Dying wasn’t nearly as painful as I had always imagined it would be. Then again it had happened so quickly that there wasn’t much time for pain. It had started out as a bad day and then after my chicken shit boss decided to lecture me for twenty minutes after my shift, I was in no mood for people on their cell phone instead of paying attention to the road.
It was petty of me to cut him off the way I did but escalating the confrontation by threatening me with a gun was a bad move on his part. I’m sure he expected me to panic but I was still mad and in no mood for games. The Army psych evaluator had said I had anger management issues with possible emergent PTSD.
In this case it meant that I didn’t consider the consequences of my action as I cut my wheels towards his vehicle and hit the accelerator, slamming into his BMW. I loved the way he looked when he finally realized what I was doing. That’s when he shot me, twice. I might have survived the gunshots, I don’t remember any pain, but the collision put both of us in the path of an eighteen wheeler. I remember the impact and thinking this was going to be bad.
The thought was still echoing through my head as I realized I was in a small office. That’s when I knew I was dead. Well, that and the heavenly white that infused everything in the office including the man on the other side of the desk.
He was the embodiment of every accountant I had ever seen, although the white suit tended to spoil the effect. Somewhere in his mid-fifties, completely bald and absolutely no humor in his face as he stared intently into a screen on his desk.
He stared at the screen for about 20 seconds, hit a few keys and then finally looked directly at me. “James Sebastian Carson?” he asked.
I gulped and nodded yes. By now I was fairly sure I was about to receive judgment and after a quick mental review of my life, I wasn’t at all sure how this would play out.
“I can tell from the expression on your face you’ve already come to terms with the fact that you’re dead. We’re here to discuss what happens next. You’re the two hundred and seventeenth James Sebastian Carson to pass through these halls and we managed to process the previous two hundred sixteen with no issues.”
He tapped a few more keys, sighed and pointing to a slight depression on the desk, said, “Please place your forearm here.”
I did as he said but he still grimaced, stood up and adjusted my arm. Once he had it to his liking he said, “Don’t move,” slipped on a pair of sunglasses and in a commanding voice said, “Cherub, execute.”
Every nerve in my arm exploded with pain. It felt like an electrical probe had been attached to my arm, randomly firing the nerves. I yelled and tried to jerk my arm off the desk. Nothing moved.
“Oh, sorry, I forgot to tell you there will be a slight amount of pain while your divine interface sorts out your nerve connections and establishes the permanent connections. The interface allows us to establish your identity and location at all times. It also acts as an interface into the heavenly network and just recently, now that Steve Jobs has joined us, it’s also a means of keeping track of your karmic balance, allowing you to gain and spend your credit with no delays.
“Unfortunately that brings me to your next issue, your karmic balance. Well, it’s not really karma, that’s a different rule set, but you already understand karma as the balance of good and evil caused by your free willed actions. The concept serves to create a means of equitable…”
The low growl coming from my throat caused him to reconsider the lecture.
“Anyway your balance is low, very low. Had you died of natural causes there would have been no question but the destruction of property you caused and the injuries to two innocents wiped out much of the balance you had. The man you killed was a confirmed agent of evil but since you had no knowledge of that and were not authorized to take a life at any rate, we simply count it as a neutral transaction.
“The cost of your divine interface alone puts you into a negative balance. “It would be funny,” he said, grinning as if enjoying a joke, “if the cost of your induction into Heaven pulled your balance down so far that we had to send you to Hell. Their processing costs a lot more but puts you further into their debt. Sort of like a black hole effect.”
Accountant humor, sometimes I have to wonder if they live in the same world I do. I frowned as I realized I no longer lived in that world either.
“Fortunately the rules give us some latitude and we can carry you on the books, so to speak, while you work to improve your balance.” He paused to look at his screen and then said, “I think we can get the committee to approve two months.”
I was stunned. “What do you mean?” I said. “Committee? How do you expect me to improve my balance while I’m in Heaven? Prayer and meditation? Singing? Hell, you might….”
