Aphelion Issue 245, Volume 23
November 2019
 
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The Touch of God

by Bogi Beykov




RE: How did it go?!
To: Bruce the Pope

Your Holiness Pope Bruce IV,


Apologies for the delay in my response but we were absolutely overwhelmed here! I can finally rest now and with utmost (but not-overindulging) pleasure write to inform you of our progress and the unexpected blessings we received upon our first visit to this unusual planet.

I carried a heavy heart back into our Vatican ship a few hours ago, knowing that in a few moments I will be light years away from the friends, I made over the last few weeks. A separation, however, only limited to the physical world, not capable of severing the bonds of brotherly love we established so eagerly.

And as I am waiting here in orbit for our warp drive to warm up, I use the opportunity to share with You my thoughts, while they are still fresh.

Looking backwards, I can’t help but blush in shame of all the ignorance and prejudice I brought with me when first arriving on Onanek. After all we had no idea what to expect. What kind of perverted function where we supposed to serve these aliens? Was this to be the first mission of space martyrdom in the Church’s history? Or was it merely a part of some hellish spectacle of mockery?

Our own fellow humans had long lost interest in the Church. They care about things like VR cryptocurrencies, deep learning techniques for deep diving, low-pressure gambling on high altitudes and whatever next trend their neighbor boasts about. Even Rome of the 22nd century is nothing but a big cemetery of dead churches, housing bats and long-forgotten ideals. We have regional Netflix content on Pluto now, yet St. Peter’s Basilica was almost empty last Christmas. Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for cancer being still around, no one would probably be hopeless enough to turn to God these days.

So maybe it was desperation that lead us to look for believers so far away from our Parish. But at least we were politely invited. And this was not merely the first invitation we received from the Onanekees but the first time they had ever proactively initiated contact with any alien civilization in their known history. And they decided to reach out to the Vatican of all places and invite “priests and any God experts available”. Quite the request, I must admit.

I remember when you got in touch with me, Holy Father. I was just finishing lasering out some weeds from the roof of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

“We have to investigate, Luigi,” I heard your brainwaves echoing through my nano-sim implant, “this might be an opportunity for us. We can sell them Bibles, open a church on Onanek. God knows what. I might even be able to quit my day job. 3D printing names on these plastic cups in Starbucks all day long is killing me! When has the Catholic church been so desperate as to have the Pope supplement his income with a real job? I mean, the only contact I have with adolescent boys these days is when I play Fortnite!”

You were just being realistic and painfully honest as usual. Thank God the Church still owned enough property so we could afford buying this old spaceship from Amazon.

And even though I had a clear understanding of the importance of my mission, I was still fearful. After all it was the Catholic Church that was most deeply disturbed by the findings of the first NASA mission to the Helix Nebula five years ago.

We always assumed that if intelligent life existed somewhere in space, intelligent life, technologically advanced enough to observe other life, then inevitably they would want to make contact. If Darwin was right and Adam and Eve were once covered in fur and living on a tree, then even though we got off the tree and genetically modify ourselves now to be less hairy, we haven’t changed that much. Just the way our ancestors would now and then steal a glance of a thick enough branch and reach out to grab it as a means of moving forward, so too we rely on our inquisitive sight to target, assign value and supply our growth with direction. It is this endless search of value that leads us to bravely explore the unknown and constantly venture into new possibilities. Even such as placing the new iPhone camera on a drone, flying around the phone, because there is no more space for it on the device itself. And what more valuable than intelligent life in the endless emptiness of space? For the potential benefit of trading information and materials, finding new resources or our own protection by virtue of knowing of the other guys’ existence. Even feeding our curiosity would have been a worthy reason to say “Hello”, let alone for all the social and cultural benefits it would entail.

For millennia we fantasized about Aliens. How different would they be from us? Grey-skinned with large bulging eyes, completely mechanical or just looking like a poor person that creeps us out for no reason? We were mentally stitching together Frankenstein monsters of any possible permutation of animate and inanimate objects in various states of matter to scare ourselves before bed or exhale a loud breath of satisfaction with our ingenuity. But we never suspected how fundamentally different aliens would really be. Not until the emergency landing of the Malone X space shuttle on Onanek.

