Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Perfectly Harmless

by Jim Bates

black coffee

Harmless. That's what the punk kid thought the old man was, sitting at a table by himself in the strip mall coffee shop. Perfectly harmless. He quickly slipped behind the counter and slid the edge of the razor sharp stiletto against the young clerk's neck, whispering, "Keep calm, honey, and I won't cut you." He smiled as he watched a tear form in the young girl's eye. This robbery will be a piece of cake, he was thinking. No problem at all.
            Just then, all hell broke loose.
            The old man noticed what was going on and it made him mad. He angrily got to his feet and started yelling and waving his arms, causing such a distracting scene that the cashier was able to press a button under the counter which notified security. In the few moments it took for them to arrive, she stomped down heavily on the punk's toe with the heavy heal of her boot and he screamed in pain. While all that was happening, the old man slowly but steadily made his way to the counter and began smacking the punk across the top of the head with his cane. It might have been comical if the young clerk hadn't inadvertently been cut by the robber's knife and was bleeding.
            Two beefy guys from security showed up, quickly subdued the punk and held him until the police arrived. A nurse browsing in the nearby bookstore administered to the young clerk pronouncing that she'd be just fine, it was just a slight nick.
            That left the old man, an octogenarian named Jack, who received a hearty thank you from the building manager, offering, "We could get you on the evening news if you'd like, Jack. Your fifteen minutes of fame? I could fix it up with the local station." He put his arm around the old man's skinny shoulder and sat him down."What do you think? You want to be famous?"
            Jack didn't have to think. He shook his head to the negative, and said, "Why make a big deal out of it, young man? Most of the people I know would have done the same thing."
            The manager laughed to himself. Yeah, right. A bunch of old people? I sincerely doubt it. But to Jack he said, "Suit yourself. How about a free cup of coffee?"
            "You're on for the coffee," Jack said rising to his feet, looking at his wrist watch. "But I'll have to take it to go if you don't mind. I have a bus to catch.
            After he got his coffee Jack picked up his cane and made his way to the door, waving good bye to the building manager, the clerk, the nurse and the two security guards. He was feeling good, better than he had in a long time. He couldn't wait to get back to the Long Lake Retirement Home where he lived. Tonight was their self-defense class and he didn't want to be late. Boy did he have a story for them.

About the author 

Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis and has worked numerous jobs, the longest being twenty years as a course developer and sales and technical trainer for a large manufacturing company. In addition to CafeLit his stories can be found on his website: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com

Monday, 22 July 2019

The Singing Green

by Matthew Roy Davey

a glass of Ribena

None of my friends were out on the green, not Red Emily (with whom I once took a romantic dip in a drip tray that my father had used to collect oil from under the car), not Adopted Paul (whom I prayed every night would be reunited with his mother though mine said he was perfectly happy with his new one), not Stuttering Rick (whose sister we delighted in tormenting by holding the handlebars of her tricycle to stop her moving – how she would scream!) , not even Edward the Biter (who wasn’t even my friend, for obvious reasons). 
I sat at the end of the garden path where it joined the path that bordered the green, pushing a couple of Matchbox cars to and fro.  There were houses backing on to the open space on all three of the large sides and the fourth was just a gap that opened onto the main road, still a very quiet thoroughfare.  A couple of girls cycled up and stopped.
“What are you playing?”
Long hair, long legs, they were much older than me, no stabilisers.
“Playing cars.”
They smiled and leaned over their handlebars.
“Who’s in the cars?”
I leaned over and touched the spokes of one of the bikes, running my fingers up the tense strands of metal.
“You’ll get dirty fingers,” said the girl looking down at me.  Her hair hung loose about her freckled face.  I intertwined my fingers, pulling slightly, feeling their strength.
“Why do wheels have these?”
She frowned.
“Because.  Take your fingers out.  You’re going to break them if you pull.”
I looked up and smiled.
“No I won’t.” 
I kept yanking at the spokes, harder now so that the wheel started turning towards me.  She pulled the handlebars, trying to dislodge my hands so I held on tighter.
“Stop it,” the other girl said softly.
I laughed, thinking they’d laugh too.
The girl reached down and began prizing my fingers off the wires but at soon as she’d got one off and had moved onto another I put the first one back. 
“Stop it,” she said, gritting her teeth and, grabbing a fistful of fingers, wrenched them off, bending them back against the hand.  The pain shot up my arm and tears came immediately with a wail of shock.  They had seemed so nice.
“I’m telling Mummy!”
The girls pushed off, wide eyed and pale, until they had enough momentum when they began to pedal as fast as they could.  I raced down the garden path, determined to see justice.
Inside my mother kissed my hand as I hiccupped my story. 
“They wanted your fingers out of their wheels, love.  If they’d moved their bikes your fingers would have been caught.  That would have really hurt.”
I stopped crying for a moment - the realisation that she wasn’t going to fight for me, to tell the girls off, to avenge my pain, far more hurtful than the soreness in my fingers.  I took a deep breath and began to cry even louder.

