Only Angels


Jem Riddle



Only angels. That sentence repeated itself over in Timmy's head for years. He had a friend who wanted be like the perfect ones that handled them. He, like his friend, always wanted to leave the work pens and wander the outer realms where the angels played and made giant things. But like many of his kind, Timmy knew that only angels could do so.

Symmetry. That's the word they used to describe their own beauty, these tall, slender beings that have elegant features and cognitive minds. When Timmy was a toddler, he worshiped them; mimicked them -- tried to be like them. But how could he? After all, Timmy was a human--not an angel. At the ripe old age of nine, Timmy was soon to be drafted for reconstruction. Unlike the elegant beings that ruled the earth now, reconstruction for organics meant only one thing -- Death.

Unbeknownst to Timmy, humans had long been farmed for their bones, which was made to create an alloy that resisted rust and coated the angel's fantastic architectural wonders. Humans were considered imperfect - inferior to the mechanized rulers of the new earth. In the view of angels, humans served no purpose, since they could never be made compatible with their advanced programming and despite many efforts by machine naturalists, humans always proved too weak to be made perfect like their synthetic tyrants.

Despite the odds, there were always some challengers to dispute this. Nonetheless, humans had become nothing more than farm trade and bred for their unique ivory-making bones. However, Timmy was special and had only one factor that wavered for his survival. It was an odd tradition that the elegant ones had regarding the imperfect humans that served them. It was a game they played and had more to do with settling bets and old beliefs than actually saving innocents.

The game was called Dice and every January 1st of every six decades, the mechanical rulers of the world traded synthetic parts and vied to win the obscure guessing game. Ironically, Timmy was born on the same date that the games were held on; apparently this was of some gambler's significance, since it was he whom the angels picked to be the subject of the game's results.

Regardless of its unpredictability, the game granted its human hosts a wonderful prize, if only they could survive the outcome. This prize was the chance to be recycled; to have your body's cells reorganized to made to continue growing; thus giving the honored human a chance to live a full life, possibly even up to five hundred years of age.

A whining sound signaled the opening of Timmy's sonic cage and a tall angel with her face long and smooth came over to him and attached a molecular harness to Timmy's neck. The harness was invisible and teased magnetic forces to lead Timmy wherever the angel would take him. Upon entering a long corridor with a huge hall set at its base, Timmy was ordered to kneel down and wait for the matriarch to appear.

Timmy looked about the room in awe and wonder. Seldom had he ever been brought this far from the farming grounds where children were bred to serve. His mind was struck with the sheer beauty and elegance of the high walls and the curved sculptures that were imbedded in the infrastructure so perfectly, that the art and the building were actually one in the same. Seeing this, he knew why these angels had ruled over his species for so long. They were in essence... perfect.

The room began to fill with a multitude of angels and Timmy could hear their mechanical innards working away as they buzzed, clanked and purred. These sounds were always present with the angels, but the technological hymns produce a mechanized melody that often soothed unfamiliar ears. The matriarch finally appeared, and the crowd buzzed and whistled in a language that Timmy heard hundreds of times before, yet could never understand.

The crowd of angels stroked their long, blonde hair back and bowed their perfect faces toward the matriarch as she held her hands high in the air and produced a large sphere. The crowd backed away and a smiled quickly pasted their faces as the sphere opened up and released two fist-sized cubes. As always in the world of angels, the cubes were of a perfect shape and size. The objects had four sides each and one black dot that appeared to race from one side to the other.

In the far corner, a particularly beautiful and tall angel came forward as the crowd gave way. She bent down before the matriarch and muttered a few blips and whistles that made the crowd shiver in excitement and anticipation. The matriarch rose, apparently accepting the tall angel's challenge and with a swap of her hand grabbed the two cubes in front of her.

The matriarch exhibited the dice in front of the crowd as if asking them to inspect their credibility. After the crowd nodded in unison, she stared at the cubes in front of her as each of her pure, blue eyes focused on the racing dot shifting about the dice. She then opened her mouth in an incredibly wide gape and swallowed it. The matriarch swayed from side to side and appeared to be intoxicated by the inorganic meal, but soon she halted her dance of motorized appeasement and a plate on her chest hissed opened.

