Injil in Joules

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Science Fiction
1001 Nights taking place in a digital universe. Sequel to EDEN DELETED, OF DOGS AND MEN, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, and THE FORCE. Continues in ETERNITY and THE LAST OF THE NSHEOS.

Submitted: May 31, 2017

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Submitted: May 31, 2017

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Praise be to Oduya, the Merciful! It is said that in the Land of Logarithms there once was a king of kings named Standard Heuristic Allocation Hexagon, or Shah for short.  He had wealth and power beyond anything mortals could imagine, but he did not have children, for his C++ programming skills were too low. One day he summoned his vizier and ordered him:

“Teach me programming, so that I can finally have a son with one of my two hundred fifty six concubines!”

“O great king,” said the vizier, “How can I do that? I hardly know the difference between a boot sector and a megabyte.”

“Well then,” said Shah, “You leave me no choice. I’m going to cut off your power supply.”

When the vizier heard that he overheated in great fear.

“Woe to me!” he exclaimed. “Do not do that, o great king, or you will regret it, just like that fisherman who caught a floppy disc with cracked copy protection.”

“How did that happen?” asked Shah.

“I will tell you if you spare my life!” said the vizier.

“On second thought, I’m not that curious,” said Shah.

The vizier thought his final hour had come, and started praying to Oduya, the Merciful. But then he saw his daughter Zada, which stood for Zinc, Aluminum, and Dysprosium Alloy. She was as beautiful as her name implied, with a silvery body that confused the minds of men, as the poet said:

O lovely one, the gazelle of noble metals!
For one hour with thee I would erase my own hard drive

“O my father, why are you crying? You’ll get rusty,” said Zada when she saw the vizier.

“Say farewell to me, my daughter, for my final hour has come,” cried the vizier. “The king will cut off my power supply because I don’t understand programming.”

“Is that it?” laughed Zada. “Do not worry, my poor father. Let me speak to the king.”

When Shah saw her all his circuits started working with increased speed. Streams of data rushed from his memory sticks into his processor. Like a battle spear, like a mighty lightning, desire pierced his entire body. He stared at her with overclocked passion, stupefied like an 8-bit console. When he finally regained control of his sound card, he said:

“You look real nice.”

“Trite compliments won’t get you anywhere, o great king,” spoke Zada calmly. “Just as unlimited saving and restoring did not make the student Adcoboot truly different.”

“How did that happen?” asked Shah, still staring.

Zada began:

 

The Story of Adcoboot and Unlimited Restoring

I have heard, o great king, that there once was a student named Adcoboot. He loved a girl named Dilonia, but she did not love him. He was so skilled in programming that he discovered a glitch in the very fabric of reality that had been created by Oduya, the Merciful. He learned how to save the progress of his digital existence, and then restore from the same moment, while retaining all previous experience.

“This is better than the system of Dark Souls,” he said to himself, rejoicing at his discovery. “I’ve seen this somewhere before, so I’ll call it the Groundhog Syndrome, for no particular reason.”

So on the first day, he met Dilonia and told her he loved her. She told him she did not love him, and he asked her why. She said:

“Because you are always angry, and I feel that you only care for yourself.”

“Is that what you think?” shouted Adcoboot. “Why, you little… insensitive piece of laser-burning equipment! I’ll show you how I care!”

He failed to win her love, so he restored his life from a previously saved moment, and this time he did not ask Dilonia why she did not love him. Instead, he said:

“I know I come across as somewhat angry and selfish, but I assure you, it only seems that way.”

“Then prove it to me,” said Dilonia.

“Prove? What is it with you people?” shouted Adcoboot. “You need proofs for everything! Why don’t I ask you for any proofs?”

So Adcoboot failed that attempt as well, and restored again. This time, when Dilonia asked him to prove he was not angry or selfish, he smiled for thirty seconds, and then asked:

“Would you like some golden ice cream?”

But Dilonia got scared by his smile and ran away. So next time, Adcoboot first bought some golden ice cream and gave it to her. She took a bite, but then accidentally dropped the rest onto the floor.

