Helen Meager vs the State of Creation: part 4

Darrow nodded and approached the Lord’s throne to ask his questions.  “Sir, I’d like to get a better sense of some of the mechanics of our universe, if that’s all right with you? “

God nodded his assent.

“Good, good.  Tell me.  What is the statute of limitations for teen masturbation?”

“YOUR HONOR!”  Bryant was on his feet and as red-faced as a baboon’s posterior.

God, motioned him to sit down.  “There is no specific punishment for that other than the fact that I knock off 4 rods and four cones in your retina each time.”

Bryant’s eyes widened.  “Really Lord?”

“No, you idiot.  Sit down and shut up!  Does it never occur to anyone that I could care less about the sexual practices of a primitive species in a random spiral arm of a a fairly common place galaxy?  It’s difficult to imagine something I care less about.”

Darrow smiled, pointed toward Bryant and followed up with, “God, do you know of any correlation between a lack of a sense of humor and piety?  We already know there can be no appreciation for irony.”

“Mr Darrow...”  The floor rumbled every time the Turtle spoke.

Sorry Your Honor. 

"Mr Darrow, do you really want to squander this opportunity with sophomoric antics?"

"Not really, Sir, To be honest, I was convinced that this would be nothing more than a farce from the start."

"Like your life, it will be what you make of it.  Ask the right questions and this might all be worth the effort."

"Fair enough. Fair enough.  Let me ask you something a bit more general - is the accumulation of knowledge by man, who some allege you created, a good thing?  or a bad thing?”

“Objection, Your honor!  Council for the plaintiff is attempting to discredit the well known fact of our divine creation.”

“Am I?  He turned toward the witness.   “Am I God?”

“You know the answer to that one Mr Darrow.  You skillfully defended it once.  Lost the case as I recall.  The human preference for flowery descriptions of perception over empiricism.  I shouldn’t fault you for it, after all it’s a common failing amongst species at your point of development.  But you do know the answer.”

“I do indeed, but your lap dog over there needs to hear it.”

“You are not wrong.”

“Why’s that exactly?”

“You are a product of nature.  A spectacular example of the combined power of random and highly nonrandom forces to generate complex creatures.  Oh sit down and stop talking Byrant.  Open your mind instead of your trap for once.  You are a natural byproduct of the forces that govern this universe.”
God spoke with a twinkle in his avatar’s eye and generated a fair amount of nervous laughter when he said, “I’m actually more of a deist than a theist.”  

The Turtle actually smiled.

He continued, “As a creator of a universe do you think that I have the time or the inclination to micromanage all of this real-estate?"  

“I don’t personally, but look how well that worked out for me.” (The gallery chortled.)

God actually smiled. “I set the ground state conditions in motion, yes.  But the final product, is a work in progress.  Full of strangeness and wonder.”

"So did you create this universe?"

“Objection, relevance!” thundered one of Byrant’s young assistant.”

"OVERRULED!" bellowed God as the young prosecutor disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

The Turtle was displeased. “You are not the Judge here.  The Witness will refrain from smiting for the duration of this case!”

"Sorry Your Honor, it probably won’t happen again." He eyed Darrow with a barest hint of a wry smirk.

"Did I create the universe?  This one?  Yes.  Others, no. Others just are."

"And as creator you feel no compunction to explain your reasons for anything?" 

"You were a father, yes?  As a father did you ever say, “Because I said so!”

"Yes.  Yes I did.  But about the worst I could mete out was bed without supper or to ground them for a week.  It may have seemed like hell to them at the time, but we all know better. " (more natural laughter from the gallery)

“Alright, let’s get back on track, shall we?  The answer to your original question is neither.”

“Neither?  Neither good nor bad that humans gain knowledge?”

"Like me, it simply is.”

"It doesn’t matter at all?" 

“Depends on how you frame that question.  To the universe? No, of course not.  To me?  Not in the slightest.  The existence of your species is likely to just be a blip on the cosmic timeline that likely will end up being of no consequence.  But to you and yours, it means everything.”

"Very important like when it got us cast out of Eden, right?

