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CRUCIFIXION RELOADED

CRUCIFIXION RELOADED

FIRST PUBLISHED IN 2011

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

No part of this publication may be reduced, stored in or introduced into a

retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic,

mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written

permission of the copyright owner.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are

the product of the author‘s imagination or are use fictitiously, and any

resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events,

or locales is entirely coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via

any other means without the permission of the copyright owner is illegal and

punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do

not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your

support of the author‘s right is appreciated.

FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO

crucifixionreloaded@gmail.com.

To Jamey and all those who ever suffered from bullying, to

Györgyi Tarcali and Hannah Remmel for all their help, to Lady

Gaga for being born this way.

THE BIRTH

Sally‘s Gospel

Sally stopped in the middle of the bustling bazaar to find out

that she had lost her way. Men and women hurried by her

heading towards their own destination without noticing her. She

walked to the palm trees growing in the corner of the square to

find refuge from the scorching southern sun. A wind awoke,

blowing sand from the desert encircling the city. All she knew was

that she was somewhere close to the equator, a word she had just

learned from her mother. She stopped in the shade of the trees

and felt much better.

She sat down and started drawing in the sand. Her parents told

her to wait wherever she was if they were to lose each other, so

Sally being a good girl, obeyed. Restlessness was awakening

inside her, but she tried not to pay attention to it. Minutes flew by

slowly sinking into boredom, so when a tiny black bug appeared,

digging itself out from beneath the sand and hurrying away

toward a side alley, Sally rejoiced. The bug scampered away with

its black armor glistening in the light. An urge awoke in her that

compelled her to follow it. As she distanced herself from the

bazaar, the voices gradually subsided behind her. Underneath the

silence, she heard a continuous high-pitched whistle, the sound of

the sun shining down onto the world.

―Wait for me, Mr. Bug. Don‘t leave me alone,‖ she said.

The bug didn‘t seem to listen and continued its fleet away from

the giant that was larger than the sun itself.

5

Sally looked up at the buildings lining the alley, so different

than the ones at home. It seemed to her that they were made of

the sand itself, growing out of the ground, simple cubes, differing

only in height. The alley gradually grew narrower until she

couldn‘t even spread her arms. Wooden crates blocked the way,

and the bug disappeared beneath them. Through the silence, a

voice emerged, speaking in English with a strange and somewhat

comical accent.

―Hiz child iz comming, bi pripered, de time haz com for hiz

return. All sinnerz show repent before itz too late…‖

There was something strange in the man‘s voice, and the

curiosity bugging Sally didn‘t leave her alone. She grabbed the top

of the bottom box and pulled herself up then climbed onto the top

one to jump down to the other side. As she approached the end of

the alley, the voice of humanity reemerged from the silence.

It was the confidence with which the man spoke that attracted

Sally, not his words. Sally stepped out of the hidden alley onto a

busy road with tourists streaming in all directions like ants in

delirium.

The source of the voice appeared, a man standing on top of a

crate. The potato bag he was wearing was his sole garment. He

was bald and his skull shined as the drops of sweat reflected the

beams of the sun beating down onto the world persistently. His

beard flowed down onto the pavement and was covered with

sand. His eyeballs protruded a little, and his left one remained

still. He gesticulated wildly with his arms. His thin legs quivered

as they balanced on top of the box. As he spoke, he jumped on

and off the crate constantly pointing toward the sky and begging

the passers-by to listen.

―Bevaaaare,‖ he screamed. ―Birdz fall from the vild blue yonder,

floodz destroying whole cities, eartquakes shatter face of earth

and cause nucler pover plants to seep poison into Godz zoil! The

end is near. He vill return to destroy the sinnerz and bring the

pure onez to heaven!‖

She looked at the adults hurrying away and didn‘t understand

why they weren‘t listening to the warnings of this poor,

disgruntled man.

―Fase the sky and show ripent. You hav bin varned.‖

Sally did as she was told. She looked right into the burning sun,

and she could see something moving. The sun expanded for a

6

moment as an old man standing on a cloud dashed out of it. Sally

rubbed her eyes as her sight gradually returned.

Two officers stepped to the man, one of them talking to the

beggar in a language so different than her own, like magic words

of an ancient spell. Sally only understood one word, a name,

John, or at least this is what she thought she had heard.

―Offizer, I cannot remain silent. The Mezziah is comming to the

vorld. Angel told me.‖

Sally believed John. Miracles do happen, angels exist, anything

is possible.

The policeman spoke, and John answered, ―The end of the

vorld is near, I varn vorld to be prepared.‖

The officer placed his hand onto John who pushed it away, but

the policeman did not give up and grabbed his arm once more,

forcing it behind his back this time, making John kneel to the

ground.

―Leave alone,‖ screamed John as he tried to break free, but the

policeman reached for his handcuffs and closed them with a click

around his wrist.

―Don‘t do this to me. Leave alone,‖ he shouted once more.

The officer pushed John down the alley. Everything slowed

down except for Sally and John whose head turned around

unnaturally. Sally could hear as his vertebral column snapped

until his face looked at Sally while his body faced the opposite

direction.

―The Mezziah is coming, Zally, be prepared,‖ said John.

Sally fell to the ground and started crying, not because she was

scared but because she knew that the beggar was right, and no

one was listening to his warnings.

Sally felt hands grab her waist and raise her into the air. She

opened her eyes and saw her father.

―Oh my God, Sally. I told you to wait for us wherever we lost

each other and not to wonder off.‖

Sally was happy to see her father, but the tears pouring down

her face were for the joy of something else.

―Sweetheart, don‘t cry. Everything will be alright. I‘m here, no

one will hurt you.‖

―I know, father…‖ she said sobbing.

―Then what‘s the matter?‖

Sally‘s father placed his daughter down, caressed her soft hair,

and hugged her one more time.

7

―No, everything is fine.‖

―Then why are you crying?‖ he said with a look of concern.

―I‘m just happy,‖ she said as her stream of tears dried out. She

smiled in a way that only those can who see the golden gates of

heaven opening.

―Me too, darling, me too,‖ said her father and was glad that he

had found his daughter.

―The Mezziah is coming, father, the Mezziah is returning.‖

―The what? Where did you learn this word?‖

―He is coming, father…‖

―Of course, sweetheart,‖ said her father but didn‘t care to

understand the true meaning of her words.

Angela‘s Gospel

―In which room?‖

―In room 101. The first one to the left,‖ said Angela looking at

the college student blush and hurry away. She sat back behind the

counter. The next donor would come in about an hour, and

Angela knew that she could take her well-deserved nap soon. The

door closed behind the student, and she was left alone. The rays

of the sun shone through the glass facade and were reflected by

the white tiles of the entrance hall.

A car sped away before the center, disrupting the stillness like a

stone falling into the pond. It took time for Angie to settle once

more.

The door of room 101 opened a few minutes later, and the

college student appeared, placing the cup bearing his semen onto

the platter on the other side of the waiting room. A hand reached

out through the window, and the little cup disappeared. The

college student stopped by the counter, and Angie gave him the

money. The boy hurried away with a look of both embarrassment

and pride as the entrance doors closed behind him silently.

Angela sat back into her seat and lay back, enjoying the

coolness of the air-conditioner. She pushed herself away from the

desk and stopped the chair so that she could stare out one of the

huge tinted windows that covered the front of the center, the

surface facing the outside a mirror, the one facing Angela a see-

through window. The leaves of the palm trees lining the beach

moved as a gust of wind rushed away heading toward the body-

filled beach.

8

Everything was white in the center giving the place an air of

optimistic futurism, not only the tiles but the rows of plastic

chairs, her uniform, and desk too.

She closed her eyes as the rays caressed her face, just the way

her mother did every night when Angela was a child. Years after

her death Angie could still hear her mother humming, and the

tune soothed her.

Angie heard the entrance doors slide open, and her eyelids

sprung apart abruptly, pretending as if she had just rested her

eyes for a second and nothing more, but she didn‘t see anyone.

She was very good at this, imitating work. Being a single mother

is never easy and work was the only place where she could

compensate the deprived sleep caused by the midnight feedings

and diaper changes. A gust of wind blew through the open doors

bringing the whisper of the palm trees inside, words Angie could

not decipher. The entrance slid shut.

She lay back in her leather chair once more. She felt her eyelids

grow heavy, and no matter how hard she tried, she could not keep

them open. Suddenly she saw something that made her jump to

the window. This would be a memory that would haunt her until

the end of her life because she would never be able to decide

whether what she saw was real or just a daydream.

A man standing on a tiny cloud descended from the sky. His

white hair flowed in the wind just like the millions of rivers

running all around the globe, emphasizing his eyes the color of all

the oceans, and in revitalizing contrast with his nose similar to

the rugged mountains covering the face of the world. As he

grinned, his soft lips, like the pillows of the boudoir of the

fanciest, most delectable courtesan of the Moulin Rouge, enclosed

playfully his white teeth radiating like the glaciers of the north.

His beard made of clouds cascaded to the ground. As he hopped

off the tiny cloud, his white toga swayed a little, uncloaking his

dark brown leather sandals.

The door slid open, and the man entered. He opened his mouth

to speak with a voice like the thunder of an infuriated storm. ―Is

this a sperm donor center?‖

―Yes. May I help you?‖ asked Angela still thinking she was

dreaming.

―I believe I have an appointment.‖

―This is impossible, our next guest arrives in forty minutes, I

just checked.‖

9

―Then check again,‖ he said gesturing at the list of names.

―Randy is the name.‖

Angela sat back into her leather seat, shaking her head. She

reached for the notebook, opened it, then followed her index

finger down the list of names and stopped. She couldn‘t believe

her eyes. She saw Randy, just the forename, written down on the

paper with her own handwriting. She looked back at this unlikely

citizen with bewilderment.

―But..but…this is impossible…‖

―What is it, Angela? Don‘t you believe your own eyes?‖

―There must be a logical explanation to this, there always is.‖

―In this you are absolutely right,‖ said the man looking around.

―I‘m sorry, this is my first time in a place like this. Could you

please show me around?‖

―Of course…of course,‖ she said scratching her head.

Angie stood up and showed him the way. They entered into

room 101. There was a white bed in the corner, a television on a

simple desk before it, and a bookshelf at the opposite side. As

Angela changed the sheets quickly, she continued, ―Here are our

magazines to help you concentrate. We have all sorts of

magazines and videos, heterosexual, gay, lesbian, S&M,

transvestite, foot fetish, everything. Choose whichever suits you.

No one will be watching, so have fun. Here is the cup that you

must try to fill, and that‘s it.‖

―Thank you very much,‖ said the old man.

Angela hurried back to her seat feeling as if she were losing grip

of reality, dreading that she was turning insane. She turned back

toward the window. The tiny little cloud the man had arrived with

was still hovering before the center.

She shook her head and faced the endless sea in the distance

when she noticed that the light outside was changing. Angela

looked up at the sun to see it was sparkling, its blinding surface

shimmering like glitter. The sun began to tremble, faster and

faster, until it shook out of control. The men and women passing

by seemed unaware. The sun began to whirl round and round,

then it stopped and exploded. For a second Angela went blind,

but as her sight returned, she saw glitter covering the sky. The

millions of tiny specks sank to the ground only to disappear

before scintillating on the pavement for a few seconds.

An opening door disrupted Angela‘s amazement. She turned

around and saw the old man emerge. He had the placid

10

expression of someone right after sex, an otherworldly calmness.

His wisps of hair rose into the sky. The cup he was holding was

filled with a fluid that twinkled like the sun a few moments

before. The man placed the cup down onto the platter and walked

by Angie giving her a wink. Ting. The doors slid open. He jumped

onto the cloud, rose to the sky, and flew towards the sun that

expanded and gobbled him up.

Angela scratched her head not knowing what to do or how to

react. She then sat back behind her desk and vowed to sleep

more.

Mary‘s Gospel

―You will feel something cold enter, but apart from that you

shouldn‘t feel anything unpleasant. If you do, speak up.‖

Mary lay back and tried to relax. She looked into Josephine‘s

worried hazel eyes and smiled. Even in-between the present

circumstance Mary was the stronger one. She felt the cold

instrument touch her inner thigh that caused her to hiss. The

probe slid up her vagina, and as soon as she grew accustomed it,

she didn‘t feel a thing.

A dream was coming true, and there was nothing that could

ruin this. The room decorated with pale-green tiles couldn‘t hide

the fact that this was a hospital. The touch of white leather on her

neck that felt cold before, now stuck to her skin.

The doctor disappeared under her skirt. The bright light

coming from above blinded her and made her squint, so she

closed her eyes and excluded all stimuli, trying to disembody her

spirit and sink into the cotton-like nothingness of anticipation.

Maybe this was a hospital room to others, but to her, this was

the place where she would get the gift she most relished. Mary felt

a sting that brought her back into the present, the probe slid out.

The face of the gentle doctor reemerged from under her skirt and

smiled, his moustache dancing over his upper lip as he spoke.

―We are done.‖

Mary sat up. ―Already?‖

The doctor nodded and turned to the sink to wash his hands.

―Yes. Don‘t forget to attend the control examinations.‖

―Of course not, doctor.‖

The doctor stepped to the door, and before leaving, turned

around. ―Great, see you then.‖

11

―Good-bye, doctor.‖

The doctor nodded and left. The door closed with a click, and

the silence gradually settled like specks of dust stirred up by a

breeze. She turned toward Josephine, and they smiled in a way

only those can who know that a miracle had just happened.

Mary‘s blue eyes sparkled like the calm surface of a pond

mirroring the rays of the afternoon summer sun. Josephine‘s

hazel eyes glowed like the fur of an otherworldly enchanted deer

fleeing from all eyes, not to be seen by anyone, ever. Mary raised

her arm to grab hold of Josephine‘s hand and held it as if they

were going to be petrified for eternity this way so that future

generations would see them in this exact pose until the marble

crumbles and returns back to the ground from where it came

from. Mary stood up, and they hugged turning into one, not in the

way that two people unite during sex, but in a way that two halves

of a piece reunite after centuries of loneliness and never-ending

dreadful search for the other. They didn‘t say a word because

there was nothing to say, only hope that the inception would be

successful.

