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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In the Beginning - The Trust Brain

Chapter 27






Inoperable, Nobody liked the word, but father O'Reilly might like it less than any of them. It was a drawback of being a priest. When the doctor in the Catholic hospital told him there was no hope, what was he to do? It wasn't like he had real insurance, he just didn't have to pay. So long as he went to that clinic. What was he doing in the bank anyway? Nobody in their right mind would give him a loan.

What did he have for collateral? What was he going to put down as the reason for requesting it? Fighting a war against shadowy evil that may or may not have corrupted my only ally? That would go over like, well, a fart in church, he thought. Who knew a brain tumor would give him an appreciation for toilet humor?

He stood in a line filled with the shambling living and the nearly dead. In the middle of the day in a bank downtown, what else would he expect? Geriatric ladies bent over from canes just inches two short. Their male counterparts, twisted at every joint by advance stage arthritis. Mixed in were the working homeless and unwashed unemployed standing one government check from the streets themselves. In the middle of this flock of the faceless lost? One lone priest, marching towards his reward.

Those vacant faces did not stare. They were not too polite, but rather, just the type of skittish sheep, not his kind but the insulting one, who could not meet a man's eyes. They did not want to be seen noticing anyone for too long. They looked though, every one of them probably thinking the father's thin coat was almost warm enough to steal. First Cancer, now this. Father O'Reilly wondered if this was a punishment.

When he reached the front of the line a big chested teenager smiled and popped her gum at him. She was probably fourteen, but if they made fourteen year olds like that when he was young he might have skipped the seminary. Why was he thinking things like this? She asked him to wait while she got a trainee to deal with his application.

Then a clown appeared. Not one of the fun ones from the circus. No, this was a wicked looking clown like only Stephen King or Jay Wilson could come up with. The devil in disguise spoke to the priest.

"Hello," it whispered in tones for conspiracy and corruption, "I'm Captain Jiggles, the new loan officer, and I would be happy to help you."

"I need a loan."

"Not much profit in loaning to priests. What do you need the money for?"

"I... I have cancer and work to do before I die."

"Cancer? Probably a punishment from God for being friends with sodomites. A priest should know that."

O'Reilly blinked, "You're behind the times. Not even the pope believes that anymore. I just got there a few days before him."

The clown laughed from the belly, without increasing his volume. "The pope? We don't care what beaners think. Not around these parts. Now, what do you have for collateral?"

"Nothing." The priest stepped back. "Never mind the loan. I'll figure out something else."

O'Reilly turned and shuffled away from the counter, looking at the forlorn faces around him. Wondering as he did if the clown was really here. Wondering if he was really here. He dropped his jacket at the feet of one particularly homeless looking teen on the way out. As he reached the door the clown called out to him.

"You come back any time you're ready to see the truth!"





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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In the Beginning - Compensation Plan

Chapter 26





Hahnee did not concern himself with time, the passage of the sun and moon were things for the elders to consider. Despite this, he was well known throughout his tribe for two things. First was his daring as an explorer. He once took his boat all the way to the long island south and east of his homeland and, after mapping the shore, returned to tell his people of it. That trip he made alone. This one he had a crew for.

The second was the spiritual twig. He discovered it in the heart of the lightning tree. A great mahogany that offended one of the spirits so much that they launched fire from the sky, shearing the ancient tree in half and setting it aflame. When the fire died down, Hahnee was the first to brave its location. In the heart of the stump were two pieces of wood, twisted and charred together around a stone. The metal had melted then cooled at the heart of the branches, forming the center of it. To Hahnee the gift from the spirits looked like a man with his arms extended.

There was a storm coming though. Hahnee sensed it, so did the elders. Men would bring this storm. Pale men with one great spirit laying claim to all of their hearts. One great spirit with no earthly form. Men who brought disease and death, who would call Hahnee's trinket a "cross" and try to take it from him. Another thing Hahnee did not concern himself with. He would give up the gift from the spirits, if another needed it more. He would do so gladly, as it meant a great deal to their totem and almost nothing to his.

He wished to find a safe place for his people though. That he did care about. A place they could hide if the storm meant to destroy them when it arrived. So he stood at the head of his boat, with four brave men behind him. He would circle the great waters and return home from the other side. Somewhere along the way he would find a haven.

As they approached the great vortex between worlds his crew grew restless. They did not wish to enter, they told him so. He knew they must though. So they did. As they slipped into the disappearing waves a storm rose around them, a brutal thing that, in seconds, tossed all five men from the boat.

