h2g2 Storytime II: Part XVII

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The Prince of Lies peered through the floral-print curtains at the street below. A small red Vauxhall went by, and a man selling steaming sausages at a stand across the road turned the page of his newspaper. Apart from that, there was no movement at all on the tidy Swiss street. He sighed inwardly. Time to end it all. Goodbye, world, it's been interesting.

"What's the matter, D.? Getting cold feet?"

He turned, annoyed, to the taunting voice.

"As I recall, G, this was all your idea anyway. Creation, mankind, free will, temptation, the battle between Good and Evil. Even so, even I every once in a while like to take a quiet moment, and this may be one of the last moments, so if you don't mind...." said Lucifer picking nervously at his talons.

It was time to begin the End.

"This is Armin, our neutral observer. He will ensure that everything proceeds fairly." God gestured to a neatly dressed, blandly smiling little man with a combover, who realising he was being introduced inclined his head slightly.

"It vill be an honour". he whispered.

"Fine, fine, let's start before the monk beats us to it. Just one go, right? Not best out of three - we decide on one try?" asked Satan.


"And it's - two beats and then on the third we reveal our hands, right?"

"Correct." said Armin.

"Very well. Let's go."

They made an epic couple, facing each other across the card table. 'The Word and the Lie'; Da Vinci would have painted them. Mozart would have composed operas, Michelangelo would have rendered them immortal in stone.

Two great hands were raised, clenched into fists, one glowing white and the other red and scaly. History and Destiny crackled in the air, as the two fists swung up and down, with seeming geological slowness, like the pendulum on the clock of Universal Time.

Outside, storm clouds boiled and rolled over the mountains, lightning flickered and the wind picked up.

The hands beat down once... twice... And now the Universe seemed to hold its breath - in a moment it would all be over; the winner would gather up the chips, the loser would taste bitter defeat, both would leave the table and the lights would go out...

The Agents had followed Annabell's instructions, and now found themselves huddled at the entrance to the main chamber. Guy had found himself appointed official 'peerer-around-corners', and was currently describing to the others what he saw.

"I can see Gonzaroolio! He's all tied up on a slab, next to a woman in a suit... the Diabolical Engine is there, too. It's a bit of a let-down, to tell the truth, just like something from a cultural museum... there's lots of bunting, all torn down, and little flashes of blue light on the roof..."

"Yeees." whispered Richter sagely, "The navel of the world... Those blue flashes are ley lines, my friend, earthing themselves in the rock. I could explain more, but no-one is actually listening to me, are they?"

No-one replied. Richter tutted, and doffed his bowler hat. Wilfully ignorant, people just wouldn't listen these days.

"Look at the pretty colours." mused Bob. Richter fought the urge to smack him.

"Now I see Rasputin! He's walking around shouting, raving, shaking his fist... yikes, he's covered in blood... seems to be waving a sheaf of paper... very angry, I'd say... he's shorter than he looks on the telly."

Heddingly gave Guy a Look.

Now some of Rasputin's fractured speech found its way through the crack between the slab and the doorframe.

"...have been weighed, and found wanting, due to your criminal negligence! You made your children, then abandoned them to their own worst instincts! What kind of parent does that?!?"

"He's got a point there, interesting theological point..." mused Robin, stroking his chin. Richter ordered him to shut up.

"...tried prayer, fasting, abstinence from pleasures of the flesh - nothing. And now, my 'lord' - I am forced to more desperate measures to attract your attention..."

Flinging back his cassock, the mad monk strode towards the cast-iron laundry wringer.

Richter urgently jabbed his finger in Bob's side.

"NOW is the moment, Bob. You are the Divine Champion, you must manifest your goodness to vanquish the evil!"

And Bob spake, and he spake thus:


Armin polished his spectacles, replaced them on his nose and tittered.

"You both appear to have um, 'chosen' stones."

This was quite embarassing. Satan and God glowered at each other, each still with their fist outstretched over the table.

So what does that mean?" barked the Lord. "Not a stalemate?!?"

"Ah no. The rules state that in the event of a tie, both parties must simply, um, 'go again' in order to determine a winner. Ahaha"

"Sounds like a plan. Alright." said the demon. Both players shook around their shoulders, flexed their wrists, attempted psyche-out stares.

Let's go!"

The hands beat down once... twice... And now the Universe seemed to hold its breath - in a moment it would all be over; the winner would gather up the chips, the loser would taste bitter defeat, both would leave the table and the lights would go out...

"Oh, this is ridiculous. BOTH paper?"

"The, ah, rules are quite clear on this eventuality..."

