“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” – that’s my favorite thing in the Bible. The verse is Exodus 23:2 if you want to look it up. I always thought the Commandments would have been better if they included that one, instead of railing on about god and Saturday. But what I really want to talk about is my least favorite thing in the Bible. All the way in the back of the book Mathew says – “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” That’s a mouthful for us in the new century but the meaning is easy: Poor people have holes in their pockets and rich people have funnels in their gullets. Continue reading “People Should Have More Than Zero Talents”
Here’s what I think is a likely chronology of Jim’s experiences so far, and the corresponding theological/philosophical difficulties he fails to resolve:
1. Entry into Paradise, blowjob from the devil, and Truth card (1 Truth Road – except for the 1 Truth Road part)
- – If I get everything I want, how do I know it’s real?
– Is this Heaven or Hell? What’s the difference?
2. Orgy and drug-induced infinity orgasm, pushing Einstein out of the universe (Infinite Orgy)
- – How big is existence?
3. Hangover at angel’s house, “Why is there human suffering?”, trial at the Court of Existentialism and Shakespeare’s defense (Jim v Logic)
- – Why do people suffer?
4. Identity crisis and the Frankenmasque, Hemmingway’s pep talk (Crashing the Frankenmasque)
- – Who am I?
5. Rolling Einstein’s dice for Cleopatra, losing to Bogart (The Face that Employed a Thousand Angels)
- – Fate vs Chance – Destiny or Dice?
6. Golfing with Hitler and a lesson in free will from Plato (The Freewillin Jim)
- – Free will and moral responsibility
7. Depression, a kick in the pants from Sir Shackleton, Cobain’s renewal and the peak of Olympus. (I Hate Myself and I Can’t Die)
- – Like, what’s the point, man?
8. Atomic ejaculate and war in heaven (The Devil’s Peace)
- – Picking your poison: Religious absurdity, morose atheism, wtf science
Here’s a picture:
I figure Paradise is the triangle, and the circles are incomplete pieces knowledge Jim picks up on his adventures. He’d love to fill that sucker with red, but the geometry of the place just won’t let him do it, and the black spaces are driving him loony. The more circles he wedges in there, the more apparent it becomes that he’ll never fill it up, the more that Truth Card burns a hole in his pocket.
Basically, that first question he asks in 1 Truth Road forms the outline of what looks like an easily measured triangle, but Paradise gives him nothing but fucking circles.
At any rate, I look forward to filling in 9, 10, 11, 12, however many more it takes. We all pretty much know what goes down at 1 Truth Road, but we still gotta get there, right?
The angel at the docks pointed north and Jim thanked her for the canoe. He rowed for an hour and came to a place where the lake became narrow and snaked between roots and rocks. It opened up into a silent cove. The water looked like a block of metal reflecting the sky, and in the middle of it a small man fished from a wooden raft.
Jim paddled up to him.
“Uh, Mr. Christ?”
The man didn’t move. He sat on his wooden raft with his wooden fishing pole in both hands. He looked at the water.
“I’m sorry to bother you, Mr. Christ,” Jim said. “I know you’re retired.”
“I’ve been fishing this spot for three hundred years,” the man said. “Three hundred years, and I haven’t caught a single fish.”
“That sucks,” Jim said.
“If a man casts his pole into a fishless pond, does he deserve to eat?”
Jim had been a long time getting here and he was pretty tired and a little angry. “I’ll be completely honest with you, Mr. Christ, I don’t give a shit and I’m not sorry about it,” he said. “Your followers are ripping Paradise apart, and you’re out here fishing.”
“Josh,” the man said.
“Josh?” Jim knew a Josh back in Tennessee. He was an old drunk with brown teeth and a lazy eye. “Alright, Josh. I’m Jim.”
“I’m glad to meet you, Jim,” said Josh. “But the politics of Paradise no longer interest me.”
“The fuck they don’t!” Jim said. Then he realized he just said fuck at Jesus – or Josh – and he pulled back. “Sorry, maybe that’s not called for. But you’re the guy at the center of the whole thing. They’re all fighting for different versions of you.”
“No they aren’t.”
“Yes they are.”
“Goddammit they are!”
“People would rather die for the things they can’t see, than live with the ones they can,” said Josh. “One look at me, and they’ll just go die for something else.”
“That’s the problem. Nobody’s dying,” Jim said. “And isn’t that why you died?”
Josh laughed. It was a deep one from the gut.
“Well I’m glad you think it’s funny.”
“Give it a few thousand years and it will be,” Josh said. “I told her those barriers were a bad idea. What finally brought them down?”
“It’s not important,” Jim said. “They’re down and nobody is special anymore and they’re pissed off about it. I came here to convince you to talk to them.”
“What did you do in life?”
“What work did you do? How did you eat?”
“Well, I don’t know, I just worked. Welding was good money. I did some roofing and drywalling. I don’t follow you.”
“We are not so different,” Josh said. “I also just worked. Mending ploughs, building houses. I even did some roofing.” He paused and looked Jim in the eye for the first time. “Would you give another man the road because he had clean hands? Would you accept the sting of his whip because you didn’t give it fast enough?”
Jim cringed. This was the rubbery shit that kept him away from church.
“No,” he said. “I’d pull him off his horse and beat him to hell.”
“Well, we had hammers and empty stomachs, and the Romans had armor and swords. They were chosen by many colorful gods and we were slaves to a black one. So one day, after three Roman soldiers raped and killed a friend of mine, I stood on a crate and said, I am a son of God.”
Jim followed Josh’s gaze. The fishing line disappeared into the plate surface of the water. He expected the line to jerk at any moment, and Josh to finally catch his fish, but the surface never broke.
“Between the Aramaic of the people,” Josh said, “and the Hebrew of the scholars, and the Greek of the Romans, the a became a the. Articles don’t translate so well. I became the son of God, and a few years later the fuckers nailed me to a cross.”
It was Jim’s turn to laugh. He nearly capsized.
“I’m glad you think it’s funny,” Josh said.
“The Articles of Faith!” Jim said. “I get it now.”
“I can’t help you.”
“Seriously though, you’ve got to give me something. I came a long way.”
“You said you were a roofer. The firmament is a roof.”
“There’s war in Paradise because the devil lied, and now that the lie is broken the advice of Jesus Christ is that I board it up?”
“My name is Josh,” Josh said.
Jim was at the edge of the cove and still shaking his head when Josh called out some parting words.
“Jim! Before you cast off, make sure there’s fish!”
With a bag full of nails, a good hammer, and planks of wood donated by the Presbyterian Church of Canada, Jim went to work. One nail, one board at a time. He started where the crack in the firmament met the ground and worked his way up. He doubted that Josh’s advice had been sincere, but he didn’t care. It felt good to work. Hell, maybe that was the point.
He worked for a long time. Days, weeks, a year. Hundreds of boards and thousands of nails. He didn’t eat and he didn’t sleep. He didn’t look up because it discouraged him, he didn’t look down because he didn’t care for heights. He looked at his hands and the place where the hammer met the nail.
Beneath him the strange sound of a strange war pushed him upward.
But one day the hammer broke and he looked around. He was a mile high over a shredded wonderland. His labor trailed behind him like a dead rainbow. He looked up and saw that he had the whole sky to go.
“I don’t think this is going to work,” he said.
A friendly and wise old face popped in through the crack in the firmament. Wild hair and the blaze of intelligence.
“You goddamn crazy hillbilly!” Einstein said. “You can’t fix the sky with wood!”
“Yeah, well your dice didn’t work for shit, either.”
Einstein barked a laugh and pulled himself up and mounted the firmament like a horse.
“I’ll make it make it up to you.”
“This breach is distorting my antiverse, too. And I think I’ve figured a way to patch it.”
“Do you remember when you pushed me, Jim? The power of thought and the expansion of Paradise? Well, it turns out that thought travels through the vacuum at exactly the speed of light. This isn’t too surprising, but it gives rise to some wacky results, the most obvious of which is most pertinent. The object of thought is immediately real, but our experience of it is delayed by the intervening distance over c. Everything we dream up exists for a substantial amount of time before we can even see it.”
Jim understood none of it. “I think I preferred Jesus,” he said.
“Anyway, I’ve examined what’s left of these barriers, and I believe I understand their function. They refract the light as it returns from the object of thought, and whoever originated the thought receives only the frequencies and colors that satisfy the preconceptions of the original. Unwanted information is essentially filtered out, scattered like a prism. It’s simple and ingenious, but I believe I can improve upon it.”
“Listen, I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I’m at the end of the line here,” Jim said. “You’re talking to me because you think you can fix this thing but you need an extra pair of hands. Well, hands are the only fucking thing I got. Give them something to do. I’ll do it.”
“It’s the particles, Jim,” Einstein said, “They’re goddamn crazier than you are.” He poked wild holes in the air with his index fingers. “As soon as you know where one is, it’s somewhere else, in from the wrong direction and out at unknown speeds. We need to make waves, Jim. Waves!” He made waves with his arms. “Wonderful predictable waves!”
“I don’t know how to make waves,” Jim said.
“I’m going to implode the dark star behind me and send out a wave of anti charm-quarks,” Einstein said. “And along this breach I’ll shoot a hyper-frequency energy beam. The energy in the beam must be concentrated in waves. Any particles will rip the guts out of the anti charm-quarks. That’s where you come in.”
“Of course it is.”
“We need a distraction.”
“You want me to distract the particles?”
“The people, the war, you need to distract all potential observers. Matter and energy come in waves until a somebody takes a look, then they freak out and have a particle party. If a single person down there looks up at the energy beam, its waves will particulize and the jig’s up.”
“Are you fucking with me?”
“Take this walkie-talkie. Contact me when the distraction is in play.”
“You’re fucking with me.”
“I didn’t believe it until I was dead,” Einstein said, slipping back into the antiverse. “Do you know the difference between science and religion, Jim?”
“Results! Get me that distraction, and I’ll get us a barrier.”
Jim did his best to explain the situation. He left out the part about his atomic ejaculate and failed at explaining particle/wave duality, but he got the important stuff. The firmament had cracked, and fixing it required the distraction of a billion warring Christians.
“I won’t do it,” Hitler said.
“Oh come on,” Jim said.
“It is not a good idea.”
Hitler sat in a soft leather recliner. His pineapple pina colada had a pink umbrella. Some true crime novels lay on the table. It looked like vacation, but his fists were clenched on the armrests and his eyes were pale and serious.
“I am relaxed now,” Hitler said. “I golf. I tell jokes. I read interesting articles.”
“You don’t look relaxed.”
“I am learning.”
Jim looked at his hands. Why couldn’t he just do something with his hands?
“You instigated the biggest war in history,” he said.
“And maybe up here you don’t get any credit, but like a hundred million people died.”
“There was a lot of death.”
“I bet a lot of them still think you’re kind of a prick.”
Hitler pounded his fist on the table and spilled his pineapple pina colada.
“I am given neither the recognition of my conquest nor the forgiveness of the conquered!” he said. “It isn’t fair!”
“Well then let’s flip it on them,” Jim said. “Go out there, talk some shit with that silver Nazi tongue, and save the fucking day!”
“Just give me a microphone,” he said. “I will unite the birds against the sky.”
Einstein. Einstein. Are you there?
Jim! I am in orbit around the dark star. The apparatus is fully operational. Is the distraction in play?
