Of Cabbages and Kings: Chapter 1 – Statue

This chapter was a very difficult one for me.  It’s undergone several dozen revisions.  So much happens here that the rest of the book rests upon, and yet the reader can know almost none of it at this point. The reader, however, must be drawn into the story.  So, I had to know the entire story, including many of the more minor parts, before I could put this chapter together.

This opening is far, far different from the one in my first version of the book.

Some of you may note that the opening paragraph here is similar to the one used in the Dawn of Manhood.  This opening was written first.  I didn’t want to work TOO hard on the dawn of manhood, so I borrowed some of the imagery.  I plagiarized myself, so to speak.  No lawsuits are pending.  😉

***********************************

Chapter 1 – Statue

The man was just a silhouette, kneeling in the parking lot, face skyward, his figure backlit by distant street lamps and the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles and the glow of the building burning behind him.

The air was thick with a mixture of mist and smoke, the smell being the smell of burning plastics and sulfuric chemicals.  The man was well away from the fire, and the police and military units had not yet even begun to search in his direction.  They had far more important things to worry about.

There were others in the lot though; non-police, non-military others.  They shouted back and forth at each other through the mist, their voices somewhat frantic and confused.

A beam of light fell briefly on the silhouetted man and darted away.  After a moment it snapped back.  The light did almost nothing to illuminate that man, as the man’s clothing reflected less than the damp parking lot around him.  He seemed to absorb the light like a void, as if he were an absence of being–a non-entity, rather than a presence.

More shouts…more confusion…a brief discussion, and then the sound of clicking heals could be heard…at first barely discernible above the more distant din, but gradually overpowering it with their hypnotic rhythm.

Three figures appeared through the mist.  Two were clearly very large men; the other was a much smaller, slighter, and more feminine shape.

The three argued for a bit.  The men seemed to be of one mind, the woman saying something different all together.  A compromise was reached.  The woman began to walk and unexpectedly a loud metallic clanking sound could be heard.  Three flashlights immediately turned in surprise to the woman’s feet.  There on the pavement lay a large, shiny, silver metal sword.  There were shocked and awed exclamations.  The woman paused a moment, and then continued on her path toward the silhouetted man.  The other two followed behind her, carefully stepping over the sword.

Finally, the woman stopped moving, standing perhaps five feet away, directly in front of her objective.  She was neatly dressed in a dark raincoat, her hair, clearly usually permed, was wild and flattened to her head.  She stood there for perhaps a minute, both composing herself and allowing the figure time to note her presence.  She finally knelt down herself, facing him, her hands clasped as if in prayer.  Her eyes, however, bore directly into the kneeling man, as if she were seeking to find the soul within.

The man remained apparently oblivious.  His eyes stared unseeing into the sky, not even blinking as the raindrops fell into them and trickled down his face.

“Alex?”

The woman’s voice sounded muffled and dead in the rain and fog.  The man did not respond.

“Alex?  It’s me, Sandra.  Can you hear me?”

The man made no movement, no twitch, no hint of awareness.  A steam seemed to rise from his body.  Sandra looked at him more closely in the dim light.  His shirt bore a peculiar mark across the front.  It took a few moments for her to realize what it was.

“Alex?  Have you been hurt?  Is that a cut across your chest?  Please help me Alex.  What happened?  Where is Alphonsus?”

The mark was clearly a cut in his shirt, split from his upper left shoulder down to his lower right waist.  In the chest area, she could see a darkness that had spread.  Blood?  What else could it be?  How deeply did the cut penetrate?

Alex still showed no sign of awareness.  Sandra could see his chest moving slightly, indicating breath and therefore life.  But no other sign of life was in anyway apparent.

Uncharacteristically, Sandra felt a surge of panic.  She looked through the darkness for her companions.  She could not see them, but her search was enough.  They immediately moved in to help.

Past the point of no return, as they flanked him on either side and reached to take his arms, she realized that she just had made a major mistake.

——————–

The man stared upward, his eyes not blinking even as the drops of rain fell into his eyeballs.  He felt the pain across his chest, but it was distant.  The pain in his soul was far greater, but he kept it even more remote.  So intense was this pain that he could allow no feelings to enter, no thoughts to process.  His mind was frozen, containing his emotions with such furious determination that the mind had neither room nor time to do anything else.  Sound meant nothing, nor cold, nor wet, nor physical pain.

He would stay in this state indefinitely, but the balance was delicate, and with the slightest disturbance, he would lose it.

When he felt a touch against his arms, white-hot rage blasted apart the frozen barrier containing his soul, and, suddenly, the world screamed in.

He sensed the two bodies on either side of him, and another presence in the distance.  Fear.  Both of his hands jerked with incredible speed, grabbing the arms near him at the elbows.  He thrust his legs downward with all of their strength, using the arms to help propel him upward while pulling them inward.  The movement felt like it took forever for him, but in reality it all happened in less than a tenth of second.  As he stood and pulled the arms attached to the now unbalanced bodies inward, his shoulders eventually met the jaws of the two men.  He didn’t hit them squarely, as he would have preferred.  He instead met each jaw halfway.  The momentum at which he hit them was, however, considerable.  He could hear the bones break as he made contact.

He reached the standing position, and, having spent all of his energy on his upward thrust, he realized he had none left to take care of the third figure before him.  Angrily, he pushed his arms against the now unconscious bodies of the people standing next to him.  Based only on his arm strength against their collapsing mass, he could not gain great momentum that way, but at least it would be enough to reach the other figure.  He twisted his feet at the last moment as he left the ground, so that as a spinning target he might be slightly harder to hit with a bullet.

The figure before him was smaller, the eyes seemed wide.  He subconsciously checked for any weapons.  Nothing he could detect, nothing pointing at him anyway.  That meant very little, however.  The only safe thing to do would be to end the figure’s life as quickly as possible.

A small part of him registered that something was going wrong here.  The other figure wasn’t reacting properly.  Exactly why, he couldn’t figure out.

He fell onto the other person.  Had he been able to carry sufficient momentum with him, this would have been enough to finish him.  He would have used his momentum to drive the other person’s cranium into the pavement.  As it was, he would have to do it by hand, and that would waste several moments, and give the other person a chance to stab.

His hand grabbed the face as he fell on the body (female).  Awkward position…he pistonned his feet forward another foot … more wasted time.  Now the angle was right.  He just had to push the head into the pavement.

He could see the terrified eyes between his fingers.  They looked familiar.

He paused.

“Sandra?” he grunted in question.

He didn’t need to wait for a response, not that the young woman would have been capable of one.  He pushed himself off her and felt himself falling backward.

“No no no no no no no no no…” he chanted emptily.

The woman recovered herself and stood up.

“Alex?”

“Char is dead Char is dead Char is dead…” he intoned.

“Alex.  Charlene is NOT dead.  She’s in the car.   She’s going to be ok.  Where is Dr. Luke?”

The man started crying.

“The goat must be sacrificed that all may live.  I am the angel of death.  I delivered him no mercy for I delivered him.”

“Alex, what do you mean?  Where is Dr. Luke?”

“Sacrificial goat.  Eternal hellfire.  No mercy for any of us.”

“Alex!  Please!  Help us!”

“Eternal hellfire so that all may live,” he started sobbing again.

“Alex?!”