About the author

Matthew  was winner of The Observer short story competition 2003 and winner of the Dark Tales competition (August 2013) and has been long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction award (Spring and Autumn 2017), Reflex Flash Fiction competition (Spring 2017) and Retreat West Quarterly Competition (Summer 2018).  His story ‘Waving at Trains’ has been translated into Mandarin and Slovenian and been published in anthologies by Vintage and Cambridge University Press.  Recently he has been published by Everyday Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Odd Magazine and Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine.  He has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

The Heart Shaped Carving in the Old Oak Tree

 by Mason Bushell 

ginger beer, natural, sweet and just a little spicy.

A walk in the woods, a regular event for a person and their dog. Just the whistle of the breeze through the limbs of oaks, silver birch and yew trees can lower the blood pressure. Just the feeling of nature hugging around you can make you relax. The twittering and tweeting of the many birds. The squirrel watching from above with an acorn in his paws. The knocking of a woodpecker, searching for grubs. And that majestic deer peeking around the gnarled old trunk of a tree. All the wondrous sights and sounds that make wandering in the woods a special thing to do. Even if you’ve been a hundred times, it’s still a great experience. A new creature, an odd mushroom or a new sunny space make it all worthwhile.  There’s never really an adventure unless you miss your way. That’s what Megan did one afternoon, whilst out with her black German Sheppard Lucy. Megan was twenty-three and had tawny brown hair that glinted in the sun. It’s warm rays gracing her bare shoulders as it passed, dappled, through the canopy of leaves above. With Lucy snuffling about the bracken for something to chase and chaffinches fluttering about with the butterflies. There was a tranquillity there in the woods. Megan stopped and breathed, opened her arms in a beam of sunlight and turned energizing circles. The skirts of her cream skater dress flared as wide as her relaxed smile. So calm was she walking in the woods, that a mistake she made. When the young lady stopped turning she walked on in quite the wrong direction. Lucy noticed and lowered an ear. ‘No my mistress knows where she’s going.’ she thought before trotting obediently after her. 

One rabbit path is quite like another when in the trees. Megan walked between holly bushes and around birches and a cherry tree on the path that led the wrong way. Then the rabbit path was gone a glade surrounded by silver birched was at its end. Open to the blue sky and welcoming it was. Wildflowers, dog roses, honeysuckle and violets filled the woodland floor. Between then, delicate bracken ferns and the mysterious enchanter’s nightshade. Lucy dog had arrived first and now she stood, one front paw aloft, confused, alarmed even by the strange new place. Megan felt it too, there was an energy here and it was all in the oak tree. It stood centre to and toward the back of the clearing. It’s display of enormous limbs fanned out like the spans of a cathedral’s magnificent roof. Each gnarled and weathered yet as beautiful as could be. The tree was a thousand years old if it were a day. The squirrels adored it, this was their home as did the colourful jay. Megan approached her head tilted high. She loved the light trickling through the massive, magnificent canopy. The oak seemed to draw her in, it’s feeling warm and enchanting. Megan arrived at the trunk and stepped over a raised root. Her sandals allowed her white painted toes to touch the wood that supplied the tree with nutrients from the ground. It felt alive with energy but not as much as the cankerous, gnarly trunk. It was warm from the sun and felt happy to be growing there in the woods. Happier still to feel Megan’s pure, friendly touch.  

“What a magnificent tree, hey, Lucy. I feel something magical happened here,” Megan commented. Even as she did, she felt she was on the wrong side of the wide trunk. Lucy still hadn’t come closer, preferring the edge of glade to the tree that set her senses on alert.  Megan smiled at her then worked her way around the massive girth of the oak. A squirrel above chattered, beckoned her there. Higher still, a spotted woodpecker watched on with interest. Reaching the other side, she stumbled on a root, dropped to a knee. Unhurt she rose again and saw the proof of an event. There above the first branches, it was, a heart carved into the tree. There was lettering inside, worn with age, indecipherable from the floor. Megan kicked off her sandals and smoothed her hair over her shoulder. 

