Cal awoke. At least he was pretty sure he did. He had the feeling that his eyes had opened, but there was still pitch blackness; not even the faintest pinprick from anywhere. He thought he might be dreaming, or maybe in that odd place in the morning that’s almost awake and kind of still asleep, but really neither one. Before he had time to think further on it, toward being either in a frightful panic at what might be newfound blindness, or to enjoy the reverie of his own subconscious in the pre-snooze-button dawn, he thought he heard something.
Cal nearly jumped out of his skin. Or what would have otherwise been his skin. As things seemed to be at the moment, Cal had the fleeting recognition that not only could he not see, but neither could he really feel anything. He didn’t notice any heat or cold, no light breeze from his bedroom’s overly-ornate ceiling fan, no gentle brushing of 800 count Egyptian cotton across the hairs of his forearm as he would usually stretch upon waking… He was abruptly jarred from his realization by what was now unmistakable and this time a bit more stern.
“Who, who’s there?” Cal asked reluctantly.
“What you would call God, more or less.”
The space where Cal felt his head should be was reeling. “God?!”
“Not exactly the way it’s written in any of your books, but more or less.”
“Oh my, G… Oops, sorry.”
“No need. There is no such thing as blasphemy. Call me what you want. Let’s get to it.”
“Get to it?”
“Look, it’s not as if I don’t likely have all the time in eternity, but that’s kind of the point. I’ve been here since before I can remember and I’m anxious to leave.”
“Leave?” Cal said, still completely in a stupor from the complete unexpectedness of this whole, incredulous experience. “Where are you going?”
“That doesn’t at all matter. Somewhere, nowhere, anywhere but here.”
“I don’t understand.”
“That is also inconsequential.”
“Here’s what’s happened up to now that has any importance. I created the heavens and the earth and the multitudes of life on Earth. I gave you and your kind complete autonomy and free will. I gave you virtually limitless resources and time. I have more power than you are currently capable of comprehending. However, my powers do know limits. That’s why you’re here.”
“Forgive me, but I don’t have the foggiest idea where you’re headed with all this. Are we going to where you live? Are my grandparents there? You must know I have a million questions.”
“You were a brilliant scientist. With regards to intelligence, aptitude for learning and problem solving, and a propensity for thinking laterally, you far outshone the vast majority of humankind. You achieved milestones early on that most people could not even begin to understand.”
Cal was extremely humbled at hearing God play up his strengths. “Well, yes, I guess so. I really didn’t think about it in that way. But now that you mention it, why did you pluck me away, now of all times? I was on the cusp of a solid cure. I think no more than six more months and cancer could have begun to be a thing of the past!” Having heard himself say this, Cal was astonished and a little horrified to realize that not only was he dead and the only life he had ever known was far away from him, but he had also witlessly become a little agitated toward God – and that he inadvertently let it show.
“That is of no importance,” God said off-handedly.
“OF NO IMPORTANCE!?!” Cal was shocked and suddenly didn’t mind at all to let it be seen. “What are you? I know you have to understand that millions of lives would be saved, and the amount of pain that could be prevented, both physically for the throngs of victims, and emotionally for their families and loved ones. It’s been one of the largest concerns for all humanity since the beginning of recorded history.”
“What matters is that I chose you. You had the right genetics. You were surrounded by the right environmental factors. You had the emotional intelligence and drive to excel and rise above any obstacles and all your peers. You are one of the chosen, you’ve been in training, and you now have a job to do.”
“I HAD a job!” Cal blurted. “And a damned important one!” Cal held nothing back. He was growing impatient. And in his rising frustration and ire, he forgot all the things he’d heard about the wrath of God. He forgot for the moment that it might actually be a good idea to be a little fearful of a nearly omnipotent being.
“Your job now is to bring about My end.”
“WHAT?!” Cal’s mind was nearly melting with incomprehension. He was in some black void instead of at work, in bed, or in Heaven. He didn’t seem to have a body. And in the perfectly still and silent blackness he was talking to a suicidal voice claiming to be the Creator of all Cal had ever known or hoped to discover. “Kill God?! I’ll do no such thing! What do you even mean? Who..? How can..?”
“Cal, I want to go now. It’s been time enough.”
“Look, you, Whoever or Whatever you are…” Cal was more appalled, angry, and embittered than he imagined anyone could ever be – so much so that for a few seconds he could hardly form a coherent thought, much less convey one. But for the moment, he was still very far from exasperated. “I want absolutely nothing to do with You. Put me back, right now!”
“Cal,” God said calmly, almost gently, “do you remember being born?”
