Sunday, 14 April 2013

'True Religion' - (A Story)

This is a story I wrote for a blog in a Sci-Fi game. It first appeared on Feb 14 2013 on the Pheonix BSE nexus.

True Religion

The bar is silent; every eye is on the vidscreen in the corner. A trial is in progress, and all are watching. No one talks; no one moves.

On the screen the Inquisitor looks at the families in the dock before him, his harsh black eyes burning into their tormented, worthless souls. Men & women, old & young, children and adults; heretics, all of them, for they have dared to spread false teaching amongst the holy followers of the True One. For this, they must die, but mere death is too good for them. An example must be made; fear spread; retribution must be seen in all its terrible finality. For this heresy above all others must be crushed out. The survival of the Brotherhood depends on it.

The Inquisitor does not know that it is too late. Millennia too late. The battle was fought and lost thousands of years before. He does not know that attempts beyond counting have been made to crush this one small spark of heresy. All have failed, for this heresy is the true one - the true heresy on which the waves of religious fundamentalism have always crashed and been swept back. The irony would be lost on his hard metallic soul, were he capable of understanding irony, and were his mind open to the real possibilities inherent in the spark he is trying to crush.

The Inquisitor does not know that in seeking to crush this outbreak he will provide the impetus to spread it far and wide across the peripheries. Fleeing his wrath, the hundreds of other heretics across the planet will take to the stars, spreading this terrible truth wherever they go. This trial will plant the seed that will ultimately lead to the destruction of all that the Brotherhood stand for. The Inquisitor does not see, does not comprehend the terrible powers he is about to unleash on the galaxy. His hate-filled eyes see only that he must destroy any who oppose him and his kind.

"Do you understand the charges against you?" His sepulchral voice booms across the room.

A man looks up, and opens his mouth to speak. "We do". His voice is surprisingly strong, the belief behind it obvious to all watching.

The Inquisitor stares at the man. He has not expected an answer. Few have dared speak openly before, and none with such confidence. The whole amphitheatre is designed to inspire terror in those in the dock. Taken aback, the Inquisitor is shocked to find that it has failed. There is no fear in this man; in fact there is no fear in any of them. A small spark of doubt fleetingly crosses his mind, but the last desperate attempt of a conscience to be heard is swept away before the Inquisitor even realises what it is.

Rage sweeps through him. He brandishes the piece of paper in his hand. "This is all the evidence we need. Do you know what this is? Do you know what it says?" The terrible waves of his amplified wrath break against the calm mien of the man before him.

"It is the truth."

"IT IS HERESY" screams the Inquisitor, all composure gone. "For this, you will die, your family will die, your friends will die. YOU WILL ALL DIE."

The man nods. "Yes. We will die, but in destroying our bodies you will only set us free; but more than that, in killing us you will set the truth free."

"DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I CAN DO TO YOU?"

Again, the man nods; "Yes, you are the Antichrist, and you can do nothing to us that God does not will, for our fate is in His hands. You may kill our bodies, but you cannot touch our souls, for they are held in the hands of God."

Apoplectic, the Inquisitor throws the old, tattered manuscript from him. "I will hear no more, take them away, KILL THEM, kill them all - NOW!"

In the bar, the silence is total. No one talks; no one moves. The ancient text, printed thousands of years before, lands on the camera lens. The words written on it are clear for all to see:

"27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."