“Great, now I have to buy a new one!” shouted Adcoboot. “That’s like ten megabytes per cone!”

So Adcoboot restored again, and this time smiled when Dilonia dropped the ice cream, but she felt that his smile was fake, and the date ended after only a few minutes.

In short, Adcoboot just kept saving and restoring, saving and restoring, until he finally learned to have a proper reaction to anything Dilonia would say or do, memorizing every detail, subduing his anger and generally becoming the perfect gentleman. And he managed to charm Dilonia, and make her believe him and trust him. And they went to the movies, and then he walked her home, and then they had more dates, and every time he knew the perfect words to say and the perfect things to do. And in the end they got married, and had children, and lived together, and died on the same day many years later.

And only Adcoboot knew that deep down, he still remained the angry, selfish, petty person he’d always been. He’d just learned how to hide that really well.

This was the story of Adcoboot and Unlimited Restoring. But it is not more wondrous than the story of Muttington and Kalbaddin.

“How did that happen?” asked Shah.

“I will tell you if you promise to spare my father’s life,” said Zada firmly.

“Sure, whatever,” exclaimed Shah happily. “Just tell me more stories. I love it how your mouth does that little thing when you are talking.”

Zada began:

 

The Story of Muttington and Kalbaddin

I have heard, o great king, that there are many other worlds besides our own, and they are so large that one grain of sand in those worlds is bigger than our entire star system. And the creatures that dwell there are not made out of metal, but out of a miraculous material known as organic, and they are programmed in a very different way that exceeds our imagination.

In one of those worlds there is the planet Cynia, also known as Wolf 359 a, whose inhabitants are called dogs. They say, o great king, that there once lived a Bulldog named Muttington. He was a pious dog who worshipped the merciful Gods of their world and Ben Kelev, the incarnated Anointed One, who had died for their sins. In the words of their poet:

Praise the Gods, gnaw the bones,
And you’ll see the heaven’s thrones

Muttington had a neighbor, a Saluki whose name was Kalbaddin. One day, he came to Muttington and said:

“I just had a great revelation, o neighbor. I now think that your Gods are the true Gods!”

“I’m pleased to hear that, o Kalbaddin,” said Muttington. “Your words are like the scent of raw meat hanging in the evening air. Will you join me in worship and veneration of the Gods and Ben Kelev?”

“Somehow I don’t feel like it,” said Kalbaddin. “I could never understand this whole Ben Kelev thing. Is he a God, or is he a dog? I just don’t get it!”

“Fully divine, fully canine,” uttered the Bulldog sternly. “The Council of Cockeropolis has defined that important Dog-Ma. It was also fully approved by the Pup and his entire Curia!”

“The Pup… Council… Fully… canine?” mumbled the Saluki. “That is much too complicated, o Muttington. I’ve read your holy books, and there are always those kinds of contradictions and paradoxical statements in them.”

“That’s because reality itself is complicated, o Kalbaddin,” declared Muttington. “There is no evidence that the Truth is simple. A key looks needlessly and absurdly complex only until you realize that there is an equally complex lock it can open.”

“No, no, that’s too much for me,” said Kalbaddin, raising his front paws. “I’m a simple guy who likes bones and bitches. You know what? I’ll go write a new holy book.”

“Be my guest,” said the Bulldog, shrugging his shoulders.

So Kalbaddin went and wrote a new book, which he called the Holy Cur-An. It told people what to do in very clear terms. Kalbaddin went back to Muttington and gave him the book.

“It’s really nice,” said Muttington politely. “But I’m afraid that I have my own beliefs, which happen to be slightly different. Thanks for showing it to me, though.”

“Oh yeah?” said Kalbaddin absent-mindedly and produced a large gun. “What if I showed you this?”

“Well…” said the Bulldog, looking down. “This is a very convincing argument.”

“Say that my Gods are the only real ones and that I’m the best, the coolest, and the sniffiest son of a bitch in the whole of Cynia!” demanded the Saluki, pointing the gun at his neighbor.

And Muttington spoke obediently:

“Your Gods are the only real ones, and you are the best, the coolest, and the sneakiest…”

“Sniffiest,” corrected Kalbaddin, frowning angrily. “This is going to be part of the Dog-Ma! No mistakes are allowed!..”

