“Father,” Demetrius’ voice trembled, his youthful blue eyes were swollen and watery, “I cannot absolve myself of these doubts.”
Lord Balthasar placed two firm and reassuring hands on Demetrius’ shoulders, welcoming this distraction from the unrelenting hunger pains that plagued them all, “It is uncommon for one to question their faith in such desperate times, when we need it most.”
Demetrius avoided the Lord’s eyes, replying, “I fear my faith is what has brought me into this crisis.”
Lord Balthasar squeezed the lad’s shoulders and gently shook him so that Demetrius looked up into his eyes, coming into the here and now, “It is not our faith that has imperiled us, but that of the heretics who persecute us.”
“But who’s to say whose faith is true?” Demetrius searched the old man’s eyes, pleading, but looked to the far dirt wall as the muffled sounds of explosions found their way into the bunker.
“Ours is the one true word. Theirs is an heretical text,” Lord Balthasar assured him. “Our texts are ancient, written by the hand of God himself. They cannot make the same claim.”
“But don’t they?” Demtrius snapped back at the Lord, his trembling increasing in intensity. The boy was practically in shock with his fear. “I have no proof these words were not written by man! If God wanted to adhere to the scripture, why didn’t he write it on the Moon, mountainsides, and tree leaves?”
Another explosion, closer now, shook the room so that streams of dust poured through the ceiling. The rest of Lord Balthasar’s flock whimpered and cried in fear. Demetrius’ doubting could not come at a worse time.
Lord Balthasar pushed the youth down onto his knees, “You must have faith that there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in philosophy!”
The boy instantly stopped trembling, and merely gazed up at the Lord in stunned silence.
Then the heretical battle chant roared just outside, sending chills through everyone in the room, “Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war!!!”
There were only moments of life left to them now. Lord Balthasar dropped to one knee and the congregation followed suit, “Let us pray!”
Together, they recited from the holy passages:
“What a piece of work is a man,
how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties,
in form and moving how express and admirable,
in action how like an angel,
in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world,
the paragon of animals—and yet,
what is this quintessence of dust?”
This is a short short SF story, less than 600 words, in the spirit of 365Tomorrows.