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    David McLeod
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

0300 Book 3 - 7. Chapter 7: Fatima

Chapter 7: Fatima

 

Albert Einstein told us
that the miraculous thing about
the laws of nature
is that they are immutable.
On the other hand,
religion posits miracles,
which require that the laws of nature
be suspended or contravened.

 

2009-02-20 USF Charleston

 

My twelve-year-old Communications Officer, still the youngest Flag Comm-O in Fleet history—was about to have his first birthday party. Most of the Geeks never had birthday parties: the veil screened them even from their parents. As children, they’d been neglected and ignored, much as I had been in the orphanage: some more than others, some less.

The party couldn’t be a surprise: the metas were notoriously unable to keep secrets. In fact, most were still reeling from the gifts Avery and Jonathan had exchanged the night before.

* * * * *

Avery had performed extensive foreplay before bringing Jonathan to climax with his mouth. Jonathan had tried to copy what Avery had done, and did so fairly well up to the point that he bent to put his mouth on Avery’s penis. Avery had stopped him, gently. “Not now, just with your hand, please.”

Jonathan had protested, but Avery was firm. Jonathan did as he was told, and watched as Avery spurted seminal fluid into the air and onto his stomach and chest. While Avery was still gasping with release, and before he realized what was happening, Jonathan had scooped a bit of semen on his finger and stuck it in his mouth. When the younger boy realized that it wasn’t going to make him sick, he dropped his mouth onto Avery’s penis and closed his lips on it. Avery’s involuntary spasm drove his penis into Jonathan’s throat for a moment before Avery could control himself. Jonathan’s sensing of Avery through their link brought Jonathan to a second climax—hands-free.

It was that which everyone felt—and teased Avery and Jonathan about the next day. Their teases were overlaid with love, and accompanied by hugs, so neither Avery nor Jonathan objected.

 

Jonathan’s parents arrived on the Flag Shuttle at 0900, and were escorted to my ready room by Captain Moultrie. Their orders from the head of the Fleet Comm-Electronic-Nanotech command, where they were both stationed, were deliberately vague—something about liaison on some comm requirements of the task force.

Captain Moultrie introduced Commander and Commander Hanson. Captain Moultrie and Jonathan’s father accepted coffee. I had heard something in Jonathan’s mother’s voice that suggested she was a native of the British Isles, and offered tea. She accepted and watched the Mess Steward prepare it in a traditional British manner.

“Thank you, Commodore. I don’t often have time to prepare tea as carefully as that,” she said.

“You are welcome. It’s something I learned when I was commandant of the school in Wales.”

We engaged in small talk until I felt them relax. Then I dropped the bomb.

“When is the last time you have heard from your son, Jonathan?” I asked, and pushed gently to unlock their memories.

“Nova Sol!” they both said. Their eyes flickered for a moment.

“We heard . . . Admiral Davis said . . . camouflage . . . you and others . . .” The Commanders babbled briefly and then pulled themselves together.

“Jonathan’s one of you?”

“Yes. And he’s very anxious to see you. Are you ready for that?”

I heard their thoughts; I didn’t pry, but they were so strong. They were afraid they might have their careers ended on charges of child neglect. Overlaying that, however, strongly, was their fear of what Jonathan would think of them. I could not let them continue.

“You had no choice, and there is no blame. It was Jonathan’s mental camouflage, what we call the veil, that kept you from knowing him past his sixth birthday. I know it, Admiral Davis knows it, but most important, Jonathan knows it.” I pushed a little reassurance before signaling for Jonathan to come in.

 

Their reunion was a private matter, and I left the room the instant Jonathan entered. After a while, Jonathan called Avery in.

 

The birthday party was somewhat anticlimactic after Jonathan’s reunion with his parents. Afterwards, I managed to get them alone for a few minutes, and gave them the same message I’d given Alex’s father and others: we’d make sure they didn’t forget him, again, but Jonathan was an important part of the Flag Team, and his duties and theirs would keep them apart for some time.

 

After the party, Jonathan and Avery got hugs from both Commanders, and then found a private moment to give me a couple of serious hugs. Sometimes, it was good to be the Commodore. Sometimes. But before I could savor the hugs, I was paged.

* * * * *

“Paul? You want everyone at Intel Level 1 to look at this,” Alex’s voice came through my communicator. “I’m sending a file to Flag Comm.”

I acknowledged, and moved toward the Flag Bridge, followed by the rest of the Geeks.

