“At the ready girl, there's got to be someone on this street that accepts the only true Lord and Savior. This whole street cannot possibly be dam...” The door's sudden movement surprised both of them cutting the vitriolic diatribe dead in its tracks.
Her tired gaze snaps up from the ground, away from the heavy cargo she had been struggling with all morning, towards the doorway. She can feel her mother’s cold unloving stare upon her from out of the corner of her eye.
“Hello ladies. What may I do for you on this fine day?” A relaxed, well dressed man with a beaming smile stood before them. He opens the door presenting a brightly lit and uncluttered foyer. The illumination has the startling effect of giving the speaker a radiant and heavenly glow.
A few moments of awkward silence follow. It was not at all like her mother to miss a beat spreading the “word”, but if truth be told it would normally be at this exact point that most doors slammed shut. With a look towards her companion she arched an eyebrow. She would be surprised if she didn't hear about this act of “insolence” later, there was no winning with her mother.
“Sir, have you ever given any thought as to...” Her mother begins. She has heard this specific spiel a million times, hundreds just today, why was it then that she couldn't remember it now?
“What my esteemed colleague is so eloquently trying to say...”
She just couldn't resist, could she. If being passive aggressive was an Olympic event she would dominate ruthlessly.
She couldn't believe it, someone had actually cut her mother off... mid-sentence no less!
“Please, please come inside. We can discuss this at length over some iced tea and some sustenance. It has been a very warm morning already and I’m sure two lovely ladies, such as yourselves, could use a little cool down.” She felt the home owner’s gaze fall on her briefly and would be willing to testify in court that he had winked, “I will accept no refusal.”
She watches dumbstruck, mouth agape as her mother brushes past her lithe form to enter the well lit foyer. The light engulfs her she turns back to beckon her stunned companion.
“Come child! This nice young man wishes to engage us in enlightening conversation over chilled beverages.” With tired arms she bends picking up the heavy leather satchel crossing the threshold to follow the footsteps of her mother companion.
“Indeed I do.” He said closing the door softly behind them.
The foyer led to a large open room, the lighting in direct contrast to that of the welcoming entryway. There is only one light source, its meager glow spotlighting the large table standing dead center amid an exquisitely tiled floor. A single glass beside a full pitcher of what appeared to be fresh iced tea sat on the table. The light sparkled through each as they dripped cool condensation onto a simple nondescript silver serving tray.
“Please, have a seat ladies, your tender soles must be aching.” He paused directing them into a pair of intricately carved antique wooden chairs which he had casually removed from under the table's edge with an adept flourish.
”Excuse me a moment ladies while I retrieve glasses for you and perhaps a little something for us to nibble.” Again she could swear his gaze lingered on her a moment before he left, though not long enough for her mother to take notice.
“Child!” Her mother belched out as she placed the case, her burden and hers alone, to one side moving to assist her mother in taking a place at the table. She took care not to move the chair too abruptly as to avoid even the slightest touch to the back of her mother's varicose laden legs, “Thank you child, now you may be seated.” She did so ensuring the chair made as minimal a noise as possible pulling it under her far more slender backside than her mother’s rather bloated derriere. Now seated her forearms sat idly beside her lap, careful not to let them touch the table's surface as her companion would vehemently disapprove of such poor etiquette, especially in a stranger's home.
Manners are always very important child, one should always know their place.
“This is one of the nicest homes on the block. So unassuming from the outside, it’s much larger than I initially thought.” Her mother was speaking as much to hear herself speak than for any real purpose.
She does not answer her vociferous mother, giving her only a curt nod in response. From past experiences, she knows her mother is only verbalizing her internal thoughts, not requiring assistance from anyone. Her mother was what most would, though not to her face, call a blowhard. She passed the few moments until their host returned scanning the room moving little more than her eyes as to not be called nosy by her blustering mother beside her.
The room was very expansive though bare, apart from the table they were sitting at; there was little else in the large space. A simple chandelier hung from the vaulted ceiling providing a dim spotlight that seemed to be straining just to reach the table.
Details further away are fuzzy at best, pictures upon the walls are only definable by the edges of the frames in which they reside. The shadows seem to congregate patiently in the corners of the room as though waiting, biding their time.
“My apologies ladies, I had to rummage around for extra glasses. It took longer than expected. I rarely entertain so this is quite the unexpected treat.”
Again there was that unmistakable lingering gaze and smile.
