Hollywood Hack JobBy: Nathan Allen
He switched on his bedside lamp and fumbled around for his glasses. After staring at the foot of his bed for an indeterminate period of time, contemplating his options and trying to ascertain if there was any other course of action, he eventually decided he had to do the right thing. He reached across for the phone.
He was midway through dialing when the rumbling began. It came from above, like a low-flying jumbo jet passing overhead. The noise grew louder and louder, the vibrations more intense. The entire house shook by its foundations. The phone’s handset fell from his grip and tumbled to the floor.
A large crack formed directly above him. The ceiling separated, and a flood of golden light filled the room. He looked up into the sky and saw a most remarkable sight. An infinite tunnel of clouds, stretching all the way to the heavens above.
An incredible vision then appeared before him. It was a vibrant mass of light and color unlike anything he or any other mortal being had ever witnessed. It was something so phenomenal, so indescribable, he knew he could only be looking at the face of God.
“Oh, my,” Fr. Gerdtz said. His hand clutched at his chest. His heart was pounding like a jackhammer. “My Lord, please forgive me for my sins. I know there is no possible–”
“My son, you do not need my forgiveness for you have done nothing wrong.”
The voice of God seemed to envelop him, like a fog of words coming at him from every direction at once.
“But I took the life of an innocent person.”
“Believe me, that was no innocent person you expunged from this world. She was nothing but a vain leech whose only function was to facilitate the spread of narcissistic personality disorder. You did the right thing. You did precisely what I asked of you.”
Fr. Gerdtz took a sharp intake of breath. “That was you sending me a message the other night?”
“Of course. You asked for my help, and I responded. I could see that you were pure of heart, and that you had the integrity and the faith to do what needed to be done.”
“But ... I don’t understand. Why did you need me to do this?”
“I needed you because it saddens me to see humanity lose its way. Celebrity has become the new religion of the modern world, and it is beginning to upset the balance. The traits that deserve to be admired, such as kindness, modesty and virtue, they are no longer valued. Instead, the world revolves around these vapid and vacant celebrities. It wouldn’t concern me so much if it was the brilliant minds being worshiped; the poets, the philosophers, the great leaders and intellectuals. But instead it’s these actors, pop stars, models and athletes. And that’s without mentioning those reality television and social media stars who have attained fame, or infamy, for reasons even I cannot fathom. What are their real accomplishments? What have they done to improve the lives of the less fortunate? They have done nothing to deserve such adulation. They are simply empty-headed puppets, performing for the amusement of the ignorant masses. Shallowness is held up as something to aspire to, while true heroism and selflessness goes unrewarded.”
Fr. Gerdtz struggled to comprehend all he was being told. “But hasn’t idolatry always been a part of our lives?” he said.
“Yes, in small doses. People have admired movie stars and professional athletes in the past. I tolerated this. I regarded it as an acceptable distraction from the banalities of everyday life. Everyone still made time for their family and their community. But it is now way out of control. The scales have tipped too far. What’s more, the mantle of celebrity is available to all, and if changes are not made the situation will only get worse. A tipping point is rapidly approaching. Something must be done before it’s too late. And that is why you have been chosen.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“The world is suffering through a terrible plague. It is the plague of celebrity. Hollywood is the host, and you are the cure.”
“I ... I’m not sure I understand.”
“I’m asking that you remove anyone who is famous from this earth. At least, until the rest of the world gets the message.”
“Oh, my. That sounds rather drastic.”
“Believe me, it is for their own good. It may come as a surprise to you, but I am not completely infallible. From time to time I do get it wrong. The world is an ever-evolving work in progress. What’s important is that I recognize my mistakes and make efforts to rectify them, like I did with Sodom and Gomorrah and the great deluge. The time has now come for another correction.”
“But what can I do? I’m just one man.”
“Noah was just one man. Moses was just one man. It only takes one man to change the world.”
Fr. Gerdtz’s head was swirling as he took this all in. “But I don’t know any celebrities. I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
“You only need to look deep within yourself. I will be there to guide you every step of the way.”
He didn’t recall a great deal from that point on. The rest of the night was a vague blur as he drifted in and out of sleep, his dreams intertwining with reality. He awoke the next morning to discover his sheets were damp from night sweats, and he had overslept by several hours. He hurried out of bed and quickly got ready.