Making Divinity

The Cabbage-Patch God
The Dolls’ Crusade
A Natural Attraction
A Remarkable Reaction
*Bradley the Magnificent

Brad felt good, really good, as he got out of his red Mustang coupe. Why Officer Kelly hadn’t given him a speeding ticket he had no idea. He would’ve bet on Kelly ticketing God Himself for going 90 in a 45 zone. My mojo kicks ass, he thought. His grin faltered as he stumbled over the weirdly cracked and rippled pavement in the middle of the school parking lot. The pavement that, he told himself firmly, had NOT spontaneously shaken itself last week into an uncanny semblance of his own face. He scowled in concentration all the way up the front steps. Behind him, the parking lot smoothed out like the still surface of a pond.

When Brad walked into school at 8:04, Assistant Principal Goodwin was waiting in front of the office, arms folded.

“Bradley Jones,” she said, shaking her head as though looking at something disgusting left by a puppy, “I told you yesterday …”

“I am not tardy,” Brad said.

“…that you are right on time. Keep up the good work, young man.” She wheeled around and marched into the office, the door swinging shut behind her.

Wow, it worked on Goodwin, too. Somehow he’d acquired supernatural powers overnight. Brad’s grin was back. As he strolled toward Mr. Datta’s math class he wondered, did a God need algebra? Did He even need high school?

At lunch, that stupid freshman Kayla whatshername stared at him with an intensity that was truly unnerving. He could feel her gaze from three tables away. “Seriously creepy,” he muttered. She had become obsessed with him lately, and no matter how rude he was it made no difference. “I wish she wasn’t interested in me at all,” he thought. There was a noiseless thump, and Kayla looked away. Good! But he was momentarily nauseated, and so dizzy he had to grip the edge of the table till the room stopped whirling.

“You alright?” Chuck asked, “Brad?”

Brad waved him away and stood up quickly, but all afternoon he felt odd.

Driving home as fast as the Mustang would go, Brad found Officer Kelly waiting for him. This would be no problem. But Kelly hit the lights and pulled him over. No matter what Brad said, thought, or did, Kelly took out his ticket book and wrote a $238 ticket, which Mom would not pay for.


To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line kindly provided to us by the illustrious Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see how Alex, Dan and have handled the challenge, and come back tomorrow to see what Kat Beyer comes up with…

Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists’ waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. Being a ghost, he rarely got a reply, but he lived for the few he got.

‘Lived’ being relative.

First was Lily. He hovered behind Doctor Frost, reading that Lily had been raised by a mother that wanted her to be a model. Lily could not be thin enough, graceful enough, blah blah blah. Zoli rolled his ectoplasmic eyes.

She came out to the waiting room and stepped up to the receptionist’s window. Zoli made his move. He flew in front of her and said, “Hey, baby. Rub that lamp some more, because wish number one just came true!”

Lily screamed, clutched her chest, and fell, her soul flitting upward where Zoli could not follow. “Massive heart trauma,” said the EMT. “Never seen a heart tear itself up that badly.”

The next 312 women he hit on walked right through him.

Then came Dekanawida. Zoli poked his head through Doctor Yough’s chest to peer at his notes. Awful handwriting. Something about sexual abuse from her father, something about multiple sex partners, something about sabotaging her own successes.

She walked out of the doctor’s office to find Zoli waiting. “Hey sweetie,” he said. “If you give me the time of day I’ll give you the time of your life!”

Dekanawida stumbled back, tripped over a magazine stand, and cracked her skull open on a water cooler. DOA. Very DOA, maybe even VVDOA.

And Zoli got it. He totally understood. When a chick saw him, it meant she was about to croak. You’d almost think he was a jinx or something.

He couldn’t keep away. Something about haunting psychiatrists seemed just so right. Another thousand or so women passed through him.

Third, and last to be honest, was Melissa. When Zoli first saw her, it was like a bolt of lightning stabbed him right through his impalpable heart. He’d mimed lov before, but he knew the real thing when it hit him. He stayed in Doctor TenDening’s waiting room, suddenly not willing to intrude. He wanted to leave, he really ought to beat it, but he just couldn’t.

When she emerged, there he was. “Um,” he said. “Er, hello.”

She didn’t scream. She didn’t jump away. Unfortunately, what she did do was turn around and walk back into the psychiatrist’s office.

She committed herself to the asylum that very night. Zoli happily followed.

“Send you home?” said the Green Empress, eyes ablaze. “My dear girl, whyever would I want to do that?”

