Here’s something for the science fiction fans among us. I wrote this over the weekend.
God walked into town from the foothills. We never saw him much, he only comes when we need help… usually even before we realize we need help. I’m nearly 30 and only seen Him twice before.
The first was the great storm when I was 11. He had everyone pack up everything we could and leave town. We walked for two days into the hills. The mules carried supplies and the horsemen herded their cattle. Everything that could be moved went into the hills.
A week later, we came back and every building in town had been destroyed. He stayed for a month helping to rebuild. He taught the carpenters some things about how to build stronger houses and barns and to dig something he called “basements” to hide in during storms.
When I was 19 he came into town to anoint a new sheriff. He was here for about half an hour. The old sheriff has just died of a heart attack. Half the town hadn’t even heard yet, my family didn’t know until after God left.
On that day, I just happened to be at the butcher’s, which was on the edge of town and saw God walking toward town. I motioned to everyone and we all went out to meet him.
As he walked toward town, the first thing I noticed was that his clothing, I guess you could call it that, hadn’t changed at all. He was covered head to toe in something black, slightly shiny, and almost oily. It didn’t bunch up like fabric, but was always smooth. Smoother even than skin. No one I knew or had heard of had ever dared to tried and touch him to see what it felt like.
He often had different things with him. We’ve been pushing back the wilderness for a long time and no one needs weapons in town anymore. Most people carry an ax or a large knife anyway, just because it’s useful. But this time, God had his large ax strapped to his back and a long sword hanging from his hip. When he got close enough, I could see several knives hanging under his arms and attached to his boots, which were the same as his clothing, just thicker.
He had a small backpack and some hoses hanging down to something on his hip.
The last thing we noticed as he passed by with barely a nod to us, was he hadn’t aged at all. He still looked like he was in his mid 30s or so. It was hard to tell how old he was. My great-grandfather, who died 20 years previously said that God looked the same as he did when gramps was a little boy. And the stories go back even farther than that.
As I said, he barely gave us a nod. That was scary. He always had time for a friendly word or at least a hello. He was always polite. And he looked mad. Really mad.
I don’t think anyone had ever seen God mad before. None of the stories mention anything like that. He’s always teaching us things and can sometimes tell people things to help out. I looked at my friends and neighbors and they all looked worried too.
None of us talked about it, but we all followed him. He walked quickly and not everyone could keep up. He went straight to a particular house. It was the Bradson’s place. He was sheriff and got to live in a house across the street from his office.
Mark Bradson was an OK sheriff. He wasn’t a nice guy though and he was really harsh.
God didn’t even stop when he got to the door. Faster than anyone could see, the great, blck ax was in his hand and slammed into the door. We’ve never had much trouble, especially in town, but Mark had reinforced his door and windows with iron rods.
It didn’t matter. The ax hit the door and sliced through it like it was farmers cheese. Pieces of wood and iron flew in all directions. We heard a scream and we all glanced nervously at each other.
Less than a minute later, God threw Mark through the front window. Mark landed at our feet and was still. We heard crying and looked up to see God carrying Wendy out. She looked terrible. She had several bruises, her dress was torn, and she was nearly unconscious.
Doc Williamson ran up. God laid her down in the street and had a quiet conversation with the doctor. Then he pulled something from his backpack and poked her with it. He gave a small box to the doctor.
Doc Williamson motioned for a couple of women to come help him. And they helped her walk away toward the clinic. Several men offered to help, but they were pushed away.
God watched them go and then walked over to Mark’s body. We all thought he was dead. God crouched down next to him and reached down and slapped him. It was a gentle slap, but we all heard it. Mark moaned and his eyes fluttered open.
“Mark, how do you feel?” God asked. While we waited for an answer, no sound could be heard. I don’t think anyone was even breathing.
“It hurts,” he moaned.
“Good. We need to have a talk about Wendy.” I could see the fear in Mark’s eyes. We were all straining to hear. God was talking so softly and slowly.
