“Well, hey there!” said an animated mote of light with cartoonish eyes and a pleasant smile from the job orientation video I was asked to watch. “We welcome you to the most premiere miraclenomic firm in the world; Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, or what we colloquially call MGUR.”
The flying mote of light giggled then said, “Follow me! I’ll show you around!” It twirled then streamed across the screen as a ribbon of light, and the camera panned to the MGUR building, previously called the One World Trade Center. Then, the screen transitioned with a kaleidoscopic blur reminiscent of a public service announcement during Saturday morning cartoons. It reminded me of old slogans like, ‘And Knowing is Half the Battle!’ or ‘Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.’
“Angels like their nostalgia, I guess,” I murmured but quickly looked around to see if anyone or anything heard me. I was in a small closet-like room only containing the chair I was sitting in, a table, and the television showing the orientation video. It was nothing like my windowed corner office from my previous firm.
But that firm didn’t exist anymore.
Chipper, upbeat music started to play as the orientation video continued. The screen showed a long row of cubicles filled with busy workers shuffling papers, talking on the phone, and typing on keyboards. The cartoon mote of light appeared in the foreground with an exaggerated expression of excitement literally drawn onto its face. “Oh my, forgive my manners!” it said. “I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Marvel the Miracoin! Nice to meet you; what is your name?”
There was a pause as the cartoon figure waited for my response. I jerked my head to glance at my surrounding but seeing the room empty, I then hesitantly replied, “Um, Mark Bartima—”
“Wow, what a great name! Nice to meet you,” Marvel the Miracoin interrupted.
Its interruption calmed me. I was pretty sure nothing supernatural was happening, but after God’s voice boomed in the minds of every human on the planet, coping issues concerning the suspicion of constantly being watched have not been my strong suit.
“What are we waiting for! Wheee!” The cartoon let out a gleeful cry, then zipped away as the video transitioned to a scene in the MGUR lobby. A happy tune played, and Marvel appeared singing, “I’m just a miracoin. Yes, only a miracoin. But I’ll make some good today.”
I groaned. The song was a complete rip-off of Schoolhouse Rock’s version of How a Bill Becomes a Law. I guess God didn’t care much about royalties.
The video showed a boy picking up a piece of paper that a busy man dropped as he ran by. The boy grabbed the paper, ran to catch up with the man, and handed it to him. The man thanked the boy and went on his way.
“That’s my cue!” Marvel said, then launched itself into the boy’s back and vanished. The boy did not seem to notice as he sat down on some steps.
The boy glanced at a hotdog cart and said, “Oh golly, I sure am hungry. I wish I had a hotdog.”
The boy went up to the vendor and said, “How much for a hotdog?”
The vendor beamed like jolly old Santa and said, “They are free, of course; I must do my good deeds for today after all.”
The boy smiled and said, “It’s a miracle!”
“Yes!” the vendor answered and handed the boy a hotdog. Marvel then shot out of the boy’s chest and into the vendor.
“Wow! What was that, Mister?” the boy exclaimed.
“That was the miracoin I received from gifting you that hotdog, young man,” he replied. The vendor’s eye flickered and shone with a small but noticeable brightness that made his body glow even through his clothes.
“And what was that with your eyes! It’s like you’re shining,” the boy asked between chomps of his hotdog.
“Well, son, the more miracoins you acquire, the brighter you become.”
The boy finished his hotdog and looked at his own body. “Aw, I’m not shining at all,” the boy said and frowned.
“That’s because you don’t have any more miracoins to spend!” the vendor replied and chuckled. “But don’t worry, it’s easy to get more. Just do something good for someone else. You can’t ask for miracles unless you show you are worthy of them. God wants us to do good deeds, so she shows us the way with miracoins.”
“So as long as I’m good to people, I can have all the hotdogs I want?” the boy asked.
“If that’s how you wish to spend your miracoins, so be it,” the vendor replied, and they both laughed.
The cheerfulness was cloying. I mischievously imagined the hotdog vendor having a heart attack and asking for a miracle to save him, only to die because of his lack of miracoins. So it goes.
Instead of my sick fantasy, the scene faded and changed to cubicles and office workers back on the upper floors of the MGUR building. A woman using a computer appeared in the video, and the screen displayed charts and graphs similar to most trading platforms used in e-commerce—or was used, I should say. Marvel hovered beside the computer and explained, “Hannah here—” Marvel’s eyes gestured to the woman before returning to the screen, “—is where the effectiveness of active miracoins is monitored, the requests for miracoins are categorized, and the need for miracoins are assessed for each soulholder. The data is then conglomerated and used to predict how humans will be able to benefit from an individual’s requested miracle…”
Marvel the Miracoin continued explaining the nitty-gritty of Miraclenomics, but I wasn’t hired for such menial tasks, and my mind wandered.
