TALE THREE
What Happened To The Sun God

We were in Graves' office at the headquarters of Grave-Diggers International engaged in an argument. Now a normal argument consists of two or more people debating over a subject with each person presenting facts to prove his point. This is normal, however an argument with Graves is anything but normal. An argument with Graves goes something like this:

[1] Graves comes up with some completely off the wall idea that has been stewing in his mind for a few hours. This idea seems interesting at the time and all of the people nearby him proceed to come up with solutions.

[2] Graves then tells everyone that their solutions are wrong and gives us the real answer. Some of the arguers disagree with Graves and are immediately insulted by Graves being told that they are either grossly ignorant or lacking in facts. This irritates some of the people and often leads to other arguments and sometimes physical violence.

[3] Finally Graves pulls out some obscure book that he has collected over the years and gives conclusive proof backing his theory. This seems to satisfy almost everybody with the exception of Hozler and myself. These exceptions are due to Hozler's inability to agree with anything and my need for conclusive proof either in the form of photographic evidence or my seeing it. This is where I always make the mistake.

Today's argument was over Graves' theory that all religions are universal. All of us found this hard to believe but Graves continued by pointing out that all religious corporations have a boss-type leader, i.e.: God, Allah, Zeus, as well as various underlings, i.e.: Saint Jude, Venus, and Hachiman. That was when the sub-argument started.

Hozler said, "Yeah! Well what about the Egyptians?"

Vince is always, I mean always, putting his foot in his mouth by asking questions like this. Sure, they seem like pretty intelligent things to ask but asking Graves makes them seem incredibly stupid.

Of course, I was trying to stay out of the whole conversation, partially because I am not as smart as the Professor and his associates and partly because I simply didn't want to get hurt. I was sitting in the La-Z-Boy Atomolounger. Now I'm sure you are not fully aware of it but the Atomolounger is by far the crowning technological achievement of mankind and long after the civilization we are part of is nothing but subatomic particles, archeologists will find this recliner and long for a return of the past. What you must understand is that this chair is designed to calm the body and mind. This is accomplished, in part, with the thermal padding that gently massages your spinal column to the point that you have no feeling in your whole body. It is the very same chair that has two 500 watt Bose speakers in the headrest that normally play soothing music from the Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here album, but has also been responsible for the hearing loss of seven people (due to playing heavy metal and not following the five feet for every fifty decibels rule). Oh yeah.

Returning to reality (sort of), Graves took the book that Miss Lestford had stolen from the Vatican (see the last story if you don't understand what I am talking about) and flipped to the end of the text. He began reciting a passage from it and I could just tell that we were going to get maimed.

"As suddenly as they had appeared those who we called gods disappeared into the misty reaches of time, never to be heard from again. In our time of need, after the many sacrifices and wars waged in their name, they had forsaken us."

So?

Graves closed the book and continued, "Every day Benson you astound me with your uncanny ignorance. It's obvious to Vince here what I'm trying to say, right Vince?"

"Huh?"

"You know what I am getting at Vince, right?"

"No, I haven't the faintest idea of what tiny neuron of thought is floating around in your brain right now Aarron, but I think it has to do with Egypt."

Hah! For once I didn't feel like a complete idiot in front of Graves.

It didn't last long.

"Exactly Vince! I am saying that the Egyptian gods, or at least some of, them are alive and well. To ensure the publishing of my discovery in the respected Mentzer's Catalog of Events That Were Once Unexplained But Are Now Clear we must travel to Egypt to find out if [1] They are having a nice vacation and [2] What happened to the Sun God."

Let's try and figure the equation on this adventure. Egyptian gods plus a really hot desert that nations have been fighting over for years plus Graves . . . What did it equal?

MY INSTANTANEOUS DEATH AT THE HANDS OF FANATICAL ARABS WIELDING BIG CURVED SWORDS! . . . Sounded interesting.

MISS MERCEDES CHANCE

New York isn't as bad a town as people say it is, it just looks that way. Sure, there is rampant crime, drug abuse and corruption both moral and economical at all levels of society, but aside from that it is the cultural and financial center of America. As the respected psychiatrist Raymond Tetley once said to me, "You have to take the bad with the good."

I was doing a photo layout for Vogue magazine and was starting to get bored with the whole shoot. It had taken an hour of arguing and a threat with a large automatic weapon to convince my publicist that leather and military accessories were in this year. Also it was very hard for the camera man to get good pictures because he kept flinching. This forced me to have to redo shots over and over again . . . and I hated doing that.

