He was in the same form as before, perhaps a bit larger. Although He had no eyes, but a prismatic ball set in a fold of flesh, I knew He was watching me intently. Although there were no apparent ears on His body, I knew He was listening. I stopped before Him, half expecting a death blow from a pseudopod, half hoping there really was some explanation for His recent behavior. “How did you know about my being chased? You say it wasn’t you, and yet—”
“You’re upset, Jacob. You’re not thinking. I read your mind when you pulled up outside, of course.”
“That doesn’t matter,” I said. “Let’s get on with it. If that wasn’t you back there in the tubeways, and if that wasn’t you that shot at me and broke into my apartment, who was it?”
“It was you, wasn’t it,” I said.
“Then tell me, damn it!”
“I’m trying to think how best to phrase it,” He said.
Later He said, “It was the Devil, Jacob.”
“The Devil?” He was joking with me, I thought. He was leading me on, laughing quietly at me, getting me primed for the moment when He would strike me down.
“I am not going to strike you down!” He said, slightly exasperated.
“And I’m supposed to take you seriously when you tell me it is the Devil that has been chasing me, the Devil in your form?”
“Wait,” He said. He was quiet for a time, then spoke again, His tone designed to be even more soothing and convincing than usual. “I have made a mistake. I have been couching all of my explanations in terms that you would more easily understand. I implied that I was your God, thus letting you fall back on your standard religious theories. You are what—Christian? Jewish?”
“My father was Jewish, my mother Christian. I was raised by a Christian. If I am anything—and sometimes I have my doubts—I am a Christian. But I still don’t see what you are getting at.”
“Forget what I said about being God. Forget what I said about your being chased by the Devil.”
“I’ll try to explain this in more realistic terms, with less emotional and romantic trappings than religious theories possess. First, it is true that I am the creature— or a facet of the creature—that created this universe, one of many universes. The why for this, I cannot convey to you. It is on an aesthetic level that you could not begin to conceive of. I wrought the matter of the universe, set into motion the patterns and laws and processes that formed the solar systems. I did not take a direct hand in the evolution of life, for the aesthetic values of creation are in the monumental forces of universe-making, not in the creation of life, which will happen anyway if you do a good job on the making of the universe itself.”
“You are saying that you are merely another living creature—admittedly on a different plane of existence— and that you created a universe where there was, previously, nothing.”
“Not just void,” He corrected me. “Chaos. The basic forces were there. I had but to enlarge upon them and order them.”
“I’ll accept that much,” I said. “I had already accepted the fact that you were God. This is only a variation.”
I sat down on the bottom cellar step, a little less apprehensive, but still not happy. “But why did you come to us? You’ve been content, you say, to let life develop by itself. You said you weren’t interested in the evolution of life, but only in the artistic value of ordering and setting the universe into motion.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t interested. I just said that the evolution of life is secondary to the larger and more beautiful work of the universe in toto. Believe me, Jacob, there is much more of beauty in the singing of the galaxies, in the patterns of multi-galactic revolution and rotation, than there can ever be in the life of a single creature, even a creature with the intelligence of your species. But your species, after all, is a part of my creation. To ignore it would be tantamount to not caring about the exactness of my creation. For example, a painter may do a hundred-foot mural, a thing of grand scale. But that does not mean that he will not be exasperated if only one square inch of the canvas is ineptly done. He will, instead, be more concerned with that single badly done square inch than with the entire hundreds of square feet that are done well.”