Chapter 1: God's Conundrum
"No! No! No!" God yelled, slamming his fist full of papers down on his desk. "Michael, Gabriel, get in here," he commanded
The two angels got stuck in the doorway when they both tried to enter at once. After smoothing a few ruffled feathers, they stood at attention in front of God's desk.
"Those humans on earth got it wrong again," God stormed angrily. "Pull the plug on them. We need to start over again."
"Um ... Lord, we can't really do that," Gabriel said hesitantly.
"And why not?" God demanded.
"Sire, it is Your law," Michael explained patiently. This was a conversation they had every few millennia. "You can change the law, of course, but then you would need to start the whole universe over again."
"Why would I make a stupid law like that?" God wondered angrily.
"You heard about something called 'due process, ' and decided it was a good idea," Gabriel explained with a little more confidence.
"It sounds like a lawyer polluted the pool of conscious thought," God grumbled. "So what you're telling me is that I can pull the plug, but I have to jump through hoops to do it. Is that about right?"
"Essentially, yes sir," Michael replied. "Why don't you tell us what is wrong, and let us work on correcting it?"
"I don't think there is a way to correct it," God replied, suddenly sounding a little tired. After all, he had been working for over thirteen billion years with only one day a week off.
"Maybe the only solution is to pull the plug, Lord, but we really should follow the process that You set up. It has been working well for quite a while," Michael soothed.
Gabriel raised his horn and Michael hissed, "Not now. That will get everybody stirred up and we'll never find a resolution."
"I was going to play something soothing," Gabriel protested.
"Gabe, old buddy," Michael began, shaking his head. "I've listened to you play that horn for billions of years. You don't know how to play anything soothing. Every time you blow it, the dead begin rising all over the place. We don't have time for that now."
"Okay," Gabriel muttered in disappointment as he put his horn away.
God didn't seem to notice, or purposefully ignored the interaction between the angels, as he shook the papers in his hand and said, "Look at these reports! I've gotten used to humans killing each other and all my other creatures. Rape and torture are commonplace, all over the world. Care for the sick and the poor has turned into a contest of who can raise the most money for the cause. While the leaders are thumping their chests to proclaim how great they are for raising the money, the sick stay sick and poor are left in even worse shape. Now they're burning people alive in my name. I thought we squashed that idea when we got rid of the Inquisition."
Michael sighed before saying, "Very few humans read history, Sire, or only read the history written by men with an agenda. Maybe we should consider starting over. There is a procedure we need to follow, but it isn't too onerous."
God began shuffling through the papers on his desk while mumbling, "I seem to remember something about end of world regulations, but I don't remember where I put them."
"I have a copy, Lord," Michael said as he pulled a paper from a folder. He gave a copy to God, and another to Gabriel, before saying, "The first thing we need to do is select someone nearing their end time. Then you will need to interview that person, to determine if the human race can be salvaged. It is the same procedure you followed with Noah and the flood, and on a smaller scale Lot at Sodom and Gomorra, You need to set the selection criteria for the human that you'll interview. A pool of humans meeting your criteria, that will die within 48 hours will be generated. If there is more than one person in the pool, I'll select the person that is the best match for your criteria."
"Fine ... fine," God grumbled. "Give me a list of human attributes and I'll select the ones I think are important.
Michael pulled a very long scroll from the same folder, and handed it to God. The scroll looked like depictions of Santa's naughty and nice list, which he checks at Christmas. God sighed. Gabriel looked askance at the folder that always seemed to have the right documents in it.
God drew a line through two attributes and asked, "Why are lawyers and politicians considered attributes of humans?"
"Both professions seem to corrupt the soul," Michael explained patiently. "We started working on a cure right after King David had the soldier killed so he could have the soldier's wife. We haven't been able to find a cure for it. Lawyers and politicians are simply in a profession that is very hazardous to their souls."
"How about preacher, priest, mullah, imam, and shaman?" God asked, drawing another line across the page.
"Same thing," Michael said with a shrug. "They all seem to start off with good intentions, like politicians, but many of them, as soon as they get some people under their thumb, go crazy with power."
"Union bosses?" God asked, drawing another line.
"Similar situation," Michael said with a grimace. "They usually don't start with as lofty intentions, but they end up nearly as bad as career politicians. They don't have access to as much of other people's money as the politicians do."
God continued drawing lines through human attributes, his frown growing darker and darker. He was about half way through the list before he growled, "Would someone please remind me why I thought creating humans was a good idea?"
"Lord, I pray that whoever you select, will be able to answer that question," Michael prayed.
"That should do it," God announced, reaching the end of the list. "I'm not looking for an overtly religious person this time. That didn't work the last two times. What's the definition of insanity?"
"Doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results," Gabriel and Michael recited in unison, Gabriel standing proudly with his wings raised, and Michael rolling his eyes.
"Right!" God exclaimed, sounding surprised. "Do you have a list of people that meet the criteria yet?"
"Yes, Lord," Michael replied, reaching into his folder for another piece of paper. "There is only one person who meets your criteria that will pass in the proper time frame," he continued, handing it to God.
God looked at single name in the middle of the page, and asked, "Grandpa Ben Jones? I wonder why he wasn't simply identified as Ben, or Benjamin Jones? It must be a typo. Fix it for me, would you, Michael?" he asked absently, looking over the file. "It looks like he's scheduled to have an embolism in about twelve hours. He's sleeping now, so why don't you bring him in. No muss. No fuss."
"Yes, Sir," the angels said in unison.