Category Archives: Religion

No Context For You – January 08th

I did not come down with a cold – yet. Or the flu, which has rampaged through our small office – yet.

Thought #1 re: that – Let’s assume my guardian angel is doing a good job of prioritizing and protecting me from the biggest threats so I’m staying healthy while all about me are spending days and weeks in misery. How bad must that flu be so that I need that sort of angelic protection instead of some divine intervention with Lottery numbers or something useful? Hey, I’ll take a week of the flu if I can get about $50M cash after taxes, thanks! Just an FYI…

Thought #2 re: that – How freakin’ EGOMANIACAL do humans have to be to believe that the Lord Supreme God of the Entire Universe would create an entire race of divine beings for no purpose other than to follow us around (invisibly, mind you) and protect us from evil and guide us toward being good people. We, the psychotic and only semi-intelligent meat puppets of planet Earth, working hard to annihilate ourselves and take the rest of the planet and the biosphere down with us, **WE** get our own personal set of divine slaves!

Thought #3 – wow, that got dark and escalated quickly!

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Groundless Faith vs Depressing Reality

Having been raised Catholic, complete with six years of nuns in full “penguin” regalia teaching Catholic school, I’m familiar with the concept of faith.

Having rejected Catholicism and all other religions, I’m familiar with the realization that reality often sucks.

Tonight, having exposed myself to my daily dose of muck, mire, stupidity, and hatred in the news, I saw a comment by someone who was taking solace in her faith in God and her belief that under divine guidance it would all work out for the best. (For the moment we’ll ignore the discrepancy between that common view of the deity’s job description and the theological necessity for free will.)

For a moment I was almost jealous. In her piety and faith she wasn’t pissed off, depressed, furious, outraged, or anxious. God would take care of it, all’s well, let’s have dinner!

Then I was wondering how people with that kind of faith can manage to hold on to it when their it turns out God might have been asleep at the wheel that day. I know that many people lose their faith at that time (hey, welcome back to reality, have some wet wipes, there’s a lot of shit being flung about out here!) but many, such as my mother, hold onto it no matter what.

So which is better, to face reality with all of its flaws and warts and at times like this being pummeled heavily about the head and shoulders with the fact that we’re a long, long way from that mythical Paradise? Or to sail through it all with our faith as the rock solid keel keeping us on course, only to end up spinning and capsizing when that keel breaks away?

I’ll stick with reality for a lot of reasons, but here’s a key one that comes to mind.

If you forfeit the ownership of the world’s slimier aspects, you also forfeit any credit for its moments of bliss. You can believe that God’s invisible angels are all around you, or you can find yourself to be an angel of our own making. This can be in the smallest things, the way you treat people from total strangers to heads of state, to the biggest things possible, such as how you choose to react in a crisis.

You also get to take ownership of the world’s rainbows appearing in a ray of brilliant sunshine slipping through a hole in a black  thunderhead, the sound of the thunder rolling across the landscape, and the brilliant stars that come in the clear night skies that follow.

Sometimes there is an awful lot of shit to wade through, but if you’re going to have faith, think about a Mozart symphony, a 9-11 first responder, your child’s first cry, and the feel of your lover’s hand in yours as you walk through a quiet forest – then have faith there there really will be a pony underneath all of that shit.

 

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By Their Bumper Stickers Shall You Know Them

I don’t think it’s ever a good thing to judge total strangers based on a first impression or some potentially superficial facet of their persona. But I’ll make an exception for bumper stickers. If you’re passionate enough about something to start advertising it as you drive around, you’re fair game for a snap judgement based on the advertising you choose for your vehicle.

Two cases in point from LA’s streets:

First, I’m one of those guys who, either for altruistic reasons or for neurotic reasons (or both), will flash my headlights at someone who’s driving at night with their headlights out. About 98% of the time it’s totally ignored – someone who’s clueless enough to be driving without headlights is also so brain dead or distracted behind the wheel that they simply don’t notice anyone flashing their lights. About 1% of the time it actually works – they get the signal, recognize it, go “Oh, shit, that’s me,” and turn on their lights.

The other 1% I ran into on my way home tonight. His custom plates were something like “GOD♡4EVR” and there were at least a half dozen bumper stickers on the back gate of the minivan asking if I had been saved, warning me that in case of the Rapture the car would be empty, and so on.

