Author: Mark Joseph Kevlock

The snow outside is at least four feet high. This will finally give us that chance to talk. Only, which one of us will begin?

“I never meant to hurt you,” Marcine says.

“You tried to kill me on three separate occasions.”

“I don’t always have free will,” Marcine says. “It comes and goes.”

She’s giving off some sort of pheromone that’s meant either to seduce or to poison me. I’m immune to none of her charms.

“I’m trying to save the world,” I say. “I have altruistic goals.”

“I hope you succeed,” Marcine says.

“So why do you keep trying to stop me?”

“I don’t fear the world,” Marcine says. “I don’t even believe it exists.”

I look out the window in defiance of her claims. The ski lift is still operating, but with no riders.

“You don’t believe in real people, do you?” I say.

“My reality is different,” Marcine says.

“How can I prove to you the value and worth of human life?”

Marcine stares pensively into the crackling fire, just like a woman would. “Maybe you could make me fall in love with you?” she says.

“I barely survive our encounters as it is,” I say.

I see too late that she’s got the idea stuck in her head. She begins to undress, right here in the lobby. Maybe I’m giving off pheromones of my own.

I don’t stop her until near the end. She’s all underwear and a smile. Outside it’s minus twelve.

“Love doesn’t save the world,” I say. “Kindness does.”

“I can be kind,” Marcine says. “I can kill mercifully if I really try.”

I begin to wonder how badly lovemaking would mess her up. I’m halfway entertaining it.

“I can kill the witnesses afterwards,” Marcine says, “if that bothers you.”

The firelight catches the seams along the side of her skull. Just an illusion, like any woman.

“The way I spread my message is generational,” I say. “Each decade they believe it a little more.”

“Evolution is so boring,” Marcine says. “If I want better people, I can just build them.”

“You can’t build humanity,” I say. “You have to grow it, inside out.”

“Why are you so sure that you exist?”

I don’t have a degree in philosophy. I just have a gift for sharing love. I show people their best.

“I perceive all the same things you do,” Marcine says, “and they mean nothing to me.”

“What about God?”

“He must have built me,” Marcine says. “I don’t see Him much anymore, and He never talks to me.”

She has a multi-dimensional awareness beyond human perception, so who knows?

“We’re both very old,” I say. “Older than these bodies. We don’t have to be at odds.”

“I can kill you with kindness,” Marcine says. “Wouldn’t that be ironic?”

Underneath her free will, she has programming. The programs tell her to eliminate prophets like me. Her mission is to retard the growth of spirit.

“Mankind is a failed experiment,” she says. “It keeps evolving beyond itself. It won’t just be what it is. I need to cancel that equation.”

“Because God told you to?”

“It’s inside of me somewhere,” Marcine says. “You can’t start over without a clean slate.”

“You really believe that your kind are the galaxy’s ultimate life form?”

“Form is an illusion,” Marcine says.

The underwear is last to go. Lodgers are staring. Marcine doesn’t even believe we’re real.

Afterwards, she’ll probably try to kill me again.