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In the event that you are bitten by an angel,
immediate steps must be taken to
prevent the infection from spreading. If
the angel bites an arm or other extremity,
a tourniquet is advised to arrest
blood flow until proper treatment may
be obtained. If you are bitten on the head,
neck, or torso, it is imperative to seek
professional help immediately. (It is
recommended that the patient approach
a secular authority, as ministers, shamans,
and gurus may have divided loyalties
in the matter of angels.)

If you are unable to consult a trained
metaphysician (if, for example, the bite
occurs on a camping trip, or while deep-
sea diving, or, as so often happens, while
wandering in the desert), take as many
of the following steps as possible:

Rub a paste made of wood ash and urine
into the wound. Scour the bite marks
with sun-warmed sand. Remember your sins
in vivid detail, and whisper them into
the indentations left by the teeth. Ask
someone you despise to lick the wound.

In extreme cases, amputation may
be the only option. If so, the removed
limb should be burned before it begins
to fluoresce or attains a separate

If left untreated, angel bites often lead
to transformation. Victims may be
consumed by inner light, or melt into
a faintly honey-scented mist, or become
semi-conscious whirlwinds. Other effects,
more profound, have been reported
but not substantiated.

As always, prevention is better
than any cure. If you encounter
an angel, do not look upon its brightness.
Try not to attract its attention. Do not engage
it in philosophical debate. Stand very still
until it passes by, and the thunderous sound
of its beating wings
has entirely subsided.


Copyright © 2003 Tim Pratt

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Tim Pratt is editor of the poetry journal Star*Line and co-editor of slipstream 'zine Flytrap. He lives in Oakland, California. His previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. To contact him, email

Tim Pratt won a Hugo Award for his short fiction (and lost a Nebula and a World Fantasy Award), and his stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy, and other nice places. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife Heather Shaw and son River. For more information about him and his work, see his website. To contact him, send him email at
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