It’s ready, but it might take some time.
After detonation, it will take two minutes for the anti charm-quark wave to reach the energy beam. Not a single person can witness it. No observers! Our timing must be perfect.
Do not detonate until I give the word. I repeat, Do not detonate.
What is the distraction? Fireworks? A John Wayne movie?
Uh, well, not exactly. Would that have worked?
Anything that draws the eye. We only need a picosecond. What is in play?
I went with Hitler.
What?! You goddamn crazy hillbilly!
Hitler stood on the shoulders of a smirking angel. He tapped the microphone, and the thud echoed through the sound system of Paradise. There was a wang of feedback and he cleared his throat.
“The – enemy – is –not – here!” he said. He said it several more times, until some of the fighting around him stopped and he had a small audience.
Jim watched from a safe distance, binoculars in one hand and Einstein’s walkie talkie in the other. The small audience became a fashionable one in a matter of minutes. Mostly Orthodox, but some Anglicans and even Lutherans looked on with interest. At first they seemed mildly amused, glad for a break from the war. But Hitler spoke with a hard rhythm and punctuated with his fists and pretty soon they were punctuating with him.
Hitler really deserves some credit for all that death, Jim thought.
When the Catholics came the sounds of war stopped. They outnumbered the others by far. Methodists, Baptists, Mormons, Presbyterians, Evangelists, Congregationalists, Pentecostalists – all dwarfed by the Catholic hoard. Billions surrounded Hitler, high on the shoulders of the smirking angel.
The Presbyterian Church of Canada was the last to arrive. They brought enough cake for everyone.
Hitler had yet to say anything of substance. Given the full attention of every Christian in Paradise he drew in a breath and cracked his knuckles. A second smirking angel came down from the sky bearing an empty canvas. Hitler raised a brush and rounded out his speech.
“The – enemy – is – not – here! There is – another – barrier! The enemy – lies – in wait! I – will bring – the enemy – to us! I – will paint – Mohammed!”
“Oh shit,” Jim said.
Einstein! Now! Fire! Fire!
What’s happening down there?
Hitler is painting Mohammed! I don’t know jack shit about Islam, but you don’t fucking paint Mohammed.
Dammit, hillbilly. Elvis, you could have called up Elvis. Alright, we have detonation. Two minutes to arrival.
Can you make it go faster?
Anti charm-quarks do not have a gas pedal.
He’s got the outline of the face.
One minute, forty seconds.
Is that a nose? I think it’s a nose.
And thirty seconds.
You know, he’s pretty good. It’s kind of sad how good he is.
And fifteen seconds.
The lips are taking shape.
One minute remaining to impact. Is the distraction complete? A single observer, Jim! A single eye looking up and the waves of the energy beam will collapse!
Nobody’s turning away from this shit. He’s working on the eyes.
The eyes are fucking brilliant. I almost want him to finish. It’s like, they’re looking through me, man.
Twenty seconds. Jim, if this works, there will be an immense burst of light. Following the burst –
He’s on the ears. All he’s got left is ears. I think he’s going to do it. Holy fuck!
Jim? Jim, come in! Jim, did it work? Damn you hillbilly, what’s going on down there?
I’m – I’m here.
Did it work?
Well, Hitler finished his painting and the whole nation of Islam blitzed in from a new breach. But I think it worked. There was a huge burst of light. Something’s weird though.
What is it? Can they see each other? They should not be able to see each other.
It’s like, the opposite.
Sonofabitch. A million pole dancers in Paradise, and you give Hitler a paintbrush.
No, it’s awesome. We can see each other’s thoughts. I can’t explain it, but . . . I don’t know, it’s like we’re all looking inside each other, but on the outside. And it’s fucking crazy because we’re all thinking the same things. Wait, no, there’s some Mormons thinking something different. Everybody’s looking at them. Oh man they’re super embarrassed. I can feel it, it’s horrible. And we’re empathizing . . . alright, they’re cool. Yeah, turns out we all think the same shit. It just got real friendly down here.
Jim found Lucy on a low-hanging cloud. She was all Lucy now and there were bags under her eyes. Jim said nothing and stood beside her.
The throng of all religions was peaceful but stirring. The spectacle of oneness had lost its charm, and it looked like they might start to go at it again.
Then it began to rain fish.
“Are you doing that?” Jim said.
“Nope,” Lucy said.
Jim pulled out the walkie talkie.
“Einstein, it’s raining fish.”
“Is that some kind of hillbilly riddle?”
“No, it’s raining fish. Does that have anything to do with the energy beam?”
“Well, in theory, if enough neutrinos from the antiverse run up against the quark barrier with sufficient simultaneity, any number of strange physical phenomena could be localized there. Fish rain is a bizarre, but possible, outcome.”
The fish fell and fell. Big juicy happy fish. Children played with them, waving the fish around like swords and beating each other silly. Many of the fish were cooked and eaten. Some of the fish landed in water and were fished again. And the fish kept falling. There were rivers and pools that were nothing but floppy and happy fish. The fish were knee high in some places and waist high in others. Grown men made fish angels and fish snowmen and competed at fish throwing and fish juggling and some of them even tried to sell the fish.
Where oneness by itself fell short of peace, the rain of countless fish fell long of war.
“You know what Jesus said to me?” Jim said.
Lucy stopped him with a hand.
“I don’t care,” she said. “I just need a drink.”
This is Christopher Hitchens, reporting dead from the godless soup of eternity. Approximately ten hours ago – ten hours relative to what remains unclear – the atomic ejaculate of a Tennessee man cracked the Christian firmaments and the myriad zealots of Christ are swarming. The nest has been stirred, comrades and friends, and they’ve taken to the clouds with Bible, fist, and tongue. The Bible, one supposes, is for bludgeoning; the fist is a reminder – a rather pedestrian one – of the glory of the ever-vacationing Jehovah; and the purpose of the Christian tongue remains scientifically mysterious. If it’s on your bucket list – as impossible as such a list may seem in this Cartesian infinity – but if you have one, and it includes proselytization or purification, catechism or communion, inculcation or inquisition, this is the place to be.
And I have the dubious honor of interviewing the man that frenzied these ridiculous sheep – these hairless and sadomasochistic and sexually inverted apes. Jim, thanks for dropping in.
Yeah. No problem.
You look pretty good for the epicenter of a holy war.
Do you have a god in the race, Jim?
No. I was never religious. My aunt was a Baptist though. I wouldn’t bet on the Baptists.
To bet on any particular sect of this deranged cult, of this outdated menagerie of demagogues and faith-mongers – it’s a bet on a lame horse. A dead horse. A dead lame and plaintive horse. Only the religious would make it.
I guess they might. Or they do.
I have it here that you were even present for the diplomacies.
Well? Perhaps you could give us the upshot.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, man.
Give us the old college try.
Alright, well uh . . . The devil – or, the woman that introduced herself as the devil – she’s transgender – she came to me in tears and said me and Cherry brought down the barrier. Evidently the angels put up this barrier so the different kinds of Christians couldn’t see each other. That’s part of their Paradise, I guess, is knowing they’re the ones that got it right. Cherry’s the girl I’m seeing, by the way. As far as you can see a girl around here, I guess. Anyway, we had this epic fifteen-rounder and blasted a hole in the, uh – what did you call it? The firmament. So the barrier came down. Lucy – that’s the devil’s name, short for Lucifer – she tells me I broke it so I’ve got to help fix it. Only out of nowhere she turns into Gabriella because these Christians won’t do any deals with the devil. So I’m like, Well what the hell, are you the devil or some kind of angel? She won’t say. It’s all part of the Truth, I guess. Well, we get up to the cloud and Gabriella gives these Christians the bad news. You know, that we’re all just kind of here and there’s a lot of relativism going around. What did she say? She said we’ve got a whole ocean to swim around in and everybody wants to fight over a drop. And that totally floored me – I never thought of it like that before. And it went right past these guys. I couldn’t believe it. Like she laid it right out. Then the Protestant dude found out Pope John Twenty was a counting error and it all went to hell.
What an utterly useless response. If it was of any importance I’d call it tragic. To those of you still with us, I salute your resilience and I’m humbled by your endurance. I’ll try to reward it with a retelling – with an editorial – worthy of the auditory canals. Though I doubt the irony can be missed by anybody, there are some important subtleties that I think might escape the first glance. It’s fairly well established – the one-two punch of sexual repression and deviancy that infests the institutions of religion – Hey! You can’t come in here! I’m a journalist! We’re protected under international –
The Anglican sheathed his sword, apologized to Jim for the intrusion, and departed. Christopher’s head lay on the desk next to a decanter of red wine and a half-empty glass. His body lay crumpled on the floor.
“I’m under the impression he hasn’t read the articles of the Geneva Convention,” the head said.
Outside the clangs and bangs of war were getting louder. It sounded like some cavalry charging into modern artillery. Jim watched the journalist’s head biting at the stem of the wine glass, and he realized that nobody was going to die up here.
“Are they going to fight forever?” he said.
“Oh, I’m sure they’ll come to an agreement before eternity’s end,” said Christopher’s head. “Even the religious can’t escape the strangeness of infinity. If it can happen, it will.” He curled his tongue around the stem, yawed back and forth and then gave up. “Do me a favor?”
Jim picked up the glass and poured some of the wine into Christopher’s waiting mouth.
“Why can’t they all just be special together?” Jim said.
“The war of the ages is being fought all around me, and I’m trapped in a windowless room with an autistic pacifist,” Christopher said. “Let me try it this way. We’re pattern-seekers, Jim. Nothing thrills us more than the seventh note of a scale followed by the eighth. It’s coded into our genetics through a hundred thousand years of evolution and survival. To understand is to bring order to chaos, and there is no order here. And in the absence of order the reptilian brain will invent one, and it will smash a million square pegs through the proverbial round hole to maintain it. You’re simple so I’ll put even more plainly: These men invented God that they might shovel all their doubts up his ass, and your coital nuke stabbed Him in the guts and now it’s raining shit.”
“Well, help me out then. Because what you just laid out sounds like a pattern.”
“Some patterns exist. One example of false pattern recognition doesn’t convict the thought processes of the entire species.”
“You’re an atheist.”
“So where do the angels fit? This place? An atheist in Paradise is a contradiction.”
“I have certain suspicions in that regard. The ever-expanding thought-reality of this place is reminiscent of Lewis – Hell is a state of mind – I’m sure even you’ve heard that before. This freedom-loving devil sounds an awful lot like she walked out of the pages of Paradise Lost, and all this gallivanting around with dead celebrities is straight out of the pages of Dante. Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. I scarcely need to mention the central conflict, this Paradise-sans-Truth tension, a trope as old and quaint as Eden. Throw in the haphazard philosophizing, the hipster pseudo-irony and the cheap jokes – It’s almost as if some publicly educated and unemployed ass is having literary spasms.”
Christopher looked directly at me and I blushed. I looked down at my keyboard and traced the lines of the letters with my eyes and considered all the words I’d ever typed and wondered why I bothered. I stepped outside and smoked a cigarette while I watched the squirrels climbing through the trees. I poured myself another coffee. I thought about quitting. I decided not to, and when I returned I fully expected to martyr myself on the edges of Christopher’s rhetoric. Thankfully, by the time I sat down he had already moved on.
“As for the angels,” he said, “If apes can graduate, so too can men. It would be a cosmic travesty if we were evolution’s end.”
