Cud Flashes In the Pan


 

Cud Flashes In the Pan
This month’s theme: Not April Fools’ Day
David M. Fitzpatrick

This month’s theme: Not April Fools’ Day

Last month edition of Cud Flashes had a theme that was allegedly “April Showers” but none of the stories had rain in them—and all of them were nonsensical in different ways. You’ll have to read last month’s edition to appreciate it (or not appreciate it). The gag, of course, was that the column honored April Fools’ Day. The stories were deliberately pointless. It worked: The Cud’s editor thought that I’d lost my mind, or that maybe I was testing him to see if he actually read my stuff before publishing it

But I’ve had a few people complain about the story “All the Whys”; the gag there was that the story was apparently serious and hopefully engrossing, promising a big reveal at the end, but the story cut off in mid-sentence just before that reveal. Fun gag, right? But evidently some folks liked the story and really wanted to know how it ended. So here it is… NOT cut off in mid-sentence on the eighth day as Sam is about to reveal his whys.

 

“All the Whys”
Apocalyptic Fantasy
By David M. Fitzpatrick

It was eight days until Sam would destroy the world. It was not a task he took lightly, but he knew that it had to be done. And he knew that, on the eighth day, he would let the world know WHY—let them know about all the whys. They wouldn’t like it for the first seven days, but once he finally imparted the whys to them, they would understand and welcome their destruction.

On the first day, he let them know that he was destroying the world on the eighth, and that he would tell them all the whys then. Naturally, no one believed him. Just another crackpot, they thought.

On the second day, he destroyed New York City. Many saw him do it, and they knew that he was that nameless person they’d taken for a crackpot the day before. They took him seriously after New York was flattened, a comparatively minor prelude to the coming apocalypse. Sam hovered above the burning, flattened wasteland, blue fire still glowing around his hands. He let the news outlets know that he didn’t want to do this—any of it—but that he did have to destroy the world on Day Eight. He would tell them on that morning why, and he reminded them that they would understand and agree when he did.

On the third day, in the earliest hours when it was still dark and the world was frantically trying to figure it all out, and with cameras trained on him as he flew, Sam directed the powerful blue energy out of his hands and at the moon. It was full and bright in the black night sky, and it took a few seconds for his magic to reach it, but he poured everything that he had into it until the entire moon glowed blue against the darkness. And then it exploded into million big pieces and a zillion smaller ones, and the debris began to rain down upon the Earth, even as a sparkling ring formed abut the planet, at least for the time being. The Earth would meet the same fate, he told them, and reminded them that they would know why on the morning of that fateful eighth day.

On the fourth day, the United States of America pooled its massive military resources together and attacked him, because everyone had figured out that he wasn’t kidding around. They spent the entire day launching missiles at him, but he only deflected most of them and survived any that made it through. By nightfall, what had been the ruins of New York were mostly flooded, since the island of Manhattan had been blasted below sea level.

On the fifth day, still not wanting to hear of his reasons why, the rest of the world joined the Americans and attacked him with all of the destructive power of the entire planet’s combined military might. Much of New York State was obliterated in the process, but Sam was never worried. He withstood it all until there was nothing left to throw at him, and when they finally launched nuclear missiles at him, he neatly redirected them out of the atmosphere and toward the sun. Then he told the news crews that they were wasting their time, that the end was coming, that he would bring about that end, and before he did he would tell them all the whys. He told them that they should spend their remaining time not trying useless attempts to stop him, but instead being with their family and friends, sharing love and peace together toward the end.

On the sixth day, nobody attacked him. Everyone did spend time being with their family and friends, sharing love and peace together. The news stations focused on the eighth day, when Sam would tell them all the whys, and how they would understand. Sam rested, knowing that they were coming to accept it—and that would make the eighth day, and his explanation, even easier for them to accept.

On the seventh day, people came to him on the hilltop where he had camped, begging to hear the whys. He told them that they had to wait until tomorrow; that was the way it was. Some cursed him, but others thanked him for being willing to give them the foreknowledge at all before their existences were terminated. Many hugged him. Many more cried.

And finally the eighth day came. Sam rose with the sun and made his way to the edge of the hilltop, looking down at the countless thousands of pilgrims who had gathered below to hear him speak. And he spoke to them, his words carrying across the crowd even as television broadcasts carried them around the world.

“I have been given this great power,” he said, “from God. And God has commanded me to use it to bring about the end of the world.”

The crowd gasped a collective gasp.

“God has told me that evil has overrun the world, and so it must end,” Sam said. “God has told me that those of you who are virtuous deserve a greater world than Earth, and so its destruction will take you to a better place. And God has told me that the only way to peace is through the destruction of Earth and its legions of evil sinners.”

There was murmuring, talking, crying.

“And when God decrees something,” Sam said, “clearly it is right and just and what must happen. So now you know. And, as I promised, once you heard the whys behind it, you would understand… and welcome the end of the world with open arms!”