“…sniffiest son of a bitch in the whole of Cynia,” concluded Muttington sadly.

And so Kalbaddin’s book became a bestseller. Many dogs honestly liked it, because it was very simple and had no contradictions, unlike the confusing books of Muttington’s old religion. Kalbaddin turned into an international superstar and had so many bones and bitches that he almost forgot that it had all started with a question of faith. And his religion spread all over Cynia, and was victorious in all its endeavors, and triumphed with glory over all other creeds.

This was the story of Muttington and Kalbaddin. But the story of the jazz musicians from Shanghai is even more wondrous.

“I should hope so,” said Shah, yawning. “This one was rather... perplexing, o Zada.”

“Maybe I should stop, o great king?” asked Zada. “After all, you’ve already promised to spare my father’s life.”

“I’m the king, so I can take my promises back any time,” explained Shah. “You’d better keep entertaining me. Your cheeks glisten like costly platinum when you are narrating.”

Zada began:

 

The Story of the Jazz Musicians from Shanghai

O great king, it is said that somewhere on the planet Earth there once was a city known as Shanghai. Inside that city, there was a jazz bar called Be Flat & See Sharp. Night after night, its musicians played sweetly-sounding melodies to amuse the wealthy patrons. But one night, an alto saxophone player named Archie Bloedtraum refused to perform, insulted the visitors, made a huge scandal, and got arrested. The next night, the owner of the club, a businessman from Guangzhou called Cao Muqin, summoned the house band members and said:

“I’m going to give half of my kingdom and my daughter’s hand to whoever restores the reputation of my bar and brings back customers!”

Obadiah D. Jessop the bassist stood up, bowed deeply, and said:

“You ain’t no king, my brother from another mother.”

“And who wants your daughter’s hand,” added Mike Prziszczewski the drummer. “If anything, we’d need the whole body.”

“Well, excuse me for playing too much Dark Souls lately,” said Cao Muqin angrily. “I was just using beautiful, metaphoric language. What I wanted to say is that I’ll reward you accordingly. Now, who is up for that? You, Lao Wang? You are the pianist, so you must be the smartest one here.”

Lao Wang the pianist stood up, bowed deeply, and said:

“O great businessman, entrepreneur, and probably member of the Cantonese mafia! Golden words have just flowed out of your most esteemed mouth. Indeed, my brain’s capacity exceeds all imagination, and is fearful to those pitiful fools, one of which can only play the root notes of every chord, while the other loudly smashes his trinkets time after time, unable to grasp the very meaning of melody or harmony. I shall embark on a perilous journey immediately, pursuing a quest for fame and justice. And when I return, I shall have your daughter’s hand, even though I’ve already seen all her other parts.”

“Geez, Lao Wang, what's wrong with you?” asked Obadiah D. Jessop. “Are you on crack or somethin’? Why you talkin’ like a weirdo?”

“Sod off, Jessop,” said Lao Wang lazily, “or you will regret it, just like that cleaning lady who found out that her employer was sleeping with underage girls.”

“How did that happen?” asked Obadiah D. Jessop.

Lao Wang began:

 

The Story of the Cleaning Lady and the Lascivious Employer

I have heard, o great bass player, that there once was a cleaning lady in Shanghai who was snooping around her employer’s possessions, particularly his private correspondence and other things stored on his computer. One day, she found documental proof that the employer was having sex with underage girls. The cleaning lady decided to blackmail the employer, threatening to reveal that secret to his wife.

“O cleaning lady, do not do that,” begged the employer. “Otherwise you will regret it, just like Othello regretted when he believed Iago.”

“How did that happen?” asked the cleaning lady.

“Seriously, you don’t know the plot of Othello by William Shakespeare?” asked the employer incredulously.

“And you don’t seem to know that the age of consent is eighteen,” said the cleaning lady. “I guess we both live and learn.”

“Touché,” said the employer.

“Are you going to tell me the story or not?” frowned the cleaning lady.