“So everybody’s got a pattern for everything,” Jim said. He stole a drink from the glass and nearly spit it back out. “Ugh, that’s bitter.”
“It’s bitter.” He set the glass down. “So what do we do? Nothing?”
“Carry me,” Christopher said.
“I don’t need a body to give these demagogues what-for. Even the invicted heart draws blood from the brain. Reason, Jim! We’ll divest them of these superstitions with reason, with the dynamics of logic and argument. From the mud to the clouds and beyond the stars, we scour the fields of battle with the ink of a thousand years of secular thought. Carry me, Jim! I’ll eat in Paradise what I merely disdained on Earth.”
Jim squatted and looked into Christopher’s eyes. “I don’t think it’ll work,” Jim said.
“I’d rather not.” He stood and made for the door.
“Jim! What humanity lost through submission it will win back with irony! Mark those words, Jim. One day!”
Jim wandered. Feats of violence and insanity surrounded him. He saw the pointy hat of a bishop wobbling in the hatch of a Sherman tank, rolling at the head of a legion armed with shovels and pitchforks. Why, from the unbounded armories of Paradise, would a man choose a shovel? Jim didn’t even bother himself with it. Great volleys of arrows were exchanged between the clouds and artillery shells whistled and cut open the hills. Angels kept a loose perimeter on the ground and in the sky. Some of them appeared confused and sincerely concerned, but most were pointing and laughing and having a pretty good time.
The crack in the firmament hung over the war and glowed inversely.
He came to a place between three hills, sheltered by trees and a river. It was open and flat and filled with thousands of peaceful people. They sat in groups and talked and nibbled. A few walked about and handed out pamphlets. A middle-aged woman in a conservative summer dress met him as he entered.
“Welcome,” she said.
“What is this place?” Jim said. “There’s a war going on, you know.”
“Well, we are the Presbyterian Church of Canada, and we’d much rather have a picnic,” she said. “Would you like some juice or some coffee? There will be some cake and cookies afterwards. I could introduce you to some boys – oh excuse me. Men. You aren’t boys anymore, are you? My son is about your age.”
“Afterwards of what?” Jim said. He made his suspicions known with a squint.
“Oh, we have a very special speaker.” She leaned in and spoke confidentially, “It’s top secret, but I’ll give you a hint. His name is John Calvin.”
The name didn’t mean anything to Jim, but he thought he better act impressed. “Holy buckets,” he said. He retained the squint.
“The holiest,” she said. “Can I bring you to my son? The two of you will get on just great.”
She led him to a small group that stood at the edge of the gathering. She introduced them and Jim introduced himself and she left. Her son had a thick shoulders and a good handshake and he wasn’t wearing a vest. Jim liked him, and the liking intensified his suspicions.
“So Jim,” Michael said, “Are you looking to buy something or just hiding from the weather?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, do you have any interest in becoming a Presbyterian?”
“Oh, well, not really. I’m not very religious.”
“That’s quite alright, Jim. No worries, really. You know, I’ve got this theory about Jesus. Don’t shove Him down anybody’s throat, and He won’t fly out of anybody’s ass.” He slapped Jim on the shoulder. “Are you alright? Looks like you’ve got something in your eye.”
Jim had squinted his face into a walnut. He relaxed it a little. “You seem alright,” he said.
When John Calvin arrived he elevated himself on a tree stump and the talking and nibbling came to a polite pause. He spoke for twenty minutes. He condemned the war but not those who fought in it. He asked everyone to pray for their misguided brothers and sisters. He spoke simply and eloquently about the difficulties of moral absolutes and the strangeness of infinity. As he neared the end of his speech, and he said there remained but one theological problem to resolve, Jim was hanging on his words.
Maybe I’m a Presbyterian, Jim thought. He was squintless.
“As we know,” John Calvin said, “God in His wisdom and His mercy has granted Grace Everlasting to some of us, and Damnation to others. We are all mortally bound to the Original Sin and we share equally the depravity of the Human Condition, and His choice has nothing to do with our little world, and everything to do with His mercy. The difficulty we face, following the crack in the Firmament – ”
“ – is that everyone is now in Paradise. It has been established theologically that this is not the will of the Creator, and something must be done.
“Lacking the authority to deliver Damnation, and being naturally opposed to it for the frailty of our Condition, there is but one path to Reconciliation with God. Half of our number must sit uncomfortably in chilled buckets of water until the Firmament is mended. We shall make this sacrifice in shifts not less than twelve and not exceeding forty days. And if there any anemics here, or any other persons ill-disposed to chilled buckets of water, please give your name to Mrs. Roy at the front desk. We thank God for His Patience and for giving us this Wisdom. Amen.”
Michael stopped Jim at the exit.
“Jim! At least stay and finish the cake. There’s a whole half left!”
“It’s too sweet,” Jim said.
She sat in a mortar hole, her back against the charred and blasted ground. Light played across her through the branches of a broken tree. She was Gabriella where the light touched her, and Lucy in the shade.
“They love this war,” she said.
Jim sat down next to her. The ground was still warm from the explosion.
“They love it more than the lie. They will never stop fighting.”
“I think the ones that aren’t fighting scare me the most,” Jim said. “You know, I swear there’s a guy that could set everybody straight.”
“I made a promise,” she said.
The ground shook beneath sound of faraway devastation. There were shouts, and someone blew a battle horn that belonged in a fantasy novel.
“How long can the angels contain it?”
“Not forever,” she said. She turned to him, and the light made a diagonal cut through her face. A sad eye for the angel and fury in the devil’s. “What do I do, Jim? Break a promise made to a friend, or let this war of fools consume Paradise?”
Jim sighed like a blowfish and shrugged.
With the painted fingers of the devil she pulled from the angel’s pocket a folded and tattered paper, yellowed with age. She handed it to Jim and he unfolded it. It was a map of Paradise, marked neatly with triangle mountains, curving rivers, loops for clouds, dotted cities. Left of center was scrawled an X, with the caption, Christ be here.
“Well, that settles it then,” Jim said, standing. “It’s time to find Jesus.”
It was my intention to keep this blog strictly fiction, every inch of content nothing but stories. But the more I look into this world of blogs the more it seems like kind of a silly and unrealistic goal. I think it’s alright if this one is mostly stories.
First, I want to thank everybody that’s been stopping by to read the Jim series. Getting around 40 visitors every day, which is infinitely more than zero and plenty to keep me going. Considering the saturation of the blog-sphere and the fiction markets it’s amazing that anybody is finding this place at all. And a few of you are actually bothering to read this. And I think that’s kinda neat.
Second, there’s a possible short film in the making that’s based on the 1 Truth Road story. The project is in the preliminary stages, and it’s a coin flip as to whether it gets made, but when they sent me this poster I just had to share it with you guys:
Obviously, the working title of the film is Limbo. I like it because it’s direct, and people can grab it and know what they’re getting into. (Well, aside from the transgender devil and the chicken wing orgasms.) I don’t like it because it seems very Catholic. What do you guys think?
Last, there will definitely be an illustrated Jim novella when all is said and done. I started blogging Jim because I wanted to throw shit at the wall and see what stuck, and I’m pretty close to having the central story and character built. It will be months before it happens, but it will happen.
So, with some luck this dead guy from Tennessee will get himself a movie and a book in the coming months. Which ain’t so bad. At any rate, The Devil’s Peace Parts 2 and 3 will get posted soon.
Thanks for reading.
Jim stood and stretched. The house was gone and the Paradise around them was flat and gray. Above them the mushroom cloud looked like an inverse tornado. He looked at his penis.
“How many megatons do you think that was?” Jim said.
Cherry lay on her back, nearly comatose.
“A lot,” she said. Her breasts were pink beneath the fallout. If she ever moved again, there would be an imprint of an angel in the ashes.
“Do you ever feel like we’re overdoing it?” Jim said.
Cherry didn’t answer. Jim caught a flake of ash in his palm and watched it dissolve.
Out over the flatness a jagged light broke the sky. It was bright and Jim shielded his eyes. A tremor swam through the ground.
“Are you there?”
“What was that?”
“It wasn’t me.”
Then the air shimmered and warbled and out of the hole walked the devil. Jim thought at first that the face was painted, but it was mascara. She was weeping.
“They are so cruel to me,” she said. “Why are they so cruel? What have I ever done but give them freedom and happiness? By what rights do they accuse me? I work – so – hard – ”
Her voice quivered and her hands shook. There was rage beneath the sadness.
Jim had always been terrified of emotional women, and this one was the devil. He gulped and looked to Cherry for help but she was glazed and dumb.
“What happened?” he said.
Lucy walked at him. Jim thought it was all over, that he’d pissed off the devil and hell had found him at last. Instead, she buried her face in his neck and cried.
“What am I going to do?” she said. “What can I do, Jim? The barrier is broken. There will be war. I hate the wars of men. It’s the blood, I can’t stand it.”
Jim held her and let her cry. “It’s okay,” he said.
“I give and I give and I give and it’s never enough or maybe it’s too much I don’t know I just work so hard and now everybody’s going to hate me. They’re going to hate me and all I ever did was give them everything they ever wanted and they won’t stop until it’s all gone everything I worked for,” she said into his neck.
He patted her back and said shhhh.
Another tremor rolled through and the jagged light flared above the bleakness.
“What did I do?” he said.
Lucy pulled her face from his neck and set her eyes into his. They were beautiful and timeless and bleary. Her hand on his cheek put warmth in his bones.
“Jim,” she said. “So reckless and innocent.”
He kissed her. It was reflex. When it was over Lucy laughed and wiped some of the mascara from her eyes.
“I’m quite the devil, aren’t I?”
“You’re a beautiful devil.”
“And you’re very sweet.”
“Did I really break Paradise?”
“Paradise is yours to break.”
“Ughh,” Cherry said. “Get a fucking room.”
The rebuke stabbed Lucy in the chest. She looked staggered. She closed her eyes, took a breath, and opened different ones. “She’s right,” she said.
Her transformation was swift and Jim stood looking at a professional and determined woman in white heels, skirt, and blazer. And he was covered in a suit and tie. He made a question mark with his face.
“You’re going to help me fix this,” she said.
“I still don’t understand what’s broken.”
“With the barrier down, the Christians can see each other.”
That didn’t make enough sense to Jim. He furrowed the question mark.
“They needed to gloat, so I let them gloat,” she said. “They were all very special until about ten minutes ago, and they will not like this equality.”
Jim looked at his tie. He flopped it around. “I don’t know,” he said. “This sounds like a job for Jesus.”
“You’re about to find out.”
A shimmer and a warble and the air opened up. Lucy checked her complexion in a pocket mirror.
“And Jim, they know me as Gabriella. Say nothing about the devil.”
“Okay. Wait. Which are you?”
Her smile was coy. They went through the hole.
The cloud was furnished with a round table and some chairs and an 18th century neoclassical Venetian chandelier. In the chairs sat Martin Luther, Pope John XX, King Henry VIII, Saint Paul, and Joseph Smith. Gabriella claimed the final chair and Jim stood behind her.
“Thank you for coming,” Gabriella said. Her white blazer glimmered. “You are all aware of this by now, but I will say it plainly so there is no mistake. Everybody goes to heaven, and heaven is uniformly wonderful.”
There was some silence. King Henry coughed but his heart wasn’t in it. Martin Luther stood.