After taking substantial damage during a meteoroid shower and aimlessly drifting through a spiderweb of cometary knots in the brightly fluorescent gases of Helix for months, the desperate crew of Malone X surprisingly picked up an Earth-like planet on their radars. With a small adjustment they might have been pulled in by the planet’s gravitational field. If only they had not murdered and eaten their captain a week earlier out of starvation (and a little bit of curiosity). Luckily one of the senior engineers then came up with the idea to strategically blow up the backup engine and thus propel the ship towards its destination. But the closer they got, the more confusingly hopeless their situation became. The planet must have been somewhere between two cold molecular pillars in a cloud of space dust, with an uncanny resemblance to a growth of bushes. Only later did they discover that it was no accident Onanek was obstructed by this space thicket. The Onanekees had placed it there in the first place. The cloud along with multiple layers of misleading holograms with large signs pointing in the opposite direction and inviting potential visitors to turn around at once. The astronauts had to ignore these bizarre warnings with no shortage of panic because they simply couldn’t change their course at this point. Nervously sipping bone broth made from the captain’s femur, they watched as their luck finally turned and they managed to miraculously land in one piece.

And how surprised must they have been seeing what I later saw myself – aliens, living so far away from Earth, yet bearing a striking resemblance to us. Being created in God’s image might not have been such an exaggeration after all. Not only did they look like humans, but they acted like us too. They drove the same hovering scooters and parked them in any place their imagination allowed. Complained of sharing too much personal data with their social media on said social media. And occasionally, in their spare time, laid down naked on some sand while simultaneously developing skin cancer. But while our astronauts were almost intoxicated with their historic discovery and implied importance by association, the aliens seemed to not care much and demonstrated quite the annoyance with this extraplanetary visit. There was something odd about the Onanekees. The more time the astronauts spent with them, while finishing the repairs on their ship, the more apparent these differences became.

It must have become clear first to Malone’s onboard Instagram manager - Roberto Spavaldo. Roberto was frustrated after continuously failing at his newly developed life goal of being the first human to have had an interspecies love affair. He had no clue why his charms misfired on this planet, especially considering, he had lost some weight on the ship and spent a lot of time tanning whenever they passed close to a star. His chemically regulated mood was now swinging violently, pushed by his insecurities. The language must have been an issue too even though Roberto was relying on other means such as pointing at various body parts or drawing exaggerated holograms of his penis. Unable to share this rising sexual frustration with his Instagram following, he was forced to confide in his crew mates. It turned out they had all similarly updated their life goals but to no avail as none of them were able to share even the slightest moment of intimacy with an Onanekee. The aliens seemed socially awkward to them and shied away from any contact and on top of that didn’t demonstrate signs of affection between each other either.

“So, we had no choice but to crack this mystery,” Suzanne Kuripu, the onboard medic, shared later in her bestselling novel “Misunderstood and Horny”.

After being wrongly accused of raping an attractive male Onanekee, she narrowly escaped life in alien prison. In the book she bravely recalls the research she was able to conduct while incarcerated before the remaining astronauts, coincidentally also pursued by the police for similar accusations, were able to break her free and eventually fly off home.

Firstly, she found out that none of the aliens they had met during their stay were born naturally. Onanekees were being grown in labs and brought to life by the cold hands of medical robots. They were not clones per se, but cleverly engineered from a random set of DNA to simulate natural selection as much as possible. While we’ve had a fair amount of lab kids and celebrity clones on Earth too, what was more surprising to the astronauts was the reason why this was happening - apparently the Onanekees had completely lost interest in having sexual relations with each other. Historically they had always been slightly grossed out by the concept until a few hundred or so years ago this made them face an extinction level threat which fortunately was resolved by advances in genetic engineering. But while they had no sex with each other, they were far from being asexual creatures. And so, Suzanne discovered first that the Onanekees had one universally shared, globally spread and all-consuming passion - Masturbation.

It is difficult for me to even think of these things. I was a young man once too and I remember the temptations Satan lay in front of me, literally at my fingertips. It took me years of rigid practice in the faith to be able to perceive celibacy as a gift and a useful tool rather than my personal Golgotha.

