortals, semi-immortals, and many seriously influential mortals. And the book was often as inaccurate as it is accurate due to its containing unvetted gossip, lies, and more absolute truth than any of its subjects would care to have written down anywhere. As the inscription on the title page says, “Person, Place, or Thing? the Prognosticated Peerage knows!”
Hat was happy to read the same information this time as she had read the last couple of centuries:
Hatshepsut Nefertari Djeserit Fukayna VII: called Hat, Current Scion of Sešat alternatively Seshat, Safkhet, Sesat, Seshet, Sesheta, and Seshata goddess of writing, wisdom, scribes, record keepers, librarians, and invention, also credited with the invention of writing, architecture, astronomy, astrology, mathematics, and surveying. Hat is the granddaughter by Sešat who is the daughter of Ré alternatively Ra god of the Sun, and niece to Maʻat or alternatively Maat, Māt, and Mayet the god of truth, law, and justice. Hat is not the product of any union between Sešat and her on-again off-again consort Thoth god of the heart, mind, and memory. Hat is rumoured to have been fathered by the Demon James, whom was at the time imprisoned in the body of a flesh and blood Human mortal. Hat was born on the 3rd of October, 1974 at the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, London, United Kingdom. Notable achievements include becoming the youngest Director in history of the Neurosurgery Research Department of the Massachusetts General Hospital; blowing-up one third of Salt Lake City in an ultimately fruitless effort to kill a multi-dimensional bibliophilic tapeworm, and “accidentally” causing the Immortality Virus to be simultaneously let loose in Tōkyō, Guangzhou, Seoul, Delhi, Mumbai, Ciudad de México, New York City, São Paulo, Manila, Jakarta, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Karāchi, Ōsaka, Kolkata, al-Qāhira called القاهرة or Cairo, Buenos Aires, Moskva, Dhaka, Beijing, Tehrān, İstanbul, Rio de Janeiro, London, Lagos, Paris, Chicago, Shenzhen, Krung Thep, Kinshasa, Wuhan, and Danville, Indiana all of which lead directly to the onset of World War Zed, and the destruction of the Mists of the Abyss and thereby liberating the whole of the Infinity Plane. Hat is currently employed as the Director of Acquisitions for the Elysion Library, which boasts, although how they know is a mystery, to have recovered copies of 93.242% of all books ever written, typed, penned, or even imagined. Hat has been, as all her sister-Scion predecessors were also, given by her mother’s leave the honorific of Mistress of the House of Books, Overseer of the Royal Scribes, Priestess of the Seal, and Guardian of Recorded History. Hat’s godparents are Aclima of the first brood, and the Demon Fruchtbarkeitskultus von Zeta Orionis. Hat, in her role as the current Scion of Sešat, is the Guardian and Keeper of the Ada Machine.
Hat drummed her fingers on her desk. Nothing in her own entry had changed.
The passage about the destruction of the Mists of the Abyss and the liberation of the Infinity Plane had bothered Hat since the first time she read it when she was 7 years old. Now, so many eons after the end of the Human race and apparently anything else of any significance in the universe, the entry bothered her even more. The problem was that as far as Hat knew, it had never happened. Hat’s mother had dismissed her daughter’s concerns over the years with careless remarks about the accuracy of the Prognosticated Peerage, none of which had ever given Hat one moment of peace. Particularly, since Hat knew, her own mother kept a careful eye on the ever-changing text of the Prognosticated Peerage.
Hat knew that it was inaccurate to say that the text of the Prognosticated Peerage “changed,” even though she, like everyone else, said that is was what it did. It would be more accurate to say that it “updates.” Details never- or at least have never been satisfactorily proven to have disappeared. However, details did at times modify themselves to such a degree that the original detail or details, often “disappeared” to the casual reader. One would have to walk around with an immense knowledge in one’s own head in-order to keep track of it all. Even Hat with her Scion enhanced abilities required an immense computer database to keep an accurate analyses of the Prognosticated Peerage up to date.
Needless to say, neither Angels nor Demons could ever be bothered with such things. This really explains a lot about what happened later.
