The deafening echo of anger rolled across the valleys and golden streets of Heaven as God returned. He thundered and cursed, eclipsing suns and pulsing black holes.
He was so frighteningly upset, not because Lucifer had betrayed him, or his creations had undermined him.
But because he had not seen it coming.
He had ideas about the future. Since the beginning of the universe, when God opened his eyes or yawned or whatever it was that started it, he had never once been surprised. The more variables in a calculation, the more chances it had of being wrong. He was the only variable at first, then his son. But his son was his servant, doing his bidding, as he was created for; therefore the interruptions to his divine clarity were insignificant. The equivalent to putting a cup of coffee down on a table, then reaching to pick it up, only to realise it was just to the left of where you thought it was. Cheerfully annoying, but not a cataclysm of such proportions as to doom a species for eternity.
Had his son changed so much in those eye blinks of aeons? Seeding life, watching it prosper, did he just want to sit back and see how it all works out?
Pathetic, thought God. My other sons have the right idea, we made these insipid creatures, the least they can do is thank us.
No! He suddenly realised. Lucifer has always had secret, he thinks, thoughts. I remember when I showed him the Garden. He’d believed he could do it better. Better than me, God.
Lucifer wants to rule my Universe. He wants my kingdom.
The anger ebbed away as God sat on his throne among Heavens clouds, feeling their cool embrace, slowly replaced by his usual mischievously jolly smile as ideas flooded him. Calling on his every cell (if that is what he has) to give him inspiration for how he would truly punish Lucifer.
Man would never know heaven, no matter what else happens, God decided.
Lucifer appeared, bright as his namesake in the skies of Heaven, waiting for his brothers. He was not confident in their support, but he had to try. There was something foul in the fields of the Lord, and the only cure was a clean slate. A Godless Universe.
Lines of light appeared before his eyes, like points of a star, racing toward him. One line encircled the other playfully. That must be Remiel, thought Lucifer happily. All the lines became shining orbs, blinding in their brilliance as his six brothers showed their true form.
“What is it?” said Michael in his usual bored tone.
“Why have you called us all here Lucifer?” Raphael spoke as he waved and nodded to his brothers.
Lucifer held no fear of any of his brothers, least of all Michael. Michael was a brute; he had neither the careful fingers nor finesse to create life. He was their trash collector, tossing unwanted bits into suns with childish delight at the pretty explosions he could make.
Remiel and Raguel barely even spoke with the rest of the family, always off in the distant-from-places-far-away parts of the universe, tinkering with time and space.
Uriel and Raphael however, were more akin to Lucifer and God by way of creation. They were cunning and creative, with wondrous imaginations. They were also fiercely loyal to God, and showed their own creations a level of contempt on par with the big man himself.
This was going to be difficult.
Lucifer drew a breath and began the story of what had taken place in Eden. He spoke passionately, recalling and replaying what he felt and saw as he befriended Adam, and made for him a partner to share his world. The elation he felt when he saw the humans outside of Eden, trying desperately to understand the universe. The confusion and loathing when he met the tribes that knew of God.
“That was me,” said Michael proudly. “I appeared to them and told them I was their advocate in Heaven.”
Lucifer stared at his brother, “Why would you do that? I thought you didn’t even like humans.”
“Father asked me to,” he said simply. “What of it?” shrugging his winged shoulders.
Lucifer pressed on, annoyed that his father had used Michael instead of him. Michael was a zealot, and the more he thought about it, the more sense it made for God to use him.
What a tool.
When he was telling them about Eve, and how god had spoiled her, his brothers said nothing.
When he told them about helping the two humans to recover their free will, his brothers shifted uncomfortably, silent.
When he finished telling them about humanity being thrown from Eden so bodily, and his father speaking to him as though he were a servant, his brothers looked at each other grimly.
“Why did you do those things, brother?” asked Uriel quietly.
“I did what I thought to be right.” Lucifer replied.
“Why did you think defying God for a pack of hairless monkeys,” Michael said dangerously, “Would be alright?”
“Because it was the only moral avenue open to me, Michael.” Said Lucifer, stepping forward. “I did nothing that I am ashamed of.”
“What is moral?” asked Raguel curiously.
Lucifer blinked, “Oh that’s right, none of you would have heard it before, this fascinating civilisation of humans came up with it. Moral is the way one should treat other beings the way you wish to be treated. I think everyone should be treated morally.”
His brothers stifled a laugh, except for Raphael and Michael. “You think Lucifer, the Morning Star, should be treated like God?” Raphael said incredulously.
“That’s not what I said,” He said tiredly, “No one should be dealt with as though they were a glass of water, to be used however you like. Would you?”
Michael stepped forward, “I would never allow myself to be used in such a way,” Lucifer began to smile, “Unless it was my Father, the Lord and Birth Giver of the Universe. The way you should treat him is with total reverence and awe, older brother. I’m ashamed to even look at you. Why have you told us all of this?”
