"--I've always thought that reincarnation made good sense. I mean, if your soul continues on after your body, it needs a new way to connect with reality. So it gets a new body, only, it'll be an animal so that it doesn't try to relive its life."
The man looked thoughtful, and then began to gaze oddly at Carl. His eyes went wide and began to quiver as he stared at Carl with a furrowed brow and a mouth split with a tongue. Carl took a step back and almost fell off the cloud.
"Are you alright there, mister?" he asked.
The man blinked. "Yes..." he murmured. "I was simply looking deep into your soul to see what animal you are meant to be."
The man continued to squint untl Carl grew rather nervous. "I don't get to choose?" he asked.
The man ignored him and then finally straightened up. "Well. There we are. I have successfully determined the true animal within you."
"Good. What am I going to be?"
"You are going to be an Acanthodoris Pilosa."
"A sea slug."
Carl stared. "I am not!" he finally croaked.
"Yes you are. You believe in reincarnation, so you must follow the rules of reincarnation. You start at the bottom of the chain and work your way up!"
"That's not my vision of reincarnation!"
"Well that's the only version available. You cannot expect to go making ripples in the world by being a talking dog."
"Well if you work your way up, then some people have got to make it to the dog!"
"Yes. But by then, they've forgotten who they are."
Carl was having a bad day. Or rather, a bad eternity. If only he could find a decent afterlife so he could leave this bothersome angel behind.
"Well..." he began.
"No," the man cut him off. "You are not going to think up another random afterlife and lie about your beliefs. Why don't you search your soul and find a real answer. Go on. Admit it to yourself. You don't believe in any afterlives whatsoever! You believe in a cold oblivion! Don't you? Don't you? I can see it in your eyes."
"Well I don't trust your vision. You were the one who looked into my soul and saw a sea slug!"
"So, I am obviously some kind of bird."
"Really? A bird?"
"Yes. I'm obviously a swallow."
"A swallow?" The man frowned. "You know...you might have something there."
"Well of course. I should think I would know my own soul better than you."
The man put his hands in the air as if shaping something invisible. "Hmm..." he said. "Let me see what you would look like as a swallow."
Carl felt a peculiar sensation run the border of his mind as he felt his consciousness being shaped into another body. But he kept himself calm and in control, so that when he did turn momentarily into a swallow, he had the sudden courage to flip his wings into action.
With a flurry of wingbeats and a sharp maneuver, he dropped from the cloud with a race of wind through his feathers! He heard the man cry out and saw a burst of white feathers sprout from the angel's shoulders, but he didn't pause. The wide open heavens must surely have a hiding place somewhere. If not, he could always go down...