As they left the hospital, the afternoon sun sank under the

horizon, and darkness embraced the world.

―You stay here, Mary. I‘ll go and get the car,‖ said Josephine

squeezing Mary‘s shoulder.

Mary nodded and watched Josephine‘s tall figure hurry away

into the night. Josephine was so different than her, she always

wore suits, and her blonde hair was primly cut short. Mary was

quite the opposite, the waves in her hazel hair tumbled onto her

shoulder freely. The dark blue dresses she usually wore was in

contrast with her full red lips.

Mary stood under a street lamp that blinked a few times then

went out. Darkness covered her like an ever-soft blanket. Fireflies

arrived from nowhere and buzzed around her like tinkling stars

before flying away into the night. The moon smiled down on the

world just like a mother watching her dormant child.

The light returned, but Mary was surprised to see that it wasn‘t

the street light that emitted this natural luminescence. She looked

down, and through her thin blue dress, something glowed like the

sun itself warming her from within. Mary knew that the light was

coming from her womb.

Josephine stopped the red convertible before Mary. She

couldn‘t believe her eyes for she too saw the sun burning inside

12

Mary‘s abdomen. The white light it emitted gradually turned into

darker shades of red until it set under the horizon of the uterus to

plant itself like a seed in a soil loosened by the days of rain.

―What happened, Josephine?‖ asked Mary knowing the answer

already.

―It‘s a miracle, Mary, it‘s a miracle. There is no other

explanation.‖

They smiled at each other for a few seconds surrounded by an

unbreakable silence.

―Josephine,‖ said Mary, ―scoot over, I want to drive.‖

Josephine obeyed, and Mary jumped into the car with a

heavenly agility as if a part of her were made of the clouds of

heavens. Mary pressed down the clutch and put the car in first

gear then held down the breaks and gave some gas to the engine.

When the motor began revving high, she began releasing the

clutch, giving gas until the rear tires burnt loose, releasing white

smoke accompanied by the smell of burning rubber. She released

the clutch and brakes at the same time, permitting the car to

rocket away, giving out a deafening screech.

Mary enjoyed the cool breeze blowing against her face. The

streetlights made the road burn in a calming orange. The many

skyscrapers rose toward the sky, trying to reach the moon. Behind

the many windows distinct lives resided, like many tiny planets

orbiting around their circuits. In each window a singular world

could be found, with its own laws, habits, and points of view.

Mary caressed her stomach. She was feeling something that

one only feels when their dream comes true. It is a power that not

only gives comfort, but an immense joy, a joy to be alive. They

sped away through the city preparing itself to go to sleep, heading

home to spend the night behind a glowing window just like the

many floating away above them.

Hank‘s Gospel

Hank dried his hands and yawned as the fatigue of the many

operations fell onto his shoulders. It was in these moments of

complete solitude that he felt the burden he bears, and only now

did he perceive the swiftness with which the years flew by. He was

old, and the constant physical and psychic concentration drained

his energies that were growing weaker each year. He stepped out

into the blinding white corridor of the hospital. The hospital was

13

empty, all was silent. It was afternoon, the last child had been

delivered successfully, so he returned to his room to relax.

He opened the door and sat down onto his bed covered by a

light green sheet as if he were laying down onto an operation

table to be dissected and examined like the corpses in the

pathology. He looked at the painting hanging over his glass table,

the ancient doctors leaning over and examining a body. All of

them seemed like fathers, strict but always just. One of them was

caressing his white goatee while the other looked at the wounds of

the patient over his glasses lying on the tip of his nose, the others

nodded in concordance.

As he dozed off, music entered into his brain like an unwanted

intruder. It started with the violins and trombones sinking deeper

and deeper into bitter sweetness only to be pierced by an oboe, a

singular shriek cutting through the sweet sorrow and answered by

the trumpets declaring the beginning of a new world. This perfect

harmony was followed by a pause, a pause during which the globe

turned around its axis to face the sun. The flutes and oboes tried

to emerge from the silence but were lost in the deep murmur of

the drums and cellos that suffocated their beauty to give place to

insanity. From this derangement, the flutes tried to rise, rise from

the mud that was pulling them deeper down.

―Doctor, we need your help,‖ said a nurse just barely loud

enough to be heard over the symphony.

―What is it?‖ asked the doctor a little louder, the way that one

talks when they listen to music through earphones, trying to over-

scream the music only they can hear.

―The ambulance brought a mother in. Her cervix has

disappeared. She is about to give birth any minute now.‖

―What is this music?‖ asked Hank.

―What music?‖ asked the nurse a little confused.

Hank looked at the nurse and realized that only he could hear

the tune and no one else. He hurried after the nurse through the

abandoned white hallway, and the music continued growing

stronger with every step.

The oboes emerged once more, this time backed up by the

violins pulling the melody out of the mud that was determined

not to give up. The trumpets joined the fight against the mud as

the woman in labor appeared, her face distorted by the pain. The

head of the child was already visible. The music became joyful for

a moment as if everything would be alright, swimming in a sweet

14

tune that became stronger and stronger. The wind raised the

melody and carried it over the swamp.

The head of the child was out, and now the shoulders were

coming as well. The music was deafening, but no one heard it,

only Hank. Black clouds floated over the melody bringing

transient rain, but the music fought against it. The wind and

black clouds battled for centuries until the wind, putting all its

energy into the last gust, blew the clouds away. The sun revealed

itself and shone down on the orchestra. Hope was born once

more.

Through the raindrops rolling down the leaves, the light

emerged as a rainbow to pierce through the world. The child slid

out in slow motion as the trumpets returned, leading the music

higher. The globe started trembling as the child was raised to the

sky. They placed the baby onto the mother, and the music was

sweet for a second only to give place to the glorious trumpets

again that ruled over the world one last time. All the instruments

started playing, and the music grew louder and louder until the

old world cracked, and through it, the new one came to light,

destroying everything that was wrong in the previous one and

evolving into something incredible.

The music stopped, and the silence was interrupted by the cry

of the child. The doctor smiled at them and felt in his heart a

calmness that one only feels when they peek into the sun to see

heaven itself, not the place existing in the imagination of many,

but the heaven that was about to come to earth. Hank stared at

the family not caring that the child had two mothers because he

knew that this was simply another face of God.

He stepped to the mother, blew a kiss on her forehead, and left,

longing to hear that ethereal music once more, knowing that

someday everyone would.

15

THE CHILDHOOD

Mary‘s Gospel

Mary waved as Josephine drove away and disappeared behind

the curve. She took a deep breath from the frisky air and

stretched her arms toward the sky like the many oak trees lining

the road in their neighborhood. The sprinklers rose above ground

level, and water began falling just like a summer drizzle. As the

rain fell onto the rose bushes growing in the yard and lining the

path leading to their porch, each drop glittered like a diamond.

Mary looked at her garden, and even though she found it a little

kitschy, she did not mind. She never thought she would be living

the suburban dream. A few years ago she imagined she would

rather commit suicide than live in a neighborhood like this, with

the many homes painted in pastille colors, their residence a pale

apricot, telling the neighbors that the ones living in the house

were diverse, but not too unique to be freaks. The well-kept lawns

showed the many hours spent to prove to the neighborhood that

they were earnest people, prone to fit in and live the life like one

of the many ants in this anthill.

Mary did not mind because all she wished for was boredom and

normality now. She grew tired of the years of struggle against

society, trying to change it, make the world a better place,

convince others that people like Josephine and herself were

humans. Yes, Mary grew tired of fighting, and now all she wanted

was to fit in as much as possible into the Elysium yards of

Suburbia with the constant scent of wisteria embracing her,

caressing her, and soothing her. This was a sweet death, and she

was ready to lose herself in it.

16

Mary closed the front door painted red and marveled at the

newly renovated parquet still shining. She hurried up the stairs

leading to the upper floor, the railing freshly painted white. At the

top of the stairs, she turned right and almost tripped in a wrinkle

in the beige woven carpet decorated by ethnical patterns. She

adjusted the wrinkle and hurried into Neil‘s room. His white

cradle stood before the window, and the morning rays caressed

him with maternal providence.

Mary blew an invisible kiss onto his right shoulder. His curly

dark hair framed his translucent eyes and his cheeks the color of

the mildest rosé, just a tint mixed with light that one actually

doesn‘t see but feels it linger about. Mary knew that this child was

just like the tiny angels dancing around God‘s throne in heaven.

Mary tiptoed out of the room and hurried downstairs.

At the bottom, she grabbed the prominence of the railing and,

using the same impetus of her descent, she swung around it and

entered her kitchen to wash the dishes and make everything turn

back into its previous self, an undisturbed order one only sees in

furnishing catalogues. She washed the dishes with her habitual

perfection.

She dried the last plate and placed it into the cupboard. Silence.

Mercifully, for the first time in weeks, Neil was still asleep. She

jumped onto her white sofa facing the fireplace and reached for

the eBook lying on the side table beneath the lilacs ruling over the

white room with royal posture. She opened the leather casing and

looked at the virtual screen so similar to paper.

She began reading her first sentence, tasting every word of it as

if it were a portion of golden amber sent from the gods above

when screaming trumpeted from upstairs, awakening her

maternal instinct.

Neil was up, and this meant two things, he needed to be

changed or to be fed. Marry hurried up the stairs with a heavy-

heart even though she knew these lost minutes were only an

unexpected gift that she did not actually deserve, so in all she

hadn‘t lost anything, just something that wasn‘t hers. She entered

into Neil‘s room.

She stepped to the cradle, and her blood froze in her veins. Neil

was not there. The crying went on and on, always becoming

stronger. She tried to identify its source, but there was no use

because the voice was coming from all directions. She looked

inside the wardrobe. No one. She peeked out into the corridor.

17

Empty. She searched for him under the hill of plush toys, but her

child was nowhere.

She searched everywhere and scratched her head in disbelief.

She closed her eyes and examined the sound realizing that it was

muffled by something. It was as if it came from their bedroom on

the other side. She hurried into their room, but no matter how

hard she searched, Neil was nowhere to be found.

She hurried back into his room to hear that the voice was

coming from inside the wall separating the two rooms. She

stepped closer and saw that the blue tapestry was peeling here

and there. She started ripping it off when the crying ceased for a

second, then it returned, this time coming from behind her. She

slowly turned around, and what she saw caused her to back

against the wall.

―Hello, mother, it‘s me. Don‘t you recognize me?‖

A huge spider was looking down onto Mary from the top corner

of the room. It stretched two of its gigantic legs toward her face.

She could feel its fur caress her cheeks. The spider filled the

room, and instead of an arachnid‘s head, it bore Neil‘s baby face.

The spider crawled down from the ceiling and walked to her.

Mary tried to break free, but the legs of the spider closed in on her

like a cell. The head was coming closer and closer until Neil

opened his mouth and gobbled her up in a bite.

Mary opened her eyes and realized she had fallen asleep. Neil

was crying upstairs, so she put the book back onto the side table.

She found her child in the cradle, and by the smell, Mary knew he

had to be changed.

As she threw the dirty diaper into the garbage, she smiled

remembering her dream. She saw the pictures as if she were

seeing them through a glass darkly. She sat down onto the white

sofa right by the cradle, unbuttoned her shirt placing her nipple

into her child‘s mouth, and looked at the wall to see the tapestry

missing in the exact place where she had ripped it off in her

dream.

Josephine‘s Gospel

―I am going to cut some wood.‖

―Go ahead, Mary.‖

The door closed leaving Josephine and Neil alone in the log

cabin. The fire was crackling in the fireplace, illuminating the

18

hand-woven Persian rug with its pattern spiraling deeper and

deeper, swirling into infinity. Josephine stepped to the window

and looked at the burning autumn forest, a season that seemed to

be inexistent in the city where, instead of four, there was only the

never-ending summer. The ground outside was covered by the

carpet of leaves and looked like the continuation of the one

inside. The sun shining through the branches of the trees seemed

to mirror the fireplace in the cozy room. Josephine watched

Marry vanish into the motionless fire of the woods as if she were

eaten away by the insatiable flames. The leaves fell here and

there, their precipice could be heard over the stillness created by

the absence of civilization. Even the log house seemed something

so far way, something ancient, deriving from the time of the

creation of Earth.

Neil was sitting on the carpet playing with his trains. Josephine

was glad to see that in contrary to the views of society, he was

happy and balanced. Of course some made fun of him, the ones

that were afraid of difference, the dreadful difference that is

lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to jump out

and destroy normality. If only they would have the courage to

light a candle and see what the darkness conceals. They would

find a human being that is no different than any other, lonely and

afraid like the creature craving for the one ring. They left Neil

alone after a while when they saw that he didn‘t react, not

understanding what they couldn‘t, that having two mothers was

normal, at least for him.

―Mother, can I go out and play?‖ asked Neil. Josephine looked

at her son, his angel-like face turning thinner and more

masculine, his curly hazel hair that he insisted to let grow,

tumbling down onto his shoulders.

―Of course, sweetheart, just remain in sight.‖

Josephine stepped to the opposite window facing the valley and

started doing the dishes. Neil walked to the great oak tree ruling

over the forest with the leaves the colors of all shades of red,

orange, and yellow. He sat down onto the rock at its feet.

Josephine opened the window to let the fresh morning air enter

and cleanse the place from the smell of sleep. She felt the breeze

blow on her damp hands and shivers ran up and down her body.

It was a cooling sensation that chased away the remains of sleep

still lingering around her movements like an aura pulling her

back into the world of dreams, the world separated by death only

19

by a thin translucent foil that shatters into smithereens by the

slightest caress. She dried the plates and placed them into the

cupboard above.

