Lori stared at the package in front of her, hardly able to believe it was actually there, and not just a figment of her imagination. The return label clearly stated that it was from her friend, Dr. Lattimore, over at PDX Pharmaceuticals. Even though she knew better than to get her hopes up, she couldn’t resist the temptation.
What if it works, she thought. No, don’t think about that. Focus. Go back into your head space. This is a scientific experiment, not some lollipop fantasy. You are a scientist, dammit! Now start acting like one.
Still, she couldn’t keep her heart from beating a little faster as she slowly opened the box. Inside the box was a piece of paper, and underneath that, was a styrofoam container.
She looked at the paper. Dr. Lattimore’s hurried scrawl was hard to read, but she had grown used to it during the time they had worked together.
Here are the cocktails you ordered. I have to tell you that I’m not happy about this, and if you were anyone else, I would refuse. There are some extremely dangerous mixers in here. Some of these things shouldn’t even be kept in the same building, much less packaged together. Any accidental contamination of any of these samples could prove highly toxic. Again, I wouldn’t do this for anyone else, but I know you know what you’re doing. At least I hope you do.
Lori read through the note twice, and smiled warmly. Drew Lattimore had been one of her very best friends when she worked at PDX. Although he had been (technically speaking) her supervisor, they had enjoyed a close working relationship. Her expertise was in the actual performing of the experiments, and his was in assessing the data and its implications. He had allowed her to work, and she had allowed him to write up the findings (and therefore get most of the credit). It was a win-win situation that had benefited both of them.
Now, it benefits me more than him, she thought. Thank you for this, Drew. You’re an angel. An angel in a shark’s suit, sure, but an angel nonetheless.
She put the letter down, and carefully removed the styrofoam box from the cardboard that surrounded it. She ran her thumbnail around the tape that kept the two halves of the box together, separating them. Then, ever so gently, she lifted the top half away from the bottom.
Inside, six vials of liquid were packed tightly in their separate spaces. Lori picked one up carefully, and examined it. The liquid inside was a dark blue, thick and viscous. She put it back into its slot, and chose another. This one was a bright green, and very thin. A biohazard sticker on the side made her wince. “Jesus, Drew. What the hell did you send me?”
She already knew the answer, of course. After all, she had been specific in her request. Still, she couldn’t believe he actually listened to her. She had expected him to refuse most of the things she had asked for, and so she was pleasantly surprised to find her “order” complete.
“Ms. MS, your days are numbered. Prepare to die, bitch.” Giving her disease a name and personality of its own had been one of the most liberating decisions she had ever made. By looking at it as something apart from her, an invader in her body, she was able to handle some of the psychological difficulties that came with having MS. It made it easier for her to face it when she could treat it as an enemy.
She was on her way to the kitchen to place the box in the fridge when the earthquake struck. Lori pitched forward into blackness.
Sometime later, she stood up. Dazed and confused..but only because she suddenly realized that she wasn’t dazed or confused. For the first time in a long, long time, her mind was crystal clear. It was only then that she looked at herself. She was glowing. Her whole body was glowing with a golden, radiant light. In fact, she seemed to be made entirely of light; she was translucent, a radiant being of energy.
Then she looked down, and she saw her body lying at her feet.
“Oh shit. I’ve killed myself,” she said, half in shock and half in sorrow. She knelt by her body, and she could see the half-dozen broken test tubes impaled in her chest. The top must have come off as I was falling, and I fell on top of them…
She ran her spirit fingers through her physical hair, and wept. As the tears fell, they were absorbed into her physical body, and the holes made by the test tubes closed just a little bit. When she noticed, Lori pulled the broken pieces from her body’s chest, and the holes closed up. She barely had time to wonder what was happening before she felt herself being pulled down, down into her physical body.
Lori gasped, coughed, and sat up. Her head hurt like hell, and she moaned in pain. She looked down at her chest, and gasped when she saw the holes in her shirt. She pulled it up, and looked at the fresh, clean, unbroken skin.
That’s…weird, she thought as she half walked and half stumbled back to the living room. Too exhausted to do anything else, she fell asleep on the couch.
