Short story by Athena Hoven

The interview process in Heaven


“Sir?”

“Yes?”

“We have the potential recruit ready to speak to you. Shall I bring her in?”

“Please do.”

Balthazar sighed and wondered how many of the freshly dead he had to see today. His numbers had been dwindling badly since Mikael had been making orders, but, like a great meat grinder, Mikael continued to send angels on what seemed to be suicide missions. He looked at the resume of one Athena. She looked promising. Her morals weren’t exactly…up to par….with most angels but, these days, he took whatever he could get.

Balthazar sat behind the wide oak desk and looked out of the floor-to-wall windows over the multitude. Apparently she scored highly in markmanship and showed a certain bloodthirst for demons in basic training. She could be used more as a sniper than a grunt in the front lines. But, he would see.

Just then, he heard a slight rapping at the large wooden doors.

“Yes, come in.”

In walked a woman with wide shoulders and a confident swagger. Balthazar looked at her. Athena looked like she had no problem with the scars of battle. Her face and arms were covered in a multitude of them, most likely from her basic training. She had a few day-old bruises on her face, but what those were from he could only guess. Athena had been out of basic training only a week.

“Please, have a seat.”

Athena nodded and sat in one of the chairs across from him. She leaned to one side and propped herself on the arm of the chair.

“So, what brings you to us this afternoon?”

A light Southern accent piped up, “I died, sir.”

Balthazar looked down at her sheet again. He had neglected to notice the comments left by her superiors. Underlined several times was “Trouble With Authority Figures.” Great.

Balthazar had heard plenty of lip from his own and knew when, and how, to set them straight. He glared across the desk at her and added an edge to his voice. “I am perfectly aware of that soldier. I was referring to why you believe yourself capable of being a member under my command.”

Athena visibly stiffened but didn’t falter. “Sir, I believe I could be an asset to your group. I have been given high marks in both markmanship and hand-to-hand combat. I have outlasted 90% of the angels I started with in basic training.”

Balthazar looked at her sheet again. “So you have. However, cannon fodder is never hard to come by. What makes you believe that I could not pick anyone down there to hold a sword in the front lines?” With this he pointed down into the courtyard. Unfortunately for him, it was market day and the courtyard was filled with angels clearly not fit for any type of combat.

Athena’s eyes sparked for a moment and the tops of her cheeks went red. She was angry. She was offended. She was not going to let him get away with that statement. She was better than the common angel rabble and she knew it.

“Sir, not only have I received high marks in combat but have lead my team to victory several times during basic training maneuvers. My superiors have noted, on different occasions, my capacity not only for war but also for strategy. I am capable of leading small groups in combat and making tactical decisions for said groups.”

Athena’s ears went red and she felt warm. She was perfectly aware of the tactical mistake she’d just made. She had wanted to be recognized as something other than a grunt since her first week of basic training and she told herself that the only way to do so was to prove herself on the field. When the opportunity came to apply for Balthazar’s personal army, she had leapt at it. Athena didn’t mean to brag, but she wanted to show Balthazar that she had the utmost confidence in her abilities as a soldier of the Angelic Host.

Balthazar leaned back in the chair. He was a bit affronted at her “enthusiasm”, but he noted her confidence. He could use her on the field, without a doubt, but overconfidence could get one killed. He nodded and came to the conclusion that, if she was able to survive, then she might just rise in the ranks of the Host.

“Very well soldier.” Balthazar reached to the far end of the desk. “Here are your marching orders. You are to report first to the armory for your equipment, then to the main hall for your briefing on the assignment. You will meet your leader there and then go out into battle.”

Balthazar stood up, as did Athena. “Good luck on the field, and I hope to work with you one day.”

Athena nodded and with a grateful “Thank you sir”, left the room. She couldn’t help almost skipping out.

Balthazar groaned as he looked at the next recruit’s sheet. Bellowing, he yelled “Send them in!”