It rains forty days and forty nights on Beelze. Then the folks there asks us to leave. Or, should I say, insists that we leave. Same as they always do. We get to a planet, my daddy does his preaching, they kick us off.
Me and the rest of the family complain about the lack of a home to my daddy, but he reminds us that we on a mission from God. To bring the Gospel to the heathen. If they don’t like it, so be it. It is his, and thus my family’s, calling to travel up and down the Nine Circles of the Inferno till we find a planet that takes us in for a bit. Gives us a home.
Seems in my short lifetime we have hit fifteen hundred worlds. I’m only counting the ones we been allowed to stay on more’n the obligatory seven days the Rules for Planetary Hospitality demand.
Back to Beelze. I’m glad to get off that place. It’s plenty hot, and its two suns never give you a night to sleep through. You aree lucky to get your forty winks, then you’re back up and at ’em. No wonder them folks stay half-pissed most of the time. Nothing, not even our Lord, is going to soft temper them people.
So my daddy gives them the finger and mutters, “Canaanites” the way he always does when the sinners do not accept his truth. Then me, my half-sister Ruth, my mama Joan, my daddy Noah and his second wife Hannah get back on the Ark and off we go wondering again. We’d lost my brothers Ham and Japheth in a gun battle on the Planet Infidel. My daddy sets the Ark’s autopilot and we settles into our prayers.”Lord, help us,” we pray like the true believers we are. And the Lord delivers. There, before us, a planet stares us down. It isn’t on any of our maps. But there it is anyway.
My father seldom smiles but this time my father smiles an hallelujah. Under his breath, he says to me, “This could be the one, Shem. Yes sir, this could be the one.”
It’s a smooth landing, the smoothest we’ve ever known. We step out onto a plain as green as green ever is. Nine monks in purple robes greet us. The nine smiled, each smiling a welcome. “We are glad you came.”
Then they lead my family through the forest at the edge of the plain. In a clearing there is a two-story wooden building. We enter the building and find ourselves among some of the friendliest people you ever want to meet. They feed us a scrumptious feast.
Over the following week, my daddy preaches sermon after sermon about the grace of our Lord to the monks. My daddy wears the collar but he is like no preacher they have met before. His eyes have a fire in them, what he calls the fire of the Holy Ghost.
“I may be a sinner. I may curse all to hell. I may be the kind of man who finds himself in darkness,” my daddy preaches up a sweat. “But I am here to tell you. I have grace. The Lord has given me His Light. And I want to give His Light to you.”
Soon those folks are saying Yes to everything my daddy says, and hallelujahing too.
Finally we have a home a place we can practice our faith in peace with others who follow the same Lord we do. As a celebration, my family and the nine monks return to our ship. There we perform a ceremony and set that Ark on fire and watch it turn the craft into ashes. There will be no leaving this planet. It is now our home.
One fine night, the finest night we have had since we arrived, they ask us to follow them to a special place. There they will take their final vows to commit themselves to our Lord. In this place, others are to join us and my daddy can preach his message to the people there. The monks are sure these others will commit themselves to our Lord as well.
Into a large dome, one of the monks lead us. We are surrounded by hundreds of others much like my famiily. They seem to be frozen standing. “Now you can preach your message to all these people. And they can preach their message to you.” Then the monk leaves the transparent dome and seals it.
“What?” my daddy wants to know and he wants to know bad.
From ourside the dome, the monk once again speaks. Softly this time. He speaks like the words are a chant, and they are a chant. “Each of you came to our world with a different god, a different faith. The one you say is the true religion they say it is not. They say the nonbelievers of their faith worship false gods. And you make war on one another. Under this dome, you have a choice. Your gods either learn to live in peace with one another, or all your gods die.”
“Lord, smite these people,” my daddy calls out to the sky.
“There’ll be no smiting. It’s one of the Five Rules. No smiting, biting or scratching.”
Then the monk flips a switch on the outside of the dome. In flashing neon lights, “Welcome to Hel” flashes across the side of the dome. He releases the others inside with us from their frozen stances. They starts screaming out their lords to us and we screams our lord back at them.
The monks turn and walked away. In silence.