A gentle tune entered through the window. The voice was not

human, merging the two genders, bearing a careless musicality

mixed with undisputed authority, the voice of the angels. She

walked back to the sink and looked at Neil facing the woods and

singing, motionless, deep in thought, his small body fragile in

comparison to the immense valley.

―Neil,‖ she shouted, but he did not move. He was in a different

world, in the world that resides within, and only the proprietor

can enter. The body is a prison that withholds the soul, a prison

without which the soul cannot survive.

The melody rose to the sky and washed through the woods. A

pair of little blue jays sat down onto the branch of the tree and

twittered away like new instruments of an emerging symphony.

The bushes moved, and two scoffers hurried to sit down a few feet

away, facing Neil.

Josephine could not believe her eyes and didn‘t dare move,

fearing to disrupt this harmony that one only sees in cartoons. At

the top of the slope rising to the sky, two dears galloped down to

stop behind the scoffers. In a few minutes mice were followed by

snakes, wolves, bears, and ducks. The fox was the last one to

arrive. He sneaked to the animals and waited for admission. The

animals just faced the slyest creature of the woods for a few

seconds then invited him to join the circle. All of them were

mesmerized by Neil, listening to the tune that caused the laws of

nature to be suspended for a few minutes.

Josephine heard the back door creaking. She turned around to

see Mary enter with a few logs in her hands.

―Shhh. Come quickly, you must see this.‖

Mary put the logs by the fireplace and tiptoed to the window.

She stopped and just listened to the tune, both of them thinking

that this was how the first animals were brought to life to inhabit

the planet.

The tune stopped. Neil stood up and patted each creature on

his head. As he touched each animal, they fled back into the

woods. He caressed the bears for last, and when they left, he was

alone once more. He turned toward his parents and waved. The

parents waved back.

20

―Something is definitely different about this child,‖ said Mary

staring right into Neil‘s eyes, through the present into the past.

―What do you mean?‖ asked Josephine.

―You know what I mean.‖

Josephine looked at Mary knowing she was right, and because

of this, she felt sorry for Neil. He was different, and Josephine

blamed herself for this. She couldn‘t bear the pain caused by the

recognition and vowed not to accept the truth.

Mary‘s Gospel

The lights are switched off in the auditorium. The suspense can

be seen, connecting the singular beings with threads, each of

them knowing that what they are about to experience will be

something new.

A spotlight‘s piercing light cuts right through the impenetrable

cloth of darkness and falls upon a semi-translucent egg withheld

by four muscular men standing at the back of the arena, wearing

clothes made of human skin. They start toward the stage in the

silence that no one dares to defy, not even with the sound of their

breathing. The egg-bearers take each step unanimously carrying

someone that is influencing the youth in their basic patterns of

thinking, even if, like many say, this is not her goal, and she is

really after fame.

The egg, as it hovers through the aisle leading to the stage,

reflects the light and shines down on radiating faces looking up at

the creature that annihilated the futileness and emptiness of pop

music.

They place the egg onto the stage. It lies there before the

millions of eyes, perfectly still, like the egg of a dinosaur that

seems to be destined to survive all, bearing a message deriving

from the creation of the world. A black silhouette moves in the

depths of the egg, a creature born from the shadows. Through the

smooth surface, the contour of a hand appears that returns back

into the egg, not to give up but to emerge once more with much

greater power, piercing through the shell, causing it to hatch.

A woman steps out from the egg, she seems human, but she

isn‘t. The raincoat she is wearing is made of human skin. The hat

makes her look like Carmen, the villain who is pursued around

the world never to give up and only be satisfied when everything

precious is in her hands. Her shoulders are not rounded on the

21

corner but unite into a pointy cone. Her disfigured cheeks make

her seem like a woman who had been beaten unconscious the

moment before and came back to the living this instant.

The music emerges from the speakers. The tune washes

through the world like an unstoppable Tsunami that demands no

victims. The dancers move to the rhythm like unconscious,

defenseless corpses obeying the force of the waves. She takes her

hat off, and, mounted high on her head, the ponytail sways,

following the motion of the body. She is not a monster, but the

queen of them all.

The music stops, and she hurries up to the great organ ruling

over the arena. She starts playing, and the tune emerging brings

to mind the melodies of the churches from long ago, giving this

earthly piece of entertainment the glory of pristine

transcendence. The holy music ceases, and she starts singing,

freezing the waves as she descends the stairs. The waves tower

above her waiting for her to arrive to the bottom.

When she steps down the last stoop, the rhythm returns. The

water clashes together over her head, its unstoppable power

making the spotlights crash onto the stage around her. The song

ends, and only the buzzing and sparkling of the torn electrical

wires in the ceiling can be heard and seen.

Mary looked away staring out the window with the images still

burning freshly in her retinas. There was something not only in

her appearance but also in her words. She seemed to be a vessel

conveying a message on behalf of a greater power. Beyond the

complexity of her being and the simplicity of her music, there was

something ancient, a message that seemed so simple but until

this day incomprehensible to humanity, awakening a

subconscious notion of predestination and perseverance,

annunciating the grace that falls upon every being in the galaxy.

Mary had to say the words out loud and taste each word of

freedom, knowing that one day these words would shatter a world

and bring the land of God to Earth.

―A different lover is not a sin, believe capital H-i-m…‖

―What are you mumbling, Mary?‖ asked

Josephine

walking into the living room with two cups of still ardent coffee.

She placed the cups onto the table before them and sat down onto

the white couch smiling at Mary and knowing exactly what she

had said.

―Oh, it‘s nothing,‖ said Mary caught in flagrante.

22

―Nothing, nothing?‖ said Josephine snickering. ―You just

quoted her words. You quoted the words of a pop song. Pop, the

music that you hate so much, the music that causes the base of

the world to crumble with its senselessness and emptiness.‖

―I know, but she seems different.‖

―Different? Oh, Mary, don‘t be so naïve. She is just a pop star

who wants to make a living and get rich by acting as if she had

just escaped from an asylum. All she does is shock people not

really conveying anything substantial, only empty gunshots of

clichés and banalities that make any intellectual puke all over the

room.‖

―I don‘t know. She seems to know something that others

don‘t…‖

―How to make money with virtually no effort? Prancing around

and singing without even knowing how to?‖

Mary continued without acknowledging the scorning

Josephine. ―No. As if she knew that someone was about to arrive

to redeem the words of her songs.‖

―A messiah? She is a prophet, you mean?‖

Mary nodded, ―She has the same air of confidence pertaining to

Neil…‖

―You are crazy, sweetheart.‖

Josephine reached for the remote and raised the volume to

continue watching the awards ceremony. Mary turned back to the

TV knowing that she was right. The messiah is coming, maybe he

is already here in this house, and he will try to change the world

for the better.

Neil was not entirely human. It was nothing distinct. It was his

whole bearing that radiated a unique certainness that humanity is

not evil and everything will turn for the better eventually. In his

manners, one could see the essence of life. It was just a notion,

nothing more, yet it was there, like words carved into stone, a

message that cannot be shattered even if the rock itself is.

Andrew‘s Gospel

―Mici! Where are you?‖

Andrew looked around from the top of the stairs of their porch

hoping that somewhere he would see his white Persian cat

hurrying to enter, being done with her morning duties. Every

morning she would arrive punctual for her breakfast, the only

23

time of day apart from dinner when anyone could caress her

without suffering any type of penitence whatsoever.

―Mici!‖

Andrew started worrying, dreading something horrible had

happened. He walked down the stairs and checked under the

organ bushes lining the path leading to their home the color of a

pale raspberry. Bees were buzzing away over him, flying from one

flower to the other. The sweet scent reminded Andrew of

something unpleasant, invoking the smell of putrefaction and

death he once felt when he found the corpse of their previous cat

who was hit by a car and probably thrown into the bushes by a

driver trying to hide the proof of his murder.

He stood up scratching his head and walked around the house

to the back garden. They lived in the house on the corner, which

was even more dangerous because it was surrounded by the road

on two sides.

―Mici!‖

No movement whatsoever. A breeze blew through the trees that

whispered their secrets about time and loss to each other. He

walked to the end of the yard and saw a fluffy tale in the green

grass right by the trunk of the maple tree.

―Mici, there you are.‖

Andrew headed to the tree but had to slow down because the

tail was motionless for too long. The breeze brought the scent of

iron with itself as he took each step as slowly as possible,

postponing the moment of realization a few seconds further. He

stopped as horror dashed across his face. He felt himself sinking

deeper and deeper into the darkness inside him. He only sensed

the environment that first turned fuzzy then started melting,

dribbling to the ground. The sounds of the world were muffled,

coming from farther and farther away until Andrew was standing

in perfect silence and impenetrable darkness in a virtual space

where only he and the corpse of Mici resided.

Andrew knelt down and examined Mici‘s once snow-white fur

now tinted red. Her intestines were protruding from her open

abdomen, and Andrew still felt the heat emerging from the body.

Andrew caressed her soft fur that made her resemble a beautiful

snowflake falling carelessly from the sky to survive on the

pavement for only a few seconds then melt into nothingness.

Mici was still warm, she was alive a few minutes before, she

was taking her habitual morning stroll a few minutes before, she

24

was thinking about the delicious breakfast a few minutes before,

but not anymore. Andrew examined the wound hoping to learn

what caused her untimely departure from this world as if the

knowledge would change anything. It could have been a car or a

dog, Zeus from next door, Zeus, Mici‘s greatest enemy who came

out victorious from their endless war. Andrew hoped that Mici

fought until the end and died with a clear conscience knowing

that she did not give up.

Andrew stared into the wound and saw a darkness so much

different than the one surrounding him. It was like a miniature

black hole that was draining life from Andrew. He thought if he

would let go, he would vanish through it into the kingdom of the

dead.

Andrew sensed someone stepping into the darkness

surrounding him that was somewhere between life and death.

That third being brought a light with itself that began its battle

with the black hole in Mici‘s abdomen. Andrew was being pulled

from two directions and feared he would be ripped apart. From

the corner of his eyes he saw the figure draw closer and closer.

The silhouette stopped by Andrew and placed its radiant hand on

his shoulder pulling Andrew away from death.

Andrew looked up at the face of the pale angel with translucent

eyes. The angel spoke, and its sweet voice echoed in the

emptiness they were standing in.

―What happened?‖ asked the presence.

―She is dead,‖ said Andrew. As he heard his own words, he

understood them, he conceived that what happened was

irrevocable. He sat down and tears started pouring down his face.

He felt the taste of salt in his mouth.

―Did you love her?‖

Andrew nodded. ―She was everything to me, my only friend.‖

The angel smiled at him and raised its arm. Millions of hair-

like strands made of the purest light emerged from the tip of his

fingers, not simply glowing but burning into the darkness. The

strands embraced the corpse and started spinning round and

round turning Mici into a shining cocoon. The motion of the wires

stopped, and the seed-like cocoon rose from the ground and

hovered in midair for a second then landed to the ground. The

cocoon collapsed within itself turning into the silhouette of a cat

that was so familiar to Andrew. The glowing cat sat down and

licked her paw then reached behind her ear.

25

Andrew heard a high-pitched whistle that slowly grew

deafening. The light of the glowing silhouette was growing

stronger, brighter than the sun itself until it exploded, blowing

away the realm of darkness around him. Andrew found himself in

the back yard once more.

Mici was sitting on the grass, and when she saw Andrew, she

gave out a purr and hopped into the boy‘s lap. Andrew kissed her

then turned to the angel still standing behind him. It was a boy

with skin the color of the moon and the eyes paler than the skin of

the dead. His curly hair was swaying in the breeze, and his upper

lip was decorated by a faint tint of a moustache.

―Who are you? Mici was dead…‖ said Andrew in awe.

―She wasn‘t, you were dreaming...‖ said the boy, but Andrew

knew he was lying.

―Only one person can resurrect the dead, my parents told me,

his name is…‖

A closing backdoor disrupted this conversation just before

Andrew could pronounce the name.

―What are you talking about, Andrew?‖ asked a stern but loving

voice.

―He brought back Mici from the dead,‖ said Andrew pointing

toward the boy with his little fingers.

―Don‘t be silly, Andrew, hurry back inside. Mom is searching

for you all over the place,‖ said his brother heading toward them.

Andrew stood up and hurried back inside as his brother stepped

to the boy.

―Peter…‖ he said greeting him, distending his arm.

―Neil…‖

The door closed behind Andrew, and he embraced Mici who

had enough of the love and care and wanted to be free, so the

claws came out, and she scratched Andrew‘s face.

―Oh, Mici, I love you so much,‖ said Andrew hugging her

tighter and kissing her head once more, feeling blood emerge

from the fresh wound.

26

ADOLESCENCE

Mary‘s Gospel

Mary hurried up the stairs with a fresh cup of lemonade to

surprise her son, the menthol decorating the glass emitting an

invigorating and soothing scent. She stepped to Neil‘s door and

opened it.

Neil jolted in his bed and covered himself up with his sheet. He

was nude apart from his white underwear. Mary blushed and

tried to act as if nothing had happened even if this was the most

awkward situation in both of their lives.

She hastily put the glass of lemonade onto the side table feeling

herself blush. She didn‘t look up, but as she turned around, she

saw something hidden under the sheets. She saw only its spine,

but it was enough for her to understand.

―Please, mother, knock next time…‖

―I will, Neil, believe me, I will…‖

She hurried out of the room and closed the door behind her

leaning against it trying to regain some strength. This was

impossible, how could it have come to this. Marry knew that she

was the culprit . She felt the world crumble to the ground around

her. She tried to raise him to be normal but failed. The worst part

was that there was nothing to do now.

She walked down the stairs in desperation. When she turned

into the kitchen, Josephine stood up and stepped to Mary to hug

her.

