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Cleophus (standard:fantasy, 2510 words)
Author: Alpha43Added: Apr 15 2005Views/Reads: 1948/1343Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This story does not directly challenge religion, but it does feature one of Gods messengers, an angel, who has made a drastic screw-up. Can Angels make mistakes?


It’s not mental telepathy, clairvoyance, or any other mystical power. A
person’s ability to sense that they are not alone is a trait that I 
believe everyone possesses. The eerie feeling that you have a pair of 
eyes watching you or the sense that you can almost smell or hear 
someone sharing your space may be shocking, but is not an uncommon 
function of the human brain. I have experienced this awareness numerous 
times, but one event stands out and it actually affected my life for a 
number of years. 

It was 5:25 AM in a wilderness setting, an environmental clean up in
Northern Michigan. I was more apt to come face to face with a bear, 
than with another human. I had just unlocked the gate at a State of 
Michigan sponsored remediation site, when I realized that there was no 
moon this morning. A former plating plant, Cleftis Chrome Parts, had 
gone bankrupt several years back, abandoning a lagoon that contained 6’ 
of heavy-metal sludge. The plant had been located in an unlikely spot, 
miles away from any city, in an area more suited for hunting or 
trapping, than manufacturing. 

As Project Manager for an environmental contractor, I was typically the
first one on site to open the gate, set up the construction trailers, 
inspect and start the equipment, and get the hauling and disposal logs 
up to date. 

There is no better aroma than that first pot of fresh coffee brewing on
a crisp autumn morning. Cup in hand, chores completed, I started out to 
inspect the lagoon for water infiltration, and if need be, I would 
crank up the de-watering pumps. We had security lights near the office 
trailers at the entrance, but I was headed to the far end of the 
project, as we were working our way out of the lagoon, from back to 
front, making the placement of backfill material much easier. 

The lagoon sludge was a definite hazard to the environment, both via
direct human contact, and to the ground water, a very precious 
commodity. Flint, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and many bigger Michigan 
cities have piped-in treated water systems, but 98% of the rest of the 
State’s residents function from a well. Any one or any thing that 
affects the aquifer quality gets prompt attention. 

My main concern in the pitch black work zone was the grease like
consistency of the plating waste. One poorly placed step, and I could 
be crotch deep in the heavy, viscous, toxic material. The cool morning 
had produced a lot of dew and that increased the slip probabilities by 
a factor of ten. Caution was in order. 

The eerie pink streaks of pre-dawn light were helpful as I picked my way
around the back of the lagoon, but I had an uneasy feeling. The first 
sense of an intruder hit me as I was navigating a narrow strip of high 
ground at the far end of the project. My neck hair was at attention. I 
froze, suspending my breathing, and initially, moved only my eyes in my 
quest for the “Headless Horseman”, “Casper The Ghost”, or “The Night 

The best way I can describe the sensation is that I could almost feel
the body heat from someone hovering very close to me. The back of my 
neck tingled. The cool 38-degree slow morning breeze was affected by a 
98.6 degree presence. I slowly raised my right hand, pausing in 
readiness to relieve the electrified sensation that was tickling the 
nape of my neck, and in that moment of hesitation, waiting for the 
internal scratch signal, I heard a voice, a Cajun voice in the 
traditional rhythmic twang saying, “This be Cleophus !” 

Then again, “Cleophus here. You’s OK.” It was not a question, it was a
statement, but at that moment, I was anything but OK. 

Bladder function had never been a problem throughout my 50+ years, and
after a lapse of about a tenth of a second, I had things back under 
control. Blood pressure, adrenaline infusion, and mental stability were 
a totally different story, setting records in both the minimum and 
maximum output categories. I knew severe pain in the left arm could be 
a sign of a pending heart attack, but my still hovering right arm had 
the ‘million pin-prick’ sensation that accompanies having something 
slam into your funnybone. 

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