Native Gods

“There is nothing left to win.”

“No, Rodrick. There is always something left to win.”

The town of Lambest nestled in the valley below was bustling tonight. Its citizens ate, slept, and made love fitfully beneath the light of their ever-torches.

“It’s not right,” Pluvius said, tugging at the tip of the beard which rested on his belly in time with each stressed syllable.

“Of course it isn’t right!”

“It’s never right.”

Rodrick shook his head. “Just say it, Pluve.”

“It’s not enough that they aren’t considered slaves. To be told you are free and to know you are free are two different things.”

Rodrick hesitated. “Pluvius. You can’t stop it.”

Silence.

“You know what they’ll do,” Pluvius said. “You know what they always do.”

“Pluve, why? These creatures, they’re barely sentient. They aren’t slaves anymore. Isn’t that enough?”

“No.”

“All right. So tell me. Tell me what we’re going to do.”

“We’re going to arm them.”

“You’re insane!”

“With knowledge, Rodrick. What do you think will happen?” Pluvius put a finger to the sky. “What’s going to happen when they come back?”

Rodrick shrugged.

“They’ll kill them. Or worse, re-enslave them. Is that what you want?”

“That isn’t what happens, Pluve. At worst, they’ll be relocated to another planet. That’s the way it always goes.”

“Yeah, relocated to the last planet that we pre-pillaged. We force our leftovers on them. Is this what we’re doomed to do? Again and again? Is that what we’re meant for? Walking over another race just for the supposed benefit of our own?”

“C’mon, Pluve. It’s not like they even know how to harness the planet’s resources.”

Pluvius smiled. “Not yet, my friend. Not yet.”

Rodrick’s eyes widened. “You can’t be serious. We’ll be burned alive.”

“That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

“Pluvius, I’m begging you. They’re barely sentient. Chattel.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Rod.” Pluvius smiled his best and most devilish grin. The uncertainty spreading over his friend’s face only made the grin widen. “We’re going to give them a fighting chance.”

Shapeshifting into two-legged lifeforms twice the size of the natives, Pluvius and Rodrick had no trouble convincing the locals they were gods. Then they went to work.

Teaching the primitive beings the secrets of tapping into their planet’s core was not an easy one. It took several lifetime’s worth of indigenous lifeforms just to finish creating the harvesting equipment. The refining equipment took twice as long. Rodrick eloped with one of the natives a few generations before the process was finished. A generation later, his wife surely departed, Rodrick did not return.

Pluvius found himself teaching the natives how to fashion not the weapons of war, not the tools of the conqueror, but good and useful things. The secrets of the ever-torch he imparted, and the earth-travelling disc, the hat of crystal rainbows, and stone oxen that would pull their plows every day and neither tire nor sweat.

Pluvius ruled them with a kindly heart and a firm fist. Crime faded into myth as the citizens thrived under their new god, and they created paradise with their new-found technology. Pluvius smiled each day as he awoke and he smiled himself into sleep each night.

To his surprise, and with the aid of the planet’s essence, they constructed new and original wonders. They made walking statues of alabaster as tall as twenty natives, equipped with spears like steeples that pierced the hearts of forest creatures again and again, until they returned with a kabob so full it could feed an army, had ever known armies. They made fountains of cackling essence that sparkled up to meet the stars, and they fashioned discs that could break the atmosphere, that they might meet the stars themselves one day, should the desire or need arise.

It was another two generations before the Intergalactic Conglomerate reappeared. Their last rock depleted, they had finally returned to claim the treasure they believed had remained buried.

Rodrick was at their side. He did not look into the face of his former friend as Pluvius was shackled. The natives were confused, and many were angry, but Pluvius told them in their scattered, chittering tongue not to be afraid as he was led away to the colonization craft.

“You’ve taught the mice how to reach out and touch the sky, Pluvius,” the Lord of Space and Time said in an amused tone. “And how do you respond to the charges against you?”

Pluvius smiled his best and most devilish grin. “I did it. I did it, didn’t I? Taught the little bastards everything. Your precious new planet is quite used, yes, nearly used up, I’m afraid. Now, will you let them be? Will you return to the stars and simply let them be?”

The Lord of Space and Time was quiet for a moment, then replied, “I’m afraid that is an impossibility, Pluvius. You never taught them how to kill. How do you expect them to survive? They will move to another planet once this one is drained, and they will die in the process.”

“I thought not, my Lord. No, I thought not. You will kill them, won’t you? You have to kill them. You can’t let the poor bastards live now, can you? Yes, have blood on your hands soon, will you? Will you?” Pluvius burst into laughter, a long and joyous laugh, the first laugh he’d had  in many, many generations.

-Bearshaman

Slice a Hawaiian

“Hey kid, the fuck do you think you’re going? Yeah, you. The one pointing to himself and looking around all like, ‘He can’t possibly be talking about me, can he?’ Yeah. Where the hell you going, walking by me with a piping hot pan of, uh–”

“Canadian-bacon-pineapple pizza, sir.”

“Ah, yes–the Hawaiian. The hell don’t you just call it a Hawaiian pizza? Who the fuck orders a ‘canadian-bacon-pineapple’ pizza?”

“We already have a specialty pizza called The Hawaiian, sir.”

“You do? And let me guess–it’s got red onions and American bacon and some sweet-and-sour shit on it, and costs five bucks more than a real, honest Hawaiian.”

“Pretty much.”

“For fucking shame–uh–hey, where’s your nametag?”

“They haven’t given me one yet. I’m new. Name’s Shane.”

“Well, Shane. That’s some fucking bullshit. What kind of incompetent fuck doesn’t give nametags to his employees? He think you’re all just faceless drones or what?
“It’s a ‘she’, sir.”

