What in Hell is up with Heaven?

A brief synopsis:

Religious Satire: A humorous tale of the Gods of Heaven and Hell.

Satan has a problem. He has come up short on his quotas for collecting souls and he is none too pleased. With the help of his loyal and trusted companion, Grim Reaper, the pair orchestrate a natural disaster that will balance the “books”.

With an undertaking of this size, the two will need to hire some help. They outsource the work to Jesus, Hercules, Mary and Joseph, right under the nose of God. The plan is doomed from its inception, but Satan is a determined little demon and will stop at nothing to succeed. With Jesus’ drinking problem, Hercules’ steroid addiction and Mary and Josephs marital troubles, could Satan’s plan really have a chance?

Follow the long cast of immortals as they manage to turn their celestial world upside down.

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Sample Chapter:

What in Hell is up with Heaven?

W.I.H.I.U.W.H.: Chapter 1

It was a normal day, as far as anyone could tell. Dawn had just broken over the distant foothills of ancient Athens and the heat could already be seen radiating up from the desert floor. It wasn’t too hot at this time of the day, but the temperatures were on the move. The essence from the yuccas were now filling the air, attracting a variety of bees on their quest for the early morning pick-up and deliveries and the sound of songbirds softly echoed in the lush valley just beyond the desert.

On the far side of the lush valley, on the edge of civilization, lay an apple orchard and through the apple trees, a familiar sight began to take shape. Barely visible at first, then more defined as the sun’s rays illuminated subtle details, a figure of a woman in a white flowing robe appeared in the distance. Clutching a well-worn cane, her movements were slow and deliberate. This was an aging woman, her face indiscernible through her burqa, yet obvious from her posture and gate.

Carefully stepping over rocks and small depressions in the road, she made her way to a small pile of stones, stacked neatly into a pyramid just off the roadside.  Delicate silk streamers lay across the stones and dried flowers decorated its base.  She visited this makeshift altar every morning, at the same time and this morning did not prove out of the ordinary.

Leaning over and transferring her weight to cane, she bent her knees slightly, preparing to kneel at the altar’s base.  She stretched out her frail, wrinkled hand to balance herself on the stones top, taking special care not to disturb the decorations. In one big effort, she dropped to her knees and folded her hands in prayer. As she prayed, she rocked slowly back and forth in spiritual euphoria. The world and its problems were of no concern to her.  Her mind, body and soul were overcome by the rapture of prayer.

Cresting a knoll in the distance, a young merchant rode his horse and cart toward the apple orchard.  In a hurry, he cracked his whip in an effort to motivate the stubborn animal.  On cue, the horse moved from walk to fast trot, kicking up dust from his hooves.  Coming down the other side of the knoll, they picked up speed. The wind was now flowing though the young shepherd’s hair and a large grin embossed his face with approval.  The sun felt warm on his face and body.  This was the easy part of his day.  Picking apples for his fruit stand in the village was always an enjoyable chore he looked forward to.

The old woman could now hear the approaching horse and cart. Unaffected, she maintained her posture. Her slow rocking back and forth never changed speed, only her head made a slow rotation in the direction of the cart. Ever so slightly, she made eye contact with the horse, then returned her gaze to the stone altar and continued her peaceful prayers.

The young merchant, feeling the sun’s rays more intensely on his face now, determined the time of day by the heat of the sun. He “persuaded” the horse to move faster. With a flick of his wrist, the horse received its message and increased its speed. Traveling faster than is customary, the young merchant felt satisfied that his time was now not being wasted.

Hearing the gate of the horse gathering speed, the old woman once again turned her attention to the approaching cart. She could now see the young merchant and his hand was fixed to his brow. She felt unconcerned, but a bit distracted. Her rocking became irregular. Refocusing on her prayers, she turned again to the stone alter. Hands folded, eyes shut, her rocking returned to its regular, consistent pace.

The merchant was closing in on the area of worship. Viewing the scenery to his left, the horse and cart started to drift to the right. The right wooden wheels were now moving from the much-used portion of the road, to the area of little use. It was softer and more bumpy due to the small rocks and pebbles that had not yet been compacted into the sand. Only mildly distracted by the slightly rougher ride, the merchant moved his gaze from the meadow on his left to the sun distorted road up ahead. He squinted this time in an effort to see more clearly instead of shading his eyes as he had done before.

