What Was I Thinking?
February 08, 2007
Dash Mercury: How It Ends

I just remembered I never posted the conclusion to my aborted Flash Gordon-esque story. If you’ll recall, it was never actually written, so I don’t have any actual text to show you. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I intended, in plot summary form.

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November 19, 2004

Trevor sits at his desk, working on paperwork, when Prof. Wainwright enters, closing the door behind him.

TREVOR: Professor! Good to see you. How long has it been?

WAINWRIGHT: Too long, Doctor Lockhart, my boy.

Wainwright holds out some papers toward Trevor.

WAINWRIGHT: Tell me, what do you make of these?

TREVOR: Right to business, eh? All right.

Trevor takes the papers and begins to study them.

TREVOR: Hmm, very interesting...

He picks up a magnifying glass and studies the pages through it.

TREVOR: The letters appear to be Roman, except some of them are reversed, or even inverted. Perhaps a form of Cyrillic or some other offshoot of the original Greek. This is fascinating, Professor. Where did you come across it?

Wainwright takes the papers from Trevor's hand, turns them right way up, and hands them back.


October 20, 2004
Ad Copy


A man sits at his desk with a pile of bills and an adding machine, lit by a desktop lamp. He is clearly frustrated. Suddenly, he throws down his pen and pushes away from the desk.

Damn it all!

The man's WIFE enters and hands him a small white bottle.

What's this?


Yes, Damitol, the latest in over-the-counter stress remedies.


A diagram of a human head, with flashing red arrows pointing to the temples and back of the neck.

When you become angry or outraged, you feel it here, and here. With only one use, Damitol begins to target these stress points, bringing you immediate relief.

Blue animated dots enter the picture from three directions, moving toward the arrows. As they pass over the arrows, the arrows vanish. The diagram head smiles. CUT TO:


The announcer stands in front of a featureless white backdrop. He holds up a bottle of the product.

Damitol is the first O.T.C. with the same active ingredient as in prescription brand Fuckitol, now in non-prescription strength. In blind tests, two out of three people preferred Damitol over leading brands Helwithit and 4-Godsake.



The man from the first shot is smiling as he taps the keys of his adding machine. His wife stands behind him, her hands on his shoulders.

Feeling better?

We're going to lose the house, and I'll probably wind up in prison, but I feel really good about it. Thanks, honey!

Thank _you_, Damitol!

Remember, when life crushes you under its bony heel, just say Damitol!
(quickly, sotto voce)
Warning: Damitol may cause anxiety, delusions of grandeur, explosive diarrhea, excommunication, or scurvy. Consult with clergy or other relevant dogma before use. Damitol may be habit forming.

October 13, 2004
My First-Class Ticket to Hell

There are, at a minimum, three levels of establishment where men can pay to see women undress and sway provocatively to bad disco music. The first, classiest type is the adult dance hall. It's the sort of place where people dress up to go, and there's actually some production values in the show. Somewhere in the middle is the strip joint. This is a purely utilitarian venture, for the purpose of displaying female flesh to a predominantly male audience in as efficient a manner as possible. At the low end of the scale, just above straight prostituion, is that place where the dregs of humanity go to futilely grasp a semblance of affection, human contact, and sexual arousal from another person--the tittie bar. With that in mind...

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September 16, 2004
Special Bulletin

Kent: Good evening. We're breaking into regular programming tonight to bring you the news on Godzilla's latest attack on our nation. I'm Kent Mannington. Beside me is Susan Bustamante. Susan?

Susan: Thanks, Ken. GodzillaScope satellites picked up the giant radioactive lizard in the Caribbean two days ago, and have been tracking his movement ever since. After crushing [Spanish accent] Puerto Rico [unaccented English] and Bermuda, experts determined Godzilla's next move would be toward the state of Florida.

Kent: Those experts were proven right half an hour ago, when Godzilla rose out of the sea off the coast of Miami and destroyed a local marina.

Susan: Now, let's take a look at our five-day forecast with Godzillaologist, Ted Appleton. What can you tell us, Ted?