“Jonathan? Alex is sending something for us to look at,” I said. Alex had made it clear that I should see what he was going to send, and that knowledge was to be limited to Intel Level 1, which was just about everyone with any clearance above Secret, so I asked my now thirteen-year-old Flag Comm Officer—who blushed every time I caught his eye and winked at him—to put it on the big screen, and invited Captain Moultrie and his staff, as well as the on-duty Flag Team to watch with me.

“Does this mean anything?” I asked after it was over.

We had watched a broadcast from the Reverends in which three young girls spoke of having been visited by Mary the Mother of Jesus, who told them that Jesus was disappointed that some of his children believed the lies they’d seen on the televisor, and that God would provide a miracle. The miracle would be a greater fire than had rained down upon Las Vegas. It would occur north of Winslow, Arizona, in two weeks.

“North of Winslow. There’s nothing north of Winslow except the Grand Canyon,” Jonathan said. “My family went there, once.” Everyone heard the happiness in his voice from the reunion with his parents.

“The girls seemed . . . their language was odd,” Artie said.

“Rehearsed,” Cam said.

“Winslow is on the main rail line, and there’s a spur that leads to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. They can assemble a crowd, but it’s remote enough that they can control the situation,” Alex said. He put an annotated overhead photo on the screen.

“When was this image made?” Kevin asked. As head of the Flag Intel Team, he worried about things like that.

“Six days ago.”

Alex made an entry on his iPad, and orders for more imint went out.

“What sort of miracle?” I asked. “Any clues? Any idea?”

“A greater fire,” Kevin said. “Natural or man-made?” He hunched over his terminal.

“Three young girls. And Mary. Let’s see what Google® can do . . .” Deacon muttered. He was one of the newest members of the team, but I was pleased at how calm he sounded. There was a ping from his terminal. “It’s Fatima all over again,” he said.

Everyone else must have looked pretty blank, because he said, “Our Lady of Fatima, 1917, the Miracle of the Sun.”

“Where were there miracles in 1917? Is Fatima in Italy?” Someone asked.

“No, Portugal,” Deacon said.

Portugal. I thought. Other than Italy, one of the last Roman Catholic strongholds. Too scarred by the Inquisition for the Enlightenment easily to have taken hold. And peasant children whose minds had been filled with myths and superstitions.

* * * * *

“Deacon? Are you ready to brief the fleet?” I asked an hour later. The boy looked a little pale, but nodded.

“You’ll do fine,” I said, and sent him a mental hug. He was just coming into his powers, didn’t know he was a meta, and probably felt the hug only as a diffuse good feeling.

“Jonathan? Let us know when you are ready, please,” I said. Jonathan nodded to Deacon when all the commanders or execs of task force ships were on line.

Deacon began his briefing. “The Reverends are planning to create a miracle to answer the effect of the Funeral,” Deacon began. “The miracle will likely be patterned on the Miracle of the Sun, at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. According to Catholic Church accounts, between 30,000 and 100,000 pilgrims at Fatima saw the sun move from the sky to the ground. According to a later account, the pope, himself, said he had seen the miracle from his garden at the Vatican. The fact that no legitimate observers, scientists, or astronomers saw this—as well as the fact that it would be physically impossible without destroying the Earth—was discounted, and it was declared to be a miracle.

“We believe that the Reverends will assemble a large number of people on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and recreate the alleged miracle. The miracle at Fatima occurred on October 13th in our reality. We don’t think the Reverends are going to wait nearly that long.”

Deacon cut the video feed from his console, and looked at me. What now? He mouthed. I gave him a physical and a mental thumbs up, and opened the link from my console.

“Thank you, Cadet Pierce, and congratulations on spotting the similarity and on your analysis.

“We know that our history and that of the Fundamentalists Universe diverged perhaps 300 years ago, and that the Enlightenment was a significant factor in that split. Apparently, there wasn’t a single split, but multiple splits or a slow split with multiple events. We will continue to collect bits and pieces of history, as well as personal recollections, and use judicious research to help us understand all that. For now, we will focus on the early 1900s as well as the devolution of the Catholic Church in both universes.

“The clues are in the Reverend’s televisor message, which you all should have by now. References to the Miracle of the Sun will be forwarded as soon as this conference is ended. Please make this information available widely among your staffs, and look for answers to these questions: What, exactly is it that the Reverends are planning? If not a repeat of the Miracle of the Sun, what might it be? Most important, what can we do to counteract their so-called miracle?

“We have some of the best minds of Earth in Task Force Rift. We need your input. Please make this information available to everyone—we never know who might have the answers.”