"Hardly.  Really Mr Darrow, I had hoped for more from you."

"Well, you aren’t exactly what I expected either.  Forgive the question, but  I have to ask; am I actually talking to God?"

"No."  ( a collective gasp from the gallery)


"No. And yes"

"With whom am I speaking?"

"You are talking to an avatar of God, which is as much as a largely three dimension creature such as yourself could ever hope for.  The whole of me exists in greater dimensions which would make no sense to you."

"We couldn’t comprehend the whole package in other words."


"But we have God’s attention."

"No.  Not so much.  I represent the amount of interest that God has in this little backwater exercise in evolution. Other avatars serve other functions in other locations and times."

"So we aren’t your, his, its favorites.  We have no special place in creation?"

"Hardly.  You are an interesting species, but not yet one worthy of too much investment." 

You don’t pay special attention to our needs and wants?

"It may serve as fodder for philosophy and theological aplogetics but the layers of separation from a being of which I am a minute fragment, one which creates a universe, and you precludes any notion of a personal relationship.  The gap between deism and theism is insurmountable no matter the skill applied to intellectual slight of hand.   If one opens his or her eyes at least."

"So you don’t care about details like homosexuality, for example.  You don’t condemn them?

"We don’t look at a species in that much detail.  Our interest are limited to populations not individuals.   But while we are on the subject, do you condemn a rock for being a rock?"

“Why no...”

"It is what it is, correct?  Unless someone hurls it at your head, its existence does you no harm right?"


"You wouldn't go out of your way to hate a rock.  That’s the end of that debate. "

"Have you always been?"

"No, I evolved and combined as well, but over times and universes beyond your imaginings. "

"How much time, can you not give us a hint."

" It's a useless question.  Time is a relative phenomenon to a particular part of what some of you know suspect is the multiverse.  It’s meaningless without a proper frame of reference."

 "Again I have to ask you, Mr Darrow, are these trivial diversions that you came here to ask me about?"

"Sorry, I have to admit that this isn’t quite going as I’d imagined it would. "

"Ok, let me help you get to the core concerns.  You saw a bit of heaven on your way here, no?" 

"Yes, sir, I did."

"Did anything strike you as odd?  Different from what you imagined?"

"A lot of it did, actually."


"It’s hard to articulate. It’s more of a feeling, really."

"Go on."

"It feels wrong somehow.  And not just because of the issues we brought to court." (gasps in the gallery silenced by a wave of a divine hand.)

"It should be more."

"More what?"

"I don’t know, more!  It just should be less like a storage depot and more of a journey.  There’s something stale about it.  Like an old grand hotel past its prime.  I can’t quite put my finger on it. "

Bryant rose to his feet and raised a hand like a school boy.

“No you may not ask Bryant.  Don’t interrupt again.”

"Why do you think that is Mr Darrow?  If I am of God, and I am, why is heaven somewhat of a disappointment to one such as yourself.  You’ve certainly had an opportunity to compare it to other accommodations. "  

“What’s missing?  Think Clarence.”

When Darrow remained mute in thought, God turned to the plaintiff in this case, “What’s missing Helen?”

She thought for a moment then said, “A spark.”

"YES! Yes Helen, now you’re on the right track.  Did you feel that spark in hell?"

"There were a lot of sparks as I recall."  (Even God laughed at that one)


"The spark.  The pursuit of knowing.  That’s what’s missing.  Everyone here assumes they know all that they ever need know.  You ask me if knowledge is a good thing?  For your kind to survive it’s the only thing that matters.  To know and learn more than you knew the day before.  Stasis is not the way an organism survives let alone thrives.  You should know that from your studies of other organisms.  But it's not just in living systems.  It's important to thinking as well.  Stasis in thought leads to stasis in action. Stasis in action leads to stagnation and extinction.  It’s a simple and inevitable formula."

"Sir, I’m confused.  Isn’t this all your doing, and what difference does it make what dead people believe anyway?"
"It doesn't except that people think here as they did in life."

