Godly Onboarding

A short sci-fi story by Isaac Petrov

Hey, human. I’m a god.

Well, more than that, actually. I’m a… er, a supergod. Kind’a like how your boss tells y’all what you gotta do, and can overwork ya and, and give ya the boot and stuff, ya know? Yeah, that’s me, but here, in Godland.

Consider this memo a proactive heads-up in our ongoing transparency initiative. Well, hah, not really. I’m sorry, I’m lying, and god’s ain’t supposed to. No, there really ain’t no reason at all. I just thought it was all superfunny, in a weird tragic kind’a way, y’know? When Jemma came all upset to me, I LMAOed, man. Of course not in front of her, that’d be sooo unprofessional. But I thought, I gotta tell this to somebody, man. And who better than you? No worries, I’ll translate all this godly mumbo-jumbo into human, so y’all can get the gist of it with your little animal brains. I think I did a jolly good job, if a humble God may say so himself. Dunno, maybe I’ll escalate this memo to upper management for some kudos, or God-willing—literally—even a performance star.

Anyway, so I got all this gossip from one of my goddesses. Name’s … oh, wait; your brain would explode if you even tried to spell it out with that puny thing in your necknut. Hmm, let’s call her… Marissa. Actually, I’ll let her do the talking.

“Hey, giiirl!”

Marissa turns to the familiar voice and squeals so loudly that the other gods sitting in the canteen try hard to ignore them. “Jemma! You’re here!” she says between bouts of laughter as she gets lost in her embrace. “Oh, how long’s it been?”

“You tell me!” Jemma says as she finally lets go and smiles radiantly at her. “It was in Andromeda, right? You were assigned to some sentient fungi species and I got stuck with those nitrogen-guzzling amoebas. What a shithole of a planet. New… New… Oh, what’s it called?”

“New Jorsei, yeah. Oh, that was fun. But sit, girl. Tell me, what’s up with you? What are you wearing?”

“You like it?” Jemma says twirling around to show off her new body. “It’s called a human. New assignment.”

“Human?” Marissa’s eyes widen, and her smile grows. “You mean, Milky Way human? The once dominant species that fucked up the galactic—”

“Yeah!” Marissa spreads her arms in a wide, proud flourish. “Got a promo!”

Marissa jumps up and her little hops and protracted squeals draw the disapproving gaze of even the cashier. “A promotion! Biiitch! So jelly! Congrats, girl, you deserve it. Still onboarding?”

Jemma nods, her smile waning. “Bit boring so far, though. I mean, yeah, it’s cool living life after life, but damn, girl, it’s been like four or five thousand generation already, and… uh, nothin’ happens. Always the same, over and over again. I mean, no, don’t look like that. It’s been goody cooly so far, lots of action, hunting, fucking, family, all that jazz. But it gets…”


Jemma shrugs. “They’re so… simple. I mean, not as much as those New Jorsei amoebas,” she cackles, “but not far behind. I wonder what’s all the fuss with these humans?”

“Well, I guess you’ll find out soon enough, huh? Isn’t that the whole point of the onboarding process? Living a sample of a species’ lives from inception to extinction until you know inside out how both their ovaries tick? You can bet your ass whatever the human spark is, is coming your way, bitch. Oh, I’m so jelly, jelly, jelly! Did you sleep with the boss?”

(This is supergod again. I know how that sounds, human, but lemme add a quick corporate disclaimer here in case the Boss is also reading along. We gods don’t have gender. Which means—lemme spell that out for you—we don’t have sex. So no, no harassment under my watch, all right? That ‘sleeping with the boss’ expression is just an apt analogy for your tiny thinksponge, all right? Yeah? Good. Back to the memo.)

“But that’s the thing, Marissa. It’s not that I just got started. I took a peek at next quarter’s schedule, and the fact is, I’m almost done!”

Marissa leans back, eyebrows raised. “Say what?”

“Yeah, a few more hundred generations, and humans are galactic toast. And still…” She shrugs again.

“Well, I dunno, girl. Just hang in there. It’s gotta be there, in the last stretch. Oh, shit.” Marissa stands, eyes on her smartphone. “Got a sync-up call! My fucking quarterly performance deep-dive, no less, girl. Tell you what, let’s meet tomorrow, same time, same table, yeah? I wanna hear all about what happens next. Kissy kisses!” And she hurries away.

(Good girl. Marissa’s never late.)

“Hey, giiirl! Look at you. You’re glowing, Jemma! I knew it!”

“Yeah,” Jemma laughs out loud. “You were sooo right. It’s… amazing!”

“So,” Marissa sits and promptly leans forward, eyes on her friend, “I wanna hear everything!”

“Well,” she exhales and shakes her head, eyes on the far wall of the canteen. “Where to begin!”

“Tell me about your most exciting recent life!”

“Ha, all right. I was Dareen, a sweet girl, then a bitter woman, finally a placid granny, who left eighteen grandchildren behind at her deathbed when she turned fifty-four. Some life!”

“I bet!” Marissa’s eyes shine with drilling intensity. “Spill the beans, bitch.”

“Yeah, it started with those exaggerated stories about things stirring in the East, far, far away, beyond the horizon many times over. The tribe elders didn’t believe the stories, but I was a kid—I couldn’t get enough of ‘em. I spent more time with Grandfather than with any of my friends.” She smiles at the memory. “It was a sweet childhood, like the many thousands I lived before. But it wasn’t to last.”

“Whoa, so the stories were true, I betcha.”

Jemma smiles, not so fondly this time. “They spoke of… concepts that my tribe couldn’t even begin to grasp. Food without end, no matter the season. Huge piles of it!”


“Settlements larger than our tribe and all the other spring-festival tribes combined, living all year round in the same spot, tents as high as trees, made of stone and earth.”

