by T H E S E R P E N T
WHEN YOUVE BEEN swallowing your tail for as long as I have, not much gets under your skin anymore and you can always slough the damn thing off anyway. But after eavesdropping on all the pop versions of the Genesis story that your amateur philosophers have been feeding you, I simply have to speak up. Ive kept my snout out of earth-bound business for a long time now for smart reasons that will soon be revealed but enough is enough. Its time for my version of Genesis, which just happens to be the correct one. Theres been a helluva lot of misinformation floating around for the last couple millennia, and theres no one in a better position than myself to set the record straight.
A Divine Comedy of Error
The first thing you should know is that God and I used to be a lot tighter, simply because He spent more time around here in the early eons. Earth was one of His first attempts at planet-making, and it seemed the apple of His Eye for a while. An amateur chemist not held in the highest regard by His Peers, our local God has never been quite sure what will result from His willy-nilly mixing of the elements.
So after Hed thrown together the solar system and set it spinning, He was rather pleased to see that He had one planet that could already support life without further fooling around in the lab. But God knew He would need a planet manager once He moved on to other projects. So He spritzed a little piece of earthstuff with superconsciousness, et voila, there I was: Gods first lieutenant, the primeval Serpent. Hold the applause.
The problem is that our God doesnt know how to take advice. I told Him right off the bat that if He wanted a nice sweet planet that would add honor and prestige to His Reputation, He should populate it with a fixed number of simple, one-celled, blissfully unaware organisms.
Leave the awareness to me, I suggested. Ill take care of the little guys and make sure they thrive and prosper. You can go on to the next planet and try something a little trickier, but Youll have Earth under Your Belt as a nifty little biosphere that runs smooth and looks good. Ill stay out of Your Hair and run a tight ship with no mishaps. You cant lose.
But all the time I was talking, God was gazing off into the void! When He came to, He gave me this silly grin and said, I can make as many cells as I want, but what if I make cells that can make more of themselves? Wouldnt that be wild?
I said, I dont think thats such a good idea, but a nanosecond later I looked down into the primordial soup covering the Earths surface at the time and in it I saw six or eight one-celled organisms already splitting themselves in half. I did the math; we were looking at a frightening rate of reproduction.
Good Lord! I exclaimed, hoping that a humble entreaty might make Him rethink this bit of improvisation. But when I looked up He was nowhere to be found. He had left me alone with this bubbling mass of multiplying little entities, and I had the sickening feeling that there was going to be some kind of accident sooner or later. And I would almost certainly have to take the rap for it.
An Invention Called Death
Well, I didnt have long to wait. Just as I suspected, the sheer profligacy of these organisms resulted in their having little mishaps (what your esteemed Mr. Darwin would eventually identify as mutations), that would alter their offspring in some of the most grotesque ways you could imagine. Pseudopods, flagella, endoplasmic reticuli... what a mess.
Then some of these messed-up organisms started reproducing in an incredibly inelegant manner, pairs mushing themselves together and exchanging fluids with the result that one member of each pair would swell up and spit out younguns, and then the original pair would degenerate and become so much organic flotsam. I mean they would grow old and die, which was a terrible thing to see the first few times.
Thus was the simplicity of binary fission replaced by the slop and cruelty of sexual reproduction. I was mightily disturbed by this bizarre turn of events in Gods experiment, particularly because these sexualized organisms had invented their own death. (And you thought sex only recently became deadly!)
You see, putting an end to life was supposed to be the exclusive privilege of Gods and planet managers, so I had a serious usurpation of cosmic powers on my hands. And for what? The only thing sexual reproduction seemed to accomplish was a nasty acceleration of the mutation problem. In a wink of the eye, eternally speaking, the planets population evolved from a more-or-less manageable bouillabaise of algae and plankton to an unholy circus of slippery fish, noisy birds, and the ugliest, ungainliest, most stupid and lumbering creatures I have yet to see in Gods Reign.