"Let’s review the reason we are here today.  This case of yours, on behalf of Sister Helen over there.  At its core is a simple question that should have been asked long ago.  You couch it in legal terms and medical jargon about the nature of abusive relationships and think yourself clever.  The usual lawyer’s tricks.  You get caught up in trivial matters and ignore the heart of the question.  The real question is whether heaven and hell are fair.  Isn’t that what you came here to find out?"

"Yes, Yes it is."

“But you miss the point entirely.  If the laws of humankind are more just than the alleged laws of God, what does that say?  What does it tell you?”


Helen Meager vs the State of Creation: part 3

Darrow and his team surveyed the large room that housed the Most Supreme Court.  The floor, such as it was, bowed slightly with its highest point just at the center of the oblong room.    Darrow mused that it was fortunate the the Turtle on whose back the walls had been placed was as big as he was. 

Helen Meager quietly took her seat on the left side of the court (of course).  Darrow’s team of younger souls with more recent courtroom experience were muttering about the sights they had beheld on the way to court.
“I don’t know. It’s all too perfect. Clean and mess free.”
“Like Disneyland.”
“ Yeah!  That’s it!  Just like Disneyland.  Nice but clearly fake."
"Everybody acts so friendly but in that robotic zombie way.  Gives me the creeps.” 
“Something that a child would enjoy if they weren’t too observant.”
“A lot of the people don’t seem too bright either.”

“Ok boys and girls, here come our adversaries.”

God had demonstrated a hint of whimsy by selecting none other than William Jennings Bryant to head the defense team.  The old foes meeting this way after all these years seemed appropriate.  Byrant had accepted without question.  This despite the fact that he knew nothing about the rules of order amongst those of the highest order.  He had left the details of the case to his many assistants.  After all, this case should never have been heard.  Just how far from Kansas he really was started to become very clear to him once he stepped through those imposing doors to the courtroom.

Bryant was immediately flummoxed by the selection of the judge.  That large turtle.  A very large turtle as it turned out.

Darrow, catching site of his old nemesis first,  surmised the source of his opponent’s frustrations and piped up. “The ultimate judges are always turtles in these cases.  Something to do with eastern religion or some such thing.”


Yep, turtles.  Turtles serve in all the levels of the courts. It’s turtles all the way down...”

Darrow reached out his hand, “How are you Will?”

“I have been glorious. Simply glorious!  How have you been holding up?  I cannot of course imagine what you have been through.”

“Don’t be modest Will, I’m sure you have been gleefully imagining my fate from time to time.  No doubt reveling in having proven me wrong.”

“Well as it says in John 11:26, And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall...”

“Save that, will you.  I’m already in hell and this is my only time away so I’d prefer not to waste any of it on Scripture...”

Bryant, smugly self-assured as he ever was in life, pompously continued. “Well, Mr Darrow, are you sure you’re up to this?  After all you’ve missed out on a lot of deep and serious theological discourse in the past few years.”

“No matter.  I don’t care how many times you shake or squeeze a cow pie, it’ll never turn into a diamond - current company excepted of course (Darrow nodded in the direction of God’s throne) , so I doubt I’ve missed anything substantive.  Unless, of course, you guys have finally moved on from Aquinas and Augustine.  Rehashing the classics.  That’s sophisticated theology for you.   I see that they still have enough idiots around to keep our old debate alive despite the overwhelming body of evidence.“

“Now see here Darrow,”


People toppled and papers scatted due to the intensity of that sound.  It came from one of the smaller Turtles.  A slight attention getter.  Gabriel’s trumpet would have sounded like a kazoo in comparison. 

“I call this session to order.”

God assumed his throne and Bryant knelt before him to ask permission to speak.  The permission was reluctantly granted for God knew how windy Bryant could be.   Bryant launched into his opening monolog and went on for hours.  At this rate it would be days before Darrow was able to make his opening.

But that didn’t really bother Darrow because he slept through the whole thing and even started to snore.

God stopped Bryant for a moment and turned to Darrow.  “Are we boring you Mr Darrow?"
“No more than when I was kid in Sunday School, Sir.  Bryant’s bit is just the wind up and the background.  Everybody knows this part and frankly it’s of no consequence to the question before the court.  but please, don’t mind me, continue.”

