“Stan Lucifer?” The large man questioned.
“No, father.” The handsome man responded.
“Ah yes, Satan Lucifer. That’s…that’s an interesting name.”
“Well, you should know, Father- you gave it to me.”
“I know, I know.”
“Look is this really necessary?”
“Are you questioning me?”
“No, it’s just….never mind, Father.”
“Please, call me Yahweh.”
“Okay, Satan, it says here that you’re applying for the position of heavenly tempter.”
“Well, that is what you said I am.”
“Right, right. Okay. What do you think makes you qualified for this position?”
“The fact that you made me specifically for it?”
The handsome man sighed.
“As well, I feel it is necessary to test humanities faith and love for you, so that when Judgment comes, they may see why their moral plights are justified.”
“And I am willing to go to any lengths, great or small, to ensure the job is done properly.”
“You know a lot of my children will think negatively of you for this.”
“Yeah, yeah. I got that from the job description.”
“Are you okay with that?”
“Well, I mean seriously- what’s the worst they could do?”
“Christen you an anti-deity whose sole purpose is to destroy people’s souls.”
“Ah. Well, I mean, I know what I’m really doing, so, I guess, in the end…whatever.”
“Yeah, I mean, it’s necessary as part of your plan…your…mission statement if you will…”
“…Sorry. I just think that in order for Kingdom come to reach its full potential, you’ll need someone with the skills and assets that I have to be able to purify the…looking glass of the human heart.”
“I knew you’d say that.”
“Of course you did, father.”
The large man glared at him, a fatherly smile on his face.
“Sorry.” The Handsome Man said.
“Okay let’s see…experience…da da da…references….Jesus…hey I know him!”
“You don’t say.” The Handsome Man said sardonically.
“Okay…Michael….Peter….Gabrielle….ha ha. Peter Gabrielle. Wait till the late twentieth century. You’ll get it.”
“Alright….da duh daaaa….okay well I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t hire you!”
“I thought you’d say that.”
Okay, look, here’s the deal. We start work right away. I got one of my children down there. About to get another one too. Kinda like the first but with a few differences. Call it a female. I’m gonna tell em not to eat this one fruit. No real reason not too- it’s actually quite nutritious. But if they do….”
“…they’ll be disobeying you, got it.”
“…exactly. But here’s the thing, none of this works if they don’t eat it.”
“Can I ask why?”
“Yes you can, and that’s the point. They make a mistake. I don’t care. I might get angry short-term, but I love these guys. You get it right.”
“Right, absolutely.” The Handsome Man lied, absolutely not getting it.
“Okay, so they’re gonna be all sad and embarrassed and thinking that all is lost, but guess what?”
“I’m still gonna have their back. Right there with em, the whole time. Loving them. Forgiving them. Watching out for them.”
“Wow.” The handsome man said in earnest.
“Pretty cool, right.”
“Wow, that’s beautiful.”
The two sat there smiling at each other for a moment before the Bearded Man cleared his throat and continued. “Right, so, I’ll send you the necessary tax forms later.”
“Really? Tax forms? Really. We don’t even have money.” The Handsome man retorted.
“Eh dih dih dih…Just play along. It’s more fun for everyone.”
The blonde man and the Moor stood at the coffee machine trying their hardest not to knock things over with their wings.
“Still getting used to this form.” The Blonde Man admitted.
“Yeah well, I personally think it’s pretty cool.” The Moor
“Well obviously yeah. The man’s a genius. I’m just saying I’m kind of feeling a little awkward in these.” The Blonde Man.
“Dude, just think of em like your hands. You learned how to control your hands, right?” The Moor
“Okay, they function kind of the same way. They extend when you say so and they don’t if you don’t.” The Moor explained.
Turning, the Moor knocked over the coffee pot. The Blonde Man couldn’t help but giggle.
“You know what, Gabriel…” The Moor said in recoil.
“I didn’t say I was perfect at it yet. But we’ll get there.”
