Chapter 4 – Religion
Author’s Note : Thank you, friends and readers, for reading this far. I am going to update as frequently as possible. Any reviews or opinions privately or publicly are most welcome! If you are visiting for the first time, there are links to the earlier chapters below, you might want to read them ahead of this.
2105 AD – Erstwhile Japan
Tsugumi was worried. She looked at the Prime Minister, who also seemed lost in thoughts.
Voicing her worries, she said “We have had two more tsunami strikes in the eastern coasts, Sir. We need to contain damage and cut our losses. We need to seek help. At this rate, I don’t know how -”
“Enough!” Shinji said, then stopped as he realized he’d raised his voice too loud. Looking at his aide, his eyes softened, he said “I realize. We need to do something. But we need to tread carefully. The countries are hanging on a delicate balance since UN closed shop two years back after the third world war.”
“I am sure US would help us. We need to be doing something soon, sir. I can’t stress that enough.” Tsugumi insisted.
“I know, Tsugumi. I do. Trust me; I will do what needs be done.” Shinji said.
2105 AD – United States of America
“How many this week, Alfred?” asked Gilford.
“This is the third, Mr. President” The Secretary of state responded. They had been facing religious and economic rebellions consistently and repeatedly. The death toll had risenup to 3% of the population and it was becoming way too big a loss to not address.
Gilford’s assistant walked in suddenly “Pardon my intrusion, sir, but the head of state of Egypt is on line two”
Gilford sighed, unhooked the receiver and picked his call up, and said “Yes. This is Gilford. How may I help you?”
Thereafter ensued a monologue that he had been subjected to multiple times in the past few years. It had become second nature to phase out the details and realize what the call was for. It had also become increasingly hard not to get annoyed at them. But he was the President of United States. This came with the job profile.
After what seemed like an hour, the head of state finally seemed to stop. He said, trying to placate the evidently panicking head of a nation, “I will see what I can do” and hooked the receiver back into the phone.
Looking up at Alfred, he said “That’s the fifth call today alone.” He sighed again.
Alfred said barely hiding his exasperation “Why don’t they realize we have our own shit to deal with. We don’t owe anyone anything damn it”
Gilford looked mustering the compassion that he’d had for the better part of his life “They want answers, Alfred. And we are usually the ones with most of them. Maybe we can do something to help. Maybe we can’t. But we’ve got to try.”
Alfred stopped, and said “To what end sir.”
Gilford sighed, let out a tired smile and said “To ours if need be.”
2300 AD – Panchabhuta meeting (Cabin in the oasis, Neutral Region)
Charles had just concluded his account about his premonition and had opened the floor for questions and speculations. They had a task at hand here. They had to decide what they were going to do with the information handed to them. Everyone was deep in thought save for one guy. Shambhuru was fidgety. The thing his predecessors had warned him about had come to pass. He did not like it and was drawing blanks as to how things would unfurl.
Amarnath noticed this. He said “What happened Shambhuru? Are you not feeling well?”
Shambhuru jumped with a start realizing he had been openly uneasy. He said “No, no. I am just worried for our kind is all. Things have been going from bad to worse since the fated day three hundred years ago.”
Amarnath wasn’t convinced, but he let it go. Soon talk ensued about what the next course of action should be.
2304 AD – Neutral Zone
Robert sat back and laid his tired head on the chair cushion. Four years had passed since the work began; since they started earnestly building the equipment required for the sojourn they had planned for their future. Robert had had the pleasure of the company of not one but two of the passengers. Jennifer had showed up first and six months into that, Henrikh had arrived.
Henrikh was a guy in his early twenties, the oldest in the group of people travelling in the mission. He was a Judaist, and he proved all the stereotypes that came with it true. But Robert had read the member bio that had been sent to him prior to the start of this enterprise. He had empathized with the kid. His life had not been easy. He had been abandoned at a feeble age, then he had found his way to a Synagogue and by some twisted form of holy or unholy intervention, it had so happened that the sage of that region was visiting the institution that very day. The sage took pity and was interested in the fierce glint in the kid’s eyes and had adopted him. Twenty years later, he was here being given an opportunity and a responsibility that is both terrifying and promising, former more-so.
Some days when Robert is pulling a night shift and fine tuning one or the other project tasks, he’d see Henrikh standing in the facility courtyard staring up at that moon. He seemed angry at the moon somehow, like a wounded wolf, yet there was this loneliness about him. Robert couldn’t blame him for that.
The thing that interested him the most was the discussions that Henrikh and Jennifer engaged in. One would think a Christian and a Jew would go head to head with defense for their religions and go about thrashing each other, at least that was the stereotype Robert was always exposed to; and that was what he expected. But what he got to see was a duo of people who had the most unbiased and levelheaded discussions imaginable. They were both extremely staunch with their religion. But there was no fight, there was love, there was understanding, there was peace. The atheist in him almost felt soothed by this display of compassion, in spite of them both being the most obtuse possible characters ever. One was calm, collected and rich with a pleasant past while another was wronged, lonely and defensive.
The fact that just two people had arrived and just in this, there was so much diversity made Robert wants to meet the other people in the group too and wondered what they would be like.
Lost in the train of thought, Robert sat on his chair absent mindedly playing with the pen in his hand.
A loud commotion broke his trance. Perturbed, he got up to see what the ruckus was about; he looked down at the bay area from his cabin in the upper floor through the window. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Stop, don’t. Stop, god damn it” Robert yelled starting to run down from his floor.