Excerpt from new novel: Lord Nomad, Beyond Paradise

The skyscraper creaked, its thousands of windows shuddering, before it lifted itself from the block and drifted to another spot. Who controlled those wandering city buildings? Everlasting cities; ever-shifting cities. James, a towering man with a broad jaw, strolled through the streets, knowing that the diner at which he had eaten yesterday had now moved to a different location. The only fixity in the future was the body, and even that was always changing. Transplants and cosmetic touchups.

He withdrew a piece of crumpled paper from his pocket, unfurled it, and read the address again. Sector 39. Though he was certain that the citizens of Red City were oblivious to him, he still looked back at the path he had taken to this section of the city. Watching other buildings lift themselves and wander away from their bases, like ghosts straying from their haunted grounds, he continued his path toward Divine Solutions. It was time to initiate his plan…

When he saw the neon pharmaceutical cross floating in sector 39, he flagged a pedicab that shot up toward the building. The pristine white walls of the interior represented heaven; James knew all the tricks of the trade. Hadn’t he learned from the best in his own religion- the Mesobasilica? His rubber soles resounded in the empty hall, at the end of which stood a receptionist in a black skirt and red blouse.

“How can we help you today, sir?” she asked.

“I’d like to make a God.” She was all business, and he liked it that way.

“We plan to do just that for you, sir. May you live long and prosper.” She bowed her head slightly. A door opened and they walked into a darkened room where a single light shined over a console. After sitting, she adjusted her glasses, typed in her login, and smiled at him.

“So Mr…”

“Just James.”

“Okay. Let’s talk about heaven, huh? And God.” A screen appeared next to the console. “What do you picture it as? What do you want for the afterlife? Or is there one for you?” On the screen appeared Old World Gods, a wolf-headed Egyptian and a peanut eating Hindu. James recognized their proud, indifferent faces that hardly imagined that they would rot and decay in time despite their immortality.

“Never mind all that,” James said, “I have a different request.”

“Whatever you desire.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about this,” he said, picturing the days he had spent worshiping Mori, that holy tree that promised a return to infancy in a seed. All of it was ridiculous, but people had clung to the idea that the green worlds of the past could still be alive and thrive. Hippies and tree huggers- that was what he saw them as.

“I don’t want another God. The God of my religion should be me.”

She put her cupped hand to her chin and said, “I suppose I should call you your holiness then. Let’s see what we can do.” The pictures of Old World gods faded, and an image of James replaced them.


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