Church

The wild man turned up his black trenchcoat, grimacing at the wind.  Thunder boomed, echoing against the dark buildings towering far above him.  A storm was brewing.

The man stepped forward, leaving behind the safety of his dark limousine.  He strode forward towards the grand double doors of the tower.  They slid open for him, silently beckoning him inside.  Still clutching his coat around him, he passed through the doorway.

The elevator ticked smoothly as it carried him towards the heavens.  Slouching against the back, the wild man uneasily picked at his nails.  He was enclosed, penned in, bright artificial light pouring down on him and with no shadows in which to hide.  He watched the digital numbers advance as he waited for the doors to once again open and grant him freedom.

Finally, the doors opened, and the wild man thankfully exited the elevator.  Unfortunately, there was no comforting darkness into which he could escape.  The man walked forward slowly, raising one hand to shield his eyes against the blinding brightness.

A full bank of floor-to-ceiling windows offered a panoramic view of the outside of the tower.  The building’s top level broke through the storm clouds that covered the city, and golden sunlight suffused every inch of the white marble interior.  The room was bare, without decoration; nothing interrupted the glow of light reflected gently from every polished surface.  A single man stood in front of the windows, gazing contemplatively down at the world below, outlined by the light.

The wild man found a pair of sunglasses in a pocket of his trenchcoat and thankfully slid them on.  He walked forward across the marble, his boots ringing against the stone.  Small clods of dirt dislodged themselves from his boots and were left, scattered, across his trail.  He stopped a few feet from the other man.  “Preach,” he acknowledged in a raspy voice.

The man at the window turned, smiling, to behold the newcomer.  He wore long robes of white, gold embroidery touching the cuffs, and a high collar reminiscent of a Catholic priest.  “How good of you to come,” the man said, his voice melodious.  “I was merely contemplating humanity, far below us.”  He gestured to the window.

The wild man shuffled a couple steps closer and ventured a gaze at the thick clouds below.  “Not much to see,” he offered.

The priest threw back his head in laughter, the rich sound reverberating in the empty room.  “No, there certainly isn’t,” he said once his gaiety had subsided.  “Ah, but what is humanity to a god?  Even their kings, those they raise most high, are far below the clouds.”

“Out of touch,” the wild man responded, adjusting his coat.

The priest shot him a sidelong glance, steeliness breaking through his mantle of mirth.  “Out of touch?” he repeated.  “They do not need to be in touch.  Our hands are on the tiller; they merely row.  They have no need to know which direction the boat is traveling, nor would it mean anything to them if they knew.”  His face remained an iron mask for an instant more, but then once again relaxed into a pleasant smile.

“Oh, you do have a way of pushing my buttons,” he laughed.  “But come, you look so uncomfortable.  Can I offer you a drink?”

The wild man shook his head.  “No,” he said.  He gazed around the room, at the white marble blazing with sunlight.  “Not natural,” he said in his rough voice.

The comment elicited a chuckle.  “Of course it’s not natural,” the priest said, smirking.  “Natural stuff is all your domain.  Not that you have much domain left, of course.  That’s why I’m in the tower, and you’re,” he gestured dismissively at the clouds outside, “down there.”

Perhaps these words were meant to sting, but they elicited no reaction from the wild man.  “You called for me,” he rasped, still standing and waiting.

The priest sighed, finally turning to fully face him.  “Yes, I did,” he said.  “The offer still stands; you can still join me.”  He waved his hand at the miles of marble.  “You can come to the side of order, of logic, of sense, and be a part of all of this.”  He lowered his hand to point at the floor.  “You can leave that vehicle of yours behind.”

The wild man was silent for a long time, his face expressionless and his eyes hidden behind the sunglasses.  The priest waited, gazing at him, a slight smile playing about his lips as the sunlight made his robes glow from within.

Finally, the wild man shook his head.  “There’s still wilds,” he said slowly.  “Even now, there’s jungle.  Different jungle, different places, different animals, but the same rules.  And I’ll be there.”  His speech complete, the man slowly trudged back to the elevator.

The priest watched him go.  For a moment, his features twisted in an ugly scowl.  That look quickly vanished though, as he turned back to the windows, once again observing the sun.  “How high we have risen!” he said, speaking to the empty room as if orating before a great crowd.  “We are civilized!  We have domesticated the beasts of Nature, tamed the wild!  Through us, we have brought order!  A new world!  A better world!”

Down on the street, miles below, the wild man slid into the back seat of his limousine.  He removed his sunglasses, revealing yellow slitted eyes, as the car pulled away from the curb.  “There’s always wild,” he muttered.  “Even in you, Preach.”

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