1 Lilith Part 3
His boss appeared on his terminal screen.
“We see you have been taking walks on Saturday, that could lead to flagging, you know it is much safer for you to work on Saturdays. The sunny Saturday makes idle the hands, don’t let your hands fall into the Devil’s works Mark. Never forget what the Lord said to us about the Sun, Mark: Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Stop looking at the Sun on Saturdays and get back to work Mark we need to you every day, we wouldn’t want to see your talent wasted.”
He was unconsciously drawn to the Sun, he wasn’t supposed to spend any unnecessary time outside, he had to check himself, he realized the system was starting to take unhealthy notice of him.
As soon as his boss hung up the call he could feel the tears welling up in his eyes. He fought to keep his breathing even and blood pressure normal. If he allowed himself to register too much stress he knew he would meet the same fate as that young girl.
He had helped develop the infrastructure, worked to develop the tool of death what the Church called the tools of cleansing, and he hated it in his heart, but he had to kill his thoughts and feelings to stay alive.
He knew one day the code would be complete and the final cleansing would begin.
More coffee. He struggled to get up to find more coffee.
A machine with his boss’ face projected onto its screen rolled up to his desk.
“We see you daydreaming a lot, you know I can read your thoughts instantly.”
“On your knees when you speak to me.”
It was easier to drop to his knees when he was younger, he was getting stiff with age and his muscles and bones ached as he lowered himself to grovel before the tele-presence machine.
His boss squacked a bible quote at him over the machine,
“Psalm 72:9 Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, And his enemies lick the dust.”
“Your mind has been wandering, developer 93065. Remember what our Lord said about wandering minds.”
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
“Not yes sir, get it in your slow daydreaming brain it’s yes Master!”
He had seen another mathematics man torn to shreds by the other coders after they found out he had been sneaking off to have sex with a Pastor’s wife.
They were standing around the coffee fountain, it seemed like a normal day, he followed after they invited him to play some basketball in the gym, but waiting for him were two men with barbells and puritan woolens.
Their broad gray wool hats flew off their heads and the brass buckles made a loud tinkling noise as they laid into him with the barbells, he screams as his teeth and blood flew from his face and the exposed bone of his nose was crushed beneath iron.
They took his broken corpse and used a rope to hang it from an old power pole by the road as an example to the others.
She was publically executed, showered with stones in the middle of the street, a block party men in black hats with buckles and big buckles on their shoes shining in the incredibly hot sun, Some would always die in the heat it could reach 130 and they were all clad in long black woolen clothes the more uncomfortable, the more Godly.
There was a bug in the code. He had to get his mind back on it his mother was dead and he would be too if he couldn’t figure this out.
His back and neck ached from decades staring at these screens. His stomach was soir from too much coffee and not enough food.
Coffee was his one luxury, he had to get up to get more his knees ached from straining on the floor to prostrate himself before his boss’s tele-presence machine.
His co worker Samuel was drawing a cup of coffee. His long beard used to be black but it had become streaked with white and his old broad brimmed buckle hat was stained with sweat.
Mark tried to be friendly, “hello Sam,” but Sam just stared morosely at his cup of coffee and shuffled off to his terminal without speaking.
He shouldn’t have tried to talk he was already in trouble he needed coffee.
His mother had told him his father had died, but he suspected he was still alive, but it would be impossible, divorce was illegal, your father was either around or one or both parents were dead.
In the emergencies a lot of parents were lost but that was in his mother’s time, he was just being born into the time of the emergencies.
The emergencies, the word emergency meant little to him he was numb the only thing that brought feeling back was the warm bite of coffee or the soft sheet of the dreams when his crucifix slept and his mother would return to him like an Angel so bright it blinded him in his sleep, but they could never know, the crucifix read his every thought, tracked his breath, his pulse, his heart rate, and reported it all back to the Church.
He sat down at the terminal, a green flashing cursor shaped like a cross on a black screen.
He began typing, a script to parse some new test data, he had to show some progress.
But first he needed more coffee.
He was drifting off into daydreams again. His mother was gone there was work to do.
But he remembered what they did to the last daydreamer how they hung his body upside down over the fire pit.
The screams as his flesh slowly roasted over the heat. The incoherent screaming taunts if the holy ones.
He foamed at the mouth screaming as his skin turned to charcoal and the fat rolled out from burned flesh to spark the flames below.
Before he completely died he was snatched from the flames and they nailed his burn body to a cross to hang him in the town square.
He had to get back to work but his fingers were numb on the old plastic keys of the terminal the cursor was blinking angrily on the screen, a blank face staring back at him waiting to be covered with code.
The place had huge crosses and pictures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. He could hear the hum of machines and the crucifixes.
Noisy minds, he kept his thoughts still, when he had to think he thought in scripture, every waking thought was transcribed, the machines only ceases their surveillance during sleep.
He opened the source code.
The bugs were always laughable he often wondered why they still used text to program computers but any change or innovation had died away before he was born.
All he had ever known were those clothes his mother had shown him old secreted pictures of what people dressed like before the Emergencies.
Plaid, before they had placed the crucifix on him and began tracking his thoughts he loved to imagine himself wearing one of those plaid things the kilt she called it, he had the bagpipes and the kilt and a funny furry hat.
Some kind of military from across the ocean.
There it was, a missing comma he knew where it was because he had put it in to begin with, while he had to stay alive there was no reason to rush when the software would double the range of the Jesus drones.
He could smell their dirty sweaty bodies he had to hide in the water it was hard to see there was a run off where a tiny stream was running off into the ocean and carrying sand in with it he made his way back into the water.
He hoped he had covered his footprints well enough it was not windy the sun was high and hot in the sky, under the cool water and sand it was a relief.
He used a small straw he’d taken from the commissary as a makeshift snorkel he could see the sunlight reflecting off the brass buckles on their hats and shoes.
He didn’t hear anything he saw their distorted shapes from under the water.
There were more of them than he thought it looked like every pastor had come to get him, armed to the teeth.
Then there was a sudden rumbling he saw a flash of light from deep under water.
A larger saucer shaped craft suddenly exploded from the ocean, before the pastors could react they began to melt, the craft was emitting some kind of invisible beam that was so intense 300 men were instantly fried as if by an oven.
Suddenly the craft moved over him and he was afraid he was next. He began to swim frantically but instead of a particle beam the craft spoke to him over a loudspeaker.