“The theological history of your world is unimportant to this proceeding?”

“Sir I will gladly stipulate that you are God, or at least close enough to make no difference, and therefore have the power to do whatever you want with us lowly creatures.  I will also stipulate as to the Bible obviously setting down what you expect of us based upon what we’ve all seen and experienced.”

“Then are we done?”

“Hardly Sir.  WE know what you expect of us.  The issue today is what we should reasonably be able to expect from YOU.”

“I am that I am.  I need not reveal myself to the likes of you.”

“But you do sir.  You already have.  The Bible sets down a lot of things it says about you.  How you are perfect.  How we are created in your image, yadda yadda.  If the Bible is true, then you have to be better than us.  No man nor any woman should be more kind, more empathetic, more merciful than you. That’s the whole point of it, no?  That we are pond scum and unworthy of anything good.  We are completely undeserving of your great LOVE for us.  Lowly imperfect beats that we are, we are nothing without you.  

But here’s the rub: there are men and women who would never have created hell. Particularly for the misdemeanors that get you cast into the pit.   To torment some poor soul forever?   For what?  Failing to keep the Sabath, cursing when you stub your toe?   That’s a theological crisis in the making.”

Bryant jumped to his feet and attempted to lecture his adversary, “Very naive of you, Mr Darrow.  I can point you to some deeper discussions in theology that address these far more complex issues.”

“Really?  Should it be that hard to understand?  This excuse about us all being naive when we point to glaringly obvious inconsistencies seems like misdirection.  I’ll gladly dive in deeper if you address my simpler concerns.  If the basic stuff is senseless why on earth would we bother to dive any deeper?  Please excuse my metaphor but, why should we waste the time of a Yankee’s pitcher when you can’t even hit a slow pitch softball.”

“I am not constrained by your level of understanding and concepts of perfection.”

“But you are.  You say so in your book.  We are created in your image, etc.  The book tells us what’s good and what’s not.  If you aren’t described by the ideals in this book (He held up a copy of the Bible in his left hand) then it’s all a lie.   All of this would be a lie.  And If it’s a lie, then your behavior is better described in this book of psychiatric diagnoses. (His right hand held a copy of the DSM V) which describes actions such as yours as those of a bully or abuser!” 

As they waited for the expected reaction one of the lessor turtles leaned to his comrade and whispered, “This guy must clank when he walks to say something like that.”

“Course that’s what we’ll talk about when Mr Bryant is done anesthetizing the gallery.  I can wait.”

Bryant tried to mouth words but no sound escaped.  He looked rather like a fish thrown on the deck.

God’s eyes actually relaxed a bit and he even showed a subtle smile.

“Ok hotshot.  Let’s cut to the chase.  Bryant!  Sit down.  It’s time for Mr Darrow to have his day in court.”

Satan was slack jawed watching all this on court TV in hell.  If Darrow wasn’t obliterated before this was over, Old Nick would set him up in the best flat in hell. 

“LIZZY!  Popcorn!  The main event is starting early!”


Helen Meager vs the State of Creation: part 1

Despite the 74 years that had transpired since his death, and the less than stellar accommodations he’d had since, Clarence Darrow was still an imposing presence in a courtroom.  Even one as impressive as the True Supreme Court - you know, the one in heaven.  He was excited to be here.  This was the case of the millennium. Hell, (oops sorry for the slip) it was probably the case of all time.  If he won it, heaven and hell would never be the same. If he lost it of course, he’d be back arguing land use law covering that terribly overcrowded half acre to which he had been unceremoniously committed some years back for being an atheist and defending evolution.  But he didn’t care.  This was a lawyer’s dream. Even a long dead one. He was going to get to argue a suit against God himself - Helen Meager vs the State of Creation.  Talk about your legal precedents!

