Before midnight, she was banished to hell;
but before dawn, she dreamt of Eden. Oana Rain inhaled the clean urban air. She
was two thousand feet above the ground on the roof of a skyscraper, one which
was not yet afforested. She leaned over the barrier to get a better look of the
world she inhabited, and saw the Martian metropolis, the lustful, green parks
above the buildings, the pillars of the temporary space elevators connecting
heaven to earth, pulsating with dim blue light, the cloudwalkers soaring
between buildings in silence, and the Startrail square, embraced in eternal
darkness, where thousands of humans had gathered to end the day with flames and
was the world she saw rising long ago from the unoccupied dust of Mars when she
was a child. She watched the construction of the first colony from one of the
hundred public starships that fled the Earth after the collapse of
civilization. She watched as private ships settled down and their owners
accepted the new soil as their home, she saw as her parents traded their skills
and tools for gold, until the family was able to fund their own home.
While her parents worked endlessly to secure
a place amongst the denizens of the colony, to build a home for themselves in
the newfound sanctuary of mankind, she wondered about what is it like to live
outside the spaceship. She felt alone and fell into the embracing visions of
her dreamscape each night sobbing, not understanding why her parents choose the
company of others rather than hers. She buried her parents in his young adult
years, believing that her loneliness was selfish and she was loved. Hence when
her daughter was born, not acknowledging and experiencing her childhood
suffering as valid and unjust, she found it natural to bury herself into her
career. Her child – Oana thought – browsed the network all day, learning about
Rain’s life and future collapsed the day when her child fell into a deep coma
due to a neural virus infection that attacked her brain from the depth of the
network. She never saw the bright green eyes of her little Annabelle
way she treated her child has been exposed to the public. Her neglect became
visible to the residents of the colony and her reputation diminished. “I will
not buy from someone who deals with a murderer,” they said and so Oana Rain was
banned from shops, roads, squares, from all parts of the colony.
she dreamt about the colony again. Unaware of it being but a mirage, her
emotions overwhelmed her. Her eyes teared up in joy while she was watching the
familiar landscape of the metropolis. A voice calling her name ripped her out
of the enchantment of the city. She turned towards the voice behind her and saw
the group of friends gathered to the dinner of celebration.
“We were talking about you, Oana Rain,” said
the man. Distant, raging thunders roared, following his words. She didn’t
remember her teacher from the academy, but when their eyes met, the dreamscape
of the dinner and the city faded away.
“I need to tell you something,” he
continued. “I had to break through the defense mechanism of the Vatican, and
I’ve disconnected you from its servers for an instant. This,” he said spreading
his arms, “is my dream.”
looked around and saw the distant spiral arms of thousand galaxies in the dark
space. It was the Shaman’s dream, the endless rage of the cosmos swirling
around them. Each planet in each system homed simulations of life in the
endless possibility of evolution. Now, as she had full access to her memories
outside of the simulation, Oana remembered this fact from her past life in
Mars, when she roamed the dreams of her teacher in classes.
master,” he continued, “Clark Novaris told me that your life ends today. You
will be purified from the curse of this world that you choose to live in. You
may return home from the simulation and fight for your sins to be forgiven.
Cling to this when you wake up: righteousness is being a sinner in a world of
The man vanished before she could answer,
the dream started to fade, and the darkness of space turned into Oana’s home in
Awaking to reality from a better world may
easily crush the dreaming soul. It is the act of trying to escape the realm of
truth and being banished from the desired. The waking mind fights to see just
one more minute of Eden, but the dream expels the unfaithful. The memories will
fade away and the dreamer will be left with nothing but the longing for the
void in the first rays of sunrise.
Oana buried her face in her pillow. The
vision of the man and the distant roar of thunder became blurred,
incomprehensible memories. The feeling of home, which imbued her with calmness
in the dream, was now crushed by the pain of awakening. She lay in the bed
feeling hopeless for minutes, lacking the strength to rise and the goal to move
forward in life.
curse of depression haunted her since childhood. She dragged herself from day
to day in weakness without seeking medical help, a haunted shell of her true
self without energy or purpose. Worthless, she attacked herself whenever she
failed to succeed her expectations. Trying to do everything to avoid the
anxiety of self-attack, she achieved greatness in her career as a musician, and
the residents of her colony praised her compositions. Yet she failed, yet she
was banished and she fled to Hell itself.
