The Letter to God


This is just a really bizarre story. If you are offended by some rather strange takes on some religious ideals, this is not a story for you.


What Jack Keros did not know was that in a few short years he would be insane. Not that he wasn't already partially mad to begin with, he certainly was. Keros was, all things considered, no more out of his skull then any of the other working boys, although that was saying quite a bit. Keros was always entertaining at parties, his particular neurosis giving way to many amusing anecdotes and a few entertaining urban legends, many of which may or may not be true. No, this was to be the more colorful psychosis in all its shades, where the only aspirations in life begin to revolve around Thorazine pills in little Dixie cups and JELL-O three times a day eaten with a spork under the strictest supervision of white coated psych techs with bored looks on their faces.

It was not something he could have easily accepted. He would have denied it vehemently, pointing to his obvious firm grasp of his own mind, and citing perfectly reasonable examples. Then again, Keros never was on very good footing with reality, when it really came down to it. It and him had never really seen eye to eye.

And that was why he was chosen.

"I have a simple task for you to carry out," the Prince said casually, picking the bits of fish left over from dinner out of his teeth with a toothpick.

Keros trembled on his knees on the floor, giving a careful eye to the intricate pattern of the well trodden carpeting. It struck him that close up, the flowered design dissolved into an abstract pattern of mismatched colors and little bits of grit. "Yes, Lord. How may I serve you?"

His eyes flickered upward away from the floor as a small envelope was dropped in front of his nose. "Nothing you can't take care of," the Prince said above him, his voice rife with boredom. "It's just a little courier work."

Keros reached out a tentative hand, and touched the envelope. It was cool, and white, and completely unremarkable in every way imaginable. He didn't really believe any task was simple. Sometimes he was wrong, and sometimes he was right. This time, Jack Keros happened to be right. He would have fled screaming had he known. Instead, he simply accepted is fate, and mumbled, "Yes, my Lord." He slid the envelope toward his knees, which were slowly being inundated by some sort of weird mushy liquid that had soaked into the mangy carpet. "May I ask who I am to deliver this to?" Keros imagined having to navigate the realms of the various other Princes, and winced. It was not a trip he was looking forward to. He considered himself peril sensitive.

"I need it delivered to God pronto," the Prince said, crossing his arms.

Keros blinked. "God, sir?"

"That's right. The Almighty himself. Jehovah. The Lord. The One and Only, the Creator of the Universe. The Big Kahuna in the sky." The Prince nudged his servitor a little with the toe of his shoe. "I need it delivered right away. You see, I have some complaints about the decor, and the service I've been getting lately is terrible. And the food? Don't even get me started! I'm rather disappointed in His Universe, He's letting it get all run down and shabby. I mean, what is this? Wars? Geraldo being considered a legitimate journalist? Bell bottoms back in fashion? Creation is going to Hell, I tell you. So to speak."

Keros cowered. When it seemed safe, he took the sealed envelope, and slid it into his pocket. He didn't look up from his submissive position. "Uh... yes, My Lord." He had some lingering doubts about his Lord and Master's sanity.

He could hear the Prince's footsteps as he moved away, the squish squish squish noise of good Italian shoes on the moist well soaked carpeting. "Keros?"

"Yes, my Lord?"

"I don't expect you to see you again until that letter is delivered. And it's not good if you just throw it away and pass it off as a bad joke. I need to be heard. It's a moral imperative." The Prince chuckled. "You wouldn't want to disappoint your Prince. It would be rather fatal if you disappointed your Prince."

Keros flapped his leathery wings in agitation and cursed himself. That was, after all, his entire plan in a nutshell. "Damn," he thought.

The envelope, later to be named the Accursed Letter and the Damned Letter among other things, lay like roadkill in the center of the table, surrounded by beer bottles and glasses on little coasters printed with ads for, oddly enough, more beer. (Why, Keros wondered, would they print up ads for beer when you're drinking beer?) The other three demons, he was quite sure, were mocking him, although that could have been a function of his slowly flagging sanity. They were his friends. Who else was he going to approach with this problem?

