So I wrote a novel.
I love this thing with all my heart but it has yet to see the day.
This is one scene from later in the book, between the main character Pete Anders and Jesus Christ. Pete has become the general of the armies of Heaven in an infernal war between set to end all existence. Pete, a hateful, lonely man, who never believed in god has become the last hope to save a world he no longer cares about.
In this scene, the war is taking its toll and the world is falling apart. Heaven and Earth are on fire and Pete knows why.
A sick, sad feeling filled Pete as he walked through the ruins of Heaven that only got deeper as he entered the citadel. It was a hollow, empty feeling. He was in a graveyard – a place where hope and dream had died. Between the pain in his side, a pain which was now making his left arm numb and almost useless, and the sick feeling that came with what he now knew to be the truth of the bombing, death couldn’t come soon enough. It wasn’t his time yet, not quite yet, but god he was so tired. He passed through the untouched citadel and saw there, at the black gates that held shut the citadel, the person he was looking for. The gates were great black things that rose high above the walls of the citadel and ended in sharp pikes. The closer he got to it the more he thought that the gates, black originally, were covered in blood, but then he saw that it wasn’t blood at all but rust. Even Heaven rusts. And there, just outside of the gates, opened for the first time, perhaps ever, the day before, open to its enemies, sat Jesus, naked on the hot desert, sitting bare beneath the sun.
“How long have you known then Mr. Anders?”
“Oh, hell, you can call me Pete, and I suppose worse if you wished, considerin’ how many times I took your name in vain.”
“How long Mr. Anders?”
“A few days now. I suppose I suspected it after the first attack but yesterday, yesterday just solidified what I had suspected. Part of it all was guesswork, but a bigger part was process of elimination – who could help the Fallen hurt god but never be suspected? I knew the Devils loved Him too much, and the angels feared Him. So it came to you…”
“Nicely done Mr. Anders. I can’t tell you that I expected to go undetected, I frankly thought the Guard of Heaven would find me out, but none of them come here, no one does, and in the end, I suppose, perhaps no one wanted to see that it was me all along.”
“Ya see though, I’d wager you was seen, by god and prolly the Oracle fellas, but for some reason everyone kept quiet.”
“I suppose that may be so.”
“Well, now what Jesus?”
“Are you asking me why?”
“No. There’s always a reason, no matter what it is, it’s there, and I figure that the reason is yours and yours alone. And shit, you want the truth? I’d done the same thing I think.”
“You, you what?”
“If my father, mother, whatever the fuck it is to you, had created me to suffer, to teach through pain and my own sacrifice, and expected me to die like a goddamned animal I reckon I’d not be real generous in my forgiveness either. Fuck, you were betrayed by the two people you trusted above all others – your friend and your god. And your legacy? Shit, your legacy is a muddled mess perverted by Man as much as by devil or Fallen or whatever. You became not a beacon of hope and goodness, a sign of what Man can become if it wishes to but a sword and shield used by those that claim to know what you really were, yet don’t. Your message was lost, your sacrifice in vain, and god has done nothin’ to change that. Free Will has damned as many as it has saved, and who knows that better than you? Fuck, what are you here? Some novelty act. A washed up celebrity to greet the newcomers and to be looked at and whispered about so long as you play he part of the happy martyr, the loving lamb. Ah but you never were no lamb were ya? The kin of god ain’t bound to be a lamb, not this god anyway, not from what I been told. You were born a lion and told to be a lamb. You wanted to fight but had no permission to. My god, you know as well as I do, better, that you could have toppled Rome with your fury. You might have united an angry, lost world beneath your banner. A loving general willing to kill to unite, none would defeat you because you were the Son of God. But no. And when god needed a martyr, a savior, he turned to you, and now, when the world needs to really be saved, he turns not to you, the lion, but to me. Me for fuck’s sake. A sinner. A monster. I guess whom better to fight monsters than a monster, right? And I got this gift, this bullshit time bomb that, if I use it to its fullest, will kill me, which is prolly what everyone wants. I can’t fathom how any of this affected you Jesus, nor do I care to. I seen the dead fruit that bore out from the seeds of god, I figger their ain’t no more for me to know. You were handed the sword of god, and told to kneel. My god…”
“And you feel then you’d have done was I did? Even if it meant to kill people you cared for…loved.”
“Lucky enough, I ain’t gotta make that decision, and never will.”
“Fair enough. So, what will you do? Reveal me? Give me to Ariak or someone else? Shall you betray me, if you’ll allow me a bitter moment of irony? Or shall you kill me? Or perhaps you’re here because you wish to join me, to quit this war and leave it to those who care to fight it. Come what may.”
“I’ll tell ya, since ya ask. I thought long and hard ‘bout what I’d do if I found you. If you was still here. Traitor you may be, but if anyone has ever earned mercy, earned clemency, it’s you. I didn’t see that before but I do know. Seein’ you here, waitin’ for your punishment and maybe wanting it, I see things a little clearer. And frankly, who are any of us to judge you? I release you Jesus. You served both man and god long and well and from now on your heart is your own. I release you, naked as you are, to wander where you will, and to do as you wish. You are free. Look out to the desert and see not the ruins of what was but the potential of what may yet be. I’d wager that you were given a gift as well, which would make us brothers of a kind. And if my gift was to destroy, what might yours be? Leave and be well brother, leave and find happiness. Before you leave though, embrace me and call me brother, then leave this dead place.”
Jesus stood, stunned and silent, for a moment, the sun playing over his dark skin, the blood finally done flowing, the pool of it he’d been in drying, and approached Pete. Pete opens his arms wide, grimacing against the pain in his side and arm, and the two embrace. Pete feels the power coursing in Jesus, awake now after so many years of disuse, and Pete smiles, hopeful, even as he sees his pitchfork lying close at hand. Waiting.
“Thank you Pete. Thank you brother. I can now call you Creator as well, Pete Anders, and I pray I will do well by you. Even if it did not mean to, the Creator chose well with you. I loved It you know.”
“Love’s a funny thing.”
“It sure as hell is.”