Chuck of the Tribulation

The knock at the door knocked Davail Degasdien, the Director of CERN, out of his lust-filled daydreams. For a moment he frowned and contemplated just yelling the intruder away — he was fairly certain a person of his position and power was not someone to be so summarily disturbed — but then he forced his features into the familiar mask of amicability and fatherly concern, and bid the person behind the door to enter.

And what an entrant it was! One of the young physicists, a succulent young thing that almost flung Degasdien drooling and staring back into his daydreams — but he resisted. This was not the time, and the staff of CERN had other uses more important than functioning as his personal source of sinful sexual pleasure. Those other uses demanded that their minds as well as their bodies be kept trim; and though the visitor’s body was enchanting indeed, his contorted face and nervous tics told something was preying on his mind.

“What is it, Pierre?” the Director asked.

The young man slumped to a chair across Degasdien’s wide table. The table held only three things — a stack of scientific papers, a computer terminal, and a shamefully voluptuous statue, thousands of years old, of the Indian devil-woman-goddess Kali.

“Director Degasdien, I’m having doubts again.”

“Please tell me more”, Degasdien said, voice full of sincerity and care, both false. One of his hands snaked to a secret compartment under the desk, and brushed the butt (those daydream flashes again!) of a revolver hidden there; if Pierre Marschel was turning to the side of God and couldn’t be brought back, the revolver would be the only solution, because Pierre knew too much. And if the Christians got to him, he would realize just what he knew, and just what CERN was built up to do; and that wouldn’t do at all.

“It’s this — this matter of evolution”, Pierre sobbed.

Degasdien could hardly suppress a victorious smile. His devious, overbearing intelligence had always been enough to crush the Christians’ simple honesty on this one point. Why, one of the papers on his desk at this very moment was one that offered up yet another excuse for the total absence of transitional fossils — they had all been eaten away by very small ants!

“Tell me more, Pierre”, he said.

“I’m so confused.” Pierre Marschel buried his pretty face in his hands and began to cry. “I — I don’t see how evolution can explain how something living can come out of something which does not live. That would be an abomination. There is no power in the universe that can cause such a first thing, no power except —”

“There is no such power”, Degasdien spoke, quick, before the young man could follow his chain of thought to its logical conclusion. “No such power except the power of evolution. Be strong in your faith, my child. That is the mark of the true scientist.”

Degasdien uttered a few more platitudes and insincerities, laughed, blasphemed a bit, and flattered the youth’s intelligence, aroused his pride and vanity; and after a few minutes Pierre raised his tear-stained face and risked a small smile. “Thank you, Mr. Degasdien. I… I feel so much more confident now. You know, Mr. Degasdien, for a tiny moment I almost allowed myself to entertain the ludicrous and offensive notion that there is a God!”

He laughed, and Degasdien joined his laughter after a panicked half-second. “Such a silly boy”, he chortled, slipped around the desk, and wrapped an arm around the boy’s shoulders. “Just have faith in what you’re told and all will be all right. How about I treat you to a bit of wine at the cafeteria, just to calm your nerves?”

“Oh, thank you, Mr. Degasdien. You’re so good to us all — why, you’ve been like a father to me!”

They left the office, and Degasdien laughed inwardly, sure that Marschel’s foolishly trusting Christian simpleton of a father would never have thought up such comforts, and such sweaty pleasures of flesh, as he had in mind for Pierre Marschel and himself.

* * *

Those that concerned themselves with science knew CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, or the Second Babel as some called it, was a ring-shaped underground tunnel round 17 miles long, or 89666 feet: the first two numbers, 89, referred to the year the tunnel was completed.

Some people at CERN knew about the five tunnels that criscrossed that ring on a regular pattern that was never put down on a map, being a pentagram and thus liable to “unnerve” some “loonies”; but those that knew about it were atheists and satanists, and didn’t care.

Only three people alive knew about the deep underground chamber at the center of the ring and thus of the pentagram, or what was there, waiting for the time the Large Hadron Collider would power up, breaking the veils of space and time, and curtains between Earth and Hell: a crib.

* * *

Chuck Steel was incredulous.

He knew his wife was a strange one, always going on with those Christian things, Anti-Christs, scientists being satanists, the trumps of doom, witnessing and thousand-year empires and the like, but this was something else entirely.

He’d just been talking to her, and now she had just disappeared into thin air, leaving all her clothes behind. Wedding ring and hair net and purse, too.

Even the heart transplant she’d gotten last year was left behind, coloring the flower print dress and the floor tiles.

It was all mightily peculiar, and Chuck Steel had half a mind to do something to find out what was going on.

Maybe that book Edna had been reading would help. He himself was not a book-reading man, and he didn’t altogether like the burning Pope on the book’s cover, but the title — “Have All The Believers Disappeared? Read This To Know How Indeed Deeply Fucked You Are Going To Be! A Guidebook To The Tribulation Period” — sounded promising enough.

Though he had thought tribulations were those furry things on that spaceship television show. That, in a doubtful combination like “tribulation period”, sounded a bit too bloody feminine for Chuck, but he decided to risk it.

He was a decider.

* * *

Writer’s note: Explanations? Excuses? I have none, except that I blame Robert M. Price for writing such an entertaining overview of a deeply weird field of fiction. Orcs and magic swords (“Orcs are a race of absolute evil!” — “What the heck?”) have nothing on the weirdness of books of Rapture (“Scientists will corrupt your children to their evil satanist faith to birth the Anti-Christ out of the LHC! Also homosexuals and Jews!” — “What the hell?”) if you ask me.

One Response to “Chuck of the Tribulation”

  1. MK Says:

    I wonder what sort of Google hits you are going to get from this post?

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