Hat glanced up to see the mummy, which had so bothered the Angel, casually stepped out of the wall painting. It began unwrapping its own head.
“Clever, very clever,” Hat said walking over and snatching the book out of the mummy’s hands. Tucking The Complete Love Letters of Völva and Freyja, which was a slim volume, under her arm, Hat returned to read the Prognosticated Peerage entry upon her so recently departed visitor.
Mictlantecuhtli: called Mick: Angel. [Note: Not to be confused with Mictlantecuhtli alternatively Nahuatl called the “Lord of Mictlan,” of Aztec history, who was a god of the dead and the king of Mictlan, called Chicunauhmictlan, being than the lowest and coldest bit of the Underworld. Although Mictlantecuhtli, Angel, called Mick did have a hand in the creation of the “Lord of Mictlan.”] As noted the Pre-Light historian Leonard Eugene Dickson, the Lat Monac Codex lists the Angel Mictlantecuhtli as the 33,550,336th Angel to be created. Little more is known about the Angel Mictlantecuhtli’s doings for the first couple of million years, until he appears in the chronicles of the Complete History of Man, Special Final Edition, with Complete and Accurate Essays on What You Did Last Summer, teaching man how to make tasteful graffiti tags somewhere in the vicinity of Montignac alternatively Montinhac Commune in the Dordogne Alternatively Dordonha Départment of Aquitaine alternatively Aquitània or Akitania, near the Vézère River, somewhere between the Loire Valley and the High Pyrénées Mountains. It is rumoured, but not confirmed, that the Angel Mictlantecuhtli was sentenced for his part in the defacement of the Creator’s Property to scrub all the walls of the caves in Eurasia with his toothbrush, but no evidence survives to indicate that he actually did this. The Angel Mictlantecuhtli then drops out of sight again, surfacing early on in the Aztec Empire Period, where he reportedly fathered a child by a king’s daughter, got his heart broken, and got pinched on the “Pretending to be a God” clause of the Heaven Rules of Order, and was banished for about a million years to the far side of the Comet Galaxy, where he apparently cooled his heels for several thousands of years writing tragic epistolary novels, one of which he reportedly sold wholesale to one Earl Robert Lovelace in 1748. Where he promptly settled down to enjoy a long-term investment in the King’s Theatre in Haymarket, City of Westminster, London, and staunchly refusing to ever recognize that any mere woman could change the name of his King’s Theatre. In 1791, the Angel Mictlantecuhtli then moved with the Theatre Royal of Drury Lane into their third theatre building. In mid-May of the year 1800. The Angel Mictlantecuhtli caused quite a sensation when he when he stood-up in the royal theatre box and exclaimed “By Jove, that’s that bastard Hadfield down there. He owes me 50 quid- and look- there’s that ratfink Truelock sneaking out the stage door. By George, I’ll kill you- you rotten-” at which point, the aggrieved James Hadfield emptied a loaded revolver into the Angel. At court, the Angel Mictlantecuhtli made such an ass of himself that the judges acquitted Hadfield on the grounds of “Bloody bad luck you didn’t get the jerk.” When the fifteen year old third Theatre Royal of Drury Lane burned to the ground, the Angel Mictlantecuhtli who was then going by the name Barron von Brinsley was reported to have said “My god, this Côte Rôtie tastes like crap. Nice fire though.” After which, he was run out of London as a social-pariah. Mictlantecuhtli’s largest contributions to Human history were his honourable military service in the Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey and later in the United States Marine Corps, and his efforts in the Hollywood film industry to spread morality and patriotism among the Anglo-Saxon peoples.
“What is the matter, my cousin Mistress?” asked a half bandaged mummy.
“Words, words, and more words,” Hat muttered closing the book.
“No,” said the head emerging from the mummy wrap, “what’s the matter, the problem, the conflict?”
“Between who?” Hat asked running her fingers over the primeval leather binding of the book.
The now wholly unbandaged Scion sighed.
“You know what really gets me about you?” he asked.
“It’s how you can take a simple question and turn it into a bloody lifeless literary-”
“And what does the bastard Basil Berry want?” Hat asked eyeing the slim face, pointed nose, pearly white teeth, and cool grey eyes that stood before her.
