the 1st coming (part iii)

Look, I’m trying to get to the good stuff (all the nasty sex). But I’m trying to get there organically, alright? Give me a break.

At the campfire, Geoff was playing Nearer, My God, To Thee on his acoustic guitar.

“Maybe you should put that away,” Alyssa told him.

Nine church goers were attending the camping trip in total. Brother Ted walked back to the camp after reliving himself in the river. “Woo! That water’s cold!” he declared.

He sat down at the edge of the fire and took out his Bible. “Being in nature reminds me of the awesome power of God,” Ted said. “But 1 John tells us to hate the world and everything in it. All of it will be destroyed in the Second Coming. None of this matters.” He then grabbed a trash bag and dumped its contents on the ground.

Alyssa tried to get close to John, but it appeared that she had competition. Sister Becky was close to Alyssa’s age. She was the touchy-feely type, laughed at every joke…even when a joke wasn’t being told. Most men responded to her flirty nature, but John was different. Alyssa tried to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“When I returned from Iraq, I successfully underwent conversion therapy,” John told Becky, “I haven’t had those kinds of feelings in nearly 2 years.”

“You’re such a brave man,” Becky responded as she gently touched his arm. Alyssa typically wasn’t the jealous type, but Becky was really trying her.

Everyone began roasting marshmallows and hotdogs but John took out a pork shoulder. He could have easily pulled back the plastic film covering it but used his Bowie knife instead.

“Shouldn’t you cook that before you eat it?” Brother Ted asked. “Nonsense,” John replied as he tore into the meat with his teeth, “God gave our bodies everything we need to digest raw pork.”

***

Alyssa woke up in the middle of the night to relieve herself. She walked a few yards from the camp and squatted behind a tree. While peeing, she heard painful grunts coming a few feet away.

“Who’s there?” she whispered into the dark. But All she heard was more grunting.

When she finished, Alyssa stood up and began wondering towards the direction of the sound. Behind another tree was John, pants around his ankles, squatting in agonizing pain.

“Are you okay?!” she asked him.

“I feel like my guts exploded!” John replied. He was blasting out one fart after another.

“I’ll go get help!”

“No!” John exclaimed, “I can’t let them see me like this! You gotta help me!”

“What can I do?”

“Just stay here with me.”

Alyssa knelt down beside John and held his hand. He started expelling an ungodly amount of diarrhea out of his anus. The stench was almost unbearable. When he finished, he looked up to her with his bloodshot, watery eyes.

“Thank you,” John said. Alyssa gave him a smile.

Afterwards, he stood up and washed his fecal-covered buttcrack in the river. When he finished, he walked back to Alyssa. As he took her by the hand, he said to her, “You can’t tell anyone about this.”

She nodded in return.

The two went back to their tents. As Alyssa climbed into her sleeping bag, she thought about John and thanked God for giving her such an intimate moment with him.

The next morning, groups were pairing up for the canoe trip. Becky approached John to row down river with her. He paused and scratched his forehead. “Uhh, actually I was planning to go with Alyssa,” he told her.

Becky stood up straight. “Alyssa? Really? But I assure you that I’m a much better rower than her,” she said.

“Good! That’s why you should go with Geoff.”

As Geoff was putting on his life jacket, John grabbed him and paired him with Becky. “Good luck!” he told him, and paddled off with his sister.

“Geoff’s not gonna like that,” Alyssa said, “he’s the jealous type.”

“Sorry, but I figured that I owe you an explanation for last night,” John replied.

“None’s necessary, John. You see, I get the bubble guts too.”

“I don’t think you understand,” he said. “I have IBS…Irritable Bowel Syndrome. So you understand why I hope we can keep this a secret.”

“But why John? Why?”

“Because…,” he gave a long pause, “I was laughed at as a child. Everyone called me Mr.Poopypants. I couldn’t walk 10 feet without poop running down the back of my legs. I had to tape up the bottom of my jeans to prevent turds from slipping out and everyday my pants would fill up with poopoo.”

Tears began to well up in John’s eyes. “Everyone thinks that I’m some kind of hero,” he continued, “but in my own mind, I’m always gonna be Mr. Poopypants.”

With his back against her, Alyssa wrapped her arms around John’s body and placed her head just below his neck. “You’re not Mr. Poopypants to me, John. Your secret is safe. But maybe you should stop eating raw pork.”

John placed his left hand top of Alyssa’s that was resting on his chest. “I’m glad I’ve finally met someone like you,” he said.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The First Coming (part I)

Alright, here’s the first chapter to my Christian erotica story.

Ain’t promising that it’s gonna be good

“Amen!” Geoff yelled. It sounded more like he yelled ammo. Her brother’s enthusiasm for Sunday service sometimes annoyed Alyssa Edwards.

The preacher, Brother Ted, addressed his parishioners. “Folks,” he said, “sometimes I wake up in a pool of my own sweat and pants soaked in urine. Could it be the side effects of medication that’s causing this? Or could it be my guilty conscience from all the nights I drove home blackout drunk and full of hydros?”

The pews echoed with amens.

“I think it is God’s way of telling me that I’m a sinner and that every morning I should wake up in absolute horror, get on my knees, and thank Him for not striking me down dead right then and there.”

“Amen! Amen!”

