The Angels (III/IV)

“Surprise!” says Jane’s mother. “We got you an early Christmas present.”

“Ooh!” says Jane, and tears off the wrapping. “It’s a burning bush action figure, with real prophetic action! And it sings!”

“That’s right!” announces Jane’s mother. “I knew you’d like it. I couldn’t wait for Christmas!”

“That’s very bad, mother,” lectures Jane. “Presents should wait until Christmas Day!”

“I’m sorry,” admits Jane’s mother, and hangs her head. “Here, you should light it on fire and see what action figure God says!”

“Okay!” says Jane, who can’t stay angry at her Mom long. Fwoosh! The bush catches on fire.

“I AM THAT I AM(TM),” the bush announces. “I’m a burning bush with real prophetic action!”

“Wow!” says Jane. “It’s even better than I imagined.”

“You must be Jane,” says the voice of the plastic Yahweh action figure. “That’s good! I need you to save the world.”

“I’ll do it!” Jane exclaims. “But I have to be in bed by 8.”

“You must push every software CEO in town,” explains the burning bush action figure. “PUSH! Otherwise I’ll have to blow everything up, and that’s bad.”

“That’s very bad, plastic God,” lectures Jane. “Pushing people is impolite! A good girl never pushes. Not even people with MBAs.”

“Very well,” concedes the burning bush. “You may give them a bouillon cube instead, if they do not want to be pushed.”

“Yay!” shouts Jane. “I’m going to save the world.”

“Be careful!” cries the burning bush. “You will have many enemies!”

It’s no good, burning bush action figure! Jane’s already dropped you and bolted out the door. She’s a hasty heroine!

Jane visits three CEOs. She gives two of them a bouillon cube. The third, she looks over. He doesn’t understand the importance of Ops. So she says, “Excuse me, sir, but can I push you?”

“Only if it’s necessary to save the world,” says the CEO. He laughs to himself. He’s so clever! She’ll never push him now!

PUSH! Jane runs away. You always have to get permission before pushing someone, but if it’s to save the world, they just might give it to you. That’s the lesson!

Jane’s at the mansion of a software CEO. You can pick which one! It’s guarded by fierce attack dogs. They snarl and slaver at Jane. She makes faces at them. They can’t cross the invisible fence! But Jane can’t cross it either — they’d snap her up! She pokes her finger over the fence. SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! go the dogs.

Jane falls over backwards. She’s got all her fingers, but that was close!

“Oh, Heaven,” she says, looking upwards. “I have to give this CEO a bouillon cube. Or maybe push him! But I can’t — his dogs are too fierce!”

Heaven is silent. Jane gets up. She pokes a finger past the invisible fence again. The dogs look shifty. Their eyes shift back and forth! They’re discussing a suspicious plan in dog language. Jane can’t speak dog language, so she doesn’t know. All she knows is, they’re not biting her.

Slowly, she steps forward, past the invisible fence. The dogs don’t move. They just wag their ears and tails. Dogs speak in semaphore! That’s their secret.

Jane steps forward again. Suddenly, the dogs lunge! LUNGE! LUNGE! LUNGE! They look like they’re made of teeth and claws! Their eyes burn like fire and blood! Jane screams and falls down. Bouillon spills from her bouillon pocket and scatters across the ground. Oh no! She can’t give the CEO a dirty bouillon cube, can she? Plus, the dogs want to bite her in half. Jane closes her eyes.

The teeth don’t bite.

“You can chomp all you want, but you can’t bite me!” That’s a mysterious voice shouting. “No one can bite me! I’m Evasive Angel!”

Jane opens her eyes. She’s surrounded by four angels. One’s standing in front of the dogs, but every time they try to bite Evasive Angel, they miss.

Evasive Angel’s a girl. She’s wearing a jacket. It’s got holes for the wings. It’s got a big logo on the back that says “Evasive A.” She’s got a halo. The dogs can’t get a hold on her. It’s not that they’re bad at biting. It’s not that they don’t want to bite her. It’s just a part of who Evasive A is.

Jane looks at all the angels’ jackets. “You must be Realistic Angel, Forbidden Angel, and Magic Angel!”

