Jesus and Zombies, together at last!
At least that's what I said when Andy proposed a writing exercise in which several people would get together and write something based on - well, here, read this and you'll see.
So we were given two characters, an opening line, a setting and scenario and told to write. I intended to write a very short story but, as usual, got carried away with myself. So now I have what appears to be the opening chapter or two in a much longer saga - a lighthearted look at religion, zombies and armageddon. It's untitled as of now, but clever suggestions are welcome.
Unedited, unrevised partial story below.
They had never met before, but Avi was certainly happy, although a bit reluctant, to put a face on the nickname Jay used while commenting with that nonchalance which had come to characterize him.
Avi had met people from the internet before. His World of Warcraft guild met just last month in New York City, and some people from a local Halo clan got together on the Island during the Christmas break. He also met a couple of bloggers he corresponded with while he was on duty in Iraq. The meetings always turned out well; shared interests and a few pints of Guinness made it easy to feel comfortable with each other. But this one was different - he was meeting up with someone one on one. There wouldn’t be a crowd of people to turn to if conversation got stale. There wouldn’t be a bar bathroom to slink off to if things got uncomfortable. What was he thinking by flying all the way to Missoula to meet up alone with this guy who called him Elian Gonzales - in resposne to Avi’s Xbox Live name of Cubanidad - over and over again just to get a rise out of him when playing Madden 2005?
Even with all the shit talking, there was something about Jay - who went by the screen name ReplacementJesus - that made Avi feel at ease, as if they had been friends forever. Ironically, this made Avi feel uncomfortable on the occasions when he gave it too much thought. He pulled up memories of all the sordid stories of people who died at the hands of people they met on the ‘net. Was he being too trusting? Jay seemed so trustworthy, so harmless. Avi even thought of introducing Jay to his neighbor Ariel - he thought they would make a really cute couple. And then he would think of Henry Rollins singing “Liar” and Avi would get so worked up with worry that three times he picked up the phone with the intent to cancel their meeting.
Yet there he was boarding a plane to Montana to spend the weekend drinking and playing video games with a skateboard fanatic who called himself Replacement Jesus. A virtual stranger.
Four hours later, Avi’s plane touched down at Missoula International Airport. He felt a slight twinge of nervousness as the plane skidded to a halt. It was a feeling Avi was very familiar with - he called it his Cloud of Impending Doom. He was prone to bouts of anxiety that left him feeling as if the world was ten seconds away from ending. Avi tried to get a grip on the anxiety before it became full blown but he couldn’t shake it. When he got off the plane and headed toward the gate, he had already convinced himself that there were terrorists hiding in the garbage cans in the terminal.
As Avi grabbed his luggage and walked away from the carousel, an infant in a stroller sneezed. Avi muttered a “God bless you” out of habit and the baby’s mother smiled at him, then let out a terrible cough. All around him, it seemed, people were sneezing, coughing, looking pale and deadly. Great, he thought. He had landed in the midst of some great Montana flu outbreak. A small thought about the latest bird flu scare tugged at the back of Avi’s mind, but he shook it off. Things like that frightened him, ever since he read Stephen King’s The Stand. He had become somewhat of a germaphobic since then, sure that every single sniffle of a nearby stranger meant that some ungodly disease was being spread like wildfire.
He looked around nervously for Jay, and then realized he didn’t know who or what he was looking for. When they talked earlier and Avi tried to make some kind of plan so he would know who Jay was, all Jay could say was “Don’t worry, you’ll know me.” So Avi scanned the airport, looking for some tell tale sign of his internet friend. When he spotted the guy in cargo shorts and a Minor Threat t-shirt holding up a sign that read “Elian Gonzalez,” Avi grinned and felt his bleak mood lift.
They pulled up to Jay’s house a short while later and Avi was taken aback by the sprawling ranch and barn. Jay had told him he had his own place, but Avi expected a bachelor pad worthy of a 22 year old punk, not something out of Architectural Digest. Avi made a mental note to sneak some questions about Jay’s obvious fortune into a conversation.
Avi scanned the expansive sky. Thick, low clouds hovered over Jay’s house like fists ready to strike. Beyond the clouds that seemed to single out Jay’s home was sky. Miles and miles of shades of blue, like a vast ocean with no horizon in sight. The nearest neighbor was about a mile back the way they came and all around them was nothing but nature, above and below.
“God’s Country, eh?”
“You have no idea,” Jay grinned.
Jay knew three things going into this meeting with Avi. One, that Avi was somehow, in the next 48 hours, supposed to save humanity from complete extinction. Two, that Jay himself - Jesus to friends and family - was just supposed to be a conduit to the scenario in which Avi plays Superman and nothing more. And three, that Jesus was in no way supposed to reveal his true identity to anyone.
Jesus’s foster father - a/k/a God, forgot one important rule. He should have forbade Jesus from drinking because once the Captain Morgan started flowing, Jesus’s tongue started wagging.
24 hours, seventeen games of Madden and several gallons of alcohol later, Avi and Jay were walking from the house to the barn, where Jesus/Jay was about to prove to Avi that he wasn’t just some internet wack job and he really, truly was Jesus.. He was going to perform miracles.
Avi followed Jesus on the path to the barn, both of them staggering on rum-hobbled legs and Avi peppering Jay with questions.
You don’t look like Jesus.
That’s because I’m the Replacement Jesus. Duh.
How did that happen?
Because O.G. Jesus retired.
I didn’t know he could do that.
Well there’s no rule that says he can’t.
A few seconds of silence while Avi contemplates what he’s hearing. And seeing.
"Ok, tell me more about your powers."
Jesus turned towards Avi. "Hey, Avi? How come you believe me? No one ever believes me."
"Because you’re walking on air."
Jesus looked down. Sure enough, he was doing the float thing. It happened when he got excited, sometimes his powers would have a mind of their own.
"Ok, then. At least I don’t have to spend an hour trying to convince you."
"I still want to see some miracles, though."
They had reached the barn. Jesus was fiddling with a large key chain. Avi kept the questions rolling.
So how did you get this gig?
I was weeding God’s garden when him and Jesus had the big fight. And Jesus was just like, here dude, it’s all yours, and he rubbed his hand on my head and I had all his powers.
What did God say?
God freaked, man. Totally freaked. But there was nothing he could do about it because Jesus took off and no one has seen him since. And only Jesus can take my powers away because he’s the one who transferred them.
So what are you down here on Earth?
Oh, I’m supposed to be saving the world from some catastrophe.
I thought God wasn’t interventionist.
God has nothing to do with this. He’s just a figurehead. Bert sent me.
Yea, Bert. He pretty much runs the universe.
Jesus finally found the right key to the barn door and Avi followed him inside.
Having been holed up inside of Jesus's home away from home for 24 hours straight when the only thing playing on the television was video games, Avi and Jesus had no way of knowing that the world was in crisis and people were dropping dead, thousands at a time. Bert, being a bastard overlord, deciced to not contact Jesus with the news that the grandest of all fuck ups had begun. Let nature run its course, Bert thought. We don't deal in intervention.