“Don’t go anywhere Lucy, I need to see,” she said before beginning to climb. With bare toes, hands, legs and arms, she could feel every crack in the bark, every wrinkle that’d showed it’s time on earth. Then she was sat on the branch, that squirrel was still on a branch not far away. A stag beetle stood by a hole higher up; the home of owls or bats perhaps. Megan knew the humble oak tree was home to a multitude of creatures. Important to many more for food and protection too. Her soft brown eyes moved to the heart and now it as clear. True love was professed right here.  E, W & G, F’ it read. The ampersand was not there, two entwined circlets filled the space. 

‘I see you experienced beautiful love, didn’t you, tree?’  Megan reached out and placed her finger on the heart, she traced the letters within. As she finished the ‘W’ her branch perched began to wobble. The shudder felt from within. It shook her against the trunk. Her palm pressed flat upon the heart and her consciousness faded to green.   

When next she could see, Megan was still in the tree.  On the same branch but away from the trunk. No heart or initials showed in the bark. The leaves sparkled with browns and yellows, it was autumn in the woods. A smooth honey-brown doe was grazing below, and Lucy dog was gone, footsteps were coming. Megan glanced about the woods below, where were they? Who were they?  Then she saw her, a young lady close to her age, yet in style much older. She was wearing a loose fitting, drop waist, cream dress. A blue cloche hat sat upon her bob of short brown hair. Accessorised by Mary Jane shoes and a beaded bag, she was a girl from yesteryear. Megan loved fashion and so she knew this girl was by her dress, from the 1920s, no less. By the tears in her eyes, she was definitely in distress. Megan tried to descend the tree, to help if she could. She couldn’t move, not an inch of her would react to her desire to get out of the oak tree. It was if it held her in its leafy embrace and would hold her until it permitted her to leave.

“Elsie, wait!” the call was from a young man, for now out of sight. There was an ‘E’ engraved in the tree before, it was not there now, of course. Megan had no choice, she looked on with interest. Elsie wiped away a tear and walked on. Stopping there under the tree, “No, Geoff, I demand you leave me be,” she said with tears in her eyes. There he was coming around the last silver birch tree. A handsome gentleman, not much less than twenty. He strode into the glade wearing black trousers, over Oxford style two-tone blue and white shoes. The blue was picked up in his matching boater blazer, over a crisp white shirt. A white boater hat with a blue band finished his 1920s college boy look. 

“I cannot, Elsie, I made a big mistake. Will you give me a chance to explain,” he pleaded. Then he was stood with Elsie beneath the tree. He made to put his arm about her, but she shrugged him away. 

“I told you, Geoff, leave me be. I saw you kissing Mary-Jane. Was my sister prettier than me?” she cried having placed her head on her hand, against the oak tree. From above, Megan could see, she was sobbing there, upon the tree. 

“I don’t deny it, I did kiss Mary-Jane, but not for her beauty and not for love. In fact, I kissed her for something she did for me. Something special, so I could do properly by you. She’ll never be prettier and I’ll never love her, over you. Will you let me show you what your sister did for you?” Geoff requested.  

With exception to the birds and breeze within the woods, silence fell in the glade. Nearly a minute passed with Geoff waiting for Elsie to answer, hoping to be permitted one last chance. 

“You kissed my sister, something you should never do. You say you still love me. Maybe I can’t love you now.” she said at last. On the bough above Megan felt sad at what she saw, what she heard from the couple beneath the tree.

“Go on, Elsie. Give him a chance. I’m sure he meant well and will see you happy again, very soon.” she said aloud. Neither Elsie nor Geoff looked up. They couldn’t see her, couldn’t hear her or so it seemed. 

“Dear sweet, Elsie. The kiss was a thank you and nothing more. Turn to face me and you’ll see. She helped me get this to give to you with my heart.” Geoff tried again. It was then the squirrel climbed from the tree. The creature graced Elsie's shoulder and bounded to her feet. To follow it she turned and to Geoff, she looked. The Squirrel gave a chunter, a bow, and to the tree, it returned. The gentleman held a black heart-shaped box. He opened it now, revealing a ring with a ruby sitting within.  

“Why do you have that, Geoff?” she asked, interested now. 

“One day in twenty-one, you told me of a ring you and Mary-Jane loved.  It was for that ring she earned her kiss. You see, she led me to it that day. Now I hold it before you as a token of love. Dear, Elise. My heart and soul are yours, may yours be mine. Will you marry me, my love?” Geoff dropped to a knee. Above him, Megan shed a tear that fell upon the branch of the tree. The oak tree had indeed played witness to a moment of pure love. Elsie wiped her eyes and looked to Geoff. 

“You mean the kiss was to get me this, all along?” she asked. 

“It was, dear Elsie. It’s you I love, and I always will. Will you let me take care of you?” Geoff offered the ring in its box; his heart on the sleeve of his outstretched hand. Elsie’s smile all but lit up the glade, even the birds seemed to cheer. 