"This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Elymius said with the air of drunken authority. "There's no such thing as God. This whole big brother in the sky just doesn't exist. If He does, why didn't He save my cat?"

"Not the cat again," said Hannah, running a hand through her short red hair and deftly picking her glass out of the dozens crammed in the small area of the table.

Keros, being either innately slow or just never having heard the story before, uttered the dreadful words, "What about your cat?"

Elymius leaned forward heavily on the table, his eyes having the cast of the well inebriated. "Goddamn God, He killed my cat. You remember my cat, Camus?"

"Yeah, sure," Keros said, remembering a certain large orange tabby cat with a mean disposition.

"I can't believe you named your cat after an Existentialist," said Jaakobah, glass in hand.

"Not just anyone," Elymius said, allowing his words to take on the feel of the profound, "but Albert Camus. The perfect blend of existentialism and Marxism. 'I consider Marxism the one philosophy of our time which we cannot go beyond-'"

Hannah looked disinterested, and showed no other emotion. "There is probably a good reason why God killed your cat."

"Just to piss me off, I bet," Elymius said emphatically. "One day I left the screen door open, and the cat got out, right? I don't know why, the cat was not an outdoors cat. So I ran outside, just in time to see the cat racing out into the middle of the street in front of the house. At that exact moment, a car came and splattered Camus all over the pavement, didn't even bother to stop. I ran over and the cat was still alive, all broken and looking about in terror and breathing bloody foam. It was a pretty awful sight."

"I can only assume," Hannah said, clearly not assuming anything.

"So," Elymius continued, "I was stuck with a very dead cat. I was thinking, if God is so goddamn all powerful, why didn't He stop my cat from running out into the street? Or why didn't He make the car come three seconds sooner, or five seconds later? Why didn't He make the car miss my cat entirely? The cat never did anything to Him."

"Except the obvious," Jaakobah said. "Maybe your cat had conveyed your opinions of the universe to Him, and it depressed the hell out of Him, so He did the obvious. Splat, cat pancake. Hey, it would depress me."

Elymius made a face. "Oh, fuck off, Jaakobah. Can't you see I'm telling a story?"

"Maybe you shouldn't have left the screen door open," Hannah offered.

Keros was on his way to getting confused. He wasn't seeing much of a point. He didn't say so, though. He was just hoping for a good punch line.

"So anyway," Elymius said, now gesturing with his glass, "I took my cat, and I had him stuffed. So now I have this dead, stuffed cat. 'What the hell am I going to do with this dead stuffed cat,' I ask myself."

Keros said, "I dunno." He honestly couldn't think of a single thing.

"I know this guy," Elymius said, eyes ablaze with the Telling of the Story ritual. "He's in town, he's alone, he's on extended Role, right? Well, I don't really know him, I know of him. Someone told me he was in town, and I had pretty much ignored him. I was pretty sure he was a Seraph, maybe of Judgment, maybe of Destiny. Who cares, in the end. So I break into his apartment with the dead cat under my coat."

"Wait," Jaakobah said, "You broke into this guy's apartment?"

"Yeah, I broke in," Elymius said. "It doesn't matter how, I just did. So when he showed up, I was waiting. I whipped out this dead cat, and demanded to know what the deal was with God."

"So how did it end?" Keros asked, curious.

"Guy probably committed suicide after having to hear Elymius's views on God," Jaakobah said. Hannah nodded toward him, as if hearing the most profound thing since her third drink.

"Messily," Elymius acknowledged. "I think his head split open. Metaphorically, of course."

Hannah nodded her head again, knowing all about the death hang up thing.

Jaakobah threw his head back and laughed. "I can just see it now. The Apocalypse will come, and the tanks will be rolling across the land. And here will be Elymius, who will whip out this dead stuffed thing out of his coat. He'll be holding off the forces of Heaven with a dead cat and demanding to know why God killed it. All by himself."

"It doesn't matter," Elymius said. "God doesn't exist. Or if He does, He's either weak, uncaring, or totally evil. He wasn't even strong enough to keep my cat from getting hit by a car. Maybe God is totally psychotic. Who the hell cares about a God like that? Let the angels mow us all down for their so called deity. We'll win in a moral sense."

