The summer that God came to Whartonville, I ended up trapped on the drugstore roof with only half a peanut butter sandwich and a seraph to keep me company.
The sandwich part is true! Hell, all of it is true. I’d eaten the rest of my lunch on the bus, before God’s approach hit the news. I can always buy more lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When the cafeteria and the rest of the city aren’t under three feet of water, at least. I know it was bad, and people died, but I’m still glad we got a flood instead of the plague of locusts that just hit Fargo. Two months later and you still can’t step outside without a crunch, is what I hear.
Anyway the seraph must have flown up before the rain really started coming down, and I managed to climb up onto the street light and from there to the roof. So there we were together in the middle of the storm. “I thought He didn’t do this shit anymore,” I said to the seraph. They shrugged, or at least I thought they did. It’s hard to read body language on someone who’s seven feet tall with six wings and a dozen mouths, but I’ve had practice lately. You know they can’t really speak for themselves? Sure, they talk, but everything they say is an echo from the Almighty’s own lips. Or at bare minimum from one or another of His prophets. So body language turns out to be kind of important. “There was a covenant or whatever.”
It had been just over a year since the second coming of Jesus and, like most atheists, I couldn’t say it had been a particularly good year for me.
Sure, the Lord’s first bit of business had included clearing up some of the more vague parts of the Bible, including some mistranslations and things his father had, in his words, “gotten wrong.” That put an end to a lot of bigotry. The lack of world hunger and the new commandments about littering were incredible, of course, more positive change than I’d hoped to see in my lifetime.
But it’s just… having proof that my entire belief system (or lack thereof) was absolutely backwards, and having every holier-than-thou relative constantly sending passive-aggressive emails filled with selfies of them and His Holiness…
My fellow non-believers converted, and one even became a priest. I think I’m one of the few who refused to do so.
As a special bonus this month, I am adding an audio recording of this month’s story “St. Roomba’s Gospel” to the story’s post, read by the author herself, Rachael K. Jones. I would love to expand to doing audio recordings as part of the fiction offerings, so this is a sample of that potential. (I will also update the original story posting with the audio
In an outlet behind the altar of the First Baptist Church, the Roomba’s red glowing eyes blink in time with Pastor Smythe’s exhortations. The hallelujahs pulse electric through its circuits, and the repents roll like gasping breaths in the gaps between electrons. When the choir sings, the light pulses brighter, approaching ecstasy as the battery power maxes out. When Pastor Smythe bows his head to pray, Roomba’s eyes go reverently dark.
At the hour’s end, the people gather their children and gilded books and hurry downstairs for coffee and glazed donuts. When the last starched trouser leg or long, blue skirt whisks downstairs, Roomba’s service begins. It clicks its frisbee-shaped self free from the horseshoe dock and zips down the sloping wheelchair ramp that connects chancel to nave, holy to secular. As it sweeps, it drones a tone-deaf hymn while it gathers unto itself the dust and dead bugs, the crumbs and gum wrappers of another week’s worship.