The moment I said Hell, his hand moved and I was unable to speak. “I have to warn you, cursing is considered a sin and that one word just caused your balance to go lower. I’ve already cautioned you, I have some latitude but if your balance goes much lower it will be out of my hands. Do you understand me?”
I nodded and his hand moved again.
“We have singing groups, prayer groups and meditation circles but a quick estimate of your current balance says it would take six months to bring you back to a positive balance, assuming you had no other infractions. There are always a few menial tasks in Heaven that no one else wants. With exceptional behavior, you could have a positive balance in six weeks, give or take. Once you’ve established a positive balance you can join a prayer group and maintain your balance at our basic subsistence level.”
“Basic subsistence level?”
“Everything costs. Most people find it pleasing to have a place they call their own. Better food than the regular fare, the latest in books and movies. You can do without all of those and live the life of a monk but your profile suggests you would quickly tire of that.”
I nodded, he was right. So far this sounded more like my personal hell than Heaven. That’s not to say I never considered becoming a monk. I just knew I would be a failure at it. “That doesn’t sound like the afterlife I was expecting,” I said. “Do you have anything else?”
He sighed, “Your profile said you would ask. We do but I have to warn you, it’s very risky. One wrong move and your balance goes so far negative we can’t save you. You’re also faced with the possibility of your very existence being terminated. I am empowered to offer you a position as an agent for Heaven, the payback can be very high but the forces against you are very determined.”
“You mean I would become an angel on earth?” I said, excitement forcing its way into my voice.
Apparently rudeness was not considered a sin because he broke into laughter and chortled, “You an angel? That’s rich. No, you would be an agent, we provide you with training, limited powers and missions. The rest is up to you. In order to become an angel your karmic balance has to be above twenty thousand. Let’s get you positive first then we can discuss your divinity.”
“If I’m not an angel, how would this work,” I asked. “Do I come back as myself or do you provide me with a new body or identity?” A slight pause then I added, “I’ve seen Fletch, I have no desire to come back as a dog.”
Another burst of laughter. “I knew processing you would be the highlight of my day. It would take a far larger karmic balance than you’re ever likely to see to resurrect you. The way that eighteen wheeler plowed into you, I not sure even Heaven could sort out all the pieces. And creating a new body for you, well that’s simply out of the question. In your case we’ll be using a much simpler process.
“Have you ever heard the story about the mother lifting a car because her baby was in danger, or the man pulling someone out of a wreck only to find out later his own arm was broken and that he physically shouldn’t have been able to?
I nodded slowly. Certainly I had heard these stories, we all have but I didn’t like where this was going.
“Most people call these miracles and in a way they are. The person at the heart of the story, seeing no other way, surrenders themselves completely to God. That allows us to send in an agent to occupy the person’s body. The agent is able to call upon their divine link to utilize powers far more capable than an ordinary human. Once the crisis is over, the agent usually leaves. Usually. It is tempting to stay but your karmic balance rapidly goes negative and you can no longer call upon your divine powers. I’m sure you’ve heard about Joan of Arc. She was a good agent but she just kept wanting to do more.
“There’s a few other rules we need to go over with you but the principle is simple. Your karmic balance goes up when you complete your mission. The whole time you’re possessing the body, you’re spending karma. If you call upon divine powers, you’re spending more karma. Go too far negative and you suddenly find yourself working for Hell. Fortunately your divine interface can provide you with your current balance and warnings as you go below certain points, all at a very small karmic charge of course.”
No longer the embodiment of an accountant, leaning in to close the sale, he became that car salesman trying to sell you that miracle undercoating that they always want you to buy. He knew he had me.
Of course I said yes, what choice did I have?
Training was quick. He called it a sigil, it looked like a barcode to me, anyway, the barcode they had branded into my arm served as a warning annunciator by itching. Since the divine interface had already linked into my nervous system, it could give me audible status and warnings but that was an upgrade feature and cost more on a daily basis. I was becoming less and less sure which side I was working for. I just wasn’t sure how so many cell phone contract writers had made it to Heaven.
