Millie had her first baby the day after her eighteenth birthday. Although “had” would imply “given birth to” when in fact “had” in this particular case denotes “ate.” And she’d have no problem telling you that that Antichrist infant tasted nothing like chicken.
“It really didn’t,” she’d admit with a wink.
Let me tell you a little bit about Millicent “Millie” Pearson. She has dark brown hair and eyes, is 5’ 3” tall, and adorned with a myriad of bronze freckles splattered about her body. If you asked her family and friends they’d unanimously describe her as “elfin.”
She was born the only child to an average suburban Long Island couple of modest means. Her father, Delroy, a non-denominational pastor, and mother, Judy, homemaker, were charismatic and openly loving individuals. Often, at the dinner table, the three could be heard engaged in stimulating and socially pertinent conversation over meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
“Good day, Del ?” Judy would ask.
“Good meat, Judy,” Delroy would comment.
“Good grief!” Millie would reply.
Conversations like this can be found all over the world in every culture, only in different languages. Oui?
Millie has powers. Forget about web-spinning, laser beam from the eyes, super-strength comic book powers. Nope. She happens to be a vessel of the preeminent deity Himself, the Mighty Chancellor of the good, the bad, and oh yes, the ugly. We’re talking about the Big G. She heard His voice call to her one night. Well, “call” isn’t exactly correct. God actually sent her e-mail through her Hotmail account.
She was a senior in high school and the e-mail came one night after Band practice (she played the viola). She was Instant Messaging her best friend Beatrice about Anthony Lawson, captain of the Chess Club, and a real babe.
The IMing went something like this:
MILLGIRL: did u c the look tony gave me tonite
BEAHONEY: yep 😉 hot
MILLGIRL: sumthin bout the way he moves those pawns
BEAHONEY: lol. u got it bad girl
MILLGIRL: lol! i’m such a dweeb
BEAHONEY: dag, my moms says i gotta go
She was about to sign off when the awe-inspiring e-mail chime resounded from her computer. She clicked on the mailbox and there, waiting to be read, was the e-mail addressed from GOOD_LORD, re: your mission in life.
She almost deleted it, but something inside her told her not to. Besides, she said to herself, there’s nothing on TV anyway, and I’ve already done my nails.
When she read the simple text typed there she was dumbfounded, bewildered, baffled. Okay, it was written in Latin, and she had only the week before failed her English exam so that should tell you something. In any case, she felt that it was something terribly important, something that would forever change her life.
Needless to say, it took her a week before she got it translated. After band rehearsal the following Monday she took the bus to St. Mary’s Catholic School on the other side of Bedford Road . She consulted with Father Pauling, a close friend of her father’s. She sat across from him in his small office.
“You think it may be Latin?” Father Pauling queried.
“Yeah, something like that,” Millie shrugged.
“How’s your dad doing? I haven’t heard from him in a few months.”
“He’s been real busy getting ready for the holiday season.” Millie leaned in. “Um, he doesn’t know I’m here.”
She explained how she acquired the e-mail and what her feelings were in regards to its importance.
“You really think this is a message from God?” The priest asked.
“Totally,” Millie responded, nodding her head up and down. She slid the tri-folded print out across his desk.
“Alright, I’ll take a peek,” he responded. “I have some tea on in the kitchen. Go ahead and help yourself while I get this ready.”
Millie wasn’t a big tea drinker, but she did as he requested. She liked coffee. Starbucks Double Latté Café, especially when paired with chocolate chip cookies chock-full of macadamia nuts. And every once in a while, peanut butter and banana sandwiches just like the King used to eat.
But, as so happens with young libido-driven minds, she started thinking about Anthony Lawson again, captain of the Chess Club. His long, thin, pseudo-muscular frame hunched over the chessboard handling his wooden piece…suddenly it was way too hot in the kitchen. And you know that saying, If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the…
“Ready!” Father Pauling yelled from his office.
Millie zipped back to reality, sprinted toward his voice, and took a seat on the velvet chair in the center of the room. “What’s it say?”
“Okay, it says— now don’t be disappointed— but roughly translated it says— well, I can’t be one hundred percent sure—”
“Father Pauling! You’re killing me here! What does it say?”
“Simply this,” he sighed, resigned to appease her curiosity. “Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me.”
