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The Precipice

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The Wizard Joseph:
Melvin Melville felt the Cool Breeze on his face as he stood with his toes at the edge of the highest cliff on Sugarsweet Bluff. It was about 3 in the morning and he saw the lights of the city he had grown to hate splayed out in front of his vision. He had decided it was time to die, and so had made the climb up the well-known hiking trails and passed the sign that said, "Warning Keep Out" that never had been very effective at keeping people from seeking the highest point on the bluff to take in the amazing view, or make out, or whatever it was normal people did there.

Melvin had chosen this as the place where he would die. The bluff face was over 50 stories high, and there was nothing but hard rock at the bottom. Melvin had thought very hard about how he would take his own life. He couldn't afford a gun. Hanging seemed like it would be terribly painful if you didn't do it right, and Melvin knew for a fact he was a fuck-up. So he had decided to find a place to jump that would ensure a swift death.

Melvin didn't really want to hurt himself, he had had enough of that in life, he just wanted out. He had wanted out for years now. Still he found himself standing there at the edge. Part of him was still nervous about actually jumping. Melvin still had questions about what happens when you die. He had seen enough things in his life to question whether the atheists were correct about Oblivion. He hoped that that was what would happen, but he didn't know for sure. Melvin decided to pray, to What he didn't know. Part of him felt like he was just stalling things.

"Uh, God? If You are You then You know who I am so I'll skip the introduction. This world you allegedly made is a real piece of work, You know that? All we do is suffer and die, and all the while You hide Yourself from us, if You're really there at all. Maybe I'm just a coward, but so are You! Everything about this world is meaningless, and it's full of horrible things and people that just increase the suffering! What the hell were You thinking!? If You really gave half a shit You'd send a sign of some sort, but You don't. You can't be arsed to! Whatever it is You're doing up there while we suffer and die better be pretty damn important!! You know what? I'm sick of this world, and I'm sick of You too if You're even real!! You got about 5 seconds to show me something or I'm out of here..."

This was it. The moment Melvin has been waiting for. He looked down for a moment and felt incredibly dizzy. Melvin looked up and closed his eyes. All he had to do was lean over and it would be done. Melvin felt his heart pounding and his knees shaking. He gathered up all his meager strength of will and...

"You know there's nothing we can actually do to stop you."

Melvin's eyes snapped open at the sound of a soothingly melodic voice coming from in front of him. There was a thin and perfectly chiseled face but inches from his own. A pair of bright, wide, and slightly slanted lavender eyes were looking directly into his own. Melvin screamed, startled beyond comprehension, and pitched over backwards on to the hard rock behind him.

Two things immediately registered themselves in his mind as soon as the pain from hitting the ground had cleared up enough for him to sit up. His legs were dangling over the edge, and Melvin noticed that he had lost a shoe. He also realized that the thin, and well-dressed in white, figure of a man standing in front of him was  standing on thin air. Melvin screamed again just for good measure, and scrambled backwards from the edge until his back came up against a nearby tree. He was hyperventilating.

"Do not be afraid" the figure in front of him said with a momentary smirk. "Perhaps it would help if I stood over here?"

The apparition casually took a few steps forward and was now standing with his feet on the ground. Melvin couldn't help but notice that he was extremely tall in addition to being whip thin. It wasn't helping him calm down at all.

Between heaving breaths Melvin managed to get out, "Who.. the.. Who the hell are you?"

There was a look of momentary annoyance on the man's face, but after it passed he said, "I am Niliel, seraph in service to Azrael the Archangel of death, and I have come to talk you down as it were."

"What the ever-living fuck is a seraph?", gasped Melvin, his breathing slowing down ever so slightly.

"I'll thank you to watch your language please. To answer your question the seraphim are a choir of angels that resonate to the Truth. I am under no obligation to actually tell you the truth, but I will never lie.", the angel said.

Melvin's hand had landed on a stone about fist-sized. "Fuck you! You're not real!," he shouted and hurled the rock straight at the angel's face. Melvin had played baseball as a child and was actually rather good at throwing things. The rock flew true and smacked the angel right in the kisser. It soundlessly bounced off of the angel's face and out over the precipice. Niliel didn't even flinch. It was as if Melvin had thrown the stone at a statue. A few awkward seconds later the sound of the stone hitting the ground far below the bluff could be heard.

"Come now, there's no reason to make a fool of yourself Melvin. I mostly deal with the already departed, Souls that have departed suddenly and usually in very large numbers. You wouldn't believe what a fuss they make sometimes. I'm on something of a working sabbatical these days, lending myself to odd jobs here and there. My orders in your case are to provide answers to your questions,  and to ensure that you fully comprehend the consequences before you commit to suicide."

"Oh is that all?", Melvin said just before he passed out on the cold hard ground.

P3nT4gR4m:
 :eek: I'm in!

LMNO:
Yeah, good premise.

Al Qədic:
I can see this going places. "Cheesy afternoon black comedy sitcom" kinda places. And damn, now I wanna finish writing my own parable. Friggin productive bastard, making me want to actually do shit and shit.  :argh!:

The Wizard Joseph:
Melvin slowly became aware of light in front of his closed eyes as he regained consciousness. His body felt stiff and was still situated up right. He could feel the rough bark of the tree on his back. He didn't want to move or open his eyes in case whatever that thing was he had met last night was still there.

Melvin stayed perfectly still for several minutes. His stomach sank when he heard that same melodic voice say, "I know you're awake and faking unconsciousness. You'll find that I'm extremely difficult to deceive. You might as well get up and face the music. It really is a beautiful morning."

