“Perhaps God and the Devil danced hand in hand around every single electron.”
After the Beginning, God span thoughts and seeded souls from The Place.
In time, dead humans boomeranged back, ready for processing.
Deep in reverie, God imagined a dream team. She recruited Satan, to dish out karma. His welcomes mirrored natural law. A hefty pricking for Vlad the Impaler’s incoming soul. Often something hot in the rectum, for arriving monarchs and popes.
Satan whipped out a bottle if Jesus popped down for a chat. Vintage single malt, guaranteed to obliterate distinctions between above and below.
If quizzed on her operation, God would cite Dante’s Inferno, which placed the most illustrious ‘Ring of Hell’ near the splendour of her Queendom.
It was Earth that tested God’s patience. Her entire Word boiled down to ‘loving thy neighbour as thyself’. But her big experiment, free will, had woven never-ending circles of war, greed, lust and reincarnation.
By 1966, her heart was all but broken, and it showed. Time magazine was asking ‘Is God Dead?’ John Lennon proclaimed the Beatles as ‘more popular than Jesus’.
Fast forward, again, to September 2008, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers spawned the world’s biggest financial crisis. God called Satan upstairs. Jesus joined them, recalling tables he once kicked over.
Humanity’s catastrophic trajectory lay lucidly clear. God had long gnashed her teeth at the financial house of cards worming through all layers of society. But who to blame, above and beyond herself? Knights Templars? The House of Medici? Dutch merchant financiers? All had developed international banking systems, funding not just trade but conflict, through loans that charged exorbitant interest rates to support wars. By the time that Charles II placed control of England’s money supply in private hands, in 1666, unnatural spirits were abroad, sucking greedily, as human desire for money outstripped curiosity about its creation.
Losing sleep, God had watched leading banking families extend their bloodlines into Europe’s royal families. In 1815, said some historians, the House of Rothschild – originally from Eastern Europe – used near real-time information on the Napoleonic wars to manipulate share markets, resulting in control of the Bank of England.
Satan was just as uneasy. He watched the control points of global wealth become increasingly hidden. Buried in an opaque ownership web which included an expanding media, able to manipulate truth with growing ease. “Bloody hell Jesus,” said Satan. “Have you noticed how big banking names are increasingly absent in media reports, because they own more and more of the media?”
Incoming financiers provided Satan’s optimal calling. He would work himself to exhaustion in the Place’s deepest dungeons. Optimistic that glimpses of love and compassion could somehow be cajoled from those who had practised fractional reserve banking and slapped on compound interest. But this breed tested every edge of his ability to guide fresh karmic courses. Returning to his wife and boys, disconsolate, he would refer to these souls as “the least among us”.
Rumours that banking clans were in league with the Devil took no account of his furies: the unleashing of fists, tail, teeth and even pliers on each arriving parasite. In the afterglow, Satan would contact Jesus immediately. In a quiet room, he received glorious bursts of purple light from his friend’s healing hands.
That radiance was needed by the shedload in 1913. Howling with sadness, Satan watched free will do its worst. The US Federal Reserve was set up by the clans via a December 23 vote taken when most Congressmen had gone home. The Fed, as it became known, still controls the supply of US money, profiting from each new dollar entering circulation. Soothed by a crate of Glenmorangie, the Firm – as God thought of her team – looked on. The Place boasted wide-screen technology that could hone in anywhere on Earth
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph it’s privately-owned – the inmates are running the asylum,” shouted God. Jesus gently poured another round. His instincts said the Fed would crucify the planet.
Several overly-inquisitive souls noted how three well-known opponents of the incipient Federal Reserve perished in 1912. Benjamin Guggenheim, Isador Strauss and John Jacob Astor had all foreseen a dismal future if American money creation sat in private hands. Each accepted invitations to sail on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Satan’s eye was caught when James Pierpoint Morgan cancelled his ticket, to prolong a visit to Europe. Morgan owned the White Star Line group which built the Titanic, and possessed a private suite and promenade deck on the ship. Several scurrilous individuals said the payout JP Morgan collected from the sinking was used as Fed seed money.
