In their rush along the corridor, Jacob tripped over his boots and fell, bringing Ruth down with him. The space suit helmets they’d been holding skidded away, like bowling balls set for a strike.
It didn’t dampen their excitement.
“Are we really here?” Ruth said. “I can’t believe it!”
They regained their feet and continued along the narrow passage.
“What a blast!” said Jacob. “We’ve sure had one hell of a time finding it. God knows how we did in the end?”
Bumping shoulders, unconsciously sticking close together, they pushed forward, looking wide eyed through the large windows lining the walls. Each one a different view of the universe. Some familiar, most they had never seen before.
“Look!” said Ruth pointing “A huge city, but who or what lives there?”
“God!” said Jacob his eyes following her pointed finger.
“And here, a galaxy I’ve never seen.”
“Look!” she said, “It’s bacteria, but I can see every detail.”
“Oh My God!” said Jacob
“Will you give the God stuff a break Jacob? This isn’t a joke.”
“I just thought under the circumstances… Do you really think it is possible? That the computations were correct, the Great Search over?”
“I don’t know,” she said, awe and exhilaration in her eyes, “but I hope so, along with the hopes of every living human being. They are here with us at this moment.”
At the end of the corridor a door stood closed. On it, a simple sign said “God’s Place.”
Jacob pointed at the sign and asked Ruth “Do you think it’s also Heaven? Would it need to say so, or is it implied?”
Ruth sighed. “Jacob, would you shut up with the wise ass comments? Just think beyond your small self absorbed existence for a moment. We are at the pinnacle of our civilisation’s existence. We have discovered the location of God. Our people didn’t send us here to make childish jokes.”
“Well actually,” Jacob said, “That IS why they sent me. You’re the zealot and I’m the cynic, remember? They could only send two and we balance each other. But you’re right, I’m sorry, important moment.”
“Thank you.” she said then hesitated. “Should we knock?”
“If he’s God” Jacob offered wisely, “He’ll know we’re here.”
“True.” She tried the door handle, “It’s open!”
“Praise the lord!”
The door swung wide. The room was small, round and cluttered, hundreds more small windows ringed the walls. To one side was an unmade bed, further around a bench with a kettle, microwave and bar fridge. It was a cross between a dorm room and a lighthouse. In the centre, a large chrome chair sat empty on a high platform, bright sparkling lights surrounded it. To the right a small bearded man in a faded robe was running on a treadmill, he looked startled, but very pleased.
“Thank God you’re here!” The machine making a clack, clank noise as the track went round.
Ruth grabbed Jacob suited arm, he felt her emotion in it’s pressure.
She stammered out the most important word of her life “God?”
“Hallelujah!” The old man said. He raised both arms in the air and slide backwards off the treadmill, crashing into the wall. Bouncing up quickly he strode forward, pumping their hands with glee. “Am I glad to see you! Not surprised of course, but glad!” His eyes were red rimmed with age but sparkled fiercely.
“Here for a stint are you? Excellent, excellent.” He rubbed his hands together vigorously. “And two of you! This WILL make a difference.”
“We have questions…” Ruth tried.
“Trust me! All will be revealed, and I mean All! First.” He pointed around the room, “Bed, kitchen, the big chair. Ready to start? Who’s first?” he nudged Ruth. “You look keen!”
“Well…”, stammered Ruth.
He grabbed Ruth by the arm, steered her to the chair and clamped a glittering helmet on her head as she looked about wildly. He stood back, and a translucent dome lowered, obscuring her completely. Immediately wretched, anguished screams flew from the dome, heart wrenching howls of terror.
“Excellent.” he said.
Jacob rushed forward, “We have to help her, get her out, what’s wrong!”
“No, no this is perfect. It always take a moment to accustom oneself to running the universe. So much to see, so much to do. You’ll understand when it’s your turn.”
He began racing about the room gathering items.
Jacob stood uncertainly, the screams continued. His eyes racing from the dome to the old man. “Are you going? Where are you going?” he demanded.
“My turn is up. You’re turn now and by golly with two of you, that’ll make a difference! Why didn’t I think of that!”
The man was through the door and closing it as Jacob grabbed his robe.
“What difference does two make?” Jacob asked desperately.
“Well one has to sleep you know, take breaks, time for a crossword. That’s when all the shit happens. Wars, rape, pillage etc. With two, you can take turns!”
“Are you coming back?”
“Oh no. Someone else will though, eventually.” He smiled mischievously. “Time will fly, so much to do!”
He was gone.
Jacob sat on the edge of the bed. Ruth’s screams were giving him a headache.
He picked up an old newspaper and started the crossword.