AND THAT, MY CHILDREN, IS WHY WE CAN’T GO TO SPACE ANYMORE • by Shane Halbach

God the Almighty stirred the starry firmament. Galaxies swirled and stars were born, their white brilliance standing like beacons against the endless night of space.

When the galaxy known as the Milky Way was just the right consistency, God reached in and took a scoop, slathering his toast with it. Quickly, he added extra toppings.

God the Almighty looked upon his carefully created BLT sandwich, and it was good.

He sat at his table and opened his mouth wide, preparing to savor every bite. Of course, the bacon wasn’t exactly kosher, but what good were rules without a couple of exceptions now and then? And besides, who was watching?

Just at that moment, a large projectile streaked by this kitchen window, spewing flame and thundering like that idiot Thor up on his World Tree. It startled God so badly, that he dropped his sandwich on the floor. He ran to the window just in time to see it scatter the heavenly choir who had been harping outside of his window.

“What the hell was that?” he bellowed into the silence left in the aftermath of the ear-splitting passage of the projectile, and the absence of the harpers.

The angel Lyronica appeared. “It’s called a rocket, O Lord. They’ve been lighting them off like crazy down on Earth.”

“I thought I told you and Curliticus and Moronicus to watch things down there while I went to make a sandwich?”

“We have been watching! A lot has happened. You were gone 500 years, you know.”

“Perfection takes time,” God said defensively. “I’m the Creator, I ought to know. Besides, I didn’t even get to enjoy it.”

He thought wistfully of the BLT on his kitchen floor. How long had it been sitting there? Five decade rule.

“What do those idiots think they’re doing? I thought I made it pretty clear that I was up here. They could put somebody’s eye out!”

“They’re not really sure where you are, O Lord. Curliticus, Moronicus, and I have been handling your calls, but mostly we just left them alone. Should we have told them you were busy?”

“No, no, of course not. They’re not supposed to know exactly what I’m up to.” He puffed out his chest. “Makes me seem mysterious.”

“Well, they’re going to find out soon enough. They’re planning a manned mission.”

“WHAT?” roared the Almighty. “They can’t come up here! I haven’t cleaned. There are dishes in the sink, and I’m not even wearing pants!”

“Well, you better get moving. I’d say they’ll be here in less than 30 years.”

“This cannot be allowed. The only way into heaven is to lead a virtuous life and observe all the various obscure technicalities I buried in the major religions. Them’s the rules!”

“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger,” said Lyronica. “You’re preaching to the choir here!”

The re-assembled heavenly choir plucked their harps appreciatively.

“All right. What we need is a plan.”

***

The door on the lander hissed open. The round white dome of an astronaut’s helmet poked out.

“Shh,” said God. “Keep your head down.”

Lyronica, Curliticus, and Moronicus crouched behind a conveniently placed boulder.

Slowly the astronaut descended the lander’s ladder and stepped onto the surface of the moon.

“That’s right,” God muttered under his breath. “Nothing to see here. Totally boring. No sense in coming back.”

The astronaut planted a flag in the dry lunar surface.

“Is the lighting off somehow?” whispered Moronicus. “The shadows don’t seem right.”

“Too late now,” Lyronica whispered back. “Besides, they’ll never notice.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to put on a monster suit and rush them?” whispered Curliticus.

“For the last time, no!” hissed God. “They’d be back here for sure to hunt down the monsters. We’re going for uninteresting.”

Eventually the astronauts got back in their lander and returned to Earth.

“Splendid!” shouted God when they were gone, clapping Lyronica on the back. “There’s no way they’ll want to come back to this boring old ball of dust.”

***

“Phase two,” said God. “Boring didn’t work, but I have another idea. We’ve got to put a little scare in them.”

Curliticus huffed in annoyance.

“We’re inventing something called ‘space aliens’. I want the three of you to go down there and really sell this thing. Don’t let them know you’re angels. Use a monster suit or something. Nothing drastic, don’t kill anybody. Maybe just a little… probing.”

***

“…and the usual crop of prayers for sports teams,” finished Lyronica.

“Grant victory to whichever side prays harder. Unless one of the teams is on the banned list, of course. Anything else?” asked God.

“Well, there is this matter of space aliens.”

“Ah, yes! How goes the probing?”

“Well, that depends on who you ask.”

“Have you dissuaded any further missions into heaven?”

“No, sir…”

“Maybe if you probed a few more actual people, instead of focusing on the livestock,” muttered God.

Lyronica pretended not to hear him.

“It seems they want to place a permanent structure up here, called a space station.”

“What?” roared God. “This is completely unacceptable!”

The Almighty rolled up his sleeves.

“You want to play hardball, I’ll play hardball. But it’s not going to be pretty.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Lyronica, alarmed. “Nothing too drastic, I hope.”

“The only thing I can do: begin a long term campaign of politics, misdirection, and economic corruption, ultimately resulting in the slashing of science and research budgets.”

“Do you think you can pull it off? I mean, that’s usually the work of you-know-who.” Lyronica pointed downwards.

“Please,” scoffed God, “where do you think he learned his tricks? This will be easier than making a BLT sandwich.”


Shane Halbach lives in Chicago with his wife and two kids, where he writes software by day and avoids writing stories by night. His fiction has appeared on Escape Pod, Redstone SF, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere. He blogs regularly at shanehalbach.com or can be found on Twitter @shanehalbach.


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