It was quiet for a Tuesday night at the train station. The wind blew through trees that had just barely begun to bear their strange unknowable fruit that always seemed like a bad idea to eat and the sun was just beginning to set on a night that was more mediocre than the last. A girl with bright pink hair stared down at her phone as she scrolled aimlessly on a social media website that had it’s tendrils wrapped round her mind.
A train took off in another direction. The dinging of railways and train cars signalling a train about to leave pierced through the music she had playing and caused her head to bolt upright. There was a sort of gentle dissociation that often permeated her mind at the station, to guard her from the gentle din of people, cars, and all the sounds of the world. Tonight there was almost nothing. She pulled an earbud out and took a look around. The world was quiet here.
She quickly paused her music and took a look around.
The station was empty. The train leaving was empty. The streets were empty and the sky was empty, save nothing but for the mountains that surrounded her and the setting sun. To her this was a new sight, but to the world, it was a Tuesday. To the world it was nothing for the earth had no concept of time that could be reasonably measured on the scale of a creature that barely lives a century.
A chill fell down her spine. She looked out to the parking lot and saw no cars parked there. She looked across the street and no lights filled the houses. A book series she had heard about in her youth crossed her mind. Rapture. It was an unsettling book with the idea that one day, those who believed in a god would be whisked away to heaven and the rest of humanity would just be left to their own devices. The book was widely regarded as a mistake and hogwash as there was no biblical precedence for the concept and yet it had somehow become a common idea. They of course, made four movies out of it. She hated every single one.
There was always a gentle fear that she was wrong and that The Rapture was real but Lana knew this was not The Rapture., Yet she still couldn’t help but feel as though something was off. Something was wrong. The world was ever not this quiet. Especially not with the mall just half a mile away. She looked out in it’s direction, and despite all odds, no shining lights came from it’s direction. The sound of distant music could not be heard.
The world was quiet here.
Lana exhaled. It felt like a weight was lifted off her shoulders. She felt like she could relax. Gone were the dim hums of electronic lights. Gone were the loud and raucous sounds of tens of people all talking on their phones or talking to each other in their tiny worlds with their tiny conversations.
“Um. Excuse me?”
The silence broken, Lana turned around, to see the source. She could have sworn there was no one behind her a second ago. Behind her a girl with curly brown hair wearing suspenders that were far too cute for her own good looked nervous with hands clutching a satchel. She wore a shirt with white and black stripes and stared back the most beautiful green eyes she’d ever seen. Her heart skipped a beat as she stood there wordlessly.
“Uh hi! It’s nice to meet you. Would you mind telling me where I am?”
Lana stumbled over her words, “uh- um. We’re at Mall station?”
The girl nodded, “huh. I see. I don’t know how I got here honestly.”
Lana raised an eyebrow. “Did you fall asleep on a train or something?”
“No no, I think it was just the angels not liking my style”
Lana blinked, “Angels.”
The girl raised an eyebrow, “Yeah! Angels. You know big asshole orbs with a thousand eyes that just shout HOLY! HOLY! At you.”
Lana took a step back, she was used to being approached by weird people on the train, but this was a new level.
“That’s… that’s not what angels look like?”
“Oh? Oh IS IT? Lemme guess, big huge buff men with flowing white robes bearing harps and massive wings that shouldn’t even be able to support their bodies? God DAMMIT Michaelangelo. You couldn’t have just PAINTED THE RIGHT ANGEL LIKE WE TOLD YOU TO.”
Lana was quickly looking for an exit, “What do ninja turtles have to do with this?”
The girl stamped a foot on the ground. Lana swore she felt the temperature of the air rise, “NINJA TURTLES??? Wait what year is it?”
Lana hopped to the other side of railway. The woman looked insulted, “2020! Listen I got to go now I think my ride is here”
Lana was lying. Her ride wasn’t here. No one was here. No one had been here for a while.
“Twenty twenty? Really? Well I’ve been sent here to die then it seems.”
