Heaven & Heaven & Hell & Hell & Hell



A collection of very short stories with religious themes that
takes us from the Dawn of Time to The End of Days...


My grade: B+ (This one, which conforms to the exactly-100-words "drabble" format,
I am actually halfway proud of. I don't know why I am "grading" these, it's not
something I'll be doing a lot with my submissions here at Fictioneer...)
“Listen kid, when you make your own universe, you can rule it,” God explained. “I’ll even lend you the materials. But I'll tell you, it’s work! Remember those galaxies I let you make?”
As with everything The Father said, Lucifer took this as an insult. Calling him lazy or inept. He snapped, “They were supposed to be irregular. Symmetry is CORNY!"
“Yours were interesting, though..."
Condescending pig, thought the angel. As God turned his back, Lucifer’s beautiful face contorted hideously. He made a childish pistol-firing gesture.
But God---being God---saw. He sighed, “Something's just not right about this one...”
My grade: D (This one wasn't my finest hour as an author or a humorist, and I wish I could say I'd written it at 16 instead of 36. To me "Esther" is not even a credible object of satire, and the MORAL behind it makes it all rather strident ......... But it had a good bit here and there,
and it will do, stuck into anthology with stronger material like I did here...)
Esther Peabladt did not know what the world was coming to, but she knew she didn't like it one bit! Why just yesterday she had been walking her fat little asthmatic dachsund Pixie down the sidewalk along Pine Avenue, when she encountered a horrible word sprayed onto the whitewashed plywood fence that surrounded a construction site. The word was:
At first glance the wild chaotic lettering made her shudder in revulsion, but in a short while she became angry! It was an intrusion into her sequestered, civilized world by a hostile outside one; a culture---a whole planet seemingly---where rudeness and barbarism had long since come to reign, and which she knew would never return to any sort of decency; a world where each new level of beastliness gave way a week later to something even more unthinkable! She expected to see people running around stark nak- unclothed any day now, gibbering and dancing lewdly, their bodies pincushioned by drooping syringes full of DOPE or something, she didn't know what all!
She had tried to insulate herself from the awfulness of modern "morality" when she had moved into the eighth floor suite of the Colonial Towers Retirement Village, which she only left briefly anymore to let Pixie do her .......... you know. But the world out there, which had gone so crazy, was like poison gas or something that you could never keep out. Not entirely...
She no longer watched TV much, those game shows that she had once enjoyed were full of lewd insinuations on the part of their greasy, leering hosts ......... But this morning she had viewed an old movie that she remembered enjoying quite a bit back in her girlhood. And they had colorfied it---which was nice---but they had also monkeyed around with the sound somehow, in what she imagined was an attempt to make it more "up to date", so that people who were only interested in filth anymore would watch it, because there were words in it that she just knew weren't in it originally. Lines like, "This is a fairly DAMN-ing bit of evidence..."
Which made her insides go all into knots and she just wanted to lie down and take a nap.
Or first take a Tums for her stomach. A nice little Tums...
But just then Mrs. Wertz came over and wanted to chat. And the thing was, as the poison gas seeped in everywhere it changed people. Even the previously nice ones became corrupted by the constant exposure. Mrs. Wertz spoke a steady stream of intimate paramedical lewdness, at one point even saying:
.......which upset Esther terribly, though you couldn't say anything to them. They were all crazy and might even hurt you if they sensed your fear, it was from the dope. Mrs. Wertz might hurt you when she was on that dope!
And so she was glad when her neighbor left, and she could try to settle herself down, to calm her nerves by playing a few ditties on her beautiful antique piano; those wonderful Best Loved Songs like "Roll Out the Barrel"...
Which was when she noticed for the first time that the curves of her piano's legs, seen in profile, were obscenely full and voluptuous, and that one of them kept trying to rub up against her leg!
It was a girl piano, for gosh sakes! Like that time in 1943 when Mary Greenlee had tried to-
Esther's upset stomach went into overdrive now. She lurched toward the bathroom, almost stepping on Pixie, who was bent in half on the oval hallway rug, huffing noisily as she licked the flesh between her hind legs in an onanistic frenzy!
"Stop it Pixie! You stop that right now!" cried Esther hysterically. The whole world had gone
filth-crazed! All of this in a single morning, and it wasn't even ten a.m. yet! She knew that if she saw or heard one more obscene thing that reminded her of the filth in the world it would be too much for her. She just knew it!
She swung open the medicine cabinet to take a TUMS; a nice little, friendly little
But when she pushed the mirrored door shut she saw in the reflection, spelled out in bold block letters on the tube tablets in her hand, the word:
Esther screamed and jumped back, falling---KEEERASHO!!!---out through the window and eight stories to the street below, where she landed right in the path of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, which had come to town for the Auto And Truck Expo at the Tri-Cities Convention Center.
Then the angels came and tooke her off to heaven...
Where that horrible man Jesus keeps coming up and trying to sit next to her, putting his hand on her knee and calling her "my child"; sadly shaking his head as she jumps up and storms off, quaking with disgust and indignation.
My grade: C (Knocked down from a B- for strictly subjective reasons. I'm leery of writing anything that presumes to speak for, to know the mind of God {ATTITUDE didn't do this as it was dealing with God and Satan kind of as characters out of Milton} But at least I didn't make Him a crochety loveable George Burns...)
Brandon was taught at an early age to say his prayers every night at bedtime. His Mom Sarah watched him---smiling, just loving to see it---for almost the first year. Even early on, some of what he said to God seemed surprisingly mature, comments and questions that she would ponder over during her own nightly meditations...  
And as his vocabulary began to grow his prayers started to feel like a private business: one soul, no smaller than her own, talking to its creator. So it was unheard by Sarah when his conversations with the Lord began to take an unusual turn...
The boy had overheard her on the telephone, talking about quitting her nursing job, finding something else. That she had been taking care of these old people for so long---tending to them, worrying about them, seeing one after the next get weak and confused and then die---that she was starting to feel empty inside, like she had nothing left to give; to a point where it was affecting her ability to really be there for her own family .......... And she said that if she had to choose, she had no doubts as to where her duties lie.
As it turned out Sarah would not quit nursing for decades. She was just venting, getting a little well-deserved sympathy from an understanding co-worker (She would soon be taking on even more responsibilities as Head Nurse, and would wind up getting some big award from Mayor Santini upon retirement). But at the time this was a startling thing for Brandon to hear! His mother was the most caring person he knew, and yet apparently there were limits to what she could do. That night he was praying for God to help her---the long hours she spent, tending to all those people---when it dawned on him that God took care of everyone- a workload infinitely greater than what his mom had to deal with! 