THANK you, Armin, we know."

Once again... The hands beat down once... twice... And now the Universe seemed to hold its breath - in a moment it would all be over; the winner would gather up the chips, the loser would taste bitter defeat, both would leave the table and the lights would go out...

This time it was stones again.

"You know G, this is starting to look like a bad idea."

"The, ah, rules are quite clear..."

YES Armin, thank you so very much"

The moments, passing each other like grains of sand in the egg timer of destiny, tumbled by like an eternity - which was strictly speaking less metaphorical than it ought to be.

They had both played. They would play again. They will keep playing. But neither can win just yet. They're both too good.

'Scissors!'" thought God. "
I've got 'im now. "

More moments passed

1... 2...

"Scissors." announced Armin in broken tones that bordered on despair.

"What... AGAIN?" bemoaned Satan.

Yes... odd that, really, isn't it?" said God, stroking his beard.

"We go again." demanded The Devil, pointing an accusing finger at his rival.

"Alright." said God, with a shrug. "
Patience was never one of your virtues was it?"

"I don't have any virtues... now if you don't mind..."

Armin stopped biting his nails and gathered his composure.

"Hands behind you backs please gentlemen - on three, please reveal your chosen stance..."

They beat their hands down... 1... 2...

"A-HA!" said the Devil triumphantly.

God looked a little non-plussed and raised an eyebrow at Armin.

I say, he can't do that can he?"

"No he can't." agreed the arbitraitor, looking over his spectacles at the Demon.

"What? - well why not?" growled the devil petulantly " 'Fire burns paper!"

"Yes, but that is not the point." said Armin, who began busily consulting the slim-bind office folder that contained the single sheet of paper upon which ALL the rules for this game in exitence were inscribed.

While God was busy trying to extinguish his hand on his tunic The devil silently cursed Armin unto the thirteenth generation.
God saw this one coming and diverted it onto a listless plant-pot in the corner.

God sat and stroked his beard again. There was something bothering him.

He recalled the events of yesterday:

Before he'd left Heaven for this little mission, He'd deputised St Peter to deal with all the in-coming prayers. As he hung around the door to the prayer room he'd glimpsed St Peter fluffing and attempting to sit on several cushions on the Throne, struggling to find a comfortable position.

St Peter, God knew, was a spectacularly unimpressed grouch.
Peter's temperament was hardened by eternities standing at the Pearly Gates welcoming the recently deceased and answering those same two b****y questions:

"Am I dead?", "Is this Heaven?" he would mimic silently if he thought no-one was watching.

Strapping on the headphones Peter had waved to the switchboard operator.

Samantha Temple had been slicing cucumber to make sandwiches with. A momentary slip and she cut the top of her thumb. It oozed and bled a little. Samantha ran to the other side of the kitchen and started dabbing at the wound with some paper towelling.

"Oh god." she had cursed her stupidity.

" came the immediate and deafening reply.

Wide-eyed and striken she stared upward at the ceiling.


"eep!" she had managed and fainted.


God allowed himself a little chuckle at the memory. Being omniocognescent he knew that Samantha would make an excellent nun - and closing the door with a satisfying 'click' he mused on the fate of those with blasphemining tongues and how they had better be more careful in future.

Gabriel had been packing his suitcase all day.

Ready to go, sir.

Thank you, Gabriel."

"Is that everything?" Gabriel asked.

Let me check." said God reaching into his jacket pocket and unfolding a slip of paper. "
check, check, check, check... keep an eye on Peter won't you - he means well but..."

Of course.
" nodded Gabriel.

Check, check, check ooh here's one... a-ha! of course!" said God.

The memory faded and God found himself once again sat opposite his frustrated nemesis: ready to decide the fate of the world.

Ah-ha! of course!" said God. "
How silly of me to forget." and he clicked the fingers that started universes...

In the bowels of Stonehenge there was the magnifcent echo of the Celestial Choir singing 'Allileueh'", a sound like "shhhlop!...*twang!*"

And Bob stood before them clad in the Armour of God that shimmered and glowed even in the murky darkness that pervaded these corridors. Jaw set, eyes fierce, Bob drew from it's scabbard a sword that looked like it has been forged out of pure white light and merely compressed into something that was sword shaped.

"I say!" said Richter. "I take it all back - that's pretty impressive."

Bob swallowed hard. He wasn't looking forward to what was about to happen one bit...

Rasputin had heard the cry of Allileueh as well.

"Zo you come to fasz me at last."

h2g2 Storytime II: Archive

h2g2 Storytime I: Archive

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