by Arnold Snyder
“We’re going to have a dry run,” Jesus said. “Everyone has a job to do and everyone has to do it right. A single error will cost us everything.”
We were gathered in Uncle Luke’s basement, all eleven weredevils and Jesus. Uncle Luke was up in his kitchen gathering snacks. We were all sitting, except for Jesus, who was pacing nervously. The first thing I’d noticed when we went down there was that both bookcases had been repaired. They, and all the books, looked like new.
“Our mission is to get God into Hell and keep him there,” Jesus said. “I know it sounds like a tall order, but we can do it. Brandi, you’re going to be the Whore of Babylon.”
“The what?” she said.
“The Whore of Babylon. Have you read the Book of Revelation?”
“I don’t think we covered that in catechism class yet,” she said. “What do I have to do?”
“Just be a whore, and if you have to speak to anyone, speak Babylonian.”
“I don’t know how to speak Babylonian.”
“Can you speak in tongues?”
“Same difference. Did they teach you that in catechism?”
“No, Catholics don’t speak in tongues. I saw it on TV once in a documentary. It was pretty funny. Watch: zkmhxjd guiytwqr jalk sed ruiseri werh gvrmbgwhfq iuqge wlk jsgdbmh.”
“Perfect,” Jesus said.
“But why do I have to do that?” Brandi said.
“My father will think it’s a sign. He’s superstitious. It’ll make him come down here to take a look.”
“But what’s he going to do when he sees it’s me, a human escaped from Hell?”
“That’ll confuse him even more. Human’s don’t escape from Hell.”
“How much of a whore do you want me to be?”
“Give it all you’ve got,” Jesus said. “The nastier the better.”
“Then what’ll he do to me?”
“He might send you straight back to Hell, but I think he’ll want to figure out what’s happening before he deals with you. He doesn’t make rash decisions. Deco and Amber,” he said, turning to face them, “this is where you come in. You’re going to add to the confusion.”
“What’s our job, Jesus?” Amber said.
Deco had that crazy smile on his face.
“Your job,” Jesus said, “will be to walk around in human bodies, but with snake heads.”
“How do we do that?” Deco said.
“It’s easy,” Jesus said. “Hey, Luke, didn’t you teach these kids how to transform heads only?”
I could hear Uncle Luke coming down the stairs. “They’re still in training, Jesus,” he said, as he entered the room with a couple large serving bowls filled with potato chips. “They just learned the basic full-body transformation a couple weeks ago,” he went on. “I’ll show them how to do it asap. But why do you want them doing snakeheads?”
“Because my father knows he never created that creature. More confusion.”
“But he’s going to know we’re just humans that escaped from Hell,” Amber said. “He’s going to send us back.”
“Not necessarily, but it is a possibility. You and Deco are really cute together and my father has a weakness for cuteness. One of the reasons he hates Earth is that not enough species are cute. He finds it much more enjoyable to torture cute beings than plain or ugly ones. You have to admit that most of the life forms on this planet are either plain or ugly. Deco and Amber, you two are the exception.”
“Do we have to do this?” Deco asked.
“’Fraid so,” Jesus said. “… But I was wondering if you guys might be up for a three-way later?”
“You mean with you?” Amber said.
He winked at her. “We’ll talk,” he said. “After my father is safely put away in Hell. Basically, Amber, you and Deco are going to be on leashes, held by the Whore of Babylon, who’s just taking a leisurely stroll down Main Street with her two snakehead pets.”
“But that makes no sense,” Deco said.
“Precisely. Now Brent …”
“Here,” Brent said, munching on a huge mouthful of potato chips and raising his hand. “What’s my job?”
“You, Brent, are War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“You are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
“All four at once?”
“Yes. We’ll use holograms.”
Brent swallowed his mouthful of chips, then took a slug of his ginger ale before saying, “At the risk of asking what’s already been asked and answered, won’t God know it’s just me and a bunch of holograms?”
“Absolutely. But it will still confuse him. Humans escaping from Hell was never part of his plan. And why would you be doing that? You’ll be on your horse—which will appear to be four of you on four horses—circling the Whore and her snakehead pets as if threatening them.”
“I can’t ride a horse,” Brent said.
“Can you ride a motorcycle?”
“Sure … I mean, I think so. Never rode one. But I can ride a bicycle.”
“Same difference, except you don’t have to pedal. I’ll get you a Harley.” Jesus closed his eyes as if deep in thought for a moment, then opened them and said, “There’s a Harley waiting for you in Luke’s driveway. Don’t crash it.”
“Rad,” Brent said. “And my job is to fool God into thinking I’m four guys on horses, like God won’t know a hologram when he sees one?”
“It’s just to slow him down, Brent. Sure, he’ll know who you are, but he’ll get the metaphor. He knows what the Book of Revelation says about the Whore of Babylon and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Now he’s going to be expecting the Second Coming. That’ll bug the shit out of him. He’s superstitious as all get out. There was never supposed to be a Second Coming. But he also knows that if I get away from the gucksuckers and out of Hell, I’ll have the same power he has and he can’t allow that. Once he sees the Four Horsemen on Earth, he’ll immediately go to Hell to check on my status. And that’s where we trap him.”
