Philip Pullman famously wrote his atheist children’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, in direct response to the overtly Christian themes in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.

- - -

The Galaxy Choice
by Mary Nightingale

Lila looked at her handsome new friends, Sebastian and Timothy. Timothy, pure, virtuous, so confident in his belief of Galaxia’s guardian, Marlow the Great Bicorn, and Sebastian, dark, thoughtful, ever questioning the virtues of Marlow and his existence.

“But why must we believe or not believe in Marlow? Couldn’t I just be open to the possibility of Marlow?”

Timothy and Sebastian both sighed, frustrated: Lila was nothing if not vague in her beliefs.

- - -

“The Galaxy Choice, of course! You’re destined to make the Galaxy Choice, Lila. You’re the one we’ve been waiting for, who can finally help us be free of Marlow!” said Sebastian.

“No! You must choose to follow Marlow!” cried Timothy.

“You both make compelling and uncompelling points. I think my choice would be to not choose,” Lila explained, “because then I always have the possibility of being right!”

- - -

“Take up the sword!” Timothy demanded of Lila.

Lila began to reach for the Galaxy Sword.

“Take up the sword for Marlow!”

Lila stopped dead in her tracks. If she was going to take up a sword that contained the might of all Galaxia, she was going to do it for herself.

But then, Timothy might have a point about this Marlow fellow. She had never seen Marlow, but Timothy was so sure of his virtue.

She stared dumbfounded at the sword a while longer.

“I think I’m going to admire the sword at a distance for now,” she replied. “I will be open to the possibility of taking it up for Marlow when a bit more evidence presents itself!”

- - -

Poppin the Talking Gopher considered Lila. He sensed her greatness, but also her proclivity for indecision.

“Lila, you don’t have to make a choice just yet. You’ve got your whole life for that,” he said.

“Yes, but everyone is counting on me to decide; to make the Galaxy Choice! ” Lila cried.

Poppin laughed.

“No one has made the Choice up until now, and we’re doing just fine. You don’t have to do anything or believe in anyone if you don’t want.”

“Not even in myself?” Lila pouted.

Poppin retorted, chuckling, “Especially not in yourself!”

- - -

“You could use the Galaxy Sword to kill Marlow.”

Sebastian positively glowed with rage, with the justice he so desired.

“Whoa!” Lila replied, “That is harsh!”

“Wouldn’t we be happier, freer, less burdened if there was no Marlow at all?”

“I’m sorry, but this is a bit much,” said Lila. “Kill Marlow? This is crazy! I am TWELVE!”

- - -

The three of them stood and stared at The Empress of The Sun. Upon a closer look, she was a middle-aged woman, beautiful, her skin glowing with radiance.

“But what am l supposed to do? Should I trust Marlow and brandish his Sword?” asked Lila, desperate for the Empress’s guidance. For any advice, really.

“You should trust whoever you want to trust, sweet girl,” said Empress, shining with power.

“I would not heed the advice of a witch,” sneered Timothy.

“For once, he is right. We should leave this place,” said Sebastian.

Lila was struck by how odd it was that, of all things, their hatred of this woman would be the thing to unite them. She couldn’t help but wonder if that meant they might both turn on her at some point, too.

- - -

Lila gazed up at the magnificent statue of Marlow, and she said a sort of prayer.

“I appreciate all you’ve done, if you have in fact done it. You have some good ideas.”

Lila sat on a nearby stone and ate her ham sandwich. Ham sandwiches, at least, had never made her make life or death type choices or parse out the meaning of the universe.

- - -

Lila stood between Timothy and Sebastian, their beautiful faces lit by the Galaxy Sword. Both so different and so wonderful: Couldn’t she have both?

Then, full of the power everyone knew she possessed, Lila split the Galaxy Sword in half. She gave half to each boy.

“This is not helpful to either us!” shouted Sebastian.

“Neither of us can do anything with a half of a sword, the fate of the universe will go undecided,” cried Timothy.

Lila sighed, “Exactly.”

- - -

Somewhere, Marlow laughed.

Or he didn’t.

In either case, no one in Galaxia felt the need to find out, but still enjoyed knowing that either could be true.

The End. Probably.