Yes, this was a normal day, as far as anyone could tell, but “anyone” did not include Satan. Never one to pass on an opportunity, he cherished those moments when he could convert simple miscalculation into magnificent calamity.

—- —- —- —-

Beyond the apple orchard, back thru the field of yuccas and bees, to the other side of the desert floor stood a grandiose cliff and at the base of this cliff sat a flat boulder made of sandstone. In the morning sun, a parade of ants innocently filed across the top of that very large stone in search of food.

If sound could be magnified, a drop of spit would sound like a hurricane to a tiny ant as it fell from the sky. Looking up, the tiny ants defiantly held their ground as they watched the wet, sticky substance rained down upon them.

With pinpoint precision, each spittle found its target and one by one, picked off the ants as they stood in defense. Encased in sticky goo, the unfortunate ants struggled to move but the heat of the day dried them in place. Undeterred, other brave ants replaced their fallen comrades only to suffer the same fate.

Oh the carnage and so early in the day…

“Enjoying yourself?” bellowed a deep, confident voice, 500 ft above the insect massacre.

“Huh?” Satan replied.

“Are you really enjoying that?” God asked, in a commanding voice.

“Does the Pope shit in the woods?” Satan retorted.

“That’s a bear, you idiot,” God replied in exasperation.

“Whatever… Anyway, did you see the freakin’ accuracy on that last one? Damn, I’m good! You know, someone outta hire me out on a contract basis…” Satan said, then added confidently, “Oh Yeah, I’m that good.”

“Red, you’re so twisted. What am I going to do with you?” God responded.

“What…?” Satan whined.

“Spitting on ants? That’s so juvenile… and demented. Can’t you find a more rewarding hobby to occupy your time?” God replied.

“You’re so judgmental,” Satan countered.

“Judgmental? Say genius, if you haven’t gotten the memo lately, that’s my job… I get PAID to be judgmental,” God quipped.

“I really don’t see what the problem is… it’s only a couple of ants.”

“Couple ants today, tomorrow the entire population will be extinct. You need to exercise more self-control. You’re just too overzealous in your work.”

“I’m overzealous?” Satan retorted. “Damn G, you’re the one who’s always fooling around with that stupid human race you created. When’s the last time you had a vacation? When’s the last time you had a date, for that matter. Why don’t you take a moment and have some fun. You’re so uptight?”

“Fun? Like killing off a bunch of ants? Yeah, that sounds like fun,” God replied sarcastically.

“Ever try it? It is kinda fun,” Satan shot back.

“You gotta be kidding me. You actually want me to try spitting on ants?” God replied indignantly.

“Sure, why not,” Satan said, then added, “Five bucks says you can’t hit even one of ‘em.”

“What the hell would I do with five bucks?” God replied.

“It’s just a figure of speech… Damn G, you really do need to get out more,” Satan teased.

Satan took a step forward and peered over the edge. He looked down at the ants glued to the flat rock, then back up at God.

With a quick smirk, he said, “I don’t think you can even hit one.”

“Stand aside Junior… It’s on!” God replied.

God stood at the edge of the cliff and felt the warm breezes brush past his robes. Impeccably dressed, he wore a white flowing robe made of the finest silk with delicate off-white lace that trimmed every edge. For contrast, an intricate Latin inscription was embossed on the sleeves and at the base of the robe and translated into “The Man”. Some might have thought that this inscription was a bit overdone, vane if you will, but The Lord felt it commanded just the right amount of respect from his worshipers.

Suffering from a mild rash, he decided earlier he would go “commando” in an effort to accelerate the healing process. Oh sure, he could have just as easily have laid his hands on himself and healed his affliction, but The Lord believed in sacrifice by example… most of the time.

