Extracts torn from forgotten books
God Showed Up One Day
by David Bussell
God showed up one day. Not that God, or the other one, or the blue one with all the arms. This God said his name was Clive. He said it as he emerged over the horizon, his head as big as the sky, each of his pupils the size of a planetary moon.
Despite being the single most extraordinary sight ever beheld by humankind, Clive was nothing special to look at. A chubby man in his late forties, he had the aura of a harassed janitor about him. Someone who might sit next to you on the bus. A lotto player.
Still, people were keen to know what Clive wanted, blotting out the sun like an impending apocalypse. Did he mean us harm?
“Of course not,” he said, “I’m just dropping by to see how you’re all doing.”
His visit had the manner of a father checking in on his daughter’s slumber party; perfunctory on his part and wholly undesired on the other.
“I’ve been busy fixing some stuff at the other end of the universe,” Clive went on, “everything cool down there?”
It was hard to know how to answer that, or whether it should be answered at all. I mean, sure, it’s obvious Clive existed outside the laws of nature, but was he really a God?
“Not a God, Clive corrected, the God. There are no other Gods out there, believe me. Not unless I made them, and I didn’t.”
People demanded proof that Clive was who he said he was, so he sighed and turned all the world’s dogs into cats (and vice versa). That shut everyone up. Still, some objected. Their God was the one true God, they said, Clive was nothing but an imposter! A false god! There wasn’t much Clive could say to that. Some people are just dicks.
It must have stuck in his craw though, because Clive decided to stick around. It was great at first. Unlike all the other so-called “gods”, Clive didn’t require faith. If you wanted proof of Clive you only had to look up. Plus Clive worked with total transparency. None of this “mysterious ways” nonsense; if Clive wanted to lend a hand he would. “I need the roof of my shed looking at,” you’d say, and if Clive wasn’t busy putting out a bushfire or healing a sick child, he’d fix you right up.
Still, after a while it got kind of old. It was nice having Clive around, cleaning up messes and making sure everyone got fed, but after a while mankind needed its private time. Clive felt it too, and mumbled an excuse about having to take care of some stuff at the other end of the Milky Way. “You’re cool till I get back, right?” he asked and everyone sort of shrugged and said, “No worries.”
So away Clive went, toddling off into the distance until even our most powerful telescopes couldn’t pick him out against the infinity of space. This was followed by a collective exhalation of air that would have blown the Earth off its axis, at least if physics worked that way.
Years passed. Hundreds of them, then thousands. The story of Clive’s visit changed hands again and again, mutating, splintering, subject to dozens of different meanings and opposite interpretations, a game of telephone on a global scale. Eventually the real Clive came to be a distant memory, gobbled up by his sleeker, reinvented cousins: Claude and Clancy and Clarence (though strangely never Claire or Cleo or Clementine). Wars were fought in the honor of these new Clive facets. Civil liberties curtailed in the name of one and executions ordained in the name of another.
Then God showed up one day. Clive looked down and saw what people had done in his absence, and Clive despaired.
“I leave you alone for five millennia and this is what you do?” he complained, folding his arms and scowling. “Well, if that’s the way you want it we’ll just have to go back to the old way of doing things.”
He magicked up a recliner and parked his ass. Dad wasn’t leaving the slumber party this time. Dad was here to stay.
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