Lana’s eyes looked up at the incoming train schedule screen and cursed under her breath. Broken. Or it was just spitting out errors.
The woman hopped across the rails to follow her, “Either way you better be careful. The Apocalypse is happenning and you humans probably don’t have much time left.”
Lana started walking away from the platform, “You don’t say?”
The woman nodded, Yeah. Big guy up top said that before he threw me down here.”
“God told you he plans to start the apocalypse? Then why are you here? Shouldn’t you be up with the asshole orbs?”
Lana walked faster.
The woman jogged up next to her, “Well I’m not an idiot. I can take a hint.”
Lana shot her a look that suggested otherwise, “Say I don’t think you gave me your name.”
“And you didn’t give me yours.”
Lana kept walking and smacked against something invisible in front of her. She looked around and put a hand out. It touched against something solid, despite the fact that nothing seemed to be in front of you.
The woman in suspenders smirked at her. Lana turned around with a bewildered look on her face.
“Did you do this?”
“Maybe I did, Maybe I didn’t. What’s your name kid?”
Lana’s eyes darted across the station, “Sorek.”
The women scrunched her face up, “That tastes like a fake name. But I guess I can play along. You can call me Lucy.”
She extended a hand for a shake.
Lana pushed her hand away, “Nice to meet you Lucy, what did you do to the station?”
Lucy shoved her hands in her overall pockets, and turned 180 degrees and began to walk away, “Like I told you, Apocalypse is coming. I can take a hint. I thought I’d save first person I could, but if you’d rather die out there…” Lucy turned her head ever so slightly as to reveal yet another infuriating smirk.
“What are you?”
“You know what, I think I’m a Fallen Angel now. We’re not usually supposed to come down here to the Firmament, but there’s a first time for everything.”
Lana leaned back against the invisible barrier and slumped to the ground, pulling out her phone and began typing away.
“There’s no use warning anyone Sorek.”
“Shut up, you’re insane.”
Lucy sighed and rolled her eyes.
Before Lana could hit enter on a message, her field of vision burned with a brightness that rivaled the sun, she screamed as her eyes burned and immediately closed them and covered her eyes, dropping her phone to the ground. She felt like she could hear a word echoing through the station but was too focused on the pain too parse it. She screamed again.
“I said, FEAR NOT.”
As if by magic, the fear, pain and terror immediately fled. She kept her hands to her eyes. The imprint of whatever it looked shockingly orb-like. She pulled her eyes away and a bright brilliant orb with thousands of eyes and great brilliant wings stared back at her. She squinted and looked back down at her phone, and then back up at the floating orb.
“What the fuck.”
“You called me Insane.”
“You didn’t have to BLIND ME.”
“Come on, you can see just fine.”
Sure enough she was right. Her vision was just fine and the girl she had seen before was standing right in front of her. There was no fancy transformation, no magical sequence of hands thrown wildly as catchy music played. There was just the woman in front of her.
“Alright so maybe that was a bit of an asshole move, but I just gotta be honest. There is an Apocalypse. I don’t know what it is or when it’s coming, but I know one thing, The other Angels don’t care. God doesn’t care that hundreds of thousands of people are going to die here in horrible suffering. His prophets and people have often said things like he’ll never give you more than you can handle and that’s bullshit. This is all bullshit and I tried to put a stop to it but now I’m here in this station, stuck here and if we work together I might be able to do something to stop the Millions of people that are going to die. Sorek. Will you help me?”
Lana looked up and past Lucy’s outstretched hand. Their eyes connected. There was a desperation in those green pearls, a look the likes of which she had seen before. The look was something she had seen in her endless scrolling. The look of desperation as another one of her friends health drops to the horrible sensation of hating ones own body. Of pleading to an uncaring world about the pains of a body that feels wrong. And the hatred of knowing that you can’t do anything other than click a button that turns green so that maybe someone else richer than you can help, and hope that when your turn comes you’ll be able to get the same.
