Condemned To Live
By J J Dewey
I believe I wrote this around the age of 21-22 (1966 or 1967). This gives a far out (and fictional) answer to a great mystery
Riggs and Forbes were killing two birds with one stone. Their vital mission was the testing of a newly installed light-drive aboard the ship. Their second assignment was to release their prisoner to his appointed fate.
“Why did you do it?” said Riggs to the prisoner. “Why? You knew that a single person such as you could never have succeeded. You could have lived a good life. A pleasant life.”
“Yes,” said the prisoner. “Physically I could have lived a good life. But my conscience cannot allow me to live in a world of evil. A kingdom ruled by the force of evil will sometime divide against itself. And a kingdom thus divided cannot stand. Only by going against the authorities could I introduce my plan for perpetual maintenance of our world.”
“And look where it got you,” said Forbes. “You and your ideas on brotherly love.” Forbes spat on the prisoner. His hands were tied and the saliva dried on his face.
“It’s sure too bad,” said Riggs. “I think some of your ideas have merit but only a very small percentage of the world could have lived life the way you outlined it. Now look what you have waiting because you went against the supreme dictates of the State. Eternal punishment! Do you realize what that is?”
The prisoner said nothing.
“We’re approaching the designated spot,” said Forbes. He pressed a button and a picture of a flaming body flashed on the screen. “That’s it. That’s your home forever.”
The prisoner stared at the screen without emotion.
“You can yet change your mind,” said Riggs. “You can swear on the record that you will honor, respect, and obey the supreme powers. Then too, you have to refute your ideas. They give you until the last moment.”
“I have chosen my fate,” said the prisoner.
“And one hell of a fate you have chosen,” said Forbes. He signaled for an android. “Android X1l3, prepare for conditioning the prisoner.” Forbes looked the prisoner in the face. “Are you going on your own will, or do you need some assistance?”
“I have chosen this,” said the prisoner. “I need no assistance. Not yours.”
Forbes slapped the prisoner in the face. “Then get going! Back there.” He pointed to a doorway. “We’re going to give you eternal life!” Forbes laughed.
“You know,” said Riggs, “that eternal life wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t such side effects in getting it.”
“Yea like the pain a guy has to go through to get it — right hero?” Forbes pinched the prisoner. He showed such a lack of emotion that Forbes pinched him again. The prisoner gave Forbes a look that took away the sport, and Forbes shoved him through the door.
“Maybe we’d ought to tell him what he’s in for,” said Riggs.
“We shouldn’t for his sake. But we will.” Forbes pointed at an outfit that looked something like the machinery in a dentist’s office. “See that?” he said. “We strap you in there and those instruments overhead insert more than four million invisible light needles under your skin and into your nerve endings. Others go down to your bone marrow. Some treat you with radiation, others with electric shock and still others secrete fluids. Altogether they’ll give you an indestructible and immortal body. There’s one catch — the pain. In the process of all this every nerve in your body will be activated to its maximum capacity. In short, it’ll be like getting blown to bits and living — not dying — but consciously feeling the agony of every separated molecule of flesh and bone in your body. Also, your brain has to be totally active and alive for immortality to take hold — thus no anesthetic. Perhaps now you can see now why the government has had not accept this immortality. Oh there have been a few who have feared death enough to take the first four thousand needles, but they hit the panic button at that point. They decided they’d rather die than suffer such intense pain, even for a brief period.”
“The government concluded that the only way to get this thing tested would be to use someone who is worthy of such an honor. So it was reserved for someone who broke the supreme law of speaking against the dictates of the State. You did that hero. Now you’ll be the first immortal.”
“How long will this process take?” asked the prisoner.
First four needles will be injected. It’ll take ten minutes for them to do their job. Next forty needles. That’ll take another ten. You’ll get five sets after that. The number of needles in each set is increased times ten. Each set functions ten minutes and each set brings a tenfold increase of pain. It’ll seem to be more, but it’s not — just tenfold. And that’s just the beginning — wait until we throw you into that fiery sun out there.”
“We don’t really want to do this,” said Riggs, “but we’re on orders.”
Forbes slugged Riggs in the mouth. Riggs slid across the floor. “We’re doing this and we like it,” commanded Forbes. “If I put what you just said on the record, you’d have death waiting for you on our return. This time I didn’t hear you.”
There was an ugly silence in Riggs. It was about a minute after he recovered that he took the time to wipe off the blood that ran down his neck.