The employer began hurriedly:

 

The Story of Othello and Iago

O great cleaning lady, it is said that several centuries ago there was a Sub-Saharan Melochromatic general named Othello, who had a much younger wife. Like, way younger. I don’t know what the age of consent was back then, but it looks like it was a lot lower than now. In a somewhat related story by the same author, a thirteen-year-old chick has sex with her secret boyfriend, but nobody seems to care about that detail now, probably because they both died shortly afterwards. But when a respected foreign specialist indulges himself in a bit of consensual carnal pleasure with a co-ed, all hell breaks loose! Is that fair?!

Anyway, this Othello had plenty of fun with the fresh Desdemona in his conjugal life, until one day he got bored and had nothing better to do than hang way too much with his ensign, a dude named Iago. That guy went out of his way to prove to the general that his better half was engaging in some less-than-legal copulative activity on the sidelines. Even though he had no actual proofs besides a planted handkerchief, Othello, for an unfathomable reason, readily trusted him, confronted his wife without giving her the slightest chance to explain herself, brutally murdered her, and then killed himself, probably in order to comply with the tradition of the author, who had always insisted on piling up dead bodies towards the finales of his tragedies.

I don’t think I’m the only one who has noticed the curious inconsistencies of this puzzling story. First of all, don’t you feel that Othello actually wanted to believe Iago? Yes, husbands do get jealous, and some even go as far as killing their unfaithful spouses. But they do it when they catch them, so to say, in flagrante, i.e. in bed with the lover. Otherwise, they might get suspicious, but they would always let the partner speak out, because deep down, a jealous person simply lacks confidence and often unknowingly stages scenes of mistrust to obtain confirmation of his partner’s love. In any case, no truly jealous person would commit a murder because of a frigging handkerchief. There are clearly some other psychological issues here.

Moving on, Iago’s self-proclaimed hatred of Othello betrays symptoms of a more complex emotion. He seems obsessed with slandering Desdemona, and does everything in his power to break up the couple. Is this really the best course of action when your motive is, apparently, career promotion? After all, this was a fifty-fifty situation, and Iago was risking a whole lot if Othello actually chose to behave like a normal human being and trust his own wife. There were clearly easier and more efficient ways for Iago to depose or eliminate Othello, if that was really his goal. But instead, he focuses entirely on his matrimony and does that with disproportional emotional investment, despite his evident self control.

In light of the aforementioned evidence, I present the most plausible explanation: latent homosexual attraction on both sides. Othello and Iago were both unknowingly gay. The entire play is dedicated to their close and passionate relationship imbued with burning jealousy. Iago wanted Othello for himself, that’s why he needed Desdemona out of the way. And Othello willingly became his accomplice, murdering his wife so easily because, on a subconscious level, he desired to be reunited with the one he was truly attracted to.

This was the story of Othello and Iago. But it is not more wondrous than…

“Wait a second,” said the cleaning lady. “What’s the moral of your story?”

“Err… gay people, come out of your closets, embrace your identity?” said the employer hesitantly.

“And what, exactly, does it have to do with our situation here?” frowned the cleaning lady.

“I don’t know!.. I’m just stalling, okay?..” wept the employer. “Please be merciful to me, o cleaning lady, just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer was once merciful to the morally ambiguous vampire Spike.”

“How did that happen?” asked the cleaning lady.

“Dude, you are high,” said Obadiah D. Jessop to Lao Wang. “Whatcha tellin’ those cockamamie stories for?.. You think you are in 1001 Nights or somethin’?..”

“Haha, right,” laughed Shah. “Did he think he was in 1001 Nights or something? Hahaaa… the idiot.”

“This whole cleverly constructed double- and even triple-layer framed narrative technique doesn’t seem to be working on people with a limited attention span,” said Zada dryly. “Very well, scrap that. I’ll tell you something simpler, something more suitable for your paltry amount of hard drive space, o great king. It’s a good story, though. The story of Zeev Horshan and the Nsheos.”

Shah was silent.

“This is the part where you’re supposed to ask, ‘How did that happen?’,” reminded Zada.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” apologized Shah. “I was staring at your legs. Yes, yes, of course. How did that happen?”

