by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 11

The Administrator

Just after closing time on Monday of the third week, Fidel was checking the car park monitors to make sure Arnold's car was still in the correct place and attracting no attention, when an indiscreetly large black Mercedes pulled in, followed by two armoured vehicles that parked on either side.

'We've visitors,' he called to the others, 'come and look.'

The others gathered around the screens and watched as six armed security guards leaped out and checked the surroundings, then three of them escorted a tall, black-suited individual up to the new coffee bar. The other three consulted a plan, then took the stairs leading to the office.

'I don't like the look of this.' Arnold said with a frown. 'Anyone visiting after ten at night is up to no good.'

'Don't worry. We'll just behave as planned. They still need us so it can't be terminal. Make sure you remember, if you have to go with them, to take this microphone,' Robert said, placing a dull brown tablet the size of an aspirin on the workbench. 'It's linked to a phone that'll record everything. Just stick it somewhere it won't be noticed then sit back and relax. We'll be listening.'

The door was flung roughly open to admit three armour-plated guards who stomped in and glowered at the five men.

'Bart and Arnold?'

'That's us.'

'The Administrator wants to talk to you. Follow.'

'I'll just put this ledger back,' Bart said with a cheerful smile, picking up a file and placing it on a shelf next to the tiny microphone, which he palmed.

The two captives were taken to one of the first floor suites that Tom Dick and Harry hoped would earn big bucks from child prostitution. After a discreet knock on the door they were ushered into the presence of an impressive middle-aged man with a thick curly beard, full lips, hooked nose, bags under slightly bloodshot eyes, and greying hair. He revealed a set of mismatched teeth in a smile presumably of welcome, introduced himself as Administrator of the Brisbane Arm of JECHIS, then leaned back in his comfortable chair. Three armed guards in studded leather jumpsuits with flexible joints, hovered like predatory insects.

Silently peering at his guests, like an anthropologist studying a recently discovered hominid, the Inspector's soft voice broke the silence. 'This is the first time I have interviewed naked men. Don't you feel vulnerable and exposed?'

'No, we feel comfortable and at ease, thank you.'

'No shame?'

Bart and Arnold looked down at themselves in feigned confusion. 'Of what should we be ashamed, sir?' Arnold asked. 'These are the bodies god provided us with, that we keep in good order.'

'Don't blame god for your exhibitionism,' he snapped. 'Turn around slowly. Bend over and touch your toes. Pull your cheeks apart. Stand up. Place your hands on your heads and turn to face me.'

They did as he asked, remaining calm and serene.

The Administrator nodded sagely but said nothing, merely waving dismissively at the other two comfortable chairs.

'Sit down.'

They sat, wondering how to behave. Although calm, the man appeared mentally unstable. While pretending to adjust his chair, Bart pressed the sticky underside of the microphone against the wooden chair frame.

'You must be wondering why you're here?'

'Yes, sir.'

The Administrator frowned as if searching for words. 'You have a philosophical bent, Bart. Tom gave me your interesting ideas to read, and they provoke a few questions. Do you believe in god?'

Guessing he meant the one invented by the inhabitants of Judea several thousand years previously, Bart salved his conscience by mentally agreeing with the Jews' neighbours, the Bedouins, who believe Nature is god and Thought is Prayer. 'Yes,' he replied with a clear conscience.

'Do you participate in organised religion?'


'Why not?'

'Because they're stuck in the past, irrelevant and ridiculous.'


'Sexual activity between men is now known to be a naturally occurring variation of sexual behaviour in most higher animals, yet many religious people want to kill men who behave in this natural way. At the same time they insist we are made in god's image. That means god got it wrong! If that's not a grievous insult to god, I don't know what is.'

'Another example?'

'The planet is dangerously overpopulated, yet organised religions declare contraception and abortion to be sins.'

'Anything else?'

'With the power of machines we're destroying the natural world in which we evolved and which is essential for survival. Yet god's messengers are not demanding a halt to life-destroying exploitation and pollution.'

The Administrator nodded sagely, so Bart continued.

'God's instruction to Jesus' disciples was to live naturally and simply—naked without shame. But no religions preach that. None argue against consumerism and waste and the accumulation of pointless wealth at the expense of the planet.'

'Are you suggesting I should do my work naked, walk everywhere, grow and prepare my own food…?' The Administrator's smile was strained.