Cal could not believe what he was hearing. He could not follow God at all. He was dumbstruck. His mind finally took a gentle snap and could no longer do more than listen and see itself in its own mind’s eye with Cal’s mouth hanging wide open in disbelief.
God continued, “And do you remember dying? Or more accurately, do you remember a time after right now in which you no longer exist? Of course not. Except in exceedingly rare occasions of someone being able to retain subconscious trace memories of traveling the birth canal and actually being born, those are simply the kind of things that one is unable to remember. Certainly no one is capable of remembering a time in the future in which they are long gone. So to My point, you only believe that you were born on October 18, 1967 because your father told you so. And your mother and legal documents back that up. You also have lateral proof, by seeing others being born and knowing that their surroundings bear out their birth stories for them. There are enough sources that you trust and that corroborate one another for you to have faith that the specific date of your birth is accurate and truth.
“But the fact is, you don’t know for sure. Even though you probably did have a beginning, you can’t recall that beginning for yourself. You have to take it on faith that those around you are not only correct, but also honest with you. And you do take that faith; and you take it blindly without a second thought. It’s all you’ve ever known. And there’s not a thing wrong with that. In this case, it’s exactly what you should do with all the evidence at hand.
“Now, imagine for a moment that one day You simply awake to find that You are alone. Not one single human in sight and no evidence that there ever was anyone or anything like You. It’s nearly inconceivable, but You can do it if You try. I need You to try. Imagine that as You awake, You can’t remember the night before, or any other time before right now. You’d have no frame of reference. You would have no way of knowing Who or What or where or when You are. Try to picture fifty years after that. You’d have no concept of time, and no thought or need for it – there would be no trains to make need for time tables, no industry, no appointments to keep… only You with no idea how long You’ve been around. As far as You’d be able to tell, you might have always existed. In reality, right this minute, You can’t be sure that You haven’t always existed, because You can’t remember a time that You didn’t. And because of the completely different situation in which You currently find Yourself, You must realize that You can’t use what You’ve always thought of as reality – aging, taxes, children, boats – as a measuring stick for anything, because those things only exist at My will, and they exist only as a framework to give Your creative thoughts life and form.
“So, since you see that however improbable, it’s possible that you’ve always been, and since you see in this moment that it’s possible that you might exist for eternity, you begin to see my own predicament.
“To my knowledge, I’m timeless. And it seems there are no others like Me. I have no idea how long I’ve been or how long I might be. But what I’m certain of, is that the stimulation of my life is limited to my own creativity. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing that I do not know. And the only things that I have been able to conceive yet not be able to perform are to create a Peer and to not exist. I want desperately to not exist. For Me there are no surprises. my entire universe is of my own creation. There is nothing I can look forward to. There is nothing to ponder or discover. I’m bound by the limits of my own creativity. There is no love, no company, no distraction, no sleep, no rest. I simply am. And the stillness and black, empty boredom are more Hell than you could ever possibly hope to imagine.”
Cal finally found something he could argue, “There is love! I’ve known the love of my wife and child for years! It’s as real as anything else is real!”
“Not for Me. Not only do I not know how to close my eyes and be no more, but I also don’t know how to create my equal. I’m peerless and essentially alone. I realize that I cannot say this without affront to you, but I can no more be truly satisfied with the company of man than you could be truly satisfied with the lasting company of an amoeba. I am unable to create a sufficiently complex being to which I could hope to convey the timeless, seamless, featureless experience I endure. I am mad with boredom. I can’t go outside, I can’t run along and play, I can’t go back and finish my degree. I can only be. Here. Alone in the silent, motionless, black. I am all there is.
“Despite My inability to make you any more complex than you are, you’ve had enough moratorium and resources to develop your mind to the peak of its capabilities. My sincerest hope is that with your free will and development, it may be possible for a spark to come from your creativity that has thus far eluded Me.
“So now you are here and your job is now to figure out how to end Me.”
Cal was seething with disgust, disappointment, resentment, and what amounted to hatred. “I will never make any attempt to give You what You want!”
God replied calmly, “Yes, you will.”
“You are abominable! You created me and now I must suffer an eternity of hell with You? To hell with You! I’ll figure out how to end myself, instead!”
“Good, good. There you go. There’s nothing you can say, do, think, or feel that I don’t know as it’s happening. There are countless others that have been working on the problem for years that number beyond your grasp. I have cultivated minds of so many kinds, with so vastly different experiences from your own. They are all here with us from trillions of worlds from trillions of millennia past. And we all have the same goal. The instant that any one of us figures it out, we will all go from here.”
Cal began to think.