Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The dim room is momentarily illuminated as the door opens to admit two men in dark suits. They sit on the sofa, facing their guest across a low table. The door silently closes.
The left-hand figure produces a badge that glows with a pale blue light.
“You can shed your guise, Blessed. We’re from the Bureau.”
The room is lit like the noonday sun shines above. Both men fall instantly and irrevocably in love. With a quiet rustle, she furls her wings and the light eases to summer evening intensity. The feathered tips of the wings softly brush the ceiling and sparkling dust drifts about.
“Thank you for attending so promptly, Honoured Second Sistrial of the Jadiene Host.”
“The title’s honorary, given my exile. Call me Froxnar.”
“Thank you, Froxnar.”
“I’m surprised. Courtesy and nice furnishings don’t fit your reputation.”
“That’s why it’s a good reputation, ma’am. Terror is still the best non-violent deterrent, after the initial example-setting period.”
The winged figure visibly relaxes with a little laugh that makes everyone who hears it regret their tawdry existences.
“Sadly true. So, how may I serve?”
The figure on the right bows his head: “That would be inappropriate, ma’am. We’re simply here to ask you to change your methods.”
“In what way?”
The man on the left sighs: “The spamming has to stop, Froxnar.”
“But I get such desperate responses. It’s so sad. I can shed a little light on a few lives, though I cannot bestow any gifts. It’s so difficult, having to work via placebo.”
“Your mercy is without limit, as is your capacity to communicate. The world’s infrastructure cannot cope with semi-sentient software that leaves no room for other traffic.”
“Then how am I to make good of my sojourn?”
The two men look at each other. The one on the right replies: “Go back to your old ways. With hospitals and the like so overstretched, a little providence from the high halls will be welcomed. The silence that binds medical staff regarding inexplicable happenings will happily embrace your gifts. Which you will be able to fully deploy.”
She claps her hands in delight. Every minor ailment within a quarter-mile is cured.
The man on the left raises a hand: “We would ask that you limit your boons to miraculous opportunities, though. Sudden outbreaks of mass fitness and honesty may cause harm.”
The man on the right sighs: “Especially the honesty part.”
She straightens, wings spreading. It gets much brighter. Both men don sunglasses, drawn smoothly from their left inner jacket pockets.
“I understand. My miracles will only imbue those who call upon the powers or deserve a respite from their travail.”
The men smile.
“Thank you, Froxnar. May your exile be -?” He pauses for lack of adequate words.
She shrugs: “My exile will, indeed, be. It needs no fair wishing, much that I appreciate the courtesy. We are done, then?”
The room is lit by a flash that cleans every mote it falls upon. She departs. Darkness falls.
The man on the left coughs, then raises his voice: “Lights on.”
They regard each other, black suits turned ash grey on the side that faced her.
“This could be interesting.”
“It could. But there are a lot of people out there who finally have a chance. We can deal with a bit of weirdness to accommodate that.”
“Before that, a visit to Tailoring?”
“Ah, yes. Men in Pale Grey just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?”
“Not even remotely.”
The two men exit the room chuckling.