Shannever's Temptation to Sin
Sun City was reputed to be the most beautiful city on WOSTANE when I was growing up. My name is Shannever LaMarkal, my friends call me Shan for short. I was born in Sun City in the Elysian Archipelago (or Elysia). Elysia is a part of the nation known as the Chee Empire, our head of government is the Eternal Empress Loyan Christa, and she rules The Chee Empire from her capital Funcity. The Chee Empire is one of the richer nations of WOSTANE, perhaps rivaled only by the technology center of the planet, Chefari. Sun City is right across the bay from the Centaur Reserve, and if you live on the beach (as I do), you can see the mountains of Asafa Rock. It was great growing up in the Chee Empire! Millions of tourists both local and off planet, visit the Chee Empire every year. You learn to have an open mind and attitude from you are very young.
I must tell you of an experience that I had as a youngster, I was perhaps fourteen years old when it started. My ambition at the time was to become a priest in the YAAD Movement, a very popular religion on WOSTANE. The movement was based in the city of Kingstown, the capital of the nation of Yaad. The priests in Yaad were the most popular musicians on the planet. They made much more credit than anyone else, even the Jam Rockers whose music was very popular off planet. When you saw holovideos of these priests, they wore beautiful clothes and jewelry, their music was rhythmic and infectious, the lyrics to their songs were intellectual and provocative; as a child I was very impressed by them.
“That is what I want to do when I grow older.” I said one day to my older sister Roeanne Spatial.
“Do you know what they stand for and profess?” she asked me.
“Not really,” I replied, “I just like the way they look and act, plus do you know how much money they make? Martel Bunna just sold three hundred million downloads of his new song ‘My Tradition’, if I was accepted into the priesthood and wrote a few good songs, I could be rich by the time I am twenty two years old. That’s how old Bunna is now!”
“That isn’t enough Shan!” Roeanne’s retort was short and sharp, “You have to examine their values and messages and decide whether or not you agree with them. You can’t just join a religion just because you want to make money! Your life could become very difficult and complicated if you did that.”
I was thinking now, what was Ro trying to tell me? Was there something more to the Yaad Movement and their priests beyond the pretty music and girls screaming and fainting at their stage shows?
“I tell you what,” Roeanne was a bit calmer now that I was listening. “Listen to their music, I have some on my desktop and you can get more online from pretty much every music platform. Check them out.”
I decided to. For the next several months, the music coming out of Kingstown was all I had time for. After a while, I noticed that these priests were angry at something.
“What is a minnow?” I asked Roeanne one day. I had queried it with several search engines and had not come up with anything concrete.
“A fish.” She replied and snickered. Ro could be quite trying if she was in the mood for it.
“I know that!” I returned perhaps a bit testily. “What I want to know is what does the High Priest mean when he says ‘Death to the Minnow’? I know he’s not talking about a fish.”
“Oh! They don’t approve of homosexuality in men, Shan. Apparently, they have based their belief on an ancient religious text from Old Earth, it advocates putting homosexual men to death.”
Spanish Town, Jamaica
I was perplexed, “But what is that really about?” I inquired, “Doesn’t everyone have the right to use their body as they see fit?” This really disturbed me, the Social Skills course was taught in schools as soon as children could actively read, and I had read WOSTANE’s International Charter of the Rights of the Individual when I was seven years old. My teacher had spent a whole month of class reading and discussing it with us.
“These priests don’t think so,” Roeanne said, “they believe in heterosexuality exclusively.”
“But they don’t have to indulge” I was getting angry at the obvious stupidity, “no one is forcing them to do anything, why can’t they just tolerate others? It is our differences that keep us vibrant as a culture.”
“I don’t know the answer to that Shan,” Ro’s voice was gentle, almost as if she was apologizing for the priests. “Why religious people believe what they believe has always been a mystery to me. Personally, I wouldn’t want a God who would kill or punish me for using the same powers of self determination and free will that He designed me with. Perhaps that’s why I worship Mom and Dad. They at least want me to be as much myself as I can be, and they don’t judge me or get angry if my values and decisions differ from theirs. That’s what I want in a God.”