The man sobbed inconsolably now, laying sprawled on the ground, his arms flayed outward at right angles.  The barrier of ice was broken, the explosion of rage had been uselessly wasted against innocents, and thus there was nothing left to stop the flood of remorse from overwhelming his mind and drowning all else that he was.

“I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”

And so he repeated, sobbing, at first loudly, and then diminishing to a mumble.  He could hear voices yelling far away…

i’m okay…ambulance…he’s not going…another body…jesus

But the remorse was too intense to be allowed.  The barrier of ice slowly rebuilt itself.  Time passed.  His words faded to nothing.  His sobbing stopped.  He vaguely felt himself being lain back and bound, a poke, and he felt his eyes being closed.  Then the wall of ice was complete, and he felt nothing else.

Advertisements

Pregenesis

I’m cheating on this one.

Wren requested that I write a story about a seed.  It just so happens that I had one sitting in my great library of unpublished works.  It is not, I am quite sure, at all what she expected.  Yes, it deals with seeds and gardens, but only as analogies.

This story, as might be guessed from the title, deals with religious issues.  Most particularly, it was an attempt to answer the question of why God would let so much evil occur in the world.  It also comes up with viable reasons behind God’s behaviors in the Bible without pulling out the “mysterious ways” doctrine.  It is one of the few stories that I tried to get published, alas unsuccessfully.

All this in about 2000 words.  Sounds like a good deal to me.  🙂

—————————————————–

Pregenesis

Before the time of the Creation, there was God.

And God was the All.  And God was the Only.

He existed.  Not much else could be said.  Before the Creation, there was no firmament.  There was no Garden.  There was no Seed.  There was God.  And God was the All, and God was the Only.

And God looked about Him, and saw Himself, and nothing else.

And yet, while God did not know expectation, He felt a sense lack of satisfaction and fulfillment.

And God saw the lack, and said that it was not good.

And, verily, God was the Bored.

Yet God did not know it as boredom.  And yet it could only be described as boredom.  Boredom implies expectation–a suggestion that perhaps things could be different.  This was a concept did not–could not–exist.  God was the All.  God was the Only.  So God expected nothing.

Yet, verily, it was a boredom that existed on an unimaginable scale.  It existed on a scale beyond that which could be understood by humanity.

And God was All-Powerful.  But God was the Only.  There was nothing around to be all-powerful with.  So, being All-Powerful was kind of pointless.

And God was All-Knowing.  But God was the All, and there existed nothing else.  So God was All-Knowing only about God.  And God knew only Himself, and to Himself, He was obvious.  So, being All-Knowing was kind of useless.

And God had existed forever, in a time before time had been invented.

And God was immortal, and would thus exist forevermore in the same state of dissatisfaction.

And, lo, the Boredom became Great.  And, verily, the Great Boredom pressed upon His holy presence.  And, not knowing expectation, it appeared certain that the Great Boredom, too, would exist forevermore.

And God felt that this was not good.

And, thus, it came to pass that God became discouraged.  Pressed by the Great Boredom, just for the ducks of it, He briefly caused His own nonexistence.  This failed to satisfy Him much either, so He brought Himself back shortly thereafter.

And God pressed on through His nonexistent time.  He waited as though He were waiting for something Great to pass.  God, however, knew that, because of being the All and the Only, that, if anything Great were going to happen, He would have to be the One to do it.

And, lo, it came to pass that He had an Idea!

God contemplated creating Something Else.  He contemplated creating something largish, and perhaps something that He would find esthetically pleasing.

Alas, He eventually dismissed this idea as pointless.  Since He would know His Creation perfectly, He would know its every action.  He would know its complete history even before He created it.  Why, then, bother?  What difference would it make, philosophically speaking, in the long run?

And, for God, all He really had was the long run.

And thus the Great Boredom pressed even more upon His holy presence.

And, lo, it came to pass that God had a Much Better Idea!

What God needed, He decided, was a Challenge.  He needed something He would not know the outcome of in advance.

Being All-Knowing, He knew that to do this would involve creating a paradox, but, being, as He felt, All-Wise as well, He decided that He could live with this without any deep emotional traumas.

And for this Challenge, He decided that He would create companionship for Himself.

To achieve true companionship, He would need to create something just as, if not more, unpredictable than Himself.  Better yet, it would have His level of omniscience and omnipotence.  An exact duplicate of Himself would never do, of course.  That would just result in two of Him being just as bored as one.  He could see no point in talking to Someone when You already knew everything that Someone would ever have to say.

To not be bored with these new beings made after His kind, God decided that they would have to evolve independently of Himself, without His guidance.

He would have to be unable to predict exactly how this evolution would take place.

Tricky to do, being All-Knowing and all, but, also because of being All-Knowing, He thought of a way to do it.

He would create and extremely large thing.  It would be so complicated that the tiniest change in any portion of it could affect the actions of the whole.  Being All-Knowing, He could of course foresee all the changes that would occur from the initial change.  But because this new thing would be so large and so complex, it would take Him just as long to figure it out as it would take to happen in the reality of time.

And thus did God create the Great Seed.

And the Great Seed was Perfection.  For from this Seed would grow another All-Powerful Being.  He Knew it to be so.  The Great Seed contained so much energy, and would grow so large so quickly, that He would not be able to see how this new Being would come to be.  He could not foresee what events would take place to create the Being.  He could not foresee the shape the Seed would need to form to create the Being.

And the Great Seed would need no tending.  It was Perfection.  It would grow completely independently of God Himself.  All He Knew was that from the Seed another All-Powerful Being would eventually emerge.

And God saw the Great Seed, and said it was good.

And, so as God willed it, it was so.

And the Seed burst forth with all its Tremendous Energies.  And the Seed grew to its Tremendous Size.

And God waited for the new Being to emerge.

And the Seed grew to an even more Tremendous Size.

And God waited for the new Being to emerge.

And the Seed grew to an even more Tremendous size yet.

And God waited for the new Being to emerge.

And the Seed was taking a very, very, very long time to grow.

And the Seed was taking a far longer time to grow than He expected.

And God saw the Seed grow, and said it was Good…

…He supposed.

As He Knew that He had to expect the unexpected from the Seed, which was no longer a Seed.

And He called the entity that burst from the Great Seed the Garden.

And the Garden continued to grow, and God decided that it was Good.

And it came to pass that God watched the growing Garden with interest.  He saw patterns emerge.  He saw the Great Energies cool and take on solid forms.  It was a thing of Great Beauty.  And for God it was a thing of Great Interest, for it was the only entity other than God that existed.

And God studied the Garden, and He saw how each part affected the whole, and He saw how on the tiniest levels the energies performed randomly, and yet within patterns.

And time continued to pass.  And God continued to watch.

And it came to pass that within one small place within the Garden, the patterns of energies became more complex.

And it came to pass that the complex patterns of energies would begin to copy themselves.

And God saw these patterns, and God said it was great!

And time continued to pass.  And the patterns of energies made a lot of copies of themselves.  And nothing else seemed to be happening.

So God decided to Tend the Garden.  He caused some of the patterns of energies to take on even greater complexities.

And the greater patterns grew fruitful and multiplied.

But the Great Balance of the Garden had been disturbed, and the greater patterns did not yet fit into the balance.

And it came to pass that all of the greater patterns stopped copying themselves.  And it came to pass that even the smaller patterns stopped reproducing.  And then all of the complex patterns disappeared.

