One Picture, One Story
John’s head hit the concrete with tremendous force. Had he not been beaten so severely he may have realized the extent of the pain caused by the fall. He watched his blood slowly run down the alley like a crimson stream meandering through the prairie. He thought it looked beautiful, like a river of life. He could feel them still kicking, faintly hearing the cracking of his ribs as the boots struck him. He had stopped trying to protect himself and was letting it happen, but really feeling nothing. He could feel his body shutting down with every blow, but did nothing to stop it. Finally the stars gave way to black as he lost conciousness. His final thought being, “finally, the end.”
John had no idea how much time had passed when he awoke in the hospital room, lit only by a buzzing flourescent light. There were no windows or clocks in the room so obtaining his bearings as they pertained to time was nearly impossible. He was only in a gown and saw no signs of clothing anywhere. He noticed the many tubes and wires extending from his body and the constant beeping of the heart monitor was irritating his already excruciating head ache. He shut his eyes and sighed deeply. The comotion alerted a nurse who rushed to his side.
“Mr. Pine? Can you hear me, Mr. Pine?”
“Yes!” John was irritated; not at the nurse, but the immense pain in his head.
“Oh thank goodness! We thought you would die! How are you feeling?”
“Horrible. You?” The nurse giggled at this.
“I’m quite fine, sir, but you seem to have seen better days. What happened to you?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing. I think I was mugged or something. I remember being on the ground and being kicked and then nothing.”
“We assumed it was an assualt. You were found unconcious in the alley near Portage and Main. Now get some rest, Mr. Pine.”
“Please call me John.”
The nurse had added a new bag to his IV and soon after he was overcome by sleep.
John opened his eyes slowly, feeling as though he had been asleep for days. He was surrounded by 4 young men with grim looks upon their faces. John tried, but couldn’t recall ever meeting any of them, but assumed he may have lost some memories from his injuries. He smiled awkwardly at the first one to look his way. The young man quickly averted his gaze and continued standing. John noticed that the knuckles of the men were torn and scarred as if from many battles over the years. He began to grow nervous as the silence continued. He tried hard to remember the events of that fateful day. He remembered giving a talk about the compatibility of religion and science; focusing on the idea that God lies in the laws of nature and the wisdom gained from science, not in the unknown gaps that exist between. He seemed to remember a certain priest was upset of the idea that if God only resided in the gaps, then as we discover what the gaps are, God would become smaller. The man had screamed “Heretic!” before being escorted from the hall. John was used to such outbursts as his ideas weren’t exactly popular with the “Religious Right” as it poked too many holes in their politics. He didn’t mind the outbursts, but would rather have a civil debate any day of the week.
John froze in his thoughts as the priest from the hall walked through the door and the nurses exited.
“You have been found guilty of heresy, either repent or be executed.”
The mans eyes were stone grey and lifeless. John felt a shiver from the apparent pure evil that eminated from the priest’s soul. The voice was one of hatred and the young men cowared in fear as he stood next to them.
“Who is it that has found me guilty? The one who deems God too simple to have created science?”
The priest chuckled slightly. “Don’t attempt to argue Mr. Pine, you over estimate your own intellect.”
“And you over estimate your holiness, father.”
The priest’s eyes cut a whole right to John’s soul. The anger was burning in the room and a perceived increase in temperature was apparent. John refused to back down.
“Your lack of repentance is disappointing. I take little joy in exstiguishing life, but if it is for God’s work then it is good and must be done.”
“Do what you must, Satan, but do not claim death and hatred as virtues sent from God. You know as well as I that you have little interest in things pertaining to holiness. You have interest only in those things that further your own selfish desires.”
“Again, you overestimate your intellect. You don’t know what the powerful forces you have angered. You will find out soon.”
“Your threats are meaningless, father. I know my standing and I am confident with my findings. God is not too dumb to understand the forces he created. Physics, mathematics, evolution, every law of nature was written by Him. It’s the complexities of the natural world that are miraculous, not the small anomolies in between. You want to box your God, when he is the one that created the ideas that you oppose. Kill me if you must, my conscious is clear!”
“You are toying with dangerous forces and they will be pleased to hear of your demise.”
John saw the flash of a gun and the darkness of death overcame him.