Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Alice And The God Machine
By David Edward Nell

There was one step left to see if his God Machine was really working.

Alice Berry took in a nervous breath then pumped the rotonic foot pedal under his desk. At first nothing happened. And he waited. And waited. But then, purple liquid farted its way through a cord and set off a light on the spintronic charger it was connected to, inciting a disturbing, almost musical humming noise that, to him, meant good things. A laser fired off from the end of the charger to a handheld mirror, then to another mirror in a different part of the bedroom, finally transporting a signal to a pair of adjacent conductor rods.

“What's going on up there, boy?” shouted his mother from the bottom storey of the house.

“Nothing, mommy. Science stuff,” he shouted back.

“Well, turn the volume down. You're going to wake your grandpa, fool.”

There was no need, however.

The final step enacted as he had planned and the noise receded. Between the rods, an electrical grid was created. It remained there, hissing, writhing, before something else happened, something quite unexpected. Alice wasn't certain what he was looking at, then. Whatever it was, it seemed to be a portal into a vast, alien room of rotating gears and machinery. Alice reached an arm inside, then got startled by a slap on the hand from a particularly short gentleman who had popped in view on the other end.

“Error, error,” cried the elf-like stranger, madly flaying his arms in the air. “Some bloke's caught us. Switch it off. Switch it all off.”

The portal and the rods and the charger went dead. And the sky went dark, as if the sun had expired. There was no moon to be seen, either. All at once, the world had gone eerily silent and still. Alice, whelping, had to pick his jaw up off the floor. He couldn't see anything.

“Mommy?” he called out.

She was with him, at least. “I think the damn electricity company's gone and done it again. I'll fetch the candles.”

“Probably is, as always,” he replied, adding a quavering giggle partially influenced by the sudden cold. “Or perhaps I caused this to happen with my science, right?”

Cackling, she said, “As if that science of yours will ever bring home bread. Silly boy.”
Alice was about to mutter a swear word when another shock came. A circular beam of light bathed over and sucked him upward. Somehow, he went right through his own roof, then he was sailing the upper atmosphere, then he was in deep space, then he was carried past various planets of the Milky Way until he was made to wait before the north pole of Saturn, where the beam was coming from. It all happened so fast, as if time was on skip mode.

A voice boomed, “Can you hear me?”

Alice hadn't any words.

“So he can definitely hear me. Bring him in,” said the voice.

The beam thrust him into the centre of a storm, then into a golden dome hidden in the middle of an ice wasteland. Landing on his feet, elf-like beings came to prod at his hind. He was in their territory now.

“So you're the one,” said the tallest elf. “How did you manage to unlock the sacred gate?”

“I haven't a clue what you're on about,” Alice said, trying not to stutter. “Who are you people?”

“You people?” the tall elf said, taken aback.

“This one's clearly a smart human,” said another elf. “And those certainly don't come by often, do they?”

All the elves had a good laugh.

The tall elf proceeded. “How did you do it?”

“I...I didn't know what I was doing, to be honest. Though I was intending to build a God Machine. So I could see God. With a machine.”

The elves shared confused expressions.

“That's funny,” the tall elf said, “because we were building a God Machine, too. Just now.”

“Oh, so you guys are not part of some God collective or something?”

“We're old keepers of the universe. That's all. Internal matters and such. Not important.”

Alice held his chest. “I'm so glad to hear that you're not God. But didn't you just turn off the sun?”

“We did do that, yes.”

“Good heavens, can't you see what's happening down there? Turn the sun back on.”

“Er, that's the problem. There was a mistake on our part. We have the power to turn off the sun, but we forgot that when it comes to turning it on, that's a trick only God knows.”

“God knows,” said the other elves.

Alice, weak-kneed, had to crouch for a bit. “Oh, dear. And now?”

“That's why we're hoping you can help us.”

“Yes, yes, help us,” begged the other elves.

The tall elf presented Alice with their version of the God Machine.

“It's a chalice with water in it,” Alice remarked on the contraption.

“But do you know what to do with it?”

“Shouldn't you?”

“Idea. Everyone spit,” said the tall elf, prompting his fellow elves to take turns spitting in the cup. “Now you must drink it, I suppose,” he told Alice, who was already observing the cup's contents with revulsion.

“And this is going to work?” Alice asked.


Alice took it in, but halfway through, he gagged. “”

“Is it down yet?”

