"I ain't God you cunning bastard."
There was a tree nearby, a leaf swaying precariously upon its edge. At any slight moment the breeze could lift, and pluck the leaf from its stand. Neither of the two men noticed as a small leaf drifted between them.
"It doesn't matter you'll do."
From afar, one might notice the taller man in the black suit; a tie neatly tucked against his chest, and a hat placed upon the black hair. If they came closer and took that glance upon his eyes, they'd liken him to the devil.
"It don't matter? You're asking me to pretend to be God and all you can say it you'll do."
Someone looking may notice the rough parts and the stained shirt that covered him. They may even say it matched his brown hair in rags. And when they came closer to see the eyes, they'd agree with the man in black; he'll di.
"The world will be before you, bowing at your feet. You can have anything and everything, you'll have the world. You want that." He spoke with all justification, and there was an eagerness in his hands.
"All I want is for you to leave me along." Whilst his voice showed weakness, there was all intention in his eyes to get away from this man.
"That can happen. All you have to do is come with me, come and tell the world who you are."
"I'm not God!" A crow erupted from the trees, shaking the air into vibrations.
"But you want to be." He smiled, and held out his hand. "I can give you anything you want. Fame, that will come. Money, it will be easy. Friends, with anyone."
"No thanks.": he turned away, done with the tall man, wanting only to leave him behind.
Pause, a pause.
"You can have a wife, a devoted one. Children too. I can get you that."
He turned around. "How?"
"You'll see." He put out his hand. "It'll be easy."
He was taken first to the government offices, passed from person to person.
"You think you're God?"
"I know I'm God."
The woman stared into his eyes and moved him on.
"You know we've been looking for God for a long time?"
"We get a lot of claims."
The man waved him through.
He ended in a small waiting room, a secretary at the only desk. He sat in the row of chairs and watched the T.V. bored with eyeing the room. The commercials came and an ad flashed up, a snappy man looking straight to the lens.
"Are you God? Years of research has said that He will come again, and He will save us from eminent destruction. Well that time is now. We need a hero, we need someone who can think and act incredibly. We need God. So open your prayer books and find the answer. Are you God?"
He leant back in his chair. He was God now, at least pretending to be.
"You think you're that don't you?" The secretary smiled.
If he had been somewhere else he would have tried chatting the blonde up, but thought better of it.
"What's it like?"
"What's what like?"
"Thinking your someone great?"
Back in one of the interviews he had almost convinced himself he was God. He had looked outside and almost believed the rain drizzling was his doing, and these people his creation.
"Like any old thing I guess."
The woman smiled and returned to her computer.
As he waited he felt his nerves build up. He had gotten this far, but soon they'd ask him to do something that he couldn't do. He wished the man in black was with him, but he had been stopped long before.
The doors broke open, three men walked out, all in suits, all holding themselves with prestige.
"Mr Baker," they all shook his hand.
He recognised the first as the president but was unfamiliar to the other two men.
"This is Mr Gallager," the president was saying. "He runs this affair. And pastor Smith."
The cavalry is here he thought, but only smiled. He followed them to a room where the three sat behind a large table. He took the single seat on the other side. An array of papers was spread across the bench, and he noticed his name of every one; Joshua Baker. A picture of his face was there, his clean criminal record, his past relatives. He wasn't surprised they had done a background check.
The room around him was bare, except for a few cupboard and the big cross windows.
"You've proceeded exceptionally far" said the president, drawing his attention back.
"The truth goes far." He had prepared himself with an armload of visionary statement, useful for any situation.
"Every person that's talked to you has been quite adamant about your position."
"Naturally." Anyone listening would be surprised that this same man was the one who had talked so brashly before.
"There's just one small thing we'd like to ask you to do."
Joshua's cool face wavered inside.
The pastor took over. "We'd like you to make the rain stop."
The drops outside had picked up into a torrent, and it did not look like it would easy any time soon.
"Of course," he said. He got up as if calm, and moved over to one of the windows, out of their gaze. Thick drops guzzled against the glass, sliding down its body. Where was the God that he had never believed in?
"It would cause a bit if surprise no doubt, if I did it suddenly, so time be given, it will ease." He returned to his seat.
Four men stared intently at the windows, watching the rain outside.
"It's lessening," Mr Gallager said, and they could all do nothing but agree.
In a few minutes the rain had stopped, and there were four surprised face, one hidden behind relief.
He didn't know how it had happened, but it had. Perhaps he was God.
