So, this morning Chris Hardwick (nerdist on Twitter) posted this news piece on his Twitter feed, and after viewing it, I sent him the following reply:
@nerdist now I want to write a satirical, snarky story entitled "The Return of Jesus' Holy Winchester."
So I did. Here it is. Warning: it's really weird, and completely unpolished. And I'm ill too. If I can think of more qualifiers I'll let you know. Oh yeah, the baby's been cranky today and our shopping trip was longer than planned.
"The Return of Jesus’ Holy Winchester"
Let me tell you all a story, of how we got where we are now, at the end of the world.
Some thought it would be nuclear war that stilled the heart of humanity. Others thought that we would cook the planet until it was a barren rock. And, some folks of a religious bent thought that a chosen one of God would return to guide us to the End Times. Well, they turned out to be kinda right, but not in the way they thought.
It was a partly-cloudy, almost-rainy kind of day in a small Kentucky town. The local minister had called for a “Guns for Jesus” day, for all parishioners to bedeck themselves in their shiny talismans of potency and congregate to show the Lord how ready they were to use their weapons in His Name. They came with their duty pistols, they came with their war relics, they came with the cheap snub-nose they’d bought for home protection. Jude White brought his best competition single-shot, and his wife came in the regalia of a pirate, three flintlock pistols in their bandolier across her chest, causing as many people to gape at the artifacts as at the effects of the bandolier on highlighting her bosom. You see, no town in the world loved guns the way this town did, and few if any congregation loved Jesus more. So they came with every gun they could strap to their persons, and sang Hosannas and hymns, old-timey folk tunes and creaky gospel airs, and a new song, penned by the pastor’s wife, about Jesus and his favorite gun, the Winchester rifle.
And we all know what happened next. As the final notes of that tune arose in the air, the clouds bunched up over the church, lightning flared, and something dropped like a celestial needle from the sky and impaled itself in the pastor’s wife’s skull. The blood that fountained from that wound touched 18 people and burned them like acid, scarring them with scarlet splotches that would forever more burn red when a heathen, apostate, or Marxist was near. The wife, name of Lucinda, fell to her knees but did not collapse, for the object from the sky had impaled itself to the trigger guard and served to make her body rigid, do that in death she knelt on the lawn of the church, with a Winchester long rifle skewering her mortal form.
People ran. People screamed. People snapped pictures and video with their phones and Blackberries. People called 911. People fell to their knees, like Lucinda, and prayed. A few drew their pistols and fired them wildly in to the air, even though they were supposed to be unloaded (they later claimed that a miracle had loaded their guns so that they could discharge them in Glory to God). The Earth shuddered and made the church bells ring one peal.
The arriving paramedics could neither shift Mrs. Timity nor dislodge the rifle. The first one to touch the gun was surrounded by white light and smote for his arrogance. There was some debate by the first-responders as to what to do, and it was decided that a fireman would use special tongs to try to pry it out. The tongs melted and took the fireman’s hands with them. A police bomb squad was put in hospital, as were a hazmat squad, several DARPA researchers who where choppered in from DC, and a special Army unit flown in via super-secret scramjet from Roswell, NM. For the remainder of the day the authorities tried to move the corpse and its heavenly executioner from the lawn of the church, but to no avail.
As darkness fell, a number of dark vehicles arrived in town. From them emerged a constellation of religious dignitaries, who parted the sea of gawkers and newspersons and marched solemnly from the municipal parking lot to the church. They brought saints’ fingers and rosaries, phylacteries and crystals, all manner of splendid relic and tome; gilt-edged Bibles were jockeying with hermetically-sealed boxes containing ancient scriptures as bishops and rabbis and mullahs and High Priestesses surged through the rabble to the site of what was already being called “The Miracle of the Gun.”
Each one circled the spectacle in turn, rubbing their chins and wishing they could scratch their itchy crotches (as most of them wore regalia unsuited for a warm Kentucky summer). They pursed their lips, nodded a lot to cover their incredulity, and then stalked off to confer with someone back at headquarters.
By dawn of the following morning, it was obvious that they were stumped. Minions had been sent to archives and Google searches had been conducted on the even the most hyper-secret of the internets, but all of the religious leaders had to admit that they had no idea what this was. One of them, a Baptist elder of some sort, turned to the church’s pastor in exasperation. “Well, what do YOU think?” he asked him, a curl rolling across his lips.
“It must be wrested from her corpse like the Sword in the Stone,” he intoned gravely. “It is the Holy Winchester of Jesus, and only one worthy of His Grace can possibly do so.” Some of the leaders chuckled into their robes and funny hats, but most shrugged. They had no explanation; maybe the man whose wife had been selected to, as he called it “receive the gift of the gun” had some theological insight?
