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From deep in the abyss I emerged. New York City. Fifth Avenue. The place was lit up like a high-tech Christmas village, a perfect image of one of those glitter worlds you shake in its little glass bubble--one you watch in fascination, wishing your world could be so magical. I moved among mobs of bustling pedestrians, a sea of downtrodden lost trying desperately to fill their lives with pointless jobs while vainly attempting to repair their broken homes. It is all wrong. The world was meant to be a playground. Countless times I've tried to tell them this, but my message has always been misinterpreted as the machinations of evil. I can hardly blame their kind for this though.
I watched in amusement as two of them bumped into each other in a crosswalk.
"Watch where you're going, idiot!"
The creature speaking was so self-righteous and so determined to let the other one know he had wronged him that he was oblivious to the five other humans he jostled as he walked backward across the street, waving his fist rhythmically to emphasize his yelling. When will these creatures realize anger will solve nothing? I looked on dejectedly as I watched the scene unfold further where the crosswalk ended and the sidewalk began. A very sharply dressed creature dropped his brightly wrapped presents into a muddy swirl of water so he could be free to shove the self-righteous one. Why? What is his stake in the whole matter? I wondered. The scene before me was confusing, an amalgamation of chaotic behavior I noticed all too frequently among their kind.
"What's wrong with you people?" cried another voice, this one female, yelling at the two men and sounding justas self-righteous also. She was unaware that her shouts were raising the blood pressure of the elderly man standing behind her.
Why must they take everything around them so seriously? Why do they take themselves so seriously? Their lives are a grain of sand on a beach, so quickly washed away with the tide and never seen again, yet a simple accident--that of bumping into each other--sets off a firestorm of physical and verbal abuse amongst them.
I moved through the crowd, aware of the streetlight flickering and the ground shaking slightly at my passing, not that any of these creatures noticed. The greatest, most infamous power in the universe, right here among them, the true answer to all of their wasted prayers (the shallow prayers they utter to the ideals and relics that represent their so-called creator). They refused to believe that I was here for them, on their side. I could give them anything they wanted, and yet they hurried past, blind to my presence. God had done a commendable job in fooling them.
With only a slight amount of concentration I made the air vibrate and shiver visibly in front of their faces as I weaved in between them, but I received not so much as a passing glimpse; most just waved a hand before them as if swatting idly at a bothersome fly. Nobody sensed me. Even the so-called psychics among them, the visionary corporate leaders, the artistic ones who shuffled past--not one of them sensed my presence.
I snuck out of my domain for them, for the love and pity I have for these misguided, manipulated, and often forgotten creatures. They lecture their children about life in the real world and what to expect, they go crazy over the trend of reality television, but they are truly ignorant about the concept of reality. I'm here to set the story straight. God and my brothers have walked over me for a long time. It is time for a wake-up call.
As I had done many times before over the centuries, I awoke my power within me, a power that had long lain dormant for many years. I unleashed it from within me like a primal scream, unbeknownst to them, but more powerful than anything they could imagine.
Humans continued to hustle and bustle hither and thither as the ground began to slowly tremble and the buildings looming above shuddered, and still not so much as a look skyward! It required an uprooted mailbox scuttling across Fifty-Second Street to finally get them to take notice. An Armani-clad man was forced to quickly jump to the side to avoid the blue mailbox as it skidded past. He scrambled to his feet and sprinted, colliding with three girls whose eyes were wide as they fell to the sidewalk. Looking up from a position on their backs, all of them noticed the streetlamps swaying overhead. By the time they got their limbs untangled, the traffic lights were black; their green, yellow and red lenses resembled rows of blackened electric eyes.
The entire scene looked as if a tornado had touched down in the middle of the street. Taxicabs honked furiously, their fenders locked together. The man who had just barely managed to avoid being pummeled by the mailbox was covered in coffee, the newly forming stain prominent everywhere on his expensive suit. It was all I could do not to laugh so hard the building would fall. Nobody had been hurt, which was always a concern for me when I came up from my domain. It was the only way to do it. My father had set it up this way so that he could keep tabs on me.
