Making Divinity

The Cabbage-Patch God

The Dolls’ Crusade

*A Natural Attraction

A Remarkable Reaction

The Cabbage-Patch God decided to extend Her dominion over humans in order to protect Her future. Gods only exist as long as they have worshipers, and She was afraid that Her plush and painted congregation on the toy shelves didn’t count. Her only human worshiper was Kayla, Her creator. Friday night two of Kayla’s friends were sleeping over. This was a perfect opportunity to win the adoration of Britney and Whitney.

When the doorbell rang, Kayla ran down the stairs, shrieking with delight. She did not carry the Cabbage-Patch God with her, as she had done constantly for the past two weeks. The God felt a pang of worry. It might already be too late.

The three girls burst into the room, clattering past the Cabbage-Patch God where she lay slumped against the wall at the foot of the bed. The girls huddled in front of the desk, and the God could not see what they were looking at.

“He’s SO cute!” Whitney exclaimed, almost dancing in place. There was a faint click.

Britney giggled. “Look at this one! I love his floppy little ears.” More clicks.

Kayla squealed and leaned forward, pointing at something. “This is the cutest puppy ever! I love it SO much!”

The God suddenly felt nauseated and a pulse of weakness passed through Her. She squeezed Her eyes shut and gestured. Giant snowflakes in pastel pink and blue materialized above the girls and began to fall silently. The girls continued to laugh and talk excitedly. They didn’t notice the colored snowflakes because the flakes, which formed just below the ceiling, popped out of existence a few inches above the girls’ heads. The flurry’s intensity diminished. The flakes faded to white, shrank, and finally ceased altogether.

The God rubbed Her eyes vigorously. She needed to do better than that. The Cabbage-Patch God clenched Her fists, gathering Her powers. Let the girls ignore a full-size pink elephant! The wall beside Kayla’s bed acquired a pinkish hue. An irregular bulge suggested tusks, a trunk, and a broad forehead. Kayla’s mother called from downstairs. The wall snapped back to vertical and returned to a color that Sherwin-Williams had called “Ivory.”

“Girls! Lunch time.”

“I’m starved!” Whitney shouted, and all three ran laughing from the room.

Kayla’s room was silent. On the desk a computer screen showed a photograph of a dog. It almost looked like the dog could jump right out of the screen. But nothing moved or made a sound.

The end

Four centuries after Colnel Braithwaite discovered Shangri-La, the bottom fell out of the Yeti market. Their furs were so prevalent and the creatures themselves so rare that anything new was too expensive to afford, and anything old was worthless.

This disaster was the final breaking point for the community that had grown up in the beautiful valley hidden among the Himalayan peaks. At first, of course, all had been well. There had been the celebrations at the valley’s discovery, then the joys of immortality brought about by the fountain at it’s heart, then the marriages, and children, and endless bounty.

But then had come the Sherpa uprising, and the quarrel between Braithwaite and Elkin, his old corporal, and Elkin’s settlement to the north, and then there had been the fracturing loyalties of Braithwaite’s sons, until he found he could barely walk more than a stone’s throw from his tent door before coming to someone else’s territory.

And so then had come the treatises and the chopping down of trees to form jagged barriers, and the carefully negotiated neutral grounds, for trade and hunting. And then the damn Yetis had gone and died out on him. Couldn’t even trust the wildlife of this thrice-damned valley to copulate properly.

War was the only option.

With the fountain’s waters there were few deaths. At least one inhabitant did, however, consider it–Braithwaite’s great grandson, Charles. He looked out over the valley and saw none of the green he had been told of, none of the trees. Only the criss-crossing of stockade and trench.

It seemed too much like cowardice to simply die though–a soldier’s mentality still persisted in the Colonel’s descendants. Instead Charles tactically retreated into the steep mountain slopes that defined the periphery of his world.

After three months of gnawing the bones of mountain goats, he stumbled over a cave that became a tunnel, that led deep through the rock until he gazed upon a new landscape. Charles saw snow–white and glistening; saw clouds below, stretching out, and saw through them a land he could never have dreamed of. He saw a land of silver and green, bright and beautiful. A land lush with life, and yet, when he strained his ears, all he heard at this height was a few birds, the crunch of snow beneath his feet. And it looked for all the world, like paradise.

Leon, Leon. Don’t think we’re surprised–we knew you were a thief when we hired you. That’s obvious: it’s why we hired you. We thought if we gave you enough of a challenge, you’d stay straight.

What? It wasn’t enough, reverse pick-pocketing the objects we gave you into the pockets and purses of the marks we chose? What’s surprising is that you stole so much.

I mean, what were you going to do with all that stuff? A book of matches. A compass whose every direction is south. A wind-up toy mouse. A rose made out of silk, with a different phone number stitched on each petal. What does any of it mean to you?

It can’t ever mean as much as it would to the dreamers. I mean, having something bubble up from their subconscious, heavy with psychological baggage that they can feel but could never explain, and then to have that just show up in their waking life. Show up like it’s something they’ve had all along and just forgot; that’s got to be something.

Even if you don’t believe the brochure the sisterhood gives us when we’re hired, all that stuff about thinning the wall between the waking world and dreaming, you’ve got to admit, it’s pretty cool. When the fabricator opens, the steam clears, and you see what’s in there, and you wonder what it is, what it means–yeah, I said I could understand the stealing. But the project is so much cooler. We can all agree with the sisters on that. You agreed, too, when you signed their contract.

The contract you broke.

So I’m here to remind you about the fine print of said contract. If you want to be a thief, that’s what we’ll use you for. No, you don’t get to take the dream objects back. No, no, no–pinching pocketbooks isn’t how we fund this operation.

Where are you going? Where do you think? The twilight realms. The unconscious.

How do you think we get the dream objects in the first place? Someone’s got to feed them into the unfabricator on that side so the fabricator on this side can work.

Someone’s got to steal the things in the first place. Right at the moment of waking.

Their waking–the target’s. Not yours. Did you read the contract at all, Leon?

You won’t be waking.

I hope you haven’t been waiting long. We don’t get many visitors. I’m Edwin Rogers, the Principal here.
Through there is the Baby Room, with the creches and the Mama Bear machines that look after the babies until they can walk and talk. This is one of the largest facilities in the country; we have nearly a hundred babies. What’s that? Well, sure they go outside. The Mama Bears take them on walks and to EduGov-approved events. It’s important they get the mandated amount of mental stimulation.
Over here is the Kid Room, where they live until puberty. Sure, they’re in VR about two-thirds of the time, but each one gets a tailored childhood. See that one? He’s getting the Hardy Boys treatment, solving mysteries and having hair-breadth escapes. Very exciting. And her? Little House on the Prairie. Pinafores and raising crops. Very popular with the regens these days.
Back here is the Youth Room. Yes, they’re on VR more of the time, simulated dances and extreme sports and shopping encounters and sex. That kind of thing. Impressing experiences on young minds in real time just seems to make them more real.
May I ask–? Is this going to be your first regen? Ah, I thought so. We so seldom get anybody older through here. Don’t worry, when you visit the regen center and get a new body, you’ll be able to custom-order the childhood memories you want, matured twenty years in one of these bodies. And it’s not theft, if that’s what’s bothering you. They’ll still have the memories, we’ll just impress their experiences on the brain of your regen.
“Have the childhood of your dreams,” that’s our motto.

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