Writing Sprint Flash Fiction: American Jesus

Writing Sprint Flash Fiction: American Jesus

This week’s prompts can be found in this link or by flowing the Twitter thread.

I have also been doing the StoryADay May Challenge so there’s been no shortage of squeezing the creativity sponge recently. This week’s unexpected response to the props could be a sign of going to the well one time too many.

There is a high chance of alienating and/or angering a high percentage of readers. That was never my intention. But I don’t really have much say in what finds its way to the page during creative sessions.

For better or worse, fiction writes itself.

American Jesus

The day science died, faith also passed away.

Both were extinguished by an act that defied physics and created millions of preachers. We are the pariahs. We dare not try to understand what it all means. When Moses parted the Red Sea, it was accepted in Biblical text as a holy act. No one seemed too perturbed. Scientists from the Information Age tied it to seasonal droughts. That seemed to keep the story alive, feasible. Early man mistook science for a miracle.

But like I said, science is dead now. That happened when the seas became the sky and the sky became something only accessible when swimming to the depths of the stratosphere. The world is turned upside down, inside out.

With it, came freedom. I was in a compound with just a few thousand refugees. When the sky became an ocean, the guards downed weapons. The good men among them unlocked our cages. The presumed End of Days has a way of making people develop a conscience. 

I held Juana’s hand. She’s only eleven-years-old. And she’s small for that age. Years of eating on the run have left her underdeveloped. She could pass for a genderless eight-year-old. We followed the herd of survivors around the dim passageway that we’d walked months before. Instead of a cloudless night sky, there was water pouring over us, like a waterfall with no basin. Water suspended, like magic.

My heart was beating hard. It was a new type of fear. I didn’t know then this was a global phenomenon; I thought it was some localised trick that could collapse any moment. I wondered if the water in the passageway was a new style of death chamber. My instinct was to run but the movement was slow and packed. Everyone was in awe.

Coming to the end of the passageway didn’t place us in the open courtyard, there was more water above, even lower than where we’d come from. The new sky picks its height with random abandon.

It was in that courtyard I heard a woman cry: “It’s a miracle.”

That was a precursor for what was to follow. For every droplet of suspended water above our heads, someone has declared it a miracle. Divine intervention.

An act of God.

The abolition of science and society went hand in hand. When leaders have no experts to act as support, and no adequate answers, people turn to whoever offers them a plausible narrative.

Except, the paradox of this “miracle” was it killed religion too.

Faith is believing without evidence. That was the entire reward scheme the Christian church set up. Asking for evidence was a lack of faith. But to survive through the centuries, they’d alter teachings. If Jesus was a chance for religion to have a soft reboot over two thousand years ago, the last decade saw a reimagining. American Jesus was born. 

Before capitalism collapsed, bringing in a new Draconian world order, there had been a female American comic who did a stand-up show called Jesus is Magic. It was a funny gig. Her name was Sarah Silverman. She walked that fine line and sometimes dipped a toe over it. Like the best comics, she amplified a part of society ripe for being poked at.

American Jesus was made for the water sky. Super magic stuff no one can explain. Jesus is magic. The one you can talk to directly, make demands on, the one who literally intervenes when Hillary from Ohio needs help with an exam or when Chad from Pittsburgh wins a tennis match. He makes the sky become the sea so imprisoned migrants can walk the land again.

A real God doesn’t dive down and meddle every day. Perhaps He can provide little nudges, but it’s all on you. If He’s literally on hand every day, it destroys the premise of faith.

It took that first tangible Act of God in living memory to make me doubt the divine. God providing a distraction is the oldest trick in politics. It’s impossible to blame governments when God alters the world. The new artillery on the planet was revised fear they tried to package as faith. As ever, it came with a message made by man, presumed to have God’s seal of approval.

Jesus was said to have walked on water. I wanted to know if man could still swim in water. If I reached above, would the current pull me into the ocean? I also wanted to make sure it was real water. It looked real enough; sometimes droplets would escape and splash us. But that could have just been rain falling through a hologram. That’d be a neat trick: a global illusion. In a way, that’s nothing new, it’d just be a better delivery method.

Weeks after leaving the compound, Juana and I started to live in a nomad community. We shared a tent in an open field. The sea-sky was always a nice distance above us, high enough not to be oppressive. The sun’s ray still made it through the new ceiling but it dimmed them. It made me think the water couldn’t be too deep. After all, the rays never used to hit the bottom of the oceans. People said the continued light was a further miracle.

I let them have that one. I mean, why not? We have magic water skies. Why argue about the density of ocean versus refraction of light?

Before nightfall, we took a walk to the closest point between land and sea-sky. I collected several weighty rocks.

“What are they for, Mani?” Juana asked.

“An experiment,” I replied.

I threw one as hard as I could into the sea-sky. “Stand back,” I said.

I half-expected it to fall back down, but it disappeared.

“You know everyone will have tried that already,” she said, unimpressed.

“I need to see if for myself,” I said. “Prove that it’s real or not.”

“Is seeing it not proof enough?” she asked.

“Our senses can be tricked,” I said.

That was only a half-answer. I needed to understand it. This is how science and the old religions had always clashed. Science needed unequivocal evidence, religion expected you to believe in what you couldn’t see or comprehend. Or was it the opposite way around? Now they were bedmates, bound by the same inexplicable mystery.

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