“Paul, continue, please.” Lasseter wiggled his fingers forward, as if appealing for him to approach, but trying the coax the words from his mouth.
“We must embrace the paradox.”
Akira stared at Paul with a loving smile on her face. She had mastered the nuances of body language but the words she chose sliced him to the core.
“Are you Ghandi now? Nostradamus?”
Paul’s head tilted quizzically, his lips falling into a frown, his face flushing. He slowly rose from his sleeping bag, kicking it into a ball behind him.
“You were Jesus last month.” Akira continued. “You Moses now? Edgar Cayce? What about Charles Manson? Have you tried Charles Manson?”
She laughed hysterically, her voice echoing down the cavern walls. She enjoyed humiliating him in front of his friends. It was the only way she knew to obtain power without resorting to violence.
“I’m sure he see’s something,” Lasseter interrupted. “Perhaps if we calm down, take turns talking, we can find out. Right?”
Akira stared at him, soulless eyes as black as pitch. Billy-Bob fell back slightly against the stone cave, his own confidence evaporating in the presence of her growing evil.
“What I see is ineffable. There are no words. Even the cleverest Shakespearean metaphors don’t begin to describe the reality crystallizing in my consciousness.”
“Okay. You’re Shakespeare now.” Akira threw her head back and howled like a hound from hell.
“Try to explain.” Lasseter coaxed, ignoring the two. “I’m here.” He extended his arms, as if to offer a hug.
“Is this really the mother of your child?” Billy-Bob face had a look of disgust.
“We must embrace the paradox,” Paul continued, inching slowly towards Lasseter as he reached out to pluck the flask he knew would be perched safely in his pocket.
“Spiritual metaphors are the only metaphors that makes sense. We waste most of our lives, lost in confusion and despair. We are caught in a battle of light and dark, demons and angels, in one long, repetitive cycle that continues without end. Yet without a God, this cannot be.”
There was a stunned silence in the cave.
“Could you bring this conversation closer to home?” Billy-Bob asked, his voice husky. “We got immediate issues to deal with. I’m locked, loaded and ready for action, don’t forget.” His head nodded towards his truck, filled with some of the military’s most advance weapons—at least the weapons he had time to steal.
“Lasseter is my God, in a sense,” Akira said breathily, “and in time, I will destroy him too.” She brushed thoughtfully at her long black hair, tossing it over her shoulder causally as she glanced at Lasseter. Then she smiled warmly, her entire body contradicting her death threat.
Lasseter shuttered. “You’re really coming along.”
“Look,” Paul stood, brushing himself off, “I know we have immediate issues. Everyone has immediate issues. Everyone has bills to pay. Mortgages to keep up with. Children to put through school. Everyone’s distracted. The system is set up that way. It’s set up that way so nothing changes. Nothing gets resolved for the long-term. We keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over…”
“What is it you’re trying to say?” Akira interrupted harshly.
“…did I say over and over enough times?” Paul glared, challenging her.
Billy-Bob watched as Akira backed off. “Okay,” he thought, “there remains some residual of respect.”
Lasseter laughed, for the first time in a long time.
“I need to borrow some new language from the transgender community to explain this issue,” Paul extended his palms toward the group, looking, suddenly, ever so saintly.
“This’ll be good,” Billy-Bob thought.
“The problem with humanity,” Paul continued, his voice calm, “And why the Feds are trying to destroy us…” he glanced at Billy-Bob, reassuring him that this conversation would soon be ‘brought home.’ “Is that the earth’s population is brainwashed from birth. The entire planet is suffering from a transreligious experience. And this suffering just gets past along from generation to generation. This is the spiritual war I referred to earlier. I can’t escape the spiritual metaphors”
Paul took a deep breath, tears running from his eyes.
Billy-Bob slapped his knee, hard. Lasseter jumped, startled.
Paul raised his head, looking at him calmly.
“If we survive this, and I can do anything for humanity with my nanites, and with you, Billy-Bob…and with Lasseter…and with Akira and the baby,” he nodded his head solemnly in her direction, “is to return humanity to its original state, a state which I’ll call cisreligious. That’s the only way humanity can spread it’s consciousness throughout the stars.”
Lasseter nodded his head in agreement, smiling.
“And what exactly does it mean to be cisreligious,” Billy-Bob asked, growing impatient.
“It’s identical to your cisgender.” Paul responded gently.
“And what’s that?”
“Cisgender is the gender you were born with. You have a dick with balls, your cisgender is male. If you want to change your gender, you become a transgender.”
“And what exactly, is cisreligious?”
“Cisreligious is the religion you were born with of course.”
Billy-Bob scowled, grumbled. “What religious was I born with?”