“Now folks,” Brother Ted continued, “sin’s a terrible thing. For every sin committed, we should have our skin flayed, eyes poked out, and toothpicks shoved up our pee holes. But there’s a way out. In John 14:6, Jesus says ‘I am the way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me’!”

“Amen! Amen!”

“So if you’ve ever had impure thoughts, touched yourself in impure ways, those are marks on your soul and you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven with any blemish! So wash yourself in the pure blood of Christ our Lord!”

The sermon was more fiery than usual from Brother Ted. Alyssa was moved by his words, but her mind was distracted by events on the other side of the world. When Brother Ted asked for any prayer requests, she stood up. “Yes,” Alyssa said, “please pray for my parents who underwent an ill advised missionary trip to North Korea. They have been taken captive and are being held ransom by the government. Please pray for their safety and for the Lord to provide us with the $10.8 million for their release.”

“Aaaaaaamen,” Brother Ted replied. “Let us all pray…”

***

After the sermon, the church congregation met for brunch. Alyssa was standing alone in her traditional Sunday clothes: a blue floral halter dress with a button up sweater. She typically didn’t like large gatherings, but her brother wanted her to socialize.

Brother Ted noticed Alyssa standing alone. He licked his fingers clean of cake, plate in hand, and proceeded towards her. “It’s good to see you again,” he said to her, “but church is the best place to be in a time like this.”

Brother Ted Kaczynski stood there with a wide grin on his face in his oversized suit. He was in his late forties, overweight, and sweated profusely. “It’s good to see everyone again,” Alyssa replied, “it’s been very difficult lately.”

“Sometimes the Lord tries us in ways we couldn’t possibly understand,” Brother Ted said, “like having our parents kidnapped and held ransom for an obscene amount of money that we couldn’t possibly pay in a thousand years. But God never gives us more than we can handle.”

“So true, Brother Ted.”

“The church may be able to help you with your ransom money,” Ted said as he reached out for Alyssa’s soft, small hand. “Please stop by my office anytime. As you know, men are persecuted in this country…particularly white, Christian men. So my wife left me over completely false domestic abuse allegations and I’ve been missing out on stimulating female conversation. Maybe we can work something out if you know what I mean.”

“Brother Ted,” Alyssa replied, “I don’t think it would be appropriate for a single man or woman to be alone in a room together. I’ll be sure to bring my brother Geoff along for these discussions.”

A look of disappointment came over Brother Ted’s face. “Right you are Ms. Edwards,” he said, “I look forward to speaking with you.”

Geoff waddled up to Alyssa in his khakis and pea green polo. “Is everything alright?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she said, “I’m just ready to go home.”

Geoff then poked his thick-rimmed bifocals up to his face. “But we haven’t heard the keynote speaker yet,” he replied.

Then she saw him.

He was standing aloof off to the other side of the room. He was about 6’2, muscles bulging through his black, ironed polo. He had the gelled, high and tight hair cut. One could easily get lost in his deep blue eyes. Alyssa tried to not gaze at his body for too long, but how could it be a sin to marvel at such a creation from God?

“Who is that man?” she asked Geoff.

“That’s the keynote speaker.”

Brother Ted stood up and called for everyone’s attention. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “we have a new member to our congregation. He is a decorated war veteran and he has an incredible story. Please welcome John Cannon.”

The room applauded and John addressed the room. “Thank you everyone,” he began. Alyssa was taken with his deep and magnetic voice. “Brother Ted wanted me to tell you about my experience in Iraq, and well…” John stammered for a bit. “There’s really not much to tell. As a former Satan worshiper, I knew the power of the devil. But I never knew the Grace of God. So while I was in the US Army Special Forces, our convoy was attacked. All of my comrades were killed and I was the lone survivor. Suddenly I heard a voice in my head. ‘God will provide’ it said. And there in front of me was a flame thrower, a grenade belt, and an M29 Light Machine Gun. So I single-handedly torched the attacking force, killing everyone involved, then marched to the closest village and raised it to the ground, killing men, women, and children. I thought I was going to be court martialed and tried for war crimes, but to avoid the media fallout from such a massacre, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about killing an entire Iraqi village, but through the Grace of God and salvation through Christ Jesus, all is forgiven. But my therapist tells me that it isn’t a miracle that I found a flame thrower, grenades, and a machine gun…that those things are standard equipment with the Special Forces. They want to deny the existence of God. They also tell me that I have acute ‘PTSD’ and undiagnosed schizophrenia…and I shouldn’t carry around a Glock 19…”

John then pulled out the Glock and began waving in front of the audience. “But they can’t tell me what to do. God gave us the 2nd Amendment. And if they want to take away that right, they’re gonna face the wrath of God…and this Glock 19!”

The congregation gave him a round of applause.

Alyssa knew right then and there.. She had to know this man.

god bless texas

There are four things that I love: 1) corporate intrigue 2) religious charlatans 3) the State of Texas 4) NFL football. Which is why I’ve been blessed with the Jack Easterby story regarding the Houston Texans.

For those who don’t know, Easterby is essentially a chaplain that plotted and schemed his way to the top of an NFL franchise. It’s an odd story, but things like this happen. Anyone recall Rasputin and the fall of the Russian Empire? And yes, I’d say that Easterby’s involvement with the Texans is every bit as significant and tragic as the fall of the Romanovs.