“Any more questions?” said Forbes to the prisoner. “Yes, will I be sensitive to pain after this treatment is finished?”
“You bet you will! The State’s fixing up the worst punishment conceivable, and they sure aren’t going to leave the pain out. It’ll feel like four million needles once you’re thrown in that fiery mass among the stars. The instruments say the surface is forty thousand degrees. The State wants to make an example out of you to be sure no one else speaks against them again. Now, if you ever have company out there, you’ll know someone followed in your footsteps. But I’m afraid you’re the only one of your kind. The only fool. It’s too bad the courts found you sane. I felt sure they wouldn’t.”
“You know your world will destroy itself within a hundred years?” said the prisoner as if he had read it from history.
“Our leaders know what’s best,” said Forbes. “They know.” He slugged the prisoner in the face as hard as he could. “They know!” he shouted.
The prisoner was silent.
“I pray they know,” said Riggs.
“You’d better know they know!” said Forbes. “What you just said is another possible death sentence. Unfortunately for hero over here, death shall be anticipated, but shall never come — Well, we’d better get on with the conditioning. Take the driver’s seat hero.”
The prisoner did as commanded without apparent emotion. “Strap him down,” commanded Forbes to the android. “Bind him tight and hard. He’ll need it.”
“Won’t the pain kill him?” said Riggs.
“Damn bet it would if we didn’t deactivate the nerve impulses from his heart to his brain the first four hundred needles would probably kill him in a few minutes. If not the four thousand would mean sudden death. No heart could bear the emotional strain he’s going to get.”
“Prepare first four needles to condition heart.”
A slab of metal was lowered over the prisoner and he squinted as he felt the sharp burning enduring pains in his chest.
The needles were microscopically thin and could not be seen by the human eye. The single witness to their presence was the strain on the prisoner’s face.
Ten minutes passed. The strain was still there.
“Lower forty needles! Shoot radiation into vital parts.” The prisoner jerked and trembled within himself acknowledging the forty needles.
“How about that,” said Forbes. “The instruments show his heart is still beating regular. If not for those first four needles it would have reached three times its normal speed.”
Ten minutes passed.
“Lower the four hundred! Radiation to bone marrow.” The prisoner jerked and trembled more violently.
“Heart still normal,” said Forbes. “That’s all that’s keeping you alive, hero. Next you’ll receive ten times the pain anyone has yet endured.”
“Lower four thousand!”
The prisoner screamed and then held it. His flesh rippled with pain.
“Inject forty thousand!
“Heart normal, good — still alive. Lucky fella.”
“Inject four hundred thousand. Cosmic shock.”
The prisoner began to turn white! He radiated with a slight glow.
“Look!” said Riggs. “What’s happening?”
“Damned if I know,” said Forbes.
“Is he alive?”
“The instruments say he is. Heart’s normal. Brain cells’ functioning.”
“But his face. The strain’s gone. He looks content. There’s a slight smile on his face.”
“I see! I see.”
“Well, what happened?”
“Darned if I know. Maybe he gave up trying to find an expression for the pain.”
“But he looks happy. Should we proceed?”
“Damn rights! We’re carrying out orders no matter what.”
“Ready or not hero, you’re getting the works — the four million.”
The needles were lowered.
“His body’s turning brighter!” said Riggs.
“It sure as hell is!”
“His eyes are shut. Is he asleep or dead, or what”
“The instruments say he’s alive and wide awake.”
“He looks happy.”
“He couldn’t be. The pain! With that pain no one could be happy,” said Forbes.
“Hell he is. He just thinks he is.”
“Check the instruments.”
“Heart’s normal. Brain’s normal. He feels it all right. The thing is we don’t know what he feels. No one’s ever felt what he does.”
“It couldn’t be good.”
“But we don’t know,” said Riggs.
“No, we don’t. Time’s up! Start removing the needles. Release the four million!”
The prisoner’s face seemed to lose some of its bliss. “Release the four hundred thousand!”
The prisoner was overtaken with rippling pain.
“Release the forty thousand!”
The prisoner’s strain was somewhat lessened.
“Release the four thousand!”
“The four hundred,”
And less — very little strain.
Gone! The prisoner was back to normal except for the fact that he was immortal, indestructible, and…
“Holy hell he’s bright! I can hardly look on him.”
Riggs looked curiously at the prisoner, “What do you feel? Was it really bad?”
