Cryptic Fiction

Welcome to Cryptic Fiction, a place where the unexpected becomes the expected. Here you will discover the limits of the imagination, with a dash of darkness to spice things up. Break boundaries, explore the extreme, and journey to the other side. Here you will find angels, demons, monsters, and paradoxes in time that will challenge your senses. Walk through the gates of the unknown. Step out of the day and smile at the night. Don't worry, the night will smile back. It's been waiting for you your entire life...​​
And God Called - Volume 1
So there I was, sitting at the kitchen table one bright Saturday morning when a thought occurred to me. It was a vicious thought, fired through the murky synapses of my caffeine deprived brain at the speed of a lumbering street sweeper. And it took me so completely by surprise that for just a moment I froze; sitting there like a derelict hostage in some third-rate b-movie as I stared blankly at the dark stained oak table in front of me.

What’s it all for?


Strange that as the coffee percolated in the silent depths of my kitchen that I would question the very nature of my life. After all I was still in my pajamas, which was hardly thinking attire.


What is this life really all about? Does it mean anything? Or is it just fleeting, like an experiment God setup in a cosmic laboratory? Am I nothing more than a microbe in a Petri dish?


I looked down and noticed that my shredded wheat was getting soggy. It just sat there, leeching up the milk in a brown pile that resembled loosely packed sawdust. Of course everyone knows that the only redeeming quality of shredded wheat is the frosting. A strange and unknown concoction generously slathered on one side of the beastly breakfast cereal, like brilliantly painted snowflakes that beckon you to a monumental sugar rush. Two pieces of toast sat next to my cereal on a thin glass plate which was made in China and probably dipped in lead just for good measure. I have to admit that as I gazed at the two pats of melting butter I could feel my appetite recede like a vegetarian at an all-u-can-eat steak buffet. And it wasn’t because I found it unappealing, it was that for some reason I couldn’t identify I felt just like my toast—burnt.


A lethargic form of malaise crept from the balls of my feet and up the length of my spine to settle at the base of my neck. I found myself staring through the glass of my double-paned sliding door. Beyond that the cement of the back deck looked like a giant white square on a chess board, and I knew that I was nothing more than a pawn. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being the illegitimate bastard son of the cosmos. And just like a shrieking infant at the checkout line who’s pissed off because his mommy won’t buy him a Snickers, I wanted to rage against what I perceived of as the cold unfair nothingness of life.


The phone rang, disturbing the silence in my otherwise quiet morning. I frowned and pushed both my cereal and toast to the center of the table. The phone rang again but I didn’t get up. Punctuated by the drip, drip, drip of my coffeepot on the counter I sat there, stubbornly refusing to even look and see who it was. A third time, a fourth, fifth and sixth and still my answering machine refused to take the call and end the noise that twisted my nerves into tight knots of white hit frustration. I got angry, and visions of me beating the shit out of my answering machine with a sledgehammer filled my thoughts. Most days it only seemed to work when it wanted to, which wasn’t often. And even though I knew it was foolish I assigned feelings to my answering machine. I took it personally, as though that tiny piece of black plastic and silicon wafers was deliberately on strike just to fuck with me!


I perpetuated this fixation often, this need to assign human characteristics to other even more innocuous inanimate objects. My razor cut me just to mar my face for a couple of days—that prick! My shoelace snapped when I tried to tie it making me late for work on purpose—son of a bitch! My hairdryer shorted out when I went to turn it on just so I’d have to walk around looking like a dork—asshole! And my car—oh that piece of shit—snapped a fan belt just to strand me in the middle of nowhere!

See how easy it is? And I’d be willing to bet that most people do the same thing to varying degrees. Heck, I’m probably not the worst. There’s probably some woman in South Dakota who after fifty years of marriage finally decided to stab her husband in the temple one morning with a butter knife because he asked her to pass the salt one too many times. The phone went silent, and I took a deep breath as I considered the questions that was eating away at me. A picture formed in my mind of God, an old man with a long shimmering beard and a lab coat standing in a white antiseptic room. The lighting was oppressive with its neon glare, but God didn’t seem to mind. In one corner of the room was a stainless steel sink, while above that row upon row of glass test-tubes and beakers stretched up into a forever that twisted like a stick of licorice.

God walked over to a long counter, shuffling as he went to lean over and gaze into the binocular eyepiece of a microscope. As he looked down he hummed a tune as here and there the echo in the room resounded with the soft murmurings of, “Hmm isn’t that interesting.” Or, “Would you look at that, now I never dreamed that they could be so brutal. And look, they think that they are the center of the universe, and that I’m not watching; intriguing…very intriguing.” And then, in my mind’s eye, I looked down through the microscope and saw what God was looking at. It stunned me, giving me a dose of badly needed humility because on a thin glass slide covered in a viscous liquid was the Milky Way Galaxy.

The phone rang again, startling me out of my fantasy. A second ring came and went, and again the answering machine refused to pick up the call. I shot it an angry glance as I balled my hands into fists, feeling the nails at the end of my fingers digging into the meat of my palms. It continued to ring and for reasons I couldn’t explain I knew that whoever was calling would continue to do so until I answered.

“Oh hell,” I cursed. And standing up I rushed the phone, giving my answering machine a withering glare as I picked up the receiver and pressed the talk button. “Who the heck is this? It’s too early in the morning for this crap!”

“Why Joshua, is that any way to talk to me?”

I froze with a silent and icy trepidation that could only be described as a fear of the unknown. The voice was thick, split into two voices that sounded both male and female. It unnerved me, and I could feel my grip on the receiver loosening as my anger began to fade. And then it struck me, “If this is you Kevin I’m not impressed! Using a gadget to change your voice and scare the crap out of me won’t work. Go back to bed for crying out loud, it’s Saturday! My sister will kick your ass for me and don’t think she won’t!”

