‘Everyone can see it…. the… the… inequality.’
The words sputtered out of Evara’s mouth into the upturned face of the clergyman, as he hung from a meat hook speared through his shin.
‘You sit in your spotless towers and… big… stupid ships. While we starve and scrounge in the dirt!’
The Ministorum cleric’s eyes rolled back and his lids fluttered as the pain forced him into unconsciousness again. Evara snarled. ‘No! You don’t get to leave. I can’t.. so you…can’t… No!’ Evara’s anger broke into a sobbing grief.
The room was quiet then. The only noises to accompany Evara’s muffled whimpers were the creak of the hooked chain that held the cleric’s slowly pirouetting body, and the soft flapping of wings as a lone cyber-cherub hovered in the shadows.
Evara breathed deeply, wiping her eyes, she composed herself. Carefully she withdrew a stimm-shot from her pocket and rolled it thoughtfully between her fingers. ‘He knows why.’ Evara murmured and thrust the stimm-shot into the cleric’s heart. Wide-eyed and with a frothing mouth the clergyman roared back to life. His panicked eyes darted aimlessly in their sockets. With a vicious backhand Evara focussed his attention. ‘Look at him!’ Evara pointed at the cyber cherub floating quietly in the corner.
Naked, save for a stained loincloth, the cherub had the body of a 4-year-old boy. Its diminutive frame was held aloft by an anti-grav generator fused to the flesh of it back. On top of this a pair of filth-encrusted wings flapped lazily in a mockery of a flight. Soft blonde locks dappled down to rest loosely about its shoulders, but instead of framing a child’s face, the hair curled around a patchwork of ruined flesh, rusting metal, and a single circular lens. The cherub had a pict-cam for a head.
The cherub’s cyclopean eye zoomed to focus onto the cleric. He began to sob, ‘Oh, throne. Please… God emperor… please, help me.’
Evara sneered in disgust. ‘Urgh, spare me. Everyone can see your cult for what it is. You tell us that if we grovel and… and… cower beneath you. That we’ll be rewarded when we die. But really you just spin your sick tales of a god-emperor to keep us under your boot. I know… I know that now… My new friends taught me that.’ Evara continued sermonising to the cleric, ‘They told me how, you have to break us. You have to steal our joy. That if we find even a shred of happiness you have to take it. Don’t you?… Don’t you?!’ Evara viciously kicked the cleric in the face. The brute force sent him swinging backwards and with a resounding crack his shin snapped, the hook tearing through the weak flesh of his leg, causing him to fall, face-first, into the floor. The cleric cried out in agony, his moans choking on the blood flowing from his nose into his mouth. He stared up at Evara with fearful eyes and coughed, sobbed, and spluttered his excuses. ‘I had no choice. Please… I’m sorry. You must understand. I never wanted to take them. But the deacon… I had to obey him. His is the word of the emperor. I had to…’
‘Shut up! I don’t want your damned excuses. I want you to tell me why?!’
Through stuttering gasping breaths, the cleric told her, ‘The deacon he… he…. he just preferred them.’
‘He just preferred them? He just preferred them?!’ Evara spat the cleric’s own word back into his face. ‘Every other diocese in the city uses vat grown, synthetic, cyber-cherubs. But you’re telling me that the only reason you took children… living children and turned them into these monstrosities was simply because the deacon “just preferred them”?’ The cleric sobbed and tried to roll away from Evara. ‘No, you look. You look at what you’ve done!’ Evara grabbed the cleric by his hair and pointed his face towards the cherub floating in the corner. ‘You look at what you’ve done to my son!’
The cleric stared, horrified at the cherub in the corner. Its flesh the same shade as Evara’s, it’s blonde hair with the same wavy curls, it’s face, a mass of metal and glass.
Evara sat on the floor, her tone softening as the truth drained her spirit. ‘My new friends said that you’d done this. But sometimes even though you can see it. You need to hear it as well.’
Evara cradled the cleric’s head in her lap and began slowly stroking his hair as she stared at the cherub that used to be her son. ‘They were kind to me, my new friends. When I couldn’t find Jakur, my son. They helped me.’ Evara took a stained cloth from her pocket and began wiping the blood from the cleric’s face. ‘My new friends, they told me of the lies that you teach and what you had done. And the truth of the new god and the change that is coming.’ Evara took the cloth and began to slowly push it into the cleric’s mouth. The cleric tried to struggle but his blood loss had made him weak. ‘My new friends told me you don’t even have to believe in their god. Their god treats believers and non-believers alike. Their god sees all life as valuable, all life is useful to it.’ Evara pinched the cleric’s nose between her thumb and forefinger of one hand and placed her other gently, but firmly, over his mouth. ‘So, you see it’s all going to be alright.’ Evara began to rock the cleric’s clasped head forward and back. ‘A new god is coming. A god who will treat us all equally. A god who will tear down your spires and your ships. A god who will end all this inequality and then embrace us all in its four strong arms…. Yes… A new god is coming and when it gets here it will be so great that everyone can see it.’
About the Author
J.M. has worked in content production for the past 15 years as a writer and producer. He has previously worked for the BBC creating children’s interactive content, including the award-winning Playtime and Storytime apps, and the Amazon Alexa BBC kids skill. He was part of the BBC Writersroom comedy room in 2018. For the past three years he has been heading up production at NeoMam Studios.