The prisoner studied his white glowing body, then looked up. “Yes. At first the pain was bad. Worse than I had previously tried to imagine — and when I was struck with that fifth set of needles I knew it would be impossible to get worse.”
“And it was, for the sixth set brought a joy and pleasure that surged through my entire body, and the pain was gone. The seventh set increased the pleasure tenfold. It was worth the whole ordeal just for those few moments of not merely physical but mental joy. It’s beyond words!”
“It looks as if that’s one punishment that backfired on the State,” said Riggs.
“That was a mere preparation for the real punishment,” said Forbes. Wait until he feels the heat of hydrogen fusion.”
“You said that would produce the same effect as the four million needles.”
“Then I go without fear.”
“But maybe it won’t.”
“Then take me back to the State. I am immortal and I fear no punishment. I can now speak against them at will. I’m sure I can gain many followers.”
“We shall carry out our Orders,” said Forbes in a loud clear voice. “I don’t think you ever had any good feeling, and I don’t think you’ll find any thrill in bathing in that white hot lava. But even if you do, you’ll find that in a few billion years that star will go into a cooling process and when it reaches a certain temperature you’ll have that maximum pain waiting for you.”
“Perhaps — but perhaps not. I shall go gladly knowing there are billions of years of physical and mental pleasure awaiting. Surely that is sufficient preparation for the future cooling. I shall be ready. I have now come to realizations I never before conceived.”
“Yes, like getting joy from pain,” said Forbes. “Well, I wish you all kinds of joy out there in those flames. I’d like to see the tool shed in which you’re going to build for your cool flame protector.”
The prisoner was silent for a few long seconds. “My fate is in your hands,” he said.
“We could take him with us, or put him on a cooler planetary body,” suggested Riggs.
“You’re asking for death, aren’t you Riggs? You know it’s very possible they’ll test us for the truth, and if we disobeyed orders…”
“Do as you’re ordered then,” said the prisoner
“Damn bet we will,” said Forbes “But I’d almost take you back to the authorities if I thought you’d get any satisfaction out of this. But I’m not. Get in the escape hatch.” Two androids escorted him and strapped him down. “Lower the escape rocket!”
The androids did as commanded, and the prisoner began to vanish.
“I hope it isn’t too bad for you out there,” said Riggs. The last thing the prisoner saw was Forbes slugging Riggs. The mini rocket was fired into the burning sun.
“There she goes!” said Forbes. “Give ‘er five minutes and the rocket will melt away leaving hero’s body the only descending solid. Oh, I’ll bet that smarts!”
Riggs got up after his brief visit with the floor. “That’s the second time you’ve hit me today. And that smarts.”
“Listen. I’ve got more seniority in this business than you, and I can belt you whenever I see fit. However, you try it and you’ll have the courts waiting for you on return.”
Riggs tried to ignore him and doctored his face.
“Well, let’s get on with this test — shall we?” said Forbes.
“Let’s,” said Riggs in a tone that nearly made Forbes hit him again.
Forbes looked at him sourly for a moment. “Get the notes and equations,” he said.
“We are to test the light-drive to star system X-ll8-O. That’s three light years away.”
“Then according to our scientists, if we were to take on the speed of light, of which our light-drive is capable, during the round trip everyone in our star system shall have aged six years.”
“And in the process of riding with light we’ll be changed to pure energy and cross that eighteen trillion miles of space in the twinkling of an eye.”
“Wrong,” said Riggs. “It’ll be far less than that. The actual time spent riding with light will be a fraction of one over infinity of a second or zero time. We will not live through a second of time in this journey; therefore, we won’t age.”
“Then it’ll be just as they said. As soon as we push the light-time drive we’ll be there.”
“Just as soon as we push it,” assured Riggs. “Even if we were to transverse the universe?”
“Distance is no object. However, those occupants of our star system will live through those light years we shall skip and shall age accordingly. The light-time of our journey shall be six years for the round trip; therefore, our friends shall have aged six years.”
“Even our buddy in the flames?”
“Yes, you want to visit him on our return?”
“Oh — I don’t know,” said Forbes. “We might see if he’s still there.” He gave a short evil laugh.
“You’re the pilot. I’m the mathematician,” said Riggs. “Set the dials.”
“You do your job, I’ll do mine. You just get those figures right!”
“They’re right. The rest is up to you.”
“Only a few minutes,” said Forbes. “Make ready the seats.”
