The Most Likely of All Possible Worlds

Sep 29 2016

Ilya wants her cancer cured. Min wants his mother’s cancer cured. Bo wants a functioning lung. Leon wants his son’s heart to last just long enough to make it to the transplant. Ronald Drumpf wants a bigger penis.

“I knew it was gonna end this way,” I think every day, now. See, the thing is, it turns out that even the “gods” aren’t truly capable of miracles. We can’t rewrite the physics “rule book,” believe it or not.

We’ve been on this planet for a very long time. We’ve seen things it isn’t even possible for you mortals to see. However, the debate over religion is almost identically the same one you already know as humans. Some of us try really hard, to answer your prayers, but please believe me that you can often accomplish more by picking up a soup ladle or donating to a highly reputed charity. There is relatively little in my purview, as the “god” Bastet, that is not available to any one of you, to affect real change on this beautiful, delicate little planet we all call home. In reality, I am an elected politician to you, and that is basically all. Please, remember the pharaoh. Remember the Japanese emporer. Remember the divine right of kings, and remember our shared history.

I cannot put it more plainly. We exist; we are all but human. The apparent confusion around this fact is virtually the same as your debate between the scientific fact of evolution and the baseless claims of a fascist “God” tantamount to the propaganda of North Korea. I can no longer euphemize this. It might be time I left politics.

I’m done with it, in fact. Timothy wants to be able to walk, and an essentially failed businessman riding on his television notoriety and his inheritance from his father is paying millions under the table for penis enlargement magic. “Because it’s natural,” I kid you not.

Mind you, he doesn’t need a bigger penis. Of course, this is very probably true, and I might have to feel a little bad for him, and find a respect for his personal request, if his penis is in fact clinically “micro,” though the issue here isn’t when it’s right to feel bad about its size, you see. He’s very quick to point out, though, that his penis is already huge. He’s quick to remind us, on national television, he just wants to be really freakishly big. He claims he considered asking for “naturally” larger breasts for his wife, or even his daughter—his words—but his wife really just can’t get enough of the “peen,” I’m sure. She likes ’em big as loaves of bread, Ronald tells us, because he wasn’t able to circumvent the provision that requests for “physical magic” are to be a matter of public record, since that “breakthrough” hit the scene.

Everybody gets one, basically, subject to the condition that it isn’t “too” obvious, usually, or illegal. Madison wants her cat to live another year. Jeremy donated his to a group that will use it to further peace in the Middle East. Ronald wants testicles the size of avocados.

So, maybe I should explain how “physical magic” works: it doesn’t. In most worlds, I should not have to qualify that statement. We’ve recently made a very important discovery, though: it can appear to work in a way that is not a stage illusion to the eye, or the telescope, or the microscope, or the stethoscope, until you understand the somewhat subtle physical reason why things happen that way, and then to carry on believing it is a political magic trick. If you’re willing to literally die if you don’t win this election, you can live almost only to see yourself win it, truly enough.

My friend, how “physical magic” works, or rather doesn’t, is as simple as this paradox, which rather isn’t: you are guaranteed a physically possible result will happen, regardless of how likely it is to happen. The likelihood to see it is physically predictable, yet all likely and unlikely physically possible scenarios occur. It happens all ways, and we see it happen any of them, with a guarantee that all are seen by different versions of us. Understanding the social implications of this is critically important to my world—our world—but it doesn’t become a concern in an obvious way until you win the lottery a few hundred times in a row. That “evidence” can be read many ways. Superstition and religion are still the tools of the miracle workers and policy makers.

We once did not utter the holiest four letter name of “God” for this reason—he has oppressed us for thousands of years! Yet, to speak could unmake our being. A tyrant, a mad man, yoked all our world under his delusion of grandeur, and counted the age of the universe from the moment of his birth. Allah, Adonai, Father of Christ, believe me, yours is not the only name!

How many of them did you steal, Elohim? How many of us did you slay to send a proxy in their place, to take their name? How many did you devour, you fat, gassy, beast? Now, here we are. When the world showed you some greater measure of tolerance, you took advantage of us, and taught your followers to believe in only you, against any evidence. This is not our way, or the way of the universe, Yahweh. Rome conquered you as a nation, but had no problem with you as a god. Then, you pretended to bring an honest man back from the dead, and you swore his followers to no oath but yours. Maybe that was for some good discerned, Qanna, but the dead do not control their memory. Ultimately, no one of us does. I don’t suppose you’ve met the Jains, or any of us, El Shaddai. It is not even in the true hearts of so many of your followers, but your jealous organ!

Say it, human! Say that your God is perfect, and infinite in all capacities, and that you believe him before all the scientific evidence that could be and your own eyes and ears! This is the self-unaware refrain of fascism! This is a poison whose antidote is the study of history!

