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Ye Gods!

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Ye Gods!

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Author: Tom Holt
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 1993
Orbit, 1992

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Comic Fantasy
Mythic Fiction (Fantasy)
Magical Realism
Avg Member Rating:
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Being a hero bothers Jason Derry. It's easy to get maladjusted when your mom's a suburban housewife and your dad's the Supreme Being. It can be a real drag slaying monsters and retrieving golden fleeces from fire-spitting dragons, and then having to tidy your room before you can watch Star Trek. But it's not the relentless tedium of imperishable glory that finally brings Jason to the end of his rope; it's something so funny that it's got to be taken seriously. Deadly seriously.


"You mean God," said the insurance man dubiously, "singular."

"That's not what the woman told me," said the voice at the other end of the line. "Gods, she said, plural. Quite definite about it. Even spelt it - G - O - D - S. Me, I just believe what I'm told. Anyway, does it make any difference?"

"Well..." The insurance man hesitated. No reason why it should, in layman's terms, but when it comes to policies of insurance, one has to be careful. Insurance contracts, as any lawyer will tell you, are contracts of the utmost faith, which probably explains the references to acts of God. God singular; not plural. If it was an act of gods, plural, would he need to send the claimant more than one claim form?

"You still there?" said the voice.

"Yes, still here," said the insurance man, and he noticed that he had bitten halfway through the stem of his pencil. "Could we just run through one more time?"

The voice sighed. "All right."

"Your two pet rattlesnakes," said the insurance man, "somehow got out of their tank -"

"Which conforms," the voice, "to the strictest Ministry regulations. I've got receipts."

"Yes, I'm sure. They somehow got out, anyway, crossed the main road, and crawled up the drainpipe of Number Seventeen, where they entered the bedroom of Mrs. Derry's six-month-old baby. Who strangled them."

"That's it, yes."

"Mrs. Derry then told you about the incident, and claimed that it was an act of the gods."

"Gods, yes."

"I see." The insurance man choked suddenly; he had swallowed the severed end of his pencil, rubber and all. "Right, fine, well, I'll get a claim form off to you in tonight's post and we'll take it from there, shall we? Thank you so much."

He put the phone down, and blinked about four times. Gods? Snakes? He hadn't heard of such a load of old cod since the last lot of heavy storms...

Inside his head, a sweet, extremely feminine but distinctly authoritative voice told him that he'd better believe it all the same.

The insurance man looked over his shoulder, but there was nobody there. He got up and opened the door; the next-door office was empty. In the end he even looked in the desk drawers and the waste-paper basket. Nothing. Inside his head the voice asked him what he thought he was doing. Then it giggled.

Two months later, Mrs. Derry's snake-fancying neighbour opened his post, looked at the cheque, whistle, and immediately phoned a pet shop to enquire about their special deal on anacondas.

Copyright © 1992 by Tom Holt


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