I’m just always surprised at how rich people, like Texans CEO Cal McNair, are so gullible. If the average person came across someone like Easterby on the street, we’d think “this dude’s full of shit.” But I guess game recognizes game.

Listen to this shit:

A bit of advice Evangelicals: if you want people to take your religion seriously, maybe drop the used car salesman schtick.

The theory is that Easterby and McNair are trying to turn the Texans into a “Christian football camp”. So this will give us the opportunity to test Aaron Rodgers’ theory that “God doesn’t care about football games.” And if we come to find out that God DOES care about football while millions of children continue to starve to death, then you should ask yourself why you worship this god.

So I’m pretty excited to watch this experiment go up in flames. In the meantime, enjoy some of Easterby’s standup:

how do i get a call-in show?

So I’ve been locked in my shed breathing in paint and gasoline fumes for the last few days and I’ve been watching atheist call-in shows the entire time.

Then it occurred to me: I can do this!

I’ve always said that my dream job would be to have my own talk show a la Dr. Phil: People would come to me with their problems and I would dispense nothing but terrible, uneducated advice. (So, basically, Dr. Phil)

So now I want my own atheist call in show: people call in trying to convert me, I ask endless amount of questions, people spin their wheels to the point of insanity, and I convert every time. Of course, I believe in this faith until the next caller.

I’ll also give relationship advice, because if anyone knows romance, it’s definitely a balding, disheveled, 94 year old.

according to Simon (part iii)

“What happened to your face?” Jacob asked as I met him at the Cyrene’s inn.

“I was attacked by one of Herod’s thugs,” I said. “They’re onto us. So watch who you talk to.”

“You didn’t tell him anything did you?”

“I told him I was a friend of Joseph’s. After that, he left me alone.”

“Shit,” Jacob said and rubbed his face. “Well good news is I met with Ananias and his wife Sapphira. Remember them?”

“The one’s from Rome?”

“Yeah. They sold some of their property in Judea. They gave the money to John to distribute to the widows outside of the city walls. It’s finally happening Simon!”

“Don’t let it get to your head!” I told him. “You still need to lie low.”

Just then a big burly fellow with six other men busted through the door. “Χαιρετίσματα Jacob,” the booming voice said.

“Hello Stephanos.”

“You’re Stephanos?!” I exclaimed.

Stephanos looked over to me and back over to Jacob. “Who’s dis?” the man asked in his Greek accent.

“Relax, he’s Simon,” Jacob replied. “He was a good friend of Yeshua’s.”

Stephanos looked me up and down. “I heard you were arrested,” he said to me.

“No, it must have been another Simon,” I replied. “I’m from Bethsaida.”

Stephanos was confused. He looked back to Jacob. “I was told that Ananias gave you money. Our women and children are starving too-“

“Now Stephanos,” Jacob interrupted, “I know where you’re going with this. But Ananias was very clear: he wanted us to use this money to help the widows of Jerusalem.”

“Because we’re Greeks we’re not as important as the Hebrews?”

“I didn’t say that. Please listen to me. I’m only respecting Ananias’ wishes.”

Stephanos was furious. “We’ve been in the streets for days while you Hebrews have been coward up in your homes! Do you support us or not?!”

“Of course I support you!” Jacob yelled then took a deep breath. “I get how you feel, Stephanos, I really do. But you gotta understand our situation. Herod and Pilate aren’t too concerned with the Greeks right now. But they are after us. We can’t be out in the streets and we don’t have the money to spread around to everyone. I’m sorry. But Ananias is a very successful man from Rome and a diaspora Jew just like yourself. If you go to him and explain your situation, he can probably provide you with some assistance.”

Stephanos stood silent for a moment then muttered something in Greek. He walked up to Jacob. “μη με σταυρώνεις,” he said. Then him and his six men left the room.

“You should’ve stayed away from him Jacob,” I said.

“I know.”

“And Stephanos is a convert. To Ananias, he’s still a Gentile. He’s not giving him the money.”

Jacob began rubbing his temples. “I need a drink,” he said.

We went down to the tavern where Levi was scribbling something down. “What are you doing?” Jacob asked him.

“The Greeks wanted something to tell the people back in the Decapolis. Something about Yeshua.”

I looked over the writing. He didn’t write much but it was all in Greek. I couldn’t understand a word of it. Jacob was puzzled. “Where did you learn to write Greek?”

“In school, here in Jerusalem” Levi replied, “I had to learn it along with Hebrew.”

“Maybe we should drop the subject of Greeks for the time being,” I said.

We sat silently drinking our wine for a few minutes. There was a commotion on the streets. Andrew came running up. “They’re about to stone some of the Greeks!” he screamed.

Jacob and Levi instantly got up. “Aren’t you coming along?” Jacob asked me. Against my better judgment, I put down the wine cup and followed them.

A few blocks away, a crowd was gathering. Some were shouting. Others gawked out of morbid curiosity. Moments later, Temple guards began dragging out seven Greeks. One of them was Stephanos.

Behind them followed a few members of the Sanhedrin, including Joseph. Standing beside him was Ananias.

“Thief! Thief!” Ananias shouted. “These men conspired with Yeshua to rob the Temple and overthrow the Romans!”

My heart began to sink. This was a setup.

The guards threw the Greeks in front of Herod’s black-cloaked mercenaries who had their spears ready. Meanwhile, the Roman guards stood back smiling at the whole affair.