“Oooooh, my bad. Hey, uh, between you and me–she hot?”

“She’s standing right over there behind the register. You tell me.”

“Wuh-hoah! Yikes. That’s a big negatory.”

“Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get back to serving–“

“Okay, so serve me. There you were, walking right past me, holding a pan of Hawaiian–the real stuff–and you didn’t even stop to ask if I wanted a slice. I’m hurt, Shane.”

“But your plate’s full.”

“So? You think I’m gonna stop once I finish this plate or something? Just stack a slice on top that pepperoni-olive-sausage and you can go on your merry way.”

“Can’t, sir. It’s against–“

“No. No more of this ‘sir’ shit, Shane. I ain’t that fucking old. I ain’t gonna keel over mid-meal, grasping at the air with one hand and clutching at my heart or my throat with the other. Sir, ha! Name’s Johnny.”

“Well, Johnny–“

“Johnny Law.”

“Well, Johnny Law, as I was saying, it’s against company policy to give a customer a new slice if their plate’s full.”

“Hey Shane, this an all-you-can-eat joint, or what?”

“Tuesdays and Thursdays from five-to-eight, yes.”

“Holy shit, Shane. You pop a gear or something? You almost sounded human there.”

“Well, I’m sorry, but I have to go–“

“No, don’t gimme that, Shane. You stacked a goddamn pepperoni pyramid for that girl at the table over by the jukebox. Don’t gimme that horseshit.”

“Sir–“
“Johnny! Johnny goddamn Law!”

“Johnny, she’s an employee on break. And I didn’t give her those slices. She grabbed them.”

“Playing favorites for the ladies, eh? Wanna hold on while I go to Tijuana and grow some rusty tits right quick? That what I gotta do to get a fucking slice a Hawaiian ’round here?”

“Tell you what, Johnny.”

“Listening.”

“You eat a piece–one of those six on your plate–and I’ll give you a slice of canadian-bacon-pineapple.”

“Okay, fair’s fair. Lemme just cut this piece here–”

“I’ve never seen a spoon used for that before. You know, there’s a fork and knife over there next to your plate, sir.”

“Your point, kiddo? Knives are the tools of serial killers and forks are for people who can’t find their way around a goddamn spoon.”

“Huh.”

“Spoon’s a versatile tool. You can’t eat soup with a fork or a knife, but you can eat a salad with a spoon.”

“What about sporks?”

“Don’t gimme no goddamn lip. This ain’t fucking Taco Bell.”

“Okay, sir. Here’s your slice.”

“I ain’t finished this slice yet!”

“The pizza’s getting cold. I don’t want to disappoint other customers who love candian-bacon–“

“Christ alive, Shane. Don’t you fucking dare. You say that awkward shit one more time and I swear I will fucking show you why you don’t want to see me pick up a goddamn knife.”

“Okay, sir.”

“Fuck you, kiddo. Say it. It’s a delicioso motherfucking Hawaiian pizza you’re carrying. Say it or so help me, with Brando as my witness I will make your ribcage an offer it can’t refuse.”

“Okay, Johnny.”

“Yeah? What’s the pizza, Shane?”

“Canadian-bacon-pineapple.”

———————————————

Wrote this for a contest which spontaneously decided not to exist one day after I wrote a piece specifically for it which used the phrase “I’ve never seen a spoon used for that before” as per contest requirements. Ah well, I still dig it. Maybe they meant November of next year for the deadline?

-Bearshaman

Alternate Bio 8

Brook is a student in college by day and an unwitting angel of the homeless by night. Although she remembers her action as dreams, it is in fact she who is the legendary Whispered One, providing what small comforts she can to the homeless across America beneath her preferred cloak of darkness. The vagrants that rise in the morning with fluffed-up pillows under their heads where only cold concrete was when they drifted off murmur small prayers of thanks to her upon waking.

And woe be unto the bored sociopath teen who seeks to harm her charges–for not all angels are always cherubic.

-Bearshaman

Alternate Bio 7

Aaron is a student in his fifteenth year of college who holds legal residence in roughly fifty-two countries. This one time, he got a fortune from this fortune cookie that dropped his jaw and changed his life. He’s been chasing his enigmatic dream of “good luck will find its way to you” ever since.

Alternate Bio 6: Teacher Edition

Alain Jackson was a man. Yes, until that fateful day he held aloft his grade book to the heavens and repeated the ancient spell, “Work without doing,” and his consciousness ascended to the Jade Mountain. Nowadays, he astrally projects himself into the classroom from the Nirvana Realm and no one is the wiser.

-Bearshaman

Alternate Bio 5

Alexis is a lioness of erudition at her local college. Unbeknownst to her, she is also the only student at her local college. The reptiloids have successfully infiltrated the school and replaced all of her classmates, teachers, and even the turkeys that hang out on campus sometimes with life-like holograms. Alexis is currently in the process of being tested by these shadowy reptilian overlords. Luckily, she is passing, since the fate of humanity rests on her shoulders; and the nobility of her actions will determine whether or not the intercosmic lizard men explode our planet into space dust.

-Bearshaman

Alternate Bio 4

Beatrice is a student at college by day and something…well…something else by night. She has never been sure exactly what, though. She watches the sun set as dreams and the waking world intertwine, spinning a web of unreality around her. Things are mostly normal for Beatrice then, but ever-so-slightly off. Strangers walk up to her with mayonnaise on pieces of toast and eat it right in front of her face like it’s the most normal thing in the world. And all night long, bursts of blue phosphorescence explode into auras around the crowns on the heads of the hidden Kinborn. Also, she likes kitties and the occasional weekend jump rope.

-Bearshaman