Volume 3 Number 4
Lucifer was twenty minutes late, and lunch was getting cold. Jehovah had no doubt that Lucifer's tardiness was intentional. The little devil knew how such petty disobedience annoyed Jehovah, and if there was one thing Lucifer was good at, it was being an annoyance.
Exactly half an hour after he was expected, Lucifer rang the bell. He was dressed in an impeccable and immaculate white suit, evincing his flair for irony. He was shown by one of Jehovah's many servants into the elegant dining room, where Jehovah waited at the head of a long oak table, polished to a gleam.
"Lunch is ruined," Jehovah said, without preamble or greeting.
"Oh, do forgive me," Lucifer said, flashing a wickedly charming smile, revealing teeth as white as his suit. "I've just been so busy these days, you understand."
"Yes, I know," Jehovah said, gesturing to the seat at the other end of the table. "That's what I've invited you here to discuss."
"Is that so?" Lucifer asked as he took his seat. "I must admit, I was more than a little shocked and flattered when I received your invitation. It's not everyday that the Father of Lies gets asked to lunch by Your Majesty."
Jehovah sighed. He was not looking forward to this. Jehovah loathed Lucifer, lamented the day he had created this defective angel, and yet Lucifer had been a vital part of Jehovah's ultimate plan for humanity.
"So, Big Guy," Lucifer said, using the sobriquet that Jehovah so hated, "what's on your mind?"
Jehovah leaned his elbows on the table, fingers drumming on the shining surface. "I wanted to discuss events on Earth," he said. "It seems that you and your cohorts have had your hands full this past century."
"Oh yes. Especially in these last couple of decades, the world has really gone to hell. If you'll pardon the pun."
"Things have gotten out of control," Jehovah said, rising from the table. "More than I ever intended. I suppose you had a little something to do with that."
Lucifer merely smiled and made no reply as Jehovah paused to glare down at him.
"I mean, when I gave humans free will," Jehovah continued after a moment, pacing the length of the table, "I knew that some would choose the path of unrighteousness, but I never doubted the innate goodness of mankind. But when I see the chaos on earth today, the callous cruelty, the unrepentant souls that perpetrate horrendous crimes day in and day out ..."
Jehovah trailed off, once again taking his seat and gazing across the table at his nemesis.
"Do you expect an apology?" Lucifer asked with genuine offense. "After all, I'm just doing my job."
"I'm not blaming you. Man has every opportunity to resist you if he chooses. It just seems that no one wants to resist you anymore, that no one even tries. The number of atheists and agnostics in the world today is higher than ever in history. I guess that makes you very happy."
"Not at all. When people don't believe in you, chances are they don't believe in me either. So no matter what despicable sins they commit, they feel no guilt, no regret. Where's the fun in that?"
Jehovah grimaced, but he knew Lucifer was right. The men of today felt no remorse for their wrongdoings, not even the slightest compunction. Jehovah did not understand how these creatures, which he had designed to feel the purest compassion and love, could have grown so cold and indifferent.
"I think the time has come," Jehovah said at last, avoiding meeting Lucifer's gaze.
Lucifer cocked an eyebrow and leaned forward. "Are you talking about ... the end?"
"Yes, yes," Jehovah said with a weary resignation. "I see no other way. No matter how hard I try to help them, to set them back on the right path, they continue to turn away from me. I've had enough, I tell you. Enough! I wash my hands of mankind, and likewise so shall you. I will create a new world and people it with a new species, and we will start all over again. Perhaps this time it will be different."
They lapsed into silence, the kind of silence shared only by very old acquaintances. A great sadness seemed to hang between them, an unspoken mourning. Finally Jehovah raised his head and said, "If you'd like, I could have one of my servants heat up something and we could still have lunch."
"No, that won't be necessary. I should get back and inform everyone of ... well, of the upcoming changes."
"Very well, then. Thanks for coming by."
"Of course." Lucifer started from the room but hesitated as he reached the door. Turning back, he said, "How will you do it? I know it won't be by flood, so how? Fire? Ice? What?"
"Nothing like that," Jehovah said with a laugh, but there was no humor in the sound. "In fact, I need do nothing at all. Left to its own devices, mankind will destroy itself, quite efficiently I'm sure."
Without responding, Lucifer merely turned and took his leave. Jehovah sat alone in the silent dining room for several moments then slowly lowered his head to the table and wept.