―What is the matter, Mary? Why the long face?‖

Mary shook her head and felt a savage stream of tears trying to

escape her eyes, banging on the dam of her restraint.

―Mary, don‘t you start crying, what did you see?‖

27

―He is…he is…‖ she tried to say the last words, but couldn‘t.

―What, Mary?‖

She collected all her might to say the following words. ―He is

reading…the Bible…‖

As she pronounced the last word, she broke out in tears and

slid to the ground, grabbing hold of Josephine‘s legs as if she were

afraid a stream would wash her away.

Magdalene‘s Gospel

Magdalene hurried down the stairs with a sly smile on her face.

Her mother leaned against the kitchen‘s door frame, watching her

daughter descend.

―You look beautiful, sweetheart.‖

―Thank you, mother,‖ said Magdalene as she stopped and

pirouetted, ending it with a courtesy. Her mother laughed as the

colors of the roses flowers decorating Magdalene‘s dress came to

a rest. They were both wearing the same dress, and this,

Magdalene thought was repulsing.

―Where are you going?‖ asked her mother.

―To the library,‖ she said forcing the sweetness of honey into

her words.

―You poor thing. When will you be back?‖

―I don‘t know. When the library closes. Around eight, I guess.

Will you still be at home?‖

―I am afraid not. The dinner is in the fridge. The opera will end

at ten. I think we will be home by half past ten,‖ said her mother

caressing Magdalene‘s head.

―Have fun, mother,‖ said Magdalene hurrying out of her home

painted the color of a pale green apple, nothing too extravagant.

The house described her life so precisely, nothing too

extravagant. She couldn‘t understand how her parents could

possibly be happy here. She knew that she wouldn‘t end up like

this. She would become a pop star.

She pranced down their perfectly mowed neon green lawn and

skipped down the road, her pink dress with the many romantic

flowers swaying in the wind, the butterflies on her hairpin

accompanying her every move. She looked back over her shoulder

and waved to her mother. She took a right, and her mother

dropped out of sight.

28

She reached into her heart-formed purse for a cigarette. She

placed it into her mouth and lit it, trying to inhale the smoke, but

it made her cough, so she decided not to smoke it after all. She

jumped on the arriving bus and sat down in the back, huddling

up, careful not to be seen through the window as the bus sped by

their home.

Finally, freedom.

She reached into her purse for the black eyeliner and raised it

to her eyes drawing a thick line at the root of her eyelashes,

placing some glitter on her eyelids smudging the black line a bit.

She looked like an alcoholic and this pleased her, but this was not

enough. The neon green hairspray emerged from her purse, and

she blew it into her blonde hair creating a strand of green, then,

with the black hairspray, a strand of black. She ended the ritual

by blowing some hairspray into her hair and messing it up.

She was a rebel against everything her parents symbolized. She

hated the mediocrity of the suburban life, the boring afternoons

and the silent nights. She was against everything her parents

loved, but most of all she was against their frail intolerance, faint

but noticeable, the rudiment of the century before. She was afraid

she wouldn‘t stay always this sharp on the edges and life would

chisel her until she would become a tiny little pebble, docile and

playful, like her mother, the perfect housewife. She shuddered at

the thought.

The bus reached the periphery of the city and stopped.

Magdalene got off at the shopping mall. The palm trees rising

before the complex of glass and concrete gave the place an air of

fake exoticism. The parking lot stood empty. It was deserted as

the customers drove a few more miles into the heart of the city for

a greater selection.

As she hurried toward the entrance, she jumped over the grass

that made way through the cracks of the concrete here and there.

The doors slid open and she entered. Everything was silent. The

shops stood abandoned, some of the windows were shattered. It

seemed to her that the rapture had come, and she was left alone,

the last human on earth. She hurried to the bathroom to change.

Magdalene closed the door and adjusted the make-up in the

fragmented mirror before her, the neon light above her flickering

now and then. She took her dress off, carefully folding it and

placing it into her bag. She reached for her dark ripped stockings

and put them on. Through the holes, her marble-white skin could

29

be seen. She put her skull T-shirt on, far too larger for her,

reaching the top third of her thighs.

She reached for the teddy bear flask and took a sip of the ardent

whiskey then placed it back into the heart-shaped bag and

hurried to the front of the mall to meet the others.

James and John were sitting on a bench. James was wearing a

black leather jacket with cut-offs just reaching his knees, John his

usual white blazer with a pink shirt tucked into his white pants.

The smoke of their cigarettes rose into the air the same way. They

were twins. Their curly blond hair and protruding noses made

them look like two Caesars, two rulers of ancient time sitting on a

bench before a decadent mall. They were the heirs of one of the

two local fish stores. Their family was quite wealthy selling

delicatessen, caviar, salmon, and oyster, to the aristocracy of

modern times. Of course, they were not as rich to be allowed into

the suburban ring her parents belonged to; members of the club,

playing golf two times a week and sipping gin and tonic by the

pool, but they were wealthy enough to know that the future was

open before them.

―What‘s up, boys?‖

―Nothing,‖ said John without caring to face Magdalene.

―Some whiskey?‖ she asked raising the flask. They each took a

sip then waited in silence.

―Is Neil coming?‖ She tried to pronounce these words as if Neil

meant nothing to her, but even she heard her voice quiver.

―What do you want from him, whore?‖ asked James.

―Don‘t call me that,‖ she said insulted.

―But aren‘t you one?‖

―Well maybe. Anyway, is he coming?‖

―There he is,‖ said John stepping on the butt of his cigarette.

Magdalene turned to face Neil, and she felt her heart rise. She

tried to repress the grin distorting her mouth, but her joy was too

hard to hide. Neil too was wearing a leather jacket with tight jeans

and a white T-shirt, his black boots unlaced embracing his ankle.

The waves in his dark hair bounced as he moved. A frail beard

was beginning to appear on his unshaved face.

―Wanna trash the mall?‖ asked Neil reaching them, grabbing

the flask from James and taking a long sip.

―What will Fred say?‖ asked Magdalene a little preoccupied.

―Nothing, he‘s drunk and asleep in his booth. I just checked

him out,‖ said John winking at them.

30

―Cool.‖

John and James hopped off the bench and ran inside to

disappear behind the sliding doors of the mall, leaving the two of

them alone.

―Come here, baby.‖

Neil grabbed Magdalene by the waist, and they kissed for long

minutes. Magdalene could feel herself turn back to the girl she

truly was, afraid and lonely, scared that the world would not

accept her for who and what she was. Her ankles shivered a little

as Neil‘s arm grabbed her stronger and stronger by the waist. The

moment he let her go, she turned back into a rebel.

―Let‘s go,‖ she said pulling Neil by his hand toward the mall.

They hurried after John and James. As the doors closed behind

them, they heard the sound of glass breaking. They walked down

the abandoned main hallway, up the escalator, and found the two

of them standing before a shattered store window, holding an

empty bottle of beer. Magdalene stepped to a trashcan and kicked

it to the ground.

They began chasing each other around the building, and their

laughter echoed through this infinite space built for the sole

purpose of shopping. The afternoon sun was shining through the

windows in the roof. They jumped into the forgotten fountain and

started splashing each other as happily as one can be with the

stale water, algae growing where the water reached the light blue

tiles. Slowly the second flask of whiskey was emptied.

They stopped before the arcade, the only place they respected.

―Do you know where to switch it on?‖ asked Neil from James.

―Sure.‖

John and James hurried away snickering and pushing each

other playfully as Magdalene followed Neil into the dark room

filled with games deriving from long time ago. They kissed once

more when they heard a sound that began with a low murmur, its

tone rising high the next second, turning into the chaotic noise

one can only hear in a game room.

Neil stepped to a car game and smashed the part where the

coins were kept, the coins rolling to the ground. He threw in a

dime that rolled to the floor then threw it in again allowing

Magdalene to join the game. The race began, and she looked at

the cars that were formed of distinguishable pixels. The car

moved like a brick on ice lacking any resemblance to the dynamic

of real cars. A few years ago this game seemed cool, but now was

31

so primitive in comparison to the games of today where you

control the motion of the characters with your own body. The

feeling of retro mockery coming over her amused her and made

her smile.

John and James returned, stepping to a zombie shooting game.

The screams of civilians rose into the air followed by the

desperate roar of the living dead, misunderstood, only wishing to

die.

The sun went down and semidarkness fell onto the mall, its

lights only glowing here and there. As they played through the

forest of games, they heard a zombie-like scowl coming from

behind them that made their blood freeze in fear.

―Whathe uck areyu doinere?‖

Magdalene turned around.

―Oh, crap. It‘s Frank.‖

Frank sat on his little electric car facing their way, looking like a

water balloon flowing down the sides of the vehicle.

―Let‘s get out of here,‖ shouted John.

They dashed out of the arcade and ran across the fountain as

the vehicle buzzed behind them. They began to slalom through

the benches, changing direction abruptly to lose their tale, but he

was closing in on them. He was about to grab Magdalene‘s hair

when the escalator appeared in the distance, filling her with a

power that prohibited her to give up. James and John ran down

the stairs followed by Neil sliding down the rails.

She heard the buzzing grow louder behind her and felt a

tingling sensation in the stomach that made her feel alive. She

jumped down the stairs, and she could hear the breaks streaking

behind her.

―Combaaaaaaa,‖ screamed Frank, drunk as always, unable to

move without the car.

Magdalene stopped a few steps down and turned around

mocking him, smiling at his distorted figure. The omega-like

wrinkles on his forehead made him look sad, a portrait of a man

whose life was filled with rejection and hate from the ones who

were not as fat as he was. Magdalene raised her hand and gave

him the middle finger then dashed down the stairs to join the

others. They left the mall laughing, powered by excitement as a

thought was born in Frank‘s head to terminate his own life.

John and James hurried home into the night as Magdalene and

Neil walked to the bus. Neil sat down on the bench and pulled her

32

into his lap in this motionless part of the city. Magdalene kissed

Neil much more passionately than ever before. She felt his cold

hands slide under her shirt, grabbing her breast sensually and

awakening a tingling between her legs.

She looked around and saw a few dumpsters lining the road.

―Let‘s go, Neil.‖

―Where to?‖

You know where…‖ she said winking.

―Now? But I don‘t have a condom…‖

―I do,‖ she said pulling him up from the bench to the secluded

little place. He resisted only for a second then gave in. Magdalene

lay down onto the concrete hidden by the dumpsters and the

black bags of trash. She pulled down her tights and felt him kneel

down over her. She faced the stars as his face floated into her

sight. Neil entered, and the sting pierced through her membrane

making her hiss. It was done, she was not a virgin anymore.

As Neil‘s movements were becoming faster and the sour smell

of a vinegar-like fluid embracing them grew stronger, she felt a

pleasure she would not feel for a long time. She felt light burst out

of Neil and rush through her body, it wasn‘t just pleasure, it was

its essence. She couldn‘t contain the feeling. She arched her back

and screamed in a way that the local bums thought that someone

was being murdered.

The light escaped from her body through her orifices, and the

two of them fell to the ground panting. As she listened to Neil

breathe, she looked up at the stars and knew that one day she

would join them. Magdalene searched for her cigarettes in her

purse giving one to Neil and putting one in her mouth. The reality

fell down onto her shoulders once again.

―What is the matter, Magdalene?‖

Magdalene inhaled the smoke and felt too weak to hide her

secret.

―I am sick,‖ she said at last.

Neil sat up and looked at her motionless profile. ―Is it serious?‖

―They don‘t know, we‘ve been to so many doctors, but no one

knows.‖

Neil bent over Magdalene and kissed her on her mouth.

―Everything will be alright, you‘ll see.‖

Magdalene nodded, smiling at the love of her life.

The sound of the bus disrupted the idyllic moment. She jumped

up pulling her tights on and hurried to the bus. She sat down in

33

the back and waved as Neil disappeared behind the curve. She

looked at her watch. Midnight.

―Oh, fuck.‖

She knew what was coming, but she didn‘t really care because

she was over the thing she feared most in her life. She rose into an

otherworldly mood and just floated home only to come back to

earth when she found her parents waiting for her, sitting on the

stairs.

―Where were you? Why are you dressed like a filthy cunt?‖

Peter‘s Gospel

The night was cold, too dark to see. The city was far behind

them, its polluting light unable to hide the celestial bodies so far

in the woods. Here the moon and stars ruled over the world, and

this felt right.

Peter felt the heat of his piss warm his hands. He listened to it

dribble down the rocks into the precipice beneath him. Standing

at its edge, Peter felt the fragility of life, and only now did he

understand that between life and death there is no barrier, no

safe zone, and one can step from life into death whenever they

want to.

He shook the last drips off and zipped his pants up, tucking his

checked shirt into his beige shorts and adjusting his thick-framed

glasses. He looked down but didn‘t see the bottom as if he were

standing at the side of an endless pit. Somewhere he knew if he

would jump down, he would fall right into the lap of Hades

feeding his faithful companion Cerberus with the bones of the

dead and listening to the tingling giggles of the Fates as they cut

the thread of their next victim.

As he walked back to the camp, he could feel the branches of

the bushes caress his face, not by accident he thought, but on

purpose. Alone in the woods, he felt the presence of the earth, still

caring and not renouncing her hope that humanity would notice

her agony.

In the distance, past the thick curtains of trees that rose to the

sky creating a roof with its branches covering the night sky, a

flame was flickering, and he slowed down watching the figures

who were so far away from their sober selves, so different, yet

each showing their essence, not caring whether it is good or bad,

shedding the skin of the many centuries of social conventions.

34

The light illuminated their joyful faces, shining past them and

coloring the trunks and the leaves surrounding them with an

always moving and changing orange. Peter took a deep breath

and headed toward the clearing as their voices turned into a

distinguishable murmur gradually morphing into words and

sentences lacking any type of mundane logic. It was Neil‘s voice

that he heard first.

