This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.
“You know what I like about this job?”
“OK, I’ll bite, what do you like about this job?”
“ Didn’t see that coming.”
“Did ya get it? The hours. Not bad if I do say so myself.”
“Time is irrelevant to us but not to them, got it.
Now, let me ask you.
Why are you in this job?
There was no reason why you couldn’t go back, was there?
You don’t seem like a someone who had reached the end of his evolution, so why are you here?”
“They did give me a choice.
They said I could go back, though why anyone would want to is beyond me.
But they said that I would be wasting my time.
I’ve experienced it all and they reckon that it hasn’t made that much difference.”
“Yeah, I can hear them saying it. Pompous bunch that lot. No malice in them but pompous just the same. So, you don’t get to go back?”
“No, I can go back, but as support crew.
You know what I mean.
If one of my group needs a bit player then I can put my hand up.
To be honest that’s OK by me.
I don’t enjoy being there all that much.
So, doing a ‘walk on’ suits me just fine.”
“Who do you get to fill in for you while you’re away?”
“I don’t bother.
I just invoke ‘frozen time’ until I get back.
But, I must admit that all that ‘time’ stuff was a bit confusing when I first came home.
It takes a bit of adjusting.
Besides, this part of the job is not as ‘hands on’ as when they are young.
And it isn’t as much fun.
They have trouble hearing you as they get older. That makes it a bit lonely.
I like it when they are young and I get to catch them when they fall off stuff, and I can play with them when they don’t have anyone else to play with, and I can tell them things because the rules are not as strict about that when they’re young.”
“Wouldn’t you rather be in the choir?”
“Nah, I like getting my hands dirty, so to speak.
Let’s face it, I’ve never been that bright.
Muscle was all I was good for when I was down there and it’s what I’m good for here. I don’t mind, I can go and listen to the choir any time I like.
They make me feel all tingley when I listen to them.”
“So how’s ‘yours’ getting on?”
“He’s pretty busy.
The missus is driving him crazy.
I had a talk to Ariel about that and she says that his missus is going through a bad patch but she has stopped asking for help so Ariel’s hands are tied.
I asked her to try a little harder because her person is driving my person round the bend and I feel like I should be able to help; at least a bit.
Add to that, the kids are getting into heaps of trouble.
I think that they are taking advantage of the mum being distracted.
I spoke to Barachiel and Cassiel and asked them to have a word.
After all, their persons can still hear them.
But they said they were having trouble getting through.
I asked them to try harder.
They didn’t like that and I thought that we were going to see some feathers flying but they knew I could take ‘em both if I had to so they backed off.
That brings me to another point.
Why does everyone get cool names like Ariel, Barachiel and Cassiel and I get Bob?
Answer me that.”
“It’s your name dude.
It’s the one you got right back at the beginning.
I like Bob.
It’s strong, dignified, well maybe not dignified, but it is strong.”
“That’s easy for you to say, your name’s Dominions.
I can just see it written down somewhere……. ‘and we sent Dominions to deal with the plague; oh yes, and Bob went too,’ very inspiring.
By the way, how did that plague thing work out?”
It took a while but once I managed to get that little bloke to listen, they worked out that if they got the rats under control the whole thing settled down.
We lost a lot of persons along the way though.
Couldn’t be helped but.
There was much screaming and crying and stuff so I guess they couldn’t hear me.
That little bloke was good though.
Once he figured it out, things started to improve very quickly.
I asked to be excused from the next one.
I don’t think I’m right for that sort of thing.
Still, you go where you are sent.”
“I thought you did a good job on that one.
It went on a bit but they didn’t have much in the way of medicine back then and they were a superstitious lot so you did well to get through to one who would listen.
By the way, what do you think of that new bloke in the Mediums section?”
“He all right.
Friendly enough but he’s so new.
It’s not that long since he finished his last tour.
But I guess that could help him in his work.
Having been one of them so recently has got to help.
I find that the longer it has been since I was one of them the harder it is for me to remember how they think.
I remember that it was particularly annoying having to drag around that body all day and all night.
At least when I feel asleep I could be free again for a few hours.
That was fun, but then I would have to go back and that hurt.
Do you remember ‘hurt’?”
“Do I what!
Took all the fun out of it.
Not a big fan of ‘hurt.’
I hate to see my person in pain.
I know that they signed up for it and all that, but still, just the same, I don’t like it.”
“You know the bit I like?”
“When they get back here and they start to remember what they have always known.
I never get sick of seeing that look on their face.
“Yeah, me too.
Makes it all worthwhile.
I’ve enjoyed talking to you but I better get back to it.
My person is only just holding it together and he needs my strength.
Strength is what I’m good at.”
“Good on ya mate.
He’s in good hands.
‘Bob is on the job.’”