My name is Jonah, and the following is my story of the last week of civilization. It began with a global flood that left only 1,000 people remaining to walk the planet.
The morning after the great flood, I woke up and I noticed a certain stillness in the wind that I thought unusual despite even the recent circumstances. I stood there for a minute until a massive spaceship appeared out of thin air. Its lower hatch opened and the inhabitants walked down the ramp. There were four of them. They looked exactly like aliens had always been depicted in popular culture. They were little, they were green, they were men. “Hello, my friend,” said the shortest of the four.
“We are aliens,” said another.
“Oh, yea for a minute I was wondering.”
“Are you not frightened or surprised to see us?” asked the first.
“I suppose I would be, but I…I’m a bit numb to anything else nature has to offer me right now. I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s been a great flood. I’m pretty sure that I am dead.”
“You’re not dead,” continued the first. “Yes, we know there’s been a flood. When we heard we decided to come immediately.”
“When you heard? What do you mean ‘when you heard’? Who told you? How’d you hear about it?”
“With our own ears. We literally heard the sounds of the horrible flood occurring.”
“What’d it sound like?” I asked.
“Sort of like a toilet flushing.”
There was a rather long pause as the group of us stood on the mountaintop surrounded by water.
“So,” broke the first alien once again, “Would you like to come with us?”
“Come with you?”
“What do you mean ‘come with you’? Where?”
Initially I thought I heard them wrong, and upon repeating the name ‘Heaven‘ to them for confirmation, I couldn’t think of any possible way to reply.
“Err…Well, how would we get there?”, I asked, hoping they weren’t going to kill me and thereby answer the question.
“We would fly there of course.”
“Heaven is actually a planet, contrary to traditional human philosophy. It is approximately 23,000 kewtelgs from here.”
“Oh,” I answered. “Never would have guessed.”
Anyways, I accepted the offer, but it was only upon hearing that God would actually be there. After all, I figured He might be able to lend a hand to his brand-spanking new water-planet.
Once we were all in the ship and had finally taken off and started blasting through intergalactic wormholes, I began chatting with one of the other aliens on board. His name was Cornelius.
“Human beings are actually the only species that have never known that Heaven is a planet,” he said. “Every other planet with intelligent life knows at this point.”
“No need to rub it in, Cornelius.”
The ship’s interior was extremely cold. They supplied me with a sweater, which I thought was nice. I roamed about the steel corridors toward the main deck. For such a large vessel, it seemed strange how there were so few crewmen. Cornelius was accompanying me. I think he took something of a fondness for me.
“You know, I’d have figured you guys would travel a bit different than this. This is all quite far from what I imagined about aliens.”
“How do you mean,” asked Cornelius?
“Well, for one thing, this ship seems a bit superfluous for beings of such considerable intellect.”
“In what way?”
“I just figured that the more evolved a species is, the less trouble it would have in moving about in its daily life. The less complicated things would be.”
“Did you expect some sort of light travel?”
“Well, yea, that would be something.”
“And then there is such thing as gender with aliens. I never would have guessed that.”
“Really. I mean, I guess I just figured humankind was foolish and presumptuous to make such assumptions, you know? I figured it just showed how much we took for granted. I mean, really, to think how long we’ve even referred to God as ‘he’”!
“Well, God is a man.”
“Oh,” I sighed disappointedly.
Cornelius smiled lightly.
We finally made our way to the main deck and found what had to be the majority of the crew all nestled comfortably into their stations, preoccupied by the monitors or computer panels before them. A large glass window revealed a wondrous view of outer space.
And it truly was a wondrous view, as if all the most beautiful nebulas and moons and stars that the universe had to offer had gathered for some sacred, galactic mass. Suddenly, the aliens rose from their stations and huddled against the window in incredible excitement, cheering in joyous unison at the sight.
“What’s going on?” I asked Cornelius.
“This quadrant marks the beginning of the path to heaven,” he answered warmly. “It’s our favorite spot of the journey.”
“Journey? It’s only been like a half-hour since we left.”