Rain became a composer in the Vatican, just as she was in Mars. She performed
for the mass she despised. Music was banned in the Vatican. It was the art of
the devil, they said. If she were to stand out in St Peter’s square and play
the piece she played last night in the church, the girl would be
sinning against the will of The Divine. Laws and morality were absolute
and unquestionable until the ruling class wanted it otherwise, and Henoch
wanted music, the very best of it.
Only after she reached all the wealth and
freedom that fame could offer she discovered the corruption inside herself.
Only after the politician class of the Vatican praised her art she found the
source of her madness inside her soul.
rejection by her parents in her childhood – she found – was the cause of her
self-attacks from which she tried to escape by endless achievements. Parental
care has been taken away from her, and believing that she was unworthy of her
parent’s attention, she found music to be the tool with which she can get the
attention that all children so desperately need.
self-knowledge, neither respect nor title had the power to soothe her inner
conflict; no worldly achievement could heal the scars of unprocessed trauma. So
her first step towards purification started when she ceased feeding her demons
and the demons of the political system and realized:
„When you have more wealth than freedom,
rebellion becomes duty, and solitude payment.”
The last sentence of her dream rang again in
is being a sinner in a world of corruption”
filled her, and with sheer willpower, she rose out of the bed.
smartmatter floor sent a signal to the central intelligence controlling the
apartment. The floor started to warm up, the kitchen was already preparing
breakfast and coffee. Before she left the room, she searched for pen and paper,
and scribbled down the words spoken in her dream.
The window looking at the waking city
withdrew to its frame, and the walls started to play a slow and hollow song.
The dome of St. Peter cathedral shimmered in the morning sunlight, and above
it, the titanic Earth was still visible through the blue sky, where the last
remaining residents of the planet were dreaming about space and their future in
protection of the lightweb of the city.
She knew the truth was different. Outside
the virtual reality of the Second Vatican, humanity left the murdered planet
decades ago. The Vaticanian server, the abandoned Hell, had been orbiting the
Earth without occupants for a long time. The space station was a prison system
once, welcoming guests from all around the world, but now, it was the sanctuary
of the outcasts, the humans who were banished from the anarchist societies of
Mars. They paid with their memories of the paradise to live in the statist
theocracy to where their morality belonged.
Oana collapsed onto the couch, and in the
embrace of the hot blanket, she reached for the book on the floor. She found
the massive, ancient volume to be a pillow so pleasantly uncomfortable that it
allowed her to watch the simulated sunrise without sinking back to sleep.
The creator A.I. did a perfect job in
creating the world to the smallest detail. The outcasts wanted their world to
feel authentic, and not a distant branch of the wide Dreamworld, the sum of
virtual realities. Below the shield protecting the city from geomagnetic
storms, the first clouds were forming. The holographic projector created the
Earthlike atmosphere from bottom to top. Advertisements appeared between the
clouds, echoing the will of the Pope, just like the white dove crossing through
the air, a stalk of weath in her beak. In the wake of her wings, the name
„Vatican Research Institution” before the vision disappeared.
“The Lord is far from the wicked: but he hears
the prayer of the righteous,” thundered the voice of Pope Henoch from the
heavens. The word “righteous” made her laugh.
“You know nothing of righteousness, Henoch,”
She drifted away from the world. Her mind
was mapping the last dream she saw, while her eyes rested on the sky. More and
more thoughts emerged from the ocean of her subconscious, the echo of a
liberated world; an ancient Shaman, whose skin was sewn with lightning, and
whose long, black coat ended in dark flames. Her subconscious salvaged the hope
of redemption in death; the promise of returning to a forgotten home and
however impossible, the wish to resurrect a murdered daughter.
The world-shaking rumble of the bells
reminded her of the fact that it was time to have breakfast.
The heavy tome flew through the room and
collided with the wall, bouncing off onto the couch unharmed. Oana stood up and
rearranged the apartment which she wandered through while reading. Looking out
the window, she read the time from huge, holographic numbers: eleven fourteen.
She wouldn’t meet with bishop Novaris until six.