So, I still recall the uneasiness I felt when first reading the shocking reports from the returning crew. A planet of constantly masturbating aliens. Aliens for whom masturbation was so much more than just a pastime or physiological relief. The Onanekees had the habit of pleasuring themselves for hours and hours, all day and all night. It was later theorized that they generally did other activities such as education, work or sports just as a boring way of allowing their sore bodies to recover and accumulate sexual tension. Even the most primitive pleasures for us such as eating and drinking were a nuisance to them. A necessary means to an end for they were tools to refill their bodies with carnal juices. Our astronauts began noticing that all the jobs the aliens had were actually in fields supporting and servicing their erotic obsession. There were for instance companies manufacturing autobators - self-driving cars that would allow their drivers to focus on masturbation. They were competing with the masturcars, spreading through the market, which were cars that would masturbate you while you drive them. Not to mention one of the biggest employers on the Planet - all the producers of pipelines, pumping stations and other elements of the masturbation waste disposal infrastructure. This sexual self-abuse seemed to be running their entire economy. New and improved ways of self-pleasure were fueling their scientific advancements and shaping their culture and traditions. Their arts and literature were also highly influenced by this focal point of existence while any form of religion was unsurprisingly absent from their society. In short, everything that wasn’t masturbation but was somewhat necessary (meaning they might die without it, and that was terrible since death would also mean no masturbation) was orbiting around it and supporting it in every way possible.

The mystery of the Onanekees not being surprised by meeting extraterrestrials started to explain itself too. While awaiting trial Suzanne, getting better and better at understanding the alien language, asked her cellmate Inka to let her in on their history. So, whenever Inka was nice enough to take a short break from schlapping her schmänkel, she shared as much as she knew. Apparently, a side effect of this fixation on self-stimulation was a gradual desensitization. Not only physical but psychological and emotional too, affecting the population on a global scale. The Onanekees had, over time, masturbated to just about anything. So, after a while regular pornography didn’t work for them anymore. Irregular pornography - generally featuring a variety of irregularly shaped performers, using irregular toys and verbs - became a booming industry for a while. After that the Onanekees dug deeper. Literally. They started masturbating to particularly deep and attractive looking holes but also naturally occurring ones. Why stop at caves though when you have other natural phenomena like mountains, archipelagoes, lagoons etc. After a while they had millions of TV channels constantly playing videos, streaming live from various locations all over Onanek at different levels of magnification. One could relieve himself to some juicy looking cabbage on one channel but then after turning a special knob on the remote continue the exercise while staring at a sexy wiggling caterpillar feeding on that same cabbage, then turn again and watch in extasy the eggs of a wasp laid inside said caterpillar hatch and so on almost down to a molecular level. There were the more unusual meta masturbators too who would masturbate to the idea of masturbation itself or the irony in what they just did. But after hundreds of years that wasn’t enough either. They seemed to have exhausted and desecrated just about everything on their own planet. A brief moment of panic ensued until a brave pioneer of self-pleasuring - Manio Lupo - looked up into the sky and got excited by all the stars out there. And with the limitless erotic potential of an endless universe, a seemingly perfect eternal solution was discovered. All of the smartest minds of Onanek combined began building powerful telescopes and more and more advanced surveillance systems. In the brief moments when they would lose their erections, they had time to erect a few statues of Manio here and there too. New jobs were created, new university degrees forged along with new branches of organized erotic crime and new hashtags. Soon the Onanekees were able not just to see the stars and the planets, orbiting them, but also the creatures, inhabiting them. To their great dismay our astronauts discovered the Onanekees had observed Earthlings for quite some time and our channel was pretty popular too. Of course, they were only watching medieval humans going around their Dark Age business because of the hundreds of lightyears of distance but they were well aware of our existence. So, they were of other intelligent species such as the Purkams who were a completely gaseous life forms living inside the intestines of large herbivorous animals, constantly producing gas. Or the 01001000 01101001s who were the only known mechanical life forms naturally developed under the unusual conditions on their home planet who in turn created biological life to use as, for lack of a better word, machines. Or the AEgirians, who were using their toilets entirely too much.