“Heaven’s not that far, really. Humans were just never going in the right direction.”
“Really. Basically, you’ve been zigging when you should have been zagging.”
That kind of pissed me off, but anyways, it wasn’t long before we approached Heaven. It looked rather plain, really. I couldn’t distinguish any one area of the planet from another, since the entire sphere was cast in a glowing shade of aquamarine, like some lonely blue pearl stuck in a tar pit.
We landed on Heaven without any real incident and exited the craft onto the landing platform, which was decorated with an extravagant crimson carpet that led toward a gleaming edifice that looked like the Emerald City from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’
“Well,” said Cornelius, “Looks like you’re on your own from here. God is over that way,” he said pointing toward the Emerald City. “Farewell.” Each of the aliens then marched off before eventually splitting into different directions, vanishing in the green fog. I began the trek toward the castle.
Along the way I made some very curious encounters. The first of which was a man I soon discovered to be William Blake, my favorite poet. I was ecstatic. “Wow, I can’t believe it’s really you.”
“Are you the man from Earth?”
“Yes, I am. What gave it away?”
I laughed. He didn’t.
“Come with me,” he said as he motioned toward the castle.
“You’re my guide then? That’s great. I thought I was on my own from here.”
“Who told you that?”
“Oh. Yes, well they’re idiots. Come with me.”
Yes, he seemed unusually grim, numb and unfeeling. He also could have just been very distracted or focused on some other matter. I never knew for sure. The meeting quickly proved to be disappointing, as he really didn’t provide any acknowledgement of my presence other than the brief answers he offered to my many questions.
Walking with Blake along the crimson pathway, I noticed various beings situated on either side. Some were clearly from other planets. I noticed a few animals from earth–a zebra and two or three different types of birds. However, most of the beings I saw happened to be humans. At least they appeared to be; and as Blake and I neared the castle, I had to double-take.
“Yes,” Blake said, clearly disinterested. Seated on the ground to our right was Jesus and the Buddah. They were playing some sort of boardgame. I looked closer. Battleship. Jesus was playing Battleship with Buddah. I called out to both of them but got no response.
I looked back toward William Blake. He appeared like someone who by-the-hour comes close to curing cancer before realizing they still haven’t found the cure. He would stare intensely and hopefully, either down at the ground or at some distant point in the sky, before returning to a look of extraordinary despair and frustration.
Anyways, we finally approached the castle doors. “He’s in there,” said Blake, before turning away and disappearing into the green fog, alone in his circle of thoughts.
“Goodbye, William Blake.”
I walked inside the castle but it appeared empty. The crimson carpet continued to dominate the floor. The main hall resembled St. Peter’s in Rome, with its gothic decor and marble pillars. I heard a faint, buzzing sound coming from all directions. Upon further inspection I realized that the sounds were coming from radios. They were old, broken-down radios that littered the walls. Many of them emitted nothing more than static, while others were communicating in foreign dialects. I couldn’t make out any English.
I continued toward the other end of the hall, which took me a while since it was very long. I soon realized the castle indeed was not empty. For there, at the other end of the hall, sat an enormous man upon an enormous armchair. If I hadn’t known any better, I’d have said he was a giant. He sat slumped upon the throne, staring down at me quizzically.
“Well, how do you do?” he bellowed.
“Are you God?”
“Pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise. What can I do for you, sir?”
I was skeptical. “Wait, so you don’t know who I am, then?”
“Well…no, I can’t say that I do.”
“You are the Creator, right? Didn’t you create me?”
“No I didn’t.”
“I haven’t had anything to do with Earth in a long time.”
“Really. After the crusades I split.”
“Ah. Well, I can’t blame you there,” I said. “Not a great moment for you was it? One of those ‘Wanna get away?’ moments.”
“Well I was hoping that you could help me out, God. You see, Earth is in some real peril. Like some serious shit. I mean it’s horrible. The Earth has been flooded.”
“Yea, I know.”
“So that’s what that sound was.”
