So, you know, I had this idea for a novel. I started it, but I’ve since discovered that jewel-like prose and engaging story-telling is a little bit hard, and when I couldn’t finish the whole thing over lunch, I’ve sort of given up. But then I had another brilliant idea! I’ll put up the first significant piece of the story, the really really important part, and let you people finish the rest for me. Just post the subsequent chapters in the comments, and I’ll splice them together and publish them and make a million dollars, and even more when I sell the movie rights. I’ll be sure to include your names somewhere in the endnotes.
The Vatican. Midnight.
Recently elevated Pope August III hurtled through the art-splattered halls of the Vatican, oblivious to the priceless beauty surrounding him, not even the precious original Da Vinci on the wall, which his staff had recently bought for $117 million American dollars — chump change for the wealthy cleric. He limped and staggered, blood streaming down his silken robes, but still he raced forward, away from the menacing terror pursuing him. He scurried through a door into the fabulous Cellini salt cellar, vaulted with papal agility over the stack of sainted femurs in the center of the room, and was then undone…he collided with Michaelangelo’s Pieta, and collapsed into her arms, on top of the dead Jesus, who was in no state to mind. His pope hat fell off with a clatter, revealing not a virile and powerful servant of God, but a tired, feeble old man, his face lined with care, his aged pores oozing sweat, his blood dripping like scarlet pancake batter, only runnier, onto the expensive marble figure that now cradled his exhausted form.
“So many popes,” he contemplated, “so many popes have died lately…and now it is my turn.”
He roared, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, reveal yourself, monster!”
“Ha ha ha,” slithered a grim voice from the shadows beyond the ornate gateway into the Renaissance salt cellar, which spanned the 14th to the 17th century. “Your Holiness. Or should I say, My Holiness, for soon, I shall take into my body yet another relic. You shall join Popes Jonathan II, Elwin XVII, Rhadagast, and Roger the First!”
Then a ghastly giant stepped out of the shadows. His face was a mass of scars. The fading Pope was startled: that left ear! That was the ear of Pope Edward! Those hair plugs — the ginger curls of the deceased Pope Tim Robert were unmistakeable! And when the patchwork giant strode forward and smiled his evil smile that roiled with untold promises of wickedness, there could be no doubt — that was the left upper incisor of Pope William Bob VI, his childhood friend. He recognized the chip in the corner that the dead Pope and prior boon companion had lost as a boy in friendly game of stickball on the streets of Dallas.
“Whose corneas is this fiend using to look on me?” wondered the Texan Pope, only the second Texan to achieve the glorious heights of the hierarchy. “I might be able to tell, if only I weren’t colorblind, and this cursed sweat and blood weren’t trickling into my eyes and making it difficult to recognize the identity of my killer.”
“Ha ha,” fleered the beast, “Say your prayers, Pope! Bless your flesh and make it even more holy for when I absorb it!” Then the ravening giant advanced and raised a shiny radial bone saw, flicking the switch and making the blades blur into a semblance of vicious, whining life. And then the room fell silent. Except for the papal screams, the horrible, awful screams. Oh, and the saw noise, too.
Professional atheist Josiah Zebediah Mordecai, “JZ” to his friends, was savoring a glass of Chateau La Boef in his opulent hotel room just off the Palazzo in Rome. He’d just completed a most satisfactory debunking of yet another bleeding statue hoax, and was looking forward to the large check from the Atheist Society that would be waiting for him at his luxurious penthouse in Manhattan. Perhaps he would buy another sportscar to add to his collection, he thought.
There was a knock at the door.
He bolted forward and flung open the heavy oaken portal to his lair. It was a nun!
JZ gazed intensely on the young follower of Jesus Christ at his door. Her lips were full and pouty; her tongue licked them enticingly. Her eyes widened as she took in the strong form of the bold heathen. They were blue; not that weird pale blue that makes it look like you have no irises, but a dark, rich blue, like a tropical lagoon into which a passing cruise ship had dumped those vivid chemicals they use in their toilets. Her magnificent breasts heaved beneath a starched wimple that could not hide their magnificence, and her hips were full and round, like a giant peach, and JZ’s mouth instinctively watered. “Mmmm, holy forbidden peaches,” he dreamed.
“Zhay-see, you are my onlee ‘ope!” she moaned, in an exotic French accent. “Ze Pope, ‘e is dead, mais oui!”
“Why should I care?” growled the panther-like expert cynic, “I sneer at popes. Their extinction is my dream, and I wouldn’t lift a single muscular finger to help them.”
