Word to the Wise
WORD TO THE WISE
“And though his life had become but a dream, Connor knew that from then on he would finally know Happiness”. ‘The Life and Times of an Interplanetary Man’ 2153 © Epsilon Nano-Publishing Inc. Jack O’Neill had finally put words of his latest, and undoubtedly greatest, novel into the personal MC Vid-Screen. It was a sprawling romantic epic, chronicling the life of an intergalactic land owner in the year 2085. The protagonist, Conrad, and his attempts to find the ideal wife whist being called up for World War Four was almost certain to gain keen literary praise. He was satisfied with the work and overjoyed by the impeding 500,000points into his account. He knew his work was popular and despite his latest departure in terms of literary tone he felt it would still sell. Jack O’Neill was a fairly handsome and successful man. He stood at 5”11, and had light brown hair, that stood full and resplendent on the top of his angular, intelligent looking head. He had large blue eyes, and more than a certain way with the ladies. He was able to show his charm both through his personality and sometimes in his writing. People who met him, remembered him. Indeed, every Low and Mid School pupil knew about Jack O’Neill and his popular series of teen-horror books. Ha, more is the pity he briefly thought. He aspired to write more, to stretch beyond the boundaries that damn series of pseudo-horror books offered. The money had been great, it gave him a fine house and it almost certainly contributed to the more than reasonably attractive girl and subsequent wife he married. Life felt good, especially since he had switched publishers. They actually wanted him to write more expansive work for some reason. Even though the market that they were after was almost certainly smaller, they still felt it was sufficient to pay him up to 500,000points. ‘If the market was there great, if not I’m buying boat’ he absently thought. Jack had got into writing early. Almost before graduation from his Primary University Course at London Harvard, publishers were bidding thousands for his proposed novels. He had a great upbringing with an encouraging set of well off parents and a very early desire to read. His large family home had contained a vast library of centuries old books. He had engulfed many great works. Dickens he devoured, Hemmingway he hardlined, Jackson (probably the pre-eminent post millennium writer) he loved more than the others combined. Jackson was probably the main reason he came to believe in the Prime Lord and attend worship with the Central Religious Network. The Network as it was mainly known, had come to represent the definitive and unified organization for the worship, study and comprehension of what people pre the CRN had known as God, but had since came to seen as the Prime Lord. The leaders of the CRN had proved quite brilliant at re-integrating aspects of different religions and their seemingly incompatible comprehensions of God. In other words the Network had become the site of all religions. It was religion. There were to be no more crusades, no more fundamentalist terrorists, definitely no more religion inspired blocks of nations warring with one another. The history of the Network was undoubtedly complex, but as a general scholar in life Jack had understood that one of the basic aims of the CRN was to unify those religions that had different comprehensions of God, who of course came to be known as the Prime Lord. The Prime Lord they asserted was Allah, he was Buddha, he was Jesus, briefly they even ascertained that John Paul II was God. All religions were appealed to, even those faiths deemed to be non-Holy. The Mormons were praised for their attempts to see God in the strangest of places. The Scientologists were given praise by seeing God as a pseudo-Alien presence on Earth, for that is indeed what the Prime Lord had came to be seen as on Earth. Yes they were a fantastic organization and he was happily paid member. Enough History Lessons! He thought. It was a morning for celebrations. First things first, time to get one of those ice cold cans of Premium Lager to enjoy at leisure. The drinks went down beautifully alongside one of those news-vid updates that were essentially about minor celebrity news and the football obviously. Quick and simple, how the bloody news should always be thought! He went into the kitchen and asked the Robo-Staff on duty to please make him a large cup of coffee with a slightly crisped-bacon sandwich. “Immediately Sir it will done” came the relpy, ’many thanks Robo’ he instinctively returned. That machine knew his tastes perfectly and to a frankly supernatural degree. Having sat back down after going quickly to urinate off some of lager, he settled down for a cup of strong coffee, with the perfect splash of milk as usual. That briefly settled moment would prove to be the start of a series of events that would totally and utterly change everything about his life.
His TM Vid-Screen was registering a CALL from a totally unknown number…
“Hello, Jack O’Neill speaking” he replied.
“Yes, we knew it would be you” the calm voice came back. On his vid screen, Jack could faintly make out the figure of a bald, middle aged gentleman. He was wearing smart wireframe glasses and looked to be serious. He tried to think who on Earth would be calling- someone wanting to speak to his wife? He composed his thoughts and considered how this man knew he would pick up.
“You knew? Hello, who is speaking please”
“Do not worry Mr. O’Neill, please at least not yet” the voice was sounding firmer.
Who the hell was this he thought, bothering me after a long tiring damn day of scan-typing the book,
“I am pleased to say we request your assistance Mr. O’Neill. This is the Central Religious Network contacting you”
“Yeah right!” He scoffed and hung up immediately. The Network wasn’t involved with people on a personal basis, they talked and you listened. That was the quiet and old agreement. The Network was distant, authoritative and uncontestable. They had no presence on the Sphere System, they certainly offered no numbers that you could call them on. You paid if you wanted to join the Network and indeed most people did. Thoughts of the afterlife had become a more serious concern following the last intergalactic war. He felt relaxed briefly, stupid prank callers were still unfortunately going he guessed. He sort of wished that his wife was in so they could laugh about it; she may have taken it seriously though he guessed. No, actually she wouldn’t either. It was a very unlikely call, like the Pope or President calling or something.
