Harold let himself into his dark, lonely apartment, flicking on his single, sad lightbulb and kicking the door closed behind him. Another long, hard, useless day was finally at an end. He poured himself a generous measure of gin, because that was the liquor on sale this week at the shop he passed every day on his way home from work.
“Cheers, Jesus,” he toasted at the ceiling before tossing the drink back in one gulp. Only then did he realize that his TV was on. Only, it wasn't tuned into any channel. It was just static. He went over and gave the TV a healthy smack, which made no difference. Unless of course you counted a sudden voice calling his name a difference.
“Harold Bates. You have been chosen for a great purpose.”
“Bloody hell,” Harold murmured and looked into his empty glass of gin, half expecting to see some sort of mold there to make him hallucinate.
“You're not hallucinating,” the voice added, apparently knowing what he was thinking. Which would make sense, since the voice was inside his head. “My name is Balthazar. I'm an angel. And I need your help.”
Harold stared at the static screen for a while before shrugging. “All right, well... at least this is interesting. Something that can't be said for the rest of my life.”
“I'm afraid I don't have much time to explain further. I need to hide from the heavenly host, and to do so I need to cloak myself in your flesh, walk around in your body. Will you help me, Harold?”
“Uhm... if any of this is actually true... why me?”
“You're special, Harold,” Balthazar said. “You are one of only very few people who can help me.”
“Wow... I've never been special before,” Harold murmured.
“Believe me, you are. I know your life has not been the easiest, and if you agree to help me, I'm sorry, but it will only become more difficult.”
Harold looked around at his dreary one bedroom home, his second hand furniture, the cheap liquor on the table. No family photos, no knickknacks or post cards. Nothing to show for over forty years of living.
“Will it be exciting?” he finally asked, directing his question at the TV for lack of a better idea.
“Very. However, it will also be very uncomfortable for you.”
“But... will it be fun too sometimes?”
Balthazar hesitated. “Yes, but normally you wouldn't be able to experience it. However... if you like, I could let you look over my shoulder occasionally.”
“And otherwise I'll... what... be asleep?”
“For the most part, yes.”
“For how long?”
“I'm afraid I really have no idea, Harold,” Balthazar said, his disembodied voice regretful. “I understand if this is a bit much, and if you say no I have no choice but to accept your decision.”
“If I say no, then what?”
“Then you go on with your miserable life, and I'll probably be caught and killed by my own brothers, simply for seeking my fortune while they fight amongst themselves.”
Harold sat down in his saggy armchair and thought about it for a few minutes. The TV kept showing static, so he assumed that Balthazar was still around. Despite his certain conviction that his life was pretty much pointless, Harold believed in God. Going to church was one of the few things he did in life which felt worth doing. In fact, he'd prayed to the good Lord only last night for something, anything to break the monotony of his life, to give him the courage to change things, to help him break his dreary patterns. Maybe this was a sign.
“If you want to believe this is God's will, then I won't argue,” Balthazar supplied helpfully.
Suddenly determined, Harold looked up. “You give me your word you'll let me watch sometimes?”
“I swear it. And when this is all over, you're granted a place in heaven immediately, as a reward for your service to heaven.”
“Then sign me up,” Harold said, feeling almost dizzy with the prospect of changing his entire existence in one move.
“Harold Bates, do you consent to be my vessel?”
The apartment whited out in a sea of light as Harold felt something searing hot and immensely vast pour and fold itself into him, filling out his skin in a way he never managed himself. His very sense of self was pushed so deeply down that everything was muted and it was so very tempting to simply close his eyes and shut it all out. But this was the most interesting thing to ever happen to him, and he would not miss it for the world.
“All right in there, mate?”
That was Harold's own voice. Hell, that was even his own accent. But it was Balthazar talking with Harold's lips, rolling Harold's shoulders and shifting Harold's feet.
“I'm... fine... I think,” Harold whispered back, his voice, his very being feeling so very small.
“Excellent,” Balthazar said. “Now... let's go have an adventure, shall we?”
And just like that he snapped his fingers and then they were gone.