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If Thou Art God

by Bill McCormick

part 1 of 2

It all started with Tongei Artgod sitting in the library carefully avoiding the reflection of the twin suns in the public pool. Tongei also avoided the sounds of laughter that surrounded it, the feel of the beautiful Laxzum breeze that floated through the open windows, the pleasant smell of the Fem who was sitting three chairs away and anything else that Tongei could adamantly avoid that was not directly related to the world of Tongei Artgod.

Which was a very small world indeed.

To those who knew it well, Tongei was a complete hump. To everyone else, Tongei was just ignored. Considering it was an unattached Shin and that there was a shortage of Shins for Mals and Fems to mate with, you would think Tongei would have been held in higher regard.

That just goes to show you what a complete and total git Tongei was. The current reason for Tongei’s continuing avoidance of all things not directly related to Tongei was a large, ancient book that was open in front of it. The book had been written about a thousand years earlier by a Shuznian linguist named Urbei Kontuul.

In keeping with their traditions, Shuznians rarely ventured off-world. Instead they sent probes, which reported back on a semi-regular basis. Some of what the probes reported involved meaningless stuff like a catalog of beings, sentient and otherwise, air content, geography and whether or not the planet was habitable for Shuznians and so on. While some of that was of interest to native Shuznians, absolutely none of it mattered to Tongei.

No, what held its attention were the multiple chapters on languages that had been correlated by Urbei. It had noted that many cultures had the same words but that each held radically different meanings.

For example, the Xheeniaks had the word “Zizbmmp.” To them it was a wonderful ritual concerning coming of age, and it brought fond tears to the eye-stalks of families their world over. Contrariwise, the same word on the planet Kshaul meant a horrible obscenity that could get one, justifiably, killed for its mere utterance.

In fact, on Kshaul, they could and would execute your family as well. It was not a nice word for them at all.

Of course there was an ancient philosopher on that minor planet called Earth, named Douglas Adams, who had made a similar observation long before the probes were sent. He had noted that on almost every planet he knew of there was a drink pronounced Gin and Tonic.

Naturally, none of these drinks bore any resemblance to each other except for their name. Even if it had cared to find out about Douglas Adams and even if it had known the fact that there was a drink on Shuznia known as a Xhin n Tonnik, it would still have meant nothing to Tongei.

For the record, it tastes vaguely like rum.

I digress.

The reason for Tongei’s fascination with the book had to do with Urbei’s notations of a religious work written on the minor planet Earth by the demigod Robert Heinlein. In the book the chosen ones all said “Thou art God” to each other. They also said “Grok,” but that clearly had to be a mistake, thought Tongei. After all, who would base a religion on domesticated cabbage?

What Tongei did know is that it would never join a mated triad. No self-respecting Mal or Fem would have anything to do with it. Tongei’s own parental unit had disavowed knowledge of its existence several years prior, after the unfortunate flaming-body gas incident. This was not Tongei’s fault, as it informed anyone who would listen — a group that numbered in single digits, over the span of time.

What Tongei also knew was that it had no future on Shuznia. Aside from the body gas incident, there were still the many outstanding issues over its attempt to play Skizzi with the decapitated head of a recently deceased relative. All mistakes that could be easily explained to any intelligent being, thought Tongei, but it couldn’t seem to find any.

So Tongei devised a plan. A plan where it would finally get the reverence it was manifestly due and one which would allow it to be free and clear of these unenlightened beings who cluttered up its life.

It would go to Earth and proclaim itself as the one true God. After all, who could claim more title to the phrase “Thou Art God” than Tongei Artgod? Or so the reasoning went.

Tongei spent several weeks at the library learning what it could of the minor planet Earth. It found that Earth had befriended several worlds around its solar system and had colonized several others. While not a galactic power in the grand scheme of things, it had made a nice home for itself in the cosmos. Tongei believed that their lack of conquest was directly attributable to the fact that they did not have a god they could properly worship.

As time went on, it noted that there were several main religions on Earth and variations of several others that had been gleaned from its cosmic neighbors. With such an undisciplined hodgepodge, it seemed amazing to Tongei that they had crawled past their clouds at all. From what Tongei could tell, they were an energetic race devoid of proper leadership. And that was a void that Tongei felt sure it could fill.

It would get to Earth, blend in and slowly spread its wisdom to the masses. After a few years it figured to have enough of a following to declare itself openly and begin the process of coordinating the future of Earth’s inhabitants.