Then the voice came directly through the speaker, totally startling Jack. He thanked his lucky stars that he switched off the monitor, so they couldn’t see him leap about two feet from his chair.
“Look Mr. O’Neill, this isn’t a prank call, and we are certainly not accustomed to wasting our time so I shall get to the point. You are the only man we want to have assist us. There is no contract, and the terms of any agreement are silent”
He stood silent himself for a minute, ignoring how they knew his thoughts. He knew anything that followed would be bad. Instinct told him the Central Religious Network wouldn’t contact him with requests and then let said person blab to all and sundry about it. Shit! What did they want? What was this all about? He collected his thoughts for a moment, and quietly replied…
“Okay, what can you tell me this is about”
“Your love for Jackson was a factor. We may have an urgent and evidently top secret World Government situation”
Before he could reply they continued…
“You are to help us to write the hidden gospels of Kuthalu”
“I don’t understand, the what of Ku…Kuthalu?” his thoughts were distant, his mind was still stunned.
“These documents Mr. O’Neill suffice it to say will show ancient contact being made between the hitherto unknown Kuthalu people of Earth Sector 6 and the Prime Lord”
“You want me to write about the human contact between the… Kuthalu… and the Prime Lord?…The God of All…you want me to write it?”. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“We did not say or ask that”.
He suddenly gained mental clarity and quickly his doubts about the veracity of this strange call hit.
“Look if you really are from the Central Religious Network, why haven’t you past scanned this supposedly miraculous event? You don‘t need me to write anything”. He knew if something this amazing had been discovered they would want to show it in it’s full glory. Make people know the full power of the Prime Lord, and subsequently the CRN of course.
“If we could past scan this event” the voice impatiently interjected “then the World Government would certainly not be involved. We shall be direct, we are willing to pay your writing fees for life- let us just say your brother would also be well covered as well for example”.
He felt nervous but more intrigued by the call. They didn’t want to kill him, well at least not yet.
“The project will not be easy”
“You were chosen somewhat ironically for your overall lack of beliefs in the true meaning of the Prime Lord.
“What?” he spluttered, feeling somehow that his honour or honesty had been questioned.
“I’ll have you know that I am a fully paid member” he felt like blaspheming but decided against under the circumstances
“Look you of all people should know this, I am a believer of course I am a believer for goodness sake!”
“I think we shouldn’t need to explain at this point that we at least know your thoughts Mr. O’Neill. Unfortunately for your pride anyway, you are not a full believer in the meaning of the Prime Lord. Evidently nor are certain others”
“You mean people in Sector 6 don’t you” he almost muttered.
“Yes, unfortunately we do. A receiving station was burnt down last week, and we have intercepted plans for many other similar or even more dangerous attacks”.
He felt shocked.
“Ah, I wasn’t aware of these attacks”.
“Of course you were not”.
That wasn’t really an insult, a nano-atomic bomb on Earth Zone 6 would scarcely require a vid-screen news report. The Zone was God-forsaken, literally really, until now.
“We can scarce afford the seeds of rebellion anywhere Mr. O’Neill. People can and certainly do leave Earth Zone 6. We would not wish for word of these strikes against the CRN to be known. Dissention has been shown to be a very negative force against organised religions Mr. O‘Neill”
He understood, even after this odd and intrusive call, he still felt vaguely protective of the CRN despite their questioning of his faith!
We question everybody’s faith, the thought came suddenly to his mind.
“You will know and understand more when I meet you at the Heli-port. Also Mr. O’Neill, I am sorry to report your wife is dead. No-one can know any of this”.
“My wife is what?” He felt a sudden surge of total fear and alarm sweep over him like a radioactive injection. The injection had seized and paralysed his body and mind. It took a moment for the grim shock to subside before the emotion of anger kicked in.
“Look this is over I refuse, how dare you contact me with this! The World Government and the Pillars of Justice will immediately hear of this”
“Calm down Mr. O’Neill. I should explain further. Let us just say your wife is legally dead. Here on Earth Zone 1. Your feelings for her and the ramifications for us of murder did not go unconsidered. But you shall never see or speak to her again. We shall discuss more at the Heli-port”,
“What, legally?”, he kept wondering why they had chosen him and what on Earth was going on.
“I think you know why we have chosen you Mr. O‘Neill, we can only say again that we have partially chosen you for your lack of faith”.
He knew there was not a great deal of choice with the situation. He went upstairs to pack his bag and nervously prepare for the upcoming job. Relieved on the one hand is wife was still alive, totally despondent on the other knowing he would never sample any of her joys again. His emotions were being kept in check by means other than the Anger Management daily sessions. There was something deep inside him, unexplained and unrepentant, thinking this is what needed to happen in my life, and I am ready. That feeling was more than matched though by his hitherto unknown doubts about the general meaning of the CRN. Why did they need him? Lack of belief! He was still feeling aggrieved, and was getting more than a little scared by the scale of the impossible task at hand.
