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Escape from Heaven cover

Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 13

Let me tell you, there are options built into Body By Jesus that you never knew you were missing until you have them, and which you wonder how you’d ever be able to live without them once you do.

Take physical fitness, for example.

In the corpus novus, fitness has nothing to do with cosmetic appearance, which is in an entirely different menu. I could look fat or thin, young or old, bald as Yul Brynner or hairy as the ‘69 Beatles, fit as a fiddle or looking like I was on my last legs, and it had nothing to do with how I felt, how strong I was, what I ate, or whether I ever exercised.

I’d already activated a cosmetic dynamic I’d wished for in my old body: during the next twenty weeks my body was going to look two pounds of fat lighter, and a quarter pound of muscle more hard-bodied, each week. I was finally going to have those washboard abs I’d seen on late-night TV. I could have morphed my appearance in an instant, of course, but people would have talked.

But that had nothing at all to do with how “fit” I was.

My old body had only one ordinary means of generating the energy necessary for my life: absorbing external biomass into my own biomass, where I either burned it for energy, built cells, or stored it as fat for later use.

My new body can be set to convert and use as energy pretty much anything around me, whether it’s electricity, background noise or left-over heat from a Big Bang, electromagnetic waves (sunlight, radio broadcasts), chemical (if it’s matter, I can eat it and burn it), conventional nuclear (fission, fusion, antimatter plasma), electrochemical-nuclear (cold fusion), or even — though it’s on other menus—forces ranging from the space-time warping of ordinary gravity to an exploding supernova. Yes, I have a new set of extrasensory organs to taste each of these energies — and I have to tell you, music tastes a whole lot better than the noise of a garbage truck.

I don’t know how you’d look at having this much power available at your beck and call, but if this isn’t being made into a god, I don’t know what is.

Final judgment before being resurrected isn’t only about whether you’re good or evil, although that’s the first cut. It’s also about whether you have the innate decency and self-control not to hog too much ambient energy for yourself or to misuse the power you keep and bear that can take out a galaxy if you get pissed off.

Simply being resurrected into the new body is the greatest compliment, the greatest statement of trust, anyone, anywhere, has ever paid you. It’s like winning gold at the Olympics, the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Nobel Prize, and the Prometheus Award all rolled into one. It’s the ultimate Oscar.

When I drove out of the K-TALK studios to Manchu Ellins’ Beverly Hills estate for dinner, I was hungry.

I was hungry because I’d set the power defaults in my body only to use conventional food digestion as its energy source, except for some safety options to cut in automatically if I stepped on a land mine or was shot at. Yes, all the energy in the universe, and more, was there for me to eat in an all-you-can-eat buffet. But I had to regulate what I ate even more than when I was in my old body. The food was different but I still had to watch my intake carefully because it wasn’t safe for an inexperienced god to walk around earth cocked and locked for universal calamity.

The Ellins mansion was hidden behind polished black walls that would have looked at home on an embassy, the nouvelle mode ever since the International Terrorist Network first targeted the entertainment industry. Inside the gate I noticed that a huge expanse that could have been the front lawn was instead a carefully maintained rock garden. Otherwise, the mansion looked like it could have been used for exteriors of Tara during filming of Gone With The Wind.

I couldn’t help noticing the one car parked haphazardly in the driveway in front of the house. It was his McLaren F1 sports car, a racer equivalent in artistic value to a Stradivarius violin, which Ellins evidently drove out if he needed a pack of gum.

Ellins met me at the cavernous front door and invited me into his home with a warm two-handed shake.

The first thing I noticed about the interior of the house was that it looked as if a moving van was expected. The entrance hall led to a living room that was completely unfurnished: no furniture, nothing on the walls. The room next to that, looking as if it had been intended as a dining hall, was instead outfitted as a fitness center with stair climbers, stationery bikes, weight machines, rowers, and treadmills. There was also a bench with a set of free weights off to the side.

In person, Manchu Ellins projected the same good-natured self-confidence that had won him the People’s Choice award six-years-running. He had his trademark two-day beard and obviously used the fitness equipment; for a man pushing sixty he still had the lean muscle masses and smooth skin of a man half his age.