"My God," My Gallager said, then remembered who he was with. "My gosh," he corrected himself.
"It seems the rain had stopped Mr Baker," the president said.
"That's it then." The president shook his hand firmly. "You're it."
He could see a sense of unease about them, they all believed they were in the presence of God. Soon the whole world would think that.
The pastor had risen from his seat. Coming round the table, he bowed to the man in rough clothes, and touched his feet. "Your Grace, it is an honour."
He touched his head and the pastor rose. He hope his smile was enough of an answer, and it seemed to be for the pastor bounced back to his seat, quite overwhelmed.
The three men no longer daunted him, their stances held no animosity, only reverence. IT was enough to make a non-believer believe.
"So what do you want me to do?" He asked.
"We thought it would be better to discuss it tomorrow, where we have the whole day," the president replied. "There's a hotel nearby-"
"I have a house." He thought of his small space in the city, soon it would no longer house him.
After a bit more talk, some details and another round of handshakes, Joshua was ready to leave.
"We'll see you tomorrow."
He had played up his role neatly all day and he almost let 'may you be blessed' escape his lips. "Tomorrow then," was all he said, and left.
The doors closed behind him, but before they did he caught the swift tone of Mr Gallager. "Well the bloody bastard's come."
The blonde secretary led him through the hallways. She was silent, but there was words on her lips.
"So you're it then?" excitement bounced in her words.
"What's it like?"
"What's what like?"
"Being someone great?"
There had been a moment, a strange moment, as he had watched the rain stopped, that he had felt powerful.
"Kind of cool I guess." He preferred this talk, away from the prying questions where he had to sound like God.
They remained silent until she showed him the door. He wondered if he could ask for her number, but realised that wasn't very Godly.
Night was just beginning to ebb it's was into the city and he strolled amongst the buildings. Shop fronts had there shutters down and women took their children on evening walks. A low glow was cast from the dying sun, covering the city in a spur of gold.
Everything around him looked different, older even, like it had been there for centuries. And indeed he believed it had, the world that he walked upon had had been there since the beginning of time, and everything now; all the buildings and people, were just a growth from then. Everything the same, just a growth.
He wasn't surprised when the black-suited man walked up into his view.
"I'm God," Joshua told him, and smiled.
They continued to walk.
"Do I get a family now?"
"Just like the rain took time to stop, your family will take time to come."
Shadows had begun to lilt across the lamp posts.
"The rain stopped today when I wanted it to."
"It did, because you willed it to."
"I can't do things like that." For a moment, a small glimpse of him felt guilty of his treachery. But the moment was ignored, and pushed away.
"You can do them when you need to."
Joshua's mind narrowed. "You seem to know more about this than me, you'd be better suited to be God."
The man laughed. Joshua had expected it to be a cackle, one that made the shadows dance. But instead it made him feel light, and the shadows lighter. "I could not do the things they will ask."
"And what will they ask?"
He saw the next day, as he sat at the end of square table. The president on one side of him, the pastor and Mr Gallager on the other, he did not recognise the some twenty-odd people in the remaining seats.
The pastor saw it fitting to begin with a prayer, and so he watched as the whole congregation closed their eyes and thanked God for coming. He felt nothing.
The president then took his role. Joshua had come to see the president as a man who wanted something, he doubted whether he had ever believed in God, or if he did even now.
"We have all appeared here to instil in God our plea for salvation."
Joshua had known that was their aim, and had yes on his lips before the question had been asked of him.
"Will you help us God?"
He felt odd, hearing the word put to him, before he had been Joshua, and now… now he wasn't sure what he was.
A squeal came from the pastor. He was a finicky man, and his excitement had been increasing since he had touched Joshua's feet.
"Excellent, ten this is what we'd like…"
He nodded his way through, spinning out phrases that showed his utmost confidence and strength in the manner.
At first, some of the people in the room had doubts whether he was God; but then they saw him speak, and watches his eyes, and all doubts were gone.
The eyes that held the attention were brown globes, and at first glance, there was nothing unordinary about them. But the one's own eyes were caught, and they saw that there was a shocking secret amongst that brown, a secret that was not only in the man, but in themselves. He was God.
They wanted him to rid the world of evil. It was simple when like that, but he knew there was an evil in every man, even him. Perhaps if he had believed in God he wold have felt worse about his situation; he was cheating the almighty after all. He found it a fancy, thinking that god did not believe in God.
