(Feat. Great Hymn to the Atem)
Father Tagget’s morning was one of simplicity and routine. That’s how he liked it. He awoke, washed, and dressed. His breakfast consisted of a boiled egg and some greens. He’d been having health problems recently and the automated doctor recommended something a little lighter to start the day off with. He convened with the other priests to get an update on what was going on in their lives and the life of their church, Saint Thomas’.
“Confessions are being held today after mass.” He was told via the hologram of the other priest. It was going to be a long day then. It took a while for people to admit their sins, even to the Lord.
How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face of man.
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon its feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.
Time flowed quickly throughout mass. Tagget didn’t give the sermon himself, but he did tune in. Their speaker was a special guest who was streaming from across the globe.
It was about skepticism of the Lord, a subject that always fascinated Tagget. It seemed that everyone else was as enthralled as he was. Though whether this was due to the technology (which people still weren’t used to, despite being around for several years), or the actual content of the sermon Tagget didn’t know. He was willing to bet the former though.
The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,
Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities:
Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.
Their tongues are separate in speech,
And their natures as well;
Their skins are distinguished,
As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.
Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,
Thou bringest forth as thou desirest
To maintain the people of Egypt
According as thou madest them for thyself,
The lord of all of them, wearying himself with them,
The lord of every land, rising for them,
The Aton of the day, great of majesty.
Dressed in his robes, he entered the priest’s side of the confessional. It was one of the few things in the church still made out of real wood. It was more than antique now, but Tagget and the congregation liked it because it felt more “real”. They thought it would help people feel more “at home”, whatever that was nowadays.
He spared a look at the line before entering. They all looked inspiringly normal, save for one with a hood over his head. The jacket was normal enough; it looked like it had some kind of emblem on the front. Dread crawled through his skin as he stared at it.
You are in my heart,
There is no other who knows you,
Only your son, Neferkheprure, Sole-one-of-Re,
Whom you have taught your ways and your might.
Those on earth come from your hand as you made them.
When you have dawned they live.
When you set they die;
You yourself are lifetime, one lives by you.
All eyes are on your beauty until you set.
All labor ceases when you rest in the west;
When you rise you stir everyone for the King,
Every leg is on the move since you founded the earth.
You rouse them for your son who came from your body.
The King who lives by Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands,
The Son of Re who lives by Maat. the Lord of crowns,
Akhenatrn, great in his lifetime;
And the great Queen whom he loves, the Lady of the Two Lands,
Nefer-nefru-Aten Nefertiti, living forever.
Within nearly seconds of the door closing and Tagget sitting down, the door on the other side opened and closed. A chill traveled through Tagget’s spine. He shivered. Thump. Thump. Thump. His heart sped up and pound through his chest. He felt his breathing getting heavier.
Quickly he cleared his throat, trying to focus on the task at hand. He waited for the confessor to speak, but when nothing was said he thought to start the conversation.
Tagget took a deep breath. “Have you ever been to confession before?” He was sweating now. Was he having a heart attack? Maybe he’d caught a fever and was only feeling it now?
“No.” a deep voice said on the other end.
“Well it’s alright to be nervous.” The priest did his best to smile, though now even such a simple act brought him intense pain. Father Tagget took a deep breath to steady himself and wiped his brow with the sleeve of his robe. “Shall I begi-“
“There is much I have to tell you, Father.” The man’s voice echoed off the walls.
“Please,” Tagget said. “Tell me what you must.”
“I am… unsure how to say this.” For a moment the voice sounded somewhat human. Tagget couldn’t tell if he was dealing with someone wearing a mask, or suffering from a medical issue, or maybe it was someone playing a dirty trick on him.
“I am not here to judge, only to forgive.”
“Listen carefully then. We will soon see if you can bring yourself to offer such gifts to me.” The man took a breath. Tagget felt the air leave the room around him.
“My… people. They have done things. I have done things for them, in belief of our mission.”
“What sort of things have to done?” The words felt strained, but curiosity was getting the better of Tagget.
“We have… Ended worlds. People are no more because of us.”
“You’re saying you’ve killed people.” If only this situation could be so normal, he thought to himself.
“In a manner of speaking.” The thing (Tagget could no longer think of the speaker as human) took another breath. Tagget felt this one in his lungs, like they were pulled physically.
“I thought they were doing this for noble purposes. I was proud to help them. Their way is lost; they just haven’t realized it yet.”
Tagget was ready to leave. Curiosity or not, his heart felt like it was going to burst and his veins ached of pumping blood so quickly.
He tried to move. He tried to tell his legs to move. They ignored him, continuing to be still.
“You cannot leave, Father Tagget. I have not finished.” The voice almost sounded like it was laughing at him. Like it couldn’t believe he would try to leave.
“What do you want from me?” Tagget asked. Panic continued to well up inside him.
“I want you to listen. I am unsure of what to do and you “Fathers” are well respected by your people for their advice. Are you not?”
“We are.” His teeth clenched.
“I thought as much.” It seemed satisfied.
“So you’re asking me what you should do about your people?” Tagget was finding it easier to breath, but his body still could not move.
“I gave my life to them in service of the mission. I was an equal to them. They have lost their way, they have become… Fallen. I do not know how this happened, or why. It is beyond my capabilities to know this. Something must be done. I cannot sit idly. It would be a disservice to all that has been accomplished thus far.”
Tagget was silent. Out of fear or out of a complete loss for words he did not know, but he was sure it was both.
“What do you think your god do?” The voice on the other side asked.
Tagget swallowed, his tongue dry as sand paper. “He would ask you to do what you can to bring your friends back to the light, so that no one else is hurt.”
“Is that what he says to you?” It sounded vaguely like sarcasm.
“God will forgive you for what you have done because you have seen the error in your ways. Now you must do the same for the others so that they may be saved as well.”
Something sounding not quite like a sigh came from the other side. “Is this the only way?”
“It’s only way to absolve you of your guilt.” Tagget said, still as a rail.
Another deep breath. Tagget felt himself gag on the lack of air in the room. His head felt dizzy and light. His lungs could no longer bring him air.
“Thank you for your service, Father. Our discussion has been… enlightening.” Tagget heard the wood creak, the creature was standing. Tagget felt the end coming and began to recite a prayer in his mind.
“We will meet again, Father, in time I’m sure.”
Darkness reached out and overwhelmed Tagget.