You have probably discerned the initial problem with Tongei’s plan. The vast majority of Earthlings are not 7-foot tall, puce-colored eunuchs with three eyes and four elbows; at least none that I can think of off the top of my head. Blending in would prove difficult. However, since Tongei limited itself to the linguistics involved and never checked a single reference graphic, this bit of trivia was lost to it.

When it felt that it had all the research it needed, a sum far less than the research it actually required, it petitioned for clearance to travel off-world. The ruling Parliament, which included several members of Tongei’s extended family, granted permission so quickly that Tongei, at first, thought it might be an error. Then it realized they must be honoring its divine mission. It had no idea how they had found out, but was glad to accept this long overdue sign of respect and be on its way.

* * *

The trip was uneventful. Tongei used the time to catch up on some nuances of Earthling languages and to decide which one was best suited for mass communication.

Based on the works of Urbei, which stated that a language called English was the language of commerce, Tongei eventually settled on it. But not before giving serious consideration to Basque, thanks to its wonderful adjectives for foods.

It did note, based on its studies of the various religions, that Earthpeople only had two sexes. To blend in, Tongei would have to choose one. It gave this problem long and proper consideration as well and eventually settled on male. After all, the author of the gospel it had found was male, the martyr it depicted was male and much of the language it was going to use had masculine connotations.

Had it read any of the updated probe reports it would have noted that Earth acceded to a matriarchy about 600 years past. But that frivolous knowledge was not highlighted in the language texts, so it went unknown.

Tongei piloted the ship into a stable orbit above Earth and began scanning the various communication waves to find a suitable landing site. It needed something out of the way but accessible to the rest of society once it had its followers in place. It decided on a wonderfully placed locale known as Okie City.

From what Tongei could gather, the city was part of a movement which had seceded from the world along with several other minor governments. This would be the perfect small setting that Tongei required while still being accessible to the rest of the planet via many locally available means of transport.

At high noon, on a nondescript Tuesday, Tongei landed. And, given the pseudo-religious nature of Tongei’s quest, it is fair to note that all Hell broke loose.

Tongei had landed smack dab in the middle of the anti-alien capital of Earth.

Stepping from the craft Tongei was greeted by an honor guard of forty beings all carrying some sort of ceremonial weapon. While it was clear that its initial plan would need some minor revisions, it was pleased to note the obvious reverence of the reception.

Now would be a good time to fill the rest of you in on a bit of history. Approximately five hundred years ago the human race first made contact with an alien race. The Keln, that fun-loving warrior race from the east side of Alpha Centauri, had wandered into Earth’s solar system by accident. Fortunately for all involved, their first contact occurred when they landed in Las Vegas. Surrounded by beings who, like the Keln, thought that guns, booze, meaningless sex and gambling were inalienable rights (if you will), the Keln immediately chucked any plans of conquest and settled in for a nice long party.

By the time any official representatives of Earth actually arrived it was too late for them to screw anything up. The Earthling ambassador wisely dumped the idea of opening formal negotiations and instead bought a round of drinks. With this auspicious start, the human race joined the galactic neighborhood.

As time went on, other races appeared. Some were allies of the Keln and easy to please. Others just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. While there were minor diplomatic bumps along the way, as there would be in any gathering so diverse, overall things went pretty smoothly.

That being said, there was a group of humans who were not at all pleased with these developments. They felt that any alien contact was too much alien contact. While they tried to couch their concerns in reasonable-sounding rhetoric, they mostly came off as hyperventilating xenophobes.

The whole thing came to an ugly head the day the Padnuu arrived. While the Padnuu are vegetarian pacifists, their appearance on Earth nevertheless struck a deep chord in the dissidents. Averaging around six feet in height, with their glossy ebony skin and large wings, along with the two small horns on their heads which function as ears, they were too much for some to handle.

After a brief battle between The Freedom Fighters for a Pure Earth and a group of local police cadets, the Matriarchy decided to give the rebels what they wanted. They blocked off sections of three countries, turned them into reservations and let anyone who wanted to move there, move there. They even helped some of them move by sending ships to their homes and packing for them. In North America, that reservation was called Okie City.

It was a dandy place for the rebels to live for the most part. They accepted no imports for fear of alien contamination, handled their own agriculture and infrastructure and allowed no new residents without said applicant being vouched for by fifteen current residents.

Seen from above, it looked tranquil. You might have thought it a swell place to visit, if it weren’t for the facts that (1) all citizens had a standing order to shoot and kill anyone who disagreed with them and (2) the gene pool ran a little shallow in their enclave.

You would have been wrong, but you can be forgiven for having thought so.

Which brings us back to Tongei.

* * *

Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2011 by Bill McCormick

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