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The Angel

A series of excited ejaculations beckoned him to stop. Days of no encounter with a single soul, he was duly astounded. He raised his head and saw, staring down at him with undisguised arrogance, an angel figurine, whose body was discoloured and mottled. She spoke, in a reedy voice that gave an impression of a whimpering child: “Stop there! Who are you? Where are you going?” He told her his next destination, recounted in deliberate brevity his adventures so far, and prudently disclosed no information of his identity. “Not a very seasoned traveller, I gather,” she sneered, “mind you young man! A callow bird like you can never tell if an inveterate deceiver finally tells the truth, or he is indulging in his old habit all the same. Two roads are ahead of you, one will lead you to the next kingdom you fancy going, though no one will warrant you if that kingdom also happens to be a place of safety; the other will surely blindfold you to danger, into the depth of complete darkness, where your shriek of desperation will go unheard, your state of wretchedness unappeased. And eventually you perish, in solitude and misery.”

He swallowed hard. “But I thought you were like a lighthouse, your light glimmers even in the stormiest of night, enflaming hope within every withering courage. You guide the weary travellers to their haven, though a temporary haven it might be, but always a welcome sign after an extremely hazardous journey. I shall follow the road that you indicate.”

The angel cackled. “Despite my warnings you scatterbrain still deem it the safest to trust an insolent devil. What for? Do you feel your existence so meaningless that it matters little if you suddenly plunge to a bottomless pit?”

It pricked his curiosity. “Who are you? What do you really know about existence?”

“I’m a fallen angel. I’d had a few adventures myself, so when I could not contain any longer my burning desire, I badgered the Father, indefatigably. Until one day he finally relented, and this was also the day when my misery began, and has persisted to today. I was cast into the earth, the paradise I had pined for, without the right to regret, without the chance to retract my silly wish. So I avenged my naiveté on the others. I masqueraded myself as an Angel, succeeding in bamboozling many unwitting souls into ultimate perdition. Punishing them in the same manner as I should be punishing for the wrong choice I’d made.”

He was cautioned against commiserating with the angel, but could hardly help not doing so. A lump in his throat affected greatly his voice. “I have trust in you. I shall follow the road you’re pointing towards. I have no fear of being ensnared into grave danger since I’m certain I won’t be.” There he bravely put forth his first step towards that fateful path, and continued his journey.

“You are the stupidest human beings I’ve ever seen, ever heedless of the trenchant words of premonition and the clear signs of portent. I’ve never seen anyone so blatantly contemptuous of his imminent doom. So foolishly intrepid. I’ve warned you I’m a congenital liar, an incurable deceiver!” Her laughter was piercing and shrilly, but he thought he detected in it some intimation of pain.

It wasn’t until some days later, when he arrived safely and unscathed in the next kingdom, that he realised the angel was lying all the time.


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