Not Time Yet – Chapter 1 ~ Returns and Rejects

Bandana tied in my hair and soft leather sock-boots on my feet, the day was going to go smoothly, I could just tell. Nothing was going wrong for Zali. Yeah, I think a lot of myself but the way I see it, ‘If you don’t love yourself, who will?’

I nodded in acknowledgement to the other Angels as they passed by. Then made faces to their turned back. Yep, Utopia was great, if you ignore all the goodie-goodies floating around. Jeff’s big on goodie-goodies but, bleh, as if that was ever going to be me.

“Morning Zali” Hannah greeted my happily as I walked into the restaurant we’d organised to meet at.Hannah had a soft voice and she looked more similar to the mythological Cherubs than she probably should. She had a sweet round face warm, welcoming, brown eyes and curly, golden brown locks of hair that, like all Angels, sat perfectly at all times, whether she’s just been flying or whatever else would cause a humans hair to go haywire.

“Morning Han” I greeted pleasantly and took a seat across the table from her.

Now Hannah may not be your average Angel, but she defiantly didn’t stand out as much as me. With strait silver hair that flowed down to my hips and a glowing iridescent violet coloured eyes. Besides, I’ve been told I just look like trouble waiting to happen. There was a big difference. But despite this I still thought of her as my sort of ‘Protégé’ or a ‘little sister’ if you like.
Hannah made my train of thought come to a screeching halt by stealing my daily planner and reading it.

“You have Gate duty again today” she frowned. Gate duty was the only duty I’ll ever do. Pansy duty just wasn’t my style.

“Why don’t you ever do Flower duty with me” she asked.

“Three reasons,” I held up three fingers. “One: I can’t tell the difference between lavender and lily. Two: I don’t like flowers, and Three: I prefer to talk to Daphne than your carnation freaks.” I replied.

“They’re not carnations” she argued.

“Daffodils then.” I shook my head and shrugged. I stopped her from arguing again by putting my finger to my lips.

“Fine, but Andrew wants to see you this afternoon.” she replied.

“Andrew?” I was startled. Andrew was in charge of Returns. By Returns I mean humans who mistakenly get sent to Utopia instead of Hell and vice versa.

“Yep, Andrew.” Hannah nodded.

“Returns Andrew?” I had to make sure; this had to be a mistake. Why would Andrew want to see me?

“The very same” Hannah confirmed, ‘Protégé’, ‘little sister’, ‘date book’ or whatever I ended up referring to her as, she knew exactly who wanted to see me and when. She did have my date book in her possession.
“Right, this afternoon, after lunch…” I said absently, lost in thought again. I stood up to go to the gateway for my last duty of the century. After this morning’s shift and my meeting with Andrew, Zali was free for the next fifty years.

“Say hi to Daphne for me” Hannah called over the book she’d pulled out to read.

“Sure thing” I rolled my eyes.

My train of thought kicked back into gear on it’s way to confusing me as I made my way across the many fields of flowers. I probably should’ve known what they were, Angels, technically, are supposed to know all the names of our flowers so we can guide the humans properly, but whatever, I’ve never guided them through Utopia and I don’t plan to in the near future. That sought of thing was for Bethany or Seth.

“Morning Daphne” I called as I closed the gates behind me. Not many Angels go beyond the gates of Utopia, our gates are gilded with little gold Angels (most likely High Angels, the snobs) on silver and platinum flowing swirls and flowers. On the other hand the gates to hell are gilded golden, I’m presuming, Demons on twisted and warped black metal. The gates for the Returns were white because they’re the neutral zone.

“Morning” Daphne replied quickly before pointing someone to her left, to Hell. Daphne was the gate keeper and she was on neither Utopia nor Hell’s side of things. She wasn’t an Angel nor was she a Demon. What she was though, wasn’t normal. She was half feline to say the least. She had cat’s ears, paws and a tail. I think she has whiskers too but I could be wrong. The rest of her looked human.

“Your last shift for the century right?” she asked pointing someone to Utopia, which meant I had to open the gate.

“Sure thing,” I replied happily, “after this I’m free for the next fifty years.” I closed the gate after the human who entered. Daphne let out a bellowing meow-like laugh.

“I hope the next Angel’s a good one,” She sent the next person to Hell. Sending people to Hell may sound bad but it’s the afterlife they chose for themselves.

“They’ll probably be someone stuck up,” I let the next Human in line into Utopia. Daphne gagged.

“It wouldn’t want to be that Michael or Bethany again,” She pretended to throw up and sent another person my way, “They were terrible,” She cringed at the memories. “’Welcome to Utopia.’” She mocked, “’Enjoy your stay in paradise.’” She pointed the next person to Hell. We simply looked at each other fro a few seconds before bursting into a fit of laughter.

“I’m guessing that last one was Michael?” I wiped a tear from my eye.

“Yep” Daphne nodded, still giggling as she sent someone to Hell.

The morning went pretty smoothly till just before the end of my shift.
“What was your name?” Daphne asked a girl who looked no more then ten. She had a pinafore dress that looked like it belonged in the 1960’s, complete with the overall pocket at the front.

This was strange, Daphne never needed someone’s name before, half the time she didn’t even look at them she just sent them to where ever vibe they were giving off, it was 99.9% right.

“Liah Sceller.” She replied nervously, Daphne paused for a few seconds, racking her brain for something. I began to get nervous; it was taking way to long to get her to her afterlife.

“Cause of death?” Daphne enquired, frowning slightly. The girl hesitated before replying.

“Road accident” She said uncertainly. Daphne thought for a second.