You see the subject of this layout was the versatility of clothing worn by gang women who are into Karate. Unfortunately the other models hadn't had much experience in martial arts so they weren't taking the punches too well. This was one of the reasons why the photographer was flinching.

Though I felt sorry for the other women, sacrifices had to be made for fashion. I felt that they didn't share the same feeling because they looked relieved when my beeper went off.

Answering the beeper Graves said that we were going to find out what happened to the sun god. To me this sounded kind of interesting seeing that Graves always gets me involved in the three things that I love most: [1] gunplay [2] violence and [3] gunplay (I really love guns, in fact the only thing that I love more than guns is Graves himself, but don't tell him that or I'll kill you). The only drawback to the whole thing is that Graves has a really bad habit of getting me and others into the most painful and often near fatal situations that are often beyond even my ability to control . . . But then again you have to take the bad with the good.

A few minutes later I was on a plane flying to San Diego.

DOCTOR RAYDON ALI BABA

"I'm Geraldo Rivera, and this is The Geraldo Show."

The theme music to his show started as I sat in an extremely comfortable chair. It was very soothing if I must say.

"Today's show is on psychics . . . Frauds or just gifted people . . . That's what we hope to find out today. With us are Madame Carlota of Carlota's Palmistry and Massage, and Doctor Raydon Ali Baba of the Cairo Institute of Paranormal Phenomenon. Miss Carlota, is this just one huge scam to milk money from the public?"

"Well Geraldo, we who can see into the astral plane are gifted with the talent of futuresight. Some use these powers to benefit other people like myself, and some use it to benefit themselves."

"So you're saying that after you read their palms you give them a massage or something more if the price is right . . . Ladies and gentlemen of the audience Miss Carlota has been repeatedly arrested for acts of prostitution. One would think that if she can see into the future she would at least be able to foresee her imminent arrest . . . Mister Ali Baba."

"That is Doctor Ali Baba thank you very much."

"Sure. Exactly what do you hold a doctorate in?"

"Paranormal psychology with a bachelors degree in psychophysics. It is a very exciting field Geraldo, I get great pleasure from it if I must say so."

"Any visions lately Doctor?"

"Oh yes most definitely. Earlier this morning I saw the end of the Earth as we know it . . . and about an hour ago I foresaw Professor Graves paging me on my beeper telling me that we were going to Egypt to find the sun god."

"For the audiences benefit Aarron Graves is the eccentric millionaire, playboy, history teacher who claims to have discovered the Fountain of Youth."

When the beeper went off telling me that we were going to look for the sun god the audience got real quiet.

KEN SLEDGEHAMMER

"Kenneth Elmo Sledgehammer, the Fifth Circuit Court of California finds you guilty of four counts of murder, 23 counts of assault with intent to maim, reckless driving, destruction of private property, coveting thy neighbors farm animals, arson, trespassing, raping, pillaging, prostitution, gambling, jaywalking, forging artifacts of the church, spitting, grave robbing, theft of Girl Scout cookies, planting explosives with intent to destroy, unsafe sex with overweight women, and 37 charges so horrible and unmentionable that they have no name. Being found guilty the court sentences you to death by firing squad, lethal injection, hanging, stoning, electrocution, and ritualistic decapitation . . . Do you have anything to say before the court carries out its sentence?"

"This is really unfair."

BLAM! BLAM! Argh! ZZZZ-AP! Hack!

Needless to say these thoughts were flashing through my mind as I sat in the San Diego County Sheriff's Department Sub-station in Julian, California on a charge of drunk and disorderly conduct. It's a long story, but to make it simple I had gotten really trashed at this bar. Okay sure, I hit a few people then proceeded to level a few buildings with a bulldozer but that's no reason to throw me in jail!

"Hey Sledgehammer! That beeper we got off of you just said that they, whoever they are, are going to find out what happened to the sun god. Who was it, your uncle Pick Axe? . . . Ha ha ha!"

These guys had been making tool jokes all day.

It was then that I decided that I would rather be with Graves having my life placed in dire jeopardy than be in jail with guys who think my parents named me after farm implements.

So I punched a hole in the wall and headed back to San Diego.

Needless to say as soon as the others arrived we took off for Egypt, land of a thousand years history. You would think that it would be a beautiful sight to see this mystic land in one's own private plane, right?

Wrong.