Ted: Thanks, Susan. First, let's look at our GodzillaTracker 2000 doppler radar. Here you see Godzilla just coming ashore outside of Miami. We'll put that in motion for you, so you can see he's moving north. That ground clutter you see behind him is actual ground clutter, a path of destruction Godzilla is leaving in his wake.

Ted: Now, let's switch to the five-day forecast. This blue line is the projected path we expect Godzilla to take on his rampage of death. He'll come up through Orlando, then into Georgia, where our simulations tell us he'll head right through the Atlanta area before continuing his way up the coast. Finally, by Friday, we expect him to be pushed back out to sea by a fast-moving Mothra coming down from the northwest.

Ted: Of course, Godzilla can be unpredictable, so this larger white area [whole map turns white] shows the envelope of the area at risk. Susan?

Susan: Thanks, Ted. Ted, is there any indication of what Godzilla wants, or is this just yet another nightmarish rampage of mindless destruction for the big G?

Ted: It's hard to say at this point, Susan. It could be he's simply hungering for some electricity, which as you know is his main food source. Or perhaps he is actually heading toward an even worse threat we aren't even aware of yet at the beckoning of a small boy.

Susan: Thanks, Ted. Kent?

Kent: We go now to our man on the scene, Jimmy Takahara, in Fort Lauderdale.

Jim: Thanks, Kent. I'm standing about five miles north of the last known location of Godzilla. As you can see behind me, traffic is jammed with people trying to flee in terror from the giant monster. All the power is out here, Kent. All the buildings are dark. And in the distance, I don't know if you can see it--Jerry, pan over--that cloudbank isn't actually a cloud. It's a combination of smoke and dust from all the fires Godzilla has been starting tonight. Every once in a while, the cloud lights up as Godzilla breathes radioactive death onto the people and buildings of Fort Lauderdale. There! Did you see that? It just happened! Oh, it's magnificent. Truly a sight to behold.

Kent: Did I hear a roar, Jimmy?

Jim: Yes, Kent. Even though Godzilla is still miles away, that spine-chilling roar of his can still be heard.

Kent: You're doing an excellent job, Kenny. Keep it up.

Jim: Thanks, Kent.

Kent: However, our GodzillaTracker 2000 realtime radar is showing Godzilla to be less than a mile from your location.

Jim: He is? [Jim starts gesturing wildly to his crew to start packing up.]

Kent: Jimmy, try to get some pictures of Godzilla if you can.

Jim: Are you insane, Kent?

Godzilla: Roar!

Kent: It looks like he is just south of you, Jimmy. Pan that direction and show us what's there.

[The camera pans right. Other than darkened buildings under a low-dark cloud, nothing is visible]

Kent: Well, keep trying, Jimmy. And be safe out there.

Jim: Kent, it sounds like Godzilla is getting very close now, so my crew and I--

Kent: Thanks for that on-the-scene report, Jimmy. Stay right there in case we want to come back to you later.

Jim: [bleep!] you, Kent.

Susan: We have with us here in the studio an expert in the field of Godzilla, radiocryptosinozoologist Dr. Raymond Mason. Thank you for coming, Dr. Mason.

Dr. Mason: Glad to be here, Susan.

Susan: So tell us, Doctor. Where does Godzilla come from?

Dr. Mason: That's hard to say, Susan. Some believe he mutated from a normal lizard as a side effect of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War 2. My personal theory, and I have evidence to back this up, is that he is a previously unknown type of dinosaur who was frozen during a previous ice age, and released at roughly the time of the bombing by unrelated events. Either way, ever since his appearance, he has traveled the world causing mayhem.

Susan: What kind of evidence, Doctor?

Dr. Mason: Well, it's complicated. I don't know if your viewers could grasp the subtleties in the amount of time we have.

Susan: Can you simplify it for us?

Dr. Mason: Well, basically, he's 200 feet tall. No modern lizard, not even the Komodo Dragon, could function when enlarged to Godzilla's proportions. Also, his body structure does not match the physiology of any known lizard. Only dinosaurs are known to have walked on their rear legs.

