a multi-part legend inspired by the works of Roald Dahl.
Mr. Lancaster builds the marvelous Origins Bomb.
It is a big squat bomb. It sits on a table. Mr. Lancaster is under the table on a rolling platform. He is covered in bomb oil and using a wrench.
“Do we have the strands of amoeba DNA?” Mr. Lancaster asks Mrs. Lancaster.
“Of course,” she says, calmly.
Mrs. Lancaster is combing Iphigenia’s hair. Iphigenia wriggles.
“Don’t struggle now,” says Mrs. Lancaster. “You want nice hair when you’re Raptured, don’t you?”
“But Lizard Cops is almost on,” Iphigenia pleads.
“We’ll by done by 11,” says Mrs. Lancaster.
So Iphigenia pouts and sits still.
“What about the frog tooth?” Mr. Lancaster asks. “Do we have the flying frog tooth?”
“Of course, dear,” says Mrs. Lancaster.
Mr. Lancaster rolls out from under the bomb. He’s holding a jar. It’s labeled ‘Flying Frog Tooth.’ It has a tooth in it. The tooth has little wings. It flutters about in the jar.
“Are you sure it’s from a real frog?” Mr. Lancaster asks, skeptically.
“It’s a new species,” says Mrs. Lancaster, who is an expert scientist with more than six doctorates in biology. “I bred it myself in the lab.”
“All right,” says Mr. Lancaster. He rolls back under. “What about these carbons? Are they good?”
“That’s what the salesman said.”
“He said, ‘these are damn fine carbons, Mrs. Lancaster. Damn fine.'”
“Such language! He will receive a terrible reckoning on the Day of Judgment,” says Mr. Lancaster, sadly.
He works on something under the bomb with a wrench.
“That is,” Mr. Lancaster adds, “unless linguistic drift has rendered such terms essentially non-blasphemous.”
“That’s so, Mr. Lancaster,” Mrs. Lancaster agrees. “He will be cast into the pit of fire and brimstone, unless the secularization of the English language serves as a circumstantial shield against God’s judgment.”
Mr. Lancaster stops and thinks. “Hey, I can’t find a Snavering Lavelwod.”
Mrs. Lancaster sighs. “I wish you wouldn’t use Snavering Lavelwods, Mr. Lancaster. Such murderous mutant mini-squids were never meant to trouble God’s green earth.”
“But they’re so adorably fuzzy, Mrs. Lancaster,” he protests. “In any case, they’re necessary.”
“Check your pockets, then,” says Mrs. Lancaster.
“Oh,” says Mr. Lancaster after a moment. “How embarrassing.”
Mr. Lancaster slots a protesting Snavering Lavelwod into the Snavering Lavelwod slot.
Mrs. Lancaster works on Iphigenia’s hair. “You have such gorgeous hair, my child. I think it is your prettiest feature.”
Iphigenia smiles a little back over her shoulder at Mrs. Lancaster.
Mrs. Lancaster grins. “There,” she says, putting down the brush and patting Iphigenia’s head. “All done!”
“What about the chocolate?” Mr. Lancaster asks.
Mrs. Lancaster releases Iphigenia from her lap. Iphigenia starts to run to the door, but then she stops. Curiosity has gotten the better of her. She squats down and stares interestedly at Mr. Lancaster’s activities beneath the bomb.
“Here,” says Mrs. Lancaster. She takes out a bar of chocolate. It is labeled ‘Age-Measuring Chocolate.’ She breaks off a small piece, hands the small piece to Iphigenia, and passes the rest to Mr. Lancaster.
Iphigenia’s eyes get very round. She takes the piece of chocolate. Graciously, she says, “Thank you, Mommy!”
Iphigenia bites the chocolate. The chocolate says, “Thirteen years and seven months and four days and eight hours and two minutes and thirteen seconds.”
Iphigenia looks at the chocolate. She looks suspiciously at her mother.
“Go ahead, dear. It’s just measuring your age.”
Iphigenia takes another bite. “Thirteen years and seven—”
Iphigenia hastily finishes the chocolate off. She swallows it before it can speak. Then she opens her mouth.
“—months and four days and eight hours and two minutes and nineteen seconds!” Iphigenia says, surprising herself.
There’s a pause.
“But I’m twelve,” protests Iphigenia.
“It probably uses the Chinese schema,” Mrs. Lancaster says.
“There!” says Mr. Lancaster. He rolls back the platform. He dusts himself off. He rises. “It’s a perfect Origins Bomb, if I do say so myself.”
“Perfection is for God alone,” corrects Mrs. Lancaster.
“Oh, Mrs. Lancaster,” says Mr. Lancaster, beeping her nose. “You do keep me honest.”
“What’s it do?” Iphigenia asks.
“It’s a way to prove Creationism right for once and for all,” says Mr. Lancaster. “When I push this button—”
Here he indicates a large red button labeled “Emergency Proof of Creationism.”
“—everything in the universe that is older than ten thousand years old, and every human who evolved from lower life forms, blows up!”
Iphigenia frowns. “But that’s nobody. You said that people were made by God.”
Mr. Lancaster’s eyes dance.
Iphigenia will always remember this moment. When Mr. Lancaster is very happy his eyes get a marvelous crinkle at the edges. It makes Iphigenia want to laugh and hug him. And sometimes he will sweep her up and spin her around, or tell her a wonderful secret, like where the Apostle Paul is really buried, or race her through the house around and around and around.
His eyes are crinkly like that now.
“That’s the marvel of it,” he says, “The absolute marvel of it! It’s the world’s deadliest bomb—and it won’t hurt hardly anything!”
“We expect there are a few things that will qualify,” explains Mrs. Lancaster. “Sinister bloodlines descended from lizards, ancient gyroscopes from alternate timelines, the angels of nations, and so forth. Exceptions. Nothing the world can’t do without.”
Iphigenia is mildly unnerved.
“Would you like to press the button?” Mr. Lancaster offers. “There are a lot of threats to God’s word in America today. It’s not really an emergency—”
and here he winks, like there’s a star caught in his eye and he needs to blink it out—
“—but I think it’s fair to say that we’re in an orange alert for the faith.”
Iphigenia chews on her lip.
“I’m scared to push a button and blow up stuff,” Iphigenia says.
Mr. Lancaster nods. “It is a weighty moral responsibility,” he says.
He hangs his head. He looks grim. Then he looks up and he’s sparkly again.
“And we all know who bears the weighty moral responsibilities around here!”
Mrs. Lancaster blushes.
“Oh, Mr. Lancaster,” she says.
“You know you want to,” Mr. Lancaster teases.
Mrs. Lancaster stands up. Just a tiny bit of her decorum is faded now. “Are you serious, honey? You’d really let me be the one to . . . to usher in this new age of scientifically-proven faith?”
“I love you,” says Mr. Lancaster.
So Mrs. Lancaster smiles. It’s a secret smile. It’s the kind of smile that waits in someone’s lips for years and years before it finally finds the perfect chance to come out.
“Mom!” says Iphigenia suddenly. “I’m scared!”
It is 10:52am, on Saturday, July 16. It is eight minutes before the premiere broadcast of Lizard Cops.
Mrs. Lancaster pushes the button.
The Origins Bomb goes off.
Tune in tomorrow for the exciting continuation of . . . Countdown to Annihilation!