7) CARLOS – Page 44
refund on unread copies of their editions. The benefit was small, pennies on the dollar – much less than the rising cost of production – and the subsidy phased out quickly for high circulations. It was also difficult to cash-in on, as the vendors had to demonstrate that the editions were made available and not purchased. This narrow window allowed Carsten to produce a set quantity of literature and make money, whether anyone saw the inside or not. Certainly, amongst those purposefully marching in and out of clicking subway stiles, Carsten’s works were not widely read. In the 2020s, The Rapture had fallen out of favor for more popular forms of Armageddon, ones that connected with their audience and offered near instant gratification.
In 2024, looking for a way to connect with his audience, Thomas Carsten invented and patented a networked high-speed printing device enabled with a high resolution camera. As pedestrians passed in front of the camera’s eye, the device searched through databases of public profile images and incorporated that person’s details into his latest tract. An instant horoscope of customized spirituality: personalized, often ludicrously inaccurate, and a little too real to the right person.
With the money he made from his invention, Thomas Carsten applied himself to his true purpose of attracting minds to his point of view. He employed writers to translate his increasingly pseudo-scientific and heretical ramblings into serious works.
In his multi-part epic, “The Impotence of Omnipotent God”, Carsten attempted to reconcile his belief in an Almighty being with the lack of miraculous intervention in the events of an imperfect world. God is the Force, Carsten argues, at the creation of the Universe; he is the existence of the Universe itself. There was a single moment, and God acted with the power of the entire Universe, and he was the Big Bang. In the Big Bang, as the unified forces of God’s power cooled and separated, God zigged – perfectly, in the absolute best way possible – when he could have zagged. He zigged, and his Weak Nuclear Force took over. Then his Gravity took over. The particles and energy of the universe grew lumpy, a better sort of lumpy than any other possible lumpy, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. And now — here we are.
This was a relatable God, a God under infinite pressure, a temporarily omnipotent God making the best out of a bad situation. Not a clock-maker constructing a perfect ticking masterpiece but a scrambling repairman with an instant to set things “right”. Not just a clock-maker, but the clock itself , said Carsten. This is the God of a single miracle, repeated and multiplied without limit.
“Omnipotent God” circulated several thousand copies across several cities. It was not as successful as his more salaciously titled works, which readers felt leaned toward entertaining and away from depressingly profound. Still, he produced a series of supplemental installments, where he managed to refute his original point by claiming that angels and ghosts were manifestations of God’s power but were rarely seen due to their existence as waves and particles.
Despite his lack of critical success and a large fortune to retire to, Thomas Carsten continued to live simply and produce largely ignored pamphlets until his death. In his final tract, “Paradise of the Neo-Men”, Carsten once again pondered the unattainable nature of perfection, in this world or the next. Here he muses on Heaven: What realm is there where we should not want through eternity, for our