In honor of the season, please enjoy one of the most beautiful Christmas stories ever written. Donald E. Westlake wrote it in 1964 under the pseudonym of Curt Clark; it appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. If these 3000 words don’t give you organ damage, you may be late for your curtain call at Westworld.
Nackles by Donald E. Westlake
Did God create Man, or does Man create gods? I don’t know, and if it hadn’t been for my rotten brother-in-law the questions would never have come up. My late brother-in-law? Nackles knows.
It all depends, you see, like the chicken and the egg, on which came first. Did God exist before Man first thought of Him, or didn’t He? If not, if Man creates his gods, then it follows that Man must create the devils, too.
Nearly every god, you know, has his corresponding devil. Good and Evil. The polytheistic ancients, prolific in the creation (?) of gods and goddesses, always worked up nearly enough Evil ones to cancel out the Good, but not quite. The Greeks, those incredible supermen, combined Good and Evil in each of their gods. In Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda, being Good is ranged forever against the Evil one, Ahriman. And we ourselves know God and Satan.
But of course it’s entirely possible I have nothing to worry about.
(read the rest at http://www.donaldwestlake.com/nackles/ )