“But I don’t understand!” someone in the crowd cried out.

“Then you are one of the evil ones!” Sam hollered back.

“But not everyone is a Christian!” another yelled.

“And all of them will die as they should!” Sam shouted.

Questions flew at him, and all over the world people asked their TV sets and their computers and each other. And every doubter, every person who felt that he was wrong—well, Sam knew that they were not true and virtuous, and he told them so.

“What about innocent little babies?” a woman screamed. “They can’t be evil!”

“Then God shall welcome them to Heaven,” he cried, but he knew the time for answers was over. The doubters would never stop questioning; the true believers knew that he was right, and they were ready for it. He raised his hands to his sides and they began to glow blue—a brighter blue than even when he had destroyed the moon. As he raised them higher, they glowed ever brighter until the thousands of people below him averted their eyes. He brought them together above his head and a blue sun blazed mightily, holy fire preparing to finally do as God had commanded. Below, through the whining hum that accompanied his power, Sam could hear the chants of the faithful, welcoming the coming apocalypse. They sang hymns of praise, cried hallelujah, blessed him as he was about to bring about the end of the world.

Sam felt his heart swell, felt his smile broaden. God had chosen him—HIM, no one else!—for this great honor. He had never been one of those far-right fundamentalist types, and certainly not an end-of-days kind of a guy. He went to church rarely. But he believed, and although he’d always thought of himself as lazy with his religion, clearly God saw something that he didn’t. He would be God’s greatest follower in the next world!

He took a deep breath, flung his hands down, and let the blue magic explode into the ground. He felt it burrow deep into the Earth, all the way to its molten core, and felt it building up inside the planet, like a ball being filled with a million times the air but somehow not bursting. But Sam could feel the magic saturate the world, surrounding every molecule and every atom and every subatomic particle, until the world was so completely full of God’s power and wrath that it couldn’t hold any more of the overwhelming destruction.

Then the Earth exploded.

*   *   *

Karn and Vooj watched the monitor as the Earth went from shining blue marble to a zillion bits of cosmic space dust in a moment. The blue energy billowed outward and faded quickly away, and there was nothing left. The aliens stared in silence at the monitor for a long while.

“Wow,” the tall, slender Karn finally said, shaking his purple head. His tall ears jiggled as he did, as did his curly green hair. “Extraordinary.”

“You said it,” Vooj replied. He was orange, and short and round, and had no ears. Yellow quills, blunt and tubular, jutted from his head. “And this was not one of the extremist ones. He believed in his religion, but was never an apocalyptic nut job.”

Karn folded two pairs of arms across his chest and drummed his sides with all fourteen fingers. “This is disturbing. We expected this from the real crazies, but…”

“Now, hang on a second,” Vooj said, holding up two pancake-shaped hands with six wriggling tentacles on each. “I think any human that believe this silliness at all is crazy. They don’t have to be apocalyptic to be mentally unbalanced.”

“Before this, I would have argued that, but clearly even basic belief is dangerous in these Earth creatures.” Karn rested two hands on his hips, stroked his cheek with another, and snapped off the monitor with his fourth. “It is obvious that humans aren’t ready for contact. Any exposure to great power would turn them into a gang of intergalactic world destroyers—all in the name of their ridiculous mythology.”

“We should do more tests.”

“We’ve tested hundreds of them!”

“I mean more tests on people like this human. Just to be sure that all believers are this dangerous.”

Karn snorted. “I think this test has made it clear. We even gave this one eight days to figure out that what he was planning was a bad idea. These people are governed by their religions. No matter where you look on that planet, religious people control the laws and the cultures. They rule with superstition. They trample the rights of others in the names of their religions. They ignore science in favor of what they would rather believe. The eschew rational thought and critical thinking when it conflicts with their mythologies. And their capacity to believe anything that they think a deity is telling them to do is frightening at the least and dangerous to all of us out here at the worst.”

He turned to the window behind it, and Vooj shambled up to join him. Beyond was the unconscious human on the table, his head surrounded by the interface to the virtual-world computer system. In his imagined reality, where he had just destroyed everyone and everything, he was pleased, for his unconscious face bore a broad smile.

“This one believed that his god gave him the power to destroy the world, and he did so without question,” Karn said. “Imagine what just one of them could do out here with the rest of us.”

“I’d rather not.”

“Wipe his memory and teleport him back to Earth. I think we’ve found all the answers we need here.”

“Yes, sir.”

Karn shrugged four shoulders. “Who knows—maybe if we come back this way in a thousand years, things might be different. But for now, quarantine this entire sector, and let’s move on to more deserving worlds.”

David M. Fitzpatrick is a fiction writer in Maine, USA. His many short stories have appeared in print magazines and anthologies around the world. He writes for a newspaper, writes fiction, edits anthologies, and teaches creative writing. Visit him at www.fitz42.net/writer to learn more.