“Yes, Geoff, I will. I will marry you,” she said. Bounding to his feet, he placed the ring on her finger and the two shared a kiss. Her back against the trunk, his lips glued to hers, their love flowed again. Although they didn’t know it flowed into, imbuing the silently smiling oak tree.  

Megan beamed at the couple and winked at the squirrel. He was back watching from a branch not too far away. Then Elsie broke from the kiss. 

“Darling, Geoff. We must do something to help us remember this moment,” she said while straightening the cloche hat on her head. The young man looked up with a grin and a nod. 

“I know what to do,” he said. “Let’s climb up there.” 

“Not in this dress, and no lady can climb up the tree.” Elsie disagreed. Geoff leant a knee and offered a hand.

“Sure you can, up you go. It’s easy, you’ll see.” The young man gave an encouraging nod with an enchanting smile. This time Elsie stepped forward and up she went. Within moments she was perched on the branch. Sitting where Megan was now. Never touching, never seeing, yet sharing the same space, in a different time. Geoff was with her in no time at all. From his belt, he took a small knife and began to carve into the trunk with a deft hand. 

“What are you doing?” she asked as the heart took shape. Megan smiled, she had seen what was to come. Seen what was to be carved into the oak tree. 

“I’m carving our moment into the tree, a mark to remember our time together, forever.” Geoff finished the heart. Then wrapping Elsie’s soft hand on the knife he began on the letters. “E, W for Elsie White and G, F for Geoff Flynn,” he said as they carved the initials. Her hands-free again, Elsie watched as he carved in the circlets.

“And two entwined rings for our love. Our marriage to happen very soon,” she said. With the carving complete he turned her back to the tree trunk and kissed her again. Her hat fell to the ground. Their clothes, Megan felt sure to follow. Their love grew and grew and was blessed by the tree. Then as the Megan grew hot under the collar, Elsie’s hand pressed the carving and the scene faded to green once more.  

Megan’s eyes flickered open, she was still in the tree. A barking below, let her know Lucy was back and so was she. Wasting no time she climbed down from the tree. 

“You know, Lucy. It’s time to go now the tree’s taken its magic from me,” she remarked with a look over her shoulder at the old oak tree. There across the glade were an elderly couple joined at the hand and hearts as well. She wearing an old red dress, and him a casual grey suit. On her finger was a ruby, a familiar engagement ring.  With it a wedding band to match the one upon the finger of the gentleman.

“Not many people find their way to our special oak tree,” said the lady stepping forward with the gentleman on his black cane. Megan felt stunned, could they be them from so long ago? 

“Good afternoon, I’m Megan and this is Lucy dog. Are you Elsie White and Geoff Flynn?” she asked although she already knew. 

“That is indeed us. Do we know you?” Geoff asked. A twinkle in his eye told more than his words. Megan shook her head. 

“No, I saw your carving. The tree showed me the rest. The day when you proposed to Elsie here in the glade. After Mary-Jane got that ring and that risky kiss. Please, how did I see that day so long ago?” she replied.   

“It was so long ago. Eighty years in fact. Every one since we’ve come back to this, our old oak tree. He’s one hundred and I’m plus two. A tree like this sees a lot through its long years in the woods. When a special soul comes along, it loves to spend some time with them. To have that person sit with it gives the tree more joy than even the summer sun can. To thank you, the tree shares a tale of its time. Sometimes a horrible event, most often as this, a special, happy time. We made this our tree when we gave our love to it. Now it’ll remember you too, never forget it.” Elsie told her. Megan watched the old couple hug the oak tree. They held each other beneath boughs and shared a kiss. Then with a wave and smile, they disappeared the way they had come. Filled with magic, and enchanted with awe, Megan left the woods once more.

Remember to respect and love the trees you see in the woods. They remember what happens around them and hold it within them. Never will they forget those special times through the seasons of their long lives. If you make a beautiful memory in the woods, give some of that love to the tree. It will thank you even if you carve into it. If you see a carving, study it, feel it and maybe the tree will share its story with you. For there’s always a story behind the heart-shaped carving in the old oak tree.  

About the author 

I'm a naturalist, keen story writer, and chef. I love to take pictures in nature and fit them with positivity quotes and have used them to form a unique cookbook. My muse is Sleuth Holly Ward, maybe one day she'll share some tales with you too. Anyway, I'm off for a walk with my camera and Lucy dog in tow.

