"So, how'd you know it was me?" asks God.

Floating like a cloud in the sky, the huge bearded face of God looks down on Man. Man's representative stands in his khakis, shirt and tie, covered in a bright white lab coat, seemingly alone in a dark laboratory, lit by a single spotlight.

"Ah yes, well, for a long time we only had a hunch that you were real, you see. But we started working on this machine, you know, for communicating with you", says Man as he reaches out of the light and retrieves a folded blueprint from the darkness. "And then a couple years ago we had a bit of a breakthrough when we managed to contact the dead. Since then it's really just been about increasing our power input to reach those higher planes, such as they are." Man explains.

"Oh really?", says God, nonchalantly. "So how's it work?"

"Well it's really quite brilliant actually," man's representative says as he starts unfolding a massive blueprint. "The beauty is in the simplicity of the thing, really. You see here, at the heart of it is the, um..." The man stops and looks back up at God, a smile creeping across his face. "Oh, You nearly had me there! 'How's it work' He says, like He doesn't already know! Had me goin' for a second there, God," Man says, chuckling to himself.

God's eyes look left, then right. "Well, yes, of course... I know everything," He laughs nervously. "Of course I know how it works. I just, um, wanted to see if you knew how it worked. You know, to make sure you weren't guessing or just got lucky or something. You know."

"Oh. Alright, um, ok then. Well, uh, see here," says the man as he starts to slowly unfold the paper again. But then he pauses and looks back up. "Say God, now that we're talking and everything, let me ask: what's next? I mean, you're going to tell us the meaning of life, right?"

"Yes, yes, of course. This is, um, how I always had it planned. You'd figure out how we could talk and then I'd tell you all the secrets of the universe and the meaning of life and stuff. That's right. But first I have to make sure you know how you did it. To make sure you're ready. You know, that kind of thing."

"Ya, but," the man starts to reply, scratching just above is left ear, "If you already know everything, don't you know that we know how we did it? I mean, you're God, right?" says the man as he slowly folds up the plans and slides them into the pocket of his lab coat.

"Well of course I already know, but I need you to tell me so that I know that you know..." God pauses, closes his eyes, sighs and shakes his head slightly. "Look, I'm God and I'm telling you to give me the plans for your machine, ok?. I really don't have time for this. Now give me the plans!"

"You don't know how it works, do you? Are you even God?" asks the man incredulously.

"Of course I'm God" He roars, causing the ground beneath the man to rumble and knock him off balance. A steel shelf crashes to the ground somewhere in the darkness of the laboratory and the sound of glass breaking makes Man close his eyes and turn to shield his head. "You'll give me the plans right now or I'll..."

"You'll what?" shouts Man through the din of steel pans falling on concrete floors and test tubes crashing into table tops. Man staggers to stay on his feet but still looks up at God and declares, "You know, I don't even think you're the one in charge. I think you want our machine because you couldn't make it yourself!" he says, pointing a finger at God with one hand and clutching his coat pocket with the other.

"Ohferchrissakes," thinks God, exasperated. "Look man, just give me the plans and you can go back to your little existence and we'll forget all about this defiance" says God as he rolls his eyes and holds out his open hand.

The ground stops shaking and Man takes a moment to get his balance back. Regaining his composure, Man removes his glasses and starts to clean them with the corner of his coat. "You know, God," he says, waiving the glasses dismissively, "we did have another plan for our little machine, should it work as well as it has so far." Man replaces his glasses on his nose and looks back up at God, confident for the first time ever that his thoughts are his own, alone.

Pushing His long grey hair back from His forehead God takes a deep breath and exhales through pursed lips, cheeks puffed out. "Oh ya? And what was that?" sighs God.

"We figured if we could use it to talk to You," says Man, beginning to grin again, "Maybe we could turn up the power a bit and see if we can get ahold of someone above You..." the man says slowly, looking God in the eye.

"Now wait just a second," begins God.