She dressed without looking at what she
picked up or how she looked. After all, it was her last day. Grabbing her black
coat she stepped out of the door. She rushed through the corridor, through the
closing door of the elevator and, seemingly defying the law of gravity, she slowly
leaned against the wall.
“Hi Oana,“ said a voice, to which she looked
“Meito. Excuse me, I didn’t see you.”
The boy forced himself to smile. He seemed
to be the same age as Rain was, and they had been neighbors since anyone could
remember. They saw each other every single day when they walked past each other
in the building or in the city. After her concerts, among the countless flowers
and gifts, she often found the book she had complained to Nakurami Meito about,
about its rarity and the fact that she was unable to find it on the black
market. She both admired and hated him for that. Somehow he managed to get the
most blasphemous, rebellious writings from thinkers such as Rothbard or
Bastiat, yet he did not use this ability for himself, he wasn’t more educated
than the masses worshipping the state.
“Where are you going?” asked the boy.
“My plan is to walk around aimlessly and
alone in the city.”
Oana watched the reaction of the boy. Boy,
because his bodily weakness and bent posture, the fear in his eyes and his
words, over which all human beings have power and control, were crying for a
mother and not for a lover. Rain loved to play with him, crushing his hopes,
and watching his resignation. “Man is the only animal,“ she thought, “who is
able to give up his desires and embrace the void.”
she found joy in this torture countless times, now she recoiled.
“Or,“ the girl said slowly, thoughtfully,
“we could go to a restaurant, provided that I choose which one.”
“Really? Now?” The boy’s face lit up for a
moment, and smiled, but then the joyful look vanished from his face. He crossed
his arms and looked at her with disbelief. “How do you mean if you get to
choose? Between what do you want to choose?”
“Just trust me please and please be quiet,“ she
He sighed. When the lift reached the ground
floor, Meito stepped out first, and then turned to Oana. His hands were
“No matter how I tried to reach you, Oana
Rain…” he stopped, shook his head, and started again. “You are no better than I
am, lost, lonely and weak. I see these traits in you and I don’t like the way
you live. Thousands upon thousands would kill to get the life you live, and you
should know that. You have a good life here, you have everything. Yet you say
this world is unjust and corrupt. For this, I despise you. Yet I fell in love
with your music. I am bound by it, addicted. I do not know your innermost
thoughts, your favorite book, what breakfast you had, I don’t know if you are
in love with someone, sometimes, to be honest, I don’t even get what you say,
but I love your music. And your music is you, its pieces are yours, all notes
come from you, and if I love that, I must also love you,” he said, and slowly
exhaled. “It’s your turn,” he laughed. “I think I’m having a heart attack.”
“Where did you get such courage, Nakurami
Meito?” laughed Oana. She stepped out of the lift and stood next to the boy.
“I’ll show you the place. And I’ll tell you who I am. But there can be nothing
else between us.”
They walked out in silence, and Meito called
for a cab. Oana gave the destination and, after fifteen minutes of wordless
travel, they stepped out of the car at the city’s periphery.
“This is not good, it’s a dangerous region,“
the boy said.
It was the region of the outcasts and the
unbelievers. People deemed to be broken and defeated lived there, who left the
downtown and moved to this unsurveilled, unregulated area. Some thought they
choose their lifestyle to freely pillage their brethren.
In truth, they were those who choose to join
the simulation with their mind and memory intact. They knew reality and the
reason why they were there. When they looked around they saw Martian criminals
cheering for a State holding a monopoly over violence. They saw heinous child
abuse being considered as normal. And exposing the nature of the simulation to
those who choose ignorance would have been a breach of contract, resulting
deportation back to Mars, where they are welcomed only by the desert.
the knowledge of freedom which awaits them in the outside world, and knowing
that they themselves choose to be there in the augmented reality, they awaited
redemption, the moment when they will be allowed to return to the nameless
colony. They lived in smaller anarchist groups and worked on themselves,
seeking mental health and self-knowledge to be able to uphold the moral rules
of reality once they got out.
the houses was the security system separating the city. The city was governed
by its own creator artificial intelligence. The dreamers fed the mind with
their imagination and subconscious world, and in turn, the A.I. intertwined all
of their desires, and from the thoughts, ideas, notions of the inhabitants, it
created the Second Vatican. Beyond the wall, the Dreamworld spread to infinity,
as a formidable and controllable material to anyone who stepped through the
When the taxi disappeared in the distance,
Oana started to walk towards one of the buildings. It was a grey block of
concrete, at least thirty stories high, just as all of its neighbors. Its door
was opened and most of the windows were shattered. Meito followed her closely,
his gaze seeing potential danger in every shadow. They went through the empty,
long corridor. She knocked twice on the door nearest to the stairs, then twice
sure this is the good place?”