Jonathan cut the feed, and sent Deacon’s files to the other ships.

 

Deacon wasn’t as happy as I thought he would be. I walked to his console and put my hand on his shoulder. “Deacon? What’s wrong?”

He looked up. “Do you think I’m wrong? Is that why you asked everyone to figure out what the Reverends were really planning?”

My tummy seemed to press on my bladder, and I was afraid I was going to piss my pants.

“Oh, no!” I said. I’ve screwed up, again, I thought. I’m asking too much of these youngsters . . . and Deacon’s not yet aware!

“Deacon, please follow me.”

* * * * *

I led the boy to my ready room, and asked him to wait while I pissed. When I came back, he was still standing just inside the door, no happier than before. I crossed the room and stood in front of him. I wanted to hug him, but his hurt was still too great.

“Deacon, I screwed up, badly. And I hurt you. I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to make it seem that I doubted you, but that’s what happened. Actually, I was so proud of what you’d figured out, I wanted to hug you. I didn’t think you’d want me to do that during a command conference.”

I hoped for at least a smile, perhaps a giggle, but neither was forthcoming. So, I kept talking.

“Deacon, I think you are absolutely right. I think the Reverends are going to re-create the miracle of Fatima, somehow. But we don’t know exactly what they’ll do or how they’ll do it. That’s what I want everyone to think about.”

At least that got a reaction from Deacon. He nodded, briefly.

“If you were a twenty-five year old intel officer, you’d know that instinctively. It would have been drilled into you for years. I went too fast.”

I stopped talking, and let Deacon think for a minute.

“I understand, sir,” he said. “I’m too young to be on a Flag Intel Team. Request reassignment—”

“No!” I said. “You must remain on the Flag Team, and I’m screwing up again! Deacon, please help me!”

By now, I had tears in my eyes. I blinked, and they rolled down my cheeks.

“You’re crying,” Deacon said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Because you feel sorry for yourself?”

It took a moment, and then a few more, to think about it before I could answer. “Yes, I feel sorry for myself because I hurt you and I may lose you,” I said.

“Lose me? You’re a commodore. My daddy is just a gunnery sergeant. You outrank him so many ways it’s not funny!”

I was shocked to silence that he would think I would use rank to separate him from his father, or to overrule his father’s desires for his son’s career. On the other hand, I admired his spunk.

“Deacon,” I decided on another approach, one that if I were wrong would be problematical, but if I were right, would solve the problem. It was risky, but it was a risk I had to take.

“Deacon, there is a very important reason that you must be on the Flag Team.

“I know that you and Isaac are boyfriends. You can feel what he is feeling, can’t you? You can feel when he is happy or sad, you can feel when he is proud of himself—and of you. You can feel what he feels when you touch each other—”

The boy gasped. “How do you know!”

Because I feel the same things about my boyfriends, Danny and George, I sent. I pushed hard, and it got through. Deacon’s eyes grew wide.

“Nova Sol!” he said. “You’re a telepath!”

“Wait!” he said. “I am, too? And Isaac?

“All the guys are telepaths, aren’t they?”

My relief at his epiphany must have been palpable, for he put his arms around me and hugged me.

“Oh, Paul! Why didn’t I see that?”

I knew the answer: because I was pushing them too hard. And I was afraid that there was no alternative.

 

2009-02-20 Monterrey, California

 

It took several days for the heliograph message from the roof of the _____ Palace Casino to reach the California Intelligence Agency Headquarters.

 

“What or who is Fatima?”

The young man who had brought the telegram to the Colonel, and to whom the question had been addressed, looked at the silhouette on the wall—the silhouette in the shape of a cross where once a crucifix had hung. The irony of the Colonel’s question did not escape him.

“Sir, Fatima is a location in Portugal, the site of a supposed miracle, about 95 years ago.” He related the story of the peasant girls, the pilgrims, and the vision of the sun crashing into the earth. “I could find more detail if you wished, sir.”

“No,” his senior said. “Although we do need someone on the ground at the . . . the Grand Canyon.”

 

2009-02-22
USF Charleston
Kidnap Team Meeting

 

We had not resolved the need for humint from the Reverends’ territory. We needed information from people on the ground. George’s suggestion that we kidnap someone had more and more appeal. I agreed that we would try that.