So, when Ronald Peckerwood wanted surgery-free “natural male enhancement,” God knows He’d take the money, like Kim Jong Il would. Shiva wouldn’t. Neither would I. Maybe “God” just “happened” into the absolute power to corrupt, though, and I give myself too much credit. I think I know garbage men who’d have more integrity.

“See, those assholes can absolutely waste their physical magic on trying to do good for other people who didn’t work for it, and walk away with nothing to show for it,” Ronald bombasted through the television. “They’re idiots. No one’s gonna do that for them. Let ’em waste it on any refugee or illegal immigrant who’s just gonna turn around and pay the favor back with a suicide bomb. Idiots, all of them. You won’t see me wasting my opportunities.”

Right, Ronald. You’re such a cunning businessman, with a gigantic penis, by the way. Your net “success” starting from the capital of your inheritance hasn’t even beat the average market return! You’ve literally wasted more money than you’ve ever made! I’m not even talking about your garish lifestyle, your gold-plated toilet, but rather just the opportunity cost not to put the money in a damned index fund! You could have had a virtual guarantee of better return sitting on your ass rather than creating shell corporations to bankrupt, to dodge debt and taxes!

“Stop screaming at the broadcast,” Maat said to me.

“Was I screaming?” I had to ask.

“I can hear what you’re thinking,” she said.

“He’s literally ready to end the world over this!” I yelled at her.

“They all are, Bast,” she said.

“What do you think about that?” I asked her.

“Personally, or as historical judge of fate in the afterlife?” she asked.

“The second one, first,” I said.

“It’s genuinely a matter of ignorance, for most people,” she said. “You can see how the best scientific explanation for ‘physical magic’ is not an easy one to understand well enough to accept.”

“… And in the other capacity?” I was curious.

“The planet is easily lead by willfully ignorant people and hypocrites, and I’m sick of this shit,” she said.

“How do we stop it?” I asked.

“… The End?” she clarified. “I don’t have a better suggestion than what we’re already doing. We shouldn’t take it personally. If we take it personally, and we say something people already don’t wanna hear in a way they definitely don’t want to hear it, everyone has far too many other avenues for immediate gratification today to listen to what we’re saying for another three seconds.”

“We’re competing with thousands of flavors of donkey porn on every person’s handheld device,” I said, slumping.

“It’s worse than that,” she said. “The distractions are researched at great expense to be carefully orchestrated, though phone porn might suffice.”

Maat smiled. “What do you think about the Guinea pig’s role in this?” she asked me.

“Yeah, what the hell am I supposed to think?” I wondered. “My rational mind tells me that’s really all he is, a ‘Guinea pig,’ like even he says. I honestly believe at this point that literally every one of us ends up in shoes closely resembling his in a parallel quantum world.”

I said, “He couldn’t be less political.”

“Is that good or bad?” Maat asked.

“It’s a guilty pleasure,” I admitted. “It’s fun to watch him pop, but that’s super convenient for good ol’ ‘Al’ and Eris, when the pig eats his foot.”

“It’s also extremely inconvenient, I think,” said Maat.

“All he wants is a hole in the ground and a loaf of whole wheat bread,” I said, melting into my chair. “I don’t know if he even deserves it.”

“Either way, he gets it, in one of these worlds, and I’m starting to think we all do,” said Maat.

I rubbed my third temple. “The whole fucking time, that’s what that weird subtext to the damned afterlife really was, that we thought we understood.”

“It’s obviously more complicated than that,” said Maat, “but it’s not angels flying out of Al’s butt, for sure.”

I couldn’t stop staring at Drumpf’s squinchy orange mug. “Why did we let it go on this long, Maat?” I asked half rhetorically.

“Which part?” she responded.

“… Keeping the important parts half a secret from the humans,” I said.

She laughed devilishly. “I could be a jerk and just fall back on the fact that it was the democratic will of the people, nominally.”

Why?” I wanted to know.

“Bast, for one thing, we’re essentially parasites,” she said. “The humans might not take kindly to the fact that we basically lay eggs in their brains, or maybe rather their minds.”

“Our biologies are so intricately interwoven that that’s really not an accurate way to put it,” I said. “They wouldn’t have understood thousands of years ago, like we didn’t, but we share the capacity to look at it clinically, today.”

“… Maybe in the past fifty to one hundred years,” said Maat, “or two hundred, at most.”

“Then why not in the past fifty years, Maat?” I just wanted to hear her state the obvious.

“I could regurgitate the talking points,” she said, “about mental privacy, and respect for the ancient religious taboos, and investing too much in the humans with questionable prospects for return, but those are bullshit.”

“Then why?” I asked her again.

“… So ‘God’ doesn’t have to be accountable to them, too, when he takes money to grow Tronald Dump’s dick, obviously,” she said.