Two fingers on the corners of the sigil brought up a holographic menu visible only to me. Because of my low karmic credit score, I only had two options, a manual on using the divine interface and “THE RULE BOOK.” Both were free to study. I mention that because while the divine interface gave me access to an almost infinite amount of information, as always, there was a charge for accessing that information.
Stepping through the doorway of my recruiter’s office, we were in a basketball court. No hallway, no anteroom, just through the door, into the court. It was slightly disconcerting standing on a basketball court with a white floor. In fact the whole court had the same white motif the office had.
My recruiter did something with a white tablet that looked suspiciously like an iPad and then said, “We are going to do a few exercises here to get you familiar with your powers. This room will always be available to you and power usage is free here.”
Taking up a basketball from nowhere, he tossed it to me and said, “Make a shot.” This was going to be easy, I was already inside the free throw position. As I turned to make the goal, I heard, “The other goal.” I never was that good at basketball but thinking what the heck, I put a little muscle into the shot and threw it, missing the net by a good three feet.
Without moving from his position he tossed another ball to me. “Activate your divine interface, concentrate on making the goal and then toss the ball.”
Have you ever tried putting two fingers on your arm while holding a ball? I dropped the ball.
With a sigh, he tossed me another ball and said, “Use the audio command to wake it up. All you have to say is Cherub, concentrate on your task and complete the command with a one or two word description. The Cherub interface is much better after the upgrade and hardly ever gets it wrong nowadays.”
Hoping that last sentence wasn’t intended to give me confidence, I said, “Cherub” and concentrated on putting the ball through the basket. I felt my sigil itch slightly in acknowledgement and said, “Throw” with no clue on what to expect. The ball left my hands like a rocket, headed up in an arc and then flew down through the net. It was obvious I hadn’t considered what happened after it went through the net because the ball continued to gain speed, slamming into the gym floor, where it exploded from the force, tossing bits of white basketball everywhere.
My recruiter merely blinked and said, “You need to form a more complete image, visualize a small gauge showing the amount of force you want to use. Try again.” Five attempts later, the ball went up in a graceful arc, going through the net and bounced on the floor. As an added touch, I had it roll to Clyde’s feet. No, he wasn’t named Clyde but he reminded me of a Clyde I used to know and I couldn’t pronounce his heavenly name.
Clyde looked at the ball and said “Good visualization. Now I’ll introduce you to a more aggressive technique.” He kicked the ball away, letting it roll about 30 feet, pointed his finger at it and said, “Cherub, bang!” A white spark left his fingertip, striking the ball hard enough that we were showered with bits of basketball. He kicked another basketball ball towards the far court and said, “Your turn.”
This was going to be easy. I pointed my finger at the ball like a gun, cocked my thumb, and said “Cherub, bang!” My finger exploded in pain and I screamed in pain. I stopped cursing the moment I realized this was probably being charged against my miniscule balance. That stopped, I looked down at my finger expecting to see the fingertip blown away. It was still intact. In fact, the pain was gone too.
When Clyde finally stopped laughing at me, he said, “Common mistake, your finger is not meant to represent a gun barrel. Think of it as firing a bolt of pure force. You’ll only feel a slight tingle that way. Try again.”
My own attempt was more like a small bolt of lightning but it was far less painful and did melt enough of the ball to deflate it. Clyde just nodded, “You’ll probably get better with practice. That covers most of your combat training, ready for the next phase?”
“The next phase?”
“We’re going to have you actually possess someone. Remember rules 2046 and 10413. You must leave your host in more or less the same condition as when you entered, no miracle cures, no long term damage. You should not do anything your host would find morally objectionable. We know that one’s a bit fuzzy, you’re there at your host’s request to resolve a problem and conflicts will occur. Ultimately you’re judged and rewarded on the success of your mission. Today is much simpler. The man is a hermit, dedicating his life to God. We’ve been given his full permission to train our new recruits on him.
“Once the possession takes place and you’ve regained your composure, we want you to run down the mountain, light the torch at the bottom of the path and run back up. Very simple, once you return to the same spot you started, you’ll return here. Clear?”
