Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Cell Phone Bible, Part VI

Idea courtesy of apostate, who found the 'What if...?' text in his Facebook feed. If you're coming in late, you can start at Part I.

VI. Thou shalt not kill
Corporal Jason Stewart sat on his bunk and stared at the Bible beside him.

That had been a common scene for the last three days, ever since the Bibles started ringing. Corporal Steward had never been particularly devout; he'd been raised to believe that Jesus died for his sins, and hadn't given the matter much thought beyond that. His Christianity consisted mainly of the belief that he should do his best to be a good person, and trust that God would understand and forgive when he went wrong. Vague notions about attending church and tithing lurked in the background, but not with any sort of urgency. Being a Christian wasn't a particularly great burden or blessing to him; it was just something that people did.

As a result, the news that Jesus didn't approve of killing people, even in self-defense, hadn't hit him as hard as it did some of the men in his squad. Davis, in particular, was doing an awful lot of muttering to himself, and would only bring his rifle on patrol when ordered directly. No authority on Earth could convince the Private to unsling it. His Bible, by contrast, never left his side. And his was not the most extreme case that Corporal Stewart had seen; it wasn't even severe enough to justify official notice. That sort of thing was far too common just now.

In fact, as far as Corporal Stewart was concerned, it was far too common in general. He was pretty sure that a single enemy could take out about half their platoon with a sharp stick and a sufficient amount of bloody-minded determination. Too many of the men just wouldn't fight back, not anymore. The only thing that had saved them was that everyone seemed to be getting the same message - even the locals, even the ones who hated the United States and everything its military had done. The angels didn't seem any too picky about what sort of holy books they used to talk to people, a fact which had sent the Chaplain into a marathon research session, on- and off-line. Corporal Stewart, who had started by loathing the Chaplain's self-important certainty, now felt a little sorry for the man; he must be feeling pretty superfluous now that anyone with the right sort of book could talk to Heaven directly.

The rumor mill was about to explode, of course. The top brass was going to outlaw Christianity and confiscate all the Bibles. No, they were busy printing and shipping even more Bibles, to aid in converting and pacifying the enemy. No, the President was getting ready to recall everyone, so they could deal with unrest at home; Martial Law was coming in a matter of days. No, the President was going to dissolve the military entirely, so they could spend time with their families before Judgment Day.

Corporal Stewart thought it was all nonsense. Nobody knew what was coming, because nobody had had time to plan for something as totally unexpected as this. The Brass was just as lost and confused as everyone else.

So he sat, and stared at his Bible, and after a while he leaned over and flipped it open.

"Hello, Jason," said Jesus. "You had a question?"

Corporal Stewart nodded, sure that his Savior would be aware of the gesture. "Why?" he asked.

"Why what?" asked Jesus, in that perfectly serene voice.

Corporal Jason Stewart swallowed. He was aware, suddenly, of an undercurrent of anger in his thoughts. The Messiah had to understand the question; he was only asking for clarification to be difficult, or else to make Jason articulate it to himself. "Why this? Why are you talking to us? Why now?"

"It was time," said Jesus. "I'm sorry, I wish I could give you a more satisfying answer - something you would understand, something that would comfort you - but it is not given to mortals to understand the Divine Plan."

Jason hesitated. That seemed like a reasonable point; the Lord must see history from a perspective that was, well, beyond human comprehension. But even taking that into account... "You couldn't have started this a year ago, before Cedric stepped on that IED? Or five years ago, before we enlisted? Or even..." Or even two hundred years ago, he wanted to say, before the world became such a steaming pile of crap?

"No," said Jesus, unruffled by the question. "The time wasn't right. It had to be now."

Jason bit back the first three answers that came into his mind. "All right," he said finally. "I don't doubt you, Lord." I wish I could, but I don't.

1 comment:

  1. You've deceived us, sir. You tagged this post "Humor" when you should have tagged it "Tearjerker."


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