Eucharist for a Sinless Mankind
by Bertil Falk
“Requiem for an Android”|
appeared in issues
248 and 249.
Chapter 4: Celebration of the Eucharist
part 1 of 2
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.
Cardinal Leonida Brown was displeased. The Mah-Jong had not been as amusing and relaxing as it used to be. Not only that, Carolus Brainflower had gotten on his high horse. Furthermore, the events that brought about the absence of Mother Saulcerite had lowered Leonida’s humor to an unusually low level.
However, contemplation had enabled Leonida to regain her normal attitude, and she looked forward to the upcoming ceremonies of the ecclesiastical year, the anachronistic chronology her Church persisted in sticking to. But we know about happiness that lasts forever!
When Leonida Brown entered the blizzard raging outside her church, she walked straight into a whirl of drainage and was sucked down into a yellow hole of putrefaction. It was of course due to the confounded mini-Jesuits, those morbid rogues doing service as novices, who had put out a scary dummy as one of their never-ending practical jokes.
Dripping with yellow stuff, the Cardinal crawled up through a hole in the street and angrily returned to the church for a shower and a change of garment. To her surprise, Carolus Brainflower was there, waiting for her in the vestry. He looked very serious.
“Where is Mother Saulcerite?”
“I wish I knew.”
Not until then did she see the Ursullan, who was standing in a nook with her head bowed. She seemed to be trying to make herself invisible.
“This is Sister Angela Madeleine,” Carolus Brainflower explained. “She’s one of those who were sent into another universe by Xavier Pascal. He picked her up there, and her mission is to meet with Mother Saulcerite. I happened to be around when they surfaced, and I decided to get in touch with you now that Mother Saulcerite has disappeared.”
“What can I do?”
“Probably not a goddamn thing,” exclaimed Carolus Brainflower. “You always use to be at a loss, pinioned to the left and to the right, hands and feet, by imposed professional secrecy that can be broken only at the risk of excommunication.”
At first, Leonida Brown blushed. The she got furious.
“Up your ass!” she said and turned to the nun. Her voice changed pitch. “Welcome, Sister Angela. Unfortunately, we don’t know where Mother Saulcerite has gone.”
* * *
Xäzyåwä need no urging when Cardinal Saulcerite asked her — for Xäzyåwä turned out to be something equivalent to a woman — to come along to the very tidy lane where the Bureau for Assuring the Salvation of Newly Discovered Mankinds was situated with a view of the Rose Garden. There was no problem as far as belief in God was concerned.
The annoying thing was the Fall of Man that had never materialized. But it was not insurmountable per se. Even on Earth, using the carrot and the stick, the Church had converted people who indeed believed in God but who did not understand, for example, why Christ’s martyrdom on the cross was relevant.
Sometimes the conversions got so rough that the Pope of Renewal, John XXIII — who people thought would be a temporary pope — Anno Domine 2000 thought fit to apologize for all the ungodly things that had been done under the very protection of the Church.
Mother Saulcerite guessed that Pope John XXIII would not have looked with approval upon the methods employed by far too motivated missionaries out in the boondocks of space and in the sticks where comets roamed.
But the problem was not topical, for John XXIII had been out of the picture for a few thousand years. Had she not seen his body among the sarcophagi deep under the Vatican when, in her salad days as a young priest, she had hunted the Personites in their mysterious monastery? The question of the moment was how to treat this mankind, who believed but, unpleasantly enough, was totally sinless.
Xäzyåwä was installed in a cell, while Cardinal Saulcerite and Urbanus Collectus put their heads together to dream up the next step of this remarkable trend of events. Over a cup of Betelgeusian slarp, they sized up the different aspects of the situation. Some kind of meeting on the highest level ought to be arranged. The Pope and the Holy See! The problem was too big to be neglected.
