by Craig A. Buckley
The good Rev. Johnny Elwood loosened his tie. His black Sunday jacket lay draped over the chair behind his desk. His wife would have been in a tizzy if she’d seen it. That’s what hangers were invented for, Johnny, she’d say, to keep out the wrinkles. That woman and her damn hangers. Damn damn damn. The Reverend loved that word. Damned be the sinners, he’d preach, and damned be the papist idolaters, damned be the whores and dope smoking Commies down at the college, and damned be his wife’s damn hangers.
And damned be his wife, for that matter. You see another cock in your wife’s mouth (dragged into Sodom with salted limbs) and you get a fire in the blood. Only one way to put out that sort of fire. His whiskey sermon that morning had hit his congregation hard. He knew it. They’d be coming to ask questions. The elders would want a meeting. He’d be asked to resign, perhaps, or at least take a sabbatical for a bit. Maybe just a transfer, like when a Mary-worshipping dandy fingered the wrong rich kid.
Damn them all then, if they wanted to hold deaf ears up to his voice. They couldn’t put it from their minds now. His words would grow like a virus in their moist, spongy minds. Yes. He’d always thought viruses were interesting, word viruses especially. When you’re the good Reverend, you get to hear a lot of what’s on the peoples’ minds. Doesn’t take a doctorate in psychology to realize that most people think what you tell them to think. They just reiterate their programming in words that they understand and call that thinking. Thinking, now that’s what Johnny needed to do. Sit and have a nice long think. Not here though. They’d be coming soon and he wasn’t in a mind for visitors.
He threw his tie onto his jacket. Took his shoes off too, socks even. The window of his first story office looked out on the church picnic area, a small clearing in a copse of oaks. He opened the window and, with some shifting and squirming, climbed out. The grass was still wet from the storm that morning. Had he called that storm down with his words? Or was God just punctuating his sermon for him with those big, booming thunder blasts? Well, he supposed that was all in how you looked at it. There were days when he saw God in every fart. Then, however, there were days when the devil drove. No use denying it. The Rev. wouldn’t have been a man if the devil didn’t have some sort of reign on him. And Rev. Johnny Elwood knew himself to be a man, no doubt about it.
He saw the devil’s wings clearer now than ever, beating about his ears. He walked silently on bare feet, pacing slowly through the trees, pinching up the earth with his toes. When it started to rain again, he looked up. There sat Earl Jennings in his pickup, just looking at him. Probably praying to himself, the fucking asshole. Johnny walked right up to the window, knocked as if Earl hadn’t seen him coming.
“Hey there, Rev. Elwood. Quite a sermon today.” Johnny smiled a big, stupid smile for the old man but only for a moment before returning to his stone face. Earl looked away, cleared his throat and said, “Johnny, get on in, let’s go for a drive. Get on out of the rain, son. Come on now. Gonna catch cold like that.”
Johnny got in and they drove out of the parking lot.
“Well, Johnny…well…what in the heck is going through your mind that you went and did a fool thing like preach that sermon back there? Huh? You ain’t feeling alright, son? You ain’t drinking are you? Drugs? Been at one of them ungodly youth conferences, hopped up on dope without knowing it? Huh Johnny? I know you. I pray for you every night, Reverend. You are a good man and a good preacher. Just talk to me, son, and we’ll get this figured out.”
Johnny looked Earl up and down. “You don’t know shit, you brittle old fuck.”
“I beg your pardon, Reverend?”
“You heard me, Earl. The only thing you know about dick is shit. It’s all any of us can know. The universe is bigger than our minds can conceive. Vastly bigger. Are you so vain to think you think the thoughts of the Lord, Earl?”
“Now, I never said that, Johnny. I don’t even rightly know what you’re getting at. All I know is, you need to think about these things you’re saying. You’re the shepherd of the church. We can’t have people saying that our reverend has lost his-” Earl winced.
“Lost my mind, have I Earl? Tell me, why might you think that?”
“Well…well, Johnny, I don’t know too many sane men who would stand up before their congregation, a congregation that has done nothing but support you, remember, and…and spout that nonsense you were spouting about…aliens and saucers and sodomites from the moon…”
“Mars. Sodomites from Mars, Earl. They were very clear about that.”
“Mars, the moon, whatever.”
“No, motherfucker, not whatever. An invasion from the moon would not involve the ritual sodomizing of the mouth of the consort of a high priest of Tiphareth. The moon is a feminine sphere, not a masculine, aggressive planet, Earl.”
Earl was silent for some time before saying, “You see what I mean, Johnny? We had to bring Widow Collins back with salts after you got to yelling about Christ being a…a hermaphrodite from the sun.”
“The deaf ears of my sheep! Earl, you’re a goddamned elder in the church. Don’t you do no reading on your own? Everybody knows that about Christ. It’s common knowledge on most planets.”