Susan: But what about the fact that Godzilla breathes radioactive fire? Doesn't that indicate some connection or exposure to nuclear materials?

Dr. Mason: Possibly. However, it is equally possible that Godzilla's dinosaur species--the Tyrannosaurus Toho--evolved in an area and time with naturally occurring high levels of radiation. It could have become integrated into his biological processes in this way. What you call "radioactive fire" breath could simply be his equivalent of our production of carbon dioxide when we exhale.

Susan: But what evidence do you have that such a place ever existed?

Dr. Mason:[sigh] I knew that, as a woman, you probably wouldn't be able to understand what I'm telling you.

Susan: "As a woman?!" Why, you---

Kent: I'm sorry to break in, Susan, but we've just received word that correspondent Jimmy Takahasha has been killed, along with his camera crew. Apparently, Godzilla stepped on them while Jimmy repeatedly and frantically shouted Godzilla's name. We hope to have footage available soon. Our condolences to their families. We'll be back to our coverage after this.


September 01, 2004
Buddy Picture

They say to get good drama and good comedy, you need disparate elements brought into close conjunction, which leads to conflict. In that spirit, please enjoy this short excerpt from the ultimate comedy buddy road picture.

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March 16, 2004
Crisis Point

Jaenne lowered herself out of the stratosphere onto Mycroft-4s sundeck, twisted the control buckle of her anti-gravity belt to Off, sat down in the other auto-massage lounge chair, tapped her drink order into the armrest control pad, and said, Hi.

Mycroft-4 grunted noncommittally, not taking his eyes off the blue-black horizon where the sun would set in several hours. The chairs stepped closer together in a smooth motion neither person noticed.

Are you still depressed? Jaenne asked as a tall bamboo glass materialized in her chairs cup holder, complete with paper umbrella and pineapple garnish.

I guess so, Mycroft-4 admitted.

Good. I came over here to cheer you up. Im glad to see I didnt waste a trip. Her lips sought out the straw, made contact. After a sip that burned her throat just the way she liked it, she continued. What do you want to do today?

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February 29, 2004

Gentlemen, ladies, began the man in the black suit to the 23 people seated before him in the small, unadorned room. You are all to be congratulated. You are in this room right now because you have passed the tests we have subjected you to over the past week. You are the healthiest, most skilled people the year 2004 has to offer.

As you may have guessed, as you look at your co-applicants for the first time, many others started this journey with you, in their own ways. Some were volunteers. Some were ordered here. Some answered a cleverly placed classified advertisement. Although they were superior in their own ways, each of them fell by the wayside before reaching this point. There is no shame in that. Simply being allowed to take the tests meant they had the potential to be what we needed them to be. Their failure to reach this point is no reflection on them.

Your being here, however, is a reflection on you. You have proven your intelligence, your cleverness, your ability to collect, interpret, retain, and apply information, your ability to improvise, and your serenity in the face of stressful and hazardous situations. You have shown submission to authority when required, willingness to operate independently when necessary, even in the face of conflicting orders, and the wisdom to know when each is called for. Your logic and intuition have both proven exemplary, as has your problem solving ability.

Moreover, your bodies are as fit as your minds. Your reflexes are quick, and, more importantly, accurate. Your muscles are strong. Your joints are limber. Your senses are, at a minimum, better than average. Look around; no one here is wearing corrective lenses. You are free of chronic illness and congenital defect, and your immune systems have proven to operate highly efficiently.

You have taken these tests of your bodies and minds without knowing the reason behind it all. Up to this point, you have accepted assurances that their purpose is both benevolent and important. Now that the tests are over, it is time for explanations.

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September 20, 2003
History Lesson

We finally developed a workable faster than light propulsion system in 2158. It wasnt easy, let me tell you.

