Crucifixion

John Remalto knocked on the door. Knock knock. They had told him this would be a story that only he could do, that they only trusted him with, no one else. He had no idea what was so special, but then, as an award winning journalist, it was his job to find out.

After two minutes, the door opened slightly. A chain kept it from opening more. “May I ask who you are?”

“I’m John Remalto, we have an appointment.” John wondered if he had the right address. He looked down at the touchpad in his hand. Before he could double-check, though, the door closed. Why is everyone so rude? John thought, about to turn around.

“Sorry about that, I had to make sure you weren’t some crazy out to get me,” came the voice again as the door opened, this time all the way. Great, this guy’s paranoid. But he was a professional, and didn’t say anything, just smiled. “Come in.”

The apartment had papers strewn all about, so that John had to look closely to see if there was a carpet, or if that was the papers’ function. It was not like most people used much paper these days. John had his touchpad out, ready to take notes, record his conversation, and set to block any calls from his wife. This had better be worth his time. He noticed the window to his right was open. John had lived in this city when he was a child, so he glanced out from where he stood and tried to recognize anything from his youth. The buildings were familiar, but there was a mental ward below that he did not recognize. He tried to remember what had been there before. A dove flew past the window.

“Have a seat,” came the voice again, this time with a body. John surveyed his newest story. Glasses, graying hair, white suit coat (even in his own house?), bad posture, and piercing blue eyes. He was holding a little necklace in his hands, fiddling with it. John sat down on the couch facing the window, surprised it wasn’t covered in papers as well. The middle aged man sat down in front of him on a stool, backlit by the gray sunlight streaming in. The paper crumpled as he walked over it.

“So you are the famed Dr. Mark Nitlin, renowned scientist and theorist. ” John stated. The man nodded. “Nice place you have here.” Dr Nitlin looked around, embarrassed, as if suddenly aware of the state of his apartment. John waved a hand. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to judge, I just want your story. They tell me you’ve discovered something that could change our lives forever.”

Dr. Nitlin straightened up when John started mentioning the discovery, and his whole appearance changed. No longer was he the timid and awkward man from before, but one full of pride and self importance. Much better that way for John, because now it would be all the easier to coax any information from him. “‘I have only shared it with other trusted scientists, but now that I am ready to publish my findings, I also want an article published, so the public at large could understand its significance, without having to know all the scientific details.”

“Makes sense to me.”

“Alas,” (Who says that nowadays? John asked himself) “I believe some rumors have already leaked out, though, and my discovery has already made me enemies, which is why I was hesitant to open the door for you.”

“Enemies, huh? Must be pretty important. And if it is, I assure you, we will be best friends.” Controversies always sold more. It looks like he had come to the right place.

“My discovery is not so important by itself, I will admit, no more than any other number of discoveries that have come before it. I am not even sure there are any practical uses for it.” What? If there was no practical use, then what use was there? John became worried. “What exactly does your discovery entail, Doctor?”

Instead of answering directly, the scientist stood up and went to the window, looking out on the artificial environment below. Where there had once been trees, now public projector screens played endless advertisements. “In the past decades, especially in the early 2000’s, there have been several major scientific discoveries. With each one, humanity was able to let go of false traditions and turn an eye to the future, towards independence. My breakthrough has scientific importance, but more importantly, it had social and culture relevance.”

What is he getting at? thought John. If there was no real story here, then he had wasted his time. He knew he should have used the teleconference option, instead of coming to meet the guy in person. The man beckoned him to the window, and reluctantly John got up, leaving the soft sofa. Paper crumpled beneath his feet. At the window, Dr. Nitlin rubbed his necklace, which had the number six on the end, and pointed to the mental ward John had noticed earlier.

“Do you know what that building was before?” Nitlin asked him.

Thinking hard, he came up with an answer, to the surprise of them both. “It was a church.” He remembered his mother taking him there once, although he had been bored the whole time. Dr Nitlin scowled.

“Once, it was used to psychologically treat people’s depression, with little success. Now it medically treats it, with much greater success. With our new knowledge and tools, we are evolving as a society. Just like with the Greek Gods, the notions of the past are systematically being replaced as science gives us new understanding of the human condition, our place in the universe, and where we came from. In fact, that is precisely what I discovered.”

Now we are getting somewhere, thought John, wanting to get away from the subject of religion. Any mention of that made him queasy. His purpose in life was to make a lot of money, and he was doing well with that, so trying to make him feel bad for anything else he had done did not sit well with him. Although, sometimes he wondered where this world and humanity came from. If the doctor would get on and actually tell him, his visit might serve two purposes, one he had not even foreseen.

“What I have done is to complete what so many other scientists, conscious of it or not, have tried to achieve. I represent the culmination of their efforts. The evidence is undeniable; my colleagues agree with me. This is why I have enemies, because there are always people who oppose humanity’s progress. Soon, the voice of reason will make the blind fools give up, and this part of humanity’s history will come to an end.”

I doubt any discovery you made could be so important as to mark an era in history. This guy’s full of himself. “All right, Dr. Nitlin, you’ve got my attention. What is so important about your discovery? Give me a title for the article that is worthy of your achievement.”

“Science has always warred against ignorance and superstition. Well, now, I have dealt the deathblow. Science has come out triumphant. What I have proven means there is no longer a need for the struggling churches. John Remalto, you want a title? Well, here it is.” John looked at the scientist; he seemed almost in his own world now, the eyes not focusing on anything. His fist clenched the necklace. Chills went down John’s spine as the doctor spoke.

“I killed God.”

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