Her head was screaming at her to run, to bolt, to get away from this person who’s mind may not have been in the right place. And on a normal day she would have listened. On a normal day she would have got up, walked away and laughed this person in the face. On a normal day she would have walked away, gone home, and started up her regular Tuesday night meal prep so she could save just enough precious seconds in the rest of the week to not lose her mind in the endless monotony of a full time job.
“I think you got the short end of the stick here. I’m not really… good at anything. I don’t really have any friends that are strong or in power, I don’t really have anything that I’ve accomplished. I have several mental illnesses and all of them are relatively debilitating. All I do is sit at a desk for 8 hours a day and look at papers and then stream on twitch until I pass out and I’m not even good at that. How could I possibly help you?”
Lucy frowned and her hand fell to her side, “Well for a start, with a human, we could both break out of here.”
“So it’s either team up with you to get out, or Stay in here forever anyways. At least until the apocalypse happens?”
Lucy shrugged, “Maybe. Maybe there’s a third option. Maybe there’s another angel like me out there that came to the same realization I did and they got thrust down here too. Maybe they got someone who is twice as capable as you are who is influential and powerful and can do everything they want and they don’t have wild brain shit going on. But what I know is this. I’m here with you right now, so I don’t give a shit about these hypothetical people. If they exist? Great. But they’re not gonna be able to break this seal before you die. God’s power is nearly infinite. Do you think they might be able to break this? And yeah sure. There is an ever shrinking window of time that we have before banding together to try and get out will be useless because I won’t have any angel juice left but right now I do, and until either I run out or you die, I’m not giving up. All I need is a yes Sorek and then we’re both free.”
“And then what?”
Lucy looked confused, “What do you mean?”
“What’s your plan to stop the apocalypse?” Lana shot back.
“Oh that? I don’t have one yet. One problem at a time”
“That seems ill advised.”
“Well I just learned about the apocalypse about 40 years ago so I haven’t really had much time to figure it out.”
“40 years seems like enough time to figure something out.”
“Yeah it sure would to you wouldn’t it?”
Lana pulled herself up, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“Time is complicated. It’s a lot more complicated when you’re an angel.”
“Wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff?”
Lucy gave her a look of bewilderment, “What?”
“Sorry right. You haven’t been on Earth for a while.”
“To you, it’s been 40 years, but to me it was a few minutes ago and it just took 40 minutes to fall.”
“This conversation is nothing to you isn’t it?” Lana looked away.
Again that look of confusion across her face, and again Lana felt that she had said the wrong thing.
“Listen Sorek. Yes, this conversation is going to be over in the blink of an eye for me, and yes that might make it seem like nothing here matters because the time we already have is so short.”
Lana looked back up, “…but?”
Lucy smirked, “But what?”
Lana growled, “that’s…. It? That’s all you have to say? No big inspirational speech of ‘hey you’re my only hope so please please please?’”
Lucy slid a hand down to her hip, “You want me to just prostrate myself before you, begging and pleading for you to finally FINALLY give me what I want? Is that it? Because it seems like I actually have not one, but TWO problems. Not only do I need to get you to agree to let me be your sword, but now I have to get you to believe that you can make a difference out there. Because without that I have nothing. Without that you’re just going to fight me at every mark and second guess yourself. And you humans have no idea how amazing you are. Just how much you are loved by everyone around you.”
“Let me guess, Just how much God loves us? An apocalypse is a really weird thing to throw at people that you love.”
“Sorek, I’m not gonna tell you some vague platitude that ‘god loves you’ because I’m not even sure he loves me. Plus the guy threw me out because I was like ‘hey maybe killing a bunch of people with a cataclysmic event they don’t know about kinda goes against the whole free will thing. So no, yeah, I’m with you there.”
Lana curled up on the ground and stared off in the distance.
“You’re a kid. LISTEN. God kinda sucks and so do a lot of other angels. No one supported me. They all just unanimously decided that I was not cool and just tossed me out of heaven and my wings burned up on the way.”
