“Ahhh, that feels good.” I dropped into my tub, thankful for the overflow of bubbles. I had just come home from working out, and I always treated myself to a bubble bath right after. It was my reward for working hard, and it was all that got me through the last ten minutes of my workouts. I closed my eyes, luxuriating.
“Ahem.” Someone cleared his throat—it was definitely a him—and my eyes flew open in terror. Standing before me was a man of slight build, but incredibly tall. He had white-blond hair which flowed down his back and really light blue eyes which were almost white. He was dressed in a white Armani suit which fit as if it’d been made for him. If it was an Armani, then it probably was made especially for him. He looked vaguely like Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but dressed in white. I blinked twice, sure that I was hallucinating. When I realized I wasn’t, I screamed.
“Who the fuck are you? How the fuck did you get in my bathroom?” I felt horribly vulnerable being naked in a bathtub with a stranger standing over me. Granted, I was covered in bubbles, but that didn’t bring me much comfort. Why the hell hadn’t I brought my cell phone in here as I normally did? Because I wanted fucking privacy, that’s why. Never again, damn it. As these thoughts ran through my head, the man said nothing. So I tried again. “Answer me, you sick son of a bitch. Who the fuck are you?” I wanted to threaten him, but it was useless. Anything I said would be an obvious bluff, so I waited to see what he’d do. Or say. I wasn’t too picky at this point.
“You’re not going to believe this,” the man said in a low voice. There was something odd about it. It didn’t sound quite human, but I couldn’t pinpoint the reason. “So do me the favor of shutting up while I tell you a little story, ok?”
“As if I have a fucking choice. How the fuck did you get in here, anyway?” I racked my brains to remember if I’d locked the door, but I couldn’t recall. I forgot once in a while, so perhaps it was my fault this lunatic was in my bathroom. There was a buzzer at the front door, but it was easy enough to con someone into opening the door. As this man made no move towards me, and I couldn’t do anything else, I resigned myself to hearing what the fucker had to say.
“I am here on a mission. You are an important part of that mission. You have no choice in the mission, but I would like you to be willing.” The man enunciated the words as if he’d grown up watching BBC, though no trace of a British accent was to be found. Oh, Lord. I had a crazy on my hands. I just prayed he wouldn’t rape me or kill me. Or torture me. Or make me watch Lifetime movies. I’d give him all the cash in my house if he would just—
“I don’t want your money,” the man said impatiently, his eyes flashing. Strange, they turned a dark blue as they flashed before reverting to almost white when they were still.
“Huh?” I must have said it out loud, though I could have sworn I’d only said it in my head.
“Ok, there isn’t any way to ease into this, so I’m just going to be blunt with you.” The man paused, looking as if he wished for all the world that he could smoke a cigarette. I almost offered him one, but something in his face told me he would find the offer objectionable. “I am God. You are the chosen one. I have waited many eons for you, and now, here you are.” He paused, waiting for a response. I stared at him, convinced that he was out of his mind. It took a couple of seconds for what he’d said to sink into my mind, but when it did, I burst out laughing. I wasn’t scared any more—just confused.
“You’re from one of those reality shows, aren’t you? Like Punk’d or something like that. Is Ashton Kutcher hiding outside the door? You almost had me there. Me, the chosen one. Ha, ha, ha. Very funny. Now get the fuck out of my apartment.” I closed my eyes and leaned back. Ok, not the best move with a stranger in my bathroom, but I was exhausted after an especially grueling workout with my merciless trainer, Katya. Katya was from the former Soviet Union, and she didn’t know the meaning of the word pain. Or stop, either, for that matter. Or mercy—
“Margaret, I’m serious.” The use of my name caught me, and I opened my eyes again. “Look, I’ll go into your living room so you can get out and put some clothes on. Then we’ll talk.” He disappeared before I could say anything, not that I would have because I didn’t know what the fuck to say. How the hell did this nutjob know who I was? I slowly got out of the tub, wrapping my robe around me. I hurried to my bedroom to put on a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I wanted to look unattractive as possible in case this guy was going to try to pounce on me. Granted, it would have been easier for him to make a move while I was in the tub, but you never knew. I grabbed my cell phone while I was at it, just in case I had to call 9-1-1. I took a deep breath and walked out into the living room where the guy was lounging on my couch. He turned to look at me as I entered. I tried to determine his age, but he was ageless.
