By Troy Morash

It was a life in the fields for Igor. It made him tired, dirty, and depressed.

In the mornings, however, everything was perfect as he ate his breakfast, and in the evenings after work, once he had had his steak, everything was again perfect and comprehensible. In fact, he was so content after his meals that the entire village would congregate at his place to hear him speak.

"The world is one and it is perfect," he would say, and everyone would gasp in awe.

"You must learn to remember that you will die someday, and if you can remember that, you will live each day as your last," he would say, and everyone would fall to their knees in reverence.

After a second helping of steak with gravy and mashed potatoes, the thoughts became even sweeter.

"Time is an illusion straight from hell. The Moment is like Earth, one and indivisible, but we do not see it all at once. Different times are like different places — 1874 is like a place in Europe, or 1245 is like a place in Asia. All times exist within the all embracing Moment."

Several people would fainted after such discourse. The divinity and love that poured from Igor was nerve-wrecking, especially after dessert.

But at work in the fields in the next town, where no one knew him, he was anything but a prophet. His boss drove him like a donkey all day, with only a morsel of bread to sustain him. His thoughts took a different turn.

"People are rotten assholes, pigs, really. All anyone ever does is think about themselves. No one could care if I died today. Greedy bastards. God, how time drags like a flame from hell. I wish I could go up to that pig-headed boss and shove this pitchfork down his throat. Murdering that fat cow would be a pleasure I could spend my days in prison reminiscing fondly about.'

When someone asked him for help, he would say, "Filthy animal, what do I look like to you, you lazy SOB."

If another asked him what time it was, all he could say was, "Go to hell leech!"

Not very religious. Fortunately, his followers knew little of the thoughts Igor had while he slaved and went hungry, and when he got home and had had his steak, he was once more as divine as the sun. "We are all lovers of humanity. Everyone is a gift of God," he would declare.

This double life went on for some time until one of his devout followers — doing what comes naturally to followers — followed his beloved teacher to his workplace in the next village. When he saw the Divine Teacher tormenting in the fields, he fell to his knees and ripped hishair out, and ran back to the village. A plan was hatched, and everyone put their money together. It was enough, they hoped, to allow their Divine Teacher to preach until the end of his days without as much as lifting another finger, except to eat.

When Igor returned home that evening, he was met with a great surprise. He was free, and no longer had to work. He sat down to his meal of steak and potatoes and hamburgers and hotdogs, and afterward, he spilled forth a sermon so sweet and so mystical that everyone was in tears.

This went on for a few months, and soon Igor was the fattest man in the village. He was an awesome sight to see, and was not only revered but feared, as his person blocked the sun. Then one day he predicted that soon he would expound the Thought of Thoughts to the world, the Thought of God, the Thought from which all thoughts sprung forth. But before arriving at that moment, there was much spiritual preparation to be done. No one, of course, understood what their spiritual master meant, so they waited in fear, for they felt that when he did expound the Thought of Thoughts, it would be as terrible as it would be beautiful.

Saint Igor, as he was now known, was soon up to triple helpings of steak and sausages and hamburgers and meatloaf, and as he ate, the thoughts became sweeter and his presence more imposing. Before long, he was the size of three cows, and had to be wheeled about in a wheelbarrow. At this point, he was satisfied. He gathered his closest disciples, four in all, and revealed to them the mysteries of his plan.

"I shall eat an entire cow all at once. I feel in all my heart that I am ready for the ultimate effort required of me by God. Once I have swallowed the whole cow, the Divine Thought will come to me in a flash, and I will tell the world, and thus, save it."

His skinny and near-starved disciples bowed a hundred times, as was the custom.

Saint Igor was strapped into a chair, his mouth stretched wide open by his four loving disciples. Meanwhile, a barbecued cow covered in ketchup was put into a catapult, waiting to be released and flung down the Saint's throat. The entire village was present to witness what was sure to be a miracle, as it was clear that, physically, anyway, it was quite impossible to fit the entire cow into Saint Igor's mouth. There was one professor who mentioned this out loud.

He was condemned as a traitor, and thrown out of the village.

"Physics and biology do not concern a man of God,' said Saint Igor proudly. "Begin!"

His loving disciples stretched his mouth to the limit. The pain was fierce but nothing compared to the moment when the barbecued cow, flying at thirty kilometers an hour, hit Saint Igor. The head of the cow, as the exiled professor had predicted, did make it down the Saint's throat, and the digestion process got under way, and for a split second Saint Igor suspected it really was pretty tasty, but after that, he died, thoroughly, from head to foot, and as it was impossible to separate the cow from the man, he was buried with the cow still in his mouth.

From then on, the village adopted a proverb, and while this admittedly was not the Thought of all Thoughts, it was good enough for them, and it went, "A steak is tasty and fun to eat, but to force an entire cow down your throat will surely kill you."
P.S. But don't take my word for it.

Troy Morash comes from Canada but has lived and traveled all over the world. He currently lives in Odessa, Ukraine where he teaches English. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines including Fables, Monkeybicycle, The Rose and Thorn, C/Oasis, The Summerset Review, Eclectica, Bewildering Stories, Multiverse, Gothic Fairy Tales, and Ken*Again, with one story having been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.