A Sci-Fi Short Story written by Pat O'Malley


by Pat O’Malley


Pat O’Malley lives in New York where he loves to write the kind of absurd/weird fiction that he and his friends would love to read. His short stories have appeared in print and online publications such as The Weird & Whatnot, Mystery Tribune, Aphelion Magazine and more! Several of his short stories have also been adapted into audio stories on talltaletv.com. You can follow him on instagram.com/Patomwrites  and read all of his stories on https://medium.com/@patrick.omalley_97144.



Okay everyone, if you’ll just follow me down this way, please. Have no fear, there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the tour. I can see some of you are already antsy to check out our next exhibit.

To your right, you’ll notice a portrait of a friendly-looking middle-aged man with long white hair. That is infamous spiritualist Samuel Dee Hoover. Born in 1804 in Boston, Massachusetts, he was by all accounts originally a well-regarded clergyman within his community.

In his early years, Hoover built himself a loving family and a distinguished reputation as an ordained minister. He despised slavery and was a vocal supporter of women’s rights, ending capital punishment and advocating union rights for workers. These causes were all dwarfed in comparison by his fascination with spiritualism or in his words “the magnetic life in all of nature.”

It was in 1851 that trouble began to surface. You see, Hoover had developed this funny habit of telling people that he was in psychic communication with luminous beings from a higher plane of existence he referred to as “The Gleaming.” These other-worldly entities were beyond our primitive human understanding and Hoover was their designated “agent on earth.”

According to Hoover, The Gleaming wanted to revolutionize the mortal realm through electrical spiritual energy. They believed in uniting mankind with a global telepathic communication system similar to a mental Internet. It all sounded pretty legitimate, though not everyone thought so.

To the unanimous eye-rolling of his former peers, Hoover left the clergy and became a professional medium. Whispers from The Gleaming led him to the locations of the sick and the dying where he introduced his controversial “magnetic healing.” This involved placing his hands on the sickly and mentally directing magnetic forces to drive the pain out of their bodies.

If that doesn’t sound crazy enough, some of these cases of magnetic healing worked! Perhaps it was some form of psychosomatic behavior or freak coincidence. Regardless, the successful cases of magnetic healing attracted a sort of cult following to Hoover and his teachings that saw significant growth in only a few years.

Then in 1854, Hoover received a prophetic vision of The Gleaming’s master-stoke. The new spiritual priority of his growing organization was to create a device that would serve as their new God; a man-made savior. It was the Golden Calf all over again, but this time Moses wasn’t around to stop them.

The ultimate purpose of this machine-god, much like Hoover himself, was notably vague. The device was designed to function as some kind of electric thinking machine”, working like how a modern-day computer may be expected to function only on a cosmic scale. It would produce all the free energy the world would ever need, powering all other machines endlessly.

The mechanism would not only harness spiritual electricity but also house an as-yet-unborn soul set to remake the world, ushering the luminous plane into the mortal realm. The activation of the mechanism would strip away the last of humanity’s limitations and signify the fulfillment of their new God-like abilities.

You know, that old chestnut.

So like the rational people they were, Hoover and his gaggle of magnetic spiritualists followed The Gleaming’s instructions and built their new 6-foot tall God out of $2,000 worth of zinc batteries, metal balls, and thousands of copper wires, encasing it in a wooden frame.

That brings us to our exhibit over here. Do you understand now? That’s what you’ve all been staring at for the past few minutes. Behind me is the actual God-Machine built by Samuel Dee Hoover and his followers.

Kind of shabby, isn’t it? A rusty metal dial in front of a large glass tube wired to various magnets, copper/zinc fittings, and other items from the schematics transmitted to Hoover’s brain by his personal group of luminous masters. Inside the glass tube, you can see a small motor where electricity was to power the generator for “inhalation and respiration” purposes. Yes, that is a dining room table serving as the base of the generator.

I don’t know about the rest of you but it’s certainly beyond my comprehension.

For most people, physically constructing their robotic God would be enough but not for our friend Hoover. Remember that unborn soul the machine was supposed to possess? Well, this is when the construction of the God machine really got weird.

