On Day 5, after God had created the animals of the Earth, He gathered together his marketing team and handed them the task of designing the next big thing – Mankind. He left them with a broad concept and one afternoon in which to come up with something better than the Great Monkey Failure. The marketing team weren’t worried, one afternoon was a very long time in those days and they had lots of paper and pencils.
The Bible is pretty vague when it describes how God created the Earth in 7 days. How the marketing team designed the blueprint for Mankind didn’t add anything to the story so it was edited from the final draft. God is a clever chap, wise, witty, forward-thinking, not to mention a great Poker player, but back in the Beginning the grand plan was time-consuming enough and He couldn’t waste it on Mankind when there was an entire animal kingdom to create.
So this is the story of how the Angelic Marketing Team Ltd. created us.
An ordinary office meeting room. Chairs. Tables. Water cooler. Luke warm coffee. Doughnuts. There are windows but no scenery outside, just the void. On the walls are posters of successful marketing campaigns:
“Light! Now you can see things!”
“Darkness – so we can all appreciate the light!”
“Water – Air – Land. Come & see the marvels of creation!”
“Heavens Above? Wait till you see The Sun, The Stars & The Moon!”
“The Dolphin! It swims! It Breaths! It makes strange noises!”
“Want an animal that tastes like the sea? Try The Fish!”
“Meet The Camel – 1 hump or 2?”
“Meet your new best friend – The Dog!”
“Coming soon – The Garden of Eden!”
Behind the water cooler sat a crumpled poster of a grinning chimpanzee holding a banana up to a none existent camera. Above its head was the phrase: “Like animals? Love The Monkey! Say hello to your new swinging pal! Now with added tail fun!” No one had the heart to put it through the shredder as requested by management. The marketing team felt a quirky sense of pride over their contribution to the creation of The Monkey v1.2 – most would admit the addition of the tail was inspired genius, although only in private. It didn’t pay to rave about what was considered the biggest failure of the week by the only critic that mattered.
The office was a dynamic place to work, every day there was a new project and everyone knew they were at the cutting edge of creation. The Angelic Marketing Team knew they were ahead of the field, no one else was even close to putting out quality products like theirs.
They had been gathered in the meeting room. Everyone knew something big was going down that afternoon, indeed the entire week had been building toward a monumental climax. There hadn’t been much talk of finding post-creation work because there would always be someone in need of their skills.
Besides with so much being created so fast it would all need to be managed. The marketing team would simply switch over to project management instead. It was a win win situation where blue sky thinking was the freshest idea yet, especially considering blue skies had only just invented.
“Okay guys, it’s time to get your thinking caps on,” Gabriel announced to the team. “The Boss has handed us the Big One and we’ve got to pull it off this afternoon, before the end of the light. Before we start let’s make sure we’ve got plenty of coffee and doughnuts, oh and water for Luc, still got that bad feeling?”
Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Yes. I still have that bad feeling. Can’t you lot feel it? I can’t be the only one. Something bad is going to happen. I just know it.”
“Okay big fella, try to stay positive, yes?”
“I guess I can try, Gabe,” Luc replied. He placed his head in his hands and sighed. “But I’m not promising anything. I know you’re trying to help but I just feel so depr-“
“Great!” beamed Gabriel. He looked at the eager faces around the table. “I know you’re all excited to hear what the Big One is so I’ll get straight to it. The Boss wants us to design…”
The team leaned in. The atmosphere was tense. The doughnuts smelled gorgeous.
The moment was uncomfortably long and changed from anxious glee to confused disappointment.
“Man what?” said Azrael with a frown.
“I thought you said this was the Big One,” added Ezekiel. “That’s not big. What kind of name is that? Mankind. Kind of what? At least dolphin made some sense, it’s got the word fin in it.”
“Well, phin actually,” mocked Lucifer.
“You know what I mean, Luc,” Ezekiel snapped.
“It’s not very catchy is it?” said Azrael with a shrug. “Everyone knew where they stood with the Light and the Dark. They were good words. But this…I don’t know, it’s a bit…”
“Guys, c’mon,” Gabriel said.
“Hasty,” said Murmur sat in the corner with his feet on the desk.
“Yeah,” said Ezekiel with a smile. “Nice one Mur. You hit the zone on that one buddy!”
“Woopee,” Murmur replied with less enthusiasm than mud.
“Man kind. Man kind.” Lucifer tested the word several times. “It’s rubbish,” he announced. “Who came up with that doozy?”
“The Boss actually,” Gabriel replied quickly.
“Oh.” Lucifer glanced around the room at the sudden embarrassed faces. “Well. It’s not that bad really. I guess it does have a sort of ring to it. Now I’ve had time to think about it, I like it.”
“What? After thirteen seconds?” Murmur murmured.
“It’s not like you’re contributing much to this, Mur,” Lucifer snapped. He sneered at his colleague. “You should watch what you say. I took the lead on the Goat. Impressed the Boss with that one. I’m going places and one day you’ll be working for me.”
“Yeah, right,” snorted Murmur. “On that day you’ll go to work in a fiery pit of the damned.”
“Guys!” yelled Gabriel. “Please! We need to concentrate. We don’t have a lot of time here.”
“A lot of what?” asked Azrael.