“Probably not,” says Realistic A.

“Ignore her,” says Magic A. “We’re the Angel Four, and we’re here to make sure you can push this naughty CEO!”

“That’s very bad, Magic Angel,” says Jane. “You can’t push people just because Heaven wants you to.”

“Actually,” says Forbidden A, “that’s kind of a knotty theological question.”

“Can you even apply standards like that in the modern world?” wonders Realistic A.

“No one can defy me! I’m Evasive Angel!”

Jane looks confused. “How does that work?” she asks.

Evasive A takes a moment to think about it, then snaps her fingers. She doesn’t have to answer that question. She’s Evasive Angel. “That’s not important,” she declares. “What’s important is, we have a CEO to trouble!”

“Then let’s go!”

“I’ll stay here and distract the dogs,” says Evasive A. She’s scared of what awaits Jane inside. She’d rather distract the dogs. She likes dogs, and they can’t bite Evasive Angel!

Jane and the angels rush up to the mansion.

“Be careful,” says Forbidden A. “There are lasers strafing the entry hall.”

“Lasers?” asks Jane.

“Worse!” says Forbidden A. “Heat-seeking lasers! And exploding robot butlers on the other side.”

“That’s bad,” concedes Jane. “Do any of you have any special powers?”

“I can provide a pragmatic evaluation of any situation,” says Realistic A.

“I can do anything, but only sometimes,” answers Magic A.

“You aren’t supposed to think about me,” says Forbidden A. “Although people do anyway.”

“Her special power sucks,” notes Realistic A.

“Realistic Angel, how can I get past the heat-seeking lasers?”

“I’d recommend distracting them with something hot, like the sun.”

Jane searches her pockets. “I don’t have it on me!” she wails.

“Or a burning bush?”

“That either!” Jane sits down. Her lip trembles. She might have to cry. The angels are no help at all! But then she has an insight. “I know! The burning bush has an omnipresence mode. When you activate it, the burning bush is everywhere — just like in the Bible!”

“Go Jane!” says Forbidden A. Forbidden A is pretty cool, but remember that you’re not supposed to think about her!

Jane reaches out and activates the omnipresence mode. Soon, her burning bush action figure is everywhere. She turns it on. It lights on fire. “I AM THAT I AM(TM),” says the bush.

“Action figure!” commands Jane. “Distract the heat-seeking lasers.”

BURN! The burning bush action figure flares up. It’s omnipresent, so it’s in the hall too. The heat-seeking lasers all fire. Silly lasers! You’re just helping action figure God burn!

Jane and the angels dash through.

“Oh no!” cries Jane. “Exploding robot butlers!”

“That’s right,” says the chief robot butler, twirling his steel moustache. “I’m going to serve you tea, and then explode, showering you with thermonuclear radiation! No one will be able to live near you for generations!”

“But I have to push the CEO!”

“I won’t let you!” The chief robot butler laughs manically, boiling water for tea with hideous mechanical efficiency. Jane watches the pot, but how long can that save her?

Forbidden A steps forward. “Hey! Robots!”

The robots all look at her.

“Oh no!” says the chief exploding robot butler. “I’m thinking about you, but I’m not supposed to! This is an error in my programming!”

“Oh no!” say all the other robot butlers. “Us too! We’re just as bad as our boss!”

“01010101001110100101,” exclaim the robot butlers, and deactivate. Thank Heaven for Forbidden A! And then stop thinking about her!

“Let’s go!” cries Jane, and rushes onwards. But then she comes to a giant pit. It’s all that’s between her and the CEO — he’s standing on the other side. He looks lonely. No one’s come and pushed him or given him bouillon since he bought the heat-seeking lasers. He wanted to be safe, but now he doesn’t have any friends!

“I can’t jump that giant pit,” says Jane. “Can you fly me to the other side?”

“Hardly,” says Realistic A. “My wings are far too delicate.”

“I oughtn’t,” admits Forbidden A.

“Of course,” says Magic A. “But only if it works.”

“All right,” says Jane. “Then I’ll have to trust you!” She leaps into Magic A’s arms. It’s a leap of faith! Magic A backs up, then runs for the pit. She jumps!

