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Angel Hunter

(I have absolutely no idea where this little vignette came from or where it's going, if anywhere...)

            Stan Blackwell hunted angels.

            It wasn’t a bad job, not in this economy. The logistics were hard to set up sometimes, but the market for angelhide was always enormous, and no one could send you to jail for harvesting creatures that the government didn’t think existed.

            And it wasn’t like ivory or tiger skins, which Stan considered morally repugnant. Only a right bastard would kill an endangered species, so far as he was concerned. There were always more angels. Every time a human got born, another angel popped out of the aether to guard them.

            Guardian angels were his bread and butter. His system, which he had perfected over the years, was to take a toddler to a high mountain road with no guardrails and set it loose. As soon as the kid got anywhere near the edge, the kid’s guardian angel would come flailing in, pushing it back from the edge with ethereal hands.

            All Stan had to do was hit it with the harpoon gun, pull the kid back, dump the angel in the back of the truck and throw a tarp over it. The harpoon line was tied to the bumper of the truck, so pulling it up was usually easy, and angels were helpless against the devilwood bolts.

            He always took the kid out for ice cream before returning them to the street or the daycare. Daycares made him uneasy. When he had run through all the guardian angels in any particular place, he generally called an anonymous tip in to the authorities. Any daycare shady enough to let a grown man make off with one of their charges, day after day, needed to be closed down. Stan was harmless--at least to humans--but there were some real weirdoes out there.

            He’d run one or two of the kids over to Social Services, written a note that said their home was in an unsafe place, and dropped them off outside. Those kids got two scoops of ice cream and a Beanie Baby, which was pitifully inadequate, but you did what you could.

            Kids like that were the reason that Stan never felt any guilt about killing guardian angels. If the damn things did any good, those kids wouldn’t have been in the mess they were in to begin with.

            They sure weren’t very bright. You’d think that the angels would notice that a guy in a truck took the kids out for ice cream, one by one, and when they came back, their angels were missing.  You’d think they’d get wise to the fact that something was happening. But they never did. Swoop, panic, flail, harpoon, tarp, ice cream.

            (He occasionally thought of just getting an ice cream truck, but he hadn’t worked out the logistics of shooting harpoon guns over the heads of a crowd of children.)     

            Some of the higher orders of angels were different. He’d heard that thrones could tear you in half if you slipped up, and cherubs were downright nasty. You could tell cherub-hunters by how many limbs they were missing. Presumably they had to quit when they ran out of parts, although powdered cherub feathers would cause flesh to regrow, so if a hunter had a high pain tolerance and reasonable luck, they could probably keep going indefinitely.

            Seraphim were easy by comparison. You could always hear them coming because they kept shouting in dead languages.

            Stan mostly limited himself to guardian angels. Depending on which translation of which scholar you read, the other kinds might have limited numbers. You couldn’t just go around clubbing archangels like they were dodos, now could you? You’d run out and then nobody’d have any archangels and whatever ate them or relied on them to spread manna about or whatever would be out of luck. It would have been downright irresponsible to hunt archangels.

            Plus they might be smart. Like elephants. They were smart. He’d heard that elephants would handle the bones of their dead, for all the world like they were mourning over them. Stan could believe it. He’d read an article that said they communicated through super low frequency sounds, practically a language, and once you go shooting things that had a language, what were you?

            Angels, though--you could shoot a guardian angel full of devilwood and the angel standing next to it would look vaguely pained, as if the dead one had done something crass. It wouldn’t try to run. It’d look through you while you set up the next shot.

            Stan would have shot a hundred guardian angels before saying so much an unkind word to an elephant.


And thank you so much for the (albeit indirect) reference to how cherubim are old testament quality nightmare fuel. If they were really fat chubby babies like that word has been co-opted into ('Putti', dammit!), then they wouldn't show up with implorations of "Be not afraid," they'd be stuck yelling "Stop laughing, dammit!"

Edited at 2014-06-23 06:32 pm (UTC)

Scary cherubim

I believe I saw in some of C.S. Lewis' writings that the root for the word "cherub" is related to the word "gryphon." As Lewis observed, "So that's what they're REALLY like!" =8-O

Yeah, there's a reason for all the "be not afraid" when an angel shows up. And I, too, would like to know the medicinal properties of all the others. Could be useful. ;-)


I both love you and hate you right now. :)

I'm thinking some pissed-off angel is going to go complain to John Constantine about this guy.

I have a notion Constantine would give such an angel a dry look and a shrug. The angels he's used to are jerks.


I don't know whether this would make a great book, though if anyone could do it, it would be you. I do know that this taste makes me crave more of it.

I love this in the face.

Write it and illustrate it. They will come.

Sheesh. I want to know if there are any adverse affects on the people who lose their guardian angels, and if so what, and if that would change his attitude at all. Seems there could be some pretty big consequences to that sort of thing!

I've been doing a mass catchup binge on KUEC lately, and I'm sure I recall a comment in one episode about angel hide boots or something. Guess now we know where the materials come from.

I love this and desperately want to see more of it.

I want to buy you a coffee, or beer, or something for this. Fantastic spontaneous reading on my side. Loved it.

(Where the heckle is your tip jar?)

This is creepy in a way your writing isn't usually. Also fascinating.

Has Stan considered what repercussions seeing their guardian angel harpooned might have on the kids?

I suspect that's what the ice cream is for...


That having been said, this was pure genius and explains perfectly well why my guardian angel didn't keep me from doing such things as climbing tall trees, swimming through cement stormdrain-pipes, exploring an abandoned slate mine, that thing with the sea-cave that flooded at high tide, the wasp-nest-in-the-boat incident and the one where we put the lit firecracker in the mason jar (ow, scars.) I really don't know how I survived to adulthood, honestly. But back to topic: Somebody obviously hunted and shot my guardian angel and he/she/zhe was probably sold in various bits through a New Orleans esoterica supply shop. Oh well.

Edited at 2014-06-23 07:58 pm (UTC)