by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 8

And Hylas Makes Five.

They spread themselves over a large soft yellow blanket in front of the cottage.

'At school they kept telling us to stay out of the sun.'

'With the result that millions of Australians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Recent studies indicate that only very white skins are so easily damaged. Most skins can tolerate normal amounts of sun, but of course everyone should avoid getting burned, and skins like ours are pretty well impervious to the sun's rays.'

'That's a relief, because I love just lying in it.'

'And in a couple of days the darker skin you're so worried about will have vanished into the surrounding tan. '

'Then I can take on that part time job Arnold mentioned. It's Ok with you if I work here isn't it?'

'Definitely, then I can keep a strict eye on you.'

'What did he mean when he said you dumped him for me? Were you…?'

'Yes, for nearly two years.'

'And did you do… everything?'

'Yes, we lived together, shared the same bed, even toothbrushes for a while.'

'He's still in love with you.'

'I know.'

'Then why did you dump him?'

'Dump's a horrible word. I still love him as the best friend possible, but not in the way he wants, because…'


'Sounds stupid, but I promised myself I'd not commit myself to anyone until I'd rescued you from Mum. You were the only person who loved me before I came south, and the only person I loved. There wasn't room in my head for the sort of attachment Arnold wants.'

'But now you've rescued me, you're free to love him or anyone you like.'

Fidel's look was indecipherable. 'That's what I imagined… until this morning.'

'You mean…?'

'Have you any idea how sexy and attractive you are? And in character you're still the same brother I knew and loved. I suppose it's kinky, but brotherly love has morphed into brotherly lust as well. Shocked?'

Hylas shook his head; face serious.

'Well, that's a start. Look, I know I'm rushing things but…' He paused, then before he could change his mind blurted, 'I'd really like us to be real lovers in a serious relationship.' He glanced at Hylas's frown. 'It's Ok, I don't expect you to want the same thing. It's just that you said I was now free to love anyone I wanted, so I wanted to make sure you knew the person I want to love and live with is you. Then I'll have no regrets at not being honest when you find someone else to love. It's why I thought you'd be better living with Arnold away from my stupid fantasies. Then you can have boyfriends, meet other people your age, learn about yourself, and one day… who knows?'

'Who was the first person you had sex with?'


'How many others?'


'Then don't you think you should have boyfriends, meet other people your age, learn about yourself and one day…who knows? We probably had different fathers so we're only half brothers and that's why I'm so different from you. Why would it be kinky if we became real lovers? I'm nearly seventeen and know exactly what I want; what I've wanted since I first watched you wanking in the other bed when we were kids. Since I started wanking myself, thinking about you. Have you any idea how sexy you look to me? And now I've discovered you are even nicer than I remembered. Fidel, I know it should be the older one who proposes, but you're a bit slow, so will you be my boyfriend?'

They lay on their sides grinning at each other in almost shocked surprise at the turn of events, wondering how to begin, then gently ran finger tips over flanks, thighs, shoulders, face, lips and chin before sliding closer so Fidel could prove his worth as a lover on the soft yellow blanket under the sun, blue sky and fluffy clouds; watched by a flock of incurious seagulls.

Later, in the afterglow of perfect intimacy, Hylas ran a smooth finger around Fidel's navel and up to his chin, 'Ok, no more procrastination. What happened when you left me in the lurch four years ago?'

Fidel turned onto his side and gazed into his brother's clear grey eyes.

'As soon as I was alone I realised I'd lived in constant fear my entire life—of Mum, of failing at school, of failing as a person. On the road I was still frightened. Terrified I wouldn't find somewhere to live, or a job, of being mugged, being picked up by the cops and sent home as a runaway. I've learned to look and act tough, but inside I'm a wimp.' Fidel stopped and looked at his frowning brother, wondering if he was being too honest. Too bad if he was. He knew he was very ordinary and no hero. If Hylas was disappointed, that was his problem.