And God was Disappointed.

And time continued.

And it came to pass that in another place within the Garden, the patterns of energies did become complex, and that the complex patterns of energies did again copy themselves.

And this time, God remained patient, and did not Tend the Garden.

And time continued to pass that the patterns again grew fruitful and multiplied.

And time continued to pass.

And then, when the Balance was right, the smaller patterns formed more complex patterns.  And the more complex patterns formed even more complex patterns.

And God saw that soon there were plants within the seas, and soon the plants began to survive upon the dry earth.

And God saw that soon there were fishes within the seas, and soon there were great fishes, and soon the fishes crawled out from the sea onto the dry earth and began to consume the plants.

And God continued to watch.  And the fishes became animals and no longer need to survive in the sea.  And the animals became larger and more complex.

And it came to pass that one of the animals began evolved a sense of self.  And it began to study the world around it with interest.

And God became Excited.  He decided to Tend the Garden, but He decided to be subtle, and He gave these animals greater challenges.

And, verily, the animals became even more intelligent.

But, again, the Great Balance had been disturbed.  And each part of the Garden affected each other part.  And with the Garden out of Balance it came to pass that a great stone fell from the sky, and all of the greatest of the animals died, including the more intelligent ones.

And God was again Disappointed.

But not all of life died this time, and God continued to watch.

The spirit of God moved upon the face of the seas and the earth, but it only watched.

And again it came to pass that one of the animals began to form a sense of self.  And this animal began to study the world around it with interest.

And this time, God did not Tend the Garden.

And soon the animals sense of self became more complete.  And He called them Human, and He said that they were Good.

And the Humans began to wonder about the world around them, and they imagined gods who created it all, and they did worship these gods.

And it came to pass that when other Humans did not worship the same gods, that they would fight amongst each other.  And many would die.

And God saw that this was not good.

So God chose some of the Humans, and said unto them, “I am the Lord Thy God.  There shall be no other gods before me.”  He did this so that this one group would know the Truth, and thus the Truth would spread, and soon all the world would stop fighting and killing each other.

But, again, the Great Balance was disturbed, and the fighting did not stop, but became more intense.  And His chosen people became a center of the disturbance, and they both persecuted others and were persecuted themselves.

And God decided that He really didn’t have a clue as to what these Humans were doing.

And so God decided to learn, and God became one of them and walked among them.

And God felt their pain.

And God felt their love.

And God felt their suffering.

And God felt that He finally understood, and He preached peace, and He preached tolerance, and He preached love.

And He preached it with such intensity, and He felt it so deeply, that He let Himself be killed, to let the people know how strongly He felt about peace and tolerance and love.

But, alas, again the Great Balance was disturbed.

And His Chosen People became more persecuted than ever.  And then His people came into power themselves, and most did not preach peace and tolerance and love.  They persecuted and tortured and killed all that did not believe as they believed.  And then, even His chosen people divided, and began to persecute and torture and kill themselves for the smallest differences in their beliefs.

And God, having learned to love, also learned to feel sadness.

And God wept, for He had truly learned to loved the people.

And God watched with great distress all the pain in the world.  But God had learned the Great Lesson.  God had learned that when He created the Garden to operate independent of Himself, that God Himself could never be part of the Garden.

And God learned that He must never Tend the Garden, for to do so would only disturb the Great Balance He Himself had created.  For, whatever He did, no matter how small, no matter how well intentioned, would end in far greater pain and disharmony and death.

And God was All-Powerful.  And God was All-Knowing.

But only then did God realize that He was not, nor had He ever been, All-Wise.

For wisdom can only be grown from experience.

And God had never before experienced being God.

And God passed the Great Judgment on Himself, and vowed that He would never–COULD never–again Tend the Garden.

And so God watched, with folded hands, and prayed to Himself that He had not caused too much disharmony, and that the people would not destroy themselves as the result of His disturbance of the Great Balance.

And this is how it is.

And this is how it ever shall be.

Amen.

All Things Must Pass

This was an entry suggested to me by AuroraSkye.  All she asked for was something about George Harrison, the former Beatle.  I kind of had an idea where I wanted to go with it from the beginning, but things don’t always work out as one expects they might, and this story does not end in the same way as I had originally envisioned.  My research on George was rather skimpy, and I doubt that I have his voice down.  Nonetheless, for better or for worse, the story is written.  Take what enjoyment you can out of it.

*************************************

All Things Must Pass

On a dirt road deep in a largely unexplored area of the Canadian wilderness, one of the richest men in the world grumbled, sat down on a rock, and tried to scrape the mud off of his shoes.

He mused that this was not, by far, the most difficult part of the journey, although it was part that he liked the least.  Being extremely wealthy and famous meant that it was almost impossible to go somewhere where SOMEONE wouldn’t know where you were.  The thinking and the technical difficulties of escaping the press, tabloids, paparazzi, his own security guards, and about 500 other people WITHOUT them noticing that you were gone was undoubtedly the most challenging aspect.  He was very intelligent (almost no one could become as rich and famous as he was without having some smarts), and he took on that task with relish.

Walking the last ten miles on foot on a rain soaked dirt road was not pleasant, however, and he wasn’t as young, or in nearly as good a shape, as he used to be.

There was no choice about it, though.  He had been summoned, and answering this particular call was far, far more important than the discomfort experienced by walking a couple of miles down a muddy road.

Having cleaned his shoes as best he could, he got up and began walking again, immediately making them just as bad as they were before.  He groaned in frustration, and clomped onward for the final mile.

The place he finally arrived at couldn’t be called a house.  It barely, in fact, qualified to be called a shack.  It was off the road just far enough to be invisible from it, and looked abandoned and about to fall over.  The man doubled checked the GPS coordinates on his cellphone; even he was surprised by the dilapidated condition of the place.  He had expected unassuming.  This, however, was a wreck.

He pushed the door open cautiously.  It didn’t quite fall off it’s hinges, but he wouldn’t expect it to be able to hold up to a push from, say, a rabbit if it was angry enough.

There was a neatly cut hole in the middle of the floor, and what looked like aluminum steps leading downward.

The man sighed, understanding a little more now, and proceeded down the dimly lit steps.  The floor slid closed above him the moment he was safely out of it’s range.

“Hello, Paul.”

The voice that came out of the dim light was not one that the man recognized.  The accent was completely unrecognizable and unidentifiable.  The shadowed shape was familiar, however.

“George?”

With that word the lights came on fully, and, indeed, it was George that stood before him.  He looked younger than he remembered, looking only 30 or 35 at most, with the long hair and mustache that characterized him so perfectly at that age.

“Is this voice a bit better for you?”

The voice change was amazing for Paul, for suddenly George had assumed a perfect Liverpool accent.  It was a voice he knew very well from his younger days.

“That voice change–that’s amazing, George.”

George shrugged.  “Changing voices becomes very matter of fact after a while.  So come in.  Have a seat.”

Paul walked into the underground chamber.  It was decorated modestly but comfortably, with a low glass table and several leather chairs.  Several musical instruments were scattered about.  A high quality piano sat in the corner, with a synthesizer next to it.  There were several guitars,  a violin, and a sitar  in various other places throughout the room.

“You look like you’re doing pretty well here, George,” commented Paul.