“Jesus,” Uncle Luke said, “how the hell do we trap God in Hell? If there’s a method for doing that, it’s beyond my pay grade.” Uncle Luke finally sat down in the big blue suede easy chair that was always reserved for him.
“You’re the one in charge of that operation, Luke. You’re going to take five weredevils—Gabriel, Emilio, Angel, Lola, and Crystal—down to the deepest level of Hell and into the chamber where I was trapped in the blender. That blender is the only device ever created that was built strong enough to hold me.
“My father tricked me into the blender. Right after I rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, he told me he was sorry for having me tortured and crucified. He said it was a mistake and he was owning up to it and he was going to make it up to me. He told me he was granting me omnipotence so that I would have every power he has. When he said that, I felt the power of God course through me and we were walking side-by-side, the toughest hombres in the universe.
“I didn’t question where we were going. I was so naïve that even after my crucifixion I wanted so badly to trust him again I forgave him for everything. He must have given me one helluva forgiveness gene. I just walked beside him, knowing that I owned the universe and could create others, that he had given me the greatest gift a God could give, Godhood.
“Then he took me down to the deepest level of Hell and after asking me to stand in the crater, he turned on the blender. It grabbed me and immediately all of my strength was sapped.
“He told me the device that was holding me prisoner was his finest creation, which he created to prove that he was such a genius he could invent a trap from which even the omnipotent would not be able to escape. He was so conceited. No humility, no empathy. His creations were his playthings and he liked to play cruel games.”
“How do we get the blender turned on when he gets there?” Uncle Luke said.
“First, Luke, I’m going to ordain Gabriel and Emilio as priests, and make Angel, Lola and Crystal nuns because they’re going to have to be clergy in order to enter the deepest level of Hell and become gucksuckers.”
“Gucksuckers?” my sister Lola said. “Do we have to be gucksuckers?”
“It won’t be for long,” Jesus said. “Once my father arrives in Hell, this whole operation will only last a fraction of an instant. That’s all the time we’ll have to pull it off. If we take any longer than that, my father will discover I’m behind it, he’ll know where I am, and everything will end. There’s no failing on this.”
The weredevils who had just been assigned to the gucksucker detail looked uneasy. Gabriel appeared downright ill. Lola gave me a quick wide-open stare like she was saying help me, do something!
“Can you explain to me how me and my crew of gucksuckers are going to trap your father?” Uncle Luke said.
“Your job, Luke, is to recognize the moment my father arrives. You’re the only one who will know him immediately because you’ve had a long history with him … going back before this universe was even created. You’ll recognize his smell just before he shows up.”
“Yes, that stench is something I’ll never forget.” Uncle Luke said.
“But I thought God was everywhere?” Crystal said.
Jesus looked at her and breathed a sigh. “You handle this one, Luke,” Jesus said.
“He is everywhere, Crystal,” Uncle Luke said. “He’s here with us right now. But it’s sort of the same thing as him being omniscient. He knows everything, but it’s too much for him to keep track of. He’s everywhere, but he has to focus on a place to really experience it. He has most of his creations—and almost all of his universes—tuned out.”
“So, is he invisible?” Gabriel said. “If he’s here, where is he? Is he just a bad smell?”
“Oh no, Gabriel,” Uncle Luke said. “When he focuses on a place, you can see him in that place. He’s round, fairly large by human standards, maybe ten feet in diameter, with no limbs as he has no need for limbs. He’s a big, floating orb of fat, fair-skinned and covered with eyes, nostrils, and earholes. Must be a couple thousand eyes and a similar number of nostrils and earholes. Not an attractive being by human standards.”
“He’s a ten-foot ball of eyes and ears?” Angel said.
“And nostrils,” Uncle Luke added. “The eyes, like the ears and nostrils, are all on short tentacles. Most of the time all of his eyes are turned to himself. He prefers looking at himself to anything or anyone else. Likewise, his nostrils are also turned to smell himself, while his ears are listening to himself. It’s rare for him to turn even a single one of his thousand eyes to look at anything but himself.”
“Does he have a mouth?” Lola asked.
“Yes, he has as many mouths as he has eyes,” Jesus said. “But his mouths are all internal. You can’t see them but each one has multiple tongues which he uses constantly to taste himself. He loves the way he tastes.”
“How does he talk?” Brent asked.
“He honks through one of his nostrils,” Jesus said.
“Honks?” I said.
“It’s the only way he can speak,” Jesus said. “Moses had a helluva time understanding him when he appeared on Mount Sinai. That’s why God had to write down the ten command-ments.”
“I still don’t know how to trap him,” Uncle Luke said.