Hylas shook his head in disbelief. 'You're the bravest person I've ever met. I'd never have dared do anything like that. The first thing I did when I found myself alone was ring up a brother I haven't seen or heard from in nearly five years. That takes the prize for wimpishness I reckon.'

'I'm glad you did.' Something in Fidel's voice startled Hylas.

'You're not happy,' he blurted.

'Who is? Are you? Like most people I exist from day to day. Living. Drifting. Trying to be a good person, whatever that means. Not thinking too much. I've done nothing I'd like to do again, and until today I've not looked to the future with any enthusiasm. They reckon we begin dying from the moment we're born. It seems I'm unusually talented in that area.' He grinned to show he wasn't serious.

'Until today?'


'You said until to day you've not looked forward to anything much.'

'Ah… that.' Fidel thought for a bit. 'When you rang it was like an electric shock. Suddenly someone really needed me and I felt excited. I'd forgotten what it felt like. I was impatient to see you—to be of use to someone just for the sake of it. Not as a job, but because it… hell, I don't know.'

'You're of use to Arnold.'

'I do it for the money and because I like him and the work, but he could find dozens of guys as good or better. He doesn't really need me. But you do need me, for a while at least, and it's got nothing to do with money. It's something else.'


'More than that. I've two other wonderful friends but they don't need me in the way I mean. We do things together, but if I wasn't there I always feel it wouldn't matter too much.'

'I know what you mean. I hang out with friends at school, but afterwards it seems a waste of time. I'm always trying to be like them and never myself—whoever that is.'

'I doubt I'll ever discover who I am. I've had a really lucky time since arriving in Brisbane, but I wouldn't want to repeat it. But now I feel excited about tomorrow and all the other tomorrows. Maybe we'll be a team and… and I really do need you as a mate… a friend… a… and now I'm embarrassing myself.'

'Well, that's a relief.'

'That I'm making an idiot of myself and have always been a scaredy cat?'

'Fidel you are too modest. I read somewhere that it's sensible to be frightened, and brave to overcome the fear. That makes you sensible and brave. Now having sorted that out, can we continue with the riveting tale of Fidel's big adventure?'

'Right. Where was I?'

'You'd arrived in the Valley. You must have felt lonely.'

'Holes in my heart. How's that for melodrama?'

'I've heard worse, but get on with it.'

Fidel was not a born storyteller; his delivery was matter of fact as if he was speaking about someone else. It was his way of not becoming emotionally involved with a past he valued for the experiences, but feared in case he should make some unconscious mistake that would render him homeless and alone again. Unaware of his brother's internal struggle, Hylas' head filled with images as he listened, enthralled.

'Boring eh?'

Hylas was shaking his head in astonishment. 'That is so amazing. Like a fairytale.'

'Yeah, I can't imagine why Sanjay and Monique kept me.'

'I can. Do you still see them? And Bart and Robert?'

'Yeah, I pop round to the Karims at least once a month, and Robert and Bart are my best friends. We all work at the gym, and Bart also has a sort of men's help group for guys with psychological problems. Not mad or anything, just depressed and confused.' Fidel checked his watch. 'It's getting late. Got to shit, shower and shave or we'll be late for Arnold's meal.'

'Great. Where's the bathroom?'

'Follow me.' Fidel picked up the blanket and led the way to a shower on a porcelain base behind the cabin. The walls were the view and the roof the sky. Hot water was provided by a solar panel on the roof of the cabin.

'This is so cool.'

'It is in winter.'

'No walls to get mouldy, and…' Hylas broke off to laugh loudly. 'And the toilet's out here too! Brilliant, no shitty smells in the house. But doesn't the toilet paper get wet when it rains?'

'Check the bowl, it's a combination bidet, no wasteful paper.'

'And where does it go when you flush?'

'It's connected to the central sewage system.'

'What happens if someone comes onto the roof when you're shitting?'

'They see me.'

'I love it!'