A judge from the Sanhedrin stood among the crowd and faced the accused. “Conspiracy, sedition, robbery of Ananias,” the judge said, “are these accusations true?”

It didn’t matter what Stephanos said. And he knew it. From his knees, he laughed and looked at the crowd. “You stiff-necked people,” he said, “your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—”

“God help you,” the judge said.

With those words, the mercenaries plunged their spears into the bellies of the Greeks. A pool of blood formed in the middle of the crowd.

Levi screamed in horror and ran away.

But the crowd was just getting warmed up. They picked up stones or any disposable object and began hurling them towards Stephanos. He got bruised and battered and knocked in the head a few times but kept crawling forward.

Among the mercenaries, I recognized a familiar face: The scars….the scabs…the wiry frame. It was him alright. It was the man that attacked me a few days earlier.

And Stephanos kept crawling towards this man as the stones were raining down on him. When he reached his feet, Stephanos grabbed the man’s cloak and got to his knees.

I was too far away to hear anything, but Stephanos was clearly saying something to this man. Judging by his face, the figure was stunned by what was being said. But before the figure could react, a member of the crowd smashed a rock into Stephanos’ skull.

The man in the black cloak stood back with blood and brain matter splattered all over his face. He was in a daze.

Before the crowd could mutilate the bodies, Joseph stepped in to quiet them. That’s enough!” he yelled. “The perpetrators of the Passover sedition have been caught and punished! This matter is closed! Please return to your homes!” As the crowds dispersed, the Temple guards started dragging the bodies outside of the city walls.

Jacob and I returned to the inn in silence. We didn’t know what to make of what just happened. “Do we leave Jerusalem?” Jacob asked.

“Why?” I replied. “It looks like Joseph and Ananias took care of our problem.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

according to Simon (part II)

“Simon saw Yeshua come back from the dead!” Andrew said.

“I didn’t see Yeshua!” I replied. “How did you get to be so stupid?”

Andrew and I were meeting with Jacob and Levi at the Cyrene’s tavern after returning to Jerusalem. “What did you see?” Levi asked me.

“Look,” I said, completely ignoring his question, “I only came back to Jerusalem to bring Jacob back to Galilee. I already got Yeshua killed, I can’t let the same thing happen to his brother.”

“I’m not going back,” Jacob said.

“Why not?”

“This might come as a surprise to you Simon, but people actually believe the Message. You thought the Romans could never be driven out of Judea, but everyone took notice of Yeshua. Including the Greeks!”

“The Greeks? We were only in Scythopolis for a few days. We barely spoke Greek!”

“Yeshua made quite an impression on them.”

“Yeah, they’re saying that he did all kind of shit,” Levi said, “healing the blind, casting out demons and sending them into pigs, making the lame walk…”

“Are you sure they’re not confusing him with one of the thousands of other lunatics that wonder around the Decapolis?”

“I’m telling ya Simon,” Jacob exclaimed, “these Greeks have some goddamned imagination. They think he’s some wandering miracle worker! There is some guy named Stephanos who followed us all the way from Scythopolis. He’s been screaming in the streets! He’s pissed about the crucifixion!”

“You guys didn’t talk to him, right?”

“Well…”

Right then, Mary walked into the tavern. She had the look of death on her face.

“What’s wrong?” Jacob asked.

“He’s gone.”

***

All of us ventured outside of the city walls to Joseph’s tomb near the Mount of Olives. The women were weeping. I walked inside the tomb and Yeshua’s body wasn’t there.

“The Greeks?” I asked Jacob.

“How would they have known where his body was?”

Joseph was stomping down the hill up ahead. I looked over to Jacob. “Let me handle this,” I said.

Joseph was only a few yards away when he started yelling. “You guys have been an epic pain in my ass!”

“Now Joseph, calm down,” I said. “I’m only here to collect Jacob and bring him back to Galilee. I swear. I’m not here to cause trouble.”

“Like hell! All the Jews are gone but now the streets are crawling with Greeks! Ever since Passover ended, they’ve been piling into the city!”

“I know, but we have nothing to do with that.”

“Bullshit! This idiot here…” Joseph cried, referring to Jacob, “has been seen screaming on the streets with that lunatic Stephanos. And now all of you are grave robbing!”

I shook my head as I looked over to Jacob. “Joseph, we didn’t take Yeshua’s body. Mary came here this morning and it was gone. As for the Greeks, I don’t know what to tell you. We’ll leave Jerusalem and maybe this will all blow over in a few weeks.”

“Too late. They’ve been threatening the Sadducees and Pharisees because apparently, Yeshua was railing against them in Scythopolis! I know you were there Simon. So this IS your fault!”

Damn it, I thought. I looked over to Jacob. “This has gotten out of hand. We’re leaving.”

“If all of you are leaving, you better do it quick. The Sanhedrin wants this fire put out now! Herod is bringing in mercenaries from all over the empire. A few of them might be here now. You’re probably as good as dead,” Joseph said.

“Then that means you too,” I told him. “You’re as guilty as the rest of us.”