Suzanne was even fortunate enough to obtain a small Alien TV transmitter that her cellmate smuggled with her into jail. It allowed access to their streaming service with the entire catalogue of millions of channels. They broadcast it via their own version of a wireless networking technology comparable to our own Wi-Pho-Fi - they were similarly using encoded photons to transfer information at the speed of light to any point on their planet as opposed to the much more limiting radio waves or Li-Fi. The last things she did before leaving for Earth was to place the TV transmitter in a secret location and then with the help of the onboard AI reconfigure Malone X’s destroyed back-up warp engine to serve as a mini wormhole. Too small for any living organism to pass through but good enough to transmit the Alien TV photon signal back to the other end of the wormhole, which was setup inside the ship. Unbeknownst to her this single act of interplanetary piracy may have very well saved Onanek. Because now thanks to her, our Earth governments had access to Alien TV without having to forcefully extract it from Onanek. The Onanekees, as far as we know, had not sacrificed time from their masturbation schedule to bother creating any sort or military or astral protection besides the space bushes they constructed to hide behind. They didn’t even have spaceships to leave on. So, had they had to protect their technology from us, their fate would surely have been sealed. And while we know what the Onanekees used their channels for, the only thing us humans have been rubbing while watching them has been our hands. Five years later we are still drunk with the potential power we would acquire if ever our secret space domination plans, that fortunately don’t include Onanek for now, came to fruition.

And so, it seemed for a while that everyone had forgotten about Onanek and its weird inhabitants. That is until we received the first email from them. They first reached out to Perso Editore - a small publishing house in Rome. No one responded. Their message was bouncing off various servers being endlessly forwarded to the grandchildren of the deceased owners. The publishing house had been out of business for a few years since people were more used to downloading books directly to their neural implants instead of buying physical copies. Then finally someone read it, laughed a bit and thought of sharing what he believed to be a joke with a priest, he knew. Then the priest laughed and forwarded the email to his presbyterium. Eventually someone decided to actually write back and a conversation sparked. And finally, the message reached even You, Holy Father.

Now we know what exactly happened. Roberto Spavaldi had a rare instance of a religious mother who had given him an old copy of a Bible printed by Perso Editore. Ever since his mother’s passing, Roberto was carrying the Bible with him on his missions through space. I remember being surprised at first, that he would part with such a prized possession by giving it to an Onanekee. It turns out he had a reason. He had met a pretty girl on Onanek that he tried to seduce. In his desperation, he resorted to trying to somehow or another pay or bribe her. So, he offered the Bible to her and lied that it was a pornographic book, highly valued among humans. While the girl took the Bible, by the time his pants were down to his ankles, she had vanished.

Whether the aliens had tried to abuse our Holy Book, I have no way of knowing. But they had surely read it. Because even in our communication, leading up to our arrival, they had demonstrated quite the knowledge of the subject already. But in order to have done that, they must have decoded and translated Italian first. And then eventually learned it well enough to contact us and be able to converse with me quite freely upon my visit. Whether it was driven by their desires, perhaps trying to uncover some secret information hidden in our language that would inspire their sexual fantasies, I don’t know. But either way it was their planetary leader and not any ordinary civilian who contacted us so the book must have reached their highest levels of government and attracted major attention.

When we landed on Onanek, I was slightly reluctant to shake hands with their appointed Ambassador who welcomed me and my brothers Emmanuelle and Domenico. But then I remember studying the lives of our early Christian saints who would leave the comfort of their homes to go to remote islands, used as quarantine stations for plague victims, disregarding the near certainty of contamination, to bring the word of God to those who seemed abandoned even by Him. So, I smiled and proceeded to greet him and then the large delegation of officials who were anxiously waiting for us. As they drove us to our next location in a spacious translucent carriage, I was even more perplexed to see the huge crowds of cheering Onanekees spread out endlessly on both sides of the ultrasonic street tubes.

“We are all very excited to meet you,” explained slowly but very much understandably in Italian Laiga - a pretty young lady, appointed to be our translator. It has been a long time since a woman felt excited to see me, but I tried not to think of what that might lead her to do privately later. “You must be tired. First we will go to your new home and you can rest there as long as you wish.”

“That’s very generous of you, thank you. Thank God our journey wasn’t very strenuous anyway,” I responded purely out of politeness.

“Perfect! Then we can take you directly to our President who is waiting in his office with representatives of the media from the entire planet.”

Before I could respond, she turned around to the driver who seemed to be even more thrilled by this new development and immediately accelerated.

