I crouched in the church maintenance shed’s dark corner next to the backup generator, and sprung right back to my feet. “Aw, man!” I spun in circles swinging my arms wildly, brushing off spiders and web.
I carefully resettled. The brainwave sensor in my com-shades read my thought-command, and opened the heads-up display on my lenses. A virtual desktop appeared, with two yellow phone icons. Lightfast’s and e-girl’s thought speech lines were still open.
e-girl hacked from her snug place in the Web. Like hers, my role was support. I ran fingers along bare wires and snapped wire cutters open and shut with my spare hand. Calamity Kid—in place.
e-girl sounded in my head, Ditto that.
Then here we go, said Lightfast.
He was the star of this show—the saint in real danger.
I connected to his sensory feed as he wrenched the pastor's office doorknob, popping the cheap metal lock. The room’s motion sensor activated florescent ceiling panels. Lightfast scanned the cluttered office: file cabinets, children's macaroni artwork, a dry erase board, and a desk scattered with com-vision chip-cases and hardcopy printouts. He moved to the wall behind the pastor's executive chair and drew open the Wedgewood blue waist-to-head curtains. Through the one-way glass, a few hundred barefoot people kneeled in a large circular room on wrestling-mat style shock padding. A few rolled violently near the projected cross in the room’s center.
This was a Thursday night.
Lightfast thumbed a button on the sill’s corner.
That’s when my sensory feed disconnected.
My thoughts raced, opening panes and selecting sub-menu options. e-girl, I got dumped, is he okay?
Lightfast’s fine, but I’m sick. You won’t believe this.
An agonizing twelve seconds later, my connection crackled. Audio, visual, and olfactory stuttered. A pane opened, asking if I’d like to upload an update.
No, I have to do my nails! My com-shades sensed sarcasm and the download began. e-girl, I’ve got tech issues here. Tell me Lightfast’s safe.
Sis, I’m his back-up!
Oh, get over yourself. Her icon went black. My own sister hung-up on me.
Minutes later, I sensed through Lightfast’s body. The folding chair before the pastor's desk was not comfortable. When my sensory feed fully connected I understood. Endorphins, adrenaline, and testosterone pumped my body. The stimulations’ source was that button on the sill. Those poor people in that padded room.
Carpeted footfalls sounded. A pale, pudgy, pattern-bald, late-twenties white-bread panted into the room, lugging an overcoat, a vinyl attaché, and a crinkled brown paper lunchbag.
“Oh, I'm sorry, did we have an appointment? If we did please forgive . . .”
“We didn’t,” rumbled Lightfast.
He cocked his head and his kind face tensed. “My name is Reverend Peace.” He dropped his load on the desk and extended a stubby arm.
Lightfast ignored the offered palm. “Reverend Peace. Good stage name.”
Peace’s face lit. “Oh, you’re a skeptic. The One Church is about meeting God.”
“I’m wise to your game.”
The reverend slowly sat. “All I ask is that you walk with me into another room. It will change your life. Give God thirty seconds.”
Lightfast slumped. “My God. You really don’t know, do you?”
“I know enough to light your path.” Peace offered a hand, smiled and stood. “Please, come.”
Lightfast slapped Reverend Peace’s hand away with reformed reflexes.
The man’s face twisted. He finally understood that he was prey. “I’m just the second-shift pastor.”
The Body of Christ’s Einstein rose, and moved around the desk showing peaceful palms. “I’m sorry for what I’m about to do. Come.” Lightfast gently tugged the good reverend from the corner.
Peace’s eyes said he was ready to die for his faith.
Lightfast nudged aside the executive chair and sat on the desk, arm around Peace’s neck. “They’ve lied. Time to get real. e-girl, cut the power.” He said that out loud. He didn’t have to.
The church went black for a second’s fraction before back-up lighting kicked on.
Worshippers in the padded room looked around in the moment that their body chemicals ebbed. Their god had stopped speaking.
The pale reverend went white. “I suspected. But this does so much good. For their sake, don’t.”
Lightfast shook his head. “Perspective, my young friend. It’s not about our experience. Let me show you the Wonderful Counselor*, and how to honor him. Calamity?”
I snipped the wires.
Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
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