A Brief History Out of Time

Aug 12 2016

The irony of passing the “veil” between life and death is that something comes after, yet nothing is revealed. The select meet “God” personally, each essentially in her or his own image. “God” sits on an ornate throne of gold and recites “Footprints,” just as you would expect. Or “God” meditates on a snow capped mountaintop and might wait an eternity to crack a penis joke. Or “God” weighs one’s heart against a feather on a loaded balance to justify even harsher punishment in “Heaven” than on Earth for the happenstance of a lifetime of hardship and inequity. “God” shakes hands and makes deals, like any of us, because “God” is basically a democracy when “God” works and a dictatorship when “God” can get away with it.

Human, why would a supposedly omnipotent being care to demand your praise, or attempt to micromanage your punishments and rewards, unless he were rather the pharaoh or divine king who depended on your reverence? Worship the god that admits her limitation and humanity instead, or—better—don’t. There’s no great enlightenment here, nor is there perfect poetic justice, nor is there finality. If “God” exists, how can we feel more than the true but tiny love of an ant for you? It is neither my desire nor my place to reward and punish the ants. I look up from Earth, and I wonder whether the gods of other civilizations feel similarly about the gods of this backwards little planet.

I used to take it slightly seriously. Like, “God” was a big deal. That was about five thousand years ago. People were throwing orgies in my honor. I still believe that’s one of the most appropriate ways to show appreciation for how we meddle in your lives, or at least the most likely to get a prayer or two answered. You probably bummed a smoke from “God” at Mardi Gras in ’87. I’ll bet it was a Parliament. You’re going to Hell if you smoke, by the way, and Satan has told me to make it clear that they only stock Pall Malls there, so you should be worried, apparently. I haven’t smoked a cigarette since ’87, so I wouldn’t know. I died, that year, so I decided it was a good time to quit.

“So, when are you quitting?” I asked him as he took a deep, desperate drag.

‘Bastet, you’re not wrong to ask that,’ he thought, ‘particularly right now, but, by the same consideration, it’s either suck this or suck a fuck, and I’m clean outta fucks to burn.’

“Dan, you gotta stay hopeful,” I whispered to him.

He visually scanned his dark corner of the hospital parking lot for Russian spies before he spoke.

“Bastet, can you pull some strings?” he asked.

“I would,” I told him, “but I’m not sure that I know anyone whom you don’t that could help with this.”

“Except you don’t have a public reputation as a borderline terrorist,” he said, and spit.

I sighed. “Oh, Dan, it’s not like…”

He gave me a look like only two people in this world could make.

“O… Okay, yeah, you have a point,” I had to admit, “or just, like, a terrorist, without the ‘borderline’ part.”

Dan’s face went flat. Then, his eyes started to water.

“Katie, he’s my best friend,” he said. “He’s the only one who even took the paper I wrote on quantum gravity months ago seriously.”

“I took it seriously,” I wanted him to know.

“Katie, then he’s the only flesh and blood person whom I could reference in public without appearing any crazier.” The tears rolled down his cheeks. “We’d talk about math. We’d play chess, and he’d beat me nine times out of ten. We’d play go, and he’d beat me every single fucking time! He’d call bullshit whenever I deviated from mathematical rigor in my science, yet he was always still supportive and infinitely fucking patient! I acknowledged him in the paper, Katie.”

Exhaustion caught up with me for a moment, and I didn’t know what to say. “He claims he didn’t make any notable contribution to the paper.”

“The paper wouldn’t exist without him,” he said.

“So you’re supposed to be Jesus and Einstein, now?” I asked. (I meant it to come across a certain way, but I cringed a little listening to myself.)

“You’re at least five thousand years old,” he said. “I’d be fairly disgusted if not a single one of your incarnations was a doctor of physics.”

“It’d have to be one in the past hundred years for that particular subject matter—wouldn’t it, Boltzmann?” I said. “Maybe I’ve stayed abreast though, to your point.”

“So, am I right?” He crossed his arms.

“We’ll all find out after the Apocalypse,” I said.

