During transport, I had a moment to reflect on my lofty dreams of escape, and how — despite a string of follies — I was about to try and destroy physical reality. Me, some schmuck from the Final Judgment Sector! While considering this, I realized I wasn’t the hero. I was just some pathetic, confused and lonely guy who was using his feelings of insignificance as a front to cause a genocide larger than anything in history.
Yet, despite my narcissistic desires, I’d only managed to become the reluctant henchman to a mastermind with ambitions that trumped my own — Clara Reed.
As I approached the dimension between physical and non-physical reality, Clara sent me a telepathic update regarding her conquest of non-physical reality. It didn’t sound good . . . well, for anyone other than Clara. To put it simply, Heaven, in all its bureaucratic glory, was in shambles. Everything was being rewritten to fit Clara’s “artistic vision.” With glee, she informed me that the Archangels had finally declared war on her.
“You really can be anything you want,” she gloated.
Though I despise the fat cats as much as the next guy, Clara’s approach seemed excessive.
As my form materialized inside a quaint, worn down office, Clara’s message vanished behind a weathered, yet oddly chipper voice.
“Hello Sammy,” greeted a ratty, androgynous, four-armed critter in a ruffled power suit. “Say bonjour to the oldest pencil pusher in all of existence.” Outstretching its arms, the critter wrapped me in a sobering hug. “It’s been a long time since anyone has been interested in my work. Accounting isn’t exactly the stuff school kids take tours of.”
The embrace was so potent that my fight or flight reflex kicked in, causing me to point the Identity Scrambler at the critter. Staring down the weapon’s barrel, the critter’s milky eyes sagged with disappointment. Pulling a pencil from its pinstriped blazer, and returning to their desk, the critter began to work quietly.
There was a difficult silence.
“Accountant!” I eventually blurted. “Aren’t you the Lead Engineer of the Trans-Reality Travel System?”
Searching through a filing cabinet, the critter sighed. “The name changes, but the job remains the same. Regardless of what they call me, there is a whole lot of stuff moving all over the place, and I exist to keep track of it all.” Then they whispered, “Though sometimes I cook the books just to keep everything running smoothly.”
Finding what they were looking for, the critter placed a paper with a long equation on his desk and started to erase a large portion of text. Suddenly the Identity Scrambler disappeared.
“Hey! What’s going on here,” I protested. “Who are you?”
“Like any important notion, the truth always get garbled with time,” the critter grinned. “My English name is Jehovah, sounds a bit like Nova John if you flip the words around I suppose. Honestly, I don’t know how people persist in getting things so convoluted all the time, but at least Nova John sounds a little groovy. You know in Boogleese my name sounds like a fart. A bloody fart!”
“Jehovah . . . ?”
Re-writing over the erased equation, Jehovah’s limbs were a blur. “I’m not the creator. I simply keep things moving. Many religions get that one confused, and though I’m flattered, I cannot take credit.”
As Jehovah finished writing, a bouquet of daisies appeared where my Identity Scrambler once was.
Jehovah snickered, “Sorry, Sam. I had to turn the energy of your weapon into something to balance things out.” Jehovah plopped the pencil down, “And a dozen daisies was the most innocuous match I could quickly conjure, unless of course you’re allergic.”
“No, I’m not allergic,” I started to get a little upset at this point, feeling remorse for my selfish adventure.
Seemingly unfazed by the fact that the universe appeared to be crumbling, Jehovah just sat there, overjoyed just to have a guest. “Look, I know what you want. Clara has been scanning my mind for some time. So, I sifted through her file, and then yours. You’re both so damned determined — but totally, almost humorously, naive.”
Gently placing some papers back into a filing cabinet, Jehovah laughed.
“I just wanted to quit my job, and be with Gena.”
“Sammy, if your plot wasn’t driven by love, I’d never have allowed you into my realm. But, I’m sorry, Gena’s long since moved on. I mean long since moved on.”
That hit deep. I’d never stopped to consider if she loved me. And apparently she didn’t. I blame that goddamn apple juice! I swear I’ll never drink another drop of the stuff.
“On the bright side, your theory about the relationship between black holes and the big bang gave me quite a kick. However, having watched the whole thing cycle six times, I can assure you: whoever made this place built it more like an hourglass than a shower. Had you managed to transfer physical reality into the non-physical, you’d merely have hastened the speed at which it all cycled back again. Starting with the bang of the first grain of sand against the bottom of the hourglass. So, unless you’re better at math than I am, you were doomed to fail.”
I’m horrible at math, and Jehovah knew it.
“So it was all in vain?”
“Well, I got a good chuckle out of it. And maybe you learned something.”
“Well . . .” Jehovah began, as if pulling a thought from the air. “Have you considered that maybe we’re all just moseying around a giant ambivalence machine? From top to bottom, the one constant in the universe is ambivalence,” they smiled smugly. “I wrote a proof for it back when I was still trying to reverse-engineer the single equation that explains everything.” Then Jehovah’s smile faded, and they slouched into their chair, “Unfortunately the creator didn’t make me intelligent enough to truly understand the equation, only manage it — the sly bastard!”
“And Clara?” I pouted.
“Sam, these things happen from time to time. How do you think the fat cats took over in the first place? Everything will be really messy for a while, but they’ll settle down. I mean her plan is quite flawed. For starters, she’ll never find God,” Jehovah scoffed. “I’m the oldest and smartest thing known to exist, and I’ve never found God. The data indicates that it’s a mathematical impossibility to discover such a being.”
“Well, you’re free to do as you please, but in time, you’ll return to your workstation.”
I staggered about the office a bit, feeling as though I’d been tricked into an unfulfilling ending. All I wanted was to find happiness. Yet all I got was god-like sight — and some everlasting daises. Which in hindsight isn’t so bad, but it’s far short of what I wanted.
After 600 years of traveling the universe searching for happiness, a rousing tale for another time, I did return to my station. Taking a $2 pay cut as punishment for having dreamed a good dream, I settled right back into my old disgruntled ways. By the time I returned, Clara had long since been ousted by a younger, hotter, woman who forced us to refer to her as Empress Moon Beam. Despite all Moon Beam’s changes, I feel secure knowing that my skills will always be in demand as people would continue to die. Until, of course, the hourglass starts sending us back other way again.
Through it all, Jehovah’s final words remained memorable:
“Sammy, happiness is elusive. And despite the pervasive nature of ambivalence, I don’t believe we’re supposed to be sad all the time. This theory goes against the data, but we have to have faith in something. How else could we go on?”
It’s a bit of a letdown, considering the source, but perhaps it’s the best anyone can do.