I guess it started in 2037, when the United States put the first permanent outpost on the moon. Population was increasing faster than technology was able to keep feeding everyone, so they had to do something. It was mostly a research lab to discover what was needed to live off world for extended periods of time. They didnt talk much about the zero-point energy experiments at the time; it was all about saving the human race.

In 2046, the Eurasian Hegemony leapfrogged the westerlings and started settling Mars while the westies were still building the Lagrange stations.

The explosion happened in 2055. Shattered the moon, rained debris down on the mother planet, and destabilized the Lagrange points. Millions died in the first week, and hundreds of millions more in the months following. Earths sky was overcast for 8 years. It took five decades to really recover from that catastrophe.

Of course, it wasnt all bad news. The investigation proved that the explosion was the result of an unexpectedly successful experiment in the energy lab. Because of it, the existence of the tachyon was finally proven and its properties determined, which led to the theories that eventually culminated with our FTL engines.

But it wasnt that simple. The colonists on Mars and the Galilean moons of Jupiter saw Earths weakness as an opportunity and started the First Interplanetary War in 2057. The colonists wanted independence. The home team wanted, no needed, the resources from off world to survive. Neither side was willing to budge.

War in space is tricky, but were an adaptable bunch of monkeys. Both sides cranked out ships, developed weapons, and devised defenses against them. The debris cloud around Earth kept a lot of the war outside of its orbit. But dont ever let anyone tell you asteroid bombs arent damned effective in certain situations.

Anyway, the wars eventually ended, all the old ways were overturned, the dead mourned and buried. In 2119, it was announced that the last theoretical hurdles had been overcome, and that it should be possible to build and pilot a ship faster than the speed of light, and thats pretty damn fast, believe you me.

So, the race to do it first began. Governments and corporations financed huge development programs. Some, less scrupulous than others, took shortcuts just so they could say they were the first to achieve what hadnt even been though possible a hundred years earlier.

There were accidents. Venus had only been habitable for 7 years when the Sirocco went wrong in 2130 and converted its atmosphere to plasma. Heres a hint; never do that. Three million dead. Io got knocked out of orbit in 2144 by a gravity surge caused by an engine test that never should have been allowed to happen. It dipped too close to Jupiter and the whole planet was lethally irradiated. Yanked Ganymede along for a ride in the process, screwing up what had been the start of quite a lovely ecology. The Medeans survived, but the joints never been the same.

So, along came 2158, when they finally got the bugs worked out. The test ships started coming back, the test pilots stopped getting turned inside out, and the tricks to navigating when you cant see whats in front of you until its behind you were solved. With great fanfare and celebrations across the entire solar system, and more than a little somber remembrance, our first interstellar exploratory vessel, the Argo, got launched into the void with a handpicked crew of the best and brightest among us.

Almost immediately, the Argo was intercepted by what can only be called a flying saucer. The little green men inside explained that their kind had been watching the progress of the human race for the last 300 years. With the successful launching of the Argo, we finally proved that we were advanced enough to merit an invitation to join the interstellar community and send a representative to the Star League.

They were impressed by our tenacity in the face of adversity, and revealed that they had in fact been pulling for us. They had cringed with every mistake, counted every death in our struggle to reach the stars. When others in the Council of Observers had written us off as too fragile and accident-prone to survive, they spoke on our behalf, reminding the others that the path was never easy

While we still had a long way to go before we would be considered civilized, and a great many scientific advances to make before we could step out into the galaxy-at-large as anything more than curiosities, membership in the League would provide protection, both against hostile forces and the contaminating influences of alien cultures. By following their rules, they would also ensure that we didnt inadvertently spread our barbaric tendencies to other alien planets that had yet to develop sufficiently, just as we had been protected.

The Argo returned home and told of this historic news. We immediately declared war. Beat the bastards, too.

All right, breaks over. Lets go over this again. The black stuff is charcoal, sulfurs yellow, and the white is ammonium nitrate, generously donated by your local avian population. First, you grind the charcoal andthats rightjust like that. Not too much. Good! At this rate, well have you people airborne within a decade.