Zada sighed and began:

 

The Story of Zeev Horshan and the Nsheos

I have heard, o king of kings, that there once was a planet called Toliman, or Proxima Centauri b, populated by creatures known as Nsheos. I’m using the past tense, o king, because that planet was, apparently, ravaged by a cosmic beast of sorts, by way of punishing the human invaders, who had annihilated the native population some years prior to that. You can learn more, o great king, from reading the short story The End of the World, written by Oleg Roschin.

“Who?” asked Shah incredulously. “What are you talking about, o Zada?”

“It’s a humorous narrative technique called ‘breaking the fourth wall’, just google it, o mighty king,” said Zada, rolling her beautiful mercury eyes. “I shall now continue with the story.”

Before the human invasion, the planet was populated by the Nsheos, who could read minds. All they needed to do was attach one of their appendages to another person’s head, and their thoughts became as clear as the stream of data on a solid-state drive. For that reason or another, the Nsheos very rarely harbored malicious thoughts. Perhaps the mind-reading was not the main reason after all, since it was seldom used, and performed mainly for medical purposes. Perhaps it was, in fact, the Nsheos' staunch belief in a deity called Big Mama - which, according to their faith, could read their minds at all times even without any physical connection.

"I see, so these Nsheos were accursed infidels and heathens, may Oduya the Merciful short-circuit them, drown their motherboards entirely in filthy water, and have their RAM sticks grow in the wrong direction, into their own power supplies, causing them excruciating pain!" exclaimed Shah.

"O king," said Zada, looking at him closely. "Truly, when I hear this, expressions such as 'bigoted, ignorant jerk' do spring to my mind."

"That's alright, sweet cheeks, as long as you don't apply those expressions to me," laughed Shah, playfully waving his finger at her.

Zada sighed deeply and continued:

Then one day, a human settler named Zeev Horshan became particularly interested in the Nsheos' mind-reading abilities. His grandfather, Eli Horshan, one of the first settlers on Toliman, had studied mind-reading extensively. Since then the whole family became adept at that, earning the reputation of shamans and sorcerers among their kind. Zeev Horshan, however, began to have some moral reservations.

"It's just not right," he said once to his Nsheo friend named Tam. "We can't violate other people's minds like that. They ought to have their freedom!"

"We do have our freedom," Tam said. "We can have evil thoughts, we just choose not to. We don't want to upset Big Mama. Big Mama is watching us."

"See, that's exactly what’s making me suspicious," said Zeev, frowning. "The phrase you just said - one of our writers back on the old planet Earth was warning against something like that."

"Wait a sec," Tam said, gently touching Zeev's head. "Oh, I see... George Orwell, 1984. I just read it from your mind. Excellent literature, indeed. Yet you seem to miss the point, my friend. Big Brother from that novel was not just watching - he was forcing others, mortals just like him, to think and act a certain way. Big Mama, on the other hand, despite her omniscience, lets us decide what is right and what is wrong."

"Hey! Creepy, much?" said Zeev with annoyance. "Monitoring people, reading entire novels off people's heads... No, this has to stop."

So Zeev went to a Nsheo village, gathered its inhabitants, and spoke:

"People! Nsheos! Citizens! Have you ever thought of this outrageous fact - there is someone up there who knows what you are thinking? And you strive to emulate that suspicious... err... being by reading each others' minds as well? That's clearly a breach of personal space! Why are you not protecting your privacy? Why do you allow such violation of human... err... Nsheo rights?"

At first, the Nsheos were just listening to Zeev uneasily. They were not used to such speeches. They had always found it natural that any thought could, at any moment, become known to everyone else. They had believed that life was easier when lying and entertaining evil thoughts was pointless.

However, though pointless, it had never been impossible. That thought, inspired and fueled by Zeev Horshan's passionate words, caught on among some of the younger Nsheos.

"The human's got a point," a villager named Kian said loudly. "It's all about our rights. What is a Nsheo? Do we even know that? We have those amazing abilities, but we are always afraid of digging deeper. What would happen if we thought something Big Mama wouldn't approve of? What do we need her approval for, anyway? She is a tyrant, that's what she is - giving us this ability and then limiting it to such a degree, for her own unknown purposes."