His salt and pepper beard had just been trimmed up with his new Nerelco trimmer. After firing his stylist a week before, The Lord was forced to fend for himself and did a respectable job grooming that morning. Even his long white hair was perfectly brushed, without a single strand out of place. Of course, the help from Paul Mitchell hair products went a long way. After brushing, just a few shots of the extra hold hair spritz kept him looking fresh and immaculate. He looked good and he knew it.

Briefly, he took accounting of the atmospheric conditions: temperature, wind speed, barometric pressure, etc. Having mentally calculated the trajectory to the ants, he then factored in the mass and thrust required to propel the wad of spittle. Clearing his throat, he hocked up enough “liquid” for a respectable loogie. Arching his back, then lunging forward, he launched the spit over the edge of the cliff. It was a valiant effort – a true master in action.

The spittle slipped through the air with very little wind resistance. Having just recovered from a nasty sinus infection, The Lords phlegm had a much lower drag coefficient than the average wad of spit, allowing it to pick up speed at a much greater rate. Like the path of JFK’s magic bullet, the spittle miraculously dodged dust particles and tiny flying insects as it carved an irregular path toward the flat rock below. The sound of the spittle at such a high rate of speed created a deafening rush. Seconds later, the gooey liquid reached the speed of sound and generated a sonic boom that could be heard across the valley.

God smugly gazed over at Satan, who now had a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach.

The ants, having heard the sonic boom, looked skyward. Unable to see due to their natural blindness, could sense their impending doom. Locking their legs in an effort to stand as one unified army, they prepared for battle. Moments later, the wad of phlegm smashed through the center of the ants and continued on through the flat boulder.

One minute the boulder was there, the next it was gone, decimated by the speed and force of impact. The only thing that remained was the dust that settled in a small mushroom cloud above the impact area.

Peering over the edge of the cliff, Satan and God could now see that most of the dust had settled and all that remained of the flat boulder was a tiny crater and a ring of dirt that rimmed the outside edge.

Satan slowly turned his head toward God and said in a low, submissive voice, “Show off.”

Turning toward Satan, he shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I have my moments.”

Satan, contrary to popular belief, under all his piercings and ink, was actually a quite handsome demon… during special ceremonies, he cleaned up very well. He stood tall at 6’-2” with black hair and a Romanesque profile. His body frame was quite muscular for his age compared to God’s who, over time, had let himself go. He was always clean shaven with short, styled hair.

Satan’s tattoos were rather extensive, with a “sleeve” on each arm, several on his neck, chest and back, as well as a few extraneous ones located in “strategic” areas. The most conspicuous tattoo and his oldest was an image of Jesus on a cross with the inscription above the cross in small black letters reading, “My Co-Pilot” and below the cross in extra large red letters, the single word “NOT”. His nipples, lower lip and left eyebrow were pierced, but strangely, his ears had never been pierced.

Unlike The Lord, Satan’s wardrobe consisted of only one pair of tight black Levi’s, studded at the bottom cuffs and a pair of size 13, black Vans, his footwear of choice lately. Due to the fact that temperatures were usually elevated at his place of work, there really wasn’t a need for a shirt and besides, he loved to show off his really cool ink.

God, who had now taken a few steps back from the rim of the cliff, clipped off the end of his favorite cigar, an Acid Kuba Kuba. Now, around town, it is widely known that The Lord was a huge fan of Acid cigars. He always received them for Christmas or after a Bris. Occasionally he would light up a Cuban or an Ecuadorian when supplies ran low while waiting for a fresh shipment to arrive, but for his money, nothing came close to the light flavor and smooth burn of the Nicaraguan.

Placing the cigar in his mouth and rotating it to wet the end, his eyes slowly scanned over to Satan, who was still looking down at the dust ring and composing himself after being shown up with the whole “split a rock with spit” thing.

God asked, “gotta light?”

Without breaking his stare at the dust ring below, Satan extended his arm fully, clenched his fist and extended his index finger. He then curled his finger to his thumb and sparked the end with his thumbnail. The end of his index finger started to glow. A marvelous flame ignited, giving off tremendous heat, almost unbearable to The Lord.

“Hey Red, wanna tone it down a bit,” God said, backing away slightly.