“This isn’t going to be pleasant. I am so mad right now… Well, you’re lucky to be alive.
“I don’t need people like you polluting my town. I made a mistake appointing you sheriff. You have the talents for it, but not the empathy. You did OK, but then you started hitting Wendy.”
Mark had beat Wendy? That was the most horrible thing we’d ever heard. Sometimes people got mad, but the sheriff usually found out and put a stop to it before things got out of hand. But when it was the sheriff…
God reached into his boot and pulled out a small knife. He held to Mark’s throat, then quickly sliced downward. We all though Mark was dead.
But his shirt just fell open, falling away from the gold star that glowed on his left breast. God reached down and grabbed the star and just ripped it out of Mark. He screamed. There a star shaped hole, rapidly filling with blood.
“Mark, you have no idea how badly I want to kill you. But I’m not. We don’t act like that here.” And God turned to me.
“Jim, I’ve been watching you.” I looked in Gods eyes and froze. Like a deer that has just realized the hunter has appeared and it can’t get away. Looking into the eyes of God is like nothing I’ve ever done before. I could see the age of those eyes, those young looking eyes had seen so much. They looked… tired.
God continued, “You’re a good man. You’ve got the talents and, I think, you won’t give in to temptation like Mark here.
“Jim, with power comes responsibility. With great power comes great responsibility. Do you think you can handle the job?”
I was stunned. But I could still think and I nodded. “Yessir, I’m willing to try.”
“Jim, there is no try. Do it or don’t. But you’ll do. Come here.”
I stepped to God and he stood. I was shocked to realize that we were the same height. He opened his gloved hand and the gold star gleamed against the black. It was clean, no trace of blood or anything.
He looked at me, gave me a half smile and said, “This is gonna sting.” Then he slapped the star on my shirt, the left breast and I felt a million needles slam into my chest. Before I could even gasp from the pain, it was gone.
“I’ve got something that, unfortunately, takes priority right now. I’ll be back as soon as I can to have a talk with you about being sheriff. For now, get Mark in the jail and call the council. They need to decide a punishment.”
Suddenly, a huge explosion sounded. It had come from Mark. He was holding something. It was metal and it was smoking out the end of a small pipe. A saw a blur of motion and Mark wasn’t holding the thing anymore… he didn’t even have a hand. The stump where his hand used to be started bleeding.
I turned and saw God with a sword in his hand. A small amount of blood was dripping from the tip of the sword.
I heard God mutter something under his breath and he brought his free hand up to his side. “Dammit that hurt, “ he said to me. “I didn’t think he had it on him. Pick that up. It’s your now. Someone get me some rope,” he called to the crowd.
I had had several shocks and picking up a man’s hand from the ground was exceedingly difficult. While I worked up the nerve to move the fingers and pick up the… whatever it was, God had tied a tourniquet to Mark’s arm.
Finally, I picked it up. The handle fit in my hand perfectly. There was a large cylinder behind the piece of pipe. I was staring it, scared to do anything in case it exploded again.
“It’s called a gun and it’s one of the things we have to talk about. It’s a weapon, a powerful one. You can kill with just one shot. For now…” and he took the gun from me did something and five small cylinders popped out. He handed them to me. “It won’t work now. It’s better that way until I can explain things.”
“Why didn’t it hurt you?” I asked.
He chuckled, “Oh, it hurt. My suit prevented any serious damaged, but if he had aimed for you, you’d be dead now. I’m sorry for that.
“Lesson one. Don’t let anger get in the way of thinking. I’ll teach you your tasks and procedures to follow. Even if you’re angry, tired, sad, happy… you always follow those procedures. I didn’t and got hurt for it.”
“How can anyone hurt you?”
“That’s lesson two. I’m not God not even a god. I’m just a man… with some gifts. Some, I can barely understand and, sorry, but there’s not much a chance for you to. Jim, I have to go. Keep Mark in the jail. Doc can visit him there. I’ll be back as soon as I can. See you around.” And God walked away.