“Hit by a speeding truck sound right to you?” Daphne asked, the girl paused thoughtfully and nodded. “That way.” She pointed to Hell. I was surprise, not many ten-year-olds go to Hell, unless they’re rotten brats but even then you could tell just by looking at them. She looked different to the others who’d died.

“Alright Zali, looks like your shift’s over.” Her pattern of pointing humans in the right direction had recommenced after the girl entered the gates to Hell.

“Alright!” I threw my fist into the air in celebration and Daphne giggled.

“Enjoy you fifty years of freedom.” She called after me as I’d already spread my wings and taken flight. I saluted Daphne and continued on.

“Lunch time, lunch time.” I sang blissfully as I flew through the air. I realised this and then gagged and almost fell out of the sky. Singing blissfully was not something I wanted to be caught doing. I wiped my brow with relief that no one saw me and my near miss or heard me singing.

I spotted Hannah, weeding the flowers, or rather removing dead flowers. It’s not like we even have weeds in Utopia. I dived in and landed nimbly among the daisies or whatever they were, I couldn’t tell.

“Lunch time!” I grinned at Hannah. She sighed.

“Already?” She didn’t look up from the orchids, and my face fell.

“Yeah already,” I stuck my hands on my hips and gave her a sour look. Hannah sighed again before standing up.

“Let’s go then,” Hannah took off into the air.

“And here I was thinking you’d take at least ten minutes before I convinced you to get away from the Honeysuckle.” I sped after her.

“They’re not Honeysuckle.” She replied.

“Fuchsia then.” I shrugged and then stopped her from arguing with my finger on lips technique.

“Where to?” Hannah asked, she seemed impatient, probably yearning to get back to her precious dandelions.

“Evasion or Motives?” I suggested our favourite restaurants.

“Evasion,” Hannah replied “we were at Motives this morning” She replied, reasoning it out to me.

“Evasion” I agreed, and we changed our course.

We landed out the front of Evasion several minutes later with very little flight conversation. We entered the restaurant and greeted the owner, Rain, politely.

“Any clue on what Andrew wants?” Hannah sped straight into the questions the instant we sat down.

“Nope.” I shook my head.

“None?” She arched an eyebrow disbelievingly,

“At all.” I shrugged. I certainly wasn’t going for Returns duty if that was what he wanted, that happened to be a good thought so I voiced it.

“If it’s a recommendation for Returns duty he can stick it.” That comment caused Hannah to giggle.

The rest of lunch went on with our usual chatter namely Hannah going on about Periwinkle and Sunflowers and other floral related things while I nodded, glaring until she stopped.

I entered the Returns office with surprising confidence. That held up until I saw Andrew on the phone to who I could only assume to be Lucifer: Lord of Darkness. We call him ‘Lord’ nowadays; mainly because he’s long outgrown the name ‘Prince’, by around 12 000 years. I shuddered at the thought of Lucifer, Not that I’d ever seen the guy; he’s legendary among Angels of Utopia. The only one of us Fall straight to Hell.

Most Fallen Angels simply end up as humans and the eventually return to us anyway, but Lucifer went to Hell, bypassing Earth completely. The fact that he didn’t go to Earth is the thought that strikes fear into most Angels, accept for Andrew. If was going to be recommended for this I was sure that I couldn’t speak with Lucifer like Andrew does. With such, I shuddered at the thought, friendliness.

“Don’t panic now Zali.” Andrew addressed me with a cool voice. It startled me to see him off the phone. I must admit, for the Angel closest to Lucifer he was nothing remarkable, I expected something more than scruffy black hair and blue eyes.

“Who says I’m panicking?” I retorted as soon as I regained myself. Andrew chuckled softly and I scowled at him.

“Now Zali,” He began “you are aware of Fallen Angels are you not?” He asked and indicated for me to sit down on the seat across from his desk. I scoffed, which gave him his answer, as I sat down “I thought as much.” He chuckled again at some sought of private joke he had. “Now you know Angels only fall to Earth with the exception of a select few.” He glanced sideways at the phone.

“Lucifer.” I shuddered as the name came out of my mouth, I nearly choked, not many Angels say his name aloud.

“There’s another,” He stared directly at me.

“Another?” I paused “bu-” I tried to argue but he held his hand up to silence me, using my own trick against me.

“Think Zali.” He told me.

I thought, but no name or face came to me. I might’ve skipped a few (most) of my floral classes and some of the others, but I attended every lesson of Fallen Angel History. The teacher has stressed so much that Lucifer was the only Angel to Fall to Hell. Why would Andrew bring up Fallen Angels and tell me more than one had-

“Oh!” I almost jumped out of my seat when I worked it out. I was Falling to Hell, Zali, was going to be as famous as the Lord of Darkness, as feared as Lucifer.

“Yes Zali” Andrew nodded, He lowered his gaze “I’m very sorry but these were direct orders from Jeff” my eyes widened.

“I was ordered to Hell by Jeff?” I really was going to Hell and I was going to be as well known as Lucifer, My name was going to be taught to young Angels, and they would all fear me, as I feared Lucifer right now.

“Yes” Andrew nodded.

Andrew led me to the white gates that I now know as the Returns and Rejects Gates. I plodded sourly behind him.

“Anyone you wish to farewell?” He asked me.

“Hannah.” I mumbled, disgruntled at my situation. He nodded calmly and I glowered at him.

“I will pass on your farewell to Hannah” He opened the gates for me to step through “Be sure to check in with Lucifer, he’ll be waiting for your arrival.” I flinched at his name again, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to meet Lucifer, but at this point in time, I had very little choice. I entered the gates to Hell and left my life in Utopia behind me forever.

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