After half an eon as a proctor for the Last Judgement Council, the angel Sidaniel discovered a gap in his supposedly infinite wisdom: disclose bad news to a superior right away—or leave the troublesome case for last?
Confident his divine insight would return just in time, Sidaniel walked into the daily council meeting, his summary report in speckless order. As tradition demanded, he went first, while the netherworld’s side had to wait their turn.
Working through his list, Sidaniel methodically listed each case’s judgement and additional honors. Soon, the offending case was only ten, then just two entries away. Sidaniel shifted in his seat. Where, in Judgement’s name, was that spark of enlightenment?
Uneasy, Sidaniel went on: “Case 124 was spiteful in her youth, downright vicious later. No redeeming actions. I sent her down to Terminal H.”
Sidaniel shuffled through his notes. One case remaining and no eleventh-hour epiphany in sight. “Case 125 was just as clear-cut and went the same way. Came in quite young after an unfortunate petty-theft-to-drug-cartel-muscle career.”
Suddenly pressed for a decision, Sidaniel found himself quite unwilling to discuss the troubling case—and skipped over it.
“Next came a good batch,” he said. “Numbers 127 to 159 passed well within green righteousness margins, two with outstanding merits. To those cases I awarded Silverbarters, three each, and they may off-load a proportional emotional weight in the ballast lockers before departing for—”
A laborious grunt interrupted Sidaniel and he looked up. Across the table at the Netherworld’s delegates’ side, the angel Gidmihr slouched in a chair. The tip of his carefully groomed goatee emitted its trademark curl of smoke. Next to him, the angel Raphizal had his left hand in the air. Upon Sidaniel’s pause, he raised his left wing as well, clearly hoping to underscore the urgency of his contribution.
Sidaniel glanced to the head of the table where the angel Laquiela, the Last Judgement Council’s chairwoman, sat in her elevated seat and fiddled with a jumbled puzzle cube.
The rules for the council were clear: one envoy for each side. This duo’s presence was egregious cheating, plain and simple. Laquiela should have thrown Raphizal out centuries ago, but all her attention was on that blasted toy!
Sidaniel ruffled his wings, so the whispering feathers masked his sigh. “Why is he still here?” he asked, hoping the strain in his voice would register with Laquiela. “He’s not—”
“Now, now, dear Sidaniel! You know why.” Angel Gidmihr raised his hands in mock surprise. He pointed at a sticky note on Raphizal’s lapel. It looked on the verge of disintegrating and had TRAINEE scrawled on in faded, barely decipherable script. “Raph is my apprentice.”
“For two millennia?”
Gidmihr’s eyes narrowed, and his smoldering goatee emitted a volley of sparks. “Training on the job is vital. You of all people should know that. Without it, Raph could easily screw up a judgement. And then where would we be?” He licked his finger, smothered an ember flake on his robe’s cuff, and turned to his protégé. “No need to put your hand up, Raph. You had a question?”
“He skipped 126.”
“Not a question, but an excellent observation, Raph. Excellent indeed.” Gidmihr tapped his fingers on his pursed lips in an almost convincing show of concern. “Odd thing to do. Care to enlighten us, Sid?”
Sidaniel blinked, his mouth open as though an explanation might roll out of its own accord. When it didn’t, he snapped it shut. Alright! Next time, he would lead with the…difficult cases. Before he could collect his thoughts, Gidmihr went on.
“Granted, I’ve been there myself,” Gidmihr said, his black-rimmed eyes full of gleeful malice. “A little shuffle and boom! – a virtuous deed, a merit, a whole entry goes missing.” He twirled his goatee’s wisp of smoke around a finger and flicked it across the table like so much gossamer ribbon.
Sidaniel, nose pinched, fanned the air until the sulfurous smoke dispersed. “Nothing is missing. Case 126 will be last today. It’s a special soul, most likely an En—,” he choked on the word that had been haunting him since this case had come to his desk.
Read the next part here: Enigma 2.
Pingback: Enigma | Katja Rammer
Pingback: Enigma (3/4) | Katja Rammer
Pingback: Enigma (4/4) | Katja Rammer