No, not clear at all. I had a thousand questions to ask. Where to start? I nodded my head yes and started to ask questions. Except that Clyde was no longer with me. I was standing at the peak of a very small mountain. Somewhere in North America based on the plants I was seeing.
“Are you a new recruit,” a weak voice asked. I looked around but I was the only person in sight. I looked down but it was still me. I was dressed in my favorite tee-shirt and some blue jeans with sneakers. It wasn’t what I had died in but it was comfortable.
“You’re a new recruit alright,” the voice said. “You can’t see me because you’re using my body. You think you can hear me but you’re only hearing my thoughts when I direct them at you. I can hear and respond to any thoughts you direct to me but unless you will it otherwise, I’ll perceive all of this as a dream. I’m familiar with your task but before you start, I’d appreciate you spending some time meditating with me.”
Mistaking my indecision as reluctance, he added, “Only a little time.”
Sighing, I sat down on the dirt. Meditation was not unknown to me, just not something I usually did. With a thousand questions buzzing around, I slowed my breathing and used a small pine cone in front of me as a focus. Slowly I became aware of my host’s body. A broken leg that had healed poorly giving him pain when the weather changed. An irregular heartbeat caused by a weak valve. How did I know that? Looking closer, I could sense that unless fixed his heart would give out within the year. Without thinking I started to repair the valve.
“CAUTION, POSSIBLE VIOLATION OF RULE 2046, ARE YOU SURE?”
flashed in big red letters in front of me. Hel…,err, heck? I could still do it but I’d violate the very rule I’d been told not to. I thought about the rule. “More or less,” was fairly ambiguous. I considered the situation, this might be a test, and asked my host, “Do you want to live?”
I looked at the problem again and modified a very tiny portion of the valve. No warnings popped up this time. I hadn’t fixed the heart but I had ensured at least another year of life. Maybe the next recruit would come up with a different answer. I stood up. I was irritated with the stupid rule and irritated with myself that I had chosen to obey a stupid rule rather than fix his heart. I started running downhill.
Getting to the bottom, I looked all over for matches, finding none. I had just decided to ask my host when I realized this was another test. Pointing my finger at the torch, I said, “Cherub, burn,” and the torch slowly ignited. I grinned. “Hel…,dammit, err, heck yeah, I’m bad,” I said to the rest of the woods and ran back to my starting point.
There was no transition time when I left my host. One moment I was standing on a mountaintop, the next moment I was seated on a piece of driftwood on a beach watching a beautiful red sunset. Better yet, I was toasting a marshmallow for s’mores. This was the heaven I wanted to believe in. “Beautiful isn’t it?” Clyde said, seated opposite from me.
“The old man used to be a heart surgeon. That’s your next question, how you knew something was wrong and how to fix it. You had full access to his knowledge. You’ll retain most of that knowledge as you continue as an agent. You were right and you passed. The heart repair you did was tricky. Most prospective agents improve the heart without asking and spend the next eon studying the rules. Some of them do nothing to the heart and eliminate the leg pain, also a mistake. That pain is a reminder to him of people that sacrificed a lot more to keep him alive.
“After completing training, your karmic balance is now 51.3. That’s not high but you’re no longer on a probation basis. You could join a prayer group and stay positive.”
He paused to look at the sun again. Me, I was enjoying my s’more. I wasn’t hungry but it tasted, well, heavenly. He sighed and said, “Are you ready for your first mission? It’s an ugly one and may not end well.”
I nodded. It was hard to talk at the moment. Looking down I noticed I also had an open bottle of my favorite beer. How could this not be heaven?
Clyde continued, “It’s a kidnapping. The father, only surviving parent, would pay the ransom if he had it but the last few years of his life have been a farce. He can’t get one tenth of the demanded money. The child is a nineteen year old female. She moved out when she turned eighteen. The relationship between the two is good but he became overprotective when his wife died. The girl felt smothered and moved out.
