God the Father took slow measured steps as He walked through the streets of Heaven. He was lost in contemplation over the latest turn of events. He knew that His decision to reveal everything to Ryan was rash, and there would be many who would question Him, but He had had no other option.
Passing by His favorite store, He smiled at the owner and continued. The Kingdom of Heaven was like any other nation state found on Earth. There were stores selling everyday goods, houses to live in, and clubs to party in and what not. All those earthlings who thought that one could only enjoy in Hell and that Heaven was filled with angels sitting on clouds with harps in their hands were in for a rude shock if and when they arrived here. God sniggered at that thought. The only difference between life on Earth and here would be that there was nothing to worry about here. No thieves, no moral policing and above all no money! Everyone in heaven worked for the pleasure of it and not for monetary gains.
Deep in His thoughts, God didn’t realize when the busy street changed into a lone one leading up to a magnificent building. The Great Palace stood imposingly in contrast to the small buildings God had just passed. Made from the finest marble and by the great architects who also created the Taj Mahal, The Great Palace was truly a sight to behold.
Taking a deep breath, God trudged up the path leading to a huge door guarded by the palace guards. The guards bowed their heads in reverence and allowed Him to enter the palace. The doors opened to reveal a large hall with a flight of stairs in the middle. Priceless artifacts and decorative ornaments lay around in strategic places to increase the ambience of the place. A crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling and the furniture of the drawing room was exquisite. God climbed up the stairs and walked up to the conference hall on His left.
Pandemonium greeted Him as He entered the hall as about two hundred other Gods argued amongst each other at the top of their voices around a huge conference table. A visibly disturbed Lord Brahma sat at its head. Seeing God the Father enter, He called for silence. When He didn’t get any response, He stood up and His ten heads bellowed in one voice, “SILENCE!”
The hall immediately fell silent and all the other Gods looked at Lord Brahma, searching for the cause of His displeasure. One by one, they spotted God the Father standing by the door and slowly but steadily a murmur started which threatened to get out of hand. But before that could happen, Lord Brahma invited God the Father inside and asked Him to take a seat.
Complying with the Lord’s request, God the Father took an empty seat not far from where the former sat. Lord Brahma turned towards Him and with a stern look on all his faces, asked, “I’m sure, Father, that you have a valid explanation for your actions.”
“Indeed I have. My sources told me that the boy was constantly trying to do himself away and I was of the opinion that this would have resulted in quite a situation.”
Lord Shiva enquired, “But do you realize the risk you have taken by telling everything to a seventeen-year old? What if he did something…?”
God the Father cut Him off, “I have not divulged everything about the prophecy and the boy’s role. He just knows that he is the Pondera Custodis. Nothing more. Moreover, he is the sanest person on that planet. Do you think he would do anything which would jeopardize its existence?”
“I ask you to have him monitored at all times. We can’t risk anything,” said Lord Brahma.
“St. Peter is arranging for that as we speak.”
“Then this Council has no more to ask from you, Father. Thank you for your patience.” Lord Brahma turned to Narada and began asking Him about the situation in Afghanistan while God the Father got lost in His own thoughts.
* * *
Ryan lay in Josh’s arms savoring the feeling being in love gives. His mind though, was in a flurry of thoughts, pondering over the latest twist his life was going through. It seemed to him that whenever he thought that his life couldn’t surprise him any more, it did just that with a fury, leaving him stupefied.
He never, even in his wildest dreams, imagined that destiny had such an important task in store for him. It still scared him, being Pondera Custodis. But he felt happy, for it is not everyday that you are special.
Normal classes for the occupants of room 107/3 were to resume on that morning. Due to his depression, Ryan had missed out on a lot of classes. Not that it mattered now. You could put a PhD paper in front of him and he’d breeze through it without batting an eyelid.
He got up from the bed, carefully disentangling himself from the sheets and from Josh, and started getting ready. He looked towards the sleeping form of his boyfriend and wondered what good karma he had performed in his previous life to deserve such a loving partner. Looking back, Ryan reflected that Josh was every bit of a man he had desired and even more, realizing just then how lucky he was to have Josh in his life.
“I know I am irresistible, but damn! I must be smokin’ for you to give me that look. It looks as if you’d ravish me just with your gaze.”
Ryan blinked out of the trance he was in and laughed, at the same time admiring Josh’s physique, as the latter stretched himself, putting on a show.
“As cocky as ever. One day you’ll burst, you’re so full of yourself,” Ryan joked. “Now get up or we’ll be late for school.”
“Yeah, it’s my first day after the injury and I wouldn’t want to start on the teacher’s bad side.” He paused and then added with a wink, “Care to join me in the shower?”
“Horndog.” Ryan laughed, leaving for the showers.
* * *
School had always been a fun thing for Ryan. He enjoyed the time he spent with his friends more than anything. Studies were just an added bonus, but it was the socializing that made school attractive to him.