“Time.” Gabriel stared at him. “Oh wait. You didn’t get the memo?” He shuffled through his notes. “Here it is. After the Boss sorted out the land, sky and seas he created this thing called Time. It’s only a side creation but it’s going to be big. No one will see it but they’ll know it’s there. It’ll help keep track of things after Day 7.”
The team looked as confused about Time as they did about Mankind. Lucifer secretly disliked the idea. Ezekiel thought it was best to stay positive. Azrael was of the opinion that it was worth waiting to see what happened, he was the patient sort. Murmur remained impassive, neither approving or championing the challenge.
As for Gabriel, he was still on a high from their previous success, the Dinosaur, and wasn’t going to let this strange new addition to the Boss’s grand plan stop them now.
“Let’s read the brief before we pass judgement,” he told them. “The Boss is pretty vague but take a look.”
Gabriel placed the scroll of parchment on the table.
I, Ruler of all that is known, command thee, the Angelic Marketing, to design and promote Mankind. In order to create this new life form you must follow these guidelines:
1) There must be a maximum of 2 varieties. I have no need for thousands of slight differences like fish or those insects I wish I’d never started.
2) The model must be able to self replicate. After day 7 there will be production cut backs and the company can no longer sustain endless duplication.
3) It must be visually appealing. Unique. There must be beauty, strength, compassion, truth, elegance, wisdom (but not too much) and love. I will not tolerate another great monkey failure.
4) It must be able to learn and communicate using speech instead of sounds. There are already lots of animals that make pointless noises. I want this model to use words.
Do not make me use my Wrath. It gives me a headache.
“He’s not in a good place right now,” Lucifer commented. “I can tell.”
“He’s fine,” Ezekiel declared with a wide smile. “This is going to be great. Shall we get cracking?”
“Seriously?” asked Lucifer. “Can’t we just give this one a miss? Haven’t we done enough this week? I don’t know about you guys but I’m tired of dancing to His tune. Why don’t we just say we tried and it didn’t work out. Maybe He’ll give us something better to work on. Something with a glimmer of success.”
“Er, no, Luc, that’s not how this works,” Gabriel told him. “When the Boss asks He’s not strictly speaking asking, it’s more of a do it or wrath kind of deal.”
“I’ll fetch the paper and pencils,” Ezekiel said, unable and unwilling to hide his excitement.
Man Point One.
Large mounds of paper littered the table and an even larger mound surrounded the small bin in the corner of the meeting room. Pencils had been chewed. Empty cardboard coffee cups were stacked inside one another and the doughnuts were all gone. It had been a frustrating few hours, made all the worse when they frequently argued about how many hours they had wasted, what an hour consisted off and how many they had left.
Gabriel drew a hand through his ragged hair and with tired eyes stared at his fellow marketing executives. None of their previous challenges had been this intense or fraught with stress and arguments. They were starting to think the Boss was playing a joke or making them look foolish on purpose for his own amusement.
“This is a nightmare,” Lucifer said. He looked the worst with red eyes and red skin, he was allergic to coffee. “We can’t do this. It’s a joke I’m tellin’ you.”
“It’s not a jest, Luc,” Azrael told him. “The Boss doesn’t have a sense of humour.”
“Does when it suits him,” Murmur rumbled.
“Aww come on guys!” Ezekiel said. Even his usual cheery demeanour was showing signs of strain. “We can’t let this beat us. Let’s look at the positives. What have we achieved so far?”
Gabriel pulled himself to his feet and plodded over to the flip board. He slung sheets of paper over the top and they stared in silence at dozens of designs that didn’t work.
“Nothing,” he said. His gloomy expression was not encouraging.
“We’ve got this,” Ezekiel announced. He held up a scrap of paper with several lines of hasty text. “It’s something to work on at least.”
“That’s your grocery list,” Lucifer told him.
“Oh.” Ezekiel rummaged through the piles of paper in front of him. “Ah! Here.” he held up an equally messy piece of paper. “See? Basic design. 2 legs. 2 varieties. A mouth. Eyes. Nose. Smooth skin. Big brain. Talky thingy.”
“Visuals,” said Murmur. “We need visuals.”
Ezekiel chewed on his pencil for a moment then began sketching on a fresh sheet. Everyone watched him. Enthusiasm was at an all time low and they needed Ezekiel to have enough left to prop up their tent of hope with a single pole of inspiration.
“What do you reckon?” he asked after more time had passed.
The team examined his sketch. It was rough and basic but it had something. Gabriel yawned and copied the drawing on to the flip board. That single spark of inspiration had cracked open the nut of failure and let out a dribble of good fortune.
“So?” asked Gabriel.
“Better than nothing,” Lucifer said.
“It’s a work in progress,” Azrael added. “Let’s be patient and take it slow and steady. No more random stupid ideas.”
“I like it but get rid of the tail,” Murmur said. He sulked at the back of the meeting room, seldom moved and rarely added anything of value. He saw their expressions of surprise. “The Boss said no monkey’s. Lose the tail.”
“Good point,” Gabriel replied. He erased the tail. “Shall we call this Man point 1?”
Everyone nodded. Gabriel tore off the sheet and laid it out on the table. He gave Ezekiel a pat on the shoulder.
“Nice work Zeke.”
“Now let’s get to work on the specifics,” Gabriel stated.