August 07, 2003
If I Only Had a Camera



BETTY, an attractive brunette wearing a khaki safari outfit, kneels in front of a makeshift fire and pours herslf a cup of coffee from the percolator. She hums tunelessly to herself while the voices of two men can be heard talking excitedly yet indistinctly from one of the two tents behind her.


JUNGLE JIM, a muscular young man wearing only a loincloth and a knife at his side, sits perched on a high tree branch, surveying his surroundings. He hears Betty?s humming and swings down to a lower branch to investigate.


(from Jungle Jim?s perspective) Jim looks down at the unaware Betty as she walks over to a nearby fallen log to sit down. Zoom in from a wide shot to a close-up of Betty. Suddenly, Betty turns when she hears the growl of a ferocious LEOPARD. Betty screams.

BETTY: Aaaaahhhhhh!

Jungle Jim snaps back to attention and spots the leopard. He starts moving through the branches with the intention of jumping down and fighting off the cat.

TREVOR (o.s.): Betty? What?s wrong?

BETTY: Aaaahhhh!

TREVOR steps out of one of the tents. He?s handsome, well-bred, but not overly muscled, and is also wearing a standard safari outfit. On his right hip he wears a pistol. Following Trevor is PROFESSOR WAINWRIGHT, and old man with white hair, bald on top, wearing round wire-framed glasses, and a white suit.

WAINWRIGHT: What is the matter, my dear?

Betty points toward the oncoming leopard.

BETTY: Aaaahhhh!

Trevor pulls his pistol from its holster and fires a shot into the air, scaring off the leopard. Betty leaps up and hugs Trevor tight.

BETTY: Oh, Trevor!

TREVOR: It?s all right now, Betty. That?s one cat who won?t be coming around here again anytime soon. Why don?t you come into the tent and lie down for a while?

Trevor guides Betty through the tent flap. Trevor puts a hand on Wainwright?s chest to prevent him from following.

TREVOR: Hey, Professor?.

WAINWRIGHT: Hmm? Oh! Yes, of course. I?ll go?study the runes some more.

Trevor smiles his 100-watt smile, pats Wainwright on the shoulder, and heads into the tent. Wainwright stands there a moment, unsure what to do with himself. Eventually, he wanders off.

Suddenly, the body of Jungle Jim falls out of a tree and hits the ground hard, obviously dead from a gunshot. The leopard comes along, grabs Jim?s foot, and drags him away.

BETTY (o.s.) (lustfully): Oh, Trevor!



March 22, 2003
My Perspective

Once upon a time, two giants stared at each other from the far ends of the Earth, with blackest hate gleaming in their eyes, each wanting nothing more than to stomp over there and beat the other one bloody. They both knew that if they ever went ahead and did it, they would probably wind up killing not only themselves and each other but also all the other folks that had chosen up sides and gathered around the two of them. Eventually, one of them died of natural causes, leaving the other giant alone with the title of He With The Biggest Club. Satisfied, he turned away and tried to go sit off by himself and figure out what to do with himself now.

But the others wouldn't leave him alone. They resented knowing that one giant remained, and that they could never be the biggest or strongest as long as he was still around. Some tried to band together, standing on each other's shoulders and shouting with many voices, "Look at me! I'm as big as you!" Others kicked him in the shins, spat in his face, and sneered, "You ain't so tough." The giant could have knocked down the pyramid or swatted away the bothersome annoyances, but he was oh, so very tired, and he wanted to see the others grow so that he might have friends who were his equals, and perhaps take on some of the responsibilities he had been shouldering for so very long.

So, he paid them as little attention as he could manage, which seemed only to infuriate the pyramid-builders. They didn't want to be ignored. They wanted the giant to admit that they had as much power as he did. Failing to receive such validation, they took it upon themselves to use what power they did have to make life as difficult for the giant as they could manage. The giant smiled weakly and continued to try to ignore them, instead focusing on other, personal matters.