Helen Meager had been a Catholic nun who’d run a women’s shelter in Boston, Mass.  After years of dealing with abuse, denial and violence while trying to rationalize it all with Catholic doctrine, she’d decided one day that it was all bullshit.  She left the order, got a tattoo on her ample chest that said, ‘Screw You Yahweh!’ and went back to work.  She remained at the shelter 34 more years in the service of abused women before dropping dead of a stroke minutes after chasing some pencil-necked wife beater off the premises with a broom.  Of course, she went straight to hell.  Do not pass go, do not collect a pence for all the good you have done.  It’s all about belief, you see, not what you actually do in life.

Her first few years in hell were terrible if not in any particularly creative way.  But Helen wasn’t the kind of person who simply accepted fate.  After a couple of years of torment, she petitioned for an audience with Satan.  Satan was always on the lookout for fresh administrative talent particularly since he had become a bit nervous about the numbers of former Nazi’s in his direct employ.  He didn’t trust them one bit despite their undeniable efficiency.  Deciding that they should join their former boss serving AS hell’s public commodes he had a lot of mid level vacancies to fill.  She’d caught him on his return from picketing Planned Parenthood.  Satan opposition to PP was practical rather than philosophical because he was constantly getting stuck with the fetuses.  Heaven wouldn’t admit the unbaptized and the churches had no interest unless they were old enough to fit with proper bootstraps.   With Limbo now out of the picture, it was worse.  With the demise of limbo, it was now truly impossible to find daycare anywhere in the universe.

Fearless as always, Former sister Helen asked to start a support group for abused women in hell who had taken action against their spouse.  She was of a mind that such actions had mitigating circumstances and that justice demanded some form of relief.  Satan laughed so loud that it was heard in heaven. (He was told to knock it off of course by you know who.) 

"There's nothing in the Bible about beating the crap out of your spouse or kids, to justify any leniency.  As far as it goes, they're just property."

"But it's hardly fair that they are down here while so many of their husbands are up there!"

Since it was all about belief and not about beating the crap out of kids or spouses, a surprising number of abusers ended up in heaven.  Not the really posh areas of course, but certainly better than the even the best upper levels of hell.  It was a bit of a disappointment for the pious poor to learn that nothing changed much even in heaven because the size of your contributions to the church and how many intercessional prayers you got before you checked out, went into your piety score.  And your piety score determined the level of services available to you - forever.  Which is a very long time, as it turns out.    Which was the reason that so many celebrities got the nice digs.  Even status in heaven was a popularity contest.  Another disappointment about the whole thing was that the deceased wives who were saved - weren’t saved from their dickish husbands.  They had to live with them in death.  Having attained heaven, these fellows weren't particularly incentivized to change their abusive ways either.  The tended to consider the whole thing a vindication.

Helen tried to explain the whole affair to Satan but he waved her off.

“Sister Helen, I really don’t give a shit.  Remember I’m not the one who’s supposed to answer prayers.  I don’t have the manpower to process the numbers of souls coming here let alone come up with any particular regiment of torment or worry about some special interest group.  They’re just stacking up with no where to go.” (In that respect hell had a lot in common with intercity USA).

"Heaven can expand.  We have to rezone."

“But It’s not right!”

“Says the women who gets to suffer in hell for eternity after a few decades of selfless dedication to her fellow humans.  I’m guessing like a lot of people, you have second thoughts about that tattoo, ehh?   Maybe it’s not fair, but it’s the law.

"Aren’t the laws supposed to support what’s right?"

"You’re confusing canon and the law with justice."

"Shouldn’t they be the same?"

"Can’t happen.  Every time somebody tries to enact some law to address some perceived injustice it’s like wishing with the monkey’s paw.  There are millions more ways to screw up the wish than to get it right.  It’s like the lottery."

He went back to the stack of papers in front of him.

Helen was distracted for a moment by the shear antiquity of hell's administrative processes. "Why don’t you have any computers for this kind of thing?"

One of the torments of hell was that there was no Internet, nor where there any information systems beyond paper and stone tablets. Except Fox News.  That was on every channel except here in Satan's inner office.

"Hell is a medieval concept.  We’re stuck with age-appropriate tech. There’s no capital budget for anything else."

"Yes, well.  But these men - these abusive bastard men get away with it!"

