Farrah was sceptical about accepting the temporary assignment to protect and guide as a hen night organiser. She hated temporary work, you never knew what you would get landed with. It was nearly always cover for a fallen angel, but there wasn’t too much on offer if she wanted to work nights. Farrah preferred nights, there were fewer people around, but where people lacked in numbers they made up for it in the kinds of trouble they could get themselves into. Nights were never boring. The recruitment officer assured her it would be easy. ‘You just have to keep bride-to-be Kit and her hen party organised, in delightful surroundings, fed, watered and safe’. Farah was not convinced. The recruitment officer was running out of options and offered her a chauffeur-driven limousine for the whole night. Despite her reservations, Farrah accepted the assignment.
The evening was going well. The limousine was on time and they arrived on schedule for pre-drinks before the early evening show. Farrah slipped out of the theatre when the finale began, to check in with the chauffeur, he was smiling as she approached, not a good sign. New orders had been issued. Yet another guardian angel had abandoned their duties and fallen from grace. Farrah had new orders. She and her hen party would proceed to the Italian restaurant as planned where she would be responsible for another charge.
“I think they said her name was Beth”
Farrah looked incredulously at the chauffeur.
“Did they give a description?”
“No, the probationers will brief you…”
“There’s four of them acting as waiting staff, you’ll need to take the lead until Lailah arrives.”
“Lailah, you are joking!
Farrah tried to think quickly.
“Not a problem, you can help, out of sight of course, maybe in the kitchen…”
“Can’t sorry, been reassigned to the airport after I drop you all off at the restaurant.”
“I don’t believe this.”
The chauffeur tried to be helpful, but couldn’t contain his excitement.
“Authorised Ubers are on stand by, just let the messenger service know when you’re ready to leave the restaurant.”
Farrah was not happy. If Lailah was coming that almost certainly meant death, conveniently that recruitment officer didn’t say anything about dealing with a cross over to the other side. She would have to worry about that later, the sound of rapturous applause and catcalls signalled the end of the show. It was time to shepherd her flock back to the car.
Farrah politely gave the chauffeur the finger as he sped away from the restaurant and geared herself up to be in boss lady mode. She got the hen party seated, then rounded up the probationers to assess the situation and update them on the new orders. Farrah held back on Lailah’s involvement, she could explain herself when she arrived, if she arrived. When Farrah enquired about her new charge she sensed some hesitation. It appeared that the probationers had panicked when they thought they were going to be unsupervised and took matters into their own hands with disastrous results.
“Have you any idea how unpredictable these vials can be, even with a trained professional? And you lot are still on probation, what were you thinking?”
One of the probationers opened his mouth to speak.
“It wasn’t meant for Leo, the drinks got mixed up.”
“I don’t care. Get rid of those vials and get rid of them now!
Farrah made her way to the hen party table to check on everyone else and give herself a moment to think. There were hardly any fully qualified guardian angels around now. Longer hours, more responsibility, required to be hidden in plain sight nearly all the time, it was not much better than being human, no wonder so many fell from grace. What were these newbies thinking? dishing out vials of happy ever after potions willy nilly. Accepting any help, guidance or vials of potions from the supernatural or divination community as they preferred to be called was always risky. Results from these potions were not guaranteed and in Beth and Leo’s case, it had the opposite effect. At another table, someone else just ended a twenty-year marriage. The Guardian Angel High Council insisted on a strict code of conduct and the actions taken tonight would not have been sanctioned. There would be consequences if the situation was not contained. She would have to report it, either that or face the same fate of the probationers. She took out her phone.
New orders received and understood.
At location but situation compromised by vial use.
A divine distraction is required as soon as possible.
Farrah took a deep breath, sighed and did a quick head count, still ten; six around the table, Maxine and Lucy smoking outside, Phoebe and Ros were in the toilets. Kit was currently taking selfies with her sister and maid of honour Natalie. Beth was sitting over on a corner with her now unpredictable boyfriend Leo. Farrah summarised that things could be worse, at least everyone was in the same place, for now. But it was still a ridiculous situation. Not like the old days when you could just float in and out of people’s consciousness, become part of a dream or an imaginary friend. It was no wonder most newbies never got their wings, the caseloads were much heavier not to mention the disciplinary hearings, which she could well be facing because of those flipping vials. There were benefits to using potions, Farrah could see that. Humans today relied on alcohol and substances, prescription or otherwise. Certainly, in the western hemisphere, people would rather believe in science than spirituality, but the results were too unpredictable, especially in untrained hands.