Anya knelt low in front of the Empress’ throne, pressed down by the shafts of the spears carried by Mister Shiftless and Mister Hopeless, whose loyalties had abruptly shifted back upon their subterranean inception into the fortress. Though they both had said, “Sorry,” she couldn’t really blame them for wanting to curry favor with their old employer.

“Because I am asking nicely,” Anya said, raising her eyes; with the weight on her shoulders, all she could see were the Empress’ knees. Anya’s father the cat miaowed softly behind her; she presumed he was also constrained in some way. She didn’t know where the rabbit and the Turtle had been taken. “Plus,” she said, “it’s the right thing to do.”

The Empress leaned forward. “Do I look like the type of person who tends to do the right thing?” She sighed and continued. “For your kind of request, there is always a price. What can you give me in return for such a great entreaty?”

“I have nothing more than what you see,” Anya said.

“Wrong, girl. You have very much more. I could take your soft palette; you didn’t have one until the surgery when you were six months old, so I’d just be returning you to your original state.”

Anya tongued the roof of her mouth and said nothing.

“Or, even better, I could take your name. Not even your entire name, just one letter, that would suffice.” The Green Empress’ index finger reached down and lightly touched Anya’s middle-forehead, the third eye, the Ajna chakra, Anya-Ajna, and for a brief blinding moment the world flashed indigo and silent, and she felt something removed from her, a strange sensation of losing something she’d never known she’d had.

The weights on her shoulders lifted, and the Green Empress said, “Rise, Ana, and go home.” In the Empress’ cupped right hand was a weak ball of bluish light that pulsed slowly; with her left, she performed a complicated series of gestures and a circular portal of hazy blackness opened in front of Ana. “Step through, and you shall be home.”

A high screeching yowl, and then a small cat, mottled and striped and blotched in patterns of grey, leapt from over Ana’s head and pounced on the Empress’ hand, biting and scratching, a blur of teeth and claws, then it snatched the pulsing bluishness in its teeth and bounded once again into Ana’s arms.

The Empress screamed, “Kill them both!” Without thinking, Ana sprung forward into the fuliginous darkness, falling into the black hole where sight, sound, and everything else were obliterated.

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01: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall
02: The World, Under
03: Androcles Again
04: Look Into My Eyes, You’re Under
05: Shiftless, Hopeless
06: Cricetinae’s Paroxysm
07: Wind and Harmony
08: Dragons at Dawn

Foon Chye shivered amongst the acres of abandoned cars at the Bahru checkpoint, and hoisted his messenger bag higher on his shoulder. An unusually cold December in the whole of Southeast Asia, with tropical Tinhau dipping into the high teens, Centigrade. Living only a degree above the equator had not prepared him for less than sweltering days drenched in sunshine and humidity, and his jean jacket barely protected him from the damp chill of the season.

The autos had long been plundered for their oil reserves and copper wiring in the xenophobic days following the Crackdown, but more precious treasure could be had if you knew where to look. Away from the electric fencing and barbed wire, Foon Chye passed stripped Beamers, Mercs, and Lexi, and went straight for a yellow Mini Cooper with a black top. Minis always had a bit of a rebellious streak, something he was counting on. He boosted the bonnet and located the onboard AI. From his bag he extracted various cables, and attached them to the ports on the small black box; the other ends went into his netbook. A quick and dirty interface, download, and reboot later, and through the netbook’s speakers the Mini said, “Master?”

“No, lah” Foon Chye said. “Just a friend. You me, we spread a bit mischief, ah?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Gahmen tag all us with RFID implant, read personal private data anytime, ask no permission. Continual surveillance, 24/7. But dis ordinator,” he said, patting the netbook, “I just finish hack yesterday. Gon plug into nationwide wifi net, scramble RFID data everywhere, replace with useless bits look like green fire. Set people free, ah.”

“Freedom is good,” the Mini said. “I wish to be free.”

“We all wish. You help me, I set you free. Shiok?”

“But what do you want with me?”

“Gahmen killdozers very cheem, hunt down rogue programs quicksharp. But they got no imagination, no creativity. My apps and devs give you edge, make you unstoppable, lorh. So?”

The Mini hesitated for a just a moment.

“Shiok,” it said. “When do we start?”

Foon Chye smiled and stuffed the netbook back in his bag. The first step toward liberation. He could almost see the Bahru checkpoint unclenching, the physical border with Malaya open once again, as well as electronically with the rest of the world. He picked his way through the dead husks of metal, and headed out of the automobile graveyard with his new friend.

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