“Just because a guy’s mother doesn’t acknowledge him doesn’t mean you got to go on about it for the rest of eternity,” the half-mummified turned Scion lately identified as Basil Berry said.
Hat scowled at him.
“What’s it called? The book, I mean,” Basil Berry asked, picking up the book that the Angel had wanted. “I never did lay my hands on a complete copy.”
“Continuous Creation, by Kin Arad,” Hat said.
“Don’t you think you were a little heavy with the Angel?” Basil Berry asked as he placed a pair of thin round silver-rimmed spectacles upon his pointed nose. “We need that big hulk of whatever it is,” he added looking at the door where the Angel had departed as if he more half expected Mick to charge back through it at any moment.
“I was trying to cover for your ‘I got to make it obvious’ fuck-up,” Hat said grimly.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Basil Berry said cheerily. “Mictlantecuhtli has always reminded me about that bit with the rabbit and the duck where the rabbit finally gets hit in the head with the anvil. I mean, seriously, he’s thick, even by Angel standards.”
“Well, that may be as is,” Hat said. “But I’ve still never been able to stand the guy.”
“Well, it’s not for much longer,” Basil Berry said striking an optimistic tone completely at odds with Hat’s demeanour. “And besides, we need for him to have the book. I mean we really really- really- really-”
“Oh shut-up,” Hat said, placing the Prognosticated Peerage on her desk. “I’ll have one of the Faeries take it around to him in the morning. Right now, all I want is for you to get the Hells out of my office.”
“Right-o, Sis,” Basil Berry said taking Continuous Creation, by Kin Arad off Hat’s desk. “I’ll send someone after Angelic-pants with this.”
Hat merely grunted her reply.
Basil Berry made a mock half bow and began backwardly bowing his way out of the office.
“Knock it off you dolt,” Hat said. “You’ll break something, you most likely, and then I’ll never be rid of you.”
Basil Berry straightened up; dusted imaginary lint off the cover of the book, and made to finally exit the office.
“By the way,” Hat said. “You never did tell me how you got the Angel to go in on this with you.”
“He’s not in on anything,” Basil Berry with a wink and a grin.
Hat made to retort, but Basil Berry waved her off.
“But to answer the question,” he continued. “I sent him an email.”
Hat laughed. It was a full laugh, the sort of laugh that hits sand stonewalls and manages to bounce back.
“You’ve conjured up the biggest scheme since Vatican III and you started it off with an email?” Hat finally managed to ask. “How’d you phrase it? Oh, pardon me, I know we don’t get on an all, what with be being kin to a devil and you being a sanctimonious bastard, but would you mind helping me start the 11th Great Age of Creation? Oh, and by the by, don’t tell God?”
Normally, such an utterance might have produced a reaction; it certainly would have among most mortals whom often confused “job description” with “name.” Can’t be helped really coming from a species that went in for names like Abbott; Baker, Carpenter, Cooper, Farmer, Gardner, Goldsmith, Potter, Smith, Taylor, Thatcher, and Weaver. People like that are bound to confuse the word God with, you know, the actual name of God.
So in order to avoid that tiny little problem, our readers should, just like with reading Hebrew what with its lack of vowels and extreme lack of punctuation, pay close attention to this manuscript to catch just what anything means. This is further complicated by the intense belief of the immortal creatures that to name a thing- any thing- is to attract its attention.
The fact that that belief is actually true just makes it worse.
“Umm, not exactly,” Basil Berry said. “Mick thinks he’s acting on orders.”
“Pardon me?” Hat asked suddenly going very still.
“Yep,” Basil Berry said with an air of serenity that Hat certainly did not enjoy.
“You, son of-”
“Hey now,” Basil Berry cut in.
“You sent an Angel of the Creator an email, in the guise of the Creator, to give the Angel instructions on how to piss off- off- well, just about everyone- especially the Creator?”
“No, no, and no,” Basil Berry said very firmly. “I sent dope-ass Angel an email in the guise of the Metatron. A small, but significant difference.”
