“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine,” the King said, his voice echoing the passion and sincerity which he felt. “Test yourself. If you cannot tell that I am in you, that my words are true, it means you have failed the test.”
Melissa looked over at her best friend Nicole who rolled her eyes.
“He sounds just like the last one,” Nicole whispered. “Crazy!”
Melissa wasn’t so convinced. She looked around the courtyard at the quiet spectators eagerly listening to every word this man spoke. Some were genuine followers, others curiosity seekers, like Nicole and Melissa, who were spared execution when the previous king was killed and this man had assumed the throne.
Melissa pushed her black hair out of her eyes and looked back at the King. He had kind eyes and his smile seemed genuine. She remembered back to when the other king had first risen to power. He too seemed different from other politicians and offered things attractive to Melissa and her anarchist friends: world-peace, no moral code of ethics, and a tolerant universal religion. They even mourned his death with the rest of the world when he was killed in a tragic accident; but three days later he had come back from the dead, a raving mad lunatic who claimed to be god and killed anyone who refused to worship him. That was when he had instituted the implant and Melissa and her friends had been forced to inhabit the underground with other anarchists, the militia, and religious fanatics.
This new King also claimed to be god; in fact, he also claimed to be over 2000 years old in his current incarnated state. Melissa normally would have rejected such absurd notions, but she had witnessed first hand the paranormal events that occurred the day of his arrival.
She, Nicole, and a couple of other friends had crept out of the underground during a blackout and hid behind tombstones in an abandoned graveyard to smoke weed. Melissa remembered how mesmerized they had been with the moon; a blood red moon that had cast crimson shadows over the cemetery. In their altered states, they had found the hellish overtones fascinating.
Suddenly the ground had begun to tremble and quake, and scattered throughout the cemetery, chunks of dirt exploded into the air. Then they heard the clicking of locks, the creaking of hinges, and screamed and ran when bare skeletons and decaying corpses floated up out of their coffins.
Shortly after that, news came that the king and his armies were dead and they were free to come aboveground again. They decided to join a group of travelers who wanted to check out this man who had been able to defeat the most powerful, ruthless dictator the world had ever seen.
“Come on,” Nicole whispered. “He’s a loony like the rest of them.”
Melissa shushed her as the King began to walk near them.
“Welcome,” he said softly, pausing in front of them.
His gaze fell on Melissa and she felt as though he wasn’t looking at her, but in her, past the black hair and clothes, past the tattoos and piercings, straight into her soul. She held his gaze waiting for the look of contempt or pity, but saw only compassion.
“If people begin to obey my laws and do what is just and right,” the King said as he resumed walking around the crowd, “they will live and never die. Their pasts will have been forgotten. Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? Not at all, I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.”
“But their faith has to be genuine,” the King continued. “So I say again, examine yourselves.”
“Are you ready yet?” Nicole complained. “He gives me the creeps.”
Melissa hesitated. “I want to stay for awhile.”
“What is wrong with you?” Nicole asked incredulously. “You think you can pass his “faith test?”
Melissa shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’d like to try,” she replied quietly.
“You’re as crazy as he is!” Nicole hissed as she stood up. “Are you coming or not?”
“I can’t,” Melissa said, a tear rolling down her cheek. “I’m sorry.”
As she watched Nicole leave, she knew that if she had gone with her, she never would have come back.
“Come,” the King smiled at Melissa and as he extended his hand towards her, she saw a quarter-sized hole that went straight through his wrist. “You’ve passed the test.”