“I’ll put on a fresh pot of coffee,” Lucifer said.
“Doughnuts,” Azrael declared. “I’ll do a snack run.”
“Get me one with sprinkles,” Murmur called after him.
“This is going great!” Ezekiel beamed.
What does a mouth do exactly?
“It needs to use words,” Gabriel said. “That’s what the Boss said. No bird noises or silly noises full stop. What part of that can’t you grasp?”
“It can do both,” Lucifer insisted. He was getting angry. It bothered him how quickly he grew angry these days. “It can use words and make silly noises. One doesn’t mean the other shouldn’t be excluded.”
“Luc has a point,” Ezekiel agreed. “The Boss just said no silly noises instead of words. We could call it a unique design feature. Mankind should be different. Make it do both.”
“Okay, fine,” said Gabriel with a sigh. He made a note. “What else?”
“Taste,” said Azrael. “It should be able to taste things.”
“Why?” asked Gabriel.
“Because all the other animals do is eat. Mankind should be able to taste stuff too. The Boss wants something totally different. Why not let Mankind make up its own mind if it likes what it’s eating?”
“You mean choice?” Gabriel didn’t like the idea of giving this new creation too much free will.
“Sure. Give it a choice.”
Gabriel tapped his pencil against his teeth. Lucifer didn’t like that sound and snatched the pencil from him and made the note himself. “Moving on,” he said and gave Gabriel a dark look.
“It should be multi-tasking,” Ezekiel said. “Talk and taste are good but what about this…er, here it is, the Tongue thingy. I like that. Maybe we should let Mankind lick stuff.”
“Why?” asked Gabriel.
“Well…animals lick stuff.” Ezekiel didn’t sound convincing. “How about we make Mankind taste stuff by licking it.”
“I’m putting it down,” Lucifer said before Gabriel could object.
“I think it should be able to smile,” Azrael said. “If it likes something it should do a smile to let others know it is happy.”
“Excellent idea Az!” Ezekiel said. “If we add lots of muscles Mankind could make all kinds of expressions with the mouth, happy, sad, puzzled, shameful, ecstatic, melancholy…gosh, there’s so much potential with the mouth part.”
Lucifer made notes.
“It should be able to kiss,” Murmur said.
They looked at him.
“What? Everyone likes a kiss, don’t they?”
“Kiss?” asked Gabriel.
Murmur chuckled. “So that’s a memo you didn‘t get then, Gabe?”
Gabriel, keeper of the memo and organiser of communication, looked embarrassed. “Well, I don’t recall…”
“Maybe it’s cos the Boss knows you love talking so much he didn’t think you’d be interested in other forms of communication.” Murmur enjoyed watching Gabriel squirm. “Kissing is going to be big. Maybe bigger than Time. In fact Mankind will probably spend a lot of Time Kissing. It will be a none verbal form of communication,” Murmur told them. “Mankind will be able to pass on how they feel with just a kiss. It can reassure someone of their feelings, of their mood, their passion or friendship.”
The others gaped at him. None of them could remember when Murmur last said anything longer than a few words at a time. For him that had been an epic speech.
“But…how is that communicating?” asked Gabriel, looking lost.
“Put it down,” Ezekiel said. “Quickly before we forget it.”
“What about the eyes?” asked Lucifer when he had finished scribbling.
“I like them on the side,” Azrael declared.
“Front,” Gabriel countered. “The Boss said no more insects. Front is the way to go.”
“What about keeping watch for predators?”
“I don’t think Mankind will have any,” Gabriel replied. “The way things are going it’s the rest of the animal kingdom who need to worry.”
“Front it is,” Lucifer said.
“What are we doing on the nose issue?” Gabriel asked them.
“Mankind needs a nose,” Ezekiel said. “If his taste goes bad he will need to smell stuff.”
Gabriel gave Lucifer the nod. “Do it.”
They gazed at the notes so far. So far they had a vague sketch and scribbled notes. Things were looking up. By the end of the next ice age they might be half way there.
“I think we should move on,” Gabriel said.
“What about horns?” asked Lucifer. He gave a shrug when Gabriel stared at him in disgust. “Lots of animals have horns.” He held his hands up to his forehead and thrust out his index fingers. “You know, for fighting or showing off. The Boss likes horns.”
“No. No horns.” Gabriel had spoken. Horns were off the menu. “That’s it for the head. Body next.”
Lucifer glanced into his empty coffee cup. “I’ll put on more coffee.”
“Who ate all the doughnuts?” asked Ezekiel.
“And what happened to my sprinkles?” Murmur added with a frown.
“I’ll do a snack run,” Azrael said.
Does Mankind need nipples?
“Haven’t you ever seen a baby cow getting milk from the udders?”
“What’s a cow?”
Gabriel hung his head. “You don’t get out much do you, Luc?”
“What’s an udder?” asked Azrael.
Lucifer folded his arms. “I get out plenty,” he said with a sniff. “Just not the same boring places you go.”
Gabriel opened his mouth but Ezekiel cut him off.
“The brief said Mankind had to be self replicating, right?” Ezekiel said. He watched Lucifer shrug and took that as a yes. “Well you can’t chop up the nearest animal and feed it to a newly replicated Mankind. It should need time to grow and take on nourishment from its Mother.”
“What’s a Mother?” asked Murmur.
