Monday, November 30, 2015

28 Xmas Stories, 3:

Bug God’s First Gift To Her People, 1

As darkness fell, Bug God happened to look up at the sky.

This was the first time, and the last, that the sun would set for her. It was the first and last time she would see stars winking into existence one by one by one by millions.

It also happened to be December 24, but that date held no special significance for any bug.

“Vizier,” Bug God said, “What are those?”

Her vizier ticktacked over to where she sat on the edge of a leaf at the very top of her realm, staring upwards with all her eyes.

“What are what, Bug God?” the vizier asked.

“Those,” Bug God said, indicating with her antennae the sky in general and then pointing at one after one after another of the stars.

The vizier looked.

“They are stars, Bug God.”

Stars,” Bug God said quietly. “Stars.” Bug God thought them beautiful. She could not stop staring, as more and more of the stars came out. Each time she thought the sky was too full of them, that there could not possibly be any more, she would notice another, another ANOTHER.

Stars,” Bug God said again.

“Yes, Bug God. Will that be all?” The vizier did not like being out after dark. Bats. Owls. It thought: Nothing good out here in the dark.

“Wait, vizier. What are they, though? What do they do? Where do they come from? Are they hot? Cold? Solid? Flames?”

The vizier said “I do not know, Bug God.”

“You do not know? But you have been alive for so long, and served so many of my predecessors.”

“True, Bug God, but the question has never come up before.”



“No Bug God before me ever wondered about what the stars were, why they were, how they were?”

The vizier paused only a moment before he said: “No bug has ever wondered that, Bug God – neither Bug God nor bug … wonders.”

Bug God almost looked away from the stars then, she was so surprised. Though she could not tear her gaze off the raptures of the heavens but the rapid wavery flits of her antennae showed her confusion. 

“No bug wonders?”

“No, Bug God,” the vizier said. “No, they do not.”

Bug God only briefly mourned that she had so little time to get to know not only herself, but her world, and her people. Life was too short for mourning, especially her life: 24 hours. That was it. No time to dwell on the lack of time. But she had greater trouble letting go of this new fact about the beings she was currently 100% responsible for: that they did not wonder. All day long, she had been wondering about this, and that, and the other thing. She had asked, all day, what something was, learning about fruit and spiders and the sun and water and tree and wind. Her attention had darted around like… well, like a bug. She felt as though the time had been well-spent. She felt like it had made her… more.

“Don’t they… don’t they…” Bug God, for all her power, could not formulate the question. She kept staring at the stars, trying to put her concerns into words.

Finally she had it: “Don’t they know what they’re missing out on?”

“Perhaps,” the vizier said, “They are not missing out on anything.”

“Explain that, vizier.”

“Bugs have always existed, Bug God. We have been here since before the flood, before the war of gods, since the world was cool enough for anything to live. We are numerous and timeless, and we survive, generation upon generation. We have always thrived, and never wondered.” The vizier paused, for effect, then said:

“Perhaps the lack of the latter leads to the former.”

Bug God considered this, still looking up at the stars. “So I am the first, the first to wonder?” she asked.

“Yes,” the vizier said. It was his job to know things, to teach Bug God.

Bug God waved her antennae.

Stars,” she said again. She stared up at them, wondering how many Bug Gods had come and gone before her, each given their day, each presiding over subjects who never wondered, who never marveled, who never asked questions.  She stared at the stars, so bright that they must be hot, but caught in the cold of the dark sky, so numerous it seemed they must crowd her out but so far away they were impossible, so beautiful that she must have them, so remote that she never could. She thought about her subjects, so incurious as to never ask how come, to never ask why, to never want to know.

It is the job of any god, even a Bug God, to leave her mark on her subjects. Most gods never do this, and that is why they are not remembered. Bug God knew then what she had to do.

“Goodbye, vizier,” she said, and before the other bug could react, she flapped her wings with all her godly might and flew straight up into the sky. 


Sunday, November 29, 2015

28 Xmas Stories, 3:

Some Zombie Stories, 13:

At Xmas the zombies don’t decorate trees; they festoon themselves with holiday cheer, or try to.

This year the big trend in zombie d├ęcor were those cutout-paper snowflakes. We guessed maybe the zombies were on sort of a back-to-basics kick, or perhaps they were just short on money. We’ve all been there. We’d see the zombies sitting in little groups at coffee shops, or in the food court at the mall, even the public rooms of the library. They had stacks of typing paper and scissors, and were trying to fold and cut the snowflakes into awesome geometric patterns like the ones they’d seen on TV.

It looked really difficult for them: their fingers kept falling off and making the scissors hard to work. Too, the zombies are sort of slimy sometimes which made the paper wet.  All of which made it extra neat to see a zombie who’d really done a good job. Whenever one came shambling around the mall or down on Barker Street (where there is sidewalk shopping this time of year) and she’d done a particularly good job with the snowflakes, all dangling from her arms and head and body with little neat bows of yarn, we’d take pictures, and posted them in shop windows. We wanted to show how much we appreciated the effort they were making. 