All I saw, as Hozler piloted the plane, was the distinct image of the ground rising to meet me. In relation to the scope of things in the world this wasn't all that bad. What was bad was the fact that Hozler thought that it was the second greatest thing in the world to fly through the streets of downtown Cairo weaving through buildings like a motorcyclist in rush hour traffic on I-5. In a way I feel that Vince's actions that day have since had a magnifying effect on relations between the U.S. and this Arab nation.

Eventually we landed in Cairo but we had no desire to stay in the city any longer than we had to. This was not entirely due to Hozler's abnormal flight plan. It has a lot to do with the fact that Cairo sucks. You may not think so, so I want you to make a copy of the next few paragraphs and keep it with you the next time a travel agent or game show books you for tickets.

A CUT AND DRY GUIDE TO CAIRO

Don't come here. First off, the city blows. There is garbage everywhere; in the streets, in the Nile river, everywhere. Second, there are Egyptian salesmen everywhere; in the streets, in the Nile river, everywhere. Some people like shopping but shopping in Cairo sucks. They don't know the word no even if it is spoken in Egyptian and will hound you until you either buy something or punch them out.

Contrary to planetwide belief, the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are not in the middle of the desert. Not 100 yards in front of the Sphinx's paws, the city of Cairo rises in its third- world glory. There are ten salesmen every square foot around the pyramids. Don't go into the pyramids because there is nothing to see except empty cans and graffiti. Added to that you have to pay five dollars to get out again.

To top it off their local beer, "Stella," sucks.

If you do happen to get trapped in Cairo, follow these tips while you are waiting for the next flight to a fun vacation spot like Vietnam or Ethiopia.

[1] Do not punch the salesmen, the cops don't like that. Instead give the cop a dollar and he will beat up the guy for you (with his nightstick to boot, oh joy).

[2] If you want to see the pyramids go to the Cairo Museum. All of the stuff from the pyramids is there including the hieroglyph covered walls from the inside. There is a shop that sells everything you could possibly want from your visit to Egypt. This includes fake scarabs, papyrus, miniature 10 carat gold sphinxes and photos of the pyramids. Another point of note, they understand what no means.

[3] Oh, don't drink the water. I know that it sounds like a stereotype but it comes from the Nile and is almost as bad as their beer.

Did you get that? Who said this book wouldn't teach you anything beneficial? As you can see my time in the Navy wasn't wasted.

"Benson!"

"What?"

"What are you rambling about to that infernal tape recorder of yours?"

"I was giving a brief yet thorough travelogue on how the city of Cairo sucks. I think that it is pretty informative."

"You idiot, everybody knows that Cairo is a foul pit of a city that has both mocked its remarkable history and defaced it. Anyone with any sense knows that Luxor is where all of the good stuff is at . . . Ramses the Second did."

Ramses the Second did so there, nyeah. Sometimes he can be such a . . .

"Benson! Are you coming?"

We left the terminal quickly before the wrath of government officials could be fully felt. Meeting us at the entrance was an Arab woman.

Have you ever seen a woman and had your mind go totally blank due to the fact that she was completely and without reservation the most unbelievably gorgeous babe that you had ever seen in your present and prior lives. Take it from me gentle readers, it is well worth the experience.

Doctor Ali Baba introduced her as Miss Seline Hamurabi, his assistant. I nearly slipped in the puddle of drool that had formed at my feet. It was apparent, now that I look back upon it, that she had held the same effect on the rest of the party (except Mercedes, but she has already made her point clear on this subject). Hozler's normally spiked hair had completely flattened out and for once in his life he was at a loss for words. Ali Baba, even though she was in his employ, was playing with his goatee and mumbling a lot of untranslatable Arab words. This I could deal with but most astounding of all our responses was Sledgehammer's.

As I have pointed out already (and will continue to point out), Ken is recognized as a person who is very slow of mind. In fact, if you told him that he was slow of mind three hours later he would ask, "What do you mean slow of mind?" I have come to the conclusion that this lethargy is due to the fact that he took large quantities of mind altering drugs as a child, combined with listening to daily eleven hour doses of continuous Pink Floyd/Zeppelin music from the day of his birth on.

That's why when he said, "I am pleased to meet you Miss Hamurabi," we all nearly suffered cardiac arrest. Everyone except for Graves, that is.

It should be pointed out that I have yet to mention Graves' response to the woman. This small detail was due to the fact that I was too busy trying to meet the babe to notice that Graves himself was quite enthralled with Seline, even though it was apparent that they had met previously. I did happen to notice that not long after Graves had said, "Seline, you're looking as awesome as the last time I saw you," Mercedes had given him a solid elbow in the ribs.