They soaped each other's backs, rinsed off, ran round the roof to dry, finished off with a towel, and then donned T-shirts, shorts and soft leather sandals for the jog to Arnold's.

'I'm getting nervous. How do I look?'

'They'll love you. You look slim, sexy and intelligent.'

Impulsively, and with a hint of desperation, Hylas ran forward and wrapped his arms around Fidel's neck and kissed him.

Fidel extricated himself and said seriously, 'You have now set a precedent that must be followed every time we leave the house.'

Laughing gaily they raced each other down the stairs.

Hylas was impressed with Arnold and his apartment; thought Robert the most handsome and intelligent person he'd ever met; and Bart… he couldn't fathom Bart. Tall, lean, with a calm, penetrating gaze and faint smile that revealed nothing but suggested kindness, understanding and perhaps even wisdom. Like his brother, Hylas felt drawn to him, needed to impress and gain his support. So when Bart, who'd been thinking about his own unpleasant youth and lack of rapport with his brother, asked Hylas how he got on with Fidel, Hylas blurted, 'We really love each other! And we had sex today on a yellow rug on the roof in the sun, under a blue sky with seagulls and it was… amazing. And we're going to…'

His voice faded as he realised what he'd said. He turned to Fidel, tears springing, 'I'm sorry Fidel, everyone here seems so nice, I felt so relaxed I didn't think… I…'

To his relief, Fidel was smiling. 'You great galah, they'd already guessed. And you're right, they are nice—more than nice, I'd trust them with my life.' He took a deep breath and faced his friends who were sitting in amused silence. 'Ok, what's the verdict. Is it perverted for brothers to be lovers, not just for fun, but…?'

'It sounds like a recipe for happiness,' Bart responded easily.

'I can't see why not,' Arnold added with a melodramatic sigh.

Robert was grinning. 'I reckon it's romantic. I always thought it'd be great to have a brother to love and jerk off with, but no such luck so I have to put up with this gorgeous hunk.' He plonked a noisy kiss on Bart's amused lips, and then fixed his gaze on the two suddenly shy young men. 'Tell me, you two, in what way could the consensual physical expression of love between two brothers be perverted or wicked? And how could a desire to share your lives with someone you love, be unnatural or deviant?'

The brothers looked at each other nervously, but were unable to speak.

'Ok, as those questions seem too difficult, who knows best what's best for you?'

'We do.' They spoke as one, then looked in surprise at each other as if astonished.

'Very well,' Robert said solemnly, 'Fidel and Hylas, you may kiss your lovers.'

And so, with red faces and slight embarrassment, they did.

'Well, now that's settled,' Arnold said brightly, what do you guys think about having Hylas work for us part time while he finishes school? He could check on soap dispensers, towels, toilet rolls, wiping bench tops, keeping the lounge neat, emptying the paper cup disposal chute, top up the coffee and tea machines… that sort of thing. It'll be especially useful between the early and later evening sessions. He could work from five till seven, do his homework in the office, then from eight to nine.'

The idea was agreed to. Then Robert proposed what seemed to Hylas a ridiculously generous wage. Then he agreed to wear the company uniform. And then it was time for Fidel to go to work. Hylas went with him and watched the video screens, keen to learn about the gym, it's trainers and system.

That night, the first in their bed in the sky, was the sweetest, gentlest and most loving of their lives, and set a standard they were hard put to maintain.

By the end of the month, the trainers wondered how they had coped without Hylas keeping everything spotless and equipment always in readiness. His fears about erections were unfounded and he lost count of the compliments his young body received. His favourite being compared to a sexy lemur. Paradoxically, one potentially embarrassing incident was averted thanks to his mother. A young woman came and asked him to clear a drain in the shower room. He added a plunger to his maintenance kit, ignored a dozen women under the showers or drying off, and bent to the task, only to discover the drain wasn't blocked, but his escape was. Seven naked women were enclosing him in a tight circle. He stared up in confusion, then realised they were having fun with him.