Hahnee slipped beneath the waves with his trinket clutched to his chest. He whispered pleas to the unknown spirit to save him for the kindness he showed to the symbol. That spirit had other plans though. It liked its symbols washed in blood. As the cold crushed down on him and darkness closed on his eyes the cross slid from his fingers. It floated away, towards a different future.
________________________________________________________________________________

Nicole blinked away the dream. She knew the story, of course, her father told it to her. It was one of the foundations of the prophecy. Her children stood over her, smiling, and she was terrified. In that moment she knew what the rest of the world would see in them. Her daughter grinned at her, with Chester's meat still on her teeth. Her son did so around a mouthful of ancient mahogany cross. The symbol of the prophecy finding its way home. She cringed away from those smiles, but only for a second.

"Oh, my Lord! You have tested me and I will not fail."

She reached out and plucked the cross from her son's hands. He was not old enough to own it yet. she gave a smile of her own and now it was her children's turn to flinch back.





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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reflexion


I swallow the bitter liquid and close my eyes. I wonder if my love has downed her own remedy. Sheets of lightning course through the space between my eyes and their lids. I have finally captured it inside of my body.  I inhale one of the last few breaths I will take. The stale smell of stagnant air offends my nose, but there are worse scents. At least it is not the odor of the showers.

The light fades in a pulsing blue flash and I am terrified to open my eyes. I know there is no other world, no paradise of the sheep or punishment of the wicked. Still, for a moment my heart trembles. Now I smell air that moves, it is not trapped but filled with the stink of too many people. Before I look I take stock of my body and the space around me.

I am taller, that is wonderful. I am thicker but not fatter, this is good. My scalp feels colder though, my hair must be thinner. That is less good. It is almost time to open my eyes. First I grip the podium in front of me. I am making a speech then, this is normal. Expectant sheep murmur, not violent approval and agreement. Have I arrived in England? These are not my people. The crowd stinks like mongrels and culture destroyers.

No more time to waste. I feel eyes upon me, they are waiting for my answer, so they must have asked me a question. I open my eyes and things look so different I know I am in either the future or the past. A quick look to the camera reflecting my image and I know it is the future. That is acceptable, I have always adapted quickly. I see in this image that while my hair is thinning it is the right color, and so are my eyes. This trip has turned me into one of the master race I love so much.

The people though. They are sickening; overfed, weak, imperfect. For all of that there is anger there, a willingness to shed blood, the ability to go to war for no reason beyond being disillusioned. They are my people. My first people were no better when I swayed them. The leaders of the sheep, those at the table, look at me expectantly. I cannot ask them to repeat the question. That would be weakness.

I look to my right and see the dark skin of one who should not be allowed in public, much less a debate. I can look no further that way. My head jerks left. Three ugly men and a woman who does not know her place. I look back to the crowd and know what I must say.

"We must keep the Jew from gaining power and destroying our great nation..."


I have more to say but the crowd erupts in applause and shouts. Just like before.








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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In the Beginning - The Sixth Sign

Part 25, all previous parts are below.




They left Jack in charge of the women. Nicole thought Chester deserved a vacation. Even prophets needed a break every now and again. Chester liked the beach. So she arranged this weekend for the four of them, parents and children. Not the most romantic getaway but they didn't trust Jack that much yet.

As soon as they arrived, Chester insisted on heading to the water. Nicole knew he would, it was still warm enough to swim. She barely convinced him to wait while she checked them in and gave the bags to a bellhop. Their clothes would be waiting when they reached in the room later.

Chester's impatience to reach the surf left Nicole carrying their infant son and holding the hand of their daughter as they followed the man of the house to the sand.  Nicole had forgotten the sign. With only two left and things proceeding so well her mind refused it on instinct. She had a moment to wonder, was this how the unbelievers felt when confronted with the harsh reality that would bring paradise? If so she could pity them but not understand.

The waves boiled with crabs, king crab that had no place in this particular section of the planet. Nicole slipped to her knees with tears sliding down her cheeks.  Her son wriggled free and began to crawl towards the water. Her daughter knew her job as an older sister. Until the wars came she was to protect her little brother. Nicole simply looked upon the water. The kind of water Jesus could walk on without a miracle. With more crabs than spray it looked solid. They skittered over each other and rolled in just like a wave of pinchers and shells.

The smell of salt was the most tangible thing on that beach as everything else grew surreal. Chester ran towards the waves, the crustaceans. He stripped his clothes as he did. With every inch of skin exposed he morphed further into a crab. Their children toddled and crawled after him, but as he shrunk his speed lessened and theirs  did not. They quickly gained on him.

"No!" It was all Nicole could think to scream. She knew the outcome in advance though. That was the disadvantage to prophecy.

Their son caught up to the Chester crab. He grabbed it by the claws. Instinctively the crab snapped and pinched at its son. The boy cried out in pain and gripped tighter, pulling until those claws ripped free with a sound too like rending flesh. The boy lifted the crab, not yet done with his angry vengeance. He brought it's back down on a hard rock, shattering its body and spreading the meat and life across the sand.

Meat that the daughter picked up happily. She raised it to her lips and tasted the transformed flesh of the father, of her first god. She declared through a smile too young to be sadistic but with all the signs of such, "Daddy nummy!"