“It’s a name I invented,” said Ezekiel with a proud smile. “When two Mankind’s make a third Mankind the first and second will be called a Mother and a Father. The Mother will feed the new one and the Father will be absent and moody during their bonding experience.”
“Why?” asked Azrael.
“Mankind needs to have depth of character,” explained Ezekiel. He wondered if the rest of the team really understood the Boss’s desire for Mankind to be different. “Animals don’t do emotion, well, not much emotion, okay, some emotion….Mankind will have a full range of emotion, personality, needs, wants and so on. It will make it different. Like the Boss wanted.”
“Fine,” said Lucifer. He had a headache. He was in a dark place and needed some time alone with his thought.
“Anyway, the newly replicated Mankind will take nourishment from its Mother,” said Ezekiel. “And that’s why we need the nipple.”
“Birds don’t have nipples,” Murmur pointed out.
They thought about this.
“Monkeys do,” Azrael said.
“Oh no,” Gabriel groaned. “We were warned not to go down the monkey route.”
“No. No. It’s okay guys,” Ezekiel said quickly. “Lots of animals use nipples. It’s okay because monkey’s aren’t the only ones to have them. We’re safe.”
“But why can’t Mankind feed their young like birds do?” asked Murmur.
“Because….” Ezekiel stopped. He stared at the sketch on the table. “Because they….”
“It would look stupid,” Gabriel said. “A Mankind vomiting into another’s mouth would look disgusting. These are beautiful creatures and chucking up half eaten food goes against that elegance.”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“Um. Why do they both need nipples?” asked Lucifer. “Surely if one is the Mother then the Father doesn’t technically need them.”
“Which one’s the Mother?” asked Azrael.
They stared at the sketch. Both versions looked identical. Something needed to be done in order to tell them apart, more importantly so the new replicated Mankind would know which set of nipples had dinner in them.
“Ooh!” exclaimed Ezekiel. “How about we make the Mother have bigger ones that can store the nourishment inside? We’ll call them barrels.”
“Barrels?” questioned Gabriel. “Like a barrel of wine? That doesn’t sound very elegant to me.”
“You put clothes in a chest.”
“Combine the two,” said Murmur.
“Barchest?” Gabriel said.
“That’s good!” said Ezekiel. “Put that down, Luc.”
“Does the Father need nipples then if the Mother is storing all the nourishment?” asked Azrael.
“Not really,” contemplated Gabriel. “Take them off I guess.”
Lucifer erased the nipples from the Father. It didn’t look right.
“Put them back in,” Ezekiel suggested. “We’ll call it a similarity feature so different Mankind’s won’t feel left out.”
“I still don’t like this Mankind word,” Lucifer said. “There must be a better word for it.”
“How about just Man for short?”
“Catchy,” said Gabriel with a smile. “What about the other one?”
“Well because the Mother has to provide nourishment to the young one whilst the Man is off having fun,” said Ezekiel. He drew out his words slowly so his brain had time to catch up. “She would be full of woe, I suspect. I know I would. So we could call her Woeman.”
Lucifer wrote that down.
“Luc, you spelled it wrong,” complained Ezekiel.
“Whatever,” said Lucifer. “We all know what it means.”
“So we have a Mankind Man, a Father who is Male,” said Azrael. “And we have a Mankind Woman, a Mother who is Female. This is where patience pays off. If we’d started like this we’d be finished by now.”
“What is it with you and patience, Az?” asked Gabriel.
Azrael shrugged. “I’m happy wait and watch and see how things turn out.”
“Nipples,” Murmur said from his seat at the end of the table. He wore a dreamy smile. “I like them. It. I like it.”
The others exchanged looks of concern.
The Navel Conundrum.
“It separates the top half from the bottom half,” said Azrael.
“That’s all?” asked Gabriel.
“It must do something else. Who drew it in?”
Lucifer held up a quivering hand. In the other was a steaming cup of coffee.
“I don’t like it,” Gabriel stated. “Take it out.”
Lucifer took it out.
“Put it back in.”
Lucifer drew it back in.
“I still don’t like it,” Gabriel said.
Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Make your f…mind up.”
He shut his eyes and went to his happy place. He didn’t like being so angry all the time. The problem with his happy place was that it was becoming increasingly unhappy, which made him angry.
“I guess it is kind of aesthetically pleasing,” Ezekiel said.
Gabriel cocked his head to one side. It looked strange but stranger still when it wasn’t there. He couldn’t make his mind up. He was starting to think he should stick to what he was best at, communication not design. He missed the days where all he did was deliver memos around the office and factory floor.
“It looks like something should slot into it,” he said.
“I want to stick my finger in it,” Lucifer said. “And the Man will make a funny noise. Ooooh hoo hoo hoo. Something like that.”
“You should lay off that stuff, Luc,” said Gabriel pointing at Lucifer’s coffee.
“You’ll get addicted,” Ezekiel warned him. “Addiction leads to anxiety, anxiety leads to distress and distress is a small track that leads to the Dark Side.”
“What?” Lucifer said with a hard confused frown.
Ezekiel shrugged. “Just saying.”
“Focus,” said Gabriel.
“We’ll figure it out in due course,” Azrael told them.
“Leave it in,” Murmur said. He was working his way around the hole in his doughnut with sprinkles. “Someone will work out a use for it.”
