[LNHY/ACRA] The Daily Super Short-Short Story #63 [Long, again]

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Sat Nov 20 16:18:10 PST 2004

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #63 [Long, again]
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 45: Epilogue 2
[Due to popular perception (ie, comment from more than one person) that I 
haven't properly tied up the main themes of this story, I'm going to do 
another post.]
     More than a week later Martin and TJ were waiting in front of the 
baseball park for Delroy and Shane to arrive. Martin had worked up a bit 
of a sweat after a bunch of high-tech costumed thieves had turned up with 
a tank armed with a sonic cannon and tried to rob a museum of sport 
memorabilia two blocks down the street. Now the pair of them were waiting 
again, idly watching the crowds who were gawping as the police took away 
the malefactors after MegaMetal BlastLord had apprehended them.
     "That was well done," said TJ.
     "Thanks," said Martin. He didn't look particularly enthusiastic 
though. In fact, he looked somewhat resigned.
     "But I think that if you're going to continue doing this, you'll have 
to change your codename," TJ said seriously.
     "Pfftt," went Martin. "All the good codenames have been taken." Which 
was wasn't /quite/ true, but in any case was not, as far as TJ could tell, 
the real issue.
     "Martin, you're not Lisa. You don't have continually play at being a 
superhero if you don't feel comfortable at it. And you definitely don't have 
try to battle *every* crime that your come across - you'll burn out if you 
     "I know I'm not Lisa!" Martin snapped. "But I've got the same type 
of problem, even if it's more complex. I may be called to do good as a 
Benandanti but I've also got to put up with the drag of evil from being a 
Nephalim. I don't want to... slip up and fall into indifference or anything 
just because I'm not comfortable with the superhero schtick. That's a 
slippery slope." He sighed. "But, yeah, I realised a while back that I 
couldn't fix everything," he said with a more conciliatory tone. He 
shrugged. "It's hardly as though I try though. It's not like I go On Patrol 
or anything."
     "Have you thought about lower profile occupations within your Church? 
Like demon hunting or exorcisms? Actually, that also brings up the issue 
of what, exactly, do the Benandati do? I mean, presumably Saint Christopher 
has a more concrete agenda for fighting spiritual evil than humans could 
ever come up with."
     Martin shrugged again. "I've been looking for answers to that myself. 
I haven't seen St. Chris since those first few meetings, so I've been 
looking into some of the old archives. The problem is... well," and here 
Martin looked somewhat abashed, "unless it was under the Church's direct 
control, anything strange tended to be labelled as being the work of the 
     TJ nodded. "Mmm, yeah. Demonisation. It's a function of politics. The 
Catholics aren't the only ones who do things like that." He paused and 
said, "I'm not going to say that you shouldn't worry about it, because 
that's exactly the type of moral decline that you said were worried about 
sliding into. But you should keep in mind that it's a very *human* failing."
     "We're supposed to be better than that," Martin said, somewhat testily, 
eliciting a shrug from TJ. "Everybody says that," the latter said. "'Supposed 
to be' is only good if you actually intend to follow through with it, rather 
than use it as a blanket excuse to cover up your flaws."
     Martin frowned at him. It was one of the things that he had discovered 
about TJ that still disconcerted him. TJ may be a cynic and a paranoid, but 
he was extremely egalitarian in his cynicism and his paranoia. As long as 
it wasn't threatening him personally, it was almost like being lectured by 
a kindly old saint who gently pointed out your character flaws in an attempt 
to reform you. But Martin also knew - because he had peeked - that if TJ 
thought it was a threat to himself, then he went all quiet and intense and 
began planning exactly what form of ultraviolence to use to defend himself. 
It was a paradox that Martin worried about in trying to socialise the 
young mutant and maybe try to help heal him.
     "Yes, well, anyway, there wasn't much stuff on the Benandanti that I 
could find, except for references in folklore and more recent fantasy 
material - and I certainly don't trust the latter stuff. I'll keep looking, 
but I think I'll just have to ask." Then Martin changed the subject 
somewhat. "Actually, that brings up an interesting question. You've never 
met St. Christopher, so how come you're so willing to accept from me that 
he's real? You aren't prepared to take my word that Jesus is God, and 
you've met *him*."