Do come and find me at http://www.theworkhousemysteries.wordpress.com or @MBWorkhouse on Twitter and Facebook



Saturday, 20 July 2019

Uriel's Machine Part 8

by Mitzi Danielsonkaslik

spring water 

I ushered Gillidore through the door and we both stared at the scene before us. Lush green grassed banks rose high against the wall intermingled with the delicate brightly coloured wild flowers with tiny thin petals lightly fluttering like butterflies in the subtle evening breeze. Tall thin willowy trunks shot up from the grass and branched out into trees with lush forest green leaves protecting and coveting delicate blossoms which grew from a light blushing pink epicenter and then stretched out until the blush faded and became pure ivory, the cheeks of a porcelain doll.

Below, a thin twisting pathway with dry brown mud lay, undisturbed by foot print. Small pebbles in shades of black and grey lined the track creating a thick boarder, a divide, barricading the thick grass that grew around from mud of the path. The track wound up to the edges of the four banks against the four high stone walls that encased the garden until it reached a huge concrete structure in the middle of the sanctuary with streams of gold intermingled with the cold stone running as rivers up to a cold still body of water in a strange translucent shade of blue lay corrupted by thick waxy green lily pads floating upon its calm surface. Ripples, like the blossoms upon the trees, began at a light pinprick and spread out into huge tidal waves in the pond. A stone structure at the center of the lake stood proudly with a tall sweeping crest, heralding the heavens, its strange symmetry seemed unnatural in this place. The water was sucked up by the structure and spirted out of its peak with an odd luminance, a blue glow. The water then pattered down to join its fellows.

Wonder struck by the beauty of this place we stepped lightly over the path and followed it around. It was then that we heard it. A soft music. It was the music of the night played by a harp. It was beautiful and pure and seemed to sum up the enchanted forest perfectly. But where was it coming from? Was it played sweetly by the roses or hummed by the buzzing bees? No, it was coming from the center of the walled garden. A person sat alone. Playing the harp with both willowy hands. A long crimson robe swayed with the subtle breeze at their feet and black hair blew in the wind. Gillidore and I approached anxiously, perplexed at the apparition. The harpist did not look up. They continued playing softly. 
“Can I help you?” they muttered. 
“I don’t know…,” I whispered, mesmerized by the melody. 
“You seek The Shadow Master, ” they continued. 
“How do you know that?” I whispered. 
“I can see it in your eyes. You are one who seeks everything in life yet never stops to look at what has been accomplished. You are one who does not see what is around them, only what is ahead.”
 Their words rung around my head “Do you know where I can find him?” 
“Yes, as night comes this, my realm – The Nightshade Realm – becomes The Garden of Shadows. Each night I do find myself there and this world becomes his and I am forced to play so all the mortals in this forest do sleep. It is simple, tonight you must wait and believe it shall work. Believe you will be taken to The Garden of Shadows. There you will find The Shadow Master.”
What could this mean? I had seen many bizarre things in my travels but none so strange as a walled garden transforming into a different place all together as night comes. The conversation with The Nameless One continued for a short while an insignificant trail I will not bore my reader with. It was insignificant until I noticed Gillidore, uneasy with the place, had decided to leave the garden. As the water of the lake behind The Nameless One filled with pure deafening blue light, a shadow began to form upon the floor and floated lightly for a few seconds cast by a blossom tree. The shadows grew in number until they lay all over the land. The fountain within the lake was swallowed up by the water and then the water itself vanished from view. The blossom trees deceased back into the ground and the lily pads faded into the air. The path gently diffused into the earth and the grass until it was no more. The oaken door snapped shut at a push. We were trapped.
“It is time.”
The night had come.

Friday, 19 July 2019


by Doug Hawley 

dry red wine

Interviewer – Here’s what you’ve been waiting for – the interview with God.  Because we are mostly broadcast to English speaking areas, we’d like to concentrate on Western concerns.  Welcome to WXYZ television, God.  First question, what should we call you?

God – God is fine.  Lower case, upper case, I’m cool.  I’ve been called Y*hw*h, Chemos, Tengri, Baal.  Baal, hah, hah, I always laugh at that Lord Of The Flies joke, Beelzebub from the Hebrews.  Don’t know that one?  Look it up.  If there is a point to all the names, it is lost on me. Different places think that I’m their God and I’m on their side.  No, I’m the same one with different names.  Tribalism caused naïve humans that couldn’t see the big picture to get it wrong.  And holy crap, the “religious” guys really messed up.  There was “fake news” way before the short-fingered vulgarian ever brought it up.  All of their names are different local manifestations of the one me.

Interviewer -  I’m quite surprised that you look a lot like the late, lovely Hammer Studios’ horror star, Hazel Court, but about two meters tall (close to 7 feet for Americans).