Jacob spoke up. “It doesn’t matter where we go. Do none of you see what’s going on here? The moment Yeshua spoke against the Romans and their collaborators, we had a target on our backs. We knew the risks. And we accepted them. Because look around you: lepers, beggars, widows, children sleeping on the streets. We can’t continue to live like this. Even the Greeks agree! Yes Yeshua is dead, but that doesn’t mean the Kingdom of God is dead too. We continue to fight for it or we die in the streets.”

Joseph was silent.

“It’s time for you to take a stand Joseph,” Jacob continued. “You’re either with us or you’re with Herod.”

Joseph looked down to the ground and thought for a moment. “I have no love for the Romans,” Joseph said, “but I want no more bloodshed. So I ask all of you: stay away from the Gentiles. They aren’t our problem. Let them take the fall for this Yeshua situation. If you can do this, I can keep the Sanhedrin off your scent.”

“But Joseph,” Jacob replied, “a lot of them are Jewish converts. We’re in this together.”

“Listen to me Jacob: stay away from them. And please, for the love of God, lay low!”

With those words, Joseph walked away. Jacob was beside himself. “What does he expect us to do?” he said to me, “we can’t just wish the Romans away!”

I put my hands on his shoulders to calm him down. “Jacob, he may be onto something,” I said. “Let’s face it: we don’t have the power to get the Romans out of Judea just yet. Our only choice is to play the long game. Alright? Now you might be safe in Jerusalem for the time being, but you’re gonna have to live to fight another day. Also, keep quiet about being Yeshua’s brother. Okay?”

Jacob nodded. “Are you going back to Galilee?” he asked.

I smiled. “No. I gotta keep you out of trouble,” I replied.

All of us went back into the city walls individually. As I was returning to the Cyrene’s tavern, a strange man in a black cloak pulled me into an alley and put a dagger to my throat.

“I got money in my satchel,” I said to him.

“I don’t want your money!” the man replied. He was a short, wiry figure with rashes and scabs all over his face. “I recognize you!”

“Well I don’t recognize you.”

“Don’t play with me! I saw you with that man in Caesarea.”

“What man?”

“Yeshua you fool!”

“Who?”

He punched me in the stomach and I fell to the ground. “Why are you in Jerusalem?” the figure asked.

“I’m just a fisherman. I’m here in town because of Passover. I’m leaving tomorrow, I swear!” I said as I was gasping for air.

“Liar!”

“Why would I lie about that?!”

He kicked me in the face and I fell flat on the ground. The man continued his interrogation.

“Who do you know here?”

I crawled back to my knees. “Joseph, alright! He’s from Arimathea! He’s on the Jerusalem Council!”

“Can you confirm that?”

“We can go talk to him now!”

The man put his dagger back into his cloak and he helped me off the ground. He also dusted me off. “I’m sorry about the confusion,” he said. “There’s a lot of insurrectionists around. They always cause trouble around Passover. Can never be too safe, ya know?”

I wiped the blood from my mouth. “Indeed.”

“Alright, well you take care now,” the man said.

He walked up to the edge of the alley, looked to his left and right, and disappeared back into the city streets.

TO BE CONTINUED…

according to simon (part I)

Time to shit or get off the pot.

I’ve had this story in my head for awhile and just now acted on it.

I originally wrote an introduction but then said fuck it. All you need to know is that this is historical fiction, perhaps my least favorite genre, but this blog is all about challenging myself as a writer. So I’m giving this a go.

Just imagine if you were some nobody that got caught up in an incident that you believed had little significance, but it was actually the most important event in all of Western Civilization. I want to explore how reality turns to myth. I guess that’s the impetus behind this story.

I dunno, we’ll see how this goes…

Ain’t promising nothing.

***

Jerusalem, Circa 30 CE

Roman Judea is under the governorship of Pontius Pilate. Yeshua from Galilee has amassed a small yet devoted number of followers as messianic fervor sweeps the region. After causing a ruckus at the Jerusalem Temple during Passover, Yeshua is tried and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

With their leader dead, the followers of Yeshua await their fates…

…one such follower, and childhood friend of Yeshua, is Simon, the fisherman of Bethesda…

Joseph (of Arimathea) knocked me on my ass. He continued to berate me as I laid out on the ground.

“Do you know how hard it was for me to not turn you over to the Romans?!” he screamed. “All of these young ones,” Joseph then pointed to Thomas, John, Andrew, Levi, Jacob, and Mary, “…you and that idiot friend of yours could have gotten them KILLED!”

I leaned up and wiped the blood from my lip. I couldn’t feel a thing. I was too drunk. “Don’t worry Joseph,” I said, “you’ll never see my face again.”

“You’re damn right I’ll never see your face again! You have until sun up to get out of Jerusalem. If you’re not gone by then, so help me God YOU’LL be crucified next!”

Jude spoke up. “What about Yeshua’s body? Surely you didn’t leave him at Golgotha. It’s the Passover.”

“Do you know what I had to do Jude?” Joseph asked. “I had to talk to Pilate. Yeah! Face to fucking face! Luckily for all of you, he barely remembered this morning’s fiasco so I was permitted to take him off the cross. As for the Sanhedrin…they’re PISSED and will probably be looking for you guys. Which is why you better get the fuck outta here!”

“Just tell me where he’s buried,” Jude replied.

“I’m not telling you!” Joseph said.

Levi spoke up. “Just tell him father.”

Joseph took a deep breath to cool himself. “Because my idiot son here was an admirer of Yeshua,” he said, “his body has been placed in my family tomb TEMPORARILY, at least until all of this shit blows over. Then I will remove his remains. Now: please leave the city.”