Out of all of the things that have caused pain and strife in this world two chicks arguing over the same man tops the list. Picture this; Arab woman wearing thin silk garments, totally buffed . . . Graves being cordial and polite with a faint aura (warm, fuzzy type), something that rarely happens . . . Gun toting babe wearing leather mini-skirt and carrying small arms . . . What does it all equate to? Eventual emotional struggle with the possibility of heated fight and accidental weapons discharge. When this occurs I plan to be out of the country.

Fortunately, Graves is a person who knows where his priorities are and brought everybody back to reality. "Let's get going, we have but a few short hours to figure out this problem."

I knew it! The word simple does not exist when dealing with Graves. From the moment the Professor mentioned going to Egypt, I knew that there was some subliminal reason for the whole thing. As usual, I made the fatal mistake of asking him what he meant.

Hozler was banging his forehead on the nearest wall saying, "Never ask! Never ask! It'll only make dying more painful!"

How was I supposed to know things like this, I was new to the group. Chance had already started digging through her purse for her Mark 46 Doombringer Mini-assault Cannon. Ali Baba (who is apparently a religious man) was on his knees doing a lot of praying toward the east. Sledgehammer did not seem too affected because he was doing a lot of muscle flexing for Seline (he was pumping up).

Graves gave the answer that I dreaded, "We have to find the sun god because unless we get his help in a few hours the world that we presently live on will cease to exist. If this happens we will be too dead to care."

There was an eerie silence in the air for about two point seven seconds and it seemed that everyone was taking the news quite well. Then the spell broke and the questions flooded in.

"What do you mean the world is going to end?"

"How are we going to find the sun god?"

"Aarron, do you have the hots for this Arab woman?"

"Exactly what is a few hours?"

"What do you mean slow of mind?"

What was really unnerving was that Graves didn't have a quick answer for any of the questions (except Ken's), and this was beginning to get me worried. To break the monotony, we all got into Seline's van and drove off into the desert.

At first it seemed that there was no logical line of thought being followed as we wandered about the desert like nomads. Soon however it was proven that there was no logical line of thought being used. It seemed that Graves was simply waiting for the sun god to just pop out of nowhere.

Funny that I would mention that because that is exactly what happened.

Well it is not as if he just materialized in front of our eyes, but all of a sudden, as if it had just materialized in front of our eyes, we saw this Arab-type caravan parked by a temple. Of course this temple had just materialized right before our eyes because it wasn't there two minutes before. This was supported by the fact that Graves said that it wasn't there before. With those kind of facts you can't do anything but go along with it.

Intrigued by this sudden materialization, we proceeded to the temple where the nomads were. There was a small consensus of the party that thought the whole thing was a mirage. Of course when said small consensus ran full speed at the temple to see if it was a hallucination they found that it was not only not a mirage but painfully solid stone.

The nomad-types didn't seem too interested in us though they thought that Hozler slamming into the wall at Mach 2 was humorous. This was obvious in the fact that they continued to play their Arab flutes and tend to their camels (which I wish were mirages because they really stank).

Have any of you ever been to Egypt? Well if you haven't go to your local library and check out a book on the place. Turn to page 32 and scope out the pictures of all of the ancient temples and pyramids . . . When you do that you'll have a good idea of what this place looked like.

Graves decided that there was no time to socialize with the nomads and entered the temple. I thought that this was a really bad idea. Besides the apparent structural integrity, visions of Raiders of the Lost Ark booby traps roamed freely through my head. I'll admit that the thought of being flattened by a huge rock didn't appeal to me. But to quote a famous quote, "Forward through shot and shell, follow Graves and go get killed."

Inside it was dark and I'm talking pitch black, and to top it off Ali Baba kept bumping into me. Finally someone had the genius to flick their Bic and shed some light on the subject. I wished that they hadn't.

Envision this if you can: skeletons wrapped in rags, Egyptian artifacts stacked to the ceiling, hieroglyphics written on the walls, you got it?

Well this place in no way resembled the standard vision of a lost Egyptian temple. Art deco furniture and Nagel prints adorned the whole place. There was a 32 inch TV and a really hot sound system with a giant pile of cassettes and even some CD's. Stacked in one corner were a few kegs of beer and a totally hot guitar (autographed by Guy Mann-Dude, I think). Sitting in the center of the room was this dude about 7 foot 3 inches tall with one of those saddle pommel beards and Don Johnson clothes.

"Ah, Professor Graves, I see that you discovered how to find me. If you weren't aware of it you are the first to do so since Pharoah Akenathut ruled these lands," said the giant.