“Sit,” he said, gesturing to the other end of the couch. The nerve! Inviting me to sit on my own couch! Just to be ornery, I sat in the hard-backed chair facing him.
“You’re going to tell me what the hell this is about. Now.” I glared at him, but he was unaffected by it. I had no idea why I didn’t just throw him out except I had to find out how he knew my name. They said curiosity killed the cat; well, it sure as hell will kill me one day.
“The world is on a collision course. It needs to be righted again. You are the chosen one.” The guy leaned back, a smile creasing his lips. There was something unsettling about him, but that could just be me projecting.
“Ok, I’ve had enough. I don’t know who the fuck you are, but you need to get out of my apartment, now.” I held up the phone and made a motion as if I was going to dial. The guy plucked the phone out of my hand without moving from the couch and set it on the coffee table away from me.
“You’re Margaret Marilyn Wang. You have three sisters: Josephine Jayne, Elizabeth Eartha, and Amy Audrey. Your father died of an aneurysm when he was forty-five. You lost your virginity when you were thirteen to the boy next door. Shall I go on?”
“No,” I snapped, unnerved by his comments. It wasn’t so much that he knew all that about me and my family as it was his unemotional voice. I thought if there was a God, He’d be full of love and life. This God, if it really were He, was more like a CEO of a big company than the benevolent father or even the angry father that I’d been led to believe God really was. Oh, I was raised Evangelical, but I now considered myself agnostic. “What was my major in college?”
“Sex,” He shot back, cracking a smile. “I do believe you had sex with eight people your first year at the University. In your spare time, you studied psychology and English.”
“Eight? Was it really that many?” I was distracted momentarily by the number. I began counting in my head, and damned if he wasn’t right.
“You thought you were pregnant when you had drunken unprotected sex with Billy Gordon, the quarterback of the football team. You were greatly relieved when it turned out not to be true.”
I blushed. If He really were God, not only would I have to revisit everything I believed in, I had to face the horrifying fact that He knew everything about me. Like the fact that I cheated on my SATs. Like the fact that I hated my job sometimes, even though I knew it was a noble profession. Like the fact that Ned and I tried to fuck once just because he wanted to make sure he still didn’t do girls. Those were some of the tamer things I didn’t want anybody knowing, which made me blush harder.
“Margaret, I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to tell you that—”
“I’m the chosen one. Yeah, yeah. You’ve already said that. So, what does that mean, exactly? Do I get to go medieval on people’s asses like Xena?” I tended to joke when I was nervous, and I was way past that now. If this really was God, then….I couldn’t even finish the thought in my head. “I’m supposed to save the world from ruin, is that it?” I envisioned myself in one of those short leather skirts wielding a mighty chakram. Oddly enough, it wasn’t an unattractive picture.
“Not exactly, Margaret,” He said, tenting His fingers. He paused, as if searching for the right words. “It’s like this. The world needs another savior. In order to have another savior, there needs to be a mother. That would be you.” He stared at me hard, waiting for the words to sink in. When they did, well, I went ballistic.
“You have got to be fucking kidding me,” I screamed, jumping up from my seat. By now, I had accepted that the man in front of me was either God or a minion of God, and He had just seriously pissed me off. “Me, the fucking Mother of Jesus? What the fuck kind of joke is this? You have a sick sense of humor, motherfucker! There’s no fucking way I’m doing it!” The words flew from my mouth, along with a healthy amount of spittle, but it didn’t disturb the jerk in the least.
“Margaret, first of all, it’s a girl this time. Secondly, you’ll be the perfect ves—mother for Guan-Yin. Third, you don’t have a choice.” He sat there, not looking perturbed in the least. It made me want to smack Him.