"Don't you have a cat named Xor?" Hannah asked.

"Maybe," Elymius said. "It doesn't make up for the fact that I have a dead cat. You know how Sartre talks about having a God-shaped hole in your consciousness? Well, I have a cat-shaped hole."

Jaakobah threw his head and laughed.

"I was under the impression that it all ran on Free Will," Hannah said.

"Oh, suck me," Elymius threw back.

Keros just had another drink, and carefully slid the letter back into his inner coat pocket. He was quickly coming to a conclusion that the demons didn't know how to get in contact with God, let alone how to deliver the letter.

He quickly learned that the angels didn't know how either, at least not when they were trying to kill him. He was curled up in the bathtub of the apartment's bathroom, hoping they wouldn't find him. But of course they did, and it didn't even take them very long. The two of them, all bright with white light, feathery wings, carrying large flaming swords, bashed in the door, and cast their hoary maddened eyes on his curled up form. So he whimpered a bit.

The first nodded to the second, and the second tossed the white envelope down on Keros. "What is this?"

Keros reached up and grabbed the envelope in his hand. He turned over in the tub so he could face them, white with fright. He figured that this was the end. He'd been tracking them for months, and he had finally got close enough to leave them the letter to deliver, and now they were back, angry. "It's a letter," he said meekly.

"What do we look like, mail boys?" the second one asked, gesturing with its sword of flames. The wallpaper popped and singed.

"No," Keros stuttered out. "But I can't deliver it."

The first angel slid his weapon away into a hidden scabbard, and crossed his arms. "And we're supposed to?"

"Well," Keros continued, "I was hoping you guys would know how. Being, you know, angels."

"You stuff it in a mailbox, dipshit," the second angel growled.

Keros shook his head. "This doesn't have a mailing address. It needs to be hand delivered. And I need some help. You see-"

"Why would you need help from us?" the first angel asked.

"It's just a ploy," the second angel said, clearly having special insights on the situation. "Just some sort of weird demonic humor."

"No, no, look." Keros said, considering the possibility that it could be, without a doubt, some sort of weird demonic humor. "This is a letter for God."

Both angels fell silent, then broke into mocking laughter. "A letter for God," the first angel said.

"Who do you think God is? Santa Claus?" asked the second.

Keros did not dispute the fact that it had, at one time or another, crossed his mind.

They reached down, each taking an arm, and yanked Jack Keros out of the tub. The angels, one still recklessly brandishing a sword that was causing the wallpaper to blacken and peel, pulled him out of the bathroom. He could, at the last moment, stutter out the question, "Have you guys ever seen God? Do you know where I could find him?"

They dumped the demon unceremoniously on the bland tan carpeting in the living room of the furnitureless apartment, and let him flop around like a fish in its underwear for a while. They prodded him with their steel toes of their boots, and laughed. They talked banalities of torture and murder over his head. Keros eventually curled himself up in a ball around the letter, the only real constant in his pathetic existence.

The second angel squatted down next to him, smelling a whiff of sweat and charcoal, and poked him a bit with the tip of his finger. "You can't get to God, son. He's in the upper Heavens. You have to be especially good if you know what I mean, to get up there. Are you especially good? I don't think so."

"The only person in recent memory to get to see God face to face is Uriel," the first angel said with the air of detached interest. "And you know, he didn't bother to come back."

"Did he leave a forwarding address?" Keros asked.

The grey sand swirled around his feet, matched by an equally grey sky. There was nothingness for as far as he could see, horizon to horizon. In his hands, he held a rumpled envelope. Jack Keros held firm to his purpose, he was running out of anything else.

They had warned him about wandering so far out into the no man's land. But they were, in fact, the ubiquitous faceless they, and he was becoming slowly suspicious of anyone who was practically everywhere. Something struck him as wrong in a group of people with no real identity who were referred to all of the time and seemed to know so much.

Although, Jack Keros may have simply been going mad. They were not walking with him out in the endless wasteland. It was quite obvious now he was alone.