"It was quite simple actually, for hundreds of years people have been searching for you but it took someone of my immense intelligence to succeed. So what has a thousand years away from the public eye felt like Ra?"

Now wait a minute! I may have slept through most of Mister Venkstien's Egyptian Mythology class as a freshman but I do recall a few facts. Ra either died or was killed by Osiris making Osiris the sun god. I was really starting to think that this guy was nothing more that an Egyptian basketball player with good taste in furniture and clothes.

The tall guy broke into my thought to lecture me. "Actually you're wrong Mister Benson you are most confused in your understanding of Egyptian mythology. In ancient Egypt there were two kingdoms of religious belief. The first kingdom or the Old Kingdom said that Atum was the creator of the world symbolized by the sun. Atum created Shu and Tefnut out of himself in some ways like your Christian theory of creation. These two represented air and rain. They in turn created Geb and Nut who represented the earth and sky. The latter bore Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys as their children."

Graves continued the lecture where the big guy had stopped "The first four represented the cosmos and the latter four mediators between man and the cosmos. From the start Set and Osiris never got along. Geb tried to chill the two out by dividing Egypt in half between Set and Osiris. Eventually the anger between the two led to Osiris' death at Set's hands but Isis pulled a hat trick. With the aid of Set's consort Nepthys, she somehow brought Osiris back to life and the two had a son named Horus. Of course all of this was merely a metaphoric representation of the split of Egypt. That is why some Pharoah's carry both the crook and the snake and others only on or the other."

Ra continued, "Horus eventually vanquished Set. In the New Kingdom, I succeeded Atum which was the first time a creator was replaced. What is not known by many of those who studied the subject is that I killed him. In time, Egypt was conquered and we were too preoccupied with our own petty problems to care. I killed Tefnut and, in a strange twist of fate, Horus killed his own father Osiris. Set was responsible for the deaths of Horus, Thoth, Nut, Shu, Geb and his former consort Nepthys. In the end, we all decided to stay out of godly doings and went into repose."

The other members of the party were starting to have the same doubts as to the credibility of this so called "sun god". Anyone could rattle off facts but we all wanted to see some real godly stuff. It was Hozler who was the first to come to the point and ask. This relieved a huge burden from my shoulders, being that it is usually me who asks the stupid questions that end up getting us all hurt.

"Hey pal! I hold a masters degree in history and I know for a fact that Amon-Re was the supreme god of Egypt."

The man laughed. To be exact, he laughed heartily. In fact, he laughed so loud that it hurt my ears. "Not exactly Mister Hozler, Amon-Re was the whimsical creation of the Pharaohs and was portrayed as the supreme god of Egypt but he was never a god. Atum was the sun god and I came after him but that was then and this is now. Be assured that I am Ra and was at one time the sun god of Egypt. Now I am a retired deity collecting a nice little pension."

This guy was arrogant (a lot like Graves), and I think that it was this similarity that allowed the two to hit it off so well. I find it phenomenal that there are so many people in this world that have the same attitude as Graves. What I find even more astounding is the fact that there haven't been more people attempting to kill them. I mean, aside from the few of us who understand Graves and his type of personality, most people would be so grossly offended by their mannerisms that they would most surely try to slaughter them to their last number (or at least make their lives extremely miserable).

While I was rambling on about personalities, Graves and Ra had begun an intriguing conversation. I am only able to present this conversation to you now because I know that I have the tendency to ramble. Because of this, I have trained my body to subconsciously turn on the tape recorder that I always carry for such occasions.

Needless to say this was no normal exclamation of extreme dissatisfaction. This voicing of opinion caused the roof of the temple to be launched with enough force to land it in Australia allowing scientists to further theorize that aliens landed on different parts of the Earth and ordered the respective natives to follow the same architectural designs.

I'll say it now, Ra seemed pretty distraught over Graves' previous statement. He proceeded to ask Graves how he was able to know what he did. Graves replied by telling him that Raydon had had a premonition earlier in the day foreseeing the destruction of the earth at the hands of Set.

"Well it seems like it is time for me to come out of retirement and finally do something that will justify my being called a god," stated Ra.

I thought that it was a nice idea.

Ra then asked Graves exactly where Set was and was told that he was at this very moment having coffee in downtown Tokyo. Ra picked up his scepter and told all of us that he was going to teleport us there with him.

As a sudden flash of blinding blue light engulfed the party Graves hastily shouted, "Don't move!"

This, of course, was too late because when the light engulfed us, I went spastic with fear.