Almost without thinking, I automatically stripped away his temporal presence and started checking out his inner self, when he placed a hand on my arm, stopping me. He’d caught me out. “Now that’s not very polite,” he said, smiling. “How would you feel if the first thing I did was undress your soul?”

“Sorry, it’s gotten to be a habit,” I said, embarrassed.

“No sweat,” he said. “Would you like a drink, Your Excellency?”

I was a little taken aback. I knew God had named me his ambassador, but this was the first time I’d encountered anyone else who knew it and I’d certainly had no expectation of being addressed with formal protocol.

I tried to let it slide. “Sure.”

“Anything in particular?”

“Whatever you’re having,” I said.

“Come on, I’ve got just the thing.”

Instead of leading me to a bar, Ellins led me into a kitchen with an island in the center. It was completely covered with what looked to be vitamins, minerals, herbs, and food supplements. Again, there were no tables or chairs but it looked as if all the countertop appliances had arrived.

“How long have you had this house?” I asked, trying to sound casual.

“Oh, let’s see,” he said, a bit distracted. He was pulling various smoke-colored bottles out of the refrigerator and pouring from them into a drink mixer of the sort you’d find in an old fashioned soda fountain. “Seven, no, eight years. Lynnie and I moved in here right after her first miscarriage.”

“Lynnie” was his gorgeous wife, Caulinn Helms, lead singer of the grunge band Seminal Lunch, and the cause of my engineer’s adolescent attack of drool. “I’m sorry I asked,” I said. “I didn’t mean to bring up painful memories.”

“It’s not painful anymore. We’ve come to realize becoming parents was just a bad idea anyway.”

He ran the mixer a bit, pulled two huge frosted glasses from a compartment of his freezer, then filled them and handed me one. “Your health,” he said, clinking my glass with his.

“Yours too,” I said, and took a sip.

I don’t know what it was. I’ve tried hard to eliminate that memory. It had the texture of chalk, the taste of mold, and the smell of used socks.

“Ahhhhhhhhh!” he said, downing the whole glass in one gulp.

He saw my expression and laughed. “I guess it is an acquired taste,” he said. “Come on, I want you to meet my wife.”

He led me up a spiral staircase, taking the stairs two at a time, until we came to the master bedroom … or whatever you called a sleeping room that had no bed or any other furniture. Caulinn Helms was sitting with her legs splayed wide open on a weaved mat, reading a book titled The Myth of Gender. She was completely naked, and aside from the silky black hair on her head, she was completely shaved.

I immediately felt the utility of my not being naked.

“Darling,” Ellins said to his wife, “this is His Excellency Duj Pepperman, Ambassador from the Celestial Palace and Terrestrial Coordinator of the Party of God.”

Caulinn Helms stood up, came so close to me I could smell her sex, and took my hand. “I’m delighted to meet you, Ambassador,” she said in that low whiskey voice of hers. There was nothing shy about her; she immediately looked down to my crotch. “And I can see that you’re delighted to meet me, too,” she said.

I don’t think I have ever been so thoroughly aroused, embarrassed, and bewildered, all at the same time. If I’d been in private I would have called up a menu and turned off my libido for the duration of this visit, but I never got the chance.

Neither of them seemed to be aware of my discomfort. I concluded her household nudity was so commonplace that they didn’t even notice it anymore.

“Would you like a tour of the house before dinner?” she asked. She dropped her book on the floor, not worrying if she lost her page, and bounded down the spiral staircase, ahead of us.

“She’s really quite a piece of ass, isn’t she?” Ellins said to me, as we descended the staircase at a more stately pace. “There’s no mystery why every man on earth, and half the women, want to fuck her.”

All I could do was nod while steadying myself using the banister on the way down.


Yes, they’re real.

A complete discussion of her surgeries, her abortions, and how she had done away with the necessity for bowel movements by regular use of high colonics, was served along with dinner, but it was a party that I think even Lewis Carroll would have had a hard time imagining.

