Sunday, 3 August 2008

In Viridian

The angel looked through the bars of the Faraday cage that imprisoned it at the empty workshop. It was silent, though there was a slight static crackle surrounding it at all times, right on the edge of hearing, like an untuned television in a room somewhere else in the house. Tiny little arcs of electricity constantly wrapped themselves around its body. Normally they would be invisible, but the Faraday cage contained it and raised its potential to the point where the energy had to change form in order to dissipate. Left in the cage for long enough, the angel would effectively evaporate. When this was realised, and the comparison with Hawking radiation for black-holes drawn, there had been a proposal briefly to call them Hawking Angels. That had fallen flat however, and was nothing more than an embarrassing footnote in the minutes of many Physical Society meetings.

The angel flexed its wings yet again, testing once more the limits of motion, how well the cage contained it. Fully extended, an angel's wings were like the faintest tracery of magnetic fields in the air. They reached hundreds of feet into the air, and several tens of feet either side of the angel's gaunt, glowing body. They generated enough lift to carry the angel, and they generated electric currents in any conducting object they cut through. An angel could fly through a city as street level and not physically touch a single building, but the wind of its passage left static discharges and lethal currents wherever it blew. While angels walked our earth, people died in epidemic numbers.

The angel settled down again, seeming to wait. There was a soft fluorescence around its eyes that might have been tears, or might have been some natural angelic function. Even at rest it glowed slightly too brightly to look at. People had attempted to view them through smoked glasses and optics designed for watching solar eclipses, but this annoyed the angels and brought a rain of lightning down on those who so dared. Trapped in a Faraday cage, there was at last the chance to see what an angel really was.

In an adjacent room, a young lad with a confident swagger, a broad Essex accent, and a silver shell-suit grinned cheekily, and laid a sun-bed-tanned hand on the doorhandle that led to the room holding the Faraday cage that housed the angel. He had figured out how to trap it by accident, but now he intended to make a name for himself by studying it. His hand tightened on the door handle, and he pulled the door open.

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