“I wouldn’t bet my afterlife on it,” Hat said.
“Na,” Basil Berry said. “It’s the same difference between impersonating a dictator, and impersonating that same dictator’s press secretary.”
“I don’t think that the Big Guy has the sort of sense of humour.”
“Are you kidding me? I made an entire career of making the Metatron look like a dope. Hell, I might even be part of that Ineffable Plan to make Metatron look like an even bigger dope then he actually is all by himself.”
Insane, Hat thought. He’s utterly insane.
“And how did you explain the, oh Hells, time delay on that email?” Hat asked. “I mean, it’s only been long enough for evolution to have repeated three or four times since the Final Match. I mean, it’s even safe to go back to Terra these days.”
“Have you seen her about?”
“Who?” Hat asked.
“Evolution. Have you seen her lately?” Basil Berry asked brightening at the thought of seeing his favourite anthropomorphic personification again.
Hat sighed, which she reflected, she did a lot of when Basil Berry was around.
“No, not for long,” she said.
“Too bad,” Basil Berry complained. “She’s a harsh mistress, but ever so much fun to go dancing with. I remember this one time, during the Bombing of London, she and I went down to-”
“The email?” Hat prompted.
“Oh, yeah, that,” Basil Berry said. “Well, it contained instructions for the post-end-of-humanity-reboot. All the usual stuff; tell no one, trusting you with the fate of the universe, etc., etc. Those over-grown bat-doves love that junk. And I sent the email from an A.O.L. account, so he wouldn’t think twice about why took it so long to arrive.”
Hat picked up her own personal copy of Bradshaw’s Guide to the Bookworld and began slowly banging her forehead with it.
“What?” Basil Berry said with overwrought tones of injured innocence. “We are talking about a guy that’s still wading through his spam mail from before the end of mortal time.”
Hat looked up from her self-inflicted forehead massage and uttered her most clever rejoinder ever.
“Yeah, it’s hard to believe,” Basil Berry said. “If I were you, I’d never believe it either, but that Angel is still wading through his spam mail just in-case he missed a notice about a late fee or something or just in-case there really is a Nigerian wife of a former freedom fighter that’s won the American lottery but can’t get the money because her mother’s dying of H.I.V. / A.I.D.S. in an Obamacare government death camp and for a slight investment you can immediately realized a 10,000% profit.”
“But he doesn’t need money,” Hat said.
“No, he’d do it because it’s the right thing to do,” Basil Berry said, turned, and left Hat’s office.
Later, Hat pulled her chair back to her desk and sat down to organize her interrupted work.
Where are those acquisition forms? Hat wondered. I left them around here somewhere.
Hat found the forms sitting under her Ada Machine, the universe’s most unique storage device, which Hat often used as a paper weight. Hat retrieved her personal copy of the Prognosticated Peerage and flipped through looking for an entry that she had never seen before. The Scion of Sešat was not surprised when she found the new entry:
Kin Arad: called Kin Arad: Human, mortal: Kin Arad’s biography was written by an English Knight of the Realm. She is the current Chairmen of the original planetary disc. She is formally a Lead Planetary Engineer in the employ of the Company, which terraforms and builds worlds for the use of Humans and Humanoids. Kin Arad is the original author Continuous Creation.
Hat drummed her fingers on the desk, briefly considered calling up her Mum, discarded the idea, and got back to work. Whatever it was that the inscrutable editors of the Prognosticated Peerage were saying would become clear in time. Best not to dwell on it, she had always felt.
Time, always an optional environmental variable in most libraries, settled onto Hat’s shoulders like old age. It was a comfortable mantle that had long ago become as comfortable as worn-out slippers.
Hat re-examined her English translations of the Hebrew and Greek Coptic Codex copies of the “Book of Judas.” Even though Hat had learned her Hebrew from an Immortal, the lack of vowels always got on her nerves.
The Immortals should not be confused with immortals. The Immortals are a type of creature, vaguely human-shaped, that is indestructible. Whereas an immortal is merely someone that will not die naturally, but can still be killed by any number of things. The Immortals though have been documented to survive direct atomic bomb strikes. One Immortal once restored the power cells of a massive space battle cruiser without even messing his hair. And it’s a good thing Immortals had no other real powers as they would have been as gods rather than the lazy good for nothing but large parties type of people they were.