“Do you want to know what I’ve got to tell
“Yes, but I don’t want to end up robbed,
bleeding out in an empty building.”
will ask one more time.” She turned to him, after someone opened the door just
a little, and looked at his eyes. “Would you like to know me, even if it has a
price other than your life, liberty or property?”
need to tell you something. There is a paradise, but humans built it. Once you
step in, I will tell you everything about it, but the price is the following.
You have to agree to stay until you understand and hate the nature of our world
and the choices that led you here.
you hate you repel from yourself. If I would allow you to leave without this
hatred Henoch would set fire to this place by midnight with your help. You are
now a corrupt human being, but you will leave purified, just as I did from my
master. I am showing you a way, Meito.”
exactly should I know these things about the world, or about myself?”
In Oana’s mind, Meito slowly bled
to death, but she took deep, long breaths, and repeated to herself You
were just like him, Oana, remember, until she calmed down. She opened
her eyes and smiled at him.
you should not know anything. Being ignorant is a choice that you are free to
make. But be warned. Through the history of the universe, through billions and
billions of years of this magnificent, titanic performance of life and physics
you get the privilege to show up, act and shape the tale of our world. However
infinitesimal, however invisible, you can step out of the commons and scream
that you exist. Such an act of moral courage creates legends, sang throughout
life is your own, and you have the right to do whatever you wish with it. But
know that you have only one chance of stepping out into the stage of life and
speaking the truth that may change the world.
however you choose to act on the human potential that slumbers within you, you
first need to know what is it that you will say in that moment of shining. You
need to know and understand where are you, what are the rules of the both world
you inhabit and the person you refer to as yourself. To change or have control
over something, you first must understand it. This is why you should pursue knowledge.”
Meito felt the surge of power rising within
him. He felt the awakening of an ancient force within him accompanied by a
nostalgic feeling from his childhood, from the times when he believed in his
greatness. He looked at Oana, and nodded.
opened the door and Meito stepped in. The girl followed him, and closed the
door, which melted into the coffee brown wall, then disappeared.
stood shocked from the sight. It was illegal, rebellious and lawless. The place
was a high cafeteria with bookshelves around the walls, in which banned and
forgotten earthen literature lay. An elderly lady was searching for something
amongst them whilst holding the books of Mises, Rothbard and Friedman in her
hands. In front of the entrance, a black man played a simple piano, and Meito
knew he had no state license to do so. To the right, stairs led up to the
balcony, where a young couple was talking above a candlelit dinner, and
apart from them, the place was empty and dark. The fragrance of coffee filled
the counter, a black and yellow, diagonally bisected flag was hanging. Black
stood for anarchy, for the absence of any group holding monopoly over violence,
and yellow stood for liberty.
The boy followed Oana Rain while looking
around. They sat down to a silent table, before them a holographic menu glowed
“I’ve read a novel once about such a place
and people, and that didn’t end well. I have a bad feeling about this, Oana.
I’m committing a crime just by being here, and I will pay for it.”
will happen unless you talk about this place.”
said the girl after ordering “I said I will tell you about the nature of our
world, and I have evidence supporting all my claims.”
the theory, and if it is coherent, then we’ll speak of the evidence.”
looked at Meito questioningly.
he laughed. “My hand is shaking, and I’m becoming impatient, the scientist is
curious in me. I haven’t felt like this in the institution since ages, and only
now do I see that I really am interested in knowing more things, not just
working in a lab. So continue, please.”
is as if you have forgotten yourself, right? The things you like, where you are
coming from and where you are going.”