'No, sir. Wisely, you are aware that in the present world such actions would be misunderstood. ' He gazed at his feet to indicate subservience.

'What is the place of women in society?'

'The physical differences between men and women are obvious. Intellectually they're equal, but they think and react differently to common situations. Whereas a man will respond rationally to danger, a woman will respond emotionally. Men need women to incubate their progeny, and prove to their peers that they are virile. At the same time, they must make sure the woman is faithful to ensure all the children born in their house carry their genes.'

The Administrator laughed loudly. 'Oh very good, and very true. According to surveys, at least twenty percent of all children in modern societies are not related to the man who supports them. Continue.'

'Female prestige is measured by the wealth and generosity of the male they capture. Women only need men for their sperm, and protection. They test their husband's value to them by inciting jealousy and fights between men and constantly demanding gifts. If a stronger, wealthier man comes along, they will dump the father, and frequently their children, for the new man.'

'What about the education of children?'

'When a boy is weaned and can walk and do simple things for himself, he must be removed from the mother and taken care of by the father and other males deemed suitable. Girls should remain with the mother and live exclusively with females until independent. I won't go into the reasons now, but I'm writing a paper and will send you a copy if you like.'

'What are the causes of family violence?'

'It seems that family violence has increased along with the increase of female control over boys' lives. Until relatively recently, mothers and other females only had total control over boys until the age of five or six, then boys were taught by male teachers. Today, however, a boy can spend his entire school and university education totally under the influence of females. Surely, if their influence was benign, all violence against women would by now have ceased. Instead it is increasing, because women do not seem able to understand that boys are very different from girls in every important respect and need to be treated, taught and mentored by men from an early age if they are to become sane, balanced, whole individuals. Also, it is time females accepted that they are not equal to men in all things, and men are not inferior females. The fault for family violence lies not in one person, but in all who partake of it. Boys with single mothers have an even harder time adjusting than their peers, which is a good reason for denying single women the right to breed.

'What about rape?

'Why should women who demand what they call their natural right to dress as they please, expect men to be less than natural when they encounter a woman advertising her sexual availability in clothes that exaggerate her breasts and expose cleavages, shoulders, legs and often much more? Most men will have the self-control not to respond, but if one does it is not rape, it is nature asserting itself. If women want to mix with men on an equal footing they must dress as modestly as men in public with no elaborate makeup, jewellery or other sexually enhancing tricks. A woman's natural appearance will not lead a normal man to desire her enough to commit rape. Only prostitutes should be allowed to advertise themselves and deliberately titillate through sexually explicit dressing and face painting.

'Do you agree with Bart, Arnold?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Last question. What sort of government could institute such changes peacefully—democracy, dictatorship, or theocracy?'

'None of them. A democracy only lasts until the first politician speaks, then it becomes a demagoguery where nothing controversial will be done because people elected in a popularity poll always scramble to satisfy the whims of the majority to ensure re-election. As for dictators, benevolent ones are a fantasy because dictators always succumb to Lord Acton's dictum: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'

'What about a theocracy.'

'If the dogma is based on known facts, is relevant, and there are strong safeguards against corruption, then it might work because most humans have a desire to believe in something greater than themselves—not self-serving politicians or dictators. But currently no religion ticks those three boxes. Unless yours does?'

'It could do. I'm listening to many people. But the inescapable fact is that even the best ruler with the noblest ideas will at times encounter opposition. How should rulers make unwelcome, but necessary changes? Through force, guilt or education?'

Bart laughed softly. 'The eternal conundrum. None of the above; they've all been tried. People ruled by force, rebel. The absurdity of making men feel guilty about satisfying their most powerful natural instincts by demonising behaviours such as sex, nudity, and victimless activities like masturbation, makes religion both ridiculous and irrelevant. As for education, the only education that changes a man is practical, personal experience, not abstract discussions of ideas in a classroom. Few people can translate ideas into actions.'

'You are suggesting that if religions restricted their laws to purely practical matters they would have a better chance of succeeding?'

'Yes. But they'd still have to back them up with force or fear.'

'Which would be better, the fear of force alone, or the fear of force and god?'

'Force alone. Keep god friendly and pleasant, then believers won't want to disappoint him. If he's a vengeful fellow he'll generate antagonism.'

'Most interesting.' He turned Arnold. 'You haven't said much. As an ex-policeman, what's your opinion on enforcement?'