“They’ll be ready when you get here, hurry.” Forbes set the last dial and reclined in the seat next to Riggs.
“Sixty seconds,” said Riggs.
“They say it’ll be kind of a dissolving feeling,” said Riggs. “I hope that’s all it is. We’d better get there in one piece. Why I read a theoretical paper on reassembling from teleportation. If I have your head when we get there…”
A jerking acceleration.
“Twenty seconds. Feel that? The sub light acceleration.”
“Yea — not long now.”
Three seconds of silence.
“Is that it?” said Forbes. “Did it work?”
“Let’s find out.”
“I don’t know if I felt anything or not. Kind of a shiver.”
“Check the constellations!”
Forbes stared through the portal for five seconds before he broke the silence;
“Holy, holy hell things look different!”
“What — how?” Riggs turned on the scanner. “Holy Lord of the State! Where are we?”
“Where’s the constellations? It’s just a big mass of stars or galaxies or something. Turn the scanner the opposite direction.”
Riggs did as told. The light faded into blackness.
“We’ve reached the end of everything,” said Forbes.
“Wait — there’s a fiery ball!”
“What is it? A galaxy?”
“Can’t tell. Let’s find out where we are first and back track our figures and settings.”
Dials and figures were checked until…
“No,” said Riggs. “No! Nonononono… It can’t be. It can’t.”
“Where are we?” shouted Forbes. He screamed the question three times — short intervals between each.
“The end,” said Riggs in a voice less audible than his thoughts. “The literal end — the end of the universe! We crossed over thirty billion years of light-time.” His voice dropped in realization. “Thirty billion years.”
“Your figures!” accused Forbes in a full-throated yell.
“They were correct — perhaps your settings?”
“Why you runt!”
“I can fight back now,” said Riggs. “The State is thirty billion years back in time.”
Forbes released his grip. “Thirty billion years?” “Sixty billion if we make a round trip.” Forbes slugged Riggs.
“You can fight back if you want,” said Forbes. “If you do I’ll just knock the hell out of you. If you don’t, we can get busy figuring out how to get back.”
“Okay,” said Riggs. “I’ll take this belt, this last one. Let’s get to work.”
“You’re a sport,” said Forbes. “You know I was mad and had to hit something.”
“If you go and knock the sense out of me I won’t be able to think clearly enough to get us back.”
“Back?” said Forbes. “You’ll get us back. If you don’t, I will knock the sense out of you. By the way, what’s that ball of fire out there?”
“That,” said Riggs is another universe — full of ga1axies and nebula of stars.”
“And that fainter light?”
“Another universe. Farther away. The closer is at least a distance of one hundred trillion light years.”
“Oh, the State would love to have the knowledge we possess!”
“There is no State,” said Riggs. “It died billions of years ago.”
“There is a State!” shouted Forbes. “There is!” He raised his fist.
“Don’t — don’t. There is a State. Sure there is,” said Riggs.
Forbes’ arm went limp and he laughed. He laughed in an evil and insane way. Riggs watched him in fear and pity.
“Are we going back?” sad Riggs, humbly.
“Damn right we’re going back! We’re going back and find that State. Why they’ve probably populated the universe by now. The hero’s return. That’s what it’ll be Riggs. The hero’s return!”
“The hero’s return,” said Riggs in a voice that was comforting to Forbes.
“Let’s get to hell back!” said Forbes in imaginative eagerness, “Get to figuring.”
“Well,” said Riggs. “We can reverse the light-drive, and that’ll put us back a lot closer to where we started. It would take a lot of work, but I could make allowances for galactic and stellar movements. We could make it back to our point of origin.”
“Great! Get to work — I’ll check the instruments.”
“You realize the stars and galaxies in our portion of the universe will have passed away and regenerated several times upon our return? New stars will have taken the place of old ones.”
“The State will be on them!” shouted Forbes. It’ll be there. The State’s immortal.”
“Sure,” said Riggs. “Let’s get to work.”
“To work,” said Forbes.
“How long’s it been?” said Forbes after a long silence of working, “A week? A month? A year?”
“Four days,” said Riggs.
“That’s a hell of a long four days!”
“I’m just finished. You ready?”
“I’ve been ready a year!”
“What’s four days.”
“It’s a hell of a long time!”
“Here’s the equations and notes. Feed them into the machines and we’ll be set.”
Forbes grabbed them. “Get in your seat,” he ordered.
