The Quantum Mechanic
A Superhero Story of Ethic Contortions
"And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
- Revelation 9:6
Kirk Rayford sits at his table, hands clasped, praying for guidance before breakfast. His thoughts go to no one in particular; he has asked that the Quantum Mechanic leave him in peace, and Douglas has been only too happy to comply.
Footsteps sound from upstairs, then travel throughout the house and finally into the kitchen. Cameron Pleasance places a hand on his friend's shoulder. Kirk looks up.
"Morning, love. Sleep well?"
"As well as I could. How are you doing?"
"Troubled. Tired. I don't know what to do any more. Have we been forsaken? Shouldn't the angel have taken us with him? Has there been a Rapture already?"
"I don't know." Cameron sits down. "We've never known, honey. That's what our faith is for. That's what our faith is - trust. We must trust in God, or we shall surely go astray." Kirk sighs in exasperation.
"I know. Thank you. You've always been so good for me." They embrace, reserved and awkward, trying not to arouse each other.
"Just as you have shown Christ's love to me." The two men begin to eat in silence. They clean the kitchen in silence. They watch television from opposite ends of the couch, desperately avoiding all possible temptation so that they will not sully themselves in the eyes of their god. Ministries have been falling through the cracks, a global crisis of faith ushered in by the Quantum Mechanic's new Eden. But a few still preach the good news, and that's all that Rayford and Pleasance watch these days.
"And John said unto them, 'Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.' And so we see this spirit, we see his works, we hear his words. John continues, 'Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.' But he does not say this, does he?" The man on the screen pauses for dramatic effect. "No, he says that there is no god, that Jesus shall not return. What of it? Read on: 'And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.' Ah. Now we may begin to see the truth of things."
The man stares into the camera for a good, long moment.
"So what have we here? A man who does miracles, who proclaims that there is no god, but then acts himself like God. A man who would abolish the law, unite the world, and set us apart from God. A man who flouts the very order of Creation! This man, we may be sure, is the antichrist! But who among you knew that he was here? Who among you can say where he dwelleth? Who could have guessed when he first began to walk among us? No man saw him coming, not one of us knew the hour, and here he is, and so we know that our time is at hand!
"People, be strong. Be patient. Trust in God, have faith, and you shall be rewarded. The Devil himself walks the Earth, clothed like a man, hiding his true nature. Those who have insight shall not be deceived: we have heard the words, and we have taken note, and we shall see the truth of things. Behold, it is written: 'And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.' What did we see when the angel of the Lord did lay waste to the Quantum Mechanic? Another body - but a head of the true beast, as it were - did come forth as if from nothing!
"But it does not stop there: 'And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.' Good people, see what is before you for what it is! Do not be deceived! Heed the words of scripture, that you may be guided to the truth!
"We read in Thessalonians, 'Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?' Ask yourselves, good people - who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God? Who sitteth in the temple, as it were, and shews to all the world that he is God? Who does all these things? Lest ye not believe, there is more!
"Behold, the word of the Lord: 'For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.'
"Do not be deceived, my fellow believers! Do not allow the temptor to capture your heart with easy pleasures and empty promises: he is a liar, and a thief, a pretender to divinity who shall be struck down along with all who have trusted in him!"
"Is it really true, Kirk? I mean, we see the signs all around us, but - I don't know. Now that it looks like it's actually happening - I mean - I just - I don't know." Kirk puts a hand over Cameron's.
"Be strong, Cam. Have faith. We have stayed on our path for this long, and we see now that we only have a little longer to go. We have sacrificed so much for this, we have denied ourselves the pleasures of the flesh at every turn, we have devoted our lives to the sole worthy purpose of the glory of God - and now the time of our reward draws near."
"It just seems like it's getting worse before it gets better, somehow."
"Things often do."
"But - I don't know. I mean, for all those people out there - the lost ones, the sinners - it breaks my heart. Things seem to be going so well for them, and so they can't see what's on the horizon because they're too busy looking down at their feet."
"I know, it's hard. But they are lost in their sin. Such is the state of the world: they put happiness before holiness, gratification before justice, pleasure before purity. They have their reward now."
"And we shall have ours soon, I suppose."
"Very soon, indeed." Both men are startled by the new voice behind them. They turn to see the Entropic Engineer standing in the middle of the living room, ablaze in radiant glory.
"Are you - are you - " Rayford stammers.
"I am the angel of the Lord. The herald of the end times. I walk in the world, as a thief in the night, taking those to Heaven who are worthy. You are few and far between, true believers." Tears begin to stream down Cameron's face. Kirk is shocked into silence. "Are you ready?" Kirk finds his voice again, and whoops for joy.
"Yes. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!"
"That makes two of us," Pleasance mumbles meekly.
"Then take my hand, and we shall be gone from this accursed place. We shall return with the Heavenly Host to destroy the wretched vileness that grows here." The Entropic Engineer walks up to them; they rise to their feet, and each grasps an outstretched hand.