     TJ went quiet for a moment, and Martin began to worry that maybe he'd 
offended him. TJ could be prickly like that. It wasn't just physical stuff 
that he interpreted as threats.
     "I don't see why that's such a problem," TJ said, finally. There's a 
world of difference between knowing something exists and thinking that it's 
important. I mean, if you pay proper attention to the antics of the super-
heroes in the news, you soon realise that there's loads of gods and demons 
and stuff out there, all from mutually contradictory myths and religions. 
Most of them seem to match up to the general details of their mythologies, 
but still get things slightly different - and none of them seem to be 
trustworthy on the issue of whether they're the real creator of the universe 
or just faith-based parasites. They can't all be true, and in any case I've 
seen enough of what they AND THEIR FOLLOWERS get up to realise that all of 
them are crapping on to draw in new worshippers. So, no, of course I don't 
believe in your Jesus. Or Jahweh or Allah or whatever. But I'm perfectly 
happy to accept your word that you've met St. Christopher. And that he 
really does have the head of a dog."
     A thought occurred to Martin. "I wonder if that's why people who don't 
believe are atheists. They've seen too much?"
     "I kind of doubt it," said TJ. "Most people don't seem to pay attention 
to the weird stuff."
     "Mmm. St. Chris said much the same thing, come to think of it. Although 
he was talking about the way everyone seemed surprised every time there was 
an alien invasion."
     "That's about the size of it. I'm still not sure why. It's not like the 
way your average man of the street doesn't think constantly about famines 
in Africa. This seems to be something slightly different. Sometimes people 
don't even recognise weirdness even as it's happening right in front of 
them, and if they do it's probably because its something big causing 
property damage. It's strange, because there are other things, like the 
fact that people with superpowers exist, doesn't faze them."
     "Hey," said Martin with a wicked grin. "Maybe that's why atheists 
don't believe. They're editing out the stuff they don't want to think 
about, so they can't see the evidence in front of them."
     TJ raised an eyebrow. "You sure you want to follow that line of 
thought? Because the obvious conclusion is that people who belong to one 
religion or another are so committed to their faith that they *only* see 
the evidence that supports their way of thinking, even if there's other 
evidence having a Fight Scene right in front of them."
     Martin pouted. TJ shook his head. "Hey, I didn't say it was *bad* idea. 
It might even be true in some cases; I really can't speak for how anyone 
else thinks. I just meant that if you take it to its logical conclusion, 
that you're going to get some results that you might find uncomfortable."
     Martin sighed ruefully. "I think I realise well enough that being 
right doesn't always mean being comfortable."
     "Yes," said TJ, and from the suddenly flat tone of voice Martin knew 
that he was thinking about the camps.
     "Tim. Listen. A few minutes ago you told me that even if I shouldn't 
ignore that sort of thing, that people being up themselves is a human 
failing. The same applies here. These things happen. Don't ignore it, but 
don't let yourself get cut up over it either. You've got friends that you 
can fall back on."
     "I'm strong enough to handle it."
     "Yeah? But just because you can, there isn't any reason why you have to."
     The answer that was on TJ's lips was `Sometimes there is', but 
something made him wish it wasn't, so he didn't give voice to the obvious 
answer. Instead he pointed and said, "Here come the others. We can find out 
if Shane got he pass mark he was hoping for."
     "I know Martin. And I appreciate the thought. But... I don't think I 
can take you up on that. Not yet. Maybe not ever." And because he was 
growing to like Martin, he didn't add that he was feeling uncomfortable 
about being Martin's pet project to prove to himself that he wasn't like Lisa.
     "Okay then. Whatever you feel comfortable with. Let's go see the 
The Daily Super Short-Short Story series created by Arthur Spitzer, and 
used with belated permission.
With the conclusion of this storyline all main characters created by Saxon 
Brenton are now Usable Without Permission. I should have thought of that 
before. Sorry.
Saxon Brenton University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia 
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
The Eyrie Archives of Russ Allbery which collect the online superhero
fiction of the rec.arts.comics.creative newsgroup can be found at:

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