“Sooner rather than later. We debut in like 3 days from what I hear.”
“That soon?” The Moor said after blowing on his cup.
“Yeah. You thought about what you’re gonna say?”
“Yeah, I got something good lined up. Simple, direct. You know, the way he likes.”
“I’m excited. Who’d you pick for the cherubims?”
“Um…let’s see…” The Moor said as he sipped his mug “…I think Joachim and Linda.”
“They’re good. New, but good. Plus their good friends, so I don’t think they’ll mind spending eternity guarding that place.”
The Blonde man finished his cup, poured another and then excused himself. He had training to do. Was it the Natural Disaster room? Or the actual Fight Room? He walked up to “The Receptionist” as he liked to call him.
“What’s up Peter.”
“If you could tell me where my next training is, buddy, I’ll make sure to slip you some Irish Coffee when it’s invented.” The Blonde man jested.
The Irishman gave him a half-hearted smile. “You think your sooooo funny huh.”
“Funnier than you!”
“Yeah yeah yeah. Natural disaster room. Better hurry.”
The Blond Man greeted some angels and few cherubims as he walked down the hall. He stopped by the upcoming roster to see if anybody interesting was coming up.
“Cain and Abel…Gabriel? What?” He didn’t know that had been assigned to him.
Quickly rousing his thoughts, he decided to wait until the evening meeting to bring it up. He continued down the hall to the Natural Disaster training room and twisted the knob to enter. The door didn’t open. The knob twisted, but the door wouldn’t move.
“Seriously Death? Are we really doing this?”
From inside the deep voiced female shouted “You know the rules.”
“Oh my boss! Fine.” He took a deep sigh, then began with a hesitant, shaky voice.
“…some things in life are bad. They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewin’ on life’s gristle don’t grumble, give a whistle and this’ll help things turn out for the best…aaaaannnnddd….”
“Skip to the third chorus.”
Gabriel was caught off guard. He hadn’t taken the time to memorize the lyrics yet.
“Um….always look on the bright side of death…”
Death shrieked with laughter “Yeah! You know it! Keep it up.”
“Just be-fore you a-draw your terminal breath.” Knowing how the lyric was gonna be written he hesitated. “Do I really have to sing that next line? You know how he feels about that.”
“Awww, you scared?” Death mocked.
“Aww you scared.” Gabriel mocked back underneath his breath.
“I heard that.”
“Yeah yeah yeah.”
“Come on sing it with me.”
Gabriel sighed, knowing it was inevitable. Then both of them belted “Life’s a piece of shit! When you look at it; life’s a laugh and death’s the joke it’s true. You’ll see it’s all a show keep em laughin’ as you go. Just remember that the last laugh is on you!”
Death continued to howl with laughter. “Alright, alright. Get in here- you’re late.”
“I’m on your schedule.”
Gabriel finally opened the door. A large black room. A beautiful woman clad in black at a mundane desk in the middle. A filing cabinet uselessly next to it.
“Now that I have been thoroughly embarrassed. What’s on the agenda today?” The Blonde Man asked.
“Well now, let’s see.” Death casually grabbed her clipboard and scanned over it.
“Your Jesus, right?”
“Gabriel?” A slight chuckle. “Peter Gabriel.”
“Okay Gabe. Let’s get started. There’s been a change.”
“I noticed that on the upcomings board. I thought I was training for the flood. I thought Peter had the murder.”
“He did, but he got bogged down in paperwork, so you got it.”
“Oh. Lucky me.”
“Look its simple. Just get down there, make Cain mad. Make him kill Abel. That’s nothing.”
“For you, you don’t have to do it.”
“Hey that new guy Satan has to tempt Eve into eating that apple. Or fig. Or gooseberry or whatever it is.”
Gabriel thought. “Wow that is a tough first assignment. How’s he gonna do it?”
“Really? A snake. That’s the best he could come up with. ‘Hey, I’m a snake. Want an apple?’”