Keros hummed out loud to himself a dozen catchy dance tunes, and occasionally did a little skip and a jump to emphasize the good parts. "Dum dum dum de DUM de dum de dum dum de DUM..." Sometimes he stopped, spread his arms, and sang some words at the sky, when he actually remembered most of them. Mostly he only hummed under his breath and left a trail of non linear footprints behind him in the grey featureless sand.

The old man looked up from where he was polishing his sword. "Nice suit," he said.

Keros stopped, and finished off with a wailed off tune finale to the end of a particularly catchy ditty, complete with a little bump and grind. He presented himself before the man, arms spread. "Ta-da!"

"Sears?" the old man asked, and then he bent back down to task.

"Of course not," Keros said. "It's silk."

"Hmph," the old man said, and the oiled rag made its slow tour up and down the blade of the weapon.

Keros looked around, first at the old man, then at the sky. He stuffed his empty hand into his pocket, and waved the now greying envelope around. "Have you perhaps," he questioned with an uncaring air, "seen God around lately?"

The old man ignored Keros.

"You know," he said, "God. The Almighty. The Creator. Thought he might come up here for a little look about, maybe vacation up here. It's so quiet and, uh, more quiet."

"The only thing in the Marches is feculence."

Keros blinked. "What?"

"Feculence. Foulness. Contamination. An aberration of purity. There is no God here." The oiled rag moved back and forth, back and forth along the shining blade.

Keros looked around at the grey nothingness that surrounded him endlessly to the horizon. "Are you sure about that?" He peered at the sand, and tried to see where this contamination was. He lifted up one foot to carefully examine the sole of his shoe, then the other one. Little bits of grit and gunk, but no sign of the aforementioned foulness. Although, he suspected, that it could be so small he couldn't see it with just a quick inspection.

"It's everywhere," the old man said. "It's even in the sand."

"Ah," Keros said, soaking up this obvious wisdom. He peered down at the sand, but it didn't seem particularly contaminated to him. Although, he remembered seeing a special on the Discovery Channel about radiation not too long ago, and it struck him that contamination could indeed be invisible. He suspected that this is what the old man referred to, and that would explain why there was absolutely nothing. He wondered if his hair was going to fall out and he was going to acquire large pustules all over his body. He prodded the sand with the toe of his shoe.

"You are pure, are you not?" the old man asked, as his rag went rhythmically swipe swipe swipe.

"Sure," Keros said, deciding that sometimes it is better to agree. "So pure that I'm looking for God. Look, I have this letter-"

"No one except God-as-Uriel is truly pure. Only God-as-Uriel is truly free of pollution, for he is joined with God, and God is He. We seek the purity, as it is our final reward when we join Uriel in the upper heavens." Swipe went the rag.

Keros shifted his weight. He wasn't really understanding this part of the conversation at all, and he had this strange feeling that there was a side of it he was definitely, without a doubt, missing. "Yeah, okay. That sounds good. But does He have a mail box around here? I really need to off load this letter, and I heard you could find Uriel out here."

The old man stopped polishing his sword, and he stood, towering high above the head of Jack Keros, heavy plates of metal tied on his body clanging. "I can show you true purity, Seeker, through which you will find Him."

"Uh." Jack Keros wasn't sure, but he was beginning to believe that it was time to move on.

"All you need," the old man said, his voice weighty with authority, "is to accept the cleansing power of the sword, and you shall be made free."

"I don't want to be free. I want to deliver this letter to God."

Keros looked around, and saw others in equally battered armor and shining swords appearing on the horizon, and the smug look on the face of the old man. He weighed all of this together, and tucked the battered greying envelope into his pocket. "Will you settle instead for a long shower?"

Click. Click. Click click click.

<J_Keros>: How do you deliver a letter to God?

<WhiteWitch>: What?

<J_Keros>: That's my question exactly.

Keros pushed back from his computer, and rubbed his temples. His face was bathed in the bland white glow of the computer screen. It had, after many hours of wandering, occurred to him suddenly that the humans may have a special line on this whole God business. Weren't they created in God's image? Didn't they get all the saviors? Didn't they get to pray and have their prayers directly answered by an All Knowing Deity?

So he figured he'd start by asking.

<DeadCat>: You can't send God a letter.

