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Feb 14, 2021

Christian Fiction

On Friday last, a story came up on a newsfeed.  A tsunami brought on by 9.4 earthquake, had ravaged the Gaza strip, such as the Middle East hadn't seen in years. In the city of Jerusalem, however, bigger news was on the event horizon.  Bioengineers were revealing an algorithmic entity that was human in every way, from the complex emotional dramas that make up a life experience, to the firing neurons that create and destroy thoughts and ideas in the flash of a nanosecond.  When brought online, the first artificial human being will be born, biologically human in every way.  The truth is, however, it won't be one hundred percent human.  Every human being, ever born, is infused with something science cannot create.

     “I’ve been called an old soul.  In my life I’ve seen the rise and fall of many powerful men.  I thought I believed in love. You know the romantic love, boy meets girl and all that. That's what love always had been. There was no other love. I’ve sat by, while millions died at the hands of the adversary of mankind.  I cried while I saw my babies grow up, and marry, have children of their own, and watched these grandchildren have grandchildren.  I’ve buried 23 wives and countless friends.  All of which I loved. I really loved. I really, honestly thought I loved. All of these loves, hundreds of individual loves, but none like this one. The one love, I didn't even recognize. For decades and centuries, I kept my mind focused on what love was. What love is. I've been through countries and empires, through gods and men who proclaimed to be god. I've seen artists demand the love thatonly a god would demand. In history, I’ve gone by many names, including St. Germain, Sir Galahad, Nicolas Flamel, to name just a few.  I’ve tried to escape this mortal coil, by all means possible.  From guns that misfire, to heroin that I shot straight into my heart, only to be brought to the brink of death’s sweet release, and saved by the miracle of God’s love.  Why would I try to end the life that I know God has given me?  Why would I spit in the face of the author of life?  Many years ago, I went to work, just like I had a thousand times before. I worked for the most powerful man in the world and wanted for nothing.  My life was planned out for me, from the time I was a young boy.  One day, I crossed paths with a special man, his eyes spoke to me in a language I understood as my own, but was one of a deep, all-encompassing blanket of secure love, one that changed not only my life, but the life I have been witnessing ever since that moment. There is a tale that was written down that God's one true love will return when the well of souls is full.  When all the love that is able to be transferred to, and washed through the nuts and bolts of man, has reached its own inevitable completion, and the loop is met and tied together in a bow. So today, I am praying to the God I have come to love and worship since that fateful day, for this absolute uncreation to be born.  Without a soul."

     It had been many years since the man born Cartaphilus had his first job, and purpose that fell in line with the good of the state run government. At that time, he worked for the governor of a small, albeit, historically significant, province in the north eastern boundary of what was the known world. His boss worked for the leader of the free world.  He was considered a company man, he did what he was told he did it on time and he checked in and checked out just the way he was supposed to do. It was one weekend however the cartaphilus had a situation that a man comes upon once in a lifetime. Not even once in a lifetime, but once in a world history lifetime. 

      On this particular week, he was told by his governor to make sure that the person that he was guarding was taken to the correct place at the correct time. And that meant going to the temple, which had an ulterior motive for this particular prisoner. You see this prisoner, with someone that no one in the town wanted to deal with, was just another ne’er do well; someone who is making too much noise at the wrong time and the wrong place.  For Cartaphilus,  the Map Maker, or Charty as his friends called him, this was just another work a day job.  He started this week as any other.  He checked with his wife to see if there was anything pending that needed to be taken care of immediately, but, in truth, it was all lip service.  Unless she said, God Himself needed to speak to him, he would just nod as she laid out a litany of tasks and chores, as he ingested every third or fourth word.  Charty agreed , kissed his children and made his way to work.  Business was business, and business was a tough one.  It required sending people off to their death at times.  He was just following orders.

There was a small gathering around the square, the head speaker Thomas, was spreading the news of a brand new political message, one that wasn't especially popular.   At this time, anything that didn't follow suit of the norm, was considered radical, much like it always has been.  Thomas ran with a crowd of long haired, young, disillusioned, like-minded men,  and a few women.  Their campaign focused more on overthrowing the powers that be, while simultaneously trying to meld their philosophy with that of their parents and grandparents.   Anyway, for what it was worth,  Charty was fed up with it.  Not just this particular splinter liberalism, but all of it.  The system he worked within, was steady and proven.   Of course, there was a time for change, but not now.  Carty had just so many years on this planet, and his allegiance was to the man in charge, whomever that was.  As he passed the crowd,  he caught a few words of what Thomas was saying. 

