Story summary.Year is 1935. "Right Reverend Doctor Lucifer Jones" is on a trek along Amazon, looking for a suitable place swimming in feminine sinners to setup his tabernacle. After weeks of lonely trek, he finds himself in open country, & goes to sleep on ground.
Wakes up to "moo"ing sounds & kisses! Finds he is in the middle of a massive cow pasture. Wow! So he has found the Lost Continent of Moo!
Some minor adventures on, he comes to "Great Temple of Rakovekin". Henry - "Rakovekin, Lord of the Outer Realm, Messenger of the Almighty, Spokesman for the Elder Deities, and Commander of the Legions of the Dead", an American conman from "Hackensack, New Jersey", is the High Priest. Some years back, he had stumbled across the place, slept at the alter of abandoned place, & found himself surrounded by local tribals who adopted him as the "god of prophecy"! Now he lives in a harem with many priestesses, & generally enjoys life. Lucifer is "welcome to stick around a day or two until ... rested up", but there is place only for one conman god.
Turns out, Valeria, the High Priestess, is far more powerful than Henry. Lucifer convinces her that Henry is a false god, & Henry gets chased from the place by Bubbles, Valeria's pet anaconda!
But priestess doesn't want to hurry conferring the title of god to Lucifer - having been bitten once. He must pass some tests to prove that he indeed is a god! Many ridiculous tests are suggested & rejected:
- "if you can swim across a piranha-filled river and live through it".
- "if each man were to hurl his spear at you, point-blank, and they all bounced off".
- "we could cover you with marabunta ... Army ants".
Many fighters volunteer, & Valeria give him the option to choose "any". In a very filmi way, he demands to duel with her - because she said "any"! Is badly beaten in the duel by priestess who is also joined by her pet snake Bubbles in the fun. Lucifer cries foul, & demands a duel again when he recovers.
So he will live there as "possibly god" until the godhood is proven. He will soon learn the fate that is going to befall him should he turn out to be a mere mortal:
- "We could tie him up and put a bunch of hungry scorpions on his belly."
“I don’t like scorpions.”
"Rats, then... No, that won’t work. Bubbles has eaten most of the rats."
- "we could make him swallow a bunch of marabunta and let them eat their way out.”
- "Weddings and baptisms done cheap, with a group rate for funerals."
- "No human being should ever own another... Damned lucky for me that I'm a god and not a human being".
- "they were just a bunch of ignorant peasants, half of 'em beautiful and half of 'em ugly, and all of them badly in need of a god what could teach 'em the ways of civilized societies."
- "Where's the nearest civilized city what's got an abundance of sinners, especially of the female persuasion, that's in serious need of saving?"
- "where there’s money there’s almost always sinners."
- All stories by Mike Resnick.
- Lucifer Jones series. Mr Resnick's comments below are incorporated in the series article linked. I've also deleted the previously erroneous information in this article - so kindly corrected by Mr Resnick. Thank you Mr Resnick.
Fact sheet."The Lost Continent of Moo", short story, review
First published: Subterranean magazine, Spring 2007.
Added to my best of the year 2007 picks.