The City God

Six seconds before the city and everyone in it was washed away by the century’s most potent tidal wave, time stopped and a god blinked into existence in the sky.

“What is this?” he said, and then, as he became aware of his condition, “What the hell!”

Awareness took a moment to orient him. He came to know some things. He knew that he was a god and that he had come into being because there were a lot of people down there who needed him to exist and were praying for him to save them from destruction. He also came to know that he had the power to do so, if he so chose.

The god also discovered the name by which his devotees called him and smiled. It was a good name. It signified power and kindness and virtue. He wondered if he was all these things and realised that he had no choice in the matter. He had to be everything they believed he was.

Down below, in the city frozen in time, in the alleyways and street sides, there were temples built in his honour. They were all rather full right now — full of people whose hearts were brimming with fear and hope at the same time. The god decided that he would like to visit these temples if he could. But in order for that to happen, he would have to save the city.

He took stock of his body. He had eight arms and a lot of gold on him. He liked it, and wondered whether it was possible for him to not like it. Could he have looked different? Could he have been someone else if he wanted? Could he even want something? He tried to desire something but realised that he only wanted to save the city. It was the only desire he was allowed to have, the only purpose he was allowed to serve.

He drifted in the sky, within the moment, above the city that was about to die. He became aware of more and more with each passing moment. He realised that he could not NOT be omnipotent. He could not NOT be a kind and virtuous god. He could not, for example, go down to the city and be among these desperate and fascinating people. He could not suffer their fear and he could not die with them. This was the only place he could be and this was the only moment he could exist in. This was his entire universe.

He considered what would happen to him if he did stop the tidal wave. In all probability, he would cease to exist because there would be no reason for him to continue existing. If he didn’t save the city on the other hand, there would be no reason for him to have ever existed. With all his devotees at the bottom of the sea, whose god would he be?

The god made a decision. He decided to wait. And inside that frozen moment, six seconds before the tidal wave washed away the city that was full of people who believed in him and brought him into being, he waited forever.