<J_Keros>: He's all powerful, right? He made the universe, right? So He should be able to have a forwarding address.

<WhiteWitch>: What's the letter about?

<J_Keros>: Plumbing, mostly.

He leaned back, and figured he needed to access higher authority, or at least someone with a little more insight into this problem with a little more background to go on. Just asking the throngs of mankind was doing him little good, except as entertainment value and giving him the occasional chance to be outrageously obnoxious. He logged himself off and powered down the computer.

"Of course He exists!" Rabbi Ishtak Feldstein said. "Could I get a suit like this for twenty dollars if He didn't? Feel this. Have you ever felt such fabric in your life?"

Keros went ahead and felt the fabric. He had to admit, it wasn't bad. The Rabbi had a point.

"What do you need proof for? Do you think Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt with a song, a dance, and a catchy tune? That was real power. You can't do that with just some gizmo."

Keros nodded. That was unalienable logic. That was undeniable faith. "But, how do you deliver a letter to Him?"

"How is that for me to know?" The Rabbi threw up his hands. "I can't even say His name, or He'll strike me down with a lightning bolt. You would think after all we've done He wouldn't be so touchy. How am I to know how to deliver a letter?"

"But," Keros spread his hands, "you're the Chosen people. You should know these things."

"Who is it for us to question the ways of God? I'm happy if I can get home in one piece. Feel that. Go on, feel it. Real wool."

Keros nodded, and mulled this as he sat in the pew of the Church, staring at the twisted figure on the cross staring in agony at the tastefully decorated ceiling. He put his chin on his folded hands on the back of the pew in front of him, and thought about the grey, dirty, crumpled envelope in his pocket. One thing he was quickly learning is that God didn't seem to be anywhere, at least not anywhere people could actually get around to having a decent conversation and maybe a bagel and coffee with Him.

Jack Keros was starting to wonder about this God guy. For all He's done, why was He so hard to find? Was He hiding out? Was it guilt from all the blood on His hands? With all the blowing up of cities and the general mayhem to unbelievers, Keros would believe that God was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list, and was now lying low with a new nosejob and a set of fake Ids, shacking up with some weird skeezy chick in a run down trailer home out in Oklahoma. It was, he figured, entirely plausible. That would explain the difficulties he was having in finding the Almighty's mailing address.

The warm body next to him spoke up. "Are you willing to speak of your troubles, my son?"

Jack Keros blinked, and looked at the priest in unfettered confusion. "Christ was God, right? That's how it worked?"

"He was the son of God, my son, sent to Earth to die for our sins," Father Simon Franklin said with the conviction of a man who had two thousands years of being right at his back.

Keros gestured toward the front of the Church. "But he was God, right? Or at least he had a direct line to God. He knew where the mailbox was hidden. He had the postage for the stamp."

The priest blinked, confused. "In a manner of speaking, my son. Are you searching for faith?"

"So, hypothetically, if I lived two thousand years ago, and I gave Christ this letter, and I said, 'I need this to get to God, there are some rather large complaints about the plumbing', then he could do it." Keros sat back, the look on his face that of sudden revelation.

"I do not believe it would be so literal." The priest reached over and put his hand on top of Keros's. "The way to find God is through Jesus Christ."

"This is inconvenient. He's dead," Keros said mostly to himself, the germ of an idea forming in his mind. "You can't deliver a letter when you're dead. It makes things difficult. Not impossible, you see, just difficult."

The priest was becoming genuinely disturbed. "My son..."

Jack Keros snapped his fingers. "That's it! What I need is a Savior!" He turned to the priest. "So, father, do you know where Saviors hang out now a days? Is there a Savior bar?"

"You're utterly insane, you know," Jaakobah said over the small forest of beer bottles from the other side of the table in the bar. "Keros, you're broken. You have gone over the wall and off to the other side. You're in la-la land. You don't need a Savior, you need a vacation in a rubber room."

"It makes completely sense," Keros said. "Saviors are known for their direct lines to God. Zoroaster, Buddha, Mohammad, Christ... they all had that direct connection. I bet if I found one, I could get that letter taken care of."

