Friday, January 11, 2013

Cupid Missed


Prompt:
That’s weird, thought Cupid. I’ve never hit the wrong person like that before.

                Love is the most destructive force in the universe.
All great struggles in the world come down to an excess or deficiency of love. Wars have been fought in the name of God’s love, which was especially ironic since God would have loved you anyway if you just asked.      Every great story is a love story; love between a father and son, or between star-crossed lovers. And look where it gets them. One love story I’m sure you’ve heard, two teenagers in the middle of a family dispute fall in love, and six people die. Would have been much simpler today, where they could have just eloped to Vegas. Or what about Camelot? A love triangle broke up the Round Table, proving the superiority of polygons to curves, but also reminding us never to covet your boss’s wife.
Of course, love is also the most creative force in the universe. That’s the whole trick of it, and most people, even the divine community, forget this. It is such a powerful force that only one person in all of Creation has been granted authority over its use. This, of course, is Cupid. Cupid isn’t his real name, but when the Romans first heard of his stories (getting all sorts of facts wrong), the nickname stuck among the angels, and since the human mind can’t make sense of his angelic name, for sake of brevity we’ll just stick with the common vernacular.
So it was that Alec, the guardian angel, came across Cupid one day while in the world. Alec had just descended from the Well, alighting with practiced ease onto a rooftop in London. As a Guardian, he should be watching his charge, but Rachel White was in America, sleeping. He could afford some free time, and Alec jumped at any opportunity to fight for the Kingdom, and something told him that London was the place to be.
That was when he saw Cupid. Cupid was kneeling beside the lip of the roof, double pair of wings held tight to his back, and holding up a long silver rifle. He had ditched the bow and arrows decades ago, citing their unreliable accuracy over long distances and taking up a more modern implement for his work. He adjusted his aim by the smallest increment, fierce eyes focused on some tiny target that Alec couldn’t see. There was no scope on the rifle; Cupid’s eyes were sharper than any eagle’s, more accurate than any laser sight. He slowly pulled back on the trigger, paused for a moment, then fired.
There was no bang, no loud report. Cupid’s rifle was nearly silent, and in fact the only sound was that of the dart whizzing past, not that any human was paying close enough attention to hear it. The dart flew through the air, weaving through a crowded intersection as if piloted by some miniature aviator. It narrowly passed by three lawyers, two accountants, and a crowd of nine students before finally sticking into the shoulder of an ambitious young journalist. The young woman absent mindedly scratched at an itch just below her shoulder, knocking the tiny dart off her jacket, which dissolved into dust before it reached the ground.
A few moments of silence, as Cupid examined his work. Alec was standing a few feet behind him, peering over his shoulder with a look of pure awe.
Cupid scratched his chin for a moment. Then he scratched his head. Finally he grunted, “That’s weird,” Cupid muttered, barely audible to the Guardian standing behind him, “I’ve never hit the wrong person like that before.”
Alec, feeling rather awkward at witnessing this apparent slip-up, cleared his throat and then chimed in, “Well, I’m sure she’ll love being in love.”
Cupid spun around so fast it knocked Alec off his feet, as a sudden sweep of air sent him sprawling backwards. Cupid’s face had taken on a different visage, and now the face of a massive lion glared down at the Guardian. It wasn’t the only thing about him that was intimidating; Cupid stretched out all four of his massive wings, each feather glinting metallic in the morning sun, and as the lion face spoke, Cupid’s voice roared like thunder, “Love being in love?! Are you daft?”
The lion was gone then, but Cupid’s face still bristled with sudden anger, a long mane of hair stretching down the back of his neck. He growled deep in his throat, and the roof beneath Alec shuddered with the vibration, “I just cursed some innocent woman with the total agony of being in love.”
After determining that Cupid did not plan on eating him, Alec slowly rose to his feet, brushing himself off, “Excuse me, Cup – uh, sir, but I don’t see what the problem is. I mean, people fall in love every day.”
“No, little gosling. People fall in lust every day. They become infatuated on a regular basis. They even, on occasion, manage to pair themselves with someone they genuinely care for. And they will think they make this person happy, and that will make them happy, and they will settle for that. But what I do, what I give is genuine divine inspiration. True love, the kind that only comes around a handful of times in a millennia. The kind of love that inspires great works, things that will last for generations.” Cupid rubbed his chin again; it was soft and smooth, betraying his rough demeanor with an unfortunately handsome face. No doubt he felt the part of a jaded, worn out old man and would have liked to look the part, but cherubs were naturally youthful and attractive.
“So what will happen to her?” He didn’t know every one of Cupid’s few interventions, but he did know that one of his more recent adventures resulted in some grief-stricken widower building the Taj Mahal.
“She will fall in love. Maybe she’ll fall in love with art and become the next Da Vinci.” He mused, unscrewing the barrel from his rifle.
“Or the next Pollock?”
“Don’t be stupid,” shooting a glare at Alec, he detached the stock of the rifle as well, “Or she might fall in love with her work, forsaking any comfort in order to become the best journalist in the world. She would uncover corruption and conspiracies around the world. Or maybe she would be so unfortunate as to fall in love with something so simple as another person. To give her life completely to someone else, for hope of something so fragile. It is no blessing to be in love.”
“You were going to hit someone. Why is it so bad if it’s her and not the one you were supposed to get?”
“Because not everyone can handle true love. Some can, and they do great and terrible things. Others can’t. That kind of love… it can destroy you.”
Finished packing up his rifle, Cupid slung the pack over his shoulder as Alec pondered his words. The cherub shouldered past Alec, and the Guardian was nearly knocked off his feet again. Rubbing his now sore shoulder, he called after Cupid, “Then why did you shoot at all? Why not spare them the pain if it’s so bad?”
Without turning back, the cherub threw his answer back over his shoulder, “because if there is no true love in the world, what’s the point of it all?”


[Author's Corner]

It was the prompt that caught my attention. Felt like writing something, but lacked inspiration, so I trawled around until I found something inspiring. I looked at http://writingprompts.tumblr.com, which had a couple of great ideas, even if they began to repeat after a few pages. I'll end up rewriting this, because the pacing is off and I want to expand on the descriptions, and overall I rushed it. I wanted to get this written out in one sitting, and then I'll go back and fix and tweak and edit and revise and polish. I just needed to get something done this morning.

Also, there are a few things about this. This story takes place within the greater Salvation universe. I'm playing with different characters, different rules, figuring out how everything works together. In the end I want Salvation to be a cohesive, divine world that I can explore and play around in, so some known characters will come and go as I see what "fits". Cupid is an angel. Specifically, a Cherub, a high ranking angel. There are only a handful in the world, and I imagine they primarily deal with emotions. Cupid is probably the most "elite" of them, having custody over such a force as Love. Cherubs, as described in the Book of Ezekiel, have four faces - a man, an eagle, a lion, and an ox. So some of these features manifest in smaller ways; eagle eyesight, for example. I was also considering the idea of masks, of a blank face with four masks that rotated to fit whatever the need or emotion. This is all still highly conceptual.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, feedback or comments, I would be happy to hear it! Thank you for reading.