The day God appeared, the stock markets crashed.
The markets don’t like unpredictability, so having our Creator appear and start broadcasting plans for a new world order ended the market economics of modern civilizations. It happened about a year ago, the 8th day of January, but everyone just calls it the 8th day now. Every human remembers where they were the day God came to us. God appeared in front of the Charging Bull. She took the form of pure light shaped in a female physique. Although she was naked, there were no discernable features to her nakedness. God’s nakedness was shrouded by a light so blinding it was like looking into the sun. I know because I saw her, not on TV or on the internet; I was there.
I remember walking to the New York Stock Exchange when a bright light blinded me. God’s image was so striking that only a few odd euphemisms of her exact words stuck in my memory. Despite what she called many “rebrandings,” divine retributions like floods never worked to make a utopia. Humans always made the world “yucky” no matter how she thought to intervene, so now she was pursuing a new “market strategy.”
The merging of economic theory with mass communication technology gave God a new plan for humankind. She saw a fundamental flaw in the universe; her judgment of who receives DI. That’s another acronym that entered our vocabulary in the past year; “DI,” as in Divine Intervention, a phrase that has now become synonymous with miracles. God rationalized that her actions of granting miracles to humans by her own judgment entrenched on free will if used too often and left humans in misery if not used enough. Some individuals received a miracle but squandered it on themselves rather than paying their good fortune back to society. It was a logical conundrum. Gifting free will to humans was at odds with wanting humans to create a utopia.
After each “rebranding,” humans would eventually use their free will to transform a blank slate of a world into one filled with malice, division, famine, and war. God told us of a pious priest she saved from a car crash that would later molest children. She told us of a blind woman she cured that later murdered her abusive husband in a rage. She told us of a starving boy praying to feed himself and his village, but after providing the boy with food, he stole the remainder of the village’s food for himself.
Giving humans free will meant she could not control our actions, so helping someone via DI did not necessarily make them a better person, yet if she refused to gift DI, the world would assuredly be a worse place. God wanted a way for each miracle to be maximized for the benefit of humankind, and she found it by using market forces to monetarize miracles.
On the 8th day, God created the Miracoin, the only currency on Earth. All other currencies are worthless; er, meaningless is more poignant. Furthermore, the Miracoin is not physical, nor is it precisely digital, although it is tracked by computers like the old stock markets.
Miracoins are made of pure motes of light, just like Marvel. I shook my head and paid attention to the video. Marvel was explaining MGUR’s chain of command with a flowchart. There was God at the top, duh, that’s a bit obvious, then the Board of Angels, then the CEO—that’s Chief Ethics Officer—then below that was the peons that fuel the MGUR machine. Marvel continued by explaining the benefits and bonuses of job positions at MGUR. Finally, the orientation video concluded with hundreds of employees saying in unison, “Welcome to MGUR, where goodness is for profit!”
I groaned again and started considering if this would really be a good position for me. Did MGUR recruit me because of my accomplishments in finance or my ruthlessness? The door opened to the small room, and a glowing woman in a white pantsuit stood there. “Hello, it would be my honor to escort you to the Board’s conference room. They would like to meet with you now.”
“Sure, thanks,” I replied. “I’m happy to be done with that video.” As I granted thanks, a nearly imperceptible increase in the woman’s brightness occurred. She obviously had many miracoins and was likely a wealthy soulholder with MGUR.
“Everyone has to watch the orientation video, even people hired to administration positions such as yours,” the woman said.
The interior of the MGUR building was bright and must have been renovated by something, not from the mortal plane of existence. Fabulous archways, columns, and religious imagery from across the world decorated the rooms and hallways. In a large lobby containing the elevators, a massive plaque on the wall made me pause as I noticed it. Framed in gold leaf and chiseled into stone, it read,
The Axioms of Miraclenomics
Axiom 1: God wants humans to perform good deeds
Axiom 2: God wants humans to have free will
Axiom 3: Humans can do good and evil deeds
Axiom 4: Humans choose deeds that best benefit their self-interests over society’s interests
Axiom 5: Evil deeds support self-interests more often than good deeds
Axiom 6: Humans want miracles to happen to them
Axiom 7: Humans that want miracles can purchase them with Miracoins
Axiom 8: Miracoins can only be acquired by performing good deeds
The woman escorting me said, “God used currency to incentivize the trade of good deeds. Eight axioms on the 8th day.” She bowed, walked to the elevators, and took a key out of her pocket. She used the key to activate the button to the penthouse and asked me to enter the elevator.