You think theyre cute now, but you should have been around to actually smell the dinosaurs and watch them trampling the flowers. I tried to text God, as it were, about what was going down with and beneath the dinosaurs, but I believe he was off to Mars, scratching canals and happy faces onto its surface. So the dinosaur problem was in my lap, and either I had to do something fast or become the laughingstock of the upcoming Planet Managers Convention.
Now Ill admit my solution was not the most surgical of interventions, but hey, it did the trick. I swung a deal with the foreman of the local asteroid belt, who tossed a couple of starchunks nobody would miss down my way. You should have seen the first one splash in the Pacific were talking a Himalayan tidal wave! Lots of those scaly buggers drowned right then and there. The few dinos who managed to surf through that inundation eventually bought the farm during the little spell of bad weather that ensued for the next forty thousand years.
Dont worry I wouldnt pull a stunt like that again without extreme provocation. I know you people are always expecting cataclysmic punishment because you feel guilty about your cold and callous behavior toward each other and your fellow species. But that sort of thing really doesnt bother me. Until you get as big, ugly, and cement-dumb as those God-forsaken (really!) dinosaurs, youre safe from my wrath.
Peace and Quiet
I had hoped that the tsunamis and belching volcanoes that killed the lizard-monsters might also wipe out everything but one-celled, asexual organisms, giving me a fresh start on planet management but no such luck. Here and there some pink salmon and Asiatic rats and Venus flytraps made it through all the climatic upheavals, and eventually the processes of mutation, evolution, and differentiation of species resumed.
I had promised myself that I wouldnt make any more waves, so to speak, so I just let everything go on its merry way. To tell the truth, there was a measure of relative peace and quiet on Earth for hundreds, maybe thousands of millennia after that. I lost track of the time because nothing really seemed to require my attention, so I got in some long overdue reading. God certainly seemed long gone; the last I heard Hed been fooling around with some super-nova at the western edge of our galaxy, like some damn fool kid with a cherry bomb. At least, I thought He was out of the neighborhood because what happened next made me suspicious.
A Little Garden Music
It was on a Tuesday afternoon, as I recall, when I put down my copy of the Transunarian Apocrypha to give the Earth a little look-see. As a super-conscious being whose awareness encircles the globe, I usually take in the Gestalt of things without worrying over details, but on this particular day I noticed a little glint of light coming from the vicinity of what you now call St. Tropez.
I zeroed in on it, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a rather splendid, luminous little garden grove with a vine-rope fence enclosing its perimeter, say maybe a half-mile across and open on one side to some prime beachfront real estate. What struck me right away was how orderly and beatific the place was: no vicious predators, no disease-ridden swamps, just lots of colorful, melodious parrots flitting everywhere and a family of happy monkeys swinging from tree to tree. Somehow the messy process of evolution had resulted in a little piece of what you folks would call heaven on earth. Or had it? There was almost something unnatural about the place.
Then it hit me. Happy monkeys dont make vine-rope fences. Now I had seen some pretty smart monkeys in recent years, but nothing beyond your basic Koko material. Nowhere had I seen an animal capable of this kind of environmental manipulation. The fence was clear evidence of something new under the sun, and it stirred in me the kind of foreboding I hadnt felt since the earliest days of sexual reproduction.
I decided to check out the situation firsthand. I shrunk myself down to my material form, with scaly arms and a human trunk (see the family portrait, below). In those days I looked more like a little version of you guys than what you think of now as a serpent. Just imagine a sleek, iridescent kind of weasel and youll have a pretty good picture of my original incarnation. Not a bad-looking guy and, like the monkeys, a tree-lover.
Shiny Happy People Holding Hands
So I followed the monkeys on their rounds in the leafy canopy for a while, and it wasnt long until they led me to the nerve center of what became known in your religious history as the Garden of Eden. The vine-rope fence wasnt the only piece of environmental engineering to be found. Nestled at the bottom of a gentle slope about a mile from the beach was a thatched-roof hut next to a lean-to utility shed. Both faced a stone-ringed campfire. Sitting on a couple of sawed-off stumps next to that campfire were the first two humans I ever laid eyes on: yes, your progenitors, Adam and Eve.
