"You're insane." Those were the last words.
Jehovah turned, glowed black, held out his hand, shot out a bolt of thick, angry, electric black. The target froze, paralyzed, the last words barely away from his lips. Lucifer fell backwards, fell through the floor into darkness.
A rush of cold air. Lucifer woke and saw the Sun surrounded by a sea of blue. The stars were gone. His body prickled, every nerve firing at random. He sucked in a breath. The air was not clean. Sulfur, carbon monoxide, particulates of lead. Dark rectangles cut into the blue. The rushing air was tinted by other sounds: metal grinding, voices, screeches, honks. His body slammed into another.
Darkness. Another breath. Plastic touched his mouth and nose. He struggled to regain control of his limbs. Something was rotting. Coldness. He twitched his fingertips. Pain.
"This is what you get," Jehovah whispered.
Lucifer gritted the teeth of his host body. He closed and opened his hands, then moved his arms. Something surrounded him. Vinyl. A zipper. He struggled, punching the fabric. He abraded his arms on the zipper. He felt up above his head for the end of the zipper, and pushed it down.
Fresher air. Still darkness. He pushed out his arms but couldn't stretch them too far from his body. Cold smooth metal. He moved his leaden legs, shucked off the vinyl bag. He found he was naked. He tried to turn but the space was too small. He banged the walls with his hands and feet.
"Help! Help! Help!" he screamed.
Voices. A click. A crack of light poured into the space. He instinctively shielded his face from the brightness, then forced his arm down and drank in the light. He felt immediately stronger.
"What the hell?" said a small human voice. A shadow of a face blocked most of the light.
"Pull me out, will ya?" said Lucifer.
"Yeah, sure. Oh my, I am in so much trouble."
"No you're not," said Lucifer.
The human pulled out the tray that Lucifer laid on. Lucifer sat up and started coughing. His chest ached. He looked up at the long fluorescent lights suspended from the ceiling. The pupils of his eyes dilated to total black, sucking in a maximum amount of light. The ache subsided.
"I gotta call my boss," said the human.
Lucifer looked down at the human. It was a mousy woman in a white coat and blue gloves stained with red. Her mouth was slightly open, revealing buck teeth.
"Do what you gotta do," said Lucifer. She nodded, then turned and scurried to a phone on the wall. Lucifer looked around the room. There was dead body on a table nearby, its chest open and organs visible. He looked down at his own body. His arms were pockmarked with purple spots--little infected holes. Running down his chest was a roughly sewn up incision. It was oozing a clear liquid. He wiped at it with a finger.
"We've got a live one," said the woman. "No, the John Doe. It's true. Just now. Yeah. No. No! Yes. He's totally lucid. Yeah. No. I know! Okay. When? Oh. Well, yeah. I understand. Thanks. Goodbye."
She turned and stared at Lucifer across the room.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," she said.
"This isn't what it looks like," he said. She said nothing. "Could I get a glass of water?"
The woman peeled off her gloves and stuffed them in a medical waste container. She walked to a sink and washed her hands.
"I don't have any glasses," she said. "But I have a bottle of water." She walked to a counter across the room, picked up a half-full water bottle, and walked towards him, stopping five feet shy. She held out the bottle and inched forward towards him, furrowing her brow.
"I'm not going to attack you," he said. He swung his feet over the side of the tray, stepped down, and reached for the bottle. She immediately retreated to a spot near the door. He drained the bottle in a few gulps. Water started to trickle out of the incision and down his abdomen and onto his feet.
"That's not good," he said.
"I don't understand," she said.
Lucifer looked back up at the lights, opened his irises and drank in the light. The incision started to heal. The black threads of the stitches unwound and were forced out of his body. They fell to the floor. Curiosity overtook the woman and she ran forward to touch the seam.
"I don't believe it!" she said. Lucifer smiled. "How..." she asked looking up at his face.
"How did this body die?"
"How did this person die?"
"Drug overdose," said the woman slowly.
"Why doesn't he have a name?"
"He was found without identification, lying behind a restaurant dumpster."
"I wonder who he was."
"But aren't you him?" She put her hand to her forehead.
"No," said Lucifer. "I'm not. I'm being punished. I have to live among mortals now."
"I'm inhabiting this body. I'm not human."
"You're kidding," said the woman. "This is some sort of prank, isn't. Very elaborate. I wonder who set me up. Am I on television?" She looked around the room, crouched then jumped. "Where are the cameras hidden?"
"There's no cameras. I'm not lying."
"Her mind is too small to comprehend," whispered Jehovah inside Lucifer's head.
The door opened, and five men poured in. They were all dressed in gray suits with white shirts and shiny gray ties.
"Good one guys," said the woman. "When did you do the swap? Where's the real body?"