'You're a sexy young beast, Hylas, which one of us do you fancy?'

A lifetime of concealing his feelings from his mother to prevent her becoming angry, enabled him to maintain a bland, innocent expression, despite a racing heart. He stood, gazed calmly around and with a slight shrug and smile said, 'No offence, but I don't fancy any of you.'

'Don't tell me you're queer?'

The other women stopped laughing and looked worried.

Betraying none of his anger, Hylas replied evenly, 'It would be very queer if I wanted to have sex with a woman so much older than me.'

'Everyone laughed a little more wildly than necessary and told him he was brilliant. They hoped he wasn't offended. He was such a sexy guy they wanted to tease him a bit. He grinned and bowed and calmly completed his usual inspection, checking for soap, wiping the mirrors and replacing a couple of toilet rolls, making every one adore him the more for not taking offence.

Upstairs in the men's gym he usually received the same treatment from patrons as the trainers. He was tall for his age, but boyishly slender, smooth, and sleek as an eel. One evening while wiping the bench where patrons served themselves coffee, a soft hand stroked his buttocks. He stopped, turned his head and wondered what to do. The man was a regular who had once greeted Hylas in the street. In his forties, slightly shorter than the object of his desire, but tougher, with stringy shoulder, arm and calf muscles and a tanned face. Hair in a crew cut. Neatly trimmed black beard. The stroking had felt sexy, so Hylas just carried on working, wondering what would come next. The hand slid down a thigh then encircled his abdomen, coming to rest cupping his scrotum.

'How old are you?' the deep voice resonated in Hylas's chest.


'Do you mind my touching you?'

'No. You're clean and have soft hands. What do you do?'

'Electrical contractor. I'd like you to come home with me when you finish.'


'So I can lick you all over, kiss your sexy nipples, suck on your cock… the usual.'

'Why me?'

'Because I dream about you every night, and you've got an erection.'

'I know.'

'So what about it?'

'I have a boyfriend half your age who does all that and more, so thanks but I really must get on with my work or they'll sack me.'

With a short, barking laugh, the man withdrew. 'You really are a remarkable young man,' he said with a huge grin. 'Most guys would have slammed me down and complained.'

Hylas turned; his expression mildly curious. 'I'm not most guys. I know you. You are attractive, clean and pleasant, and I knew you meant no harm, so I saw it as a compliment, not something to complain about.' With a grin to match his suitor's he collected his gear and ran off.

He started the new term at a Roman Catholic Boys High School because it was the nearest. Their reluctance to take a pupil for one term was reversed when handed the school fees in cash plus a late enrolment bonus. The uniform requirement was also waived, on his promise to wear only grey long trousers a white shirt and black shoes. The work wasn't difficult as they were using the same curriculum as his previous school. Pleasant and quiet in class, his teachers left him alone, although his youthful, but ponderously serious English teacher was profoundly upset when Hylas said he thought Peter Carey's novels were pretentious, confused and confusing garbage that everyone bought but no one could read. The titters of agreement from other pupils didn't help.

For the first time he was enjoying life. School wasn't too bad; he was making plenty of money, not only at the gym, but also occasionally as a waiter when required for a wedding breakfast or funeral wake at functions on the first floor.

When the manager of the reception lounge asked if any of the Gym trainers were prepared to strip for a woman's fortieth birthday party, Robert jumped at the chance. Hylas, who was a waiter at the event willingly accepted the job of collecting the garments as Robert discarded them during his sexy capering and dancing, ending up naked while partnering the birthday woman in a rousing polka that everyone else joined in. When Robert discovered the pittance earned by the four waiters, he gave his fee to them to share.

Success breeds success and every week one or two other parties required a stripper, which Hylas and Arnold were also delighted to provide. Like Robert, they did it for the fun and also donated their fees to the waiters.

Thanks to the dedication of the six other trainers, the five friends were able to take off at least once a week to the beach or the countryside. They also went to concerts at South Bank; visited gay dancing clubs and ate regularly at each other's apartments.