Joseph departed the tavern and took Levi with him. The rest of the group stood around aimlessly. Jacob helped me off the ground. “Do we go back to Galilee?” he asked.

“I sure as hell am!” I replied.

“But…what about…”

“What about what?!”

“The Kingdom of God?”

“The Kingdom of God? Jacob, your brother is DEAD! He’s not coming back! If you know what’s good for you, you will return to Galilee and kiss your mother and tell her how sorry you are for your older brother’s death.”

Jacob began to weep and I instantly regretted my words.

He was only a kid.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “this was all my fault. I shouldn’t have agreed to come to Jerusalem. All of this could have been avoided.”

“I can’t go back,” Jacob said. “I can’t face her.”

He told me that he was staying in Jerusalem. I didn’t know what else to say to him. So I patted him on the back and he departed the Cyrean’s tavern. I thought I’d ever see him again.

“I’m going to Damascus,” Jude said, “I’ve got some connections there. Maybe now just wasn’t the time. I….”

“Let it go Jude,” I interrupted.

“But Simon, maybe this was just the beginning of something big…perhaps the end for the Romans.”

I laughed. “Are we experiencing the same reality? We just got our asses handed to us. Do you really think we can bring down the Romans?”

“Why are you here?! Did you not see all of those followers in Capernaum? In Cana? In Caesarea?!”

“I was his friend, Jude. I knew all of this was getting to his head, but I said nothing. I let the rest of you talk him into coming to Jerusalem. I said nothing. I let him go to the temple. I knew what he was going to do. But I said nothing. Well now I’m telling YOU something: go back to Damascus or wherever you’re from, and forget all of this happened. And I will go back to Bethesda where I will regret for the rest of my life that I was never able to bring Yeshua’s body to his mother.”

“And what of the Romans? What will you do if they ever find out what you did here?”

I laughed again as I drank another cup of wine. “They don’t care enough about me,” I said, “but if they did ever find me, I will tell them to send me to Rome so that I can tell the Caesar to kiss my ass.”

Jude shook his head. “Goodbye Simon.”

“So long Jude!”

As I was filling the wine skins, Thomas approached me. “Should I go to Egypt?” he asked.

“The world is your oyster, Thomas,” I said, “I’m going home.”

The two of us embraced for the last time. I thanked the Cyrean for sheltering us then my brother Andrew and I left the tavern. Maybe it was the wine, but as we were leaving Jerusalem, I was seeing Yeshua’s face everywhere. The guilt was unbearable.

Andrew wasn’t at all affected by the day’s events. As we traveled the road back to Galilee under the cover of night, he was cackling. “Boy, Joseph licked you good,” he said.

Andrew was a simple man.

“That’s because he’s a member of the Sanhedrin,” I replied, “if they ever found out he provided aid and cover to us, they’ll stone him for sure.”

As we stopped along a creek bank for the night, I laid out my bed. As I walking away towards the tree line, Andrew asked where I was going.

“Gotta take a shit,” I said.

As I got out of earshot of him, I kneeled down behind a tree and vomited. I closed my eyes for a few moments. All I could envision was Yeshua’s smiling face. Then I wept uncontrollably.

Finally I stood up and walked back to the camp where I found Andrew picking his nose. “Boy I can’t wait get back to fishin,” he said.

I laid down on my bed, looking up to the sky. “We’re not going back to Bethesda,” I said. “We’re going back to Jerusalem.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

2051: a space monstrosity (part viii)

“We are going home,” I announced to the crew onboard the Sagan. “To repair the ship, we’ll need Yah’s help. He’s being brought to the surface as we speak. His chamber will be stored in the cargo area, where Dr. Jackass will release him. We cannot get too close to Yah. He’s highly radioactive, but the Doctor will be equipped with a radiation absorber that I stole from the Ishnarians. You are ordered to remain out of the cargo bay. The Doctor will ask Yah to remain a safe distance from the crew.”

“If he’s God,” Patel asked, “can’t he make more radiation absorbers?”

“Good question Patel,” I replied, “but let’s not overthink this. Yah is not a supernatural being. He is made of real matter and is bound by gravity. That’s why he needs a spaceship to get off this planet. Additionally, it should be noted that Yah can read minds. But it appears that he can only do so at a certain distance. Perhaps up to 60 feet. If possible, stay 60 feet away from the cargo area. I can’t go into any more details, but when I order everyone to be at their stations, you will have 30 seconds to get there. Am I understood?”

“Yes sir!”

“Good. Begin preparations for launch.”

I exited the Sagan to meet with Hazov. Off in the distance, Yah’s chamber was being wheeled towards the ship.

“It’s a shame that you are unable to stay,” Hazov said, “hopefully this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship between our two worlds.”

“Possibly,” I said.

“If you don’t mind me prying, Captain, I thought your ship was having trouble launching.”

I smiled. “Someone forgot to carry the 1.”

“I see,” he said. “Farewell Captain.”

“Farewell Hazov.”

We shook hands and I immediately went to engineering to speak with Commander Mwangi. “Commander, once when you see that the hydrogen drive is back online, fire it up immediately,” I told her.

“But Captain, with lift thrusters firing we’ll be moving at a tremendous speed. We risk burning the hydrogen drive out again.”

