Published

Hand of God

Hand of God
image : columbia.edu

I’m so glad Fictional Pairings published my story last December. Such a cool idea to publish fiction and pair the stories with music, so it was quite a treat to have these folks provide a soundtrack to my weird tale. And I must say, the selected tune fits the piece, as they say, like a glove.

Hand of God

by DL Shirey

Day clicked on and the city was about its business. Perpendicular streets, buildings in workaday beige, multistory windows with gray reflections of smudged, flat sky. Block upon uniform block, an automatic map I followed from here to there without thinking.

Then came a movement from above; two movements, from opposite edges of sky.

These were not clouds. They were too dark and well above where clouds should be. Huge, elongated shapes were suddenly moving toward each other at incredible speed. As space closed between them, their silhouettes bent, knuckling together like the letter C. And when the open tips collided, I expected a cataclysmic boom. It didn’t come.

All this occurred in two seconds, and the suddenness of the event made pedestrians cower. Dozens of people on the sidewalk around me dropped briefcases and coffees. I raised my own arms in reflex as if my bony wrists and splayed fingers might protect me from shadowy apocalypse.

I saw what happened next quite clearly. I was on Front Street with only a flat stretch of park between the river and me when, what I could only describe as the Hand of God, touched ground on the other side of the water. I don’t know which made me fall to the sidewalk first, that the ground shook violently at impact or because I was overwhelmed by the colossal size of Her thumb and finger. They blotted out distant mountains the instant they landed, but were gone just as quickly, racing sidelong to opposite horizons in the blink of an eye.

My brain had barely a moment to register what I’d witnessed, the impossibility of it all. Two gigantic digits, each a mile wide and their length stretched endlessly from above. A second later they were gone, fingertips raking the ground away from each other.

That’s when gravity changed.

Our world thrust upward and I could feel myself pressed to the sidewalk, like the city had pulled closer to the sky. Something tectonic had definitely occurred, although there was no fracturing of pavement or rumble under ground. The force of movement was completely silent, but the reactions on the street were not: cars screeched to a halt, and those that didn’t collided with the stopped vehicles. People picked themselves up, screaming in panic, and ran in every direction.

I was dazed, urging myself to wake from this dream. But no, another shadow filled the sky. The tip of an index finger hovered directly overhead, drawing closer and closer. It struck the ground in the middle of the manicured lawn in the park next to me. The impact was soundless, the vibration nauseating. But the finger didn’t linger, instantly retracting from where it came.

Everyone stopped.

Just a glint of light anticipated the object which next slammed into the grass. In the exact spot where the finger had pointed a huge metallic cylinder knifed its way into the turf. I don’t know how much of it was buried, but it stood three stories from the ground. It was capped by something twice that height, a mammoth red ball.

It had only been a few seconds since the finger had come and gone, but there was an unsettling permanence to this giant orb; its mere presence seemed indomitable, yet it neither moved nor made noise. In fact the only sound I could hear was my pulse pounding in my ears. As my heartbeat slowed and my heaving lungs finally found enough air, I noticed hushed conversations around me. Instead of fleeing, people were being drawn to the object, as if its invincibility was magnetic.

Everyone around me began walking toward it, but I hesitated. In twos and threes they brushed past me, awestruck, eyes gazing up at the monumental sphere. Crowds began to fill the park, drawn to the huge folds of grass that surrounded the half-buried marker.

I just shook my head and began backing slowly, taking small, scared steps, bumping into the waves of people being blindly pulled to the center of the park. Behind me someone yelled, Are you all crazy?, putting voice to the growing panic inside me.

I turned to run, but too late.

The sky dimmed again and an enormous face domed the heavens. A lipsticked grin parted over orthodontically-wired teeth and a deafening, shrill voice filled the world, “Hey Siri, give me directions to Starbucks.”

END

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