Coming up behind them I could see that the tail lights were dark, and as soon as we got to a darker stretch of the road it was obvious his headlights were off as well. The brake lights were working fine, so the problem was obvious. I flashed my lights, once, twice – nothing. We were coming up on a light that had just turned red, there was no one else around us, so I switched lanes and pulled up beside the guy. I rolled down my passenger window and honked, trying to get him to look over so I could tell him what’s wrong.

Nothing. I honked again. Still nothing. I tapped the horn a third time and let my car drift forward a few inches so that I could see the driver better. Isn’t the normal reaction to at least glance over and see who’s honking and why?

The look on this guy’s face said it all. It was a middle aged white guy, balding, collared dress shirt with no tie but buttoned all the way to the top. He was staring straight ahead and scared shitless. There was no way on Earth he was going to glance over and make eye contact.

MY GOD SOME LUNATIC ON THE ROAD HAS BEEN FLASHING HIS LIGHTS AT ME AND NOW HE’S HONKING AT ME IT’S PROBABLY ONE OF THOSE GANG INITIATION THINGS THAT I HEARD ABOUT ON HANNITY OR THE 700 CLUB AND IF I LOOK OVER THERE IT WILL BE A LOW-RIDER FULL OF GANG MEMBERS JUST WAITING TO BLOW ME AWAY SO WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK!

I left him alone and gave him plenty of space, not honking or flashing any more. About a block later he turned off into a subdivision which, coincidentally, had a serious lack of street lighting. It was almost comical as I went by to see how he suddenly slammed on his brakes in the middle of the road and finally turned on his lights.

Do I think he suddenly said, “Ah ha! That’s what that guy was trying to tell me!” Or do I think he’s at home on some whackjob website perpetuating that stupid urban myth?

Second guy, while I was taking a quick walk around the block at lunch yesterday. A guy is trying to parallel park. He’s got a Prius. He’s trying to parallel park into a spot big enough to easily fit an Escalade. The key work is “trying.” Once, fails. Pulls out and tries again. Fails. Pulls out and backs up to try to pull forward-ish into the spot. Fails. Pulls back out and tries the parallel parking again. Fails and almost hits the car that’s already parked there.

I was going to stop and give him some hand signals or help (remember, altruistic and/or psychotic) when I saw the not one, not two, but three “Ted Cruz” bumper stickers.

For all I know he’s still trying to park that sucker.

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles, Politics, Religion

Too Much World News

I’ve always been one who wanted to keep abreast of the news, even when that meant the evening news with Huntley and Brinkley and the Chicago Tribune. Or the Springfield Times-Reporter and John Chancellor. That interest in current events and world news became an obsession when I was a midshipman at Annapolis.

One of the “learning exercises” that is used to train plebes is to have them memorize massive amounts of information, then regurgitate it on command of any upperclassman or officer. This is, of course, impossible by definition. It teaches many things, among them how to think under pressure, how to keep track of large amounts of data and multitask, how to fail and still keep going, how to prioritize your time, and so on.

One of the particular techniques used for this is the delivery of a morning newspaper every day, usually before dawn. If everyone else is up at 0600, plebes need to be up at 0500, scanning the paper for details and news that might be of particular interest to the upperclassmen in their company. These are the ones most likely to be grilling you at breakfast. You learn quickly that this one’s favorite baseball team is the Yankees, his favorite player is Lou Piniella, so you need to know the score of last night’s game, what Piniella did, where the Yankees are in the standings, who the winning and losing pitchers are, where they’re playing tonight, who tonight’s starting pitchers are… Tomorrow you get to learn that all over. And the next day.

Multiply that by twenty or thirty or more. This one hates baseball but loves NASCAR. This one is keeping track of the development of the F-14 Tomcat fighter. This one wants to know anything significant about Detroit, his home town. That one follows politics and economics and wants to know what the Dow Jones is doing. And so on, and on, and on.

One of the side effects of surviving this (sort of) is that you either never want to see a newspaper or news report again, or you become neurotically obsessed with the news. Since most of the young men and women there are extremely bright, well educated, in touch with the world, and being trained for leadership roles, it’s almost always the latter.

Flash forward forty years, where 1974’s stream of information has become more like Niagara Falls. The internet, social media, FaceBook, Twitter, hundreds of channels of cable television, multiple 24/7 news channels…

As you might imagine, this is like giving a heroin addict a lifetime supply and an IV the size of a garden hose.