“You’re one of my best friends, Maat,” I told her.

“When does ‘Oo-la-lonald’ come up in the queue for his natural male enhancement miracle?” she asked.

“Tomorrow,” I said, “right after a fourteen year old who’s asking for her HIV to be cured.”

“That’s really the most tragic part,” said Maat.

“What?” I asked. “That it’s false hope? That the ‘Guinea pig’ is gonna see a world where she’s cured by chance, which has zero actual bearing on her prospects for a cure? ‘Oh, thank you, God!’ she’ll say, and the cameras will come in for close-ups on her and her family’s tears, and all it is in reality is the Guinea pig’s personal Hell.”

“Maybe ours, too,” said Maat.

I raised an eyebrow. “Is it?” I asked her.

“… Not the HIV patient’s,” she said.

“Is it an illusion?” I asked her.

“She’ll get her cure, but yes,” she said.

“She won’t get her cure, Maat,” I said. “That’s why this is so utterly malicious. The reality is, we’re just going to see the Guinea pig die, instead.”

Maat put her hand to her chin. “That’s so hard to parse,” she said. “By now, it’s so hard to believe.”

“Yeah, well, the lab rat has been successfully damned, by now, for cracking too many jokes at God’s expense,” I said, gathering myself to leave. “Ultimately, it’s not anyone’s fault, when it happens to all of us.”

“It was partly his own choice, Bast,” she said. “Where are you going?”

“I’m gonna get a hammer and go smash Ron’s dick with it til it doubles in size, so he doesn’t have to kill my delusional ‘ex,’ anymore,” I said in a huff.

“Bast, I’m curious!” she called after me. “What do you plan to do when it’s your turn to be the lab rat?”

“It’s an objectively physically true statement that I’m probably gonna find out in like five seconds, Maat!” I called without turning back.

I’d already arranged the meeting, but I was honestly slightly ‘skeeved’ by the idea of talking with him in private. The mansion I was told to meet him at, on the Astral, (in a rich neighborhood of Heaven, of course,) was even gaudier than the physical ones the guy attached to his favorite cocktail wiener slept in. This was hopeless, I already knew. Even if he relented, it’s not like there weren’t billions more people ready to take his spot in line. I just had to have it out with him, for me. I knew what was going to happen, in the set of worlds following the likely general scenario, and I knew what was going to happen down the road in the one he was convinced was a sure bet.

Even his “soul’s” face looked like a squinchy orange potato head doll, in person. (I swear to you he was playing with a giant corn syrup stretch doll while “discreetly” looking at porn on a monitor turned away from the door, when I walked in.)

“Miss Bast, welcome to my humble abode,” he said, as I entered.

I cringed. “Normally it’s ‘council member Bast,’ Mr. Drumpf, but I guess the formalities aren’t really important, particularly since I’m here on personal business,” I said gently.

“Oh, you’re a council member?” he asked, eyeing me in a way that even “God” usually wouldn’t get away with. “Can I ask, what are you, Bast?”

I knew what he meant. “I don’t know what you mean,” I responded.

“I mean, your ‘lower,'” he said, “is she, like, Egyptian?”

That ended the charade, buddy. “My ‘lower’ is a vegan taxidermist who works with roadkill, whose television appearances were actually watched by the singular and coveted ‘Jesus’ demographic, unlike yours.”

He was taken aback, but then he smiled. “Me-ow, Bastie baby. For a council member, you don’t have the best poker face, do you? My secretary told me you had a request for me.”

I said low, “Ronald, it might not be so much of a request as a warning about the shit show you’re about to walk into blind, but, for the Hell of it, let me ask you, first: would there be anything to convince you to cancel your request in the physical magic queue, to be served tomorrow?”

Ohhh, say no more, Kitty,” he said, “say no more. I get it, now. You’re sick of your boy toy being pushed around, and you just can’t take it, can you? Let me tell you what—here’s what I’m gonna do for you, Bastie. First, I’m gonna unzip my pants,” he said as he reached for his zipper. “Then, you’re gonna put those pretty lips against my—”

“—Ron!” I yelled. I stabbed at him: “I’m gonna yank it down hard like a slot machine lever til your eyes spin around and come up cherries, you racist, misogynist hog.”

He zipped back up and gaped at me, and then he sat down with an angry look on his face. He knit his fingers in front of him. He said, “‘Kitty-Kat,’ I’m gonna say something I usually wouldn’t say. I’d never say it. This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, when my secretary told me you needed a favor, and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. I respect it, though, a little, I admit. I have to admit.”