“…Anyways. Look, there’s gotta be something you can do. Please. I mean, so many people have died, and the survivors are desperate. I don’t know if the rest of us will be able to carry on.”
“Well, look, I’d love to help…but I don’t think there is much that I can do.”
I was stunned. Surely he was joking.
“No. No, I am sorry, but there is nothing that I can do.”
“Nothing you can do? What are you talking about? This is all your creation. You rule everything. There’s nothing you can do? Bullshit!”
“I can’t believe this. What the hell did I come here for? Was it just to figure out that heaven is nothing but a place where a bunch of dead spirits roam? You know I saw Jesus and Buddah out there? What’s happened to them? I know they couldn’t have been like that on Earth. Who would have listened to people like that? I tried to talk to them and they hardly even looked at me?! What’s wrong with everybody? Who are you people? What the hell is going on around here?!”
I felt a fit of rage consume me. I grabbed one of the old radios and threw it across the hall but it didn’t break. In fact, the noise still emitted no different from the way it did before. I felt like a ghost here. No one noticed me. There was nothing I could change or even slightly influence.
“I’m sorry for throwing your radio,” I said.
Tears began welling up in my eyes. I hadn’t cried in the longest time. Not even at the time of the flood. Now I just kept crying. It was actually a bit embarrassing.
“Look, I just want to go home. Can I do that? Can I just go home? I want to go home.”
Upon hearing this, the giant sat up suddenly. “You what?”
“I’d like to go home now.”
He sat silent and still in his throne before he answered. “That’s exactly what he said.”
Again there was a pause as he sat looking at me like some curious specimen. “Look for a man named Quentin Joss. He may be able to help you. Farewell.”
Instantly I was surrounded by a flash of blue light before another second passed and I was back on Earth. No spacecraft necessary this time, apparently.
I didn’t even know where to start in my search for Quentin Joss. How did I even know whether he’d survived the flood? A week passed as I roamed the earth. I knew that there was no hope in Heaven, and that if I were to die, I would die with my fellow man. Anything beat wandering in that horrible, green fog.
Luckily it turned out that Quentin Joss found me. Though, I don’t know how he did.
“You’re Quentin Joss!”
“That’s what they call me, yea.”
“You know I was just in Heaven and…”
“Yea I know, you’re the guy who wanted to come home.”
“Yes. How’d you know?”
“That giant guy in the armchair told me.”
“Oh, wow. You guys know each other.”
“Yea we go back. When he and his crew decided to split I stayed here. Since then, we communicate by radio. He must’ve really flipped out when you told him you wanted to stay.”
“I guess I just couldn’t really live up there, you know? I mean, there’s no spirit, no emotion or feeling. Just nothing. I guess I just couldn’t relate to that.”
“Yea me neither.”
“That couldn’t have really been God up there.”
Quentin laughed. “Did you tell him that?”
“The guy in the armchair.”
“Ah. Well, I did. A long time ago. It didn’t go over well. They banished me here and told me to never come back. Not that I even wanted to.”
“Wow. So what are you doing here now? What have you been doing in all the time since?”
He paused for a second or two, gazing at the flooded valleys gleaming under the sun and bright blue sky. “I’m guess I’m still trying to find that out for myself.”
The two of us continued to roam the Earth together before we finally found a small gathering of people assembled in a small village atop a canyon cliff. For days we shared our stories, singing old songs we remembered from years past and reminiscing on history and the time on Earth before the great flood.
Around the fire at night, one of the villagers broken into a song. He said it was an old rock n’ roll song. I recognized it, but I couldn’t remember the name. None of us could. Still, it sounded good and I remembered that I liked the song a lot. I looked at Quentin through the fire, who returned my smile with one of equal reassurance.
What seemed most important now was that we all stuck together, that for every forthcoming day we always looked out for one another and any other survivor we found or who found us. Sure enough, as the weeks progressed, it appeared that we might actually survive. Many nights later, I looked up at the sky and I noticed that the stars were shining brighter than I had seen them in a very long time.