View Full Version : There Will Be No More Gods. Adult 1,600

February 21st, 2015, 01:33 PM
It started when I was ten-years-old. The year was 2056 or thereabouts. I’m old now and my memory not as sharp as back then. Sometimes years elude me.

Anyway, my friend Hassan and I were hunting rabbits in the south acreage of my grandfather’s farm when we saw this old man walking toward us. Our town of Antler Bend is far from the old highways where monstrous cars and trucks once sped through Ohio. We see few strangers out our way.

Hassan carried a single-shot .410 armed with homemade gunpowder and I totted a long-barreled .22 revolver I’d gotten on my last birthday. We weren’t afraid of one man, only curious. After all, he probably passed the roadblock over at Summerville to even be on that road. And we did have our sworn duty, one we rarely had occasion to perform.

We approached the stranger. You see, at that time there were only a few hundred people in the whole county and everyone knew everyone else from holiday and work events. Anyone not born here was required to show proof of admission to any resident who asked. If they didn’t have that paper, they were to be taken before Judge Adams at Summerville. Any without papers were to be forced to get one, leave, or be killed.

At least that was the theory. I’d never heard of a stranger actually being shot for refusing. Most of the time they’d simply be hunted down and taken to the judge. The judge would then question their reason for being here, then give them a paper or have them taken to the county border. There were border guards but only at roads. An occasional stranger simply wandered in through the fields without knowing it. Don’t get the idea we were bloodthirsty. We only wanted to keep an eye on non-residents.

The ones traveling through were given a paper that Mrs. Adams, who could read good, drew a picture of a man walking and scribbled something. The ones approved to stay, got themselves one with a house drawed on it.

“We want to see your county permit,” Hassan told him, shotgun hanging down by his side.

“Yes. We have the right,” I said, holding out my hand.

“Of course, boys.”

He handed me a piece of notebook paper. I couldn’t read, but recognized a house and a round stamp at the bottom of the sheet. He didn’t know I couldn't, though, and pretending to read those squiggles made me feel important.

“What you doing here, mister?” I asked, handing it back. “You gonna live here?”

“I have high hopes of doing so,” he answered. “God willing.”

I remember that both of us kids backed up, guns raised at that scary word. We’d rarely heard it without being sandwiched between other swear words. The iteration of “god” itself was cause for having our mouths washed out with soap in my household. We stood away as the stranger continued down the road. Forgetting about mere rabbits, we both ran to find Grandfather to tell him of the cursing stranger.

Months later, getting home from school I was told to go out to the chicken coop with a plastic sack and to collect all the old feathers I could find.

“The shitty ones, too?” I asked Grandpa.

“Especially the shitty ones,” he told me. “And make sure you wear gloves. That stuff can be dangerous.”

That night, Grandfather and I, along with most of the boys and men in the ville, trooped over to an old shack outside town where Mr. Williams lived before he died. I brought my sack of feathers and Grandpa had his big pistol with him.

Two men carried, between them, a long pole with several tin buckets of hot tar hanging down. I could see steam forming in the brisk October air. They were careful not to splatter too much out as they walked. They were in front of me, though, and I had a hard time not stepping in the spillage in the dark. That shit was kind'a warm and stuck to my legs if I stepped in it.

"Where we going, Grandpa?"

"Be quiet," he whispered, the sound loud the otherwise silent night. Even the crickets, probably sensing us, were still.

Being a kid, nobody saw fit to tell me what was going on. I felt good, though, to be carrying the feathers, more grown up in being involved. They seemed so serious about the project, not laughing or even smiling while I simply walked along with them. Somehow, it would be wrong to break that silence.

When we reached that tumbledown shack, several men continued to circle the building. I could see lamplight through a window. I looked around to see two men starting a small fire while another stirred the tar with a stick he'd picked up.

“Grandpa, wha--” I started to whisper. He gave me such a look that I didn’t even finish. “Put your gloves back on, Adam.”

I heard whispering among the men. Dropping my sack, I eased over to where Hassan and a couple other boys stood under an elm tree.

“What we doing here,” I whispered to Hassan.

“A god creep,” he told me. “Janet Bellows said he tried to read to her from that book, the bad one.”


“He was drunk, Janet told her parents. She was over here to bring him a basket of eggs. She found him sitting at a table with a god book. Janet said she looked over his shoulder and saw the bad words. That they were even glowing with an evil light.

“He didn’t deny it, even tried to damn her by reading it to her.”

“Jeez!" The thought made me sweat, a chill creaping down my chest. "Wha -- What did she do?”

“What would you do? She tried to smile back at him, left the eggs on a table and ran home to tell her husband.”

There was action from the men. I saw Fred Goldman stand up, rifle in hand. He motioned to several others, including Grandpa. They started to the shack.

Not bothering to knock, the men went inside. I heard a lot of senseless yelling before they came back out with the same old man we’d seen on the road months before. He was naked, feet dragging on the cold ground and complaining all the way, using many filthy words. Grandpa came out last, frowning and carrying a book, carried it like it was a pile of shit, held dangling by only finger and thumb.

All the men cheered, except the stranger, as Grandpa held his nose while throwing that forbidden book into the fire. The fire itself flared around the edges of a heating tar bucket as the thin volume hit hot coals.

“Adam,” Grandpa called me, “get your ass over here and bring those feathers, you hear?”

While I retrieved my sack, others had been tying the naked old man to the pole they’d brought. He was screaming to a “god.” It didn’t help him none, as Fred poured tar along his body, starting at his neck. He really screamed as it hit his balls, then passed out, I guess, since he stopped.

I stood by, gloves on, as hot tar was poured over his head, careful to miss his nose and mouth, then spread by eager hands over scrawny legs.

“Open the bag and rub those feathers on, boy,” I was ordered. My hands were only two of a dozen as they were eagerly thrust past mine and into the sack, rubbing feathers and chickenshit and who knows what else onto the man.

My heart wasn’t really into it as I did my part, patting the stuff along a scrawny chest. I did get some satisfaction in being the only boy my age trusted to help.

Some of the bigger men carried the man on a pole out toward the road. Looking around, I saw what seemed half the county around us. Where did they come from? I wondered. It was quite an event, one talked about for years.

I never heard what happened to that stranger, only knowing he wasn’t around here any more after that.

It wasn’t until years later that I understood about the religious wars that had swept over the world before I was born.

It started in the early part of this century. We had, at that time, what was called the “United Nations.” There had been a religious country with nuclear bombs and all sorts of big guns. They had been instigating wars with other countries that believed in running theirs in another way, with another god. Some of the big ones wanted to destroy a third, smaller country with a third religion – supposedly a very old one. Our country wanted to help the the small one at the expense of the rest.

In time, each of a half-dozen religions badmouthed the others, causing many small wars over nothing, really, when you step back and think on it. One of them blew up half of a place called DeeCee. an important city of ours at that time, and tried to blame it on another god, not ours. When they were caught, our country started throwing atom bombs at everyone. And they threw some back.

That’s why we don’t have big cities anymore, or cars, or television, or.... All because of religion. Nobody trusts religion anymore. There will be no more such fickle gods.

The End.