Now unlike in Star Trek where your molecules disperse and you are instantaneously transported to your destination whereby they are reassembled with only the barest of seconds passing, teleportation via god is a little different. During the time of transport, time passes at a normal rate but your body is really having a problem coping with the whole experience. To add to this, the more movement during the trip the worse the experience.

A few minutes later we reappeared in Tokyo and I proceeded to puke out my breakfast (and a lung as well).

Sitting at a table in the cafe was another tall man with a pommel beard similar to Ra's sipping coffee. He didn't seem to be startled by our appearance (a statement that couldn't be said about the mortals at the cafe) and said, "Have a seat Ra, long time no see."

"I have no time for games Set, I have a dentist's appointment in three hours: so what is this fiendish plan of yours?"

"I'm going to destroy the earth."

"Why?"

"No special reason, just my naturally evil personality feeling frisky."

"You know I'll have to stop you."

"Yes, but like Horus and the others, I'll kill you too. You are of the New Kingdom and I of the Old. I have been around the block many more times than you."

That was when Graves stepped into the conversation. I will mark this as the climax of the whole adventure due to the fact that from there on things went progressively downhill.

"Set, you don't for one nanosecond think that I am just going to let you end the world do you," asked Graves?"

"Who are you mortal," replied Set?

"Professor Aarron Graves."

"Ph.D.," added Hozler!

"So."

"So I'm here to send your ancient butt back to the Valley of the Kings."

I tried to duck, honest, but it just wasn't good enough. A fan of rainbow colored light shot out of Set's eyes and struck most of the group. This didn't seem to hurt too much, but then as it turned out, every nerve in our bodies had been paralyzed. This explained the lack of pain. The only exceptions to this were Ra, Raydon, and Graves. It was obvious as to why it didn't affect Ra, and I figured that because Raydon had strong psychic abilities that might have protected him (though I now know I'm wrong, that's what I get for figuring). As for Graves it remained a total mystery.

As much as I was surprised at the ineffectiveness of the ray on Graves Set was completely distraught (gods get such attitudes). However before he could do much more, Ra put him in a bear hug and propelled himself into the sky. Now seeing that it had been more than 20 years since the city of Tokyo had experienced a Godzilla-class battle, the general populace was thrown into a panic.

Huge bolts of lightning erupted from the combatants, and many of them failed to hit their target. However they did manage to hit many of the buildings in the city, setting some on fire, and in one instance completely reducing it to rubble. Ra fired a ray of light at Set and burned off his clothes. Unfortunately this ray was level four of the overkill scale meaning that it not only hit its intended target but continued on for another mile in a conical form. This cone of energy slammed into Tokyo harbor destroying various merchant vessels and vaporizing about 430 million gallons of water.

In turn, this steam cloud drifted over the city, scalding many of the avian creatures about as well as fogging up the windows of a United Airlines flight from Rome. Because of this and the standard high blood alcohol level of its pilots, it crashed into the middle of Tokyo; killing hundreds and traumatizing hundreds more. Being that it was a temperate day (about 40 degrees Fahrenheit) the steam cloud condensed causing a downpour which flooded most of the surrounding rice fields whereby destroying much of Japan's "rice boom" for that year.

Back in San Diego there is a station called XETV that plays Godzilla and Kung Fu flicks every Saturday. Now being a huge fan of these type of films (in fact I have a T-shirt that says "Godzilla Kicks Ass") I was looking for Japan's vast Civilian Defense Force which seemed to have troop strengths in the thousands in all of the movies. Unfortunately this never came to pass, finally shattering my belief that they weren't just models (Although I had my doubts when every time Godzilla smashed a building there wasn't a stick of furniture to be seen).

Back in the sky, Ra and Set were still duking it out and it was starting to look as if Set was getting his butt kicked. Graves was flipping through his little black book and I asked him what he was doing.

"To be blunt Mister Benson, I am looking for a woman's phone number."

I felt that calling up some girl wasn't really appropriate at that moment and calmly said, "Who in the multiverse would be so important that you would call when the fate of the entire world is at stake?"

"Yeah Aarron, who is this bimbo," added Mercedes?