Snapping back to reality, arm still extended, Satan glanced over at God. Realizing the size of the flame, Satan blew on it until it became small and more manageable. God looked into Satan’s eyes, then back at the flame as he placed the end of the cigar into it and drew the smoke, into his mouth.

Releasing the mild, pleasant smoke from the corner of his mouth, the end of the cigar became fiery red and well lit. With a cordial smile and a few puffs of smoke they both returned their scan to the distant apple orchard at the far edge of the valley.

“You know Red, you should really try these things. They’re wonderful… very relaxing. They’re a nice distraction from work. All jokes aside, you really do take your job too seriously.” God continued, “Take me for instance. I’ve got to be all things to all people, yet I still take the time to enjoy life.”

Transfixed on the distant apple orchard, Satan replied, “I know, I know. The Reaper is always gettin’ on me for that. I don’t know. I guess I’m just a work-a-holic.”

“Speaking of The Reaper, How is Grim? I heard he had an awful time last week. Did he ever find his lucky scythe?” God asked, sincerely.

“Nah, He’s really broken up over that too. He bought a new one and has a few notches etched in it, sort of like the old, but it just isn’t the same. Heaven help the man who stole it,” Satan replied, ominous tone.

“Well, there’ll be no help from me, THAT I can guarantee. Taking a man’s scythe…” God said, shaking his head in disgust. “That’s just not right… no sir, just not right.”

Taking a heaving draw off his cigar, God exhaled deeply, sending a large cloud of smoke over the desert.

Turning his attention back toward Satan, God started, “You know Red…”

Satan’s focus was intense. Piercing and determined, he became lost in his work.

God looked at Satan, then back at the valley, trying to find the object of Satan’s attention. He looked at Satan’s eyes and followed them down to the far point out in front them.

Perplexed, God silently asked himself, “What IS he staring at?”

Back and forth, Gods eyes moved from Satan to the distant point and back again. Having seen this look before, he knew it was the stare of a dog just before it attacked. Being a man of the ages, he couldn’t just accuse Satan of something that hadn’t happen yet, but he knew Satan was onto something that might need The Lords intervention.

Out in the distance, at the point of Satan’s focus, was the apple orchard. God did not see anything out of the ordinary there, just a bunch of fruit trees, some birds and bees, a woman praying, and horse and cart.

God zeroed in on some of the trees to see if maybe there was something special about them, such as an unusually large fruit for breakfast or maybe a new breed of honey bee that could produce high grade honey.

He refocused on the old woman praying to him. He could hear her prayers in his mind. She came to that same spot each day and prayed for world peace.

‘Lady, give it a rest. World Peace? Talk about high expectations…’ he thought to himself.

He then moved his scan over to the horse and cart. He could see the merchant shading his eyes with his hand and holding the reins with the other.

‘Nothing out of the ordinary, there,’ he thought to himself again.

Finally, in frustration and curiosity, God asked, “What the HELL are you looking at?”

Satan, startled for a moment, composed himself, then replied casually, “Oh, nothing.”

Without another word, he returned to his stare.

Suddenly, without notice, a small gust of wind blew in from behind them. It traveled off the cliff and over the desert. God, who generally had his hand in on just about everything, sensed this was not his doing.

“Strange,” he said to himself under his breath. “I don’t remember ordering a climate change.”

He returned his stare to Satan, then out into the distant valley. The gust of wind had picked up speed and was traveling toward the orchard, picking up small pebbles, sand and grasses as it moved. Amused by this, God trained his focus on the scene in front of him.

The closer the wind moved toward the orchard, the more it picked up speed and debris. The more it picked up debris and speed, the more its path became obvious due to the bent grasses in its wake. After a couple of seconds, the flattened path of grasses created a detectable line of direction.

“The old woman… it’s heading for the old woman,” God said under his breath.

God glanced over at Satan. He could see the corner of his mouth curl up a bit.

He glanced back at the gust and the old woman. There was nothing alarming about this really.

“Gusts of wind are rarely lethal. What gives…” God said to himself.

