Friendship Science Fiction Urban Fantasy

Forget everything you’ve ever heard or read about Angels!

After The Fall and The Angel Wars the very D.N.A of these illustrious Beings was transformed. Certainly, this is true for those who were left behind after The Ascension and whose ghastly features and behaviour rendered them unrecognisable as the Legends of Biblical and New Age Renown.

  I guess that’s why meeting John Lampstander-or J.L. as he liked to be known-was so transforming and healing for me. I first met him in an Angel bar as I was slumming it downtown on a wild and somewhat, dangerous pub crawl. As he approached I noted he was wearing a khaki jacket with medals of service hanging in loose formation from the pockets. He pulled out a large, Angel sized stool and sat next to me at the bar. I was a little tight at first but I soon relaxed around the gentle and friendly way about him. I couldn’t stop staring at the smooth, sweeping contours of his face; a face that was hauntingly familiar and I tried to recall where I’d seen it before. I wondered if I had served with him, or at least made his acquaintance as we flittered and twirled through the electric shadows of war. 

  ‘We met before?’ I asked, looking down at the teak bar as I slowly turned my glass ‘you look mighty familiar.’

  J.L. smiled, paused then turned to face me. His head was epic and it was both exhilarating and unnerving being in such intimate proximity to an Angel. It always was; like when you’ve only seen a Lion on t.v then, as you stumble behind your guide through the prickly Savanna, a large pair materialise from behind a thicket close by. You don’t merely see them you apprehend them on a blood pumping, visceral level. So much bigger than you imagined with the raw, fibrous texture of their mane and the eerie, muscular grace of their walking which at any moment could explode into a freight train charge.

  J.L. sipped his whisky as he gazed serenely at the rows of spirits and liquors on the shelf, lit for mystery by a backdrop of pretty flaxen and sky-blue lights. 

  He then revealed, unasked for, how he’d acquired his unusual name. He said when Angels poured down in response to the catastrophic outbreak of war across the globe, they were largely unsullied from their long association with Humans and carried names such as Raphael, Seraphina, Michael, Gabrielle and Evangaline. The Beauty and Power of these titles reflected a time when the Angels of Earth were Beings of Radiant Light and Holy Empowerments. Now, as returned vets suspected off heinous war crimes, many were branded with tags befitting their lowly, Fallen status and ones derived from the blue-collar occupations they were given upon return; hence monikers such as ‘Arnold Plumber’, ‘Harold Welder’ and ‘Betty Seamstress’ became the Smith and Jones of the Angel community. 

  John said he was given the name Lampstander in accordance with his employment as a sales clerk in a lighting, appliance store. The fact he was unusually tall and angular-even for an Angel-and fond of wearing custom made bowler hats, somehow made the name more appropriate. He was, despite the trauma he suffered from the war and the depth of his fall, always a quiet, painfully gentle being who was serving his repentance with a style and grace I truly admired. 

  ‘That's really something' I exclaimed, touched to have been taken into his confidence, ‘I wondered why you peeps had those funny names.’

  ‘Funny is fun when it’s funny’, he said cryptically, ‘but only when it’s funny.’

  This was an odd thing to say and I was worried for a moment I had said something to offend him. Later, when I grew to know him I had much occasion to rejoice in his quirky, dead-pan sense of humour. 

  ‘Everything o.k? I asked.

  ‘Sure’ he said casually, ‘I’ll check ya later.’ 

  ‘Ok’ I mumbled, struggling to keep up with him, ‘you gunna tell me where we met before?’

  John laughed, a melodious cocktail of bonhomie and gentle chastisement. ‘You’ll see’ he said, draining his glass before easing it down onto the bar. John placed his hand on my back as he got to his feet, giving my shoulder a soft squeeze as he moved in lithe, Herculean strides to the door. As he opened it he looked back, nodded once before merging into the blinding, noon day glare. 

  ‘Short but sweet’, I said, the barkeep laughing as he reached for my empty glass.