The world falls away, giving way to light and warmth.
Kirk Rayford stands upon nothing at all. Come to think of it, he is not standing. Nor does he have a body any longer. Awareness creeps at the edges of his consciousness, struggling to overcome the training of his human perceptions. He feels Cameron nearby, and turns to face his love.
Cameron Pleasance is changed, changed utterly. He sees the angel of the Lord before him, no less radiant for all the light and loveliness that pours into his mind. He and Kirk have been glorified, and they now live not as mere human vessels, but as beings of pure soul light. The Entropic Engineer beckons, and walks towards a shining city in the distance.
In time, the three of them come to a great gate alight with iridescent splendor. The Entropic Engineer waves a hand, and the gates swing open, a chorus of angels singing in ecstasy. Everything inside is ephemeral and shining, the true and perfected forms after which all Earthly things are made. Kirk and Cameron cannot take it all in, and let the glory wash over them.
"Saints, you have borne your burdens with grace and humility. You walked with God through your tribulations and did not falter. Here is your eternal reward: welcome to the Kingdom of God." A single word fills the minds of Rayford and Pleasance: divine.
"May we see the Lord," Kirk asks after a long moment?
"Of course. I shall take you to him. Be as movement, and follow me."
They pass through cities, worlds, dimensions, planes of existence, each one more vast and glorious than the last. Finally, they come to the Throne, the seat of the Lord. At his right hand is a rather mundane-looking robed man of Middle Eastern appearance. His wrists and feet bear jagged holes, and a crown of thorns is upon his head. The Entropic Engineer bows deeply.
"Lord, your servants have requested an audience, and your emissary has brought them to you. Praise be unto you, O most high one." The two who were once men gaze upon the Throne, and find no words to describe the rapturous joy that fills their hearts. A single thought forms at the front of their consciousnesses: "Ask, and ye shall receive." Cameron speaks first.
"Lord, please, I ask that you show me your works in all their glory and splendor. I wish to see the world as you do, to understand all that there is." With that, Cameron is gone, taken to parts unknown to witness Creation.
"Lord, I would know how I may love Cameron, now that we are freed of our sinful flesh. We have striven to show your love for us, and to keep ourselves free of corruption, but now at last we may - " Christ steps forward, and Kirk is silenced.
"Guard your heart, my son," he says, "For you stand now in the glory of the Lord your God. Know that there is no unholiness here. You have lived well, and now you may live perfectly. But even as the Morningstar did fall from grace, so too must you remain ever-vigilant against impurity and blasphemy."
"But - " Christ waves his hand, and Kirk is silent. He feels like crying, and then he does. Suddenly possessed of a body, he falls to his knees, naked and cold. He feels like he is sinking. He is, in fact, sinking - slipping away from the Throne, from Christ, from the angel of the Lord. He tries to call out for help, but no air is in his lungs.
"You were warned, Rayford," says the Entropic Engineer, as he watches Kirk begin to fall from Heaven. "You allowed sin into your mind once more, and it is now made flesh in you. We are sorry, but you can no longer dwell here. You shall have no peace, but all will come to an end for you soon."
Picking up speed now, Kirk tumbles through nothing for an age. Darkness approaches him, and now even his flesh begins to strip away. Agony now, screaming and clawing and burning and choking, torment beyond belief as his bones are bared, bleached, and burned. He feels the jaws of Oblivion open up to swallow him as his soul begins to unravel.
Cameron sails through time out of mind, witnesses the laying of the Earth's foundation, the making of all that would come to be. He sees the fall of Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the terrible flood. He witnesses all of history through the eyes of God, sees the plan behind all things, understands the workings of every device conceived by the Lord and made into reality. It leaves him humbled and in awe. He returns to the Throne.
"My Lord, all you have done, all you have made, it is amazing! But - where is Kirk?"
"Be still, my son," Christ says. "He pined for unholiness, and it came unto him. Do not let it into your heart, or you shall join him in un-being."
"What? How could you?! I thought - I thought we could finally be together, and now - "
"Master yourself, Cameron," insists the Entropic Engineer. "You are following after your friend, and you must not!"
"I just - I don't think that Heaven is worth losing - " He is cut off, choking now, struggling to breathe or speak as a being of flesh in a realm of idea. Christ approaches him.
"I am sorry, my son, but you cannot love any other more than you love God. There is no sadness in this place. And so you must fall."
The Entropic Engineer stands alone after Pleasance is obliterated, burning with rage, finally sputtering out in exasperation. Heaven has fallen away. None have been worthy. No matter how many people are brought into the realm of holiness, none can maintain their purity. Why? Why?! How can no one, not even with a glorified body and after being freed from the temptations of the flesh, stay pure in the dwelling of light?
How does one build an army from an empty Heaven?