Mechanical Issues

The trees make the helicopter look small. They rise to immeasurable heights. They are hundreds of feet across, crusted with ancient moss. There are miles between them. The helicopter floats past a great gnarled trunk, and the people inside try not to think about squirrels.

“There,” says Stacy. She points.

“Finally,” Edward answers.

Something on the ground ahead of them is glowing. The helicopter moves closer.

“I still think,” Stacy says, “that we neglected basic tracking procedures.”

“God doesn’t leave droppings,” Edward says. He maneuvers the helicopter in towards a landing.

Stacy makes a face at him. “I’m thinking more like bent grass. Broken twigs. Footprints, and such.”

“Useless,” Edward says.

“There were some weird marks in the grass,” she says, “back by the wristwatch. It could have been God tracks. We could have followed them.”

“They weren’t numinous enough,” he says. “I have great confidence that if God did leave tracks, they’d be numinous.”

The helicopter lands. Its rotor spins to a stop. They get out. The glowing thing is a spherical jewel. It’s about a foot in diameter. Edward taps it.

“This,” he says. “This, for example, is numinous. It’s probably part of God.”

“Luminous,” Stacy corrects.

Edward looks uncomfortable. “Well, yes,” he says. “But it’s the manner of its luminosity that’s numinous. Wherefore should it glow?”

“It could be radioactive.”

“Radioactive things glow green,” he points out. “This is too full-spectrum to be radioactivity.”

“That’s true.” Stacy reaches out a hand and rests her palm on its surface. “It’s not radioactive, so it could be God. How do we tell?”

Edward thinks. “We need to compare it to a piece of a false God,” he says, “and see if it demonstrates metaphysical primacy.”

Stacy begins searching through her purse.

“Look for drugs or booze,” he says.

Stacy gives him a withering glance.

“Oh,” he says. “I . . . I didn’t mean to imply that you carry them around. Just, you know, that they’d be good false Gods. Do you have a pagan idol?”

“I have a Thor minicomic from Marvel that came with my hairdryer,” she says. “It shows the proper uses for all three settings.”

Edward brightens. “Quickly,” he says. “Get it out! Hold it next to the sphere!”

Stacy holds the comic next to the sphere. There’s a long pause.

“I’m not sure which has metaphysical primacy,” Edward says. He thinks. “Can you consider the comic more of a false idol, and see if it smites you?”

“No,” Stacy says.

“Hm,” Edward says. “Well, read some, and see if its words pale beside the sphere’s transcendent glow.”

“By thunder!” Stacy exclaims. “The first setting is LOW. Use this setting for delicate or color-treated hair.”

Edward hesitates. Then his shoulders slump.

“The second setting is HIGH. Truly it burns with the terrible heat of Muspellheim!”

Edward shakes his head. “It’s no good.”

“The third setting is DIVINE HEAT. Such power! This setting is meant for the golden locks of the Mighty Thor!”

Edward looks at her.

Stacy shrugs, placidly, and puts the comic away. She goes back to searching her purse.

“The problem is, it’s not really a genuine pagan work,” Edward theorizes. “It’s more of a fictional bastardization of the original myths.”

“I have a Goddess-brand vibrator,” Stacy says.

Edward is awkwardly silent.

Stacy fishes it out of her purse. She turns it on. After a moment, uncertain as to how to proceed, she touches it against the sphere. With her free hand, she scratches behind her ear. She frowns thoughtfully. She rubs the tip of the vibrator against the sphere. Then she shrugs, turns it off, and puts it back in her purse.

Edward is awkwardly silent.

“Granted, the branding is more intended to imply that I’m a Goddess than that it is in itself a manifestation of the divine.”

“Stop that!” Edward says.

Stacy frowns at him.

“I mean,” he says, “a few minutes ago. Stop what you were doing then. Don’t be doing that. Stop. I mean, it’s God.

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