“Hurry,” said Riggs, “but do take time enough to set our course correctly.”
Forbes finished and was strapping himself in his seat. “If you did your part, we’ll be heading back.”
“The equations are correct.” “Sixty seconds!”
“Sixty seconds,” said Riggs.
“Good ol’ home! Wonder what she’ll look like.”
“Different,” said Riggs. And there was a silence.
“Five seconds,” someone finally said.
And a slight tingling sensation passed through their bodies.
“Home!” said Forbes. “Let’s go soak our eyes with it.”
Forbes ripped his straps loose and ran to the portal. He stood in silence.
“It’s different,” he said in a whisper. “Different.”
Riggs turned on the scanner. The gleaming white of stars and nebula were before their eyes.
“That’s not home!” said Forbes. “Home never looked like that.”
Riggs checked the instruments. “We’re home all right. The only difference is sixty billion years. Let’s take a peek at our new universe.” He adjusted the scanner.
“It’s actually beautiful,” said Forbes. “Beautiful! Why look at this galaxy we’re in. It looks — it looks almost hand carved.”
“And look at that one over there! The spiral one. The stars are no longer random. It’s as if someone took over and organized them, put them together — a completed giant jigsaw! It’s a sign of intelligence we’ve never before come upon Forbes. Infinite intelligence!”
“The State!” said Forbes. “I knew they were still here. I knew it, I knew it! Sixty billion years! Riggs! They’ve conquered the universe. They’ve become a giant hand and molded it. Lord, they’ve done a good job!”
“If it was the State.”
“It was the State,” screamed Forbes.
“OK, OK,” said Riggs with some irritation. “Let’s select an inhabited planet and land.”
“There’s one!” Forbes pointed to the scanner. “That third one. The instruments show a good atmosphere and inhabitation. The State’s there. Let’s go find it.”
Riggs and Forbes circled the planet and lit on the sunlit half.
The gleaming silver metal of the ship stood erect and silent outside a large city.
“Don’t forget your interpreter so we can speak to these people,” said Riggs.
“Do you feel strange — weird?”
“No. No more than usual.”
“But feel that air. The ground. The grass. The trees. They all seem so alive. It’s as if we’re being watched, watched by everything — but, but not everything. I don’t know. I can’t say the words I want.”
“It’s as if they’ve all waited for us — this everything. I feel as if we’re in the jaws of something, but we’re not — but we are. It — it’s something that touches the soul.”
“You trying to give me the creeps?” asked Forbes. “That doesn’t sound like the State.”
“No — no. Not the State. More powerful — engulfing. Something so terrible, or so sweet.”
“The State’s all-powerful!” screamed Forbes.
“Then this is all-all-powerful.” Riggs looked towards the heavens.
“Fool!” said Forbes. And the two men walked into the city.
The city was dirty and unclean. A slight breeze blew loose papers to and fro. The general appearance was like that of a full house which has fifteen minutes of care and cleaning a day. The people were thin and nearly every child had red eyes and tear washed faces from wanting. Forbes stepped on a newspaper in the gutter. The headlines reported of famine, pestilences, earthquakes in diverse places, wars present and those which were sure to follow, and gave a general appearance of world-wide fear. The lower left hand corner reported the tragic loss of an interplanetary crew on their virgin flight.
“Where’s the State?” said Forbes. “The State’s their leader, their creator, but there’s no mention.”
Riggs was silent.
Forbes grabbed a passerby, “What’s the name of your world?”
“What’s with you buddy?” He was a small man. Forbes held him confidently.
I said, “What’s the name of your world?”
Forbes slapped him six times.
“Hold it! You’re on Earth. Good ole Earth.”
“Damn it yes. Now let me go.”
“And the State owns it?” Forbes held him tighter.
“The State! Where you from anyway?”
“Away. Now who’s your ruler? Your owner?”
“The government. They make all the decisions. They rule us. At least they did. Here lately everything’s gone to hell.”
“I mean the whole earth, the surrounding planets — the stars! The State owns them and you don’t know?”
The man was silent in his lack of understanding and Forbes pushed him away.
Suddenly: “Repent ye! Repent ye wicked and adulterous generation. Repent, repent else ye be cut off and burned as stubble.”
Riggs and Forbes turned abruptly to see the source of the words. They viewed a tall man, large of bone with long snow white hair and a beard tapering at the chest cavity. He had a leathery skin about his loins and was carrying a dark book. His face was worn but not elderly and his deep-set eyes revealed wisdom and experience.