“Excuse me, Laiga, but can you please explain what this is all about? Why did you invite us here?” I decided to clarify this as despite the high speed we were moving at now, I was still able to feel my two Earth brothers, vigorously trembling in fear on the other seat.

“Ah, this was very important to us. We need to know everything we can about your God and how he can help us. We haven’t been too...righteous, Father, and we need help.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Could it be that after being exposed to the Bible, these aliens have developed morality? Is it possible that religion is not intricately connected to tradition, embedded in culture and merely an extrapolation of the guidelines, we have established over millions of years of social evolution which in turn have been growing on top of the mountain of biologically predetermined instincts, filtered by natural selection? In other words, could religion function out of context and instill the same values in an environment as alien as this one? I was about to find out. By the time we reached the presidential palace, my head was throbbing with questions. We were warmly welcomed but hastily lead inside. There was a palpable feeling of some unusual, dare I say God-fearing, tension in the air.

President Slark Tuove was a short bald Onanek with nervous ticks, accompanying every second breath he took. I suspect that the function of the planetary commander had been just a formality before. Therefore, certain leadership qualities were not required, expected or sought after in the election process. But considering the newly discovered importance of hosting a Vatican delegation for the potential benefit of their entire species must have added quite the pressure onto his narrow shoulders. I had a feeling he would make a good priest.

After he welcomed us while doing all he could to avoid looking into our eyes, he walked us into a huge conference room where a panel of leading Onaneki scientists, philosophers, government officials and business representatives were gathered lined up in rows. We were led to a podium where we were to lecture them and answer their questions. They all had notepads, calculating devices and other, less known to me, tools of their trades prepared to assist them in cracking the Holy code. And so, it all began. A series of presentations and discussions that all together, including the short breaks for refreshments and the few times we collapsed, warn out, lasted for almost seven days straight. The class changed a few times, but the teachers remained the same. Laiga was relentlessly by our side, catching every faint word flying out of our mouths and translating it to her microphone. As it turns out, this was also broadcast publicly, and billions watched. I always thought myself to be quite the scholar of religion but if this was a test, I’m sure I failed countless times during its grinding course. At moments I couldn’t help but doubt my own knowledge and believes as the audience’s questions started getting more and more challenging.

“According to 1 Timothy 2:12 and what St Paul advised us by saying, ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent,’ can women at least teach young children or animals when no male is present?” someone asked.

“’Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.’ (1 Peter 2:18) Should we reinstate slavery in order to follow these guidelines or is it pious enough if we are cruel to colleagues at work?”

“’He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.’ (Psalm 137:9) Does it matter what kind of rocks?”

These and other similar questions were on our audience’s mind. The Old Testament God who we try hard not to mention on Earth ever since we rebranded the Cross and changed the official Church font ten years ago, kept coming back. But it seemed that we were the only ones ashamed as these questions were honest and powered mostly by a childish-like curiosity. And after we addressed some of the most burning issues such as the exact extend of religiously prescribed homophobia, what was the difference between God and the creator of our current simulation and the recommended extinction of witches in Exodus 22:18, we were hoarse, abashed and debilitated. How much longer was this going to take?

I started getting worried of the consequences of this newly discovered fascination with Christianity. Could they introduce reforms and pass new laws supporting these ancient believes? Could this change their very culture and impact the trajectory of their future development? Our hosts seemed to desperately need our help in interpreting the word of God and updating it to the present time. And whereas some topics like racism, torture and genocide we tried to gently persuade them against, on the topic of sexuality, which finally came up - we, the celibate, sexually deprived and ambiguous catholic priests - for some reason felt entirely confident.

It was day seven of our lecture and my beard was invading my face like the Egyptian army the Red Sea, when brother Domenico, took the stand to bravely address the elephant in the room.

“Well, of course masturbation is a terrible sin!” he announced, “God had not given us the gift of love for that reason.”

The room went silent. My ears started ringing with this eerie lack of cheers, claps and thoughtful murmurs, I got used to. At this point the Onanekees were of course familiar with the concept of Hell and all the eternal pain our loving God was happy to deliver to his sinning children. After a longer while, president Tuove exchanged a few hushed comments with his chief advisors and announced via Laiga that a break for deliberation would be necessary and we could retire to our rooms in the meantime. At this point we were honestly too tired to fully understand what had happened in those last few moments. I just blindly followed our guides into my room until before I knew it, I disappeared through a huge bed and into my dreams, far away from this palace with its drainingly inquisitive people.