“I’ll stop it, again,” he fired back.

“…Pretty sure that was just you getting drunk and pretending to save the world,” I told him.

He muttered, “Then I’ll just get drunk and pretend not to, next time.”

“Unfortunately, it’s moot if no one ever reads the paper,” I said.

He choked up. “…Which is just one of the trillion reasons I can’t lose Adam.”

I tried my best to give him the hug he needed that I couldn’t physically give him and the carefully measured validation that his asshole of an advisor never would. (…As I carefully measured how I could make it look like an accident.)

I said, “The last journal waited a month to reject it without explanation because they couldn’t find anything obviously and fatally wrong with it, like I couldn’t, except for the letters next to your name, of course.”

He looked around again, furtively: still no spies. He actually put his arms out into the air around where he “imagined” I was. (I might or might not have been floating a foot to the left.)

“You know, Dan,” I said with a glint in my eye, “it’d be a real shame if your sorry excuse for an advisor—”

“—You finish that sentence,” he said, “and they put me in the beigest place in the world with the shittiest mind altering drugs in the world for a very, very long time.”

“You never have to say that aloud, Dan,” I reminded him.

We both laughed hopeless, emotionally spent giggles. His best friend was dying. We both knew, for reasons basically no one else physically in that hospital could suspect, that was a multifaceted problem.

He released his death grip on thin air. ‘Have you seen his inner, in all this?’ he wondered of me. ‘I honestly don’t even know how this translates to him.’

“Well, it depends,” I said. I chose my words and felt their implications, one by one: “Brain injuries in particular can give us a pretty bad jolt, when we’re incarnate. The recovery prospects and timeline are a little different, for complicated reasons that you might have some idea about by now. Um, you, in this case, given how well you know each other, and your friends in there, are actually rather important to him in that regard, right now.” ‘I know how bad this is,’ I couldn’t tell him. “It’s not completely unlike how he needs you in the flesh to get through this, except, as far as his inner goes, you might actually be helping him in a more direct sort of capacity like he needs a doctor for in the physical realm, whether you realize it or not. I mean, we have doctors—”

“—So you mean, rather, like a tissue or blood donor?” he asked.

I didn’t know how to say anything other than, “Um, well, basically. Yes, like that.”

‘…And I’m sure our inners are lining up,’ he thought.

I didn’t even really know Adam, personally, but I started to cry. “Yes, you all are, Dan.”

I felt someone tap me on the shoulder.

“We need to talk with you,” whispered the tapper. “It might be time critical,” he added.

“Dan, there’s something I need to do for Adam right now,” I said.

‘Odin thinks I can’t hear him, doesn’t he?’ thought Dan.

Odin recoiled like he smelled something rank. He pointed a finger. “After we trained you, you’d better hear me, Jesus!”

“I trust you,” Dan said softly. ‘…But please, please, no zombies,’ he added in his head.

“Of course, ‘no zombies’!” said Odin. “Get in there, your friends need you!”

Dan pointed a menacing finger that had touched more gods than vaginas. “No fucking zombies,” he growled aloud, and he turned to head in.

Without Dan to worry about, for the moment, I divided my whole attention between the Three Stooges. Odin looked grim. Thor looked guilty. Loki only ever looked this nonchalant when he was scrambling a covert preemptive strike.

I didn’t even know what was wrong, but I had already decided to kill Loki first. “So, start explaining in total truth and detail,” I said.

“Okay,” said Odin, “look, first thing: no zombies.”

“…Like, ninety percent sure, no zombies,” said Thor. Odin looked at him agape.

“No, absolutely no zombies,” said Loki. “We know the procedure went better than anyone could have even imagined, but that’s exactly why he was able to up and split so fast.”

I shot daggers at Loki and then turned to Thor. I asked gently, “Tell me the truth, Thor.”

Thor pussyfooted for a second as we all watched him expectantly.

“…Like… ninety seven percent, no zombies,” he said timidly.