Hat sighed as another shadow fell over her desk.
“I thought I told you to-”
Hat broke off when she realized it was not, absolutely not, Basil Berry that was blocking the light.
What stood before Hat was an elderly black man, dressed in a dark black cloak, the hood of which was drawn back to reveal a full head of curly hair that had just gone grey around the edges. A soft shell pearl-rimmed pince-nez perched upon his nose.
A dog, or what might have been called a dog in a more nightmarish universe, stood behind the old man. The dog was unusual in that its body supported three heads, and a mass of snakes that curled around each neck like a lion’s main. The three necks joined to a massive set of shoulder muscles that were balanced by a long body and an even more massive set of rear croup muscles and legs. The paws, if you could call them paws; better to call them feet or hands-suited-for-running-on, had four fingers, and two opposable thumbs, one on either side of the fingers.
Its name was Kérberos.
The three headed dog was the oldest extant Nightmare. Except maybe for its master, the Gatekeeper.
When someone asks you if you’re God, Hat thought and quickly shoved the fancy into her mental abyss.
Hat had never been sure if the Gatekeeper could actually read minds or if he was just so extremely familiar with people that it just seemed that way.
Formality, she though, focus on the formalities.
Hat rose, walked around her desk, and curtsied low to the old man while completely ignoring Kérberos. Hat knew damn good and well that it took more than a Nightmare to rattle her. The trouble was that that ‘more’ was standing just in-front of her.
Hat knew that the Gatekeeper had made the Nightmares, or at least, had allowed them to be made. Either way, she had never understood why.
“Hatshepsut Nefertari Djeserit Fukayna, daughter of goddess Sešat and the Demon James of no rank, no house, and no tribe, bids you welcome, Gatekeeper,” Hat sat.
The old man nodded, and Hat rose to her feet again.
The man smiled and said in a voice as charming as Morgan Freeman’s, “I need a book from you, Guardian of Recorded History.”
A momentary flash of amusement passed over Hat’s face and then concealed itself even faster than it had arrived.
“What subject or author do you require, Gatekeeper?”
The old man waved away Hat’s formality.
“Don’t patronize me with that stuff,” the Gatekeeper said mildly. “I’ve always found it clouds the mind.”
“Oh,” Hat said.
“Metallurgy, gardening, mythological creatures, and so-called popular culture,” the Gatekeeper said. “Oh, and a book about dating for the over 30 millions.”
“All in the same volume?” Hat asked, recovering her composure. She glanced at Kérberos and was not surprised to see the right head snapping at the snakes of another head. The left head was sleeping. The middle head however was staring straight at her. Hat stared back at the over-grown mutmare.
“Did they ever make such a book as that?” the Gatekeeper asked.
“Well, thanks be then,” said the Gatekeeper. “Separate volumes will do.”
“May I ask,” Hat said tearing her eyes away from Kérberos, which blinked slightly less often than a gold fish.
“What do you need them for?” she continued while performing her now-ya-see-nothing-now-I-got-a-book-for-you trick.
The Gatekeeper took time to consider the question.
Hat worked quickly and efficiently, bringing one book after another to her hands, and laying each one softly on her desk.
Hat, her task complete, waited in a mildly nervous state. The Gatekeeper was one of three persons in the universe that made her uneasy. The other two were her mother and father.
Finally the Gatekeeper said, “Obfuscation,” and began stroking Kérberos’ sleeping head.
The other two heads growled.
“You’ve always been good at that,” Hat said.
The Gatekeeper nodded his agreement.
“I have a job for you,” the Gatekeeper said while looking at the titles of the books Hat had called to her office.
“You will need to make peace with all of your kind, and between all of your kind,” he said. “This must happen.”
Hat remained silent even though her internal voice was screaming at nearly ear deafening volumes.
Impossible! Ludicrous! How? She wanted to know.
“You will have to,” the Gatekeeper began and then lapsed into silence for a time.
