Nicky was sitting comfortably at his kitchen table when his refrigerator burst into flame.
He paused, the orange juice almost to his lips, and looked at it. The ugly white enamel was blackening slowly and the rubber seals were dripping down onto the floor.
"NICHOLAS MOUNTAIN, I AM THE GOD OF THE PATRIARCHS, OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACO--."
"Aw, come on," Nicky said, interrupting the booming voice. "Could you not ruin my fridge?"
"My fridge. Jeez, I'll bet you're destroying everything in there too, aren't you?"
"ERRRRRRR . . ."
"Look, could you maybe stop with the fire?"
"THE FIRE IS A NECESSARY SIGN OF--."
"I believe you. You're the God of the Patriarchs, just put the fire out please."
The fire went out abruptly. Nicky stood up, leaving his breakfast at the table, and inspected the damage. Aside from the absolutely ruined refrigerator the paint on the wall and the ceiling was charred black and the cabinets to the side were singed. The cabinets didn't look like they needed to be replaced but the entire kitchen would have to be repainted.
He sat down again and looked around. "Hello?" he said to the otherwise empty kitchen.
"I'M HERE." Something iridescent and glowing rose out of the yellowing linoleum floor, scintillating and throwing brilliant rainbows of light around the poorly lit room.
Nicky winced, and the angel obligingly toned down the light display. "You know, 'burning fridge' doesn't have nearly the same narrative impact as 'burning bush,'" he told his guest.
"YOU LIVE IN NEW YORK," the holy seemed to shout. "I WAS LOOKING FOR AN OPPORTUNITY IN CENTRAL PARK BUT YOU'VE CHANGED YOUR RUNNING PATTERNS SINCE LAST YEAR. BESIDES, YOU'RE ALMOST NEVER ALONE OUTSIDE."
"Yeah, I suppose that's true. Are you here to tell me to go running in the park more often?"
"NO." The angel did something that came across to Nicky as clearing its throat. "You know, you don't seem all that surprised by my presence here."
"I've seen Dogma," Nicky pointed out. "Besides, this is New York and it's just before seven. If you want me to be surprised come back after nine and we'll try to work something out. What happened to your voice?"
"It wasn't worth the effort required to maintain the effect," the angel said. "How'd you like it?"
"No, the movie. Dogma."
"It was okay, I suppose. The ending was a little trite."
"I can see that," the angel said. "Deus Ex Machina and all. Do you mind if I sit?"
Nicky gestured to the chair and the being of pure light pulled it back and sat. "I'm here to inform you that you're the Antichrist," he told Nicky after he'd made himself comfortable.
"You're the Antichrist."
"Are you sure?"
Nicky carefully scraped together some of the slightly runny scrambled eggs and took a bite. He chewed slowly and finally swallowed.
"Shouldn't a demon be telling me this?"
"Why would they care?"
"Er . . . cause the Antichrist is supposed to be one of the bad guys?"
"Not really. The position is more about getting the job done. Besides, demons are unreliable messengers."
"And that job is?"
"Destroying the world, of course," said the angel, sounding surprised. "You know, as foretold in John's Revelation and all that. I was told that you'd read Left Behind."
"Only the first book, and I hated it. Come on, it was mindless drivel."
The angel shrugged. "I can't argue with that."
"This is about my internship at the U.N., isn't it?"
"Think of it, 'Nickolas Mountain, youngest Secretary General in history.' I'm sure that the guys would love it."
"It's just an internship!"
"But it could be so much more. I know that you've dreamed of being the Secretary General."
Nicky paused. "I've also dreamed of being U.S. president," he finally pointed out. "Or getting lucky with Jessica Biel."
"Dominionship over the Earth has its perks," the angel responded. "We could probably work something out."
"All leading to the end of the world."
"When would that be?"
The angel pulled a glittering golden pocket watch out from somewhere. "One thousand and fourteen years, six months, and a few days," he announced.
