according to Simon (part II)

“Simon saw Yeshua come back from the dead!” Andrew said.

“I didn’t see Yeshua!” I replied. “How did you get to be so stupid?”

Andrew and I were meeting with Jacob and Levi at the Cyrene’s tavern after returning to Jerusalem. “What did you see?” Levi asked me.

“Look,” I said, completely ignoring his question, “I only came back to Jerusalem to bring Jacob back to Galilee. I already got Yeshua killed, I can’t let the same thing happen to his brother.”

“I’m not going back,” Jacob said.

“Why not?”

“This might come as a surprise to you Simon, but people actually believe the Message. You thought the Romans could never be driven out of Judea, but everyone took notice of Yeshua. Including the Greeks!”

“The Greeks? We were only in Scythopolis for a few days. We barely spoke Greek!”

“Yeshua made quite an impression on them.”

“Yeah, they’re saying that he did all kind of shit,” Levi said, “healing the blind, casting out demons and sending them into pigs, making the lame walk…”

“Are you sure they’re not confusing him with one of the thousands of other lunatics that wonder around the Decapolis?”

“I’m telling ya Simon,” Jacob exclaimed, “these Greeks have some goddamned imagination. They think he’s some wandering miracle worker! There is some guy named Stephanos who followed us all the way from Scythopolis. He’s been screaming in the streets! He’s pissed about the crucifixion!”

“You guys didn’t talk to him, right?”

“Well…”

Right then, Mary walked into the tavern. She had the look of death on her face.

“What’s wrong?” Jacob asked.

“He’s gone.”

***

All of us ventured outside of the city walls to Joseph’s tomb near the Mount of Olives. The women were weeping. I walked inside the tomb and Yeshua’s body wasn’t there.

“The Greeks?” I asked Jacob.

“How would they have known where his body was?”

Joseph was stomping down the hill up ahead. I looked over to Jacob. “Let me handle this,” I said.

Joseph was only a few yards away when he started yelling. “You guys have been an epic pain in my ass!”

“Now Joseph, calm down,” I said. “I’m only here to collect Jacob and bring him back to Galilee. I swear. I’m not here to cause trouble.”

“Like hell! All the Jews are gone but now the streets are crawling with Greeks! Ever since Passover ended, they’ve been piling into the city!”

“I know, but we have nothing to do with that.”

“Bullshit! This idiot here…” Joseph cried, referring to Jacob, “has been seen screaming on the streets with that lunatic Stephanos. And now all of you are grave robbing!”

I shook my head as I looked over to Jacob. “Joseph, we didn’t take Yeshua’s body. Mary came here this morning and it was gone. As for the Greeks, I don’t know what to tell you. We’ll leave Jerusalem and maybe this will all blow over in a few weeks.”

“Too late. They’ve been threatening the Sadducees and Pharisees because apparently, Yeshua was railing against them in Scythopolis! I know you were there Simon. So this IS your fault!”

Damn it, I thought. I looked over to Jacob. “This has gotten out of hand. We’re leaving.”

“If all of you are leaving, you better do it quick. The Sanhedrin wants this fire put out now! Herod is bringing in mercenaries from all over the empire. A few of them might be here now. You’re probably as good as dead,” Joseph said.

“Then that means you too,” I told him. “You’re as guilty as the rest of us.”

Jacob spoke up. “It doesn’t matter where we go. Do none of you see what’s going on here? The moment Yeshua spoke against the Romans and their collaborators, we had a target on our backs. We knew the risks. And we accepted them. Because look around you: lepers, beggars, widows, children sleeping on the streets. We can’t continue to live like this. Even the Greeks agree! Yes Yeshua is dead, but that doesn’t mean the Kingdom of God is dead too. We continue to fight for it or we die in the streets.”

Joseph was silent.

“It’s time for you to take a stand Joseph,” Jacob continued. “You’re either with us or you’re with Herod.”

Joseph looked down to the ground and thought for a moment. “I have no love for the Romans,” Joseph said, “but I want no more bloodshed. So I ask all of you: stay away from the Gentiles. They aren’t our problem. Let them take the fall for this Yeshua situation. If you can do this, I can keep the Sanhedrin off your scent.”

“But Joseph,” Jacob replied, “a lot of them are Jewish converts. We’re in this together.”

“Listen to me Jacob: stay away from them. And please, for the love of God, lay low!”

With those words, Joseph walked away. Jacob was beside himself. “What does he expect us to do?” he said to me, “we can’t just wish the Romans away!”

I put my hands on his shoulders to calm him down. “Jacob, he may be onto something,” I said. “Let’s face it: we don’t have the power to get the Romans out of Judea just yet. Our only choice is to play the long game. Alright? Now you might be safe in Jerusalem for the time being, but you’re gonna have to live to fight another day. Also, keep quiet about being Yeshua’s brother. Okay?”

Jacob nodded. “Are you going back to Galilee?” he asked.