Glancing back at Satan, God could see the smirk had grown. Upon return to the old woman, God moved his glance back to the speeding cart. He alternated between the old woman and the cart several times. The gust had crossed onto the road now and had caused the old woman to stand up and turn her attention toward the wind in curiosity. The merchant, who was now only a short distance from the old woman, became startled by the strange sight of wind and debris crossing the road. Subconsciously, he moved the reins slightly to the right, causing the cart to drive into the grasses along the side of the road.

It now became clear to God what was happening. Satan was causing the cart to veer into the old woman by reaction to the gust of wind. A rush came over The Lord. His face lost all expression and his color started to drain. He turned and looked at Satan. Satan nervously returned his stare.

“What?” Satan replied in cautious tone.

God waved his hand over the valley and all time came to stop. Nothing moved, including the scene at the altar in the distance. Turning toward Satan, God eyed him suspiciously.

“So, working hard?” God asked sarcastically.

“Whaddya mean?” Satan responded, feigning innocence.

“You’re taking the old woman,” God stated bluntly.

“No I’m not.”

“Yeah you are. Thought you’d slip that one by me, huh?” God replied, only mildly offended.

“Do you mind?”

“Don’t even think about it!” God retorted instantly.

“Ah, come on… she’s old,” Satan pleaded.

“That’s not a good enough reason.”

Satan’s mind turned. Quickly he thought up an alternative.

“Well, how ‘bout the dude in the cart. Can I have him?”

“No,” God responded flatly.

“But he’s speeding… and really fast,” Satan said, hoping to debate the issue.

“Are you kidding me? That’s what you’re gonna use, ‘the man is speeding?’ That is such a lame excuse,” God replied.

“If I give you a compelling excuse, then can I take ‘em?” Satan asked.

God took a long draw on his cigar and exhaled a satisfying cloud of smoke. He’d had similar conversations with Satan in the past and knew not to get too excited over the line of questioning.

“It’d have to be a pretty damn good excuse,” God replied.

“What if I told you he murdered his wife and kids this morning,” Satan shot back.

God threw Satan a quick stare. He normally had his finger on the pulse of just about everything, but there were times when nature happened before his intervention. He hadn’t heard about the young merchant murdering his family and the news of this act, disturbed him.

“Holy Shit! He killed his family this morning?” God immediately asked.

“No – I’m just trying to find the boundaries… you know, figure out what you’ll accept,” Satan answered.

Slightly annoyed with Satan’s tactics, he puffed on his cigar once more and responded.

“Uh huh… Red, we’re not horse trading here. These are people’s lives we’re talking about. They have value,” God informed.

“Well, how ‘bout his horse. I’m mean, look at that guy. He’s a menace with that thing. He’s gonna run her over with it. Seriously, you should let me take the horse,” Satan offered.

“HELLO… He’s only a menace because you created a wind to cause him to run her over.”

“So if he ran over her and it wasn’t my fault, could I take the horse?” Satan continued.

God took a quick puff and exhale directly at Satan.

“Dude, what is with you this morning? You took over a hundred thousand souls yesterday. That’s gotta be a record for you. Slow down a little,” God said, then added in exasperation, “…talk about over achiever.”

“That was yesterday. Today I’m on the shy side of making my quota.”

“Your problem,” God shot back.

“Come on, G, you gotta give me something…”

“I don’t gotta give you nothin,” God responded.

God knew Satan too well. He knew the line of questions would continue until he acquiesced. Jogging through his memory, he remembered a disciplinary action that needed to be levied against some sinners. With a slight smile, he turned toward Satan and continued.

“Look, I’ve got a thing I’m looking into in Gamorrah. Maybe I can let you in on some of that action.”

“Garmorrah… Gamorrah… Yeah, the whole salt issue. I remember that. How’s that turning out?” Satan asked with gleeful anticipation.

“Well, they’re pretty dense. They’re not getting the message. Starting to really piss me off,” God quipped.

Satan wringed his hands.

“Whaddya thinking… locusts, famine, floods?” Satan seconded guessed.

“Molten lava,” God replied smartly.

“Mmm, good call… very dramatic and a powerful message. How many we talking here.”

“I’m thinking about five thousand, give or take…”

“Hmm, nice…” Satan replied, now lost in thought.