This is not to say that I spend all of my waking hours trying to “drink from the fire hose” of information. I manage to stay quite functional, thank you very much. But I do have a much higher than average interest in the news and keeping track of almost anything that I find interesting, be it local, state wide, national, or international. In my case, this also extends to interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic, as you may have noticed from some of the previous 1,000+ posts.

One of the serious down sides of this that I’m seeing is the almost overwhelming depressing tone of so much of recent news. Whether the terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris, and Egypt, or just about anything coming out of any of the US Presidential candidates, it’s difficult to stay optimistic and upbeat some days. Yet, there’s that phobia, that fear (thanks, Annapolis!) that something important might get missed or overlooked if I turn away.

I find more and more that I find myself reaching my limit and turning away. I don’t know if it’s me getting older, or weaker, or if the news itself has just gotten to be more horrible. Actually, I think it’s just an effect of the sheer volume of information and news available today, not necessarily the nature of it. If the internet and social media had been around in all of their glory during the American Civil War, World War II, or even Vietnam, I’m sure we would be seeing horrors that would match anything that Daesch is doing or Trump is spewing out of his ignorant face. (Sorry, did that come out loud?)

So now that we can see cell phone videos from inside the theater where more than 100 people died on Saturday – I don’t need to. Now that we can see videos of Jihad John decapitating innocent hostages – I don’t need to. Now that the Republican presidential candidates seem to be trying to constantly one-up each other to see who can be the most ignorant, reactionary, clueless, and tasteless – I don’t need to watch.

Many people are responding to the deluge of hate, anger, and terror by posting pictures of kittens or puppies. Or penguins. That may be a better option for me right now. I’ve got stories to write, another major adjustment in my life to make, and enough stress in my every day life to keep me on my toes. I don’t have to pile the troubles of the entire world on top of that.

I no longer care what Bob Guida’s favorite football team did today or what happened in Detroit. Google it yourself.

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Not My Float, Politics, Religion

Flash Fiction: Do You Believe In Love?

This week’s Flash Fiction Challenge starts with a song title. We were to pick a random song title (from our iTunes or Apple Music or iHeart or Pandora or Spotify or by taking the entrails of an albino crow and throwing them on our vinyl collection – whatever!) and using that as a “seed” to tell our story. I got a Huey Lewis & The News song. As always, comments and constructive criticisms are appreciated.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE?

Slow fade to black, the sound of the paramedic getting fainter, the smell of gasoline and burning rubber wafting away.

A pinprick of light, a single star, getting extremely bright either very quickly or very slowly. No adrenaline left to fuel fear or panic, joy or jubilation. Only the base part of the primate brain clings to life, spawning curiosity.

Damn, my mother was right, there is an afterlife. I’m going to hate having her rub that in for all of eternity. Let’s just hope she was wrong about that vengeful God who was so hung up on judgement and salvation.

“Do you not believe in judgement or salvation?” There is no voice, just the thought which is both the approaching light and the receding darkness.

“Neither was high on my list. It all seemed arbitrary, no rules that made any sense.” I was never much for trying to bullshit my way through confrontations. This doesn’t seem to be a good place to start.

“Do you believe in rules?”

“Yeah, I guess I believe in natural rules. Physics, math, astronomy, chemistry – they all seemed to be bits of the big picture, a puzzle that added up to a complex universe.”

“Do you believe in a God?”

This might be one of the big questions. I wish I had studied for the quiz. “The Judeo-Christian guy? Garden of Eden, Noah, Moses, Jesus, all of that? Nope, sorry. Nothing personal if that’s you, but your plot has an awful lot of inconsistencies and loopholes.”

“Do you believe in a Devil?”

“No more than I did the rest of the dogma. I understand from a storytelling view you need your antagonist to offset your protagonist, yin and yang, black and white, good and evil, but when the God character isn’t believable, the Devil doesn’t do any better.”

“Do you believe in good and evil?”

“Sure, all you have to do is watch the news. It’s all over, in both the macroscopic and the microscopic views. Gandhi vs Hitler at one end of the spectrum, letting the guy merge into your lane or cutting him off at the other.”

“Do you believe that you were good or evil?”