"If you find a Savior," Elymius said, "remember to ask him about my cat."

"Will you shut up about your cat already?" Hannah said.

"The cat was very important to me," Elymius said empathetically.

"That letter is taking over your life," Jaakobah said. "Just give it up, Keros, and pass it off as a joke."

Hannah gestured with her frosted mug. "Is it possible that what Kierkegaard said is true? That we can never actually know if God exists, we can only believe? And, therefore, your quest is just utter bullshit?"

"The last nails in Gods coffin were pounded when Nietzsche proclaimed that He was dead," Elymius said. "And then the physicists swooped in and jumped up and down on the burial plot with their whizz-bang science. We won't even go into the Marxists. You're on a quest for a corpse, man. A dead, rotting, stinking corpse. Want to drive a Seraph insane? Sit it down and explain Existentialism to it. I read Kafka to one once and it tried to rip its eyeballs out. It's great for a few laughs."

"Did you break into its apartment?" Jaakobah asked.

"Damn straight," Elymius shot back.

"I'm going on a quest for the Savior," Jack Keros said with conviction. "There has to be someone out there who has that direct line to God, and it has to be a human."

"There are billions of humans," Hannah said. She didn't bother to elaborate, figuring that was enough.

"It's a cat shaped hole," Elymius mumbled to himself, "big enough you can drive a Buick through."

Jaakobah threw back his head and laughed.

"I bet the Savior is somewhere obscure, like Nepal or Iowa," Keros said, "or someplace else like that. Somewhere he can preach the Word in peace and people won't be trying to nail him to a tree. Somewhere God can pop up without having to worry about a multi-state manhunt."

"The Buddha lived to a ripe old age," Hannah said.

"But he had to eat plain rice and yak butter," Elymius said, emphasizing how the Savior business just wasn't a good one to be in these days.

"True," Hannah said, not in the mood to dispute such irreconcilable facts, and began her third beer.

"Are you going to join any cults?" Jaakobah asked, thinking suddenly that he might be able to get a little action out of this.

"Tent revivals?" Elymius asked. "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, Let's see some Miracles, And blow up some abortionists! I wouldn't miss that for the world."

Jaakobah laughed.

"All of 'em," Keros said, fondly patting the mangled letter in his pocket. "I'm going to join everything."

The only sound in the still desert air was that of the rubber rhythmatically slapping against the sun baked highway pavement. Nothing else stirred, not small animals through the dead brush, not the wind rustling small loose stones and dust across the blacktop. The heat wafted off the ground in waves.

The Madman, Jack Keros, walked down the deserted highway, his tattered dirty clothing swaying more then his stick like form. He walked at a constant pace, the slap slap slap of his tennis shoes against the sticky pavement. His huge wide blue eyes stared fixedly at the sky while his mouth gaped foolishly open, a black swath in his long scraggly beard. He had the look of one who had fried his brains long before on too many drugs, or religions, or both. Very possibly both.

In the Madman's hands was something that very much looked like it had once been some sort of envelope.

The noise of the engine broke the silence. It started low, like the growling of some large beast, and rose in pitch as it approached. The old Caddy sputtered black smoke from its broken exhaust as it pulled around the wavering walking figure and pulled up to the side of the road. With a final burst of smoke, it came to an idle.

"What do you think?" said the older woman, looking over her shoulder at the Madman. "Should we give him a lift?"

The old man looked over his shoulder, and squinted his eyes. The figure was giving no notice to either of them, nor the old Caddy. It only walked on, and it was giving the old man the creeps. "No, I don't think we will." And with that, he pulled away from the side of the highway.

Again, the machine noise fell in pitch to sound more like the growl of some great beast before it disappeared completely.

Before long, the Madman drifted into the small Arizona town. It wasn't his destination, he didn't have a destination. The town simply happened to squat over the highway at a point, and he walked into it, purely by chance. Around him were the small bland shops of any local downtown street, and people floated unconsciously from place to place, thinking about their children's soccer games and barbeques and getting the pool man out before the heat got any worse.

The Madman stopped in the middle of the road, and lifted his arms up to the sky, one hand clutching the rumbled, torn paper. "I seek God! I seek God!"