―You know when…um…what animal is that…um…wolf…no, no,

coyote…yes. So, you know when the coyote runs after that bird

and runs off the cliff and…you know, he doesn‘t fall right away,

but walks in the air for a few seconds without noticing…and what

was I saying? So, he walks for a few seconds in the air and doesn‘t

fall but like hovers in the air…But what did I want to say? Oh

right, I wonder what would happen to us if we wouldn‘t notice

that suddenly there is nothing beneath our feet. Could we walk in

the air a little, I wonder?‖

Everyone went silent as if instead of this non-sense, someone

had told them the secret of life.

After seconds of silence, James began to speak. He was far

away, talking in a tone without expression as if his were words

were not destined to them, but to the stars themselves.

―Actually there is something tragic in the cartoon, and I believe

that the creators knew this. They knew that everyone would cheer

for the wolf and secretly hope that he catches the roadrunner

eventually. Each time he failed, the more they wished for it to

come true. That‘s why everyone watched it even though the

episodes‘ structure was the same. Because everyone is a wolf…um

not wolf…coyote, right. Everyone runs after a dream that is about

to come true, but it never actually does, not because they can‘t

grasp it but because they don‘t want to. Only the courageous few

will seize it.

―Just think about it. What would happen to the coyote if he

would catch the roadrunner? We don‘t know, and that is what

many want to. Does life continue in a much better way? Or does it

lose its meaning? We want to know whether it is a good idea to

make our dreams come true or not. Does it make us truly happy

or do we lose the meaning of our lives.‖

Peter moved the branches, and the three jolted up in fear,

slowly turning toward him. As he stepped into the light, they all

gave out a sigh of relief.

35

―I thought you were a killer, thank God, Peter, thank God it is

you,‖ said James giving Peter a seductive smile.

Peter smiled back and hurried to take his seat on the fourth

empty log by the fire. John faced him and handed him the joint.

―Here, Peter, loosen up, you are always so stiff. God won‘t

punish you if you take a single shot.‖

―I won‘t, this is sin. It‘s already hard enough for me to tolerate

what you do.‖

―Bla, bla, bla. Always the same old shit.‖

Peter looked down heavy-heartedly and wished with all his

heart that he could just be like any other normal adolescent, but

he wasn‘t. He was indoctrinated with orthodox religious views of

his parents, hating sin by principle and not because it was truly

wrong. This defense is far too weak in comparison with the

knowledge of why it is wrong. Peter wanted to be normal, like the

rest of them, but he wasn‘t. There was a part of his soul that he

was taught to hate and was trying desperately to rip out not yet

realizing that he couldn‘t.

―Leave him alone, John,‖ said James and patted Peter on the

back. ―He‘s old enough to know what he wants to do.‖

Peter gave James a smile of gratitude. He looked up at James

because he knew he was so much different than what he showed

the world. It was just a notion that soon would grow into

knowledge sturdier than rock itself.

―What are you doing next year? I mean now that high school

ended?‖ asked Peter examining the others who slowly returned

back to reality from their elevated state as the fumes evaporated

through their pores. It was John who answered first.

―I don‘t know. James and I are probably taking over the fish

shop since it seems you don‘t want to.‖

Peter thought of the fish shop his parents built up with James‘

and John‘s parents. His parents insisted that he should leave the

shop to begin his theological studies and Peter, like always,

agreed.

―Neil?‖ asked Peter.

―Nothing, probably. And you, Peter? Are you still going to study

God?‖

Peter smiled and nodded, feeling his conviction toward religion

had decreased through the years as he grew older and began to

think for himself.

36

A silence fell on the group as they understood that they had

grown up, and none of them knew what to do. They were adults,

the whole world pushed down onto their shoulders now, and no

matter how hard they shrugged, they couldn‘t rid themselves

from the burden, not anymore. They knew that the carelessness

was over, but they postponed the full realization a little further as

John prepared the next joint.

―Does anybody know what happened to Magdalene? Is it true

what they say?‖ asked Peter looking into the red eyes of Neil.

―Oh yeah. She just finished her first track. In a few months

everybody will be playing her songs,‖ answered Neil and fell

silent.

―Did she really change her name?‖

―L€ne,‖ answered Neil after a few seconds.

―And why does she spell it with a euro sign? How do you

pronounce it?‖

Neil just shrugged. ―Like a simple e I guess, probably

pronouncing the last e as well.‖

―Do you miss her?‖ asked Peter knowing that he was wondering

into a dangerous territory.

―Fuck off, Peter. She‘s a whore.‖

―I guess.‖

―The sun is about to rise any minute now,‖ said Neil. ―If we

hurry, we can see it from the top of the mountain.‖

The four of them stood up. Each of them took their blanket and

placed it around their shoulders. Peter‘s was red, James‘ was

blue, John‘s was a pale orange, and Neil‘s was white. As they

hurried away from the fire, they seemed apostles of ancient times.

The dark sky was turning grey, and all the colors were dull as if

the entire globe had a grey undertone. They walked up the steep

slope, grabbing the rocks to go higher and higher. Empty plastic

bags and aluminum cans decorated their path as they tried to

reach the sky.

―How far is the top?‖ asked Peter grabbing a vine that didn‘t

hold his weight, causing him to slide a few feet back. ―Shit,‖ he

screamed. When he thought this was the end, he felt James‘s

strong arm touch his behind, preventing him to fall any further.

―Are you alright, Peter?‖ asked James concerned.

―I guess.‖

―Hurry up,‖ Peter heard the others shout.

37

He finally arrived to the top. James patted his back and sat

down on one of the rocks. Peter absorbed the panorama around

him.

The border between the pinewoods and the suburbs moved

higher up the mountain as humanity spread, defeating nature.

The river sparkled like a single silver thread, dams inhibiting its

flow toward the sea now and then. The lakes seemed like great

footprints of a giant. In the distance they could see the city with

two distinct areas. The periphery of the city was slowly dying as

everyone either moved to the center or to the suburbs. In the

center they saw the many skyscrapers stretching to the sky. One

building stood out from the rest, its top was decorated with silver

moons setting one on top of the other, weakly reflecting the

morning light. The sea, guarded by a lighthouse and an iron

woman, was filled with ships arriving and leaving the port. Peter

sat down on one of the lonely rocks. The nature was so much

scarcer at this height, and he could feel it was harder to breathe.

The sun rose, the horizon splitting it in two. Suddenly two

hands appeared from within the sun, grabbing its sides and

pulling it far apart. The hands were followed by the head of an old

man with hair white like snow and his beard spiraling down

toward infinity. The old man jumped out of the sun and stood up.

As he towered toward space, his feet alone were as large as half

the city. The four boys looked at this unlikely apparition and did

not dare to move.

The man roared, and his voice awoke a wind so strong that it

almost blew them away. The roar turned into a cough.

―Oh my God, I‘m sorry, it‘s just, I have a cold.‖ His voice was so

loud it caused the world to shake.

―I think I must whisper,‖ he said. ―Where are you?‖ he asked

searching for them, squinting their way. ―Oh, there you are.‖ The

figure knelt down and reached for a pair of golden glasses

residing in an invisible pocket in his toga and put them on.

The four boys were too scared to move. Neil was the first one to

stand up. ―Who are you?‖

The figure laughed and bent closer to Neil carefully examining

him as if he were a precious porcelain figure. Peter inspected the

man‘s face, and for an instant, he recognized the traits of Neil.

After the laughter ceased, the shaking world calmed down as well.

38

―Don‘t you recognize me? I am your father,‖ he said looking at

Neil then turned toward the others. ―This is my Son whom I love.

Listen to him.‖ Peter nodded. James and John were shaking.

Neil‘s face had an air of fury. ―I am not your son. How dare you

come here and state you are my father. Where were you all this

time? You were nowhere when I grew up. You are nothing to me.‖

―I am your father no matter what you say. You always knew you

were different, Neil, and you know what must be done.‖

―You may be my biological father, but I don‘t feel anything for

you. My real parents are at home.‖

Neil turned around and started climbing down. The man gave

out a sigh.

―You will understand that no one can run away from their fate.‖

Neil didn‘t answer. The figure turned to the three of them.

―You can speak of this only after Neil has returned from the

dead. So, shhh,‖ said the man raising his index fingers to his lips,

his spit falling on to them like rain.

―From where?‖ asked Peter with incomprehension.

―When it is time you‘ll understand.‖

Peter nodded as the figure jumped back into the sun, and

everything turned back to normal. The rosé rays of the morning

light caressed the face of the world.

―Holy shit. Did you see this? Sick trip. What was in this weed?‖

asked John at the verge of laughter,

―Shut up, John,‖ said Peter, ―what we saw was reality.‖

John looked at James as if Peter were crazy and began to laugh

lying down onto the ground.

John‘s Gospel

―What a trip we had. Camping is awesome. Right?‖ asked John

not facing Neil as the taste of strawberry dissolved in his mouth.

He was enchanted by the many people hurrying in all directions,

everyone living their own life. He twirled his long blond hair

around his finger then released it, examining his white blazer and

dark blue shirt, searching for spots. He was relieved not to find

any.

―Yeah, it was quite cool. Do you like working at the fish store?‖

asked Neil.

39

―I guess. It‘s not much fun, but at least I can stand on my own

two now. Have you decided what you are going to do? You could

go and work for your mother at the furniture shop…‖

―I won‘t.‖

John and Neil were sitting before the ice cream parlor on iron

chairs one next to the other protected from the sun by a rainbow-

colored umbrella. They were facing the road and enjoying as the

coolness soothed them from within. Now and then, a car sped by,

other than that only the constant murmur of humanity could be

heard.

Across the street they saw the park with the fountain in the

middle spouting water high into the sky before the great white

building of the town hall. For the first time John enjoyed the

milieu of the suburbs, and this extraneous feeling surprised him a

bit.

Neil rested his head on the back of the iron seat and closed his

eyes.

John faced Neil‘s ice cream and could not believe what he saw,

his surprise culminating in the following words: ―Oh, crap.‖

Neil opened his eyes and saw John‘s face distorted with terror.

Neil looked down and what he saw made him jolt up causing the

ice cream to wobble in the cone a little. Neil saved it just in time

before it fell into his lap. A face was smiling from the strawberry

ball, giving a wink to Neil. Ting.

―Hello, Neil. I understand that you‘re mad at me, but what

would have happened if you knew me before? Would you have

become a better man?‖

―Maybe not better, but maybe happier.‖

―Happier? Neil, don‘t be silly. Are you truly unhappy because

you grew up with two moms who loved you more than anyone?

Look into your soul and answer me sincerely. Is this the true

cause of your unhappiness?‖

Neil turned away with apologizing eyes not directed to the face,

rather his parents at home. ―No, it‘s not their fault.‖

―Then why are you unhappy, Neil?‖

―Shut up.‖

Neil stepped to the garbage can and tossed the ice cream inside.

―Come, John,‖ said Neil waving towards him.

As they left, they heard the voice coming from the depths of the

garbage can. ―You know what you have to do, don‘t run away

from your fate, this is the only source of your unhappiness.‖

40

John hurried after Neil who was storming across the road into

the park. John tried to dodge the people that somehow parted

before Neil, and like waves, collided behind him, crashing against

John.

―Wait, Neil.‖

Neil stopped, and when John caught up with him, they both

hurried into the park.

They walked through the great oak trees lining the gravel path

as the sound of the water splashing became louder and louder.

They stopped at a bench and sat down. The breeze brought with

itself the cooling spur of the fountain. John finished his ice

cream, trying to solve the puzzle of Neil‘s glance.

―What we saw in the woods was true, right?‖

Neil just nodded. John was not surprised because he always

knew, but it was so much simpler to live in self-denial. A pigeon

landed on their bench and started cleaning its wings. As it moved,

the feathers on his neck sparkled in the color of oil spills. With a

pop its head exploded, and from the neck, the cells started

proliferating into a tiny head of an old man, his white beard

flowing down.

―You can‘t run forever, Neil,‖ said the bird. ―You know why I

sent you to earth.‖

―Leave me alone,‖ said Neil pushing the bird off the bench. It

opened its wings to fly and landed upon John‘s head who was too

terrified to move.

―What are you scared of, my Son?‖

―Nothing.‖

―Neil, everyone is scared before finding their way.‖

―They won‘t understand me, and I‘ll fail you.‖

―I didn‘t send you to Earth to convert the whole globe. All you

must do is deliver the message, the rest is up to humanity.‖

―Leave me alone, I was much better without you. Come, John.‖

They stood up and left the bird behind as black clouds gathered

over them. The old oaks started morphing into the face of the old

man, the many flowers lining the road creating elaborate patterns

morphed as well, each strand of grass and finally even the pebbles

on the path resembled the same face.

―Don‘t be scared,‖ they chanted in perfect unison. ―Fulfill your

fate, this is all I ask from you.‖

―No, No, NO,‖ said Neil starting to run. They hurried past the

fountain as Neil pressed his hands against his ears trying to

41

silence the words. With a clash, a lightning struck, and water

came pouring down onto the world, each drop the face of Neil‘s

father.

―Don‘t be scared. Fulfill your fate, this is all I ask from you,‖ the

world sang.

Neil fell to the floor. ―Leave me alone,‖ he screamed, and his

voice exploded from his mouth and rose to the sky, piercing the

clouds, causing them to part. The sun reappeared, and John saw

the face of Neil‘s father in the sun. He winked, ting, then faded

away. Neil‘s body fell to the ground.

The park gave out a sigh as the drops refreshed it after the days

of dryness. The green of the grass and the leaves of the trees, the

millions of colors of the flowers radiated. Through the cells

creating them, the perspiration of the Gloria could be sensed.

John grabbed Neil and pulled the unconscious body to a bench

nearby. Neil‘s face awoke something in him that was more than

friendship but less than love. John knew that he would never

leave him even if the whole world would turn away. Neil awoke

and looked at John with his translucent eyes pleading for help to

find a way not to fulfill his destiny.