Pulling aside the only other chair at the table so that he may pass he placed another tray on the table. Two glasses accompanied a dish, a knife and a small loaf of uncut bread. With motions, both fluid and graceful, his large frame maneuvers into his seat. Strangely he appears taller than he at first had, this is but a fleeting thought quickly pushed aside due to the fact that she is also now seated and at a different vantage point and lower light.
“May I ask you about your beliefs Sir?” This was a statement that took her by surprise, her companion was rarely this polite, but always upfront and blunt.
It was her belief that years of having doors slammed in her face and insults hurled her way had given her mother a hardened exterior to match that of her innermost core. Even as a young child she couldn't recall a smile ever tilting her mother's lips, an occasional widening of the eyes and slight lifting of a mouth set in a permanent grimace while she read her favorite passages from “The Good Book” but never what appeared to be actual joy or happiness.
“But of course. Please enjoy the tea, I made it only this morning.”
He poured generously, the liquid splashing on the ice cubes of both glasses. “It's from a recipe that my family has mastered over countless generations. The bread is of my own creation from ingredients grown and nurtured in family farmed fields not far from here”.
“Thank you, very kind. Are you Baptized Sir?”
Now that sounds more like the street pounding, holy force of preaching fury that I know.
With steady hands he places a slice of bread on two separate plates for his guests. Now this was going to be fun, the gauntlet had been thrown. Tilting her head ever so slightly, she throws a sidelong glance towards her companion.
The balls in your court mother!
“Benefits? I fail to understand your logic Sir.” Her muscles twitch and wrinkles crowd the flesh around both eyes as they narrow to form a blazing stare aimed across the clothed expanse of the table. The direct unflinching gaze digs, burrows and questions as if to better understand an adversary.
Placing the two plates in front of his guests, his reply is calm and unhurried,
“There are an innumerable amount of religions and all differ greatly in their beliefs. Many have ceremonies much like the one you speak, many are very similar in fact. There are also those that believe other matters hold more importance within their own faith, for instance the blossoming and celebration of youth into adulthood and responsibility.”
I could not agree more.
Almost immediately she found herself taking their host's side. He was presenting his opinions calmly, based on fact in a relaxed manner with no slant of bias, something she had rarely if ever, had the pleasure of hearing from her preaching mother. Again, a lingering look in her direction, no turn of the head only a sly flicker of movement of his eyes. Was she imagining this? Mother would certainly notice any undue attention towards her only daughter.
You aren't old enough yet, one day you will understand and thank me. Let us pray aloud in a voice that echoes to the heavens, only then will the impure thoughts leave that wicked vessel you have been blessed with.
Her mother's outburst wasn't at all surprising, as she has been witness to far worse, it wasn't altogether unexpected either because if asked she would clearly state that her mother didn't discuss religion, she preached it. Religion was her “one truth”, it was her everything, it was life and still even larger than that.
”There is only one true God, Sir! The unjust and unrighteous shall perish. Those that don't may find they are given a second chance though I highly doubt that Sir!” The flying spittle delivered manifesto does not faze their host.
His manner is still relaxed, his speech surprisingly strong, free of stammer and clear, “That's an interesting concept; one of many, understandably. In the ancient Mayan culture people willingly allowed themselves to be sacrificed as an offering to their Gods. All of this thousands of years before the first utterance of Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost or even Jehovah.”
It was becoming increasingly more difficult to keep the look of amusement from creeping across her face, at this point she was perilously close to internal hysterics.
I think he has you at an advantage there Mother!
She dropped her gaze fearful of the wrath that may follow later, within this very day, from witnessing an exchange of this caliber in which her mother may have “lost face”. She would feel the need to unload her righteous ire upon someone; her daughter was the easiest target and the only target behind closed doors. Sitting silently she continued to follow the back and forth exchange as it steadily progressed becoming more heated, admittedly from only one person with each and every passing moment.
Curious of the room’s meager contents her eyes began to scan the darkness for any clues about their mysterious host. Sparse walls devoid of anything but a few pictures, their images blurry at best, unrecognizable in the murky absence of light. Grabbing her attention is a shifting in the low lying shadows in the corner of the room directly across from her. Whilst trying to appear interested in the battle of wits, still raging away, she stealthily begins to study the inky cloud with hopes to pierce any secrets it may contain. A practiced nod and an audible “Uh huh” every few sentences usually worked in a situation such as this, it was the tactic she was currently employing, albeit unheard.
