The God State
“I don’t think that’s smart,” Sandeep said.
“What? Do you think I’m stupid?” she questioned.
“Anna, come back,” Bruce pleaded, and when she didn’t listen he followed her inside.
“Hello!” she shouted, her voice echoed against metal walls.
“Shush,” a voice called out from the darkness. A flashlight shined on his face. “We are just about to start taping.”
“Lars?” Bruce said, recognizing his face.
Lars smiled and swung his arms open to give Bruce a hug. “Mr. Bruce, Ms. Anna and Mr. Sandeep, it’s you. Yes, you’re just in time.”
“What’s going on here?” Bruce asked.
“This is Infinity! Goddorah’s favorite game show!” Lars exclaimed gleefully, and you three are our next competitors.”
“I think there is some mistake,” Anna said, “We’re just looking for the exit.”
“Brilliant! Great answer. I know you’ll be great. Follow me,” Lars said, escorting them down an aisle with the audience of darkened, blank faces seated on either side, up the steps to a stage with three sets of podiums, and in the front was a big black screen. “Now just stand here behind these three podiums,” he said, gesturing to the stands on the left.
“Really, we are not prepared to play a game. We just arrived,” Bruce said.
“You arrived! Good one. I know you’re going to do great.”
Bruce stood at his podium and looked across the stage at a man and two women, all wearing motif sweaters, and glowing, inspired expressions.
“What are we doing?” Anna asked, whispering aside to Bruce.
“Apparently, they want us to play a game,” he replied.
Sandeep stood at the last podium next to Bruce and Anna eager to play. “I love games!” He waved to the audience. “This should be fun.”
A laser cut a bright light through the back of the stage. George emerged wearing a star motif sweater, and a microphone in his hand. “Hello, and welcome to This is Infinity!” he yelled into the mic, as the enthusiastic audience chanted in unison. “Let me introduce our Goddorah family, the Schmitt’s: Edgar, Delores, and Mitsi.” The crowd applauded. “And on our left, new to Goddorah our friends: Bruce, Anna, and Sandeep!” Another round of cheers from the audience. He walked toward Bruce’s podium. “Let’s meet our guests.” He glanced at an index card. “Bruce, it says here, you are self-help author and speaker. So tell the audience, how you help the self.”
“No,” Bruce said, “I’m a self-help expert. I teach others to help themselves.”
“About the self?” George asked.
“Maybe. Sometimes. I help others get in touch with themselves,” Bruce muttered.
“How do you do that?”
Bruce tapped his fingers on the podium. “I don’t really know.”
George positioned the microphone before Bruce’s lips. “And you make a good living doing what you don’t know what you’re doing?”
“Ah yes,” Bruce uttered.
“Fantastic!” George exclaimed, striding toward Anna’s podium. “You are a homemaker correct?” When she nodded, he continued, “How exactly do you make homes? Are you a carpenter like Jesus?”
She laughed. “No. I’m a mother. I take care of the home, cook and clean.”
“So, you’re not actually making anything then?” he asked.
Anna glared at him. “I am raising two boys!”
“Excellent,” George replied, stepping to Sandeep. “You work for a computer help desk. How do you help desks?”
Sandeep chuckled. “I don’t actually help desks.”
“Pity,” George said, “I know plenty of desks that can use help.” The audience laughed.
Sandeep exchanged glances with Bruce and Anna, as if George was completely whacked.
George walked away from their platforms to the large screen. He swung his arm dramatically to the screen, which lit up as he spoke, “And now, it’s time to look at our categories - Collected Consciousness, I Am, Beyond Belief, Space Odyssey, and the last category, Juice.” He turned toward Bruce. “We’ll start with our new visitors. You can choose the first category.”
Bruce felt his pride surge. He had been studying philosophy his entire life, this is a game he felt sure he could succeed at. “I’ll take Collected Consciousness for two hundred.”
George read aloud the question from the card, “A Phenomenon that occurs when particles interact in ways where each particle cannot be described independently, but must be described as a whole.”
With his hand on the buzzer, Bruce paused, giving time for his competitor to buzz in.
Edgar from the opposite podium rang his buzzer. “What is the quantum theory of entanglement?”
“That is correct!” George exclaimed. “You get to pick the next category.”
“I’ll take Beyond Belief for two hundred!” Edgar replied.
“Okay, and the next question is, what is the universal language?” George asked.
Anna rang in quickly. “What is French?”
“Ooh, I’m sorry that is incorrect,” George responded.
“No, it’s right. French is the universal language,” Anna asserted. “I answered correctly.”
“Very sorry, you are wrong,” George said.
Anna placed her hands on her hips. “No, I’m right.”
Delores, from the other team buzzed in. “I believe the correct answer is frequency.”
“That is correct! The universal language is frequency! Well done, Delores,” George said, “The next question is yours.”
“I think this game is rigged!” Anna declared.
“Shush,” Bruce said softly.
“But I’m right, Bruce. This game is fixed for the Goddorah team to win,” Anna protested.
George ignored Anna’s griping. “Delores, please pick the next question.”
“I Am for two hundred, George,” Delores responded.
“Alright and here’s the question, an apprehension of lying tacitly in the back of our minds, which we cannot easily admit, even to ourselves. The Germans call this?” George asked.
Mitsi jumped up and down and squealed in a little girl voice, “Hintergedanke!” The audience erupted in a rousing cheer.
“Hintergedanke! That is correct!” George exclaimed, as Bruce and Anna rolled their eyes.
“Game is fixed. They made that up. There is no such word,” Anna muttered.
“Mitsi, you get to choose the next category,” George said.
Mitsi bounced on her toes and she nervously looked over the categories. “George, I’ll take juice for two hundred.”
I like juice, Sandeep thought, as he placed his hand just above the buzzer.
George read the question, “This juice refers to the divine seer of universal truth.”
Sandeep pounded the buzzer. “Soma juice!’ he yelled out and then breathlessly repeated, “The answer is soma juice.”
“That is correct! Two hundred points for our new visitors!” George yelled.
Bruce and Anna watched as Sandeep raised his hands in victory with the bright lights shining on him, and when the drama was over, and the game ended, the three were shown the back door, where Anna hoped was the exit to the parking lot, but just led to yet another path.