Excerpt: Come Whip the Earth!

The Heretic stood at the shore as he had before, only now with his arms raised. His arms gathered to themselves fresh food of all kinds from the endless storehouse of the lake. First the water hid the movement of what came towards him, but then faint currents dragged themselves on the surface with the pull of something just barely underneath. Red apples jumped out of the water from the end of these lines. They ascended to his arms and bunched together in bundles around his hands. So did two wrapped rotisserie chickens, three bags of potato chips, cans of corn and peas, a bottle of hot sauce, a fresh watermelon, packets of instant coffee, water bottles, a box of orange juice, a bottle of champagne, a sealed loaf of white bread, butter, precooked bacon, and many other things you would come to expect from the submerged old world. These were the rations of the new world. With his arms still raised, covered with the breakfast provisions that floated around them, the Heretic went back to the house.

Back at the house, the woman was wishing they had a better chair for the Heretic besides a pile of leaves. She could see the uncovered dead grass where she had previously dug up the carpet. The dormant rocks all around the house heard this groan of her spirit and picked themselves up by their bootstraps. The rocks moved like potato bugs, as if they had grown many little scuttling protuberances underneath them for even movement across the ground. When the first living stone came to the door, the rest behind him formed a line. They marched like a menagerie on display. The Heretic had to wait for them all to enter. The house he entered was not the one he had left: strange and unessential stone cupboards had their backs against the wall, stone undetailed tapestries hung precariously from the ceiling, and stone chairs encircled the stone table with its stoneware cups and plates. Even a stone hearth, empty without wood or fire, fitted itself opposite the table. Stone pots and pans hung above it.

The couple had already found their seats at the table. There was an uncomfortable look on the woman’s face. She looked coy about getting furniture—stone furniture. Her belly pressed against the rounded side of the cold table.

“It’s starting to look lived in,” the Heretic said, taking his place. The whole room stirred with inhuman motions seeking to please human emotions. The provisions left the Heretic’s arms and flung themselves to the right places on the table. The packs of instant coffee peeled open and poured themselves into the cups. The cork from the champagne whizzed straight through the leafy ceiling and fizzed foam towards the Extra. The packet of precooked bacon pulled open—and apparently a bag of cereal had found its way to the table, tearing open excitedly (without asking) to pour its contents into their bowls. A jug of milk flew into the house uninvited. Meanwhile, the Heretic had summoned a box of matches he now struck across the table. He threw the wad of flame into the starter log that sat in the hearth. A warm fire, some light.

“While they’re getting settled,” he said, “I would love to answer any questions you might have.”

“You’re making it sound like we signed up for this.”

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