The battle raged on…
“every couple of thousand years or so...”
“false idol worship is a sin, Sir...”
On it raged, her mother and companion now visibly agitated, gesturing wildly flailing her arms as she was prone to do in such situations (her mother appeared much like a primate she had once seen in a rare visit to the zoo garnering attention from a potential mate) in order to further make her very limited points. The sporadic motions of her mother were disturbing, not because it was unusual (far from it in fact) but because it diverted her attentions away from the animated smudge that appeared to be playing in the concealment of corner’s darkness.
There's something there.
She'd heard that hallucinations could plague those that didn't keep track of their fluid intake in the heat. She could well believe it, the sun had indeed been a harsh and cruel mistress in the few hours she had spent in its company this morning. Her mother had forbidden her from wearing a hat, a decision she stuck to even in the blazing summer heat.
You should never dress like a harlot whilst performing the Lord's work.
Once, only once, she had suggested donning a simple undecorated cap to which her mother harshly replied, “I will not have my daughter looking like a boy!”
The container seemed unnaturally heavy in her hand. She paused before its edge touched her lips. Something was amiss… the liquid wasn't clear. Instead it appeared cloudy with an odd and unappealing film more like oil than water, or even tea. Heavy sediment sat lazily at the bottom appearing more like stringy mud than any fruit's pulp she had ever seen. She felt an overwhelming urge to sniff, she relinquishes doing so. Nothing good could be associated with the pungent odor that assaulted her nostrils, an all out attack on the senses that caused bile to rise swiftly in the back of her throat. She turned her head not wishing to make a scene, a look of disgust on her face that she couldn’t possibly disguise. Finally regaining her composure after a brief moment she gingerly places the glass back on the tray with a slightly trembling hand.
The bread was unappealing as well. Its dull opaque shape on the surface caught her eye, surely unnoticeable unless you were famished or not paying attention as her mother shouting beside her. Within the baked goods’ grainy texture were crescent shapes similar in size to discarded fingernails. She hadn't noticed it until now but the bread’s color was also rather “off”, a pale gray, she associated most with sickness and imminent demise.
Slowly she pushed the plate away fighting back another look of disgust and revulsion which took nearly every ounce of her being. The shadow movement, however, caused a disturbance. The matter atop the plate shifted, a motion oddly out of synch with its surroundings. Something within its depths moved or was it just a hint of dehydration playing tricks on her senses?
A glance in her companion’s direction tells her that her mother has yet to notice anything amiss (apart from her host's lax attitude toward religion, of course). Her mother had yet to even touch the offered refreshments. She notices the murkiness she saw in her own glass within both her mother's and their host's glasses. Amazingly from her vantage point across the table it was still clearly discernible. She found it strange then that no comment had been made by either of them. Her companion was certainly not the type to leave an opinion or an observation unspoken, God forbid she almost rolled her eys at the thought.
On the battle raged…
”you dare suggest...”
”my dear, there are just too many different viewpoints which need...”
The tableau before her was now truly engrossing. Her companion was leaning, as though perched, on the hard surface of the table’s edge balanced on tiptoe (she only knew this as she sneaked a peek in a feigned reach for a pamphlet from the deep confines of the nearby case). The stretched fabric of a tightly buttoned (and painstakingly starched) shirt reveal a cluster of blue veins prominently bulging from thin pale flesh their crimson fluid crashing through the cluster's interior in frenzied, throbbing rhythm.
The host remains amazingly calm appearing not in the slightest flustered or annoyed but rather amused, a fact that she appreciates as it only riles her irate parent all the more. Then a sudden realization tugs at her distracted thought processes.
There are no windows in this room and no sign nor ticking of a clock.
Believing her companion to be more than distracted, at this point deep (that would be a grave understatement) in the self imposed argument she had no hope of winning yet trying her damnedest nevertheless. She shifted turning in her chair to better survey her surroundings. Bleak and Absurd were the first two words, of many, that came to her mind to describe the room. Absurd used only to describe the definite but as yet indescribable shadow movement coupled with the strange feeling she was getting. There was something which she had yet to be able to place her proverbial finger on. Out of her periphery vision she catches the shadows dance yet shouldn’t with the single light sourse being the single bulbed chandelier hanging overhead. Emotionless and still the meager illumination should not produce such tricks of light.