“We already know where the girl is being held, you’ll find information is seldom a problem when working for heaven. With the exception of the leader, you are not authorized to take any lives or cause mortal injuries. Any questions?”
I took a swig of my beer and swished it around slightly. “How much of this real?” I finally asked.
Clyde frowned, “First you have to define real. We have a philosophical group that would welcome you as a member. They’re still stuck on the pin issue but sooner or later they might get to your problem. Best not to ask too many questions about what’s behind the curtain, you might not like the answers. Do you have any questions I can answer?”
“Can I rob a bank or fix a lottery to get the money?”
“You could but as always your actions are judged against your results. Both are considered crimes in the mortal world. It’s your choice but I’d look for different methods. I should also tell that paying the ransom does not ensure a positive outcome in this case. Are you ready?”
My First Mission
As I nodded my head and I realized that I was no longer on the beach. Unlike the welcome my first host gave me, there was a strong sense of panic here. Without understanding how I did it, I calmed his mind to a light dream level and did some exploring.
He has a lot of guilt involved with his daughter. He had practically ignored her as a child, concentrating on building a financial future for the family. His wife had finally divorced him but never remarried. It was the divorce that had refocused him on his daughter and his ex-wife. They were discussing getting back together but she died in an automobile accident before they managed to take it farther. I felt a twinge of guilt myself at that and hoped it had not been the one I caused.
I remembered Clyde saying that the divine interface would give me all the information I needed. Looking at my arm, I was surprised to see the bar code on my host’s arm. In fact, unless my host had a scar identical to the one I had acquired during basic, I was seeing my own arm. I wondered who other people would see when they looked at me.
Realizing that this speculation was getting me nowhere, I activated the divine interface. Text and images seemed to float through the air, like looking through a transparent monitor. I tried using my hand to activate some of the icons to see what they did but quickly realized it functioned just as well when I thought gave it a thought command. Not seeing a keyboard anywhere, the thought interface seemed absolutely necessary.
The bar code on my arm had started itching the moment I had activated the interface, so I decided to use the search function. What had Clyde called it, a sigil? I did a search on itching sigil. “Your sigil will itch when you are consuming karma. The intensity of the itch gives an indication of usage. Your current karmic balance will always be visible at the upper right of your display.”
I focused my attention to the upper left. Sure enough, CKB 51.2 was displayed in bright yellow. I thought Clyde had told me 51.3. While I was trying to reconcile the two numbers, it ticked down to 51.1. I shut the interface down immediately and the itching on my arm stopped.
I was being charged for use of the interface! Those dammed hypocrites. Oops, my wrist started itching. I calmed myself down, it wasn’t like I had a lot of options at the moment. I needed to keep that balance positive.
I activated the interface again, this time I stayed focused on the kidnapping. The kidnapper was called El Chivo, “The Goat,” although he wasn’t Spanish at all. One of his bodyguards had given him the name and it had stuck. He was heavily involved in local crime but kidnapping was not his typical crime.
My host had recently written an exposé on local crime and had called El Chivo a small time hood wanting desperately to sit at the adult table. The book went national about the same El Chivo started his meteoric rise in the crime scene. This kidnapping had nothing to do with money and everything to do with revenge. Even if my host had the money, El Chivo wasn’t going to release the girl without a chance to berate me, my host that is.
He was keeping the girl at his headquarters, a small mansion staffed with two guards and a personal secretary. I brought up pictures of El Chivo and his staff and studied them for a minute. I would have loved to have a printer but I was already down 49.6. Who knows what hardcopy would cost me? I followed up the faces with a layout of the property and studied it carefully trying to come up with a plan.
Turning off the interface, I sighed. It must be nice to be an angel with unlimited power. They could probably do things I could only dream about. Not having that kind of balance, I decided to supplement my limited powers with a visit to the local electronics store.
It took me almost four hours to wire the car the way I wanted. It now had three alarm systems, armored cables, a spare battery and a cell phone preprogrammed to call 911 about a car theft in progress when the door was opened.