God -  If you were to view my reality, you would go blind, your brain would boil and you would die a torturous death.  Nah, I’m just yanking you, this is the real me.  You got it backwards, since I’ve been around for billions of earth years, Hazel Court looked like me.  Side note – I created numerous legends when I visited earth many years before.  Lately, I hang out with NBA players and don’t create much of a stir.

Interviewer – So you are the real deal, the creator of earth?

God – Don’t sell me short; I created the whole universe.  But don’t blame me for whatever happened later.  Sure I messed around with various life forms on different planets, but I didn’t plot out their entire evolution.

Interviewer – I’m going to have to ask you to back up.  First, you don’t control history?

God – No, what kind of monster would set Hitler in motion?  I didn’t make plagues or invent rap.  That’s on you humans.  A lot of planets have done better.  And I just started things and evolution and the physical sciences did the rest.

Interviewer – Wow.  There is a lot I didn’t expect.  For one thing, a lot of your fans say that evolution doesn’t exist.

God – Yeah, I know about those crackpots.  One of the humans that I kind of like, Paul Simon, put it to music in his song “The Boxer”:  “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”  Every time some bozo “disproves” evolution, he disregards accepted science.

I’ll give you an example.  Some argue that the human eye is proof of “intelligent design”.  It has been incorrectly claimed that Darwin saw eyes as proof of my work.  When some chemicals are light sensitive (ever take a picture?), given billions of years and lots of mutations eyesight has evolved several times among many different kinds of animals.  This is well known to scientists, but not to the willfully ignorant.

Another thing – would an intelligent designer build in planned obsolescence?  Prostate glands, appendices, cancer?

Interviewer – Are you telling me that Genesis isn’t the word of God and it is inaccurate?

God – Much of what is in the Bible is metaphor or parable, but some just don’t get it.  You know the part about the pillars of the earth?  That part is a rip-off of the idea about the earth being held up by pillars on a turtle or some such claptrap.

Interviewer – Do any of the creation stories hold up?  I know there a lot of different ones from different areas.

God – They may be good poetry, national myth or just jokes, but they don’t hold up.  Sea monsters, ravens, parts of my body, voids, national heroes.  Maybe good literature, but totally accurate, no.

Hell, I can’t even follow the Greek mythology.  Weird stuff, incest, war amongst the gods.  I may have different manifestations, but I am just one entity.

Interviewer – How did we humans get it so wrong?

God – Two things went wrong.  Some groups just made things up to explain things that they didn’t understand.  Say you wonder about how the world got started.  Maybe you use reproduction as a model, so you guess that two things mated and made the earth.  Could be you see a volcano erupt, so you decide that the earth was created out of a catastrophe.  A mushroom grows seemingly out of nothing, so the earth is created out of the void.

Early on I talked to humans before it became obvious that it was hopeless.  People that don’t understand nuclear physics or astronomy aren’t going to get the big picture.

Interviewer – How did the universe begin?

God – Both science and some of the mythologies got it partly right.  It was the big bang.  What happened before the big bang?  I don’t know.  Rumors of my omniscience are overblown.  Still, I’m fairly sure I created the universe, because there wasn’t anyone else around.

The whole thing about the cat is in the box or not in the box, the speed of light and quantum physics in general make no sense to me.

Interviewer -  Then what was or is your part of the process?

God – I didn’t say I didn’t have ANY powers.  I just don’t remember creating the universe.  I’m really good at biology.  I seeded millions of planets with various forms of life.

Interviewer – That answers definitively what many of our viewers have questioned over the years.  Could you give us some examples of your creations?

God - There are the liquid creatures on the planet I call Riverdale.  They aren’t too smart. They just babble all day.  Their life cycle consists of liquid, vapor and then liquid again.  That’s probably why they believe in reincarnation or resurrection, I’m not sure which.  Another oddity of the Riverdalians is that they are not exactly either individuals or one entity.  They mix and mingle literally.  You could be Joe, then Joe plus Jane, then half a Joe.

The Askari did not turn out well.  They look like humans, but are even more arrogant.  They claim to have spread their kind around the universe, including humans, when in fact they just moved some animals, human and otherwise, that I had created.

They are really mean to immigrants.  Every once in awhile, they find refugees from some catastrophe and “save” them, but put them to work on the most menial tasks and offer very little sustenance.  Later they kick them off on another planet to fend for themselves.  Some of my gambles have not paid off.

One of the planets where they drop off immigrants has some of my favorite inhabitants, the Renn.  Not too bright, but they are always Zen-like in the moment.  They look like small Centaurs except for their dog-like faces.  They spend their time running around screwing and not worrying about a thing.  I wish more of my creations were like them.