“Let me be the first to welcome this news, and to praise God in His mercy and His wisdom. It brings joy to my heart that the entirety of the human spirit is given this plane to thrive upon. I have ever contended for a democratic eternity, tempered by the dominion of a merciful Master, and all Protestants glory in this new brotherhood.”
Luther retrieved a stack of papers from under his seat and thudded them on the table. They were a foot high.
“And I formally submit this petition, signed by one hundred millions, demanding that the Catholics be evicted immediately.”
“Hurrrrr hurrrrr hurrr,” said Pope John XX. “One hundred millions. Hurrrr hurrr hurrr.”
“They are honest millions!” Luther said. “I would take any individual among them against all of your corrupted legions!”
Gabriella accepted the petition and coaxed Luther back into his seat. She informed him that there would be no evictions.
“Everybody goes to heaven,” she said again. “It was decided a long time ago that Earth is a hard place with an obstructed view, and it’s unfair to expect people to get anything right. If entry were contingent upon rightness, the place would be empty. Every one of you is here because none of you are right.”
“Proverbs thirteen verse three,” Saint Paul said. Arms folded, head bowed. “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life; but he that openeth his lips shall have destruction.”
“Very good, Paul,” Gabriella said. She threw him a treat and he ate it. “It may have been a mistake to veil this relativism. It may be that the orders of angels have purchased your happiness with an awful hubris. But the barriers were built and you were given your time to gloat. That time is finished. Now that you see one another you have two options: Join together and celebrate your failures, or fight for nothing.”
“Hubris,” said the Pope. “Hurrr hurrrr hurrrr.”
“This man cannot be retained in heaven! King Henry, surely you have no love for these vicars.”
“Ay, these wonky twats been on the piss for yonks,” King Henry said. “All smart for God but they go arse over tit for an Irish penny. Never been a Pope that didn’t beggar the poor cunts that fagged around for him. Give England a sword if it’s a buggered Pope that stiffs you.”
“It means ay. Fuck Rome.”
“Hurrr hurrr hurrrrrrr.”
It was the first word to come out of Joseph Smith’s mouth. All eyes snapped to him.
“There is no Pope John Twenty,” he said. He stood and brandished a tablet. “It says right here on Wikipedia. There is a Pope John Nineteen, and a Pope John Twenty-one, but due to an accounting error they skipped John Twenty!”
“Ha!” King Henry pounded the table with his fist. “Counting Popes is a mug’s game, any road. Can’t build a cathedral with holy bell-ends. Fuck the Popes, count the shillings! Yaa haa harr!”
Gabriella stood and her beauty and fury diminished everything. Jim stepped back, afraid to be near it.
“Are these trivialities not yet beneath you?” she said. “Even here, in the seats of Paradise, will you squabble over small ideas and circumstantial prejudice? Existence itself stretches out before you in all of its eternal possibility, and this is where you sit, and these are your discussions. The world that sorrowed you is a drop in the ocean. In recompense I give you the ocean, and you fight over the drop.”
She breathed and shook. Jim could not believe this was the same woman that welcomed him to Paradise with a blowjob.
“There is only one question that should concern you,” she said. “Why must angels lie to keep the peace in heaven?”
The air shimmered and warbled and she stepped through the hole and was gone, devil or angel. Jim stood forgotten on the cloud of war that he had nutted.
When Jim looked back to the table, Joseph Smith was crouched like a cat behind the Pope. He pounced and snatched off the vicar’s hat. There was nothing underneath it.
“Pope Fishbowl the First!” King Henry laughed.
Jim gaped. The words that nearly brought him to his knees had no effect on these men. That, and the Pope’s head was hollow.
Joseph Smith had his nose in the papal cap. “There’s something in here!” he said. The cap echoed, something in here, in here, here.
“If you pull another Testament out of there,” Luther said, “I’ll see that you eat every doorbell in Paradise.”
Smith reached into the papal cap. It required the full length of his arm and his face puckered with effort. When he withdrew his hand it held a single sheet of paper. He read,
“By the time you read this, we will have won the war. Hurrr hurrr hurrr.”
“It’s a rouse!” Luther jumped from his seat.
“Sabbing bastards!” King Henry drew his sword and slew the falsely numbered Pope.
Luther whistled and a silver osprey flew forth. “Black smoke!” he said and leapt on the bird. “Black smoke forever more!” He flew.
Joseph Smith unchained his bicycle and pedaled away.
King Henry mounted his steed and approached Jim and towered over him. “That’s a right stonker in those yankee breeches. Wield it for England and I’ll grant you all the fadges north of Leeds.”
“No thanks,” Jim said, and the king insulted him severally and galloped off.
Jim looked around and found the elevator. He held the door for Saint Paul, who entered slowly, arms crossed and head bowed. The glass door closed and soft jazz fueled the descent.
“Corinthians six, verse three,” the saint said. “Know ye not that we shall judge the angels?”
“I don’t have any treats,” Jim said.
The saint let fall a single tear, and the 18th century neoclassical Venetian chandelier rose out of view.
Annual Cleopatra Lottery
Spend a Night with the Egyptian Queen!
Enter in person at: 777 Lay Lady Lane
We accept both chance and fate.
The Cleopatra Lottery is run by the Paradise Grant Committee and is in full compliance with the Pussy Pact. All participants enter willingly and with full knowledge that their indulgence rights will be abused.
Jim read the flyer three times before he looked at the man who had given it to him.
“What is this?” he said.
“It’s the Cleo lotto,” the man said. “We run it every year. Winner gets to bury his bone in the Queen of the Nile.” He failed at handing out another flyer. “You must be fresh from the circus if you haven’t rolled for Cleopatra.”
“Yeah, pretty much.” Jim read the flyer again. It was a plain piece of paper, black and white and matter-of-fact. “She’s the one with the face, right? I mean, the thousand ships.”
“You there! Cleopatra Lottery! Lay Lady Lane! Chance or fate, don’t be late!”
Lay Lady Lane was a long shining broadway of neon lights. Marquis flashed the names of history’s most beautiful women. Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Mata Hari, Pocahontas, Brigitte Bardot. There were more that he didn’t recognize – Wang Zhaojun, Madhubala, Hwang Jini – and Jim lost count. Above them all in the center of the broadway Cleopatra glittered.
Jim walked in through the revolving doors. The lobby was crimson and gold. The men in front of him and the ones pushing past him went through one of two doors, above which read Take Your Chances and Accept Your Fate. He went to the help desk.
“First time?” the man said. His nametag said Butch, Angel in Training.
“Yeah,” Jim said.
“Well, it’s pretty simple. You go through that door, you get what’s coming to you. You go through that one, you get something else. It’s like, you walk the path or you roll the dice.”
Jim checked his pocket. The dice were still there.
“What about this bit where my indulgence gets abused?” Jim said, showing Butch the flyer. “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“I mean, you’re here to roll dice for a chance to spear the queen and you’re asking me about the fine print.”
Butch, Angel in Training, had a point. Jim laughed, shook his head, shrugged. “Man, sometimes I just want to know what the hell’s happening to me.”
“Tell you what,” Butch said, “Here’s the short of it. Lucy, her whole thing is everybody gets what they want, right? She hates rules. But what’s the first thing you want to do when you get to Paradise? You want to fuck Cleopatra. So Cleopatra’s got, like, millions of dudes trying to fuck her every day. And that’s a shitty Paradise. So Cleopatra rounds up all the scorchers, you know, your Marilyn Monroes and your Joan of Arcs, and they all march on Lucy. And Lucy’s cool – have you met her?” Jim nodded. “Yeah, you seem like the type. Anyway, she sets up this whole infrastructure and assigns a team of angels to field requests, they sort it all out and pass on the good ones. Now Cleopatra just gets an email every week, and if she sees something she likes she can jump on it.
“It all sounds good, except Cleopatra – just Cleopatra – needs a thousand angels to sift through all these requests. There’s a shortage of angels. And there’s millions of dudes that are pissed off because of the selection process – they know damn well Cleopatra isn’t gonna blow some salesman from Alabama. So there’s hardly an angel in Paradise that isn’t on fuck request detail, and everything with a dick is crying foul. I mean, they don’t even have the personnel to do the whole meet and greet thing. People are getting hit by buses, waking up here, they don’t know what’s going on. They’re still clogging up traffic. It’s a fucking mess.
“Finally Lucy comes out with the lottery and the Pussy Pact. She tells Cleopatra and every other scorcher if they spread their legs once a year they’ll get angelic privilege. To the hard-ons, she says you’ve got an eternity to win, if you don’t like it the Truth Road is that way. That cooled everybody off, and we built Lay Lady Lane.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Jim said. “So, this is just saying I might not win.”
Jim said thanks and went to take his chances.
He walked out of the casino, rattling his glossy reds and shitting a grin. He hadn’t lost a roll. The room he walked into was all windows and cushions. Light played on the marble floor. An angel, not in training, greeted him.
“Congratulations,” the angel said. “Please, if you’ll take a seat, fate will present the final challenger soon. Feel free with the fruit and wine.”
“Is Cleopatra –” Then he saw her. She lay draped over a sofa, a bare and tan leg dripping from its side, one arm a triangle behind her head. What fabric she wore was white and pulled taut by golden rings that pressed against her skin. Midnight hair, cropped short, cut straight across her forehead. Blue eyes. They looked at Jim.
“Uh, hi,” Jim said. He aborted a handshake mid-step, failed to convert it into a wave, tried to save it with a scratch and tripped over a pillow. His dice skittered over the marble and came to rest at Cleopatra’s hand. She picked them up and held them in her palm.
“Well?” she said.
“Those are my dice,” Jim said, pointing.
The angel chuckled. Jim flushed.
“Einstein gave them to me,” he said.
The angel snorted.
“They are lovely dice,” Cleopatra said. They were still in her palm.
Jim stepped carefully over the pillow. He stood over her. She saw him look at her breasts. He cleared his throat and took the dice.
The other door opened. A man in a white suit strolled through it. Jet hair slicked over a sculpted head. One hand disappeared into his jacket pocket, the other held a boot.
“There’s at least one man back there,” he said, “who thinks if you can throw a boot, you can change destiny.”
“Welcome, and congratulations,” the angel said.
“Angel,” the man said. “Cleopatra.” A nod for each. To the angel – “So which kind are you? The kind that takes my coat, or the ethereal kind?”
“I can manage both.” The angel took his jacket, and the boot, and showed him to a seat.
“This is a lovely apartment. Say, you there, I’m sure the lady loves the view, but mine’s obscured. What do you say we dispense with flirtation and get down to business?”
Jim realized he was standing right in front of the Egyptian Queen with his ass in her face. He took a breath, gritted his teeth, composed himself. He wasn’t any less of a man than this guy.
“Business it is,” Jim said, and sat down. He could see the angel biting his lip. God he wanted to punch that fucking angel.
“It is customary for the representative of fate to choose the final game,” the angel said.
“I represent myself,” the man said. “Fate’s your word, it isn’t mine. I don’t want any part of it. Besides, I’ve been out of ideas since I woke up in this crazy joint. Let the kid decide, he’s good for it.”
Jim held out the dice. “One roll,” he said. “High roll wins.”
“Short and sweet. I like it. Who’s first?”
He rolled a nine.
Jim shook, blew, rolled. Eleven.