“It’s actually a cute little song by Tony Orlando and Dawn from the seventies. Why I remember the year it came out I was—”
“A stupid song! It’s the lyrics to a stupid song? Are you kidding me?”
“Now Millie, I’m sure this is just a joke some insensitive friend from school is playing on you. It’s nothing to get upset about. Let me explain something to you about this generation. Kids today are…”
Millie wasn’t listening anymore. She felt tears begin to swell in her eyes. She interrupted Father Pauling stating she had to go or her parents would be worried. Father Pauling handed her a fruitcake at the door and hugged her.
“Don’t worry, Millie. I’m sure by tomorrow you’ll have forgotten all about this silly note. Say hello to the folks for me.” He patted her hand and sent her off.
On the bus ride back, Millie couldn’t get the notion out of her head that it really was an e-mail message from God. The reality of the situation began to slowly take shape in her mind and like a sign from heaven she saw an angel fluttering outside the window of the bus, pointing the way.
Okay, okay it was actually a Puerto Rican car salesman, Angel Rodriguez from the Buick dealership billboard pasted on the steel frame of the Long Island Railroad, but he was pointed in her general direction.
* * *
“You’re home awfully late from school.” Millie’s mother was wearing a floral apron around her thin waist and there was ground beef and egg yolk between her fingers.
“Had to do a couple of things. Anybody call for me?” Millie inquired.
“No, sweetie. It’s been quiet as a church in here. Your father’s upstairs taking a nap before supper, so try not to wake him.”
“Sure, I’ll go get changed and cleaned up. You need any help?”
“No, darling. Just don’t take too long.” She returned to kneading the meat. On the stove burner diced potatoes were boiling, small precursors of mashing, and green beans were steaming in an anodized pot.
Millie carefully walked upstairs, avoided the third step with the carpeted squeak and approached the closed door of her parents’ bedroom. Pausing at the door, she could hear the steady snore of her father. Something about the sound made her feel sad. She wanted to knock on the door and wake him. She wanted to hear him whisper inside her ear how everything works itself out for good, like when she was a little girl.
“God has a very important plan for you, Millie. One day you’ll learn just what it is.”
“How will I know daddy? Will he whisper in my ear like a secret?”
“Something like that, baby.”
Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight! No one said anything about an e-mail, that’s for sure, Millie thought. Exasperated, she continued her path down the hallway to her own room. Once inside, she shucked her book bag to the floor and plopped down on her quilted bed. The room was warm and decorated wonderfully with glossy posters of boy bands and snapshots of friends. A single lamp you touched to activate was on one side of her bed, and on the opposite, a small dresser with a collage of teddy bears nuzzled together in a furry heap. She fell back in the bed.
“What now?” She said aloud, staring up at the ceiling.
Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me…
She abruptly stood up, tapped the lamp twice for light and began clearing the teddy bears from their dresser-top haven. She mounted the dresser and reached up, realizing she could indeed touch the ceiling.
“Here goes,” she said.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Knock and the door shall be opened. And it was.
Only it was the door of her room and her father was staring at her, one blue eye sleep-swollen, absolutely perplexed. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” she croaked. By the way, the word nothing uttered by any human teenager always means something.
“Well, why don’t you do that nothing from the safety of the floor before you fall and hurt yourself.”
“No problem. Ha! Right then,” she stammered, leaping from the dresser to her bed. “I’ll get ready for supper now. Ha! Thanks.”
Her father silently tilted his head to the side like a dog will do sometimes as if it’s finally learned to speak with just a look. “Okay.”
He closed the door behind him. Millie felt like an idiot. “Great,” she sighed. “He probably thinks I’m nuts.” She swung her legs over the bed and began to slip her shoes off.
That’s when all hell— pardon me— heaven broke loose.
* * *
A trumpet sounded, warm wind laced with the faint vestiges of lavender potpourri filled the air, and an Asian gentleman with perfect teeth, wearing a forest green terrycloth robe, appeared at the doorway.
“Hey,” He said, but his lips didn’t move.
Millie almost peed her pants. She jerked her body back and screamed. “Holy crap! Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean crap I meant Holy, Holy cow or something not vulgar. Um, I didn’t realize you’d be Chinese.”
“Not Chinese,” He said. And Holy Crap!— beg your pardon— He was a young black woman who looked almost exactly like Tyra Banks, sporting a push-up bra and those little panties that have the fur waistband, you know?
