Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

There’s always one…
I lost rock-paper-scissors with Frank, so here I am: checking the top floor for stray superheroes and wandering warlocks.
Didn’t expect to find an angel, though.
“Excuse me, miss?”
Looks like she got distracted while ditching her costume. That mail is good. It really seems to shine. I wonder if the wings attach directly, or to an extension of the combat harness?
Doesn’t matter. She needs to get that last wing off and packed.
“You need to get a move on. The convention ended ages ago. This venue needs to close.”
Mail-clad shoulders rise and fall – shrug or sigh, I wonder?
“I can’t just yet.”
Please, not another one convinced their favourite fictional world is the real thing. I move closer.
“Look, you can’t stay here. Just pack your wings and wear the mail home. The links are fine enough to pass as silver cloth.”
She spins round. Violet contact lenses. Lashes and brows dyed silver to match what looks like close-cropped hair.
“Wings? You see two?”
“No. I only see the one you’re still wearing.”
Peering over jumbled furniture, I see she’s got mail leggings to match her top. Silver-grey boots complete the outfit.
No wing, though? I look up and grin at her.
“How did you manage to lose a wing?”
She smiles. My heart skips a beat.
Not because of… It really does!
The pain from this morning, but more intense, crashes through my chest. I’m on the floor. Fuck, this really hurts.
“I didn’t lose one, William.”
How does she know my-? The pain eases. I open my eyes to meet hers.
“In some futures, you died. In others, you’re dying. In a few, you’re dragging yourself to the emergency call panel over there. In this one…”
She grins. Her teeth are pointed.
“You’re not from round here, are you?”
I’m dying in the arms of some sort of angel and that’s the best I can come up with?
Her laugh is warm. I see waves of light.
“Live, you fool. There’s someone you need to save.”
“Why can’t you save them?”
“The special ones have to be succoured by mortals. That’s the rules.”
The pain in my chest isn’t gone. I struggle, but manage to tap my chest with a finger.
“Still hurts.”
“William, will you accept?”
“To save someone I don’t know-”
“You might already know them.”
“Great. Person known or unknown to be saved from death-”
“Might not be death.”
“Okay. Save from unspecified peril.”
“Good description.”
“Do I get any clues?”
She shakes her head.
“What happens if I say no?”
“I leave you here.”
“Will I die?”
“I don’t know.”
I take a guess.
“The rules, again?”
She nods.
“Will someone else do the saving?”
“I don’t know.”
“More rules?”
“No. I simply don’t know.”
“Will I die doing the saving?”
There’s a frown.
“Good question. It’s a real possibility, but never certain.”
“You’ve done this before?”
She extends her wing.
“What happens when you get the other? Promotion?”
“I fly instead of falling.”
“But it’s more than most.”
The laugh warms me again, then she crouches to put her face a few millimetres from mine. She has no pores. Just flawless skin.
“Much as this is fun, your period of grace is ending. Decision time, William.”
“I don’t know your name.”
She shakes her head.
“You never will. Decide.”
No more prevaricating.
“I accept.”
A pair of unfurling wings dazzle me.
“Blessed Be, William.”
I’m standing in the corridor, pain free, listening to the distant beat of receding wings.
And to you, miss.