“Have you decided?” Flutter asked. “Are–are you taking the offer?”
“Offer?” I huffed. “We walk ourselves to the slaughter, and we don’t even get rewarded for it in the afterlife. No, no reward. Just the threat of a worse afterlife if we don’t comply. It’s blackmail.”
“I… I’m sorry.” Flutter hung her head.
I took a deep breath. “That said, none of the other options are any better. We can’t keep up the act forever, especially if it means putting innocent people like you in danger. We’ll have to face the afterlife someday.” I sighed. “Might as well be today.”
I was a little surprised at how calm I was. I guess in a way… I’d always known this was coming. That the Church would discover one of my secrets, and put me to death for it. It’s a disturbingly common fate for an angel. The Church grants a bit of leniency once you’re through training, lets you have a life outside of servitude, but they don’t tolerate anyone who breaks their rules. They expect perfection, and if you don’t deliver… they’ve sentenced people to death just for having premarital sex.
With my healing abilities, I’m not likely to die of an accident or disease. I’d keep on living–with the occasional break while resurrecting–until I either die of old age, or someone takes care to kill me in a way that I can’t come back from.
“So, you’ll confess?”
We nodded solemnly.
There was a chance they’d try to burn me alive. It wouldn’t work, but I knew they would just try something else. And since they know I’ve come back from the dead before, I was certain they’d make sure to destroy the body so I can’t do it again. I could run–try to avoid the execution–but they’d find me. They’d put up wanted posters in every church across the world, put a bounty on my head… it wouldn’t just be angels looking for me. Anyone who’s appalled by the idea of a false prophet would be on the lookout for me. There was only one place where I knew nobody would turn me in: The Lab. And once the Church figures that out, they would probably just launch an airstrike and destroy the whole facility. I couldn’t let innocent people die for me.
“That’s… it’s for the best.” Flutter glanced away. “I–I’m sorry. You–you don’t deserve this. You–you shouldn’t have to–”
I closed my eyes.
No. There was no escape. No way out. We either let ourselves sink deeper and deeper into this mess, bringing innocent people down with us, or we let it end right now. And just hope–pray–that the afterlife treats us better. That we won’t be punished for following the wrong set of rules, worshiping the wrong deity, living the wrong lives. It was all we could do.
Fear of the unknown. That’s what drives us to defend our beliefs. Because we’re afraid to admit the truth: that we don’t know the truth. That even the holiest among us could be headed straight to the deepest pits of Hell.
“Alex. What–” Lilly said.
I opened my eyes and saw a tablet lying on my lap, engulfed in rainbow-colored flames but not consumed by them.
“It’s… it’s from God.” Flutter stared. “It–it has to be.”
I nudged the flames to the side so I could see the screen.
Large letters read “Just kidding. I have plans for you. ;-)”
Deos Ex Machina. Love it!