I smiled. “No. I gotta keep you out of trouble,” I replied.

All of us went back into the city walls individually. As I was returning to the Cyrene’s tavern, a strange man in a black cloak pulled me into an alley and put a dagger to my throat.

“I got money in my satchel,” I said to him.

“I don’t want your money!” the man replied. He was a short, wiry figure with rashes and scabs all over his face. “I recognize you!”

“Well I don’t recognize you.”

“Don’t play with me! I saw you with that man in Caesarea.”

“What man?”

“Yeshua you fool!”

“Who?”

He punched me in the stomach and I fell to the ground. “Why are you in Jerusalem?” the figure asked.

“I’m just a fisherman. I’m here in town because of Passover. I’m leaving tomorrow, I swear!” I said as I was gasping for air.

“Liar!”

“Why would I lie about that?!”

He kicked me in the face and I fell flat on the ground. The man continued his interrogation.

“Who do you know here?”

I crawled back to my knees. “Joseph, alright! He’s from Arimathea! He’s on the Jerusalem Council!”

“Can you confirm that?”

“We can go talk to him now!”

The man put his dagger back into his cloak and he helped me off the ground. He also dusted me off. “I’m sorry about the confusion,” he said. “There’s a lot of insurrectionists around. They always cause trouble around Passover. Can never be too safe, ya know?”

I wiped the blood from my mouth. “Indeed.”

“Alright, well you take care now,” the man said.

He walked up to the edge of the alley, looked to his left and right, and disappeared back into the city streets.

TO BE CONTINUED…

2051: a space monstrosity (part viii)

“We are going home,” I announced to the crew onboard the Sagan. “To repair the ship, we’ll need Yah’s help. He’s being brought to the surface as we speak. His chamber will be stored in the cargo area, where Dr. Jackass will release him. We cannot get too close to Yah. He’s highly radioactive, but the Doctor will be equipped with a radiation absorber that I stole from the Ishnarians. You are ordered to remain out of the cargo bay. The Doctor will ask Yah to remain a safe distance from the crew.”

“If he’s God,” Patel asked, “can’t he make more radiation absorbers?”

“Good question Patel,” I replied, “but let’s not overthink this. Yah is not a supernatural being. He is made of real matter and is bound by gravity. That’s why he needs a spaceship to get off this planet. Additionally, it should be noted that Yah can read minds. But it appears that he can only do so at a certain distance. Perhaps up to 60 feet. If possible, stay 60 feet away from the cargo area. I can’t go into any more details, but when I order everyone to be at their stations, you will have 30 seconds to get there. Am I understood?”

“Yes sir!”

“Good. Begin preparations for launch.”

I exited the Sagan to meet with Hazov. Off in the distance, Yah’s chamber was being wheeled towards the ship.

“It’s a shame that you are unable to stay,” Hazov said, “hopefully this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship between our two worlds.”

“Possibly,” I said.

“If you don’t mind me prying, Captain, I thought your ship was having trouble launching.”

I smiled. “Someone forgot to carry the 1.”

“I see,” he said. “Farewell Captain.”

“Farewell Hazov.”

We shook hands and I immediately went to engineering to speak with Commander Mwangi. “Commander, once when you see that the hydrogen drive is back online, fire it up immediately,” I told her.

“But Captain, with lift thrusters firing we’ll be moving at a tremendous speed. We risk burning the hydrogen drive out again.”

“Just do it.”

I went to the bridge and strapped into the navigation station next to Valdez. “What’s the fastest you’ve ever flown a ship?” I asked her.

“About 1/8th the speed of light sir.”

“Prepare to shatter that record.”

The Doctor then came over the intercom. “The chamber is loaded sir,” he said.

“Close cargo bay doors and release Yah from the chamber,” I ordered.

Yah spoke up. “Thank you for releasing me from my chains, Captain,” he said.

“Don’t mention it.”

I monitored controls from the command post. Moments later, Valdez spoke up. “Lift thrusters are online sir!”

“Launch thrusters!”

The Sagan began lifting off the surface and into the atmosphere. I channeled down to engineering. “How’s that hydrogen drive coming along, Nia?!”

“Hydrogen drive is fully operational!”

Then a deeply distraught Hazov came over the radio. “Captain Kananga! Our planet is facing a torrent of earthquakes and tornadoes! We are dying! What have you done?!”

I radioed down to the cargo bay. “Yah! Unleashing the apocalypse on Ishnar wasn’t part of the deal!”

“Sorry Captain,” Yah replied. “The people of Ishnar have broken the covenant. They shall face my wrath.”

Now Yah was about to face my wrath, I thought. “I see,” I responded to Yah. “Dr. Jackass, please report to the bridge.”

I looked over to Valdez. “Have we cleared the atmosphere?” I asked.

“Yes sir, we are about to leave the outer orbit of Ishnar’s moons.”