Man ignores Him and speaks over his shoulder, "Let's try it at level two now, Peter."

"Who... what 'level two'? Look here," God begins to protest but suddenly finds that His voice isn't making a sound. A high pitched, piercing noise, like an old television being turned on, permeates the air. And slowly, something begins to materialize next to Man.

Slightly startled and unsure of what to expect, the man takes a few steps to the side and turns to watch the results of his amazing machine at Level Two. Slowly the piercing whine becomes a buzz and the dark outline of another man begins to take shape.

The buzzing gets louder, more raucous, and within a few seconds this new man, an old man, is fully materialized. He's not wearing shoes, just dark blue socks. His brown corduroy pants are worn at the knees. His blue shirt is open at the collar and many folded bits of paper are stuffed into the breast pocket along with a couple of pens. His head is lolling back, haloed in a tonsure of white hair. His mouth is agape, adorned with a thick white moustache.

The source of the now harsh buzzing sound becomes apparent; the old man is snoring, asleep on his feet.

"It worked!" Man whispers.

God looks at the sleeping old man and soundlessly says "Ah, damnit...", seeming somehow to shrink in greatness and begin to look forlorn.

Man takes a few steps closer and realises the old man is asleep. "Um, hello?" says Man, leaning closer still. The old man continues to snore uninterrupted. Man looks up at God, who simply shrugs and shakes his head. Looking back to the old man, Man loudly clears his throat.

The old man snorts and sucks in a deep breath, his hands come up from his sides as he reaches out for balance and his mouth snaps shut as his head comes up straight.

Blinking, the old man surveys the scene. Rubbing his nose and moustache he looks down at his feet and stops. His hand returns to his side and the old man looks over at Man, staring without blinking. Then, slowly, finally, he looks up at God.

A wave of recognition crosses his face and the old man cocks his head slightly, looking perturbed, his lips pursed questioningly, at God.

God immediately begins to talk as if making some kind of explanation, waving his hands, pointing at himself, then at Man, then at himself again, all in silence.

Looking irritated, the old man slowly shakes his head, "Wait a second, hold on, I can't hear a damn thing you're saying." Suddenly God's voice returns.

"...says 'level two' Peter, and I don't even know who Peter is and then.." bursts God, as his explanation abruptly becomes audible.

The old man, fully awake now, winces at the sudden volume of God's voice. He pinches the bridge of his nose and waves his hand, "Enough, enough." God stops speaking.

After a second the old man releases his nose and looks over at Man. "Yes?" he asks.

Nervously Man begins to explain. "Well, yes, I'm um, here on behalf of humanity. You see, we built this, ah, machine, you see..."

"So you could talk to 'god'," interrupts the old man. "Yes, I have heard this before, you know." he says, looking annoyed.

"You have? Oh, well, of course you have." Man blurts anxiously and then continues quickly, "Yes, well anyway we built the machine and we talked to God but he didn't know how the machine worked, you see. So we decided to turn it up and then you came and, well, obviously you know all this already since you must be the real God and so, well, we've got lots of questions. I mean, um, what's it all mean? Why are we here? What's our purpose in..."

The old man sighs and waves his hand dismissively and in a puff of omnipotent will, Man and all of his universe winks out of existence.

The old man looks up at God, "Now look, I want no more of these little experiments. Just buckle down and get your work done, ok? I can see from here you've got a ton of requisitions and Form 2's stacked on your inbox. You know we just won the big Kiminski job and I'm going to need a new team leader pretty soon, but if you're too busy..."

"Oh, no, no. I'm not too busy. I'll have this stuff done by lunch," stammers God. "It's just that I had a few questions and since you're never around, I thought that if I had some kind of machine that could call, like, 'upstairs', then I'd be able to get in touch whenever I needed to."

"I know," says he old man. "Just quit fooling around and get back to work."

"Yes sir", says God.

Didn't know what to call it, so I dumped it in this nodeshell.

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