I was fully aware of the brevity of my situation. I needed to get started; however, the contrast in scenery between now and only moments ago was humorous to me. These humans now seemed awake, more alive than they had been moments ago.
"What the hell?" a voice in the crowd exclaimed.
"Creatures, wake up!" I shouted. It was almost a plea.
The street became more chaotic as the humans began to gather their wits. Many started running faster towards their intended destination; others pushed through the throng to gape at the damage.
"Was that an earthquake?" a woman asked.
"Earthquake? This is New York City. We don't have earthquakes here, dumb ass," cackled a male voice somewhere amongst the crowd. Many other voices concurred with him, and more laughter ensued.
"Look at that," one man cried, pointing at the unlit streetlights. "It was the damned power company."
"No, it was the Mafia," said another voice, this one shaken from the incident.
"Mafia?" cried another. "What are you smoking?"
I laughed uncontrollably. I laughed so hard I rolled clear up the street and into Central Park. Oh, the fun I could have with these humans. When they finally learn the truth--that this power they have unwittingly witnessed is theirs for the asking--what a great place this world will be. Laughter, harmony, and love will abound.
I continued tumbling, floating, laughing through the park until I came across a woman doubled over on the park bench, a cracked brown bottle rolling away from her feet. In that short moment, all fun and joviality was gone. Her face was wetter than the pond that stretched out in front of her; her tears formed puddles on the dirty bench beneath her. Her life was in ruins, or so she clearly believed.
The park bench shook as the frustration of centuries coursed through me, but the woman continued to huddle there, motionless, so numb from drink she did not feel the tremor, so bereft of the will to live that she would not have reacted even had she felt it. She wished for death and helped speed its coming with one liquor bottle after another. I did not need my powers to sense this within her. Anyone who would stoop to drinking themselves into a black stupor on a bench in a snow-ridden public park clearly wanted to die. Nor did I need the power of insight to know her wish would be granted before midnight.
What a waste.
This poor soul had not been part of my plans, but I decided to make an exception.
"Wake up, young one," I told her gently, for she was young by human standards. She was only twenty-seven; the best years of her short life were still ahead of her, and I would see to it she was given another chance to live them.
She stirred slightly. Had I been in human form it would have been easier to rouse her. I could have just sat her up straight. But in my current state I was reduced to stirring her with words.
"You are a beautiful, unique individual capable of so much more than what life has made you to become."
She stirred again. This time she opened an eye.
"Who's there?" she whispered hoarsely.
"An angel," I answered.
She sat up quickly, almost too quickly. She began to overbalance and almost fell off the bench. I forced the air around her to thicken and keep her in place. She was too drunk to notice it and believed she had managed to stabilize herself.
"There are no such things," she nearly screamed. "There is no God. Go away and leave me to die. I never asked for any of this, and I want it all to go away."
My heart cried out to her. I wrapped myself around her and sopped the alcohol from her veins. I healed her liver, as well as a tiny bump that was beginning to take shape on her right breast. Her breathing stabilized, and I could tell she was regaining her senses, which the alcohol had nearly obliterated.
"Is that better?"
She did not answer.
"I want you to listen closely to me. I am an angel. I'm also sorry to have to tell you that there is a God; however, he cares nothing about you. You are young and have the rest of your life ahead of you. Enjoy it and do what makes you happy. Live free of fear and concepts of sin and evil as they pertain to the Bible and Koran. Both are filled with many misguided truths, missing holes, if you will, that don't paint the entire picture. Can you do that for me?"
Still she did not answer, only sat very still. In my haste to save her I failed to realize the fear that held her attention more than my words did. I separated myself from her, and she fled.
I felt somewhat slighted over her abrupt departure, but I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I had given her one more chance to live; whether she decided to make the most of it was up to her. I chastised myself for trying to exact a promise from her. That was not why I had come back. I had to allow these creatures to decide for themselves. However, I felt confident the story I had come to share would win them over.
"You've done them wrong, Tobiah," I muttered as I watched the poor creature speed away from me. I knew that wherever he was, he heard my words. It was nothing new to him. He had heard me say them many times before. "You have abandoned them in their hour of need." I gave a sigh that inadvertently sent a flock of pigeons skyward. "Your loss will be my gain."