And so he started to worry about how God was doing ........ Might he not be getting worn down by all the millions of pleas for help, and these reminders to “bless Aunt Suzy and Uncle Jim...” that seemed to be telling him how to do his business, and to even imply that He might be somewhat forgetful?
Brandon did not bring his concerns up with his Sunday school teacher, having a pretty good idea what she would say: That God was all-powerful and all-loving and never ever got tired...    
But then why did He rest on The Seventh Day?
There was no actual evidence that God was undergoing professional burnout; it’s kind of hard to judge how someone is doing when they won’t talk back. But what if he was?!! It was an enormous what-if!     
He tried to imagine what he could just give to God, to try perk him up, make him feel good. When he decided that what felt best in his own day was often laughter, Brandon decided that he would spend at least part of his evening prayers telling God a joke. Mostly clean ones, to be sure, but sometimes his options from what he’d heard at school that day were limited, and he figured that God already knew what kind of stuff went on down here...
At eleven Brandon became aware of the perils of idolatry- a word he had known for some time but only vaguely---as some bad thing---and he worried that dragging these jokes out before God every night might be like the fruit and incense and flowers he saw piled before those weird statues at shops and restaurants down in Heathen Town. All right for them maybe, but not for good Christians!
But then one night at dinner his Dad read them a Psalm (And for the record, this family did other things besides pray and read the Bible---fishing, Little League games, watching Lost etc.---but I am trying to keep this short-) that spoke of praising God in song, with harp and ram’s horn and psaltery ......... And if you could bring the diety a song, then why not a joke? Words were pure, immaterial; they weren’t a golden cow or some stuff you piled on a plate somewhere.
That being resolved, Brandon continues to try to crack God up to this day, even though he knows that his childhood fears for the Lord’s “compassion threshhold” were unfounded, and that he loves those who beg and express nothing but their fears and anguish every night no less for their need. The jokes and anecdotes are simply a gift, given in gratitude and with no strings attached.
God admires the effort, especially during times of grief, when Brandon breaks out the Job jokes- bittersweet and somewhat accusational. It makes Him sad, there is so much He wants to tell Brandon, but this is wisdom that the human brain cannot quite wrap itself around, and whenever He has tried to convey it (poor Friederich Nietzsche!) the sort of misinterpretations that people arrive at regarding these matters has tended to drive them toward either a miserable nihilism or a bizarre and unwholesome conflations between the self and the Divine...
Since God evolved our ancestors into Homo Sapiens only Groucho Marx, a few Sufis, and that thousand-year-old knight in the cave who guards the Holy Grail (not the actor from the Indiana Jones movie but the real one, who is still hanging in there...) have thought to tell Him jokes, so God felt inclined to give points for originality here.
Nobody knows that this silly habit---born of a child’s piety and incomplete understanding of The Cosmos---has largely contributed to Brandon’s happiness, health and (sufficient if not extravagant) prosperity. Not even Brandon (who often wonders if God isn’t just rolling his eyes indulgently, the way you do with some obnoxious but well-meaning Life of the Party) is aware of this...
And this is really just as well. So tonight, when you say your prayers, add:
“Dear God: What’s the sleepiest valley in California?
Nap-a! Amen...”
My grade: B (I like the imagery in this really old story, and it's SILLY...)
I came home one day and Janey had left me. Moved out. She had taken exactly everything that was hers---her vitamins, her hair products out of the shower---and nothing that was mine. It had a calm methodical quality to it that made it seem so final. As if yelling and screaming or even explaining my failings would have been pointless with a man like me.
I was afraid that I was going to start busting up the apartment so I went out for a walk; but after
a few blocks my rage turned into an aching sadness and I sagged down to the curb in a woeful, slump-shouldered stance. I sat watching the cars go by, knowing that nothing could ever be worse than this...
The Devil walked up to me and said, "Hey Roger, I know how you feel ......... it's not the end of the world."
"It's not, huh?"
"No, this is!" he laughed and then jammed his pitchfork down into the lawn next to me. It began to vibrate and grow, and the air itself throbbed, and the cracks in the ground raced out and divided and buckled and shifted and spread until I was bouncing up and down on the curb.
I'll say one thing for such an experience- it makes you forget all your less immediate problems! Buildings swayed and toppled! Gas mains exploded! Great chunks of the ground started falling away!
I ran down the quaking sidewalk- each concrete square dropping into the rumbling chasm behind me the instant I'd hopped to the next! The horizon was green and swarming with dozens of gigantic Godzillas! One of them bellowed and pointed, spotting my tiny distant form somehow amid all this chaos, and then they all began lumbering in my direction!
Being a good Catholic, I had my rosary beads with me. I knew it was time to put them to good use. I whipped them out and began whirling them round & round over my head, and took off like a helicopter. I sped over the rooftops and up, up ........... barely clearing the huge tidal wave of blood that demolished the city all the way up to 27th Street!
My arm soon became tired but I was determined not to land until I had reached safety. Except as I looked around I saw there wasn't any! Between the Godzillas and the fires and the ten thousand demons pouring up through the manhole covers they were really tearing the place up! I knew I couldn't stay aloft more than a few more minutes, so I looked around for exactly which horror I should surrender myself to, as some looked FAR worse than others. I would avoid at all cost the lurching robot-minotaurs with the red hot chainsaw penises!
I was about to just let go of my rosaries and plung, figuring I'd just go SPLATTO before any of the demons could get ahold of me ............ when Janey drove by through the air in her little convertible MG! It flew pretty good, in spite of how the whole front end was crushed flat. She stopped for me and I got in. She threw her remaining arm around me and I hugged her back and we both began to cry. I was so happy that she had come back that I didn't care too much that she was all mutilated.
"What happened? You look terrible!" I said. We had always been honest with each other.
She said that she suddenly became sorry she was leaving me and began to cry. She had cried so hard that she couldn't see straight and went right through the drop arm at the crossing into a commuter train, the 4:45 San Diegan out of Fullerton.
"Don't," I moaned, "My life is Hell without you!"
Then she pulled the little derringer I had given her (for driving the roadster through bad neighborhoods) out from under the seat and shot me through the heart.
"Oh Sweetie, I'm so sorry! But they wouldn't let you in where I'm going if you were still alive..."
I died, my senses surging and fading like a wave being sucked out away from me. But then they came back with an unbelievable clarity. Sight, hearing, touch. We pulled over into some clouds and made mad passionate love (It's not perverted if you're both dead...)
Then we drove on up to Heaven.


