The Day God Died
by Peter F. Blair
The man was on life support. He had been rushed in by ambulance; a minivan had struck him while he was crossing the street. He was in pretty bad shape, but it was the surgeon’s job to save him none-the-less.
He had numerous wounds that could be dealt with later; after all, it wasn’t the superficial damage that could kill a man. One of his lungs had been punctured by a broken rib, fluids were leaking in. The man’s heart was in rough shape too, but it made a feeble attempt to keep going.
Everyone stopped, their eyes widened in shock. Even the machines around them seemed to pause in awe. They had all just realized this was the most important thing they would ever do. They were operating to save God.
He was the fifteenth patient on that surgeon’s shift, and he was… God.
The whisper of the respirator broke the foreboding silence with a muted, throaty hiss. Blinking herself out of a stupor, a nurse quickly checked his chart; he was called Benjamin Riley. He wore a wedding ring; God was married.
His critical condition had broken down some kind of mental—no… some kind of spiritual block. The realization came suddenly; ramifications were slowly piling up. God had been hit by a car, and was lying in Fairview Hospital on what could very well be his—His deathbed. To say that the revelation came to everyone would be an understatement, likely the greatest understatement ever made:
The surgeon knew it, as did his team. The janitor in the supply closet down the hall knew it, as did the nurse who had been berating him for leaving a mess behind. Benjamin Riley’s wife, Claire, knew it. Their two children knew it; even the child on the way seemed to cry out in the womb. At the Douglass Psychiatric Hospital in Montreal, a woman stopped muttering to herself and looked up. In Osaka, a fishmonger dropped a fish from his limp hand; neither he nor his client saw it fall. It fell in front of an alley cat, and even it didn’t move. In South Africa, a stalking lion stopped right beside a gazelle, and neither moved. Orbiting in the International Space Station one astronaut watched dumbly as drool drifted away from his drooping jaw. All over the world and beyond, things just stopped. Benjamin Riley was dying.
The surgeon snatched at a scalpel which had been slipping from his limp hand. His was a daunting job, but it had never been frightening like this! He was the only one present to do it though; there was nothing for it but to continue. Firming his grip on his operating knife, he leaned over the prostrate Deity and set to work. He had to save God.
Reporters had already gathered at the hospital and were trying to get their questions answered; but like everyone, they knew the importance of the job being done. Uncharacteristically, they asked few questions. Uncharacteristically, the photographers didn’t make any attempts to rush in and get a shot. For some of them, it was the first time that they realized something was more important than themselves.
The cameras played live to televisions across the world. Crowds in the streets were glued to store windows. People at home didn’t even sit on their couches, they simply stood watching. No commercials played, every eye and every ear was trained on only one thing: God.
The surgeon cast an anxious glance at the monitor above Benjamin Riley. He was making progress with the man’s—God’s punctured lung, but His heartbeat was getting weaker.
Claire Riley, large with the child on the way, and towing Benji Jr. and Patrick, arrived at the hospital. She made her way through the throng of media without trouble and was ushered with her children to a waiting room. She did not bother to cheer her children, or to tell them lies; they knew what was happening just as well as she did. God was hanging in the balances; their father could live or die by the surgeon’s hands.
No one could quite tell how much time had passed, and no one cared to look at their timepieces to know. One network had called together experts on philosophy, theology, religion, and various sciences. They discussed the situation. God, they reasoned, had made everything to suit Him, and then chosen to live in His creation, and among His people, rather than simply watching it. Realizing the truth of that, the theologian began sobbing uncontrollably, and was escorted from the set. When they tossed about ideas, they could immediately tell if there was or was not any sense in them. When they hit upon the truth, they knew it, regardless of whether or not they liked it. Eventually, they managed to come up with an understanding of things.
God, Benjamin Riley, had decided to live as a man in creation. He had veiled his deity and removed even from Himself His own identity. Creation had only really begun the day that He was born; the rest, memories, people, events, were merely the back story for Him; it wasn’t even certain whether they had existed in reality. He had lived his life as a normal person, keeping Himself, and everyone else, from the truth of things. It was just like the question philosophers had asked; could an All-Powerful God create a rock that was too heavy for Him to lift? Apparently He could; at least, He could make Himself into a man who could die like any other…
They further agreed that the only reason all of this was coming to light was that God was losing his grip. Pain was nothing new to Benjamin Riley—God, but lying on death’s doorstep was. All of the safeguards He had set were unraveling.
All of their discussion was wasted though. As soon as the network switched away from the hospital to focus on the experts’ debate, their ratings dropped to none.
The unanswered questions were all with regard to the future. What was to come? Was there an afterlife? If there was, would it still be there if God died? Could God die?
Audio documentaries were hastily put together and aired with images of Fairview Hospital; people had a glimpse of God’s life on earth. He had not been an all-star athlete, nor had he been a student who excelled. He was just run of the mill. Benjamin (one person had made a feeble attempt to call Him Ben, but he was jeered away by spectators) had become a customer service rep for an online retailer, and there he did do well. His love for people made him the best they ever had, but the company was stingy at best (an angry mob formed at this, and sacked the company’s headquarters) and he never made much money. He and his wife struggled with debt as they tried to make renovations to their dilapidated house. One day… really just a matter of hours before, he was hit by a Korean teenager driving his parents minivan (Asians were hunted by vengeful people who could not tell the difference between a Korean, Japanese and Chinese) and hospitalized.
The surgeon’s hand trembled as he looked up at the monitor again. Things were not improving.
Benjamin Riley had two children, and his wife was pregnant. If God were to die, the world—the universe would end. But maybe there was hope in his children? Did they share in his deity? Part of it?
The breath rattled in Benjamin Riley’s chest.
© 2006 by Peter F. Blair.
This story first appeared at Elfwood, June, 2006.
Reprinted with permission.
Peter Blair is a member of The Wyvern's Library at Elfwood. He is also a part of the Lost Genre Guild and the Herscher Project, a community of writers and artists who meet online to share and critique each others' work.
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