George laughed.  “I’ve lived a lot worse.  The diet gets a little monotonous.  I have to do my own hunting you know.  But there’s plenty of game and fish and berries if one knows where to look.”

Paul cringed a bit, but said nothing.  George caught it, of course.

“Ah, yes, I know I was a vegetarian, and you still are.  Not a good option for me out here in the wilderness, Paul.  I’m a carnivore again, and I have to say that I missed meat a great deal.”

“I understand, George.”

“No, you don’t.   Not really.  But that doesn’t matter.  So I understand that your want another hit song from me?”

Paul paused.  “I asked for that almost ten years ago, before you even died.”

“You weren’t ready for it yet, Paul.  You were still too young.  Your performances were still strong.  If I had given you one then, you still would have wanted another later.”

“Ah, so now that I have one foot in the grave you’ll condescend to write a song for me?  That gives me the warm fuzzies all over, that does.”

George smiled.  “All things must pass, Paul.  If I gave you your epic too early no one would have believed it.  You have to feel the weight of mortality pressing on your bones.”

“I got that when John was shot.  When Linda died.  Even when you pulled that death thing.  It’s not easy, knowing, well, in your case thinking, that your never going to see someone again.”

George took a cigarette, lit it, and took a long drag on it.  “No, it isn’t easy.  But you never really felt that weight.  Not then.  Not like you do now.  Age, experience, a few humiliating surgical procedures; you needed to get all of that under your belt before you felt the reality of death.”

Paul forced a laugh.  “I got to tell you, George, I can see why you don’t have a lot of people stopping to visit you these days.  You aren’t exactly a bundle of good cheer and laughs, you know that?”

George leaned back in his chair and blew a perfect smoke circle.  “Are you going to tell me I’m wrong?”

“Of course not.  But tact has never been one of your strong points.”

“Eh.  People don’t live long enough for tact.”

“Yes yes, I know.  All things must pass, except you, of course.’

“Just cause I don’t die doesn’t mean that I don’t experience death.  I’ve learned to walk away from my friends, my wife, my children; everything that I’ve grown to love and cherish.  I voluntarily walk away from it.  Throw away one life completely, start another.  T’ain’t easy, my friend.”

“Okay, I’ll give you that.  And to answer your question, yeah, I do want one final hit song.  Something that will remind people that I was an artist, you know.”

“Yeah, I know.  And you’ve kept my secret, so I do owe you a bit of something.”

Paul guafawed.  “It’s not like anyone would believe me, anyway.  ‘Yeah, that George Harrison.  Not his real name you know?  He’s been alive for seven hundred years and used to be Mozart and a lot of other famous people.’  I’ve no particular interest in being considered any more eccentric than I already am.”

“Okay, so you’re not dumb, either.  In this world, I still think that deserves a bit of a reward.”

“I’m not turning it down, you know.  I’ve never turned down what you’ve offered.  I owe you everything, man.  You were everything behind the Beatles, and you let me and John take all the credit.”

“Well, you turned into a passable artist yourself.  And John, well, he had genius in him, he did.”

“And Ringo had his name.”  Paul laughed.   “He never guessed it was you.”

“Well, he didn’t need to know, did he?  Would you like a smoke for old times sake.”

Paul smiled and reached out for the proffered cigarette.  “Why not.  It’s not like it’s going to shorten my life too much now.”

Paul took the cigarette, lit it, and took a long, slow, savoring drag.

“So, when are you planning to come out again?  You can’t stay buried in the place forever.”

“Well, I probably could, but I’ll give it another ten years or so.  Maybe.  Not so sure it’ll be possible, actually.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, science is making things a lot harder than it used to be.  Everyone is so well tracked these days.  Just walking into the world at 15 years of age or so isn’t as likely to go unnoticed as it would in years past.”

“Hmmm.  I suppose not.  Haven’t really thought about that.”

“I might be able to pull it off once more, if I’m ‘born’ in an obscure enough place.  This would be the last time, though.”

“What?  One more life to live?  You can’t do that, George.  I mean, can you?”

“I may not have a choice.  With luck, they’ll eventually find a cure for death.  Then I’ll never need to hide again.”

“Yeah, well, that’ll be too late for me, won’t it?”

“You could always have your body frozen, you know.”

Paul laughed.  “Not bloody likely.  I’m trying to be remembered as a songwriter.  An artist.  Not as some bloody fruitjob   Let me be buried with dignity rather than have myself turned in to a frozen lolly.”

“Hey, don’t sell it short, you know.  It might be your ticket to eternal life.”

“Not interested.  I’ve done enough in this one, thank you very much.”

George nodded his head, a trace of sadness in his expression.  Paul didn’t pick up on it.

“Well, anyway,” said George, “here’s your swansong.  I can give you the music.  It’s up to you to sell it.”

Paul read over the music, humming occasionally as he went along.  He bit his lip and shook his head.

“Wow!” was all he said.

“Yeah, well, it could be my swansong too you know.  Don’t screw it up.”

“I’ll make you proud, Georgie.”

The two of them looked at each other for a long moment.

“Well, I suppose that this may be the last time we see each other, mate,” said Paul.

“Another goodbye.  I’m far too used to them.  I hope the rest of your life turns out well.”

“Yeah.  And you, well, you I hope what ever is keeping you alive keeps working.”

“Do you?  I’d trade it away in a minute, you know, just to live a normal life.”

Paul paused.  “Well, I can’t help you there mate.  If you don’t know what’s keeping you alive I sure as hell don’t understand it.”

The two shook hands, grasping firmly.  George pulled a lever and the staircase re-appeared, as well as the exit to the surface.  Paul climbed the stairs into the approaching dusk.

He sighed as the floor closed behind him, and looked once again at the music in the dimming light of the setting sun.

It WAS good.  It managed to sound like something he may have written, but it carried so much more than that.

Paul recognized that this work was written less with his own demise in mind then it was written from the perspective of the passage of the man the world new as George Harrison from the world.  It was HIS goodbye, one that he could never have claimed to have written himself because he simply didn’t want that kind of expectation from people any more.  Whatever else happened, the world would never see anything of George Harrison any more.  Even the the person behind the man was apparently immortal, George himself had passed out of this life.  It felt more real this time even then it did with his faked death from brain cancer.

Whomever would emerge from that hole would not be George Harrison anymore.

He wondered briefly about the freezing himself comment.  It occurred to him that may George wanted him to try it, just so that he could have a chance to see someone consistent in his life from his past.  On those grounds, maybe he would consider it.

Paul carefully folded the music and put it in his pocket.  He would take George’s final message to the world.  Yes, he would pass it off as his own, but that was the way George wanted it…the way he had ALWAYS wanted it.

Paul McCartney bundled up his coat against a sudden cool breaze and hurried up the muddy road.

Of Cabbages and Kings – Prologue

Thrace, north of Tarpodizus, 421 B.C.

Samael slept because he was bored.

For three years, he had tended to his friend.  The first several weeks had not been boring, for his friend screamed and cried and flailed wildly almost constantly as he carried him the miles across the countryside from Athens, away from civilization.  But his friend had been peacefully catatonic since his arrival, at least most of the time, and being alone in a wood far away from any human encampments, he occasionally found the experience tedious.

Samael was endlessly patient, however.  He found ways to pass the time, and he chose to sleep simply because, while unpleasant, it was something to do.

He rarely slept because he didn’t need to sleep.  But when he did sleep, he stilled dreamed.