Where Lailah was, God only knew. Farrah would ask God except nobody spoke directly with God anymore, it was always through the High Council and various other intermediaries including the messenger service. Farrah was not usually so far out of her comfort zone. Getting Beth out of Leo’s clutches was going to be a feat without divine intervention she hoped her message got through. Farrah’s phone vibrated in her pocket, she’d have to ruminate later, hopefully, this was Lailah. It wasn’t. The plan had changed again, typical.
Make it count.
Raphael will make his presence felt.
Clean-up team en route.
Great a cryptic puzzle! The sooner Hermes regained the contract for the messaging service the better. And why were they sending a clean-up team? It was supposed to be just Lailah. Farrah turned her attention to Leo, the growing tension between him and Beth had thankfully subsided but there was still an atmosphere. The noise level around the hen party table had raised slightly as the effects of more alcohol took hold and the starter platters were being removed. Lucy was signalling to Maxine for another cigarette break. Farrah did not even see them return from the last one, she must focus. Maxine smiled, then pointed her head towards Leo and Beth’s table before giving Lucy a quick wink. Lucy giggled as she rose to her feet, the alcohol was definitely kicking in Farrah noted. As she watched the exchange between Maxine and Lucy it gave her an idea. If Lailah did not get here soon, or at all for that matter she would have to sacrifice Maxine to save Beth. According to the original brief from the probationers, it was imperative for Beth to break off her relationship with Leo. Whatever else the newbies were sketchy about, breaking up Beth and Leo was the one thing they agreed on, so Farrah was inclined to think it was true. However, the whole thing was in jeopardy if Leo’s behaviour could not be managed.
Farrah’s thoughts were interrupted by a commotion at the birthday celebration table, someone had collapsed. A woman Farrah assumed was a family member, asked about CPR. Out of nowhere Beth responded and rushed to the scene. Farrah was impressed, this was quite a distraction. Farrah was sure this was Beth’s first brush with CPR. A few choice words in Maxine’s ear would be enough to keep Leo distracted and just enough modifications to Arthur’s sight perception of Beth should keep her ensconced within the family for a while, and well away from Leo.
The arrival of the ambulance and several Ubers outside provided more than enough cover for Farrah to work. She bundled the remaining hen partygoers into cars, promising Kit she would catch-up with them all later at the hotel bar once she sorted out the ‘discrepancies’ with the bill. Walking back into the restaurant the last two stragglers exited, some relief at last, now Farrah only had to deal with the probationers.
“Okay people, gather round.”
The probationers were awkwardly shuffling towards Farrah when Lailah and Queres appeared from the back of the room. Farrah’s heart sank. Lailah and Queres together only did one type of clean-up, angels. The probationers scattered suddenly finding jobs to do. Lailah smiled broadly and weirdly waving as she approached Farrah.
“Don’t worry we’re not going to kill anyone. Nobody’s got time for that kind of paperwork.
Farrah took a seat.
“Then why is Queres here?”
It wasn’t quite as disturbing as her smile.
“Mainly for effect. These probationers need to know their actions tonight have serious consequences.”
Relieved but curious Farrah lowered her voice.
“So what are you going to do with them?”
She gave a slight nod to the probationers who were trying to look busy.
“They’ll be re-programmed for reality television, the public can decide their fate.”
Farrah stared open-mouthed. So that’s what happened if newbies didn’t pass probation.
“Trust me it’s much easier this way. You’d better leave now, you don’t want to be reprogrammed as well.”
“You’re not affected?”
“Technically, I’m already dead so I have some immunity. Q’s effect on me is more…intoxicating than anything else, but without the lowered inhibitions or nasty side effects.”
Farrah’s eyebrows raised, ‘Q’ and Lailah.
“So, just happy then?”
Lailah mused for a moment.
“I suppose so, not ideal for an angel of death but you can’t have everything.”
“No, I suppose not.”
“You should get out of here before Q starts spraying. It was lovely to see you we should do drinks sometime, I’m less busy in the Summer months, call me.”
Farrah stood dazed while Lailah did the obligatory air kisses either side of her head and manoeuvred her out of the restaurant onto the pavement outside. The sound of the locked door, hissing and flashing blue light through the gap in the blinds signalled that the clean-up operation was underway. Her phone pinged.
Resume hen party duties at the hotel bar.
Find Graham and get him back to Bea’s house.
Address to follow.
Here we go again. Farrah hailed the waiting Uber.