A short story by Bob Kaster, October, 2020 Yreka, CA
God Joad felt miserable and humiliated. So, this is where it will end? he wondered, as he nervously stood in the Chamber of the Grand Tribunal with his wife, Mary Grace Joad, and their two little rascals, Junior and Magnolia Joad, awaiting their fate. It didn’t look good. For five thousand galactic centuries, five families had ruled the Milky Way Galaxy. Since the beginning of their rule, the Milky Way Galaxy, or the MWG, as it was commonly known, comprised of gas, dust, and billions of stars and their solar systems, had been divided into five sectors of equal size and importance, each one governed by one of the Five Families. The Families were the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Fords, the Waltons, and the Joads. The Joads never did quite fit in with the rest. The only reason that the Joad family was included at all, was because of a fortunate dalliance by family patriarch Cornelius Joad, which led up to the Great Upheaval. Up until Cornelius’s time, only four families ruled the MWG. Uneducated, crude, and slothful, the Joads weren’t included in the galactic upper crust. They were the Oakies of the galaxy. But Cornelius Joad was different. He had ambition and spunk, and was definitely a ladies’ man. He eventually attracted the attention of Princess Fiona, the daughter of the Supreme Being of All the Universes. Shortly after their torrid intergalactic affair began, tabloids such as Globes, Stars, and the Intergalactic Enquirer, began to report Fiona’s “baby bump.” The Supreme Being of All the Universes, or “Essby,” as she was affectionately called, had no choice but to approve Fiona’s marriage to Cornelius. Essby restructured the MWG from four sectors into five, all of equal importance, and gave one to the Joad family.
But alas, over the millennia the Joad family, with their slothful, crude, uneducated ways, lost the confidence of Essby, who responded by gradually reducing the Joad family’s share of the MWG until all it had left was the solar system. Situated in the small, outer, nondescript Orion Arm of the galaxy, the solar system was so universally held in low esteem that it had never been given a proper name like other solar systems, which had cool names like Epsilon Eridani and Proxima Centauri. The Joad family’s domain was simply called “the solar system.”
But now Cornelius’s descendent God Joad was about to lose it all, although some would say there was nothing worth keeping about the solar system anyway. Its most advanced and enlightened planet was called “Earth,” and it left much to be desired. It was inhabited by beings called humans, of the species Homo sapiens. Humans were a miserable lot, best known for fighting and killing one another, and for overpopulating and destroying their planet.
Essby finally gave God Joad an ultimatum. Galactic historians generally agree that this occurred in Earth year 2016. To be precise, it was November 3, 2016, Earth calendar. At that time the humans were doing business as usual, killing, conquering, pillaging, and destroying each other. The most civilized and advanced nation on Earth at the time, known as the United States of America, was showing signs of civil war, something that it hadn’t endured for one hundred and fifty Earth years. Essby summoned God Joad before her and questioned him about his solar system, and especially about his planet Earth. What’s going on?” she demanded.
“I’m doin’ the best I can, believe me,” said God Joad in his Okie dialect. “But that whole damn planet Earth is just … catawampus. Don’t know a nuther better way to describe it. Them people down there is just crazy. They’ve lost all respect for each other, and worse, they’ve lost all respect for me. They don’t worship me anymore. It used to be that they would say things like ‘praise God Joad,’ or ‘may God Joad bless you,’ or ‘thank God Joad.’ No more. Now it’s ‘God-damn this or God-damn that. They use my first name in vain. And the fact that they use my first name at all, just blatant disrespect. In the old days they at least addressed me by my surname. And did it with reverence. I just don’t know what to do with them.”
“Stop groveling!” commanded Essby. “Act like a being of your stature should act, or I will take it all away from you and your family. I will give you one last chance to prove yourself. I will give you exactly four Earth years to turn the humans around. You and your family are ordered to appear before me exactly four years from now, on November 3, 2020, at the Chamber of the Grand Tribunal, for final judgment. If you have not turned it around, your family will be dispossessed of its power and authority and will be banished to the Realm of the Deplorables.”
God Joad was overcome with terror, and desperate to find a remedy. It seemed hopeless. After all, he had tried everything he could to get the humans on the right track, and nothing had worked. He had to come up with … something. Something to bring the humans together. Something to unite them, so that they wouldn’t fight, argue, and kill each other.
Then he had an idea! How about a common enemy? That had worked before to restore order. “If I give the humans on Earth a common enemy, then they will unite, and start working together. I know just the thing! I will give them a pandemic.” And so, that is what he did.
“Have you anything to say?” demanded the Supreme Being of All the Universes on November 3, 2020, at the Chamber of the Grand Tribunal.
“Before you pass judgment, give me one last chance,” pleaded God Joad in a trembling voice. Today is election day for the humans in the United States. Please wait until we know the outcome. The politicians have all been saying that this is the most important election in Earth’s history. Surely you will wait until the result. On behalf of my family, I implore you to wait. If the correct side wins the election, Earth will be saved and the humans will live forever-and-ever in goodness and righteousness.”
The Supreme Being of All the Universes quietly rose from her gilded throne, smiling sadly while shaking her head, and raised her scepter high in the air and brought it down slowly upon the heads of God Joad, his wife, Mary Grace Joad, and their two little rascals, Junior and Magnolia Joad. Instantly they were tessered to the Realm of the Deplorables, and have never been seen or heard from again.