“Maybe we should take the same route as the nipples,” suggested Ezekiel. “A big one for the Woeman and a small one for the Man.”
They considered this. It seemed like a logical choice.
“Leave it as it is,” Gabriel said.
Sometimes being illogical was the only way to be logical.
Hands are Handy.
“Intelligent creatures need hands and nimble fingers,” argued Ezekiel. “Mankind has a big brain so it can speak and learn. Therefore hands should be dexterous yet tough, supple yet strong.”
“Pointy but short,” added Murmur.
“I like the middle finger the best,” Lucifer commented. “But I can’t work out why.”
The others ignored him, except Murmur who chuckled to himself.
“What about the thumbs?” asked Gabriel. “Opposable? Flat? Webbing?”
“Ooh, I like webbing,” said Ezekiel.
“No. Webbing is for fish. I don’t like fish,” said Lucifer. “They stink.”
“What about a nice set of claws?” suggested Murmur. “Nice for butchering the enemy.”
“We discussed this, Mur,” said Gabriel. “Mankind probably won’t have any enemies.”
“Sure it will,” argued Murmur. “Especially when the other animals see Mankind showing off its nice new big claws. They’ll be envious just like the Dark gets when people cheer the Light.”
“The Dark and the Light don’t get jealous,” Gabriel said.
“What about talons?”
“That’s just fancy claws,” said Azrael.
“Stupid hands,” mumbled Murmur.
“So, hands with opposable thumbs, agreed?” asked Gabriel. “For grasping, holding, making and fiddling with things. Luc, stop staring at the coffee jug and write it down.”
“Damn writing,” Lucifer said under his breath.
How many legs must a Mankind have?
“Eighteen.” Lucifer giggled.
“No. No. No and most certainly no,” Gabriel told them. “The answer is two.”
They all stared at him. Two? That didn’t make any sense. Plenty of other animals had two legs. Two legs were not unique. Two legs were the kind of sloppy design idea that would win them The Sloppy Design Idea Award of the Week.
“Gabe, I know what you’re trying to do,” said Ezekiel. “But remember the monkey?”
“Yeah but this is better. Monkey’s spend more time on all fours. Mankind will walk upright. Permanently.”
“That’s a joke, right?” asked Azrael. He glanced around at the others for signs of a smile.
“It’s unique,” said Gabriel. “Some animals walk upright, a bit, sort of, but only Mankind will have two legs and…one joint!”
He took the hushed silence as one of awe and stunned amazement. Sadly he was mistaken. Gabriel didn’t read expressions very well. If it wasn’t written down he seldom understood the true meaning.
“One?” Murmur asked.
“I’m glad you asked, Mur,” said Gabriel with a wink. “Mankind will walk, run, jump, skip and…stroll.”
“Stroll?” asked Lucifer. “What the hell is a stroll?”
“It’s a form of…what? Wait. What’s hell?”
Lucifer looked shocked. “I…er…gosh…I don’t really know.” He recovered quickly and smiled. “Sounds cool though, right?”
“I’m worried about you, Luc,” Ezekiel said.
“Worry about this,” Lucifer replied and stuck out his tongue.
“No more coffee for him!” Ezekiel snapped.
“A stroll,” said Gabriel in a loud break it up you two kind of voice. “A stroll is something like this.”
He walked slowly around the meeting room, swinging his hands by his side, not quite skipping, or jogging but walking at a pointless leisurely pace.
“Looks good, right?” he asked and raised his eyebrows up and down.
“Looks like you need the toilet,” commented Lucifer.
“I’ll buy that,” Ezekiel said, ignoring Lucifer’s potty mouth.
“Luc, write it down,” Azrael said. He sighed. “Two legs, one joint. For walking, running, jumping, skipping and walking a bit slowly but not really slow as to stop.”
“If Mankind had claws he could use its one joint to run at the enemy,” said Murmur.
“There are no enemies, Mur,” Gabriel told him. “I think we need to take a break.”
Feet are just squashed hands, right?
“Why can’t they have webbing?” whined Lucifer. “Something ought to have webbing.”
“Mankind is a walking creature,” Ezekiel explained.
“So its afraid of water?” said Lucifer. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“A weakness,” Murmur said.
“It’s not a case of being afraid of water,” Gabriel said. “They just spend more time walking on the land than in water. The Boss wanted to steer clear of fish stuff.”
“Make them stumpy then, like the Elephants foot,” Azrael suggested.
“Hmm,” mused Ezekiel. “That doesn’t look right. It doesn’t fit with the overall elegance we’re aiming for.”
“Hooves!” Lucifer looked excited but the expressions on the teams faces told him they didn’t share his joy. “Aww come on! That’s a good idea.”
“It’s too…clunky,” Gabriel said. “Sorry, Luc.”
“What about those mountain Goats?” Lucifer insisted. “They get everywhere and they have hooves. And those Horses run very fast on them.”
They had hit a dead-end. Everything was going well up to that point. They argued for what felt like (and probably was) an eternity over the feet problem. In the end it was Murmur who solved the problem in his usual monotone voice.
“Use hands and squash them flat,” he said. “Use toes instead of fingers.”
“Another great idea, Mur!” said Ezekiel. “I’d buy that cake.”
“Me too,” said Azrael.