Who knew that the afterlife would be a job interview where I have to name my best and worst qualities? “I think I was good, but I wouldn’t claim to be perfect. No one is purely one thing or the other, no matter which dimension or parameter you’re measuring. I think overall I was getting into the ninetieth percentile on good, but that doesn’t mean that I never went off on someone who didn’t deserve it or think non-monogamistic thoughts about Peggy in accounting.”

“Do you believe in absolutes?”

Ooh! Ooh! I know this one! “Nope, you screwed that up when you came up with quantum mechanics. I don’t know what you were smoking, but it must have been good. Which left us with nothing at all black or white, just infinite shades of grey. Not that that’s stopped people from making a good living out of selling a million varieties of dogma as each being the one, true word.”

“Do you believe in religion?”

Somehow I don’t think that being an altar boy fifty years ago is going to help me now. “Sorry, gave up on that a long time ago. I may or may not have tried to chat with you one-on-one every now and then, but if you were holding up your end of the conversation, I wasn’t able to hear it. But all of that fighting over who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s going to Heaven and who’s going to Hell? I had better things to waste time on.”

“Do you believe in Heaven and Hell?”

“No. Heaven as sold sounded boring, and as much as they wanted me to believe in eternal torment, that didn’t make any more sense than eternal bliss. Angels? Devils? Purgatory? Mortal sins? Venal sins? They had more rules than the IRS, and their rules made just about as much sense.”

“Do you believe in the afterlife?”

“No, but the longer this conversation goes on, the more likely I am to change my mind.”

“Do you believe in me?”

Is this what Eternity is, playing twenty questions raised to the Nth power? Hell is sounding better by the minute. “You haven’t said who you are. Conventional wisdom says you’re God, but I believe you’re just as likely to be a hallucination going on in my consciousness as the last oxygen gets used up and neurons start firing at random. If the Universe and this conversation go away and I become nothingness, I’ll never know, or care. So, answer a question for me. Who are you and what’s going on?”

“Do you believe in love?”

“Is that supposed to be an answer? Are you God, and are God and love one and the same? That’s a common part of many theologies and it’s one of the better points, but it doesn’t have anything more to back it up than any other article of faith. Who are you?”

“Do you believe in love?”

Okay. Maybe this is the really big question. Either that or there’s a glitch in the automated menu on the entrance exam to the afterlife. Just my luck.

“Yes, I believe in love.” Suddenly I’m overwhelmed with images of family, friends, pets, high school sweethearts, a flood of emotion. “It’s undefined, unmeasurable, ephemeral, completely outside of the rigorous scientific universe, yet it’s still the thing that keeps us moving from the day we’re born until the day we die.” Again I’m smothered by visions, flashes showing my wife, kids, mother, father, grandkids. “Love is still here with me, even beyond death. Yes, I believe in love.”

“Good. I love you.”

The light expands to fill the void, fill me, fill the universe.

Again, I am.

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Guardian Angels

I knew what I was going to write for today’s post, or at least how I was going to write it – then one of those king-sized roadblocks reared up and has me totally flummoxed and unable to continue down that path, at least for today.

I hate it when that happens.

I’m sure I’ll figure out something (probably at about 3 AM in the middle of a really good dream) and carry on that assignment later, but for now…

And there goes my muse / subconscious / guardian angel again. I was just about to bitch about how I had no ideas for tonight, and there was one in the paragraph above, and now there’s another one in this paragraph, just spewing out and staring me in the face.

Let’s go with “guardian angel.”

The tl;dr is, “I’m not a believer, but that’s adult me talking – easily impressionable, seven-year-old me was being molded onto the fast track for Pope, would have believed anything, and had a lot of weird shit put into my head by old fashioned nuns.”

It might be worth talking some nuts and bolts theology with someone someday to see if “guardian angels” are actually a legitimate part of Catholic doctrine. It could be that the concept is just some sort of boogie-man made up by scary nuns to keep little kids in line. I suspect the latter.

The generic public concept is of a heavenly being that’s assigned to watch over us individually, keeping us safe from danger. Such as in the bumper sticker that says, “Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly!” (Why can’t the guardian angel just get into the car with you? Or at least latch onto the roof, facing forward into the wind like a giant supernatural dog would if they stuck their head out of the car window. But then, what if you’ve got a luggage rack? See, this is EXACTLY the sort of thinking that got me in so much trouble with Father Murray and his minions!)

