Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)
Guardian Angel: Zeek
“How long am I going to be here?” I asked Zedekiah.
My grouchy controller snorted. “We’ve been trying to keep this guy from eating himself to death for months. Everyone who’s not a rookie has had to do it, and now you get to.”
“But I’m a rookie.”
Zedekiah’s usual sarcasm evaporated. “Kid, after what you pulled on your last mission, you’re lucky not to be locked up.”
What I’d pulled? I still didn’t know what I’d done wrong. I opened my mouth to say so, but Zedekiah interrupted me.
“You’re here for twenty-four hours. This guy has to be healthy enough to drag another man off of train tracks and across a street. He’s borderline diabetic, and your job is to keep him from eating everything in sight.”
“And how am I supposed to do that?” I looked around the man’s apartment—he was in the shower at the moment—and took it all in.
He had hidden candy stashes in his office, alcohol in almost every room, a pantry full of cookies and snack cakes, and the fridge was filled with leftover pizza, Chinese, and several items that had rotted beyond recognition.
“I’m granting you the power to move things and to touch him. I’d say to use it sparingly, but no one else has. The last guardian angel assigned had to wrestle a two liter bottle of soda pop from him.”
“Wrestled it away from him?” I asked. “What does he think is going on?”
“According to the notes, he believes in the world of the fey.”
I winced. “People actually believe that still?”
“This guy does. He thinks we are evil sprites, or whatever, trying to keep him from being happy.”
I tried to reason the man out in my mind, but couldn’t. Who thought evil sprites were trying to ruin their life and then not do anything about it? Or had he? “Should I be expecting anything unusual? Traps or anything?”
“This guy isn’t that smart.”
“How many different guardian angels have been here?” I asked.
“Over a hundred.”
“And did any of them come back for a second day?”
“None of them.”
I lifted a finger, as if Zedekiah could see me. “And that’s not suspicious to you?”
“After a day of dealing with this guy, I think you’ll understand.”
I didn’t buy it. First the idiot on the tight rope and now this guy? The bathroom door creaked open. There wasn’t anything in the man’s bedroom, so spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with every treat in the apartment. The volume of carbs within reach of his desk was alarming, to say the least. It had been a while since I’d been human, but I was pretty sure no one person could eat that much sugar in a week, not to mention everything in the pantry. “Does he have friends over?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
The schedule Zedekiah had provided me with stated that this man went out for more snacks every day. How was he not swimming in boxes by now? The light on my wristband turned yellow and started to blink. Zedekiah had warned me that it would probably stay that way for the rest of the day.
I’d expected the man to be huge, but instead he looked pretty normal. A small belly and soft arms, but nothing like the glutton I’d been ready for. He sat down at his desk, pushed a button on his computer, and then reached for a box of cupcakes.
The light on my wristband went orange.
“Better get those away from him,” Zedekiah said.
I sighed, walked over, and took the box. The man let it go without a fight, then reached into his desk drawer for another.
“Seriously?” This time I slapped the box onto the floor. The man shrugged and started playing on his computer. His hand strayed toward a different drawer.
“It’s going to be like this all day,” Zedekiah said.
“Why are we saving him? He clearly doesn’t want to be saved.”
“Someone upstairs needs him.”
The question was why? Why this man, who had no desire to live?
I turned the latest box over, and emptied the contents into the garbage can.
Third time was a charm, because the man shrugged and went to work.
I watched him like a hawk, but he didn’t go for any more snacks until he got up for the first time. After a trip to the bathroom, he went to the kitchen and started piling a plate full of breakfast pastries. I decided to try a different tactic. I walked up to him and said, “You don’t need those.”
He stopped and turned his head to look at me.
At least that’s what it felt like. My insides went cold as he blinked at me once, then resumed the walk back to his desk.
Had he seen me? I rushed after him. “Maybe some milk? Or yogurt?”
The man shook his head and sat at his desk. He’d eaten an entire doughnut before I had a chance to stop him. The rest went into the garbage. He shrugged and went back to working.
He got up every hour. By the time lunch came around the floor was littered with food I’d smacked out of his hand.
There was something seriously wrong here. But if that was the case, why hadn’t anyone else figured it out? I was a rookie. I didn’t have much field experience, but I this had all the signs of a curse.
The man managed to down an entire bottle of soda pop while I was contemplating, and the light on my wristband began to blink red.
Maybe this was a test.
dredged up what I knew about curses, got the release for one in my mind, walked up to the man and slapped him on the forehead.
My hand went through his head and came out the back, along with a small piece of darkness.
“Kid, what are you doing?” Zedekiah asked.
“It’s a curse,” I said. “Better get a contamination team down here before it gets away.”
Zedekiah swore. “Kid, we’ve got big problems.”