Nicole fainted.




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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

In the Beginning - Amazing Patience

Chapter 24




Jack was growing used to waking up in a strange place, but not this one. Why was the bed so firm? Nicole and Chester’s guest bed wasn’t as comfortable as the one at home but it didn’t normally feel like stone. Jack reached down and ran his hand over the hard, cold, stone mattress. It was colder than normal too, maybe that was causing the discomfort? He rolled slightly then blinked. Stone? That wasn’t right.

Jack sat up on the stone… altar was the best word her could think of. The kind of silence that can only echo off stone in small rooms that formed larger structures greeted his ears. The stale scent of subterranean moss and distant, stagnant water filled his nose. The dim light half filling the chamber could be emanating from that moss, reflecting from the surface all the way down, for all Jack knew. He saw no other possible source.

Jack was not surprised when his eyes adjusted quickly, or that he woke almost instantly. His shock came from knowing this was not a dream, that someone moved him from the bed to this dais without waking him. He had always been a light sleeper. His eyes slid up to the only real plants in the cave, the ivy hanging from the ceiling. The sign hung by the vines, as if they were grown not only into the hooks but exclusively for that purpose.

You have one hour. Don’t touch the walls.

Jack meditated on the words. Did they know? Had they somehow figured out that he warned the father? If so the walls would be covered with a poison. If not it was likely just a hallucinogen, something to cause a spirit vision. These nouveau Christians did love to mix the pagan and shamanistic into their little games. Don’t touch the walls? He could give them better than that.

He crossed his legs and sat still, watching the walls. He did not move when colors swirled over the stone. He refused to move when blood flowed from the crevices. He did not even twitch when he heard the daughter crying out for uncle Jack to help her. He did laugh when he heard the roar of a bull he assumed was meant to sound like a minotaur.

He endured an hour of petty tortures and childish mind games. He tensed as light bloomed down a narrow tunnel. The soft click of heels in a place they did not belong was more ominous than any sound before it. The glow grew stronger, closer as the footfalls began to echo off rocks, like impending doom. Finally the shadows parted to reveal Nicole peering at him with a stern look.

“You passed, detective, it is time for breakfast. Follow me please.”

Jack wondered how long he could play this game. The father was safe, but if Jack had to put up with too much more of this he might start shooting his enemies. He understood that was not how this story was supposed to end. One did not make martyrs of zealots, not without consequences.






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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In the Beginning - Walking with Jesus

This is part 23.





Father O’Reilly plodded along a deserted, dirt road outside town. Prayer held no solace recently. In the middle of a modern holy war talking to God was a solitary pursuit. God didn’t answer. Except in the symbolic and internal ways he always had. O’Reilly realized how used to company he had grown. Even if said companionship was intermittent.

Father O’Reilly missed Jack. He longed for that other voice telling him they fought the good fight. He knew he still was, but confirmation helped. He wasn’t sure if Jack was still fighting at all. Everything would be easier if the priest knew the detective was alive. It would even be easier if he knew for sure that Jack was dead.

It was a quirk of his profession that Father O’Reilly never called the police station. He trusted in providence to provide the answer. His eyes and heart would tell him the truth. Nothing else could be trusted. They might have influence over everything else.

His heart knew Jack was alive. His heart knew he was lonely. So he walked alone in the middle of nowhere. He remembered a lesson from seminary though. Not an official catechism, something an old Bishop said. When you walk with Jesus you are never alone. So Father O’Reilly walked in the woods with Jesus, asking for a miracle.

It came in the form of an abandoned amusement park. Father O’Reilly looked at this offering in the middle of his own, personal desert. Moss grew on steel, saplings threaded up through floorboards on most of the rides. What was it doing here?

O’Reilly felt a phantom hand pushing him forward, there was something there for him. As he approached the lights came on, sputtering in an attempt to die permanently. Jaunty carnival music spun up, piped in through rusty tubes that distorted the tinny sounds of childhood joy. Phantasmal but no less real the scents of cold buttered popcorn, mildew ridden hotdogs, and mold infused cotton candy wafted to his nose.

O’Reilly walked on. Why was the carousel the only ride without plants growth? He made his way to that as his own personal Jesus whispered in the center of his head. ‘Because it was always your favorite.’ True, but he must be very lonely indeed if he was so far gone he was literally hearing the voice of God. Only Archbishops and above had that privilege.

Stepping onto the carousel he walked to the pure black Arabian, also his favorite. On the saddle sat a small square of paper. A note, one the priest knew came from Jack. He lifted it and read. His heart fell, less sure about his world and his fight than ever. Was he being turned on? The simple script read…

Father,

Sometimes faith and the fight require sacrifices. I don’t want you to be mine. Keep your head down and stay hidden. Wait until you hear from me again to take up the battle again.

Your Friend






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