Big Echo

Critical SF

Starry Night of the Soul

by Michael Díaz Feito

Inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's The Star (1955, Infinity Science Fiction)

Yomaikol Then
1611 Ogden Ave., Apt. 3A
Bronx, NY 10452
December 21, 2066

Editorial, Diario Las Américas
888 Brickell Ave., 5th Floor
Miami, FL 33131

To the Editor of Diario Las Américas:

Some people think words will stagger us. “The facts are there for all to read.” And the infidel does read the universe like a true book, doesn’t he? Maybe following the papist misinterpretation of Romans 1:20. But the universe is fiction, so are their words, and GOD Almighty will soon erase it all. Hallelujah! Amen. This is my response to the Vatican’s report on the so-called Phoenix Nebula (“La enana blanca de nuestra fe,” December 19th): NO! absolutely. Absolutely, NO!

He called me when I had only five years. My dearest father — inferior to the supreme Father but worthy still in his faults — took me to Mullaly Park. He placed a baseball bat in my little hands. He climbed the pitcher’s mound and threw a two-seam fastball. I swing. I miss. Two strikes later, my dearest father — lead pastor at 4ta Iglesia Penetecostal Luz en Medio de las Tinieblas, Inc. and former relief pitcher for the Águilas Cibaeñas — said: “Being the third planet from my sun, Yomaikol, it seems you must go and preach the gospel.”

And I have done so. On earth and in the heavens, or aboard the Casino de las Alturas de Washington, that combination housing project/shopping mall in orbit which we newer Americans love very muchly. A cesspool, yes, like a balloon of urine bouncing beyond the atmosphere, but what better place to be fishing souls? This is how the Casino taught me (or rather GOD taught me through His agent, the Casino) that extirpation is divine:

I sometimes visited as part of my hall ministry an old woman in Tower Z. She was sickly and Cuban, and although she would joke at the expense of my heritage and learning, she was devout and kind, and I loved her as the Christ loves us all.

She had three sinful sons. There were three and a half, she said (a mistake, miscalculating the souls), because the eldest son was born with a twin sized like a regulation baseball and stillborn. This incident explained his evil character. He was possessed by the jealous dead, or at least a demon posing as the jealous dead. The younger two followed his example. No matter how she pleaded, they were deaf to it. “My sons don’t believe in nobody,” she said.

I prayed so much, hovering at the old woman’s bedside, for these little delinquents. And when I was absent, floating along the many errands of my hall ministry in the Casino, I dictated oracions relayed to her brainframe. She co-recited and winkloaded my oracions to the network, as the right ear of GOD is in the cloud, the left ear in the zero-G halls orbiting, and the heart in hot earth (to which my feet now touch; by the end of this letter I advise all to do so, treading again the burning coals of home).

Our prayers were answered. Although the old woman received the Lord’s response separately and before me, I am confident that our joint efforts elicited it.

The sons — Eliades the eldest, Elcides, and Arturo — sold heroin and other blackmarket supplies like soap and ground beef at the entrance to Tower Z. Every visitor floated through Saturn-like rings of discarded syringes and nets of used plastic wrap, which were slick with beads of red juice from the beef or pork contraband. While Elcides and Arturo administered to their poor clients, Eliades preached his own false ministry. He challenged me with words, as so many ignorants do.

“Ey, Pastor,” he would say, “I read in Diario Las Américas that a library of alien history discs was found in some sepulcher past Pluto or something. Why is it that they don’t mention Jesus of Nazareth, Pastor?”

Or he would say, “Ey, Pastor, I read in El Especial that the Assemblies of God still supports the death penalty for extraplanetary drug users. But I thought you were pro-life, Pastor?”

I can only imagine how he would have enjoyed taunting me about the Vatican’s latest assault against real faith in GOD, the blasphemous report on the Phoenix Nebula to which I am here responding.

It was the sixth of January in that epoch — Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, a sacred day for gifting, that is, for contemplative consumption in stores and charitable spending in churches — when I last went to pray by the bedside of the same old woman. For the sake of her privacy and the integrity of her pending trial in the court of law (man’s law, not the Lord’s), let us call her “Fulana” from now on. I went to Fulana that day so that she could again reach her yellow, wiry hands from among the many velcro straps of the bed and deliver her annual donation of cash credits to me.

Eliades stopped me at the entrance to Tower Z. He wore the usual smirk of disrespectfulness. His eyes engaged mine, and he said:

“Ey, Pastor, you haven’t heard that fig wasps … that … Pastor?”

From the first “Pastor” to the last, Eliades had changed. He called me first to mock, and he called me finally like a scared child. His mouth was foaming with bile. He went pale, coughing, and then he slumped over. He curled up like a sleeping cat, or a fetus, and floated off. His younger brothers, following the eldest’s example for the last time, foamed at the mouth, too, paled, too, coughed and gagged, and then floated away from their clients. Eliades, Elcides, and Arturo died.

There was panic in the hall. The brothers’ clients tossed their contraband, suspecting that the drugs or the meat — or both — were poisoned. They were correct, of course. I was never warned. She had revealed nothing to me, wasted no words when the Holy Spirit motivated her to act.

While casino security bagged and cleared the sons, I ascended Tower Z to tell the mother about the fatal incident.

Querida señora,” I said, “a terrible thing has happened.”

“Is it done so quickly?” she said.

“What? No, wait. Listen — ”

“Ay, Pastor. But it’s strong! Prayer led me to Genesis, chapter 22, verse 2: Toma ahora tu hijo, tu único, Isaac, á quien amas, y vete á tierra de Moriah, y ofrécelo allí en holocausto sobre uno de los montes que yo te diré. Can there be a bigger act of love? GOD, who is so good, responded to our prayers. He poured fuel into my fiery love. And so, with a meat rubbing of pesticide, all my loves are mingled together in this holocaust — Eliades, and Elcides, and Arturo, and GOD!”

As long as we can pierce ourselves in sacrifice like this, exposing our souls and their self-inflicted wounds as stigmata, GOD will exist in the human heart.

The Phoenix Nebula, the papists now say with their words, eradicated a superior people, superior in their knowledge or science, so that the Magi could follow the star to the Messiah. “What was the need to give these people to the fire, that the symbol of their passing might shine above Bethlehem?” The answer is easy: Love. Love was the need, love like Fulana’s, and though Jesuit astrophysicists have cooled to it, love is the need.

Unfortunately, we endure an age of such ceaseless science. But has the knowledge of galaxies, black holes, exoplanets, alien life in all its fossilized permutations, dark matter, gravitational waves, bosons and fermions, etc., and the stars, the stars, the stars — has any of it healed the soul? NO! clearly. Clearly, NO!

So, brothers and sisters seeking truth in space, come home and close your eyes. Nothing’s outside.

Sternly and sincerely,
Yomaikol Then
Pastor Principal
8va Iglesia Pentecostal Amor Exterminador
Bronx, NY