With great power comes great responsibility.
It was Marcus Brown’s favorite. He’d never told anyone, of course; being a pastor, your most treasured quote was supposed to be from the Bible, and he told people it was; different verses from Revelation, usually, or if people were starting to catch on he’d switch to John or 1st Peter.
Marcus Brown was a gray-haired white man with a blonde-haired white wife who ran one of the biggest megachurches in the country. Before the notorious coronavirus pandemic, the huge main auditorium seated thousands of churchgoers, their eyes drawn to stagelights shining upon the pulpit where Marcus inevitably stood, a sweaty hand resting on the pages of his highlighted Bible.
2020 had changed all that. Church must be participated in virtually, or not at all. Marcus hated the lockdowns, and after a year of struggling through livestreaming services with his wife from their mansion, he demanded that church reopen to at least half capacity. In 2021, it did so, despite the quite obvious fact that not a single person in that entire congregation had any intention of getting vaccinated.
Including Marcus. And he was seventy-five.
2022. Most citizens in the general population had received the vaccine. The obvious outliers were much of the country’s religious, sharing, on Facebook, their very reliable stories of sterilization and microchips and autism all from, of course, the COVID-19 vaccine.
2022, and by some miracle from God or otherwise, Marcus’ megachurch was back at it in full capacity. Funnily enough, the new livestreams of in-church services were also drawing old viewers from home, and even new viewers from around the globe—Marcus’ numbers were skyrocketing. And he loved it.
2022, and Marcus was becoming richer. He was formulating a plan.
2023, and the plan was finished.
With great power comes great responsibility.
“Ready?” Marcus’ blonde-haired wife straightened his tie and brushed nonexistent dust off the shoulders of his stiff royal blue suit. “You’re gonna do great, sweetie. Good luck!”
Marcus, holding his Bible, peered onto the stage. The last of the worship team’s members was exiting through the other side. Marcus took a deep breath and stepped out.
Immediately, rounds of applause.
Marcus smiled and strolled to the pulpit. He set his Bible down and opened it near the end, then took a quick swig from the fresh Fiji water bottle that was inevitably in the pulpit. He cleared his throat, conscious of the beige-colored microphone wire arching around his right cheek, and began.
“Brothers and sisters.” He spread his hands out wide, greeting the audience. “For many years now I have had the extreme honor and great privilege of serving in the position of Lead Senior Pastor at this fine establishment. I have experienced joys and pains, love and heartbreak, and you all know that when one of you suffers, I bear that hardship myself. I am acquainted with at least several of you personally, and to our online audience”—here Marcus looked directly into the camera on the floor broadcasting his sermon—“know that, although your chosen method of attending church may seem lazy or cowardly to some, that we here in this assembly truly do appreciate your overwhelming awareness of the pandemic still going on right now. Although I know you will all agree, brothers and sisters, when I say the true pandemic is one of fear.”
Hundreds of heads nodded and murmured in agreement.
“So, brothers and sisters, before we begin today’s sermon, I have an announcement for you all. No, I’m not stepping down,” Marcus said hastily, followed by his own awkward, hacking laugh, “but even if I were it would make no difference. You see, church—we are in the end times. Now.”
Thousands of people stirred. Hundreds began to exclaim, directing their talk both at Marcus and at God and the rest at who-knows-who. Marcus cleared his throat in a hope to quiet the congregation. Somehow, it mostly worked.
Marcus began making uninterpretable gestures with his wrinkled, hairy hands. “Brothers and sisters, look around you. What do you see? Everyone has become faceless behind the guard of a mask; people are rioting in the streets, breaking windows of storefronts and trying to evoke chaos on our law enforcements; and even the very world itself is burning down, forests and towns alike going underneath the devil’s fiery flame. What could this not be, other than the very end of our days?”
Marcus took a brief pause to choke down some more Fiji water. He didn’t replace the bottle’s cap before continuing.
