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The Bet, A Satire
One day in heaven God and the angels were having a business meeting. Church membership had reached an all-time low. But God was not troubled.
“I’ll just create more people to worship me!”
“Uh, God, you cant do that.” said his lawyer.
“But I’m God.”
“It goes against your contract-”
“Do I look like I care about the contract?”
But the good lawyer was able to, after thirty minutes of gag-inducing flattering, to remind God of a girl born twelve years ago who would grow up to have many followers, and that as the girl was currently agnostic, he would do well to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I’ve got it!” God cried “I created a girl twelve years ago who’s going to grow up and be a leader, but I don’t think she’s chosen a religion yet-so all I gotta do is get her on my side right now, while she’s still young and stupid!”
Jesus came in and interrupted the meeting; God had a visitor.
“Son, what have I told you about-”
“Helloooo God….” The devil sang as he shoved past Jesus and into the room.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Lucifer.” said God.
“Whatever…what do you want?”
“Well, well, well, I just wanted to let you know that Lucielle is moments away from conversion….”
God got nervous.
“Elaborate on that for me?”
“Of course,” the devil grinned “I sent two of my kids down there to talk to her about Satanism and all the cool stuff that comes with it.”
“I didn’t know spending eternity burning in hell was ‘cool’.”
“Well those choir robes aren’t exactly in style either.” Satan laughed.
God turned to the congregation, “Excuse us.”
“Are you sure you should speak to him without a lawyer present?”
God turned his wrathful gaze upon his poor, trembling lawyer.
“I swear- one more smart remark and you’re going home with him!” He gestured towards Satan.
The poor lawer scurried as fast as her heels would allow, and so did everyone else. Once they were alone, Satan and God decided to make a deal.
“Okay, here’s the deal- if you convince Lucielle to convert to your side, then one-third of my followers will suddenly have a ‘change of heart’ and go to your side….but if you fail, one-third of your followers will be mine.”
“That would help out my membership problem quite nicely…..”
“Just think….bragging rights.” God grabbed his hand and they shook on it.
Down on Earth, Lucielle Candide was sitting on a swing at her school playground, listening attentively to the two Satanist children. They told her that you could do whatever you wanted, and as long as you did Satan’s bidding, you got whatever you wanted- and the best part was that “Satan’s bidding” was just living your life, having fun, and not bothering anyone else-unless they bothered you first, then it was okay. Growing up in a devout Christian family, she was fascinated by a religion that was so laissez-faire and shameless….outwardly she seemed unconvinced, but it was melting away each minute….it couldn’t hurt to try it out…they seem happier than my catholic friends….
“Normally we don’t really try converting people…” said the girl.
“But The Dark Lord Himself asked us to talk to you!” said the boy, a look of awe on his face.
“Well, she is rather important.” said a voice behind the two.
The boy and the girl turned around and cried out “it’s you!” before flinging their arms around the stranger….it was The Dark Lord Himself…being smothered by adoring children. Satan pat their heads and looked at Lucielle.
“I wanted to get here before the old fool did, hopefully with enough time to have a personal chat. Is that alright with you?”
Lucielle nodded, a bit speechless…after all, the devil himself was right in front of her. And he didn’t look anything like a goat, and he was blond- imagine that! Satan gave the ecstatic children ice-cream and completed homework for the next week, who squealed with delight and ran off to enjoy the rest of their recess.
“Okay honey, here’s what’s up. God’s going to be here in a minute to try to convert you to one of his religions. I don’t want that to happen…” He kneeled down on the ground next to her “He‘ll use you to spread guilt and self-righteousness throughout the world, to promote ignorance and intolerance- and all in the name of the good and holy. Do you want to put the world through another thousand years of this inane misery?”
“Do you want to send everyone to hell?”
The Heavenly Father Himself had appeared on the play-ground. Satan stood to face his eternal adversary and good friend.
“About time you got here, you old slow-poke.”
“Young lady, do not listen to anything this young dunderhead says, he is a pathological liar.”
“Actions speak louder than words, old man.”
The plot comes to a stand-still because God and Satan get into an insults contest for the next twenty minutes, during which Lucielle became rather confused because she didn’t know if she should laugh or run for a dictionary, so hard were the two supernatural beings trying to avoid the low, vulgar language they usually used whenever they were together. It was still very vulgar, but the vocabulary was so advanced that the girl’s ears remained untarnished. Eventually Satan says something that makes God cry, which means the plot can move forward again.
Satan turned to Lucielle.
“So, made up your mind sweetheart?”
“Not so fast, I haven’t stated my case.” said God.
“State your name.”
“But you’ve said my name multiple times.”
“State. Your. Name.”
“Lucielle Carlotta Candide.”
“Lucielle, Lucy, can I call you Luce? This is a big decision for someone your age-”
“Don’t condescend to the girl, her age is no factor in her decision-making capabilities.” Satan objected.