“I’ve changed my mind.” The finality in my voice startled me, this situation had changed me and I had not been prepared. “I will not have anything to do with people who hate and fear others because they are different. Prejudice is dangerous and unproductive; I can’t believe anything but pain will come from this. Those priests should know better.”
That should have been that, but now I was aware of the Yaadis (as they styled themselves). As I said before, they were very charismatic, even with the obvious contradictions in their arguments, people were listening to them. Everywhere I went, on the streets, in the holos, online, people were discussing the issue that they had raised – was homosexuality immoral?
I listened to the arguments, it was all very confusing. I had already formed my opinion based on my upbringing and education but when I listened to others discussing the issue, I became unsure. Now the priests were basing their arguments on an Old Earth religious book called the Bible. At the time, I had never been exposed to it, but when I realized that all their doctrine came from it, I went online and downloaded a copy onto my notebook. It took me a whole year to read it from start to end. I didn’t get it totally, but I had a general idea of what it said, so using my bookmarks, I went through the relevant parts a second time. I also researched the origins and stories of the people who wrote the different sections of this book so that I would understand the setting and issues surrounding the composition of the book. Eventually, I came to the inevitable conclusion; it was pretty much what I had thought before I read the tome.
“Either these priests can’t read or they are making mischief.” I said one day to my girlfriend Chelle.
“What do you mean Shan?” probed Chelle.
“I mean,” I said with a patience that I was not feeling, “that their doctrine totally contradicts the teaching of the book that they base their arguments on.”
What does the Bible say?” she inquired. I wasn’t surprised that she had not read it, even with all the attention that this book had been getting. On WOSTANE, religion is more about feeling good and encouraging others to feel good more than anything else. Entertainment really! The Chee Empire epitomized this attitude and took it to a higher level. There is no devil in Empire religious teachings, no vengeful God and definitely absolutely no sin. The manner in which the priests of Yaad interpreted this book would be laughed out of most religious assemblies in the Empire.
“Well, in a nutshell,” I began slowly; I wanted to make sure that I was concise, but it was also important that I mentioned all the relevant points. “The Jehovah God made everything and made sure that each thing he made was good. He then created a pair of human beings. The first man was warned by the Creator not to decide that anything was evil, but he disregarded this warning. He decided that nakedness was bad. His sin caused people to start dying and this situation continued until God’s Son came to Earth to sacrifice His life to redeem humanity from Hell. The law in question was made by a very sinful man called Moses about three thousand years before the advent of the Son. That was not the only law he made, there was about a thousand of them, and most of them were absolutely ridiculous and downright cruel. After he died his followers kept adding to his silliness and by the time God’s Son was born, there were ten thousand laws on the books.
“Oh my! What a horrible thing!” Chelle cried.
“C’mon!” It was my turn to be exclamatory, “Don’t interrupt, I want to get it straight,” I winked at her because she had gone a little pale. Chelle had quite the imagination; I guess she was thinking about what I had told her about the Bible so far, well, she was the one who wanted to know.
“Anyway,” I resumed the story, “The Son was known as Jesus and he cursed the followers of Moses and called them vipers and hypocrites. He taught his followers to love and tolerate each other despite of their differences. He also said to them ‘Judge not’. In addition, He never judged anyone even when tempted to, eventually the followers of Moses prosecuted and executed Him in a most cruel manner, but in no time, He was resurrected by His Father. It’s a beautiful story! I don’t see the point of the Yaadis.”
“I don’t either Shan Shan,” Chelle was back to her usual warm cheery self now. “And you know what, I’ve never believed anything those thugs from Kingstown had to say. I abhor their stupid songs and their donkey rhythms. I find them vulgar, gaudy and tacky. It’s great to have you back in the world of the true and living. I was starting to worry that I would need another life partner.” Chelle then kissed me and went her way, slamming the kitchen door in the process.
