prompt: still, title: losses in translation in "the next big thing" flash fiction

  • June 13, 2022, 8:43 p.m.
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After the burst of magic the scientist had been trained through a decade of college to disregard, the first thing he felt was all the things he didn’t feel. He didn’t feel weak, didn’t feel trembling in his hands or warbling in his legs. He didn’t feel what he’d been swallowing down, fighting through since his teens. He didn’t feel like himself at all and considering the burden his genes laid upon him, that was the best feeling in existence. The difference was disturbing, but for one shining moment all that mattered was that the pain was gone. Sex, drugs, adulation, whatever pleasures you can list, there’s nothing as quite as wonderful as when the pain finally ends. Still, he’d been suffering for so long, he couldn’t remember how to be anything else. The absence of pain was so utterly alien.

If the beings Mitzi bargained with were actually angels, if those angels actually represented the God of Abraham, if the holy books attested to that God are literally true, and that’s a lot of ifs, I know. When dealing with the divinity’s whim, you’ll find it tends to be ifs all the way down.

But assuming that was the will of the God of the Torah, if there’s anything you can say about that particular deity, it’s that even His rewards to His most faithful are wildly capricious and inscrutable at best. Ask poor Job whatever-his-last-name-was. That God killed everyone and everything that guy ever loved to win a bet with The Actual Devil, to prove he would still be faithful no matter what, and in the end, he just gave the guy another wife, another set of kids, another set of animals and land, considering the whole deal even. The people Job had so very much loved stayed one-hundred-percent deadinsky, caputo, cold-slabbed, and there’s no way getting a new set of things to love magically erased the loss of who he once cherished.

Job had to live with that horror for the rest of his life, how his Lord considered all of those lives transactionally negotiable. Kill your family to win a bet? Here’s a new family, we’re good. That was his God’s perspective on his life, this was recompense for his total devotion. It wasn’t even God being purposefully cruel, God was just so removed from how an astonishingly short mortal life would value anything, God genuinely believed it to be a fair trade. With billions of years to play around with up there in the beardy clouds, even omnipotence couldn’t understand the base fragility of what a mayfly like us humans might love.

This is all to say that even when God is trying to cut an equitable deal, He usually cannot fathom what that would mean to us. Which would explain how once that pain and shock finally cleared, the scientist began noticing how suddenly significantly taller than before and, more disturbingly, how he was now suddenly and significantly covered from head-to-toe in hair.

Last updated June 14, 2022

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