Image: Google Images – labelled for re-use.
Josiah Bell was a switchman like his Pappy before him. He had a gimpy leg from an accident he had when he was six so he walked the tracks carrying his lantern in one hand and a long pole in the other. On top of the pole, he hung a red kerchief on a nail which he liked to wave at the engineers as they drove their enormous machines along the tracks.
He was working the yards in Chicago and it was damn early in the morning and cold. He done heard on the radio what those Hitler and Mussolini fellas was doing and how them Germans sent their army into peaceful Denmark and Norway. Josiah was a peaceful man and a simple one but he didn’t take to no bullies. He’d been bullied plenty as a child because of his bum leg. A lot of folks wanted America to stay out of that mess in Europe and maybe they were right, but then who was gonna take care of those bullies?
The 3:10 from Omaha was just coming up to his switch. Josiah set down his pole and grasped the metal bar and with a practiced hand and steely sinews, pulled, switching the course of the train from the main line to the freight yards. Then he stood, putting most of weight on his good leg and waved his lantern. No use waving the kerchief on the pole, too dark to see it.
Actor Tom Ellis as “Lucifer”. © Tricia Helfer. Found at Buzzymag.com
“Welcome to Hell, Daniel, where we’ll try to make your stay as uncomfortable as possible.”
“Wait. What? Where am I? Who are you and what happened to me?”
“There, there dear Daniel. I’ll try to explain.”
From Daniel Katz’s point of view, he was standing in a large, empty white room in front of a tall, charming fellow with a British accent. The man wore a tailored black suit, his dark gray shirt open at the collar, black hair, and deep brown eyes which seemed to pick up a bit of red from time to time.
“You see, you died.”
Ed Tillman noticed the diminutive, middle-eastern gentleman enter the sanctuary and take a seat in the back right before Pastor Taylor began his sermon. Ed was seated in the back as well, but not by design. He’d been waiting for his friend Phil to show up, but he hadn’t been coming to Ed’s church lately.
Ed had expected to see Phil again at the end of what he called the Month of Elul. Ed had completed the thirty-day plan of prayer and repentance his friend had suggested. Elul, the Jewish High Holy Days, and the holiday of Sukkot were long gone, but so apparently was Phil.
When Phil was absent, Ed usually sat with his friend Mark and his family, but Mark’s wife Evelyn had the flu and Mark stayed home to take care of her, leaving Ed to attend alone once again.
As usual, Ed was taking notes on Pastor’s sermon, which this week was on how the grace of Jesus Christ had replaced the Law, but he kept sneaking peeks at the stranger. He didn’t often see people from the middle-east here. The man was dressed well, but not expensively. He had a full, rich beard streaked with gray, and was nearly bald.
I promised Anthony Marchetta that I’d write a review on Amazon when I finished reading his book God, Robot. It went online yesterday. You can find it here.
However, for your convenience, I’ve reproduced my review below. Enjoy.
I feel a little like I’m proverbially biting the hand that has fed me. I heard about “God, Robot” several weeks ago from a friend of mine and was intrigued by the concept. After a bit of “Googling,” I found Anthony Marchetta’s blog. Before reading and reviewing his book, I wanted to take a crack at writing my own story based rather loosely on his concept of robots being programmed with the “two greatest commandments” rather than Asimov’s three laws.
With Mr. Marchetta’s permission, I have used his base concept to write and publish two short stories on my own blog and I’m currently working on a third. Now that I’ve finished his book, I’m here to write my review.