Meanwhile, the same lack of attention emboldened the shin-kickers. They started kicking harder, at more and more sensitive areas, and watched the giant flinch and brush off the attack, then move on. This led them to believe they could do anything they wanted to the giant, look tough to their friends, and intimidate their enemies, without risking any serious consequences. Occasionally, they kicked too hard, or in a particularly sensitive spot, and the giant smacked them as if swatting a mosquito. However, the giant never bothered to work out where the mosquitos were coming from.

A few times, reluctantly and with great trepidation, the giant listened to the pleas for help from some of those who were being attacked by their neighbors and stepped in to put a stop to it. He did this not out of any personal stake, but because something needed to be done and he was best qualified to do it. He would have preferred that the parties involved worked things out among themselves, but that rarely happened. The task done, he turned once again to his own affairs and let the rest of the world go to hell in its own way.

Then, one day, while the giant was napping, some of the lowest echelon of shin-kickers, in the ultimate display of misplaced bravado, walked into the giant's house and hit him where he lived, so to speak. Shocked and furious, the giant looked around at the world he had been ignoring and saw what had flourished in the power vacuum left after the sudden ending of his conflict with his erstwhile foe. He was dismayed, disgusted, and distressed. So much had gone so wrong so quickly. He had saved them. They were supposed to be better than this. Yet all they had thought of to do was to compare themselves to him, and come up short in their own eyes.

The world was broken. There was only one thing to do about it. The giant would have to fix it. Not because he wanted to. Not because it made him feel good. Not because he wanted to take anything away from any of the others or subsume them into himself. Only this: Because somebody had to do it, and he was best qualified. Slowly, heavily, the giant picked up his burden once again and set off to make the world a better place and put an end to those who would tear it down.

And they all hated him for it.

September 23, 2002
I cannot explain what follows.

I cannot explain what follows. The premise occurred to me at lunch today.
As I sat in the booth at the diner, awaiting the delivery of my lunch order, I had the sudden sensation that I was nothing more than a figment of someone's imagination, created at that very instant and placed in that situation for reasons unknown to me by forces beyond my comprehension. I quickly, furtively glanced around in every direction for any sign of impending unusual activity. As a writer myself, I knew one of the basic rules of storytelling was to start off as close to the first significant event as possible. So, if something was about to happen, I knew it had to be soon.

Nothing. Oh, crap. I was struck with the terrible realization that I might be the avatar of a hack who doesn't know the first thing about laying out a good tale and intended to use me to work out his own deep-seated psychological issues. Which meant I would be sitting here for the rest of the day and all night, drinking coffee and sinking further into depression over the lost opoortunities of my life until I either (a) committed suicide in the toilet with a steak knife or (b) decided to put the past behind me, walked out into the night with a new sense of purpose and hope, and got stabbed by a mugger.

Well, fuck that.

As suddenly as it came, the feeling passed. It was as if whatever it was, if indeed it had ever been anything, lost interest or decided I was too much trouble to deal with. The waitress arrived with the blue plate special and refilled my coffee cup. Nothing much else happened.

May 12, 2002
Like Rabbits

Begone from My garden, o ungrateful ones! bellowed God.

Why, o Lord? replied Adam. What have we done to displease You?

You have partaken of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I expressly forbade you from doing so. It is for this reason that I cast you out of My garden.

Adam looked sheepish, which was a tough thing to do before the invention of sheep. Please forgive us, o Lord! he begged. We will never do it again, I swear to You. Adam fell to his knees and clasped his hands together just under his well-sculpted chin. Right about then, Eve came walking out of the underbrush carrying some nice fig leaves she wanted Adam to try on. She had naturally heard half the conversation Adam was having and had hurried back to his side to find out what was going on. She saw Adam debasing himself on the ground and had to speak up.

Um, excuse me, God?

What is it, My thankless child, who would not follow the one simple rule I set for you?

Well, I dont know if it is appropriate for me to say this, but dont You think Youre overreacting a little bit? I mean, all we did was have some fruit. Whats the big deal?

