Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's This "Monotheistic" Crap?

It's been a few years since God moved into Her Father's Penthouse and set up shop for Herself. She's done some redecorating, most notably by removing the heavy velvet curtains Yahweh had installed in His first few years of ruling the universe. She has a lovely view of Her relatively new planet with the curtains gone - all those people wandering around look like wee little ants from up here - and the office has stopped smelling like a mausoleum for departed feet, which is definitely a plus.

Yes, all in all, God has a pretty sweet bachelorette pad. Sure, it's kind of lonely, what with the seraphim and cherubim being a little too young at the moment to pay much attention to anything other than their toys, but that's the downside of taking over in the middle of a rebirth.* She spends a large portion of Her time alone, in Her office, avoiding the few adult members of Her staff simply because She's not quite sure how much they've heard and She'd like to avoid any awkward conversations about The Angel Who Fell To Earth And Ruined Everything.

So when there's an unexpected knock on Her front door in the middle of the night, She's more than happy at the prospect of company so She doesn't think twice about answering it.**

There's a large bearded man standing on the other side of the door and he's taking up the entire expanse of the frame, quite a feat considering how large the doorway to Heaven is. God is eye level with the bottom of his toga and She has to crane Her neck up to see him completely. He's frowning at Her and tapping a lightning bolt against the palm of his hand.

"What's this monotheistic crap?" he bellows and if She'd had feathers, his voice definitely would have ruffled them. Behind him, hidden by his girth and height, She hears a chorus of agreement and she sighs heavily.

"You might as well come in," She says and stands aside so the huge hulking frame of Zeus can fit through the doorway. He's followed by a whole hoard of gods and goddesses, Greek and Roman, Eastern and Western. By the time they've all made themselves comfortable in Heaven, God has just enough room to close the door behind Her and politely ask Thor to take his hand off Her ass.

"Shall I make some tea?" She asks and is only slightly relieved when no one says 'yes'.

* * *

"How many times do I have to say this, I never suggested monotheism."

It's been two hours of ranting and raving from every god, goddess and lower demon within a million mile radius of Heaven and God has just about lost Her calm demeanor. She's tired and She'd very much like to go to bed, but the stairway to Her bedroom just happens to be blocked by Shiva and while She's all for multiple appendages, his fifteen finger symbols are freaking Her out.

"Then who did?" the dragon asks from the back of the foyer.***

God sighs and pinches the bridge of Her nose. "If I had to take a guess, I'd say My Father had something to do with it."

"And who made him the supreme god?" Jupiter asks and while God realizes that he's going for thundering and commanding, She can't help but laugh at the whiny feminine tone to his voice.

It's at this precise moment that a door opens somewhere in Heaven and a very tall, very thin creature appears. God can't be certain, nor would she pass judgement considering her own unicorn pyjamas, but She thinks that the orange pants and leopard print sweater are a bit much for a heavenly gathering.

"Ah, good, you're all getting along." The poor fashion sense is accompanied by a very uptight posh accent and God has a sudden sense of foreboding. The lanky creature, who has purple hair cut in very haphazard spikes, turns to look directly at Her and he flashes Her a cagey smile.

"And who the Hell are you?" Hades asks from his spot near the stairway.

The lanky creature draws himself up to his full height - a towering 8 feet, 6 inches - and settles his icy green stare on the gods and goddesses before him. Even God is impressed.

"I am Metatron and I am the Voice of God." He looks over his shoulder at Her and winks. "Your Father sent me," he says and God immediately wishes She'd simply stayed in bed instead of answering the door.

"Oh goodie."

* * *

An agreement is reached after a few more hours. It's intention is to unite the many afterlife options into one large corporation - from the Greek Hades and Elysian Fields to the Christian Heaven and Hell, from the Norse Valhalla to the Celtic Otherworld and absolutely everything in between. God even came up with a great name for this new capital venture: The Pearly Gates Corporation.

Now, when Yahweh left Heaven in pursuit of a retirement community someplace less stressful, He left it in the midst of repairs and expansions so that by the time God finished unpacking Her meager possession She had more space than She knew what to do with. Heaven is a sprawling estate, of sorts, with wings and annexes and three hundred floors of offices and conference rooms. Even the basement is a maze of sorts, filled with offices and kitchens and a sauna for the demons who work in the cooler regions of Earth.

