@ 2003-02-25 12:31:00
Very Little Shame Indeed
Well, and what a boring first entry that was. The internet has
corrupted me totally! Yay! So much so that I will feel no shame at
inflicting the ravings of what passes for my mind on people. afrai
kindly got me here,and has been suggesting I post some fic. On the
grounds that she owns my soul. Seems fair enough to me. So, without
Author’s note: Good Heavens, a Good Omens
Disclaimer: No, of course these characters aren’t mine. No copyright
The angel smiled an inhumanly beautiful, ageless, deeply wise and sorrowful smile. It drew itself up to its full height,(1) half spread its snow-white wings in the aesthetically pleasing way beloved of Christmas card illustrators and gestured gracefully towards the young man gibbering on his knees in the corner.
“Fear not”, it said, all the music of the spheres in its gentle voice. “For thou art greatly favoured, O Man. A great work, thou hast been appointed to. Be not mindful of the taunts of the wicked; hasten on to thy desired end. Am I not with thee in all that thou mayest do?”
Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer became aware that he was attempting to twist his Bible into profane shapes, and in front of an angel of the Lord, no less. He was deeply, deeply disturbed by his visitor. He’d been praying for a sign, yes, that was true but he’d never actually expected to get one. Or at most he’d been hoping for a feeling of peace, or surety, the kind he’d been told he should get when he’d just burned a witch. An actual angel was definitely over the top, he decided. Not to mention decidedly Papist. Angels didn’t usually appear to members of reforming Churches, did they? This one looked exactly like an angel he’d seen depicted in glowing, jewel-coloured stained glass just last month.(2) Large feathery wings, an impractical long white robe, translucent pale skin with the faintest of rosy blushes and long, shiny golden hair with a natural curl. When you added in the nimbus of pearly light surrounding it and the impossibly musical voice it was enough to make a man wonder if he hadn’t been getting some theological points wrong.
“Er, about that church window ,” he began.
“Put that from thy mind”, the angel said, cutting him off so graciously he felt like it was doing him a great favour. “Let not thine heart be troubled, and swerve not from thine appointed path. Have not doubts assailed thee? Be assured that I will be a shield unto thee against such snares of the enemy.”
Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer forbore to opine that a shield mightn’t be much aid against a snare, after all, you didn’t see many rabbits using shields, now did you? His visitor was right, he had been having doubts. That last witch had been very young, and had cried a great deal. Such devilish wiles had never affected him much before, but that was before he’d been let go witchfinding by himself, and before he had become a father. Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer had been deeply shaken when the image of his little daughter had popped into his mind as he stuck the torch into the kindling. What if he was wrong? What if this were just a perfectly normal young girl?
What if some misguided idiot in the future tried to burn his little girl to death, had he thought about that, and would he just look at this girl’s father’s face, for pity’s sake, what on earth did he think he was doing?
It was almost as if someone had been whispering the words to him inside his head, with his own voice. He’d been praying continuously for days now that he’d done the right thing. Maybe he should have let her go. Maybe he should go home and work in his father’s shop like his wife was always saying. The witchfinder business was getting rather stressful.
The angel went down on one knee, and touched his shoulder with a long fingered, soft-fleshed hand. He felt it not as pressure but as a spreading wave of warmth.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, it whispered.
He nodded. Yes. Of course it was stupid to think about giving up. A devil had been tempting him, that was obvious now, and was getting clearer. That little voice wasn’t his conscience; it was a devil trying to trick him. He should just ignore such appeals to his better nature.(3) He could be a lot more judgmental if he tried, he thought. In fact
“What about men who lie with other men as if they were women?” he asked. “Aren’t they an abomination before the Lord? Shouldn’t I be burning them too?”
The angel regarded him with what could only be described as a rather stunned expression.
“You people -,” it said, and stopped. It cleared its throat and started again. “Where do you people get your ideas from? Not from me, that’s for damn sure.”
It stood up, and with an almost visible effort of concentration was radiating calm serenity again.
“Yes. Why not? In fact, everyone who disagrees with your views even slightly is wrong. And evil. And probably a witch. Who likes to lie down with men, etc. Go for it. Burn `em all.”
The light brightened, and Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer had to squeeze his eyes shut against the glare. When he opened them again, his visitor was gone, leaving him with a renewed sense of purpose to go out there and burn as many people as possible.(4)
Two streets away, Crowley became visible again in his more usual guise. He snorted. He wasn’t going to tolerate a witchfinder having doubts on his watch, oh no. Nice try, Aziraphale, he thought. Worse luck next time, pal. He glanced up at a church clock. Just enough time to pop over and cheer on that other unpleasant young fellow who was obsessed with some kids hiding out in the woods, and then a spot of lunch. A good long one, with a nice dessert while people were still willing to make such frivolities. It would help set him up for the next few years. He had a feeling they would be rather busy.
(1) 6’ exactly, in its bare feet. Which were indeed bare. (2) As a confirmed iconoclast, he had taken great pleasure in personally making sure that the stained-glass in question had been violently rendered down to glowing, jewel-coloured rather small shards. Destroying such idolatrous works was second only to witch burning in his heart. (3) An outside observer with the requisite skills (i.e., telepathy) might have remarked at this point that this series of thoughts was itself remarkably like a voice whispering suggestions inside his head. Perhaps if his mental state hadn’t already been altered by some days of vigorous prayer and forgetting to eat, Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery might have thought of this himself. (4) And a slight scorch-mark on the left shoulder of his doublet that vaguely looked like fingers had squeezed the material in surprise. Luckily dusty black was good at hiding such marks, and after a good sponging and brushing his wife assured him no one could see it.