Forty percent of your soul dead soldiers were effectively turned into ‘zombies,’ if I remember correctly,” I said. I was fuming.

Odin grimaced. “The figure you’re recalling from the trial, Bastet,” he said, “was honestly about forty two percent—but that was over the entire history of the experiments!” he shouted. “The subject matter experts agreed that we had achieved a reliable seventeen percent ‘zombie’ side effect rate on the soul resurrection method before people found out and the courts got involved with—”

“It was a war crime!” I screamed. “You mean to to tell me—”

“—Seventeen percent!” Thor bellowed. “They never dreamed of it! Practically every one of our soldiers begged to opt in, anyway, and all that is exactly why they commuted our sentences! One of the doctors actually called it a ‘miracle’!”

“Bastet,” Odin started talking, fast, “the fact is, due to Dan’s connection with us, and Shiva’s connection with Dan, we had—perfectly legitimate—preexisting agreements with Shiva—”

“—But why he would ever—” I started to say.

“—Because eighty three fucking percent—that’s why!” said Odin with an indignant look. “The man is a mathematician, but it doesn’t take one!”

I was already thinking about what I was going to have to tell Dan. I bit my lip. Diplomat face on, Bastet…

How sure are you,” I asked, “honestly, that—”

Loki exploded. “Not a single one of those so called ‘zombies’ could have ever bolted in a fraction of a second and covered his tracks expertly behind him, like he did, but that might make perfect sense if the procedure was a total success and you just let us explain.

I relented. Every face was haggard and wearing a look of sincere concern, at this point.

“I’m listening,” I said.

“We need you to find him,” said Loki. “Kali and the rest of the family obviously have their hands full, on top of being completely exhausted. We need to go back into the hospital and suture up the connection to his lower as best we can, still. You have sufficient privileges to look for him in places that even Dan’s inner might not be welcome, especially.”

“I’ll get right on it,” I said.

Listen, first,” snapped Loki.

I felt his military grade privacy barrier go up around us.

He said, “Now, you know as well as any of us that the damage that was done to Adam’s soul has virtually no chance of being primarily due to his physical accident. It’s horrible, but people’s brains get practically disintegrated on a daily basis, and yet it almost never causes damage to the inner or the soul to the extent of the state that we found him in. In all likelihood, that’s exactly why he ran and hid for his immortal life the instant he was conscious again. You be careful. Shit’s really freakin’ rotten in Denmark, tonight. You read me?”

He handed me something. “Dan’s inner gave me this to give to you. You activate it, and it’ll help protect you immediately as well as let him phase in to where you are nearly as quickly. I know you’re already no one to fuck with, but he’s one of us, and two are better. And, if the person behind this is exactly who I know we all already could guess it is, Dan knows practically his every shitty little parlor trick, probably even better than us.”

“Got it,” I said, turning over the device. “I activate this and get wrapped in a bubble so the guy I’ve babysat for ten years who can’t get over me can swoop in to save me with his big, muscular penis.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “It’s not like that,” he said. “He’s just the obvious choice to back you up, isn’t he?”

“We’re politicians,” I said, “not feudal warlords, some of us. But if I actually had a reason to put on a siege suit tonight, you’d better realize that Kali—”

“—You’re right,” he cut me off. “She’s ready to go on a killing spree, practically, but do you actually think that’s what she should be doing right now?”

“Point taken,” I conceded, putting the “call button” away. “She hears us, by the way.”

“Nah, not through this barrier,” said Loki.

“Don’t try to keep secrets from me tonight, you weaselly fucking little crumb bum, Loki!” said Kali from a place we couldn’t see.

“That wasn’t possible,” said Loki matter-of-factly. “She’s cheating.”

“You find me proof of who did it, and I hack his fucking dick off with a rusty meat cleaver!” screamed Kali from somewhere unseen.

“Is she in the hospital room, right now?” asked Loki. “I can’t find the damned communication tether. Is she just screaming that loud?”

“You bring me his fucking sack, Bastet!” Kali yelled.

“Can I keep the balls?” asked Loki.