In essence, it's a wonder no one thought of this before.

"I call dibs on the Penthouse," She says as Metatron writes down a list of who wants what. Zeus frowns at Her and She stands Her ground. "I've lived here longer," She says. "Heaven, Inc. will take the Penthouse and the angels will work with the other agencies on the floors near the foyer."

Hades elbows his way to the front. "I want the basement," he says and God shrugs.

"Fine by Me, but you'll have to share it."

"With who?"

"With a former employee of Mine who was recently re-hired. Hell, Hades & Purgatory, Ltd. Has a nice ring, doesn't it?" She asks with just the hint of a smile. Hades thinks it over and agrees, then immediately disappears outside to bring his bags in from the car.

"Put the Elysian Fields Agricultural Volunteer Group down there, too, Meta," She says and he nods, scribbles the name down on his parchment. The rest of the group is easy.

Every last remaining polytheistic religion of the world takes the floors in between Heaven and Hell. The Olympians claim the offices in a wing near God's Penthouse, while the Romans stick close to the Mezzanine because of Jupiter's fear of heights. Not surprisingly, the Celts and the Druids take the Atrium and the gardens in back. She agrees to add on a Reincarnation Wing for the Hindu gods and a Paradise for the Muslims. Most of the Eastern religions claim the outer buildings and annexes because of space issues associated with keeping dragons.

Hell, they even manage to have a unicorn, thanks to the Celts.

At the end of the evening, with everyone moving into their respective offices and living quarters, God finds Herself sharing a glass of what the Celtic goddess Anu said was Scotch with Her newest employee, Metatron.

"Thank you for your help," She says.

"All part of the job," he says and toasts his glass with Hers.

"Do you think it'll work?" She asks.

He shrugs. "I think we'll just have to wait and see."

She nods and sips Her drink, mellowed by something called alcoholic content. In fact, She's so mellow that when a squeaky toy thrown from the nursery above bounces off Her forehead, She singes it only slightly instead of smiting it completely.

* Not to mention She's had it up to Her holy Afro with the squeaky toys and rattles. She's had Her patience tested at least a hundred times a day since the nursery opened and while She isn't an advocate of violence, She's one loud and obnoxious noise away from ripping someone's halo off.

** In hindsight, She probably should have changed out of Her bright blue unicorn pyjamas. Then again, with the crowd waiting for Her on the other side of the door, the unicorns most likely kept Her from getting strung up by Her perfectly pedicured toes.

*** She's never met a dragon before, but She suspects they don't typically talk. Unless they're Lucifer in disguise and then it's a whole other situation entirely.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Bungled Birthday Bash

"Now," Harry Rogers says, his voice stern and commanding. His six year old daughter, Claire Elizabeth Rogers, looks up at him from her position on a snowbank, pristine white ice skates dangling from her small feet. "The far edges of the pond aren't quite frozen enough for you to be playing on them, so I want you to stay as close to the banks as possible, got it kiddo?"

Claire has been, since her birth, precocious. She prefers her books to friends and, on occasion, her own family. Precocious or not, though, Claire is a horrible listener. In fact, while her father explains the finer points of staying on the thick ice - a truly genius statement that Claire should have really paid stricter attention to - Claire's mind is wandering to the stack of Nancy Drew mysteries she unwrapped three hours earlier.

"I got it, dad," she says smartly and Harry immediately knows she doesn't have it, but he's freezing his ass off and so instead of explaining it yet again, he helps his daughter up off the snowbank and pushes her out onto the ice.

"Remember to stay off the edges!" he calls after her and she waves a purple mittened hand at him as she sprints off towards the six other little girls who have all received the same lecture and have all pointedly decided to ignore it.

He should be more surprised when the ice cracks and Claire disappears, but he's not. Truth be told, he's really only surprised that it took so long - he'd been betting on three minutes, tops.

* * *

Claire's first reaction to her situation is to immediately regret having not listened to her father. Her second is to immediately regret having worn heavy ice skates while going for a dip in a frozen pond. She thinks that sinking would be a terrific feeling if she were capable of breathing under water.