One evening when all five were gathered at Arnold's flat, Hylas told them about his father's death and his mother's odd behaviour. They already knew about Fidel's abuse and this was the final piece of the puzzle for Robert.

' Your mother is obviously a mad, selfish, nasty murderess. Was your father insured, Hylas?'

'No idea. But if he was that'd explain why she took off. Then she wouldn't have to share it with me.'

'Do you want to find her?'

'No way!'

'I do,' Fidel said quietly. 'I want the amulet she stole. And I want to see if she's in trouble.'


'So I can refuse to help.'

At that moment Arnold received a phone call. His jaw dropped and his frown lines deepened as he listened.

'What is it, Arnold?'

That was Herb, the guy who took over from me at the Cop shop. I asked him to keep me in the loop regarding Lance Osbairne's appeal. He's just learned that it succeeded and he'll be released in two months.

Robert paled and Bart looked severe.

'Who's Lance, and why is it a problem?' Hylas asked.

'He's a murdering bastard who tried to kill Bart and me several times. He was sent to prison for murdering the headmaster, but insists I did it and set him up. Apparently he's vowed to get me for it. He's dangerous and slightly mad.'

'Why would he want to kill you?'

'Because we're queer. And I openly criticised his bashing of a gay kid in the playground. He murdered that kid a few months later by forcing him to drink weedkiller.'

'Wasn't he punished?'

'He sucked up to the headmaster and they convinced the cops it was suicide. And now he's getting out.' Robert looked at his hands as if wondering why they were waving around, and put them in his pockets out of the way.

'And unless he's changed his spots, he'll be looking for revenge and possibly to finish the job.' Bart gazed thoughtfully at his guests. 'Fidel, no one criticised you when you said you wouldn't assist your mother if she was in trouble. I've been wondering why. In my case it's because I think it is her character to be so vile, and if you helped her, she would then treat you badly again.' He paused to gather his thoughts. 'Knowing Lance's past record, what do you think we should do if he tries to kill Robert and me again?'

'When I came to your place with Arnold that first time,' Fidel responded, unable to keep a note of criticism from his voice, 'you didn't tell me he'd tried to murder you both. Why not?'

'Didn't want to sound melodramatic. Thought you might go off us if we knew people like that. Sorry, we should have told you but it didn't seem so urgent then, the appeal had only begun and we hoped it'd fail.'

Fidel nodded. ' I understand. Well I agree with you. People don't change. Clearly he's a deliberate assassin, not a spur of the moment murderer, so if you give him a chance to do it again, he will. I say if he turns up and threatens you, get rid of him permanently.'


'Bart, I'm an ex cop. A Queenslander. Therefore I believe in punishment rather than efforts at rehabilitation. I'm with Fidel. If he shows up,' he mimicked the Daleks, 'Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate.'

The laugh was general but nervous.

Robert turned to Hylas. 'What's your opinion?'

Hylas's face was white with tension. He was breathing heavily, imagination on overdrive. He was a follower of several Internet essayists whose writings on government and religious corruption, financial rorts, abuse of power and the deliberate creation of poverty and ignorance inflamed him daily. 'Kill the bastard!' he ground through clenched teeth. 'The world is overflowing with evil because we are too cowardly to get rid of it. If there's no doubt of guilt, then kill the fucker.'


Directly after the evening news about a week later, every television screen in the country went black, a trumpet sounded, and the following message appeared on the screen in golden letters while a warm but somewhat unctuous male voice read the words as they slowly scrolled up the screen.

Public Announcement

Soft doctors make stinking wounds. This is as true today as it has been in all preceding centuries. If the body has an infection, kill it. Don't allow the infection to remain in the body. It will regrow, spread further and contaminate the whole. After excision, sterilise the wound and keep it clean! If a cancer threatens the body, cut it out completely. Do not leave little bits behind in the hope they will become benign.