Melvin slowly opened his eyes and saw Niliel standing exactly where he stood when Melvin had passed out, as though he had just stood there for hours. The sun was about half risen behind him. The golden sunlight seemed to dance on Niliel's white attire. The waking city behind him was also bathed in golden light. The sun was bright but still low enough that you could look at it without hurting your eyes. Overall it really was a beautiful image, but Melvin was far from enthused.

Melvin slowly stood up keeping his eyes fixed on Niliel. He groggily said, "Great. So I'm still hallucinating. You can't be real. I just can't believe it. Guess I'm schizophrenic in addition to my other problems. That's just awesome... "

The angel smiled and said, "Well if seeing isn't believing perhaps feeling will be."

Niliel took a few steps towards him until he was within his lengthy arm's reach, and poked him in the shoulder with one of his long, slender fingers. Melvin felt the poke and his shoulder moved backwards slightly. It sure did feel real to Melvin. He began to entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe, this wasn't all a hallucination. He didn't like the implications of that at all.

"Look if you're not going to throw yourself off of the cliff right this moment perhaps we should start the climb down." The angel locked eyes with Melvin and grinned with a set of perfect, brilliantly white teeth.

Melvin tried defiantly to keep the gaze, but after a few tense moments looked away. He was hungry, ravenous in fact. The climb down would be long and slow going, especially without one of his shoes.

He shrugged and turned around. Slowly, and watching closely where he put his feet, Melvin began to walk along the thin path that would lead him to the hiking trail. Fortunately the ground was dry. He could hear the angel's footfalls behind him and glanced backwards several times just to be sure of what he was seeing. Niliel was walking casually behind him with his hands in the pockets of his rather expensive looking pants. He had a smile on his face, and he looked as though he was truly enjoying himself.

As crazy as it seemed Melvin decided to commit himself to the idea that this "Niliel" thing was real. Worst case scenario he was playing along with a trick of his own mind. This didn't seem like such a bad thing to him. He had just been about to kill himself. At least now he had something interesting to occupy his mind. Melvin's curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to see where this thing goes.

Continuing to pick his way along the path Melvin said, "So you're an angel right? A, what was it, a Seraph? So I'm guessing there's a Heaven right?"

"That is correct. There is in fact a Heaven, though your literature does not do a very good job of describing it."

"Is there a Hell?"

"Oh yes. It was originally created to contain Lucifer and his fallen angels, but a fair number of human souls find their way there. Some few of them go there by choice by consciously and willfully rejecting Heaven for whatever reason. Mostly souls don't realize they're Hellbound until after the fact of their death. Some people live lives of so much hatred and despair that it drags them into hell when they die. Occasionally because of some mishap in processing a soul will find itself in Hell on accident. My department does its best to prevent this, but our resources have been stretched quite thin since Lucifer was banished and took a third of the staff with him. We can sometimes negotiate for a trade in these cases, but few souls in Heaven are willing to give it up to trade places with somebody that they don't know. Selflessness is a rare commodity, even in Heaven."

Melvin continued carefully along the path while trying to process all of this. They continued on in silence for a while and eventually reached the main hiking trail.

Picking his way along the steep slope downwards Melvin asked, "So is that it? All you get is Heaven or Hell? Aren't there any other options?"

"A fair majority of souls are in fact slated for reincarnation during processing. You could think of it as a continuous cycle occasionally producing souls that have achieved their Destiny, and so enter Heaven, or met their Fate, and so are bound to Hell. A soul from Heaven will occasionally reincarnate to help out on Earth. To my knowledge Lucifer has never let a soul leave Hell and reincarnate. I suspect he knows that there's a very good chance he will never get them back. Some souls occasionally enter into various afterworlds out in the dream realms. Usually these are the worshippers of various Pantheons. Valhalla would be an example. My department has had a friendly rivalry with the Valkyries for centuries, though very few believe strongly enough to enter into Valhalla these days."

 Melvin considered this for a moment while continuing to walk down the trail. Eventually he asked, "Wait, so what did you mean by fate and destiny? Aren't those just two words for the same thing?"

"Without getting into semantics what is meant by Destiny is the highest state of potential that a soul can achieve in life. What is meant by Fate is the lowest state of potential that a soul can sink to. That's the best answer that I can give you because only the Destinies Department really knows the specifics of a person's potential in life, and they keep very quiet about it."

"I see," said Melvin, but he really did not see it all. He was in fact entirely befuddled by all of this information and needed some time to process. Melvin decided it would be best to just continue walking in silence for a while. Part of him hoped that this "angel" would get bored and bugger off. Melvin had no such luck however. Niliel continued to walk a few paces behind him, smiling and looking around at the trees and rocks like he was a tourist or something, all the way down to the bus stop at the bottom of the bluff.

They both waited there in what was for Melvin a tense silence. When the bus finally came Melvin climbed aboard and showed the driver his bus pass. Niliel climbed aboard after him. The bus driver didn't appear to notice. Melvin put that down as possible evidence that this was a hallucination after all, but after Melvin had gone to the back of the bus and sat down Niliel sat down directly next to him, apparently Angels did not really understand personal space. As the bus pulled away from the stop Melvin could feel himself jostling against Niliel when it bumped and bounced on its way.

"So where is it that we are headed?" Niliel asked in an almost excited voice as he looked around at the people and the advertisements on the wall of the bus.

"I am going home. There's none of this "we" stuff. If you insist on following me around clearly there's not much that I can do about it, but don't think I'm all about hanging out with an "angel" that apparently nobody can see but me. I think I still have questions for you, but for now can we just lay off? I need some time to wrap my head around all of this."

Niliel simply nodded, and the bus simply continued on its way like nothing unusual was happening. Melvin leaned back against his seat and closed his eyes. He could still feel Niliel jostling against him ever so slightly as the bus bumped up and down. He was way too wired up to actually nap, but he kept his eyes closed and pretended for a while that none of this was happening all the way home.

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