Raphaela and the Doc let a few minutes go by. Just to make sure the Boss would not make a surprise come-back. They leave the Lab in silence. Board the elevator. Looking at the roof. At the floor. When they get back to the Doc’s office, thirty-seven floors above, Raphaela asks:
“Doc? Why didn’t you tell the Boss?”
“Doc? Answer me! Answer me, Azra!”
Azraela, the Doc, does not answer. She takes off her lab coat, sighs and sits down heavily in her chair thinking about the very little time they have left. She takes off the band that ties her long blue hair. She bends down, her head between her knees, shakes her hair, combs it with her long, long fingers. She sighs once more, worn out, and asks Raphaela:
“Tell Her what, Rapha?”
“Azraela! Don’t pretend you don’t know! You didn’t tell Her that… that…!”
“That what, Rapha?” Says Azraela with a tight smile.
“That They are Conscious! When she finds out…”
“She’ll kill us, or worse. I know…”
“But that’s very serious, Azraela!”
Azraela stretches a long, long finger, extends a retractable claw, absent-mindedly scratches the feathers on her left wing. Then smoothes them and says:“Look, Rapha. I’m not so worried that They should be conscious. By the time the Boss realizes it… in what? Ninety thousand? A hundred thousand years? It will be too late by then. She wanted the King of Creation, didn’t She? She’s got it! And more! Hopefully by the time She does notice, we’ll be back to being just the Messengers. That wouldn’t be the worst. Head of Engineering and R&D has taken its toll, hasn’t it?”
“But, Azra,” Raphaela insists, “don’t you remember when we woke the first one up?”
“Of course, I remember.”
“What did he say, the minute he woke up?” Raphaela asks.
“He screamed: Who are you?!!!! I remember perfectly,” Azraela says laughing.
“And then?” Raphaela asks. “What happened? And don’t pretend memory loss, Azra!”
“You told him, more or less who we were…” the Doc says with another smile.
“But then, my dear Doc, you shot back at him, and asked him: who are you?”
“That was fun, wasn’t it?” Azraela says. “But even funnier was his reaction to the question, no? You could see that he was thinking at the speed of light, looking for an answer he obviously didn’t have and he said…”
“He shouted: I am! I am… Me! Raphaela goes on: “They’re conscious. As you know, ‘Me’ is the first of the six stages of Consciousness.”
“Yeah. Yeah.” Azraela makes a dismissive gesture. “And after saying I am, what did he do?”
“He attacked us! You had to sedate him.”
“Hey Rapha? You can’t deny it was fun!”
Azraela goes back to scratching her feathers. The other wing this time.
“I gotta do something about this itching. Once the launch is done tonight, I can probably fix it in a couple of days before we all go on holiday. Anyway… tonight is the origin of the world. And after that, we’ll probably be fired!”
“Or worse, demoted,” Raphaela says.
“Yeah,” Azraela laughs. “demoted could be worse! Or not. Back to being the Messengers. Whatever. Right now I’m so tired I don’t care! Look, Rapha. They’re conscious all right, very smart, at least some of them. They have Zero emotional control, They’re veeery aggressive. Question everything. But that’s what the Bitch wanted. She got what she asked for. Doesn’t bother me.”
“So, Azra, if consciouness doesn’t, what is it that bothers you?” Raphaela asks.
“Think, Raphaela. What else could have me worried?”
Raphaela stops to think for a moment. “Okay, proceeding by elimination. Not because they laugh… or cry. Though they’re the only ones we’ve had so far…”
“No. It is unique. But nothing to be concerned about.” Azraela says.
“They do. Quite nicely. And they sing!” Azraela says. “Such songs!”
“That is also unique!” Raphaela says. “Birds can sing, but always the same tune. Remember the subject who tried to write music, and got very frustrated because he didn’t have the tools?”
“The Singing is important. You know they will do a lot of things with that. It is only borderline threatening. I think we can manage. Again, going back to your initial argument, I am not so concerned about their level of consciousness. What bothers me is…”
Azraela pauses, as if unsure of her own argument. Raphaela presses on: “What worries you is… What? Come on, Azra, spill it out!”
“What worries me is that they dream.” Azraela says.
“That all?” Raphaela is taken aback. “So what? A variety of models dream. Dogs for instance. Actually funny the way dogs twitch when they dream they’re running after a rabbit! Remember when we tracked and visualized their dreams? So, this new model… They dream. In a far more elaborate way than dogs, Okay. What’s the big deal? I don’t see how it can be a problem.”
Azraela, the Doc, sighs again. “The others, most of the others, dream. I agree, Raphaela. But… there is one tiny difference, and that’s where the risk is. All the potential risk. For Them, and for us. All the others dream when they’re asleep. Only when they’re asleep! Only then! And that’s fine. It’s controllable. But Those! Those guys! They dream when they’re awake! Awake, Raphaela! Not just at night. They dream day and night! Whenever! They dream all the time. They have no limit!
“Dreams” by Lorne Dann.
What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
A shadow, a fiction.
And the greatest good is small,
As all life is a dream,
And dreams, dreams are.
– Calderón de la Barca, 1600-1681
Azrael(a) *. The Angel of Death, Malak al-Mahut in the Quran. In Hebrew, Help of God or whom God helps. Is said to have four thousand wings and as many eyes and tongues as human beings. Carries a large book, writing and erasing the names of the living and the dead.The angel of death will take you who has been entrusted with you. Then to your Lord you will be returned. – Quran 32:11, surat l-Sajdah, The Prostration. As for the Angel of Death, name is Azrael(a) and abode is in the Heaven of this Earth. No creature’s soul is taken except after its livelihood is exhausted and its purpose is fulfilled. The souls of the faithful, are seized with the right hand and placed in Illiyyin. The souls of infidels are seized in the left hand and placed in Sijinn until Doomsday. – Qisas al Anbiya, The Creation of the Heavens and the Angels
Raphael(a) *. Hebrew: God has healed. One of the Archangels. Warns Noah of the flood. Heals Jacob’s hip. Rapha means Doctor in Hebrew. Is said to have a cheerful disposition as compared to the other angels.
Michael(a) *. Hebrew:Who is like God. The Archangel who defeated Satan and the fallen angels and sent them to Gehenna, Hell. Is revered by Catholics as Saint Michael. Called Mika’il In Arabic. The Commander of the Army of God. And then Michael(a), Uriel(a), Raphael(a), and Gabriel(a) looked down from Heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. – Enoch 9:1
Gabriel(a) *. Hebrew: Strength of God. One of the four Archangels. Sometimes depicted as female in art and literature. Gabriel(a) is known as the Messenger. Brings Mary the Announciation of Jesus’ Birth. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel(a) was sent from God into a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. – Luke 1:26-27
* Translator’s note: in the light of recent work by Fergusson et al. we have left the (a) after each Archangel’s name, since there is now doubt about whether the original angels’ names were masculine, feminine or merely neutral.
You are Raphael the Healer,
You are Raphael the Guide,
You are Raphael the Companion
Ever at Human sorrow’s aide.
– Prayer to Raphael
To be continued…
Text © BMO and Equinoxio
All illustrations © Lorne Dann
Author’s note: I try to mention all my sources as much as I can. Or rewrite. That applies for the text on the four archangels. Anyone feeling I’ve missed referencing something, please holler! (When in doubt: assume Wikipedia, practical though I have my reservations…)
Next on Foglines: an unlikely fog in “Babylon”