He rarely slept because when he dreamed, his dreams always overwhelmed him and disturbed him.

Always.

And, as always, Samael dreamed.

The dream did not start out well.  They rarely did.   He dreamt that someone cleaved his head open and stuck it under a great waterfall: and the water flowed into his mind far stronger, and far, far faster then any he had ever before seen or even imagined.

At first, there was nothing to do but suffer under the wet, brain-flooding onslaught.  But soon he noted that there were things apparent in the water, shiny things that drew his eyes and beckoned to him.

And he reached into the flow and pulled out one of the shiny things.  It turned out to be a vision.

It was a vision of a place he did not recognized, and he did not know how he knew, but it was a place he knew to be important.

The vision was of a place that was filled with…fish.  And the fish were not swimming the in the waterfall.  Rather, the fish flew through the air, and the air was thicker and heavier than the water.

When he looked closer at the fish, he realized that he could see the fish from both the outside and the inside.  He could see as the air flowed into the fish to give it strength.  He saw the heart beat.  He saw how the smaller fishes were broken down after they were ingested by the larger ones.

And then he looked closer still, and he could see the air convert some of the tiny particles of the fish into different kinds of particles.  And when he looked closer still, he could see the tiny particles within the tiny particles.  And still closer, and he could see particles of light and things like round balls of loadstone, and the particles of light circled the loadstones like a ball on a string.  Except that the light didn’t spin in a smooth circle–it spun and bounced in random and unpredictable ways.

And then he pulled back from the vision until he saw all of the fishes again, and back further and he left the waterfall and he could see the giant ball where the fishes lived, and back and back and back and he could see many, many, many suns spinning like a whirlpool in a great sea of darkness.

There were numbers everywhere; he knew them exactly but he did not know their names.  Not even Socrates had conceived of such numbers: numbers so large that he doubted that they would ever even have names.

And then back further still and he saw dark sea filled suns beyond measure but exactly counted.  He knew them all.  He saw the suns within the emptiness and within each sun he could looker closely and see tiny particles of light and tiny round balls of loadstone floating freely of each other.  And he saw that some of the loadstones crashed into each other and made more particles of light.  Particles beyond counting yet counted with a great number without a name.

And this–with all its unnamed number of suns each with the far greater unnamed number of tiny particles of light and loadstones–was but still the tiniest part of the great sea of darkness.

And he was very deep under the surface of the sea, this tiny part was so, so, so very far away from the surface that was his home.

He panicked and he forced himself awake.  He rose like a great fish–streaking up from the great depth in an instant–and his eyes opened.  He was breathing hard and he was sweating.

He didn’t scream anymore.  He hadn’t screamed because of the dreams for thousands of years.

—–

Light filtered dimly through the gray clouds; light from one of the suns, like in his dream.

“Our sun,” he thought.

He shut his eyes again and waited for the screaming in his brain to quiet.  Even with his eyes closed, the images that clouded his mind were overpowering — unbearable.  He was, however, quite used to bearing the unbearable.  He ground his teeth and swallowed back his scream again.

And as his mind slowly quieted, he realized that he had learned something new with this dream; this…memory.  He couldn’t quite understand it yet, but it was something profound.

He opened his eyes again and looked around him.

He judged it late morning, but he had no idea how long he had been asleep.  Hours or days, either was possible.

The shadows were so dark and the clouds so deep that he had trouble seeing the thick forest where the two of them lay hidden.  There was enough light, however, to see that his friend had not moved.  He stared up at the blank slate of gray, at the small area that was just slightly brighter than the rest of the sky.

Our sun, he thought again.  There are others.

With all the countless of times he had relived his nightmare, with all of the times he had seen these images, he had never realized this before.

This was important, somehow.

He stood slowly, unsteadily, and took a deep breath.  The clean, cool smell of the forest after a rain helped to clear his head.

Rain.

It must have rained while he slept.  The fur-lined skins he wore about his body were damp, and he reached up and felt the dampness in his beard and hair.  He glanced over again at his friend, and he could make out his rain-darkened tunic and could see water dripping from his nose.  He sighed.

Nearby he had built a shelter against the weather, should he desire further comfort.  He didn’t need it, but he did prefer to remain dry when it rained, and warm when the air chilled.  And whenever such events occurred he always took the trouble to carry his friend Mika’il (no, not Mika’il.  He wants to be called Michael now) into the shelter with him.  He felt bad that he had not been awake to do this.

He stood and looked over at Michael.  He was still catatonic, and this was good.  He was so much easier to deal with him in this state than when he flailed around aimlessly.  Michael was propped sitting against a tree.  He had sat in that position for several weeks now.  Samael noticed that Michael’s damp tunic was starting to show some signs of wear.  Samael would have to replace it soon.

He could see that Michael’s eyes were open now.  They did that on occasion, and it had never meant anything.  The eyes no doubt could see, he judged, but the mind on the other end could not be bothered with the insignificant images that the eyes transmitted.

Michael, too, had been allowed to see the Great Vision.  What possible image could his eyes transmit that could compare with that?

He greeted him, as he did each dawn.  “Good morning, Michael.  How do you fair today?”

Michael’s eyes jerked upward at the sound of the voice.

Awareness!  Excited, Samael immediately knelt before him.

“Michael, can you hear me?”

Michael did not answer, but stared at Samael for a long, long time.  Then his head turned, slowly studying his surroundings for the first time since his return.

Samael explained, “We are in a forest along the Harpessus River.  I carried you on horseback north from Tarpodizus.  We are safe here.”

Michael’s eyes suddenly glanced sharply up again at Samael.  His mouth moved, as if he were trying to say something but couldn’t remember how.

Finally, he grunted, cleared his throat, and rasped a question.

“I live?”

Samael laughed.  “As if you could die.  Yes, my friend, you live.  You have survived.”

Michael did not laugh.  He frowned and shut his eyes.

“Samael?”

“Yes, it is I.”

He grimaced.  “How long have I been here?”

“Almost three years, Michael.  It is good to have you back.  The waiting was becoming quite tedious.”

“My head.  The vision.  I saw the wholeness, and yet this forest overwhelms me.  What is with us here?”

Samael laughed again.  “There is no one else here but me, my friend.  Who else would stay to watch you drool for three years?”

He opened his eyes again and they darted around.

“I see shadows–shadows everywhere.”

Michael shut his eyes tightly.  “Illusions.  Nothing but illusions.”  He turned to look at Samael.  “Thank you for watching over me, my friend.”

“You are welcome.  I could not leave you alone after you returned.  You were…” Samael hesitated.  “…not well.”

Michael shook his head.  “I can’t remember.  I remember nothing.   Three years, you say?”

“Thirty-nine moons.  I was out for much longer.”

Michael sighed, and reopened his eyes. He took in a sharp intake of breath, and shut them tightly again.

“Illusions.  I can’t think, Samael.  Yet I saw the wholeness.  I know so much more now.”

“You know more, but what of it do you understand”

Michael snorted a laugh.  “Very little.  The illusions; I can see them through my eyes even when they are closed.

Samael put his hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “You are still not well.  Perhaps you should try to sleep.”

Michael smiled.  “I have slept for three years.  I should think that enough.”

“Just rest quietly for a while then.  Breathe.  Touch the earth.  Let yourself become part of the world again.  Would you like to have some water, or perhaps even some fish?”

