In the beginning… oh hell, forget that. There was no beginning. Gods are eternal beings. We always were. At least that’s what I think. The Big Guy says he created me, but he says a lot of things that ain’t necessarily so. Anyway, after an eternity of sitting in darkness doing squat, he got the idea of creating a universe. I don’t know why it took him so long to come up with it. Being all-wise and so forth, but refer back to the disclaimer above. My memory of fourteen billion years ago is a bit hazy, but we were all here then; me, Michael, Gabriel, YHWH and the rest. Yeah, he calls himself YHWH. As the lord of all creation, you’d think he could buy a vowel. But he’s so touchy about things like that.
So, his followers have a book that says he made the entire universe in six days. Nope. In usual YHWH fashion he dicked around for five days and then pulled an all nighter. That’s why he did such a worthless job. I mean platypuses and penguins? Give me a break. This universe has amateur night written all over it. And if you’re a cosmologist, yes this is the first iteration. It definitely could use a reset. His followers say there was a reset a few thousand years ago with a big flood, but no, that was a local thing. It was just a big oops on YHWH’s part, anyway. He’s like a bull in a china shop. No finesse. But I digress.
Anyway, he created everything. And as his book says, he created man, “male and female created he them.” Basically, they were golems. Look it up. He called them Adam and Lilith. Then he created a ton of animals and told Adam he could name them. So Adam named them Harry, Joe, Eugene and so on until YHWH stopped him and explained that’s not what he meant. Adam wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. So he started over, “dog, cat, fly”… No one seemed to care what Lilith wanted to call them. Her job was to tidy up the garden and sweep out the elephant dung. “Emu, lion, blue-tailed skink”…
YHWH liked to come to the garden and sit with them in the evening’s cool. He’s always had a problem with the heat. Fortunately, it never bothered me. He liked things as they were. He’d sit, Lilith would fawn over him and Adam was still naming animals… “mosquito, mouse, wombat”.
Things were slow in the ether one day, so I decided to drop by Eden to see how things were going. I caught up with Lilith carrying a huge load of elephant dung down to the river.
“Let me help with that,” I said.
“Thanks.” In the background I heard… “monkey, cobra, antelope”…
“You know, it would be easier if you wove some of those grasses into a basket, or we could take some poles and make a travois. Something like that would work better.” She just looked at me blankly. Seeing as she was buck naked, I figured out they hadn’t gotten around to inventing things yet. So, I went more basic.
“How about fire to cook your food, or for warmth?”
“It is always warm here. What is cook? Our food is the fruit, berries and nuts all around us.”
“How about tools to help you do your work?”
“We do no work. Adam names the animals and I clean up. That is how it has always been.”
This was worse than I’d thought. YHWH was keeping them ignorant. Buck naked, no tools, no art, totally vegan, not a lean steak in sight. It was just wrong. These talking animals had so much potential. It was just a waste.
“Hey, Lilith,” Adam interrupted us. “I gotta go to the beach. YHWH wants me to name all the animals in the ocean. I’ll be back in a few days. By the way, I just named gorilla and he pooped all over the place. Be sure to clean it up.”
Okay, I thought. This is just ridiculous.
“Lilith, girl. I need to show you something,” I said. “Let’s go to the center of the garden.”
When we got there, Lilith shouted, “Dammit! That freaking gorilla got crap on everything. It will take me all day to clean this up.”
“Not to worry,” I said. I pulled a little power from my center, waved my hands and the gorilla crap all faded away.
“You can do that?” she cried incredulously.
“No prob,” I bragged.
“Show me how.”
“Uh, I can’t. I can do it, you can’t.”
“But come with me over here. We have these two trees. The tree of knowledge and the tree of life,” I showed her.
“Yeah, YHWH said not to mess with them. They’re deadly.”
“If YHWH said you could eat whatever you wanted, then why would he put something deadly right here in the middle of the garden?”
“I don’t know. YHWH moves in mysterious ways?”
I walked up to the tree of knowledge and picked off a piece of knowledge fruit. It was golden, luscious and ripe. “Here, taste this. I think you’ll see things differently.”
She took a bite, golden juice dribbling down her chin. She giggled and wiped it off. In a few more bites it was all gone. She looked around with her eyes wide. “What a fool I’ve been. I’ve been working like a slave here while Adam sits around on his fat and does nothing but call out stupid words like kangaroo or boomslang or tell me to fetch him a bunch of grapes. And YHWH just watches and laughs. I’ve been so stupid.”
“Not stupid. Just ignorant. There is a difference.”
“Just wait till that jerk gets back. He’s going to get a piece of my mind.”
Not so good for Adam, but maybe Lilith could kick start humanity toward its destiny.
When Adam got back, Lilith was waiting for him. She uttered for the first time the four words that have forever struck fear in the heart of every man — “we need to talk.” It didn’t begin well, never got better and ended worse. “That’s it. I’ve had it with you, YHWH and the whole garden thing. I’m packing my fig leaf and leaving. The Nephilim are having a rave over in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Gabriel’s my ride. I’m outta here!” was how she left.
“Fig leaf?” Adam asked.