New controversies emerged when Hoover began encouraging free love and sexual liberation in his congregation. A century before mystic Aleister Crowley attempted a similar ritual to bring the antichrist into being, interviews with former followers put Hoover and an unnamed female volunteer from his group as having performed a bizarre conception/birthing ritual to symbolically conceive their electric messiah into existence.

After that little ordeal, soon the big day arrived. Hoover and his followers gathered in feverous electrical passion at his laboratory in Massachusetts. They would be validated in their partnership with higher intelligence. Finally, their electrical infant was to be born.

What exactly happened during the attempted activation is unknown. The only definite fact is that it failed. The popular retelling of events is that the group watched as the unidentified “Mary” from the birthing ritual placed her hand on the machine and caused the device to emit a large electrical current before bursting into sparks. To his last breath, Hoover claimed it was during this moment that he briefly witnessed a glowing, beating heart within the center of the crackling white sparks.

Then…nothing, the electricity cut out. No matter how many switches they flipped or rewired, the silent heap of metal stayed exactly that. No spiritual embryonic heart, no luminous world-transforming ours

Talk about a rip-off.

Many rumors speculate what exactly went wrong. A scandalous but unconfirmed theory is that the unnamed “Mary” was Hoover’s daughter-in-law with whom he was having an affair. Apparently, in between telepathic networks and God-machines, The Gleaming also told the old cook to sleep with his son’s wife.

It’s said that upon learning of the affair, Hoover’s son took his vengeance on his father. What better way to do that than by sabotaging the completion of his father’s life’s work? Again, all of this is purely speculation.

Whatever happened, the God-Machine failed to deliver. Disgruntled, the majority of Hoover’s congregation abandoned him. They weren’t the only ones who left. Whether or not there was any truth to the affair with his daughter-in-law, the spiritualist’s endeavors in his free-loving ways of living left him estranged from his family.

Becoming a laughingstock amongst his former peers did little to curb Hoover’s beliefs. Towards the end of the exhibit past the mini crucifix, you’ll notice news clippings with minor blurbs describing the Goldsmith arranging the transport of the synthetic savior to upstate New York. He believed that he could better harness energy to activate it there.

Hoover lived the remainder of his life in solitude before dying of old age in 1887, never disavowing his belief that his Electrical Deity would someday revolutionize the world. As for how the God-Machine came to be an exhibit at the museum, would you believe that it was discovered five years ago by property appraisers? They found the device collecting cobwebs in the attic of an abandoned barn in Colorado of all places.

The curators here at the Museum of Scientific Curiosities were alerted to the discovery from online articles. Using information from our pre-existing files on Hoover they pieced together that the dusty contraption was the fabled master project of the magnetic spiritualists. Now almost two hundred years after it was supposed to change the world it sits here polished for your viewing pleasure.

So ends the story of Samuel Dee Hoover and his questionable beliefs. Any questions? Hmm? Oh, yeah there should be an outlet around here somewhere. Now then if you liked the mechanical messiah I think our next exhibit will knock your socks off.

What if I told you everything you knew about ladders was wrong? I-oh whoops, we’ve got some stragglers. Um, hey people? Yes, the tour is this way!

Oh, wow! I can’t believe I didn’t notice before. You guys have pictures of Hoover on your t-shirts! I didn’t know they sold those at the gift shop! Here I thought I was a fan, I-um, excuse me? What are you doing?

Hey, I haven’t authorized you to cross the rope! The four of you, please step away from museum property. Don’t make me call security!

Wait, what the hell is that thing? Get away from there! Let me through, you’re not supposed to touch the exhibits! What’s that sound? Why is the machine vibrating!?

All right, nobody panic! Security! Somebody stop them!

Oh my Jesus…what have you done?! Turn it off! Turn it off!

This isn’t supposed to be happening! It’s not supposed to work! Tours over, everybody run for your lives!

Aaahhh! I can see it! I can see the hideous blinking light!

Forgive me Lord I swear I was kidding when I said you looked shabby! Finally, our minds will merge as one with the sizzling harmony of lights! Utopia awaits!

The God-Machine has activated.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


1 × two =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: