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"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 67

Padre Jose Nicolás Rodriguez Juarez stood up on the podium. If they planned on defrocking him, so be it. He refused to play the part of a supporter for this wicked war any longer.

He had served his time as a chaplain. He was back in his home town now. The church was beautiful and gothic, with towering stained glass windows, arches, statues, and paintings. It was something Juarez was very proud of. The congregation was sitting in their pews, anxiously awaiting his sermon.

"I served a tour with the army," the Padre began, "As a chaplain. It was my job to put the souls of soldiers at ease. Men and women who were wounded asked for me to say their last rites. Scared men and women asked me to comfort them. Men and women with blood on their hands came to me asking for redemption. I did all these things, but the whole time I felt ill at ease.

"I comforted myself by the belief it was a holy war. I see now it is not. It is a war of greed. It is a war with malicious intents, and evil consequences. Spain entered this war for the chance to be great, as it once was. We had no religious intents in entering The Last War.

"I saw brutally hurt people in the field hospitals that were beyond count, and they were the lucky ones. What of the men we killed? What was the point of it all?

"There is nothing being produced by this war but wanton destruction. We must stop now. Spain must leave the war now. If our churches are burned down by invading armies, where will our souls be?

"We must stop the killing. I can not condone this war any longer. Every time a soldier kills a man he breaks a commandment. I can not rationalize this for the soldiers any more. I say we must leave. What will happen to the church if we don't? What will happen to Spain if we don't? What will happen to us if we don't?

An earshattering explosion sounded outside. Shells tore through the air followed shortly by the screams of the wounded. The Last War had entered their humble town.

"You see!" Juarez exclaimed, "The war enters even our own town. Do you see how wicked it is? On the holiest of days, the Sabbath, they defy everything which is holy. The soldiers murder each other on the day when we should be living in peace the most.

"The Last War has ruined everything. Nothing is holy any more. Not life, not love..."

Suddenly the stained glass window of the churdh exploded into shards of glass. A piece of metal flak came hutling through the air. It was stopped by the Padre's outstretched hand.

He looked in horror at his ruined hand. The chunk of metal was impaled through his palm. He held it high aloft for the whole congregation to see.

"You see? This war sullies even the church with evil."

He collapsed from shock. The parishoners rushed up to the altar to help him. He could not complete the sermon, and had to be taken to the hospital. He was hurt badly, but did not die. The incident as well as Juarez's plea reached the ears of The Pope shortly afterward. He pleaded with Spain to leave the war. Shortly afterward they did.

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