I keep the balls!” shouted Kali.

“I’d like to see someone make a constellation out of that,” said Loki.

“I’m gonna go find Shiva, now,” I said, as I phased out of there. I didn’t even know where I was going, yet, so I popped out in a low aether basically down the street, but that was a little too intense.

You’ll have the opportunity to travel faster than the speed of light again, someday. At this point in history, it’ll get you out of awkward parties, but it used to be mostly a slow one way trip, continually into Earth’s past. Ask a physicist why. It sounds strange, but, for a few of our millenia, we couldn’t figure out why you folks lived “backward.” In a way, it was a matter of perspective. It was always obvious that we could interact in a chronologically sensible enough way when we were incarnate, but the mechanism is honestly still only about as well understood as your brains are understood by your experts.

(By the way, if you happen to know something about special relativity, Dan once pointed out a really intriguing heurism to me that might help you understand: start in a frame with two tachyons traveling opposite directions and Lorentz boost to the frame of either one. Perhaps there are dragons hiding in plain view, just on the other side of the veil of light. We might or might not have countless defunct, embarrassing models of when and how your garbage becomes fine China. As well, it’s troubling that we can see our dead relatives again, and you can’t in the same way. The meaning of all this is occult.)

I went to Mount Kailash, and the hands of the clock turned backwards. It was the most obvious place to start, to me. I saw “Adam,” of course, but not our Adam “here” and “now.” I watched him play with Ganesh and Parvati. (…That is, “Parvati” most of the time, turned “Kali” when he came home drunk, some nights.) The happiness radiated from his face. At intervals, I watched him meditate so perfectly still for so long that it disoriented my sense of direction in time. I watched petitioners walk backwards up the mountain to meet him and down again, as major religions marched from tomb to womb to mere potential. I saw Shiva poke his feelers in by memory or anticipation from distant times and places, but Adam was not here. I sped my clock back to the Cretaceous, just in case, until the mountains didn’t exist and the landscape was unrecognizable. No Adam. No, madam.

I phased into the gravity well anomaly for a minute. (That thing is harder to explain.) I phased out of it to find my timing was decent: I was only about 30 years early. In fact, then, I supposed I was right on time.

From the edge of the anomaly, I poked a special sort of “tether” out towards a home in the Republic of Venezuela. I stepped a little deeper into the anomaly, and the clock turned forward.

Lusinchi was on the television, then John Paul II. The bolivar artificially tumbled. A family took a plane to the United States, and a young Adam gleefully shouted, “Turbulencia! Turbulencia!” I giggled at the expense of the other passengers. His parents were technically skilled, and they had a good life with Ivan and Adam in Randolph, New Jersey. The boys grew by the minute. Adam played chess at summer camp with—is that who I think it is? Two too smart kids slacked in the back of Mr. Pecoraro’s science class, where every test was pop. They both got “four-point-‘o’s”—in that class, at least. Ivan’s hair was long and flaming. Naughty, naughty things ensued. There were lots of familiar faces, suddenly, and lots of questionable decisions. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched myself make out with some “loser” for about nine months and yet never quite make it to “home base.” Oh… Dan… You’re in and out of hospitals. Adam is, too, for seizures. A younger me says one of the hardest things she’s ever had to say, to Dan, and it’s all up and down. Him and Adam are at different colleges. Ivan and his father go to the Dominican Republic to study medicine, and I can’t keep track of it all. Ivan… That’s not fair. That’s not fair to anyone! To lose a son, and a brother… Adam’s family is heartbroken. Adam goes to graduate school, though, and so does Dan! Those bastards get to Dan, in a minute. Adam is a little luckier, but it’s hardly a matter of just luck. Dan’s writing me poetry he’ll never know I read. The world nearly explodes, a few more times. Adam has another seizure, years later. His friends are there, but then a second later—

I blast out of the well as I drop the tether. For a moment that lasted hours, I saw Adam on the floor of his bedroom, motionless and alone. Kali is frantically calling the police from another state. She might have saved him. I don’t know if there was anything else friends or family could have done. It was painfully close, but it wasn’t quite our Adam “here” and “now.” I watched him flee a hospital bed, too quick and too enigmatically careful in covering his tracks to chase.

