(or How I Learned To Stop Worrying About The Rapture and Love Christopher Walken)
[Warning: The contents of this story are terrible, hazardous to your health and may present a choking hazard for gerbils and small children. (What kind of deranged parent would read this crap to kids?) Side effects may include dry mouth, migraines, dysentery, rhubarb, mild hair loss, diarrhoea, dementia, apple-bottom, apoplexy, and/or vaginal burning. Do not read under any circumstance.]
It began with The Rapture. It wasn’t what we’d expected. Nobody vanished into thin air. Nobody was sucked up out of their clothes into the sky. Well, a couple people were – in Alabama – it always happens in Alabama – but as soon as the aliens realized that something else significant was happening, they spit them back out.
No, when The Rapture came, people just dropped dead in their tracks. Not everyone. Not the Jews. Not the Muslims. Not the atheists, the Buddhists, the agnostics or even the Gnostics (although nobody actually knew what a Gnostic even was)… Not the Scientologists…
Not even the Mormons. Sorry Mormons… Well… No. Not really. And to be honest, none of the Mormons were terribly disappointed about missing The Rapture, either.
As it turned out, the resurrection that Jesus had promised was a literal one. Literally. Everyone who had ever been saved and accepted Jesus into their hearts, who had even been accidentally splashed with a little holy water and was at least agreeable to the whole notion was instantly raised from the dead.
Yeah. Like that. It was nasty. The living who had fallen simultaneously that April morning rose on Sunday – Easter of course – promptly scaring the living shit out of every single attendee at their funerals, of which there were mercifully few, as a significant portion of the western world had recently and inexplicably dropped dead. And then risen again.
A few problems became immediately evident. For one, many folks had been cremated over the years so wisps and clouds of ash were soon witnessed gathering cohesion and floating about like gritty, dirty ghosts, only to be swept frustratingly away by the slightest breeze, often landing in someone’s drink, generally a hazard near cafes, where they were often mistaken for latte garnish.
For another, there were suddenly billions of corpses, who were lately Christians, crawling from their graves and rotting in the midday sun. They didn’t lurch around craving brains or trying to eat the living. Instead, they did just what they had done in life.
They attended mass. (And since most of the pastors and priests had also been Raptured, they were also performing the services.) The smell, to say the least, was ungodly. Every available patch of grass on God’s green earth was carpeted by decomposing Christians praying and trying in vain to put together a decent choir that didn’t amount to a decaying cacophony of hissing and moaning through a gaggle of worm-eaten larynxes.
All over the world, people clamored for relief from the non-violent but malodorous onslaught of zombified holy rollers (except for the Middle East, where a sizeable majority of folks were only too glad to see every Christian made a corpse of.) The living minority cried out to the government, the military and every conceivable deity to save them from the Christian dead.
On the floor of the American House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans squabbled over inane minutia like whether or not zombies praying on municipal property constituted a breach of secular policy and opened them up to a civil liberties lawsuits or whether the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the walking dead the same freedoms of speech, religion and the right to assemble peaceably.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses had, unfortunately, been omitted from The Rapture. Many were disappointed, especially those of us who liked to sleep in on Saturdays. Many of the Jehovah’s Witnesses could be seen wandering the streets looking sad and forlorn and trying in vain to join in on the zombie church services, but the risen dead only sneered (those with faces at least) and sat apart from them until they drifted away, feeling rejected and resumed handing out Watch Tower pamphlets to the rest of us.
We all threw our hands up in the air and decided that not even St Peter wanted them knocking on his door. It wasn’t until several lapsed Catholics finally got around to attending one of the Catholic zombie masses that they noticed something definitive was missing from the service. The Eucharist.
Whenever the Resurrected papists got to the part of the mass where they would ordinarily sanctify a holy wafer and a cup of wine and pass it around as the body and blood of Christ, they all stopped and looked around rather confused and disoriented before finally looking skyward, tilting their heads in question, (much the way a dog does when you speak to it in Klingon) and then after a few baffling minutes, began their service again, without so much as a pee break.
