in the fade


  1. the pope, the antichrist, some birds and a 1979 creative writing assignment

    When I was in high school, I wrote a short story for my creative writing class called Ascension. In it, the Pope dies, giving way for the undercover anti-Christ to take over the reigns. Obviously, I was inspired by Nostradamus. In my story, good does not triumph over evil. In fact, the world ends with the anti-Christ in charge, which was a blow to the contingents of religious people who were trying desperately to right the wrong before the universe imploded, so we would at least all die without the taint of the devil on our souls. No such luck.

    Suffice it to say that, this being a Catholic school, my work of fiction did not go over well. Although my creative writing teacher was a lay person, he still thought I should hand in something else to avoid conflict with the head of the department; a nun whose name I forget but whom I shall refer to fondly as Sister Mary Elephant. I demurred, giving an impassioned plea as to how he should judge my work on its merits and not on moral grounds and not in a way that made me think he was frightened of a nun who stood 4’8” to his 6’2”. Honestly, I just had nothing else to turn in and my story was already a day late. And a good ending short, apparently.

    So Mr. A. reluctantly accepted Ascension and lo and behold, Sister Mary Elephant did happen to gaze her eyes upon my work. I was called into her office, where she said that she concurred with Mr. A. that the story did deserve a good grade, based on the writing. Then she winked at me - a mocking, evil sort of wink, if you can imagine a nun with that sort of thing - and told me Ascension was comedy gold. But…it was a horror story. Touché, Sister Mary Elephant. I got my A, and Sister got her point across that I was a blasphemous heathen.

    I thought of this story today because I thought of Nostradamus when some evil birds were shrieking outside my bedroom window. The great fortune teller did warn us about birds and the choosing of a new Pope:

    Unusual birds shall cry in the sky before the coming of the antichrist.

    Ok, he didn’t mention the Pope but I did in Ascension and I’m probably every bit the soothsayer that Nostradamus was. Which is to say, I’m pulling this shit out of my ass as I go along.

    So when I looked out the window and saw the evil shrieking birds making their strange noises, I could only conclude that the anti-Christ is nigh and we are all doomed.

    Unless. There’s always an unless.

    See, when the Papal people go to their underground cabal and use the Ouija board to divine the prophecy that will declare the new Pope, they are falling into the trap the ant-Christ and his minions set up a long time ago. Inevitably, given all the portents going on (wacky weather! asteroids! meteors! the harlem shake!) this will all lead to the new Pope being the bringer of death, evil and the end of mankind.

    (As told in Ascension, that brilliant short story written by a teenage girl back in 1979)

    In order to avoid this catastrophe, the Papal committee must change horses midstream. They have to scrap whatever they were planning on doing in that dank cellar and come up with a new plan to bring in a new Pope that doesn’t have ties to the underworld. 

    If I wasn’t so virulently anti-Catholic church, I would run for Pope myself. After all, a few years ago I came up with a list of things that would have churches all across the world packed to the rafters every Sunday, not just on Christmas and Easter. Yea, I know. People don’t run for Pope. They’re chosen. And something about having experience and a halo over your head and the secret code to get into the Vatican anteroom. None of which I have. But I do have ideas! And if they ever put the Pope vote to the people and if any one of you who are more pious (and more Catholic) than I should ever decide to run for the position, feel free to use my suggestions.

    • Cushions for the pews
    • Refreshments served intermittently in return for your gracious donation. Water and fruit will do. Nothing that crunches too loud.
    • The priest should sporadically interrupt mass to announce the football scores
    • Let the young kids come up to the altar to give “shouts out” to their homies
    • Have an opening and closing theme song. Something catchy, maybe a little free style rapping.
    • Mass should open with one of the altar boys shouting out “ARE YOU READY TO ROCK AND ROOOLLLLLL??”
    • The priest should have a catch phrase that everyone can say along with him. Like, “Jesus Christ on a Pogo Stick!” and then he can hop around on a pogo stick when he says it. That should get people laughing and feeling good.
    • Offer flavored communion wafers. Bubble gum, Strawberry, Pina Colada and Root Beer. You know, vodka flavors.
    • Right after the homily and before the breaking of the bread, have the altar boys come out and do a choreographed dance routine. For the girlies.
    • Put the day’s readings in graphic novel form
    • Give out tokens to each worshiper that shows up. When you get ten tokens, you get a Sunday off from church
    • Give out door prizes. First ten worshiper in the door get free jar of holy water. For exorcisms and stuff.

    Yea, I know. The Catholic doctrine is pretty much etched in stone, carved in said stone by the albino clerks who live in the Vatican basement. How do I know that? I read it. In this story called Ascension.


    So, anyway. Beware the new Pope, whoever he may be. And keep an eye on the birds.