These creatures had been led astray. They'd been ushered blindly into the greatest poker game of all time, and the game was rigged, set in motion by the most unscrupulous trickster in the universe. Free will, the "Almighty" called it. They could choose to play the game or not. Easy for him to say; he was the only one who knew there was a game. How did he expect them to play when they did not even know they were playing?
Never mind that the odds were stacked against them. Forget that the rules had been twisted so they could not possibly win, and they were up against opponents who were the celestial equivalents of scoundrels and losers, the grotesque mistakes of a creator who did not know what he was doing when he gave life to them. The heart of the matter was that God had not even begun to understand free will himself, let alone his creations. It was evident in the edicts he had passed down over the ages and that these poor creatures strived to follow each day, more often than not failing miserably in their attempts.
"Lay your cards out on the table, right next to mine," I muttered. "Then you'll see free will."
I drifted across a half-frozen pond. A few of creatures were trying to skate upon it, despite posted signs warning them not to, despite the so-called common sense with which God had endowed them. Was this his idea of free will? It never ceased to amaze me just how much these creatures take their lives for granted, tempting fate by jumping from airplanes, imbibing harmful drugs, or having unprotected sex with strangers. Where had this sense of invincibility come from?
With a force that was growing with each push of each skate that dug into the thin ice, I stirred a jolt of wind that shook the pond and rattled the shelf of ice that covered the top of it. Shouts rose all around as the ice began to crumble. Bodies lurched and limbs flailed--creativity at its finest. I could only imagine what these creatures would be capable of doing once I was through here.
I blew again, harder, and watched the leafless tree branches bend to the ground. A freak windstorm they would call it later, as they lay in the hospital shivering from hypothermia. Was I cruel for doing such a thing to them? Perhaps some would see it as evil, but my true intent had been only to teach them to truly appreciate their lives and not put them at risk for the sake of an activity as trivial as ice-skating. Signs had clearly been posted: Thin Ice. No Skating. Yet they had chosen to ignore it anyway. Too often stories of such tragedies appeared on the news, and too often the whole event could have been avoided had people just heeded posted warning signs. Some of life's lessons could be hard, just as this one was for these individuals.
Maybe in the future they would learn to heed the warning signs. Maybe now they would begin to pay attention to the world around them, instead of always being so focused upon themselves, without any regard for others around them. I had just saved their lives, both physically as well as spiritually. Maybe now they would no longer take every breath for granted.
How many of them would thank me, though? None. But this is not their fault. Generations of lies and diluted tales have come to describe me, as well as how people should feel about me.
I have to wake up these creatures, I thought, as I moved away from the shattered pond and their frantic cries as they pulled themselves from the water. To those who were struggling I provided an extra nudge to get them to the edge. I only wanted to teach a tough lesson, not kill them for their misguided ways.
I had to wake these creatures up before it was too late. Before any more of them missed the chance to know the biggest secret of the universe. These creatures had a right to know how I had been labeled the ultimate bad guy, just because I am a free thinker, how I had to carry on this charade as a badge of honor my father had forced upon me so many centuries ago.
I floated over a ragged newspaper as it scuttled by, caught up in the small aftershocks of the storm of air I had brought to life with my arrival. I considered the propaganda I would see written on its face had I looked--more parts of a great lie. For too many centuries, the deceitful ones had blinded mankind with words. I had to give them credit; it was an ingenious approach. Words crept into the brain, spreading their vicious tendrils through the mind, taking root, changing thoughts, distorting free will.
It was ingenious, yes, but it had one flaw. If words could create a lie, they could unravel it just as easily--more easily now because I was the one about to do the unraveling. I was once the greatest creature in existence, perhaps still am. I am so sick and tired of all the bullshit lies about me.
Me the creator of lies? Such utter, fucking nonsense!
I laughed in indignation as I launched into the air and flew, invisible, over the rooftops and pinnacles of the skyscrapers toward lower Manhattan. I drifted down onto a deserted side street and trembled with anticipation of the job set out before me. It had been a long time since I had taken human form. It was time to stop messing around. I was on a schedule, and the clock was ticking.