When Josh came into his life and added his friends to Ryan’s, it made things much sweeter. There was a quantum leap in Ryan’s cheerful attitude. But during the days of Josh’s injury, the carefree Ryan became a shell of his former self. Now, though, even a blind man could see the glow that radiated from him as he walked with Josh towards their classes.
The boys were in grade eleven and their classes were towards the far end of the building. As such, it took them a good amount of time to leisurely walk to their destination. They made it just as the bell indicating the start of the first class rang.
First class, History, which was Ryan’s least favorite. The teacher was a jackass and that was evident from the first sentence that he heard when Ryan entered the classroom, Josh following him.
“So, I can see that Mr. Henderson has agreed to grace us with his presence,” Mr. Bryce sneered. He never liked the boy. He was too smart for his own good and despite his mischievousness, managed to get good grades; a fact that had the teacher royally pissed. “And fashionably late as usual,” he added as an afterthought.
Biting back a retort, Ryan let himself in and sat down on his usual seat at the back of the class, glad that the other students had left it empty. Mr. Bryce next noticed Josh enter and turned his attention on the poor boy.
“Look who decided to wake up! We thought you’d never join us Mr. Summers.”
A pointed look towards Ryan effectively shut him off. Josh wanted to deal with this man himself. “Well, I had to wake up; couldn’t take any more nightmares of a certain History teacher,” he jeered at the teacher. “Now if you may allow me, I have a class to attend.”
With a smirk planted on his face, he promptly joined Ryan and faced the blackboard, cutting out the image of a dumbfounded History teacher who stood in front of it. Mr. Bryce quickly regained his composure and silenced the snickering class.
The rest of the class went by without any incident, discounting the death glares that Mr. Bryce gave the two boys sitting at the back of his class.
Next class was English Literature and also Ryan’s favorite. He really enjoyed the class and hoped to become an author someday. Josh also liked this class being an avid debater. Today they were to do Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The boys had already read this play a long time back and were actually looking forward to reading it in class.
Ms. Sanders, the teacher, was a lovely lady. She was one of those teachers that made learning fun. Always cheerful, never reprimanding anyone and always supportive, she was poles apart from the History teacher the class had just endured. Ms. Sanders had a personality that exuded love, caring and understanding; like a mother. It was no wonder that every student liked her.
Ryan and Josh entered Ms. Sanders’ classroom expecting another reprimand for the former. No teacher was happy with him owing to the long absence from classes. Ryan braced himself for the admonishment that was to follow. Instead, he found himself being pushed aside as Ms. Sanders enveloped a baffled Josh in a hug.
“Oh honey! You’re back. Thank God you’re fine. How are you feeling? Is everything okay with you? Do you hurt anywhere? How are you…?”
“Ms. Sanders….Air!” gasped Josh. Once the teacher let him go, he looked around at the few students in embarrassment and shrugged. Looking at a now sheepish Ms. Sanders, he smiled at her, “I’m fine Ms. Sanders. Thank you for asking.”
Josh gave the sniggering Ryan a shove towards their seats and sat down with a thump. The goofy grin on Ryan’s face forced him into a smile as well. Ryan’s smile was always infectious, and Josh felt himself drawn to those brown eyes each time they lit up with it. Just as he was about to lose himself again, the sound of someone clearing their throat brought him back to reality.
“Pleeeze! Get a room!” Jessica said to the pair, sitting down in front of them and then turning back.
“Hey Jess. Wassup?” Josh asked.
“Nothing much, just got off from Wacky Williams’ class. I tell you, he can make Statistics sound like a freaking soap opera!” Jessica grumbled. Wentworth Williams was Jessica’s Economics teacher.
“At least you suffered through some drama, Josh and I had to go through Boring Bryce’s class. He started off regarding my absence and then started cussing Josh. But my boy here put him in his place,” Ryan beamed.
“It wasn’t that big,” said Josh, a little pink in the face. He knew how Jessica felt about speaking back to a teacher, and he was correct when she started berating him about his misdemeanor.
“Cut it out, Jess. Bryce was mocking Josh’s injury. And you know he deserved it,” Ryan defended.
Further bickering was cut off with the arrival of Scott, John and Mark. John sat next to Jessica while Scott and Mark took up a seat behind Ryan and Josh. Their group always sat like this, and like a ritual, John pulled Jessica’s hair-ribbon off of her hair. The fight that followed was always cut off by the sound of the teacher announcing the start of the class.
As expected, Ryan and Josh both enjoyed Julius Caesar. John and Jessica kept up their banter while Scott and Mark played tic-tac-toe during class.
Yep, life is normal again, thought Ryan.
* * *
Unknown to Ryan and St. Peter, who was keeping a watch over the former via Heaven’s Communication Centre, a mysterious, invisible figure stood outside the classroom, looking in through the window towards the black-haired boy sitting in the second-last seat.
The figure smirked to himself, satisfied with the information it had gathered and went back to where it had come from.