'Although leaders may be well intentioned, the people charged with enforcement quickly become desensitised and cruel and susceptible to corruption, causing governments to lose credibility. All punishment must be public, to avoid secret torture chambers and the like. And only people who pose a real physical danger to others should be locked up. The rest should be electronically tagged and made to look after themselves while paying reparation.'

'Thank you both. Have you any questions?'

'Do you want to convert everyone to your religion?'

'No. That's what the Christians tried and it led to endless splinter groups fighting among themselves. We are content with a core of true believers governing a compliant population who can think and believe whatever they like, but know they will be killed if they speak or work against us.'

'Ruthless, but I understand your reasons. Where did you find so many security officers ready to do your bidding?'

'Unemployment in the under thirties was running at sixty percent. We employed them and they are grateful.'

'What about the sexual abuse of young boys? Surely that's an abuse of power? I know it's been common practise for centuries to use and abuse boys, but must it continue?'

'I was one of those boys. I didn't like it much, but wasn't traumatised because I was well prepared by the priest; and I liked him because he was a good man and gentle. I'm sure it didn't damage me mentally. In some ways I felt honoured. Now, if you will excuse me I have several more people to interview. Please be patient and wait in the office in case I need to speak to you again. '

'Certainly, sir.'

Robert was cradling the phone, listening intently when Bart and Arnold returned. Fidel and Hylas were watching the security monitors.

'Two more cars have arrived,' Fidel whispered. 'Tom, Dick and Harry in one, and a couple of other self-important men in another. They waited till you'd come up here before joining the bloke you were talking to.'

A minute later, Robert sprang silently to his feet and picked up a small backpack. 'We've gotta go! They've decided we're a threat, and when we leave the guards will take us somewhere and dispose of us.'

'I heard a cough a few seconds ago. There's a guard outside the door.'

A silently as wraiths they made their way into the adjoining storeroom and from there along a side corridor to the fire escape. A minute later they were on the roof. It was very dark but a streetlight gave just enough light for them to see the first bolt. Two minutes later they had crossed the street and taken shelter in the obscurity of a doorway.

'Ok, this is it,' Robert said grimly, removing a cell phone from his backpack and pressing the number sequence.

Silence. Then more of a thump than a bang; felt through their feet rather than heard. For at least a minute nothing else appeared to be happening, then a crunching, grinding, crumbling, crashing, cracking and the roof they had just left began to sag. They'd seen enough so raced for their lives back to the apartment, collected their prepacked rucksacks while Robert sent the command to the bank to start the multi transfer process, then ten minutes later were driving sedately along Gympie Road heading north.

After an hour's driving they bumped down a side track between the pines of a plantation until it widened and there was space to park among the trees, concealed from all except someone flying directly overhead.

The seats folded flat but it was going to be a squeeze, so Fidel, Arnold and Hylas opted to spend what was left of the night in their sleeping bags under the stars—until five minutes later when mosquitoes drove them back in to swelter in the van until first light, when they unwound, rubbed blood back into their limbs, drank some water and headed north.

The sun had been up for half an hour when they parked the van beside Noosa National Park, having stocked up on breakfast essentials on the way. After securing the vehicle they shouldered their packs and jogged along sandy tracks, winding up and down among banksias, scribble gums and all the other vegetation that had clothed the eastern seaboard before apartments, roads and commerce replaced them. And then the sandhills parted and a blue expanse appeared—Alexandria Bay.

Robert stopped and laughed happily. 'Nothing's changed! It's as if we were here yesterday, Bart.'

The turquoise ocean was hurling breakers on to a long crescent of white sand, seagulls whirled over rock promontories at either end, and trees straggled from encircling hills right down to the dunes. A vast amphitheatre open to an even vaster sea - yet intimate and friendly.

'Race you,' Bart shouted, leading the way to the right over a small stream, along the sand to a grassy knoll under a clump of pandanus palms. They stripped and ran into the waves, laughing, diving, surfing and splashing themselves with the clear salty water as if trying to wash the dirt, dust, decay, and moral turpitude of the city from their bodies and hearts. By the time the first surfies and naturists arrived they were consuming a delicious breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, bread, slices of papaya, and bananas, all washed down with crystal clear water from a spring that burst from a hole in the hill behind them.

'Bart brought me here when I was seventeen,' Robert said with a dreamy smile. 'We camped illegally in the forest. The most perfect holiday I've ever had. This is the first time we've been back and it hasn't changed a bit. I wish we could stay forever.'