Saturday, November 28, 2015

28 Xmas Stories, 2:

later on that night they all went home and played "Monopoly" and God built hotels on Marvin Gardens

Apocalypse Eve; or, Why Everyone On Earth Woke Up On December 25th To Find A Sweater Under Their Tree Instead
God decided one year to give everyone in the world the greatest gift he could give them: He would destroy the world!

Jesus, St. Peter, and more or less all of the angels were very against this plan, and confronted him on the corner across from the pretzel stand. Let’s pick it up just after God has explained a second time what he plans on doing (he said it a second time in case they didn’t quite get it the first time):

“Are you insane?” asked St. Peter, who felt like this needed to be said.

“Why are you so upset?” God asked them.

“You don’t know?” asked an angel. “You really don’t?”

“No!” God said, getting a bit peeved. “This is a great gift: everyone will end their suffering and have eternal bliss for … well, for eternity,” he said, wishing he’d thought that sentence through a bit more before saying it.  He would have Razeel correct it in the official records. “The promises of generation after generation finally being fulfilled! They will go to bed on Xmas Eve, visions of sugarplums etc etc you get it, and then they wake up… IN HEAVEN!”

“Well, except for the damned,” God added after a moment.

“In HEAVEN!” God said again, this time with jazz hands.

“You can’t do this,” Jesus said.

“Don’t talk to your father that way,” God reprimanded.

“He’s right, this will be a terrible thing,” the Holy Ghost said. Nobody had noticed it sitting there. Truth be told people didn’t want to think about Heaven being kind of haunted, and so tried not to pay it attention.

“It will be a WONDERFUL thing,” God said. “This is what I have been promising all this time. This is WHY YOU ARE HERE,” he said, looking pointedly at Jesus.

“Look,” St. Peter said, trying to calm himself down and bring the emotions back down as well. “It’s true that this is the big thing you’ve been telling people they’d get, and it’s true that it will avoid lots and lots of troubles.”

“Earthquakes…” God said.

“Yes, that’s right, but…”

“- Plagues- ” God went on.

“Sure, well, but…”

“- Volcanoes,” God added.

“I think we’ve covered natural disasters,” said Gabriel.

“…but have you listened to them lately? Really listened to them?” St. Peter plowed on, putting his hand on God’s shoulder. The scent of cinnamon pretzels wafted past them.
“Sure. I listen all the time,” God said. “They’re unhappy. That’s all I ever hear: people asking for help, strength, new bicycles. They’re begging me to make things better. I listen.”

Do you?” St. Peter asked. “Do you really? Because I don’t think you have, for a long time.”


“Just try it,” St. Peter said, quietly.

The pretzel vendor turned down his boombox, which was playing Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.

God listened.

Wow I can’t believe we got that fast down that hill can you believe we went over that jump so high? He heard. Then there was more:

It’s a boy he heard and

I got the job and

look at that sunrise and

don’t worry about it I’m buying  and

I never thought I’d like the art museum this much and

I just read the best book and

it’s only three weeks until the new Star Wars movie and

here’s some toast I made for you I get an extra week’s vacation this year I found five dollars today I bet I can throw the ball all the way across that field race you look the dog is wearing mittens two round trip tickets to Paris then he just took my hand and we sat like that through the whole dinner ooh the water’s cold don’t worry you get used to it soft slippers warm coffee solid tackle hot pizza starry sky warm breeze

There was lots more like that, trust me: When you are God you can listen to a lot of things all at once. “All right all right,” God said finally.

“Do you see what we’re saying?” St. Peter asked. “They like it.”

“A lot,” Jesus said.

“They’ve really made something out of the world, down there,” an angel added. “You should check it out sometime. I mean, when you kicked them out it was just a garden. Since then they’ve just gone to town. You have NO idea. They’ve got smartphones and they’re curing diseases and they built a space station and they invented diet soda…”

“…Plus Seinfeld, don’t forget that show!” said the Holy Ghost. “You’ve got to see that,” it told God.

“NO SOUP FOR YOU!” yelled several angels.

“They’re doing really well,” Jesus said, finally, when things had settled down. “I mean, things aren’t perfect yet, and I know we get a lot of complaints – why’d Grandma have to die, how come Tom Brady, and so on – but overall, I’d say they’re pretty happy the way things are.”

“But… suffering! Hunger! War! There are refugees all over Europe and people are getting shot left and right!” God protested. “All that would end!”

“Sure, sure, it would,” Jesus said. “But who’s to say it won’t end anyway? I mean, at least some of them are working on it.”

“They are?”


God looked down at the world again, over at Mount Everest and the Mall of America and this one town in Kentucky that had sort of a special meaning to him, and at everything else all at once because he was God, and said: “Even still, they would be so much better if I just…”

“Dad,” Jesus said. “What good is paradise if it is just handed to you?”

“You tried that once before,” St. Peter reminded him.

God shrugged.

“I guess,” he said. “I guess you’re right.” He picked a pretzel off the rack, handed the man $5, told him to keep the change. “I guess you’re right,” he said again.

They all began walking off.

“Hey,” St. Peter said, patting God on the shoulder. “It’s the thought that counts.” 


Want someone to read stories to you?