“I am,” He/She said again with the no lips moving action.
“You sent me the e-mail?” Millie was frightened, but she had to know. “Why?”
“You’ve been chosen, Millicent to exact My wrath,” said a small, Latino boy with Batman underoos and dirty knees.
“Exact your what…and why me? I’m nobody. I suck at playing the viola. I’m practically a loser at school. I bite my nails. I…well, you know, have lustful feelings for Anthony Lawson—”
“And Mr. Swanson, you’re Science teacher,” said a very old man with gray hair, a red turtleneck sweater, corduroy pants, and Nike sneakers.
“Oh. You know about that too,” she blushed. “I didn’t mean naked, by the way. I was only thinking how great he looked in—”
“I know,” the latest version of Himself replied.
This form was truly impressive. His bald head grazed the ceiling and His eyes were drops of flames with a broad nose, pink full lips, and a completely muscular body. And much to Millie’s embarrassment, the only thing he was wearing was those little black Speedos that body-builders wear. “I am #1” was embroidered in gold at the hip.
“Take My hand,” His voice boomed.
Suddenly it was only a voice with a hand floating in the midst of light.
“Okay,” Millie chimed. “I hope this doesn’t hurt.”
But it did hurt. A lot.
* * *
Judy Pearson was staring up at the ceiling of the kitchen. “What do you suppose she’s doing up there, Del ? Sounds like she has a school band marching around up there.”
“Probably rapping on the ceiling or something dear,” Delroy muttered, engrossed in the evening paper.
“You better go check on her. Tell her supper will be ready in a couple of minutes.”
“Sure, hon. Meatloaf will be fine.”
“DELROY PEARSON ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME!” Judy bellowed, tossing a spoon into the sink.
“Good grief!” Pastor Pearson exclaimed, rising from his recliner. “I’ll tell her.”
* * *
Needles with pieces of glass and red hot pokers with jagged razors and ten million paper cuts with line-ruled loose-leaf. It hurt that much.
When Millie took God’s hand her brain felt like it exploded into pieces. “You saw the movie Soylent Green. It will be like this,” the Omnipotent One informed with a voice oddly sounding like Charlton Heston. “This is your mission.” And He planted an assignment like molten lava in that part of the brain saved for these specific instances.
All Millie could think of was, Why Charlton Heston? Get your filthy paws off me you…
And like that God let her go.
* * *
“Millie!” Delroy called. “Supper time. Millie! Please don’t make me repeat myself.”
“Coming Dad!” Millie screamed from upstairs. She felt like someone beat her up and then a week later pulled the scabs off of her wounds. But mostly she felt like a champion. He’d chosen her to lay waste to the Antichrist.
See, the Antichrist is repeatedly trying to enter this world through the womb of an unsuspecting woman. Every year, in fact, he attempts his unholy birth and each time is crushed. To be specific, eaten. God, it appears, chooses a lady of his bidding to destroy the beast again and again. The method of choice: to be unequivocally consumed by righteousness.
Enter Millie, who can now sniff out (and I mean literally here) the enemy. Her body now acts as a filter slowly digesting and disseminating the Evil One, until one day he will be unable to enter the mortal coil.
Millie washed her face quickly, changed, swung open the bedroom door, and took the steps two at a time.
Through the downstairs foyer window, Millie saw her next door neighbor, Donna getting out of her car. She was seven months pregnant.
“Slow down there,” her mother advised. “Wouldn’t want you getting hurt, hon.”
Supper waited on the table. Steam rose from the plates like hell-smoke.
“I’m starved, mom,” she said. Instantly an idea struck her. Maybe if she shared the duty with others His work would be done that much more efficiently.
“You know what, mom? I think I want to prepare the meatloaf next time.”
“Oh, you do? Great, I’ll go over the recipe with you on—”
“No need, mom. I already have a special recipe in mind.” Millie smiled and thought of Donna’s fat belly.
“Sure, hon.” She faced Delroy at the head of the table. “So what do you think of that?”
“Yep, sure going to be some good meat, Judy,” he responded. “Let’s pray.”
Angel Zapata is the author of The Man of Shadows, a horror short story collection released by Panic Press and available on Amazon. Visit http://arageofangel.blogspot.com/