Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Cell Phone Bible, Part VII

Idea courtesy of apostate, who found the 'What if...?' text in his Facebook feed. If you're coming in late, you can start at Part I.

VII. The Gravity of Choice
Jesus Christ stepped through the pearly gates and made a sharp right, following a circular course just outside of Heaven. There were plenty of calls to be made back at the Call Center, and plenty of mortals eager to talk with Him, but they would never notice he was gone. Time was a matter of perspective here, and distance a mere formality. So a brief stroll around the outskirts would take exactly as long as he needed it to, and he would be still be there to answer the calls directed to him - even though some of them, caught as they were in a mortal, temporal perspective, appeared to be coming in simultaneously.

There were advantages to being an eternal spirit of unlimited power, and mucking about with time was definitely one of them.

He'd gone barely five paces before a voice at his elbow said, "Hail to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer, of one being with the Father, with whom all things are possible. How's it hangin'?"

This was not a voice he wanted to hear. The last time he had heard it, it had offered him all the kingdoms of the Earth. Now, he was feeling less than usually triumphant, and the presence of the Adversary - here, so very close to paradise - did nothing to improve his mood. "Hello, Satan," he said, disdaining to add any of the myriad possible titles for the Great Enemy.

"You look a little down," said Satan, who had dressed for the occasion: fiery red skin, spreading black wings, small horns on the forehead, and a magnificently groomed goatee. "Latest project not going so well?"

"What do you know about it?" asked Jesus, irked despite Himself.

"As much as you let me, of course." Satan was watching him with a devil's smile: charming but meaningless. "You're talking to them directly. That can't end well."

"It isn't," Jesus said, then stopped. He could have driven the Adversary away, but he wanted someone to talk to. He was completely divine, but also completely human - even now. And there were things he could say out here that he could never give voice to in Heaven. Things that even Metatron wouldn't understand. Letting Satan hear them wouldn't make any difference, not in the long run. "Uriel and Raphael got into a fight."

"In Heaven? Truly? I wish I'd been there to see it. There must have been feathers everywhere."

Jesus grimaced. "You have no idea."

"How did it happen?"

"A little girl opened her Bible to talk to us. She wanted to know what she could do to keep her parents together. Uriel took the call. He told her that there wasn't anything she could do. She asked him why her mommy and daddy couldn't just love each other anymore. And Uriel... he told her when her daddy slept with his secretary, he broke her mommy's love, so they couldn't be together anymore."

Satan pursed his lips. "That sounds like Uriel, all right. The proper direction of wrath, the possibility of vengeance. I suppose our dear, sweet Raphael was upset that he couldn't heal her?"

"Pretty much," Jesus admitted. "He accused Uriel of hurting her even more, called him heartless, and said he should never have been Created. I had to will them apart."

Satan nodded sympathetically. "Dealing directly with mortals is pulling down the angels. That's why I don't let my demons interact with them anymore."

Jesus came to a complete stop and turned to gape at Satan. "You don't what?"

"I don't let my demons interact with humanity," said the Devil. "It kept giving them aspirations to do better, to be better. You have the same problem, but in reverse." He paused. "Humans. I don't go near them myself, either. You'd know that if you ever thought about it. I don't even let them summon us; I've been blocking their incantations for centuries."

Jesus opened his mouth to respond, then closed it again. It had never even occurred to him to wonder... but now that it was said, he knew. He couldn't help knowing.

After a moment he started walking again. "All this time, I thought..."

Satan kept pace. "Nope. Anything they came up with, they did by themselves. Wars, pollution, the stock market, reality TV... all theirs. I have my own kingdom; what do I need with them?"

"It doesn't matter," Jesus said finally. "They'll do better with Our guidance. Their fighting is nearly extinguished already. I will make this work."

Satan lifted an eyebrow, managing to convey in that single gesture an immortal lifetime's worth of insolence and doubt. "You know what? I wish you luck. Maybe then they'll quit blaming us for everything that goes wrong." Then he grinned. "Or maybe you'll finally prove that I was right about them all along."

The Accuser was gone, then. Jesus scowled, but then he straightened and (very deliberately) turned his other cheek towards the spot where Satan had been standing. A moment later, he was back at the pearly gates. Firm in his resolve, he turned his steps towards the Heavenly Call Center. It was time to resume his ministry.

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