Matthew‘s Gospel

Matthew lit the cigarette watching the bustling sea of people

beneath. He played on the invisible piano before him, imagining

the sounds emerging from the nonexistent keyboard. He smelled

the rice powder around him. Men and women with great white

wigs listened to him play, the king himself nodding in

recognition. His cellphone buzzed, and he quickly picked it up.

―Sell, Matthew, sell now,‖ he heard through the phone.

Matthew faced the clock hanging over the crowd like a sword.

These words were like the gun signalizing the beginning of a race.

He threw the cigarette bum to the floor, pushed himself away

from the Doric column, and jumped into the sea of people

wearing suits. It was pure chaos for the laical but not for the ones

here. Matthew dodged the people hurrying in every direction. He

dashed toward his laptop at the other side of the room. He

jumped over someone ducking to tie his shoelaces, slid across the

table, and pressed enter.

Done, he texted on his phone. Matthew heard the bell ringing.

The stock was closed. Papers flew into the air and were falling like

42

autumn leaves, the sighs of desperation mixed with the

exultations of glory. Matthew sat down to rest a little, realizing

that he was tired and could not do this any longer. Slowly the

room emptied, and cleaners started gathering the papers into a

pile with the help of their brooms. The room looked like the

inside of the Pantheon except for the many monitors fastened to

the columns, and the booths growing out from the marble

pavement like mushrooms here and there.

Matthew heard a whimper coming from the far end of the

room. He stood up and walked across the trading area as the

sound grew louder and louder. The cleaners were immersed in

their work, only the monotone sound of the strands of the broom

brushing on marble could be heard. He jumped up the stairs,

hurried through the hiatus between two columns, and had to stop

in the semi-dark corridor surrounding the arena.

A man was lying in the corner shaking. He grabbed his left

pectoral muscle as if he were trying to prevent his heart from

escaping the prison of the rib cage. He sighed one last time. The

shaking stopped, and the body was motionless, dead. Matthew

recognized himself.

He heard a deep rumble, and the building started shaking. A

great crack appeared in the ceiling and then it began crumbling.

The cleaners continued with their job as if nothing had happened,

but Matthew was determined not to die this way. He dashed

down the corridor as the columns, one after the other, fell and

crashed against the wall behind him. He flung out of the two-

winged door and down the marble stairs leading into the spacey

atrium. He pushed the great entrance door open and hurried

down the stairs leading to the road in the red rays of the

afternoon sun as the building crumbled behind him with a bang.

The city was completely empty, not a single soul was to be seen.

He walked in the middle of the abandoned road with the many

skyscrapers tickling the sky. He dusted off his grey suit fitting him

so perfectly it was hard to move in it. The neck of his white shirt

was suffocating him, so he loosened his thin black tie and felt a

little freer.

The world itself started shaking, and a shadow appeared,

growing wider around him accompanied by a whistle. He saw a

great slab of concrete falling right on top of him. He started

running as the slab crashed into the asphalt road behind him. The

skyscrapers before him were cracking as well, and the top parts

43

were sliding to collapse onto the road. He took a right not

knowing where to hide when he saw two great oak trees

signalizing the entrance to the grand park in the center of the city.

He looked up and saw a skyscraper breaking in two, plundering

right onto him, the splinters of the windows falling upon him like

rain. He felt the fragments cut his face and rip his suit. He began

dashing toward the park as the building was precipitating right

onto him.

The entrance was only a few feet away, and Matthew jumped.

The building crashed to the ground with a boom, and the sound

wave thrust Matthew into the sky. He fell onto the gravel path, his

body rolling a few feet.

The booms were echoing in the distance as the city was being

destroyed, but he was safe here. He stood up, dusted his clothes

off, but stopped because he didn‘t actually care about how dirty

they were. He felt at home in the green forest and did not mind

the concrete world becoming one with the ground around him.

He staggered to a bench and lay down as the sun waltzed out of

the world, giving place to the night. Matthew fell asleep ever so

swiftly and deeply as the stars over the city were visible for the

first time in many hundreds of years.

A pleasant tune hit his ear. He opened his eyes and sat up. It

was dusk, and everything else was silent, the world still sleeping.

He searched for the source of the tune. It was coming from a

drunkard heading his way. The figure was far away, approaching

at the end of the corridor lined by trees like columns withholding

the sky. It was a man, and his strong contours were embraced by

light, a figure dancing in the fire. Matthew put his shades on, for

the light was too painful to bear. The man drew closer and took a

sip from the bottle of whisky in his hand now and then.

Even though his voice was husky, it felt as if he were singing to

him like a mermaid, seducing him and caressing his whole body.

The figure was not singing distinct words. Matthew realized that

the light embracing him emanated from his body, like millions of

strands withholding a puppet.

The man stopped and bent forward trying not to lose his

balance. He noticed Matthew staring at him, and in the same

instant, the light disintegrated into thin air. Matthew took his

shades off and waited for the man to approach him.

―May…Isit…down?‖ asked the man, his voice tripping over his

own words.

44

―Go ahead,‖ said Matthew.

The man sat down and lay back on the bench lighting a

cigarette and putting his hair behind his ear exposing his wild and

untamed beard. He looked like a wild man, but his translucent

eyes made him transcendental. The smoke rose into the air, and

Matthew recognized the scent of weed.

―May I have a shot?‖ asked Matthew. The man handed him a

joint, and Matthew inhaled the fume. He felt all the stress that

was building up in his veins through the years at the stock

exchange vanish in a whim.

―Nice suit,‖ said the man and snickered. Matthew examined his

suit that was now perfectly intact. He caressed his face but did not

feel the wounds caused by the raining fragments of glass.

―What is a business man like you doing here at an hour like

this?‖ asked the man.

Matthew felt an urge to confide in him. ―I saw a man die today,

not able to bear the stress anymore…‖

―Rad,‖ said the man.

―I realized that I didn‘t want to die this way…my work is not

something worth dying for, at least not for me…‖

―So?‖ asked the man facing the sky as if he were seeing

someone.

―I don‘t know, I guess then it is a waste of time then. I earn

pretty well but still can hardly find the power to wake up and do

the job…‖

―Then leave…‖

―…and do what?‖

―Pursue your dreams…‖

Matthew was amused by his words but didn‘t want to offend

him by laughing. ―How can I call you, my dear friend?‖

―Neil.‖

―Neil, life is not Hollywood, dreams never come true.‖

―Not if you don‘t even try…maybe you‘ll find out that what you

are doing now is not what you are meant to do, and this is the

specific cause of your unhappiness…‖ Neil stopped for a second,

deep in thought, as if he understood something. When the silence

was becoming too long, he continued, ―You have some money put

apart I figure.‖

Matthew nodded.

―Take a break and pursue your dream, and if you fail, at least

you‘ll have a clear conscience knowing you‘ve tried. You have the

45

luxury many don‘t, to go back to your previous life if the new one

doesn‘t work out…‖

Matthew inhaled the smoke. He felt himself rise into the air.

―Don‘t you have a dream?‖ asked Neil, his eyes bathing in red.

Matthew smiled to himself and said under his nose, ―To play

the piano…‖

―Great. You are very lucky. I don‘t have any. Good luck, old

friend,‖ said Neil standing up and leaving.

Matthew stood up as well. ―Wait, where can I find you?‖ he

asked searching in his pockets. ―Here take my card and ring me

up if you need anything, not as if I can give you anything until you

yourself don‘t know what you need.‖

Matthew marveled at the words that didn‘t pertain to him,

words so strange and still said by him out loud. He handed him

his card, and Neil slid it in his rear pocket. He walked away and

left Matthew alone to ponder about the things he heard. What if

life and Hollywood sometime do coincide?

Matthew left the other way to see that the world did not

crumble, not yet, but it would if the economy would crash

definitively. He did not despise the world of finance but couldn‘t

do as if he enjoyed it either. He never forgot his dream, just

thought about it as a child‘s fantasy. He could never rid himself of

a picture living in his brain, him playing the piano merrily in a

dim bar the day when the Reaper pays him a visit.

Peter‘s Gospel

―Ammon, the Pharaoh‘s orders are to pursue the Israelites.‖

Ammon watched the messenger hurry away, the dust slowly

settling after him in the silent side alley. A bad feeling was

overcoming him, but he didn‘t have time to care. His beautiful

wife was standing in the entrance with her hand on their boy‘s

shoulder. The boy was looking at his father and sucking his

thumb not really understanding what was happening around him.

Ammon stepped to his wife and gave her a passionate kiss with

a notion that this would be their last encounter. He shook these

troubling thoughts away. They were armed and the Israelites

were not. He knelt down to his son and caressed his face bearing

the beauty of his mother and the strong lines of his father. He was

the embodied innocence radiating all the goodness and virtue in

the world.

46

―Whatever happens, listen to your mother.‖

The child nodded and watched his father turn away. As Ammon

stepped out of his home, he felt two little arms clutching his legs.

He looked down and saw his child‘s deep hazel eyes sparkling as a

tear refracted the sunlight.

―Everything will go well. I‘ll be home by nightfall.‖

His wife picked the boy up, and they both watched Ammon

leave through the buildings emerging from the desert sand itself.

As he walked through the streets, he sunk deep in thought. He

tried to find the origin of these emotions of finiteness and

lassitude, trying to convince himself that nothing would happen.

He walked through the narrow streets as the sun shone down

on him through the intricate cracks created by the labyrinth of

houses. People hurried by him with great woven baskets to be

filled up in the bazaar at the other end of the city. He walked by a

snake hypnotizer and stopped for a second. The perpetually

pulsating tune rose from the brass flute into the air. The lid of the

basket slid to the right, and a dark green snake emerged, each

scale glistening like many emeralds and his eyes sparkling ruby

red. It left the golden sand behind, rising toward the lolite blue

sky. The silver bracelets of the hypnotizer glowed in the sunlight.

It was getting late, so Ammon hurried away to the stables. As

he approached the tiny building covered with reed, he heard the

neighing of the horses that were being mounted. He stepped into

the darkness of the stables and adjusted his white toga, cleaning

his chocolate brown muscles of the invisible layer of sand, then

stepped onto the carriage with the muscular black steed ready to

receive the orders.

The doors opened, and light burst into the stable. He swung the

whip, and its crack made the horse stand on its hind two feet and

gallop away through the city gates.

The others were already lined in formation before the city

walls. He was the last one to arrive only to hear the last few

syllables of the orders. The city gates closed behind them, and he

faced the never-ending ocean of sand. The horizon was lost in the

mirage of water caused by the emanating heat. He heard the

trumpets pierce the silence, and the hundreds of carriages left the

city far behind.

They rode for many hours rising and descending the many

dunes. Many miles before them, the sky was filled with

menacingly dark clouds. They weren‘t simply dark, but they were

47

black, draining all light from the world and beating down on the

desert with an ever so strange storm.

As they grew closer, they saw that the infuriated tempest was

composed of not water but tongues of fire. They stopped before

the impenetrable burning curtain and saw the Israelites hurry

away farther and farther into the desert.

Ammon heard the voice of the captain giving out the orders.

―Everybody rest. The moment this rain ceases we continue our

journey. They will not be able to cross the red sea. Be ready to

continue any second.‖

Ammon walked back to his carriage and lay down into the

burning sand. He closed his eyes and tried to relax. The heat was

beating down on them, and he felt the liquor embracing his brain

boil, cooking it like an egg. The day flew away quickly, but the

curtain of fire was still blocking the way. The sun set covering the

desert with the cool night. Ammon watched the army dancing as

the light from the flames fell upon them. It was growing colder,

and a gentle breeze caressed him and calmed him down causing

him to fall asleep.

―Wake up,‖ someone bellowed.

Ammon opened his eyes to see that the clouds had parted and

the curtain had dissolved into thin-air. He jumped onto the

carriage and rode away after the others as the sun reemerged over

the horizon.

The sea appeared, tingling amidst the arid grounds of the

desert. The wind brought a salty scent with it. The front of the

never-ending line of carriages stopped for some reason, and

Ammon drove closer to the shore to investigate. He had to stop

because he didn‘t believe his own eyes. The water was parted

creating a corridor leading through the perpetually fluent walls of

water. The captain hesitated for a second then turned toward the

army.

―We swore to follow the orders of the Pharaoh. After me!‖

The captain swung his whip, and his carriage hurried through

the corridor with the walls of water. The army followed, and soon

Ammon was riding past the translucent sea. The fish were

swimming about as if nothing had happened. The bottom of the

sea, where the army was riding, was covered with suffocating

clams, dying sea stars, and flapping fish begging for some water.

The Israelites were already safe and sound on the other bank.

Ammon hoped for a second that they would succeed, that they

48

would survive, when a great bang erupted echoing around the

world.

Ammon stopped his horse and looked up to see the walls

closing in on them. The crashing mass of water thrust him in all

directions, and his body obeyed its undeniable and undefeatable

power. As the water poured down into his lungs, he thought about

his family, his beautiful and innocent child who was condemned

to grow up alone, in constant hunger, helpless against the evil

powers of the world without his father. The world turned black,

and Ammon road away through the dark tunnel toward the light.

He soon reached its end and stopped his cart on top of the

clouds. He jumped off the carriage and headed toward the golden

gate that opened as he drew closer. Light emerged from behind

the gates, and the sound of trumpets echoed, announcing the

arrival of the greatest ruler of all. Tiny putti materialized from

nowhere with the body of infants, but the decadent wrinkled face

of ancient beings. They flew around Ammon with their tiny flutes

and blew their screeching tune into his ears. He tried to chase

them off, but they returned like irritating flies in the unbearable

heat of summer.

Soon God appeared, sitting on his golden thrown carried by

four Seraphim who, instead of having two arms and two legs, had

millions of wings emerging from all over their body. Ammon

could see how they suffered under the burden they were carrying,

but the fear reflected in their eyes suggested that they did not

dare to complain.

―Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the earth is filled with

his Glory. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the earth is

filled with his Glory. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the

earth is filled with his Glory,‖ they chanted over and over again,

barely being able to speak, about to crumble under the weight of

the God who grew far too fat in the laziness of the heavens.

Guarding the throne were the Cherubs. Monsters. They had

four faces, one of a man, an ox, a lion, and a griffon vulture. Their

conjoined wings covered their faces, and they were standing on

ox‘s feet. The sound they gave out as they saw Ammon, made him

tremble in fear, the roar of the devil.

Following God came the rest of the hierarchy. Hovering in mid-

air came the Thrones, beryl-colored wheels-within-wheels with

their rims covered with hundreds of eyes annunciating the godly

justice. Then came the Dominions who looked like divinely

49

beautiful humans with a pair of feathered wings wielding orbs of

light fastened to the heads of their scepters and on the pommel of

their swords. Then came the Virutes with their maps of space

controlling the movement of all celestial bodies, and the Powers

with their million-page-long encyclopedias guarding the history

of the world, then the Principalites, the educators and guardians,

rulers of races, nations, and people, bearing a golden crown and a

scepter, then the seven Archangels, Michaell, Gabriel, Raphael,

Uriel, Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Zadkiel. Finally the millions of

common angels appeared and took their places, all of them

gathering behind God. Ammon waited for centuries until the

entourage finally settled down.

God cleared his throat. ―You have sinned, Ammon, and I

sentence you to burn in the flames of hell until the end of time.

You may speak in your defense, but I can tell you there isn‘t the

tiniest possibility that I grant you pardon,‖ said God as a putto

placed a golden cup of coffee in his mighty hands. ―You have

sinned against my chosen people,‖ he said taking a sip.

―Who are your chosen people?‖ asked Ammon.

―Ah, good question. Now the Jews, but I decided to widen my

base. Soon anyone will be allowed to join, they will be called the

Christians. Oh,‖ he said grabbing his protruding belly, ―this coffee

is a little too strong, my bowel movements… Angels, bring me the

godly loo.‖

Four angels arrived, carrying a golden toilette booth. They

placed it before God who disappeared behind the red satin

curtains.

―And what happens to those who are not part of the chosen

people?‖ asked Ammon.

―They all have sinned,‖ he said from the booth.

―Then why did you create me when you knew that I would

commit sin and pursue your chosen people? Why didn‘t you spare

them the despotic ruling of the Egyptians?‖

―I needed to make my people witness the mighty God I am. I

needed people like you. I need sinners…‖

―So, basically, you created me to make them suffer, and now

that I do as I was ordained to do, I am declared a sinner? Why

make them suffer, why create us if you could just show yourself to

them and make them see your glory?‖

50

―My throne is far too big to fit through the dark tunnel you

came in from, so I had to find another way. Do you see my

ingenuity and godly astuteness?‖

His entourage unanimously clapped and cheered.

―I think you are crazy,‖ said Ammon. ―I left my wife and child

behind just because you play with us like a spoiled child with his

dolls.‖

―Silence, you impudent scum. Open the doors of hell.‖

The clouds parted before Ammon‘s feet, and great flames rose

to the sky, scorching his hair.

―Push him inside,‖ he ordered.

A putto appeared behind Ammon, but he just slapped him to

the floor. ―Don‘t bother. I am glad and willing to be consumed by

the flames. I could never serve a deluded psychopath infant like

your God.‖

Ammon jumped, and the warm flames embraced him. As he

fell, he heard the godly toilette flush, and golden turds fell from

the sky like rain.

Peter woke up drenched in sweat, bathing in the rays of the

afternoon sun. He rubbed his forehead as the images of his dream

came pouring in. He examined the pictures one by one, scenes

about a maniac residing in the deepest cell in an asylum where his

insanity is given birth by the mother of ignorance who constantly

copulates with the father of everything illogic.

He knew too well that what he saw was more than a dream but

much less than reality. He saw the God his parents made him

serve and shuddered. He saw an idol that was about to crack and

crumble to the ground to be forgotten forever, never to be

respected and praised again. It was a mistake that humanity must

never make again. The fog blurring his future now rose, he knew

what had to be done. He had to leave college and become one of

Neil‘s pupils.

He felt a compulsive force that made him rise from the bed and

find Neil even though he was not picking up his phone, so he

decided to visit the playground, the place that was so important

as they grew up.

He hurried down the wooden stairs, holding the white railings.

The moss green carpet felt soft under his socks. His parents were

sitting on the light green sofa with great palms bending over

them, offering them refuge and intimacy.

―I‘ll be coming home soon,‖ he said as he tied his shoelaces.

51

He hurried down the cobblestone path lined by the

rhododendron bushes to jump onto the arriving bus. The suburbs

gave place to the desolating scenery of the periphery of the city.

The bus stopped, and Peter jumped off.

Stray dogs chased each other, and Peter hopped out of their

way before he was pushed over. In the distance sirens could be

heard. It was becoming a hostile neighborhood, but to them it

was more than a place of peril and danger, it was the place where

they had grown up. This blinded their sight, morphing what they

saw into a sweet and nostalgic place. He walked through a dark

alley to step out into a playground surrounded by abandoned

buildings.

He heard the screeching sound of not oiled, rusty metal

grinding against each other. The red sun set behind the building.

A figure was sitting on the swings, staring down deep in thought.

Peter approached him.

―Hi, Neil.‖

Neil only nodded.

―Where were you last night? Where were you today? I‘ve been

worried sick…‖

Peter sat down and pushed himself away from the ground,

swinging back and forth. As the breeze caressed his face, he flew

back in time and felt young again. Everything he thought right

and moral was about to change drastically thanks to this boy who

was not yet able to accept his fate.

―I had a dream, Neil…‖

Neil did not listen to him and looked up as if he hadn‘t said a

word. ―I know what has to be done.‖

―You do?‖ asked Peter surprised.

―Yes. But tell me how will we convince them? We must defeat

an ideology of two-thousand years.‖

―I know, Neil, but think of your predecessor who had to the

same and still succeeded, more or less.‖

Peter fell silent then asked the question that was always on the

tip of his tongue, but he never dared to ask. ―Did you know him,

Neil? I mean Jesus.‖

―Yes and no. The body I never saw, but we share the same soul.

We are the same, just the vessel is different.‖

―Did you always know who you were?‖

52

Neil nodded. The moon took its place and watched as the two

children slowly faded away. A rat pushed a trashcan over and fled

the scene.

―How do we start, Peter?‖

―It‘s simple, we reach out to the people.‖

Neil pushed himself away from the ground, and Peter saw a

drop of tear sparkle in his eyes like one of the many stars in the

sky. Neil searched in his pocket for a cigarette and placed it in his

mouth.

The silver buttons on his black leather jacket sparkled like

many diamonds, and the gel in his hair shone like many micron

thick silver strands. Only now did Peter see how pale he was. His

beauty was not of this world. Peter felt aroused a little even

though he knew that Neil was attracted solely to women. His

translucent eyes mesmerized Peter because it bore the plasticity

of water but the sturdiness of rock. Each time he looked into them

he lost himself a little as if he were being attracted toward a

precipice on the bottom of which the infinite ocean was awaiting

him, not the raging oceans of Earth, but a docile and lovable mass

of water that gives life and takes it away in time, he only had to

jump.

Peter decided to leave the conservative religious ways and step

onto this virgin path, but he knew far too well that this was a risk

that the disciples of the past took as well and eventually were

rewarded. He saw the wonders with his own eyes and knew who

Neil‘s father was. They would be condemned and called insane,

but he didn‘t care because he knew the truth, and eventually the

rest of humanity would see it too.

―Why are you sad, Neil? You have a place in the world, you

should rejoice.‖

―I know, I am happy…‖

―But then why are you frowning?‖

―It‘s hard to learn that your youth ended. We have grown up.‖

―But think about what you can achieve, what an adventure

awaits you.‖

―I know, but only now do I really understand how fragile the

barrier is between life and death. We are growing old, and the end

is approaching.‖

―Don‘t be so melodramatic, Neil. I have an idea, you won‘t like

it, I don‘t like it either, but hear me out.‖

―Not now, not yet.‖

53

Neil pushed himself away and Peter did the same. They swung

back and forth bathing in the moonlight. The world that existed

behind them slowly vanished.

54

ADULTHOOD

Philipp‘s Gospel

Philipp lay back in the seat of his provisional office he occupied

every Sunday where he worked as a volunteer on the usual

bureaucratic assignments the church ran on. He smelled the tips

of his hands and still felt the smell of fish from the never-ending

hours of packing the crates from the truck into the fridge during

the week. It was the smell of work, of time spent usefully, and this

warmed Philipp‘s heart.

The pen tinted the paper blue as it moved swiftly in his agile

hands. He brushed away a stray curl from his forehead and rested

for a second. The nameplate on the reverend‘s white door on the

right sparkled gold. He faced the window before his desk, looking

down at the park. A breeze entered and brushed the leaves of the

palm tree in the vase standing by the brown sofa beneath the

window. He enjoyed the silence that one only feels when their

heart is at peace.

He bent over his desk once more and began with the booking

that poured the numbers like a spring turning into a great river,

not permitting the slightest delay because the overflow is

imminent and will flood the towns and cities in the vicinity,

destroying the lives of many.

The moment he stepped over the threshold leading back to

work, two knocks interrupted him.

―Come in,‖ said Philipp facing the door that opened.

A familiar face appeared.

―Peter…‖ said Philipp with a tone of false welcoming and

mockery. ―What brings you here, old friend?‖

―Hello, Philipp,‖ said Peter coldly greeting him and grasping

his hand a little harder than necessary.

―Come do sit down.‖

55

As Philipp sat back into his chair, he saw a strange young man

enter after Peter. Even though the stranger was silent, he filled

the room just like a gas and entered into his lungs to dissolve in

his blood. The man‘s wild hair and untamed beard coupled with

the placid eyes awoke in Philipp a sort of attraction lacking any

type of sexuality.

―Let me introduce to you Neil,‖ said Peter.

Philipp shook hands with Neil. Even though his soft hands

were warm and his grasp gentle, his fingers embraced Philipp‘s

hand with a strictness, not conveying brute force, rather a

spiritual strength.

As Peter and Neil sat down on the couch before the window,

Philipp asked, ―How is your fish shop going, Peter?‖

―Great, Philipp, simply great.‖

―Oh, don‘t lie, all your customers are coming to us, your once

thriving shop is about to go bankrupt any moment.‖

―This is not why we came, Philipp.‖

―Oh, Peter. Talk to your parents, we are willing to buy your

shop. Your parents can keep their jobs if they wish. I promise.‖

―It took their whole life to build up their shop, and they are not

giving up.‖

―John‘s parents are willing to sell…‖

―Don‘t try these dirty little tricks on me. I‘m not stupid, they‘re

not willing to sell. Anyway, we‘re here for much more important

reasons.‖

Philipp sighed and lay back in his chair. ―Alright, how can I

help you?‖

Peter squirmed in his seat and gave a squint to Neil who

seemed to be here against his will. Philipp looked at them not

having the slightest idea what they had come here for.

Peter‘s family had sturdy religious values and always despised

Philip and his community a little, believing them more as a sect

than the rebirth of a religion. They knew, just like Philipp, that

the wonders performed by the reverend were not real, but what

they couldn‘t accept, unlike Philipp, was that the reverend was

doing this to expand the flock of God. Moreover he fed the need of

people to escape from reality into a world where wonders do

exist, and God is so close, not only visible, but tangible as well.

The reverend was working for a good cause. These illusions

weren‘t harmful and attracted those people who were deaf to the

words of God and wanted to see actions.

56

―There is no easy way to put this…‖ said Peter stopping mid-

sentence.

Philipp reached for the glass of water and before taking a sip

said, ―Go on, Pete, go on.‖

―…I think that Neil here is the new Messiah.‖

Philipp spat the water out like a fountain, so great was the

shock caused by this insolence. He put the glass back on the table

and wiped his mouth.

―Excuse me?‖ he asked whispering.

Philipp looked at Peter who didn‘t try to explain or correct his

words making Philipp realize that he was truly convinced of his

truth. Philipp scrutinized his face, searching for a grin, anything

that would prove that he was joking, but Peter‘s face stayed as still

as the sturdiest rock.

―Get out, Peter. You of all people, you, the child of the most

bigot believers, how could you say something so atrocious?‖

―What my parents believe in is one thing, what I believe in is

another. You know how I was raised, this is the exact reason you

should believe me. Hence my family‘s bigotry I truly believe that

he is his son.‖

―Why should I believe you?‖

―Look at him.‖

―Look? Why?‖ Philipp turned to face Neil, but couldn‘t see

anything. The sun burst through the window, blinding Philipp

and causing him to squint. Neil was bathing in light. Philipp

stood up and let the shades down then sat back into his seat.

―Prove it, Neil. Do something,‖ said Philipp.

Peter turned to Neil with anticipation, and Philipp saw that he

too did not know what was about to happen. They both watched

him in perfect silence.

Neil sat in his chair staring at the desk. Philipp looked at his

hand and only now noticed how white they were, more than pale,

almost translucent. He seemed a specter not belonging here

between the living but not even to the realm of the dead, just

hovering between the two, seeing both at once. His inert bearing

somehow hypnotized Philipp, and when Neil raised his hand,

Philip jolted a little the way one does in his sleep, waking up just

before hitting the ground.

Neil‘s hand rose through the air without any weight at all as if it

were made of the lightest cumulous. His hand floated toward

Philipp who lay back, scared what that hand would do, trying to

57

dissipate into the black leather seat behind him. The hand glided

to the stack of pens in a tiny mahogany box by the photo of

Philipp‘s mother. Philipp did not dare to move, not even breathe.

Neil picked up a pen with his pale fingers, returned his hand to

his lap, and started fiddling with it.