 

Artie and I sat in my Ready Room with Cam, Marty, Alex, their mentors, and George, who had demanded to be chief of Kidnap Team I. We were looking at real-time imagery of the Nevada-California border—real-time, that is, except for the speed-of-light delay and a few milliseconds from the transponder that relayed signals through the rift. We had located the orphanage from which Artie and his army had come; now, he was telling us about it in detail. We had decided to take one person from U-Cal, perhaps a teacher from the orphanage; as well as someone from the Reverend’s Army, a Reverend from Las Vegas, and one person from a Sheriff’s ranch. The Santa Ana Orphanage was judged to be the easiest and safest target. It would be the test-bed for the other attempts. If they worked out, we’d look at more sensitive targets such as Lynchburg and Fort Belvoir.

“That’s the Don’s quarters,” Artie said. “It’s where he holds meetings, where the telegraph is, and where the only televisor is. They say the Don watches the Scudder’s message every night.”

“How does he get the signal?” Marty asked.

“There’s an antenna on top of the mountain that picks up the Las Vegas broadcast, and a microwave transmitter that is pointed toward Camp Santa Ana,” Alex said. “There’s also what looks like a solar panel.”

“Solar panel? That’s a little more advanced than we had thought. Have we seen solar panels elsewhere?"

“Not in the Reverends’ territory, nor the Mujahedeen territories.”

“The Pan-Asians used them extensively to power their microwave relay towers. We knew, earlier, that they don’t sell their best to the Reverends. We know, now, that they sell more to California than to the Reverends.”

“But not as good as they sell to Australia, I don’t think. Let’s get that question to Noah’s people,” I said.

“That’s the classroom building,” Artie brought us back to the subject of the meeting. “For when we got to go to school, that is. Most of us worked most of the time in the fields. There are two new buildings, too. I don’t know what they are.”

“How hard did you have to work?” Cam asked.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Artie said. “We grew all the food for the orphanage, and we knew that what we grew was what we would eat. That made it easier.”

“That’s where water came from,” he pointed to an aqueduct, built of masonry arches in the Roman style, and that ran to the west and out of the picture.

There was a blip as the satellite we’d been using moved in orbit out of range and another satellite took over.

Alex panned the image, and the new satellite obliged as he followed the aqueduct to its source: a lake about halfway up the mountain.

“What’s that?” someone exclaimed. There was something or someone splashing in the water. “That water’s got to be ice cold. There’s snowpack on the edges of the lake.”

Cam answered the question. “There are two people . . . they’re getting out . . . I need a better image.”

Alex tapped his iPad, waited, and tapped again. “Omega-6 is on line . . . will be in position . . . switching, now.”

A new picture appeared on the screen.

“It’s a boy and a man . . . he’s putting on green robes. He’s a eunuch,” Artie said.

“Huh?” Marty asked. “You can tell that from here? Even the Omegas aren’t good enough to tell if somebody’s balls—”

“It’s the clothes, the green,” Artie said. “The eunuchs at the casino wore green robes, but I don’t know what one would be doing up there . . . or the boy.”

“Get us more on the boy,” Cam snapped. “All resources, Tobor? Can you synthesize? Quickly, please.”

The screen blipped again as Tobor took over and displayed an image.

“Nova Sol! It’s Andrew,” Artie said, and then froze, mouth wide open.

“You know him?” I asked the unnecessary question to shake Artie from his trance.

“He was a child, just brought to the _____ Palace Casino when I escaped. It’s been five years, but it’s Andrew, I’m sure of it.”

“The man?”

“He’s one of the eunuchs who served the Reverends and trained us,” Artie said. “They all looked alike . . . they were all fat, no beards . . . their balls . . . uh . . . ”

“Like you, they have escaped,” Cam said. “We need to rescue . . . kidnap, whatever, them. Immediately.” He looked at me. Hadn’t I said that Cam was 100% right?

“Make it so.” I said. “George? Minimum team size. Don’t worry about a sonic boom. It’s more important not to be seen. Hot, straight down and straight up.”

George nodded, and ran from the room. I felt rather than heard his call to a strike team. Artie looked at me. I nodded, and he ran behind George.

 

Artie reached the flight deck only seconds behind George. A six-person strike team was standing by the alert shuttle. A second shuttle was moving to take the alert position. Such was the synchronicity of my command.

“Briefing on the way,” George said. “Board and strap in for maneuvers.”

Cam had fed the coordinates and imagery to the pilot of the shuttle. George’s command to make a full speed approach and a twenty-g landing were acknowledged. There was a gut-wrenching jolt and the strike team was pressed into their harnesses as the gravity compensators took care of all but about three g’s. The pilot’s comment that, “I assume you meant a twenty-g takeoff, too,” was unnecessary.

