In the last issue, Wort had discovered that the regime, and Elizabeth, had fled Earth. This episode concludes the story.
Wort finished the bottle of cerveza loca, then stepped into the hall after Jude. The first thing to catch his eye were the large signs along the enclosure’s wall.
“Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity,
and holiness with sobriety.” -
I Timothy 2:15
Below, was another sign:
“Be fruitful and multiply, that it is sinful to deny the life that lies within ye,
let it not perish but join in holy unity with thine spouse.”
“They’re having fertility problems,” his uncle said, from behind him.
Jude said nothing, still in shock from what had happened. The Gueuzers had successfully tracked the new regime headquarters to her colony, where they had taken control, then began building new munitions factories. At the same time, they had declared Job the site of the Second Beginning after The Rapture.
After the “Chosen” had left Earth, the Gueuzers decided to send a mission to evacuate people the on Job who were to be exiled, and find a clairvoyant to negotiate with Earth’s clans.
“Come,” Jude finally said, and they followed her into the catacombs only she and several other leaders knew about. “Security will be loose because they’ve just arrived on the planet.” They walked down the empty hall toward the arena where the day’s sermon would be delivered. Wort, his uncle, and Jude were dressed in monastic robes, which covered their space travel outfits.
Once down the hall, they entered the huge arena, close to the stage. The sermon had already begun and Wort gazed at the speaker. The man the regime described as The Lord was delicately beautiful, with pearly white skin and hair. “He looks like Elizabeth,” Wort whispered.
“It’s her son,” Jude whispered back.
Now Wort understood why she’d left him. The Rapture the regime had created had taken her son, the baby Joshua had taken from her at birth. She had followed him.
Next to Elizabeth on the stage stood a stunning female.
“Who’s that?” Wort whispered.
“The Returned Jesus,” Jude said.
“No, the woman.”
“That’s Bath-sheeba,” his uncle said from behind him. “She is the clairvoyant we need to bring back to Earth, the mother.”
“They say she and Elizabeth are lovers,” Jude added.
After the sermon, the trio managed to get close enough to the stage to slip into the Vanguard that left with The New Lord. They followed them out through another entrance, to Jude’s former headquarters. “Follow me,” Jude said, once they were inside. She led them off in another direction.
Wort gazed out the window of the enclosure. Large billboards were situated around most of the building, concealing the dismal, poisonous environment outside.
“The entire system is built underground,” Jude said, noticing his gaze.
He read another billboard out the window.
Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only -
James 1: 22
Behind it, larger letters, was another sign:
Gospel meeting Saturday, to be followed with Bingo and a prayer session.
Jude led them to a small room off the main quarters, where Elizabeth and Bath-sheeba were. Bath-sheeba made to leave, but Elizabeth took hold of her arm. She turned to Wort. “What would you like?” she asked, calmly.
“I’ve come to ask you to return to Earth, the Mother, with me,” Wort said. His uncle moved closer to Bath-sheeba.
“I cannot leave,” she said “I must take care of Our Lord.”
“He is not Jesus, old or new,” Wort said.
“Have you not seen his eyes? They are of fire!” Elizabeth replied.
“He’s not Jesus,” Wort said. “I looked it up in Joshua’s library. They’re lying. Come with me back to Earth. I have a ship and we leave as soon as we gather up those wanting to return there.”
“They want me,” Bath-sheeba said suddenly. “They have come for me.
Elizabeth looked at Bath-sheeba, then turned back to Wort. “I cannot leave my son.”
“He’s not your son,” Wort said. She looked at him in surprise. “They killed your son,” Wort lied. “I read it in Joshua’s library. He is telling you this to keep you!”
“I believe my own senses,” Elizabeth breathed, “which tell me that he is my son. I feel it.”
“You must leave,” Wort said. “The Glossamer will destroy this colony.”
“I can’t leave,” she replied.
“Why? He’s not The Reborn. You know that.”
“I love him,” she said.
“You never knew him,” Wort said desperately. “They tore your son from you and killed him when you were young! Why should you be any more fortunate than I! “ Elizabeth turned away. “I’m sorry,” Wort said.
“So am I,” she whispered.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The regime’s principal failing is its unwillingness to assist people in reaching their greatest potential, resulting in the production of a greater number of intellectual dissidents than supporters. This shortsightedness—a product of all human societies to date—was temporarily forestalled by the wholesale exportations of colonizers that contributed to their strength and adaptability. The colonizers, meanwhile required great flexibility and the regime found them indispensable.
The abandonment of a nomadic lifestyle had reduced humankind’s flexibility worldwide and the regime’s adherence to this prevents them from changing to meet the environmental changes their societies wrought. This forced them to abandon Earth, the Mother.
Wort’s eyes lost focus and the script on his computer screen blurred, a brick wall, behind which he could not penetrate. He continued to stare at the screen and gaps revealed themselves, then grew and took different shapes. The gaps become alive, shapes of people in his life, a family, a woman, a confused dancing jumble. He tried to will the shapes to his desires and they began to dance more erratically, then dissolved back into words. Wort turned from the screen, tears blurring his eyes again. Earth, although safe from the war that had engulfed much of the galaxy, was less exciting without Elizabeth. He was having trouble bringing himself back.
He got up and walked into the cellar, grabbing a cerveza loca . He’d been down here for days, fighting the emptiness any way he could, and his supply was dwindling.
The door above opened and his uncle entered, carrying a flower. “Look,” he said, a Skullcap, Scutellaria drummondii! They’re growing just outside and we thought they were extinct! How strong nature is to have sustained the regime’s chemical assault!” Wort looked away. “Do you remember when your dad used to send you to school with flowers for your teachers, especially the ones he liked?” his uncle said. Wort smiled weakly. “How are you doing?” his uncle asked.
“Just reading,” he replied.
“I see you’re still drinking cerveza loca,” his uncle observed. “Why not try an unlaced beer?” Wort didn’t respond. “The Gueuzers are wondering if you’re ready for a mission,” his uncle said. Wort didn’t answer again. “We need someone to go Inside with Bath-sheeba. Someone who knows the terrain and can bring her to Sparta, to begin the reconciliation process. It’s very dangerous,” his uncle finished.
“I know Sparta,” Wort replied. “He is dangerous.”
“Well, he’s ready to negotiate,” his uncle said. “A member of the Einsteinian Dialectic will mediate, but they need a guide.”
Wort stood up. “Sure,” he said, motivated by the chance of danger.
By Bill Metzger
Copyright 1994, Southwest Brewing News