I didnt know what they were at first, as they resembled relatively hairless gorillas with wimpy musculature but incredibly articulated fingers and toes. Adam was underfed for his size, and didnt look too intellectual; Eve was quite sensual in a bucolic sort of a way. Kind of a pastoral Amy Adams, if you can relate.
I was transfixed. I could see right away that these peculiar beings were capable of altering their natural environment in such a way as to make themselves more comfortable, which I think is a virtuous pastime for any being stuck full-time on the coarse and gritty material plane. So I was beginning to have more respect for this evolution thing, if... if Somebody wasnt playing a trick on me. For if these folks were just late-model gorillas, there was sure as hell a missing link somewhere.
To investigate I jumped noiselessly onto the branch of an apple tree overhanging the smooth-skinned couple, and spied on them at close quarters for a while. Unfortunately my initial good impression of the pair lost some of its shine after a few hours. They did communicate orally at a level above the apes, but mostly they clicked, whistled, and burbled in such a way as to suggest they werent talking about anything very important. Mostly they just held hands and sat around petting each other. There was a kissy thing going on that I hadnt seen in other species; oh, some lions and wolves showed a little familial devotion from time to time, but these people were having a regular mutual admiration society. Frankly, it made me jumpy.
So I was about to flee the joint and get back to my reading when Adam and Eve got into a hot and heavy clinch, rolled onto the ground, and started doing the sexual thing. I was horrified! This may sound dumb, but up until that point it had simply not occurred to me that they might be, well, that way. They acted like they were more or less self-aware, and the rule of thumb in the Cosmos is that Consciousness = Immortality. But if Adam and Eve had sex, that meant one of them was going to swell up and produce mutations and then Adam and Eve would grow old and expire! Didnt they know they were signing their own death warrant with this sexual indulgence? What could they possibly be thinking?
Maybe I shouldnt have cared, but I was getting terribly confused and upset. I had kept my nose out of Earth goings-on for a long time, but it was time to make a difference. An asteroid didnt seem necessary at this point; besides, I kinda felt sorry for these silly beings who knew not what they were doing. It struck me that they might be educable.
A Fork in the Cosmos
So I decided to stick around for a while, and learn Adam and Eves click-and-whistle language so that I could inform them about the mortal dangers of sexual reproduction. I thought that if I could get them to just say no, then they might not reproduce and decay or at least their aging might be held off long enough for me to get Gods attention and arrange a special dispensation of immortality. Maybe they had enough consciousness to qualify; it was worth a try. Plus, I wasnt absolutely sure God hadnt had a Hand in all this to start with. It was distinctly possible He was testing my managerial skills despite His apparent disinterest in the planet He had put in my care. Hes a regular Trickster, our God.
But it didnt matter whether I was being tested or not; I was suddenly inspired to do the right thing for its own sake. The dinosaurs had merely bugged me; this was a moral decision, a fork in the cosmos as it were. That it would not turn out the way I expected is merely proof that the universe run by our God is capricious rather than orderly and thats not my fault.
To make a long story short, I became friends with Eve because she was around the hearth most often. When they could pry themselves apart from each other, Adam went into the woods to make vine-rope and Eve tidied up at home. (Dont ask me how this division of labor came about because God only knows.) Anyway, they were both perpetually, nauseatingly happy and innocent, like some Norman Rockwell portrait of the good life in an arboretum. Nothing happened that was less than fine. And Eve accepted the friendship of a small greasy creature speaking to her from an apple-tree limb like it was the most natural thing in the world. She was classy that way.
As I had suspected, she talked about nothing much of interest: how good food was, how nice it felt to sleep, how funny Adam was, and so on. I got on her wavelength mostly by affirming everything she said Yes, mangoes are good... Its always nice to get some shut-eye... Yeah, that Adams a card... but whenever she started telling me how much she loved the sex stuff I remained icily silent. I was trying to bring her along gently to a terrible awareness, but to be honest, I didnt know exactly how to proceed.