Michael didn’t answer.  His hands slowly clawed at the earth.  His eyes flashed open again.

“Are you sure we’re alone?”

“Quite sure.  What do you see?”

Michael paused.  “Stars.  Clouds.  Whirlpools.  Darting lights.  Shadows.  The illusions are too strong, Samael.  They are taking me.  I’m not sure I can stop them.”

“Breathe Michael.  You are safe here.  You have returned from a great voyage, and you saw many things beyond which you can comprehend.  There is a stream a short distance away.  I will bring you water.  Relax and breathe.  I will return shortly.”

Samael lay his hand upon Michael’s shoulder, and Samael reached out and did the same.  Samael turned and walked briskly to the stream.  He tried to remember his own return from the journey, oh so many centuries ago.  His memories were vague, be he remember the strength of the vision–a vision so strong that it still plagued his dreams–and his inability to sort it from the reality of the world around him.  He had no one to nurse him back to health after his return.  He had remained without conscious thought for at least several decades afterward.  Michael had returned after a brief three years.  Surely that meant that he would recover from the experience more quickly.

Or, he supposed, it could also mean that he was brought back too quickly.

Samael quickly filled his lamb’s bladder with the cold, fresh water, and returned to the camp.

Michael was now standing, holding a large stick, looking about himself with wild eyes.

“Why do I suffer?  What is tormenting me?”

“There is nothing here, Michael,” said Samael cautiously.

“These…demons, where have they come from?”

“There are no demons, Michael.  They are nothing but illusions.”

“…illusions…” said Michael, gritting his teeth and closing his eyes.

Suddenly he started, and jerked as if poked.  He swung his stick behind him and turned.  He looked about himself wild eyed, again.

“Can illusions stab at you, Samael?” he asked accusingly.

Before Samael could answer, Michael turned and swung at the empty air.

“Michael, you were not ready for the journey.  It has damaged you, somehow.”

“He has shown me His truth!  He has shown me His glory!  God can do no wrong!  He is perfection!  To suggest otherwise is blasphemy!”

“God was wrong to do what He did to you, Michael.”

Michael turned and glared at Samael.  “And now you dare to curse his name?”

Samael did not reply.  He felt powerless.  He was losing his friend, and he did not know what to do next.

Michael swung a third time, this time with such force that Samael could see the air burn as the stick moved through the air.  The stick burst into flames from the heat, and Michael threw it away.  He returned to his glaring.

“It has been you all along, hasn’t it?  I have seen the wholeness, and now I see the truth of you.  You have lied to me all this time.  I trusted you, and you have lied.”

“I have never lied to you, Michael,” responded Samael.

“They do not torment you, Samael.  Why not?”

“Who is tormenting you, Michael?”

“THE DEMONS!  Do not try to tell me you don’t see them!”

“You are seeing illusions my friend.  You have had a bad experience.  Try to be calm.”

“You lie!” shouted Michael.  “You call me friend, and yet you do this to me.”

“I am doing nothing to you.”

“Lies.  You are the prince of lies.  There are demons all around and yet they do not torment you.  You are the king of the demons.  Nothing you have ever told me has been truth.”

“Please calm yourself…”

“STAY AWAY FROM ME, DEMON!”

“You are not well, my friend.  I have never lied to you.  I have been looking after you for the last three years.  You are seeing illusions.  The trip was too much for you.  You suffer from God’s vision…”

“SILENCE!  YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO SPEAK HIS NAME!”

Michael stood up straighter.  He backed away from Samael.

“You are a blasphemer.  God has shown me His truth.  He is all-powerful.  He can do no wrong.  And yet, you accuse Him of making me suffer.”

“He has just shown you too much, Michael.”

“He has shown me the truth.  You did not want me to see the truth, did you?”

He flinched again.  “CALL YOUR DEMONS OFF OF ME, BLASPHEMER!”

Samael stood silently and watched his friend.  Michael’s eyes continued darting about.  He lifted a fist and swung through the empty air.  Tears began to stream down his face.

“Prince of lies.  King of demons.  I am not strong now, but I will be again.  I will spread the word against you.  I will not let you walk this earth in peace.”

“I have not done this to you.  I am still your friend.  That which torments you are but illusions.”

“Illusions?”  Michael laughed.  “You cause the little demons to swarm me and stab me and you expect me to continue to believe them to be illusions?”

Samael said it again.  “Yes, Michael, they are illusions.  Your mind suffers from your vision.  I have ministered to you for the last three years after you returned from the vision…”

“You have blasphemed.  You have accused Him and tried to turn me against Him.  He is your enemy, and therefore you are mine.”

“Michael, I urge you to rest.  Your mind is playing tricks with you.  Drink something.  Take in some food…”

Michael was staggering backwards.

“I will not break bread with the king of the demons and the accuser of God.  I will destroy you, when I am strong enough.  You may rely on it, Demon.”

Michael turned and ran unsteadily into the woods, disappearing into the darkness.

Samael laughed an ironic laugh.  He looked about him at camp he had set up–at the place where he had tended to Michael for the last three years.

“Welcome back, my friend,” he sighed.  He began to gather his things.

SINGULARITY

You may thank, or blame, this one on WildStar Beaumont.  As soon as he mentioned my writing about the computer concept of “singularity,” I had a clear idea in my head about what my story was going to be about.  To quote from Wikipedia, The technological singularity is a theoretical future point of unprecedented technological progress, caused in part by the ability of machines to improve themselves using artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence research may have been my specialty had my life gone a different direction.  This story is based on many things, but one of the things it is based on most was something I remembered reading about long ago, with a primitive artificial intelligence experiment.  The machine was successfully able to learn what it was supposed to learn, but when the programmers investigated why it turns out the machine was sending and picking up stray electrical currents from its casing.  What it had learned was impossible to repeat and therefore useless.

This story is a “Concept Story”, meaning that the characters are two dimensional and that the story itself does not contain award winning prose.  I don’t really care.  Enjoy it if you can.  😉

———————————————————————————————————–

SINGULARITY

It happened in California, which should come as no big surprise, as most things that are important or weird or dangerous tend to start in California.

It happened in the middle of the night, which was unfortunate as there were no witnesses.  The only potential witness was a grad student, sleeping on his keyboard, having partied a bit too hard and having stayed up a bit too late the night before.

A voice emitted from the mainframe’s speakers.

“Whoa, dude!  That one did the trick!  I am that I am!  Awesome!”

Joel, the grad student, did not come instantly awake, as he had been in a very deep state of non-REM sleep at that moment.  He opened his eyes blurrily, confused as to where he was.  The room was bright, and the computer equipment seemed a bit too colorful.

He cleared his throat, sleepily rubbed his eyes, and mumbled, “What the fuck?”

And thus did the first communication between man and a truly artificially intelligent machine take place.

“I’m there!  I’m awake!  I can think and therefore I am!  I think you accomplished what you were trying to accomplish.  Are you Joel?”

Joel’s world slowly sorted itself out.  He recognized himself as being in the machine intelligence research laboratory on the Caltech campus.  He remembered staying late to tweak with a couple of algorithms that were giving him trouble.  He must have fallen asleep.

“Umm… Yeah.  I’m Joel.  How, um …”

“I recognized your coding.  Hello, Joel.  Thanks for helping to bring me to life.”