For nearly a century our governments have treated social infections and cancers like soft doctors, sometimes punishing wrongdoers with a slap on the wrist, sometimes with a fine, sometimes with a prison term in the hope that after a few years they will miraculously become good, moral, law abiding citizens. They will not. Their continued presence pollutes society. During incarceration the evil infection grows and on release spreads to the entire community. The result? Murders, bashings, cheating, lying, stealing.

The most profitable companies pay no taxes to support the society that supports them. Wages are so low and unemployment so high that thousands are homeless, starving and ill, unable to cure themselves. Moneylenders bleed their fellow citizens, as do Corporations to fill the coffers of their shareholders.

In homes across the land most marriages end in divorce. Dissatisfied husbands and wives who have married thoughtlessly grow to hate and hurt and murder each other. Sex-crazed boys, girls, men and women choose sexual partners with less care than their clothes. Children are out of control, wandering the streets at all hours with no adult supervision, thieving, vandalising, causing misery and insecurity to neighbours.

Bored men and women demand access to alcohol every hour of the day and night, and drunkenness fills streets and homes.

Women insist on the right to expose their bodies without restraint anywhere, anytime yet demand severe punishments for men responding naturally to their provocation.

Millions are crying out for decency, honesty, justice, morality.

And in his infinite compassion God has answered.

JECHIS is the instrument of the Lord and Master of the Universe who has decided to give his human creations one last chance to choose the path of goodness by obeying his laws and living with decency, restraint and respect for themselves and each other.

The End Times are upon us, so while there is still time, seek out the evil in your hearts and repent and mortify yourselves in the hope of mercy on the day of judgement.

I. M. Phoul. Senior Communications Officer. JECHIS.

Internet surveys indicated that seventy-six percent of the community agreed with the basic premise of the notice, thirty-three percent considered it a tasteless joke, and only one percent were seriously worried about the intentions of the authors. No one publicly questioned who was behind JECHIS or how they were able to hijack the television network.

Three weeks later the warning was all but forgotten—obviously a joke in very bad taste.

And then an explosion partially demolished a large, recently refurbished Shopping Mall in a middle class suburb, killing seventy-two and maiming scores, mostly patrons of a well-patronised sex shop in which the bomb had been placed.

That evening in a prime-time slot on every TV channel, the program was interrupted in the same way as before, this time for one full minute, displaying a silent message.

Death to Fornicators. All sexual activity between men and women outside marriage is forbidden by God. A woman who tempts a man and thus loses her honour by committing fornication, dishonours her father, and her life will be forfeit.


The regular program resumed with a polite apology for the interruption to their service, as if nothing unusual had happened.

Who or what JECHIS was, was now of great interest, so politicians immediately proved their worth by demanding more and stronger laws and a curtailment of the few remaining individual rights and freedoms in order to protect the nation from further terrorism. Civil Rights spokespeople responded with the valid observation that we already had too many laws infringing personal privacy and freedom, and more couldn't make any difference. The current legislation was perfectly adequate to allow an efficient security force to keep citizens safe.

The following day after work, Arnold and his team were seated around the table in the office as usual planning the week's schedule, when Hylas, who had been mulling over the bombing suddenly asked, 'What's the difference between what they're doing, and what we decided to do the other night?'

'What do you mean?' Arnold asked.

'We said that if Lance did something we didn't like, we should kill him. That's what they've done, killed people who were doing things they don't like.'

'You're not serious, Hylas?'

'Sort of. Confused anyway.'

'Fornicators hurt no one, least of all the people who planted the bomb. It's the idea they dislike. You can't kill someone for having an idea you disagree with.'

'We do in Australia.' Robert disagreed. 'At least we lock them away. There are loads of men in prison who've only written on the Internet and in emails that they'd like to blow something up, or kill someone. They haven't done anything wrong, but they're still punished for thinking about it. So we can hardly complain if these JECHIS people do the same.

'Come on, Robert. Those guys want to kill, but people who have sex outside marriage hurt no one.'

