Eucharist for a Sinless Mankind
by Bertil Falk
Chapter 2: The Not-Sinning Ones
part 3 of 7
Mother Saulcerite of the planet Bavaria is now a Cardinal and head of the Bureau of Salvation. She is well regarded and may become Pope. However, a new test awaits her: Brother Urbanus Collectus is assigned to aid her in the investigation of a newly discovered species near Betelgeuse. The species is sentient but has not tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
In the crowd of artificial Government planets at Proxima Centauri, Teresia Nightmare chewed at her golden lips and ran her eyes over her lover in a way that under any other circumstances would have meant Xavier Pascal was sacked. She had been in exceptionally low spirits ever since her brylling — third cousin — Orvar Chan had destroyed a valuable cube in her collection of time segments.
She had been forced to let him out and send him back to his distant, godforsaken home planet. Like a canceled stamp, the cube was empty and of no value. She wondered where the inhabitants of the cube could be. As an old teleportation expert, she smelled a rat at the cube’s remaining empty for so long.
Her lover’s report did not cheer her up. “You did what, did you say?” she asked.
“Using a quantum sling, I moved their bloody convent cum monastery to a parallel world,” said Xavier Pascal. At the same time, he began to realize that he could look straight into the Pleiades and not find a star to pin on his breast; he had thought he would reap one as a result of his unconventional step. Teresia was not reacting at all as he had expected. He had in vain polished his dirty boots until they glowed.
“You stupid idiot!” she exclaimed. “Now we will have the Church from the Pope all the way down to the smallest piss-nun and piss-monk against us, not to forget pissing laypersons full of implicit faith.”
“Have they not always been against us?” he wondered.
“Only at grass-roots levels out there in the uncivilized cosmos,” she replied. “You may go on quarreling out there in the universe, but only within certain limits. There is a limit to everything, and you have crossed that limit, with interest.
“At the top level, we have very good relations with the Holy See over there at Sol. Every time patrol leaders like you deviate from the wording of the concordat and take your own, unconventional measures, there is a hell and a heaven of a row. It’s especially hot in Purgatory. Do you know where you dumped that damned thing?”
“No idea. But the co-ordinates should be in our local patrol’s memory.”
“You had better be right about that. And then we have my old woman friend, Cardinal Saulcerite. She, too, seems to have been quantified. Did you dump her somewhere as well?”
Teresia saw from her tomboy’s surprised expression that he seemed to be innocent of at least this particular disappearance.
“Now, Carolus Brainflower is on his way, and he is of course on the side of the Church.”
“Is he coming?!” The sound of Xavier Pascal’s voice betrayed jealousy. He knew that Teresia Nightmare had had an off-and-on relationship with Charlie Brainflower. “Isn’t he an atheist?”
“He is, but he has strong ties to religious circles. He flourishes among friends he can scold for their religious faith. You have gotten us into a mess. You must immediately strain every nerve to find that convent cum monastery. And remember that we cannot afford any more deviations.”
“They set upon defenseless mankinds even before they have been recorded with the authorities,” protested Xavier Pascal. “Isn’t that contrary to the concordat?”
“Let us handle that, and don’t pay it any attention, please. We cannot have patrol leaders deciding such things. It has to be done according to the rules. Be happy you’re not suspended. But now, run quickly as anything and bring back that convent you lost.”
Xavier had expected a pleasant dalliance, making love while floating in mid-air in Teresia’s gravity-free bedroom. Disappointed, he obeyed his superior and with a grim expression returned to his space-jalopy. Cats and dragons were pouring down in buckets, and his clean boots squelched through a mass of mud.
With a sense of cruel sadness, Teresia Nightmare saw him disappearing to rectify his mistakes. After all, she did not care. She had had enough of the Church in those days when Carolus Brainflower asked her to help him, and when she became the catalyst who not only released Cardinal Björn Personit from a teleport pattern but also ensured that a clerical schism was resolved.
But a job is a job is a job is a job, as Alice B. Toklas might have said, and nobody could accuse Teresia Nightmare of not doing her job, even though she followed monotonous old routines.
Copyright © 2008 by Bertil Falk