“That’s easy,” Jesus said. “You take your crew down to the deepest level of Hell into the new clergy arrivals station. There are always gucksuckers waiting there for fresh meat. Take Emilio, Angel, Lola and Crystal into the orientation area. There they’ll be eaten by male gucksuckers, shit out and eaten by female gucksuckers, then shit out again as gucksuckers themselves.”
All the girls said, “Ewwwww.”
“No way!” Lola said. “I’m not going to let a gucksucker eat me!”
Uncle Luke looked at her sternly. “Oh, yes you are,” he said, then turned to Jesus. “What about Gabriel?” he asked.
“Take him to the blender station where you found me,” Jesus said. “The gucksuckers there haven’t left since I’ve been gone. They’re starving so they’ll be really happy to see Gabriel. All he has to do is stand in the crater and the blender will grab him and whip him into a puree. By the time the two gucksuckers stationed there finish with him and return him to human form, Emilio, Crystal, Angel and Lola will be ready to take over the gucksucker eating and shitting duties. You guys just take turns with Gabriel until I give the word to Luke to get Gabriel out of there. Expect my father to show up in the crater immediately. That’s when you throw the switch, Luke.”
“There’s a toggle hidden beneath a large red rock on the crater’s rim. Look for the rock and be ready to flip the toggle.”
“Hell has a toggle switch?” Uncle Luke said. “I’ve been there for countless eons and I never saw a toggle switch on anything before.”
“Well there’s a toggle switch on the blender. My father created the first toggle switch, you know. Now you find them on coffee makers and vacuum cleaners and a hundred other things, including blenders, which he also created. The toggle is his proudest creation, rivaled only by black holes and parallel universes. It’s only fitting that we’re now going to use the toggle to trap him. And as soon as he’s trapped, it’s time for you guys to come home. And we can finally start talking about high rises.”
“But we’ll be gucksuckers,” Lola protested.
“No, no, you don’t come back to Earth until you’ve been eaten and shit out as humans again.”
“Ewwwwww,” said the chorus.
“I’m not doing it!” Angel protested once more.
“Angel,” Uncle Luke said, “do you understand the importance of what we’re doing here?”
Jesus approached Angel and put his hand out to her. She took his hand and rose to her feet, looking at him as if she were in a trance. He touched her forehead and she swooned. He caught her before her knees buckled and he gently lowered her back into her seat. She appeared to be sleeping.
“She won’t be any problem, Luke,” Jesus said.
“When do we do this?” Uncle Luke asked.
“We’re going to start dry runs immediately,” Jesus said. “We can’t do the real thing until I have my omniscience back. I’m getting more of it back every day. I have to know when my father’s coming and exactly when he arrives in Hell looking for me. If he arrives before I can signal you, it’s too late.”
“But what am I doing, Jesus?” I said. “You didn’t give me a job yet.”
“Me neither,” said Tiffany. “You gave everyone a job but us.”
“Sebastian and Tiffany, you two are coming with me,” Jesus said. “You’re going to help me test my omniscience. Now, Gabriel, Emilio, Angel, Lola, and Crystal, get down on your knees so I can ordain you.”
The four of them gathered in a circle around Jesus and knelt down facing him.
He outstretched his arms over them and said, “In the name of my father, and of myself, and of my holy brother, Larry—”
“Larry?” Brent said. “The Holy Ghost’s name is Larry?”
Jesus cast him a scolding glance, then continued, “I now pronounce you two popes and three nuns. You may kiss the brides.”
“What brides?” Gabriel said, as he and the other ordained kids got to their feet.
“The nuns,” Jesus said. “They’re brides of Christ. My brides. But go ahead, you guys can kiss now if you want to.”
Emilio tried to plant a kiss on my sister, Lola.
“Yuck, no!” she said. “All I can think about is guck-suckers! I’m not kissing anybody!”
Jesus stepped up to Uncle Luke and extended his hand. “You’re a fine creation, Luke,” he said, “possibly my father’s finest. I know he hasn’t done much work to be proud of, but you’re the exception.”
Uncle Luke shook Jesus’ hand firmly and said, “I’ll give them a quick run through, then we’re coming back here to see how you’re doing.”
“Come back just as soon as they can gucksuck. When you return, the pizza’s on me.”
Uncle Luke left with his crew.
“I have to practice riding my Harley,” Brent said.
“And I have to practice being a whore,” Brandi said. “C’mon, Brent. Let’s go.”
“How do I practice being a snakehead?” Deco said.
Jesus turned his attention to Deco and Amber, who were holding hands and making flirty eyes at each other. “Uncle Luke will show you that as soon as he gets back,” Jesus said. “It’s no big deal. Why don’t you two run along.”
Deco and Amber exited skipping, still holding hands. Jesus was right about one thing. They sure were a cute couple.
Tiffany and I were the only ones left with Jesus.
Jesus sat down on the floor cross-legged, pulled a doobie out of his pocket and lit it. “Have a seat, guys,” he said. “Now it’s time to run some omnipotence and omniscience tests.”
Go to Chapter Twenty-two . . .