Post Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:21 am

Reciprocal of Faith

<font color="yellow" style="font-size: 15pt">Another early story, rather simple... somewhat predictable. I was still finding my 'sea legs' as it were as a writer. Short stories are terribly hard to write and I am much more comfortable writing long fiction.
Reciprocal of Faith

"God is my tax man." Joe chuckled and signed the check to the IRS. He stuffed it into the manila envelope along with the myriad of schedules, and other government hoopla and sealed it. Leaning back from the kitchen table he surveyed the living room decorated in lustrous baroque mahogany. He smiled, relishing the smell of new carpet, floor wax and paint. It had all become his, simply for believing.

Never cheat the powers that be. Joe picked up the weighty federal and state tax envelopes and stood. He pulled at the baggy white T-shirt. The faith formula worked slowly on things like muscles. Running a hand through his thin blond hair he noted that it was growing back nicely. He removed heavy framed glasses and peered around. Blurry. The equation would work on that too, it simply required patience. Despite his successes, he couldn't shake the sense that he'd overlooked something critical.

He walked around the wet-bar and through the pristine ultra-modern kitchen toward the back of the house. Stopping, he took one more look around the sumptuous environs.

"The tangible gains of absolute certainty. Who would have thought it would be so easy?"

"Just you, Joey." He heard heels on the parquet floor, felt slender arms looping around his chest and breasts pressed against his back. Maureen kissed him on the neck. "That a present for me?"

"I wish. Just Uncle Sam's extra taxes. We win the Lotto and they want a piece of that too." He turned and kissed his wife. She wore a yellow shift with a floral pattern that highlighted her tan skin and dark eyes. The formula had worked more quickly on Maureen than him. Perhaps love gave her that extra glow. In a few months he'd seen his past-forty wife rejuvenated, breasts and buttocks regaining their firmness. The formula took sweat and devotion, but the results were spectacular. He kissed her neck. Maureen's skin felt hot. She tasted salty and he could smell coconut oil. "You've been sunbathing."

"Getting my fill of the lives of the rich and shameless before I start work again." She grinned and hugged him. "I'm going back next week. This lounging all day makes me feel guilty." She sighed and pecked him on the nose. "Want me to drop those off at the post office? I have to take Jesse to his baseball practice."

"Please. There's plenty here to keep me busy." He looked around. "Where's our star first-baseman?"

"Suiting up. I think he's nervous about the game."

"Why? He's been doing great. I'm proud of him. I've told him so."

Maureen shook her head. "Faith in yourself doesn't help the rest of the team. He's not the leader type."

Joe nodded. "I'll talk to him while you get ready."


He walked down the hall and knocked on Jesse's door. He felt the rumble of rock music through the wood and knocked louder when there was no answer.

The music shut off and sandy-haired Jesse opened the door, lean and fifteen. He still wore shorts and a Guns-n-Roses T-shirt. "Hi, Dad."

"You're not ready. Mom thought you might be having second thoughts about the game."

Jesse frowned. "Dad it's been a drag. The formula works but the guys are on me like I'm showing off. I can score three times and we lose anyway. Why do my best if nobody else will?"

Joe sighed. "I understand. Stick it out though, don't quit. You'll get picked by a better team next season. Only five games left. You'll survive-- hardship builds character."

"Yeah, right."

"Hey," he grinned. "That's what they say. Suit up, Mom will be ready to go in a bit. I'll be at the game, it's at 1:00 right?"

"Right. Think you can invent a formula that works on teams?"

"Who knows?"

Joe made sure his son was getting ready and walked into the study. Books on engineering, math, and astronomical theory lined his walnut-paneled office. A family photo and an 8 x 12 of Maureen cutting their wedding cake hung above his roll-top desk. A melange of Post-it notes, legal pads, graph charts, and printouts hid its wooden surface. To one side his PC stayed powered up, the cursor winking at the DOS prompt.

He sat at the desk going over his last refinements in the formula. The nagging itch in the back of his mind wouldn't go away. He'd missed something; some parallel or axiom that he failed to examine. Had it been unwise to share the discovery so soon? It felt selfish not to share the benefits with his loved ones. He trusted them not tell others about the process and their input was essential in calibrating the technique. The first major use of the power felt self-serving, but how else could he get funding to explore this new science?

Joe thought back to their inception. It had started as an adolescent attempt to irritate a coworker at the center where he did missile ballistics analysis. One born-again engineer nagged at everyone to 'get-religion,' and especially hard at Joe because he'd once admitted being agnostic.

As retaliation, he intended to statistically disprove God's existence. He'd read astronomical studies analyzing the odds of there being extraterrestrial life. The chances of finding God could be analyzed similarly. What were the chances?

For days, he looked for valid points to use in his numerical study. One day while he waited for some calcs on the phone, he doodled the fraction one over infinity on the desk blotter.

Give him that much chance, Joe. HE created us, right? Joe laughed. Given macrocosmic theory and one point six trillion trillion suns in this universal pocket alone-- He wrote the inverse fraction next to it; infinity over one. Multiplied together they resulted in infinity over infinity or one. That meant, statistically, God must exist.