He mumbled, “Hmmmm. With what?”  (He was hardly listening and any minute now that lever attached to the trapdoor in the floor was going to come in handy.)

"The abuse.  Constantly telling someone that they are worthless without them.  Isolating them.  Trying to control their actions and thoughts.  Punishing them for crimes real and imagined.  Holding their very fate over their heads like Damocles sword!"

Satan’s left eyebrow rose and he looked up from his papers for a minute, his interest suddenly piqued, “Hold on.  Is what you just described any kind of crime on earth?”

"Not so much, I’m afraid.  But it is considered a moral outrage."


"Oh yes.  To exercise power over someone weaker is considered vile."

"Really?  When did this happen?"

"Mostly in the 1980’s and ’90’s unfortunately.  And not everywhere in the world.  Just the places that have evolved beyond the Dark Ages."

"So not Alabama, for instance."

"Not so much, no."

"1980‘s you say.  Ahhhhh.  That explains it.  I haven't spent any quality time up there since ’73.  There was this movie I enjoyed a great deal.  Bad ending, but what do you expect from Hollywood.  That was a high time for films about me.  Mostly tiresome stuff, as if I was as interested in micromanaging their fates as He is.  Hold on a sec." 

He call his assistant.  “Lizzy. Find that lawyer that wears the suspenders.”

He rolls his eyes to the receiver.  “Nooooo,  not the one with the fringed jackets.   The one that did the monkey trial thing, in ’23 I think.  Yeah that’s him.   Tell him I want to see him now.”

In mere moments a smoldering and somewhat pudgy carcass was unceremoniously hurled through his door by two rather unpleasant looking chaps with tattoos.

“I used to use demons for this sort of thing but the Russian mobsters are much much more scary.  They give me the willies.  Get up Darrow.  I have a job for you.  One you are really going to love.”


Judgement Day

His most righteous President Elijah Joseph Duke the twelfth paced the halls of the Hallelujah Palace in what had once been Atlanta, Georgia. He couldn’t be expected to sleep on the eve of that day for which he had been preparing his whole life - Judgement Day.  The day those meddlesome angels finally let us take the gloves off and settle this once and for all.

The armies of light, were poised at the borders at the ready.   Come six am tomorrow, Christ’s victory would commence, of that he was sure.  The Muslims, Hindus, Jews, scientologists and Mormons would be put to the sword if they refused to be saved, but the real prize would be the so-called rationalists.  Those nonbelievers who elevated science on high.  They would pay the highest price in the new order.  Every one of them would be exterminated without any hope of salvation.  That’s what God wanted.  Elijah Joseph aimed to please his savior. 

He walked into his study.  He owned one of the most extensive libraries in the country.  There were only three volumes: The most Holy and inerrant Bible, the constitution of the country he currently lead, the Nation of Christ (the NoC), and the Charter of the Angels that defined the rules of this perverse game of wait and see.  Elijah Joseph was one of only a handful of the righteous citizens of NoC who had been taught that, long ago, the Charter of the Angels had once been called the Alien Covenant.  That was before the Biblical scholars had actually determined the true nature of the aliens.  The aliens were actually God’s own army of Angels, of course.  Sent here to help the righteous purge their lives of evil influences and doctrinal distractions. 

Two centuries ago the aliens had come.  At the time Christianity had been fighting to purge the wretched unbelievers from the ranks of the strongest democracy on the planet, when disaster struck. The aliens had come and swept aside all who challenged them.  Not with weapons exactly but with technology so beyond humanity’s that they simply were impervious to anything humans had to offer.  So beyond men were they, that they actually never killed any humans.   Unchallengable power granted them the option of mercy.  It made sense to the well-versed Biblical scholars because, in the end, how could men fight angels and angels would be under God’s orders to spare men.