“What the fuck—You want to name her Guan-Yin? What kind of New Age, hippie god are You? Wait, what do You mean I don’t have a choice? You cannot be fucking serious!” I took a step closer to Him. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but it wasn’t going to be pretty. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite reach Him for some reason. “Why not visit my sister, Liz? Sure, she’s a bit young, but she’d be a great Virgin Mary, considering she’s an actual virgin. You do realize that my first year in college was a slow year for me on the sex front, don’t You? Shit, Josh would be tons better at it than me—and she’s already pregnant. For that matter, even Amy would even be a better mom than me, and she’s just eighteen. What I’m trying to tell You, God, if that is, indeed, Your name, is that I would be the worst Mother of God in this world. Hell, my best friend, Ned, would be a better Mother of God than me, and he’s a man!”
“I know what I’m doing,” God reminded me, His voice firm. “It is My will that you be the mother of Guan-Yin. There is no more to be said.” He waved a hand as if to dismiss the topic, but I wasn’t going quietly into the night.
“Oh, hell, no. You are not shutting me up like that!” I exclaimed, still on my feet. Since I couldn’t reach Him, I started pacing back and forth instead. “Do You know what kind of grief this kid will get? Not only is she a Chink, but she’s a fucking girl, to boot! What are You trying to do? Get her killed?” My eyes grew wide as I remembered what happened to the last Child of God. “Oh, no. Not again. You better not be planning on repeating Your brilliant idea about killing Your son!”
“Margaret, relax,” God said, His voice soothing. There was an edge to it, however, which did nothing to put me at ease. “I have no intention of Guan-Yin dying. I cannot tell you at this moment what the plan is, but it’s imperative that you be the mother.”
“No fucking way,” I said quietly, sitting down at last. “I’ll abort the fetus if You put it in me, I swear to God.” I realized how ridiculous that was the minute I said it. I mean, how the hell would I be able to abort if God didn’t let me? He didn’t even bother dignifying my declaration with a response. “Well, then, I’ll smoke a ton every day and drink, too.” I knew I was being petulant, but I couldn’t help it. One look at God’s face told me He wasn’t impressed. “That won’t work, either, will it?” He shook His head but still didn’t say anything. It was as if He was waiting for me to accept my fate. Well, He was going to have to wait a bit longer because I was a stubborn bitch who didn’t like being told what to do. It pissed me off. I mean, weren’t we supposed to have freewill and all that?
“Yes, but this is an emergency,” God said, interrupting my thoughts.
“Please don’t do that,” I said coldly. “It’s bad enough that You want to impregnate me against my fucking will. You have no right to invade my thoughts at the same time.”
“I’m not doing it on purpose,” God said, a flicker of impatience in His voice. Irrationally, it pleased me because it meant that I was getting on His nerves. If I tried hard enough, maybe I could find His weak point and exploit it. “Not possible,” He said, shaking His head. Hm. The fact that He could read my thoughts made it more difficult, but it wouldn’t stop me from trying.
“I’ll kill myself,” I said, my voice deadly serious. I didn’t want to die, per se, but I didn’t want to carry any child, let alone the next Child of God, either. “Then what will happen to Your precious child?”
“You cannot kill yourself when you’re pregnant with My child,” God said impatiently. I was beginning to seriously piss Him off, which pleased me to no end. “You cannot die while you are pregnant. You must accept your responsibility, Margaret. It is a great honor I’m bestowing upon you.”
“Fuck You, asshole!” I shouted, jumping up again. “Who the fuck do You think You are coming down here decreeing that I’m to be Your brood mare? On top of that, You dare tell me I should be fucking grateful? Fuck that shit, jerk! Fuck You and the horse You rode in on.”
“I knew you’d have difficulty accepting this,” God said, nodding His head. Suddenly, He was in all black, with hair and eyes to match. He looked much better this way, but I’d die before I told Him that. “I know it’s a lot to take.”