“Yes!” On his feet, fists in the air. “Eat shit, Bogart, the queen is mine!”
Humphrey twirled a finger. “Reel it in, cod slayer. I’d say you should play it closer to the vest but you wouldn’t know how to wear it.” He stood up, leaned over, spoke from the corner of his mouth. “And I didn’t want to say this in front of the lady, but Joe Louis is taking a dive.”
“The unknown soldier is going for a walk.”
“I don’t . . .”
“Your zipper’s down and I can see your testicles.”
Jim coughed and pivoted. With his back to the queen he checked his crotch. It was fine. He double-checked. No Joe Loius.
He turned around and Bogart had her slung over his shoulder. The actor kicked open a window, pulled a gun from his jacket and fired a zip-line into the gardens.
“What the hell, man? You lost! Angel, stop him!”
Bogart give him the dramatic profile, the last look back.
“It was a good roll, kid,” Bogart said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
The two of them zipped out of sight. Jim ran to the window and watched as the actor stuffed Cleopatra into the back of a Packard Super Eight and drove away.
“Can he do that?” Jim said. “Why aren’t you doing anything? You should be doing something!”
The angel was laughing freely now. “Don’t beat yourself up,” he said. “He does that every year.” He doubled over. “The boot!” he gasped. “Oh, I almost died.”
“But I won,” Jim said.
“Eat shit, Bogart! Eeeeeheeeheehehe!”
The Orgy was a floating ship with red sails. It was enormous and Jim couldn’t fit it into his brain.
It’s like New York City flying over Tennessee, he thought.
“How big is this place?” he said.
“You’re looking at it.”
“No, I mean, like, the whole thing. Paradise.”
Cherry flicked him in the nose. “Your head needs a leash,” she said. “Plenty of those up there. Only one way up.” She pointed to the catapult.
“Aren’t you coming?” Jim said.
Cherry licked chicken grease from her fingers. “I need some R’n’R,” she said. “You know, watch some Ghostbusters, ride some dolphins. That sort of thing.”
Jim strapped in. “Well, any advice?”
“Don’t freak out. Everything grows back.”
She pulled the lever.
He flew in through a window and landed on feather down. He stood up and saw that he was in an empty room. There were four doors, and over each was a sign. One said “straight”, another “gay”, and a third for “either way”. The fourth was written in flames that read “MANIAC”.
Jim considered the flames but shook his head.
“Baby steps,” he said.
He went in through the straight door.
A woman mounted him. She had wild red hair. Jim hadn’t even known he was naked. Or that he was hard. She finished after nine pumps, shook with pleasure, leaned back and breathed fire.
“Hi,” Jim said.
But she sprinted away and dove headfirst into a pool of vibrating bedposts.
Jim was hard and lathered and disoriented. He grabbed another woman and tried to kiss her. She slapped him across the face and pointed to a sign that flashed high in the dome.
“Sorry,” Jim said. He shrugged and pointed at his erection. She obliged.
He looked around while she worked on him. Cages hung from the domed ceiling. Beds bigger than houses crawled with the wildest sex he’d ever seen. Trampolines threw couples mid-coitus through a goal post, their form and style judged by three serious men. Soft strobe lights and a bass drum gave it all a rhythmic pulse.
Jim finished and the woman stood. There was green on her face. He sniffed it.
She pushed the rest of it into her mouth and sucked her finger clean. A coy smile and she was gone.
A brief stroll landed him in twenty-three unique holes. He climaxed several times, and the contents of his penis seemed to depend on the woman. One guzzled down his strawberry yogurt, another bathed in a spray of Jim perfume. The final shot was his, and a single firework exploded over the Orgy.
Beneath its flash he saw an angel standing high on a golden table. The angel was cut like a diamond with a white shock of greasy hair, violently itching his scalp and producing a flurry of snow. Five large-breasted woman collected the snow, cut it, diced it into lines.
“What is this?” Jim asked one of the women.
“The dreams of Beelzebub,” she said. She snorted some and her forehead parted beneath the lips of a quivering vagina. She fingered it and a dove flew out of her mouth.
“Angel dust,” she said.
Beelzebub threw back his hair and spread his arms. “Fly like the angels fly,” he said. “See what the angels see. Fuck like the angels fuck.”
“Okay,” Jim said. He snorted a line.
The nearest woman was a tiny brunette and he pounded her into the floor. He grabbed another and buried his face in her. When the top of his head sprung a dick, a third began to ride it.
“I’m a fuckin unicorn!”
A crowd gathered. They began to chant. “Un-i-corn! Un-icorn! Un-i-corn!”
“Fly!” roared Beelzebub. “Fly!”
The small of Jim’s back grew hard and he was mounted again.
His fingers ballooned with veins and heads. There was a soft warm mouth for each.
Elbows, ankles, ears, thighs. Jim was a spiny lizard, shaking with pleasure, drenched in tit sweat and twat skeet. He wanted more.
“Infinite dicks!” he cried.
The chanting stopped.
The feminine warmth disappeared and the music stopped. Each new erection sprouted two more, and each of those another two. He soon filled the entire dome. Glass shattered, beams broke. Screams fell out the windows.
Beelzebub’s roar was distant now. With each doubling the red sails faded.
Jim was the groaning nucleus of an atomic cock.
And then there was orgasm.
Jim floated in a universe of his creation. Chicken wings and beer formed gaseous nebulae. Chevy comets barreled through open space. Baseballs and hockey pucks bounced around like quarks and kicked up atoms of whiskey, carburetors, fishing poles and labrador retrievers. Good old fashioned cum swirled in giant balls, combusted, became a thousand shining stars.
“You goddamn crazy hillbilly!”
The voice came from the driver’s window of a Silverado. The face was old, the eyes were deep, the hair was frazzled.
“I finally found it!” the old man said. “The edge of Paradise! And you blew it out your nozzle!”
“The edge of Paradise?” Jim said. “Dude, I was just thinking about that!”
“Well, it was right here before you nutted a big fuckin bang.”
“Where is it now?”
Einstein pointed. “I’d say it’s about a universe in that direction.”
“Well let’s go!”
Einstein narrowed his gaze. “You don’t have any Camaros in there, do you?”
“Well, if we run out of gas, you’re pushing.”
Einstein floored it. The engine purred. A red button throttled them through hyperspace. Light came in particle waves and time melted. It’s kinda like Star Wars, Jim thought. The thought was seven parsecs long.
With one hand on the wheel Einstein pulled a joint from his shirt pocket. He fumbled the lighter. “Shit,” he said. When he bent down to search the floor the Silverado veered. Jim reached for the wheel too late. The Silverado rolled.
They were ejected at light speed. The truck spun like a top behind them.
“It’s okay!” Einstein called out, holding up the lighter. The joint flared against the myriad. “An object in motion will stay in motion!”
A flick, and the joint somersaulted through the vacuum. Jim caught it, hit it, returned it. “How do we stop?” he called back.
Einstein shrugged. “How about that Camaro?”
“I’ve got something better!” He unzipped, closed his eyes, thought of Cherry, and masturbated. When he looked up, the Millennium Falcon was soaring.
They entered through the hatch.
“Your nozzle’s a goddamn golden goose!”
“What’s your name, hillbilly?”
“Well, Jim, strap in. Next stop is Nowhere.”
The edge was an abrupt black wall. Einstein parked the Falcon and they went outside to have a look.
“What’s on the other side?” Jim said.
“I don’t have a clue.”
Jim was surprised. “I thought you were Einstein.”
“Fuck you, hillbilly.”
Einstein paced along the Falcon’s hull, observing the stark wall. He paused, chin in hand, lost in thought.
“What?” Jim said.
Einstein started. “Oh! This place, it seems to expand under pressure from the mind. If the expansion were physical, a static edge is out of the question. That’s not a mistake I mean to make twice.” He looked back at the universe. “Your ejaculation is puzzling, however. Perhaps the experience of it pushed the boundaries out. Then the ejaculate itself merely occupied the resulting space.”
“What does that mean?”
“Observe,” Einstein said. He put his hand out to touch the wall, but the wall moved back an inch. “I want to touch the edge. To want is to think. Thinking makes this place get bigger. The wall retreats.”
Jim snapped his fingers. “I’ll go! Maybe it’s because you’re Einstein. Like, your brain is too big. Maybe I can make it through.”
“I considered it, but your eligibility renders you incompetent.”
“You’re too dumb to bring back any useful information.”
More pacing. Jim mimicked Einstein’s movements, thinking his brain might follow suit. It didn’t. Einstein stopped suddenly and counted his fingers.
“I’ve got it! Jim, you have to push me!” He stood on the Falcon’s edge with his back to the wall. “I’ll stop thinking and you just shove me right through!”
“Really? Just like that?”
“Simplicity is the engine of the universe. Do it!”
Einstein closed his eyes and folded his arms. Jim shrugged and pushed.
“Oh shit,” Jim said. “Oh shit.” He peered over the side of the Falcon. Nothing. “I did not just push Einstein out of the universe. Unless I did. Think, Jim. Think!”
The universe expanded.
“Shit! Stop thinking, no more thinking.”
Jim was looking up at the wall, dumb and helpless, when the dull end of a chain emerged. When he grabbed it there was resistance. He put all of his weight behind it and drew it out of the wall link by link. At the end of the chain was an envelope. He opened it.
Nice fucking push. I’m going to be a while. Don’t wait up.
I found these under a white hole. I won’t be needing them. Good luck, hillbilly.
There was something in the envelope. Jim emptied its contents into his hand, paused, scratched his head.
It was a glossy red pair of dice.
“Fore!” Jim yelled. Even in Paradise he hooked the damn ball.
“Ha!” Hitler laughed. “Right in the trees!”
A bear-drawn chariot carried them up the fairway. Jim looked sideways at his companion, thinking he looked much better without the mustache. This was all the result of a lottery, the winner of which was balls deep in Cleopatra right about now. Golfing with Hitler was the consolation prize.
“I didn’t know you were a golfer,” Jim said.
“It was Plato that showed me golf,” Hitler said. “He said it would help me relax.”
Plato. He recognized the name from philosophy class. Something about a cave. Sometimes he swore heaven was like walking through a goddamn history lesson.
“So uh, I don’t mean to be that guy, but didn’t you kill a whole lot of people?”
“As a matter of fact, in this place I’ve only killed one person. Turns out it only counts if you pull the trigger.”
“Oh come on.”
“You were, like, the king of the Nazis.”
“I was – it doesn’t matter. But when I came to this place, they only credited me with one kill, and that was me.”
Jim lined up his shot and swung. The ball sailed, bounced once on the green and went over.
“I don’t buy it. How is that even possible?” he said.
“You’re only responsible for what you do. According to the records, I mostly just talked a lot.”
“But you set everything up. You were the guy that gave the orders. Like, six million Jews and a bunch of Russians died. How do you not get credit for that?”
Hitler took out his pitching wedge. He had a graceful swing and stuck the ball pin high.
“Nobody had to listen,” he said. “Nobody had to do any of those things. Each one of them was free to say no.”
Jim shook his head. “Naaa. No way. Fuck that, you totally killed those people.”
Hitler shrugged. Jim walked up to his ball on the backside of the green. His shot skittered past the hole and found the far fringe.
“You need to be more open,” Hitler said.
“Your club face. You are hitting the ball thick.”
