Friday Night Story

Church & State

I’m going to be stoned; the kind with rocks and the sinless throwing them first, not the fun kind. Last week, doctors finally broke the electrochemical barrier, enabling, in theory, the production of an artificial brain that could interface with a human central nervous system and keep a human body alive. And I’m going to be stoned.

For falling in love. With a divorced woman. Hannah was arrested this morning. Before the conversion, she was seeing a therapist, and was diagnosed with depression, and was placed on duloxetine. There were originally eight deadly sins that required penance in hell, but in the seventh century, sadness was replaced by sloth. Post-conversion, the various mental disciplines were classified as a form of divination, making the act of seeking therapy, taking medications prescribed by therapists, and the depression itself Capital Sins Against Church and State. She was arrested at her home before she left for work and taken before an Inquisitory Judicial Panel.

After dark, a Paladin forced his way into my home. He read my confession to me, and described my penance. When I expressed no remorse, he described my response as wrath, and passed summary judgment upon me. He gave me the option of back of the head or back of the throat, and put his pistol into my mouth. I bit down hard onto the gun and tore it from his hands. We wrestled for the gun, and I hit him with a crystal ashtray. The crystal fractured, and I jabbed it into his throat.

I froze. His hands were slick with blood, but he had the pistol pushed against my neck. Our eyes met, and he lowered the gun. “Forgive me,” he said, and died. I wiped the gun clean. Engraved along the barrel of his pistol were the words: My Wrath Shall Wax Hot. I left my home for Hannah’s office. Her coworker was working late, and informed me she had been excommunicated by hanging fifteen minutes before.

The building was sequestered by the Shofet. Paladins searched all employees as they left, until I was the last person in the building. From the first floor, they tapped into the intercom. “You have committed murder, a Capital Sin. Repent, and you will be excommunicated humanely. Suicide is also a Capital Sin. Resistance resulting in further murder is also a Capital Sin. There is no salvation, only penance.”

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