Graves went to the phone booth and punched in a number. Tapping his foot as a huge chunk of smoldering concrete slammed to the ground next to him, the person answered the phone. Being that I can read lips this is what Graves said:

Hey! . . . This is Aarron Graves remember? Rio 1983! . . . Fine . . . No, I'm still single . . . Do you remember when we had that long conversation about Ra and Set? . . . Yeah I know that they were only hypothetical scenarios . . . No they are here in Tokyo right now . . . Fighting each other like a couple of spoiled children . . . Offhand I'd give Set another ten minutes . . . Yes; get this, he wants to destroy the Earth . . . No really! . . . Can you do me a huge favor? . . . How did you guess? . . . Good, then come on over, I think he will be glad to see you and it might help . . . Thanks babe . . . I'll see you when you get here . . . Bye . . .

Graves hung up and rejoined the rest of us. Have you ever seen a woman with that "you're dead" look in her eyes? Well let me tell you it is not the most pleasurable thing to be near when it happens. What's worse was that Mercedes was giving it to Graves and she has never been renowned for her calm response to certain things. She asked Graves if he was seeing this woman and Graves told her that they were just old friends. This didn't seem to convince Mercedes and she proceeded to blow a huge hole in a nearby wall with her Mark 46 Doombringer Mini-assault Cannon, adding to the destruction wreaked by the warring gods.

"Then babe, who is this wench," asked Mercedes?

As soon as she completed her sentence a blinding flash similar to the one that brought us to Tokyo filled the area.

"Everyone, I would like you to meet Isis."

 Most of us were caught off guard by Graves' introduction. I mean it's not often that one gets to meet not one, but three ancient Egyptian gods in the same day.

I could see why Egyptian types used to worship Isis . . . She was a complete babe. Added to this was the fact that she was wearing very little in the way of clothing and what she was wearing was made of that see-through material like Madonna wears, so what was the point.

The whole place was getting real warm due to the fact that we now had three beautiful women in our presence. Then again, maybe it was due to the fact that large portions of Tokyo were on fire. I chose reason number three because it seemed the most logical; Mercedes was getting extremely pissed off at Aarron for knowing any other beautiful women. I wouldn't have wanted to be in Graves' shoes then.

It seems funny now that I look back on it, because upon Isis' arrival both Ra and Set had ceased fighting and had landed in the midst of our group. Ra had conjured up a huge bouquet of flowers. Set on the other hand a box of condoms (Set always had a reputation as a bad boy but at least he practiced safe sex).

Ra bowed and said, "Your beauty has not been marred by the passage of time."

Set grinned, "Long time no see Ice, you still look buffed."

I was thinking the same thing.

At that moment I had taken keen notice of the differences between Ra and Set (other than their names) and have listed them as follows:

RA SET
CLOTHES SUITS, TIES T-SHIRT, SHADES
HAIRCUT COMBED TO THE RIGHT FLAT TOP, NO MOUSSE
SPEECH COLLEGE ENGLISH MAJOR CAN YOU SAY G.E.D
ATTITUDE SNOB PARTY ON DUDE
FOOD QUICHE COLD PIZZA
MOVIE OUT OF AFRICA ALIENS
BOOK WAR AND PEACE THE MUMMY
[NOTE: THIS LIST WAS COMPILED BY MEANS OF INTERVIEWS, HISTORICAL RESEARCH, AND GOOD OLD FASHIONED CREATIVITY, SO DON'T PUSH ME, MAN.]

Isis apparently understood the gravity of the situation (though I can't understand what the natural force that keeps things on the ground had to do with the whole thing) and spoke to the two warring gods, "Why are you boys fighting?"

"Set was planning to destroy the planet and I'm here to stop him," said Ra.

"Just having a little fun," added Set.

I thought that it was a pretty stupid idea. I would soon find out that what I thought didn't have much relevance in the situation.

Isis got all coy and I think she blushed. "Oh Set, you always do the cutest things. Would you really have done it?"

"Nah! I have to live here too you know. What say we go to Sydney and just lay on the beach . . . I've got the raincoats," said Set as he waved the gift from earlier.

Isis put her hand in Set's and started walking away from all of us.

"WAIT!"

I was going to say it but before the message was transmitted from my brain to the motor nerves that would actuate my mouth, someone else had already done it.

It was Ra.

"It can't just end like this. You can't just leave on a date with Set and leave me here with my hopes of fulfilling a meaningful purpose crushed. Set is a bad guy, how can you fall for him? He killed his own consort for Geb's sake!"

Isis tossed her hair in the way the women you see at the mall do and said, "You're boring Ra, you have always been a geek. Set doesn't let being immortal get in his way he just has fun. Sure he killed off most of the others like you and I, but he does things differently and that's why I like him."