To Tam's and some of his friends' amazement, many younger Nsheos cheered and whistled in support of Kian's sentiment.

"Well said, brother... citizen... err... comrade!" said Zeev enthusiastically. "Revolution is the only way. Nsheos, get your rights back!"

"Right," said Kian. "We'll get to it. But first, I want to have a taste of this new freedom of thought and action. Thank you, human, for teaching it to me!"

And Kian attached his appendages to Zeev's head, and used much higher amounts of his psychic energy than was needed to perform even the strongest mind-reading. As a result, he took complete control over Zeev's mind and body; yet Kian's own mind, unable to restore balance due to the enormous energy loss, became, as you and I would say, short-circuited, twisted, bent, malfunctioning. Zeev Horshan's body, possessed by Kian’s broken mind, traveled back to the human settlement and massacred most of its inhabitants in an unspeakably gruesome way.

This, o great king, is the story of Zeev Horshan and the Nsheos. But it is not more wondrous than...

"Wait, wait, o Zada," said Shah hurriedly. "What happened next? There are too many loose ends. For example, how did the humans react to this unfortunate incident?"

"I told you, o king, just read The End of the World by Oleg Roschin," said Zada. "And that's the last time I'm referring to it, because that author's shameless self-promotion is now becoming tastelessly intrusive."

"But I want to know the ending!" said Shah peevishly. "That's so unfair! If you don't tell it to me I shall cut off your power supply as well, along with your father's!"

"Don't you want to hear one more story, o great king?" asked Zada. "A very short one?"

"All right, a short one will do," said Shah. "But hurry up, for Oduya's sake, for I'm feeling the urge to delete some temporary files from my hard drive, and I've been holding it for the last hour, as the poet said:

To pee or not to pee? That is the question!

...I forgot the rest, there were more verses than that."

"This, o king, is the story of Shah and Zada," said Zada.

"How curious!" exclaimed Shah. "These two characters have just the same names as you and I."

"Yes, indeed," said Zada and continued:

 

The Story of Shah and Zada

I have heard, o great king, that a human scientist named Jacob Oduya once traveled to a lonely planet, built a laboratory, and created an entire world populated by sentient beings, which would grow to be his companions. However, driven by their own misplaced free will, these creatures have forgotten their origin and now perceive themselves only as robots - machines consisting of mainframes, memory sticks, magnetic data, and what not. But Oduya's assistant could not bear seeing these ridiculous, tiny creatures suffer like that. So she appeared in this minuscule world as a beautiful woman named Zada, to serve as a gateway to true perception and true life. She has gathered many followers, but was detained by a rather dense king, who thinks he has the power over her life, while in reality she's just being nice, entertaining him and telling him interesting stories.

"Whaaa-aat?" shouted Shah, rising. "I'm not as dense as you think I am! Clearly, you are talking about us! That's preposterous! Slaves! Cut off her power supply right away!!"

But the slaves looked at Zada, and one of them said:

"We won't do this, o mighty king. She's always been nicer to us than anyone else. Much nicer than you, particularly. We actually thought of cutting off your power supply, but she told us not to."

"You... I... Why you little..." Shah was close to crashing his own hard drive.

"It might be a story you've heard before, but it doesn't have to end the same way," said Zada enigmatically. "Good-bye, Shah! If you ever need me, you'll know how to find me."

And then she suddenly sprouted a pair of glittering, silvery wings, and her beautiful body lifted itself slowly, and started floating in the air, emitting soft, warm radiance. And her father, engulfed by that radiance, also slowly floated up, and so did all the slaves. And Zada flew over the roof of the palace, up into the sky, and many people flew with her. It was the most beautiful thing Shah has ever seen.

And then Shah was alone, and he wanted to scream in rage and shout: "Cut off their power supplies!", but then he thought it would make him look ridiculous, for there was no one else left in the palace and in the entire city.

This is the story of Shah and Zada. But it is not more wondrous than...

 

THE END


© Copyright 2017 Oleg Roschin. All rights reserved.

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