Resolution and Victory! God is GOOD!
After that discussion, I tried to put the controversy out of my mind, it was everywhere however, and emotions were escalating. There was chaos developing surrounding the issue. Some of the younger crowd had formed gangs on either side of the question and were physical in their defense of their position. Every clash between these gangs made the news.
It came to a head in my mind when I was nineteen years old. Four of the seven nations had by this time, banned the Yaadis and their music. The governments were not allowed to legislate personal choices however, so those who wished to hear them had easy access through the “net”. By this time, there was literally war on the streets. Because the doctors of my world can heal and resurrect, there were no casualties, but severe woundings and attempted murders were becoming commonplace planetwide.
Now sometimes, a group of my closest friends would get together and engage in heavy petting and sometimes group intercourse. In one of these sessions, something life changing occurred. There were twelve of us in my friend Mystic’s room, there were five boys: Mekal, Grigor, Mawnee, Kraas, and myself. There were seven girls: Surelee, Atilda, Juju, Carina, Chelle, Prinelle and of course, Mystic. We would switch partners regularly in proper swinger tradition, but because of the make-up of the group there would always be two extra girls.
Although I was enjoying myself fully, my mind was preoccupied with the problem of the Yaadis doctrine. I was fully aware that some places on WOSTANE were not as progressive as the Empire. This rested on me for some reason, always; many times I wondered why I couldn’t just put these madmen out of my mind. I would invariably return to the problem however, it was as if, there was something that was irritating my psyche, which made it impossible for me to simply ignore the Yaad Movement. We had switched partners several times already, and every time this happened, the two extra girls would waste no time getting it on with and pleasing each other.
“So how come they can have sex with each other and we can’t?” I said to Kraas. I must have really been affected by this problem; the words were out of my mouth before I knew that I was going to talk.
I’ve been thinking the same thing since these damn idiot Yaadis resurrected hell.” replied Kraas.
“Come here Krass, I’m tired of being afraid.” All action ceased in the room and everybody was so quiet I could hear the freeway through the almost soundproof walls although it was half a kilometer away. Everybody’s attention was trained on both of us. I went on my knees and said,
“Put it in!”
Krass did and the pain was shocking.
“Shit! Push up further.” When Krass did, I groaned,
“Hell no! Too much pain! Pull out!
Again Krass obeyed and I got up and gingerly massaged my ass. Now that it was over, the pain and shock was receding but it was not quite gone. Too impulsive! I thought, had I planned this properly I would have gotten some lubricant and would have been able to enjoy my deflowering. I was heading back over to Atilda when Krass held on to my shoulder, no one else had moved or spoken yet.
“No sir, you don’t get to have all the fun, return the favor.” I was not surprised; Krass was a man of conviction. When I pushed up into Krass, he reacted in the same manner that I had, without lubes it was no fun. I pulled out of him. The room erupted, the girls were dying with laughter, and the other guys were engaging in a raucous discussion, Atilda and Juju were rolling on the floor. Krass by this time had gotten off his knees; he put his arm around my shoulders, kissed me and said,
“I guess this means we’re now officially together.” This caused intensified laughter. By the time the laughter subsided, the 4D telemeet chimed.
“Now who could that be?” said Surelee, “What could be so important Mystic? I watched you set the privacy, who has the power to override it?” By this time, the telemeet was no longer chiming, its alarm, which signaled that the call was the highest priority, was sounding. Mystic shrugged and accepted the call. A hologram of Zeus, the Father of Elysia appeared in the middle of the room; he was naked; His muscles were corded and rippled under his bronze skin. He had dreadlocks going down to his back and his manhood was, to say the least... impressive. The hologram walked around the room surveying us, his expression was that of someone who had won a major victory over a seemingly invincible enemy. He was beaming, his eyes sparkled, and there was an air of supreme pride around him. He ran his hand through his glistening brown locks and said,
“I am so very proud of my children,” his voice was a deep rich bass, much like a lion rumbling a purr. “Shannever and Kraas front and center, I want to look at you two!” We positioned ourselves so that the AllFather could see us.