  ‘You fight with him?’ he said, motioning towards the door.

  ‘Maybe’ I said. ‘But it seems like there’s more to it somehow, like a piece of the puzzle is missing.’

  ‘Yup’, mused the barkeep, absently rubbing the counter where John’s glass used to be, ‘mostly always is.’ 


It would be a full year before I saw John again. I tried to locate him amidst the Cities’ milieu of chaos and suspicion but his trail was always too cold. In those days of brittle, occupied ‘peace’ Angels and Humans were like a loving family devastated by a calamity which needed lots of time, space and patience to process, forgive and move forward from. 

  As I searched for J.L. I talked to many of his kind and noted his story was not unique among the Angel Fallen. Like him, a resilient minority of the stranded managed to crawl their way out of self created hells, leaving the rest to wither away and in some cases, descend below the most foul and murderous within the Human population. 

  When Angels fall they fall hard.

  This was a popular bumper sticker on the old, fossil fuel vehicles which became a favourite of the Dark Angels. They liked the S.U.V’s, Camper Vans and Mini Buses which could accomodate their large, ungainly size. Often, the Angels knocked out the front seats, cut off the roofs and had them converted to run on the ‘Light Grid’ which, without the Lumen donations of Pure Angels, relied on input from black sources such as the melting plants to keep them going. The melting plants, however, didn’t produce high quality Lumen being often mixed with diluting agents which, if introduced into a vehicle, house or industrial system could and often did lead to misfires, malfunctions and even the odd fatal explosion. 

  It was a sign of the times that Angels, mostly vets, formed gangs and drove around in surly convoys, drinking the contaminated Light made from Angel Bones excavated from mass, battlefield graves and boiled into the gooey, gold-flecked syrup they acquired from waste vats within the melting plants. The melting plants were chiefly located near the sea and at dusk you could see them from a distance pulsing an eerie, tangerine glow as the sun waned to a copper sliver on the horizon.  

  When two of these gangs met on a dark road there was often a terrible and awesome violence accompanied by a fury of noise which, whenever I heard its appalling staccato of shrieks, trills and growls, made me flinch and walk briskly away in the opposite direction. 

  Often wounded Angels were abandoned and left to die flapping quietly by the roadside, doomed to be hoisted into the back of trucks and dismembered for processing by Lumen marketeers.  

  As I said, forget everything you’ve ever heard about Angels-The Hierarchies and The Orders; The Seraphim, Cherubs, Archangels and The Powers. The Angel Fallen were often Guardians to specific Humans who’d died on the battlefield, or of hunger or disease and being exiles on Earth, were unable to escort their Beloved’s Soul back Home and into The Light Humming with Blissful Vibrations of Peace, Joy and Unconditional Love.  

  This, no matter how far from Love they had wandered, was so antithetical to their Heart’s sense of duty and purpose it triggered in many an intense perspective of Devine abandonment. The Fallen, grieving and outcast, began to rapidly de-evolve and their wings wither and retract into their fat, shrunken bodies until the collective transformed in one human lifetime from beings resembling majestic eagles into those akin to flightless, plucked chickens. 

  I wondered why John, despite taking up arms against those he was sent to Serve and Protect, retained an upright, noble bearing both in stature and character. I believe, having now come to know him so well, it was because his remorse was so genuine and passionate-wild even-like a sea storm brewing inside his heart. 

  I have since watched him grieve in that peculiar way of Angels many times. Huge sets of dark, turbulent waves built then crashed thundering upon the shore of his sorrow; his body heaving and trembling in tempests of heartache and woe. The noise of it brought everything within earshot to a silent, respectful pause and it was not uncommon for a pack of dogs to appear outside his window and join the lament with tuneless baying and howls. 