Word got around that all the undead Christians were having the same sort of confusion and shortly, people began to suspect that more was still to come. They begged and pleaded and looked skyward, waiting for God or Buddha or L. Ron Hubbard or whoever to finally do something – anything!
We waited out the summer, bemused, perplexed and buying whole boxes of Febreze and hanging those car air fresheners around our necks. St John always said that no man would know the hour. I think Jesus just had the good sense to wait until the weather cooled and the stink died down before he returned. Perhaps having to endure the stench of billions of walking, kneeling, genuflecting cadavers was part of our foretold tribulation.
On Christmas morning, the sky burst forth in a blinding light and the clouds parted and as the aliens descended slowly in their ships and people wandered outside barefoot into the snow in their pyjamas, suddenly a great booming voice echoed out across every corner of the land, proclaiming, “Ah shit. Sorry. Our bad.” And then they left again.
Jesus showed up some time around noon. He said he’d been in the garden all morning. As it turned out, he’d been at an Olive Garden in Toronto, taking advantage of an Endless Pasta Pass he’d got on Groupon. When asked why the King of the Jews needed a discount, he replied, “You just answered your own question. ZING!”
Other than the bad racist puns, Jesus turned out to be a pretty cool guy. He shunned the rich folks, who he’d never liked, especially, as he put it, “Those uber-conservative nutcases.” He liked kids and animals and went to all the best parties and spent a great deal of time with hookers and meth addicts, who he said had all the best stories. He also thoroughly disliked being called Jesus, scowling at the very name and asking, “Do I look even remotely Hispanic to you?!”
He insisted on being called Yeshua for formality but otherwise he was good with “Josh.”
His return did not last long. As much as he enjoyed life on earth, by New Year’s eve he had nearly vanished, choosing to spend his last hours alone at a deserted Olive Garden. After midnight, as the confused remnants of the Western world watched the ball drop in Time Square, Jesus walked out into the throngs of zombie Christians who’d gathered outside his Olive Garden refuge and joined his people.
They immediately began eating him. It seemed rather painful. He didn’t cry out or scream, but the looks on his face were excruciating (if you’ll forgive the usage.) As each Raptured zombie took a bite out of Jesus, they instantly looked relieved and blissful and then fell back to the ground, their appetite apparently sated and finally died. Again.
His flesh and blood regenerated as each took a mouthful and collapsed and over the next month, Jesus toured the world, apparently in a great deal of agony and in need of several changes of clothing as each outfit was invariably torn apart or inherently swallowed, bite by bite. As the last of the Raptured fell, the aliens finally returned, carrying the archangels Michael and Gabrielle who bore a striking resemblance to John Travolta and Christopher Walken, respectively.
They stood atop the hovering saucers, explaining to the few who dared ask that their wings were largely vestigial, and could do little more than slow their descent should they drunkenly fall out of a flaming chariot or something. And then in great booming voices they announced to the world that the Rapture was concluded, as promised, and that the beast with many faces was just a mistranslation of the beast with many backs, and was the accidental inclusion into Revelations of the depiction of an ancient Roman orgy.
They also pointed out that the Jews and Muslims were, in fact, God’s chosen few all along, and that this whole zombie mess could have been averted it we’d all just refrained from eating pork as was decreed in Leviticus. Pigs, they both assured us, were an invasive alien species which carried the zombie virus and passed it on to those who ate bacon.
Then after a minor discussion with the survivors, they accepted the fact that this would probably happen again in another couple millennia because, hey, let’s face it, bacon is pretty fucking amazing.
And then we all partied for a while.
Because hey, it’s Travolta and Walken. With aliens.
And then we spent what felt like an eternity trying to rebury all the dead. Or undead. Or once-again-dead, or whatever. And that sucked.