“What is going on Father?” asked Krass. The hologram of Zeus turned toward him.
“What you just did was very brave, you both followed you consciences in the face of heightened mental adversity, and we were watching.
“We who?” demanded Prinelle rather indignantly, “Don’t we deserve privacy? You have violated us! I would like an explanation, and it better be good or I’m suing!” Zeus smiled; he didn’t look like he was worried about a lawsuit, if anything the air of triumph intensified.
“To the first question,” his voice was like the sound of distant thunder, “When I say we, I refer to the trustees of the planet, namely, Central Worker, Myself, Odin, Sambeke Difari, and select staff from each office.” He smiled as he watched us digest this information. “As for the second, sometimes in order to learn, we have to go outside of the box of norms. You were being watched because you are special, it was not an accident, and we expected something from you guys.”
Once more, the AllFather paused and perused our reaction; apparently he wanted to ensure that we understood what was being communicated. His smile widened even more, I have never witnessed such a display of what I was realizing was - bliss. Then he resumed speaking, “All of you, with the exception of Mystic, are cousins. Your family has a geas-assisted fixation on Justice. For generations you have been bred and conditioned to fight injustice. Today you did very well.”
“OK Father, so you were watching,” I spoke softly and slowly, considering every word before uttering it. What Zeus said made sense in a very authentic way; it also explained why I couldn’t have gotten my mind off the Yaadis and their asinine doctrine. It also explained the relief I felt now that had committed myself. “What was the point and what now?”
“Well, the point is that you children proved that the thinking and behavior of young people is changing. You should all research the history of Har-Maggedon on Old Earth.” The AllFather responded, “Part of the scene back then, was a group of people known as Rastafarians who much like our Yaadis, preached the hate and practiced the persecution of homosexual people, then known as ‘gays’.”
“Gay!” exclaimed Grigor in a tone that articulated his disgust, “So I should die because I’m happy? What a life!”
“The chaos the Rastas caused, especially in the society where their movement was based, is a matter of public record.”
“I know all about it.” interjected Krass, he looked at me, “that is what I meant when I said that the priests resurrected hell. The Rasta culture was called Jamaica, you don’t have to do much more than listen to a few of the songs from the period. That will cure any remnant of homophobia left in you. The music is wonderful, the lyrics – disgusting!" Krass grimaced.
“Our Yaadis are much the same,” continued Zeus, smiling beatifically. “We intend to air your episode on closed circuit for the adults and publish a child-friendly account online so that the children can also know. In return for your permission to do this, we are willing to add to everyone here...fifty thousand credits. There is an extra fifty thousand for Shannever and Krass who are of course, the big players. More smiling, more glowing, even more teeth, the AllFather was quite the reservoir of pure joy.
You could hear a pin drop. We were all stunned by this unexpected turn of events.
“Wow!” Carina breathed.
“Can I take that as a ‘Yes’?” Zeus queried, smiling even more widely. I was starting to worry about the Father. Certainly there had to be a limit to how much happiness one person could experience safely.
“Yes Father, thy will be done.” We said in unison. Zeus proceeded to bless each of us individually, afterwards he bid us a somewhat extended farewell; finally, the light of the hologram winked out.
“Well, wasn’t that something?” Juju observed rhetorically. Juju was, as far as my experience went, the most cynical person in existence. She had absolutely no reverence for nothing and no one. Today however, she seemed unusually sated; her face carried a rapt expression. I was hardly surprised.
“It just goes to show,” I said to nobody in particular, I was still pondering the day’s events, “that GOD is watching.”