  I had almost lost hope of tracking J.L. down when he appeared out of the blue, riding shotgun in a Chevy Convertible which had the top down and the front seat removed for extra leg room. I was not in the habit of aimlessly walking the streets: it could get you killed with a minimum of fanfare-a car slows then stops, A Dark gets out, then…

  On this occasion I was scampering to the local Lumen dispensary-a laughable term, really: just a subordinate crook in a pop up hovel, unloading some questionable Lumen at a ridiculous price and cutting the Co-Op flunky in to grease the operation. I had run out, however, and like everyone else desperately needed the Lumen for the essentials of lighting, heat and power. 

  Lumen was The Light, The Power and The Currency.

  Lumen came from Angels.

  Lumen was either freely given, or it was forcibly extracted.

  Lumen was Co-Op controlled.

  The occupying Army was dubbed ‘The Co-Op’ because in the first weeks they drove around throwing leaflets off the back of trucks which contained cartoon graphics with sentences like: ‘We go like this shake the hands and co-op and everything should go super dandy.’ 

  The Co-Op’s influence was all pervasive yet their street presence was limited to the odd, bored soldier standing around wearing the distinctive gold epaulets with long, dangling strands of lime green cords. Having introduced Lumen to the city they stepped back and let it do the work for them, pacifying the population as Angel and Human alike fell under its powerful, heartless spell. 

If a Human took too much Lumen they were transported into an unparalleled ecstasy before their heart exploded with a dull thump within the chest.   

  If you had nothing to trade for Lumen then, well, things had to be done in the shadows-terrible things from which there was no coming back; dirty deeds that greased the wheels of a racket feeding on its self in an endless loop of bottomless cravings and hollow satisfactions. 

As for Angels, they had nothing to gain and everything to lose from a system which fed on them like a huge, blood thirsty Vampire. Most contributed to the Grid because to give was in their nature; some defected to the Co-Op and found their reward in the halls of power and influence; others hoped that by donating their Light they would gradually climb out of the deep, dark pit of the Fallen and be welcomed back into the Celestial Realms of Purity, Freedom and Love.

Some, like John Lampstander survived on the outlaw fringes, cruising the city and rustling up just enough to power house, car and with maybe a smidge left over to smooth things out into a sunny, wide-eyed bliss.

And so as the Impala cruised to a halt I considered making a run for it, but…If you’ve witnessed an Angel giving chase to a human it displays all the futility of a rabbit fleeing a cheetah.

  ‘Hey Precious, where you going?’ Asked one of the Angels, leaning across the door frame with one haggard, moulting wing hanging loose to the ground.

I kept walking, my ruddy face downcast and sullen.

'You o.k. there Sweetcheeks?' inquired the Angel, the tip of his wing tickling against my lower leg. Dark Angels often spoke in this way, as if by littering their conversation with endearments as Pure Angels did, you might be lured into a fickle, inadvisable trust.

  ‘Just walking some’ I mumbled, my heart beating so fast I felt a little woozy. ‘Stocking up on some fresh air.’

  ‘Not much of that around here’, observed the Angel, its voice purring with delicious irony, ‘the melts see to that!’ There was something about the Angel’s voice that prompted me to turn to where he was leaning over the car’s door, all gangly of knee, knuckle and wing.

  ‘Lampstander’ I proclaimed, ‘It’s you!’ 

  John laughed-that booming, melodious Angel laugh that whistled for dogs and carried birds in on a warm, gentle breeze. He got out of the car, bent down and wrapped me up in a tender, downy embrace. I put my arms around his neck like a child and stroked his kind, open face. I was mesmerised once again by the alluring, androgynous beauty of it. The large, almond eyes illuminating the canvas of Angelic flesh crafted below a wavy tuft of golden hair. 

  ‘Copy that’ he said’, ‘The Lampster at your service.’

  We gazed at each other, both of us grinning like brides at the alter, and I wondered again at this curious familiarity, where I’d seen him before and why, after having only met him once at the bar, we were like Heart-sick lovers reunited after a long, painful separation.

 John had found a grotto which he shared with another Angel vet and he invited me back to his place for a few drinks. When we got there J.L’s roomy was sitting on a large settee meticulously cleaning a Co-Op style rifle. The house was clean, cosy and decorated in warm shades of soothing pastel. They exchanged some information in the silent Angel way before she smiled, shook my hand and left through the front door.