'I guess I'm getting old,' Bart grinned. 'The prospect of endless nights sleeping rough are not too appealing. I'm sure we'll find somewhere just as nice but more comfortable.'

'I lived in Noosa all my life before going to Brisbane, but never came here.' Fidel said shaking his head. 'What a waste! It's so beautiful! Did you come here after I left, Hylas?'

Hylas shook his head. 'Our parents should never have had children.'

'So,' Arnold said breezily, 'I agree it's a lovely place, but with all those surfies and their molls we are no longer alone, so it's already losing its charm for me. One last dip and then I want to open bank accounts, get the money into them and go somewhere less exposed. I'm actually a neurotic mess after last night. I wonder what they'll say on the news?'

They bought newspapers in town, but their explosion wasn't mentioned.

There was no problem with their new documents that provided all the necessary information to open an account—each at a different bank; nor was there a problem transferring the money. Each ending up with nearly two million dollars; not a large enough amount to attract any interest in a millionaires' playground like Noosa.

After buying something interesting for lunch, Bart phoned Michael and John from a public box. To Hylas and Fidel's relief, they didn't see their mother in town and her name wasn't listed in the phone book, so they were happy to head into the hinterland along tree-lined secondary roads winding through State forests and farmland, and past several cones of ancient volcanoes . The gate was open and they bounced the vehicle up a long tunnel of overhanging mimosas and flowering banksias, then parked under the miserly shade of eucalypts. The air seemed fresher and cleaner than on the coast. Only a bad-tempered screech from rainbow lorikeets feeding in a grove of grevilleas, a butcherbird and his mate warbling duets, and a distant hen disturbed the peace. They climbed out of the van in time to greet a tanned, stringy old man in blue Speedos.

'Michael! You still look so healthy! And you've new Speedos.'

'The old ones fell to bits.' They shook hands warmly, then Bart introduced everyone.

'Where's John?'

'He heard the vehicle and cut down to lock the gate. You've timed it well. Lunch is on the table—or will be when you hand over the goodies you mentioned on the phone.'

They ate lunch on the east verandah looking towards the mountain.

'The mountain's almost disappeared,' Robert said sadly. 'You used to be able to see most of it.'

'The trees have grown, despite the odd weather. Everything's grown, even John and me. Only we've grown older instead. The only thing that hasn't grown larger is the pond you used to love swimming in. We had six months rain in two hours half a year ago. It scoured out banks and retaining walls doing little good. Since then not a drop. So as we haven't stopped watering the garden it's down to an unpleasant slimy residue you wouldn't put your toe into. But if you're going to climb the mountain, I suggest you go now so you get back in daylight. The drought's caused lots of loose rocks that can be treacherous.'

'Are you coming?'

'And let you youngsters see what clapped out old carcasses we are?' John said gruffly 'No, you go and afterwards it'll be time to tell us what's going on in Brisbane and why you let our flat get bombed.' He smiled at Bart's look of alarm. 'You did us a favour, Bart. We couldn't work out how to get rid of the queer tenant and his boyfriend so we could sell the place. Now insurance has made us richer and a construction company is going to demolish the place and build a thousand storey block of crappy apartments.'

'That's a relief,' Bart responded. 'We were wondering how to tell the crabby old landlords we wanted out of our contract.'

Everyone laughed.

'Have you kept anything apart from your documents?'

'Yes, John. The two paintings you gave me. They're the only things I'm sentimental about. I've got them with me in the van. Can I leave them here till I'm settled?'

John sighed sadly and turned to his partner. 'Another rejection, Michael. When people return your paintings you know you've been wasting your time.

'At least Bart was polite about it.' Michael laughed. 'Pay old grumble guts no attention, boys, he's been very successful lately and that always makes him miserable.'

'Have you sold paintings, John?'

'One or two.'

'There's a prestigious Gallery down the coast,' Michael explained, 'where he's exhibited and had brilliant reviews. It closes tomorrow afternoon so we're going down to pick up any unsold stuff. Would you like to come?'

'Of course! We have to see them. That's excellent news, John, I always knew you were good.'

'I'm not; I just paint in a similar style to the owner of the place, Peter Gorringe, so we hit it off. When he had an empty spot in his calendar he offered it to me. He's a good man, and his boyfriend's even better. They're independent-minded people it might be useful for you to know.'