“Just do it.”

I went to the bridge and strapped into the navigation station next to Valdez. “What’s the fastest you’ve ever flown a ship?” I asked her.

“About 1/8th the speed of light sir.”

“Prepare to shatter that record.”

The Doctor then came over the intercom. “The chamber is loaded sir,” he said.

“Close cargo bay doors and release Yah from the chamber,” I ordered.

Yah spoke up. “Thank you for releasing me from my chains, Captain,” he said.

“Don’t mention it.”

I monitored controls from the command post. Moments later, Valdez spoke up. “Lift thrusters are online sir!”

“Launch thrusters!”

The Sagan began lifting off the surface and into the atmosphere. I channeled down to engineering. “How’s that hydrogen drive coming along, Nia?!”

“Hydrogen drive is fully operational!”

Then a deeply distraught Hazov came over the radio. “Captain Kananga! Our planet is facing a torrent of earthquakes and tornadoes! We are dying! What have you done?!”

I radioed down to the cargo bay. “Yah! Unleashing the apocalypse on Ishnar wasn’t part of the deal!”

“Sorry Captain,” Yah replied. “The people of Ishnar have broken the covenant. They shall face my wrath.”

Now Yah was about to face my wrath, I thought. “I see,” I responded to Yah. “Dr. Jackass, please report to the bridge.”

I looked over to Valdez. “Have we cleared the atmosphere?” I asked.

“Yes sir, we are about to leave the outer orbit of Ishnar’s moons.”

“Good. Hopefully we can put enough distance between Yah and Ishnar.”

Moments later, Dr. Jackass entered the bridge. “Doctor,” I said, “on my count, open the cargo bay doors.

“Sir?”

I went over the intercom. “Attention crew: please be at your stations,” I ordered, then activated life support systems on all decks.

After 30 seconds expired, I looked back over to Valdez. “Alright Commander, step on it!”

“Excuse me?”

“Damn it Valdez! FLOOR IT!”

As we accelerated to an extraordinary speed, I ordered Dr. Jackass to open cargo doors. Centrifugal systems instantly cut out and we were floating at zero-g.

“Sir!” the Doctor yelled, “all contents in the cargo bay have been suctioned out! Including Yah! Closing doors now!”

As the gravity was being restored, I looked up at the radar. An energy source outside the ship was keeping pace. “Damn it! Yah is on our tail! More speed!”

“But we’re traveling near the speed of light!” Valdez replied.

“Can God go faster than light?!” Dr. Jackass asked.

“I guess we’ll find out!”

The ship began to rattle back and forth. We were under attack. Using his god-like power, Yah came over the intercom. “Is this how you want this to end Captain?” he asked. “Empty space makes a cold grave.”

“Faster Valdez!” I ordered.

“She’ll fly apart Captain!”

“Fly her apart then!”

Alarms and buzzers were going off across the bridge. The vibration intensified. If we were going to die, we were going to die going the speed of light.

Then I looked up at the radar. Another energy source was was gaining on Yah.

The calvary had arrived…

TO BE CONTINUED.

2051: a space monstrosity (part vii)

“It is the King’s wish that your three female crew members join his harem. In exchange, we will grant you land rights on Ishnar, allowing you to remain here permanently,” Hazov declared to me in front of the Royal Council.

“What if they deny the King’s wish?” I retorted.

“Then you and your crew will be asked to leave.”

“Hazov, I can’t make them do anything. Those three crew members are distinguished women in their own right. I do not own them.”

“Those are the conditions on which you may stay on Ishnar.”

“Unacceptable,” I said, “I am responsible for the safety and well-being of my crew. Under no conditions would they submit to this demand.”

Hazov then whispered to one of the advisers. They convened privately for a few moments. “Alright,” Hazov finally spoke up, “then the King will accept one of your female officers for his harem: Commander Mwangi.”

I tried to hide the anger boiling beneath. “Under Space Fleet guidelines,” I responded, “we are ordered to respect the customs of extraterrestrial cultures. But I cannot submit my crew these demands, not without discussing it with them first. Please allow me to return to the Sagan where I will meet with my crew.”

“Of course, Captain.”

I was bluffing. I knew the crew wouldn’t agree to these terms but I needed time to find other options.

When I returned to the Sagan, Dr. Jackass pulled me aside. “Valdez is indeed pregnant,” he said, “we ran a DNA test and the father is Smashhouse. Yah was correct.”

“Fuck me running!” I replied.

***

I went underground to meet with Yah again. The guards refused to let me through. “Look,” I told one of them, “Hazov has granted me unrestricted access to Yah.”

“We need an explanation for your visit,” the guard said.

“I just need to go over with Yah the court proceedings on Earth should he stand trial,” I replied. “That’s all.”

“I need to confirm this with Hazov.”

“Don’t waste your time, Hazov’s time, and my time. You’re being ridiculous.”

We had a stare down for a few moments before he let me through. Another guard escorted me to Yah’s chamber.

“Can we have some privacy please?” I asked the guard. When he was out of earshot, Yah spoke up.

“I knew you’d be back,” he said.

“Of course you did.”

“We got off on the wrong foot Captain. But I can help you with your problem.”

“What is my problem?”

“Your ship doesn’t work and you can’t stay on Ishnar.”