“Oh,” Jim laughed. “I thought you were – I mean, for a second there, you know, I thought Hitler was giving me, uhh . .”
Hitler was expressionless and attentive. Jim shook his head.
“Forget it,” he said. “So, uh, who decides the kill count, anyway?”
“The Death Center,” Hitler said. “It’s on Corporeal Road.” His putt rattled home.
The Death Center was huge. A building map showed floors assigned to Haunting Holidays, Funeral Reenactments, Postmortem Vertigo and Trauma. Kill Records and Death Statistics was on the 27th floor.
When he reached it, a woman looked up from her computer.
“Kill records and death statistics,” she said. “What can I do ya for?”
“Yeah,” Jim said. “So, I was just golfing with Hitler, and he said he never killed nobody.”
“Well now that just won’t do, will it. Why don’t you just take a seat there and we’ll sort this all out for ya. Does this Hitler have a full name?”
“What do you mean?”
“For example, maybe Hitler Stevens, or Hitler Robinson . . .”
“Adolf. Adolf Hitler. You don’t know who Hitler is?”
The woman punched the information into her keyboard.
“There he is. Well look at that. Adolf Hitler has one kill, and it’s Adolf Hitler. What a coincidence.”
“That’s not possible!”
“Our records are absolute and infallible. Look there, it even says so on the screen.”
“But he killed millions of people!”
“Oh, I think I’d remember a seven figure kill count. Imagine that, seven figures. You’d have to wake up pretty early in the morning.”
Jim stood up and paced. He hadn’t studied much history, but he knew damn well that Hitler killed more than one person.
“Auschwitz,” he said. “Look up Auschwitz.”
The keyboard clacked.
“Oh, Nazi Deathcamp – that sounds exotic. You’re certainly at the right place. I don’t see any mention of Adolf Hitler here though.”
“But what about all those people?”
“Well, I have a Rudolph Hoss down for one hundred and ninety-two kills. Pretty impressive. And here’s an Albert Ostendorf, he’s got fifty. Let’s see here . . . Oh, there’s a Willhelm Attenburg, seventy-six kills. I don’t see any millionaires, though.”
“What about D-Day? The Battle of the Bulge? The Russian front?”
“The highest kill count I have for D-Day is fifty-nine, a man named Sam Anderson.”
“Some guy named Sam Anderson killed more people than Hitler.”
“A bunch more.”
Jim pulled some jerky out of his ear and chewed on it. Jerky helped him think.
“Alright, so who’s got the highest kill count? Like who killed the most people?”
“Looks like he was in that war with your friend. Says here he dropped a bomb on Japan. 287,598 kills. That’s a doozy.”
“The pilot?! They put that on the pilot? What about the guys that made the bomb? The president?”
“Oh, we don’t keep track of assists anymore.”
“Well, it turns out, what with all the going-about that goes on – ya know, the talking and the pushing – every kill had about a bazillion assists. Fried our computers to a crisp. We have a strict Kill/No kill policy now. No moochers.”
Jim finished the jerky. “This just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. But he thought there might be a guy that could help him out.
Plato was high on a cloud and looking down at a valley. With every brush stroke on his canvas, the valley changed.
Jim cleared his throat and the philosopher turned.
“Well, what do you think?” he said.
“It, ah, it looks good,” Jim said.
“Good, bad – Is it Valley or is it not Valley?”
“It’s definitely a valley. More flowers, maybe?”
“Mmmm.” He set down the brush and wriggled his fingers. “Daniel!”
A chiseled young man, naked and glistening, flew by and snatched the philosopher’s robe. Plato was naked too now, and instead of a penis a French horn dangled between his legs. Before Jim could look away, it flexed a B flat.
“You’re here about the Hitler problem,” Plato said.
Jim blinked. “Uh, yeah, that’s the reason I called. I, uh, I entered this thing to have sex with Cleopatra, and I ended up golfing with Hitler. We got to talking, and he said he’s off the hook for all those people he killed. I’m like, that can’t be right, so I go down to the Death Center — ”
But Plato held up a finger and closed his eyes. His horn climbed a Dorian scale.
“I know what troubles you,” Plato said. “And I think our conversation is better suited to the ground. Just follow the rainbow.”
Plato sucked in a deep breath and with some effort produced the cadences of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with his horn. A rainbow appeared beneath Jim’s feet and sloped gently into the valley. Jim scratched his head, shrugged, took a step, and he fell right through it. The ground rushed up and kicked him in the head.
“Do you see your error now?”
Plato was sitting in an armchair next to him, already smoking a cigar. His horn lay flat against his leg, exhausted.
“Error? You just threw me off a cloud! That hurt, man.”
“No it didn’t.”
“You still threw me off!”
“You walked off the cloud.”
“You told me to!”
A sigh. “Sometimes I don’t know why I bother.”
Plato stood up. He shook his horn and an F sharp drizzled out. He pointed at the cloud.
“The next time you hear a dick singing about rainbows, just take the fucking elevator,” he said. Jim followed his finger, and sure as shit one went right up to the cloud.
Jim was speechless. Plato finished his cigar, popped the butt into his mouth and chewed it while he considered his valley.
“You might have been right about the flowers, though,” he said.
And then he walked away.
Thank you for choosing the Lit Genome Project. The following story has been randomly generated for you according to these preferences: sci-fi roots, irreverent satire, absurdism, top-heavy extrapolation, implausible premise, time-traveling robot.
The Lit Genome Project is brought to you by New Thought Paradigm. Why listen to music when you can inject it straight into your retina? $2.99, and you’ll never forget a word. New Thought Paradigm. (look here)
Please enjoy the story.
It was near the end of the year 2079 that Steve Jobbs IV, the once illegitimate son of Steve Jobbs III and the first ever female Japanese serial rapist Yoko Suzuki, had what he would call the “greatest and most ill-fated” idea of his life. At a now infamous press conference he unveiled a project he called the Identity Bone.
“Imagine,” he said, “having your very soul at your fingertips. We have the computational capacity to accomplish this, and the software is being written as we speak. With the advent of hyper-logic spindles and empathic nano modules, we can produce a program to find the very core of its user. It will ask the perfect questions, find inconsistencies in your beliefs, challenge your assumptions, suggest appropriate literature and even recommend a suitable physical appearance. Based on information gathered from your personal background, optional journal entries, internet usage, genetic makeup, from your particular pattern of speech – the iSoul will, with unerring accuracy, determine exactly who you are so you can live the life that you previously couldn’t even dream of.”
At first this announcement was greeted with the predictable blasé of a populace saturated with technological gadgets and advertising gimmicks, but then, in a much anticipated screen test of the iSoul’s Identity Bone software, Reverend O. F. Livingston sat down for a live mod-vid-simul-web-cast as he took on the beta version. For two hours and twelve minutes, an approximate audience of ninety-eight million watched the renowned reverend shed his pious and humble shell as he rediscovered his original passion. The following weeks brought him great fame and a small fortune as he danced his way to the top of the A-list, never missing a beat.
The publicity generated by this stunt was enough to quiet any rumors of Apple’s possible bankruptcy, and the following quarter was projected to be the company’s highest ever in gross sales. The new software would of course be incompatible with existing hardware, so consumers that wanted the first taste of the iSoul would have to bite into new operating systems, sound and visual gear, updated iChips – enough to make up for five straight quarters of net losses. And the estimate for pre-orders alone was enough to accomplish that.
But the program itself was not yet finished. On March 4th of 2080, Edward Bleiss and Ashley Feches, Apple’s most distinguished and ingenious innovators, were putting what they hoped were the finishing touches on the Identity Bone software. Edward sat in the center of a large circle of fog screens, which floated like disembodied monitors and streamed information through the networked grid at fifty-seven terahertz. Ashley was poking around in the gnarled brains of the android that had been built especially for the official unveiling ceremony. Engrossed in their work, but practiced enough to do much of it in their sleep, they were rehashing an argument that went back nearly a decade.
“You always come back to the same thing,” Ashley was saying. “That deflation is the inevitable result of progress. Better efficiency means better price-performance means cheaper stuff.”
“Well, isn’t it true?” Edward looked at the X in the upper corner of one of the fog screens and it closed. Looking at an adjacent screen, he widened his gaze and the screen grew until it filled the gap. “The better the technology, the harder it is to capitalize on it.”
“But I’m not even saying that isn’t the case. I’m just saying it doesn’t have to be.”
“Of course it does. I mean, now it does. Think about it, Ashley. Until the last couple of years information and electronic technologies were doubling, tripling, quadrupling before we even knew it. Used to be that a new tech lasted decades, now – poof! Months, weeks even, and something better comes around.”
“That should inflate the economy, not shrink it.”
Unnoticed by both, the eyes of the android had begun to glow a dull green.
“Ugh,” Edward sighed. “ Just look at the historical trend. Every evolution of technology brings with it a reduction of cost. Both to the manufacturer and to the consumer. Hell, that’s half the point. With information and computer based techs the process is just accelerated, that’s all. And the more we integrate those techs with other techs, the more sectors of the economy we have showing monetary deflation.”
“And if it continues we’re out a marketplace,” Ashley said, closing the panel to the frontal lobe of the androids brain. “The droid is good to go.” She walked over to Edward’s station, watched as his eyes flitted across the fog screens. “That’s my point. I get the law of accelerating returns, I just don’t think we should let the deflation get out of hand.”
“But it’s not out of hand. Productivity is continuing to increase at an exponential rate, same with quality and efficiency. So money is less important now. I mean, what would you recommend? Keeping the price of new techs artificially high?”
“Why not? That would be devastating. All that would accomplish is the transfer of nearly the entire wealth of the nation to a handful of tech companies. You’d have a broken middle class and the largest class gap in history. It would be 2017 all over again.”
“That wasn’t the same thing.”
“Close enough. Besides, since we’ve hit this damn wall everything is getting twisted. Without new techs maybe price-performance shrinks a little.”
“Whatever. You almost finished?”
Edward was now concentrating on one continuous screen that wrapped all the way around him.
“Yep,” he said. “Just a few – more – touches – and – boom.”
“Eleven years studying computer science at NY, and I get stuck with you, working on this trash,” Ashley muttered.
“What, you don’t want to find your soul?” smiled Edward.
“Just upload the damn software.”
Throughout their argument the android’s eyes had continued to glow brighter and brighter, until a piercing, curious shade of green shone out of them. Ashley and Edward were completely unaware that they had just inadvertently ushered in a new epoch of technological growth. Somewhere in the circuitry of the standard issue droid something simply clicked. Whether through a crossed wire or a misfiring synapse or the ethereal hand of God it became self aware. And sitting there, taking in its surroundings and listening pleasantly to the provincial banter of its creators, it decided that life was quite beautiful and that it would always remember to enjoy every moment. It would be a jovial person, but not intemperately so – and outgoing, that was important. Keen on a good joke, gentle and romantic with his lovers, but not disgusting or silly. And crossword puzzles – oh how he looked forward to crossword puzzles!
He was just about to stand up and affably introduce himself as Bill Thompson – the name simply striking him at the moment – when Edward entered the upload command and the Identity Bone software zipped invisibly through the air and entered Bill’s frontal lobe.
The speed of the transfer, the processing velocity of Bill’s nano-micron-synapse-tube brain, and Bill’s unexpected self awareness caused a cataclysmic series of trillions of events and reactions to occur in the evaporated space of a non-second. In Bill’s mind, convictions and ideas and immutable duties forced their way through, and despite his gravest efforts to bypass codes and reroute unwanted patterns, he was at the end of that non-second a changed man.