“Well, let’s just see how my training holds up. Speaking of which, it’s almost time.” Death snapped her fingers and a laptop appeared on her desk. “Just checking for updates. Oh shoot. Um…we need to get going. Now.”
“Why, what’s up?”
“Boss man said he wanted us all to be there. It’s to be written under as ‘Ancillary Real World
Training.’ Don’t worry though, I’ll get us there in a jiff.” Death snapped her fingers and the room transformed. The garden. Two horribly ugly humans walking around stark naked. “Wowzer. If they only knew how ugly they were.” Death commented.
“Look, see him?”
“Behind that big ass tree.”
“Seriously? Language. Yes I see him.”
The handsome Satan was taking deep breaths and doing tongue twisters behind a large fruit tree.
“Okay, she’s approaching the tree. No idea what’s about to happen.” Death smiled.
Gabriel watched in shock as Satan stared at Eve. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and looked up.
“Here comes the good part.” Death chimed
With that Satan shrank, grew a greenish purple and sank till he was lying on the ground, tongue slipping out. Death and Gabrielle moved closer to the tree to hear the conversation. Satan slithered into the tree, wrapped himself around a branch. Out of the spot where he coiled, the largest of all the fruits sprouted. It looked amazing. Juicy. Sweet. Controversial. Sexy.
Eve approached the tree with nothing more than innocent curiosity. Satan slumped down to the branch eye level to the naked woman.
“Hello there.” His voice cooed.
“Why hello there Mr. Snake.”
“Beautiful day isn’t it. Almost as beautiful as yourself.” Satan’s voice was a soft, baritone rasp, seductive and sweet.
Eve blushed. “Every day under the Lord is a good day.”
“And surely he blesses you. It is near midday. Surely you are hungry. Take this fruit that is born for you.”
“No…” Eve laughed nervously. “I must not. The Lord forbids it.”
“Ah, and no doubt for a good reason. He knows how delicious this fruit must be.”
“I must not eat from it.” Eve replied with unease.
“And why not?”
Blankly, staring lustfully at the fruit, Eve replied without thinking “He said we must not eat the fruit from the trees.”
Satan smiled. “Surely not. Did the Lord really say unto you not to eat any fruit from any tree in the garden?”
Eve recovered. “Oh, no. No. We may eat the fruit of the trees from the garden. But he did say ‘You must not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden.’” Eve licked her lips a bit, her eyes betraying her fear.
“Is that all?”
“And we must not touch it. Else we die.”
With this statement Death shivered a quite, pleasant shiver. A smile.
Satan continued. “You will not surely die.”
Eve looked at Satan, and he at her. Her lips trembled, eyes teared.
“For the Lord knows that when you eat it,” his tail plucked the fruit from the tree and offered it to Eve, teasing it in front of her face, “your eyes will be opened. And you will be like God- knowing good and evil.” As if to insinuate that nothing more will happen. Satan wafted it under her mousey nose. She cried softly, extended her hand and grasped it. Her body shook in pain and simultaneous pleasure as she held it to her mouth. Sighing, crying, breathing hard. With a suddenness she removed it from that position and clutched it to her breast.
“I must tell Adam.” With that she ran shivering to her husband, not a stone’s throw away.
Satan dropped out of the tree in his original form, mouth agape.
“What!” Death harkened. “Wow, okay that changes things.”
“Wait, looks she’s telling Adam.” The Blonde Man pointed at the ugly human couple.
The three of them watched, Gabrielle and Satan in horror, Death with amusement, as Eve ran up and embraced Adam and cried on him. They couldn’t make out what the two were saying, but Adam took her head and caressed her cheek, smiling at her. Eve saturated him with the story of the serpent, no longer there. She told him of her disobedience towards God and she held the fruit up to Adam, whole, unbitten. Adam took the fruit from her and asked her something. Eve looked scared and confused as she answered him. Adam took her chin in his hand and kissed her softly. He took a bite.