It’s a theme we see in movies and television shows from time to time. “It’s A Good Life!” every Christmas. “Saved By An Angel.” “City Of Angels,” which I’m a total sap about, always crying when Meg Ryan… (OK, no spoilers.) “Here Comes Mister Jordan,” and never that crap remake with Warren Beatty.

Actually, “Dogma,” “Angel Heart,” and “All That Jazz” (one of my all-time favorite films) are more my cup of tea for movies about angels. But, look, there I’ve gone off on a tangent again! Surprise!

The party line from the nuns and priests in the 1960s wasn’t simply that guardian angels were there to protect you. That was part of the job, but they were also there to watch you and rat you out to the Big Guy Upstairs. If you sinned (and by “sinned” they usually meant either thinking on your own or touching yourself in that place, or worse, touching Peggy Sue in her that place) and didn’t fess up to it in Confession, your guardian angel was there to not only bug you about it (a glorified Jiminy Cricket role) but to keep the Powers To Be updated on about what you were unrepentant.

I always wanted to bargain with my guardian angel. I figured there must be something that he wanted that I could get and swap for some slack. But how did I know that it was a “he”? Were there girl guardian angels? Did boys get only boy guardian angels and girls get only girl guardian angels? Or was it random? Could there be a girl guardian angel watching me when I, well, you know? Wouldn’t that be nasty for the boy guardian angels to be watching girls all the time, even when they were taking a bath?

There goes Father Murray again, hitting the sacramental wine! I should probably feel bad about that. Maybe.

Nah.

So “guardian angels” are a convenient and sometimes amusing plot device that the Catholics cooked up (or do any of the Protestant religions have them too? Jews? Muslims?) and as such they make a decent literal plot device for entertainment products. But do they really exist?

Why is it that many of the devout Catholics I’ve met scoff at the idea of alien life in any science fiction story, but they have no problem believing stories about invisible, immortal beings watching over each of us? And how many guardian angels are there, anyway? Human population has gone up drastically in the last couple of centuries – are they making new guardian angels to keep up? Or were there a zillion of them made in those first seven days and most of them have been bored for eons, but now human overpopulation is a full employment program for them? When you die, if you were bad, does the guardian angel get busted for doing a lousy job with you? Do non-Christians or even non-Catholics get guardian angels? If a guardian angel is assigned to someone who doesn’t believe in their existence, do they still have to be on their toes to do a good job?

Oops.

Sorry, Father Murray. My bad. (No — it’s not. Wait. That’s lying, which is a sin. Why didn’t my guardian angel stop me from doing it? Or did I get a guardian angel with a wicked sense of humor and…)

Right!

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Flash Fiction: Stream

Last week there was some considerable controversy in the publishing world that I lurk in when a new app called “CleanRead” came out. It’s now been pulled, in no small part because what it was doing was almost certainly illegal and a violation of copyright, but also in large part because of the backlash against it by authors, readers, and pretty much everyone who didn’t think that its (possibly) noble intent was in fact terribly off the rails and ill advised.

Our demighod Chuck Wendig was one of those objecting vociferously, so it’s only just that our weekly Flash Fiction Challenge is to write 2,000 or so words about filth. Sex. Profanity. Perversion. As well as the counterpoints of Censorship and Totalitarianism if you so wish.

As for me, as I’ve mentioned , March sort of clobbered me heavily about the head and shoulders, today hasn’t been any better (trying to finalize our income taxes), and it’s almost 2230 PDT. Chuck (or someone much like him) has said that when you’re exhausted, when the last thing you want to do is write, when you would do anything to just say “screw it!” and head for bed — then you must write.

But they didn’t say anything about editing, so fasten your seat belts, this could get interesting.

STREAM

“We can’t print this,” Carol said, tossing the manuscript back across the desk toward me. “You know that.”

“I know that you were going to say that,” I said, picking it up and tossing it back. “And once again I know that you’re wrong.”

Carol didn’t touch the document, just leaned back in her chair, tilted her head back, and reached up to start messaging the bridge of her nose.

“Laurie, we’ve had this discussion at least a dozen times before. If we print a book like this, we get shut down. If we get shut down, all of us lose our jobs. Some of us, such as you the writer and me the editor, would have a tough time ever getting another job in this field. We’ll end up washing dishes at McDonalds for minimum wage, which will lead to drinking heavily, which will lead to pot, cocaine, meth, and heroin, which will leave us dying alone and unloved in a seedy, filthy, and disgusting opium den in Chinatown. I hate washing dishes, so we are not going to publish this.”