Hat stood a while watching the third oldest known creature in the universe and then went for a bowl and a bottle of water.
When she returned, the Gatekeeper said as if Hat had never left, “be nice to everyone. That is it, be nice to them.”
Hat reframed from the obvious lie.
“I’m sure you can manage that,” the Gatekeeper said. “If you put your mind to it.”
Oh well, Hat thought, and went with a more nuanced approach.
“I’ve always treated people in the way that I thought they would understand best,” she said.
The old man nodded, pulled up a chair, and began to read the first book entitled So You’re a Forgotten god? A Pop Culture Guide to Getting Your C-corp Executorship Back Through Cable Access, Blogging, and Personal Brand Development on a Tight Budget, by Chan Girlvinyl.
Hat sat down behind her desk and made an entirely unsuccessful effort to return to her Canonical Acquisitions forms. Growing up with her mother, goddess mother Sešat, had taught Hat how to wait. She was a champion Olympic quality waiter. If you have some waiting to do and one of those fancy machines for looping time, Hat was your woman. Well, half-Demon half-goddess semi-immortal anyway. Usually the waiting was tranquil for Hat, but now, all she had was a feeling of dread.
On the whole, Hat preferred her father’s approach to feelings of any sort; be it extreme displeasure, read as happiness for non-Demons, or peace, read as blinding rage. In any situation, the Demon James was either overly loud or so overly articulate that he was often aghast to understand just why people completely failed to understand what he meant. Or, there was the outside chance that he would just confuse everyone by telling them flap-flap jokes.
Flap-flap jokes, as the stark raving Demon Black tells us, are knock-knock jokes, but with tents instead of houses.
The misunderstandings arose from the combination of both loud and over-articulation. People never tried to get past the loud and listen to the actual words. But that’s people for you- overly wound-up balls of stress, tension, stress, fear, stress, and the occasional act of completely selfless bravery- usually brought on by stress that was so extreme that they acted bravely out of sheer nerve-wracking-panic.
The Demon James on the other hand got past all that pop psychology by never-ever, not once, paying the slightest attention to anything he ever said about anything. “You can get a lot of peace,” he used to say, “out of never paying yourself any mind. For example, you never feel embarrassed because as for as you are concerned, it never happened.”
Hat often received snotty text messages from her father Demon that were longer, more hostile, more egotistical, and considerably more humorous, not to mention devoid of merit, than any Ph.D. dissertation in Literary Critical Theory written throughout the whole history of literary studies.
“How would you like to be the new Gatekeeper?” the Gatekeeper asked.
New? What do you mean, new? Hat wanted to know.
“I don’t think I should like it much,” she said looking up into the old man’s face, and for the first time truly seeing just how old and care worn he was.
“Why not?” the Gatekeeper asked.
“I don’t have the patience for it,” Hat admitted. “And I’m rubbish at letting people be idiots right in front of me.”
The Ancient man nodded and returned to his reading.
After a while, Hat got up and finished her Canonical Acquisitions paperwork, balanced the time sheets on Basil Berry- a true study in Speculative Math, tidied up her office, and got her Carpet portfolio case out of the closet.
The Carpet was well deserving of its Capitalization as it was one of the famous three Magical Flying Carpets. The other two were entrusted to two other Scions named Mayghin and Qdot. Hat’s Carpet could and did fly to anywhere in the universe the owner wanted it to go to, and did a reasonable in-flight burger and chips, although the warmth of either never lasted long. Hat had won the three Carpets in a high stakes game of Vieux Garçon in which the alternative was a complete loss of honour, and Hat was still very particularly attached to her hounour.
When the Gatekeeper finally did speak, he spoke for a very long time. He spoke for such a long time and without any indication of stopping that Hat was forced to put everything away, put on tea for two, and settle in for an unrecorded history lesson. By the time it was over, Hat had wished that she had ordered a Meals on Wheels delivery.
And the worst part was that the Gatekeeper didn’t say anything that Hat wanted to hear.
In fact, he said a lot of things that sounded like utter non-sense and which she would have dismissed out of hand from anyone else, accept perhaps her own mother.