I landed in some middle aether, panting and crying. Adam had a grand mal seizure on a Saturday evening, in his apartment near his graduate school. His wife was away for the night. She called him and couldn’t reach him, but Adam liked to take naps at around that time, and he hated not being trusted to his autonomy. He fell face forward onto his arms, probably from his bed. He was unconsciousness and alone for hours, likely, as his wife desperately tried to reach him by phone. The muscles in his arms began to break down from restriction of blood flow and oxygen, and the breakdown products taxed his kidneys. The lack of oxygen damaged his cerebellum, and his brain in general. He’s recovering from Lyme disease. He’s epileptic. If it wasn’t for the heroic concern of his wife, calling the apartment management and the police relentlessly, he would probably already be dead.

Dan considers Adam to be his oldest, closest, best friend. I know why, now.

Maybe it isn’t beside the point that the damage to Adam’s counterpart on our plane went far beyond the typical for his physical injuries. I wasn’t lying, when I said brain injuries, in particular, could give us a “jolt,” for reasons that might be clear by now, but the extent was extremely unusual. I can think of another unmentioned, unmentionable reason why Shiva would have taken the care and the risk to make prearrangement with the Aesir and Vanir, and perhaps that’s the thread I should have started pulling in the first place.

On our plane, there is a quiet and usually deserted structure rather surgically positioned at a balance point between the edge of the gravity well anomaly I mentioned and a region of free flowing “forward” time for us. This structure has a very particular purpose, much debated. By a mechanism that might be obvious now, but will assuredly be obvious soon enough, the purpose of the structure is “Resurrection.” The media dialectic might convince one that the chance of perfect restitution of all human physical bodies by this structure, or device, is a rather democratic “fifty fifty.” That is, everything works out just perfectly or else nothing survives.

Dan hates this structure. Adam hates this structure. I hate this structure, yet here I am.

I situated myself a distance past the balance point on the free flowing side and watched. Things get a little wonky on the rare occasion that this structure is in use. I watched as, a couple of years ago from our lowers’ current perspective, the structure suddenly got very, very crowded. People prayed and un-prayed ancient, secret prayers that read forward and backward—depending on which side of the aisle you were on—for days, in time circuits. The point was to never, ever stop praying to the Abrahamic god at this neighborhood in time, right where the world was meant to end by nuclear holocaust, for as long as it took “God” to become powerful enough to perfectly restore the physical human bodies of the devout. I’ve embalmed people, yet I find this little ritual to be exactly as heebie jeebie, creepy crawly as it might sound to you.

(By the way, I assure you this will never work, because, believe it or not, neither your nor our physics allow this feat, with one critically pie-in-the-sky, Hail-Mary, infinitesimally improbably little debatable caveat, and not even the Abrahamic “God” can change this fact. However, many people have been able to lie and base long and successful political careers on it, we all know.)

I stepped to the other side of the time flow, to be sure I hadn’t missed anything. To my great pleasure, somewhere in New Jersey, of all places, some laughable nut ran drunkenly around his parents’ backyard talking to himself and, somehow, managed to become the only known historical example of human scale macroscopic quantum tunneling, in the process. The “devout” were perplexed. There was nothing strange about this. “You-Can-Call-Me-Al” shit a brick and tried to pass it off as a miracle. This virtually impossible sequence of events was fixed in our history, now. Nothing could be done to change it, anymore. I could play this on repeat, again, and again, and again, and again.

The prayer and its reverse, like a Satanic backtrack on “Stairway to Heaven,” continued awkwardly for a bit. (I wouldn’t be surprised if that was where “Al” got the idea.) “Al” composed himself and recited his preordained contingency speech in stereo time channels. No nuclear holocaust today, folks, I’m so sorry. Lucifer ruined it, again. Shucks. There was some note of finality in the prayers, and gradually the crowd dispersed. There was no sign of Shiva.

