by Cat Voleur
This is the prologue for a novel I'm working on about deities and the multiverse.
|God looked down the length of the oaken table that had been the centerpiece of the Small Council chamber for as long as he could remember, and more or less attempted to frown. His success was of course, only minimal. Any physical expression that he attempted to convey would be met with mixed results. The issue lay in that when people looked at him they saw only what they wanted (or many cases - just expected) This rule seemed to apply extra to other gods, and double extra to the 11 others currently in the Council chamber with him.|
Since the widespread popularity of the Christian faith across multiple dimensions, God found that he was most often viewed as an elderly Caucasian sort of fellow with a long white beard, usually dressed in robes of some sort or another. This version of himself was about half the time accompanied by thick, white clouds that partially obscured many of his features. He had been too polite to ever say so, but he had genuinely come to hate seeing those clouds all the time as they wreaked havoc on his peripheral vision.
Although God couldn't vouch for what all of his fellow council members saw when they gazed upon them, he had spoken with a few of them one on one enough to know that it varied not only from person to person, but sometimes from day to day as well. A few of them saw nothing, one or two of them must surely see the old man judging from the occasional cloud obstructing his field of vision during meetings. Lakshmi viewed him as a sort of voodoo priestess, Pan saw him as the sun, Thor saw him as his father Odin, and of course Zeus saw only himself. These were all fine with God, as he didn't care much what he looked like one way or the other. Appearance, much like gender or golf scores, was nothing but a matter of perception.
He quite liked being able to shape-shift, even if it was an ability that after spending an eternity living with he had no power to control on his own. The idea that people saw their own version of an almighty presence when they looked at him was in fact what had appealed to him about being God in the first place, and was ultimately why he had accepted the position. He found the notion that everyone was right simply by the power of belief to be quite a comforting one - and since he lived in such a high number of unsettling worlds, it felt nice to have something comforting like that to fall back on.
There were instances however where he wished that he could let everyone see the same him - if only long enough to show that he was displeased with something or in this case someone.
He sat there in his seat of high honor glaring at the spot directly across from his and being generally annoyed with the woman whom it belonged to; She was late again, and worse than that was the fact that she had chosen to be late.
Since the Council Chamber was technically a room outside of both time and space, one could choose to arrive at a time only in relation to when anyone This meant that the 13 Council members could choose to arrive with everyone else, allowing them to appear in their proper place almost simultaneously with an error margin of plus or minus just a few non-existent seconds. This was a concept not quite grasped by their newest member - and this was not the first instance where they had been left to wait.
She was a strange sort of woman - which was quite an achievement when put up against her fellow co-workers. At first glance she had the appearance of an average, human woman (which depending on what God looked like in that particular moment would have made her the most normal looking person on the Council by many a standard.) She was tall and thin, with the sort of striking features and hourglass figure that made her - objectively speaking - quite attractive to anyone who was seeing her only in passing. Her skin was pale and flawless, her black hair fell in a perfect sheet to a point at the small of her back, her dark eyes were piercing. The more time was spent with her however, the more unnerving she would seem.
It became obvious to anyone spending enough time with her that her appearance just wasn't right - even to someone like God who knew how little something like that meant. She would sometimes act stubborn and defiant as only a child can, while other times she would appear to be wise beyond her years, almost matronly. Her moods were ever-changing and one never quite knew what to expect from her.
If you had put her in a room alone with any random person, they would have found themselves increasingly uneasy as the time passed. What made her truly a misfit however (at least where the Council was concerned) was that she was the only one of them who had been born mortal, and the only one of them not to be elected to her current seat. She had simply come in one day - not long after her predecessor had stopped attending meetings altogether, and
The chatter in the room was getting louder, and still no one seemed to care that he was discontent. A cloud floated past his vision. He batted it away and sighed.
"You might want to tell them that you're unhappy" he whispered, "or we could be waiting quite a long time for them to notice."
This was advice that he immediately chose to take. "I am unhappy." He announced to the room, and quickly the sound of talking halted and the attention turned back his way. Satan straightened himself in his seat, looking smug (though perhaps not any more so than usual.)
Although they hadn't noticed he was upset at first, no one needed to ask what had caused his mood once it had been brought to their attention.
"It's very rude of her to keep us waiting again," Lakshmi offered.
"Why have we not replaced the woman?" Demanded Thor. "We have better things to do than await her presence all day."
He chose not to mention to the thunder god that the time they spent there was not wasted in any other place. Cthulhu made a deep burbling sound to show his own displeasure.
"We could start without her," Terra's high voice chimed out.
A general sound of approval circulated around the table (and a blip from Cthulhu) to show that they were all fond of the faerie's suggestion.
"We can't start without her," God reminded them. "This is no ordinary meeting. There is a disturbance, and all members must be present before we can begin."
"Perhaps we should get a stand in, then." Satan offered. "Someone who could sit in her place until such time as she graces us with her presence and fill her in on anything she missed later. It's worked before, and I'm sure Hades would be willing to step up."
God was all too sure that Hades would love nothing more. "Hades cannot take her place on the council. The scales would tip, and no more than one person can be elected from one group."
"Hecate would serve as well," Pan offered mildly.
A cloud swam across God's vision. "I would sooner she just be here herself."
"That might be for the best, since this is a meeting of great importance." Satan conceded. "There have been disturbing reports of-"
"-A disturbance!" Shouted Thor, who was growing increasingly irate. "Yes, yes we know. What of it?"
"-Reports of a serial killer." Satan continued as though he had not been interrupted.
God turned his attention to his friend, not sure that he had heard correctly. "A serial killer?"
"Tis true." Offered Eddy. "Many a disturbing tale of woe and bloodshed have been uttered as of late. A cruel beast walks amongst the mortals."
"What of it?" Repeated Thor. "Mortals kill mortals, this is not news."
"Not to be insensitive," Lakshmi offered, "but our thunder god here has the right of it. For as long as humans have existed they've committed acts of violence against one another. It's not our job to intervene."
God's eyes scanned over the table to Zeus, who had been uncharacteristically quiet during the discussion. "Perhaps we should focus just on the disturbance then" he said when he noticed God watching. "The killings don't seem overly important in comparison."
"We can discuss them," God decided. "But we will do it only once she arrives. This is the sort of thing that is right up her alley."
"More up her alley than you know," Satan said with a sly smile. "The reports are coming from
There were gasps from around the table, and even God had to admit he was unsettled. It was disturbing news. Anything that could threaten Pangora could threaten them, and therefore the very fabric of reality.
"Would it really matter to her where the reports are from?" Jesus asked as he leaned forward.
"Had you not heard?" Asked the vampire sitting next to him. "She's living there now."
"Maybe her moving is why she's late," Terra said.
"I find it odd that a serial killer would show up so soon after she decides to move in." God said as he contemplated this information.
"You don't think she has anything to do with the killings, surely?"
"Of course I don't," God said, though he really didn't know the woman well enough to say anything for sure. "But it seems too coincidental for the two things to be entirely unrelated. The place has been killer free for as long as I can remember, after all."
The other council members looked around at each other, none of them wanting to say aloud the thought that they all shared. God's memory was perfect to fault. In knowing everything, he had access to too much information, and it often made it difficult for him to recall smaller bits of information at exactly the time he needed to. He ignored the looks.
"If there is a killer there, it could have devastating effects" Satan stated.
"Effects which we shall talk about when she arrives." God replied. That put an end to the discussion as they all heard the finality in his voice. They kept quiet, and together they waited for Death.