“Intrigued child?” The voice seemed to come out of nowhere yet strong and commanding in the silence.
It startled her into action. Twisting she strains her neck muscles in a quest for the sudden yet familiar voice that has intruded on her innermost thoughts.
“Do not be alarmed child. We are the only beings in here. You, you’re very excitable companion and myself.”
“Don't worry child, your mother, I can only presume, and I are still discussing the intricacies of religion, albeit on another plane of existence. She is safe, as are you, have no fear. Please, continue to watch as you please I'm sure you'll find this fascinating.”The voice was soothing.
“Where are we?”
“We are nowhere and yet somewhere. Time has no hold upon you here for you are my guest.” Came the voice’s calming yet confusing answer.
The voice made her feel incredibly at ease. Abruptly each and every worry or concern became meaningless as though a crashing wave of calm had unnoticeably washed over her drenching her to her very core. Rare and alien, the only words coming to her mind to describe the exhilaration passing through her being. She felt true freedom like the lifting a blanket of oppression that she only now even realized she had worn for so long.
Strange I feel… lighter
An honest, child like, unsuppressed smile slowly crawls across her face chased by an uncontrollable burst of laughter breaking the silence.
Against the room's edges the shadows continued to coalesce, shifting against one another. Some were deeper, more hidden than others but not for long. Their cycle of melodic movement, practiced over millennia, seemingly no nearer perfection now than when first started. A recurrent theme in each and every generation and many more to come, she mused as she recognized that which has always been with no one ever really noticing, time’s passage. That realization answering many questions she had pondered only moments before. It audibly dawned on her, “Time has meaning in this room.”
“You could call it that, for lack of a better term.” The voice interrupted with its soothing tone.
“… lose whatever substance it once had, in whatever form it once held.”
“I would rather not say what that form might have once been. Suffice it to say it played its purpose sufficiently in the grander scheme of things.” The voice again asserted its calming influence on her.
A single question still lingered, tugging persistently at her curiosity demanding her attention. However she feared she already knew the answer.
Her current mental state is clear as a bell. Her thoughts now free, no longer confined in the cage of strictly enforced narrow mindedness.
She directed her gaze to her companion's frozen form. The once conservative uniform unrecognizable now as it decayed to stringy threads, absent of any pigment clinging precariously to the last vestiges of flesh attached to the oddly arranged configuration of bones teetering near imminent collapse. The arm still outstretched an accusatory single ivory digit cut off mid-rant.
“She held out for longer than I would've expected.” The voice pauses for the slightest moment.
Her anticipation was rewarded as the surface of the table began to crumble, turning to fine dust under the combined weight of the skeletal palm and the four bleached fingertips upon it. With a loud clatter the intricate assemblage of bones inevitably collapsed in a tumbling avalanche of human detritus. A smirk unashamedly spread across her features as her adoptive mother's skull and mandible shatter on impact with the ground their many pieces lost, buried amid the pile of dust that was once a dining table. Her mother’s last movements noticeably absent of their usual abject ridicule, righteousness and judgment. She couldn’t keep from voicing her final thought, “Finally, she was as stubborn as a bull and twice as ornery right to the end.”
“Frankly I was beginning to wonder if I would have to delve into my knowledge of Neanderthal worshiping practices, which are all rather primitive, of course. Communities at war yet bonding together in fear of an unimaginably large ball of flame that visited everyday but was, of course, light years away.” Even in jest the voice was soothing.
“Rather boring actually, although I wasn't present, of course, I was busy umm... elsewhere.”
“So this space we occupy is it real or fragments of your collected fleeting memory?”
“You learn fast.”
“Where are you?” She asked only now noticing that mere moments ago he had become absent. The disassemblement of her mother, although adoptive, had been understandably rather distracting.
“That was just a throw-away form, one of many I utilize when I infrequently visit this plane.”
“Yes it often is, but for the record it doesn't pay much. Sorry, that was my poor attempt at what you might deem humor.” The voice was now calmly conversational.
“Quite alright, that joke has been done a thousand times, but it can still get a chuckle or two depending on the situation.”
“Are you not afraid child?”
“Not at all. I see no reason to be. I have no dire need to discuss anything at length like my mother. I don’t plan to touch the refreshments, certainly not now. No offense intended, of course.”
“You are surprisingly free of grief, why is that?”
“The damage was already done. She taught me only how to politely respond and appease. Though she only died moments ago she has been dead to me for years now.” She was unable to deny the voice total honesty.
