Dark Illumination

An entwined pair of stories that evolve murder, cults, and pseudo-science. Constructive criticism is always welcome. That's what the critique bowl is about.
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7.11

The bright hall of the Church of Grace was full of unsure murmuring full of concern mixed in with the pious reassurance of those that dragged the prior group along. There was no place to sit; the benches had to be removed to fit all the people into the tiny little building.

In the room where he had killed his mentor, within earshot of the noisy crowd, the prophet, the father sat on the golden altar balancing the golden ornate knife in his hands, judging its weight against that of his spirit.

One of his assistant, the large man known as Strongarm, approached him, placing his hand on the father’s shoulder.” Having doubts sir?”

“Hmm? No. Of course not. Even if I’m wrong, I’m only just speeding up the process of their deaths by mere hours.”

“Then you ponder on the possibility of your failure?”

“Failure is a bit harsh of a word…”

“Of course. I apologize.”

“But no, I am not worried about my success as you put it. There is another issue entirely.”

“Hmm? What is that? Are you worried about the original Speaker?”

“No, not him. His associate. The young woman.” The father rubbed his knee with his free hand. Microsurgery always made him itchy. “I could feel her mind. Her emotions. I could bend them. I shouldn’t be able to receive feedback. I should only be able to suggest, not actually change.”

“Some kind of interference in the E.A.R.? A malfunction?”

“No. I think she is the one malfunctioning.”

“Sir?”

“I can only think of one device that allows that kind of mind manipulation.”

“A mindhack?”

“Yes. But even then, I shouldn’t be able to access it without it being programmed to my biometrics. Regardless of her malfunctioning.”

“Obviously she was bound to you.”

“…Which is the problem.”

“Why? Can’t you simply use her in case those fools actually try anything?”

“Oh, I will, trust me. It still begs the question…”

“Which one, sir?”

The father rolled up his blackened sleeve to reveal his R.I.G. Then pressed a few buttons and a holographic display lit up above it covered in numbers and various bits of data splotted with color. “Do you see the corruption rating?”

“…Yes. Isn’t that why we are here?”

“Do you see this purple portion?”

“I do, but I don’t recognize-”

“You wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have either had I not read the old man’s notes. Its a paradox rating. Most universes lack it entirely. If it does exist, it is in the infinitesimal.”

“That… doesn’t look infinitesimal.”

“It isn’t.”

“…So?”

“I believe I exist somewhere else here.”

“Huh?”

“I believe I may have met my present self. That he somehow doesn’t know is troubling for my future. Possible dementia maybe. Not a very bright future. If any at all.”

“That might explain why the Department are so interested in destroying this place.”

“Yes. But then again, it is just a theory, and it too may fail.” The father turned the display off and rolled back down his sleeve.

“So you think you will try and destroy yourself tonight?”

“Yes. Yes I do. For anything is possible. Which is why I fear our experiment will be fruitless. These are very unique circumstances, and I highly doubt they will ever be repeatable. Now enough of this banter.” The prophet flipped on his dark hood. “Let us begin the end of the beginning.”

And with those words, the doors to the main hall immediately shut, along with the lights snapping off. There were gasps and “what the fucks” being thrown around until a beam of light hit the far end of the room revealing a man in dark robes standing above his golden altar. He didn’t move from his position immediately. He listened too the silence. That silence was important. He needed to bask in it. Just before he felt he could take no more, he swung his hands in large archs before he flipped off his hood. People gasped for one reason or another.

“Welcome. I’m sure most of you have many questions. I am afraid I cannot answer them. The only thing I can promise you is time. Time will be your salvation. And it is time you will have to fight tooth and nail to receive. Without time, you are but nothing, as nothing is what you will become.

“What is this nothing that would like nothing more than to remove you from its pages? To tear at the very fabric of space and time to prevent your continued existence?” The prophet smiled. “Why its you, of course. Every single one of you. Its you and your way of life that will prevent your existence. Why? Its you who make this world evil. Its you who pollute it with your corruption. Its is you who make the gods themselves wish for your eradication.” He left a pause. People were still silent. If not silent from fear, then from the need to scoff in an unfriendly environment.