I must have slept for at least twenty hours. When I finally woke up I had so much dried mucus in the corners of my eyes, I could build a two-story raft. I checked on Domenico and Emmanuelle who were still fast asleep in their rooms but with no visible signs of sperm on them which I assumed meant no one had disturbed us in our rest. When I got out of the shower, somehow breakfast was already waiting for me in the room which despite of what I had read about the underdeveloped skills of the local chefs, was surprisingly delicious and rich in protein. I instinctively reached for the TV remote lying on the little table next to my bed but then thought better of it. As I was finishing my coffee and wondering how big of a sin it would be for me to fake a coma during my next lecture, I heard a gentle knock on the door. It was Laiga, polite and dutiful but with a new look of sadness about her.

“There is no agenda for today, Father, but I thought we could take a walk in the Palace’s Gardens.”

“Fresh air sounds great.”

I wish I could see more of the unusual alien plants decorating the gardens but just as indoors, many of them were covered by screens and projectors for whenever the President’s guests, strolling around, would feel like schärkkäikenen their schmünzels. I noticed Laiga was not as inquisitive about religion as before and I found relief in discussing other topics such as her regular job of a masturbation historian, her hometown and upbringing by robot nannies. Then we reached a spacious terrace from which we watched a beautiful view of the city in the valley below. I admired the colossal telescopes, built all around as far as my eyes could reach, towering over this world like mountains. Many more were being built or orbiting around the planet as satellites and casting their shadows here and there. On our way back, I noticed there was no sign of the crowds that first greeted us. As a matter of fact, very few Onanekees were anywhere to be seen around the gardens or the palace.

“Laiga, where is everyone? Is it still too early?”

“It’s not that. Most of us are still mourning.”

“Did something happen on this date?”

“It is what Brother Domenico said the other day. Father, if we can’t touch ourselves anymore, what are we to do? We are doomed here just as well as in the afterlife.”

With her concerns finally exposed, Laiga broke into tears. I did my best to console her. I repeated all the familiar words of reassurance I was so used to recite when confronted with hopelessness, but my own voice lacked conviction. I didn’t know what advice to give.

Nothing changed the next day and the day after that either. The president needed more time and was nowhere to be seen. While Domenico and Emmanuelle decided to remain in the palace and do some research in the library, we were given access to, I went on an expedition around the province in an attempt to learn more about the locals, with Laiga accompanying me on my journey. The Onanekees I met were all good-hearted and warm but desperately heartbroken. They had all picked up Christianity and were now devastated by realizing what they had been doing their whole lives was wrong in the eyes of God.

The Onanekees had studied the Bible expertly before we even arrived so they all knew the story of Onan. And in that story, as we know, Onan was not masturbating at all. Onan was a man given the task to help his brother impregnate his wife by sleeping with her. Which was something God approved. The part which God didn’t like was when Onan decided to interrupt the act in the most crucial moment and ejaculate on the floor, at which point God decided it would be best to immediately murder Onan.

So, there was nothing in the Bible directly forbidding masturbation. But it was our expert opinion, expressed by Father Domenico and then broadcast to every Onanekee on the planet, that acted as an extension of the word of God Himself and as such became the most cruel of verdicts.

I continued my travel and kept witnessing all of the same sadness around me. I slowly began to care about these people, more than I can admit, and started sharing their pain as if it was mine. In one of the smaller villages, I visited, I was asked to consecrate the grounds for a new church. The location was beautiful - a lonely hill, covered in colorful patches of forests, overlooking the surroundings. Attached, you can find a couple of photos I took of the place. As I was passing by while they were still finishing getting the location ready, I saw the remains of what previously stood on that hill, still not completely disposed of. Now decapitated and rolling in the dirt, it was the likeness of their former national hero, Manio Lupo.

After another week of finding TVs switched off in every single town and village I visited, a terrible realization finally dawned on me. How could I not have thought about this before? If no one here is watching TV, they will stop broadcasting too. And probably soon. But if that happened, people on Earth would also stop receiving the signal and then an attack on Onanek would be imminent. Previously disgusted by Onanekees, I finally felt disgusted with myself and what me and my brothers had done. We brought no harmful bacteria or earthly diseases with us, but we infected these creatures just as effectively with our religion. And they had no immunity for the catastrophic results...