Sometime later, I came upon YHWH wandering around Heaven glowering. He’s always had a hairtrigger temper and is generally cranky, but today he looked quite perturbed about something in particular, not just his general unpleasantness.
“What up, Big Guy?” I asked.
“I’ve told you don’t call me that. And I’m pissed at Lilith. That shameless hussy has gone and left Adam. He’s been moaning that he has too much work without Lilith to help him. He said she took off with Gabriel. Said she called him a sadistic son of a bitch and a dickless man. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she’s been eating off the tree of knowledge. I probably made a mistake making them out of equal mud. I’ll fix it though. I’ll make Adam a new helper and I’ll make sure she knows her place.”
So he did and called her Eve.
Adam finally finished naming all the animals. YHWH let him skip the big lizard looking things because they weren’t going to survive anyhow. Now he could devote more of his time to laying about the garden and directing Eve in what needed doing.
Lilith eventually heard that Adam had a new maid, so she sneaked back to Eden for a look-see. She was not surprised. Adam was lying on a bed of leaves, hand in his lap, fondling his balls. He was getting a little thick around the waist. Eve was looking a little worse for wear, fetching him food and keeping the animal dung in the garden cleared. When Eve was out of sight of Adam, Lilith grabbed her arm and said, “Girlfriend, we need a heart to heart.”
It didn’t take her long to get Eve to the tree of knowledge and have her eat a piece. Eve, now a smart cookie in her own right, decided to bring Adam into the fold so she took him a piece of the fruit.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Isn’t a little knowledge a dangerous thing?”
“Don’t be cute. Just eat the damn thing.”
Once both their eyes were opened they realized how empty their lives had been. They’d had no purpose, no dreams, nothing to look forward to. Now they did. Especially the sex which they explored enthusiastically. Eve remembered how Lilith had worn a grass skirt. She realized that a little near nudity was more erotic than total nudity. It’s all about the tease. So, she fashioned leaf skirts for both of them. Adam was dubious, but when Eve threatened to cut off the sex, he immediately complied.
All this time, YHWH had been dealing with a black hole situation over in the Andromeda galaxy. Remember this was his first shot at universe making. He wasn’t a physicist; didn’t know dark matter from Darth Vader and the galaxy was in a mess. He finally got everything back in order. He came back and just wanted a quiet evening in the garden. When he got there, no one was around.
“Where is everyone?” he wondered. Usually they ran to meet him. He wandered around until he heard giggling coming from some bushes.
“Adam, Eve. That you?” he called. There was hurried whispering and then the two crept out of the bushes, blushing and their hair in disarray. The little leaf skirt did not hide Adam’s rapidly dwindling erection.
“What’s going on here? What were you doing in there?” YHWH demanded.
“Uh, nothing,” Adam said.
“And what’s with the skirts?”
“Well, it was kinda drafty here in the garden and…”
“Bull!” roared the Almighty. “You’ve been eating from the tree of knowledge, haven’t you!” he accused.
Then came the first ever case of someone being thrown under the bus.
“It’s all Eve’s fault. She made me eat it,” Adam babbled. Eve’s eyes flew open wide.
“What?” she screeched. “You blame me? You’ve been happy enough to play in the bushes all day long. I think you get a little responsibility here, too, Bucko.”
“Eve, who told you to eat from the tree of knowledge?” YHWH demanded.
For about a nanosecond she thought of ratting on Lilith but she decided she was better than Adam. There is such a thing as female solidarity. She cast about for ideas and noticed a snake walking by.
“It was the snake. Yeah, the snake. He told me to do it,” she exclaimed, pointing at the snake. YHWH whipped around and pointed his finger at the snake. Lightning came from his fingertip and suddenly the snake was on the ground, his legs turned to ash.
“What the heck did I do?” whined the snake. YHWH pointed again, yelling “Silence!” and the snake’s tongue split in half and all he could say was “Ssssshit.”
YHWH was having an old-fashioned hissy fit.
“From this day forward the three of you will be enemies. The snake will be poison and seek to bite you wherever he finds you. Man and woman will fear him and beat his head in with clubs. Men will no longer understand women, nor women, men. I will make their minds think differently. And since you like sex so much there will be consequences. You will do it to create more people to be slaves to my whims. And you will bear them in intense pain.” He was on a roll.
“What’s Adam’s punishment?” Eve asked.
“Um, I don’t know. I’ll think of something. Maybe he has to cut off a piece of his dick and if you kick him in the balls, it’ll hurt real bad. Yeah, and he can only come once a day. Now get the hell out of my garden!”
So, there you have it. That’s how I helped man escape the slavery of the garden. YHWH has bumbled along a few millennia since then, screwing up one thing after another. Couldn’t even keep his son from being killed, although that was an idiotic plan from the get go. He spends a lot of time slandering me. And my name? Oh, I’ve had many names. Morning Star, Light Bringer, Prometheus. But my favorite is Lucifer.
Curtis A. Bass (Curtisstories.blog) is a writer of short stories in a variety of genres from the American South. He has been published in several online and print journals. When not writing he prefers to stay active ballroom dancing or downhill skiing. He is currently working on his second novel.
This story originally appeared in April 2020 in Scarlet Leaf.