“Good. Hopefully we can put enough distance between Yah and Ishnar.”

Moments later, Dr. Jackass entered the bridge. “Doctor,” I said, “on my count, open the cargo bay doors.

“Sir?”

I went over the intercom. “Attention crew: please be at your stations,” I ordered, then activated life support systems on all decks.

After 30 seconds expired, I looked back over to Valdez. “Alright Commander, step on it!”

“Excuse me?”

“Damn it Valdez! FLOOR IT!”

As we accelerated to an extraordinary speed, I ordered Dr. Jackass to open cargo doors. Centrifugal systems instantly cut out and we were floating at zero-g.

“Sir!” the Doctor yelled, “all contents in the cargo bay have been suctioned out! Including Yah! Closing doors now!”

As the gravity was being restored, I looked up at the radar. An energy source outside the ship was keeping pace. “Damn it! Yah is on our tail! More speed!”

“But we’re traveling near the speed of light!” Valdez replied.

“Can God go faster than light?!” Dr. Jackass asked.

“I guess we’ll find out!”

The ship began to rattle back and forth. We were under attack. Using his god-like power, Yah came over the intercom. “Is this how you want this to end Captain?” he asked. “Empty space makes a cold grave.”

“Faster Valdez!” I ordered.

“She’ll fly apart Captain!”

“Fly her apart then!”

Alarms and buzzers were going off across the bridge. The vibration intensified. If we were going to die, we were going to die going the speed of light.

Then I looked up at the radar. Another energy source was was gaining on Yah.

The calvary had arrived…

TO BE CONTINUED.

2051: a space monstrosity (part vi)

“Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear hellfire,” I informed the crew. “The Sagan’s communication beacon has been pinging mission control for the last 50 years, ever since we entered hibernation stasis. We haven’t received a response back. It is safe to assume that all nuclear powers on Earth have indeed initiated Mutually Assured Destruction, leaving the planet in a radiated mess, meaning it won’t be safe to return there for the next 250 years.”

“279 years to be precise,” Dr. Jackass interrupted.

“In all likelihood,” I continued, “we are the last remaining members of Space Fleet, and possibly the last Earthlings.”

The crew looked at one another.

“When did you learn about this?” Valdez asked.

“Not long after we departed Tranquility Bay,” I replied.

“So we could have aborted the mission, returned to Earth, and Smashhouse would still be alive,” Valdez retorted.

“My orders were to continue with the mission and initiate population measures on the planet orbiting Tau Ceti. We have a responsibility not only to Space Fleet, but to humanity as well, to maintain our race.”

Valdez threw up her hands in frustration. “What about our responsibilities to the people of Earth?!” she cried, then stormed out of the briefing room.

Patel spoke up. “What about that ‘God’ thing?” he asked.

“Patel, you don’t seem to be too disturbed about this news,” I said.

“Sir, I’m in Space Fleet. We all knew the risks when we signed up.”

I nodded. “Forget about the ‘God’ situation. The being they have captured underground is indeed an intelligent life form, but I believe its intentions are deceptive. In my assessment, it’s too dangerous to bring it on this ship and back to Earth. Therefore, that thing, whatever it is, is the Ishnarian’s problem. I believe our best course of action is to remain here, under the good will of the Ishnarians.”

“Sir,” Hanson interrupted. “I’m in agreement with Valdez. We must return to Earth and assist in recovery efforts.”

“Hanson,” I said, “there may be nothing to return to. And that’s to say nothing about surviving hibernation stasis.”

“Earth is our home sir! We must do something!”

“Now I am the captain! And my orders are to remain here. Is that clear?”

“How can you be a captain when there is no Space Fleet?!” Hanson said and left the room in protest.

“I guess the meeting’s adjourned then,” I said. As everyone left the room, I pulled the Doctor aside. “Check on Valdez,” I told him. “Confirm that she’s pregnant. Run a medical exam if need be. We need to investigate the veracity of Yah’s claims.”

“Aye sir.”

I returned to my quarters and pulled out a bottle of bourbon. There was a knock on the door. “May I speak with you sir?” the voice asked.

It was Mwangi.

After my encounter with Yah, I had been reluctant to make eye contact with her. I took a big swig from the bottle and invited her in.

“What can I do for you Commander?” I asked.

“Sir, I didn’t want to bring this up in front of the crew,” Mwangi said, “but launch thrusters are blown in addition to the hydrogen drive being depleted. And with hibernation chambers being iffy at best, it appears that we’re stuck here.”

I started to rub my temples. “I can’t believe that Space Fleet sent us up in this piece of shit,” I said. “Is there anything you can do?”

“It’s normally a simple refueling process,” she replied, “but because we’re on a planet stuck in the 14th Century, it might take decades before I could develop the materials to even begin the process. I’m sorry Captain.”

I sighed. “It’s not your fault Commander,” I said.

“I guess you can call me Nia now.”

“Can I offer you a drink Nia?”