The buxom nun gasped in dismay at such bold heresy…but at the same time she was aroused by his ferocity, and her nipples tented the thick wool of her habit suggestively. “Oooh la la, but you provoke my womanliness to a turmoil long quenched by my ‘oly vows! But zis is why I come to you: ze killer, ‘e is imbued with the sacredness of an ‘undred Popes! Ze Mother Church is riven between zose who would like to azzign him to a quiet little diocese someplace nice, like Canada, and zose who would like to elevate him to Supreme Pope…zey would make of him…ze Mega-Pope!”
“Mega-Pope? What madness is this?” barked JZ. “And who sent you here?”
“I am Sister Marie Le Gros Tetons of ze ‘Oly Order of ze Lactating Virgin, and eet ees my duty to nurture niceness in ze blessed bosom of Il Papa,” whispered the nun, proudly, “und zis Mega-Pope an unkindly gross beast is. ‘E must be halted. Sacre bleu!”
JZ’s steely gray eyes glinted like shiny ball bearings, angry sparks flashing as he considered the implications. Sister Marie stepped back fearfully and pneumatically, like a great zeppelin drawing away from an arc of lightning, knowing that one touch would ignite the taut, pent-up ballons that bouyed her faith and consume her vows of chastity in a flaming conflagration of unstoppable heat that could only end with her crumpled against his firm muscular body, hoping to be doused with the firehose of his passion. “Oh, ze ‘umanity,” she groaned.
“We must seek out this Mega-Pope,” he snarled decisively, “and end this threat of Mega-Sacredness. Quickly! Take me to the scene of the crime, so I can look for clues!”
“Zut alors! Zhere are manee crimes! Ze dead pope, yes, but also the hellish millinery where ze Ultimate Pope Hat is being assembled as we speak; ze shrines all across Europe and Asia Minor where ze Mega-Pope stalks and gathers precious holy relics to stick in his bodee; ze world-wide network of minions who conspire against ze goodness; why, you shall have to fly to many exotic locations, requiring many chapters of curiously linked episodes, in order to unravel zis net of malice!” murmured Sister Marie.
Undaunted, the maverick freethinker clenched his manly buttocks and swore. “Damn, but it doesn’t matter. I am a man of action. I shall thrust directly at this ordained brute, and end his reign swiftly.”
“But Zhay-see, ‘e is protected! Ze militants in ze church have mobilized…” She paused. The tension grew.
“Yes, who? Who guards the Mega-Pope?” shouted the rude atheist.
“Ze…ze…” She tried to compose herself, but the more dickish the great atheist was, the more she felt a strange melty liquidy sensation deep in her belly … well, a little lower than her belly, in places that had hitherto only felt vague stirrings when she prayed late at night to the naked Christ writhing on the wall of her convent cell. “Ze Secret Society of ze Ninja Jesus!” she finally blurted.
“The Ninja Jesuits!” gasped the astonished pagan.
“Ya, ze Ninja Jesuits,” affirmed the hesitant penitent.
“You mean the renegade order of fanatical crusaders who, in the 12th century, marched eastward from Constantinople in search of the Holy Grail, the Spear of Longinus, and the Big Splinter from the True Cross, and who took a wrong turn at Aleppo and ended up battling Wahoons, Mongols, and Tibetans as they wandered about Asia, refusing to ask directions, finally ending up in Japan, where they mastered exotic oriental skills of stealth and sharp-edged savagery? The Ninja Jesuits, expert in the art of the throwing halberd, the pointed question, the crossbow-garrote, the really long argument, and the poisoned communion wafer? The Ninja Jesuits, the most mysterious and dangerous organization of religious zealots in the world? The Ninja Jesuits, who can paralyze their opponents with their arcane and terrifying mastery of eastern art of kawai?” exposited the heroic heathen.
“Oui, ze Ninja Jesuits. You ‘ave ‘eard of zem, zhen?” breathed the pulchritudinous bride of Christ.
JZ Mordecai hardened as he stared at the trembling nun. He hardened in many ways, but most visibly in his expression, which turned flinty with resolve. This would be his greatest challenge. His years of training in advanced doubt, his expertise in reason and evidence, his dedication to Science…all would be tested in the days, weeks, and months to come. And Sister Marie Le Gros Tetons — yes. Beneath his penetrating gaze, the woman was incorporated into his plans, plans that were firming up, a towering logical erection of actions that would culminate in an ultimate eruption of orgiastic violence. And victory.
“Sister Marie, together we’ll topple the Mega-Pope and reduce the Ninja Jesuits to limp futility. Be brave, do as I say, and…”
He whipped off his glasses.
“…have a little faith.”