The roads were thankfully quiet on journey to the Central Heli-port. Any traffic would have probably lead him to start screaming out loud, crying out loudly again and again. Another huge pressure in his life was really starting to get to his mental stability, which could be a disaster. His mind had until now been fully functional, the scale of the task given would be no excuse for mental instability. He began panic-thinking about whether they would eventually have the right cure and treatment for him if his mind deteriorated much further. Would they really be able to cure him? Was his insanity going to hinder such an important job? Surely they must be mad to go for such a clumsy hack like myself he thought. They can’t have damn well read my last book, “The Life and Times of an Interplanetary Mind”. Hell in that Jack had implied, with heavy metaphor, that an intergalactic war between two distant planets was simply designed to keep people living in fear about threats to security that went beyond nationhood. He wanted to really awaken people to the fact that the Fourth World War and Venetian Wars were set up by conspiring national governments and maybe even the CRN to show the need for the eventual and literally mind-controlling World Government. The World Government needed such wars to show the need for an all-powerful truly supranational authority. He stopped thinking briefly, hell they know all of these damn points especially now. Any physical attempts, whether through mail or the Sphere, to verbally counteract the values of the CRN and World Government had been outlawed in the Beijing Treaty in 2099 following World War Four. He felt fear and another huge metaphorical wave of guilt sweeping over him. They know everything I’ve said against them, they know all my doubts about the Prime Lord- I should be closer to being labeled a heretic! Never mind they still seem to have picked me, there are no messages saying ‘hey look sorry, your wife is fine go back relax, and try to copulate whilst she ovulates!’. They would know about his, or more accurately his wife’s, attempts to get pregnant as well. Hey, I’m only 29 he thought, I’ll eventually be some form of Dad. The realisation though that his wife was now fully gone had depressed him deeply and quickly. For the first and probably last time, he really hoped that she wasn’t pregnant. The horrifying thought of his child being brought up in a lesser zone snobbishly came into his mind. He wanted his progeny to be as rich and successful as had been. He wanted to spread out his advantages to others. He felt it was sort of a religious duty, even though he wasn’t a full believer apparently! He was beginning to seriously worry and ask questions about his mind, his future and his faith. Why did they really choose me? Never mind, the process had began and he would go along with it. A few more million points would buy another wife he cynically mused. Damn, I really am a callous ass-hole he thought. His wife would obviously not be just replaceable- she really did drive him wild in so many ways. He couldn’t understand why she hadn’t got pregnant yet, they were having sex way more than his previous partners combined. Plenty of that action had obviously taken place before he was married- hell, he wasn’t a perfect member of the CRN! His wife was a nice person, a good person - he was starting to get worried about his genuine lack of concern for her permanently leaving his life though. His emotions were complex and stirring around in his mind. There was just something, a quietly calm presence within him, the hushed nagging thought that this was what he was meant to do all along and that his wife was really just an existential detour. It suddenly dawned on him as well, it was almost certainly them, the CRN, or heck even maybe even the World Government that was preventing his wife from getting pregnant. They didn’t want to get involved evidently in moving a child as well from Earth Zone 1. The didn’t their hired scribe having his emotions get too complicated. There was still evidently a conscience somewhere at the top thank God. He knew his belief was with God, and not the Prime Lord as commonly espoused. He began to seriously worry whether he was honestly the man for such a monumental job. Simple thoughts began to pick at his conscious. Would he write well enough? Could he write well enough? If he didn’t would they end up killing him? No mistakes would be possible, no hidden draft copies of words that would somehow show up the Prime Lord. Then it hit him- he would be the voice of the Prime Lord! Someday the words that may be transmogrified into vid-screen broadcasts, would at least initially use his words. He felt simultaneous pangs of guilt and elation, he felt like he had just won the lottery, but the prize had been altered into certain death. He felt strangely like he did in one of his dreams, the most recurrent one. It always involved this kid he had never met, or so he thought, (after the fiftieth time or so he realized the kid was actually him) - the kid wearing a stupid baseball cap, saying “Hey, Mr. O’Neill, I’m your number one fan”. To which he would always go “Hey thanks to you, can I sign anything?”. To which the kid in-turn would then always reply coldly, “You misunderstand me Mr. O’Neill - I am your number one fan. As in the number one, first and only. We all ultimately hate you. Rip-off merchant. I know all of the lines you copy and from which editions, you total fraud. You write like you’ve just scanned in paragraphs from other better writers. Keep thinking of the future Jack”.
It was always that last part that shook him awake from these brief and confusing boughts of R.E.M. It always had him waking lightly drizzled in sweat, shocking him into morning consciousness. That shock was especially present when the young boy- he kept forgetting it was himself- said out pointedly ‘Jack’. Being talked to by your younger self, it always disturbed him. He told his wife and she just shrugged (as was a common response to any of his emotional difficulties) “I’ve had worse, honey”.