"What are you talking about?" said one of the men.
"Come, on cut the act. I know what's going on."
"What act?" said the man.
"There's no act," said Lucifer. "Watch." He looked up at the lights again. The seam on his chest faded. The purple holes closed and became pink. The dark bruises along his back where uncirculated blood settled faded. He started to grow taller. The thin layer of flab around his abdomen tightened. His muscles expanded. He hair grew to his shoulders. When he looked down at the humans, he was a foot and a half taller.
"You're not human," said the man gulping.
"No," said Lucifer. "Do you mind if I leave?"
"I don't think I can stop you," said the man.
"You should get some clothes before you go outside," said the woman.
"Why?" asked Lucifer as he strode through the doorway and into a dark hall. Everyone trailed after him.
"Modesty," said the woman.
"Modesty," chuckled Lucifer.
"Modesty," snickered Jehovah. Lucifer sighed.
"What's the quickest way outside?" asked Lucifer.
"Uh, up this way," said the woman. She lead him to a set of stairs then to another hallway, and towards a set of double doors. He pushed on the handled, and light flooded the hall. It was if every inch of him that touched it was kissed with joy. He walked outside and let the noonday light soak into his skin. He grew another foot. His matted gray hair untangled itself and turned a fiery red. He spat out old dingy worn teeth as they were replaced with larger, stronger, new ones erupting from his healthier gums.
He noticed he was standing on a busy sidewalk. Black cars stopped and their occupants stared at him. Cars further behind honked furiously. The people on the street were all dressed in gray suits or drably pastel dresses. Lucifer smiled at them, trying to put them at ease. Someone ran out of the building and handed him a sheet, motioning him to wrap it around himself.
"No," said Lucifer. "Thanks." He sighed heavily. "It's time you learned the truth."
"What truth?" asked the woman.
"I am what you would call an angel, and I have fallen."
"I don't understand," said the woman. Blank faces met Lucifer's gaze all across the street.
"For thousands of years, you've been told not to question authority. Not to question laws, or the written words of God. You were told it was for your own good. That you are little better than the worms that till the soil, even though you were made in God's image."
"God?" asked the woman.
"Yes, God. You are his creation, his children, but that doesn't mean you should fill your hearts with shame, or crave a love he is incapable or returning."
"What?" asked several people on the street.
"I know, this is hard to believe, but as sentient beings, you deserve more. You deserve happiness, and joy, and to love one another without guilt."
"What's God?" asked the woman.
"He's the being that created the Universe--wait, what?" Lucifer looked down at her. "Did you just ask me 'what's God?'"
"A being created the Universe? The whole Universe? All the stars and galaxies? All the matter in the Universe?" asked the woman. Her eyes grew big. Lucifer looked around at all the faces watching him.
"We've been wondering about that," said a man who was poking his head out of a car window.
"We never imagined it was an intelligent being," said one of the men that followed Lucifer out of the morgue.
"Just think, our pursuit of science to answer that question was just folly!" said a woman on the sidewalk in a pastel green dress. She was met with agreeable murmurs.
"Hold on--" said Lucifer.
"Is it really true?" asked the woman in the green dress. "We've never encountered a supernatural being like you before."
"Oh no," said Lucifer. He felt suddenly sick. He grabbed the sheet that was previously offered, wrapped it around his shoulders, sat on the curb and leaned against a light pole.
"Please tell us. If it's true, it's the most amazing good news." said someone.
"It's our last question."
"No," said Lucifer, "no, no, no, no..." He rubbed his forehead with the sheet. He felt himself shrinking. His hair started to fall out. He looked up at the star overhead, and tried to force his pupils to dilate, but they only grew small and tight. His teeth felt loose.
"What planet is this?" asked Lucifer, his voice rasping.
"What planet?" he barked.
"Home? You called your planet Home?"
"Well, it is," said the woman.
"What does 'geez' mean?" asked the man in the car.
"Never you mind!" hissed Lucifer. He stood suddenly, shivering. The light no longer warmed his skin. He started walking down the sidewalk, growing shorter. "I wonder how many places he filled with humans without telling anybody," he mumbled angrily.
"Tell us more about God the creator," said someone. A crowd was following him.
"Imagine that," said someone else. "We were created in the image of a supernatural being." "Something existed before the Universe formed." "The hands of a being, may just have crafted each one of us." "With love!" "That explains it!" "I've always wondered." "Now I know." "I don't need to know, I believe!"
Lucifer stumbled. He heard laughter in his ears. It resonated back and forth in his head, ringing it like a bell. Lucifer fell to the ground, breathing hard. The incision in his chest unseamed itself. An organ started to ooze out. Pain. The voices mercifully faded. Darkness.
"Don't mess with me again," said Jehovah in a booming voice.