“You aren’t coming?” I asked. She shook her head, and the doors to the elevator closed.
The elevator rose. Light filled the gap when the doors slid open and made me squint. When my eyes adjusted, I could see four figures behind a barrier of dimness. The light emanating from the four figures was so bright that tinted glass was needed to prevent the temporary blindness of mere mortals.
“Welcome, I am Gabriel,” the figure on the right said. “I will be leading this meeting, and Michael, Uriel, and Raphael will bear witness.”
The other three figures nodded then Gabriel continued, “Your name is Mark Bartimaeus, a fine biblical name.”
“Uh, yes, that’s me,” I said.
“Do you know why we hired you?” Gabriel asked.
“Your offer was unexpected,” I replied. “I believe that you chose me because of my experience. I was one of the youngest CEOs in America. I made my first billion dollars when I was 41. I’ve founded finance companies, banks, and even a space exploration venture. I graduated top of my class from Harvard Law school. I’ve been trading stocks since I was 18 until last year.”
“These were only considerations,” Gabriel said. “Although, they are pertinent ones. But no, you were chosen for another reason.”
I felt myself tremble as the angel spoke. Whether it was supernatural or just my nerves, memories of the suffering I caused others overcame me. When I was a CEO, playing the markets was just manipulating numbers. It was easy to forget the lives behind those numbers. There were countless people I crushed with debt and trapped with high-interest rates. I destroyed families that put up their homes for collateral, knowing they would never be able to pay off what they owed my company. I knowingly gobbled up the fortunes of the sick, people in medical debts that had to choose between treatment for themselves or feeding their kids. That was the way of the world, the world that God made. It was built for the strong to take advantage of the weak despite what God wanted us to do.
Oh yes, I knew why they hired me. It is because I was evil and didn’t mind being that way.
Gabriel’s glowing eyes pierced me as he said, “You were chosen for your wickedness!”
I knew this was coming and had to play the part the angels expected if I was to get what I wanted. I fell to my knees and clasped my hands together in prayer. “Please, I beg you! Show mercy.”
“You did not show mercy to those you trampled under your companies, power, and thefts. You are a swindler. A pariah of all that is good. Your greed harmed many. Humans like you made God abandon the ways before the 8th day. Why should we show mercy to the merciless?”
“I will pay for my mercy with miracoins,” I said. “I pray for the miracle of your forgiveness.”
Gabriel replied, “Your soul doesn’t glow. You have no miracoins; your soul is so corrupted that the meager gains you acquire immediately transfer to those you hurt in the past. As a result, you are now the one in debt!”
It was true. Most people on the street glowed at least a little bit, but not me. People on the street would tell me I wasn’t worth a miracle. They said I did not deserve for God to hear me because of the pain I caused others.
“What say you?” Gabriel asked.
“My soul never glows,” I said. “My soul is black. A void of goodness that I may never overcome before I die. Yet, I have faith in your forgiveness. You have hired me because you need someone like me. Someone whose default thinking is the scam and steal. You are the masters of perceiving and predicting goodness, but that is only half the equation. Based on the Axioms of Miralenomics, you need someone to measure evil as well, something you benevolent beings of light have great difficulty doing. You are hiring me as your counterpart. To eliminate evil from this world, you will need someone who understands it.”
The angels looked at one another and then simultaneously nodded.
“You know there will not be a second chance. We see you requested a vast amount of miracoins as a signing bonus for this position. Explain yourself.”
“I have been a beggar for this past year. I lost everything when the markets crashed. I have sustained myself on the good deeds of others and now know the plight of the poor. I seek to use the miracoins from the signing bonus to purchase miracles for others in a similar predicament as myself. Grant me the ability to help the once-wealthy see the errors of their ways as I have. I swear that whatever signing bonus you bestow upon me will be given to others and not spent on myself.”
The angels quietly discussed, and I couldn’t hear what they were saying. My act and plea were the one shot at regaining the wealth I had before the 8th day, although I would be held to my word; I wouldn’t spend the miracoins on myself. But I would find a way to destroy the whole miraclenomy… one day.
“Then it is decided,” Gabriel said after his discourse with the other angels. We know your words to be true. We have decided that you take a new name, or rather, a new “rebranding” of an old name in our order of angels. You will know what we mean when the funds transfer to you.”
A stream of light shot from the four angels into my chest, and I found my body glowing more and more. It was becoming so bright that I could only see white. Finally, when I looked down at my body, it shone nearly as bright as the angels.
“We bestow upon you the position of Chief Ethics Officer and christen you with a new name; Lucifer, the brightest of your kind.”