“We’re going after two people. Whether we rescue them or kidnap them depends on their attitude, but we’re not going to have much time to assess that, and it really makes no difference,” George began his briefing.

“Artie, you’re out first. Sidearm only, and keep it in the holster unless you come under fire. You’re sure the boy is Andrew, so call his name and tell him who you are. If he or the man runs, or doesn’t at least look interested after 15 seconds from the time Artie’s foot hits the ground, the rest of the team will move out, surround them, and force them into the shuttle.

“We need them, and we need them alive. If we come under fire, activate shields first. Return fire except from the two target individuals.” George’s words established the rules of engagement.

“Artie? You don’t have a shield,” George added as he began stripping off his jumpsuit. “You and I have about six minutes to get into combat gear.”

Two of the strike team grabbed Artie and stripped off his uniform before helping him pull on a skin-suit. “No time for the catheter,” one said. If you’ve got to piss before we get back on board, well, you’re . . . ”

“I get the picture,” Artie said.

 

As soon as he was in a skin suit, George triggered comm. “Give us the latest imagery, please.”

Images came up on the shuttle’s screens.

“I don’t see any weapons,” Artie said. By then, he’d returned to his seat. “If they escaped, they probably wouldn’t have any.”

“What are they doing?” George’s question was addressed to Cam who was still in my briefing room and who had better quality imagery.

“Filling canteens—”

“Deceleration begins in thirty seconds,” the co-pilot’s voice interrupted. “Brace.”

“Touchdown.” The pilot said less than a minute later.

The door opened even before he’d finished the word. Artie had unstrapped and was at the doorway. He hesitated only a second before jumping to the ground and calling out, “Andrew! It’s Artie! I’m Artie! Do you remember me?”

 

Whether Andrew remembered Artie from the _____ Palace Casino, or remembered him and the boxy aeroplane that flew without wings that he’d seen in the video of the battle was never actually determined. It made no difference; it was sufficient that Andrew rushed to Artie and hugged him.

Artie returned the hug, and felt Andrew sobbing. He kissed the top of Andrew’s head, and said, “Andrew? We need to leave, now. I’ll hug you again when we reach safety, okay?”

Andrew nodded. “You must take John, too,” he said.

“Of course,” Artie said.

 

The boys told me that Andrew was seriously frightened by the idea of being in a spaceship, but that Artie had taken charge of him, and that Andrew was slowly growing accustomed not only to being in space, but also being in an entirely different universe. Cam, the most telepathically sensitive of the metas, said that Andrew was a telepath, but afraid to admit it.

“Does he know the metas are telepaths? That many of Corey’s people, and some of Artie’s people—including Artie—are telepaths?” Danny asked.

“I think he knows it, but he doesn’t understand it,” Cam said. “I’m way, way over my head, here.” The boys all looked at me.

Guess it’s time to earn my pay, I thought. “Ask him to visit me, please.”

 

George brought Andrew and John into my ready room. “Andrew’s afraid, George sent. “He feels safe with John.”

“Thank you, George,” I sent. “It was the right decision.”

“John, will you and Andrew please be seated?” I invited. “There’s something important I need to tell you about my sons, George and Danny, and about the boys who brought you here, and about me.

“You see, we can speak to one another without words, even when we’re apart. We speak to one another with our minds.”

I felt Andrew’s fear, and realized I was going too fast. Still, I didn’t want to spend the next month breaking it to him gently.

“And it’s all right,” I said, perhaps a little too forcefully. “It’s all right even though it’s not something you are comfortable with or something you like. It’s the way we are. It’s the way we and a lot of others you will meet are.”

“Are you witches?” Andrew whispered.

Witches? That was my first thought. My second was that John was utterly shocked—at what I had said, but not at Andrew’s fear.

John recovered first.

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Exodus 22:18,” he said. “Andrew, that does not mean you!

“Commodore Stewart, more than your wingless aeroplanes, more than your space ships, this tells me you are not of our world.

“Andrew?” John continued. “You have trusted me for a long time. Please trust me, again. The Reverends cannot reach you, here. Can they, Commodore Stewart?”

“No, they cannot. I promise you that on my life and the lives of my sons and the lives of all of us who have sworn to protect and defend you.” I pushed a little when I said that, not to convince Andrew that I meant it, for I did mean it, but to help him believe that it was true.

 

After Andrew had calmed down, I asked him and John to meet with the Flag Intel Team. Actually, what I asked was if they would mind talking about their escape with some of the people who had sworn to protect them. Andrew looked to John for approval, and then nodded.

