by Chris Dean
It wasn’t a place, not as we know such things. There was dim light and space within dark walls. But it wasn’t a place that could ever be found. It existed only as long as it was needed and then it was gone.
Three creatures that were not life as we know it sat high up over the floor inside a partitioned enclosure. One comprised of Darkness, one of Ice, and the third of Time. Below them, clad in the guise of a fair-haired boy, stood the God of Man.
“God.” The creature made of Ice had a gleaming high-browed visage wizened with age. The crystalline face tightened as its deep voice reverberated through the chamber. “You have petitioned us for relief from your charge.”
A sigh. God answered softly, “Yes.”
The shadow ensconced in a dark hood jerked forward and the creature of Darkness demanded, “Dare you beseech us?” The shrill voice trembled. “A risk you take. Know this.”
Time was a being without form. Light and space bent around it, and an opaque face rippled in the air. A voice of nothing but echo hovered when it spoke. “Naught would come of all of your work. A pity this would be.”
God gazed up at Time gravely. “I know.”
Darkness pounced upon the silence. “And what of our investment? Does this trifle concern you?”
Nodding, God said, “It does.” His features were slowly changing with the strain of His admission. The youthful face was full of pain now. “I’m sorry.”
“And you would do what, as repayment?” Darkness hissed, “For our trust?”
“His toil is his payment,” Time said solemnly. “He has paid dearly, this I say.”
“Not dearly enough!” Darkness seethed with anger. “I rejected his entreaties, this I did. It is for me to decide.”
Ice adjusted himself in his seat, looking at his fellows. Darkness at his right and Time further on. “I suggest we proceed without these inflammatory innuendos,” Ice said. “I for one am waiting to hear an explanation.”
“Yes, your perfidy demands explanation,” Darkness said.
God tugged nervously at his robe. “I can’t anymore, don’t you see?”
Time asked, “You cannot what?”
“I’ve failed them. How many have been deceived by false religions? Hardly anyone truly believes in me anymore. I don’t know what to do.” Tiny spots of gray streaked God’s hair now and thin creases curved beneath his dark eyes.
Darkness exploded, “I told you both that this creator was a charlatan.”
“Please.” Ice held up a pale hand. “What of your plan, God? What of this?”
“That serpent.” God’s face was drawn with despair. “I knew he would tempt them. That’s when it all started really. I wanted humankind to have free will.”
“An obvious mistake,” Darkness sneered. “A fraud you are, I say.”
God bowed his head. “When Jesus sacrificed himself for them I thought that was the answer.”
Time spoke, “Why now do you come before us?”
“I told you there’s just too many lost souls for me to bear anymore. I love them all, you see.” A soft sob came.
“You do not want this,” Time said. “Your children will be lost. Satan will take them.”
“He’s won already. Don’t you see?”
“This is a portent, is it not?” Ice said. “Of the last battle?”
“Armageddon’s not for a long time.” God’s eyes filled with tears. “They won’t even remember me then.”
“Please.” Time reached out and brushed the cloak of Darkness. A shriek of rage came from the dark one and then he was still.
Ice asked God, “You have considered all that will come to pass if you do this thing?”
“I’m sorry.” God’s face creased with regret. “I know what will happen. But what difference does it make?”
“A difference in you, this I can see,” Time said. “How is it that you are here at all?” He glanced at Darkness’ unmoving form. “He did dissuade us against your plan. But you spoke of love and faith and we believed these things. I still believe.”
God’s hair had turned completely gray and he was an old man now, weary and forlorn. “I love them still. I told you this. But they don’t believe in me.”
“Are you so vain? Has your craving for worshippers driven you to this?” Ice said.
“No. It’s just that there’s so many of them that are lost. I’ve failed them.”
Time said softly, “Job. You are like Job.”
“What?” Ice looked over.
“He is the one who never lost his faith.”
“That one in the Bible?”
“Yes. He has been tested sorely, like Job.”
God said the name, “Job.”
Ice’s gleaming eyes went from God to Time. “Is that true? That story?”
Time nodded. “And you, God, have been tested. Like Job.”
God’s whispered, “I’m losing my faith.”
“Yes,” agreed Time. “You do not believe that your children can love you again.”
“I’m so sorry.” God stared at Darkness’s unmoving form. He heaved a defeated sigh. “Maybe he’s right. Maybe—”
“No.” The air around Time’s face crackled with energy. “You are the Creator.”
Ice offered this, “You are alone in the universe, knowing the minds of all creatures, but alone still. We spoke of this long ago. How can it be that your sorrow has not destroyed you?” Ice gestured. “You have made humankind a thing beyond all other things and given them the power to determine their own destiny. That they have chosen to forsake you is beyond all comprehension. No, you are the Creator. It is they that are the fraud.”
Time leaned forward. “But not all of them.”
“Some still love me and speak my word,” God said thoughtfully. “Some always will.”
Time said. “Just one voice can echo through the ages. It has happened before.”
“Yes,” God said firmly. “It has.”
The place that was not a place dissolved into nothingness. Time disappeared and then Ice. Darkness dissipated into the blackness of space and God was alone again.
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Traveling throughout the American west, Chris Dean has worked as a delivery driver and a concert promoter. This writer’s work has appeared in Spaceports and Spidersilk and other such publications. Currently Chris resides in the Des Moines area.