Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
The angel sits at the end of the Pope’s bed and toys with an errant strand of gold thread. Running it between thumb and finger, a residue flicker; a remnant of the mass shunt of energy that had pulled him here from across the universe, that which he can still taste as it lingers like sucked coins in his mouth, strobes into the ornate bedcovers design and sparks it into life.
The Pope, whose name was once Adam, awakens with a start.
“Who are you?”, he asks.
“Listen close. Time is of the essence”, says the angel, letting go of the thread, and so casting the ostentatious gape of the chamber back into its early morning gloom.
“If it’s violence you seek to lay here…”
“I’m an angel.”
“It’s so confounding. Your race is so devout, yet you struggle now to accept my validity. I’m an icon of your belief system. But you think me mad. You wail and throw yourselves at the coffins of the dead, though you are convinced that their essence has passed on to a better place.”
“What do you want? Or, are you simply content to sit there and mock?”
“You don’t understand, Adam. I’m not mocking. This is praise.”
The Pope sits upright, and he chews at the skin at his knuckle.
“Centuries ago we visited this world of yours. It was one of countless many that harboured life. We poked around a bit, got to meet a few of the locals and, then, we left. Didn’t think anything of it. Like I said, you are but one of many.”
“Tell me what you want.”
“Well, you see, the interesting thing was just how your species, it alone, how it interpreted that visit. We have been studying its evolution for many years. I mean, I know you were a primitive people but the way you inflated and combined and justified what you saw. How you gave supernatural attributes to people and places that were simply people and places. The place I come to you from, my home, it is the place you call heaven.”
The Pope’s eyes fill, and he shakes the tears to his cheeks.
“The cradle of our repentant souls…”, he breathes into his clasped hands.
“No. No, it’s not. It’s a planet and it has nothing to do with your races bizarre desire to live on past its own end”
“But you are an angel. I feel the light you carry. Please, tell me where we went wrong. Open the path to your kingdom…”
“I am an emissary for a very particular group of progressive… politicians, shall we say. Our civilization has no deities. Not for the lack of trying. We attempted over and over to replicate the type of social control that you managed here on earth with your gods. It never worked. Sure, we have wars but nothing as vicious and as divisive as your catalogue of God sanctioned destruction. Our kind marry who they want, they drink and eat what they want and when they die there is great mourning. Because we know there are no other lives to be had.”
“You want the texts, the scriptures. Don’t you? You want the word, so that your people can see the true light.”
“No, we want you Adam.”
“We have your book. For years we called on our own great minds to spout its teachings. But none were believed, nor followed. We want to control the masses, Adam. Show us how. They will think you a god”.