Albert sighed heavily. Lowest of the low, technically a “guardian angel” in the grand hierarchy of heaven. Not lifted up on ceaseless choirs of praise like the Archangels, or favored and given important missives like the Powers or Lordships. Most definitely not lifted up on high to the absolute pinnacle like the mighty Seraphim.
No, none of that. Albert shifted from foot to foot, standing behind a tall marble lectern. Lower souls had to bear some discomfort, and his feet were starting to complain about being used at all. Typical. Get into a bit of an argument over due process of souls with the Archangel, get sent to the gates to ID souls.
Albert, or Al to his wing-mates, wondered if this tour of duty was going to last a few centuries, earth-wise. Al tended to think in earth terms for time, since as a lowly guardian he spent a lot of time there, trying to subtly assist bumbling humans into not being completely damned.
A sudden wind, and a soul appeared before him.
The new arrival was wrapped in new-souls attire, a simple shift of white fabric wrapped loosely around and over the shoulder, in a simple robe. A glowing marker above his head said “Roger, 52”. Name and age of passing. A new entry appeared in the logbook, along with a timestamp.
“Pardon, what?”, Roger was short and balding. Most new arrivals didn’t adjust to being incorporeal very easily.
Al sighed again. The deep sigh of someone who is going to repeat themselves many times, and knows it.
“Your Identification. You should have received a small scroll at processing.”, Al leaned forward, patience eroding.
“Oh, right. Here it is.”, Roger offered up the scroll. It was old and worn, having been recycled after the Angel Assessment Bureau processed the applicant, then blanked and assigned to the next incoming soul via Purgatory.
As soon as Al touched it, he knew it was a fake. Unrolling the scroll, he wondered who had the audacity to forge documents to enter the heavenly gates.
The seal was badly made, like someone had attempted to carve the intricate seal using their feet and a blindfold. Ridiculous. Al glared at Roger, wings folding to a stern pitch.
“This is an abomination. Who gave you this? Speak the truth or risk damnation.”
Roger’s eyes darted around, looking anywhere but towards Al. Fine. It was time for Al to bring out the big guns.
“I swear upon the powers vested to me, third choir of the Guardian class, that this soul to be sent downward to–“
“Wait! Please no!”, Roger’s voice cracked with desperation.
Al paused, refraining from bringing his hands downward, sending Roger straight to the limbo known as Purgatory. There, he would be processed in endless queues that made the earth-like government agencies seem like an express checkout lane at the grocery.
“Speak.”, Al glared with the long stare of the infinite.
“I… I… did it myself.”, Roger stammered.
Al stared in disbelief. This was unprecedented. The penalty for any forged access to heavenly tiers was damnation on the spot. He could count on one hand the number of times it had happened.
“I was a poor soul in the winding wastes of Purgatory. You know, simple office like work while helping to process souls up to the gates.”, Roger swallowed, visibly nervous.
“I just couldn’t take it. I complained to my supervisor, who then assigned me to scroll duty.”
Al nodded. Scroll duty was the lowest of the low, even for Purgatory. Endless shuffling of rolled documents between the Angel Assessment Bureau and the offices of Purgatory proper. It was thankless hard work. Much like standing at the heavenly gates.
“After a while, I didn’t think I was ever going to get out of there, so I took blanked scroll and … well, I’m here now.”, Roger looked up with pleading eyes.
Al pondered the situation. Would he have done any differently? Purgatory was supposed to be a stopover, a small pause between the recently deceased and assignment to the proper spiritual plane. But to actually be trapped there, laboring among the endless cubicles and lower sub-spirits…
“Do you profess yourself of virtue and capable of redemption?”
Roger nodded meekly.
Al sighed again, he knew the Archangel would have a fit over this. No matter. He couldn’t bring himself to send this poor soul down to Purgatory or worse, to the lower depths of the damned. Roger was just a small cog trapped in a bigger machine. Machines had the habit of using lower people like parts, one gets worn out and replaced anew. The old cog tossed on the scrap pile.
“By the power vested in me, I pass thee on to the grand kingdom. Enjoy your stay, please don’t litter.”
The large golden gates creaked open, allowing Roger to pass. He shuffled quickly inside, disappearing in the fine white mist.
Al sat back down on his stool, contemplating which circle of lower souls he was going to be sent to. Someone had to look out for the little guy. If not him, then who?
Albert had hundreds of earth years to ponder, watching the sun set beyond the clouded horizon.