“AND there are many choices, you can choose to be Baptist, Lutheran, Puritan, Amish, Mormon, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Evangelical, Anglican, Jewish, Protestant, Nazarene, Mennonite -”
“The Big Three! Just give her the Big Three, or we’ll be here for another week while you list of all of your idiotic denominations.”
“Christianity, Judaism, Islam.”
“Or Satanism.” the devil interjected.
“Well, I…I don’t know.” It wasn’t the easiest thing to say “no” to god, or the devil.
“Let’s go on a trip, maybe it’ll help you decide.” said God.
And so the battle began.
POOF! They were no longer at the play-ground but now were standing in a crowded bazaar. It was night. At first Lucielle wondered why everyone was dressed like they came straight out of a bible special, then realized that they must have teleported through time. She felt a bit dizzy at the thought.
“Ah, Rosh Hashanah….wonderful holiday, look at everyone celebrating.”
“Everyone’s stuffing their faces with food.”
“That’s because during the day, everyone fasts.” said God.
“You’re confusing Rosh Hashanah with an Islamic holiday” said Satan.
“What are you doing here, I wanted to show the girl around alone.”
“I wanted to watch you make a fool of yourself. And besides, Lucielle could make some use of…well, a devil’s advocate, if you will.”
“Ha, ha, very funny.”
“I don’t know about this fasting thing…I like to eat all the time.”
“But they’re fasting in my honor. It’s a beautiful thing.”
“They’re not fasting!”
“Shut up Lucifer.”
“Satan!” Satan scowled, “You know God, your chosen people don’t exactly paint the most flattering portrait of you in the old testament. You’re pretty wrathful; drowning the world, setting cities on fire, and smiting the wicked and what-not. Intimidating enough to make just about anyone stuff their face for a whole month, just to avoid your ‘terrible wrath’.” then he smiled “Or maybe they’re all secretly Satanists and today they’re celebrating gluttony!”
“Oh my god, SHUT UP.” Satan and Lucielle just stared. “What?”
“That happens here a lot.” said Satan.
“Ugh, fine, guess I lost this round. Let’s go.”
Before Lucielle knew it, they were in the middle of a place she’d only seen on TV: the Middle East, but they were in the sixteenth century….and there was a weird blanket thingy on her head.
“What is this thing? Do I have to wear this?”
It was hot, so she tried to take it off, but Satan grabbed her arm.
“Do that and they’ll kill you.”
“It’s religious garb” said God “Muslims prize women so much that they cover them head to foot with a cloth so other men wont see what they look like and have unholy thoughts.”
They then came to a mosque, and went inside. There God explained more about Islam, how one was to pray five times a day always facing towards Mecca.
“No matter where you are or what you’re doing?”
“Wedding, graduation, no matter.”
Then Lucielle spotted a religious painting.
“How pretty. I can only draw….where are the people?”
“Depicting people goes against the teachings of Mohammed.”
“But people are all I like to draw!”
“Well, you should expand your horizons then.”
“Psssh!” said Satan “Muslims are just crazy.”
“Don’t say that about my worshippers!”
“Come on, some of these guys think that they’re going to get seventy-two virgins. Seventy-two! What a number!”
“Where did they get that from?”
“They mis-translated a passage of your ‘word’, it actually says seventy-two raisins….wont they be in for a surprise!”
“Who’d be dumb enough to do that?”
“A Muslim” said Satan.
“You need to brush up on your vocabulary, the right word would be bigot. But I’m only a bigot towards your worshippers.”
The plot is once more stalled as insult contest number two went on for the next five minutes… and then stopping only because several mischievous children suddenly ran by and stole Lucielle’s head-cover, and everyone’s eyes within viewing vicinity were instantly drawn to Lucielle’s red, red hair.
“It’s a she-devil! See her wicked red hair and vile white skin! Mischief mischief burn the she-devil!!! ”
Lucielle ran. And everyone was coming after her. Then POOF. Now she was on a roof top with God and the Devil. The people below crowded around the building.
“I’m sick of this place! I don’t want to draw plants, pray five times-a-day, or wear a blanket over my head in 100 degree weather!”
“110 degrees.” said Satan.
“So…have you made up your mind?” God was becoming irritated.
“No, I’m not so sure about this one….”
“Don’t forget, you’ll probably end up one of twenty wives of a sixty-five year-old man, if you’re Muslim.” said Satan.
“You didn’t like Judaism, you don’t like Islam- hurry up and decide what you’re going to convert to, jesus christ!”
A voice from above shouted, “Yes, Father?”
“I was using your name in vain, go away!”
“Can we leave now?” said Lucielle.
POOF. They were gone.
The trio appeared before a gothic church, it appeared that mass was about to begin, because people were moving to go in (all in peasant costumes too!), and organ music was surging out the open doors.