The upheaval lasted a few years until the aliens had decided what would happen next.  Claiming to not understand the basis for earth’s many creeds and beliefs (a necessary falsehood because of the angel’s true allegiance) they had created exclusion zones on the planet that each contained only one belief- or lack thereof.  Each zone would be allowed to progress at its own pace protected from the diluting influence of any infidels or doctrinal skeptics.  Each would have access to the knowledge of the aliens to use as they chose and this protected arrangement would last 200 years.  At that time, the barriers amongst the factions would be lowered and nature allowed to take its course.  It was years before the theological council had informed the public of the true nature of these cosmic referees.  The knowledge provided more steel to the will of the faithful as they prepared for Armageddon.

The NoC’s insistence on inerrant Biblical literacy and adherence had kept the faithful in line and pure but hadn’t particularly stimulated scientific progress.  The NoC’s technology would have seemed familiar, if not in fact disappointing, to a visitor from earth’s past, circa 1940.  The other great religions had turned away from science to a far lessor degree, and had been able to develop credible military establishments including thermonuclear weapons and ICBM’s to carry their particular God’s message of judgement to far away lands.  At 6 am, without warning ,the last great wave of missionary work began, as thousands of rockets, missiles, and drones carried the word to infidels of all persuasions.  By nightfall of that first day, the Middle East was obscured by roiling clouds of dust, debris and the atoms of a great many people.
Oh well, while the Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Muslims blasted each other to slag, the Christians would have free range on the atheists.  The Christian hordes rolled across the open borders of the land of the unbelievers who had thumbed their noses at their neighbors by retaining the old name of a forgotten land, the United States.  Blood lust was in full swing.  The clergy had already informed the troops that in this holy war, the people of those United States were Satan’s minions and no quarter or mercy was to be extended. The inquisition teams followed the lead units, ready to spread the word.  And to make sure that the debauchery that no doubt was rampant in this godless land did not corrupt the troops.

Town after town was liberated only to find it empty.  No one lived in the unbeliever’s zone.  Wild and wondrous architecture prevailed but no people.  Machines of every size and description sat idle in parks.  Many clearly had the look of war machines but it was also clear that they had been idle for years and years.  Some vaguely looked like the machines that the army of light employed but many were of unrecognizable design.  Still no people were found.

After days of unopposed travel the army of light reached the nest.  So perverse were these atheists that they had elected to retain its original name - Seattle. Even Elijah Joseph had to admit that the city was beautiful though nothing like what the old photographs suggested.  It too was devoid of people.   They’d certainly been busy at some time in the past.  A massive new space needle rose next to the original, though more than 10 times its height.   Etched into its surface were pictogram's of achievement in the arts and sciences as well as human figures of all races reaching up along its ebony sides.  Atop this spire was a model of the earth that radiated shafts of light that pulsed with energy from some unknown source.  The fate of the unbelievers remained a mystery.  The inquisitors searched for weeks but found little that had any meaning to them, except some vague references to a massive engineering project on a far away place called Johnson Island somewhere out in the vast sea to the west. 

The army of light lasted longer than most of earth's inhabitants.  Certainly longer than their wives and children back home.  Poor communication meant that few in the army knew that Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim H-bombs had obliterated most of the cities in the NoC after they had laid waste to each of the other’s major cities.  Poison gas and biological weapons completed the triad of destruction.  The army of light was protected by an unwitting accomplice.  Automated defense systems left behind sometime in the past by the builders of these abandoned cities swept the missiles and drones of the theocracies from their skies in the service of absent masters. Of course they could not deflect the clouds of radioactive fallout that approached from all degrees of the compass.

As the nuclear winter deepened, clouds and ash obscured the heavens.  The struggling few survivors never looked up. There was nothing to see.  It was tragic really, because they missed out seeing the last and greatest engineering feat of man on earth.  If you timed it right on a clear day, you could have seen a glint of sunlight reflecting off of a thin ribbon that lead from the horizon out into space.  A thin sheet of elemental carbon stretching from Johnson Island a full one quarter of the distance to the moon.  A space ladder.  Around 27,000 kilometers from the earth’s surface, a series of now silent and abandoned constructions had bustled with activity in the months before Judgement Day.  Even now periodic flashes marked the progress of dozens of space faring craft, on their way to exotic destinations and new homes for those children of earth who had finally put aside childish ways.