"That includes the millennial reign of Christ?"
"I don't think so."
"The future's written, kid. I could cite the passages easy. What's got to happen has got to--."
"No, I meant I don't think I want the position."
The angel sat there, glowing over everything, and Nicky took another bite of his eggs.
"I'm offering fame, power, and unlimited unlimited wealth for seven entire years, Nickolas," the angel said.
"It's Nicky, and I'm not interested."
"I can see your heart, you know," the angel said abruptly. "I can see that you're tempted. Imagine all of that money and power. Seven blissful years of unlimited power before handing it over to the next guy. Think of the cars, the parties, the attractive women!"
"Yeah, I get it," said Nicky dismissively. "Except there's that whole part about the world ending. The power and the wealth is all nice and good, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I took all those people's lives away from them."
The angel seemed to shake its head, although Nicky couldn't tell for sure because the glow had surged back to full brightness. He looked down at the table and continued to munch on his food.
"You know the problem with this job?" the angel said and then continued before Nicky could swallow and speak. "You're all the same. Smart, driven, and absolutely opposed to the world ending. Do you have any idea how many times I've been turned down now? It must be in the mid twenties, at the very least."
"You mean for the Antichrist position?" asked Nicky.
"Yeah," the angel said. "Sometimes I could swear that Satan is screwing around with this whole process. Anytime someone meets the qualifications . . .," the angel must have seen the curiosity on Nicky's face or "in his heart" because he elaborated, ". . . charismatic, speaks a few languages fluently, intelligent, works at the U.N., born in Turkey, non-Christian . . .," Nicky nodded and he continued, ". . . you always turn down unlimited power and wealth. None of you are driven."
"Not at the expense of others," Nicky said. "Maybe in a few years you can try me again."
"It's a one time offer," the angel said. "There's a time line associated with it, and every time someone declines we have to put everything on hold again. You've already turned it down, you can't be offered it again."
"That's sort of a silly rule."
"I'll say," the angel said bitterly. "But the Big Guy's all about personal choice."
"I thought you said you are God."
"Technically I'm the Voice of God. You know how it goes, Dogma and all that. . . ." he waved a glowing hand dismissively and trailed off.
"So God really exists?" Nicky said. "I don't suppose you'd clue me in which denomination . . ."
"Mormonism," the angel said without hesitation, and then he chuckled. "No, sorry, that's just an angel joke. The correct answer's really Quaker, or anything similar. Imagine the irony that Nixon's in heaven."
"Er . . . okay."
"It'd be so much easier if I could just . . . you know, order you to be the Antichrist," the angel said wistfully.
"Hey, I'm sure that someday someone will say yes."
"Twenty some times, and he says that someday someone will say yes. . . ." The angel grumbled something about the power of heaven, and then fell silent.
Nicky finally ended the uncomfortable quiet. "I don't suppose you want some bacon or something?"
"No," the angel said miserably. "I should be going." He paused. "Are you sure you don't want to be the Antichrist?"
"Yes, I'm sure," Nicky said. "I thought you said it could only be offered once."
"It was worth a try," the angel said. "Maybe since I haven't left yet they wouldn't have noticed."
"Well," Nicky said as the angel stood. "Good luck on finding someone."
"That's what they ALL SAY," the angel said, ending with his voice once again like thunder. "ANYWAY, HAVE A GOOD DAY. HAVE FUN AT YOUR NEW JOB."
There was a flicker, and the being of light disappeared, backing through the far wall toward Mr. Stephen's apartment.
Nicky finished his bacon, put the plate in the sink, and examined the refrigerator again. The melting rubber had congealed on the floor. He'd probably have to pry the linoleum up and replace it before he ordered a new fridge.
Right now though he needed to catch the train into midtown for work, so he'd have to start calling around after five.
He sighed and wondered if as the Antichrist he would have been able to get a discount on fridges from Sears.
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