Jane opened her eyes and saw nothing but a white landscape. She looked down at herself and realized she was naked. On the wings of that thought came the image of her comfortable purple sweatshirt that had a hole at the bottom and her grey sweatpants. The next moment, she was dressed in those clothes.
She was in a nondescript white room. Whether it was endless or simply a spacious white cube she could not tell. She walked forward, looking around. She had never seen anything so uniformly white. There was not a hint of stain or crack.
A few more steps into the space, she came to a brown sofa simply kept in the white cube. She didn’t know if she had conjured the sofa like her clothes or the cube came with that furniture. Jane sat on the sofa. It was neither comfortable, nor hard. Had it not been a different colour from the whiteness of the cube, she might have been sitting on something as insubstantial as air, for all the ‘support’ that the sofa gave her.
Moments later, another sofa came into existence as if out of thin air in front of her. On it was seated someone; she couldn’t tell who.
“Hello Jane,” said a voice that seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere.
Staring at the sofa in front of her, she asked, “Who are you?”
“Whoever you need me to be.”
Jane thought of a bald man wearing a brown suit and a kindly smile. As the ‘someone’ started to take shape in the form she could see in her mind, Jane realized she could even change small details like the shape and colour of his cufflinks.
“I quite like this,” said the voice that was curiously devoid of any accents or inflictions and yet it didn’t sound robotic. “What is my name Jane?”
“John,” said Jane after a minute. “Your name is John.”
“Excellent. So why are we here Jane?”
Jane did not immediately respond. “Are you really god?” she asked, unable to believe that the creator of the world was a bald man with a kindly smile.
“Haven’t you ever heard the adage man is created in the image of god? Why shouldn’t the reverse be true?”
Jane laughed. Now she wished she had pictured god as a taller, handsomer and more rugged looking fellow. She tried to change the image in front of her and heard John laugh.
“Now, now Jane that is quite enough. Let’s not waste time on appearances. Maybe next time, you can picture me as the neighbour you have a crush on. By the way, he isn’t worth your time.”
Jane started. Should she really be surprised that god…John…could read her mind? She took a deep breath and let it out. Then she asked, “What is the point of human existence?”
John clicked his tongue. “Ah you humans are so boring and repetitive. Of all the many mysteries of the universe, of all the possibilities of this conversation, all of you always ask the same questions. Maybe you should stop being so obsessed with yourselves and you know…go get a life.”
He said after a pause, “You know how many times I have been asked for this audience and how many times I have given it? Always the same question – why are we here?”
“Maybe you haven’t answered the question then.”
John laughed as if Jane had cracked the most humorous of jokes. “I do answer the question Jane but then humans don’t like the answer. See human beings are so sure of their self-importance that if you tell them anything contrary to that their minds cannot take it.”
“You are talking in circles,” said Jane unimpressed. “Either answer the question or tell me to ask another.”
“So self-assured,” said John, crossing his legs and sitting back like he expected to be here a while. “Are you sure you can handle the answer?”
Jane did not respond but did raise her right eyebrow, as if challenging John…challenging god…to go on.
“You puny humans are nothing but ornaments…” he said softly, “devices…that are used by the gods to have some fun.” John added as an afterthought, “You also exist so we can exact revenge.”
“See as gods, we are supposed to have equal powers where no one god can overpower the other. That does not mean we are,” he said like he was giving away a secret. “We also have places and humans we favour. When we are bored or angry, we…how do you say it…shake things up. As for revenge, I am right now punishing Ora’s human because she promised me she’d let me wreak destruction on Polis if I allowed her to protect her human. I agreed to the terms but she is making it difficult and that is not letting me enjoy the destruction to my fullest satisfaction and that is making me antsy.”
Jane was quiet for some time trying to digest what John had said. “So we exist only for your entertainment?”
“That Jane,” said John with a bow, “is exactly right.”
“And what about you? Why do gods exist?”
John suddenly sat up straighter. Gone was his indolence. It was replaced with…irritation…if Jane wasn’t completely wrong. Jane smiled viciously.
“You want to know why gods exist?” asked Jane, moving to the edge of her seat. “You John exist so you can watch us be powerful.”
John snorted. “Jane I think you are forgetting which side of the sofa you are sitting on. I am a god and it is I who has all the powers. You on the other hand have nothing,” he said dismissively.
“And yet, you need us to have fun. You need us to showcase your powers. If you are all powerful John, why do you need humans?” asked Jane.
“You think we are the ornaments? It is the gods who are the ornaments in the sky John…ornaments that humans use, abuse, worship, and loathe.”
“You’ll be nothing without our devotion John,” said Jane. “You won’t exist if humans didn’t exist.”
John studied Jane. “I like you Jane and so I will answer one more question.”
Jane licked her lips, suddenly nervous. She had heard a lot of stories of a lot of conversations people had had with their versions of gods. None of them had been granted a second question. “How do I become a god?” she asked.
John laughed out loud. In fact he laughed for such a long time, Jane was sure he was having a fit. “Mere ornaments my dear child,” said he enigmatically, “mere…ornaments…”