The revelation was simple and quite logical. Joe saw a corollary illustrated in that simple equation. When proof exists, you will believe. People fervently accepted God simply on the basis of the Scriptures. He'd seen faith healers cure the terminally ill, and the reports of medical doctors corroborating their success. Belief could heal. Given that, it could do other things as well.

The idea that mind-over-matter could be achieved if a person was absolutely convinced of a goal's reality wasn't new. His 'god proof' suggested that a mathematical 'truth' could be evaluated for anything. He simply needed a method to express goals in terms that allowed success to be proven and believed.

The solution remained elusive. The scientific community knew little about the human mind and less about reality and the sporadic influence people exerted over it. He knew one thing only-- in the infinity of the universe there lay an answer.

A year after he gave up it still kept him awake at nights. Weird symbols floated in his dreams taunting him to draw meaning from their chaos. On one sleepless night, weary and irritated he jotted down the strange cuneiform. It felt like lifting some heavy burden off his shoulders. The next night visited a new set of symbols on him that would not go away until recorded. The process continued for a week.

At the end he held in his hands a page full of meaningless traceries that when scanned felt oddly familiar.

Maureen made the key discovery. A week later she had come home from an office party where she'd imbibed to the giggling point.

She leaned against him in the study. Taking a break from his concentration he put an arm around her and nuzzled between her breasts, sniffing her perfume.

"What's this?" She picked up the page. "Those silly things you wrote down last week." She chuckled, apparently having trouble focusing on the page. "God equals infinity-- What's all this mean?"

"What?" He grabbed the page away from her and looked at it. Nothing but scribbling. "Read all of it."

Maureen frowned, took the page back, and read a long formula.

"That's it. That's the breakthrough. You did it!"

It wasn't until three years later that Maureen saw how important that simple translation had been. He'd focused so hard on deciphering the symbols, he never tried to see if he understood them as they were. Based on Maureen's interpretations of the symbols, he derived a vocabulary, a system of truisms, and logic network for the faith system. Its final application took the form of a self-hypnosis technique that programmed positive thinking into the mind.

He learned that the more difficult a goal was, the more accurate the programming needed to be. His first aims were simply to get inspirations for making the 'faith technology' more practicable.

Even when he first taught Maureen and Jesse the principles of the system, he harbored some reservations. Though he couldn't find evidence of it, something told him there might be a catch.

A year and several refinements later, he'd come no closer to the demon hiding around the corner. A month ago he set a goal of predicting a lottery pick. It worked but he was still frazzled by something that might be nothing more than paranoia.

"I'm off, Joey." Maureen swept in and gave him a hug and a kiss.

He returned her embrace. "See you at the game."

She smiled and gave him a jaunty hip wiggle as she went out the door. Feeling warm inside he sighed and stared after her.

Joe heard the garage opener rattle and the sound of Maureen's Toyota whining backward into the street. The door shut and the motor sound dwindled.

"I must find what I've overlooked." He set the alarm on his watch and plunged back into his calculations. Once lost in the faith logic and the complex mathematics, he usually lost track of time.

His exploration returned him to his oldest calculations. God equals the product of one slash infinity and its reciprocal. Why this? Was it dangerous to ignore the principle suggested? Self indulgence isn't deemed a crime. No one was hurt by his tests. He only planned to keep it to himself until he fully understood the ramifications.

When he heard the sound he thought his watch alarm had gone off. It was the doorbell ringing. He checked the time-- 11:30.

"Must be somebody trying to sell something."

He waited. They'd go away soon. The calculations were more important than spending time politely shooing off the Avon Lady. The bell rang again. He heard the rap of knuckles on the door.

No-one should be visiting at this time.

The insistent doorbell made him head for the entrance. He jerked the door open. Two men waiting on the porch stepped back in surprise. Both carried briefcases and wore starched white shirts and plain blue ties. Out on the lawn he saw a pair of black ten-speeds.

Joe let out a breath. "I hope this is important."

They looked at one another.

"It is." The nearer man smiled and ran a hand through short brown hair. "I'm Isaiah and this is Saul." His dark-haired partner gave Joe a gap-toothed grin. "We're from--"

Joe cut in. "You don't need to sell God to me. I already believe."

Saul tugged at Isaiah's shirt. "This is Joe Carpenter. I saw the interview with his family on television. He picked the Lotto that hadn't been won for eight weeks."

Isaiah nodded. "I remember. Sorry to bother you, Mister Carpenter. Remember, God helped you win the Lotto."

He grinned. "I'm certain he did."

Saul rubbed his nose. "I heard you did it with faith."

A jolt ran through him. "Where did you hear that?"

Isaiah shrugged. "It's a rumor where we work that you got your 'system' in a dream vision. Is it true?"

"In a way." Joe frowned. "It's mathematics. I'm sorry I--"

"Mister Carpenter you could be in great danger. Have you been playing with the postulates of the infinite?"

"Danger?" Joe studied the two men, their bodies looked rigid. "I've done some calculations with inverses of infinity if that's what you mean."

Both men turned intense. "What did you get from that?"

Abruptly, Joseph wanted away from these two. "Simply that God must exist in an infinite universe."

Isaiah reached behind him. "Too bad you missed one detail. HE does exist--" The man pulled out a pistol and fired. "And so does Satan."