Sometimes he didn’t really like her lack of compassion, even though she was well read and bought up. Gone now forever he lamented again. Even her damn flaws would never return. Hey, hang on a minute he thought. She’s probably glad and on another damn space cruise with some guy or group of girls. More suspicion like that and she may have left anyway, if he wasn’t a famous author. Sometimes he really thought they would take him away after he’d occasionally loudly reply to her in a rude manner. The brain scanners did a good job of patrolling and monitoring all citizens emotions. He was always legally right though- he never overstepped the mark, with help of course from the extensive Anger Manager vids. Sometimes though it felt, just surely felt, that the Anger Management broadcast he would watch- every day- like all proles and dukes too, would be a bit longer than his wife’s. More suspicion, which he guessed was another more unusual occurrence these days too. He knew he wasn’t a normal citizen, a reliable norm like so many other billions. He felt a quick wave of shame followed by an undeniable blush covering his face like forest fire. A red rash marking his face, physically indicating his mental state was not as collected and functional as the majority. This will make up for that though, he optimistically thought- I’ll show them all that my Faith and Mind are pure. I will enable such a great moment to be retold with perfect clarity to the billions that would read, and eventually see the events. He had to be the best, it was finally his time.
It had been over a century since the last recorded contact between Man and God was made. Indeed, it was the last true moment that shook the world. Order was well and truly established after that point. The separation of the Earth into zones had become the logical conclusion to the destruction imposed by national identities. A World Government informing the actions of each zones had become an undeniably sane solution to the Fourth World War, which destroyed so many populated sites. The rapid shift between wars of alliances following the earlier Third World War had forced another one on the world. Eventually though people and governments had truly tired of international deaths from warfare. After the Wars Globalisation had seemingly reached it’s peak. Nations were, for the most part, very happy with their economic, social and political integration. This enabled a very reasonable expansion of peace and prosperity for most of the globe. The dramatic and destructive intergalactic wars however, initially involving the small planet Valix from Persia-Galaxy 8, and subsequently the Venetian War which destructively exploded this century had decimated so many parts of the World and ended that known prosperity, temporarily at least. Both intergalactic wars had fully justified the need for an overall Government determining World, or rather Earth actions. The succession of domestic and intergalactic wars made people yearn for peace and stability again. After, during and even really before the Third and Fourth World Wars people had become placid for so many reasons- sedative drugs were knowingly included in all sources of milk, Anger Management was a daily broadcast, laws were immediately enforced and thought scanners patrolled the streets. Evidently the CRN could scan minds even without patrols he thought. The World had the CRN. Any chance that the zones could be compromised or worse that all zones questioned their meaning would be disastrous- new identities from individuals would be sought, new thoughts and dear God more ideologies would form. “Free Thought” legally at least was still a blessing as people believed thankfully what the World Government and CRN felt they should believe. Rival established ideologies could pose so many problems- there would be more attempts to return to domestic governments. There would probably be further attempts to return to the overt barbarism of international relations and the horrific situation of humans killing humans again. It would be another insurmountable problem leading to disenfranchised or dead citizens. In other words a Earth sized Petri-dish over flowing with deadly thought-formed bacteria. In the years following World Wars Three and Four, the CRN and the World Government really did minimise so many different potential sources of dissidence. After these latest, unreported attacks, it was felt to be necessary to finally integrate economically the poorer areas of Earth 6 with the other, infinitely more prosperous Earth Zones. The planned message that Mr. O’Neill would script would provide Earth Zone 6 with some hope and meaning. It would eventually offer citizens of Z6 structure for economic growth. Mr. O’Neill would also provide in the message appeal to the disenfranchised homo-sexual individuals in all the main sectors (Earth Zone 2 especially for some reason). These were people who had also been abandoned and isolated religiously. Their rejection and inferred damnation was up until now clear by known scripture and also from Vid Screen messages showing the immorality of the practice.
Jack however was going to help solve these two major dilemmas with one big event. He understood the purpose of the mission, it was simple overall: on the one hand rewrite versions of ancient scripture to show citizens the sacred values and duties of living with Wild Animals and people of early tribes, I.e. the Kuthalu. The other hand was the one he would struggle with more though. It was the section that required him to show how homosexual acts were not an “Abomination” in the eyes of the Prime Lord. He had to somehow write about the compassionate understanding shown by the Prime Lord to many divergent practices, much in the same way he himself had believed that the Hangaard findings in the early 22nd Century had highlighted the acceptability of sex before marriage. The new form of faith, the Central Religious Network had really comprehended the way religious values had to be incorporated with modern means and not vice versa. Televised versions of Pre-Scanned incidents by the CRN had meant that the interjection and clear insights offered by previously new sources of scripture and engagements with the Prime Lord were widely known across the zones. All the major Vid-Screen Channels were of course owned by the CRN. It was fair to say that religion had changed it’s brand spectacularly in the 21st and 22nd Centuries. It had offered to everyone a personalized, constant and brilliantly effective, spiritual assessment. The Network, despite the claims of the World Government was almost certainly the most effective factor in the overall management of citizen behaviour. The World Government still had it’s influence of course and it’s events such as Buy-Day were unavoidable. Both worked in a effective dual manner- the World Government would order an execution and simultaneously to the order the CRN would then powerfully lobby juries and judges about the importance of the Fundamental Human Rights I.e. the right to life, to liberty and to joy. The response from the World Government was always similar however. “We, as citizens, have a right to peace, a