A PLACE IN HEAVEN
The black and red clad figure of the Missionary stood over the freshly dug grave of his friend and mentor, “Teyata.”
He stared somberly at the cross made of crossed tree branches with her name scribed in black letters. Emotion made his hand shake a little as he remembered etching it on with a red hot iron.
Berating himself, he removed his red hood and lowered his head, surprised that the tears never came.
It wasn’t until now that he realized just how much that he loved the Manat. (A merge mutation of man and cat.)
He stiffened, deciding that he would remember happier times with her and not to weep at her passing.
Perhaps she was a hybrid, but she was beautiful by any standard. The Missionary chuckled to himself. When they first met, he was a mere youth of fifteen years and she was in her prime. She delighted in making him uncomfortable with her displays of affection.
She came to love him romantically but the youth held her at a distance, believing that to return her feelings would be an unnatural union.
He sighed, smiling faintly. He did love her as a sister but could it have been more?
The Missionary swayed his head over the landscape of the new world and nodded approvingly. In this world where others would either starve or be food themselves, he had learned to adapt to the elements, to hunt, build up his strength and stamina and possess knowledge of which plants would heal, feed or poison him.
All these things were due to Teyata’s instruction.
In return, he took her to the long abandoned city to the public library. Solar powered holographic books still remained of the old world. He recalled her awed expression as she learned of the men of the past and wanted to learn more.
The young man began to teach her to read books. She ingested their knowledge ravenously. The very first book was his Bible that his mother had given him.
Teyata was enthralled by Jesus and his teachings. It seemed that the more she read the more questions she had.
The Missionary at first was ecstatic about answering her questions but her curiosity began to overwhelm him and soon she was able to find her own answers and draw her own conclusions.
The young man smiled proudly now as he recalled the night she closed the Bible sharply and waited until the Missionary gave her his attention.
“I want to become a Christian.” She announced.
“I don’t know if you can.” He said uncertainly.
“Why?” she demanded.
“Well Jesus came to die so that all men might be saved, but you’re a manat. You’re not fully man or animal. I’m not sure the Lord would allow it or…”
Teyata looked at him searchingly.
“…if you’ve even got a soul.” He finished, regretting his words.
“But Jesus says that He will not turn away anyone who comes to Him.”
The young man made to make his argument, but could find none. One look into the adamant stare of his companion and he relented with a nod.
An exultant sigh filled his lungs as he remembered they prayed the prayer of salvation together. The look of serenity in her features would forever exhilarate him but despite his promise to himself, he went back over her last moments.
He glanced to a grove of trees where she fell, only a few paces to his right. He knelt over her as she lay dying from wounds that she sustained in protecting the Missionary from a black manat.
From what she had told him on previous talks, the manat had loved her in his own distorted way.
The Missionary’s lips curled into a snarl. It was more like he possessed her.
In a fit of jealous rage, the manat sought to kill the young man of the old world and would have succeeded, had Teyata not intervened.
“There is no greater love than when a man lays down his life for his friends.” She quoted.
The Missionary tightened his grip on her shuddering form as if he could pull her away from death.
“Missionary?” she asked faintly.
“Yes, Teyata?” he whispered.
“Do you think I have a soul?” as her eyes closed.
The cross before him jolted the Missionary back to the present. Only now did the tears begin to fall.
“I don’t know, Teyata.” He said over the mound. “I hope so.”
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