Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Original Sin

by Jonathan Wood

“What is God?”

The old man bent his head. When he raised it, he looked rueful. “God, my dear,” he said, hesitantly. “God is love.”


Emeril stood upon the platform as it rose higher, her parents behind her. They were level with God’s knees now. Massive metal sheets flexed in His skin as servos adjusted to tiny changes in air pressure. Oxygen tanks, resting on a table, would be required once they were at shoulder height. Beside them lay the knife.


The old man was waiting for something. She thought hard.

“What is love?” she asked tentatively.

“Ah.” The old man smiled. “Love is sacrifice.”


Project Deus had begun almost immediately after the Fall. While the theories differed in specifics, all agreed: the Fall had occurred in the absence of God. For redemption, His return was required.

So thirty-seven years passed in hard labor. And even as hurricanes raged, radiation seals failed, birth defects multiplied, hopes rose with the growing juggernaut. And now… Now the machine was built.

But a machine was not God. To become God, more was required.


“What is sacrifice?” she asked.

But the old man shook his head. He reached for the dog collar lying on his desk and led her out to the platform where her parents were waiting.


Her parents led her from the platform onto a metal grill set into God’s head. Through it she could see the funnels that fed into the AI engines that sat behind God’s lake-sized eyes.


“They could have used synthetic blood, couldn’t they?” she had asked her father, as they rose past God’s navel.

“It’s not the same,” he said.

“It’s identical,” she objected.

“No,” said her mother. “Not for the worshipers.”


Her father fetched the table with the knife. He placed it between them, closed his eyes, whispered a prayer.

Emeril seized the moment and the knife. She lunged, thrusting it into her mother’s neck. Blood sprayed. Thick. Arterial. She whirled. Her father put up his hands. She slashed his wrists.

“Why?” he asked as he bled out.

“God is love,” she said. “Love is sacrifice. And apparently no one cares who is sacrificed.” She wiped a smear of blood from her cheek. “Except me.”


Emeril stood upon the platform as it descended. And she prayed as God began to stir.

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One Response to “Original Sin”

  1. Mechaieh Says:

    September 17th, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Whooah. Eep. Nicely done.