“Squashed hands it is,” Gabriel agreed.
Fur, hair, colour & wings.
“No. No way. No fur.” Gabriel was tired. His hair was tired and his hands were tired from being dragged through his hair. “Fur does not say elegant unique creature, it says cold shivering thing that hides in a burrow.”
“But it looks so cold,” argued Ezekiel.
“It won’t be once it learns how to make clothing,” Gabriel said.
“That doesn’t make any sense. Why bother with clothing if we can just cover Mankind in fur?”
“Because sometimes clothes won’t be worn.”
“Which brings us back to the cold problem,” Ezekiel said. “You’re not making a very good argument, Gabe.”
“No fur,” repeated Gabriel. “It’s too close to monkey.”
“What about the head bit?” asked Azrael. “It looks shiny.”
Gabriel nodded in agreement. Mankind did look a bit too smooth, unfinished and lacking something.
“Luc, make a note. Hair Design Team to sketch in some hair around the head.”
“Done.” Lucifer put down his pencil and fetched out a yo-yo. “You guys tried one of these?”
They stared at the motion of the yo-yo spinning up and down the string, fascinated by it’s rhythmic movement. Lucifer did a couple of tricks, walk-the-dog, cats-cradle, loop-de-loop and finished with an impressive angel-wings-throw-and-drag, a complicated trick that involved denying the existence of gravity for a few seconds.
“Where did you get that?” asked Gabriel.
“The Boss’s office,” said Lucifer with a smile. “It was in a box labelled Stress Relief.”
“You can’t go snooping around His office!” Gabriel was out of his chair, alarmed and frightened, and a little dizzy. “If the Boss finds out you’ve been stealing His stuff he’ll go…unhappy.”
Gabriel didn’t have much range in his vocabulary. Unhappy was the closest thing he could find that equalled Lucifer’s version of “ape shit.”
“You went in His office?” said Ezekiel.
“Sure, there’s loads of cool stuff in there,” Lucifer replied.
“He doesn’t like mischief, Luc,” Azrael told him. “You’re in big trouble if He finds out.”
“Relax,” dismissed Lucifer. “He won’t find out. Besides, I was only borrowing it. He isn’t the only one with stress problems.” Lucifer caught the yo-yo and looked at their shocked expressions. “Fine. I’ll return it before He gets back. Happy? You guys are so uptight.”
“We are not uptight!” yelped Gabriel.
“Sounds like you need a yo-yo,” said Lucifer. “Want to try it out?”
Gabriel pointed a finger at the yo-yo. It vanished. Lucifer grumbled quietly to himself.
“Colour,” Gabriel said and turned away from Lucifer. “I’m thinking white and black, like the Light and Dark.”
“I like red,” said Lucifer.
“Green, no wait, silver, no, how about burnt orange or…” Ezekiel was getting overly excited. Beads of sweat stood out on his brow. “Oooh, what about stripes like the Tiger or Zebra,” Azrael suggested. “Blue would be very eye catching.”
“Hmm, no, I think someone’s already done that somewhere else,” mused Gabriel.
“Randomise it,” Murmur said. “That way each Mankind will be different, essentially the same, but still unique.”
“What happens if there are too many of one colour?” asked Azrael. “Won’t some get angry about that? What if lots of same coloured Mankind’s gang up on the minority of different ones?”
“Mankind is supposed to have a big brain, right?” said Gabriel.
Lucifer checked the notes. “Yup. Big skull to contain brain.”
“Then it should understand that variety of colour is something to celebrate not discriminate against.”
“Hah!” snored Azrael. “I look forward to seeing how that works out.”
“How about we make the colour a mixture of the Mother and the Father?” suggested Ezekiel. “That way it won’t be that random but still with variation. Mankind should be okay with that arrangement, right?”
“Good enough for me,” agreed Gabriel. “Luc.”
Lucifer noted it down.
“Wait. Wait a moment,” Gabriel said. He pointed to the notes. “Who wrote Wings?”
“Me,” said Lucifer. “What’s wrong with wings?”
“It’s too birdy,” Ezekiel said. “Mankind is a walker not a flyer. It’s supposed to be on the ground not wooshing up in the sky. It’s the same as webbing and swimming.”
“Could come in handy,” said Lucifer.
“I don’t like it,” Murmur said. “You can’t have a battle in the air, it’s too messy.”
“Who said anything about battles?” Gabriel asked.
Murmur shrugged. “I thought that was the idea.”
Gabriel was lost.
“All the other animals have battles,” Murmur said. “If Mankind is to be unique then surely that means it must be adept at fighting. Better than the rest of the animals.”
“We’re not designing a warrior,” Gabriel told him. “Mankind is an intelligent creature not a cumbersome killing machine.”
“If you say so,” Murmur mumbled.
“Only history will reveal if we got it right or not,” Azrael said.
“It’s a concept I came up with to describe things that have already happened.”
“Like what?” asked Gabriel. As far as he was aware nothing had happened as everything was brand new.
“Well, like how I just explained what history is,” Azrael said. “It’s in the past now, ergo history.”
“Don’t make a note of that, Luc,” Gabriel said, giving Azrael a strange look. “That sort of thing is best left to other departments.”
“Are we done yet?” Lucifer asked. “I’ve got a burning sensation on my forehead. Feels like I’ve got teeth trying to grow out through my skull.”