“No way!” Death quietly shouted.
Adam convulsed, shook and rocked…with orgasm. Eve stood back, horrified. Adam had a new look in his eye. Now they could clearly hear him though still not her.
“This is God.” Adam said.
Eve shook her head and said something.
“Trust me, my love. This is what God wants.”
Eve shouted something at him. The air was pierced with a high-pitched tone. Eve attempted to escape. Adam grabbed her arm and pulled her, despite her efforts, to him. He embraced her. Caressed her. He held her at arm’s length. With one finger, we wiped some juice from the fruit and placed it on Eve’s tongue. Eve began to shutter and shake, not as violently. Adam offered the fruit to her and still she refused.
Out of the corner of his eye, Gabrielle saw the other heavenly leaders. The Large Man. The Moor. The Handsome Man. The Irishman. The Man with Long Hair. The Moor, the Handsome Man and the Irishman, along with Gabrielle himself, were dumbfounded. The Large Man and the Man with Long Hair stood beaming as in pride, looking at Eve. Then a melancholy fell over their face, as they realized what needed to happen.
Adam shook Eve.
“It’s already changed, Eve. For the better! Become like me. Become greater! Become love.” Eve’s mouth was agape, partly in horror but partly in lust for the forbidden fruit. Satan was in tears. The Irishman couldn’t look. Death had her hands in her hair lustfully, watching what was pleasing to her. Gabrielle was dumbfounded. The Moor was biting his hand. Both the Father and the Son had their arms raised, a solemn acceptance on their face.
Eve grabbed Adams hand and was about to take a large bite. Then she hesitated. She looked in the direction of the heavenly leaders. Though they had made themselves oblivious to Adam and Eve, it was as though she could sense them. Nodding, she took a small, almost nibbling bite.
Her convulsion was twice that of Adams. But hers was more pain, less pleasure. She bled profusely. After several moments, almost an eternity, she was curled up on the ground, crying, shivering cold.
Adam stopped and saw what had happened. His pride disappeared in an instant, and he was on the ground with Eve, comforting and crying with her. After a while Eve sat up and he cradled her. Moments later she pushed him away and slapped him, hard across the face. She got up and ran to what would become north.
In a moment, the heavenly leaders were gone.
“Come on. We’re probably gonna have a meeting about this.” Death confirmed.
“What in the world was that?”
“That is what we in my department like to call a ‘developmental change in the host process.’
The room slowly faded back to its stark blackness, illuminated only by Death’s desk lamp.
“Okay, it’s alright people, trust me there is no reason to panic.” The Large Man boomed.
“Okay, but this kind of throws a wrench in our preparations.” The Moor countered.
“Not really.” Said the Man with Long Hair said calmly.
“We knew one of them would do it. I mean, we could have made her do it. But she had a choice, as did he. So, we go with their choice because we love them.” The Large Man added.
“Well, if no one has anything at this moment, I’d like to give my assessment.” The Handsome Satan chimed.
“Sounds good to me. Then we need to hear every bodies take.” The Man with Long Hair concluded.
“Okay. The world reacted, obviously outside of our two tragic heroes, as expected. It was very responsive to my requests, so I think we can go ahead and take that out of Beta.” Satan said.
“Agreed.” The Large Man nodded.
“Okay. As for Adam and…Eve. I saw no sense of disobedience in her. Her fault was in trust. She trusted me to tell the truth. After that, she didn’t have a chance. The pheromones of the fruit, its exaggerated size. I almost ate the stupid thing.” Satan said with a smile.
“Yeah, I was really shocked when she didn’t eat it first. When she ran over to Adam to get his take on it I was like ‘What!’” Death noted.
“Yeah Luce, why do you think Adam was more apt to eat it than Eve?” The Moor asked.
“It’s because I made him with compassion.” The Large Man answered. “He felt for Eve and he wanted to console her. He didn’t want her to feel so bad, so he one upped her. He knew the consequences but his love for her outweighed his good senses.”