It is strange.”
year we live in is two thousand and seventy five; we are in a space station
orbiting around Earth.”
station is a virtual reality server mankind used as a prison. Decades ago,
humanity left the Earth and terraformed Mars. A man called the Shaman gathered
those who were committed to the non-aggression principle and they left Earth
together just before mankind killed itself, and its home planet in a monstrous
created colonies without any state or central authority, in which - “
it doesn’t work like that,“ he said, fighting his cognitive dissonance. “They
cannot do that, the State is the foundation stone of every society. Without
them, we are nothing but beasts killing each other.”
may be, I am not. You see, if we truly are beast deeply inside, and it is human
nature to be violent, how could you allow the existence of a State? Then it is
nothing more but granting unfathomable powers to violent beasts who will use
that strength to wage wars, murder and enslave.”
but there are a lot of people who are violent, and they are peaceful only
because there is a government.”
there are some evil among mankind, won’t those evils be the first to seek
office in a government, to use violence legally? And why do you need a monopoly
over the initiation of force to stop petty thieves and murderers? Do you think
that a competent, creative businessman can’t come up with a plan to catch
as I was saying, they created the liberated colonies, in which the first rule
accepted by all was the non-aggression principle. That is, no one has the right
to initiate the use of physical force against other human-like beings. No
state, no borders, anyone is allowed to join, but those who violate the first
principle will be outcast, banned from private properties, stores, hospitals,
everything, and he will be looked at as an illness, a plague.
we are the outcasts. We are the ones who violated that principle, and the
reason we are here in the Vatican is that we belong here philosophically, this
is our moral home. We had accepted this fate, and, you know,” her voice broke
off, “this is the worst thing of all. It was our choice to live in a world
where we are oppressed, our children are controlled by fear, and forced to
believe, and we all must serve.
you go and ask for the bartender, they managed to acquire a copy of the contracts
signed to join the Vatican. You will find yours among them. There is also a
kind of meditation that will wake you up to the real world for a moment to
access your real self.”
Meito was silent for a long time, digesting
the information, then spoke softly.
“More and more people come out as atheists,
and you know that. They are not killed or anything. This world is not that bad.
It could be worse, right?”
“I’m sorry for being too harsh with you. I
know this is a hard topic, but I don’t have much time left. I am going to leave
this city, and before that, I’m trying to bring some change. I have no time for
are right,” she continued. “There are some who do not believe in the deity
worshipped in the church. But I tell you Meito, apart from these people who are
frequent at this place, each member of the society is a believer.
They believe that a metaphysical concept has the right
to rule, is above any moral law, its words are sacred and its enemies will
suffer eternal damnation. This being cannot be sensed in the physical reality,
yet all thinks it is their duty to obey its will. It is blamed, and they ask it
for blessings. Sometimes, when the boat of life draws them toward dangerous
waters, they despise it and curse it, but after a while the lost lambs return
to the shepherd. We give up our rights to property and life and freedom, just
to put the weight of our fate upon the shoulders of this being, to do the dirty
work instead of us, serve us goods we do not deserve, and cast to hell the
This is the great, unspoken truth of the
modern world, that it is theocratic. The only difference, Meito, between an
atheist and a believer is that the former calls its god ‘the State.’”
“But…“ he shook his head. “What you say is
true, but for some reason I refuse to accept.” He seemed puzzled. “But you
know, I have my own evidence for some of the things you say about the
simulation. For example, do you know what we research at the institution? We do
nothing. Nothing, I’m telling you, as long as we do not talk about it, we are
safe, and we’ll get our paycheck. And the strangest thing is that there are
technological advancements, even though we do nothing. I’ve been a scientist
since I can remember, but I cannot be one here, and only now do I see how much
I want to be one” he leaned back, and said in an almost inaudible voice “ I
thought these were unanswerable questions, so I didn’t paid any attention to
them. I asked myself “how could I know?” and shrugged it off. But tell me,
Oana, why is it Vatican?”
“Look, men either accept the rational or the
irrational as absolute guidance. Those who accept irrationality are living the
world of illusion and have no connection to reality. They are the violent men,
as Ayn Rand said, the only means they can achieve their goals is by brute
force. And I tell you this: faith and violence are twinbrothers; whilst
aggression is the physical, belief is the mental destruction and oppression of
mind is not perfect, and if you plant irrational fear into a child, it will be
his absolute, his driving force, and the child will grow up, and as an animal
ever-trembling in the corner, fearing the untouchable, shapeless entity, will
attack with each interaction.
see, from the soil of faith, grows the tree of violence. Reality works through
rational laws, not through violence. Faith corrupts the mind. The reason why it
is Vatican is that we are all corrupted.”
