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Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 18

Within minutes after Eve’s premiere appearance on Morning Glory, all hell broke loose.

Television crews, print reporters, scientists from Cal Tech, skeptics including a stage magician who was famous for debunking psychic phenomena, politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and just about anyone else who could get onto the freeways into Lakewood descended onto the vast manicured lawn surrounding Reverend Chill’s Newer Light Cathedral.

Lucifer performed just about every miracle in the Bible. There was a duck pond on the church grounds. Lucifer parted the water, walked on the water, and turned the water into wine. She waved her hand and suddenly the pond was full of fishes. One of the ducks had passed away and she raised it from the dead.

Manchu Ellins rang my doorbell and personally served me with a communiqué from Anorexic Party headquarters. There was a substitution on their ballot line.

Sun Amen Chill was off their ballot line.

Eve was on.

I called an immediate emergency session of the central committee, and Heinlein and I flew back to Mount Shasta. There was a substitution in my council since Lindbergh/Lewis/Polo was off on assignment. Taking his place at the round table was Sir Isaac Newton.

Jefferson and Franklin’s legal analysis of Lucifer’s sudden entry into the race provided us with little leverage. She had made no untruthful statements herself, nor even lent the appearance of truth to a false statement, since everything the Reverend Chill had said was carefully worded to stay within the bounds of semantic accuracy. The Anorexic Party had made no statement that we could object to, no grounds for us to demand a retraction.

Lucifer had performed no miracles above π on the Aquinas Scale.

She had not misrepresented to the people of earth her identity or her role in human history.

And there was nothing in the treaty that prevented the substitution of a name on a ballot line at any time previous to the opening of the campaign with its first dream presentation.

The only treaty violation the Anorexic Party had committed was her opening a tunnel to come to earth. Other than that, they had played strictly by the rules.

We’d been sucker punched.

“My friends,” I told them. “I’m not going to make any excuses. This disaster is directly due to my arrogance and ineptness. If we lose this war, there is nobody to blame but me.”

“Sir, with all due respect,” said General Patton, “that’s hogwash. Never apologize to your men. You lead them, they follow, that’s all. I apologized to one of my men once and I regret it to this day. You made a command decision, one—may I add—that looked good to all of us. Victory is never assured. All we can give it is the best we have within us.”

“Hear, hear!” said voices all around the table.

“I believe General Patton has expressed all of our feelings in this matter,” said Jefferson. “We still have complete confidence in you.”

I felt like crying but held myself in check. This was no time to come across as the weakest link.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your vote of confidence in me. Now let’s get back to work. Is there anyone at this table who thinks the strategy I outlined at our last session, of allowing Lucifer to run unopposed, has a chance in hell of succeeding?”

The silence was deafening.

“I concur. Mr. Attorney General, since the Anorexic Party has now made two substitutions on their ballot line, am I correct in concluding that we have the right to do so as well?”

“That is true,” Jefferson told me, “but only if we act immediately. Lucifer’s dream presentation starts as early as seven hours from now, triggering the active campaign. Any substitutions on the ballot must be served on the Anorexics before then.”

“Okay, then we haven’t time to shilly-shally,” I said. “It’s my opinion that the only candidate who would be able to take on Lucifer after the show she’s put on today would be one of the Trinity.”

“But that’s expressly forbidden by the terms of the treaty,” said Benjamin Franklin.

“We’ve got one treaty violation to our benefit coming to us,” I said. “I asked for a blank check in payment when they violated the treaty, and they signed it. I say, at this point, we are entitled to put one of the Trinity on the ballot.”

“That may be true from a legalistic standpoint,” said Aaron Burr, “but it still leaves us without an active candidate to campaign here on earth. If we put one of the Trinity on the ballot, they will still be legally restricted from opening a tunnel to come here.”

“I disagree,” said King Solomon. “Placing a different name on the ballot isn’t anything they need to grant us as a special favor; we’re entitled to do that anyway, just so long as it’s done by tonight. The treaty exception due us may include nullifying that clause which forbids the Trinity from standing for office. It’s my legal opinion that in compensation for Lucifer violating the terms of the treaty by coming to earth after Satan 001, we are entitled to bring in one of the Trinity here.”

“Keep in mind,” said Patton, “if we are seen trying to open up a tunnel, you’re going to see Satan’s military forces stationed on earth launching a counter-attack immediately. They’re not going to care about the legalisms of a treaty at that point. With everything at stake, they’ll fight.”

“General, can you secure this facility we’re in right now to withstand such an attack?”

“It was constructed for that very purpose, sir,” Patton said. “We’re inside a fortress.”

“So we open up the tunnel in here.”

“With what?” W.C. Fields asked. “Do you have a church key?”