The Randd were the smarter cousins to the Renn.  They live on the planet Randdog and are probably where human conspiracy theorists get the idea about Ancient Aliens.  As is so often the case, the theorists got the story part right.  The Randd are brilliant and even though they resemble the Renn they deny the obvious kinship.  A few thousand years ago, the Randd had accomplished faster than speed of light travel.  Don’t ask me how, but they did it.  Because they had all the material possession that could possibly want, they began to dream of kinky sex.  Both males and females had none of the talent that the Renn had, so they decided to cast their net wide.  As a result, they encountered earth.  The humans at that time looked just like the rough trade that their jaded tastes wanted.  Earth people and the Randd were surprisingly compatible.  Earthers were quite taken by the savoir faire and bling that the Randd had, and the Randd were mad for the variety that the humans presented.  The progeny of these unions had gained some of the intelligence of the off planet sexual tourists.  The Nazca lines of Peru, the Egyptian pyramids and so much more are the result of the alien brain power.  The misfortune of your planet is that after the Randd left, humans went back to hooking up based on gross sex appeal and soon lost all that they had gained.

Interviewer – If I may ask, what happened to the Randd?

God – The brilliant Randd had one big blind spot.  Their sex drive made them stupid.  They caught stds from all over the universe and infected a number of worlds, which is why the Randd are now extinct.  Be glad that they visited earth before they picked up some really bad diseases.

Now if I may return to the original question.

You humans would probably like the Feline planet.  It has all the variety of cats that you know and love, and some that you have never seen.  Sniggle is short legged and looks something like a snake, but is covered in fur.  A few hundred years ago idiot humans killed thousands because either you thought that they were familiars of witches or that they carried the plague.  THEY WERE MY GIFT TO YOU, YOU INSUFFERABLE CRETINS.  Sorry, I just got a little overwrought.  I see that some of you have gone back the other way and worship them as the Egyptians did.  I love cat videos.  How can you not believe in me when there are cats?

You hate mosquitoes because they vex you and ignore the fact that they are major player in the food chain.  As larvae they feed fish and as adults they feed birds and bats.  You like fish and birds don’t you?

Interviewer – You mentioned that the Randd became extinct.  Is that common?

God – The latest report says that 32% of civilizations have become extinct.  War, introduced toxics, plague, or just giving up has doomed lots of planets.  A couple of ways things go south is like a couple of your movies.  Some are defeated by an alien invasion like in “Independence Day”, but with a different outcome.  Likewise sometimes it’s Terminator”. 

There are enough replacements by the Askari to keep the number of populated planets fairly steady.

Interviewer – We can hope that our aliens are more like E.T. and that we aren’t smart enough to make machines smarter than us.  I’d like your take on some holy leaders.  Let’s start with Buddha.

God – I’m not really high on Siddhartha Gautama based on what I know.  Maybe I can’t blame him.  He may have been misquoted.  The whole thing about Nirvana and rebirth is quite the crock, you know.  Do you really want to know how to be a poor beggar with no ambition?  No, I didn’t think so.  Those that see him as supernatural are off their nut.  He was just a guy with some ideas, some good, and some bad.  Lying is bad – he got that at least.  Despite his reputation as being peaceful, his followers don’t mind beating up minority Muslims.

Ask yourself, is some guy who has extinguished all of his desires and ambition, and has no interest in material rewards likely to invent the car, the internet, defibrillators and peanut butter?  Didn’t think so.

Interviewer - Mohammed?

God - He’s one of the newer guys isn’t he?  Can’t say I followed his career too closely.

Interviewer – Confucius?

God – Some of Kong Qui’s jokes are good.  Just kidding.  Some guy supporting the status quo.

Confucius say woman who fly plane upside down, heee – sorry, that always breaks me up.

Interviewer-  Moses?

God – I think that his biographers got a lot of it wrong.  I’ll give you a couple of examples from the tablets.  I don’t care about the graven images.  Take my picture if you want, do my bust – I guess that could be taken the wrong way.  I already mentioned that we are all the same god, so no gods before me makes no sense.  That bit was just put in there by the priests that wanted an exclusive franchise.

But Moses was a national hero.  I don’t want to take anything away from him.

Interviewer – Jesus?

God – One of my favorite children.  Wonderful person, but like so many others, mercilessly persecuted, misquoted and misunderstood.  The world would be a lot better off if his teachings were followed.

Interviewer – Did you just say “one of my children” and “misquoted and misunderstood”?  Could you expand on that?

God – I could, but if I did your TV station would be burnt to the ground and the land covered in salt.  As it is, you will at least get death threats based on what I have said here.  Have I mentioned that humans are not tolerant?  Yes I did.

Interviewer – The founder of the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints?