“And what is the right thing to do?”
he whispered, looking at his hands.
“Righteousness is being a sinner in a world
of corruption” answered Oana.
A silver drone served the dinner. Oana and
Meito continued talking for a long time, the air was filled with the scent of
coffee and cigarette, and in the background, the man played an old melody while
every now and then, he glanced at the girl. The music he played was Oana’s
settled when they left the building. Meito called a cab, and when it
disappeared, Oana sighed in relief. She returned to her thoughts where the
memory of her dream awaited her in patience, and reminded her that it is almost
time to go.
The streets were empty. The sunset painted
the holographic clouds and the buildings orange and purple. She was alone with
her solitude; others did not dare to step out without the company of friends
and family. Oana crossed the Saint Peter square, and before she disappeared
between the pillars embracing the place, she saw a man, and next to him was his
wife, shouting at his child. The woman was nodding endlessly. Oana smiled, she
searched for her gloves in her pocket, and started walking toward them.
“How dare you contradict my will, you
disgusting piece of shit.”
With fist clenched, he struck down the
crying little child who hit the ground in an instant, his skull started to
bleed from the fall. He cried for help, for someone. Her mother loomed over
her, and stepped on his throat.
“One more sound and I swear I will murder
Oana’s palm dove deep into the woman’s
stomach, and the miniature thrust engines built into her glove fired, launching
the woman off of the boy’s neck, until her back collided with a stone pillar,
then she collapsed to her knees.
found the gloves years ago in the black market, and it cost a fortune. She had
never used it, but maintained its functionality and took care of it daily, and
she carried it around in her pocket ceaselessly. Now she felt that each moment
of the last years spent caring with the gloves, and the money from which she
would have been able to buy a house, was worthwhile. A life of an innocent
child is worth every trouble. She turned to face the father, behind him the
child was gasping for air.
“I will kill you if anything happens to him,
The man swallowed, and stepped back with
shock in his eyes.
“What do you think of yourself?” shouted
Oana. “You, disease of our world, who are awakening the demon of violence over
and over, generation to generation. It is unforgivable. You have become
perpetrators from victims. Look at him,“ she screamed, pointing to the child,
who was grabbing her coat. “Look at his eyes and know that you are the reason
why he’ll become a criminal, a sick, insane and contagious person, just like
you. Look at me, and swear he won’t get hurt again, or I will kill you
“I-I swear,” he said.
keep an eye on you.”
Oana turned to the child and took his small
hands. She whispered to him, so the parents could not hear her.
“You will be safe for a while. If you are
afraid of them, find Bishop Novaris, okay? Remember, Bishop Clark Novaris, and
give this to him. He will help you.”
She put a bracelet into of his pocket with a
steel medal inside. The medal showed the symbol of the vaticanian anarchists;
the letter A divided vertically, forming a cross with the horizontal line. She
hugged the sobbing boy, and watched them go home without looking back.
chill ran down her spine. Her senses became weaker, her sight blurred and her
ears were ringing, the dinner in her stomach turned into poison and she felt as
if it was trying to gnaw itself out of her. She felt the world spinning. She
dropped to one knee as a cold, rough voice addressed her.
legends speak about what it is like to meet an archangel, what it feels like
when a law enforcement agent finds you, but none of them say a word about such
torture. The being spoke again.
am bound to banish you to hell for your sins, but I will not, not today.”
an answer, Oana roared with agony.
are an important person, and His Holiness wants you to stay here as a composer.
You have attacked an innocent person, which is wrong, but they have survived.
Your sins are forgiven, but one more mistake, and the hounds will get you.
“Innocent?!” she spit the words out.
“They were not…”
could you do? The child is their property, it is their right to use it as they
wish” said the voice with indifference.
The being disappeared, and she slowly
regained her health. She just sat there, on the cold ground of the square, for
minutes, and then looked up; the snow had begun to fall. She reached in her
pocket and took out a piece of paper, read the words of her dream, and threw it
away hoping that someone will find it, someone who is worthless in the eyes of
the system, and will not be spared for the punishment he deserves for speaking
the truth, and doing what he thinks to be right.