The Facts of Life
Finally one day Eve had prattled on so long about doing the wild thing with Adam that I lost my patience. Look, dear, I interrupted, I think its time for you to know about sex and death.
Death? Eve replied in her dulcet tone. Whats that?
I decided to affect a professorial tone to soften the shock. Death is the exit of life from your physical body. At that point, all awareness of your individual existence ceases, and the body begins to rot. Before sexual reproduction, no individuals died except by an act of God. To reproduce, they split themselves in two, but they did not die. But if you and Adam keep doing... you know what, eventually one of you will swell up and spit out little mutated versions of yourselves, and then you will both eventually die.
Eve smiled broadly. Die? Is that fun?
Jesus, she could be dense. I cleared my throat and scanned the ground beneath me.
No, dear, it is not fun. Hand me that rock over there.
Eve obeyed she was the very embodiment of obedience back then and handed me a rock lying near the hearth. I whistled to one of the monkeys swinging through the nearby trees, and it stupidly came to me as if my only possible reason for being was to give it a banana. Instead, I brained it with the stone, and it fell to the ground with a soft thud. Startled, Eve stepped back for a moment, then approached the lifeless body and picked it up.
Death, I explained matter-of-factly. The end of the line. Massive necrosis. Express train to Boneburg.
Eve turned the corpse over in her arms and looked up at me blankly. Death, she muttered thoughtfully. Death. Then her face inexplicably brightened as she saw blood trickling from the monkeys head. She dabbed at it with her finger, touched her tongue and barked gaily, Dinner?!
Thats when it hit me like a ton of dark matter: Eve could see but she did not know what was going on around her. She was steeped in the amoral bliss of unselfconsciousness; despite her more powerful brain, she lived the instinctive life of all the other animals, without discrimination or contemplation. Adam was doubtlessly the same. He could build and repair that vine-rope fence forever without ever once realizing that he could walk beyond it if he wanted to, take a vacation, see the sights. The consciousness of these two was not up to snuff for immortal beings; they would screw themselves into oblivion and never know the difference! But I would, and only I could put a stop to it.
An Apple a Day
In retrospect, Ill allow that it wasnt the smartest thing to do. After all, I was the one who had dissuaded God from giving the first and lowliest beings on Earth any self-awareness whatsoever. Some part of me knew it would be big trouble, but at that moment in the garden my feelings overwhelmed me. I wanted to save Eve, I wanted her not to die, I wanted... oh hell, I know what youre thinking. Did I have a thing for Eve?
Well, I have a question for you: At this point in time, a couple of forevers down the road, what does it matter?
So I did it. I broke the Universal Rule, I transgressed the Prime Directive, I went out of bounds and gave Eve and Adam access to higher knowledge and deeper self-awareness. The doing of it was simple enough: I spritzed the apple tree with high-grade consciousness (assuring a few of its descendants plum roles in The Wizard of Oz), plucked a fruit newly heavy with gnosis, and proffered it to Eve. She dropped the dead monkey like a sack of charcoal briquets and took the apple with her usual grin of ecstatic appreciation.
Yumm, she said on first bite.
Look, honey, I said quietly, I want you and Adam to eat an apple a day from this tree for the next week or so. They taste good and theyll clear up a number of things for you, particularly this sex-and-death problem. After seven days well talk it over again. In the meantime, Ill try to get God on the line and see what can be done about a dispensation. I know you dont understand all this yet, but dont worry about it. Im going to take good care of you, Eve. OK?
Eve was munching the fruit with a ferocious glee, and stopped only momentarily to nod her head. A couple minutes passed before the apple was reduced to its spindly core. When Eve next looked up to me she had a sultry, darkening look in her eyes that I had never seen before. A chill ran down my spine as I realized that the knowledge dose in the apple might have been a bit much for a humans slow-firing synapses. (You moderns could compare it to putting rocket fuel in a VW Bug.) Eve let loose a deep, throaty giggle and suddenly stepped back, then looked down at her nice little breasts like she had never seen them before.