“No we’re not done yet. Zeke, you go get Mister Whiney Pants some painkillers, Az, another snack run please and Mur?” Gabriel studied the statuesque form of Murmur, feet on the desk, relaxed, calm and yet tense and moody at the same time. “Um…you just wait there, keep your pot of inspiration on the boil.”
“Pot,” repeated Lucifer. “I’ll put on some more coffee.”
Is that the best we can come up with?
The team sat in a contemplative silence. They at a plate of sandwiches, drank Mountain Dew, strawberry milkshake, a protein shake and more coffee. They sensed the end of their challenge was in sight. After a shaky start to the race they were pacing themselves for a good strong finish.
“So, what’s left?” Gabriel asked.
He leaned back in his chair, feeling more relaxed on a full stomach. Ezekiel was equally happy, the strawberry milkshake had calmed him down a little. Azrael was keeping an eye on Lucifer whose mood seemed to rise and fall through a gamut of emotional states. Murmur looked asleep.
“Last thing is the bit right there,” Ezekiel said.
He pointed to a smooth curved section between the legs on the sketch. They had all been reluctant to bring attention to that area. It appeared out of place with the rest of the design and needed some sort of detail drawing in.
“What do we do with those empty spaces?” Gabriel asked.
“How about we stick another hand down there?” Azrael suggested.
“That won’t work when the Mankind’s start wearing clothes,” Ezekiel replied.
“Same problem,” said Ezekiel after some thought.
“What are other departments doing with that region?” asked Murmur.
Gabriel leafed through his reports, pulled a few faces and tapped a pencil against his teeth. Lucifer watched him, astonished at how he wanted to take the pencil and jam it up Gabriel’s nose.
“I’m not sure this is right,” Gabriel said at last. “The other departments have used roughly the same bits of equipment in that region on almost every animal. In order to speed up production they’re making other animals “self replicating” but using a different word to get around the legal mumbo jumbo.”
“Are they allowed?” asked Ezekiel. “The Boss won’t stand for that will He?”
“What’s the mumbo?” asked Murmur.
As Gabriel read through his reports his eyes widened and his mouth fell open. He stared long and hard at the sketch on the table. He frowned. He tapped his pencil against his teeth and then frowned some more.
“It’s a new thing apparently,” he said. “The Male and the Female engage in sex to produce another Mankind. It seems to require a coupling or union of sorts, there’s talk of insertion, penetration, coitus, happy fun time, the list goes on.”
“Inserting what? Where?” asked Azrael.
“The Male has a Penis,” Gabriel said. He glanced at the team and gave a shrug. “And the Female has a Vagina. Apparently one fits inside the other.”
“Which one goes where?”
“Visuals,” said Murmur with his eyes closed. “We need visuals.”
On the table Gabriel placed a crude drawing of 2 donkeys, one of which was trying to stand on the back of the other but was experiencing some difficulty. The team gathered around and scratched their heads.
“That doesn’t seem right,” said Ezekiel. “Can’t the Male just snap off one of his ribs and mould it into a new Mankind? That stuff looks very….”
“Messy,” finished Murmur.
“Inefficient,” added Azrael.
“It’s the future according to these reports,” said Gabriel.
“I guess we could incorporate the fundamentals into our design,” Ezekiel said, not sounding convinced. He pointed to the sketch of the Female. “This one should have the…what was it? Vagina. The Female looks more streamlined with the Breasts, it’s a classic sculpted look, clean lines, elegant features and smooth skin.”
“Makes sense for the Female to keep that style,” agreed Azrael.
“So the Male gets the Penis,” concluded Lucifer. He copied the one from the Donkey.
“It’s a bit out of proportion,” said Gabriel.
Lucifer made it smaller.
“It looks lonely,” Ezekiel said.
“Cold,” Murmur offered.
Lucifer drew in 2 furry globes behind the Penis.
“Much better, Luc,” Ezekiel said. “They’ll keep the Penis warm until Mankind gets clothes.”
Gabriel looked back and forth between the Male and Female. He didn’t like it. The Female was nice, beautiful, elegant and stylish but the Male…
“We really should come up with our own design for it,” he said. “Mankind is supposed to be unique. The Boss won’t be happy if we tell him we just grabbed a Donkey Penis.”
They all agreed. They set about sketching different ideas, arguing over form, use, length, size, girth, weight, colour, flexibility, multi-tasking ability and a range of other styles none of which they agreed on. It was their most trying challenge of the week, to create something unique that allowed self replication but looked beautiful at the same time.
Lucifer suggested a retractable horn that could be extended out of the body when needed. Ezekiel wanted an Elephants trunk style object that could grasp things. Azrael still liked his idea of an extra hand. Murmur suggested a barbed spike that could double as a weapon. Gabriel used his time designing a new pair of boots with wings on the side to give him extra speed.
Nothing seemed to fit.
“I don’t like the word Penis,” said Lucifer after a lengthy silence. “We ought to use something better.”
“Like what?” asked Azrael.
“Something more onomatopoeic,” Lucifer said with a shrug.
“Ooh, like schlong,” said Ezekiel as he gazed at the sketches.
“Nice,” Azrael said. “How about rod? Or pecker, weiner or todger.”