The Big Deal, as you put it, My child, is that by partaking of the Fruit of Knowledge, you have acquired the ability to tell right from wrong. You are no longer the perfect innocents I intended you to be. That is why you must leave this place of perfect peace and enter the world of harsh cruelty. Now go.

Thats what I mean, God, Eve cut in. Before we ate those stupid apples, we didnt know right from wrong from a hole in the ground, right?

Y-yes, God replied hesitantly. He didnt like where Eve seemed to be leading. Adam unclasped his hands, stood, and looked at Eve with confusion and a little fear.

Okay, so if we didnt know right from wrong, then we couldnt know that doing what You told us to do was right and that not to was wrong. Therefore, I cant see how you can hold us accountable for our actions while in such a mental state.

Adam stage-whispered to Eve, Eve, what are you doing? Trying to get us uncreated? Hes ticked off enough already.

Im just trying to follow a line of reasoning, Adam dear. What else is there to do around here? Eve turned away from Adam and continued. If You think about it, God, this was pretty much inevitable given the situation. I mean, here the two of us are, all of our physical needs are taken care of. We dont have to worry about food, or shelter, or being attacked or anything. We were bound to start sticking our noses in places they didnt belong eventually. Theres not all that much else to do. If we had known that doing what You said was the right thing to do all the time under any circumstances, I mean really known it in our guts the way we do now, we never would have disobeyed You.

Basically, we werent fit to make those sorts of decisions, and we werent being properly supervised. Therefore, this isnt our fault. Therefore, I think Youre overreacting by kicking us out of Eden.

God and Adam were struck silent. God recovered first. Adam, go to some other area of Eden for a while. I command it. I will tell you when you may return.

Yes, Lord, answered Adam, and walked off into the woods out of sight, wondering if he would ever see his beloved wife again.

The perpetually-blooming trees scattered the suns light over the clearing where Eve now stood alone. That light stirred, then rose off the ground to coalesce into a roughly humanoid form. Eve could look at it only with difficulty. Then the light spoke with Gods voice.

Okay, Eve. Adam cant hear Me now. Lets make a deal. Eve was unsurprised to find she was not afraid of the apparition. You figured me out, plain and simple. I put you here knowing that someday, when you were ready to strike out on your own, you two would defy Me and eat the fruit. In doing so, your personalities would be altered so that you could live without My continual presence. Then I would force you to leave this nest somehow. I thought My being angered would work. I must have missed a decimal place somewhere.

Whats a decimal place?

God waved the question away. Youll find out eventually. The long and the short of it is, you cant stay here anymore. Im tearing down this whole area first thing next week to make room for Assyria. Youve got to be out before then.

I understand, God. But I dont think Adam will. He loves it here. Hell do what you say, but I dont think hell really see Your reasons.

God sat down on a conveniently placed boulder and stared at his feet. He sighed. That boys about as smart as yak-hide full of rocks, all right. Its what I get for using substandard materials, I suppose. The God-apparition started. Sorry. Talking to Myself. Occupational hazard. Anyway, thats why I cooked up the whole forbidden fruit thing. He doesnt need to know the real reason, just one that sounds good. Heres what Im offering. If you help Me get Adam out of Eden by going along with Me on this banishment deal, Ill give you a little help developing the technology youll need to survive. It wont be much, because I dont want to upset the balances Ive set up, but I think a little hint in the area of mathematics would be okay.

Whats mathematics? Eve asked.

It helps you figure things out by counting them. If you count them incorrectly, you figure things out wrong, and that will cause no end of problems for you and your people. Im going to teach you an easier way to count things by grouping them together and then counting the groups. But Ill only do it if you help Me. Do we have a deal?

Yes, God.

Okay, pay attention. Suppose you have eight people gathering fruit, and each person comes back with six fruits. . . .

And so it came to pass that God banished Adam and Eve from Eden to live among the savage beasts that roamed the Earth. Adam and Eve ran crying and wailing ahead of Gods disembodied voice, which chased them to the edge of the Garden itself. In the last moment before they left His protection and were eternally cut off from His voice, He reminded Eve once more of what He had taught her, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply.