by Lincoln Michel
Although much remains unclear about John Adams (alternatively referred to in remaining analog documents as Jon Adam, John Adems, and The Adams Abomination), recent drone expeditions into the Charred Continent have unearthed new artifact fragments that led us closer to understanding this mysterious entity. Long assumed to be a prince or demon of a lesser cult, we now know that John Adams was an important figure in the dominant United Statsian mythology.
John Adams appears to have originally been conceived as a familiar or minion of George Washington, the first of the hundred tyrants that are said to have ruled the country until its infamous, self-inflicted demise. It was only later that John Adams was celebrated as a deity in his own right. His physical manifestation is source of debate. Certain cultural documents suggest he was worshipped as an enormous goat-like god or perhaps a sentient birch tree—referred to as “The Braintree”—by the Cults of Puritan that populated the region now known as The Twice Damned Seaboard. Often he is portrayed as a fat, sullen man whose lips seem curled in a perpetual frown.
As the second of the early tyrants—likely monarchs who were worshipped as divine, although possibly purely mythological figures—John Adams can be placed squarely in what may be called the “Constitutional Pantheon” of the United Statsian religion. His chief rivals in this pantheon were Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, the latter of whom would usurp his throne. It is believed that his symbols were the split acorn, the horned hair, and the first feather of the newborn eagle.
The acolytes of Adam do not appear to have had as much influence as the followers of more prominent gods such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or The Great Traitor Burr (a title that was perhaps ironic given his apparent influence amongst the Southern lands). Of all of the sacred coins and wood pulp currency sheets that have been unearthed from the burnt rubble, none have featured the visage of John Adams—a fact that is rather unusual amongst the early tyrants.
Here it must be noted that many scholars now believe these beings were not necessarily viewed as separate by the United Statsians, but rather different incarnations of the one “The Founding Father” deity, also known as “George Washington”—the first incarnation—“Uncle Sam” or “The First and the Last, the Truth and the Lie.” The Founding Father, in this conception, was a shape-shifting and eternal god believed to have formed the nation by tearing apart fragments of the gigantic Life Tree with his “Teeth of Wood” and regurgitating fifty large bark chunks into the sea to form the collected states.
In his fleeting incarnation as John Adams, The Founding Father was pale, bloated, and quick to anger. His commandments were enforced by a set of terrifying minions known only as “The Midnight Judges.” Scholars agree that this was a tumultuous time for early United Statsian society, as the wars with rival nations such as Imperial France and Britain of the First Decay had taken their tolls on the populace. The newly formed United States nation was working to define itself and struggling with enemies both within and without. The monstrous John Adams incarnation likely provided a feeling of strength and destiny to the huddled and starving United Statsians.
Although harsh in demeanor and despised amongst the citizenry, the John Adams incarnation is given credit for defeating the rival gods of Imperial France—almost certainly symbolic of an actual conflict known, mysteriously, as the Quasi-War—in a grand battle that raged “atop the purple mountains and shining seas” for twelve cycles before John Adams emerged bloodied and tired, but victorious.
With the enemies defeated and peace at hand, the need for the brutal John Adams incarnation had passed. He had served his populace and maintained the power of the new nation. When he looked upon what he had wrought, John Adams is said to have let out a month-long howl from the center of the sacred House in White; a scream so terrible in force it rendered an entire generation deaf and ripped apart the very earth, forming the great canyon of the western desert, a fissure that the Adams incarnation disappeared into only to reemerge weeks later as the kindly Jefferson form.
Hopefully continued archeological research into the continent will mine more data to expand our understanding of the ancient United Statsian religion and society. It is important to remember that the early United Statsians were a frightened but proud people. Despite the lower levels of spectrum radiation and thinner dust-metal storms, the world was as confusing and painful a place to them as it is to us now. Although their religion may strike us as arcane and barbaric, you must put yourself in their mindset. They were building a new society in a strange and foreign land. The night was dark, the beasts were loud. Death, in all its myriad incarnations, was, as always, right around the corner.
Lincoln Michel’s work appears in Tin House, NOON, BOMB Magazine, Oxford American, Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. He is a co-founder and co-editor of Gigantic. He can be found online at lincolnmichel.com. Read the next story, THOMAS JEFFERSON, here.
* thanks to Amber Sparks and Brian Carr for their editorial work on this project.