Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Chapter XXIII

Escape from Heaven cover

Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 24

They thought of something.

“We have to what?” I exclaimed, a couple of hours later, when they called me back to Mt. Shasta. I was no longer going to fly for routine travel, now that I’d figured out how to translocate myself.

“We have to help Jesus develop a strategy to win his ex-wife back,” said General Patton.

“Dear God in Heaven,” I said.

“Not anymore, unless we’re successful,” said George Bernard Shaw.

“He’s only been trying for a couple hundred millennia or so,” I said. “What makes you think that we can pull this off where he failed?”

“Because we have to,” said Thomas Jefferson.

“There must still be a love connection between them,” said Marilyn Monroe. “After all, neither of them ever remarried.”

“Suddenly this war is turning into yet another remake of The Parent Trap,” I said. “Well, what do you suggest we do? Lock them both in a room with Dr. Phil? Or put Satan in psychotherapy like in Jeremy Leven’s book?”

“I had something a bit more devilish in mind,” said C.S. Lewis.

“Something with a plot twist,” said Ayn Rand.


On Monday, October 17th, two weeks before the election, Jesus Christ was missing in action. We had canceled all his public appearances, all his scheduled interviews.

It was in all the papers.

When we had made the decision on Friday to remove our candidate from public view, we were sure we would lose additional numbers, perhaps as much as another five percentage points. We thought it would look as if he was afraid or had lost interest in the election, or worse: that he was hiding because he was humiliated by his poll numbers.

It just goes to show. Human beings, especially voters, are fundamentally unpredictable. I guess that quantum unpredictability is the best proof there is of free will.

Dr. King had gotten it precisely correct. Christians wanted their Savior to be mysterious and aloof. They were used to praying to him. It was disconcerting to them when he answered their prayers in person.

These new poll numbers weren’t at all a problem for the strategy that C.S. Lewis and Ayn Rand had cooked up together. Serendipitously, it made the strategy even more perfect.

By the following Monday, October 24th, just one week before the election, Jesus was up seven points over Lucifer. The Anorexic Party was desperate and was calling loudly for a public debate to be simulcast on live TV and satellite radio, the Internet, and in dreamland. The League of Women Voters had already sent over proposed guidelines.

I hung tough and refused to commit. We took an overnight hit of two percentage points because of it, but our overall numbers were still holding steady with a solid five-percent lead.

At the end of my radio show on Wednesday, October 26th, I got another phone call from Manchu Ellins. “We need to get together,” he told me.

“Will I be getting anything out of the meeting that I want?” I asked him.

“Is there anything I have that you want?”

I considered the thought that he was offering me a roll in the hay with his wife, but didn’t think she would go along with it, even for her political party. I answered, “I’ve always wanted a ride in a McLaren F1.”

“How about five tomorrow morning?” he suggested. “I have some friends at Edwards Air Force Base who let me use the old shuttle landing strip to take her up to 225 miles an hour.”

“Sounds like fun,” I said.

“I’ll drive over and pick you up in back of your town home.”

“God, no,” I told him. “You can’t drive around our complex without going over sixteen speed bumps. No matter whatever else there is between us, I’m not going to put the suspension of an eight-hundred-thousand-dollar car through that. I’ll be waiting just inside our front gate.”

This time I hung up first.

He was as good as his word and the next morning his black McLaren three-seater was parked along the curb inside our gate by the time I walked along the palm-tree lined path to the front. Caulinn Helms was not with him.

The door swung up and Ellins jumped out. We shook hands cordially and I said, “No offense, but I’m not climbing in until you let me peep you.”

“I’m just a mortal man,” said Ellins. “What could I do even to inconvenience you?”

“If you’ve studied the way I think you have,” I said, “you know that even mortals can wield great power.”

“Go ahead,” said Ellins. “I’m here under a truce flag anyway. I’ve got nothing to hide.”

I looked into his soul, his past and what I could see of his future, and what I saw surprised me. He was just a few weeks away from splitting up with Caulinn Helms, who was much more of a fanatic than he was, because he just couldn’t handle not being touched during their sex play any more.

I didn’t tell him any of that but said, “You’ve got a good heart and many virtues but your picture of how things work is askew. With a couple of hours conversation, if you were self-honest, I could likely convince you to switch to our side. I’m surprised Lucifer even trusts you.”

Ellins looked at me strangely. “Are you under the impression that Lucifer and others of our party have your power to see inside human souls?”

I was startled. It had never even occurred to me that they couldn’t, and the subject had never come up in our own committee meetings, not even security briefings. Apparently everyone was assuming their chairman already knew.

I smiled sheepishly. “I’m new at this god stuff,” I admitted, hoping that opening myself up a little wouldn’t bite me in the ass later. “Come on, I’m anxious to feel what this baby can do.”

Ellins helped secure me into the passenger seat, then got in himself and pulled the car out onto Hannum, turning right. He turned left onto Playa, took the entrance to the I-405 north, and in a few minutes we were cruising in the number one lane past Westwood and not long after that on the I-5 north.

We reached Highway 14 north in less than fifteen minutes, then he flicked on his radar detector and cruised along in fairly empty lanes at around 100 miles an hour. The way this car handled, if felt like we were going 55. We were at Edwards in just about an hour.

Being a movie star has its advantages. His name was on a guest list and we were waved onto the base with no problem.

I’ve never been one for roller coasters or other thrill rides, but this car was almost as much fun as flying! We did full-speed runs back and forth on the desert flats until the fuel gauge read low enough that unless I wanted to perform the miracle of turning water into gas, it was time to head back.

But we didn’t head back. I could see a lone figure off in the distance, standing out on the desert flats.

Ellins headed toward it and well before mortal eyes could resolve the image I could see that it was ­Lucifer.


Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XXV.

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

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

Bookmark and Share