I can feel the artificial gravity is being activated so we are almost ready to depart. I suppose I should get to the point.

After I returned to the palace, I was resolved to try and reverse engineer what we caused these people. After I, as much as gently touched upon the subject with Domenico and Emmanuelle, I was surprised to find out they saw things completely differently.

“Can’t you see the potential of these aliens?”

“We can stay here, and they will treat us with respect and reverence forever!”

I felt their long-suppressed pride had risen up. A lust for power shone through their scared little eyes.

“The president is our ship, by the way,” I was improvising. “He wants to have a serious confession with all of us.”

“Now? Well let’s go, what are we waiting for?”

Our ship had been moved to a new landing space, built for it over the last week, just outside of the palace. I lead them both inside and then straight into one of the contamination chambers where I locked them in with a master override code. I think they were swearing at me from behind the sound-canceling glass, so I dimmed the lights, allowing them to concentrate on prayers instead.

I got a hold of Laiga and with her marched towards the president’s office.

“We need to have another press conference. Immediately would be preferable.”

I only hoped that enough people would learn about this to tune in and turn their screens back on. Two hours later the equipment was prepared. President Tuove, his people, Laiga and the journalists who arrived all looked at me with worried looks. What further bad news would I bring on these devout people? I had no idea if my plan would work or terribly misfire. I cleaned my throat. I adjusted my collar. I looked at Laiga and faked a smile.

“I’ve gathered you all here in such short notice because I have something very important to share with you...”

Maybe I should introduce them to other religions so they can see there is no single right or wrong way but an eternity of endlessly multiplying ideas? But what if that leads to conflict like it did on Earth?

“...You are good people here on this Planet. You believe in God, listen and respect Him and his messengers...”

Or I should explain atheism to them. They know science well enough. They just don’t realize you can believe in it with just as much pretentiousness as we do in God.

“...The truth is...I am here to tell you the truth, which is...”

No. I couldn’t confuse them even more. I guess I’ll just have to lie.

“...This was all a test and you passed it! God knows that you are worthy now. Masturbation is not a sin so you can go on and masturbate now as you used to.”

There was a silence of approximately three seconds, followed by an uproar of verbalized dismay. Questions came flying again and I only hoped this wouldn’t take a week because I would have to feed Domenico and Emmanuelle at some point.

I explained that just like in the story of Abraham, God decided to challenge Onanekees by making them sacrifice what was most precious. But as masturbation is nothing more than administering pleasure out of love for oneself, it was never prohibited by the Lord. Skeptical at first, their expressions started shortly changing and I saw the clouds of sadness, clearing their skies. Some of them took off too, I presume, looking for a place to masturbate.

I left the palace happy to see new cheering crowds forming outside just like the ones that first welcomed us. Maybe I managed to mitigate the damage after all. It was time to leave now before I made things worse again. I tried to find Laiga to say thank you again, but I couldn’t see her in the rising celebration around.

I used this opportunity to sneak out and head for the ship. I was silently crying as the main hatch closed. It was in the control room, preparing to lift off, when I saw her.

“Please don’t kick me out, Father. I really want to see Earth.”

“Let me explain a couple of things to you first.”

I tried to sound strict with Laiga but secretly I was excited. I would have a companion on my way back and Earth would get a lovely Ambassador that would help humans see how wonderful her species is.

The Warp Drive is ready and engaged. I need to go.

But before I do, in closing, I want to tell You one more thing. I’ve served our Lord for over twenty years. But even a hundred is not enough to accumulate such knowledge as to pass judgment and condemn others like I did. I will forever remain devoted to God, but I will no longer work for the Church of Men.

I quit.


Yours respectfully,
Luigi

P.S. I will drop off the Vatican pass and all the keys on Monday by drone.



THE END


© 2019 Bogi Beykov

Bio: Bogi Beykov is half Polish and half Bulgarian, currently a CCO of a support outsourcing company. Bogi's hobbies include standup comedy, music and procrastination. Bogi lives in Barcelona and promise to get back to writing on Monday. Bogi's work has been published in the Scarlet Leaf Review and Alternative History Fiction.

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