And then she's out of the water, bone dry, and standing in front of the prettiest woman she's ever seen. The woman is tall and elegant and Her skin is the color of caramel, Her hair a wild nest of brown curls that look as though they've been spun with gold. It's the eyes, though, that make Her so pretty. They're bright green, the color of spring grass after it's rained, and they're staring at Claire.

"Hello, Claire," the woman says and smiles. "I'm God."

Claire's mother has told her a million stories about the woman in front of her. Katharine Rogers has described God to a T, right down to the dimples in Her rosy cheeks. Claire knows that the woman in front of her is God, just like she knows she must be dead. Only dead people meet God.

Well, dead people and crazies but the last time she checked, she was pretty much sane, so dead she must be.

"I like your ice skates," Claire says, pointing at the pristine white skates. God smiles, twirls a little so Claire can see the flapping gold wings that stick out from the backs of the skates.

"Hermes gave them to Me," she says and Claire makes a mental note to figure out who Hermes is. "Hence the wings."

Claire considers her situation and, being the precocious and well-read little girl that she is, decides to be as adult about it as she can.

"Am I dead?" she asks and God, to Her credit, doesn't lose a beat.

"Not technically, Claire," She says. "I brought you here, to Limbo, so we could chat a little."

"Chat about what?"

"I'm sending you back with a gift," God says and Claire's attention becomes immediately focused.

"Is it a pony?" she asks. "I've always wanted a pony and my daddy says that if I'm really good then someday he'll buy me a pony but he won't tell me when so I have to be good all the time and it's starting to get really boring."

This lengthy explanation causes God to pause slightly and reconsider her decision.*

"No, honey, it isn't a pony..."

"Is it a little brother?" Claire begins again and God fights the urge to clamp Her hand over the child's mouth. "My mommy says that I could have a little brother if my daddy wasn't so busy all the time with his work. Daddy says that if I have a little brother, it better not look like the milkman because then we'd have to find a new one and good milkmen are hard to find."

God, being the responsible and somewhat omnipotent being She is, realizes at this point that a proper response to all of these admissions is lacking and therefore chooses a different tactic.

“Right. Okay. Well, Claire, here’s My gift to you: you’re going to be My assistant when you get older. You’ll tell people things for Me.”

“Like that telephone game Sarah Truman plays?”

“Yes, just like that telephone game Sarah Truman plays.”

“You know Sarah Truman?”

“Of course.”

“She doesn’t believe in You.”

At this point, God decides to cut Her losses and run and leave the paperwork for someone more patient than Her, someone like Her archangel Gabriel (his penmanship is simply to die for). So, She snaps Her fingers and sends Claire back to her body and her family and jets on back to Her offices at Heaven, Inc. She does, however, make a point of filling out the HI-245 form, Sibling Requisite Form.

She hopes a little brother will be just the kind of balance Claire needs.**

* * *

"I got to meet God," Claire says when she's finally awake and warm.

"Really, and how is She?" Katharine asks her only daughter.

Claire considers this question as she sips her hot chocolate. Harry pauses in the doorway of the living room to eavesdrop on the conversation.

"She's gorgeous," Claire says, "and She had the coolest ice skates. They had gold wings on them!"

Katharine laughs at her daughter. "Hermes made them especially for Her a hundred years ago, so She'd always be able to stay standing up in them. She's a horrible ice skater."

"I'm going to work for Her when I'm older," Claire says and from the doorway Harry laughs. "A nice big office at Heaven, Incorporated."

"Of course you will, dear," Katharine says, unaffected as always. "Now, who wants more hot chocolate?"


* Because of this one incident with Claire, God no longer contracts young children to be prophets. She learned Her lesson the hard way by trying to explain to a six year old the concept of prophetic dreams and visions. Like explaining the difference between a holy vision and an acid trip to a nun, which She’s also done once before...

** When Patrick is born that Christmas, it means Claire is no longer the center of attention, which means she has to learn how to fend for herself, which in turn means she starts listening better. It also helps that later down the line, when Patrick turns fifteen, he decides he wants to be an accountant, a much more down to Earth profession than Claire's. Literally.