by Lee Gimenez
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Michael logs on and types in the web address. GOD's home page pops up, the 3D image of the Father looking down at him.
"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned."
The Father makes the sign of the cross and speaks, his voice deep and soothing. "Bless you, my son. How can I help?"
"It's been a month since my last confession, and I've done something terrible."
The Father's face shows concern, his tanned brow wrinkling. "I see. Go on, Michael. Tell me what you've done."
"I've…I've…at work, I embezzled some money…"
The Father purses his lips then runs his hand through his thick white hair. "I see. And what made you do this?"
"My mortgage, my car payments, all our other bills, it's all just too much…"
"I understand. You were strapped for cash."
"Yes…that's right. I'm sorry, Father. I didn't want to do it."
"Are you repentant, Michael?"
"Yes, I am. Please forgive me for my sins."
The Father makes the sign of the cross again. "Bless you, my son. You are forgiven. You need to pray five 'Our Father's…And you'll need to make a donation of 100 Euros today. I'll just need your credit card number, my son."
"Of course, Father."
Sunday, April 22, 2018
The Church's logo dissolves and The Father's 3D image appears. Michael notices that The Father's flowing white robe looks a bit wrinkled today, but he doesn't comment on it. He has enough of his own problems.
"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It's been a week since my last confession."
"Bless you, my son. How are things today?"
"Not good, Father."
"I'm sorry to hear that. How can I help?"
"I know you get a lot of traffic, but you remember last week, I was having a problem…"
"Yes, yes, of course, the embezzlement thing. I am God, after all. I remember everything." The Father checks his watch, and looks a little impatient.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…"
"Okay, Michael, get on with it…"
"Well, it's like this. My money problems have gotten worse. The bank's going to foreclose on my house unless I come up with the last three payments I've missed."
The Father rubs his chin with his hand and looks deep in thought. "I see."
"So, the bottom line is, I had to embezzle more money."
The Father frowns. "I see."
"In fact, I had to embezzle quite a bit. Now my wife's suspicious of what's going on…"
"Well, Michael, are you repentant?"
"Absolutely. I promise I won't do it again."
"In that case, you are forgiven. But, since this is a bigger sin, it's going to cost you. You'll have to pray ten 'Our Father's and you'll need to donate 200 Euros to cleanse your soul."
"Thank you, Father."
Wednesday April 25, 2018
The Father looks out to Michael, a questioning look on his face. "Weren't you just here a few days ago?"
"Yes, Father, I'm afraid so."
"This can't be good, young man."
"It's not. In fact it's very bad. Please forgive me, for I have sinned."
The Father arches his brows. "Go on…"
Michael wipes the perspiration from his forehead. "I told you my wife was getting suspicious…well, she found out I was taking money from my employer. She said she was going to turn me into to the police…"
The Father fidgets in his golden throne. "Stop right there," he says, his voice booming. "Don't tell me you harmed her in some way?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Michael, you've crossed the line this time. It's one thing to steal a bit, but quite another to harm your wife."
"Father, it's worse than you think. She's dead."
"Oh, my God!" He yells, rising from his throne. "I mean, Oh Me! You've done it this time. How can you expect me to forgive you for this?"
"Please Father. It's a horrible, horrible thing I've done. But, I beg you, please forgive me. Please don't banish my soul to hell."
The Father sits down and rubs his chin again, deep in thought. "Against my better judgment, I will take pity on your soul and forgive you. On two conditions."
"First, you turn yourself into the police as soon as we're done here. And second, I'll need your credit card number again. This is going to take a serious donation this time."
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Michael logs on and types in the web address. GOD's home page pops up, the 3D image of The Father looking down at him, a puzzled look on his face.
"Michael, what are you doing here? I told you to turn yourself in to the police."
"I just had to talk with you one last time."
"There's not much else I can do for you, my son."
"Father, if I could just tell you again, from the beginning, how this whole thing got started, what we discussed…it would make me feel a lot better."
The Father looks at his watch, then starts drumming his fingers on the arm of his throne. "All right, get on with it…"
Michael goes on to describe in detail the embezzlement, The Father's reaction, the donations. Ten minutes later, he stops. "So, would you say that's a pretty accurate account of what happened?"
The Father looks at his watch again. It looks like a Rolex, but there is a dull grey spot showing through the gold on one edge. "Yes, yes, of course, now if there's nothing else, I have more clients, I mean parishioners, to talk with…"
"I'm sorry, Father. But there is one last thing. You see, I did turn myself into the police yesterday, just like you asked. I told them everything, including my visits with you. It appears the FBI and IRS have been looking into your Church for some time. They suspect you of fraud and tax evasion. They told me they would help me with the DA if I turned in state's evidence on you."
The screen behind The Father fills with dark, threatening clouds. Lightning crackles and thunder booms from Michael's speakers. "I am very disappointed in you, my son," The Father says, but he looks distracted, his eyes darting back and forth, his head tilted as if he is listening to something off screen.
Michael sighs. The clouds and lightning and thunder seem very familiar -- he remembers a scene from the direct-to-home-media-center remake of "The Perfect Storm" that looked and sounded exactly the same.
Suddenly, The Father stands up, almost falling over what appears to be a worn office chair in his haste. Muffled shouting replaces the storm sound effects, and the screen freezes and then goes dark.
Michael shakes his head. His faith has taken a terrible blow. For the first time since childhood, he wonders if God exists at all.
Then he smiles sadly. Even with the deal he has made with the DA, he will have a long time to think about the existence of God and His relationship with mankind and with Michael in particular. And on the bright side, he has heard that many inmates find renewed religious inspiration 'inside'...
© 2008 Lee Gimenez
Bio: Lee Gimenez's stories have appeared or are scheduled to appear in Afterburn SF (2008); Bewildering Stories (2008); Skive Quarterly (2007); Skiveflash (2007); The Green Wave (2007). This marks his third appearance in Aphelion; most recently, his story The Genesis Solution appeared in the August, 2008 edition of Aphelion. For more of Lee's work, visit Lee Gimenez.
E-mail: Lee Gimenez
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.