Before leaving the house each day we had to tape our ears shut, the criss-cross way, to keep the “angels” lies from entering our minds. We could still see them on the streets, in the hallways and in the rooms with people, but at least they couldn’t poison our minds with their corrupted language.  Mother made hand motions to remind us to bundle up and gave the warning again about our ears – “make sure you keep safe” she mouthed and we nodded.

We had all heard the stories of the old folk that had forgotten to tape their ears one day and gone mad, or worse tried to join in the spreading of the “angels” agenda by disemboweling themselves, and screaming as they died the words the “angels” had seethed into their minds, as if coming from a neighbor it would be less maddening. My older brother claimed he once survived hearing an “angel” whisper to him, but he often bragged about things that couldn’t possibly be true.

The “angels” weren’t like the drawing in the old religious books, well not really. They didn’t have wings or halos that anyone could see, but they did glow a bit in their transparency – I always thought they were more like specters then angelic hosts. The government and experts from around the world were stumped as to where they came from or why they were here.  The religious leaders were the ones who deemed them “angels”, and some of those leaders were always around without their ears taped to prevent the voices, but I never heard of any of them being disemboweled either so who knows – maybe my older brother was telling the truth all along.  The news reports claimed they were never seen inside churches of any denomination – attendance at churches, synagogues and temples was rising daily as it was a safe place where one could listen to the sweet silence – at least until the preachers started their talk of hell and brimstone.

As we walked to school we could see angels hovering around this corner or that tree, floating above cars that drove down the street or peeking from windows of houses on the street, most people kept their curtains drawn and it was more and more fashionable to keep your shutters closed day and night.

The bus arrived in the normal fashion, six or seven of the shimmering creatures around it – all of us pretended they weren’t there, our parents had told us to just pretend they weren’t there at all.  My brother and his friends sat in the back of the bus, even with our ears taped shut I knew they were back their causing a fuss, that’s what they normally would do. I just opened my book, The Grapes of Wrath, and picked up where I had left off.

I was lost in the story and unaware of my surroundings, from pick up to school was a 30-minute bus ride and I was used to immersing myself in a story. So when the girl next to me tapped me on the shoulder I was at first annoyed until I saw her eyes wide in fright and she pointed directly in front of me.

There was one of the creatures, sitting on the back of the seat facing me, it appeared that he had his head resting in his hands and his elbows upon his knees. I know it sounds odd to say it, but he appeared to be smiling, at what I could not imagine. Other kids were staring at the creature and in association, me. I had no idea what had brought the thing to focus its attention on me – nor had I heard of them doing this to anyone else. Judging the others expressions I would say they hadn’t either. I glanced nervously one more time at the creature and tried to return my gaze to the words on the page, but I couldn’t actually read anymore, I could still feel the creatures gaze and knew that I was somehow doomed.

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