[WP] Through some sort of accident, a human becomes a God. All other Gods became such in the same manner.

“Gods? I like to think that gods are ideas made un-incarnate.” My Grandfather stared at me, as if this short explanation was enough— slowly grinding his teeth— a habit which always made his jaw seem mechanical, like he was the tin man. My Gramps could be gnomic sometimes; it was through no lack of knowledge or patience. “We worship ideas created by men. When men die altogether, so will their ideas, there is no cosmic dissemination of our morals or values.” He adjusted his seating on the slab of slate-rock next to the koi pond we sat next to. The pond was covered in three layers of netting— its inhabitants were annually picked off by cranes or the errant black bear. My gramps, or Papi as his kids called him, had been in WWII and I know he had seen things. I know he saw men die. I turned nineteen two weeks ago and, visiting him now, was beginning to realize that I might be the only person left interested in the things he had to say, when he had something to say at all. I forgot how we got on the subject, but his posture showed a keen interest which beckoned to a light in his eyes I had never seen in our mostly polite, mostly topical conversations. “If a man believes strongly enough, exemplifies a trait through sheer willpower, it can be deifying. At the very least, the people who knew him in life will remember and, through some unconscious rite, worship the idea he upheld— breathing life into dead matter, forgotten face. I fought with a man, Hallifax, seemed quiet and wore a miserable mug most of the time; but tough as nails. Never once bragged about a confirmed kill….” It was at this moment my eyes shot up and I stopped following the slovenly koi meandering around their tiny habitat. Papi never mentioned the war unless it was about its end: when he finally came home and when he finally got to see my grandma again. “From time to time I would catch Hallifax looking like he was purposely shooting over the heads of the enemy position, like he was more motivated to put our lives on the line than risk his own in killing others. I never said anything because I didn’t want to be right. One night, a torrential rainstorm flash-flooded our position and jammed our weapons, including our sidearms. The enemy charged, inciting a melee, and before any other man in my company could dry out his pistol chamber, Hallifax took a rifle’s bayonet and killed five enemy soldiers, one after the other. I could hear each man’s chest cavity pop as the heel of Hallifax’s hand pumped forward like a piston and was already finger-wrapped and on its way out before their brains knew their body was dead. I never watched Halllfax during combat again…. After the melee he appeared completely unchanged, diffident even, not saying a word or celebrating a bit. It was as if aristeia had taken hold and the man I looked at was not the same one I had just watched.” My fingertips trembled. I gestured at saying something but had nothing. Papi didn’t notice, his gaze was focused on the dumb huddled fish in the furthest corner from us under a rhododendron’s shadow. “What I mean to mean is… I saw a man pretending to shoot and assumed he was a coward. But rather, i’d call it restraint. Maybe out of respect for life or some much more complicated personal matter this man only took life as a last resort— an act you don’t often see treated as ‘last resort’ in war, an act you often see change men you thought you knew— men can begin to relish in killing, or become so inured to it it becomes some mundane companion. Its like these damn fish that your little cousins love so much. When the crane comes by and puts its reptilian feet in the water— at first they cower away, afraid of the new addition to their environment, but eventually one gets so used to the veiny sticks it swims close and gets spear-plucked right out of the everything-it-knows. The fish is gutted right there and its buddies eat the innards that plop into the water off of this slate the bird uses as a place-mat.” “In my own little way I worship Hallifax every time I think about him. It was like some un-human force found itself stuck in war, and in front of me for a short time. Maybe if I had gotten to know him, if that was even possible, and pinned voice and vocation to flesh I wouldn’t feel the way I do. Maybe, in brief moments, the ineffable traits we ascribe to gods somehow make themselves real…” The air began to darken and storm-heads tided over the open sky, then over the sun. It remained silent and dry. “I like to believe that gods might be a byproduct of our existence, here because and in spite of us. They aren’t some foreign entity or greater power exemplified through a chosen few in history. Gods are a company of men saved by a fellow they barely knew, a guy they called a coward because he he wouldn’t kill…And then he did. The koi pond’s surface radiated semi-circles as droplets began to fall into it — I didn’t look up to see if the first few ripples under Papi came from him or the sky. I didn’t look up because I had the sudden sensation that this was the last time he would talk to me like this.

/r/WritingPrompts Thread