Given the trends, nobody at The Place was surprised by the horrors of World War One, or Wall Street’s massive 1929 crash. Jesus and a host of angels caught a percentage of bankers plunging from windows, but God’s gloomy outlook was unravelling. Nobody on Earth could prove allegations that conspiring individuals profited from the crash, through a long-planned contraction of the money supply.
The Second World War provided chilling notice that a particular surname required urgent monitoring. Union Banking Corporation (UBC) dismayed The Firm by becoming a secret channel to protect Nazi capital leaving Germany for the United States via the Netherlands. On the executive board was Prescott Bush, father of future American President George Herbert Walker Bush and grandfather of President George W Bush.
The Firm watched in abject misery as private US finance supported and aided Adolph Hitler whilst American soldiers were being killed by German troops. It remains widely documented that in October 1942, US authorities confiscated Nazi funds from the New York-based UBC. God knew her human experiment was in deepest shit. UBC was condemned as a financial and commercial collaborator with the enemy.
It was not just financiers in bed with the Nazis. The role of the Vatican as a conduit for German money and scientists, both of which fled in droves to Latin America before the Allied forces arrived, could raise God’s wrath to Old Testament levels. “You deceitful bastard!” she shouted, throwing a whisky glass at the screens, as the details of Operation Paperclip became clearer. The Catholic Church was protecting individuals responsible for the Holocaust. “Pius XII you are a bloody disgrace to my name,” she screamed.
She had been almost as angry with the Church in the 4th century, when the Council of Nicea and Synod of Rome contrived to delete a barrow-load of information from the Bible. If God could have changed one thing, she might have restored the Book of Enoch, which had disappeared completely from the Biblical canon by 750 AD. Enoch told of Watcher Angels, ordered to Earth by God to act as mankind’s lookouts. Instead, said Enoch, they impregnated females, created humans, and were expelled from Heaven.
“Reckon anyone will think harder about Enoch now?” asked God, after film director Steven Spielberg released his successful films ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, in 1977, followed by ‘ET’, in 1982.
“Nah” said the Devil, “they’re all too busy dancing to Madonna and calculating their property values”.
Global trends nagged increasingly. Latin American state assets began to disappear into private hands, following Milton Friedman’s theory that prices should be freed, and socialists imprisoned. As Argentine and Chilean military threw people out of helicopters, Margaret Thatcher, the UK Prime Minister, dove deeper into her dreams, throwing British miners out of jobs, and turfing the mentally ill onto uncaring streets. God felt sick most days, whereas Maggie felt there was nothing she could not sort out.
Shenanigans of every shade kept The Firm on its toes as the Millennium came and went. On 11 September 2001, the hairs in Satan’s nose twitched uncontrollably. The attacks on the US triggered rumours of financial collusion and controlled demolitions. But the Devil’s most acute observation was how hysterical media coverage completely overshadowed a televised confession from US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the previous day. Rumsfeld said the Pentagon was unable to account for a trifling US$2.3 trillion of missing money. By pure coincidence, the relevant financial records were destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. The lost funds were written off.
“Wow,” said Satan. “Quite a frigging coincidence.” Jesus was unfazed. “Being human is to suffer loss”, he noted.
Worse was to come. When Allied troops were sent to Iraq in 2003. Satan watched in fascinated horror as the US military forces subjected Fallujah to attacks in March and November 2004 which involved white phosphorus and depleted uranium. Subsequent birth defects in the city included babies born without parts of their skulls; missing genitalia, limbs and eyes; severe brain damage; unusual rates of paralysing spina bifida; and encephalocele, marked by swollen sac-like protusions from the head.
The Devil vowed to eradicate the chief warmongers when they reached his end of the line. There would be no rehabilitation and no reincarnation, not even as an apple pip, as Jesus proposed. Proof of humanity’s growing mental illness came in 2009, when Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, publicly stated that half a million Iraqi child deaths, once sanctions were included, were “worth it”. Satan cried himself to sleep that night.
Two years earlier, when the 2007 US subprime mortgage crisis erupted, God seriously began to wonder what she had put in the DNA. Traders with a bank named Goldman Sachs profited handsomely by ‘shorting’ mortgage-backed securities they knew to be almost worthless, in a process which saw countless Americans lose their homes. Goldman Sachs was significantly linked into Federal Reserve money and control. As billions were pumped from the poorest to the richest, God looked on incredulously. Her dreams bulged with towering, mile-high waves that drowned all human greed. She would wake with the familiar, nagging question: was it time to rewind and restart?
In autumn 2008, the Lehman crisis engulfed almost the entire empire of OECD banks, forcing various governments to instigate bailouts worth trillions of dollars. All footed by taxpayers.
Capitalism had failed. Demonstrably. Yet bankers who had lost their heftiest financial market bets continued to snort up fresh swills of money. God also noticed more people on Earth saying she did not exist. A final straw came when Western governments started tightening up welfare payments.
The stress of working for the Firm during this era took a grievous toll on the partners. Perhaps it was the whisky that flowed copiously at the “Maggie meeting”, as they later called it, that inspired the decision to draft a conviction politician into their team. Aged 83, Thatcher was in the throes of dementia: struggling to finish sentences, unable to remember her address and often forgetting that her husband Denis was dead. Yet, when God eventually looked at the meeting’s minutes, well into the next day, Maggie’s name was written clearly. Next to one other word: ‘Essex’.
When Satan eventually hoofed it back to his quarters, unsteadily, the three boys were asleep, tails hanging from their beds. “I love you all,” he whispered. Morgana, his wife, flashed a familiar glint. Kisses evolved to a brief, gentle spell of penetration, before the spines surrounding the base of his penis became too raised and painful for her.
Neither Satan’s drunkenness nor his genitalia interfered with a second phase they had developed, after decades of advice and tuition from another colleague, the Buddha. They caressed, gently licking each other’s tail, sensing energy flow from the lower torso to a point behind their eyes, before cascading down in spirals. Repeating the procedure, their bodies vibrated at ever-higher frequencies until Satan’s head exploded in a kaleidoscope of pleasure, where even Morgana’s yelps were inaudible. He drifted away, dreaming of Maggie enacting a series of karate positions.
Five years passed. Then she arrived.
4 thoughts on “199. OUT OF ESSEX – PROLOGUE”
Loved jt! So ery enlightening, more please. R
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Thanks very much Rosie. The next few chapters need some hefty rewrites…can’t promise anything quick, Kevin
I set this aside for SO LONG until I could get to it and give it proper attention ’cause I didn’t want to skim or feel hurried.
And I’m so glad I did.
I hope these comparisons don’t offend you in any way, but immediately three authors came to mind, mashed together: Christopher Moore (especially due to “Lamb”), Douglas Adams (who needs no introduction) and Dan Brown (of Da Vinci Code, due to your epic, sweeping summation of recent history).
I love this from the start: “She span thoughts and seeded souls from The Place. In time, dead humans boomeranged back, ready for processing.”
I love the idea of Satan as a sympathetic figure–and why not? We’ve been conditioned to associate the name only with evil. But the image of him watching events unfold in fascinated horror and/or crying himself to sleep…
BTW, I had no idea Mrs. Thatcher was going around doing the same thing Reagan started over here when he began closing down mental institutions and throwing insane people out into the street.
Beyond all that, though, I enjoy your voice immensely. I love the end paragraph describing Satan’s carnal delights with his wife while imagining Maggie “enacting a series of karate positions.” The prose winds and dips and spirals and inspires. Now I want to know who “she” is.
Thank you for such a thoughtful and encouraging compliment. No point in false modesty, I have always thought my book was unique and distinct, witty, and, in places, just very good. It needs work, but the prologue almost wrote itself, and I have not changed much. Hadn’t heard of Christopher Moore, but the comparison with Adams and Brown are flattering. Cheers Seliza. Your comments came at exactly the right moment, when I needed a lift.
I will post some more, but not yet sure when.
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