“Welcome to the middle ages, when all Christians were part of one religion- Catholicism. A time of beautiful Cathedrals, heavenly mass music, and of simpler things….”
“A time when people did not discover or learn a single new thing in one-thousand years, a magnificent monument to human ignorance and stupidity.” Satan added cheerily.
With that they entered the church, and Lucielle quietly admired the music and architecture. So did Satan, but only because he loved beautiful things. But there was something wrong. But first, it must be said that Lucielle Candide is a very attractive girl, with big green eyes and long red hair and what-not. She also stood out with her red hair and beauty and “odd” behavior (remember, it was the middle ages). So, being beautiful and different, she attracted a lot of attention (as did her two companions for that matter, but they were rather imposing men, so no one bothered them) and thus much envy from the women in the pews, and great fidgeting amongst the men, and in that time there was a convenient way to get rid of people that were different or that were better than you, and it wasn’t very long at all before one of the young maidens utilized this deadly weapon. They had been sitting for perhaps two minutes.
“A witch in the church!”
An audible gasp erupted from the pious folk. Anyone who had not been looking before was looking at Lucielle now. People stood and were pointing, shouting in agreement, because only witches would try to defend someone accused.
“Yes, yes, the one with the devil’s red hair!” (which it clearly was not) “Yes, I watched her bewitch my husband with usage of her villainous glamours. Yes, the witch was spell-binding me with her fair appearance. But now we know her true nature- the devil gave her that beauty to corrupt the moral folk! We must be rid of her then!”
God said “I am certain she will not be convicted, let’s watch.”
Satan said “Let her see the wisdom of Christians firsthand.”
And the crowd took the girl, who screamed and told them most eloquently “I AM NOT A WITCH!” Undeterred they took her to the square where the last witch was executed a few hours ago. Then the bishop ran out.
“Stop! What is the proof against this girl?”
“She bewitched the men, causing unholy thoughts! Her hair is too soft! Her face is too clean! Her clothes are too white!”
“Well, then,” said the bishop “take her to the cliffs.”
“Help God!” cried Lucielle.
“You’re doing fine.” said God.
Satan only watched, an eyebrow raised. “So that’s why so many people died.”
At the cliffs, the test was this: they were going to throw her off and if she is innocent, she’ll fall to her death. If she is really a witch, then she’ll fly away, or Satan will carry her to safety, and if that happened, then they’d have to hang her. But before they threw her, they would ask her a few questions.
God said “She’ll be fine.”
“Do you believe in the devil?”
“She’s a witch of Satan!” cried the crowd.
“I mean NO, no I don’t believe in the devil!”
“If you don’t believe in the devil, then that means you don’t believe in God, which makes you a heretic!”
“Throw the heretic!”
“WAIT! I believe in God! I believe in God!”
“If you believe in God, then you must believe there’s a devil- which means you’re a witch!”
“But that doesn’t make any sense! No matter what I say, I’m a witch.”
“She confessed! A witch! A witch! Throw her!”
They threw her, she screamed, “Satan, help me!” The crowd gasped, naturally.
Satan ran and leapt off the cliff after her, he soon had her in his arms and as soon as he did- POOF!
They were now on a beautiful terrace with a astonishing view of a magnificent city, and Lucielle wept and screamed and dug her nails into his skin, not that it hurt him. He placed her in a swinging hammock when she quieted down, and she stared off into space.
“Now that you’ve had your fill of God, it’s my turn.”
Lucielle sat up, hatred brimming in her eyes.
“NO! I refuse to play along just so you can win your stupid bet!” She looked around “Where have you taken me?”
“I told you it was my turn. Here it is.” He gestured around.
“I don’t get it.”
“Just relax. It’s pretty simple.”
“No rules? Commandments? Restrictions? Guidelines?”
“Of course not, that would make me a hypocrite. The human life is
too short for all of that.”
Lucielle fell asleep. When she woke up, she saw that God had arrived. She also saw that they were back on the play-ground.
“I‘ve had enough of your religions!” was the first thing out of her mouth. “I’ve had it with all religion!”
“YES!” shouted Satan, who actually began dancing.
“WHY ARE YOU SOOO HAPPY?” God roared “You didn’t convert her to your side, so you didn’t win either!”
“Well, well, well….your lawyer was right…you should’ve had her in the room when we made our deal.” Satan laughed “I said if you FAIL one-third of your followers are mine…I never mentioned anything about converting her to Satanism.”
God turned red, literally. Then he POOF-ed away. Satan shook Lucielle’s little hands.
“You’ve made me the happiest being ever there was, y’know that? His expression was priceless! Y’ever need a favor kiddo, just ask, seriously.”
“Oh, don’t worry, you‘ll see me again. Recess is going to be over in a minute, so I’d better let you go and live your life. See ya kid.”
Then he POOF-ed. Lucielle sat there on the swing and counted to sixty, the bell rang for class.