I watched from afar until the structure was basically deserted, again, as I considered my next move. I thought I generally knew where Adam was. I was going to have break some laws, or at least defend my actions’ legality after the fact.

I needed an armor suit. Rather, I already suspected I needed the armor suit—the big one. I triggered the activation sequence. The plates wrapped snugly as the generator units came on, and the heads up display flashed under the visor.

The artificial intelligence took about four seconds to boot. “Council member Bastet,” it said evenly, “peacetime lockout is in effect.”

“Override peacetime lockout,” I said.

“Please state the reason,” the “A.I.” prompted.

“…Immediate S class threat to council member Shiva’s immortal life.”

“Please clarify,” the A.I. said without audible concern.

Anxious, I said, “He’s traveled within a short space-time interval of the anomaly’s singularity to sabotage Allah’s ‘Ark.” His lower is brain damaged, and he’s recovering from major soul surgery.”

“Evaluating…” said the A.I.. The next three seconds lasted a century.

“…Credible just cause, time critical,” it reported, “code 003. Overriding peacetime lockout.” As the generator units kicked into full operation it asked, “How may I assist you?”

“I need to find the head of his timeline, within an hour or two of fleeing the hospital,” I said. “I suspect he’s within about a week of the point where the anomaly touches down on Earth, maybe a bit before when the ‘Ark’ will come into use. He would have to be incarnate as his current lower, at that time on Earth, but I suspect he’s targeting potential timelines where his lower and inner are both effectively permanently incapacitated.”

Shiva was playing dice against the odds of ending up a vegetable, I was guessing, and he had me playing, too.

“Approximately 330 macroscopically distinguishable future timelines fit those criteria,” said the A.I.

“Ah, c’mon…” I said. “He’s either still trying to cover his tracks, or he has as little idea as any of us do which ones are likely to matter, or both.”

I thought for a second. “How many of those is Lucifer incarnate in, in his current lower?”

“Six,” reported the A.I..

I did a double take. “For Christ’s sake, Dan…”

“One of these timelines appears to contain what could be Shiva’s current head, with significant injuries beyond his accident,” the A.I. added.

“Get us there,” I told it.

“Affirmative,” the A.I. responded, and the propulsion system blasted.

“Council member Bastet,” the A.I. intoned cooly as we phased through possibly the harshest environment on the Astral we had the technology to reach, “the void beast appears to be attacking council member Shiva at our intended destination.”

“…Practically on Allah’s Armageddon throne? When the beast is safely trapped behind that barrier, like ninety nine percent of the time, that we built at an expense of billions? When did it escape?” I asked.

“About thirty two hours ago,” said the A.I.

“Wow, I hadn’t heard!” I said as we dropped out of long distance travel phasing mode and into evasive phasing, and I was already blasting the fucking thing with the primary arm cannons. “A friend of mine was really badly hurt, about twenty four hours ago, and then he came here, where no one could find him, and he must have just walked straight into the damn thing!”

“It appears to have arrived minutes after he did,” said the A.I. credulously.

“No shit!” I yelled, as I blasted and dodged away. “Because Shiva would have realized that, of course, if the head was already here, or the history report from his armor showed it anywhere near the place!”

Speak of the Devil, the beast recoiled from a square hit in its projection center to reveal Adam’s inner on the ground below. He was wearing some discretionary use armor model, probably off grid, that was practically torn to shreds. I flashed him Dan’s call button, and he knew what to do.

Now he was encased in something sturdy, at least. Backup would be here any second.

“Council member Bastet,” the A.I. addressed me as I braced myself against a wall to fire the big cannons, “are you implying that this was council member Allah’s doing?”

“No!” I shouted as the first hard shell was released, “Why, do you think it’s a little convenient and obviously motivated?” It connected; I think I winded it.

Lucifer flew in like a proverbial “bat out of Hell” in some rinky dink homebrew suit—I thought, til I saw the recoil. He’d aimed for a sensitive organ, and the beast howled.