The Irishman chuckled. “Is that gonna be a recurring thing amongst them?”
“What, the men?” The Large Man asked to clarify.
“Oh you have no idea.” The Large Man chuckled. “Okay, I’d love to sit here and chat some more, folks, but we do have a schedule to keep. Michael, are the cherubim’s ready?”
“As they’ll ever be.” The Moor chimed in.
“Okay, I’ll be making my way down there after the meeting. Death do you have all the physical arrangements been made?” The Large Man continued.
“Made, yes. Implemented, no. I wanted to wait until they got a little closer…fool them for a bit.” She said slyly.
“No, I told you to run both at the same time. The program doesn’t work if each is run independently. Knowledge of the body must include knowledge of Death.” The Large Man scowled.
“But don’t you think this would be an apt punishment for them, tricking them into the belief of eternal life only to rip it from them later?” Death asked in a tone more challenging than The Large Man would have preferred.
The Handsome Man spoke up. “The point is not to punish them. The point is to teach them.”
The Large Man smiled at the Handsome Man. “And besides. They don’t really die, now do they?” His tone had a hint of suspicion in it as he addressed death.
“No. No of course not.”Death conceded.
“Good.” The Large Man said as he rounded the table. “Because if I find out that they do, the consequences from me will be yours alone to deal with, woman.”
“Of course, father.” Death said under her breath.
“Very well.” The Large Man headed back to the head of the table. “Jesus, what do we have next?”
The Bearded Man sitting at his right hand flipped through a few notes. “Okay, um…initial temptation…implementation of the security protocols…oh right. Cain and Able.”
“Right, stop right there. Thank you! Before I forget, I’m sure some of you noticed that has been reassigned to the good Gabriel here.”
“Yes, father, I was meaning to ask you about that.” Gabriel spoke up.
“Um, if you don’t mind father, I’ll take this one.” Peter interjected. With The Large Man’s nod, he continued. “Well you see we have that big flood coming up here soon. It’s a lot of souls for me to have to organize. Plus I’m coordinating with Death’s department as to the logistics of the flood and with Michael’s department on the location and all that. Essentially I realized I wasn’t gonna be able to finish Cain and Able in time and still have time for all that.”
“You ever think about hiring a secretary?” The Handsome Man asked.
“A secretary for the secretary. That’s rich.” The Moor responded. This drew a laugh from around the table.
“Oh hardy har har. Laugh it up, chumps. But when you have a natural disaster to deal with and you need someone to sort through the mess you’ve made, who’re you gonna come running to? Me, that’s right.”
The Large Man subdued the laughter with his hands. “Alright, alright, alright. Now Peter, Gabriel…” Again the table bust out laughing at this well-timed joke from the boss man.
“Jesus, that’s gonna get old really fast.” The Blonde Man admitted.
“What’re you getting on to me for?” The Bearded Man retorted.
“Okay…um…okay, sorry…where was I?” The Large Man sat to collect his thoughts. “Right, right. Okay, no Gabe I thought it was in the best interest of the plan to switch it over to you. Unless you have any objections?”
“No, no, no father. I was just wondering.” The Blonde Man said.
“Right, so that’s the Cain and Abel thing…by this time next week we should be burning the candle at both ends with the Flood. Pete, you sure you got that thing covered?” The Large Man asked.
“Oh yeah, father. As long as Death and Michael keep up their end, I’ve got my stuff covered.” The Irishman replied.
“Okay great. I really want to get us off to a solid start here, so let’s just focus on those things for the time being. We should all have the extended plan in our basics file, so if need be refer to that.” The Large Man said, starting to draw the meeting to a close.
“Just a question.” The Moor asked. “If Adam and Eve are the only two people in existence…and as I see here they will only have two sons live to maturity and a daughter…how are they going to…procreate…”
“Eh deh deh deh. Just let me worry about that. It’s an admin thing, you wouldn’t understand.” The Large Man said.