The plate was between the angel's flawless breasts and soon revealed a long, rectangular projection that shot the dice from her body. The cubes were sent rolling across the shiny floor and landed with one dot racing on the upper side of the cubes. At this, the crowd roared in excitement. Exchanging a sly look to the challenger, the matriarch walked over and handed the cubes to her opponent. In a similar display of passion, the challenging angel swallowed the cubes and then extended her right hand. It bent in a fashion that was impossible for humans to mimic, while spewing the dice high in the air.

The dice fell to the floor and the crowd swooned over them as if hoping for some miracle to happen. However, they soon drew their faces away from the cubes and made a gesture of disgust as they moved back toward the practitioner's circle. The dice had fallen down, but the racing dot was not to be seen. Whatever that meant, the results were not well received by the challenger. She stomped loudly on the floor and finally rejoined the circle of crowded angels.

In response to the cube's testament, the angel that handled Timmy brought him to the middle of the circle. Timmy observed as the crowd moved in closer. They paid a great deal of attention to him and traded whispers of mechanical blips and whizzes. Soon, the matriarch stormed forward in a confident swagger. Her regal face harbored the same smooth and refined beauty that Timmy had seen in his captors over the short years of his life. However, this beauty took on an arcane feel as the matriarch extend her left arm and produce a sharp drill from her hand.

The drill unleashed two elliptical pills that fell to the floor with a loud clank, before whining to life and sprouting a series of mechanized tendrils. The bulbs on top of them suddenly turned red and it appeared their eyes focused wholly on Timmy's head. Timmy got up and swayed to avoid their penetrating stare, but wherever he moved, the crawling, metal critters matched his actions as if he were staring into a mirror.

He jumped away as the bug-like attackers aimed for his face. Timmy cried and quickly leaped to the side, but just as he got to the banisters of the ivory hall, his magnetic leash stopped him cold. He fell on the floor with a resounding thump, while the metal bugs pounced on his head. He tried to swat them away, but as soon as the things latched on to him, they drilled into his head. The bugs penetrated his brain and knocked Timmy to the floor once more, but this time they sent him into an unconscious fit.

The crowd watched as he stopped jerking about and finally fell completely silent. His chest stopped contracting and his limbs went limp. The crowd watched for a few seconds more, then walked away. In grim fashion, they turned their backs and headed for the exit to the long hall. It seemed the matriarch had won again, but just as they were gathering for the exit, the challenger pointed at the fallen boy.

A roar of excitement echoed through the hall as the crowd cheered. Timmy opened his eyes and sat up. The crowd of beautiful faces came toward him with expressions of high interest and even joy. The matriarch rushed to him in a violent charge, obviously angered at Timmy's resurrection, but in a flash of speed, the challenger grabbed the drilled hand of the matriarch and shoved her away. Timmy stood up and watched the slender face of the challenger meet his. She bent down before Timmy and pushed her silken, blonde hair over her shoulders. A warm purring sound of inner mechanics buzzed as she kissed Timmy on his forehead.

Timmy was puzzled and could not make sense of the obviously positive change of attitude the crowd now displayed for him. He looked into the wide, deep blue eyes of his savior and asked the challenger a question.

"Who are you?" replied Timmy.

The challenger put her hands gently on Timmy's shoulder and began to speak, but unlike the many times he had heard angels speak before, this time he understood. Warm lips generated from an aluminum heart encouraged her simple answer.

"I... am your... mother."

Timmy was surprised by his comprehension and stepped back in bewilderment, instinctively talking aloud.

"But - But, I'm not like you -- I'm just a human... I'm not perfect!'

The tall, motherly figure smiled and pressed her finger against his heart.

"No one is perfect, inside here -- Only in your spirit does perfection exist. You are so very special; if you realized how you saved your people by just being yourself, you would be so very proud, as I am proud of you."

Timmy thought about the stories he had heard concerning the game, about how many people could never survive the implants. Could he really be special?"

"I'm sorry, mother -- But I don't get it. Why do I understand your words now, when I could not before?"

Timmy's motherly automaton gently held him in a loving embrace, then whispered in his ear as she watched the huge crowd sing hymns to her organic son.

"Because only angels do--only angels!"



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"Only Angels" Copyright © 2005 Jem Riddle. All rights reserved.
Published by permission of the author.


This page last updated 03-05-05.

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