right to support and a right to protection of police”. The World Government was beginning to win more cases and a higher moral standing recently, with convictions particularly in regard to gay individuals getting assaulted. The top team of management at the CRN felt that a very serious and influential event would be necessary to re-swing the balance of moral authority back into their books, even it would only be on a temporary basis. The chiefs at the CRN still felt there was an element within the World Government that was yearning to bring back national identities. It was considered by the high officials to be a very dangerous prospect. Indeed it was felt by many at the CRN that the World Government was too keen to give the argument that crimes on Earth across all zones had increased following the removal of the nation state system. That was when the CRN deemed it essential to establish another monumental event, to cement their place in power as the group that truly has made mankind closer than ever to it’s actual God, The Prime Lord and to perfect existence. The argument of no life being possible without the Prime Lord was also persuasive. The power and application of religion was something the Elders of the Network were constantly and desperately assessing. Indeed they made sure the Youngsters keenly monitored Sphere activity to note and hopefully disclaim any false accusations against CRN beliefs. Most of the typed pieces that were noticed when scanning for dissidence were often fairly trivial slides, saying out messages like “The Prime Lord only loves the Rich” and more cynical pieces like “So Zone 3 deserves 4billion points per year, whilst Zone 4 gets 1billion points for a place with more people!- The CRN is unjustly spending the Prime Lord’s bounty”. The messages often had good points but frankly the majority of them were easy to deal with standard replied responses, “The Prime Lord remains with us all in all zones. Forget not that God helps redirect you to your glory. In despair the Prime Lord is there. The Prime Lord is there for all of us”. Youngsters were passing on the concerns they received on the to the Elders at only a small rate, but nevertheless a real sense of concern about the application of the CRN was getting through to the top. After the attacks on stations in Zone 6 it was deemed imperative to create a message that would simultaneously placate some of the worst off individuals in Z6 and would also offer a larger message bemoaning economic injustice that would hopefully spread and lead eventually to full zonal appeal for the Network. The CRN had to be seen to feel all people’s pain. Individuals from the very top of CRN were also desperate to include a Prime Lord account that would show the religious and spiritual acceptability of the practice of same sex couples. If this could happen, and that chap O’Neill could actually deliver a fantastic written account in Z6, then greater stability could be returned and the CRN would re-establish itself as the pre-eminent form of moral knowledge. Frank Adams was well set to meet the bright young writer. After rearranging his wireframe glasses on his sharp bald head, he felt prepared in himself. He knew all he needed to for understanding Mr. O’Neill’s mind. His knowledge of him was set well beyond the psycho-scans that had already taken place, and their earlier conversation of course. The man was probably genius (or a sub norm), but Frank Adams still felt Jack would do the correct thing for the Central Religious Network.
Jack looked out of his heli-pod as the ground flashed past him at high speed. The ground flashed past as a blur of crimson red. He thought about how barren and raw the ground looked. The sheer desertion of life especially prominent after flying past the high rise mega blocks of the rich zones. It looked to all intents and purposes like a red, acrid version of hell on Earth. No wonder so many of the damn people were unhappy in Z6- there was nothing here! He only occasionally glimpsed metal objects that could indicate some life was apparent and even they only looked like large sheds whilst the heli-pod cruised along at a continuing high speed and even higher altitude. Already he was feeling guilty about having his mood pills and his high taste meal. Half of these people must have died of starvation he thought, mood pills would be as much good to them here as a frying pan is to a chicken. The craft felt like it was slowing down, so John prepared for the heavy landing. It didn’t feel as bad strangely as when they had taken off, maybe he was just used to these things now. He kept thinking about the task ahead. What was it that bald guy had said to him?
“I think you know why we have chosen you Mr. O‘Neill, we can only say we have partially chosen you for your lack of faith”.
That last point kept puzzling him. Like so many others he felt closely defined by his faith, and those words ‘we have partially chosen you for your lack of faith’ continued to sting his soul and ring in his ears. He kept trying to physically scan his brain for instances when he had not fully accepted and worshipped the Prime Lord. Surely they can’t be bothered that he still referred to the Prime Lord as God, much in the same way that his ancient predecessors had? God just seemed a more natural way to address such a higher being. The Prime Lord still sounded like some sort of parliamentary position- an integration of the divine into the norm. The thought depressed him- he fully believed that the name of God was the last thing needed to love and worship him. This insistence on a single name for God necessary for the subsequent centralised worship sessions also occasionally worried him. Some days at collective worship he loved the sight of so many divergent individuals sitting, praying and singing together. Other days strangely he longed for the more solitary form of faith, a holy and personal communion with his God, the Prime Lord. He had heard about some Jewish Prime Lord sect buildings, but that wasn’t right for him really. He just didn’t fully fit in with the congregation- but he was always there, he thought. I pray, I sing, I kneel! It bothered him that they wanted someone like him to write the Kathulu gospel. If they were right that he wasn’t the most faithful man, which he guessed was true, then why would the Central Religious Network need a man like him to write for and about the Prime Lord? Walking across the exceptionally low grade heli-port, Jack bought an exorbitantly expensive bottle of water and geared himself mentally for the challenges that would face him. Frank Adams motioned for him to get into the land cruiser by the taxi bay. The bald guy looked like he meant business.
As they sped along in the land cruiser, Frank turned from the front passenger seat and began talking to Jack.
“I am pleased your flight went without incident Mr. O’Neill”
“Yes, I am too” he absently replied.
“We need you to be fully focused on your work, much as you were during the writing of that last book”
Indeed, my written record of heresy he thought. Full proof that he was at least in mind, some kind of modern druid or worse a modern type of atheist.
