Fiction—Once there was an empty classroom

During the day, the door remains unlocked—the lights flicked on by a sleepy department head and flicked off by a custodian whose back vac makes her a ghostbuster.

A general lack of students keeps the air icy and free of the muck-must of human bodies, a scent corrupted by cheetos and the cheese of feet, although the room occasionally feeds on students looking for a place to study, romantic couples with forged hall passes, and, once, a red-nosed assistant principal who napped by the cabinets.

Some grease and wet spray still lies on the carpet.

Since classrooms have no natural predator, the room sits, and sits, like a forgotten box of baking soda in the fridge. Its stomach grew between Science classes and a weedwork of wires and pink-feather insulation. Feeding on rats.

Now the stomach sits, hungry.

There was a man once. The first pang of its profession came with the appearance of a bearded teacher. Shaggy, shortsighted as a bear with spectacles, the creature lumbered through the door and fell on the desk.

The room waited, hoping the teacher would attract others.

But the teach hid there, received his paycheck, watched for enemies at the door, put up posters that read, “You never fail until you stop trying,” and “It’s okay to not know but it’s not okay to not try.” Perhaps he operated under that mantra of bibles and baseball movies—if you build it, they will come.

No one came. The room ate the man, absorbed his funky odors. And life returned to the humdrum of air-conditioned lungs.

Fiction—The Immortal Dr. Bysshe

“It doesn’t matter” was his mantra.

“It doesn’t matter.”

In the bar, Dr. Bysshe clung to the utter frivolity and therefore futility of human life  its meaninglessness, its atoms, its empty spaces. He would witness a woman pulling gum off her shoe or a video of a school shooter offing himself after offing his class with the same perplexity, the same inquiry of who cares?

Every name, he argued, would be erased. No love, sorrow, contact, or conflict could endure the eternal siege of Time and Entropy.

So we have remembered him. It is our one countermeasure, or consolation.

Although Dr. Bysshe lived a hundred years ago, we remember, and we transmit his crushing spirit forward across state lines and timelines.

We will immortalize his shattered visage, his wrinkled lip, his frown, and his philosophic vision that so neatly suspends us over the Pit, so that all may look on his Works and Laugh, before completing their flight and lying down to sleep in lonesome sands.

Trailers for future installments of the God is Not Dead franchise

Senator Hurpkins walks into his office. He looks unhurried, self-assured. All of his secretaries, even the male ones, are huddled around Janet’s desk. Janet looks at him urgently. “Bill, you got to see this.” Hurpkins takes the document she’s holding and looks at it closely. “No,” he says. “That’s not possible.” Janet explains what he’s seeing because movie audiences don’t read good. “They want to delete God’s name from the Constitution. The Constitution.” (The film takes some liberties.) Hurpkins is visibly upset: “NOT THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION. Not on my watch. NOT ON MY WATCH.”

Quick shots of the Declaration of Independence with black highlighter over “Nature’s God” and coins dropping on a counter which read “In Nothing We Trust.” Elementary students recite the pledge of allegiance, skipping “under God.” Scenes of Senator Hurpkins filibustering in front of Congress with an earnest Mr. Smith Goes to Washington desperation. A narrator voiceover: “When the United States of America decides it wants to erase every mention of God from the country, Senator Hurpkins is the only politician willing to fight back. But at the end of the day, Hurpkins has to ask himself, in WHO does HE trust?” Cue the same shot of coins dropping on the counter. Narrator: “The stakes have never been higher.” A fancy dinner party, people are eating steaks. The pun is unnatural, forced. Narrator, again: “He will have to defend God in front of every enemy imaginable. Democrats. The Liberal Media. Planned Parenthood. And… himself?” Hurpkins, kneeling in the street, holds the dead body of Janet. She’s been hit by a drunk driver. He takes a swig of a bottle of Scotch and shakes his fist at the sky. Onscreen, cue the words: “God’s Not Dead 9.” Narrator: “This holiday break, you’ll have to SEE IT to BELIEVE IT.”

A funeral. A procession of grim-faced men bearing a casket on their shoulders. A circle of mourners as the casket’s lowered into the ground. A shovelful of dirt lands on the lid, now placed in its grave. An onlooking celebrity, maybe Tom Hiddleston, holds an umbrella over a crying widow and says, “I can’t believe he’s gone.” His companion, hopefully John C. Reilly, not because he’s perfect for the part, but because I really like John C. Reilly, he’s just a great guy, he’s funny, plus when you see John C. Reilly in a movie you know that at least it’ll have some excellent comic relief, looks around curiously, “What’s that sound?”
The sediments on the casket are vibrating like at the end of Superman v. Batman. Whatever’s inside is alive and powerful. Cut to black. Onscreen, cue the words: “God’s Not Dead 27.” Tom Hiddleston says the arc words, “He has not abandoned us,” which have a haunting, poetic effect.
Little girls jump-rope. Some teenagers jump into a cherry-red Lamborghini Aventador (careful product placement which should pay for half of the movie). Dads mow their lawns and wave impotently at each other. The mediocre tranquility of the Suburbs. Narrator: “The kids of Sugar Creek don’t know it yet, but something is coming to get them.” An actress in her late twenties who’s playing a freshman in high school wakes up coated in fear-sweat. Sexy fear-sweat. The actress, Jennifer Lawrence or maybe new talent, runs downstairs. “Mom! MOM!” she shouts. Mom grabs her by the shoulders: “What, what is it, my little hushpuppy?” The actress has no time for cute names: “I saw him! I saw him!” “Who?” The girl sobs into Mom’s wool cardigan: “I saw God.” The Mom stares enigmatically into the distance as if struck by old but traumatic memories. “Dear Lord,” she says. “He’s back.”
A montage of scenes with teenagers in the grips of terrible, divine events. A teenaged boy, screaming. There are holes in his hands. A girl being dragged up the wall, her arms splayed, her body forming the shape of a tee. Fresh blood on a wall which reads: “Repent.” Then a celebrity, undoubtedly Nicholas Cage, in fact it can’t be anyone else, it has to be Nicholas Cage, drives down a freeway at high speeds, a pistol in each hand pressed against the steering wheel. Nicholas Cage has a face that means business. Cut to Paul Giamatti in an orange prison suit, speaking to Cage from behind a pane of glass. Giamatti: “He’s coming for them!” Nicholas Cage hangs up a phone and walks away decisively. Giammati keeps shouting: “He’s coming for them all! The Lambs of God! Lambs for the slaughter!” Narrator: “No one knows where it came from, or who it will visit next.” The police dredge a body from the river as a dove lands beside red-and-blue flashing lights and watches menacingly. A teenager opens a drawer, sees a Bible, screams, shuts the drawer. Narrator: “God is Not Dead 59: Die Harder.” We see the actress from before crawling down a hall. The shadow of a robed, bearded man falls over her. A powerful voice, maybe Liam Neeson, maybe Benedict Cumberbatch, says, “You are all my children now!” The trailer cuts to black and dark laughter.