  John went into the kitchen and returned with glasses and a gleaming bottle of aged Ocean Whisky. I was stunned into a slack-jawed silence…you’d need a lot of Lumen or backlog of favours to acquire a thing of such delicious refinement.

  ‘A thing of beauty’, I said, holding the glass up to the soft, amber light and twirling it for effect. 

  ‘I’ve been saving it’, he said, ‘for a special occasion…I think this qualifies.’ I looked at John and he turned his head to face me; tears were pooling in eyes already rheumy from bouts of weeping and spilling over down his cheeks. I placed my hand on his shoulder.

  ‘John, what’s the matter?’ 

  J.L. managed a tender smile before saying, ‘These are happy tears. I have waited for this moment for a long, long time.’ 

  ‘What do you mean?’ I replied. 

  ‘Well,’ he continued, ‘you remember at the bar you said I looked familiar and you asked me where we’d met before? My Dearest, Most Precious and Beloved Friend; the truth is we’ve never been apart.’ 

  With that he smiled, pushed a long, white finger towards my forehead and touched it between the eyes. It was like a musty darkness was suddenly illumined by a Bright, Magical Light. Images formed within The Light composing scenes from my life and they flickered one by one past my inner gaze like a film at a small, quaint movie house.

  I watched as I was born, bloody and screaming and J.L. was standing beside the doctor, wringing his hands and beaming with joy. Then the scene changed to me sitting in diapers banging a plastic truck onto the floor. John was sitting beside me pulling faces and making me gurgle with surprise and delight. Then I was an escaped toddler heading for a busy road and J.L intercepted me, took my tiny hand and steered me back to the house; on it went at electrifying speed, into my turbulent teens, twenties and beyond…yet I was able to apperceive all of it as it flew by in luminous technicolour. 

  Where ever I was J.L. was hovering nearby, unseen to my eyes after the age of five, yet always attending to my needs with patience, humour and Love and interceding on several more occasions to save my life. I don’t know how long the film ran for-perhaps a minute, perhaps an hour-but as it whizzed towards the present the Celestial reel slowed then came to a gentle freeze revealing me waiting at the enlistment office. John then touched my forehead again bringing the light to a sudden, flashing close.

  I lowered my head into my hands and rubbed my eyes vigorously. When I looked up John was regarding me intensely, like a nervous auteur waiting for a critique of his work.

  ‘John,’ I whispered in awe, ‘your’e not just any old Angel I met in a bar; your’e my Angel!’ 

  ‘Copy that!’ he shouted, then with us both laughing and slapping at each other like schoolboys, the first shots of the rebellion was heard reporting in rapid, sonic pulses close by, followed by a clamour of desperate screams and shouts.

  John looked over my head as he calmly filled my glass; then, as the tumult thundered with wet, slapping feet down our alley and faded away again, I took a sip before asking why he had stopped the film just before The Angel Wars. 

  J.L. sat up, smoothed back his golden locks then looked at me, the most beautiful, quizzical smile on his face before saying, 'You know, I think I'm going to sit this one out.' 

  John Lampstander: war veteran and collector of small, felt hats; legendary appliance salesman at Giffords Budget Lighting; connoisseur of fine, Ocean Whisky and Exemplary Guardian Angel to yours truly; raised his glass and boomed forth, eyes ablaze with booze and Love, the following Immortal toast: 

  ‘To the Honour of Soldiers; the Loyalty of Friends; the Truth in Whisky and The Eternal Light of God. May all of Heaven’s Creatures, wayward and wandering, be guided back into the Blessed, Golden Fields of Home.’

  As the sultry night erupted with a surge of muffled shouts, explosions and gunfire, John Lampstander-J.L. to his friends-rose unsteadily to his feet, turned up the music and, with a tumbler of whisky askew in his plate sized hand, stretched out his wings and danced.   

August 19, 2022 15:10

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