“First of all, McDonalds doesn’t have dishwashers, everything’s served on paper and Styrofoam. Do a little fact checking. Secondly, we’re writers, we already drink heavily and make far less than minimum wage. It’s in the job description. Thirdly, it’s absolutely critical that these ideas be out there. If we let the Church ignore its own laws and go off shredding the Constitution at will just because the Synod orders them to, then the world will never know the truth about the prison we’ve allowed to be created around us.”

“We’re back to the Constitution, eh?” Carol asked. “Have you finally considered my suggestion to publish this as a poorly written and dull fantasy or science fiction tome?”

“Don’t start with me on that, you know better!” Laurie was having a tough time keeping her temper. She took a moment to take a breath and let her blood pressure and adrenaline levels drop a bit. “You’ve seen my research, you know how thorough it is. You’ve seen the original documents. I don’t understand how you can continue to deny what I’ve discovered.”

“I’ve seen your stuff, but I’ve also seen how it could all be fake. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. You don’t have it. Face it, if what you say is true, why hasn’t anyone anywhere ever found out about it before? Why do you think that you’re the only one given the True Word that proves everything we know to be wrong?”

“I’m not the first, I’m just the only one who hasn’t been caught before getting this far. I’ve told you about all of the people I’ve found evidence of who were following the same research before simply disappearing without a trace. That’s why I told you to keep this so secret!”

“Paranoia doesn’t become you,” Carol said. “You really want to stick by this story? You honestly want me to think the story you have here is history, not fantasy?”

“Yes, I do. It makes sense. The evidence is all there.”

“So the world used to be cooler and covered in a million times more plants than it is today?”

“Trillions, not millions, but yes. Then we fucked it up.”

Carol sat up straight and leaned across the desk, her gaze intense. “You will not use that kind of language in my presence! I for one have no intention of burning in hell for all of eternity because of you and your foolish obsessions! Is that clear?”

Laurie returned Carol’s glare with a look of pity. “Carol, use your head. Think. You’re not going to hell. Or heaven. All that they’ve taught all of us for our entire lives is a lie!”

“George Washington, a lie? Thomas Jefferson, a lie? The Founding Fathers? The Constitution? The very basis of our society, the foundation which has allowed us to survive on this harsh planet, all of that’s a lie?”

“No, there’s plenty of truth there. The lies are all based on truths. But at the core are fantastic lies, huge falsehoods that they have to keep covering up with even bigger lies and even more bullshit!”

Laurie!

“Call it whatever you want, but it’s all a lie! We didn’t come here from some other planet and get saved by the Founding Fathers who bestowed upon us their blessed Constitution, showing us how to create a society based on laws from the Bible!

“We have always lived here! The world was green and healthy and there were billions of people on it, not thousands! It wasn’t always hot and stormy and dusty, there were places where there would actually be ice falling from the sky! The Constitution was written by people about allowing the people to decide what was best for everyone, not an addendum to the Bible giving unlimited power to the Church!”

Laurie’s voice had risen to an alarming level. As she realized it and settled back in her chair, Carol sat calmly looking at her.

The door behind Laurie opened to allow two large, hooded figures to enter. Quickly they grabbed Laurie and tried to hold onto her as she started flailing.

“You bitch!” screamed Laurie. “Of all the people to betray me, you were the last one who would! How could you do this? You’re my sister!

One of the hooded men finally got his hand over Laurie’s mouth to muffle her screams. In his hand was a small cloth soaked with something pungent. Whatever it was, Laurie went limp within seconds. The second man slipped a hood over her head and tied her wrists and ankles.

“You’ll take care of her, won’t you?” Carol asked. “She needs help, she’s not in her head at all.”

“We’ll take care of her,” a deep man’s voice said from under one of the hoods. “You won’t have to worry about her ever again.”

“Thank, God!” Carol said. “I just had to do it. I had to call you before she did something that would irreparably condemn her soul to hell. Didn’t I?”

“You did well,” the voice said. “Your reward will be found in Heaven, as the Constitution has promised.”

The man slipped Laurie over his shoulder and carried her limp body out. As the door closed behind them, Carol heard the bells start to ring and she started her evening prayers. As the Founding Fathers wished for her to.

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