“I would love one sir.”

“Please, call me Bill,” I said as I poured her a glass. After I handed it to her, she stared at it for awhile in deep thought.

“I also want to tell you that even though you’re the captain and have to maintain a stoic distance away from the crew,” Nia said, “I have supported your decisions 100%. And I know these last few days have been difficult for you. But you don’t have to be a stranger. You have my support.”

“A captain is only as good as his crew, specifically his Chief Engineer,” I joked.

“Then you must not be a very good captain,” she laughed.

“Nonsense,” I said, “I’m thankful to have your support.”

There was an awkward silence for a few moments as we sipped our drinks. Finally, Nia smiled and spoke up. “So how are you going to spend the rest of your days on this planet?”

“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it,” I laughed. “I guess I’ll be a farmer. There’s nothing else to do on this forsaken planet.”

Nia leaned forward to touch my hand. “I could be a farmer’s wife,” she said.

I clasped onto her hand. “Now I just need to talk to the Ishnarians,” I replied.

2051: a space monstrosity (part V)- meeting God

“So you cast God into hell?” I asked Hazov as we were descending deep into the surface of Ishnar in an elevator.

“That’s one way of putting it,” he responded. “But be warned though: Yah can still read your thoughts. We have yet developed the technology to block that ability. Other than that, he is completely contained within the chamber.”

“How does this chamber work?” Dr. Jackass asked.

“The walls of the chamber itself is reinforced with titanium-like nano tubing. This prevents porous openings all the way down to the quantum foam level. Even God can’t penetrate past that micro surface,” Hazov said.

“Fascinating,” The Doctor replied. “How did you obtain this technology? Forgive me, but technology on Earth appears to be beyond that of Ishnar and yet we haven’t developed those capabilities.”

“This technology was given to us by the ‘God Species’, as your captain calls it. This is why our technological capabilities appear to be so uneven.”

“Indeed, your culture appears to be from the Middle Ages of Earth, yet you’re using interplanetary radios, plasma weapons, and advanced forms language translation.” the Doctor said.

“Doctor,” I interrupted, “you’re about to meet God…or the first CONFIRMED alien life…and this is what you’re interested in?”

“Captain, I understand that you’re nervous, but it is part of Space Fleet’s mission to study extraterrestrial cultures.”

I rolled my eyes.

Finally the elevator stopped roughly 8 km underground. As we walked through the corridor to Yah’s holding area, Hazov continued to brief us. “A transparent piece of aluminum will allow you to see into the chamber,” he said. “Yah can take any form he chooses, but it’s only a mirage. While he can read your thoughts, you cannot communicate telepathically. You will have to speak with him over the monitors, and he will do the same for you.”

When we reached the guards holding large plasma rifles, Hazov stopped us and pinned a device onto Dr. Jackass and me. “This is just a precaution,” he stated, “but Yah is highly radioactive. The chamber should contain the radiation, but should any leak, this device will absorb it.”

Hazov could see I was shaking nervously. “Captain, you’ll be fine,” he said to me, “sure Yah played a big part in our histories. But he’s not actually God. While his material is not fully understood, insofar as we can tell he is made of normal matter just like you and me. He can’t hurt you. So don’t let him get to you.”

Hazov smiled and patted me on the shoulder. Then the doctor and I proceeded past the guards. We were escorted down a long corridor, where there at the very end was a large square chamber with a medium-sized window revealing a radiant orange glow inside.

I walked up to the window. But I couldn’t tell anything discerning inside, other than the orange mist. “Can he hear me?” I asked one of the guards.

He nodded. Then I opened my mouth.

“I am Captain William Kananga of the USV Carl Sagan. My first officer here is Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Space Fleet representing Earth: a planet that I believe you are familiar with.”

Moments went by and there was no response. I looked back to the guard. “Are you sure he can hear me?” I asked him.

Then a strange voice came over the monitor.

“I know who you are,” the voice said. It wasn’t a deep voice, certainly not one I would associate with God. But it had resonance.

“Of course,” I replied. “I understand that you wish to return to Earth. What is your past associations there?”

“Siddhartha Gautama, Moshes, Mohammed, Yeshua: the Carpenter of Nazareth,” the voice replied.

“I’m afraid that I’m unfamiliar with Moshes.”

“You know him as Moses. I gave him the Ten Commandments.”

“Right. That’s why he was glowing as he came down Mt. Sinai. He was exposed to high levels of radiation.”

“That’s why I said that no man can see my face and live. I gave mankind scriptures to protect them from themselves.”

“Unfortunately those scriptures have been used to justify hate, discrimination, and war for thousands of years.”

“Yes, but humankind were savages when I found them. I gave them the power of reasoning to help them grow. Evolve.”

“What good that did them. What about the Holocaust? Nuclear war?”

“I had nothing to do with that. If I was permitted to stay on Earth, I could have prevented all of that.”