* * *
An almost transparent blue stiff passed by. Its sockets were wide open and empty; its mouth was crumpled up with a scarf that wound under its chin and was tied together in a bow at the top of its skull. The corpse had slipped out of its cerements and looked like a big fat rat made of wet marzipan as it passed by their space capsule accompanied by a pitch-black cross and a yellow hearse. It was a bluish piece of carrion that, in spite of its closed mouth, came sailing in with a spectacular grin on its transparent face. Björn Personit looked at the sight without seeing it. His thoughts were far away in the past.
He was kissing her hand, revealing that he had taken an oath for life about celibacy and chastity, piety and prayer. Her silence lingered inside him and had been lingering there forever. And now she would talk.
Paxinterra regarded her strange beauty and compared her slightly brown-red skin with the blue slime of the corpse. There was an agreement he could not make head or tail of.
Mervil Tojas saw the three humans, who stood out against the eternal funeral procession; to him they were like a Christmas crèche. Cardinal Personit was a Joseph, who was not the father of Paxinterra, while Virginia Vaginia was the Virgin Mary, who had not even given birth to Paxinterra. And Paxinterra...
Why had she brought them to this obscene morgue in the outskirts of the solar system? What was her purpose? Was this the perverse humor of the goddess of revenge, the piercing scorn of destroyed maidenhood? Or was it a base gesture, a kind of barbarian demonstration of vulgar silence? Did she perhaps understand what they thought?
She made a small movement, as though shivering, trembling with despair, or whatever it might be. For a moment, Paxinterra thought that she struggled to fight back tears, but her lachrymal ducts were dry. There were no tears left.
She had looked forward to this moment of revenge. She had dreamed juicy sequences of extravagant vengeance. Her loss and yearning and hatred, hatred, hatred had been turned into a picture of retaliation, this... THIS which had marked her, spurring her timeless power of initiative.
All this, only to crack at the crucial moment into millions of glittering pieces of tenderness and understanding. Could that be the secret: replaceableness? Plowshares instead of space guns? Signs of peace instead of swastikas? Wrath on the run, drained by the sight of the man she had loved and hated, only to find that she loved him even more in his reformed reappearance as gentleness incarnate , much more than she had only just a number of hundreds — or was it thousands — of years ago? Who can keep track of ages while surfing on the mutilated time frames washing the shores of the long routes of space?
Her confusion paralyzed her energy as the confounding of her design exerted an anaesthetizing influence. At this critical moment, it took time to collect her thoughts and restructure her intention. The tumultuous chaos that had sprung up in her mind hit with a devastating force and delayed her decision and subsequent action.
She sensed the fervor of that old feeling bursting forth; it was almost repulsive, because it was so totally contrary to her preconviction, which snowed torrentially like furious confetti over her flowery and dazzling inner landscape of love. This man with his stunted world of ideas and spiritual delusions — as if there was a god, but not a god spelled with a small letter but a God spelled with capital G. This expression of misdirected veneration! Why did she find in him that justified her loving him?
She saw his tight face, easily oblong with wrinkles emanating from corners of his mouth and his eyes in the shape of semicircles reminiscent of the fields of force around north and south magnetic poles. His eyes, which had been so captive and captivating once upon a time, had contracted but still beamed the helpless cordiality that pleased her vanity. He had never become Pope, even though he had sacrificed his promise of betrothal, and in that moment she realised that it was not too late as far as he was concerned.
She turned her eyes on the maelstrom of coffins and grave-clothes, mausolea and mummies and cursed herself for having hijacked these people and brought them to this pathetic spatial graveyard for pestilence victims. In a situation like this good advice was an expensive commodity. She could only confess that she was defeated, kiss the cross, their confounded symbol, and offer materialistic salvation.
Mervil Tojas was the one who broke the silence.
“We’ve just contacted Rome,” he said.
Virginia Vaginia grabbed the straw.
Headstrongly, a sneering cranium with flesh on its brow smiled at her as it floated by outside the view window.
“I will immediately transport you to Rome,” she said and dived into a teleportation tube.
* * *
Copyright © 2008 by Bertil Falk