“I’m not going to discuss that until the time is right,” I said. “Our first order of business is to decide which of the Trinity we need to run.”

“If we run God or Jesus, Lucifer will turn this into a sex war,” said Ayn Rand. “I have never been in favor of running a woman for a man’s job, but logic dictates the way to put the lie to Eve’s claim that she is the mother of the human race is to show the people of earth its real mother, Maryse.”

“My dear,” said C.S. Lewis, “I tremble at the very thought of disagreeing with you, but I must. Our celestial mother, Maryse, does not have what political analysts call ‘name recognition.’”

“The Virgin Mary isn’t good enough name recognition for you?” replied Rand. “Lucifer is using her earthborn name, why can’t Maryse?”

“‘The Virgin Mary’ on our ballot line would deliver a billion Roman Catholic votes,” said Mark Twain.

“But you would lose a billion Islamic votes,” replied Sa’di of Shiraz. “I’m sorry but Muslims simply won’t vote for a woman to rule them on either ballot line. The world of Islam would simply boycott the ballot.”

“You’re forgetting Muslim women,” Rand said.

“There is no League of Women Voters in the world of Islam,” answered Sa’di. “Our women are accustomed to doing what their fathers and husbands tell them to do.”

The silence that followed showed that Sa’di had made his point.

“Then we are deciding between the Father and the Son,” I said. “More comments?”

“God has better name recognition worldwide,” said H.L. Mencken, “but nobody on earth knows what he looks like and—with no disrespect to you, sir—his appearing similar to a radio-talk-show host might be fatally distracting to the voters. Nor do I think his appearing as a Burning Bush will prevail in an election against a beautiful woman, no matter what he says or what miracles he performs.”

“Then we are running a husband against his ex-wife?” I asked.

“That will be our Savior’s problem, sir,” said Dr. King, “not ours.”

“It’s my decision unless God fires me from my appointment as campaign manager of the Party of God,” I said.

“If Jesus is the candidate,” said Golda Meir, “you’re going to lose the Jewish vote.”

“What is that?” said Sa’di. “Ten or twelve million votes out of seven billion?”

“That could be five times your margin of victory in a tight race,” said Meir. “Look at Florida in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.”

“Jesus is one of Islam’s prophets,” said Sa’di. “I believe I can deliver at least a billion Muslim votes for Jesus, just so long as we distance him from Christian history and Christian doctrine. In what sort of election can you throw away that?”

“What about Hindus, Buddhists, and Chinese atheists?” asked Shaw. “Who has the best chance at their votes?”

“I don’t see that Lucifer has any better chance of locking up those votes on name recognition alone than we do,” said Rand, “no matter which of the Trinity we run.”

“Any other comments?” I asked.

There was silence.

Mencken turned to Golda Meir and said, “Suppose we put Jesus on the ballot as Adam. Would that play with Jewish voters?”

“It couldn’t hurt,” she said. “We might even do better if our Hebrew campaign handouts referred to him as Rabbi Yehoshua.”

“The name ‘Adam’ would probably do better than ‘Jesus’ with secular voters and perhaps even pagans,” said Mencken. “I could set up a focus group—”

“We don’t have time for a focus group,” cut in Jefferson. “Our ballot deadline is in just a few hours.”

There was a silence, which I took as my opportunity to take back control of the meeting.

“I was born Jewish,” I said. “You all know my relationship to God, how I’d do anything for him. But God gave me the job of winning this election, and I think Mr. Mencken is right. God hasn’t spent as much time walking precincts as Jesus has, and in my opinion that dirty-feet human experience is what’s needed in this election.”

I took a deep breath.

I continued, “I also think there’s no point playing games with the ballot, trying to conceal the full identity of our candidate. He is who he is, take him or leave him.”

Here I go again, I thought.

I said, “It’s my decision that the candidate of the Party of God for the governorship of earth in the October 31st election is our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, also known as Adam. Dr. King, please notify the Anorexic Party of our ballot-line substitution at the conclusion of this session.”

“Yes, sir,” said Martin Luther/King.

“Menu,” I said.

My desktop appeared before my eyes and I double clicked on an icon.

“General Lindbergh, can you hear me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Please open Tunnel Gates P2 and E1, using my desktop’s current position as terminal locus.”

A tunnel irised open behind me, the bottom level with the floor.

I stood, and as I stood, so did everyone else.

Charles Lindbergh, who had formerly been Meriwether Lewis, who before that had been Marco Polo, stepped into the room and saluted me.

I returned his salute.

He moved to a position standing near the table.

A moment later, everyone in the room bowed their heads as Jesus stepped into the room.

Jesus turned to me. “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” he said, and kissed me on both cheeks.

Some days it pays to get out of bed.


Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XIX.

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

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