“You seem to want to take credit for humanity’s successes but want to evade responsibility for all of its ills and your failure in preventing them. Even your own “scriptures” make you look like the bad guy.”

“Mistakes were made, of course. And I’m prepared to answer for those. But humanity needs me now, more than ever. Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear war, has it not?”

I looked over to a concerned Dr. Jackass and back to the chamber. “I know what you’re trying to do,” I said to Yah. “But you’re not God. You’re not an all powerful, all loving deity. You’re a charlatan that wonders from planet to planet, taking advantage of vulnerable species.”

“I know that you beat off to Commander Mwangi this morning,” Yah said.

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“She’s going to have your child, ya know?” Yah continued. “You will be a better father to it than you ever were to the son you left behind on Earth to die in those nuclear bombs.”

“Hold it-“

“Commander Valdez is pregnant too. The late Commander Smashhouse is the father…”

“You’re not benevolent,” I interrupted. “You’re a sick, sad, and lonely being. Not worthy of our worship.”

“I am Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. I shall have no other gods before me!” Yah declared as the orange glow morphed into a mirage of my late son.

“I’ve listened to enough of this hubris,” I said then stormed out of the corridor. As I walked passed the guards, I threw off the radiation device.

“Captain, are you all right?” the Doctor asked as he ran up behind me.

“What happened?” Hazov asked.

“Hazov, my recommendation is to sling that fucking thing in there right into the sun,” I said, then stormed into the elevator. Hazov and Jackass rushed in behind me. “Take me back to the surface!”

The two men were silent as I tried to cool down. As the elevator ascended, the doctor touched me on the arm.

“Bill,” Jackass said, “Yah may have a point.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

2051: a space monstrosity (part iii)

“Dear God,” I prayed, “we’ve never talked before. Mostly because I’m pissed off at you for doing nothing about Earth’s suffering. But I have no one else to turn to. So if you are a just God, I pray that you keep this crew safe as we enter into uncharted waters. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a lost soul drifting among the stars. Give me the strength of courage. Give me the wisdom I need to guide this crew. Amen.”

Right then, Commander Mwangi entered my quarters. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb your prayer sir,” she said.

“I wasn’t praying,” I replied. “I was uh…I was beating off. You know, masturbating until ejaculation?”

“I thought you said your dick don’t work. You told the whole crew.”

“Well I like to cum soft. What do you have for me?”

“This is the full report on the condition of the Sagan.” She then handed me a tablet. “While she’s holding now, the hydrogen drive might not survive a return trip to Earth. I also report that we have cleared the Astroid Belt and are approaching Jupiter. The hibernation chambers are now fully functional.”

“Very good Commander. Thank you.”

I departed for the bridge where I found Dr. Jackass marveling at Jupiter. “What a sight,” he said.

“Doctor, we were here three weeks ago,” I replied.

“I know, but this planetary beauty never ceases to amaze me.”

I nodded. “Assemble the crew,” I ordered.

The crew gathered in the hibernation section, ready to be briefed. “We will be hibernation stasis for the next 50 years. During that time the hydrogen drive will slowly pick up speed. Eventually we’ll be traveling near the speed of light,” I stated. “Once we’ve arrived at Tau Ceti, braking thrusters will fire and we will be awakened from hibernation. Have a nice long rest.”

The crew and myself then began dressing down into our undergarments. This predictably caused a stir. “Damn Patel! Does that hog have a rank of its own?” Smashhouse joked, referring to Patel’s abnormally large penis protruding through his shorts. He then looked over to Hansen. “Hey Liz! Nice tits!”

“Commander Smashhouse,” I interrupted, “behave yourself. You’re a Space Fleet officer.”

“Pardon me sir,” he replied, “hibernation makes me a little nervous.”

After he said that, I began to admire Mwangi’s body in her Space Fleet issued underwear. That’s all I could think about when I climbed into my chamber. I began to wonder if my partial erection would stay throughout hibernation stasis. Wouldn’t that have been something? A guy that hadn’t had a boner in nearly 10 years would now have a permanent one for the next 50.

It probably would have been a record.

50 years later…

Unfortunately the boner didn’t last. But I figured that I’d get it next time.

The crew slowly woke up and climbed out of their chambers. Everyone except Smashhouse.

“What’s going on?” I asked Dr. Jackass.

“It appears sir that Smashhouse didn’t make it. He died during stasis.”

The crew was stunned. Valdez began to cry. This was my first death after 20 years in command.

“Funeral will be held at 1500 hours,” I said. “Everyone please attend.”

Dr. Jackass placed Smashhouse’s body in a makeshift casket and draped the flag of Space Fleet over it. The casket was put into the the jettison chamber where it was waiting to be released.

“Unfortunately I didn’t know Commander Smashhouse for long,” I said at his eulogy. “He dedicated his life to the service of Earth and the exploration of space. This crew loved him and his presence will be sorely missed. He was a brave man.”

