When I came out of the coffee shop with my latte and my fresh walnut brownie, the Archangel Michael was beating the ever-loving shit out of Satan down on the corner. I could see the impact crater, right in the middle of the intersection, and one of the poles holding up the traffic lights was cut right in two so the wires had all fallen in the street and also it was on fire on account of the flaming sword, so it was a real mess. All higgledy-piggledy. Michael was holding Satan up by the neck with one hand and just slapping him across the face with the other. Which also by the way was still holding the sword, so it wasn’t so much like slapping as it was punching with brass knuckles. Also it was still on fire.
People were honking, but only the ones far enough back that they couldn’t see what was going on. Everyone else was kind of looking the other way. Fiddling with their cell phones. Avoiding eye contact. You know, like you do around angels.
I figured it was time.
“Hey,” I said. Michael turned. I lifted the hand with the coffee in it and pointed at Satan, who was pretty beat up by then. Missing some teeth and all bruises and stuff. “Not cool,” I told Michael.
The angel looked down at me with his bronze wings all clanging in the wind. Then he snorted and tossed Satan to the ground and just took off. I stumbled a little and nearly spilled my coffee. Angels got wicked backwash.
By then Satan was staggering upright. “You okay, dude?” I asked him.
“Could’ve taken him,” Satan said. He spat out a tooth and flared his nostrils. “Didn’t need your help.”
Originally published in Eclipse 1, Edited by Jonathan Strahan. Check out Prophecies, Libels, & Dreams – Ysabeau S. Wilce’s new collection coming soon from Small Beer Press!
When Pow walks into the hog ranch, everyone turns to stare at shim. At the whist table, the muleskinner gurgles and lets fall his cards. The cardsharp’s teeth clatter against the rim of his glass. The cowboy squeaks. At the bar, the barkeep, who had been fishing flies out of the pickle jar, drops her pickle fork. On the bar, the cat, a fantastic mouser named Queenie, narrows her moon-silver eyes into little slits. At the pianny, Lotta, who’d been banging out Drink Puppy Drink on the peeling ivory keys, crashes one last chord and no more.
Even the ice elemental, in the cage suspended over the whist table, ceases his languid fanning. He’s seen a lot of boring human behavior since the barkeep brought him from a junk store in Wal-nuts to keep the hog ranch cool; finally a human has done some- thing interesting. Only Fort Gehenna’s scout doesn’t react. He wipes his nose on a greasy buckskin sleeve, slams another shot of mescal, and takes the opportunity to peek at his opponents’ cards.
The bar-room is dead silent but for a distant slap and a squeal—Buck and the peg-boy in the back room exercising—and the creak of the canvas walls shifting in the ever-present Arivaipa wind.
Rated R. Contains lots of alcohol, some death, and some undeath.
Originally published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1967.
April 13: Today I made a discovery. I was allowed to look in the mirror in Doctor Mesh’s office. I’mabout forty years old, judging from my face and hair. I failed to recognize me, and by this I mean there is apparently no correlation between what I saw of me in the mirror and this trick memory of mine. But it’s good to see one’s face, although my own appears ordinary enough.
I must admit to more interest in the pretty bottles on Doctor Mesh’s shelves than my face. Somewhere in dreams I remember bottles like those. I wanted the bottles so badly that a whirling came in my head.
But I didn’t try to take them, as I suspected that Doctor Mesh was watching closely.
Doctor Mesh said, “You’re improving. Soon we’ll give you the run of our little hospital and grounds, except, of course, the disturbed room.” He pinched me on the arm playfully. “Have to keep you healthy.”