'Thanks, John, you really are an old sweetie.'

'Old? Stop buttering me up; I know you mean ancient.'

They climbed the mountain. Old eucalypts, giant reeds, grass-trees and dead casuarinas made a tangled barrier that eventually gave way to a canopy of scrappy tristanias. The track was indeed treacherous with many loose rocks and small landslides. They followed the base of unscaleable buttresses, scrambled up to the edge of a bluff then trudged up a scrub-covered slope to the top where windswept bushes, rocks, native bees and several hundred butterflies greeted them. In the distance, sea hazily met sky, hills and mountains poked from rolling land, and green valleys carried roads between narrow ribbons of trees. A railway cutting gashed through brown fields. On the horizon, Noosa Hill was silhouetted against a pale sky. The world looked deceptively peaceful and pleasant.

Afterwards they washed off sweat and dust under a hose, then devoured a plate of cakes and drank pots of tea under trees in the garden while their hosts were brought up to date.

John was grinning in delight. 'You actually tossed that awful Lance and his mates over the rail! That is so wonderful! Exactly what he deserved. And last night you bombed the new JECHIS sex and entertainment centre, burying an administrator and the three bastards who raped Hylas and probably two girls as well, and also their guards and three other important-looking fellows! That is too, too perfect. I hope they assume you guys are dead too.'

'Yeah. It was pretty cool. But we don't know if anyone apart from them knew we were in the building. Certainly, once they've cleaned it away they'll discover we weren't, and that my car was the source of the explosion. That's a bit of a worry.'

'Yes. Very sobering. But you've new identities and a few weeks to get lost. Perhaps you should lose your beards?'

'We'll have to think about that. Meanwhile, it's nice to know we've struck a blow against those bloody child molesters. But we couldn't have done it without Robert.'

'Indeed! Shifting that money around. Robert, I didn't realise you were so smart.'

'Come on, Michael, you were an accountant, you could have done it.'

'No way. When I retired, computers and the Internet had barely started; there was no such thing as Internet banking. It was very brave and clever of you.'

'It was very generous and brave of Arnold to trust me with his money, and then share it among us all.'

'Yes, we're all wonderful,' Arnold said, embarrassed to be mentioned. 'But I can't help wondering why they thought we were too dangerous to let live.'

'Bart was too clever. He said all the right things that supported them and their actions' His unforgiveable fault is to have thought it out for himself.'

'What do you mean, Fidel?'

'People such as the administrator want to be the ones who tell us how to live. The last thing they want is people who can think of these sorts of things for themselves, because pretty soon they'll start to think other things and begin to make suggestions and ask questions. And that's a no-no in a theocratic dictatorship. He who questions, doubts the word of god. It's the philosophy behind George Bush's declaration that you're either for him or against him.'

'Yes, yes of course you're right,' Bart responded thoughtfully. 'But would it have made any difference if I'd acted dumb?'

'Don't ever think that, Bart,' Hylas sighed, patting him on the shoulder. 'Tom, Dick and Harry had already decided to get rid of us; the interview was just to satisfy the Administrator's curiosity. So don't beat yourself up over it. I'm glad we got it over with. If we'd had to wait till the opening I think I'd have gone bonkers with worry.'

'Hylas is right, Bart,' Arnold agreed. 'You've done us all a favour. Meanwhile, I'm wondering what the reaction will be. We're not even sure we got away with it. They could have had infrared sensors on the back of the building and seen it all. There was nothing in the paper this morning, has it been on the news, Michael?'

'We never watch or listen—too depressing. We'll check tonight; but don't worry, if they knew where you were and that you did it, you'd be dead already. Those evil bastards don't waste time. So, what're your plans? How long do you want to stay? We've only the one guest room but we've a tent you could erect on the lawn.'

'Arnold, Hylas and I will sleep in the van,' Fidel said quietly. 'We don't want to bring you into danger, so I think we shouldn't stay too long in case there is some way they can find where we are and they're biding their time to see who might have assisted us. They seem to know everything and I can't believe we haven't been stopped yet.'

'Don't worry about us, Fidel, but thanks for being concerned. We're too old to be troubled about vicious thugs like them. If it get's too uncomfortable, we've got our exit strategy.'