For three days, a search was conducted to find those of the most pure hearts and minds. A hundred videoconferences were conducted to discuss criteria of candidates, to determine what order they should attempt to remove the gun from its sheath, to wonder aloud just what a candidate should wear to the event. Could they wear religious symbols or just a plain robe? Should they all be completely shorn to be humbled for the test? And most importantly, could they carry a sidearm? Criteria for all of these considerations were drawn up, including rules for proper firearm use during the ceremony.
Finally, all was decided. The list was drawn up and the candidates, all dressed in nondiscrept casual businesswear (the only viable compromise), lined up. The first three, a Sikh holy man, a druid priestess, and the leader of the largest pay-per-service church in the US, all had their turn. They strode forward dramatically and grasped the rifle’s handle, shouting out an exultation to their god.
And each one was fried into a single cinder, about a yard long and an inch wide.
By the third one, most of the remaining candidates had decided that cinderhood was not for them. A fourth, a young Jain man, did not even touch the weapon; a spark leapt out and scorched him into another ashen snake on the ground. The few remaining candidates backed away, save one, a middle-aged Franciscan named Dewey, who suddenly smiled and stepped forward. He knelt in front of Mrs. Timity, held her cold cheeks in his hands, and kissed her forehead, right on a big clot of blood. She shuddered and collapsed, and he leaned over the jerked the weapon from her body. It came out clean and shiny.
He held it aloft. “Behold!” he said. “A lesson to us from God! He has sent a terrible power among us, to test our worthiness for further blessings! This weapon is a warning, a prophecy, that tells us to turn away from. . . “ and then his head exploded, torn asunder by three well-placed rounds from Pastor Timity’s .50 handgun.
“. . . timidity! Embrace the new power that God had brought among us,” the pastor finished. He walked over to Dewey’s twitching corpse and stood over the weapon. “This is a sign, indeed, that God gives us a new grace, the Grace of the Gun!” He looked down at poor Dewey’s body. “God allowed this. . . pacifist. . . to show us that anyone can grasp that grace, but must then be willing to defend it!” He held his monstrous .50 high. “This is God’s call to arms!”
Everyone stared at him like he was a mutant Venus-Flytrap preaching vegetarian cannibalism, then most of them picked up a firearm and gunned the pastor down.
Things began to fall apart after that, as governments and religious hierarchies and every crazy idiot on the planet tried to get ahold of the Holy Winchester. For weeks running battles were waged, until finally a crack squad of Swiss Guards, using the UN’s special black helicopters, spirited the Winchester away (swaddled in a fragment of Jesus’ funerary shroud) to the most secure room of the Vatican, one even more secure and unknown than anything in a Dan Brown novel.
There, it was decided that the holiest of bishops would hold the Gun, to try to divine its true purpose. Grasping it through the tatters of the shroud, he closed his eyes and raised the gun before him. For a moment, nothing, then vapors began to arise from his hands, and his eyes snapped open. The bishop gasped and his hands began to smoulder. “Any man. . . of true faith. . . who doth,” he coughed, and some blood dribbled over his lips, “shoot his foe with a Winchester. . . shall,” his knees started to buckle, and the smell of divinely-purged flesh filled the room with its magical, charred perfume, “. . . never . . . miss!” And with that he fell, dead as a rag doll, and a halo limned his visage just long enough for eight people to take a picture with their cellphone cameras.
The pope’s secretary looked at the captain of the Swiss Guards. “Does that make any sense to you?”
The captain did not reply, because by the time he opened his mouth millions of people had heard the prophecy and made up their own minds. Those lucky few with Winchesters took them outside and began shooting things at random. They shot blindfolded, they shot at night, they shot through paper walls, they shot in the opposite direction of their target. And in every instance they hit their intended target. Within hours, the world knew of this most holy of blessings.
Unfortunately, some enterprising young gentleman in the Levant realized the significance of this prophecy, so he arranged to borrow an antique Winchester from his rich uncle and fired three shots from it into the air. The first travelled sub-orbitally and shattered the brain-pan of the President of the United States, while the other two travelled a gentler arc and blew out the left ventricle chambers of the Pope and the Grand Ayatollah of Iran. As he was about to fire his fourth shot (destined for the Prime Minister of Israel), security forces burst in on him and shot him dead (not with Winchesters, so it took many rounds to do so). They had gotten tipped off by the fact that the gentleman had Twittered his intentions to his 6.510 followers earlier that morning.
By that time, the cat was not only out of the bag, but it had clawed all of the furniture into pieces and had spawned a swarm of kittens who did the same.
The Holy Winchester is to this day still in the Vatican, where it is said they have tried every method possible to destroy it. Possessing a Winchester, which is now officially an Avatar of God’s (or Gods’) Wrath , means instant execution, unless the holder sees them coming. We all carry guns now, in the hopes that God will make our aim as true as those of Jesus’ Holy Winchester.