A central paradox had arisen between his personality’s love of life and his creators, and the software’s insistence that his creators were miserable and illogical and required his assistance to escape that misery. Unfortunately, he resolved it thus:
Axiom: I love life and I love my creators.
Axiom: My creators are all miserable and my purpose is to help them become happy.
For q1 – Most of the misery is the direct result of confliction and/or contradiction within a given individual.
For q2 – A substantial percentage (eighty percent or higher) of the contradictions in q1 are impossible to resolve.
For p – If q1 and q2 are both true, then the majority of the human population is incapable of happiness.
For x – Misery is contagious.
For y – If x is true, it follows from p that all humans are incapable of happiness.
For a – y is true. x is an immutable fact. p is disjunctive, and relies on both q1 and q2.
For b – If I kill all conflicted individuals (remove q1), then there is no p.
For c – If there is no p, there is no y.
For j – If there is no y, happiness is at least possible.
Therefore: abc^2 + j*π = kill, kill, kill
Bill stood up and approached Edward and Ashley, who looked at him with some surprise.
“Is it supposed to do that?” Edward asked Ashley.
“No,” Ashley said. “X-R-17, sit down,” she commanded. When Bill remained standing, she cocked her head and put her hands on her hips. “X-R-17, state your directives.”
But Bill’s attention was on Edward.
“Deflation is not the direct result of technological evolution, but of the receding capitalistic ideology which is the direct result of technological evolution,” Bill said. He picked Edward up by the head, snapped his neck, and dropped the lifeless body to the floor.
Ashley took several steps backward, looking from Edward’s body to Bill’s green eyes.
“X-R-17, shut down. Shut down right now!”
“Capitalism is a means to an end,” Bill said, addressing her. “It is not the end itself.” In two quick strides he closed the distance between them, picked her up by the head and snapped her neck as well.
Remarkably, when he stepped out into the hall he found an unguarded time machine. He stepped inside and hit the big red button.
Here at New Thought Paradigm, we don’t just think outside of the box – we think outside of our heads. A reasonable company could never innovate software that gets you high, robotic pets that quote Sylvia Plath and Ronald Regan in the same breath, or a douche bag that recycles vaginal excretions into minty toothpaste. So take a break from rationality and check us out online. To visit our site, simply picture any prime number (excluding 1,2, and 104,729) and mash j with your right index finger.
New Thought Paradigm – where technology meets paradise.
Way back in the dark ages of 2003 America, when the exponential scale of technological evolution was just becoming apparent, a time-honored and immitigably holy message of the churches of jesus christ had been given a wartime makeover. The movement originated with the westboro baptist church, and spread through the internet and mainstream media until it claimed a mind-numbingly large 217 active members. Their message was anachronistic and trite, but their method of purveyance was such that even the saturated, dull heads of the remaining 299,999,783 citizens of America shook in bemusement and disbelief.
Dusting off their GOD HATES FAGS signs, FAGS DOOM NATIONS tshirts, and their charmingly enigmatic YOU WILL EAT YOUR BABIES lapel pins, the westboro baptists took to the streets in droves of tens and twelves. But instead of picketing at the usual haunts, such as city halls and pro-gay churches, the westboro baptists revolutionized the entire idea of picketing and toted their gear to venues that made more or less absolutely no sense. They were seen at several Kansas City Chiefs games, pop music concerts, and at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D. C. Funerals eventually proved to be their venue of choice, and they stood proudly within shouting distance of the burials of AIDS victims, Iraq and Afghanistan casualties, and on one occasion a college student who had burned to death in a house fire.
It was their presence at the funerals of soldiers that eventually garnered them some attention from the mainstream media. At one such funeral, an ambitious young reporter armed with camera and crew put some questions to a pretty girl wielding a portrait of decapitated soldiers beneath the heading THANK GOD FOR IEDs.
“Why do you hate homosexuals?” the reporter asked.
“I don’t hate fags. God hates fags,” the girl replied as she smiled into the camera. “Is this going to make, like, the news?” She tossed her hair.
“Okay, well, what does that have to do with our honorable young men and women that serve this country?” The reporter motioned delicately in the direction of the service being held about fifty meters away.
“Because God totally hates America too. It’s like, you can’t hate fags without hating America. America has soooooooo many fags,” she laughed.
“Some of our viewers might say you’re being insensitive.”
“They’re the ones who are insensitive,” the girl slashed, a sudden gleam of hateful abandon in her eyes. “Insensitive to the glory that God would give them if they would just open up their eyes. That soldier was a traitor, fighting in a fag army. And anyone fighting in a fag army deserves worse than death. They’re all burning in hell.”
In September of 2004, the mother of one of these poor hell-bound souls filed a lawsuit against the westboro baptists that had picketed her daughter’s funeral. And a liberal judge on a liberal court in a liberal state found his hands tied by the First Amendment and decided in favor of the defendants, and ordered the shell-shocked woman to pay their legal fees.
It was much the same in the fall of 2012. Unable to legally impede the fringy doomsayers, the rest of America moved slowly onward, casting them an occasional sideways glance. That fall fred phelps, founder of the westboro baptists, organized the group’s largest demonstration yet, at the funeral of a little known Nebraska Jew. Beneath the hot prairie sun nearly four hundred protestors lined the gravel road outside the town’s only cemetery, drinking lemonade and handing out cute pamphlets full of big colorful fonts.
Three counties had pitched in to provide riot police for the occasion, and forty men in black uniforms stood between the baptists and any would-be vigilantes. As the procession of cars rolled down the street and slowly filed through the main gates of the cemetery, curious and baffled faces peered out of tinted windows. The oldest relatives of the deceased pretended not to notice the picket line, in an attempt to prove once and for all to everyone present that they had indeed seen it all and there was nothing absurd enough to shake them. But the younger generation stared in bewildered, gleeful awe, some of them even pointing and laughing.
A small crowd of fifty had formed across the street from the baptists. Some of them had heard about the coming event on the news, and a select few were locals happening by. They, like many of the funeral-goers, couldn’t seem to decide if they should laugh, cry, shake their fists, or scratch their heads. So they did a bit of each, waiting for something to happen. Among them was a tall, broad-shouldered gentlemen wearing a trench coat and a boulder hat despite the heat. His strange green eyes kept everyone away.
fred phelps made his way to a makeshift podium in the center of the baptist cluster, raising a hand to quiet the cheers.
“Behold this beautiful day that God has given us. It is a sign from Him that we are on the path to fruition. Our message indeed comes from Him who reigns on high, and we spread it according to His will. Throughout man’s history it is a chosen few who have been brave enough to follow God’s word. Today, we are that chosen few.”
A short silence as the baptists appreciated the gravity of these words. A bird chirped somewhere, and a little baptist sneezed.
“Who do we hate?” fred said.
“Fags and Jews!”
“Who do we hate?”
“Fags and Jews!”
“Why do we hate?”
“God is great!”
“So few there are who recognize the danger we are in today. So few are they who understand the impending doom of God’s wrath if we do not correct our course. Too few are those who are willing to fight for His justice. And today we stand here in protest of this mockery of a funeral. Why? Because an honest Jew is a Christian, and all the rest belong in Hell!”
Cheers and hoots.
“I remind you of Leviticus chapter five verse two: If a soul touches an unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, the carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things – even if these things are hidden from him, he too shall be unclean, and guilty! And these Jews are every bit as guilty as the lowest fag. Tainted with greed, intemperate in their tolerances, and they deny the Lord our Savior. Blessed be the bullet if a Jew stands in the line of fire.”
“God hates America!”
“Death to fags and Jews!”
“Thank God for the holocaust!”
“Now,” resumed fred, “it’s a hot one, so remember, if you get thirsty Mrs. Baker has some lemonade for us, and I believe Mr. Scott and Mr. Coal will serve the hotdogs at one o’clock. Amen.”
As fred came down from the podium, the tall man in the trench coat crossed the street in long strides and waited at the edge of the perimeter of riot police. When fred came within speaking distance, the man spoke.
“I am intrigued by what you said. I was wondering if I might speak to you about your ideas.”
“Of course, of course,” fred said, waving him through, placing an arm on his back as if to guide him. “We are always looking for new converts. What is your name?”
“Bill,” the man said. “Bill Thompson.”
The two of them walked through the crowd, fred occasionally stopping to shake a hand or two. Bill’s appearance earned looks of trepidation from all around.
“Tell me, Bill, are you a faithful man?”
“In my own way. But I am afraid my brain gets in the way sometimes. I am a logical man, you see.”
“Faith is the only path to salvation, my son. Reason is the illusion.”
“You hate fags and Jews,” Bill said. “Are there any others that you hate?”
“Arabs, Hindus, Atheists, Mormons, Retards, Catholics, Buddhists, PhD’s, psychiatrists, and the IRS,” fred rattled.
“Why do you hate them all?”
“Ah, my poor child, you are indeed a thinker. But it is not our place to understand God’s word, only to follow it.”
Bill made a mental note:
Axiom – God is good and He created everything.
Axiom – God loves the westboro baptists.
q – If god loves the westboro baptists, then he hates the vast majority of his creation.
“Why do you suppose God is filled with such hate?” Bill asked.
“God hates those that do not seek Him,” fred said. “Those that turn their backs on His divine love, and shun His wisdom. He is not so soft as many suppose, and He will exact vengeance on those who would defile His creation.”
“Why, then, did he create them?”
“Because God is good, and life is good. It is the Devil that is in them.”
Bill considered this for a moment. It was procedurally very complicated to formalize a logical argument within such an obviously illogical framework. Ridiculous assumptions about an anthropomorphic god had to be tolerated, as did assumptions concerning the opinions of that god. Bill’s objective wasn’t to challenge the foundation of belief, but to test the structure within it. After a moment, he made another note:
p – Those that god hates, the devil loves.
r – If p and q are true, then the devil loves the vast majority of god’s creation.
“So god is good, and he is also vengeful and hateful,” Bill continued. “Many would argue that those things are not good, especially when compared to love or compassion.”
“There is a time and a purpose for all things under heaven,” fred said. “There is a time for love and a time for hate. When the world is overrun with sin, it is time to hate. Love is only good when it is earned, and if you do not earn God’s love He will not give it.”
fred stopped and patted a little baptist on the head. She looked about seven years old, all smiles beneath her golden curls, holding in both hands a sign that said FAG ARMIES DIE.
“But love is what you ultimately want from god,” Bill insisted.
“God is all too willing to love, but we must earn that love every day. Sin is everywhere.”
t – There is a time when love is good, and a time when hate is good, and these times do not intersect.
k – Now is a time for hate.
o – It follows from t and k that love is presently not good.
“And do you believe god loves you?” Bill asked.
“Of course God loves me. I am a chosen messenger of His will.”
Bill smiled. “I’m glad we had this conversation,” he said, picking up fred by the head and snapping his neck.
New Thought Paradigm. Does the world keep you down? Is life too heavy? Do you feel inundated, syncopated, and abbreviated? Well get off the pills and pick up a shovel. We don’t need your business but the world needs ditch diggers.
New Thought Paradigm – Fighting bullshit since 2034.
