"Oi, dude. Snap outta it."
Christian Hale blinked groggily. Perhaps it hadn't been such a good idea to finish off that drinking contest last night with an extra five beers. Groaning, he heaved his head off the bar, wincing as strands of his hair stuck to the general detritus and were promptly pulled out of his head. The barman backed away warily, and Christian couldn't blame him. God only knew what he looked like- greasy, tired, drunk, and more than likely, dead.
He swayed on his feet for a while, pressing a hand to his forehead. Where was God when you needed him? Nodding at the barman, Christian began a long, swaying journey to the door, made longer by the rays of sun, making it a necessity for him to stop and let his eyes adjust. Once out the door, he heaved a sigh of relief. The air was warm but dry, and the desert stretched out in front of him, not a soul in sight- hang on.
Christian squinted out into the bright sand. A single lone figure was walking- make that crawling- in his direction. Christian considered his options. More than likely this was a lost hitchhiker looking for help, and therefore picking him up would benefit Christian in no way whatsoever. However, it could be a lost billionaire looking for a lift, and picking him up would result in instant riches. Christian decided to take his chances, clambered wobbily into his off-roader, and began the long drive towards the figure.
It looked up as the car approached, and Christian could now see that it was a man. A brown-haired man. A brown-haired man, with- but no. That couldn't be possible. Christian put his most recent hallucination down to beer, stopped the car, and rolled down the window.
"Oi. You. Okay?"
The figure looked up, frowning.
"Oh. Salutations. I did not perceive your presence until this moment. May I be of assistance?"
Christian blinked. Had the guy seriously just asked him that? Maybe he'd escaped from a loony asylum.
"Look, dude. Why don’t you climb in? I'll give you a lift."
The man smiled. "How kind. And I would accept your offer, were it not that I find it rather hard to stand. Climbing involves standing, yes?"
Shaking his head, Christian opened his door with a clunk and slid out onto the sandy ground of the desert.
"I'll lift you. What's your name?" Christian, not expecting the man to know this piece of information, was pleasantly surprised when he replied, "Emmanuel."
Christian nodded. 'Nice. So-' Christian stopped talking abruptly. He'd tried to lift the man, ignoring what he had thought was a hallucination caused by drunkenness, but then that very hallucination had whacked him in the face. Or rather, a wing whacked him. A very large, white, feathery wing. Emmanuel twisted round to look at him.
"They weren't quite as cumbersome in heaven as they are here."
Christian nodded wisely.
"Oh yes. Lovely place. It was quite by accident that I fell- got too close to the edge. If you would just help me to a church, I could pray for my redemption. I'm sure it would work."
Christian nodded once more, dragged Emmanuel to the car, threw him in, and said a swearword just in case all this heavenly stuff got to him.
"Christian. Christian. Look, it goes up," Emmanuel rolled the window up. "And it goes down!" He rolled the window down. Christian closed his eyes slowly. He’d once had a vomiting, Chinese, female, dirty mouthed parrot in his back seat, and yet had to admit that this was worse. Emmanuel’s wings were rather cumbersome, and to rectify the situation, he’d stuck them out the window. Of course; Christian couldn’t blame the people on the motorway for staring. It wasn’t everyday you saw a battered red Range rover shuddering along with a pair of wings poking out the window. Christian winced as Emmanuel blew hard in his ear.
‘What the heck did you do that for?’
"I wanted to see what you’d do. Look! That woman’s got three children."
Christian glanced out the window, his eyes falling on a perfectly happy looking pregnant woman. She was chatting amiably to her husband as they strolled down the street.
"Don’t look like it to me."
"She will soon."
"And you can see the future?"
‘Weeellll…’ Emmanuel scratched his ear, blushing modestly. ‘It is one of my more noticeable skills.’
Christian’s head banged against the steering wheel of its own volition. He muttered comfortingly to himself.
"Five minutes, Christian. Five minutes, and he’ll be gone."
Emmanuel looked up from ripping a hole in the back of the car seat. "That soon? I was beginning to enjoy myself."
"I like the windows. Oh look, there’s a me!" Emmanuel gestured to a portrayal of a choir of angels in one of the stained glass windows. Christian had to admit that it was a rather similar likeness, but wouldn’t admit this to Emmanuel if his car’s life depended on it. Had to make sure Emmanuel's head wasn’t too big to fit through the church doors. Sighing heavily, Christian began to trudge towards the ramshackle building, grumbling. A disembodied voice drifted out to him.
"Oh, look Christian! There are bells! I love bells!"
A loud ringing proceeded this statement, forcing Christian to clamp his hands over his ears as he entered the church. The sound reverberated around the small stone building, unbearably loud. Christian dragged Emmanuel away from the bell and held him by the shoulders.
"You." He poked Emmanuel in the chest. "Get praying."
Emmanuel nodded seriously, turned towards the altar, then looked back at Christian.
"Thank you, Christian Hale."
That said, he knelt, head bent. Christian stepped back as a flash of light engulfed his crouched figure. The church was very empty after that.
Well, except for a drunk truck driver, and a slightly singed angel, who was beginning to look slightly drunk as well.