"Can I ask you a few questions before you go?"
"What's your name?"
"Oh my. Are you the Archangel Michael?"
Michael laughed. "No. No, no, no. I'm quite a few ranks below the Archangels. In fact, I can't remember whether I've ever actually seen an Archangel."
"So, were you named after the Archangel?"
"Yes, I was. A lot of angels are named Michael. A lot of us are named Gabriel, and there are a lot of Raphaels und Uriels and Remiels, too."
"So, there are seven Archangels?"
"Twenty-five, at least. Sorry, I'm bad with numbers, I don't know the exact number. But it's a lot more than seven now. There were seven for a few centuries, and then more got promoted."
"How many angels are there altogether?'
"There are thousands who are based here on Earth."
"Based on Earth -- do you mean that there are others on other planets?"
"Who knows? I don't. You humans, you wonder whether there are creatures like you on other planets, and we angels, we wonder too."
"So you're not all-knowing?"
"No, no! Not even close!" Michael rubbed the stubble on his chin nervously, hoping she wasn't going to ask him any questions about God.
"But you knew about me and Joe."
"It's our job to help people out, to the best of our ability. Really, people can help each other about as well as we help people. They just, um... They just don't, sometimes. People can see that you and Joe would be a good couple. Another human could've given you a little nudge toward each other like I just did. But nobody was taking care of that, so it came down to me."
"Well, thank you very much."
"It's my pleasure, really. Always glad to be of some use."
"So, are you a Cupid?"
"No. no, just a regular all-purpose angel."
"Heh. Yeah, I thought you looked a little big for that. So, where are your wings?"
"Ah, that's a very common misconception. We don't have wings. There are creatures from other mythologies that have wings. Ancient Egyptian deities, Mesopotamian beings. People started to assume that we do too."
"You said mythologies. Do those Egyptian and Mesopotamian creatures exist?"
"I don't know. All I can tell you for sure is that I can't remember ever seeing any of them. Or any Cupids, either."
"But speaking as a creature that's often said not to exist, I'm hesitant to jump to the conclusion that someone else is purely imaginary. If you see what I mean."
"Sure. Why jump to conclusions? So you get around pretty much like we humans do?"
"No, we have some advantages there. Do you know about Stephen Hawking?"
"British physicist, confined to a wheelchair, frequent guest-voice on 'The Simpsons'?"
"That's the guy. And you know about how he discovered wormholes?"
"But wormholes were theorized long before Hawking."
"Oh. Oh. Sounds like maybe you know more about it than I do. So, a wormhole is like a shortcut in time-space?"
"Well, we angels have all sorts of shortcuts, compared to humans, because we travel in more than three dimensions. I'm sorry, I'm not good at physics. I don't know if this has anything to do with wormholes. But we can take a couple of steps in other dimensions, and in three-dimensional terms, we've traveled thousands of miles."
"I get the idea. Are all angels male?"
"No, about half are male, half female, like you humans."
"Do you you mate like we do?"
"No, it's a little different with us."
"Do you eat?"
"That's a little different, too. We don't have to eat. If one of us eats something, it's usually just because we're curious about how it tastes."
"Do you sleep?"
"Sometimes we do."
"It just occurs to me, I'm gabbing away at you, and you look beat. You really look like you need some rest. I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize. It's my pleasure, really. Don't think for one second that humans are the only ones who get something out of exchanges like this."
She came up to Michael and laid a hand on his, and they both sighed with pleasure at the touch. Yes, these encounters were good for the angels, too. "Okay," she said. "But get some rest now, okay?"
Chapter 1, Part 3