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To Kill A God
By Richard Dani

People had been removing “Two Sticks” throughout the week. “Two Sticks” was what they called crucifixes in public---that or Divine “T.” Regardless of how often it was said, it somehow managed to lift their spirits. There was a lot of sadness back then.

It was Peter Monahan’s night to lead the prayer. Tall, blue-eyed and a firm believer in the faith, Peter was charged to speak and condemn the newest laws. He opened his leather-bound book and their ire was kindled. Everyone fell to their knees, bowed their heads and felt his words.

A few days later, the group had dwindled to ten. They met in the basement professing their faith and labeling the government’s restrictions as blasphemy.

Henry Milken claimed he hadn’t seen a single two-stick all week but he had discovered a small church over on Pear Street. Henry had entered with some reservations, or fear of the police, but he claimed his prayers must have kept them away. He hadn’t approached the altar, but he had seen enough. Henry broke out a wad of paper, which looked like a pamphlet of hymns, each boldly praising the Lord.

The next evening the group headed for the church, hiding their two sticks and prayer books in the basement. They would have to be careful. The cops on Main Street were circling like vultures and when Fred whispered “Amen,” one of the officers nearly overheard him.

The church was smaller then they had expected. Some of them hoped it would be filled followers, but only a handful were in attendance. Not with standing, the hope of a shared faith pulled the group inside. A small candle burned at the altar illuminating the strands of cobwebs that hung from the rotted rafters. In the front, three brown pews were occupied. Henry shuffled cautiously to the first pew and touched it with his shaking hand, which caused dust to waif upward. He leaned forward and whispered. One of congregation turned toward Henry and crossed themselves by touching their forehead, heart and each shoulder. Another person also greeted Henry, and he too made the cross. The group inched closer eager to partake in the shared religion.

“They’re believers,” Peter said and everyone nodded in agreement.

Henry beckoned his friends forward and they hurried to the pews. The followers had large, black Bibles and Peter reached for one. On the altar, a large man appeared and he was completely cloaked in robes. He presence boosted their spirits and they waited for him to speak. The group could barely contain themselves and a few of them broke into prayer.

“This isn’t right,” cried Peter as he dropped the book to the floor. “The pages are all empty.”

As if on cue, a squadron entered the church and Henry stood up. He said, “Scatter!”

But no one heard him. The police whipped out their guns and opened fire. Peter was the first one down. A bullet, which must have had a hollowed point, ruptured his head like an overstuffed trash bag causing his gray matter and blood to splatter. His body crumpled to the floor and spewed its fluids from what looked like a hundred severed hoses.

The police didn’t stop there. One-by-one the rest of them were shot down.

Henry raced for a window ducking and weaving the whole way. He could feel the bullets whizzing by him and he thanked God as each one missed. He dove toward the pane of stained glass and as his head broke through it, a large shard cleaved both his esophagus and jugular. His body continued through the portal and came to rest in the alley. Staring up at the night sky, his prayers amounted to small gurgles spurting from the wounds in his neck.

These days people don’t talk much about religion. Science has relegated it to a position along side fairy tales and folklore. But every once in a while someone will still offer up a prayer. Sometimes it’s before a big meal and others do it when they’re putting their children to bed. But regardless of the occasion, it’s almost always met with a laugh.

If you have no questions or fears about your abilities, then you will learn nothing from your mistakes and know nothing about your limitations.

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The following comments are for "To Kill A God"
by Richard Dani

to Richard Dani
Sounds kind of like something out of the Left Behind series.

What exactly is "their ire", who's ire? The people, or the laws or?I would say there is ambiguity in meaning here?

"completely cloaked in robes" Do you think if someone is cloaked in robes, you presume it is completely? Ly end words are not that good to use anyways.

This story is morbidly ironic, how nice.

The great contrast between the last paragraph and the contrast from the previous one suits perfectly.

( Posted by: Furius [Member] On: June 11, 2002 )

re: to furius
Thanks for both the positive and not-so-positive feedback. I like it all. As for their ire, I purposefully left the beginning vague and that is just one of the examples of it.

I wanted the reader to stumble around in the dark for a while. Goodness knows thats not always the best idea, but I wanted to experiment.

As for "-ly" words, don't confuse Stephen King's opinion with gospel---it is just that---his opinion and you will find many other professionals who disagree and if you read his books you'll find plenty of "ly" words sprinkled about. Again, I wanted vagueness and saying that someone is cloaked in robes just didn't cut it. I wanted his head and face concealed as well. Granted I could have said that, and it have been more clear. BUT, I didn't want clarity. I was shooting for vagueness, which I felt would make the story feel more creepy.

It is afterall about oppression in it's most complete form.

Like I said, thanks for the comments and allowing me to explain a couple of things. I really appreciate it.


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: June 12, 2002 )

just for the record
I have never read Stephen King, nor plan to.

That ly comment I actually gathered from varied resources on editing and writing.

Just a question, why were you shooting for vagueness in this kind of story?

( Posted by: Furius [Member] On: June 13, 2002 )

re: record
I'm not going to argue with you about the validity of "ly" words, but like all things I feel they have their place and their use. And since King came out so vocally against them, they've gotten a bad rap.

As for vagueness, far too often I think we spoonfeed the reader, which can take something away. For instance, I mentioned the "Bible." That was an error because it limited the religion that was being abolished. I wanted the reader to be able to apply it across the board regardless of their nationality, country or spiritual leanings.

Further, by applying some vagueness to the story I thought it might help to draw the reader in as they searched for some kind of meaning.

Lastly, I just wanted to experiment. Sometimes it's fun to try new things.

Hey, thanks for the lively discussion. That's what makes a lit scene worthwhile--the exchange of ideas and all. It also helps to make us better writers.


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: June 13, 2002 )

supercool story
It's a very good work, Rich. The concept behind the work is excellent. I think you said that you should have left out the reference to the bible. In my opinion, you're wrong. You found just the right combination of vagueness and precision.

I'll also spout off about Stephen King and his restriction "ly" words. I agree with you that all things are appropriate in their place, especially when you're talking about language. A writer is a craftsman and has to have a full tool-box. But, I mean, who the heck does Stephen King think he is? I've read a couple Stephen King books and I would say he's a few inches short of being a literary genius.

( Posted by: Seanspacey [Member] On: June 13, 2002 )

Thanks Sean. When I wrote this, I hoped it was the type of story that might be thought provoking and spurn a little discussion. However, I thought the debate would be about "oppression" not "-ly" words. Funny how things work out.

As for "-ly" words, I probably use certain ones more than I should, such as, "Evidently," "Occassionly," and "Certainly." And in print formats where stories are generally longer and more readable it's easier to avoid their use. But on the internet, stories need to be shorter and for that reason, "ly" words are much more viable.

Thanks for chiming in on the debate and for the comments on the story. Glad you liked it.


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: June 14, 2002 )

deserves more jawing
I was very blunt when I commented on "to kill a god". But I really liked the work. It's one of the best works I've read on the internet. But I'm just not a very talkative fellow. Honestly, I was more thrilled with your description of religion itself rathern than with your description of the oppression of religion. But hey.

( Posted by: Seanspacey [Member] On: June 14, 2002 )

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