Ohh! she yelped, and grabbed at the broad leaves of a nearby plant, ripping them off to cover herself ineffectively. She looked at me again with deep embarrassment and yelped once more, then grabbed a low-hanging apple off my tree and ran into the woods screaming for Adam.
I stared after her in dumb amazement. Suddenly alone under the turbulent skies of a gathering storm, I knew I had made the mistake of my career. I had hot-wired human history and there was no turning back.
Its fair to say that within a week all hell had broken loose in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve stripped the tree clean of fruit in two days flat eating nothing else in the meantime and got royally sick for the first time in their previously unpolluted lives. Then they spent about a day clutching their bellies, moaning and bitching. Why?! Why?! they cried out, the first time I had ever heard them question anything that happened to them.
Then they wasted a few more days feverishly trying to knit clothes for themselves out of whatever raw materials they could find. In the process Adam discovered that watching Eve put on or take off her clumsy raiments was more sexually exciting than seeing her just naked, and so they spent another day running around the hearth cackling like banshees and wrestling each other into wild fits of intercourse.
I was sick at heart, of course, and kept yelling from my perch in the tree: Stop! Stop! This is not higher consciousness, this is juvenile delinquency!
But they would just laugh at me! and once after Eve whispered into his ear, Adam picked up the rock I had killed the monkey with and hurled it at me. I barely got out of the way in time to save my diminutive bodily form. Adam thought my reaction was hilarious and took to throwing rocks at every creature in the immediate vicinity, with the predictable result that he soon killed an unlucky parrot. Picking up the bloodied bird, he crushed its delicate frame in his broad hand and cried out to Eve, Look!
Death, she sang breathily from her seat on the ground, coyly letting a banana leaf fall from her bosom to reveal one flushed and erect nipple.
Death! Adam shouted to the sky, and promptly went on a killing spree. A little too much consciousness is a dangerous thing.
I had glumly retreated to the highest branch of the apple tree to witness the mayhem I had sparked when I heard a familiar but long-absent Voice at my shoulder.
What in My Name is going on here? God inquired sternly.
Oh God, was all I could say as a cold, stunned amazement at His awful timing sank into me. Oh God.
Ill spare you the blow-by-blow of what followed. Suffice to say that The Big Guy stripped me of my hands, arms, ears, nose, and all other protuberances like they were mere sergeant stripes. To add insult to injury, he then littered the planet with millions of dumb little serpents in my amputated image, making most of them poisonous, swift, and scary.
Then, holding me in one Hand and a bunch of terrestrial snakes in the Other, God shook us right in Eves face until she screamed and fainted. Adam snarled viciously and came at me with a stone hoe, God holding me just barely above the first mans murderous lunges.
Regarding me with an angry and infinite eye, God boomed, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. Tilting His Head toward Adam, God added, He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Not exactly a New Age CEO willing to forgive all trespasses, eh? At least God let me return to ethereality and here Ive been ever since, circling the Earth as an omniscient archetype, gagging on my tail while watching you folks bang away at your problems without offering you so much as a whispered tip on the Pick Six at Del Mar. Its a hands-off managerial style that I should have stuck to from the very beginning, seeing as how, like most managers, I was never told everything I needed to know while being expected to clean up the gaffes of my Superior...
Can you settle for the simple truth? Yes, there were some mistakes and a little bad judgment here and there, but given that I had nothing more than on-the-job training from a very busy God with His Fingers in a lot of pies, I dont deserve this evil rap Ive been getting since time immemorial. To me youre all the children of lanky Adam and lovely Eve, and I did the best I could by them. I just threw a little more knowledge their way than they could handle, thats all.
If you need encouragement, I can tell you this: Because of my little managerial error a while back, you have within you what it takes to become as Gods. That applesauce is still in your blood, people. And They cant take that away from you, ever even if you wanted Them to.
Triple Scorpio D. Patrick Miller recently opened to channeling
only to realize that he was taking dictation from wise guys in the interstellar mob.
Copyright 2009 by D. Patrick Miller. All rights reserved.
SEE THE FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY OF AUTHOR D. PATRICK MILLER
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