“Nice? Red, this is not a happy event.”

“Right, no happy thoughts. So can I take some of ‘em now…” Satan pushed.

“NO!” God blurted out in frustration. “Get this through your head Numb-Nuts, you’re not taking anyone right now… NO women, NO merchants, NO Gamorrahan’s and NO horses. I’m trying to relax for a moment. Help me out here, will ya,” God responded.

Satan was about to respond but saw that God’s left eye was beginning to twitch and thought better of it. For a moment, the two stood quietly and took in the beauty of valley below.

God took another long draw on his cigar. Exhaling proudly, he sent the aroma wafting into the air around him. Nearby, a honey bee picked up the scent of the sweet aroma and hurried in their direction. Moments later, as God drew in another tremendous puff of smoke, the tiny bee landed on the top of the smoldering cigar. With a deep inhale, the bee drank in the intoxicating smell of God’s Kuba Kuba.

“What the…” God shouted out, seeing the bee in front of his nose.

Quickly, he shooed the bee away. With his last puff interrupted, God drew in another large mouthful of smoke. Again, the bee returned to its resting place at the end of God’s cigar.

“Son of a bi…” God began to say, but was interrupted.

Sensing Gods anger, the tiny bee leaped into the air before God had a chance to make contact. He flew out of sight and hovered, waiting for his chance to return. Seconds later, God brought the stogie to his lips and took another larger draw.

On cue, the tiny bee returned. Hovering menacingly in front of his nose, God had had enough. He turned toward Satan in disgust. Satan raised his right eyebrow in anticipation.

“OK, you can take out the friggin’ bee… but do it qui…” God said, but was cut off in mid sentence.

Instantly, a violent bolt of lightning thundered from the sky and with pinpoint accuracy, pierced the bee, slicing it in two. The intense heat generated from the white light radiated out and completely obliterated God’s cigar as well as singeing the hair of his knuckles. God stood in utter frustration, his moment of peace ripped from grasp. With a full day of chores ahead of him, he knew he his peace and quiet were now unsalvageable.

God glanced over at the one man responsible, Satan. Staring back at him, Satan smiled a great smile that spread from ear to ear, a smile born out of pride and satisfaction.

“Lightning huh? Bit overdone wouldn’t you say?” God said, simply.

With a guilty shrug, Satan quietly acknowledged his overreaction. He flashed a strained smile across his face, then returned his gaze to the distant valley.

“Guess we should let those two get on with their day, huh?” Satan said out loud.

“Yeah, guess WE should,” God retorted acidly.

With a swipe of his hand, God returned time to its natural order. The gust of wind that had threaten the life of the old woman was now gone and the horse moved back slightly into the road, narrowly missing the old woman as it proceeded on its original path.

The old woman, reacting to her fear, shouted out to the merchant, “Slow down…  ASS HOLE!”

Satan and God stood in the disbelief, perplexed by the unexpected character and profanity of the old praying woman. As the reality of the moment finally registered, Satan spoke.

“How ‘bout now. Can I take her now?” Satan joked.

God glared sternly at Satan and for a moment, fear swept over his body.

With a quick chuckle, Satan said, “He he he, just kidding…”

Quickly, he changed the subject.

“So, how ’bout those Spartans last night?” Satan announced.

God understood Satan’s apologetic segue to a less offending topic. Without skipping a beat, he replied, “Yeah, did you see Spartacus wrestle that lion – Pheww! He was awesome.”

“Yeah he was! Hey man, how ’bout an egg sandwich? I know this place that has great unleavened bread,” Satan said, once again, feeling the connection between two friends.

“As long as you’re buying…” God replied with a smile.

Slowly, the two Deities began to vanish, leaving the majestic cliff empty once again.

Deep in the valley, the old woman blessed herself with the sign of the cross as she stared up at the strange sight of two men vanishing at the top of the cliff.


3 Responses

  1. This is one of the cutest stories I’ve read in a long time. Last one that I laughed about this much was THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS.

  2. You have my attention. Excellent depiction of spiritual distraction hijacking God’s people.

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