I’m deliberately blending Greek mythology with angel-lore in this story. It was written as a writing group exercise during the time that Tony Blair was Prime Minister. I’m happy with the description of the angels/gods, especially the antlers on the messenger god/angel and Irriel/Poseidon’s coral trident. It seemed to me at the time that this was the way in which Prime Ministers should be dealt with by supernatural forces. I changed the ending so many times before I was reasonably content with it.
The PM and the gods
A strange shadow had appeared in the back garden of 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister looked up from his meal. His staff were indoors and no-one else was in the garden. The PM was alone. Almost. The shadow darkened the PM’s patio table where he had been eating cod and drinking a glass of wine and engrossed in the latest popularity poll. Then there was the voice:
“Prime Minister?” It was a voice which carried a sense of quite authority, deep, calm and assured.
The PM looked up. The sun blinded his vision and all he could see was the silhouette of a man standing over him.
“Yes?” said the PM. Thinking it must be a new servant.
“You are wanted.”
The PM held his hand up to shield his eyes. His mouth fell open.
There in the garden stood a tall, unshaven man dressed in a white robe. But the PM was staring at the growths which protruded from the man’s head and feet. At first, somewhat wildly, he thought they were some kind of white antlers. They sprouted outwards from the temples of the man’s forehead and from his ankles. Finally his mind registered what they were. They were four wings.
The PM stood quickly and turned to call for security. But the man in front of him grabbed him by the throat and lifted him from the ground. He couldn’t even scream.
“I am not a citizen of this country…or, indeed, of this realm. Think of me as a kind of messenger god and perhaps even the god of robbery. I have come to bring you news and, more importantly, to steal you.”
The winged man loosened his grip and let the PM fall to the ground.
“Wh..what do you want?” croaked the PM.
There was movement from a window inside 10 Downing Street. Both men saw it. The PM considered screaming for help. But before he could he felt strong arms grabbing him around his waist and roughly hauling him into the air.
Wings that size shouldn’t have been able to support any creature’s weight. But they did belong to an angel, and just like tiny wings can carry both a bee and its pollen, so these wings could support a Prime Minister and the weight of his sins.
The PM soon found himself dangling, face down, underneath the angel as they flew up and out of the garden. He had just enough time to look down and see his front door police guard and a group of journalists in Downing Street (all staring the wrong way), before he was carried off into the sky.
For the PM, the journey was uncomfortable. There was a biting cold wind and the PM’s face was squashed with his eyes pressed so far back into his sockets that he had to close them. This was not like the fun flight of never-never land. The pressure was unbearable. The hands which gripped him were tight and not entirely benevolent. The PM could swear that he was being gripped by claws.
But then, suddenly, something broke, it was like passing through a barrier. They slowed and the pain subsided. The PM hooked his fingers tightly onto the arms which were still wrapped around him. He decided to squint open his eyes and look down.
They had left London behind a while ago, and, from the amount of countryside now below, he supposed they were out of the city altogether. His forehead still felt as if it was being sprayed with ice because of the wind. He had been brow-beaten (and brow-beaten others) in arguments before, but he decided that this was a much worse thing.
They soon passed a city which he thought might be Peterborough, but it was gone before he could be sure. They flew over the Pennine hills and he thought they would carry on the Lowlands of Scotland,. But then the sea came into sight and they began to hug the coastline. The left eh land behind altogether until there was just sea beneath them for miles.
The PM noticed that they were slowing down. And before long they came to an abrupt halt, hovering about 50 metres over part of the North Sea. There was no land in sight.
The angel yelled above the noise of his wings and the wind.
“See that ship down there!”
The Prime Minister twisted his neck uncomfortably and saw a large boat about three hundred metres below. The angel shouted: “Take note!”
And they dropped together then, straight into the ocean.
The PM thought they hit the surface, much, much too hard. First there was the shock of the cold. And the slam on entering the water left him feeling stunned, as if he had hit concrete. The PM tried to breath but gulped in water and tasted salt through his nose. Both the Prime Minister and the strange man sank towards the sea bed like bones.
But suddenly there was a strange tugging at his legs. And he began to free-fall before he landed on something soft. By this point the PM was sure that he had died. He found that he could now breath and he wretched. When he regained his composure he looked around and saw he was inside a large, transparent underwater bubble resting on the sea bed. Beneath him the sand was dry. It was still cold.
The angel, who had finally let him go, lifted the Prime Minister to his feet and started shaking the water from his wings like a dog might. But the PM’s attention was now elsewhere.
“Prime Minister,” said the angel, “Let me introduce you to Irriel. He is only one level beneath the archangels and is the angel in charge of the sea and coasts around Britain. Show him the respect he deserves please.”
Irriel had been busy tugging at his bladderwrack seaweed beard, but stopped what he was doing and smiled down at the PM from a barnacle encrusted throne. His hair was made from kelp week and in one hand he was holding a trident which was crooked because it was made out of coral. The PM thought that he looked more like Poseidon than an angel, except for the white robe which he wore. And the wings.
Irriel spoke in a deep voice, “Oh yes, so this is Britain’s fickle Prime Minister. I trust you had a good journey.”
It wasn’t a question. It was a taunt.
“Why have you brought me here like this?” demanded the PM. His hair looked wild from the wind and he was soaking with water. A dim light shone from somewhere above. “What is happening to me?”
Irriel took a sip of nectar from a nearby oyster shell and stood up, walking across to a see-through wall. He pointed outwards, to the dark sea which surrounded them. There were fish swimming all around and seeing them made the PM feel like he was a pet. Like the fish were peering at him, a man, stuck in a goldfish bowl. It had been a little like that anyway, but now it was very real. He was in a literal bubble.
Through the murky water he could see a net begin to dredge up the sea bed near a shoal of fish. Clouds of sand were disturbed by the net’s weights.
“You see that?” asked Irriel.
The PM nodded. There seemed to be little left to do but comply.
“That is a net belonging to a ship, a British trawler. They are fishing the area for cod.”
“Yes, Prime Minister, cod. My cod, here, in my back yard. And I’ll tell you now that they won’t catch many either. These waters are so overfished that there are very few cod left.”
They watched the shoal of fish swimming just in front of the huge net, already caught.
“And obviously,” added Irriel. “I’m worried that they’ll catch me one day.” Irriel seemed to find this incredibly funny because he then laughed low and long. When he had finished he said, “Or at least they might ruin one of my summer homes. Anyway, that’s why I had you brought here. All I want you to do is change the law so that there will be fewer ships fishing these waters and we can focus on the weightier eternal matters.”
The PM thought for a moment and finally said, “But won’t this be very bad for the trawlermen’s jobs? And won’t it be bad for the economy?”
Irriel glared and his eyes briefly turned as black as a shark’s eyes. But then they brightened as if a ripple of sunlight was in them.
“Yes.” Said Irriel, “But it will be very good for my fish.”
When the angel and the PM landed back in the garden of 10 Downing Street, the PM was horrified to find that no-one had noticed that he had gone missing. He had dried out on the return journey, but his hair looked wild and his suit was wrecked. The angel placed the PM gently into his patio chair. And before the angel flew away again he smiled and put a hand on the PM’s shoulder.
“Don’t try to tell anyone what has happened.” he said. “If you do something worse may happen to you.”
“Are you threatening me?” said the PM.
“No,” replied the angel, his antler-wings extending menacingly. “The last Prime Minister was quite similar to you, you know? All kinds of fish are praying for you.”
As the angel flew away a small white feather fell from the angel’s wings and landed on the PM’s lunch plate. The PM looked down and the half-eaten cod stared back up at him accusingly.