I drove the car to the front of the mansion. Leaving it on the street, I set the timer and started walking down the driveway. It was obvious they recognized me the moment they set eyes on me. I simply said, “I’m here to see El Chivo about my daughter.”
They patted me down while the personal secretary was sent up to inform his boss. The man came down the stairs and said, “I’ll take him up.”
Dam, err, drat, I was going to have to stall. Timing was critical here. Offering no resistance, I walked to the stairs and promptly tripped on the first step. As I stood back up, I heard car horns off in the distance. Phase one of my plan was complete, now I could go up.
The two guards headed outside to take care of the alarms. With any luck, one or both would have enough of a record that the arriving police would take them into custody.
The secretary led me into a large opulent office. The desk was huge but there was nothing to indicate someone actually worked at. There was no paper, no knickknacks, not even the ever present computer monitor. Next to the desk was a portable workstation on wheels, except this one had a big handloading press. It was hard to tell from a few yards away but it looked like he had been loading 44 mag hollow point ammunition. It was obvious I had interrupted him because the bench had an assortment of primed brass, bullets and finished cartridges.
Seeing him seated at the desk, I knew that he was trying to impress me with his power. I had interrupted him at his hobby but he wanted me to think he was working. The moment he looked up, I realized this man wasn’t El Chivo. He looked nothing like the picture. While I was trying to figure out who this man was, he took one look at me and frowned as he exclaimed, “What’s this? You’re not her father, you look nothing like his pictures. My men said he wanted to…” Realization hit both of us at almost the same time. He was seeing my spirit which meant he was probably my equivalent for the other side.
Still, I was slightly faster. Bring my finger up, I shouted, “Cherub, burn,” and a massive bolt of flame burst from my fingertip. My aim was good, the bolt hit him right on the breast pocket.
Looking down at his suit pocket, he brushed it lightly checking for damage. Finding none, he looked up at me frowning and said, “Seriously? They sent some punk recruit on his first mission to deal with me? I guess they didn’t tell you my side uses agents too. Of course we have far more latitude.”
Turning to his secretary, he said, “Bring the girl in. I’m going to show this wannabe do-gooder just how badly he failed.” He said to me, “The way accounting has taken over Heaven, failure of your mission here will probably allow my side to claim you.”
He stood up and pulled a massive revolver from his desk. “I can’t end your existence with this but I can certainly kill the girl and then your host. Your mission will be a failure and you’ll get sent back with your tail between your legs.”
The man returned with the girl. She was on the short side, medium length brown hair and a splotchy red face, probably from a lot of crying. She wasn’t that pretty to me but my host was so happy to see her alive that I was almost overwhelmed by emotion. El Gatos, grabbing her from his man, laughed as he put the revolver to her head and said, “Let’s see what happens when your mission fails. You might get lucky and end up working for me. I’ll show you all sorts of things they never trained you about.”
I was well and truly screwed. He was absolutely right. I wasn’t even strong enough to damage his suit. I felt a wave of despair and betrayal, Heaven could have predicted the way this played out. They knew who this man was, they knew where the girl was being held. They had to know what they were sending me up against.
Mentally I reviewed the little training I had been given. Putting a basketball in a hoop was not going to help me, or was it? Maybe there was a way and strange as it seemed maybe they had trained me specifically for this outcome. Only one way to tell, all other roads seemed doomed to slow failure.
Knowing my timing had to be perfect, I gathered my strength and rushed him, yelling, “Cherub, execute,” as I started forward. I saw him roll his eyes as I charged. I even noted his look of surprise when I shifted slightly to collide with the girl. She and I both went down. Noting her position, I rolled to my knees to block his shot at her. I could only hope everything else had gone as well.
At least I had irritated him. I had always had a knack for that though. He brought the gun up, thumbed back the hammer and said, “When we claim your spirit, I’m going to ask for you specifically, Boy Scout. See you in a few hours,” and pulled the trigger.