Earl sighed. “This is about Wendy, ain’t it? She messed around on you, didn’t she. Drove you crazy. I’ve seen it before.”
“You’ve seen it, have you? You saying my wife sucked your cock, Earl? You watched her suck a cock on the internet? She sucks all the cocks, every one of ‘em?”
“Oh no, don’t go saying things like that, Johnny, getting mad at me. Turning my words around. You know you’re just being contrary, now.”
“You’re right, Earl. I’m sorry. I know Wendy wouldn’t suck an old man’s dick. She only sucks goddamn space-cold grey Martian cock these days.”
Earl drove on silently.
“She’s pregnant. I can feel it in the vibrations. Brain pregnant. Bad case. Martian gestation is 23 months, if I ain’t mistaken. Gonna take her life when it comes, no doubt. Be a whole new Martian Christ this time. Horus spreading his wings now, Earl, I can hear it. None of this shit’s gonna matter in 23 months. Fuck Widow Collins. Fuck the congregation, fuck the church, and fuck you, Earl. A new age dawns and I don’t mean to be resistant to the waves of annihilation, no sir. I aim to ride ‘em right to the throne.”
“Johnny, we’re gonna get you some help, son. You just hang on tight. We’re gonna get you some help.”
“They’re gonna need preachers in the next Aeon, you better believe it. A lot of death coming, Earl. A lot of you old, stagnant minds gonna be wiped clean and returned to the soil. For nutrients. For the trees. Martians love their trees. That’s why they’re always snatching people from the middle of nowhere. Martian can’t stand the city. Gotta be green. Skulls make the best fertilizer.”
“Lord in Heaven, please take from your child, Johnny Elwood, these demons that pervert his thoughts from your Will, oh Lord.”
“Lotta death coming. Lotta men gonna need burying. Lotta Martians too, I suppose. Boy, they’re in for a ride, I tell you what. Think they can implant a New Martian Christ on Earth and we’ll all just bow down and worship. Well, the sheep whose eyes I stare down every damn Sunday probably will, but not everybody. Muslims gonna be up in arms about this one. Buddhists ain’t worship shit anyway. Martians are taking a big chance, picking Christ to replace.”
“Almost there, Johnny. Gonna get you help. You just hang on.”
Time ticks by on the big wall clock in the common room of the sanitarium. Johnny hears every click of the second hand, counting down to the New Earth. He sits calmly (the calmer the better. Avoiding the drugs. Sitting calmly, silently, breathing slowly, not moving a muscle, listening to the waves of the Void crashing against his mind.) For 23 months he sits in white pajamas, serene. And the final day comes ‘round: click-click-click-click-click- – – – – – –
“This is not the end, my brothers and sisters. The Lord has raised this dear woman to sin against humanity and we in our ignorance believe these sins to be universal, requiring forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. We are blind to the new light which shines even now from the gaping forehead wound of my once beloved wife. And yet even she shall be remembered in eternity, for from her cephalic womb crawls even now a new Sun God, tempered in the severity of Mars, to be taken soon to the merciful halls of Jupiter to be raised until strong enough to return to our dear Earth as the Savior Image of the New Aeon. Replace your filters, those of you with ears to hear. You will need new thoughts in your head. Replace the goose step of the old world with the dervish dance of a united Solar System. Those among you that draw weapons on our Martian space brothers incite civil war, I say! Lay down your arms, for they are the lions and we the lambs and by the streams of Chaos do we take our rest, together, in the shade of the tree of life. And by Chaos are we set free, brothers and sisters! Those who stagnate and homogenize will be left behind. We shall build a ladder to the stars on the bones of your lost ideals. I see now that it was right in the eyes of the Lord for our Martian space brothers to come down like frozen lightning, fuck the truth of the Word into the mind of my wife, harvest the fetus of the Future King from her rotting, twisted body and to steal away in the night with the Christ, just as Mary and Joseph stole away to Egypt to raise Jesus in the land of ancient magick. He shall return, the Son of Marsman. And then shall we know the peace of the storm, the quiet that comes with death, the eternal silence of the Abyss. Prepare your hearts, you that have the Spirit. Prepare your hearts for His return. As we commit the body of your servant back to the rowdy dirt, Oh Lord, please free her mind of all transitory hallucinations and let her spirit inhabit the Pure Land that she might be free of the wheel of creation. She has done enough, Oh Lord, and I defy you to raise her once again from her eternal rest. I go now, like John the Baptist before me, to wander the wastes and commune with those things beyond the rational sphere of civilization. If I meet the spirit of my wife, Oh Lord, I promise to strike her down, deep down, into the hell of the anti-gods, where even You will not be able to reach her. A new age dawns and I am the harbinger of the coming light. We are all gods now. Amen.”
Craig A. Buckley wanders around hills of Kentucky, talking to trees, in an everlasting attempt to be abducted by weirdos. Sometimes he sits around Cincinnati, giving norms the cunt eye, picking dirt from his beard.