I would hazard to say that "geek" was a trigger word for Ra because he got really angry and slapped Isis. I would categorize this action as one of the top ten most stupid things to do in the universe, not only with god-types but with anybody. Nobody, I mean nobody, would be allowed to slap my woman without expecting some form of violent retribution. Apparently I am not the only one on the planet who thinks this way.

Set punched Ra in the face knocking him through three blocks worth of buildings and fracturing his nose. Set then ran to where Ra had landed and proceeded to drop kick him into the air. While the mighty sun god was airborne Set picked up one of the steel girders that had at one time formed the frame of a building and was now a pile of rubble. As Ra descended back toward Earth, Set got into the classic batter's stance (though it's hard to explain why it's classic).

KRAKA-BOOM! It's a solid hit, deep center city. It's going, going . . . It's out of here! Home run! Raah!

Ra plunged into the Sea of Japan and the two remaining gods vanished.

It was real silent for a few minutes as we tried to comprehend our failure. Ra had just gotten his butt kicked by Set. The city of Tokyo was totalled. Set had disappeared and we were in the middle of the destruction soon to become obvious candidates for blame.

"Graves! Set just got away and it's your fault because you called Isis! Do you know what you have done," I screamed?

"Of course I know what I have done, I consider it quite brilliant myself. But first I suggest we get back to San Diego before the local politicians start pointing fingers at me and try to lay claim to my bank account."

Not much later we were in the air heading back to San Diego. As we flew I felt that it was time to voice the questions that were floating around in my mind. Questions like: how did he find Ra? Why did he call Isis? And why didn't he try to stop Set?

As always Graves was more than willing to answer my queries, though his answers often lead to further questions.

"It was obvious to me that to find Ra one had to not be looking for him. You know what I mean, it's like when you lose your car keys . . . you can never find them until you start looking for that phone number you lost. Suddenly . . . BAM! . . . there are your car keys."

"I stopped looking for Ra and started looking for a reason why we were driving into the desert and there we found Ra . . . It's quite simple Benson. As for my calling Isis, that was based on the simple deduction that Set was merely trying to impress her. Of course I think that Mercedes would be more qualified to answer this one due to the fact that she practices psychology."

Mercedes picked up where the Professor left off. "You see, this is one of the most common psychoses in the world. Teenagers do it to get dates in high school, accountants do it to get promoted, and as you have seen, not even gods are immune to it. Set was always considered the "stoner" type among the ancient gods while Ra was "mister popularity". Being that Isis was the last remaining goddess, she could pick whoever she wanted, which would leave the other one snapping his carrot for eternity."

"Ra had apparently been at the head of the pack because he seemed more stable, economically secure and dressed well. Set on the other hand was the type of god who would spend his life savings to get totally hammered on the beach. It is obvious that Graves deduced that Isis favored Set because of this, but was too shy to make her move. Aarron merely sped up the process."

"But why Set? Wouldn't it be kind of dangerous to let a guy like him survive, considering his instability . . . I mean blowing up the world is a pretty drastic come on line," I said.

Graves gave a lopsided grin and said, "At least you know where you stand with Set. You saw how Ra changed from the well mannered guy to snobbish god with an attitude; who knows what diabolical plots he could have come up with? Why do you think the other gods tried to kill him in the first place? Actually I consider Set a good role model for the kiddies out there. Instead of sweating the load over things he couldn't change like being immortal or being stereotyped and a pagan god, he lived life to the fullest and did his best to make his life better."

The rest of the flight was marked by a lot of boring questions that I will not bother you with. Not long after landing at GDI we were in Graves' office smoking and joking.

The latest issue of Vogue was on the stands and Mercedes was on the cover. As it turned out she was right . . . Leather and military accessories were fast becoming the fashion rage of that year. We saw Raydon's tape-delayed episode of Geraldo and the furor that the audience raised when his beeper had gone off. Graves had made a few calls to certain friends in the Sheriff's Department and got Ken off the hook, though Ken didn't seem to care because he was out on a date with Seline. The fact that Ken had gone out with Seline had calmed Mercedes down enough for her to put away her guns (the flight back was high on the tension scale). Vince was testing out some ungodly drink he had just invented and was in too much of a coma to be a productive part of any conversation that went on. That was when Graves made one of his characteristic "This will totally confuse you" statements.

"Besides, Isis should calm him down a bit . . . She did it for me."

Both Mercedes and myself were going to ask him what exactly he meant by the statement (though Mercedes had a more convincing argument with the small hand grenade that she was prepared to stuff down Graves pants) but that was when Graves told us that we were going to find out once and for all . . . .



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