“I’m sure you’ve all felt it. Shadows creeping at your ankles. Figures at the corner of your eyes. The unnaturalness of the storm which bellows outside, its raindrops foreshadowing the abyss to which will otherwise be your doom. Ah! But I promised you salvation, didn’t I? I promised you time itself. How? How could I construct a man made idea and deliver it to you? Its simple. You take it. You are corrupt beasts, and you should revel in the idea! Who other than the corrupt looks after himself at the expense of others? Who other than the corrupt seek to better himself for himself that he might survive the turbulent waves of dread and despair? Who! But the corrupt would drown his fellows to reach the last ounce of air?

“You.” He turned his back to the crowd after releasing that short, blunt word. He could feel the fear, the desperation in the room. After he swam in its exhilleration, he spun back around. “Yes. All of you. There is only one solution. One salvation. It is time. And you must take it, for no one will give it willingly. The more corrupt, the better. The more evil, the more vile, the more disgusting wretch you can find, the better.

“So. Given this knowledge, I ask one thing tonight. For you must do it tonight or else it will be too late. Find the guilty. And take their time.” The light shut off, a strike a lightning nearby, and when it returned there was a white sack on the altar. Not a sack… a person. Its hands and feet tied to its base. “Friends… Fellow beings of corruption. Tonight, I share a gift. I share what I speak of. I give you time, a taste. This fiend it of most distasteful disgust, a being that fractures the very fabric of space. I give you hope dressed in blood. But he? He is only the beginning. Tonight! Tonight is only the beginning!”

The bag wriggled a little. No one hid their eyes as the prophet rose the golden dagger above his head, his eyes fixed down onto the monster in front of him. There was nothing that could-

A thud at the door. Another. A third, and the door bust open, pushing two mean holding it back against the wall. The wind howled behind the hooded figures numbering in seven. They were back lit from the blinking street lamps outside. This only heightened everyone’s fright, though not as much as the man in the lead pointing a gun straight at the prophet, but plenty for sure.

The prophet just smiled, the dagger still above his head. He went to drop it into his sacrifice, but the speaker pulled the trigger first. But not quick enough, as Megan, who was at his side, felt the undesirable need to push the speaker from the side. Her bump into the speaker made him miss his mark, merely striking the prophet in the shoulder.

The speaker stumbled slightly to his left. There was a terrible pain surmounting in his shoulder. He didn’t understand until he looked up at the prophet. Everything stopped. He had seen this all before. Just… had he? From another direction, this had all happened before. He- Time resumed and the speaker fell to his knees.

Megan saw this and dove for the gun. The prophet managed to regain some composure and rose the blade once again to its height. Megan fired a shot, her hands jerking to the side, forcing her to hit the wall behind the prophet. She tried again. And again. The prophet smiled and drove his knife down into his sacrifice. It wriggled for a moment, then slowed as the red pool began to build. He looked down at his attackers, people who entered with so much vindication and now looked terribly distraught. Except her. She still had fire in her eyes, regardless of the people flooding away and outside around her. Megan pointed the gun again, but the speaker reached up to her, a tear of fear in his eyes. “Don’t-”

She didn’t pay him any heed. She shot again, this time hitting her target true in the chest. Now the other darken robed figures were panicked as they rushed to aid their master, sheltering his as they brought him into the back room. Megan kept firing despite having ran out of bullets. She was sure the shot was fatal.

The room was almost empty now, save herself, the speaker and the body. The ground was littered with fresh pamphlets. She slowly approached the body, not entirely sure she should. She felt the need to. Making this murder a faceless one.

Megan ripped the knife from his chest, the crimson stain increasing in size. She then slowly removed the hood.

“Max?!”

Max smiled. Or he would have had he not been gagged. Megan removed the gag, then he did smile. “…Hi…”

“No, Max, hold on. I’ll try to… I don’t know Max, just hold on.”

“…kay… Ugh… Never actually been fatally stabbed.” He spurpled out some blood from his mouth. “Don’t think I got-”

“Shut up Max. Just… Shut up. I can do… something! Fuck Max, why? Someone call an ambulance!”

“…Nah. I’m good. Fading. Later…”

“Max? Max?!” Megan threw a fist into his bleeding chest. “Dammit!, don’t you dare! Don’t you fucking dare!”

Max’s last thought was that he just might.

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