“Don’t You fucking condescend to me, jerk,” I said through gritted teeth. “And You never answered my question. Do You realize how difficult life is going to be for that little girl? Making her Taiwanese. What the fuck were You thinking?”
“Jesus was black,” God reminded me, His lips pressed together. “It’s not my fault you people were too stupid to get it right.”
“Yeah, well who made us people?” I retorted, glaring at the Almighty. I didn’t think I’d ever loathed anybody more than I did Him at that moment. “You did! That means our stupidity is Your fucking fault. I am not fucking doing this, do You hear me? Get the damn thing out of me before I really get mad!” God was muttering something under His breath which I didn’t understand, but I caught a word here and there and gathered that He hadn’t quite anticipated just how much resistance I’d put up. The eternal optimist, He thought He could talk His way around me. Well, I ain’t no fucking naïve virgin desperate to please her maker and to land a man.
“Yeah, You better talk to Yourself, motherfucker,” I said, my voice growing stronger. “Who the fuck do You think You are? Barging in on me while I’m taking a bath—scaring the shit out of me, might I add—to tell me that I am to be burdened with Your child? And You’re dense enough to think that’d be good news to me? You sure You’re omnipotent?” Before God could reply, there was a crash of thunder and a flash of lightning. When the smoke cleared, a figure dressed all in black was standing in the middle of my goddamn living room. What was this, a convention of otherworldly beings? With both of them dressed in all-black, they looked like a matching set.
“Now, who the fuck is this?” I gestured at the figure who hadn’t said a word. I looked at him hard, startled at the whiteness of his face. It was the only flesh showing as he was wearing a hooded cape over a fitted black suit of some sort. He had on black gloves, and there was a sword in his left hand. His hair, which was spilling out around his face was as black as my own. His eyes were also black, but they were devoid of humanity. Somehow, I didn’t like looking into them, and I turned away as I slowly sat down again. I needed to conserve my energy if I was going to continue fighting God.
“Lord, am I needed?” The being spoke, its voice low and menacing. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a he, but I wouldn’t bet money on it as there was an oddly sexless aura to it.
“No, you are not needed,” God spoke sharply, indicating that He hadn’t known the figure was going to show. I didn’t know if I should be grateful or worried, so I chose not to think about it. I wondered if I pinched myself hard enough, would I awaken? This had to be a fucking dream, right? No way this was really happening. I couldn’t wait to wake up so I could tell my friend, Wind, about this weird-ass dream. She was heavy into dream analysis, and I always got a kick out of her interpretations.
“I sense trouble,” the figure insisted, turning its eyes towards me. As much as I wanted to look away, I couldn’t. A chill ran down my spine at the malice in its gaze. God associated with creatures like this? I couldn’t imagine Lucifer Morningstar, himself, being any more malevolent. “She is an obstacle to the goal. I should remove her.” He lifted his sword which was suddenly ablaze. I jumped back, unable to tear my eyes off his flaming sword.
“Stop it, Zeke,” God hissed, raising His hand. “Go. Return to Heaven. I will summon you if I need you.” In a flash, Zeke was gone. I blinked to make sure he was really gone.
“Zeke? You call that thing Zeke?” I croaked, my voice coming out funny.
“He is an angel,” God said, His voice slightly reproving. He seemed to have recovered His sang-froid, which only further ruffled my feathers.
“Let me guess—the Angel of Death?” I tried to be flippant but couldn’t stop the tremor in my voice.
“Yes,” God said, not elaborating any further. Really, what else was there to say after ‘Angel of Death’? Anything else would be anticlimactic.
“You’d have me killed if I don’t do Your will? Isn’t that counterproductive?” I managed to keep my voice steady, but I was in turmoil. Despite my earlier declaration, I was not ready to die yet. Especially not if it meant going up to Heaven and running into Zeke again. Zeke! Couldn’t God have come up with a more original name than that?
“It’s short for Ezekiel,” God said, reading my mind once again. “He prefers Zeke, and no, I will not kill you.”
