Sunday, 27 January 2008

Starry-eyed messiah

The Messiah announced himself at dawn. As the sun crept above the horizon and the sky tinged pink, the trees defined themselves, and a soft breeze stirred eddies in the thin mist, he picked himself up and out of the gutter where he had spent the night and spread his arms wide. The first rays of sun caught him where he stood, and he seemed faintly lambent. The long, thin, slightly straggly blonde hair stood out from his head, forming a halo if you were inclined to look for that kind of thing. He rose up on the balls of his feet, feeling the warmth of the sun on his face spread through his body and dispel the stiffness and aches of a night spent in contemplation, and cried out to the surrounding streets, "I am risen again!"

The air cracked twice, loud reports in the crisp morning. Two small, circular holes appeared in the Messiah's forehead, and he jerked, taking a couple of steps backward trying to keep his balance. Then the back of his head exploded, spraying bone and brain matter in a wide oval on the pavement behind him, and he fell back into the gutter from whence he'd come.

We had a Messiah-problem. He was the third to announce himself that week, and the 624th that year, and we were still only in March. People were divided into two camps on it: one said that it was the same Messiah, determined to bring his message to the world and redeem us once more; the other thought that there was something being put into the water supply by the government that was making people go mad and believe that they were holy.

The Catholic church's attitudes had slowly changed too. The first few Messiahs were proclaimed and supported, and then when more starting turning up, that support fell to mere recognition, and now, any that survived their first announcement was given a badge to wear as a token of acknowledgment. A cynic might point out that the badge looked suspiciously like the bulls-eye of a target.

What was really going on had gone unsuspected so far, and there were a few Messiahs out there who had not proclaimed themselves when they'd arrived, and were quietly working to reduce the number that the general public noticed. It was, of course, an exodus, a fleeing of people from another dimension, reaching this planet and possessing host bodies. The way had been found in the past, but considered unethical, even though two-thousand years ago the people of this planet were substantially less sophisticated. Now we had no choice, but getting a message back to the people still fleeing was proving difficult. We hadn't expected the change in attitude, or that we might not be greeted as automatic rulers.

We were working to change that though. And when there were enough of us, then we could proclaim a new Messiah with impunity. And then the exodus could begin in earnest.

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