art by Ron Sanders
by Mur Lafferty
Last week I found the god of the supermarket, standing in the frozen food section, silently weeping.
I hadn't thought much about the new gods. I mean, they were worldwide; two had been spotted in my city alone. Gods of cats and sewers and furniture and lonely roads and traffic and board games. Many religious countries and cities were suffering great turmoil with the coming of these gods, but I was an atheist, and I hadn't seen any of the new gods in person. So my day-to-day life was largely unaffected.
My girlfriend Laura had seen one, the goddess of the rock-climbing wall, and she said it had changed her life.
"Her shoulders, Maya," she had gushed. "You had to see Her shoulders! The woman was ripped, only not in that gross bodybuilding way, in that 'I've climbed a lot of walls' way." Laura was a convert and went to church, the climbing wall at Gold's Gym, twice weekly.
I say I was an atheist, but I mean I had been one. I was unsure about the God of Abraham, or the Wiccan goddess, or Buddha, but obviously I believed in the new gods; you didn't need faith to know about them, you had Twitter and the 6 o'clock news telling you of the latest miracles, the latest god, the latest church leader who screamed themselves hoarse in denial and proclaiming that Satan was behind it all. But near as I could tell, these new gods weren't evil, just finely tuned to what they were the god of. After the initial fervor died down, I didn't think about them much until I met Jeorge, the god of the supermarket.
I had arrived as I always did, directly after work, to get dinner and a trashy magazine to read. I was looking for a frozen pizza--the lean kind, gotta get rid of middle age that was comfortably settling around my hips--when I saw Him.
A grown man was crying in the frozen food area, tears and snot wet on His face; it wasn't exactly a religious experience. I nearly walked by with an "It's none of my business" air about me. I had the usual feeling you get when you see a stranger weeping. Discomfort, wondering if they want to be alone, if you'll embarrass them by pointing out the obvious, wondering if someone else will come along and fix it, wondering if they're crazy and will lose their shit if you touch them. I'm pleased to say my compassionate side prevailed, and only when I approached Him did I realize He wore a gray robe and had a soft glow emanating from His skin.
He was Hispanic, tall and broad with a round face and long shaggy black hair. His dark eyes staring at the frozen lasagne, tears unabashedly flowing.
"Excuse me, sir, are you all right?" I asked, putting my hand gently on His shoulder. With that touch, my mind flared awake and I saw the world as I had never seen before.
I had touched a god.