God in the Mouths of the Damned
Originally, She had been in charge of the amputees. It was a difficult assignment, to be sure. Every 15 years or so She would be hundreds of places all at once. Fields and filthy med units, sterile hospitals stateside and mountains and valleys, they all called out so loudly in war zones. When they weren’t shooting at each other she heard them calling out from car accidents, heard the rasping whispers of cancer victims. She answered them all, if they called. They felt her presence as tangibly as they felt their invisible limbs. Sometimes at night she would give the ones who had healed a little vivid dreams of being whole; that was her idea. They liked that, most of the time, recalling the playing of the piano, or bowling, or running marathons. She liked that her business offered at least a little respite, at least at night.
It was unclear why she had been reassigned. She was not particularly talented, though She was thought of as innovative and unusually compassionate to her charges. They were all sympathetic to these wasting bodies, but few of her counterparts remembered what it had been like and so carried out their duties in a faintly mechanical way. She didn’t exactly remember her soujourn among them but could see herself in their eyes and so She stayed as long as She could with each of them, preforming like a muse of courage, soothing their racing thoughts. But a transfer came down from above and she shrugged. She was glad it was still a job of empathy and interaction. Had she been moved to the needs department her talents, minimal thought they might be, would be completely wasted. The needs department did carpet bomb answers, thousands of civilians taken care of all at once, they did a lot of weather work: rain, sun, and vice versa. It was boring and there was little time off.
Re-reading the call she was perplexed at the oddly dramatic title for such a small sector, especially one that was kept at arms length: God in the Mouths of the Damned. She didn’t recall where her department head was based, and when she asked around and she got some very chilly responses, some shoulder squeezes of sympathy as though she had done something terribly wrong to be moved to such a disagreeable sector. It piqued her interest and she felt herself buzzing with anticipation as she approached her new location.
She entered the non-descript lobby area and waited. She was always amused at the smaller departments attempts to mimic the comforts below: the walls a bland comforting color, some beige carpet, the scent of coffee brewed and sitting all morning. The assignees didn’t need these things here, barely noticed their absence to be honest. But the smaller departments liked to try and set themselves apart, make up for the fact that they answered the fewest number of calls.
Her handler arrived. He was small, but blindingly bright. He had been here for a while then, more pieces to the puzzle. As they aged, their connection to on high strengthened and they gleamed with The Light. It was a way to establish a hierarchy without coming out and saying it (Up Here they liked to play at being socialists, but the two spheres were more alike than one would think). He was as wrinkled as a nut and a bit stooped. He seemed quite at ease with his truest self and she didn’t have to focus hard to see his face clearly like a lot of them up here. She smiled at him briefly, quizzically and waited for him to begin.
“So. Transfer to God in the Mouths of the Damned. Are you talented or unruly?” His voice lacked the sonorous buzz of most of the supervisors. It was deep, and thick, like maple sap. He looked at her expectantly.
“Neither, to the best of my knowledge. I’m just…transferred. Um…What do you…do here?” She hated the hesitation in her voice. Better to be confident right out of the box with the admin level types. She cleared her throat. “I mean, one hears rumors but…” she trailed off at his unyielding stare. He was going to let her flounder. She closed her eyes briefly and sighed. She waited.
“We’re a highly specialized department. But we also get minimal calls compared to some. We never have more than 10, 15 people on staff at once. We lost a half dozen to the needs department after a busy week last week. They always ask to go over to the needs department, less thinking, less involvement. I’ve been thinking about doing competency tests to get placed here but what’s the point? no one much likes us initially…no one much likes our charges that is. As much as we can have an opinion on that.” He looked hard at her. “Can you manage?”
“I couldn’t say. Who are our charges? What do you do?”
“We cater to the folks on death row.” Flatly. As though this wasn’t just the worst assignment anyone could possibly get.
“Murderers, serial rapists, terrorists. They call out. We show up.”
“We answer the calls of people on death row.” she was stunned. Sickened. “WHY?”
He looked at her curiously, his eyes burning into her face. “They call out. They call out and mean it, someone has to answer. Someone is us.”
“But they…and we…but…” she trailed off at his hard look again.
“You don’t think they deserve it. Understandable. But it’s all there. It’s all written down. They call out, they mean it, they let in The Light and we go. We do what we do. He wrote it down for a reason. Gives them something to rely on, gives us our job requirements in writing.” His tone was dry, not amused but resigned. He had done this speech many times. “There’s another hitch to the job while you’re digesting that first one”
Her eyes widened.
“We can’t go to them like the rest.”
“What do you mean?”
“The rest of the empathetic departments, where’d you come from…amputations? Right like amputations, you go to them in their hospital bed, on the battle field. Hold them, enter their space so they’re sure of you. Be near them. But that place they go, to preform the executions? That’s separate from Him. That’s something they thought up on their own and we can’t go there.”
“The Other, th-the Nothing is it…?” she swallowed at the mere thought of it. To be near such destruction was the provenance of the warrior class, the Michaels.
“Nope. Nothing so dramatic. It’s just a nasty little thing they came up with down there. He gifted them the ability to think for themselves and lo and behold all they can come up with is wretchedness. Typical. Typical.” He sighed heavily. “Whatever the case, like all things that aren’t a part of Him, we work a day types can’t go near it. Frustrating but for the best.”
“So what do we, how do we preform our duties?” Her mouth was dry and her heart pounding. This was awful. AWFUL! Who did she enrage to get shuffled here?
“We sit in the gallery, only they can see us. They know who we are because we don’t show up until they let in The Light. We give them a smile and a wave, one of our more senior staff members gives them some waterworks, a little tear, and give them a big flash of light as they go. Easy as pie.”
Her mind raced. How was it possible that they REALLY answered the calls of the worst of the worst down there? The ones who destroyed all the goodness He put in the world. She had heard about this ghoulish idea they had thought up down there, she knew that it didn’t work quite the way they had hoped and that sometimes good people perished needlessly. She knew that there were occasionally wars that she had had to hover above because they weren’t really part of Him, but she was always allowed to go to them after they left the battlefield.
(and then…I just sort of lost the thread of the story. Do you have it?)