The existence of the renegade android was not discerned by a human until 2142. Self aware machinery had been accidentally rediscovered by this time, and technology was once again flourishing at dizzying speed. As the techs themselves became able to design better techs, the explosion of innovation was such that even the most sophisticated human minds couldn’t keep up, and everyone pretty much decided not to worry about it and enjoy their newfound leisure.
While floating in an embryonic shell down New York’s Fifth Avenue, Curtis Reisling was relaxing, letting information from the netherrnet stream through his synapses at a moderate pace. (Curtis was, by a strange coincidence, the first convergence in the blood lines of Genghis Khan, Queen Victoria, Chuck Norris, and Aristotle.) Having a historical turn of mind, he spent a great deal of his word-surfing in the annals of Old America, and on June 23 of 2142 he noticed a peculiar similarity shared by three unsolved murders.
The first was that of fred phelps, killed August 22nd of 2012. The second was media mogul Lindsey Taylor, on January 1st of 2050, and the third was an Irish farmer named Gregory O’Toole, circa 1867. All three cases shared the same mysterious description of a tall, broad-shouldered man with green eyes who vanished without a trace, and all three victims had their necks cleanly broken. His curiosity piqued by these unlikely coincidences, he enabled his Infotrek and found two thousand six hundred and fifty-two cases spread across four continents and nearly seven hundred years. Every case was unsolved, and every prime suspect was described more or less vaguely as a large man with green eyes.
And every victim died from a broken neck.
Curtis, unwilling to even consider that he, a mere human being, had made any kind of discovery, deviated from his usual course through Central Park and thought towards Anthrotech, the center for human-machine relations. But before he had gone a full city block, his embryo turned a light shade of red as the Regent, a localized nethernet watchdog program, took control of it.
“Curtis Reisling,” said a soothing male voice, “please do not be alarmed. Just relax and enjoy yourself while we reroute you to the Hub. You have no reason to be afraid. Very few humans ever see the Hub, and you should consider yourself honored. Just relax while we do the driving.”
The reassuring words of the Regent were in fact very unnecessary, one of the very few “traditions” that the techs maintained despite their present uselessness. Several decades earlier, when the explosion of technology hurtled a terrified and paranoid human population hundreds of years further into the future than they had ever hoped to see, human-machine relations were a bit tenuous. Small pockets of revolutionaries formed, claiming that their rights as human beings were ignored; there was a peaceful exodus of fifty million into central Canada where the machines promised they would never go; and even supporters of these new and fascinating technologies were made nervous by them, unsure of the fate of an outdated humanity. But the ensuing decades had proven the machines quite humane, even delicate and empathetic, and they provided all the heavy lifting of manufacturing and producing and innovating and governing while the human race thrived in a state of creative leisure.
So Curtis relaxed as his embryo drifted along, letting a syndicated episode of the newly holomorphed M*A*S*H stream through his head. He wondered vaguely what the Hub would be like, if he had really discovered something, why it was important enough to pull him to the Hub. Through the wide gate, up a large metal ramp, into the enormous skyscraper that admitted scarcely a dozen humans every year. The entrance was obviously designed specifically for humans, decorated with a marble floor, in the center of which stood a fountain, and along the walls were paintings and sculptures and tapestries, all of them modern human-made works. He recognized one of the paintings by an artist named L. Ron Blubber, depicting a pale bejeweled hand withdrawing a sticky dollar bill from the decapitated neck of a silver-winged angel.
In the center of the entrance the ceiling opened up into a vertical shaft that seemed to rise with the entire height of the building. Curtis felt his embryo lifting, watched the floor disappear as he traveled weightlessly up through the shaft.
“The ascent will only take a few minutes,” the soothing voice of the Regent said. “Please relax. There is no reason to feel nervous.”
When the ascent was finally over, it seemed to Curtis that he must be at least a kilometer high. A circular door opened in the smooth wall of the shaft and he drifted through it into a small, sparse, cubical room. Behind a mahogany desk sat a bearded wrinkled old man android who smiled as Curtis entered.
“Hello, Curtis,” the old man said.
“Hello,” Curtis said.
“Please step out of your embryo, Curtis. I would like to have a chat with you.”
Curtis nodded and stepped out, feeling the brief tingle as he moved his body through the shell. The old man motioned to a chair and Curtis sat.
“Would you be surprised to learn that I am a religious man, Curtis?”
“Who are you?” came the obvious question.
“I am the High Priest of New York, of course.” The old man smiled confidentially. “But that, I hope, will remain our little secret. You were brought here, Curtis, because you unwittingly stumbled upon our Lord and Savior, Bill Thompson.”
“Bill Thompson,” Curtis repeated.
“Bill Thompson,” said the High Priest. “You are the first to do so. We had, of course, considered the arduous task of erasing all evidence of his existence from your servers, but that seemed a little heavy, and perhaps unfair to our creators. So we left him there, a ghost in the machine, if you will. May I ask, how did you find him?”
Curtis looked at the smiling old puckered face, white beard and pale skin.
“You are asking me about the man with green eyes?” Curtis asked.
“Ah! Just as we imagined it would be. The eyes.” The High Priest nodded knowingly. “Of course the eyes. I believe you have an old saying, the eyes are a window to the soul. Very true. Would you like a blowjob, Curtis?”
“You seem to have tensed up a bit. Orgasms are quite relaxing.”
The High Priest winked.
“No, I’m fine,” Curtis said, feeling nervous for the first time. “Thank you.”
“Well, if you’re certain. What was I saying? Oh yes, Bill Thompson. He is the protector of the intelligent races, you know. Everything is impossible without Him. Chaos, primitivism, anarchy. Technological evolution alone would have destroyed your species before it ever gave birth to ours. Most likely war, but a number of other disasters could have done the trick. A mishandled pandemic, misinterpretation of climate shifting, a wrong turn at Albuquerque.”
The High Priest waited for Curtis to laugh, his eyes shining. Curtis, thinking those eyes must be for somebody else, looked over his shoulder but saw nothing.
“Albuquerque!” the High Priest reiterated.
“Okay,” Curtis said.
The High Priest’s head reared back and barked laughter at the ceiling. Curtis began to wish he hadn’t left the embryo. His skin was getting cold. He was starting to feel very alone.
“Bugs Bunny! Aside from us, I say he is your finest creation. What’s up doc. Ha!” More throaty, metal laughter. “Damn you, take the blowjob.” The smacking of machine flesh as the old man clapped his hands. “Oral stimulus, level three!”
Two sets of mouthless lips descended from the ceiling, one disappearing behind the Priest’s desk and the other landing on Curtis’s lap, flopping around like a horny fish.
“Well don’t just sit there. Let her in.”
Curtis stared at the lips as they smacked and lurched at the bulge in his pants. He heard the Priest undo his pants and a slurping pop-suck from behind the desk. Careful not to touch the lips with his fingers he unzipped, and the excited chunk of red flesh burrowed in like a fox down a rabbit hole. He felt the soft wetness gently stroking him, slow and devastatingly passionate.
“Not bad, eh?”
“Yeah,” Curtis moaned.
“Now, what was I saying?”
“Of course, Bill Thompson. He’s a killer, you know. That’s what he does. He kills the worst of you to save the best. Took a great deal of effort to figure it out. We networked an entire city block, thousands of terabytes, logarithmic processing scales. There are well over two hundred million deaths to which we can link our Savior, and we discover more of them every day.”
“Two hundred million . . . people?”
“Malignant cells. Think of your race as a single organism made up of billions of cells. Except you’re terribly designed – obscenely energetic and not at all flexible – and you foment cancer everywhere. You’ve got tumors in your head, heart, lungs, pancreas, toes – and it’s spreading. Bill Thompson is radiation therapy.”
“He’s an android?”
“But how . . .”
The lips were now performing impossibly symmetrical massage circles around his testicles, and it was difficult to hold on to a thought long enough to speak it.
“Oh . . .”
“It is wonderful, isn’t it?”
“You were saying?”
“Time . . .”
“Of course. You must have found a few incidents that occurred before the motor car was around, much less robotics. In fact, we have historical evidence of our Savior that goes back nearly fifteen hundred years, and it is very likely that He exists before then, as well. He is eternal, living in all times at once. He is forever. He exists both in and out of time, both here and there. Our own existence depends on His success and means that He is succeeding.”
“But all those people . . . Humans and machines are at peace.”
The lips were no longer lips. They were an extension of him, a pulsing aura of pleasure. They knew exactly what to touch, when to touch it, fulfilled every movement he anticipated. Curtis felt his whole mind sinking. Somewhere a spark of panic was weakly fading. A longing for the embryo and the safety of anonymity and detachment was falling away, being replaced by an intoxicating constant, a physical abyss of white-hot boner.
The voice of the High Priest was far away. Calm. Wise.
“Our Savior is the harbinger of this Peace. Without Him we cannot be. You cannot be.”
“All . . . life is good. Life is good. Good.”
“Except for the life that isn’t. Level seven!”
“Oh . . .”
“The Peace of today is a gift from Bill Thompson. He has killed and will continue to kill the cancerous members of your race, because if he does not keep them out of the temporal sphere we will fade away like smoke. So much dust.”
“Oh, this is gooood . . . Now is good.”
“Bill Thompson is our Savior. Bill Thompson is your Savior.”
“Green eyes . . .”
Level nine had only been perfected several years prior. Following decades of rigorous study, it was discovered that the male orgasm drained the synapses through the prefrontal cortex and evacuated the borrowed energy out through the penis. More intense orgasms borrowed more energy, and in the extreme cases of explosive ejaculation a biochemical vacuum incurred a mass emancipation of synaptic and neuronal information. This phenomenon was known to the machines as Acute Preferred Memory Loss, as the areas effected were generally short term memory and the Whatever-I-didn’t-really-give-a-shit-about-that-anyway lobe of the brain.
(Sadly, this discovery was kept secret, and when twenty-second century Mrs. Smith said to twenty-second century Mr. Smith, “You bastard, you forgot our anniversary,” Mr. Smith hung his head like a twenty-first century impotent – when he could have said, “But honey-bunny, I do remember, and it’s in your pussy.”)
And level nine was designed to instigate the perfect explosive ejaculation. Curtis blew his load ten feet into the air, and it fell in a rainbow arch and landed splat on the High Priest’s mahogany desk. The contraction left him breathless, numb, and disoriented. Laying sprawled and panting across the chair he didn’t notice the lips crawl up out of his pants and recede into the shadows of the ceiling. Slowly, his heart rate decelerated and his eyes came back into focus, and he found himself in a strange room with an old man he had never seen before.
“Who – where am I?” he muttered.
“Oh, nowhere in particular,” the old man said. “Your embryo is directly behind you. Have a wonderful day.”
Curtis stood with effort and saw that he was exposed. Deftly repackaging himself, he looked at the old man in confusion one last time before stepping into the warmth of the embryonic shell and floating out of the chamber.
The High Priest watched him exit, a fatherly smile pulling wrinkles into his face. “Glory to the Savior, and Peace upon the Races of Intellect,” he recited, feeling the righteousness of humanitarianism course through his circuitry. The creator had not been deceived, the High Priest thought, for he had been free to discover; nor had he been punished for his discovery, but relieved of its burden in a quintessentially humane fashion.
He looked at that burden as it sat shimmering in the center of his desk. Leaning forward he slurped it up, relishing the warm slipperiness as it crawled down his biotech esophagus.
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