“So? Maybe I can find another corner of this planet for my crew to live on.”

“The King of Ishnar rules this entire planet. If he ever found you and your crew, he would kill all of you. Face it: the customs of Ishnar is incompatible with Earth’s. You know this to be true.”

“How can you help me then? Can you fix thrusters, hydrogen drives, and hibernation chambers?”

“Through me, all things are possible.”

“Do you agree to do this?”

“You have my word, Captain.”

“What about Earth? It’s gone. Can you help us rebuild the planet?”

“I’ve only ever wanted what’s best for humanity.”

“Okay then. If you go back on your word, I will not hesitate to eject you into outer space where you’ll spend eternity in your chamber.”

“My powers are limited in this chamber. The only way I can repair your ship is if you release me from it.”

Son of a bitch, he was right. I knew he was right. And he knew that I knew he was right. We were playing each other. I had to make a choice.

I called the guard over. “Bring Yah’s chamber to the surface,” I ordered. “We’re bringing him back to Earth.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

2051: a space monstrosity (part vi)

“Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear hellfire,” I informed the crew. “The Sagan’s communication beacon has been pinging mission control for the last 50 years, ever since we entered hibernation stasis. We haven’t received a response back. It is safe to assume that all nuclear powers on Earth have indeed initiated Mutually Assured Destruction, leaving the planet in a radiated mess, meaning it won’t be safe to return there for the next 250 years.”

“279 years to be precise,” Dr. Jackass interrupted.

“In all likelihood,” I continued, “we are the last remaining members of Space Fleet, and possibly the last Earthlings.”

The crew looked at one another.

“When did you learn about this?” Valdez asked.

“Not long after we departed Tranquility Bay,” I replied.

“So we could have aborted the mission, returned to Earth, and Smashhouse would still be alive,” Valdez retorted.

“My orders were to continue with the mission and initiate population measures on the planet orbiting Tau Ceti. We have a responsibility not only to Space Fleet, but to humanity as well, to maintain our race.”

Valdez threw up her hands in frustration. “What about our responsibilities to the people of Earth?!” she cried, then stormed out of the briefing room.

Patel spoke up. “What about that ‘God’ thing?” he asked.

“Patel, you don’t seem to be too disturbed about this news,” I said.

“Sir, I’m in Space Fleet. We all knew the risks when we signed up.”

I nodded. “Forget about the ‘God’ situation. The being they have captured underground is indeed an intelligent life form, but I believe its intentions are deceptive. In my assessment, it’s too dangerous to bring it on this ship and back to Earth. Therefore, that thing, whatever it is, is the Ishnarian’s problem. I believe our best course of action is to remain here, under the good will of the Ishnarians.”

“Sir,” Hanson interrupted. “I’m in agreement with Valdez. We must return to Earth and assist in recovery efforts.”

“Hanson,” I said, “there may be nothing to return to. And that’s to say nothing about surviving hibernation stasis.”

“Earth is our home sir! We must do something!”

“Now I am the captain! And my orders are to remain here. Is that clear?”

“How can you be a captain when there is no Space Fleet?!” Hanson said and left the room in protest.

“I guess the meeting’s adjourned then,” I said. As everyone left the room, I pulled the Doctor aside. “Check on Valdez,” I told him. “Confirm that she’s pregnant. Run a medical exam if need be. We need to investigate the veracity of Yah’s claims.”

“Aye sir.”

I returned to my quarters and pulled out a bottle of bourbon. There was a knock on the door. “May I speak with you sir?” the voice asked.

It was Mwangi.

After my encounter with Yah, I had been reluctant to make eye contact with her. I took a big swig from the bottle and invited her in.

“What can I do for you Commander?” I asked.

“Sir, I didn’t want to bring this up in front of the crew,” Mwangi said, “but launch thrusters are blown in addition to the hydrogen drive being depleted. And with hibernation chambers being iffy at best, it appears that we’re stuck here.”

I started to rub my temples. “I can’t believe that Space Fleet sent us up in this piece of shit,” I said. “Is there anything you can do?”

“It’s normally a simple refueling process,” she replied, “but because we’re on a planet stuck in the 14th Century, it might take decades before I could develop the materials to even begin the process. I’m sorry Captain.”

I sighed. “It’s not your fault Commander,” I said.

“I guess you can call me Nia now.”

“Can I offer you a drink Nia?”

“I would love one sir.”

“Please, call me Bill,” I said as I poured her a glass. After I handed it to her, she stared at it for awhile in deep thought.

“I also want to tell you that even though you’re the captain and have to maintain a stoic distance away from the crew,” Nia said, “I have supported your decisions 100%. And I know these last few days have been difficult for you. But you don’t have to be a stranger. You have my support.”

“A captain is only as good as his crew, specifically his Chief Engineer,” I joked.

“Then you must not be a very good captain,” she laughed.

“Nonsense,” I said, “I’m thankful to have your support.”

There was an awkward silence for a few moments as we sipped our drinks. Finally, Nia smiled and spoke up. “So how are you going to spend the rest of your days on this planet?”

“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it,” I laughed. “I guess I’ll be a farmer. There’s nothing else to do on this forsaken planet.”

Nia leaned forward to touch my hand. “I could be a farmer’s wife,” she said.

I clasped onto her hand. “Now I just need to talk to the Ishnarians,” I replied.