“So what was that thing you did earlier with the eyes and the blinding radiance?”
Lucy sat down and leaned against the a brick support, “Oh are we making small talk now? That’s progress.”
Lana shrugged,“Might as well since we’re both stuck here.”
“All it takes is a yes Sorek.”
“No that’s not it. It’s more than that. A yes comes with consequences, a yes opens up more doors. A yes makes a new world that you’re in with new opportunities and new choices. And I really don’t like choices. My day is more or less decided for me. Wake up at 6 am, eat a quick egg sandwich and then hop on the train to go to work. And then I work, and I ride the train all the way to this station, get off and swap trains, and then go home”
“And then what?”
“I dunno. Most of the time I just message my friends or livestream some video games, go to sleep and then do the whole thing again. But this is something new. You’ve just told me it’s constant. It will be unchanging, quiet, silent. Normally there’s city sounds or car sounds but here it’s quiet, with only the breeze.”
Lucy chuckled, “Well yeah. We’re in a time prison.”
Lucy sighed and then scooted herself over to Lana, “This world will be entirely unchanging and pretty and quiet and silent forever. Nothing will ever change. You will never see anyone else other than me and at a certain point, I just won’t have the power to bring us out of here. If that brings you comfort, maybe we can make the best of it as the world crumbles outside.”
Lana looked up into the sky wordlessly. A blue sky surrounded by mountains that one might describe perfect if it wasn’t for the fact that they were covered with smog and smoke half the year. Lana let out a painful sigh. It was beautiful in this moment. It was a shame it wouldn’t last.
“Well that’s not entirely true. Time is passing outside but it’s impossibly slow. Much much slower than what would matter. A century could happen before a minute passed outside.”
Lana heard the words. Lana processed the words. Lana tossed the words in the garbage. This tiny infinitely small moment was hers. This tiny quiet moment free of the outside world was hers. She was overwhelmed by life, by work, at the prospect of maintaining a job where at a moments notice you could be fired for nothing more than someone in charge didn’t like you, or didn’t want to renew your contract. It was constantly terrifying. Economic crisis after crisis was the world she had grown up in, the world she had known. When she was a kid there were the towers, when she was a teen there was the housing crisis. And then the climate crisis that seemed to be so much so as ignored by literally anyone who could make even the smallest difference. But in this brief moment all of these horrible horrible moments did not matter. All of these horrible horrible occurrences were quiet, gone, not something to worry about. She could stay in this tiny bubble for the rest of her life and nothing would ever happen. Nothing would ever change.
But the people outside would still die. The world would keep turning when this moment ended. Life would Move on. The Earth would get hotter. Next summer her state would catch fire and have the worst air in the entire world. Next summer a deadly pandemic would spread across the earth and those with the ability to stop it wouldn’t lift a finger. Next year would be the hottest June in the history of Junes and a politician would tweet that we should pray instead of doing anything. Next summer things would get worse. Things would not get better. And yet there was still a hope in her heart that they would. That the people in charge would stand up in front of their peers and loudly proclaim ‘I can’t do this anymore.’
Maybe they would. Maybe they wouldn’t. The earth would keep turning. People would keep dying. The world would get worse.
Lana finally opened her eyes, “Lucy?”
Lucy looked down and towards Lana, “Yeah Sorek?”
“My name is Lana.”
“I think my answer is yes.”
Lucy perked up, “Oh?”
Lucy’s face fell.
Lana continued, “I think I want to stay here for a little bit first.”
Lucy smiled, “I understand. Take as much time as you need.”
Lana closed her eyes and felt a warm hand pet her head softly. She didn’t tell Lucy to stop. She didn’t tell her to go away. She felt that warmth encompass her for a spell in the cold spring air as she laid on the floor of a train station frozen in time. The world was quiet here. The world was comforting here. The world didn’t move, bills didn’t come due, and life would not keep moving. There was no pressure to keep going, to keep fighting for a future that she didn’t even know was going to happen. The World was Quiet here. And that was all she needed.