Dr. Jackass then readied the chamber.

“From the cosmos whence we came. To the cosmos we shall return.”

Commander Smashhouse’s casket was then released into the vast, empty void beyond.

After the funeral, Mwangi and her two engineers began work on fixing the stasis chamber. “I can’t guarantee that this won’t happen again,” Mwangi said to me. “It’s going to take a long time before we can get these chambers fully calibrated.”

“You have all the time you need,” I replied, then patted her on the shoulder.

Dr. Jackass approached me alone as I was walking towards the bridge. “When are you going to tell the crew about Earth?” he asked.

“Doctor, they just lost a fellow crew member. Now’s not the time.”

“Don’t wait too long.”

As I came onto the bridge, Valdez announced that we were approaching the fourth planet from Tau Ceti…our destination.

It’s resemblance was strikingly similar to Earth’s.

“Send out a message on the same frequency as the extraterrestrial transmission. Let it state: ‘Your message has been received. We come from Earth and are currently orbiting your planet to establish peaceful communication. Please respond.’”

Valdez relayed the transmission and the bridge stood silent until we received a response.

Moments later, a message was coming in through the computer. What appeared to me as gibberish, Dr. Jackass gawked at in amazement. “My god,” he said.

“What?”

“This appears to be a mix of Hebrew and possibly other Sumerian languages. Whatever it is, it’s definitely an Indo-European language.”

“How’s that possible? Can you decode it?”

“Running it through the computer now,” the Doctor said. He typed away frantically until the results were in. “I have it, sir. These are coordinates. A diplomatic party will be there waiting on us.”

“These guys don’t fuck around,” I said. “Alright, assemble the crew and initiate landing procedures.”

Everybody was gathered together once again. At that moment, I hadn’t yet processed the gravity of the situation. “Shortly we will begin landing on this planet, whatever the occupants call it,” I said to the crew. “You need not worry: surface conditions are extremely Earth-like. Dignitaries will be there to greet us when we land. The Doctor and I are both trained in diplomacy, and we handle this situation. Please be on your best behavior. Now strap in, we will be on the surface shortly.”

I sat on the bridge while Valdez steered the ship towards the surface. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This planet was like a second Earth.

Finally we landed on a prairie-like terrain. I walked towards the back of the ship with the Doctor where the bay doors were. I took a deep breath. “Open the doors,” I said.

We proceeded down the lowering platform, and there waiting on us were 15 humans. I was puzzled by this, but I pushed forward with the plan.

The Doctor and I walked up to the man in front. “I am Captain William Kananga. And this is my first officer, Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Earth’s Space Fleet. We come in peace.”

The man smiled. “I am Hazov. And welcome to Ishna.”

He spoke perfect English.

“How can you understand us?” I asked.

“We were able to decipher your language by monitoring your communications.”

“But how-“

“Please Captain, we will go over all the details in time. But first, you must know why we invited you here.”

“I’m listening.”

“We have undergone a massive revolution in the last 100 of your Earth years. We have taken control of Ishna by overcoming a being that both our planets are familiar with. We want to offer you a chance to bring to justice a Being so powerful that he forever altered your history.”

“I don’t understand.”

“We are offering you what was once called the One…Adonai…God.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

pennies for the dead ☠️ (part vi- all the exposition crap)

“So you’ve been in hell for 70 years Joe?” I asked.

“Why is that so hard for you to believe?”

“Did you die first? Or did you go down there for shits and giggles?”

“Unbeknownst to me, my family has been guarding this portal to hell for 200 years. Jezebel was a maid at our estate and I went outside my marriage to be with her. But Jezebel was secretly the devil and she cast me into the portal.”

“So is your body buried in that cemetery or what? If so, how the hell are you standing here with a flesh and blood body?”

“Don’t worry about it. The point is there’s been a rebellion in hell. Spirits are escaping to this earth and if we don’t stop Jezebel, there will be hell on earth!”

“Relax Joe, you’re just describing Toledo,” I said.

“You already made that joke.”

“How can three flesh and blood men stop an army of evil spirits?” Pete asked.

“While in Hell, I learned the ancient dark arts of Mesopotamia,” Joe replied. “I’ve been made a priest in these ancient religions. All I have to do is bless your weapon of choosing, and voila.”

“Can you bless the bullets of my .38?” I asked.

“Sure can.”

“Hell yeah!”

“What about my pocket knife?” Pete asked.

“That’s a pretty lame weapon, Pete.”

“Grab as many weapons as you can carry,” Joe replied.

“What about this machete?” Pete asked.

“What about this IWI Tavor TS12 shotgun?” I asked.

“Yes, yes. I will bless them all. We must hurry though.”

“Thanks Joe!” I said. “By the way, I’ve always wondered: what’s it like having sex with Satan?”

TO BE CONTINUED

pennies for the dead 💀 (part v)

“I don’t know Sheila,” I said, “you’ve faked demonic possessions before.”

