So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24)
At first they stood impassive and immobile, like the guards outside Buckingham Palace.
But time passed, lots of time, and the expression “patience of a saint” does not apply to angels.
So the pair relaxed slightly. They took to playing games of I Spy. They had mock fights with their flaming swords, which they referred to as ‘light sabres’. They would dash from the perfect weather of the garden into the rain just outside, and return giggling. In winter they made snow angels, in both possible meanings of that phrase.
Then one afternoon, while Camael was trying to touch his tongue with the tip of one wing and Uriel was hovering, dozing in an imaginary hammock, a voice suddenly said “Hello?”
The Cherubim sprang to attention, swords outstretched. “Who goes there?” said Camael.
Gabriel appeared in front of them. “It’s me,” he said. He looked at them, a little anxiously, as if fearing that a screw-up had been made. “What are you doing here?”
“Guarding the gate,” said Camael.
“In case Adam and Eve come back,” said Uriel.
Gabriel closed his eyes briefly, his fears confirmed. “Adam and Eve are dead,” he said quietly.
“I’m not surprised,” said Camael. “It can get really cold out there, and they were wearing sod-all.”
“No,” said Gabriel, “they died of old age. You’ve been here for centuries. I’m really sorry, we, um, forgot about you.”
“Forgot?” said Uriel.
“Never mind that now,” said Camael. “You’re saying mankind is gone?”
“Oh, no, they’re still around,” said Gabriel. “Adam and Eve begat -”
Gabriel blushed, to the surprise of the others. “It’s a human thing,” he said. “You don’t want to know. Anyway, so-and-so begat such-and-such, and such-and-such begat whats-his-name, blah, blah, blah, and, well, there are millions of them now.”
“Millions?” said Uriel. “We’ll need a stronger gate.”
“Oh, they won’t come here,” said Gabriel. “After the Fall we moved some things to a different dimension, that’s how you got forgotten about. It means they can’t see the Garden here, they can’t see Heaven if they look into the sky, they can’t see Santa’s Grotto.”
Camael and Uriel looked at him in bewilderment. “Then what are we going to do?” asked Camael.
“Oh, there are lots of things for angels to do,” said Gabriel. “There’s playing the harp -”
“The harp?” snorted Camael. “It’s like musical chloroform.”
“Ok, then, there’s the Heavenly Choir,” said Gabriel.
“Sounds better,” said Uriel. “What do they sing?”
“Well,” admitted Gabriel, “their repertoire is a bit limited, it’s basically just the Hallelujah Chorus on a continuous loop.”
“Boring,” said the Cherubim in unison.
“Say the beings who’ve spent aeons watching the grass grow.”
“Worse than that,” said Camael. “Since this is Eden the grass is the perfect height, so we’ve spent aeons watching it not grow.”
“So you owe us,” said Uriel. “Think of something interesting.”
“Well, there’s the Pinheads,” said Gabriel.
“Who are they?”
“Angels who dance on the head of a pin,” said Gabriel.
“That’s a thing?” said Uriel. Gabriel nodded. “Apparently so,” he said.
“How many of them are there?”
“No-one knows,” said Gabriel.
“Sounds daft,” said Camael.
“Well, then, there are the Earth jobs,” said Gabriel. “The ones where you interact with mankind.”
“Well, messenger is one,” said Gabriel. “You arrive in a vision and tell somebody that they’re with child, or tell a load of shepherds about the birth of said child. There’s quite a big job coming up soon, actually.”
“Just the one?” asked Camael.
“Yes,” said Gabriel. “After that we’re planning to let something called ‘religion’ get our message across.”
“Well, that’s no good, then,” said Uriel. “Next.”
“There are Guardian Angels,” said Gabriel. “You basically tail a human and stop him or her walking in front of chariots.”
“Ah, the protection business,” said Camael, brightening. “Sounds more our line of work.”
“But each human just has one Guardian Angel?” asked Uriel.
Gabriel nodded, and Camael’s face fell again. He looked at Uriel, who nodded. “We want to work together,” he said.
“Been doing it for years, after all,” said Uriel. “He’s my work wife.”
Gabriel saw the look on Camael’s face and stepped in hurriedly. “I think I might have it,” he said. “We need somebody to keep undesirables out of the temples.”
“How would we do that?” asked Camael.
“Just give them some made-up reason,” said Gabriel, shrugging. “Something about their job, or something.”
“Like ‘thou shalt not enter because thou doest impart anatomically improving suggestion’?” said Camael.
“Yes,” said Gabriel, “though maybe a bit snappier.”
“No trainers,” suggested Uriel. Gabriel beamed.
They became the world’s first bouncers.