“Hey,” says the omnipresent burning bush. “Don’t you four have tickets to a show?”

“Eep!” says Evasive A. “No one can make me late — I’m Evasive Angel!” Evasive A vanishes. Realistic A vanishes. Forbidden A vanishes.

Magic A soars with Jane across the pit, but in midair, she looks at Jane. Her face is very apologetic. “It won’t work this time,” she says. Her wings give out. She falls. Jane falls. They’re going to hit the far wall. It could break their heads! But Magic A shoves Jane back towards the center of the pit and vanishes.

Jane’s still falling. She’s thinking this: “I just wanted to give bouillon to every software CEO in town, or push them. Now I never will. I guess my burning bush action figure will have to blow up the world tomorrow.”

No, Jane! It’s not that way. The bottom of the pit is covered in stock certificates. The CEO has so many, he has to use them to pad his pit — otherwise, he’d be covered in them from head to toe! Sploosh! Jane splashes into the stock.

“Hey,” she cries up. The CEO comes curiously to the edge of the pit and looks down. “Would you like some bouillon?” she shouts.

“No, little girl,” says the CEO. “I’m too important for your dirty old bouillon. Also, please stop swimming in my stock.”

“If I can’t give you bouillon, can I at least push you?”

“I don’t see as how you have any alternative,” says the CEO, who is a realistic man.

Suddenly, Jane rises from the pit. She’s standing on the head of a colossal stock squid! If you leave stock sitting around too long, you’re going to have colossal squids — that’s just how spontaneous generation works. The stock squid rockets skyward. Jane leaps down to stand in front of the CEO.

PUSH! Then Jane runs away. The angels left for a show, but she’s got bouillon and a squid — no one can stop Jane now!

8 thoughts on “The Angels (III/IV)

  1. “Probably not”?

    I notice that Evasive A is the only one strictly referred to as an Angel in the text. It even asks slightly later, in Danny, “What is an A?”… is it at all possible the others are some other kind of A?

    Probably not. But Realistic Angel’s response bothers me.

    (in case anyone was wondering, this is what happens when I start trying to go through Hitherby reading only the histories)

  2. In addition to introducing the central character of Hitherby and being pleasantly long… this story has that wonderful quality found most often in stories involving Jane (directly, as a character in them), that makes Jane stories my favorite Hitherby entries.

    They have a lot of exclamation marks. That’s not what makes them wonderful, but it does seem to be a common thread.

  3. Okay, I’ve kept silent about this entry for years, but I just can’t take it any longer. I don’t get it! How is this a History when it reads just like a Legend, and how is Jane in it? It doesn’t make any sense! *segfaults and explodes*

  4. Hahahahahaha.

    That’s fair enough. There’s a gap between the birth of Martin and the Tower really being up and running as a thing, characterized by certain anomalies. I have a hook down to what’s going on there in my head, but I don’t know at this time whether—assuming that Hitherby finishes—the ultimate explanation for that will be along the lines of “early Hitherby isn’t perfectly coherent yet,” “wow, this all makes sense now,” or “regrettably, I had to edit this slightly when completing the corpus.”

  5. Thanks for the explanation!

    So, to see if I understand, this took place long before the date on the Invitation, and the As walked through a time portal into the future that led from Monster-Era-Jane to Martin-Era-Jane, because the mechanisms of the Tower are weird?

  6. No time portal. Assume that either Necessity edited wherever they were going back in December 1996 to “a show,” that shows were a common thing for them, or that I’ll edit it later in RL into something more generic than that. My working draft at present actually has:

    “Hey,” says the omnipresent burning bush. “Don’t you four have somewhere else to be?”

    and

    PUSH! Then Jane runs away. The angels have other clients, but she’s got bouillon and a squid — no one can stop Jane now!

  7. Aww, I was really hoping that there’d eventually be a cool explanation for this fit in with them going to the (plot-event) Show. (Just read the Jack ‘o Lantern Girl version, which makes the edit Jenna talks about above.)

    But, Jack ‘o Lantern Girl does highlight the Angel Four as cast members, which totally makes up for it.

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