“I have no emotions, at times I find that I question the rationale behind them. They perplex me.” The voice replied with its own honesty.
The dimensions of the room changed subtlety around her. She shrugs before asking a question that she expected couldn't possibly be answered, “What are you, if I may be so bold as to ask?”
“You may, though I fear the answer would take up several of your lifetimes. It's convoluted at best and I wouldn't wish to bore you. I cannot possibly show you either, the limited scope of your brain could not possibly even begin to comprehend the sight. I fear it may well drive you insane.”
“I'm sure it can't be that mind boggling. In my many incarnations I have seen many things.”
“Wait wha…?!?” Now the voice was confused for the first time where it had until this point shown only the utmost confidence.
“I once saw a shaman in India transform into an unrecognizable beast then proceed to rip and tear his way through a myriad gathering of his faithful followers who willingly allowed themselves to be sacrificially consumed.”
“What manner of creature are you?” The confusion of the voice continued.
“On another occasion I saw a man of the cloth sprout hair, fall on all fours and ravage the population of a small community in worship of the moon. Oh, the most heinous acts he committed swearing his celestial deity demanded of him.”
“DO NOT PLAY WITH ME CHILD!” Anger filled the once calm voice thinking he was being made a fool.
A jaw absent of flesh, lips and vocal chords continued to narrate, “Other sights I’ve witnessed, many so hideous as to warp even the most jaded intellect into mere quivering, gibbering, drooling idiots.” The recollection accompanied only by the macabre clicking of enamel on enamel as teeth rattle unhampered by a flesh in the smoldering yet vibrant charbroiled skull.
She continues, “All these abnormalities I have conquered with ease. My many names appear throughout the ages. Some of the many recorded histories honor me as a saint, though I am known as several in fact. My many lives though, in truth only one for I am never reborn, have enabled me to traverse the entire world many times over. I am a mere myth in most cultures walking as a ghost in still others. Most of my deeds and praise are lost, long forgotten with the passing of near infinite generations. My name is...”
The sonic boomed command silences her diatribe. The now useless facade of the material world shatters. From the pieces a new landscape began to develop. A flat expanse of unmarred white sand stretches out to the horizon under a cloudless azure sky. A collection of ashen bones materialize in mid air a few feet off the serene ground. The bones tumble to the virgin landscape leaving a blight upon the idyllic scene. The ivory bounces sliding in a mesmerizing gothic dance uniting in a tight cluster upon which the skull rolls atop as if pulled by a strong magnet. Rotating ever so slowly the skull gradually finds the blackened mandible connecting in place with a loud crack! The jaw separates, the ramus split is cleaved in twain and the skull ceases its rotation falling back heavily upon the parietal curve it is forced upwards by pressure from below.
Out of the blackened, once pearly depths oozing sluggishly from the jagged skeletal wound, a malleable pitch black entity forms. Viscous and amorphous it continues its exodus from its confinement of bone. Splintering under the force, the shards of orbital plating dislocate taking flight. Enamel chunks uproot attaching themselves to a new host continuing to violate in its methodical, slow, destructive escape.
The last bits of matter slip completely free from their bone carriage joining in a pool of an ever widening radius with unfathomable depths. No longer under the excessive weight and pressure of the tarry entity, the mandible snaps upward connecting to the maxilla. The impact so fierce it shatters the remaining incisors into jagged shards while flipping the fissured skull into the air. It finally lands amongst a jumbled heap of disorganized parts which its resident organ recently commanded. A movement begins in the center of the mass spins into a widening ripple moving out in concentric circles to the liquid's edge. Then once again she spoke, “Now show yourself, as I have done.”
The azure sky gradually deepened to an angry shade continually developing to a deeper, more sinister palette. The sand of a once angelic pallid hue now turned a mottled grey as of necrotic flesh. A smothering blanket of ink stains the sky swiftly consuming the horizon in its rapid, menacing advance. Encroaching across the sand, absolute darkness eradicates each and every particle of light without remorse. The idyllic paradise now anything but serene. Tremors rip through the minute, by comparison, body of fluid whose surface churns violently, a veritable tsunami boiling in confusion, rage and helplessness. Fear has found a new home as the inevitability of destruction looms.
“Welcome home!” The booming greeting abruptly ends the stifling silence as the maligned sky plummets in its entirety to engulf everything.
Disrupt - Religion Is A Fraud