     "Listen to what I am saying.  The time is now.  I know that for years, we have gathered and brought to you  ideas that seemed radical or even new.  How many times have you seen someone like me promising you a brighter tomorrow and a new world order that would take us into consideration?  I know you are thinking, 'here we go again,'  or 'how much is this going to cost me?'  Well, I'm here to tell you this is not about your money or your lower taxes or even more food in your storefront.   No, today, I bring you what was promised to you,  and what was promised to your father and his father before him…"  Carty stopped for a moment,  sighed and blinked slowly, then turned up the road to continue to the governor's palace.  The skies were dark, Carty wanted a short day and get home before the storm. 

     Carty swore by his job and did what he was told to do.  Something inside him told him he was meant for more.  This work a day life had been played in every possible key.  He was meant for more, to do something big, an act of grandiosity that would be remembered past the memories of his grandchildren.  These thoughts were with him everyday.  From the time he saluted his way into the guard station, until he sat with his feet soaking, and a carafe of wine in his hand, his father in law would drink with him, and tease him.  "You have good work, and a family who loves you, what more do you need?"  But Carty wasn't greedy.   He didn't want to be in charge of the city or the head supervisor.   His dream was to be remembered,  and he swore, all those nights he drank alone, that he will not die until he makes his mark on this damned world.   He swore on his eternal soul, that, "I shall not die, until I am remembered, for the rest of the world to recall my name, Cartaphilus:  the man who did something special."

     Carty worked most weeks with his best friend Longini.  Like him, Longini had a position in the governor's palace.  Longini shared Carty's ambition to an extent, but was more than happy to move quietly up the ladder of success, retire with a nice piece of land, and die without any fanfare.   They talked about their boss, as workers do, explaining how much better they would run things, and how the working man should be better compensated.   It was lip service, and a very male thing to do.  They both would end the banter feeling as if they had made a better point than the other, and forgot all about it until it was brought up again the next time. 

     On one specific Thursday, they received orders to escort three prisoners to the courts for sentencing.  Carty was tasked with picking up one of them, while Longini was sent to entrap a bunch of cohorts who were complicit in the arrest.   The one insurgent had been speaking against the ruling power under the governor's office, and required only an escort,  as he was a nonviolent protestor.  Carty was sent to him, while Longini and several others rounded up a few of the more vocal and militant.  Near the square, Carty came up on Longini, who had shackled three of the high ranking men in this coup.  As they nodded hello, Carty recognized Thomas from earlier, and listened to him as he pleaded with his captor Longini.  The one led by Carty looked over at Thomas and then into Carty's eyes and said:

"Perhaps you think that I have come to practice here.  But what you do not know is really  that I mean to stir up dissension." Carty stopped him from saying anymore.  "You can't talk like that.  Not here, not now."  The man answered, "It must be here and now, for if I don't, how will anything change?"  Carty spoke, "You're bordering on sedition here.  What exactly did you do to have me involved?  You weren't that guy that busted up the house of worship,  were you?"  "That was no house of worship, that was a mockery of a house of worship.   That was just the beginning."  Carty was visibly upset.  That kind of talk went against everything he believed in, politically and personally.   The Republic was sacred.   Everytime some new liberal thinker got a few people to listen, this bullshit started all over again.  Carty thought of all of his children, and how many hours he was working the way a man is supposed to work.  Then there was this group of layabouts, doing a lot of talking, and no working.  Did they even pay their taxes, he wondered.  Longini was a few feet away, so Carty looked and shouted over to him, "Longini, look at this.  He took his prisoner by the hair, and yelled, "That's enough of this.  Now get your ass up and move.   Quickly, move your ass!" The injured man tried to steady his way to his feet, and gazed up at Carty.  "I said fucking MOVE!!!"  He pushed him forward which only served to land him face down in the dirt.  

The man’s eyes watered over kindly, but with stern judgement.  "I'm going.  But you can stay."

Carty smirked, "Oh, really, I can stay?  Well isn't that generous of you?  Now, get up and keep moving.”  Carty left the prisoner with the guard on duty, his friend Logini, and told him he was finishing at midday, for he had a three hour walk home.  

     Carty slept through what turned out to be quite an afternoon.  He dreamt of that man he forced to move when he was unable.   His heart hurt a bit.  This happened from time to time, when he felt some sort of way for a prisoner.   Time would heal the guilt.  The power he was given over those he led to the gallows, would bother him.   There was a direct proportion of guilty feelings to the actual guilt of the person being crucified.   But time was all he needed. Time was all he had.

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