A sense of unreality washed over me. Was I really sitting in my living room talking to the Almighty about the Angel of Death who preferred to be called Zeke over Ezekiel? How come I’d never read about anything like this in the Bible? Shit, I knew I’d drank too much with the girl toy, but still. It wasn’t tequila shots, which always put me under the table in a hurry. Unlike many of my race, I could drink six to seven shots without becoming totally blitzed. There had to be another explanation for this experience. It must be a fucking dream. Suddenly, I felt a pain in my forearm. I looked at God who stared back at me steadily. Did the Almighty just fucking pinch me?
“Yes, to assure you that this is no dream.” God leaned back, looking the slightest bit smug. To tell the truth, I found I liked Him better when He showed emotion, any emotion. I wasn’t going to tell Him that, though, because it would swell His thick head. Of course, it didn’t really matter as He could read my mind, but still. I folded my arms against my chest and pushed out my lower lip. I was still steamed. “It’s a shame you’re not happy about the good news, but you’ll get used to it. Mary did.”
“I’m not the Virgin Mary!” I exclaimed, completely losing my cool. “What the fuck? You’ve been reading too much of Your own press. I bet Dogma is Your favorite movie, isn’t it? I bet you love the part at the end where Bethany gets all teary-eyed to be the mother of the last scion. Well, guess what? I’m not Bethany! I don’t want to be the fucking Mother of God! You didn’t even have the decency to let Metatron come tell me the great news. If You’d done that, and he looked like Alan Rickman, then maybe I wouldn’t be so fucking pissed off!”
That could be arranged,” God said, cracking a smile. That stopped me in my tracks. Did God just make a joke? Was I supposed to smile? I didn’t want to as I wanted to hang on to my mad, but I never could hold a grudge for very long. Somehow, I thought I might make an exception for God. “That movie was pretty funny, but it was wrong about humans being too fragile to hear the true voice of God. You can hear me just fine, right?”
“I would still prefer Metatron,” I grumped, slouching over in my chair. I had a hard-on for all things Brit, especially the boys and girls of the faraway land. I was ashamed of my obsession, but there was little I could do about it. Alan Rickman was my favorite by far, but I couldn’t explain to anybody, least of all myself, why this was true. “Fuck.” I reached for a cigarette, then pulled my hand away. “Can I fucking smoke with this thing in me?”
“Yes, you can, and it’s a girl, not a thing. You may drink alcohol as well.” Well that was good news as there was no fucking way I was giving up booze. “I wouldn’t suggest you do either in the company of others, however, as they may not understand.” Fuck, I didn’t understand so how could anybody else? “So, are we clear here?” God asked, standing up. He seemed to grow in stature as He stood, but it could have been my imagination. I shot Him the bird without saying anything. I was still pissed at Him, and I didn’t trust myself not to make matters worse. “We’ll talk again later. Take care of My daughter, Margaret.”
“You’re making a fucking mistake,” I said softly, lighting my cigarette. Nothing tasted as good as the first drag off a Marlboro Light, and this was no exception. It did nothing to take the edge off my anger and incipient panic, however, but I sucked greedily, anyway.
“I don’t make mistakes,” God said, His voice stiff. “I’m infallible.” I wanted to say something about that, but I had a hunch it was better not to touch that one. God probably didn’t have a sense of humor when it came to His omnipotence. With that, God disappeared. I had a million questions to ask Him, but He was fucking gone. I turned on the television to watch the Timberwolves, but I couldn’t keep my mind on the game. I patted my stomach experimentally, wondering how I’d know there was actually a baby in there, and I wasn’t hallucinating.
“You know she’s there,” a voice said, somewhere inside my head.
“Stop that!” I shouted, really irate now. Bad enough He came into my apartment and talked to me. No way I wanted Him inside my head.
“Get used to it. I’ll communicate this way with you when it is necessary.” Like a radio turned off, my head went silent. He was seriously going to piss me off if He kept this up. I flicked off the television and went to bed; I needed my beauty sleep.