Stop me if you've heard this one, God

"I think I found God," said one little old lady to her friend.

"Where'd you find Him," her friend asked.

"In the refrigerator, behind the pickles."

"That's not God, that's the potato salad leftover from our picnic last May," her friend said.

The first little old lady was disappointed but in a few days she came back. "I'm pretty sure I've found God," she said. "He works down at the Wal-Mart and he must be God because when I went in, he called me by name."

"That's not God," said her friend. "That's old Jimmy Weber, he's lived next door to you for twenty-five years. Of course he knows your name."

Disappointed but not discouraged, the little old lady kept looking. Finally, several weeks later she came to her friend again. "I know I've found God this time," she said.

"Where?" asked her friend.

"You know that little light on the dashboard of a car that comes on when you haven't buckled your seat belt? That's God. How else could it know?"

"You know, you're right," said her friend. "And I think you've been right all the time and I've been wrong."

"You think so?"

"Yes, because if God isn't in the voice of an old friend, or the miracle of life in even awkward places like the back of a refrigerator, or in the little marvels of ordinary living, then I don't know where He would be," said her friend.

The little old lady thought about that for a bit and said. "Maybe He's still in Pomona where we left Him at the bus stop?"


Just my little tribute to your quirky stories. :)

- Joyce

Um... wow, I think

Laika you really do have a wildly weird view of the Universe. The way you blend all sorts of ideas and oddities, not to mention deities. Can't help but smile... You probably should give up the margaritas at breakfast though. Tums?


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