Lasseter stood, ambled toward Paul, picked up the table and kicked the religious symbols across the floor.
The light through the window grew brighter and Lasseter could hear the flapping wings of owls as the rising sun drove their prey back into hiding.
A cool breeze moved the curtain making a sound like the fluttering of angel wings.
“You’re right,” Lasseter continued, lifting his head to catch Paul’s gaze. “We need to create a permanent shift in human consciousness. These worn out symbols won’t do. They carry too many memories, too much history, too much meaning…” he paused, casting his eyes downward once again, “I should have considered this.”
Akira waited for Lasseter to continue. When he didn’t, she commented, “A permanent shift in human consciousness is a tall order, Lasseter. Even for me.”
Lasseter didn’t get a chance to respond before Billy-Bob stood, knocking over a chair. “Wait. Don’t jump to conclusions,” he bent over quickly, picked up both the chair and a Bible.
“I’ve been fighting and killing for symbols my entire life. You know, I joined the military for God, Country and Apple Pie. Symbols have always been exploited for political purposes, whether it’s a religious symbol or a Flag. Symbols move people to action, give people something to rally around,” he paused, took a deep breath before continuing, “stand in front of a church holding the Bible and you get people’s attention.”
He then briskly came between Lasseter and Paul clutching a variety of chains, letting them dangle between his fingers. The light reflected off the metal and into Paul’s eyes, blinding him.
Paul threw up his hands, and all he could see was Billy-Bob moving closer in a staccato motion, as if under a strobe.
“…or stand in front of a church holding these,” he continued, standing upright and holding his clenched fist high above his head, “and you’ll get riots.”
Paul squinted and saw Billy-Bob clutching signs of the Devil. A Pentagram, a goat head, and a Trihexadion with the numbers 666. “Riots, I tell you,” he, laughed. “The right symbols can move people in any direction you want.”
Lasseter took the trinkets out of from Billy-Bob’s raised fist and threw them onto the floor. “Bibles and churches and symbols of evil promote division, not unity,” he said, “But we do need something new. Something not so overused.” He reached deep into his vest pocket for his flask, but stopped as he saw Akira move closer towards Paul.
“Maybe the dumb ass soldiers onto something,” she said
“Say what?” Billy-Bob sounded sheepish.
“Is humanity really in the 21st century?” Akira continued, ignoring him. “How long has the Hubble telescope been taking photographs of countless galaxies? What does humanity know about the Big Bang and Black Holes? What does your Bible have to say about all this?”
Paul knew the questions were rhetorical, designed to annoy rather than illuminate. Women, he knew from experience, we good at this tactic.
“It’s not that I believe in religion,” he finally answered, meeting of her gaze, “But religious mythology and stories have always worked. I can’t blame Lasseter reaching for the low hanging fruit, so to speak.”
“Well, Paul,” Akira replied, looking sexy as ever, “Tell us what you want to say to people, and maybe we can help think of a symbol that works. Something new. Something crazy. Maybe I already know the correct symbol. Maybe Billy-Bob does too. What is it you want to say?”
“Good point,” Billy-Bob interrupted. “What do you want to tell people?”
“I want to tell people the truth.”
“Oh. You know the truth?”
“Yes. But it’s constantly changing.”
Akira smirked. “Sound like humanity needs a new religion.”
There was a low sound of an owl hoot coming in from the window. The rising sun had driven the prey underground.