Since the Madman refused to cease his yelling, the people stopped their thoughts of mundanities and looked at him. Several laughed, a few others shook their head for the poor man in the street. One or two mentioned calling the cops.

"He's crazy."

"Poor man, must have gotten loose from the Institution up state."

"Has some one called the Sheriff yet?"

"Hey you! Shut up out there!"

The people just jeered and laughed. The Madman pierced them with his stares. "Where is God?" he yelled. "I will tell you where he is! He is dead! We have killed him, you and I!"

A woman reached down and took her small child by the hand and led him off to someplace more equitable with her personal value system. A man reached out and closed the door to his shop until this passed.

"I have been to the oceans, through the mountains, and across the deserts!" the Madman screamed at them. "I have searched this Earth. I have spoken to the wise men! I have seen the Angels, and spoken to the Demons. And no one, not a one, can point me to God, so I can get rid of this accursed letter!"

Silence covered the street.

The Madman sighed. He would have trudged onward, if it was not for a small hand tugging at the back of his tattered shirt. His penetrating blue eyes swivelled in their sockets, and alighted on the form of a small girl.

"Mister?" she asked in her small pipping voice. She was young, blond, innocent. The Madman judged her at about the age of six. "Mister?" she asked again.

He looked down upon her, and waited for her to speak.

She strained up to him on her tiptoes, and he leaned down so she could whisper in his ear. "The answer is exists," she said in his ear. "It's right before your eyes."

He blinked with uncomprehending eyes.

The little girl grabbed a little of the Madman's wild hair, and whispered, quoting, "'The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. We are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when He is revealed we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.'"

He continued to blink uncomprehending. The Madman, Jack Keros, was working from a poor position, since he was quite mad.

"'1 John 3:1/2'," the little girl said in her charming little high lisping voice. "It's very gnostic, very early Christian. It's a great mystery. We're all God, it says, or at least a part of Him. We all listen to the Symphony. We just don't know until it's revealed to us. Why don't you open the envelope, Jack, and read the letter?"

"What?" he asked confused.

"Read the letter, Jack."

And he did.

Afterwards, with due consideration, he asked, "I'm supposed to ask about a cat." But the girl was gone.

"I have a simple task for you to carry out," the Prince said casually, picking the bits of turkey left over from dinner out of his teeth with a toothpick.

Elymius trembled on his knees on the floor, giving a careful eye to the intricate pattern of the well trodden carpeting. It struck him that close up, the flowered design dissolved into an abstract pattern of mismatched colors and little bits of grit. "Yes, Lord. How may I serve you?"

His eyes flickered upward away from the floor as a small envelope was dropped in front of his nose. "Nothing you can't take care of," the Prince said above him, his voice rife with boredom. "It's just a little courier work."


The whole story really comes from an IRC joke from my friend Glen, who wrote a letter complaining that the universe was getting all shabby, and told me to go deliver it to God. I jumped around religious channels for a while, but no one could give me a straight answer on how to deliver it. Some of the people got rather irritated at me. So I found it funny, and let it sit on the back burners for a while. The IRC conversation contained within is a piece of an actual conversation. The nicks have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

The story about the cat is a direct derivative of this Auschwitz story I have been telling to justify a lack of faith in God. The aforementioned story is rather depressing, and worse, it was true. For this story I needed something that made that tale into light, pointless babble, and the cat made a better martyr then the small child did for this exact instance. I thought it up on the way home from work one day, and it seemed like a far more demonic take on things. I do not own a cat, stuffed or otherwise. The image of Elymius opening a screen door and this big fat orange cat running out into the street lingered with me for days.

The cat is named Albert Camus after an essay, "Existentialism and Marxism." The quote is the opening line from that essay.

The last bit is obviously the Madman from Nietzsche's 'The Gay Science.'

The comment about Kafka is that I was trying to read an essay by him, 'The Three Parables', and it was making my head ache.

The Prince is obviously Kobal.

Flaming edge graphics from Our Domain Gallery of Graphics
The "In Nomine" and "flaming feather" graphics are
(C) 1997 Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated.
Used with fnord.