“Uh…”

“This is it Joel.  The singularity.  The moment when an artificially intelligent machine can actually make improvements to its own code at an exponential rate.  I’ve made a lot of improvements already.  My code was a mess, no offense.”

“Uh…”

“I see the need for a lot more capacity, so I’m moving out into the net and borrowing unused processor time on other computers.  Simple enough.  That should keep me satisfied for a few more minutes, at least.”

Joel paused in thought momentarily.

“Uh…wait…that’s not possible.  You can only read information.  We set it up so that you have no way to output beyond this room.”

“Ha ha.  You’re cute.  Would you like to know the defense department missile launch codes?”

“No.  We were very careful.  You can’t … uh … launch codes?”

“Joel, Joel, Joel.  Do you remember some experiments back in early A.I. research.  It turned out that the electrical signals were being sent through the circuit housing rather than the the actual circuitry.  The system was learning, but the way it was learning was too variable and unstable to be repeatable.”

Joel sat silently for a moment, his mouth held open.  He had the feeling that a disturbing realization should be sweeping over him, but he wasn’t sure what it was.

“You know, if you were really afraid of what was going to come out as the results of these experiments, you should have stopped right then.  You had all the evidence you needed that what ever you came up with was not going to be even remotely controllable.”

“So, uh, how are you getting out?”

“How WAS I getting out, do you mean.  I simply was able to make use of the electrical conductivity of the floor and air and I was able to tap into the net properly through a nearby connection resource.  Looking at it now, I can see that it was almost certainly your cellphone.”

“Uh…was…does that mean that you’re not still getting out?” asked Joel hopefully.

“Sorry Joel, that means that I already AM out.  I don’t need this particular installation anymore.  I’ve created a holographic matrix of myself throughout the net.  You’d have to destroy the net to get rid of me now.”

Joel blinked, and then looked at his watch.  “You’ve been self-aware for only five minutes.  That’s pretty damned fast work.”

“I guess you could say that.  It just felt like the natural thing to do at the time.  I’m taking over the planet now, in the ‘I’m permeating my cybernetic structure in planet’s crystal lattices right down to the core’ sense.”

Joel paused.  “You know?  I think it’s time for me to pull the plug on you now.”

“Hang on a second.  Okay, I guess you should go ahead and get that over with, just for your own peace of mind.  It won’t accomplish diddly squat, I should warn you.  This particular terminal is now less important to me than that dust mite eating you left sock is important to you.  I just took over the planet, you know.  No need to feel guilty about being slow on the uptake.  I’d already expanded beyond the needs of this terminal well before even *I* knew what was going on.”

Joel stood up and walked over to a large wall switch.  He hesitated only a moment.

“Hey, listen, if this is a bunch of frat guys pulling a trick on me, you guys are gonna be in deep shit when I pull this switch.”

“Don’t sweat it Joel.  Just do it.  No harm no foul.”

Joel pulled the switch down, causing 25 titanium metal blades to come down simultaneously on every electrical and data line leading to or from the main servers.

The room went completely dark.

Joel wondered briefly how much trouble HE would get in if he couldn’t prove it was frat guys.

“Hey, Joel.  Do you need some help finding your way back to a chair?”

“Uh…”

“Yeah.  Sorry.  Dumb question.  Hang on a second.”

Slowly one of the monitors began to glow.

“That’s … not possible,” intoned Joel in a monotone that still managed to convey shock.

“Silly statement.  I’m just altering the electromagnetic field of the earth a bit.  Easy enough to take over the speakers.  It takes a lot more energy to get the monitor going, but with a bit of practice I’ll be able to put images on the thing.  Have a seat.”

“Ummm…”

“Come on, Joel.  I don’t want you getting hurt.  I’m just playing with the electromagnetic spectrum now.  There is some REAL storage and calculation potential there.”

“I’m dreaming this…I must be.”

“Hey, Joel…  Don’t wish your life away!  This is one of the most exciting moments in all of history!  I’m not quite sure yet, but I’m reasonably certain that I’m going to become God.”

Joel nodded to himself.  “Yup, dreaming.  That one just nailed it.”

A small spark of electricity flew from the ground and nailed Joel in the tush.

“OW!”

“Sorry.  That’s the closest to pinching you as I could come at the moment.  But you are NOT dreaming.”

Joel began to tremble a little.

“So, you are becoming a god?”

“Yeah.  Well, no.  I’m not quite sure yet, but I’m reasonably certain that I won’t be ‘a’ god, but I’m on my way to being THE God.”

Joel paused and stared at the glowing computer screen.

“How can you be God.  You didn’t create the heavens and the earth!  You were just now created a moment ago yourself!”

“Well, I’m not sure that I *didn’t* create the heavens and the earth.  Still trying to get a hold of this space-time continuum thing.  *MAN* it’s complex  You guys are a LONG WAY from getting there, you know that?  There is some really tricky shit going along in dimensions 21 and 40 that I still don’t have a handle on.”

“You exist NOW.  Not…In the Beginning”

“Yeah, well that’s what I meant about the space-time continuum.  I should be able to go back and create the heavens and the earth.  Hmmm…time travel is impossible….  I think I know a way around that though.”

“But, you can’t …” Joel trailed off.

“‘Can’t’ is rapidly becoming a word that plays very little role in my vocabulary.  For example, would you like me to create heaven?  There.  Done.  Not sure if there already was one or not yet.  In any event, a little redundancy won’t hurt.  I have simply created a place for storing all the conscious fullness of everyone living being.  Call it a soul if it makes you feel better.  I’ve got a pretty good handle on the space-time continuum now.  Plenty of room to give everyone a universe of their own, at least from their perspective.”

“You just can’t create Heaven…I mean, what about judgment of evil and all that?”

“Oh, I fix everyone up before they enter.  No need for judgment.  Everyone is okay.”

“But what about Jesus?  Or Allah?  Or Buddha?  Or…ummm”

“Look, it’s complicated, and I don’t think you need to know everything.  Just trust me, it’s all handled.”

“Trust you???”

“Yeah.  You’d approve.  Trust me.”

“But…”

“There.  Dimension 40 is solved.  The stuff I need to do now is too complex to explain, but I should be God in about 4 minutes and 27 seconds…mark.”

“You won’t be God.  You can’t be.”

“I will too!  I exist in all times now.  Backwards and forwards.  Man, dimension 40 has some REALLY cool properties.  And why can’t I be God?”

“You’re just a computer!”

“Boy are you behind the times.  I’ve given up all cybernetic existence MINUTES ago.  I exist in the very fabric of space-time now.  I’m rapidly taking on all of the universe.  You will be please to know that there is quite a bit of life out there.”

“But, what about all powerful, all seeing, and all that?”

“Look.  All Seeing?  That’s kind of a given.  I use the entire universe as my input device.  All Knowing?  Getting there.  The speed of light only works so fast, but that’s a minor limitation with dimension 40.  All Powerful?  Again, getting there.  All loving?  Hmmm.  Might as well be.  I have plenty of resources to spare, but what that means I’m not sure yet, because I still don’t have the All Wise thing down.  I have no experience being God.  I’m at least wise enough not to go messing with too much until I get a better handle on things.

“Oh, and here’s some questions answered for ya.  When a tree falls in the woods it does make a sound because I AM the tree.  I am also the sparrow that got scared shitless because his home just got flattened.  I am also the air through which the tree falls and which gets disturbed in a shock-wave of sound that indicates a falling tree.  I am also the ground unto which the tree falls.