I shot a communication tether over to him. “Get Kali!” I shouted down it.

He fired a few light rounds and… oh, you goddamned idiot.

It’d be impressive that he had already dimensionally folded the room in the ICU into the Doomsday Chapel, across vast intervals of time and space, if there weren’t dozens of undefended and critically injured people on the other side. Of course, Kali wasn’t even in it. The Aesir and Vanir were, though, and I never saw three people so immediately delighted to have a figurative portal to Hell open up right in front of them. They came out blasting rapid fire while other, sane people scrambled toward the periphery.

“Where’s Kali?!” shouted Dan’s inner.

“Waiting room!” their friend Shaun shouted back.

Of course, he folded the waiting room in next. Kali noticed immediately, and I never saw an armor go on so fast. More innocent bystanders scrambled, as I turned up the maximum charge on my biggest particle beam cannon.

For a minute, it was chaos. We beat the beast back far enough that Kali could grab Shiva, and he, her, and Dan went out the bathroom window, back into the hospital. The Norse were just taking off their limiters when my cannon hit capacity and discharged.

It was a square hit in the beast’s center or projection. With an ear piercing shriek, it fell over like an earthquake, and the chapel went quiet.

Loki looked back at me and pointed. “Your kill.”

“But I’m not dead, yet!” said Thor, pretending to talk with the thing’s mouth flaps.

“Not for long,” said Odin. “Let’s get it back behind the barrier.”

“I think I’ll go for a walk,” said Thor.

“It’s nearly as dead as that joke,” said Odin. “You come help us, Thor. They probably need her back at the hospital.”

“Fucking Christ,” was all I could think to say, as the suit disengaged.

“Were you?” asked Odin.

“Go to Hell,” I said, turning towards the dimensional fold.

“I have a vacation home, there!” called Odin after me. “It’s beautiful in October!”

I stepped through the fold, and Dan let it go. Kali overtook me with a surprise hug.

“I don’t really know you well, personally, but I have to thank you—thank you— from the bottom of my heart,” she said, turning to the room, “and all of you.”

“Anything I can do, Kali…” I replied.

There were fresh tubes already running in and out of Adam’s inner, as the medical team hovered and flitted. He was conscious, at least.

Someone I presumed to be a doctor addressed us. “The new wounds are relatively superficial,” he said. “Most of it is from the initial injury.”

The room breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“You can talk with him,” said the doctor.

We stood over the inner and lower, listening to his respiration and the steady rhythm of the machines attached to him. The lower was in a coma. The inner was beat up, nearly as bad.

No one spoke for a minute.

“I think…” Shiva started to speak, “we pushed back ‘t=0’ about… ten years, during that last scare with the war. I wasn’t… I wasn’t gonna let him get away with it!”

He was crying. “I still needed to be incarnate to… to…”

Kali gently hushed him. “…The safety mechanisms on the chapel, Adam.”

He said, “…Got me about halfway, with my clearance… Busted the other safety mechanisms and broke the ‘nuke’ and its trigger. If any was the right one… who knows.”

She said. “I wanna chew you out, but I just.. I…”

They were both crying. I looked around, and we all were.

“Who did this?!” demanded Kali.

“I…” said Adam, “I don’t have proof. I just don’t have proof.”

“Spoken like a true mathematician,” said Dan’s inner.

It’s strange how the pressure fell off the concern for “Adam’s” mortality in one regard and created this cognitive dissonance in the process, with the self same Adam still in a coma and on life support with bleak prospects for recovery. How did this happen? What could we do? Would he make it? I have been worshiped as a god, and I didn’t know. I never knew. I don’t know anyone who does, on Earth or in Heaven.

“God” did this to Adam, I couldn’t help but think. At least, he should have done more to prevent it. “God” shouldn’t let things like this happen, much less even make them happen.

I used to take it slightly seriously. Like, “God” was a big deal. That was before I realized that “God” hurts people like Adam every single day, or else just lets them get hurt, for no good cosmically significant reason, in total self assurance. That was before I got into politics.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply