The Wrath of God
Just as hes walking
the short distance from his racing green Merc S
class (sleek thing, lovely mover, handles well
and all that) to the imposing, grey monstrosity
of metal pipework and steaming concrete things,
he gets mobbed opportunistically by this pair of
latter-day saints. Bloke and a bird: him tall and
dark haired with a square, American jaw; her a
petite, total mouse wearing specs, and theyre
carrying a briefcase and some holy booky and
magaziney-type stuff, respectively. Your typical
door-to-door God-salespeople they are. Hes
got no time for their sort. Shes the one
what does the talking.
Excuse me sir, do you
believe in God? She asks him.
Impatiently, Professor Sir
Richard replies: Sorry, what is it youre
trying to sell me?
We are from the
church of the latter day saints and we
The Bird with the glasses, the one I told you
about before, starts to say.
Himself, of course, he
dismisses them both with a little riposte: Right,
well Im not actively seeking to buy any
Gods just at this precise moment, but do please
feel free to take my measurements and give me an
estimate. I dont want to spend and awful
lot of money on a fancy top-of-the-range God so
just quote me for something cheap and cheerful
that works he says Miracles. He
adds just to finish the sentence. And with that
Up the stairs and round and
up the other bit of stairs he goes, the bit that
gets to the exterior wall still needing to go
higher and so it cleverly doubles back on itself
and has more stairs going in the opposite
direction but still upwards. Then he walks
through two of them double doory things with the
rectangular windows that are criss-crossed like
primary school graph paper, one in each door.
This puts him into his laboratory, which is where
he goes about the business of acting clever,
looking studious and coming out with lots of dead
Ah, Emma. he
says (to Emma).
Emmas his lab
technician and he always has to struggle to stop
himself from calling her Igor-what with him
having been raised on that cinematic Frankenstein
She says, because they dont go for all that
Professor Sir stuff any more, its a bit
more informal, like. Besides, he always insists
on just Richard with pretty little lab techs that
he wants to put over the mass spec machine and
ravish senseless. Middle age, success and a huge
ego in decline can do that to a bloke. Besides,
if you took one look at Emma-Jesus! Brunette,
long straight hair, ice-cold staring blue eyes,
she has a nose on her face and her lips are what
youd call beguiling but what youd
also call harsh and demanding. She wears big
glasses that give her that uppity secretary or
strict bitch look thats so sexy. Beyond
that she wears a pristine, white lab coat and
flicks her hair around seductively whenever she
wants to give him that oh-professor-please-tell-me-more
look that she always does. Course its
her job to look at computer read-outs with a
puzzled expression on her face and pout like she
Anyway, back to old Ricky-boy.
He comes in, puts down his briefcase in the bit
thats partitioned off as his office, takes
off his glasses holds them up like hes
giving a sermon and looks thoughtful for a bit,
as you do.
professor? Prompts Emma.
No. He says
ponderously. No he adds more
decisively. I was just thinking. He
He goes over to this rack
of test tubes and picks one up. He gets one of
them bottle things like the ones what you get in
chemistry labs in secondary schools, takes the
red plastic stopper out of it and pours some of
it into the test tube that hes holding. He
holds it up to the light and gives it a bit of
scrutiny. Hes pleased with the result in
that by the simple expedient of tipping the
bottle while holding the tube under the lip of
the bottle, an aliquot of the liquid what had
been in the bottle has now gone into the test
tube. Innit marvellous what they can do these
days? Emma stands by his side looking confused
and awestruck. Forgot to mention before that its
not just computer read-outs that she gets paid to
look confused at, she has to look bewildered at
pretty much anything sciencey that goes on in her
vicinity. And if ever the professors doing
something that looks clever, she has to go and
make his vicinity her vicinity at the same time
if you see what I mean. For confused and
awestruck you could read leaning backwards with
her pelvis heading straight for him, shoulders
back sos her breasts stand proud before him
and one finger in her mouth thats
well anyway, moving swiftly
along. Anyway, Dicky starts doing all kinds of
things at this point-working like a man
possessed, pouring stuff from bottle to test
tube, test tube to test tube, sweat pouring off
of him and his hair sticking out like that of
your insane genius archetype. At this point, the
things hes playing about with are really
doing the text book chemistry stuff as well:
colour changes, effervescing, producing a misty
vapour that flows out the top of the tube like
slow steam and gently drops towards the ground,
suddenly and inexplicably going bang, everything.
Meanwhile, Emmas there striking voguey
poses that accentuate her bum and bosom, pulling
silly facial expressions as if to an imaginary
camera and looking insatiable and sexy because
that tends to help.
practically shouts as soon as hes through
with all his mucking about.
Emma jumps a startled
little jump at this point. And all the while, shes
still looking dead gorgeous but hes not
noticing her because hes got that absent-minded
thing that these clever, obsessive scientist
Johnnies tend to have.
My! But what is it?
Asks Emma in a voice thatd drop any normal
red-blooded mans trousers at fifty. Will
it wash whites whiter than ultra-white without
bleaching colours even at todays low
temperatures? She asks urgently, hopefully
and dreamily. Perhaps it will wash, soften
and condition without the need for a separate
fabric softener She ventures, boldly.
Oh do tell! She demands, purring like
a little sex kitten as she does so.
Ha ha ha, so young,
so na´ve, so innocent. he replies
affectionately, yet somehow teasingly. No
my dear, it is the greatest invention the world
has ever known he goes on without recourse
to modesty. No bigger than a five pence
piece and yet here it is: my universal truth
machine. When I activate it like this it will
give us an answer to the question of what governs
the universe itself-God or science.
So the machine does its
thing and they watch and that and suddenly the
colour drops floorwards from old Dicks face.
So hes there, right, his face bluey-white
with deep, shadowy, cavernous contours, looking
like a lone pallbearer on a desolate, windswept
whatever can it be? Gasps Emma almost
jumping up and down.
So he turns to her and
looks her in the eye. And in a panic-stricken
whisper he goes: Its tails.