She sniffed, and got up. The wind shrieked,
so she closed her coat, and, with steps hastened, continued her walk below the
pillars of the square and between the houses thereafter. She got to an alley,
and opened the door in in which an anarchist circle-A was painted. The echo of
her steps knocking on the marble travelled through the staircase. She followed
the painting with her finger, depicting the hell from the ground level through
the Garden of Eden, and the Heaven next to the door of the apartment. She
knocked twice, twice again, and then opened the door.
That was the first time she saw the bishop
without his official dress. Clark Novaris wore a black protection vest sewn
with nanothread. The material stretched to his perfectly built muscles, even
though he was close to seventy. He wore black trousers and leather boots, while
his gaze jumped from suit to suit in his wardrobe.
looked at his student, hummed while stroking his long, white beard and turned
back to his clothes.
are not seeking harmony, Oana” he said. “The higher you climb, the further you
are from your roots.”
have no roots, past or memories.”
are you talking about?”
looked at each other, both wearing the same puzzled look on their face.
are you talking about?“ Oana asked.
about your clothing, of course.”
looked at herself, the black boots she wore, only its end visible below the
long, blue skirt. Then the brown shirt, the silver medallion she always wore
and the white scarf above it.
is perfectly fine” she said, and closed her coat, covering everything except for
the boots and the white scarf.
This is perfect,” the bishop said.
found a black gown, and before he dressed up, the vest withdrawn from his back,
and Oana saw his neural implant covering the spine, and branching off towards
the hands at the shoulder. In its two sides, hundreds of scars spoke about the
past of Clark Novaris. He turned to the girl with a smile on his face, and walked
beside her, while a drone flew in through the window looking at the city. He
put his arm around her shoulder and they looked at the drone, whose objective
eye blinked lazily.
worth making some moments eternal even in our world, don’t you think? I hope
you didn’t blink.”
didn’t have the chance to do so.”
The bishop laughed, and picked up the
freshly printed photos from his desk, while the drone flew away.
“Good, good,“ he handed one of the pictures
to Oana. “You and I are became a family since the first time we met.”
Oana answered with a smile, while watching
“Knowledge is my family. You taught me this
“My home,“ he corrected her. “Home is the
world, and the family is the inhabitants. And I do tell you, we have the chance
to create our own world and its residents, if you are willing to pay the price
for it before. Oh and by the way, today I can’t talk to you for a long time, I
hear the calling of” he stopped, and stared at his desk.
“Calling of… nature? Duty?”
“No, it is nothing,” he shrugged, and
started to arrange the things on his desk. He tossed the hundreds of pages he
wrote into the fireplace, put every pen into the drawer, and covered the
“So,” said Oana, “This morning I was reading
book you required”
“How do you like it?”
“I do not. I do not understand how I am
supposed to enjoy the private life of a thief and a killer. I see enough of
them around me.”
“Yes, you are right. It is strange to think
about it, but the writers of the past preferred to create corrupt people
instead of heroes. They made monsters, murders and criminals, instead of
setting an example of righteousness.”
“Righteousness… I’ve heard this word way too
many times today. A man appeared in my dreams and told me about it, and he
promised that the time is near when I can leave this world. And before I
arrived, I saw a man beating his child, so I stopped him, and wounded his wife
badly. Really badly, I saw her bleeding.”
“And?” he asked, still stroking his beard.
“And I’m still here. Nothing happened. I
wanted to die, to get out of this world.”
“No you don’t,“ he said. “You have no idea
how painful it will be. It is not like this simulation, nor a jail sentence
that has ended. The pain of isolation that you’ll need to endure will be
unbearable. One or two companies maybe lifted their ban of you, but the
majority of the colony did not. The people will look at you as a freak, as an
infected, disgusting parasite. You will need to prove to them one by one that
you have changed. Here, you have a decent life, friends and career. Is this
what you want? Are you willing to sacrifice everything just to move forward?”
The following events seemed unreal to her.
She watched in shock, in paralysis as the incomprehensibly fast movement of
Clark Novaris, as he picked up the knife from the table, put it into the girl’s
hand and stabbed himself in the chest, driving it through his heart and spine.
The first waves of reality flooded her mind when the warm blood started to flow
through her fingers, while the lifeless body of her master collapsed into the
floor, and her world begun to fade.