The room exploded. Well, specifically the 44 magnum exploded. The gases from the fired cartridge finding several bullets already lodged in the barrel where I placed them with my earlier command. Just like the basketball goal, only a lot smaller. My rush had only been a ruse to distract him from the impact of the bullets as they entered the barrel.
While he was still trying to access the damage to his hand and face, I gathered all my will, using a mental image of a gauge with the needle so far to the right, it was wrapping around the stop. I wanted everything the karmic interface would give me.
“Danger, your account is not recoverable from this state”
“Are you sure?”
flashed in front of me in big bold letters. Freaking now! Who wrote this interface anyway? Screaming, “Override!” I gave a mental push. For a second time in a minute the room lit up. Intense white light although strangely no sound. As my vision returned, I could see nothing left of him except a charred suit and smoking shoes. A slight hint of brimstone left me with the impression he had been recalled.
The henchman was lying on the ground screaming. I touched him and could see his soul was not permanently damaged. I wasn’t authorized to make any other kills anyway, as if that still mattered. A brief image of me escorting old ladies across the street flashed through my mind. I might get my balance positive before they recalled me. Yeah, fat chance.
I slapped the man, hard. It annoyed me that I enjoyed it but everything being what it was, that was probably my new life.
“Can you hear me?”
“Your boss stepped on the wrong toes. I’m an agent of Heaven. You have one chance to live. Burn the mansion and get the old man and the daughter to safety.”
He blinked and asked, “What old man?”
Oops. “Me. Get the girl and me to safety. Then find a priest while there’s still hope for you. Feel free to take any money you want from here but give ninety percent to the priest. Don’t do that and I’ll personally make sure you end up like your boss, a pile of charred bits on a dirty carpet.”
Of course it was a bluff. After this was settled I’d probably find myself working for the other side.
With wide eyes, he said he needed to get some gas and ran out the door. I let him go. He might come back he might not. There was nothing I could do anyway. I stepped over to examine the girl. She had the same wild look of terror.
“You look like him but you certainly don’t act like him. Are you really my father?”
I shook my head no. “Your father really loves you but he’s broke. Having no options he surrendered himself to God and I was called up. This body is your father and I can tell you he loves you more than anything else. He wants you to be a part of his life. I can tell you he seems very sincere. Give him a chance.”
I was interrupted by the henchman returning with a container of gas. Wow, he had returned. Maybe there was hope for this man. He started to splashed gas all over the carpet and the desk then stopped and opened one of the desk drawers to pull out stacks of hundred dollar bills. He gave me a shy look as if he had been caught and offered me the bills.
I shook my head. “Give the girl two stacks. Keep the rest and remember what I said about the priest.”
He finished stuffing money stacks into his shirt, (I lost count after ten) and emptied the gas can. Pushing me towards the door he said, “We need to leave now,” and tossed in a match in the moment we were clear.
We ran down the hall, through the entry door and I was back at Clyde’s desk.
“Did you really want to be an agent?“ were the first words out of his mouth. “We have rules about when you can reveal yourself. We have rules about making contact with agents for the other side. We definitely have rules about money and giving it to hoodlums is not sanctioned.
“Your power usage exceeded your karmic balance so far that you could escort old ladies across the street for the next hundred years and it still wouldn’t be positive.”
Coincidence or could they read my thoughts?
“On the other hand, sloppy as it was, you accomplished your primary mission and you eliminated a particularly bothersome agent, all without additional deaths or injuries. You may have saved one soul and although you felt you had damned yourself, your final actions were to bring the father and daughter together rather than work on excuses for excessive power consumption.
“It would have been better if you had been motivated by sacrifice rather than a dogged desire to accomplish your mission, the big guy really likes sacrifice, but you had no thoughts of revenge or ego. The home office is pleased with the way this worked out. With rare generosity they’ve decided to bring your balance up to zero before adding your mission value. You now have a karmic balance of 235.
“When you’re ready for another mission, walk through any doorway thinking of this office. Don’t take too long.”
Without a word I stood and stepped through his doorway into another beautiful sunset. My name is James Sebastian Carson, my karmic balance is 235, I’m an agent for Heaven.