“Repent! Repent!” he cried.
“Repent?” said Forbes as if he had heard something entirely incredible. “What the hell does he mean by that?” Forbes walked up to the man and Riggs followed. “Are you made up for something?” he said to him.
“I am here but to deliver that which has been commanded.” The man looked at Forbes earnestly. “Repent or be cut off and destroyed. The end is near.”
“How near?” said Riggs. “Perhaps we’d better head back to the ship.”
“You believe this fool?” said Forbes. “He’s a nut. Anyone can see that.”
“I asked him a question,” said Riggs. “I think he’ll answer it if you’ll permit the silence.”
“Thank you,” said the man. “The exact minute, the exact hour or day no one knows. But I do know this — that the people are ripe in iniquity and the day is near, very near. Perhaps we are living in it. And last night I dreamed a dream. A silver eagle fell from the sky and lit gently without harm. Two beings sprung forth from its bosom — and the end was waiting for them.”
“A silver eagle. That’s our ship!” said Riggs.
“You’re a fool Riggs!” Forbes looked at the man. “Maybe you’ll know. Who created this race and organized the stars and galaxies overhead. Where is the State? For that matter who sent you?”
“The Lord of Heaven and Earth is the creator. The same sent me. He has shown me many visions. We have walked and talked together, and he revealed to me many mysteries. His word is in this book.”
Forbes grabbed it ripped it opened, and read the first passage: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
“This god — that must be the State.”
“God is the author of all truth and light,” said the man. “I perceive that the State of which you speak is non existent.”
Forbes threw the black book on the hard cement and kicked it.
The man’s eyes were laid serenely on Forbes. “My final admonition to you is repentance. Pray for forgiveness of all your sin; else ye shall be destroyed. Repentance is your only salvation. The last minutes are ticking away.” The man picked the book up and walked away crying repentance. Those nearby ignored him.
“This here earth really knows how to breed ‘em,” said Forbes. “Riggs, I think we’ve lit in an insane asylum.”
Riggs was silent — staring after the footprints of the man.
“Yep,” continued Forbes. “We really know how to pick’ em.”
Suddenly Riggs seemed to come alive. He grabbed Forbes by the shoulders. “Forbes, Forbes! Who do you suppose that god in heaven is?”
“The State. It can only be the State.”
“But the State’s not eternal — but Forbes, someone else is! Someone we know.”
“You’re as insane as the old man of the sea over there,” said Forbes. “It couldn’t be… It couldn’t be him!”
“But it must be — the prisoner! He had eternal life.”
“The State’s eternal and many in number. The god has to be the State!”
“But the god in heaven is good. The State is evil. Think of it Forbes! That prisoner alive all those eternities. He had to gain some knowledge with each passing year. As years and centuries passed he gained knowledge upon knowledge, wisdom added to wisdom. Think of the principles he mastered after a billion years. Two billion! Thirty! Why after one had progressed sixty billion years he could consider his life a midpoint of two eternities. By now he would be all powerful and all-knowing.”
“You’re mad! The only god is the State!”
“Forbes! There it is again. That weird feeling. The earth itself seems to shiver — almost tremble. I feel as if he knows we’re here. He knows our thoughts, our feelings. He knows everything, Forbes. Forbes!”
Forbes slugged Riggs.
“My god is the State!” screamed Forbes. “If your god is here, there, anywhere — Riggs — I defy him to show himself, and his power!”
The earth began to tremble.
“That’s his power,” said Riggs.
“Earthquakes are common here,” said Forbes. “I’m heading for the rocket!” He began to run.
“We’re at his mercy!” screamed Riggs. “I know we are!”
He didn’t follow Forbes. He stood silently — contrite.
Forbes was running, not listening, screaming: “I shall find my god. The State is my god! The State is my only god…”
Suddenly fire and lightning descended, and Riggs heard Forbes screaming with pain in the distance.
The earth began to quake more violently and there were great shifts in its interior. The stars above did not seem to hold their positions, and the moon was red as if it were drenched in blood. Riggs saw trees and buildings quake and burn and fall. Women and children were all around him screaming…screaming.
Riggs began trembling within himself. In a few minutes the flames and quakes would end his life. Then despite the turbulence about him he began to think very clearly and remember what the white-haired man had told them.
Riggs looked toward heaven and a peace and calmness was in him as he knelt in prayer.
Oct 21, 2007
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