There was a list of people the world could do without; murderers, rapists, anarchists, and it grew further.
About halfway he stopped. "People with degenerate disabilities."
"Yes," the president smiled. "Those that are unable to function without care from others."
"Why?" He was eyeing the list closely, waiting for excuses.
The president held his smile. "They don't benefit society, they only take away those that could be used elsewhere. And surely," he look around, "they would be happier not in this world."
Joshua thought for a moment. He had met a man once, as he waited for a bus when he was young. He had what they would call a degenerate disability. The man had asked him about the flowers he was carrying, told him that he went to a school just around the corner, asked him what school he went to. And he had found it the easiest conversation, speech flowed freely between them.
"No, they're staying."
The pastor took his pitch in. "They are all your creation, and we do respect them, but most of them aren't happy with their condition."
"Half of them don't bloody know they have a condition." He had spoken out of rage, losing his light fancy.
No one spoke, each waiting for another.
"Sorry God," the president finally said. "You only have to do what you want."
Joshua returned to the list, studying it closer. Each category, he thought, was a person, a thousand people, tens of thousands perhaps in the world. And here he was, pretending to have the power in his little pinkie. And as he read the list, he felt like he did have that power. He felt it grow inside as each word reached his mind. He could demand these people die, or them live. Whilst he knew he did not have that power, he knew that right then, he had the power to decide. He saw the power before him, the power that a god could truly have.
He hated murderers, and rapists, but he didn't want to sit there and condemn them to death. There must have been a reason everyone was created, so there should be no reason to destroy them.
He wanted to say they were wasting their time, but thought better of it. Let them find their disappointment otherwise.
The further the list got, the more specific is became; people who may develop mental disorders, people who cannot financially support themselves.
"Is there going to be anyone alive after all this?" he muttered to himself.
The pastor had been leaning over his shoulder. "Oh yes, yes, there will be the best people left."
"But don't you think that at some point everyone will have fallen into this list. People who may become thieves. Heaps of people could fall into this list but still be good people."
"They are sinners."
"And sinners deserve forgiveness."
The pastor was struck. He leaned back in his chair, and Mr Gallager leaned over.
"We're just trying to make the world that your magnificence deserves. You wanted this world to be god, and so it shall."
At this point, Joshua was regretting taking this opportunity. He wondered what would happen when all the murderers didn't drop dead.
"I don't want it." He was looking out at everyone now, and they all heard the rise in his voice. "Each person, no matter who they are has been created for a reason." He was standing, and to the people watching they expected an ethereal glow to envelop him. "It may not be your reason, but it's my reason."
Eyes fixed on eyes.
"I don't care if you want a perfect society, but without all these people," he gestured at the list. "There won't be a society. We are all sinners here."
Even the pastor was quiet from his grovelling.
"So that's it, if you don't want anything other than death, I'm going."
Silence, as eyes remained on eyes. Each felt like they were talking directly to him, even the president who faced his side. Each man felt that they were seeing those eyes for the first time, and the last. If there had been any doubt it was gone, and they wanted to fall at his feet and cry for salvation.
And then the president spoke. "Can you forgive us?"
Joshua paused, and for the first time, felt as if he truly had power. He had the power to set these minds at ease, to let them sleep easy from now on. He felt as if truly, he had the power of God.
"You are forgiven."
And each face was able to break away from the eyes.
"We are sorry," said the president. "That we ever asked anything of you like this. It is not up to us to demand, but for you to choose."
It was in the fashion that the man who said he was God left the building, and a room full of men, thinking hard on what they had wanted.
There was no wonder in him when descended the steps to meet the man in black.
"You did well," he said.
"I didn't say yes to any of it."
"And you did well."
He realised then, his point in the matter. It wasn't to pretend to make miracles happen, or to make the world a better place, it was to say no, and let the world be the good place it already was.
"You can have what you want now. Do you see that woman there?"
The blonde secretary was descending the steps to the open path.
"She will be your wife."
Joshua felt no doubt that this man was being honest. "Thank you. Still though, why couldn't you waltz in their yourself."
The man in black smiled. "Who lead the people of Israel into the promised land?"
He thought to his small knowledge of the Bible. "Joshua did."
"Yes, God only directed."
The woman was moving away.
"Who are you?" Joshua asked, as he watched her grow smaller.
"I'm the one who told Joshua what to do."
Thus the rough man ran after the woman, happy with the world he was in and deciding the he had to get himself a Bible.