“It looks a bit like a helmet,” observed Murmur. “Or a meat sword.”
“Or a bell,” added Lucifer. “At least at the end.”
“True,” said Murmur. “It does have a knobbish look to it.”
Gabriel smiled. “If I relax my eyes it reminds me of my old Uncle Dickmael, we called him Dick for short.”
Ezekiel giggled. “This is great fun!”
“What about the…” Gabriel rechecked his reports. “The Vagina?”
“Coochie,” said Ezekiel with hesitation. “It looks cute.”
“Gash,” said Lucifer.
“Tilt your head and it looks like a sideways smile,” Azrael said.
“Oh yeah,” agreed Ezekiel. “What a coincidence.”
“I think it looks like an axe wound,” Murmur said.
“You and fighting, Mur,” Gabriel said with a sad look. “You need to talk to someone about your issues.”
Murmur gave him the finger but since no one else other than Murmur knew what that meant it was a lost gesture. Murmur knew what it meant and that was enough to make him smile.
“And if you look closely it kind of looks like a bald guy sat in a boat,” Azrael said. “Or his brother peeking out from behind some curtains.”
“Wizards sleeve,” Lucifer said.
“Lots of great names there guys,” said Gabriel with a sigh. This wasn’t really achieving anything. “We still don’t have a good design other than the original Penis. There must be something more appealing than that thing.”
“I don’t see how,” Azrael said.
“So that’s the best we can do?” Gabriel asked them. “After all we’ve achieved this week we’re just going to leave it like that? Like the last model in the shop? The one no one else wanted? The reject model?”
“I guess,” said Lucifer.
“And that’s the best we can come up with?”
“Seems like it,” said Ezekiel. “What else can we do?”
Gabriel sighed. “Fine. Stick on a Penis for now. We’ll refine it in version two.”
“There’s going to be a version two?” asked Lucifer, horrified at the prospect.
“Sure. This is just a working marketing model,” answered Gabriel. He gave a short laugh. “There’s no way the Boss will put this straight into production, it’s nowhere near finished.”
“I’m overwhelmed with joy.”
Gabriel patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Luc, we’ll get more coffee in for you.”
The Mankind v1.1.
Amongst the screwed up balls of paper, empty coffee cups, half eaten doughnuts and other office detritus, the sketch of Mankind sat in the centre of the table. Sure the notes were crude and there were coffee stains and doodles on it but it was finished and ready for approval by the Boss.
There was still a lot of work to do in order to refine the working prototype and with the exception of Lucifer, who needed a lie down to ease away his dark mood, they were optimistic the next version would be a winner. With a project of such importance they were confident it meant at least another few days work, and since Time was still in the concept stage that could mean anything.
When the Boss arrived they lined up and Gabriel handed over the design. The Boss gave nothing away. He read through the notes and stared at the sketch for a long time. He asked a few questions, made some observations and left without a hint of what would happen next.
It was announced that the next day would be a day of rest. The Angelic Marketing Team celebrated until the memos came in. Gabriel liked memos. He liked everything about them, but he especially liked delivering them. He sped around the office handing the staff their own personal memo, not stopping to see any reaction, he had to keep moving.
On the 7th day the Angelic Marketing Team sat around the table in the meeting room. It was both a sad and joyous occasion. They had all received memos regarding their next assignments.
“What did you get?” Gabriel asked them.
“I’m going to be a prophet!” Ezekiel beamed.
“Good for you, Zeke. Azrael?”
“I don’t like my new title,” Azrael said. “The Archangel of Death. Sounds a bit gloomy.” He brightened up. “But it means I get to watch and wait and see what happens. Not all bad then.”
“You’ll be good at that,” Gabriel said. “How about you Mur?”
“The Boss is placing me in charge of some army He created late last night,” said Murmur. He nodded in approval. “Who knows where that will lead.”
“Playing to your strengths it seems,” said Gabriel. “Luc? Any good news?”
Lucifer looked over his memo with dark haunted eyes and shook his head. “No. The Boss wants me to be a snake. Says he has a special assignment for me in the Garden of Eden.”
“Nice place so I’m told,” Gabriel said.
Lucifer burst into tears. “I don’t want to go to a garden or be a snake. I like it here. It’s safe. Why can’t I just be a cleaner or something? It’s not fair!”
“Special assignment though,” said Gabriel struggling to stay cheerful. Lucifer had developed an aura about him that seemed to drain the joy out of anyone nearby. “Try to stay positive, big guy, you never know, it could lead to something really good.”
“It won’t,” bawled Lucifer.
“I’m going to miss you guys,” Ezekiel said.
“We did some good work together,” Azrael added.
“We’ll meet again,” Murmur said. “Someday.”
“What about you, Gabe,” asked Ezekiel. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to be a messenger!” said Gabriel, unable to hide his delight.
After a group hug, photo and cake they parted and went their separate ways. In the centuries that passed each member of the Angelic Marketing Team made the best of their assignments, achieving great things depending on your point of view. The Boss never formally shut down the offices used during those exciting early days of creations, they lay empty and silent now.
If you get the chance to wander through them on your journey through your existence, and happen to stop by that special meeting room, you might find a certain sketch pinned to a wall. Whether you believe in creationism or evolution, that sketch should prove one thing, Mankind is a pretty cool design.