“Yes, maybe, but nothing's actually happeni–”

Alice found himself in front of a door to a suburban home. All around the home there was darkness, and the home appeared to be floating in a void. With no other choice, he opened the door, entering what appeared to be a makeshift lounge that was really an artificial sitcom studio set. A round of applause played. There inside, seated on a couch, was a horned man-thing with one hand stuffed in his pants.

Alice gasped. “You can't be God. You're Satan.”

“What?” exclaimed the man-thing, waking up from a snooze. “Where'd you come from?” A laugh track triggered by itself.

“But you're red,” said Alice.

“I get that all the time.” Laugh track. “Actually, I got, like, really, really drunk at this freaking party one time, and some tard played a prank on me and did a botched body-painting job. It's a long story. But seriously, dude, those Israelites used to party crazy those days.” Laugh track.

“And you've got horns.”

“Mister obvious here.” Laugh track.


“Me, the ruler of all things? Sure. Some call me Satan, Beezlebul, Beezlebulb when I'm creative, Lord of the Flies, but you can call me Jeff.” Laugh track and a round of applause.

“What kind of a name for a hellspawn demon is Jeff?”

“Did your parents think you were a girl when they named you Alice?” Laugh track.

“I don't believe you.”

“Alright, want to see me work my magic? Take a seat. I won't bite. Not unless you're into that kind of thing. Actually, I changed my mind. Stay where you are and don't come near me, smello.” Laugh track.

“There's something I need you to do,” Alice said. “It's urgent.”

“Wait a minute. I've got a question for you. Who do you hate most?” Jeff pointed a remote at the television. The screen turned to an image of Earth. “Name a group, an individual. Think fast.”



“Jeez. Hipsters,” replied Alice.

“Now that's one thing we have in common. If you want, I can make them disappear.”


“Well, it's not that simple. First I'd have to create a new alchemy, a virus, but in the end, they'd disappear, wouldn't they?” Laugh track.

“Never mind that. If you're really God, can you turn the sun back on?”

Jeff shook his head. “Those elves, so useless yet so entertaining.”

“How'd you know?”

“I see all, my friend.”

“Of course,” said Alice. “So turn it back on, Jeff. Please.”

“No.” Laugh track.

“But you have to,” Alice panicked. “Earth could be experiencing an ice age apocalypse as we speak.”

Jeff moaned, “But what you want is boring. Let's do the virus thing first.” Laugh track.

There was a knock at the front door.

“That's my boss,” said Jeff, dully.

“So you are a liar,” said Alice.

“Whatever. Quick, go hide in the closet.” Jeff forced Alice in, then hollered at the door in a deep voice, “Come in.”

“Jeff, what's happening?” greeted Jeff's boss. A round of applause. “Came to check in.”

“Now check out,” said Jeff. Laugh track.

Alice burst out of the closet that instant to see who it was.

“He just had to come out of the closet, didn't he?” quipped Jeff. Laugh track.

“So this is our special visitor. Hello, son. The name's Master Creator.”

“The real, actual God, then?” said Alice. “But you're walking gas.”

“Hold on, guys,” said Jeff. “I'm trying to think of a joke involving gas. Darn, I've got nothing. Continue.”

“Does this form of mine betray your perception of who God is?” asked Master Creator.

“It doesn't matter,” replied Alice. “I have a request.”

“Because I can also take the form of a handsome woman.” The audience wooed.

“And I still wouldn't tap that,” said Jeff. Laugh track.

“Master Creator, we shouldn't delay any further. Earth is–”

“I know, son,” replied Master Creator.

“So you'll help me?” asked Alice. “You'll turn the sun back on?”

“I can't.”

“What the–” Alice's swear word was bleeped. “What do you mean, you can't? You're the creator of all things, the supreme bearer of light. I came all this way to see you and you're telling me you can't help and you're just going to let Earth go? After you created Earth?” Laugh track.

“I'm sorry.” The audience reacted with pity. “But you'll have to go a level higher, see the one named Super Master Creator.”

“I'm dying here, Master Creator,” sighed Alice, rubbing his face.

“You sure are,” jested Jeff. Laugh track.

“Help me get to Super Master Creator,” pleaded Alice.

Master Creator turned to an imaginary camera, and shrugged. “Don't have a fucking clue how.”

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David Edward Nell writes from Cape Town, South Africa and can be touched at


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