“Cities! You’re talking about civilization! It must’ve been exciting!”

“Not for a while. Not for many of us. It dawned far away. Long ago. But after many generations, it eventually caught up even with Dareen and her people, living in the isolated Western edge of the continent.”

“Wow. Jelly, Jelly. It must have been exciting!”

“Well, these people came out of nowhere, riding beasts and wearing weapons that made them invincible.”

“Oh,” Marissa curls her lips. “War, huh? That’s a major ouch-o-rama, dude.”

“No, it wasn’t just war. It was… Okay, you tell me what it was. Before I even had tits, my father and grandfather were murdered, along with my brothers and the rest of the men. I was married off to one of the killers, made many fair-skinned babies, spoke another language and never uttered a word about any of my ancestral traditions.”

“Oh, dear.” Marissa takes Jemma’s hand in hers. “Genocide—that’s what it was.”

“My gods died that day too. Thousand-year-old gods. But hey, it was… the first new life. A different life.”

“”Sounds like it zapped the snooze-fest, huh? Well, you seem to’ve gotten a front-row seat glimpse of the human soul right there. Sounds like a great onboarding so far. How did Dareen’s life end?”

“Oh,” Jemma waves a hand. “Pleasant enough. Thankfully she was young when it all happened. Learned the new ways. Learned to love. Was loved.”

“Sounds… nice. So what’s next?”

“I dunno, girl,” Jemma says with a half smile, and stands. “But you’ll know soon enough, ‘cause I’m off to my next session. Wish me luck!”

“Break a leg, bitch! Sooo jelly.” 

“Oh, baby, what’s with the long face?” Marissa says, sitting next to Jemma, and putting a hand on her shoulder. “The fuck happened? Was it the boss again?!”

(Supergod here with a small remark: my gods are treated with the utmost professionalism and respect. I’ve instituted a zero-tolerance, no harassment and open-door policy that guarantees an eternally pleasant and productive godly environment. And now, back to Marissa’s account.)

Jemma shakes her head. “I’m fine. I’m fine.” But clearly, she’s not.

“Was it one of those human lives again?”

Jemma wets her lips. “Not one. Many. Too many.”

“What the fuck happened, baby? I thought you were entering the great era of humankind, with civilization and all the shebang. They’re destined to conquer their world, and then a good chunk of the galaxy.”

“Dunno about that yet,” Jemma takes a long, shaky breath. “But I’ve lived the lives of women raised in seclusion to be sold by their fathers to their husbands. No, not women—child bearing vehicles.

“Oh, dear.”

“I’ve lived the lives of the lower castes. It was… most of us, the people, and yet we were deprived of all that is good in life. Opportunities, illusion, destiny. Freedom. We’d barely have enough to eat, oppressed by warriors and priests alike, unable to even join their ranks, unable to even oppress others for food. Locked by birth in misery.”

“That’s a whole bag of yikes, girl!”

“At least I was nominally free. There were also slaves. Slaves! Once proud warriors defeated in battle, or captured women and children, broken to lifelong forced labor or worse, with the faint hope of once pleasing their masters so much that they’ll be granted freedom.”

“Whoa, baby. I dunno what to say. Bet you’re pining for those good ol’ endless roam-a-thons of nomadic yawnsville, huh?”

“It happened sometimes, you know?”


“Slaves. They were sometimes freed. I saw it once. The human world I’m living in is… young and cruel. But there are  glimpses of… something. Maybe that’s what makes humans special, huh?”

“Maybe.” Marissa leans in and places a kiss on Jemma’s pale face. “Know what? Look, you’re living a goddamn (note to self: remove this improper adjective before the Boss sees it) revolution here, a fucking agricultural revolution. Everything changes. It’s the dawn of civilization. And you know the drill right after every revolution—always a fucking shitstorm. I bet the dust will settle soon, though, baby. You wait’n see.”

“Maybe,” Jemma repeats softly. “Maybe.”

“Hey, giiirl!”

“Jemma! There you are! Wow, so it’s true! You really did it!”

“Yeah,” Jemma says with a shrug and a proud smile.

“The fuck are you wearing?!”

 “You like it?” Jemma asks, and spins coquettishly, showing off her new body.

“Come on, baby. Sit. Spill the tea. What the fuck happened? Was it the humans again?”

Jemma’s face goes pale and she sits with a heavier thud than her new body would suggest. “I tried. I really tried. What I lived was…” She shakes her peculiar head once. “Slavery. Serfdom.”

“What’s that?”

“Similar to caste, too. It’s… well, it’s all slavery, really. Let’s call things by their name. Even women were…” Jemma shudders. “And get this—it’s all holy-roller approved, every last religion!”

“You know what they say about the gods…” Marissa says with a wink, but it doesn’t draw out a smile from her friend.

“But I held on. I even made it to the next revolution.”

“Atta girl. But another revolution? Oh, dear. Oh, dear.”

“Industrial this time. And the shitstorm was…”


“Industrial war. Industrial genocide. Industrial slavery.”

“What’s that?”

“A life without the faintest hope of one day attaining the favor of a merciful master. Brutally torn from your ancestral home. You owned nothing. Not your future. Not your children. Certainly not your own life. You were put in a living hell on Earth forever, generation after generation. Hopeless. Broken.”

“Industrial slavery…” Marissa wets her lips, her eyes lost on the slowly evolving textures of the canteen table.

“And that’s not all. Industrial war. Industrial genocide.”

“Industrial genocide?! How was—”

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s when I saw as clear as I see you now that I’m not cut out for this human wrangling gig. Let somebody else god them around. I went to the boss, and…” Jemma shows again her new, imposing body.

“I kinda like it. What is it?”

“Name’s slug. A creature on the same planet.”

“Definitely an upgrade, girl.”

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