“Try me, asswipe!” she replied. Then I pumped a few bullets into her chest.

Nothin

“Alright, so I guess you’re Jezebel,” I said. “Where’s Pete?”

“His soul resides in HELL for all eternity!!!!”

“Good, he’s a Boston sports fan,” I said, “he needs to know how that feels.”

“You will join him soon enough!”

“Sorry sister, I already live in Ohio.”

I pulled the trigger again but I already emptied the revolver. I threw the gun at her and started running down the hallway while screaming for my life.

I hid in the closet under the staircase. Of course, it didn’t take long for her to find me. Using her demonic powers, Jezebel began to eat my soul. I started praying. “God, I regret everything,” I said.

Then God responded. Thunderbolts began raining down on Jezebel from some unseen force and she retreated into the shadows. I was still alive.

I crawled out from the closet. In front of me stood a wizard-like figure dressed in white robes and holding a staff.

“Thank you Jesus,” I said.

“I’m not Jesus,” the figure replied. “I’m Joe Morris.”

I stood up. “Joe Morris? Shouldn’t you be 120 years old?”

“119 to be precise.”

Then Pete ran down the hallway. “Ty! I’m still alive!” he said.

“I thought you went to hell,” I replied.

“I did. It ain’t such a bad place. I got to meet Dave Cowens.”

“He’s still alive dumbass.”

“Are you sure? By the way, did you piss your pants?”

“I did. It’s a side effect of my elavil prescription. Where did Jezebel go?”

“She went back to hell to lick her wounds,” Joe Morris said. “We must go to the cellar, return to hell, and make sure she never returns.”

“Fuck that,” I said. “This ain’t my problem. I’ll just collect the money from Dorthy and be on my merry way.”

Right then, a possessed Dorthy flew down from the ceiling and attacked me. While I fought her off, Joe Morris released more thunderbolts from his staff. Finally, she flew off of me and began writhing on the ground before whatever cursed spirit that possessed her left her body. Dorthy was dead.

“Mother!” Pete screamed.

“She hasn’t been your mother for a long time,” Joe said.

I took a moment to gather myself.

“Alright,” I said, “I need to change my pants before we go to the cellar,”

TO BE CONTINUED…

pennies for the dead (part iv)

I quietly hoped that Pete lived a lonely, miserable life. He never mentioned anything about a spouse. His mother was barely cognizant of his existence. Honestly, he seemed to be a stupid sack of shit and nobody would have missed him.

But I didn’t want anyone reporting his disappearance. What would I have told the police? That he was sucked into some black hole in the middle of the woods?

I had to find Pete. And finding Pete probably led to solving the mystery of Joe Morris’ death.

Actually, I could have walked away from this entire thing and no one would have been the wiser. But I knew the spirits were listening in. I had to get to the bottom of this thing before they got to me.

I picked up the spirit box. “Listen here, damn you,” I said, “I know you can hear me. I want some answers! Where’s Pete? Who’s Jezebel?!”

The spirit box began scanning through the channels before spitting out “suck.my.penis.”

That’s it, I thought. I reloaded the .38 and went back to the Morris Estate.

It was 12:30am. I pounded on Dorthy’s door. “Is it the milk man?” I heard her ask. “Come in!”

I opened the door and there was Dorthy playing Trivial Pursuit alone. “Damn it Dorthy!” I said, “I need answers! Who’s Jezebel?!”

“Jezebel? She’s been dead for 20 years.”

“Records say she died in 1951. Stop jackin me around!” I pulled out the .38. I meant business.

The candles around the aged mansion began to flicker. Random objects started to move: books flipped open, mirrors were rattling, the record player was blasting Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’. Dorthy meanwhile went into a trance. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she backed up into the shadows.

I turned on the spirit box. “Alright Jezebel! I know you’re on to me,” I said. “Talk to me! Let’s settle this thing!”

Suddenly the doors flew open. A woman floated into the room. Her eyes were as dark as night.

I lifted the .38.

But it was Sheila.

“Sheila, you’re drunk,” I said. “Go home!”

“I am not Sheila,” the demonic voice said. “I am Jezebel!”

TO BE CONTINUED

pennies for the dead (part iii?)

“Sorry babe,” I said to Sheila. “I got the whiskey dick.”

“It’s alright, I’m used to it,” she replied. “Maybe you shouldn’t drink before sex.”

“I wouldn’t know. Never tried it.”

Sheila climbed out of bed and got dressed. As she put her shirt on, she noticed the crap on the floor. “What’s this stuff?” she asked.

“Don’t touch it,” I said, “that’s a spirit box and a Ouija board. You might awaken a demon from hell. Trust me, that’s one can of worms you can’t close.”

“What are you doing with that?”