“Belief in any form is not something we take lightly Mr. O’Neill. If you insist on thinking of yourself as a heretic then continue, but it is of no concern to us”
“Good, that’s good” he replied, still quietly adjusting to the fact that his thoughts were being monitored even without any visible thought scanner.
“I feel now is the time for us to expand upon our intentions. Obviously you have discerned that I am a high figure from the CRN”
“And I would presume you understand our intentions are not to misrepresent what you know of as God”.
He did truly feel that within him, despite their wife stealing behaviour.
“Unfortunately Mr. O’Neill further action was needed to have you focused on creating this event. It was a painful decision. The first part of the message is currently, in political terms at least the most important”
He looked out of the window again, watching the landscape shift along predominantly as sea of red, which he guessed was ironic. He thought he saw the outlines maybe of one of the Z6 cities, possibly Cazid, but he couldn’t be sure.
“As I was saying, the most important task is to show how the Prime Lord is still concerned with the worst off in society and the world at large”.
God as a Marxist, he found that very ironic.
Whoops. “Certainly not Mr. O‘Neill. You will show the Prime Lord’s spirit of concern for the worst off. We know of course that you are well versed in the book of Exodus. You are required to show God, as you would have it, intervening to aid the Kuthulu people when they are at their most oppressed. We toyed with the idea of having a Z1 company being the villains of your story, the metaphorical pharaohs, and showing how they exploited the tribe’s people whilst they were digging by simple tools for valuable and volatile Helium-3 deposits…”
But you didn’t want to upset any rich members he thought, or maybe the Egyptians in Z4.
“No because we don’t want to evoke class problems Mr. O’Neill. I think we can safely say that the re-emergence of class centric ideologies may lead to pseudo national identities being re-established which could lead to another set of catastrophic wars. The price would be far too high, even for the rich”.
He fully agreed with the point. Ideologies were dangerous, his long and personal reading of history had certainly indicated that.
“So, how should I show the Prime Lord intervening. Is this another burning bush situation- or a direct sight of the true form of God, I mean the Prime Lord. You know another floating, gaseous cloud telepathically informing and directing people like with the book of Hangaard?”.
“The latter Mr. O’Neill”.
He thought so.
“We need you to show, the Prime Lord informing the chief of the Kuthulu tribe about the economic potential of the canlas plant”
“You mean the actual canlas plant… as in the basis for all of the major calming mood pills? That must be invaluable”
“Yes of course. We aim via this message to eventually reimburse the Kuthulu people and their common ancestors spread across Z6 with hundreds of billions of points. Per all of their major families as well.”
“What?” He was totally stunned. “The CRN are going to pay thousands of billions of points to individual families within Z6?”
“It is the only way they will be able to rebuild their zone Mr. O’Neill. The Network has felt emotionally compromised too by such a zone. Whilst this is classified Mr. O’Neill we can also inform you that people are feeling and thinking themselves as being falsely virtuous when making certain 10 and 100 point donations to charities representing Z6. We certainly do not intend to falsely lead people morally. A soul lost to misunderstood virtue would be a tragedy for us”
Is charity not a virtue he thought, was it not holy?
“No it is not. I think we need not remind you of all people Mr. O’Neill that pride is a sin”
He was certainly aware of that. Jack understood the man’s point clearly.
The robo-driver then quietly spoke to Frank Adams. They had reached their destination.
Jack looked around his room in the hostel he was stationed in. Sheesh, he thought, he had never seen a room this bad before. Heck even following his gap year travels around some of the more obscure cities in Z4 he had stayed in vastly better places. It was the smell here more than anything. Putrid and repellent, the non-shifting stink of recent animal death was clinging to the air. It was like nothing he dreamed he would ever smell, like smelling your own rotting corpse or a gangrenous limb. They were near a farm on the outskirts of some God forsaken city. He had no idea where exactly in the zone they were, and he didn’t want to know. He just wanted to scan type his words into his laptop and get out of this place. Back to “normality“, he thought. Mr. Adams had shown him to his room and subsequently disappeared. He could have sworn he heard the land cruiser shoot off again, but when he squinted out of the window he could still see it sitting their lazily in the dirt like some sort of dead dog. He was certain that the stranger would revisit, especially when and if his thoughts about God got into trouble. Where to start, where to start? He kept thinking. How on Earth am I going to accurately rewrite something of the magnitude of Hangaard or Exodus he thought? Two years ago I was writing about amorous vampires and about ghosts that lived in schools, and now I need to write about and for the Prime Lord. He started laughing, he just couldn’t help it. Loudly and in a long fashion he blurted out laughter. Oh my goodness, a halfwit of faith, a doubter of the veracity of the Prime Lord filling in his words like some sort of teleprompter! The type his publishing company always made him read from when doing Vid-Screen interviews. It wouldn’t be so simple this time. He couldn’t any longer say “I think that adolescents are often more in tune with emotions and in turn with horror than adults are”. He couldn’t just say “well I think we all know by now about the analogous properties of vampires- the letting of blood, the baring of teeth, the changes in appearance”. He wrote about these things because they had paid him enough to do so, and really what was really the difference now? Would he be writing for Satan if the dark lord had guaranteed him a one million point, three book deal? Yes of course he would. Faith was something interchangeable with life he always believed. Another alien thought came into his mind, ‘That is why you were chosen’.