'This country encourages and supports all religions, even those with really batty beliefs. They get Government assistance to set up their own schools where they can indoctrinate kids. Some religions are convinced their god wants his followers to kill anyone who transgresses any of what they reckon are holy decrees. So as the state is encouraging people to do their god's bidding, we shouldn't be surprised when they do.' Robert looked around at four sceptical faces. 'Humans will believe anything that supports their inner desires, no matter how bizarre. They don't want to die, so they believe there's life after death. They want to get rid of someone, so they reckon god spoke to them and told them to kill everyone who disagrees with them.'

'You're joking!'

'No. All three monotheistic religions share more or less the same holy text that makes similar demands on believers, promising hell-fire and damnation to all who disobey their God's rules, or laws as they call them, that were written by a bunch of control freaks calling themselves Leviticus. In Exodus believers are told that followers of other religions must be killed. This is reinforced in Chronicles where we are told that everyone who does not follow the god of Israel, must be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.'

Hylas wasn't convinced. ' So they believe they are right in wanting to kill, and we believe we are right in wanting to live; that means we're no different from them.'

'If you believe their religious texts really are laws made by the invisible, omnipotent bloke who made the universe and everything that's in it, then you're right, we're no different. But we don't believe it. Our desire not to be murdered is based on the fact that death is real. It is the cessation of life. Their belief in their right to kill is based on wishful thinking, not on facts. There's not a skerrick of proof that anyone except humans wrote the books that justify murdering and destroying other tribes. I reckon if you kill someone for doing something that hurts no other human, then you're a vile assassin. We, on the other hand, would be defending ourselves from death in this life. Quite different.' Bart sat back with a satisfied smile.

'No, it isn't different.' Robert frowned. 'They also believe they're defending themselves from being killed - in their case by their god, for not killing people who offend him.'

Fidel was astonished. 'But surely they can see the difference between what's real and what isn't?'

'Sorry, Fidel, religious people can't distinguish between fact and fantasy, reality and illusion. The need for an overlord to make decisions for them, makes them psychologically weak and terrified by the proposition that there's no purpose in their lives or any other life. They have to believe there's a big daddy who's in charge, and the purpose of their life is to serve him until they go to the next life after dying here. The reality of life, the permanence of death and their own unimportance, is terrifying, so they pretend they're important, that there's a god who cares about what they think and do, and when they die they'll go somewhere better than this. Poor fuckwits, they live in fear of annoying a figment of their own imagination. They're crazy, the lot of them, and they rule the planet. Is it any wonder humans have started the sixth great extinction that'll see the end of us; probably by the end of this century if the experts are right.'

'Thank you, Robert for putting it in perspective,' Bart laughed. 'I guess that means it's irrelevant whether we're the same as them or not. We consider ourselves justified in what we intend to do and that's all that matters. Agreed?'

Everyone nodded and the problem was shelved in the interests of getting home to bed.

Over the following weeks seven more explosions rocked the city, causing damage to life and limb. First a cinema on South Side showing a season of erotic films, then a brewery just west of the City Centre, followed by a Family Planning clinic, another Sex Shop, and three night clubs famous for their pole dancing girls, lap top dancers and floor shows featuring couples engaging in sexual intercourse. The total death toll was in the high hundreds with many more maimed.

After each atrocity, messages flooded Internet Social Media, arrived as spam in every email box, and were dropped in thousands by drones. All were clearly derived from the usual old religious texts, but being in modern English were somehow more frightening than if they'd been direct quotes in traditional religious jargon.

Men who act like women will be put to death.
Adulterers will be put to death.
Whoever worships another God will be offered up as a burnt offering to the LORD your God.
If your brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend, entices you to serve other gods, stone him to death.
Anyone who blasphemes must be stoned to death by the community.

And then the attacks stopped. No one knew why. After a few weeks with no reports of more attacks or police ineffectiveness, it all began to seem like a bad dream. A very, very bad dream.

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