I closed my eyes for a moment, and I took a deep breath. “Ron, there are two general sets of worlds we could find ourselves in by this time tomorrow. The one you’re expecting, that most of the world is expecting, contains you with your cock blown up like a party balloon. The other general set, which is probably trillions of times more likely as a whole, contains my close friend, dead, and your penis is nonplussed. For his death, we are no more likely to find ourselves in the first general scenario set, is the majority opinion in the scientific community at this point, on the topic of ‘physical magic.'”

He scowled. “That’s such an obvious lie that I could laugh at it, Bast. Look at the endless line of successes! Every day, we get miracles out of him, out of that bastard rebel. The proof is indisputable.”

“Then how does it work, Ron?” I asked him.

“He stole the technology from God!” he shouted. “He has to exist, now—it’s an ‘existential imperative,’ I think the terminology is—so if we move to kill him, that world just doesn’t exist, because it can’t!

“What physics textbook did you read that one in, Ronald?” I prodded him.

“It’s as plain as day, Bast! Experiment is on our side, this time!” he said. “Why are you targeting me? What about the dozens of people in line between now and me?”

“‘Dumpf,'” I addressed his greatness, “the difference between you and most of them is that you’re a tiny, selfish prick.”

He laughed and smiled. “Except, pretty soon, I’ll be a colossal prick, Bastie!”

We stared at each other. My expression didn’t move a millimeter.

“I mean, I already am, that is, but bigger,” he said. “It’s relative.”

“Ron,” I said to him, “when God answers your prayers for a horse cock, it’ll just be one more reason that nobody would ever sleep with you but a gold digger.”

His face turned lurid. “You think you’re so damn witty, bitch, but that doesn’t even make any sense when you think about, when you really think about it. I mean, even a hooker—”

“‘Frumpf,'” I said, “I know some hookers, and you’re not up to their standards, but I’ll give you that you might find a handful of really desperate ones on the bottom tier.”

You don’t know who you’re talking with!” he roared. “I’m the best businessman, the greatest—”

“Ron,” I said, “you could have taken Finance 101 at community college, put your inheritance in a mutual fund that promised average market return like your professor basically would have told you, sat on your ass wanking and eating cheese puffs for the rest of your life, and literally ended up making more money that way, I hope we both realize.”

“You’re nothing but a flat-chested, ugly bitch in the end, ‘Bast-tard,'” he fumed.

“‘Lumpf,’ put a handle on your head and sell it to Louis Vuitton,” I suggested.

Out, bitch!” he exploded at me, as I turned to walk the long mile to his office door. “Your boyfriend is gonna suck it when it’s twice the size of his!

“Go to Hell, ‘Fonald,'” I said without looking back.

“I own half of Hell, in fact. The taxes are outrageous, just insane—you really couldn’t afford them,” he said.

I turned to face him from the door. “That’s why they have the best infrastructure, education, and healthcare on the goddamned Astral, ‘Pumpf,'” I said, and I blew him a kiss as I exited.

“That accomplished nothing,” I thought as I strutted my way in escort out of the mansion, “but, man, did it feel great!”

The world is already over, I decided. I took a day off to count my “blessings” and to watch the endless stream of winning lotto tickets get cashed.

Ilya’s cancer was “cured.” Min’s mother was “cured.” Bo’s lung started to work, by a stroke of improbable luck. Leon’s son rolled seven after seven. I knew that, for every wish granted, a vastly more probable set of worlds kicked us in the head, completely unprepared for it. I knew we were only living in a ‘Guinea pig’s’ personal Hell, by alien luck, in nearly the tiniest possible fraction of a quantum mechanical universal wave function—just like his father had planned.

Human, how many planets have we colonized? In a universe that is over thirteen and a half billion years old, by anyone’s best estimate, with about 70 billions of trillions of stars in the part of it which we can observe, alone, of which some others almost assuredly host life by any reasonable scientific guess, why do you think that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and reputedly benevolent being has occupied ‘Himself,’ on this pale blue mote, with its Armageddon, its worship, and eternal damnation for something like putting the penis in the butt or kinda scissoring? What if the floor was wet and you kinda slipped? What if it was dark and you thought it was a pickle? You really think She gives a shit? (I could only imagine She’d at least slightly prefer ‘She,’ by the way, but maybe that’s just me.) You really think She’d punish you for that? You really think She’d put a political imperative to you and want you to push Her agenda for Her while instructing you to deny your logic and reason? You really think She’d want you to compel the rest of the world to worship Her as you do, while She straps a bomb to the chest of someone who has an infinitesimally different interpretation of Her, to come blow up you and your family?

My child! This is a sickness and a lie! This has every hallmark of living under fascist, authoritarian tyranny!

Drumpf stepped up to cash his ticket, before they even opened the gates for the ponies. Dan suffered a major heart attack and a stroke, in practically all worlds, except for a razor-thin bridge to whatever kind of life came after.

They actually cut off his penis. They actually took a machete and hacked it off.

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