The first line was nearly always the hardest. Ten variants at least raced through his mind, all competing to be put on the page. There were probably at least two hundred overs although half of them would be predominately utter gibberish. Maybe that is a good point he thought, if God were able to speak directly to us would our semi-monkey brains hear the same nonsense as the caged animals do when living at zoos as we speak to them? Probably. Despite all of the land cruisers and heli-ports and so on, Jack still mainly conceived of humans as animals. Advanced ones mind, the type that smoke pipes and push buttons with pictures of food on them. The preposterous notion that man was built in the Prime Lord’s image had been absolutely shattered by both Hangaard and the late 21st Century new edition of The Bible. It had saddened him that so much of what the ancients believed had been incorrect, yet past scans had seemingly indicated that at least Exodus was true. At least Moses was real. Now he would have to write, to totally make up, a new story similar to that of Moses. The idea still felt insane and he was feeling lost. Something within his mind however registered a salient point- does a story or event have to be real to have a seismic impact? Indeed, does it have to be true? Is art itself real? Since the devastation of the real as exemplified by World War Three and Four, surely greater solace and meaning could be found in the unreal, the made up? He kept thinking about what is and was truly unreal. Most ideas about Jesus had been questioned, yet he was told by the Network that he remained in billions of prayers. Did that then lessen his impact to mankind? Mankind, now there was a contradiction in terms. Kind when blitzed by drugs and monitored by floating mind scanners he thought. Before then man-unkind may have been more apt. Or man-waste perhaps. Jack realized that his basic task was simply to update, or remake in other words, the central story of Exodus. The people of Kuthulu would be freed as well. He could just see now a computer scanned Charlton Heston being animated into a gaseous cloud form, “Let my people go! And give them billions of points”. He laughed quietly this time to himself. Films had taken on a somewhat holier form in the time since past scanning had been advanced. Entertainment films still existed, thankfully, since he had received probably millions off the back of them. This would be a bit different from vampires he thought, or even satirically conceived land owners. The last book which even when writing it felt like a moral departure, had somehow triggered this fantastic opportunity to conceive the words of the Prime Lord. He mused, my doubts are true whilst my faith is false. Another thought came into his mind, ’God is true’.
“People of Kuthulu your hardship on Earth will not go unknown in the afterlife. What has been denied to you now will not be in heaven. Keep faith, love one another as you love your God, and know that, I, the Prime Lord will indeed return to guide and liberate you.” and with that Jack O’Neill put down his Vid-Scan laptop. It had taken a while, especially after scanning the Sphere for all full references of Exodus, both the pre Hangaard and post versions. Following the notes he had made in turn meant the process of writing came surprisingly easily. He felt guilty about the ease of the writing in fact. The thought came to his head that, ’Hey, shouldn’t providing the words of the Prime Lord be harder than that?’ when another alien thought arrived, ’Not if you truly believe’. He felt reasonably satisfied though strangely exhausted. The task, despite being simple, had somehow drained him. It felt like part of his essence was being left on the screen. He thought briefly about when that bald guy, Mr. Adams, would return. He felt a strange urge to show him the work. Stupid monkey-brain need for approval! he mused. Despite all the mind scanning and drugs given, the World Government hadn’t yet worked out how to remove that innate need for approval and reassurance. It certainly hadn’t worked out how to remove the need for hunger. Despite the stench, which his nostrils had now adapted to in the same way that you get used to the smell of a sweaty traveler on public transport, Jack yearned for something, really anything, to eat. He kept envisaging various types of food, both fast and other, and decided to head out of his room to the initially unpromising looking canteen. There was no queue, surprisingly, for the metal trays of brown or grey looking slop. The tray that he guessed contained rice, looked at least three days old, whilst the fruit on display at the end of the line appeared to be some sort of strange insult. The orange sitting there was distinctly not orange, and the feeble attempt at a banana made a mockery of it’s more delicious cousins. Still he asked the lady to fill his plate with rice and brown, and decided upon the one edible looking piece of fruit, the apple. Here comes knowledge he thought, when eventually eating the bruised fruit. His little amusing reference seemed less funny when he saw that Frank Adams was sitting in the corner of the canteen, busily reading from his own Vid-Screen laptop. So he hadn’t left this place yet he thought. Jack hoped that he would go unnoticed, so he could quickly eat this stuff in peace. His fears however were confirmed when Adams motioned for him to come over and eat next to him.
“Your text has been deemed acceptable” he finally said, when looking up from the screen.
“Oh, thanks” Jack instinctively replied.
“You have captured that essence of what we intended to convey through the Kuthulu”.
Relief came over him quickly and soothingly, like frozen peas on a bruised head.
“ I thought you had traveled back to the heli-port” Jack found himself saying.
“No. There is certainly more work to be done Mr. O’Neill”
He remembered about the other hand. The need to integrate same sex couples into the accepted kingdom of God.
“The Prime Lord still, if you would Mr. O’Neill”
He put his thoughts back into order, right indeed, the Prime Lord.
“The last challenge, writing of the Kuthulu was relatively easy. I think you realised early it was essentially just another re-telling of Exodus. This next challenge however Mr. O’Neill is harder. If goes against what so much has been written. Even the New Bible doesn’t contain any passages at all, that I’ve seen at least, justifying or even allowing same sex relationships”. Jack was panicking, the thought came again to him that he wasn’t up for this challenge.
