Written by Ken Carman
The days had been growing progressively darker when they arrived that late autumn day at the Professor’s doorstep. Time was short and growing shorter, this… everyone knew. The media had been splattering the reason all over the news and the talk shows, so violence and looting had become ho hum: mundane. Still, a good portion of humanity hoped; according to their belief or lack of belief, that God, or Science, or fate would save them, though the gentle glow of such hope within the hearts of humanity was growing more and more a dying ember with the increasing darkness.
“He won’t answer,” the patrolman said. “The housekeeper told the University he was sick; caught the new flu they discovered last year that we got from our pets. Kind of like how they say the swine flu jumped; probably because God was punishing us for our sins, or like he did with AIDS for tolerating Homos. Bet God’s still got that thing mutating. Bet he’s even keeping eggheads like the professor from finding a cure. My minister, Brother William, tells me God’s really mad at us. Hope they die first. Eh, I think such eggheads are all sick to begin with. I’ll be raptured soon, so it’s all good. But I think if we just shot them all God might forgive us and bless us again. Or maybe this is the work of Satan, or the government. Same thing. Government should just keep their hands off of everything…”
“Patrolman. That’s enough already.” The Sarge was more than annoyed. Why do cops always think they know everything? Why do so many think killing, beating or jailing was a cure all? Everything’s some “conspiracy.” Why did he always get stuck with the most ignorant ones? And why do they hate everyone smarter than they are? He had to admit though, as a cop himself, he noticed arrogance seemed to be an occupational disease foisted upon them mostly by all they saw, all they went through.
“Well, just remember the University didn’t send us here for any of that. They want to know why he hasn’t shown his face on campus for three weeks. He’s pretty damn important, they think. One of his students came here yesterday and the next time she was seen she was babbling; speaking gibberish, foaming at the mouth. That’s how we got this warrant. Wonder what she saw?”
The patrolman fondled his cross; a necklace he wore everywhere. It really wasn’t up to regs for a patrolman to wear a big cross on the job, but the department didn’t want yet another freedom of religion lawsuit on its hands. Recently all the loons were out, claiming this was the end times and too many of them were cops. So many cops prefer simple answers, he felt, because it helped them deal with the worst of humanity. Some churches provided them those “answers.” The department put up with it because they didn’t want more freedom of religion lawsuits on their hands. Too much to deal with now with all the looting, murder and insanity driven by the darkening days.
“What did she see?” The patrolman didn’t even stop to take a breath to answer his own question. “Probably just him performing sodomy on her, or some sick ritual. These college types are all perverts, atheists or worship Satan. They’re an abomination. If someone does answer the door all you’ll get is his housekeeper. He thinks he’s so damn superior to everyone he won’t come to his own door. He sends her.”
“Yeah, I wonder what the student saw too,” Sarge said out loud. He immediately regretted it.
“Don’t know. Some abomination. These liberal colleges are full of perversion, sick bastard. I say we break in and grill him about her.”
“That really, really is quite enough patrolman. We’re here to find him and see what’s the matter with him. This isn’t an Inquisition. Your religious opinions are noted, but don’t apply to our job here. We’re here to find out what happened, get him back to the college, if we can, and then back to work. Hopefully that flu hasn’t killed him. The last thing we heard from the housekeeper is he seems to be slowly getting better. Probably true. He may be a lucky man to get it this late. Seems less people are getting it now, and when they do it’s not as bad. Probably mutating again. Wonder where it will jump now?”
“Homos,” the patrolman said with a smirk.
Sarge cringed and, to himself, wondered why those like the patrolman who followed a Savior who preached love are usually the most hateful. How do they pass the psyche tests? Was he the last sane person in the department?
He rang again.
“So what does the housekeeper say?”
“Not much. She just says he doesn’t want to be disturbed. Doing sick, twisted evil stuff, probably.”
The Sarge sighed. “Well, you’re right about one thing patrolman. These geniuses are often pretty eccentric. But this guy’s important. I heard he and his students are responsible for a lot of the equations that have helped us in the space program and with energy problems.”
He rang it again.
“The University wants him back. He and the students been working on formulas that will predict the trajectory of the asteroid. That way the military and the scientists know where to aim, what load to use, where to strike.”
He rang it again.
They were silent for a brief moment, though the patrolman was obvious eager to break in. Everyone knew about the asteroid; damn near the size of Rhode Island that was darkening the skies. Sarge knew that time was getting short. He’d have to give the patrolman his wish.
“We have to kick it in, Sarge.”
“Well, you seem so damn eager. Go ahead patrolman. Kick it.”
The patrolman kicked hard, the door caved and then he rushed in: gun drawn.
“Patrolman, don’t do anything rash. Remember we’re here to help him.”
Sarge found the patrolman in the corner of the Professor’s bedroom, gun still in hand, getting very sick. On the bed was the housekeeper. She was shaking. Her very skin seemed to be vibrating. Between spastic emptying the contents of his stomach on the floor, the patrolman moaned, “What in the name of Jesus did he do to his housekeeper?”
“Nothing we know of yet, patrolman.” But the horrific vision before him soon turned ugly and even Sarge felt his stomach lurch.
Snap. Bulge. Skin stretched. Bones broke and reformed into a different, taller, more masculine form. What looked like blood, but wasn’t, splattered where it had obviously splattered before. And slowly, hideously, she transformed into the Professor.
“Oh, God, Christ all mighty, what in the name of Hell…”
“Calm yourself patrolman.” Wise advice he had trouble following himself.
They weren’t ready for the next transformations. Back to housekeeper, back to Professor. Was that… to Christ? Gandhi? on through multiple possibly famous and equally unknown or forgotten people throughout history. The transformations the Professor and the housekeeper were going through were so horrible, terrifying and filled with what seemed like, and yet wasn’t, blood, he finally thought he was going to join the patrolman. But when he turned, before his churning gut could let go… he noticed the patrolman wasn’t there. What he heard next was even worse, more sickening…
“Get behind me Sa…”
Five loud shots made the rest of what the patrolman yelled inaudible. The shots slammed into the Professor. Then the patrolman screamed obscenities and collapsed. The Professor was very still: left half professor, half housekeeper.
Who and what had he, had she, been? Alien? Demon? The last of some species who has been with us all this time and has tried to help us survive our own insanity? Did it matter anymore?
As the midday sky grew darker he swore he could almost hear death approaching from the heavens. His thoughts were filled with Einstein’s equations being used for the bomb, a Memphis shooting so long ago and crucifixion. Who had the Professor been in the past? Had he been the only one of his kind, or the last? Or maybe he was human, just a mutant: able to disguise himself and his unique talent, never able to die because he could keep regenerating… someone who would have been stoned, lynched or locked away; far away, if revealed.
He pondered the last, wondering why the best humanity had to offer always wound up being used for evil, or destroyed by evil masked as faith, religion and good…
And he wondered maybe, just maybe, this time humanity had finally murdered its last Savior.
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