“It’s some case that I’m scamming *ahem* I mean helping some old lady solve.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“Oh yeah, totally.” I looked over to the clock and noticed it was 7:30pm. “Speaking of, gotta get to work.” I got out of bed and threw my pants on. “You can stay here for the night,” I told Sheila, “but remember: DO NOT touch that damn Ouija board.”

I was running late. I had to meet Pete at the Morris estate where he was going to shed some light on Jezebel’s identity.

I arrived 45 minutes later. It was nearly pitch black. I grabbed my flask and flashlight and got to work. “This better be worth my time,” I told Pete.

“I told you that you’re not gonna need that .38,” he said.

“You let me be the judge of that.”

We began venturing into the woods. There was allegedly a cellar back behind the mansion that contained the remains of Jezebel. “I’ve been told all my life that this is an old Indian burial ground,” Pete said.

“Why didn’t you tell me that before I pissed on that hedge?” I asked.

“There it is,” he said. I shinned my flashlight in that direction. The cellar was only a few yards ahead.

“How far down is it?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I never been down there.”

I lit up a cigarette. “You go first,” I said.

Pete gathered up his courage and proceeded towards the cellar. He took a deep breath before going down the stairs. The cellar was deep. Too deep for my liking.

I put one hand on the .38.

Finally we reached the bottom. We were standing in a wide, musty corridor with multiple chambers. “What the hell was this place used for?” I asked Pete.

“Supposedly this was a torture chamber for runaway soldiers during the Civil War. Many slaves lost their lives down here.”

“Pete, I’m beginning to think that your family deserves to be cursed.”

“What’s this?” Pete asked. I shined the flashlight over to an old fire pit littered with ash and bones.

Then the cellar door slammed close.

I pulled out the 38. “Stay calm,” I said.

“I told you there’s something strange going on here!”

“Shut up Pete.”

“I can’t die down here! The Celtics are in the playoffs!”

“Pete, so help me god, if you don’t shut up I’ll shoot you myself!”

Suddenly my flashlight went out. Then something grabbed Pete. “Damn you Brad Stevens!!!!!!!” he screamed before disappearing into the dark.

I started firing indiscriminately into the shadows.

“Pete!” I screamed out.

There was only silence.

The flashlight kicked back on and I shined it all around the corridor. Pete was nowhere to be found. “Fuck this,” I said as I sprinted back up the stairs and to the car.

I floored the Geo Metro back to the apartment. I rushed in through the door and began frantically looking for the Ouija board. “Damn it Sheila!” I yelled. “What did you do with the Ouija board?”

Sheila stumbled out of the kitchen with a glass of wine. “The planchette began moving around,” she said as she slurred her words. “It started spelling out ‘You’re next’, ‘Hail Satan’, and ‘I heart ass’ I didn’t know what that meant so I threw it into the fireplace.”

“Sheila,” I said, “I might’ve opened a portal to hell.”

TO BE CONTINUED

pennies 4 the dead (part II)

I couldn’t shake the feeling of being followed.

I had a hunch that it was the repo man coming to take the Geo Metro. I pulled out my .38 and shouted into the dark. “I have your filthy money!” I yelled. “Show yourself!”

Out of the shadows, I heard a thick Boston accent: “Are you Mista Cahson?” it asked.

“What’s it to ya PAL?!”

The figure stepped forth slowly from the shadows. He was tossing a baseball into the air.

“I’m Mista Pete Morris,” the figure said. “I’m son of Dorthy Morris, your client. I understand that you’ve been taking my mutha’s money.”

“She’s been giving it to me in larger amounts than I’ve been asking. That’s hardly stealing,” I replied.

“Hey ohhh, buddy! I ain’t said nuthin about stealing.”

“Then you better make your point. I have a .38 aiming between your eyeballs.”

Pete straightened up his jacket and began stammering nervously. “All I’m asking is that you let me in on the cut,” he said.

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “I work better alone. Besides, fuck the Red Sox.”

“I’m tellin ya,” Pete said, “there’s somethin goin on with Dorthy.”

“Yeah, it’s called dementia.”

“No. There’s something else goin on up there at that estate. Something that can’t be explained, not of this world. Some things just can’t be stopped by bullets, ya know?”

Pete then tossed the baseball again and I shot it out of the air.

“I haven’t found one yet,” I said.

“Look, I have all the answers you’re looking for,” Pete continued. “The death of Joe Morris is deeper than you think.”

I put the gun back into my holster. “Buddy,” I said, “if you’re trying to grift your rich elderly mother out of her money, you’re gonna have to find another angle.”

As I turned around to finish my walk home, Pete spoke up again. “I know about Jezebel,” he said.

“So do I pal,” I said as I continued walking, “she was Dorthy’s sister who died of pneumonia a year before Joe’s death. She was 20 years old.”

“That’s not the whole story,” Pete replied, “in fact, she wasn’t Dorthy’s sister.”

I stopped, turned around, and pulled out a cigarette. “Alright bucko,” I said, “now you’ve got my attention.”

TO BE CONTINUED