“Mr. O’Neill what do you conceive of the Prime Lord’s love?” Frank Adams asked the question carefully and quietly.
“I don’t know. Perhaps that he loves all of his creation”, he remained confused and anxious.
“But surely other known passages of scripture show that his, the Prime Lord’s, love means he wants creation to perpetuate itself” he quoted “What God hath joined together let man not separate”.
“You are forgetting the gift of liberty Mr. O’Neill” Adams calmly stated.
“Yes, to an extent, we are free to do as we please. But as Hangaard implicated, “Man is not advised to travel across a road blindfolded” There are some things God allows us to do, that he does not fully approve of”.
“Do you believe that God approved of your relationships before marriage Mr. O’Neill?”
He knew where the bald guy was coming from.
“No, I suppose not. I understand what you are saying”
“I feel you do not Mr. O’Neill”.
“Let me try to understand” He interrupted, somewhat impatiently. “I think you are saying there isn’t a great hierarchy of sins, and that my sexual pre- marriage activities are comparable to homosexual acts”, Jack felt offended again, hey they did pick me for a reason he thought, despite his not full beliefs.
“Perhaps I underestimated you Mr. O‘Neill, you let on more than your mind indicates”.
This man thinks beyond the monkey-brain Jack thought. Still it was going to be far harder to convey the message about the Prime Lord’s relative acceptance of sins, than his intervention to help the worst off members of the global society.
“Mr. O’Neill, this isn’t about the acceptance of sins, but the acceptance of choice. Your decision to engage in sexual intercourse before pledging your relationship to God was not a modern one. The choice of intimate relationships between consenting adults is one we believe the Prime Lord is accepting of”
Jack was confused, “So you are saying that it’s ok to be gay?”
“That is the correct message”.
Meeting this man, first on the Vid-Screen and alarmingly in person, Jack had quickly realised that that this bald gentlemen from the Network had totally changed his beliefs and conception of the Prime Lord forever.
Despite his initial reservations about the second part of the job, Jack had found that the words began to flow easily.
“Let it be known that the almighty judgment of I, the Prime Lord, is not based on mankind’s created morality, but on the infinite existence of law. Those who love one another, shall not be judged if this love is true”.
When the final word was placed on screen, Jack felt a comparable surge of relief to the last encounter with the Prime Lord he had written. Questions of course still remained. Surely there must be comparable events to past scan? Surely I am blaspheming and guilty of sin to provide the words of the Prime Lord? What if they at the Network are wrong about homosexual relationships? What if Frank Adams isn’t part of the Network and was somehow part of a conspiracy that aimed to discredit the one true global religion left and to ensure the moral high ground remained with the World Government? He took a deep breath and calmed himself down. He believed that this work was genuine. He thought that indeed overall, the true meaning and values of the Prime Lord may not be accurately conveyed by past scans. True meaning from the Prime Lord may not have fully filtered down to Earth yet and indeed he may have been instructed by the Network to find it. He heard a knocking on his door and got up from his rickety, hard bed to see who was there.
Unsurprisingly it was Adams.
“Right Mr. O’Neill we know you have finished and we know that the work is of a sufficient standard”.
Sufficient, he thought bitterly, that’s all you require for the word’s of the Prime Lord.
“Please follow me out to the land cruiser. We greatly hope that if you ever have to return to this part of Earth, there will far more superior facilities to stay in. Resources have been already began to be allocated for the distribution of the billions of points”.
“So it is actually happening” Jack said, still somewhat surprised that Z6 would actually be getting some investment and more importantly, fair treatment. Whilst walking towards the land cruiser he thought, hell, even Las Vegas must have looked a bit like this place at some time. London briefly did following World War Four.
They approached the cruiser.
“You’re assistance has been invaluable Mr. O’Neill”, Adams warmly stated.
“No problem, just put the points in my account”- the money obviously still mattered to Jack, but he couldn’t shake the other feeling of exaltation that his words would be used to represent the Prime Lord. That feeling was probably predominant despite the continuing sadness he felt for the loss of his wife.
Frank Adams continued his special trick of interrupting his thoughts accurately,
“I hope in the end Jack that your words represent more than just what the Network would like the Prime Lord to say
“In what way?” Jack quietly asked, feeling a very strange but undeniable sensation of his guts dropping down to his feet.
“Do I have to spell it out Jack?” Frank Adams asked.
No he didn’t. Jack knew then, possibly he had known from the first moment he saw Frank Adam’s angular, intelligent head and wireframe glasses. He understood that all along he had actually been talking to God.
The alien thought interjected again- You know that the Prime Lord was a necessary creation to prevent further international war don’t you Jack?
“Yes” he said out loud. The reading of his thoughts without a visible scanner at any point had always been suspicious. Frank Adams settled himself into the front of the land cruiser and instructed the robo-driver to take them back to the heli-port. At that point that point Jack realised he had known all along. He had been chosen to provide the words of God and not the Prime Lord, whatever that was. Whilst cruising off through the currently barren, empty and until then presumably God-less Zone 6, Jack sat back and thought to himself that the greatest act of God known was to sacrifice himself to the World. Neither Frank Adams nor any alien voice interrupted to disagree with him.