RESUME GOD was one of the favorite series from my late, lamented CHIMERICAL COMICS website. Originally told in PREVIEWS comic solicitation format, that series ran forty-eight imaginary issues before the publisher folded. Here, for the first time, the story is actually told…
Part One (of Nine)
The claw, if it was a claw, missed his face by less than an inch.
The Kaerbani soldier hobbled back a step to fence Carl into a corner. It was just a matter of time, Carl knew. If the thing from Kaerbanus made physical contact for more than just a second, it would start the process of corruption. Carl looked around for something to drive it off with.
The creature’s face was lopsided, like half of it had stopped growing as a child. Its skin was mottled purple and the mouth hung from the face with lips so loose they would be a significant naval danger. Carl couldn’t make out which of the tumorous lumps on the soldier’s face were its eyes. The things that came from Kaerbanus were always asymmetrical, an affront to the beauty and order of Nataal.
Suddenly the thing’s mouth opened wide and emitted an atonal din. Carl winced with the pain and flung out a bare hand to stop the sound, regardless of consequence. His palm landed on a smooth circular extrusion on the thing’s head and the noise immediately ceased.
“Carl!” the thing nagged in a surprisingly human voice. “Carl, that’s your second snooze! It’s time to get up!”
Carl buried his head deeper into the soft, soft pillow, the Nataalian mountainside suddenly far away and already half forgotten.
“I’m upping,” he muttered into the pillowcase.
“You’re not upping,” his wife Mindy said from the bathroom. “If I leave you there, you’ll never get out of bed.”
“It’s too early in the morning to be morning.”
“It’s too early in the day for you to be such a lump.” Mindy strode around the queen-sized bed and planted a lipstick kiss on his cheek. Carl looked up at her perfect face, makeup and hair already immaculate. She had probably been up for two hours and she looked as professional as Carl looked tired. She pulled open the Venetian blinds and cursed sunlight came in, turning the room from dozy morning into full-fledged day. “Come on, hon. Real pants today.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Carl half-joked, dragging himself to a sitting position on the side of the bed. He pulled off the t-shirt he had slept in and put on an almost identical one from the unfolded clean laundry pile next to the bed.
“You going to get good work done today?” she asked while he slid a pair of rumpled cargo shorts on.
“The boulder and the hill await,” he said.
“Good guy,” she said, reaching out and squeezing his hand. “Walk me to the door?”
Hand in hand, he shuffled alongside to the door. A non-mussing kiss and a hopeful look later, and Mindy was out the door and off to school. It was only the second year of her postgraduate program in education, but already there was something teacher-like in the way she walked to the car.
He watched out the front window as she slid into her white Nissan with the MEAN PEOPLE SUCK bumper sticker. A moment later the street was empty. He lingered a moment, as if worried she might drive back, something forgotten. When she didn’t, he resigned himself to the box storage room they only half-ironically called his office.
A year ago, when they moved into the duplex in Claremont, CA, they optimistically bought an inexpensive corner desk for the room from IKEA, replete with shelves, paper slots, even a slide-out bin for bills. It took up almost a quarter of the room. The rest was taken up by piles of unpacked moving boxes lining the walls. A few had fallen over, and a few others had been opened, cherry-picked, and left half open, blooms of packaging paper sticking out like weeds. The small trash bin had proven ineffective against the trash-to-times-emptied ratio and wrappers from chicken sandwiches and Diet Coke cans had sloughed off it, ringing it like Saturn.
Then there was the chair.
It was a massive thing, upholstered in leather of a purplish color not found in nature and held tight with intricate bronze furniture tacks. The legs and arms were made of whatever wood was the heaviest wood ever found on earth and stained in a brown so dark it passed brown and became black. Some sort of curvy pattern was carved into it, with branching grooves that Carl used to love to trace with his seven-year-old finger while he sat on the floor next to his father at work.
Three months ago, when Carl’s father died, the chair had been Carl’s one and only inheritance. Carl still wasn’t sure whether it was a final slap from a father he hadn’t seen in fifteen years or one last gesture to remember happier times together. Carl suspected it was both.
Carefully clambering over unopened cardboard boxes full of carefully wrapped decorations that no one was ever going to unpack, Carl crossed the paper-strewn floor of the office and flumped himself into the huge chair. Before him, the IKEA desk was littered with newspapers, employment website printouts, old resume drafts and empty boxes of chocolate frosted Donut Poppers.
Carl stared at the list of horrible emails, each one demanding careful, personalized response. Titles like “Ghost.com has found 7 new job listings for Graphic Designer,” and “Your daily search results: ARTIST, GRAPHIC DESIGNER,” just loomed like an endless syllabus of overdue papers for a class he hadn’t attended. He perfunctorily opened the least threatening one, an email from a college friend titled, “hey, maybe this might be up your alley.” It was a link to a job posting page for a company in Los Angeles called Hesperides Publishing. Under two open middle management positions was a call for “PUBLICATION DESIGNER.” Carl dutifully printed out the listing and put it on top of a pile of other similar printouts. He opened the folder on his computer labeled “RESUMES” and selected “resume 2013 design.” This one accentuated his layout and computer art skills. He made a few edits to punch up the experience he had doing newspaper layout in college and changed his objective to “Secure a position that allows me to combine my love of books with my artistic design sensibilities.”
He dragged the revised resume into his mail client and spent fifteen minutes composing a thirty word cover email. It was like pulling teeth out, but using tweezers to do it. Finally he sent it out and slumped back in the chair, exhausted.
Two new emails had appeared, like some horrible LinkedIn hydra. Both of them were cold referrals to Human Resources department executives, no email, just phone numbers.
Carl couldn’t take it. The only thing worse than writing his five gajillionth email begging strange HR gatekeepers for an interview was calling strange HR gatekeepers for an interview. It was like a giant anxiety hand reached up from the pit of his stomach and squeezed his heart. Thirty-two minutes after sitting down to get to work job hunting, Carl had to call it a day. If he got all the dishes done and cleaned up the living room, he could at least pretend he had a productive day, distracting Mindy from the pathetic two emails he had been able to complete.
Besides, he told himself, he had something more important to do.
Closing his eyes, he could almost smell the smoke from his grandfather’s pipe emanating from the chair’s burgundy leather. The pinky of his left hand absently slid into a groove in the wood of the arm. The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs faded from background noise into unnoticed soundtrack.
Nataal, Carl thought, and to Nataal he came.
Nataal! Beautiful gem of the microcosmos! A land of order without tyrrany, valor without cruelty, splendor without indigence and possibility without disappointment.
Pale cerulean skies hosted brilliant streakstars, each slowly pacing its two-hundred-and-fifty-six year pattern of flight. Deserts of green sand filled the valleys between the pyramidal woodmountains capped with snow and rosedust. From the tiny tribal villages, hearth smoke rose in perfect golden spirals.
Carl saw every part of the microverse, he felt every breeze and breath.
He was the god of Nataal, after all.
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.