Leaflets burned in the air like a communist country’s currency curling into flames with the backdrop of that building, representing authority, and all superimposed beliefs, an outcry of fire on that speckled night. -Intellectual Shaman

Sometime earlier, although the days had mixed together like an ill-planned birthday cake, Lazarus woke in his cold apartment. It was dark, and only the sound of wind interrupted his lonely silence. He lay in bed thinking about gambling, and perhaps, that he had not taken enough risks. He was safe and secure in his freezing tomb, which was not comforting. It was like being trapped underground. Even the dead prefer the heat turned up, because it excites the bacteria, and the decomposition process, speeding up their journey to hell or heaven. There is nothing worse than purgatory, that in-between place where post-cognition causes the dreamer to relive a life with no victories while the nails keep growing. It’s like being on life support or having your head frozen. It’s a headache you can’t get rid of.

Knocking. Was it the wind? The knocking continued, but it wasn’t on his door, although he could tell it came closer, moving from one apartment to the next, like a salesman who couldn’t even get his foot in the door. Then it rapped on his lonely silence, which he depended on. The world is full of salesmen, and their products take up space—the worst take up space in the mind.

Lazarus opened his door like he was opening his tomb. His father called him “lazy” for a nickname, and it was true; he rarely got out of bed anymore. The sloth survives by not moving; it has something to do with their metabolism. Lazarus’s metabolism was not working at all, maybe it took its cue from its owner. He had been out of work for six months. He just could not bring himself to repeat the same process, over and over again. He had tried Jesus, Buddha, and the Universe, but they were all bored of him because he was bored of them. He had stopped short of drugs—drugs would signal the end. There would be no coming back from that. Deep within the recesses of his mind, Lazarus wanted to come back, but the comeback isn’t for everyone. The threat of disappointment is stronger than the threat of failure when you stopped the first time.

Now Lazarus was looking at two suits standing tall. His crusty blood-shot eyes made no impression on the perfect boys in front of him. Their suits were thick and their shirts were baggy. There was a fullness in their faces denoting purity. In comparison, Lazarus looked like a corpse, a disheveled addict, someone who was addicted to memories of who they used to be, but time had robbed him of that.

“Hello, I’m Elder Graves and this is Elder Johnson. What’s your name?”

Lazarus just looked at them, like he was half-dead, and slow to speak.

“My name’s Lazarus.”

“Oh, do you believe in Jesus?”

“No, but I will admit, life is better when you believe in things.”

“Why do you say that?”

“A man needs a purpose, that’s all.”

“No arguing with that. Have you heard of our church?”

“Yes, I studied it for two years.”

“And…?”

“I’m interested in cults of all kinds, including our culture, but I don’t want to be a part of them. I think I’ll move to Mexico.”

“What’s in Mexico?”

“Fine beaches and fine women. Where are you guys from?”

“Guess,” they smiled.

Lazarus’s face was as empty as a whiteboard.

“Utah,” they said in unison.

“Oh, I should’ve known.”

“Here; take a pamphlet.”

“Oh, I don’t know…”

“Just indulge and have a free Starbucks on us.”

Being bribed with coffee was what Lazarus needed. He needed to wake up. “I’ll see you around.” He waved and the boys waved back. Then they jumped into a mini-van with four other boys who looked exactly the same. It was the perfect family, if a family can all be one gender.

Lazarus went back to bed holding the pamphlet. He was nice to them because his ex-girlfriend believed the way they believed. He was never going to believe, even with the prospect of the biological urge, which had since gone underground like a great river flowing towards an unseen ocean. He hoped it wouldn’t hit a dam because the forces of nature don’t do well when they’re backed up, similar to a septic tank—there’s always overflow. One of the reasons Lazarus did not invite them into his apartment was that his toilet had not been scrubbed in six months—right around the time he lost his job. When he quit having to put-up with shit at work, he stopped dealing with it at home. The smell bothered him at first, but after a couple months, he couldn’t smell anything.

Naturally, he would’ve crumpled up the pamphlet and thrown it on the floor, but for some reason, he turned on the light. The man who founded this religion realized all the other churches were wrong, so he had to create his own church, the one true church. He was visited by an angel and discovered golden plates with scriptural revelation. It appealed to Lazarus—finding a lost treasure, and writing the scriptures, but the founder did not claim to be god, and that’s where he messed up. Why stop at revelation? Why not be god? And the inspiration that abandoned him came back like a spirit of rebellion. He knew he would be persecuted and exiled, but having nothing to lose, was something.

He walked to Starbucks and ordered a Carmel Macchiato—his success drink. The world was full of the unconverted, uninitiated, lost souls who didn’t believe, and all of them felt it. Suddenly, he saw a vision of flames leaping higher and higher like lips of truth destroying false religions. He was a saver of the unsaved.

A girl in line stopped to tie her shoes. She was lost and he could help her.

“Excuse me, miss…? Have you heard the good news?”

The End

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