God – Joseph Smith Jr.?  He’s another new guy that I have not followed.  I do like many of the Mormons.

Interviewer – Did we miss anybody important?

God – You most certainly did.  He had a lot of good ideas, and was largely plagiarized in other beliefs.  Now he’s known from a book and a composition used in a movie and at concerts by the late, overweight Elvis Presley.  I hope by now you know I’m talking about Zoroaster of “Thus Sprach Zarathustra” renown.

He originated the religion of the Asian steppes which was the principal religion of what we call now Iran.  The Magis of Biblical fame were adherents, but little is known of them today.  While other beliefs had a whole panoply of “gods”, Zoroastrianism realized there was just one, namely me.  They called me Ahura Mazda.  Now Mazda is known as a car, and not even a luxury one.  Zoroaster recognized the value of leading a good life.  It was not all about smiting ones’ enemies, although I confess there was some of that too.
Today, some religions have thousands of times the number of Zoroastrians.  It makes no sense to me.

Interviewer – I feel stupid asking this.  Is God dead?

God – You got that right.  You should feel stupid, but I know that you are asking because that was a movement of the moment.  What is and was dead is the search for what is right and true in the world.  So many people are sleeping through life making widgets, laugh tracks for bad sitcoms, or looking for a reason to go to war, that they ignore what is important.  I welcome your worship of course, but ask yourself “Am I leaving the world a better place, am I just existing, or am I aiding my world?”

Interviewer – We talked about a lot of your creations on other worlds.  How about us on planet earth?

God – I’m afraid that’s going to hurt.  Some of you have been great.  I mentioned Jesus already.  Those that attempted to save the Jews in World War II.  Those that wanted to prevent war or at least end it.  Bill Gates did some cool technological things.  People that grow healthy food.  Employers that take good care of their workers and give marginal people a second chance.  The few that work on a healthy environment.  Nothing else comes to mind.

The bad list is much longer I’m sad to say.  The worst of all is the misreading of “Be fruitful and multiply”.  I think that I was misquoted, but in any case you humans way over did it.  There was plenty of land for millions of people to live in comfort.  There could have been enough for everyone, even if disaster hit somewhere.  Just peacefully move some other hospitable place without conflict.  Now places like Haiti and India are so overburdened, the people live in misery.

Partly because of the avarice for resources in an overpopulated planet, tens of millions died in the two world wars.  If you don’t remember your history, WWI was precipitated over the assassination of one person.  Think about the arithmetic, one death led to the death of over ten million.  What kind of creatures would participate in that calculation?

Against your few saints, you have Roman emperors that ravaged Europe and beyond, Genghis Khan who killed millions in Asia, colonial powers that took the physical and human resources from Africa, Europeans that decimated of the aborigines in the Western Hemisphere and Australia.  I could go on about China, Russia, Japan and the U.S..  All the great powers through history have a lot to answer for.

Interviewer-  You don’t see any improvement?

God – With the current P.O.T.U.S?  With the rise of anti-Semitism, attacks by and against Muslim factions?  Have you no reason at all?

Interviewer- Don’t we get any credit for culture, Hazel?  Sorry, God.

God – Some of your classical music is OK, some just puts me to sleep.  Don’t get me started on rap, country and new age.

For every good book or poem, there are about a thousand bad ones.  Romance novels?  All the same.  Have you read James Patterson?  He’s a best seller.  Even Stephen King wrote “Under The Dome”.

There are a lot of Ed Woodses out there.  Stanley Kubrick, who did some good stuff, made “Eyes Wide Shut”.  What was he thinking?  Had he become senile?

Interviewer-  But we’ve made such technological advances.

God – Your advances can’t keep up with your burgeoning population.  When agriculture improves, the mouths needing to be fed outpaces it.

Do you consider the ability to receive phone calls around the clock from someone selling time shares a good thing?

Interviewer – This has been quite bleak, but I hope that we get another chance to talk.  By the way, why did you agree to this interview now?  People have wanted to talk to you for eons.  Some have even claimed to have received your divine proclamations.

God – The reason that I have not talked to humans lately is twofold.  As I already said, I am regularly misquoted in order to profit the reporter.  Also, thousands of years ago, people couldn’t understand the truth.

I chose to talk to you now, because I didn’t think that you would be around long, and you should know the truth before you go.

Interviewer – Oh, my god – sorry – I’m going to die?

God – I wasn’t referring to you, I was referring to humans.

About the auhtor

The author is a little old and lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA with editor Sharon and cat Kitzhaber.  After working with math things for a few years, he retired to write (a hundred or so things published), volunteer and enjoy the great outdoors.

twit @dougiamm