In the beginning, there was Light. But it only lasted a few days before it sputtered into a feeble death and blinked out. The celestial light salesman had done God up like a kipper.
‘Oh yes, er, Lord,’ he’d said (he’d only just been created himself and so was a little green at this game), ‘oh yes, this new forty umpsquillion watt bulb is all the rage in, er, um . . . some parallel Universe which may or not have been created yet, somewhere . . . um . . .’
God narrowed His eyes a little.
‘Go on,’ He uttered.
‘Well,’ went on the shifty one, ‘it’s your lucky day, Guv’nor, er, Lord. Just so happens that I’ve come into possession of, um,’ [quick mental and imaginary calculation], ‘sixty two billion of these little beauties, er, units. Yours for, er, let’s see . . . what units of currency have you created to date?’
‘Truth, Integrity, Love, Honour . . . maybe funny money on Credit Cards by Tuesday . . . if I can work out the logistics of those damn little metallic strips . . .’
There was a moment of apparent brow-beating.
‘Tell you what,’ said the salesman, ‘tell you what, Guv’nor, Lord, you can have the lot. Every last one of them. All for the price of Eternal Salvation. Can’t be fairer than that, now can I?’
God pondered more . . .
‘C’mon, your Lordness Guv,’ the salesman plied, sniffing out the weakness beginning to trickle in (just like they showed in the training videos). ‘Look at the lovely pretty colours. They come in mauve too, y’know. Think what Christmas’ll be like with all these bulbs up all over the place . . . and you only get the one Big Bang now, don’t you? Not your every day scenario . . .’
The patter was starting to flow.
‘Think of the little baby Jesus. You’re going to need something a bit special to get those strange blokes from ZZ Top out there to the middle of nowhere. Look!! A lovely new plastic star to light the way!!’
He held up one of the bulbs for inspection.
‘Use them again and again . . .’
God wavered. ‘Welllllll,’ He began: ‘How long will they last?’
The salesman looked visibly pained.
‘Last? Last, your Guv’norliness? They’ll LAST for EVER. And a day. Give or take a millennia or two because of improper wear and tear.’
He whipped out his contract and proffered God the pen with which to sign away His rights under Sections 1a) to 9,437e).
And God said: ‘Hmm, welllllll, OK,’ and signed His name on the contract (which immediately fizzed through the paper as the Name of God cannot truly be known — Creator’s Clause 46(b) (iii)-(vii) inclusive in ‘Contract to Build Universal System of Harmony and Life’ issued by CelestialSoft VirtualPlanets UnLimited: though that’s another story) and technically rendered the whole thing null and void (though neither party were to realise this episode until the whole sordid affair was dragged through the courts some millennia later). Anyway, it came to pass that God bought sixty two billion units, the shifty salesman earned himself an Eternal Salvation (and scarpered quickly for a new life in some celestial tax haven at the back end of beyond Beyond), and, one morning, a few days later, just as God had got up and gone to the bathroom to attend to his daily ablutions, he pulled on the lightcord and . . . BINK!!
Sal Oberon sat in the middle of the hugest tree trunk in the forest, surrounded by his fellow Little People and told his tale: ‘ . . . BINK!!’ he concluded, and there was a respectful silence (except for the hissings of the fire in the stone hearth, the rain outside and the smoke being spat on high up above them).
‘So,’ came a voice from the shadows, ‘what does it all mean?’
Sal Oberon pondered, chewed on a fern root which he’d pulled up, spat it out and stood up, stretching deliberately.
‘It means, my friend,’ he replied, ‘that the bastard who charged me forty five groats for five minutes so-called work JUST to tell me my fridge motor’s screwed had better watch his back because if I ever find out where he lives . . .’
Sal Oberon left the Gathering of the Little People, stepping into the pouring rain, moaning to himself something about how every bastard’s on the make these days . . .