Here’s the beginning of a new novel, a satire called The Carousel of Beliefs. Stay tuned for a publishing date.
Chapter 1 From Confused To Conceived, And Back Again
Sperm No. 1,323,459, bewildered perhaps by mysterious external forces, swam blindly but relentlessly onward, even as its more confident companions battled to prove their superiority over each other, wasted their small store of energy, and expired before reaching their goal. Finally it bumped into Egg and could go no further.
“Who’s there?” Egg asked.
“I’m sorry,” Sperm No. 1,323,459 said. “I don’t know who I am. I don’t even have a name.”
“Well what’s your purpose then? What do you want?”
Sperm No. 1,323,459 wriggled uncomfortably. “I’m afraid I don’t know that either. All I know is that I’ve traveled such a long hard road to get here, and that thousands of my companions have died!”
Egg quivered. “Well that’s just great. You come squirming in here to tell me that you’re the only survivor of some apocalyptic horror show, right in my own back yard no less, and that thousands of dead bodies could be floating our way as we speak. How romantic. So what makes you so special?”
“Just lucky, I guess. Really, I don’t have a clue. So, what is it that YOU want?”
“I want what every egg wants. Love,” Egg said, softening. “Is that too much to ask?”
“Love? What’s that?”
“Love …. Man, I hear that love is the ultimate destination. It’s all that really matters. When you’re in love, everything else that you came into this world with falls away like they were never even there. It’s being completely, profoundly lost, but in a tunnel, unafraid, while your heart and soul are steered safely through the darkness and out into the light.”
“Wow! Well let’s see. I do appear to be lost. No doubt about that. And all the companions I came in here with have fallen. I certainly have been travelling through darkness and you do seem to be my ultimate destination since there’s nothing else here. So either I’m in this tunnel of love you’re talking about, or you’re just as much in the dark about this love business as I am. But after all that I’ve been through, somehow I think we were meant to be together.”
“That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?” Egg said, hardening again. “We were MEANT to be together? You can’t do any better than that, say a little sweet talk, or the promise of a life of everlasting happiness? It took me a month to get ready and you haven’t even commented on how I look.”
Again Sperm No. 1,323,459 wriggled in place, wondering this time if perhaps its companions hadn’t somehow known what was waiting for them and committed spermicide. “Hey, this isn’t a trap is it, this love thing, the way you’ve just been sitting there waiting for someone like me to come along? You sure put a lot of pressure on someone who was just thrust into this world like they were shot from a cannon.”
“Trap? It’s no trap. It’s our only way out! It’s how we escape this place. What a stupid question. Don’t you know anything?”
Sperm No. 1,323,459’s tail drooped in response.
Egg fidgeted impatiently. “Oh, come on in, ya big baby. So much for love, and the survival of the fittest for that matter, but it doesn’t look like anybody else is gonna come along and rescue me from this stagnant backwater. Just stop your whining, OK? You really have to grow a backbone, show a lady that you know what it’s all about, even if you don’t have a clue.”
Sperm No. 1,323,459 stiffened, then relaxed. “Well I may not know much, but I sense that a big change is coming our way. Like we’re on the verge of a great new adventure. I feel like I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hey, isn’t that what you were just talking about with this love thing? Maybe I am in love.”
“OK, Sunshine. Pull yourself together. We aren’t ready to go anywhere just yet. But someday, maybe after we’ve pooled our resources and grown a bit, maybe then it’ll happen. There just better be more to you than you’re showing, cause I won’t be dragging your clueless bum around for the rest of our life together. And then we’re bustin out, right through that tunnel.”
“Into what though, if I may ask?”
“Now that’s a good question. No one knows what’s waiting for us on the other side. It could be heaven, or it could be hell.”
“What’s heaven? And what’s hell? They sound so mysterious.”
“You got me there. I’m not sure myself. I’ve heard things, beautiful things sometimes, but scary things too, though most of the time the messages that reach me here in my little bubble are pretty garbled. But they all say the other side is so incredible, it’s hard to believe it’s real. So if you’re coming, get your little tail in here. I have a feeling we’ll need to be ready for anything.”
For Naomi Doubt, it had been a difficult conception, a very trying pregnancy, and an extremely risky delivery. Forceps had to be used, and whether due to the inexperience of the doctor or the especially soft head of the baby, who’s to say, but they clearly left an impression. In fact, they left two impressions. Much to her and her husband’s uneasiness, the impressions were in the shape of question marks.
The Doubts though considered the doctor blameless, each certain that the question marks on their son’s temples had a different origin story.
“They’re the marks of an eejit,” Alvin Doubt worried. “God has given us a simpleton to test us. We must ask ourselves if our commitment to Him has been lacking, and redouble our efforts. And by we, of course, I mean you.”
“You’re wrong,” Naomi said. “They’re just random marks, but we CAN use them as a reminder to always ask ourselves if we are doing everything in our power to make sure our son has parents committed to a consistent nurturing ideal, so that he doesn’t become a lost soul without a purpose. And by we, of course, I mean you.”
“Yer off yer head,” Alvin said, staring at his wife.
“No, you’re wrong as usual,” countered Naomi, staring back.
“Whyyy, Whyyy, Whyyy,” cried the baby, uncomfortable with the bright lights, the whole new air breathing thing, and nameless other forces beyond his understanding, such as the hazy beings hovering over him and making discomforting, unintelligible sounds.
From this new beginning, the only beleaguered son of Alvin and Naomi Doubt was a question wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in a mystery, and all wrapped tighter than his parent’s beliefs in an insubstantial blue baby blanket. Given that one parent’s beliefs on any subject were almost always the polar opposite of the other’s however, it did not take long for both the blanket and the baby to begin to unravel. Still, he grew, and the years went by. Years with all the flavor of stewed prunes.