'You don't mean? But you're young and…'

'Oh Hylas, I love you. We're not young; we've lived more than our allotted three score and ten, and we've never had any intention of hanging on if we lose our independence. We've had an excellent life but aren't greedy. You young chaps, though, have the best in front of you, so you must take no more risks, get yourselves somewhere safe, and then see what you can do. You can stay here as long as you like, if you don't mind getting bored.'

Michael laughed. 'You guys have no idea of the momentous nature of John's offer. He's a dyed in the wool misanthrope. Apart from the boys at the gallery, you're the first strangers to enter this property for three years, Robert and Bart aren't strangers, they're more like sons, yet here he is offering you the keys to the estate.' He plonked a kiss on his partner's brow. 'I'm proud of you, John.'

John shrugged and glowered to conceal his embarrassment.

'Yeah, it's incredibly generous of you,' Arnold said huskily.' 'We were thinking of going north, as far as possible from Brisbane.'

'Three years with no visitors!' Hylas said softly. 'Do you visit other people? You're both so nice you must have loads of friends.'

'We did when we were young and silly, but most people aren't really interested in others, they visit because they're bored, and then expect you to be and think like them. The first thing they do if you visit is offer alcohol, then act offended if you refuse. If they come here and get no alcohol, they don't know how to cope. They have little conversation and even fewer opinions, at least about things that interest us, and are always inviting us to go and watch surf championships, or car rallies, or listen to idiots give talks, or play badly on the piano. We've great pleasure and no boredom in each other's company, and would be fools to disturb the tranquillity of our last years by entertaining people we neither like nor admire.'

That evening they turned on the television and at eight o'clock precisely, the screens of every TV, smart-phone, and Internet-connected computer suddenly went black, then immediately restarted with a loud screech that heralded a large map of Australia dotted with lights. A well-fed, middle-aged man in a black suit stared into the camera and didn't smile. In an expressionless voice made husky from a lifetimes' inhalation of cigarette smoke, he made what sounded like a campaign speech to gain supporters.

'Two years ago the national youth unemployment rate was forty-eight percent; today it is less than two percent. Before JECHIS replaced the pathetic men and women you elected to govern you, corruption was rife in all departments. Now there is none. Hospital waiting times are a thing of the past. Our jails are empty. Crime has all but disappeared. Schools are places of quiet, disciplined learning, and men and women are beginning to understand their roles in god's plan. JECHIS has achieved all this with commendable restraint and the minimal use of force. However, there are some people unable to accept that god has finally come to the aid of humans who have proven themselves unable to make the choices that will gain entry to paradise after death in this world. Last night a building was destroyed by ignorant fools. Fortunately there was no other damage. This has forced the Triumvirate to reconsider the softly, softly approach. From tomorrow we will enforce to the letter the ancient laws of God. Read them very, very carefully and obey. There will be no second chances.'

The screen went black, then in gold letters the rules slowly advanced up the screen.

Whoever rejects the orders or the verdict of a judge or priest who represents the LORD your God, will be put to death.
Whoever follows any form of religion apart from JECHIS, shall be stoned to death.
If a man falsely declares he is a spokesman for JECHIS, his family shall stab him to death.
Whoever damages the property of JECHIS shall be publicly whipped to death.
Whoever causes the death of any of God's servants shall be flayed, then burnt alive.

The screen slowly darkened and all transmission in every medium ended for that night.

We caused that.' Hylas's eyes were wide in horror. 'That's what they'll do to us if they find us!'

'No you didn't, and they won't find you. They've been waiting for an excuse to announce these laws. There've been hundreds of acts of insurrection all over the country. Their hold on power isn't as strong as they think. This is a panic reaction.'

'The lying bastards. No other damage. There's no way anyone survived that explosion. The whole building collapsed on itself and they were inside.'

'Their sole justification for usurping power is that they are the chosen servants of god, so they're not going to admit that their god failed to intercept you and save his emissaries.'

'You know what's the most horrible thing about those laws?' Robert demanded. 'They're straight from the Old Testament, which means that is exactly how the Jews of that time governed. They sent their henchmen out murdering, flaying, burning, stabbing everyone who disagreed with them. It was a reign of terror for all the poor people who lived there. I've read the bits of the bible in which Yahweh or whatever they call him tells them to do these vile things, but could never really picture what it must have been like. But now I can! It's what's happening here, now, and that is the religion on which Christianity and Islam are based! I feel sick!

Nervous fears and doubts made sleep elusive and they woke the next morning feeling less heroic than they'd like.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead