The angel sat on the moldy bed, each creak accompanied by his breath, almost louder than the bombs dropping outside. Soon the Earth would be eviscerated. His cardboard sword lay limp, absorbing dampness from the humid morning. Screeches of impending doom shook the sky. Followed by a polite knock.
The door to the bunker opened and in walked the Pilot Captain. Buttoned all the way to the tip of his neck, the only acknowledgment of dirtiness were his completely blackened goggles which he took off and wiped with his red scarf. Somehow, the scarf never maintained any filth from its objects of cleaning. The goggles left white circles around the pilot’s eyes, pointing to the fact that he may indeed have passed through some dust to get here.
“Agent Cupid,” he said, extending his hand. “Lovely to see you. It is here, I’m afraid that we must bid our final farewells.”
Cupid stood, the straps of his breastplate slipped off his shoulder and the plate hung sideways, not knowing which way to fall. He became uncomfortably conscious of a crust lining his nostrils. The sweat running down his face. His intense body odor. He had not maintained the habits of cleanliness of which the Pilot Captain was so obsessive over. Why should the Captain want to shake his hand?
“It’s over Captain,” said Cupid. “We lost. We’ll be remembered as the bad guys forever.”
The Captain guffawed, a belly laugh fit to divert the path of the falling bombs to the next site over. “Only here and only now, my angel,” said the Captain. “We must never forget the motto we took upon enlisting. Let it pass our lips upon our final moments together.”
They stood together in a frozen handshake and repeated, “Conquered by none from the sea.” Smithereens!
If a celebrity never eats, it still means their shit becomes a watery silt which is time-consuming to mop up from the cages. Even with no visitors or mirrors, the celebrities keep up appearances. They all have specific dietary “requests” (not requirements) that the zookeepers maintain and still the food is barely touched. But no one has ever passed by a celebrity cage to find them sleeping with hair out of place.
Some celebrities are night owls such as those on the Northern Passage. Darkness is nearly perpetual and many of them have mirrored tables in their cages. They sit back in chairs with sunglasses on and stare at the single bulb illuminating their dismal surroundings. Luxurious in their squaller. They barely notice the zookeepers sweeping the floor or stocking the fridge. “Art is life,” they would mutter, if anything.
The aviary housed those rarest of birds. For maybe an eighteen-month period of time, they were perfect and everyone fawned for their favor. The only role for them after this peak was a nagging mother, and then, a bitter widow. It pained the zookeepers to watch this continual fall, but maintained it must be. The most profitable of appetites are satiated only by these rare birds.
Walking down main street, the desolate stretch is dominated by cardboard fronts with the unpronounceable names of fancy fictional restaurants and clubs. Even the zookeepers take the maintenance passages rather than face this fare. Main street terminates in the front gates, the sign of which is only visible from outside. No one goes outside anymore. All shipping comes to the loading dock, and supporting the caged celebrities is a full-time job. The sign out front reads: Ever The Same, Ever The Different, None Shall Pass.
Starved and cold, dreaming of a deep-fried pizza topped with chocolate beside a fireplace, the group finally made it to the mouth of the frozen volcano.
The Expedition Leader: We shall descend into this beacon of the north, eat of its frozen ashes, and be granted eternal life asterisks.
The Team Leader: What did you say?
Sighing, as if he didn’t have time for this and after all, the air is so thin up here, the expedition leader again explained what they were about to do.
“Something about an asterisks,” mentioned a fellow camper.
“We don’t need to go over the contracts again,” said the expedition leader. “We’ve made it. Down you go.”
The group pointed out that they were all snow-blind anyway, and could no longer read the contracts.
“This is silly,” the expedition leader said. “You’re all hearing things. The contract clearly states that you are to be fed to the Volcano Goddess: Long may she withhold her fire from us and spread it in indiscriminate wrath upon our enemies.”
The Team Leader: You’re joking.
The Expedition Leader: Sure.
The group set down into the mouth of the volcano which had a handrail installed despite the so-called ‘virgin quest’ they were all upon. Things got a little warmer as they reached the base. A dull orange glow illuminated the walls and people felt life coming back into their bones. Some shed layers and felt easy breathing for the first time in weeks. Veins of gold crawled up the walls, reflecting the worming streams of lava below.
The Expedition Leader: Pay no attention to the writing on the walls. Keep your eyes on the path.
The Volcano: Because You’re Yummy.