Walking along a white sandy beach, she marveled at the beautiful blue ocean spreading out beside her. The view was perfect. The breeze was perfect. The water lapping at her feet was perfect. “Crap. I really am dead,” she said.
“No, you’re not.”
Lori was startled by the sudden female presence beside her. “I’m not? Are you sure? Who are you? How do you know I’m not dead? Are you…a goddess? If you’re a goddess, then I must be dead…”
“Nope. Not even close. Contrary to popular belief, a person doesn’t have to be dead for me to make an appearance. You’re safe and sound, asleep on the couch. In order to appear to someone, I just need their heart to be unguarded and their mind open. Usually, people only meet those requirements when they are almost dead…or dreaming deeply.”
“So this is a dream?”
“Something like that. Close enough, anyway. We don’t really have time to get into it right now. You’ll wake up before I even get close to explaining it all, and this is a one-shot deal. So let me get straight to it, ok?”
“So here’s the deal. You didn’t die, but somehow, you separated your spirit from your physical body. Normally, when something like this happens, I can fix it pretty quickly. I just re-attach it, and send the person on their merry way. But you…for some reason, yours won’t attach.”
“So what does that mean, exactly?”
“Well, it means that your physical body is dying, but your spirit isn’t ready to cross over. You’re going to be stuck here for quite a while.”
“Like a ghost?”
“More like an angel. You’ll appear as yourself, except you’ll be translucent, and glowing golden like the sun, and you’ll have these awesome wings sprouting from your shoulders. You didn’t notice them before, but they were there. When you wish it, you can also turn invisible.”
“Cool! What else?”
“You’ll be able to read people’s emotions, and you’ll be able to influence them a little bit. You’ll be able to make people feel more calm, more peaceful, more loving. When you are near, people will feel loved and secure, even if they can’t see you. You’ll be able to heal wounds and cure disease.
“You’ll be able to create simple things out of solid Light. Things like a sword, which you will need, by the way. You’ll also create your armor out of Light. Sounds medieval, I know, but there’s a purpose.”
“Why the weapons and armor?”
“Because your world just got a lot safer in one respect, but a lot more deadly in another. Lori, you are now a Celestial; a Servant of the Light. Humans can no longer harm you, and modern weapons are ineffective against you. However, there are also Servants of the Dark…you might call them demons, but we know them as Infernals. They can, and they will, try to kill you. To do that, they must be very close to you…most of your fighting will be done with swords and other melee weapons, or hand-to-hand combat.”
“Yes. Seriously. If they kill you, you’ll die for real. You’ll get sent to heaven, and you won’t be able to come back. It might not sound like that big of a deal, but it really will be. You’re gonna love this new life!”
“Hell yeah I am! I can’t wait to get started!”
“One last thing. Holy ground is sacred. No infernal can harm you while you are on consecrated ground such as a church or cemetery. It doesn’t matter what religion it belongs to…as long as it’s considered holy, then you’ll be safe there. Use such places as a sanctuary, a place to rest.
“The infernals can’t harm you while you are in a sanctuary, and they can’t torment you, either. Just as you can create positive emotions, they can create negative ones…fear, anger, depression…these are the tools of the Darkness. They will use those tools to try and make you hurt yourself, just as they do with humans. You’ll protected against the Darkness while you’re on hoy ground.”
“This. Is. So. Freakin awesome!!! When do I start?”
“Right now. One of my other celestials, Michael, will be here soon to teach you how to fight with a sword. The infernals already know about you, and they’ll want to take you out before you can learn anything, but you’ll be safe with Michael. No demon is stupid enough to attack him. He *is* the archangel of battle, after all.” The Goddess grinned, and Lori couldn’t help but grin back.
“So what do I do? I mean, what’s my purpose?”
“Hahahahaha…ahhh the universal question! Oh, Lori. I love you. You delight me! Doesn’t everyone always want to know what their purpose is? Ok, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Your purpose is….to be yourself. Love the humans. Fight the Darkness. Do what you have always done…only now, use your new abilities. Just be yourself. That’s your purpose…that’s everyone’s purpose. Just be you…and be the best you you can be. Just like in your army days…be all that you can be!”
Lori looked at the Goddess quizzically, and then in a flash of light, everything was gone. Lori awoke on her couch. She sat up just in time to hear a knock at the door.