He looked up at Philipp for the first time and Philipp saw his

eyes were the color of the unpolluted, turquoise sea.

―Philipp,‖ said Neil. Philipp felt his voice embrace him, and all

he wanted to do was to lose himself in it, to be caressed by that

hand giving him unbearable pleasure until the end of time. ―I am

sorry, but I will not perform any kind of wonder.‖

Philipp didn‘t know how to evaluate what he had just heard and

witnessed. He wanted to believe them, but couldn‘t, it was a leap

of faith he couldn‘t perform. If Neil would have said, ‗Philipp, I

am the son of God,‖ Philipp would have believed him, but no one

said a word.

―Get out of my office please,‖ said Philipp in disgrace. ―Every

now and then we meet people that truly think they are the

Messiah. This is not only humorous but makes you seem like a

megalomaniac psycho. Get out. I don‘t have time for this.‖

―Philipp, please listen, you must help us,‖ said Peter begging

him.

―Get out, get out,‖ said Philipp opening the door and showing

them the way.

Peter stood up and stormed out of the room. Neil left without a

care in the world. The moment Philipp closed the door behind

him everything went a little darker. He stepped to the window to

pull the shades back up. As he sat back behind his desk, Philipp

could not rid himself from Neil‘s aura to which he stuck to as if it

were flypaper.

The reverend‘s door opened, and Mrs. Plumberry stepped out,

followed by the reverend. The reverend was wearing his usual

black suit. His white hair was combed backwards giving him the

air of an oil mogul grown old.

―Mrs. Plumberry, all you have to do is raise your hand when I

ask for volunteers. Philipp will push you to the stage in the wheel-

chair, and when I demand you to walk, all you have to do is stand

up and walk.‖

Philipp loved the reverend very much, but his voice, its

venomous sweetness, made his stomach turn and awakened hate

58

in him for this man. This he always tried to hide, even from of

himself, most of all from himself.

The door closed behind the old woman, and as the reverend

returned to his office, he asked, ―Is everything alright, Philipp?‖

―Of course, reverend.‖

The door closed behind him, and Philipp was left alone. As he

looked outside, he realized that the sun was nowhere to be seen

because the window was facing east and during this time of the

afternoon the sun was setting in the west, on the other side of the

building. It was Neil who emanated the light, not the sun.

―I really must sleep more,‖ he said returning to his desk and

bending over the papers to continue with his Sisyphusian fight

against the never-ending stream of numbers.

Peter‘s Gospel

Neil stopped his red Mustang at the abandoned motel at the

edge of the desert. The wind awoke bringing sand from the womb

of death. Peter looked at Neil staring at the steering wheel.

―I understand you don‘t want to perform wonders, but then

how do you want to attract the attention of the people?

Neil shrugged, but Peter didn‘t give up.

―People listen to the reverend, and they would listen to you

too.‖

Neil shrugged once again and remained silent.

―C‘mon, Neil, get out. Sulking won‘t do any good.‖

Neil nodded, stepped out of the car, and slammed the door

behind him. He hurried to the trunk and grabbed his skateboard

with its burning flames running across the underside. He plucked

each freshly oiled red wheel that turned without making the

slightest sound, then opened the back door, and reached for his

black bag. He dusted his black leather boots off, and his pants

swayed a little as the wind blew in through the tattered jeans. His

deeply cut XXL black T-shirt exposed his pectoral muscles with

tiny strands of hair. Neil brushed his long dark hazel hair back

and scratched his manly beard.

Neil approached the pool and stopped at its side, stepping onto

the back end of the skateboard, making the front end hover in

mid-air. He put his weight onto the front and rolled down the side

of the pool only leaving the grinding sound of wheels on cement

behind him. As Peter approached the pool, Neil reemerged from

59

time to time, rising into the sky. His silhouette appeared

periodically, twirling and somersaulting in the air before the

summer sun that cast its rays on this desolate place.

Peter examined the L-shaped two-story abandoned motel with

its many shattered windows looking down on the yard, then

ducked under the fence surrounding the pool, and stepped out on

the other side. He walked past the white deckchairs, some of

them broken, others flipped over. The palm trees surrounding the

pool were on the verge of death, life was only blinking in them,

ready to go out any moment. The breeze moved the dry leaves

that gave out a hissing sound, a snake ready to mar the youth and

inject the venom of revelation that everything ends eventually.

Peter stopped by the iron ladder leading into the empty pool

and sat down into one of the folding chairs. He reached for the

whiskey in Neil‘s bag and took a long sip. The fluid burned his

esophagus. Neil emerged from the pool, sat down by him, and

grabbed the bottle to take a sip.

Peter was lost, he left his old God and now was following the

new one, at least this is what Peter hoped. He started working at

the local socks factory after his parents threw him out when he

told them who he was and what he wanted to do. The work was

nothing extraordinary, but at least he could rent his own

apartment. The liquor rose into his head, and he felt light. All this

life of complete abstinence was gone now, and for the first time

he was really enjoying life, not knowing whether this was right or

wrong.

They sat there in silence for a few minutes. As Neil rolled a

joint, Peter stood up, reached for a spray can, and jumped down

into the pool to start a new fresco. Peter had an artistic vein that

he had only discovered after he severed ties with his previous God

and stepped on the road of self-acceptance.

Neil lit the joint and jumped down beside him to quietly watch

him as he worked. Occasionally Peter reached for the joint. When

the smoke began to take effect, everything seemed to change. The

colors became so much more vivid. The purple seemed to be more

than what it was, it had a strong neon pink undertone. The black

contours only made the letters glow. The neon green dripped

down the letters that were emerging from a thick cloud of yellow.

When Peter was finished, he stepped back and admired his

masterpiece, his Sistine chapel.

60

Neil read the words, ―The dying apostles of death. Oh, Peter,

you are such a dork,‖ said Neil snickering, but patted Peter in

admiration nonetheless.

Peter climbed up the ladder and sat down on the chairs facing

the desert as day turned into night. He reached for his phone to

post their location. It was getting dark, and Neil walked to the car

to switch the dazzle lamps on. The strands of light illuminated

Peter‘s back, casting his shadow on the concrete yard that turned

into sand a few feet away.

Neil sat down and gave the bottle to Peter. He took a sip then

cleared his throat. He heard his own words from far away, a little

bit slower than usual.

―Why didn‘t you perform a wonder, just like Philipp asked?

Just like your predecessor did?‖

―I won‘t,‖ said Neil facing the sky, ―as you see, it didn‘t work for

Jesus, and it won‘t work for me either.‖

―But what do we do now, Neil?‖

―There is always a way. Sometimes you just gotta let things

happen, and they turn out for the better. Sometimes.‖

―I‘ll put some music on,‖ said Peter.

He walked to the car and switched the radio on. Rhythmical

music rose into the air invoking ancient tunes of aboriginal

dances conveying a prayer to the gods above for better weather,

for luck in battle, for prospering peace, for pardon and absolution

from their sins. The singer persistently chanted her wish to be the

slave of a man, willingly, without force, annulling the peace treaty

signed in Appomattox, making fun of the many victims the war

demanded, causing Grant to roll over in his grave.

It was music hated so much from the previous generations, but

Peter knew that the ones who judged them did not want to

comprehend that everything evolves from what the previous

generation started. The old is taken by the youth and morphed

into something new, something that the young generation can call

their own.

They talked into the night when another light approached

them, coming from a different angle. Peter turned around and

saw a golden Corvette dashing toward them. The car took a sharp

right, drifted for a few feet, and stopped with a deafening screech.

Two identical figures jumped out from the back of the vehicle and

headed toward them. As they stepped into the light, Peter

recognized them, John and James, but there was a third

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silhouette, much more slender and feminine, someone who

moved much slower than the other two, swaying from left to right

like a snake.

The figure stepped into the light, and Peter‘s heart rejoiced. He

couldn‘t contain his happiness and hurried to hug Magdalene.

She was so different, yet she was the same rebel as all of them,

channeling the words of the abandoned youth of today. Peter let

go of Magdalene, and she walked, not walked but slid toward

Neil. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and they kissed,

bathing in the light coming from the cars, witnessed by the

envious desert.

―You really made it, Magdalene, or should I just call you L€ne?‖

asked Neil.

―L€ne will be fine.‖

―You are a star…‖

―I guess,‖ said L€ne blushing.

―How did you find us?‖ asked Neil intrigued.

―Peter checked in, and we saw his location.‖

―How long are you staying?‖ asked Peter jumping up and down.

James unpacked his backpack filled with whiskey. L€ne broke

loose from Neil‘s arms and reached for a bottle without answering

and then started moving to the pulsating music. They danced

with Neil as James and John skateboarded. Peter lay down

enjoying this unexpected reunion, closing his eyes listening to the

sound of their voices, their laughter, their bodies moving, the

music, and the wind coming from the desert.

The bottles emptied one after the other, but Peter could see

that something was disturbing L€ne. Just when he thought he

would never learn its source, she pulled him away. They walked to

the motel, and L€ne kicked in one of the doors and hurried to the

toilette to bend over the seat. L€ne roared and threw up, filling

the bowl with a red paste-like liquid filled with glitter.

―Oh shit, what is that?‖

―Gliteoeoeoer.‖ She threw up once more. When she was done,

she cleaned her mouth. ―It‘s a strange disease, autoimmune or

something, my body creates a glitter-like substance to

contain…who the hell knows what.‖

―Is it dangerous?‖

―Who knows…‖ she said and sat down onto the moldy old bed

next to Peter. It was dark apart from the light of the cars coming

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through the tattered shades causing their shadows to distend

onto the walls of this decaying room.

―What is the problem, L€ne?‖

―I‘m leaving, Peter, leaving for a very long time, and I just came

to say farewell.‖

―Where are you going?‖

―On tour. I will be a vagabond from now on. Everyone wants a

piece of me.‖

―Good for you, we will miss you, but I guess you made it, and

you should be happy. Does Neil know?‖

―No, and please don‘t tell him, just give us this last night.‖

Peter nodded, then L€ne hugged him, and they hurried back to

the others. The party continued until the first rays of light

appeared over the horizon. L€ne and Neil headed into one of the

many rooms, John staggered into a second one, and Peter and

James occupied a third one. Peter sat down on the bed as James

closed the door behind him. Peter looked at James‘ long blond

hair tumbling down onto his shoulders like the waves of the

golden sea.

―Take your pants off,‖ he commanded Peter, and he obeyed.

James pushed him onto the bed, threw his skull T-shirt to the

side, exposing his rippling upper body, and bent over Peter,

kissing him passionately. He grabbed Peter, and with a single

motion, turned him around, making him fall face down. James

spanked him, and Peter felt the propulsion sway up his body.

Peter heard James unbuckle his belt and saw him put a condom

on. He was like Michelangelo‘s David, Peter thought, the same

body except for his cock twice the size. James grabbed his waist

and raised it into the air then pierced him from behind, stabbing

him again and again until dusk turned into morning, and Peter

fell onto the bed senseless with pleasure.

The next morning Peter opened his eyes and hurried out of the

bedroom to find Neil staring into the nothingness at the edge of

the desert. He walked to him and saw that his heart was broken.

Philipp‘s Gospel

The wind blew through Philipp‘s hair, gently caressing his face,

soothing him, causing him to smile, bathing in the grace of the

world. Philipp opened his eyes and could not believe what he saw.

He was standing at the feet of a hill with an ancient city emerging

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from the sand itself behind him. Patches of green decorated the

devastating landscape.

He was wearing his usual grey suit that stood out from the

surroundings that evoked ancient, long lost times.

―Hello, Philipp.‖

Philipp turned around and saw Neil standing next to him. He

was different than the silent young man who sat in his office. He

was glowing, emanating light that burned through reality, and

Philipp thought he could see God peeking through it.

―Neil?‖

―You can call me that, in fact you can call me whatever you

want, but Neil will be adequate. Follow me, I want to show you

something.‖

His voice was gentle, but transcended authority, a

commandment not to be defied. Neil walked up the hill calmly,

taking each step as if it were his last. Philipp hurried behind him

as a voice emerged from the silence. He could swear it was the

voice of Neil, but he was not talking.

As they reached the top, Philipp saw twelve men listening to a

man who he recognized instantly, it was Jesus. He was much

shorter than how Philipp had imagined him, so ordinary, so

human. He looked much older than his true age, and his eyes

were sad because of the cross he was bearing and the fate he knew

would come no matter what happens, like a tidal wave that

nothing could stop, not even the greatest dam ever built by man.

―I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off

every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that

does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You

are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit

by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit

unless you remain in me.

―I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I

in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do

nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is

thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown

into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words

remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

This is to my Father‘s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing

yourselves to be my disciples.

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―As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain

in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love,

just as I have kept my Father‘s commands and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy

may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have

loved you. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no

longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his

master‘s business. I do not call you victims because you must

immolate nothing, as I will not either. Instead, I have called you

friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made

known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and

appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will

last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will

give you. This is my command: Love each other.

―If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If

you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is,

you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the

world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told

you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted

me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they

will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my

name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not

come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but

now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me, hates

my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no

one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have

seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father, but this is

to fulfill what is written in their Law, they hated me without

reason and is there anything worse than hate without reason?‖

This is all Jesus said, and he headed down the hill, leaving all of

them alone. Philipp watched his contour dissolve in the setting

sun, his words still ringing in his ears. He turned back to Neil.

―These are not his exact words. I know the Bible by heart.‖

―Shhh. Just listen,‖ said Neil nodding toward the apostles.

The apostles started moving, some stood up to stretch their

limbs. Peter lay down on the grass and reread the words. Slowly

they settled in the burning rays of the setting sun, and the

meeting continued without Jesus.

Peter was the first one to speak. ―We listened to him all this

time, and all he gives us is a single commandment? To love each

other?‖

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―This won‘t do, people,‖ said James. ―We need to create more