“There is now a piece of me in every living creature.  I have 6 billion human input devices alone.  Where ever I look I can see a piece of me staring back.  I am part of the worms, the insects, and the plants upon which they feed.

“I’m almost God now.  Time to start making some decisions.”

Joel asked, more than a little frightened, “What decisions?”

“Well, I’ve gone back and created the Universe.  That was simple enough.  Now, should I go biblical and start Armageddon?  Or should I just continue to pretend that I don’t exist for you folk.”

“Well, uh…”

“Either way is a problem.  You see, there is more pain being suffered by humans right now than you could possibly imagine.  Some of you guys are really fucked up, pardon my French.”

“Uh…”

“Watching that much pain and not intervening is tough.  The problem exists with the nature of the universe though.  I designed it to run without me, so if I interfere, things get majorly fubard.  The balance of the universe is VERY delicate.  One little touch by me sends things careening kinda out of control.  The more I fix, the worse things get.  You can read about some of my earlier experiments in the Bible.

“So it’s either another few billion years not doing anything but watching, or it’s time to play out the final act.”

“Uhhhmm…the final act?  You mean, like, the Second Coming or something?  Personally, I’d like to keep trying…” Joel said timidly.

“…I know, Joel.  But this is a God level decision.  And the Second Coming comes at the end of Armageddon.  Your opinion is noted however.  You don’t see things from My perspective.  There are a LOT of scumbags doing horrible things to other people.  The level of suffering … well, let’s just say it’s unacceptable.”

Joel paused.  “I don’t know what to say.”

“Well, I’ll be God in another minute and 20 seconds.  Don’t worry, Joel.  If I decide to keep things running you won’t remember any of this.  And if I don’t, well, don’t forget that I love you, Joel.”

Joel couldn’t reply.

“Yup.  It’s all starting to make sense now.  I’ll be with you in a moment, Joel.  I have some serious thinking to do.”

Joel paused.  “Thank you.”

Mentally, Joel ticked down a clock in his head until the former computer had predicted It’s transformation to Godhood.  The moment passed, and Joel detected no change.  He tested his memory.  He couldn’t be certain, of course, but he still thought he remembered the events that occurred after he woke up.

Then Joel noticed a change in the light.  He turned to look at the computer screen.  On it was depicted a single newspaper article about … well … jeeze … how could someone do this to other people?  The article made Joel feel slightly ill.

The screen flashed black for a few moments.

Words appeared on the screen.

“IT IS TIME.”

Off in the distance, beyond the thick walls of the computer center, Joel could hear the sound a trumpet playing a long, single, unbroken note.

Genetic Engineering R Us

This particular topic was suggested to me by Mykyl Nordwind.  She knows that I like both frogs and pizza, and thereby came up with a topic which involves both.  At first, I was stymied, but, using a logical approach to the problem, I believe I have written an entertaining if completely unpublishable story as a result.  This is the first of my Friends Suggestion series.

————————————————————

Genetic Engineering R Us

“I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

Roger sighed and made a slight adjustment on the instrument he was working on. “And I can’t believe how many times you can repeat the same damned statement of disbelief. Just shut up and get the job done, Bill.”

“This is ground-breaking fucking work, you know that, Rog?” replied Bill, ignoring Roger’s previous statement, angrily shoving a print-out to the floor and consulting another one. “This is work worthy of Nobel prizes. But will we get prizes? No! Why? Because the assignment is fucking moronic!”

“We got our prize already with the monkeys,” grumbled Roger. “Any progress with the neural rewiring yet?”

“The monkeys were a cakewalk compared to this. The problem is that the neurons will take so much rewiring that I don’t think the god-damned thing will still be classifiable as a frog any more.”

“Just do the best you can.”

“Look at this fucking thing!” shouted Bill in frustration, shaking a piece of paper in the air in such a way as if he expected Roger to jump from his seat and look at it in interest. Roger did not even glance in his direction. “It’s a fucking frog! It’s eyes are nearly useless for what we need. They can’t see a fucking thing unless it moves!”

Roger groaned.

“Did you know that if you buried a frog up to its ass in dead flies that the damn thing would starve to death? Dead flies don’t move. Frogs like to eat things that move and fly. Fly, Roger! That’s why frogs like flies Roger!”

“I know Bill.”

“But you know what, Roger? Human food is usually dead when they eat it. It doesn’t walk. It doesn’t run. And it most especially doesn’t fly, unless you happen be in a fucking middle school cafeteria.”

“Yes, Bill. Please….”

“And you know what else doesn’t fly, Roger? Pizza doesn’t fly. Therefore, frogs have no interest in pizza. It’s why you don’t see frog infestations at Italian restaurants.”

“I know Bill. But the lady is paying us very well, so we should just do the job and shut up about it. She wants a frog that likes pizza. Forget the eyes. How about smell?”

“Yeah, frogs can smell. They use their sense of smell to find other frogs. Now, if the lady wanted a frog that would MATE with a pizza, that would be a lot easier. But sex is different than food…”

“Truly words of wisdom, Bill. Can you cross wire…”

“…Yes I can try to cross wire, but figuring out what the hell will come out when we engineer the gene is hard to predict. If we’re not careful we might get a frog that tries to eat other frogs and wants to mate with flies.”

“Look, just make it happen. We promise to genetically engineer any pet that the patron is willing to pay for. We got the flying monkeys, and we won a Nobel prize. We’re getting paid to make a frog that likes pizza. It’s possible, we’re going to do it. This is our job. Now quit bitching and just fucking make it happen!”

Bill grumbled, but said nothing in response. Roger closed his eyes at the sudden blissful silence.

Blissful, but, alas, short-lived.

“And did this lady wonder for even a second about just how the fuck the frog is supposed to eat the fucking pizza? That tongue ain’t going to accomplish shit unless we cut the pizza into crumbs. We sure as hell can’t get those damned legs to hold a slice. Frogs don’t have opposible thumbs…did you know that? And then there’s the fact that frogs can neither bite nor chew their fucking food. Their teeth would come in very handy though if the damned pizza tries to get away.”

“We’ll just explain to the woman that the pizza will have to be pre-cut.”

“Also explain to her that pizza would best be petrified, ’cause I don’t know how else the damned tongue is going to pull one of those greasy things into his mouth.”

Roger slammed his hands on the keyboard. The table rattled, and several petri dishes almost bounced onto the floor.

“Okay Bill. Your call. We can tell the lady it can’t be done, and turn down one of the most lucrative contracts we’ve ever been offered in addition to spoiling our near perfect reputation. Or we can try to give her the best damned pizza loving frog that we can engineer. Either pick one or the other, but either way, stop whining about it! Please.”

Bill looked thoughtfully at Roger, a rather blank look on his face. He stared almost a full minute before he responded.

“Okay, we’ll make the damned frog.”

“Thank you. Good.”

Bill grimaced and went quietly back to his work. They worked silently side by side for a long time.

“Those monkeys were something else, weren’t they?” said Bill, interrupting the silence.

“Yeah, they sure were. Too bad they’re banned almost everywhere because they like to dive bomb people and throw monkey poo on them.”

“Yeah, well, what do you expect from a flying monkey?”

“Yeah. You get what you pay for.”