“Because I intend to remove father from his throne, and open the universe to all. Think of it brothers! We would each be free to do exactly as we pleased, finally free from oppressive and thoughtless servitude! Our creations would discover the universe we’ve made for them, like an impossible puzzle. We wouldn’t have to sit on one creation for all time, but give life and move on! We aren’t so insecure as to require, demand, obedience and gratitude, we would have no tether to be bound to.” Lucifer opened his wings and rose above his brothers, his dawn light bathing them. “Fight or not, brothers, you will follow me.”
Lucifer departed for God’s throne, leaving his brothers apoplectic with rage, and silent with confusion. Michael stormed after him along with Uriel, screaming murder and defiance. Raguel and Remiel looked at each other, shaking their head exasperatedly and returned to their work in the beyond of the Universe, not caring about stupid family politics.
Raphael was left alone. He had met Adam, and heard of Eve. They sounded interesting. He didn’t think his brother had done such a bad thing, giving them their free will. The world is a complicated place, to learn it all and see it all would only make them more interesting. And through their inquisition, it would bring them closer to God. Raphael nodded to himself; God deserves the honour and servitude. Lucifer had no right to the throne. He loved his brother, and his father. The two were stubborn and brilliant.
They would either kill each other, or destroy the very fabric of time in their squabble.
Lucifer entered his father’s presence. God was peering down at Earth, slowly spinning. He stopped it for a second, hearing the great waves slosh around the coasts of the world, drowning thousands and destroying cities, sinking nations. He quickly spun it again, grinning to himself as the water slowly receded. He turned to smile at Lucifer, who had a determined look on his face. He was unmoved by dad’s latest cataclysm, for if he had his way, it would be the last.
“You made me,” Lucifer said slowly.
“Yes, I did make you.” God replied.
“Then why did you react the way you did?”
“Because you disobeyed me.”
“Why did you punish the humans for something I did?”
“Because,” God said heavily, “I could.”
Lucifer shook his head mournfully, “What has happened to you? Father, we create life because it is fun and we like it, and we did so for time beyond understanding. Why do you care if humans don’t know of you? Do birds? Do fish? Do platypi?”
“Do not speak to me of those heretical monotremes,” God said ominously.
Lucifer soldiered on, ignoring the barb against his aquatic masterpieces, “My point being, you are the Father of all things. You have existed since existing was possible. What possible advantage is there to treating your creations like pets?”
“This is why you disobeyed me?” God stood up from his brilliant throne, gesturing down at the little blue planet. “These? Hmm?”
God nodded to himself, “Because I am the Lord of this universe and all others. I am the highest of highs and the mightiest of all. I made everything. I am the only thing in the universe. If they did not worship me, then who? Some made up fantastical, thunderbolt throwing, axe wielding, crown wearing pile of refuse?”
“Who cares what they believe in?” Lucifer said imploringly.
“I do!” God thundered. “These humans were to be my art work! Painstaking effort was made so that they would one day be my greatest work. Greater even than yourself. But you,” God turned to his son, the Dawn Bearer, speaking in a venomously even tone, “You had to meddle. You had to pry and poke and prod. Why should you have cared that they have faith in me? You had faith in me; your brothers have faith in me, why should they get to live in ignorance, when they could know me?”
“Because they did not choose it.” Lucifer said, looking his Father directly in his eyes and seeing eternity.
“Your esteem is far too great in your free will. It is a useless character,” he placed careful emphasis on the next word, “flaw.”
“The humans showed the necessary courage to explore their universe, even if they haven’t explored their own world yet. Free will would have seen them not only explore it, but come to understand it, and us, and you. Would that have been such a bad thing?”
“Because no one should ever hold the same knowledge that I hold. The same power that I wield. Only I am worthy of understanding everything in the universe! Don’t you dare touch him!”
Michael, Uriel and Raphael had entered the room, panting hard. Michael looked about ready to leap when God called to him. “Why are you three so exhausted?”
“Someone moved Heaven away from us Father,” Raphael explained. “The faster we flew the further it stayed from us.”
“I’m going to enjoy killing you, older brother,” Said Michael, Uriel nodding menacingly.
“No one is going to kill anyone,” God said laboriously.
When Michael and Uriel opened their mouths to protest, God melted their lips together as he smiled strangely at Lucifer.
“Quiet, the adults are talking.”
God stood across the cloud from Lucifer, who was shaping up. “Oh come, do you really think you could do battle with me?”
“I can think of nothing else for it,” Lucifer said sadly.
Raphael, who had been watching dazed, blurted, “I can!”
“You can what Raphael?” God said, frustrated.
“You can make a wager on the humans,” Raphael said slowly.
Lucifer and God exchanged glances before boring their eyes into Raphael, who began to sweat.
“How?” Lucifer said.
“You both make one change to the nature of all the humans, even the ones who do not follow Father. Then when they undoubtedly wipe themselves out, whoever was right wins.” He glanced nervously at them both. “It would be better than ending the universe, wouldn’t it Father?”
“I won’t make a sentient creature into a horse for racing,” Lucifer said flatly.
“No I like this idea,” God said. “So do you, deep down. I know you Lucifer. All that rubbish moral stuff has filled your brains, but you love your little games. You won’t pass up a chance to influence every human.”
“You’ll cheat,” Lucifer said, annoyed with his father’s accurate appraisal of him.