“I’m not Kevin,” said the voice in an even tone. “He’s in bed next to Sarah; sleeping peacefully I can assure you.”

“Oh really, and how the heck would you know that buddy?”

“Because Joshua, I’m God.”

I hesitated, the denial ripe on my tongue, ready to be picked at a moment’s notice and planted in this stranger’s ear.

“God would never call me,” I said after a pause and the slow churning ability to connect my brain with my mouth.

“And why do you say that?”

“Because I don’t believe in God, maybe in the abstract but not as a living entity. And even if there was a God, and that’s not an admission, he wouldn’t call me because I’m nobody. Just one voice in an ocean of sinners and I’m hardly the worst, or best person he could be conversing with.”

God, or the person pretending to be God, laughed. It was an eerie sound mixed with the two voices, and I found myself taking three steps back to sit down at my table.

“Now don’t drop the phone, Joshua,” said God. “Just have a seat and relax. I called because I need to talk to you.”

How the hell did he know I was sitting down? I stood up and glanced around the room. Then peeking around the corner I checked my front door. It was locked, and all the shades drawn.

“I told you, Joshua,” said God as if on cue, “I’m God. I know everything you’re doing and everything about you.”

“That’s impossible!” I shouted as I turned back one of the drapes and looked outside. “You’re a peeping Tom staring at me through a telescope down the street somewhere! And so help me if I find you!”

“Don’t change the subject, Joshua!” shouted God. I froze, feeling actual heat coming from the receiver. I couldn’t tell if it was because I had begun to sweat, or because the phone had become hot.

“Now sit down!”

I, sat down.

“Now,” continued God. “You said that you didn’t believe in God, but I know better. Most people believe in me whether they want to admit it or not. Trust me, even Atheist’s pray to me in their final moments just before they die, Joshua. Now you’re right, you are not that important in a ‘grand scheme’ kind of way. But you are an interesting creation of mine, and I have nothing but time. So tell me why I wouldn’t call you, or anyone else that I choose for that matter?”

I still wasn’t convinced. “Why would God need to use a phone? You can’t be God.”

“Would you rather I showed up on your doorstep? You know the sight of me in my true form would be impossible for you to either comprehend or live through. This is just easier. Do you have any idea how hard it was for Moses to recover from the burning bush? He only beheld a fraction of me and it took him weeks, Joshua. And you’re right. You are not the worst person in the world, nor are you even scratching the thinnest surface of sainthood. Nevertheless I have a proposition for you. Now you can hear me out and talk to me or I can scatter your atoms to the four winds of the universe. It’s your choice of course.”

“Hmm, let me see,” I replied with a healthy dose of sarcasm. “Talk to you, or be scattered to the four winds. It’s a tough choice, God. I have to admit it. If you really are God, then tell me something that only God would know.”

“You know,” God said with a warning. “I can be really creative when humans attempt to test me. I wouldn’t if I were you.”

“Oh come on God,” I said with newfound exuberance. “If you’re really God, then prove it.”

“You were born to Christine and William Brentwood on October twenty-fifth, nineteen sixty-eight at ten in the morning. You’re fond of cars and anything that goes fast, but you don’t like to ski, especially after the accident where you broke your leg and three ribs.”

“God,” I said, “Anyone with a computer and fifty bucks could find out where and when I was born, and to whom. And the skiing accident, that would be in my hospital records.”

“You like lakes but not the ocean,” said God.


“So do a million other people.”

“You want to get married but are afraid of commitment.”

“Duh…I’m a guy.”

“You’re standing in a room full of scorpions.”

“Oh yea, like I’m supposed to believe…HOLY SHIT!”

In front of me behind me and on me were thousands of huge black scorpions. They chattered as they scurried around me. Their meaty claws snapped at the air as their thick legs clacked together, with black eyes set atop thin hairy stalks that darted from object to object. Needless to say I was on the verge of a total nervous breakdown, the muscles in my neck tightening with a scream that erupted from my diaphragm.

“And by the way, Joshua,” said God as my hand clutched the phone with enough force to tear my ear clean off. “You’re head is on backwards.”

My eyes went wide and I don’t know how it happened but as I looked down I saw the heels of my feet!

“Now you can kiss your own ass instead of everyone else’s,” said God. And I swear on a stack of bibles twenty miles high that he sounded as if he was enjoying himself.

I couldn’t help it, I screamed. I shouted and cried and bellowed even though my arms appeared to be locked into position backwards, with the phone still resting against my ear.

“Please God! I’m sorry, please forgive me, oh Jesus Christ and the saint’s forgive me!”

And then in the blink of an eye I was standing alone in my kitchen once again. The scorpions were gone, and thankfully my toes were pointed in the right direction.

“Thank you, oh thank you Lord,” I replied as I slipped to the floor.

God waited patiently for me to calm down, and every now and then I thought I could hear him chuckle. Then he said, “Do you believe me now, Joshua? And do I have your full attention?”

I was still in shock and found that I couldn’t answer, couldn’t force the words from my vocal chords.

“Joshua,” said God. “If you’d like you can continue to test me?”

“NO!” I managed to shout.

“Good,” replied God. “And do you believe me, and are you ready to listen to me now?”

“Yes!”


“Excellent, I’m pleased to hear it.”

“What…what do you want from me, God?”

“Now that is the question I have been waiting to hear, Joshua.”

It was still hard for me to believe that I was actually talking to God on my phone in the middle of my kitchen on a Saturday morning. I mean really, this isn’t the kind of thing that happens every day. To be honest I was having some personal adjustment issues. Yet it paled in comparison to what God told me next, just nine simple and succinct words that would change my life forever.

“Joshua, I want you to be my new Devil.”