Dinner was served on the hardwood floor in the living room. Manchu and Caulinn each sat cross-legged in lotus, he in his basketball shorts and jersey, she still completely nude, with the food dishes set in front of us. My new body was limber enough to get into the position but it took some effort to avoid falling over.

I asked them about the lack of furniture in their house, now that I knew it was intended. “We don’t believe in furniture,” Caulinn explained. “The human body just wasn’t designed for it.”

It wasn’t just furniture that was missing from their house. An Olympic-sized swimming pool behind the house was drained. There wasn’t a video screen, radio, sound speakers, or musical instrument anywhere in the house. I saw no magazines, no sculptures, paintings, family photos, or other artistic installations, and neither was there any other sort of interior decoration.

I’d seen prison cells that were better furnished.

There were extensive built-in bookshelves but no books on them; in fact, the only other book I saw anywhere in the house was in the kitchen, a piece of light reading titled, A Guide to Marine Coastal Plankton and Marine Invertebrate Larvae.

Which brings us back to dinner. “We’re not vegetarians,” Manchu explained. “We simply believe in eating as low on the food chain as possible.”

I believe they had reached the bottom. Dinner that night was sushi made with reconstituted freeze-dried plankton and fresh frozen Antarctic krill.

During this feast, while Manchu Ellins lectured me on the indisputable scientific evidence proving that the dangerously expanding hole in the ozone layer was caused by second-hand tobacco smoke, Caulinn started gently caressing her nipples, arousing herself. That naturally brought the dinner discussion back to the topic of sex.

I tried to stay nonchalant about her erotic behavior. I was in their house, after all, with their customs, and this was not a public display.

“When Manny and I met,” Caulinn told me, “we were both bisexual and very active, but after we got married we decided that being gay just wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t the statement we wanted to make.”

“Well, I can easily understand that,” I said. “Both of you are at your physical peak with good looks and maximum appeal. It’s obvious that you love each other. I’m sure you realize that fantasies about your sex life together make you envied by millions.”

“Oh, we haven’t had sex in years,” Caulinn explained. “With each other or anybody else. We’ve both taken vows of chastity.”

I don’t think I allowed my jaw to drop.

“As for physical fitness,” Caulinn continued, “we don’t do it because we like it. Looking a certain way is just a necessity for keeping our box office revenues up.”

“Don’t you think it’s time we got down to business, dear?” Manchu Ellins said to his wife. “I’m sure the ambassador doesn’t want to listen to us talking shop all night.”

He turned to me. “I take it, Ambassador, that you haven’t yet selected a candidate to represent the Party of God in the upcoming election?”

I was still more than a bit distracted. Caulinn had dropped her hand between her legs and was massaging her vulva.

Manchu saw my expression. “Oh, don’t mind her,” he said. “Masturbation is the only sexual release we allow ourselves. We just do it whenever the urge strikes.”

“It’s very healthy,” Caulinn said. “And veeery relaxing. I can see you’re aroused. I won’t mind at all if you decide to masturbate with me.”

I knew that my engineer, Terry, would have given up a kidney for this opportunity, but I suddenly managed to put it all together, and pulled myself out of the tailspin I was in.

“No, Mr. Ellins,” I said. “I haven’t yet made that decision. I’ll send you formal notification before the filing deadline. Are you the gubernatorial candidate of the Anorexic Party, or will it be your wife?”

“I’ll be running,” said Ellins.

I could see that Caulinn Helms was getting close to orgasm. With some difficulty I rose to my feet.

Manchu Ellins’ attention wasn’t on me anymore; he was now rubbing his own genitals through his shorts. It was obvious that the business portion of the evening was already over.

“Thank you for your hospitality,” I said, not sure either of them was listening to me any more. “No, don’t bother getting up. I’ll let myself out.”

I walked outside to my Mercedes, drove out the gate, and was halfway back to Culver City when I felt like an idiot.


I’d forgotten to get their autographs.


Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XIV.

Escape from Heaven is
Copyright © 2002 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.

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