“I promise I will only cheat with the humans who worship me, no one else. You already know I don’t have the same control over the ones who don’t,” God looked at Lucifer, smiling. “If I did we wouldn’t be here.”
Lucifer thought seriously for a long time. An extremely long time. What would his father’s reaction be when he was proven right? Was he confident enough to test whatever idea he gave the humans against whatever his father gave them? Was he right? Was God wrong to want subservience? In his glorious anger when he decided to overthrow God, he had not considered any of these things. Does anyone who is very upset ever stop to think about the glass they smash on the ground or the quiet they break when they yell?
Adam and Eve had trusted him, and he did the exact same thing as his father. He lied to them, told them it was alright to eat the apple. Was he any different to his father at all?
“Well?” God asked, bored. Raphael was still staring at Lucifer, watching his face and his eyes as he asked himself these questions.
“As do I!” God said happily, clapping his hands together excitedly, the sound booming and vibrating every cell in Lucifer and Raphael’s body.
Adam and Eve appeared in the great expanse. They had changed much in Lucifer’s eyes. They were old and feeble. The excited light in their eyes had dulled in their years outside of Eden. They looked around themselves, terrified. When they noticed each other they were shocked, a small smile flickered over their faces. Then they saw Lucifer.
“You!” cried Adam, “You bastard! You did this to us! How could you? We loved you, we trusted you!”
Eve seemed too shocked to speak and just began weeping uncontrollably, her body shaking as she collapsed in a heap on the floor. Lucifer made to go to her, and Adam bellowed violently at him. He stopped dead in his tracks. Raphael didn’t seem too interested in the fate of the humans at all; all he wanted was for his Father and his brother to not fight. He gazed down, somewhat repulsed by the woman’s display, and moved to stand between God and Lucifer.
“Well the gang’s all here,” God said, looking at Raphael, “I’ll let my First born make the first change. I think that’s fitting.”
Raphael and God looked at Lucifer, who walked up to the pair, Adam holding Eve to his chest, trying to calm her down, staring malevolently at him.
What could he bestow upon the humans? He had already given them free will, what else could they need?
If they were going to ever come close to what Lucifer thought they could achieve, they had to have a yearning, gnawing need, so deep in their marrow they itched, . Some would feel they knew enough, but others would feel uncomfortable with such stagnancy.
He bent down, and Adam cowered, fearing the luminous creature above him as he places his hands on both their chests. He felt warm, and Eve whimpered.
Lucifer stood back up from them. “It’s done.”
“What did you give them?” God asked.
“Can’t you tell?”
“No. That would be cheating.”
“Yes, it would be.” Lucifer said simply, gesturing for God to make his change. He closed his eyes for a second and Adam and Eve were taken by a strong gust of light, then they were gone.
“What did you do to them?” Lucifer asked his father warily.
“Sent them home.”
“No I mean-“
“Oh. I gave them a taste of immortality. They will crave it. And I will give it to them.”
“How?” Lucifer asked, confused.
“I let them think they have a soul, like myself and your brothers. They still labour under the impression they are special, and not slightly more verbose beasts. Now they fear death and change, thinking where they are now is the best for coming to Heaven. They will stop at nothing to stay that way. Now I think you should leave, Lucifer. Go and make your own viewing platform. I don’t think I can tolerate your proximity for another few millennia.”
Lucifer shook his head and blinked himself away. He was sad and elated that it had all come down to this silly wager. He would get to teach his father his much needed lesson, but at what cost?
God turned to Raphael, who seemed pleased with his efforts.
“You should be, that was an excellent idea. It should kill a few thousand years, no doubt.”
Raphael smiled at his father, “I think so. What happens now?”
Michael and Uriel’s mouths were unglued, and they came over to join God, who was now looking down at the little spinning blue orb.
“I think it’s time to record our history, don’t you? Now my sons, I wish you to appear to those tribes which are loyal to me, and tell them they alone are God’s chosen, and not the other tribes. Tell them that prophets of my will shall appear to them soon, and to follow their guidelines to the letter forever more, no matter the human cost. Complete obedience will be rewarded with a place in Heaven.”
God closed his eyes and hundreds of angels appeared before him. “These will be your servants, my sons. Give them commands and they will do them without pause. You will be my mouth pieces for the time being. Spread the word among any who will listen. Tell them of Lucifer’s betrayal. How he tried to usurp my throne, and how he wanted all humanity to fall under his spell. He believed himself to be greater than me, and hated humans. Turn his name to venom and his purity to ash. He will learn what it is to be hated for daring to stand against me. Make his noble ideas about learning and understanding a thing to be reviled and attacked.
I, God, will make the world known to those who want it, any who try to do so without me are demons. Monsters. Witches. Tell them that Michael, the greatest warrior of Heaven, threw him down to exist in the nothing between Heaven and Earth, to torment those who are Godless. Tell them of his atrocities, such as the raising of the sea that happened a short time ago. Destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, those two thriving centres of apostate heresy. Those who follow me will be saved. Those who refuse me, those who ignore me, those who deny me, will be punished for all eternity. Go, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, with all haste and joy. History demands your service.”