the pearl

The Rational World

It must have been how Lucifer felt.

The slow-but-plummeting fall, the wrench, the crash landing in an all-too-human body.

No resurrection, no life, no beginning, no end.

Just this space. This gap. This emptiness. This wrong.

He gasps as he lands, knees crunching against asphalt, air crushing into his lungs.

Like birth. Like death. All things different, all things wrong.

It's sunny. Mid-afternoon. A parking lot for a 7-11 in the middle of nowhere.

And Castiel opens his eyes in an atheist world.


Ruby has the faintest memories of her human life. Breathing, eating, fucking, shitting, a bag of meat and juices that disintegrates into nothing.

And when she lands, in her stolen bones, that flicker of memory catches, ignites inside the borrowed neurons, spreads through and out in the pulsing arteries and slams up against drum-tight skin, burning her alight inside.

She's a real girl now.

And, yet, there's something missing, something gone from her being, like a missing back molar. She prods at it, poking that empty space over and over until, finally, the emptiness forms into shape, a chalk outline in the fabric of the world.

This is a world without the divine. A world without immanence. A world with no angels, no demons, no Devil, no God.

Ruby blinks, shaking her head slightly to clear the dust and cobwebs from the recesses of this body (her body now), and looks around.

In a world without God, she discovers she's not alone.


This is what they remember:

There was a fight. There was always a fight when the Winchesters were involved. Something with a demon, or maybe an angel, or maybe just a human — it doesn't matter anymore, because, during this fight, everything changed.

Maybe Sam and Dean are still there in that weather-beaten shack, kicking rusted tin cans and cursing that Ruby and Castiel have disappeared, run off to their respective sides to gloat or commiserate or just report. Maybe they're here in this world, adapting to a life without the mystic, the magical, the unholy. Maybe they're somewhere else — somewhere better.

It doesn't matter now. What matters is this:

There was a flash of light. There was a scream. And then they were here.


Castiel sits on the asphalt, legs sprawled out like when he first fell, shell-shocked, raw, empty.

Ruby perches on a parking block, elbows on her knees, watching him, warily, waiting for his next move. She isn't sure if he realises what's happened, she isn't sure if it's happened to him as well. Perhaps she's the only one who's been cut off. Perhaps there's still the Godhead, there's still the divine, it's just poor little Ruby who can't join in the fun.

Despite Castiel sitting there, despite Ruby staring at him, life seems to be normal around them. Cars pull into the parking lot. People walk back and forth from the 7-11, hands full of junk food, beer, magazines, whatever it is that satisfies that empty space in their souls — if there are souls in this place.

Ruby keeps on tonguing that space in her mind, tracing the outline, feeling the boundaries of a godless world. There's a dull ache where it should be. Inevitable.

But ignorable.


It only takes a few more minutes before the banality of everyday life intrudes. One of the many people walking past stops, looking at them. "Are you two okay?" the woman says, looking concerned.

Ruby shrugs. "I don't know," she finally says. "Maybe?"

The woman looks at Ruby, then looks back at Castiel. "Here..." she finally says, reaching into her pock. "Get a cup of coffee or something." She reaches out towards Castiel with a few dollar bills in her hand.

Castiel reaches for the money almost unconsciously, like a baby bird knowing to lift its head for food. When the money reaches his hand, he looks at it, then lifts it up to the sun.

He stares at it for a few minutes. "In God We Trust," he whispers, his voice cracked. He drops the dollars, fingers burnt by belief.


The sun bakes and burns them until night falls. They've gained fans — kids standing in front of the 7-11 watching them warily, glittering eyes hiding underneath baseball caps.

It's nearly midnight when someone comes out of the store, stomping towards them angrily.

"You can't stay here," he says firmly. "There's a shelter down the road — go there."

Castiel looks at him confusedly. Ruby pushes herself off of the parking block and grabs Castiel's shoulder. "Sure thing," she says to the man. "No problem."

Castiel barely reacts as she lifts him up and half drags him in the direction the man pointed.

It's only when she's at the door of the shelter that she realizes it's a church.


He can't remember how to drink. Or how to eat. And he just sits there, staring at the altar.

She tries to give him food, she tries to make up for his vacant stare, she tries to fit into this world of frustration and defeat.

He blinks, suddenly, and before she can stop him, he's standing in front of the altar, standing in front of the cross. He falls to his knees, staring up towards a nonexistent god. "We are all damned..." he whispers. "All damned all damned all damned all damned all damned ALL DAMNED." His voice grows louder with each repeat, until he shrieks each word, arms stretched out in supplication. He sobs, falling down, prostrate, attempting to reach a nonexistent divine.

She walks over to him, slowly, carefully, like the slow crawl towards an injured animal. He flinches when she touches his shoulder, but relaxes after a few seconds.

"There is no damnation," she says softly. "There's no God to damn."

He shakes his head. "There is always damnation. No matter what world we're in."


She finds a job. She finds a place. She finds a life and they wander through this world, the torn edges of their divinity hardening into razor-sharp polished knives inside their skin.

He grows cynical, angry, barely-reined rage seething from under the cracked and fragile deadpan expression he still tries to keep.

She starts to laugh again. With no bitterness. No demons. She's human in a world where there are no great and powerful forces. She's human in a world of humanity, keening and shuddering its way towards completion.

This Supernatural story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at