The clouds parted, the wind blew, the sun emerged and heated the huddled masses. Just the way Paul wanted it.
“I love the weather I’m creating,” Paul whispered to Billy-Bob in the corner. “It’s just as I imagined.”
Billy-Bob raised an eyebrow, said nothing.
The crowd was anxious. Paul had been trending on Insta, TikTok, What’sApp, Facebook and every single social media sight for weeks. He and his crew had topped the stats to become an overnight sensation, years in the making. Bringing down dozens of Black Hawk helicopters in a public square while fending off attacking soldiers was destined to draw eyeballs. Who was this guy? No one had seen anything like it. They needed to understand.
Paul raised his hand as a shield against the sun, squinted, and spoke.
“Welcome! This gathering marks the first meeting of The Church of the Infinite Void…of which you are all members.”
A muffled titter rippled through the crowd. Cell phones appeared from every pocket, held high, or at arms-length, to record every word.
“I offer you eternal life. If you have the ‘nites within you, you have this already. This is the gift of the Void.”
The roar of approval was sudden and deafening.
“I didn’t expect that,” Billy-Bob shouted, cupping his hand and yelling at Lassiter.
Paul raised his arms, white robes flowing. “The underlying anxiety you feel, that uncertainty you’ve felt your whole life…I’ll put an end to that.”
The crowd quieted.
“All of you have felt the Void creeping towards you. There’s no escaping it. The Void is the only truth we all have in common. It’s waiting for us. It is, and always has been, the one thing that unites us. The one truth.”
Billy-Bob could hear flapping of crows’ wings as the crowd fell silent.
“Join the Void! Become one! The Church of the Infinite Void offers you true freedom! Meaning! Purpose! Together, we’ll ride the waves of the God particle and explore the Universe in a state of infinite bliss and joy, experiencing the love of cojoined consciousness.”
“Best opening lines ever,” Billy Bob gripped Lassiter’s shoulder, shaking him hard. “Did Akira write this, or did Paul do this himself?”
“I don’t know. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Akira. Have you? She should be here.”
Paul raised his head skyward: “The Void brings science and religion together so we can explore the universe in a state of cojoined consciousness. As one, hold your wallets. Show the Void! Show your wallets…”
Cell Phones vanished and wallets appeared from purses and pockets, held high. Billy-Bob heard the rustling of pants, the snapping of joints, the slapping of leather…
“Your money will help spread my conscious to every person on the planet! The ‘Nites will be everywhere, in everyone! I am the beginning and the end of mankind, nobody like myself existed before nor will they exist.”
“Do you believe this?” Billy-Bob leaned closer to Lassiter, whispering just loud enough.
“Paul believes it. If he doesn’t, no one else will. That’s Faith.”
Lassiter stared at Billy-Bob’s contorted face.
“Psychotic Narcissistic Personality Disorders are the prerequisites of all great leaders,” Lassiter continued. “Look at Bass. Classic psychopath. It might take a narcissist to defeat a narcissist. I think Paul’s got what it takes.”
The clouds parted. The sun glowed hotter. Billy Bob felt sweat running down his cheeks in thick rivulets.
“Nobody like myself was ever born nor will they be born,” Paul bellowed, drawing a breath. “I surpassed the feats of the ancestors, and coming generations will not be able to equal me in any of my feats for millions of years. I am the hero without equal. I look centuries into the future and I tell you no person shall exist like me again. I am The Alpha, the Omega. The subject, the object. I am the beginning, the end. I am the origin. I am past, I am the present I am the future. I am all genders. I is, I are, I AM.”
“I is, I are, I am…” the crowd reverberated back the chant until windows shook and crows took flight.
“He’s really, really letting his freak flag fly.” Billy-Bob stared at Lassiter. “Where is this coming from?”
“Paul’s discovering who he is. Get used to it. It’s a new day. It’s a new order.” Lassiter brought flask to lips.
“Most of you have already been touched by the ‘nites…” Paul eyes scanned the audience before he spoke again. “Others may be here out of curiosity, but all will meet my nites soon. Only then will our consciousness blend into one and we can surf the vibrations of the God particle into the infinite Void as a cojoined consciousness…
A roar of approval rang sprung from the people.
” Thanks to your Mother, Akira, the Gov’t computers have already been hacked. The Church of the Infinite Void is already a legally established religion, with all the rights and privileges thereof, including tax-exempt status. Which means all of you can start selling your possessions and donating money immediately. Send me your paychecks, your material possessions, your properties…your daughters…give me as much as you want and watch the Church of Infinite Void become a multi-billion-dollar corporation! The money you saved for retirement? Send it. The money to pay for your children’s college? Send it. On this earth, it takes money to fight money…so we will take your money and we will expose the entire planet to our ‘nites, we will then take over this earth and set humanity free! Join us or get left behind. The Void is all!”
The crowd chanted in unison: “I is! I are! I am!”
“The end is near for Homo Sapiens. The mysteries of existence have been carried with our DNA itself, and have manifested in many forms, including many corrupted forms, twisted, bent and evil. The Church of the Infinite Void will cleanse you of this evil and prepare us for the stars. Mankind will finally be cured of the psychosis stemming from the knowledge that flesh is meaningless and short lived. You are at the beginning of a long and holy journey!”
Billy-Bob turned to face Lassiter. “He’s done everything but announce himself as the new Messiah.”
“He’ll get to that.”