“Look in the Good Book, brother and sisters. What do you see? Does it not sound like a description of our very world right now? Love of self is becoming increasingly important, and people are becoming increasingly selfish. You see it as well as I that sexual immorality is becoming normalized.” Maria glanced to the side for a few seconds, a look of fabricated sadness in his eyes. “Everywhere you turn, the world is full of evils. And in fact, brothers and sisters, in fact—”
Marcus took a deep breath and once more faced the audience. “The Lord has come to me in a dream. He has told me when the Rapture is to happen. When the end of the world will commence. And it is this week.”
An explosion of noise louder than anything Marcus’ beige microphone could transmit erupted from all over the church. The balcony, the front row—everywhere people were arguing, babbling, a few were even sobbing and pulling out their phones.
Thankfully, the sound crew took care of everything. From the tech booth came the screeching sound of feedback, and it took only a few seconds for even the most heated to quiet down.
“Brothers and sisters.” Marcus sighed heavily, as if what he was saying pained him deeply. “It will be on Friday. This Friday. This Friday will be the end of the world.”
He paused, expecting people to start shouting at him again, but amazingly, everyone was silent.
“There is much to do, brothers and sisters, to ensure your salvation. Contact your loved ones, of course, and do all you can to bring them to the Lord. But as for all of you--” Marcus once again spread his arms out towards them. “We must prepare.”
Is this actually going to work? I have an enormous influence, yes, and I’m the world’s most well-known pastor since Billy Graham. But will they believe me?
“The things of this world will fall away, brothers and sisters. Money, fortune, fame--none of it will any longer matter. The best thing we can do, right now, is to put our resources towards helping those who need it. So, brothers and sisters, can you see what must be done?”
Again, the congregation stirred.
“You must give up your money. Keep what you need for the following week, of course; but the rest of it you’ll never need or even be able to use.”
Marcus cleared his throat. The huge projector behind him displayed a slide, mostly blue, with a dizzying QR code and a link to his website. “Brothers and sisters, I urge you, donate to the Marcus Brown Foundation. Being a man of the Lord, I know what is his will, and what he would have me do with any money we intake. Your hard-earned dollars will go to the best use that they’re able to, under me care, and we must act in speed now that the end times are upon us.”
Marcus sighed--he seemed to be fond of doing that--and gazed out at his audience. “Brothers and sisters, I implore you to visit my website and contribute all that you can--the end of the world is nipping at our very heels, and we must do everything in our power to--to--” Marcus cleared his throat. “To help those who need it most. Thank you for your time.” Marcus hurriedly closed his Bible and speedwalked behind the stage.
With great power comes great responsibility.
The money came flowing in. From everywhere. From Australia, to Canada, to Thailand, to the States, to places in Africa Marcus was shocked were fully-fledged countries, previously having been under the impression that Africa itself was a country and not an entire continent--more and more money streamed into Marcus’ hands. At first he had been surprised that people were so willing to believe him, but as time went on, Marcus told himself he understood. The world was gullible, and hysterical, and weak, and they needed someone they could trust. Marcus, naturally, was that someone.
By Wednesday, the total amount of money in the Marcus Brown Foundation’s bank account was over four and a half hundred million. And every second, by dozens and by thousands, it grew.
Marcus and his wife stayed up that night, staring at a bright computer screen at 11:59 p.m. Before the clock hit midnight, their numbers reached seven hundred million, eight hundred and twenty-three thousand, five hundred and forty-nine.
Marcus and his wife sighed. He shut off their computer and took a final look around the near-empty halls of their mansion. He smiled.
“Well, my dear, are you ready to go into hiding?”
With great power comes great responsibility.
His wife nodded.
And that’s what they did.
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I thought it was cool that the main character was a villain. You told your story in a way not many others would have thought of. Also, I thought it was amazing that you used real world topics and you exposed true things about churches. Sure, many churches are good places where people can practice their religion, but there are other churches that are extremely corrupt. They focus on money and not what a church was meant to be, a religious place where you can learn how to be a good person. I liked this story a lot!
ahh thank you!! yeah no matter what religion you’re in there are people that will be hypocritical and try to exploit it so always keep your eyes peeled 👁👄👁
okay, okay, okay. *pause for breath* a few things: 1. bad title. really, really horrible title. help? :S 2. i can understand how this might like offend or confuse some ppl or like cause controversy i guess--i doubt it will, since everyone here is so wonderful--but if you have like anything against this story or me or whatever, that's fine, it's cool, just lmk :D
Believe it or not... I actually liked this story. :) It's well written, complete with realistic details that really made the piece come to life when I read it. Such as Marcus drinking Fiji water--that one made me smirk. The plot is also entertaining, and drew me in as soon as I started reading. Like any good lie, it has just enough of the truth in it to make it sound plausible, but that one twist of falsehood that makes it fiction. My commendations; you have written a truly believable story. But now let's get into the real meat of this crit...
ahh okay first off, THANK YOU for taking the time to read my story and leave this comment haha :D i pretty much agree with everything you said except: "Except for the more recent parts of history, your spouse was largely chosen by your parents. Your parents and the spouse's parents would come together and discuss the implications of the marriage, how the two people involved would mix, and, in high class families, the business tactics of such an arrangement. And then, once you were married, that was it; no going back. We have replaced that wi...
So, I'll answer your questions one by one. First, do I believe in arranged marriage. This one is simple; arranged marriage is neither right nor wrong. I believe that for most people, God has a partner already arranged for you--someone set up specifically to be your perfect match. Now, this doesn't mean that you'll key into that, or that they will, but the Bible clearly tells us that God has a plan for our lives, and that it is a good one. In this way, God has an arranged marriage ready for all of us, synonymous with the arranged marriage be...
ok, so i disagree with some of the stuff you said, but since i don't have the mental energy to type out a viable response, and since i've seen how quickly online conversations can spiral into debates (and hoo boy, i've had several of those that, looking back on, i'm very not-proud of), and since i usually type in all-lowercase, anyways, and that's not very professional, i think i'm just going to end it here by saying, i'm not really going to respond, but i respect your opinion, and thank you for your comment :)
Hello! I see you wrote a lot and I respect that you took the time to write your opinons and explain them. But, I have a question about one of the things you said. No, I am not trying to start an argument, I am only asking because you said “don’t stop asking questions” and I want to be educated about the arguments people have, even when they disagree with me. You can never solve a conflict if you don’t know both sides of the story, and I want to know how others think so I can better understand them. I never want to start an argument, so you t...
okay, since i’m not adept at technology i’m not sure whether you were asking me or leo, but the short answer is: there are verses in the bible that condone homosexuality. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146107915577097?journalCode=btba (i literally just googled that lmao but i knew there were beforehand) i’m not saying what i think about the matter—it’s actually kind of confusing to me and i just kind of think everyone can live their life—but i do believe that gay marriage shouldn’t be illegal and also that lgbt+ people deser...
(This is aimed mostly toward Leo, and a little bit toward Inkstained Introvert. Sorry if it is a bit confusing as to who I’m referring to) Hey, I’m just joining the conversation because I have a few things to say. First of all, you are obligated to your own opinions and beliefs. I am also not trying to start arguments or anything, just putting a few of my thoughts in. Keep in mind, I am also not an expert on any of these topics and I might be wrong about several of the topics I’m writing about. (I also respect that you took the time to wri...
hey, i totally, totally agree with everything you said in the fourth paragraph. whether or not a person has a penis or a vagina doesn't have any affect on their confidence, determination, or even strength--there are plenty of women who are stronger than men in multiple ways. in my experience, some christians are often the ones enforcing gender stereotypes like that women must always be quiet and never have power and that it's weak for a man to cry or display emotion (which, by the way, is sexism against MEN. feminists are fighting to end all...
Yes! I totally agree with you! :)
HOLY FRICK THAT IS NEARLY 2K WORDS WHEN YOU SAY “I leave honest, detailed critiques!!” YOU FREAKING MEAN IT But I do disagree with half of what you said but I’ve already ranted about homophobic-essy and Christianity way too much in the past day so I honestly don’t have the energy to respond dddddddd BUT 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