John accepted the situation with seeming equanimity and very few questions. When the team had assembled, John was calm, and spoke easily when he explained why he and Andrew were at the reservoir.

“This was not the first time that I had prepared for an escape. I was not as well prepared as I should have been,” John said. “We could not take the route that the boys took. There was food in the motorcar, and water. Enough, I thought, that we could reach California by an alternate route. We ran out of food two days ago, and water yesterday, but still weren’t over the mountains. Had we not found the reservoir, we’d likely have died. Even with the water, we might have died. We owe you our lives.”

“The route the boys took?” I asked.

“Yes, we had helped two boys escape after one of them killed the Scudder’s son.”

“That may help explain one thing we’d wondered about,” Cam said. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Artie has told us what went on at the _____ Palace Casino,” I said. “He has told us that the eu— men in green were servants and not responsible for the evil that was done to the children, there.”

John chuckled. “You may say eunuch, I know what I am, and have had a long time to understand and accept that.

“We were servants, as you said. We were responsible for the boys’ training in how to be servants—how to serve, not the sexual part of it, although we did try to warn them and prepare them. We knew what happened to them, but were powerless to act openly.

“I was a physician. Usually my patients were Reverends; although sometimes I was allowed to treat one of the children.

“Some of us hated the Reverends enough, and trusted one another enough to help prepare for the eventuality that a boy would have to escape. We thought that it would be from a particularly sadistic Reverend, and were able to intervene in a few such cases. Murder—and certainly the death of a prominent individual like the Scudder’s son—never crossed our minds. However, when Hamish killed Deacon Jerome, we implemented our plan. Hamish and his—uh, boyfriend—Matthew were spirited away by Andrew and me.”

I heard and felt John’s trepidation when he said boyfriend, and decided to settle that right away.

“John, Andrew, we know what went on at the _____Palace Casino,” I said. “We also know that boyfriends can have a loving relationship. You will be interacting with a group of boys on the Flag Team. They—and I—are homosexual. I hope you can accept our version of that relationship.”

“The Reverends have perverted that kind of relationship,” John said. “They have used the words of the Bible to teach that the evils they practice are blessed by the Lord God. I understand, and I will help Andrew to understand.”

A memory from medical school at Nazca demanded my attention. “Yes, thank you, John. And, you need not accept your current physical condition.”

John raised an eyebrow.

“There was a case,” I said. “About 30 years ago, a doctor made a horrible misstep while circumcising a boy. When he realized what he’d done, he completed the removal of the boy’s penis and testicles, and convinced the parents to rear the boy as a girl. There were several other operations as well as hormone treatments to effect the physical changes necessary.

“The crime was discovered when Fleet collected DNA—tissue—samples from all the children at the boy’s school as part of a medical study. The samples were analyzed for diseases that could be attacked by—targeted—medicine. Of course, the sex of each child was obvious to the data team. The boy was, to put it simply, a mass of contradictions. It took longer to rebuild his penis and testicles—both to fully functioning status—using stem cells, and a lot longer to treat his mind, than it took to execute the doctor for his crime. Today, the boy is a member of Fleet and the father of two youngsters.”

John pursed his lips. “I think I’d like not to have this metabolism, but am not sure I’m ready to go through puberty at my age.”

There was a laugh in his mind, so I wasn’t afraid to laugh aloud. “I think we can handle that, too,” I said.

 

Andrew told us a lot about the Scudder’s son, and his death, but was unable to tell us much more than we already knew about the Reverends’ world. John, however, was much more helpful. He had been to medical school in Lynchburg, and had served the Reverends in Las Vegas for two decades.

One of the first things John did was to give us a clue about the fourth telegraph network.

“There is a group of Reverends who wear the title of Inquisitors, and who work for a man known as the Inquisitor-General. Their headquarters are said to be Mount Zion, but I don’t know where it is or if it’s really a mountain.”

“Marty? I said. “It’s a job for you. We need to know.”

 

Chapter End Note: The story of the boy whose penis was destroyed during circumcision and who was reared, for years, as a girl, is true. In our reality, his name was Bruce Reimer. He was one of twin boys whom a doctor tried to circumcise with a cauterizing iron. The doctor burned off one boy’s penis. Responding to pseudo-science offered by an endocrinologist, his parents tried to rear him as a girl. The experiment failed. Both Bruce and his twin ultimately committed suicide. Look for “David Reimer,” a name he later adopted, on Wikipedia and trace some of the links, and then cry for him—and for our sick society.

Copyright © 2014 David McLeod; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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