The Second Coming

On the morning of the 14th day of the second month in the 19th year of our Lord, nearly two thousand years after the Crucifixion, a man who called himself Jesus Christ, passed away at the Mount Olympus Asylum and Institute of Psychopathology in the town of Syr. He was admitted there suffering from severe psychosis and religiomania, delusions of grandeur and obsessive belief that he could perform miracles. For over one month the experts at Mount Olympus subjected the crazed man to numerous treatments including certain novel techniques that were still in their initial stages of research. But their ministrations had not yielded the intended results. Instead, he had lapsed deeper into his illness and had at length become unresponsive.

For the last few days, he had barely spoken or eaten anything, except on the morning of the 14th, when he asked for a pen and paper. He scribbled down some words and settled in his bed as though he was going to sleep. An hour later, he was found dead in his cell with a letter beside him. He had no known relatives or acquaintances. Hence, his body was shifted to the mortuary with the decision to use it for scientific purposes. The letter would have hardly aroused any interest if not for the fact that it fell into the hands of Dr. Samson, who had joined the asylum as a junior consultant on that very day.

Dr. Samson was unlike many of his colleagues, who knew more about books than their patients. He also possessed that peculiar quality of all great scientists, that is, his curiosity was greater than his knowledge. He firmly believed that thirst for knowledge was better than knowledge itself because what is today’s knowledge is tomorrow’s ignorance. He never failed to be fascinated by the mysteries of existence and always tried to see deeper than the surface in the most trivial of things. He opened the letter and glanced through it.

Dear God,

I have failed. Why did you desert me again? The second coming was so much harder than the first. You assured me that two thousand years had paved the way for eternal paradise. The Apocalypse is already here without the need of my appearance. The people are no longer simple, they are too sophisticated for the Son of God. They would rather believe in tales they read in crumbling old pages than rejoice in the miracles happening before their very eyes.

I am not welcome here, Father. The crucifixion is more terrifying and painful now than before because the people think they are helping me! I hope you have a Plan B, Father, for the word that was written, has been found wanting.

Your dejected son, Jesus

Dr. Samson smiled as he finished reading the letter. His curiosity was piqued by this man who thought he was the prophesied one, that his appearance on earth heralded the second coming. As he proceeded to get the case files, Dr. Samson chuckled at how the prophecy had ended not with a bang but with a whimper, like in that famous poem he liked to read in his spare moments.

Dr. Samson sat in his chambers sifting through the pages one by one. By and by, the tale of the madman came to life in the theater of his mind, sometimes colored by his imagination, and at other times as grey as reality itself.

The man who called himself Jesus Christ first appeared in the village of Zenlo. Nobody knew where he came from, but everybody was happy when they saw him. Bearded and with a head full of long ringlets of golden hair, he was wearing a flowing white robe. The villagers thought he was a wandering mystic and healer. Their belief was aided by the fact that he made his appearance at the funeral of the chief’s 18-year-old son who had suddenly passed away. The congregation at the cemetery bowed to him in their grief, making way as he approached the coffin, which was still open; for the chief could not bring to close the lid on his only son.

It was there that Jesus performed his first miracle. He passed his hands over the dead son’s face and then kissed his forehead as he breathed life back to the departed. The mourners watched with their jaws open. The chief was scarcely able to thank Jesus for he was busy embracing his son, who was now breathing. Jesus had left the village of Zenlo without further ado.

He then made his way to the town of Syr where he entered a supermarket, loaded two carts full of fresh food, and walked out unnoticed and without payment. Outside the mall, he pushed the carts distributing the eatables to many bedraggled children and mangy dogs who had gathered around him.

“None shall go hungry as long as there is food on the shelves. For what good is your satiety if your brother’s belly is empty?” he told them.

By the time the police were summoned to the mall, they found only the children and the dogs, jumping and grinning with satisfaction to have enjoyed a hearty meal at last.

The same night, Jesus broke into a bank and proceeded to remove a bagful of cash from the vault. He exited as he had entered, without the guards noticing. He then made a bonfire of the notes, for it was harsh and freezing outside. And the destitute men, women, and animals huddled together around him, singing and laughing, forgetting the bitter frost of that moonless winter night.

“None shall shiver in the cold as long as there is fuel to burn. For what good is your comfort if your brother’s body is sore?” he told them.

When the police arrived at the bank, only the fire was burning, the warmth of love was in the air, and the men, women, and animals were blissfully asleep in each other’s arms.

If these incidents were not infuriating enough to the authorities, what happened next was the most infuriating.

The following morning Jesus went uninvited to the mansion of Zardar, a prosperous and prominent man in Syr, who owned many factories and establishments there. Zardar was about to summon his men to throw Jesus out of his premises when Jesus gazed into Zardar’s eyes and placed his right hand on Zardar’s heart. In an instant, something had changed, and the wealthy man embraced Jesus.

“None shall lack from need as long as there are riches in the world. For what good is your life if your brother has to die for it?” he told Zardar.

When the police arrived at the mansion, Jesus was nowhere to be seen. Instead, all the workers from Zardar’s factories and establishments had gathered at his place. Zardar was addressing them, his voice quivering with zeal.

“I have taken advantage of you, my fellow men, for too long. The time has come to seek your forgiveness. If I have so much in my life today, it is because what was yours was taken from you. From today onwards, everything that belongs to me will belong to every one of you. From this moment onwards, there is no slave nor there is any master. Only brother and brother!”

The police stood bewildered as the crowd cheered Zardar and the advent of a new age of equality.

By this time, the authorities were becoming agitated about the dangerous miracles of the man who called himself Jesus Christ. The police soon tracked him to a solitary beach outside Syr, where he was talking to himself and crying when they arrived.

“Please Father, give me the strength to fulfill the mission. My second coming has been noticed by the ones in power. They do not like it. Why do you ask me to work these miracles one by one? Why not do all of them together at once? You have the power to do it, don’t you, Father? I dread the day I will be at their mercy. I can not endure the pain again, dear Father!”

Jesus stood facing the ocean as the waves rushed to the shore one after another. When the police surrounded him, there were tears in his eyes. He did not make any effort to resist or run away.

Instead of placing him in jail, the authorities decided to admit him at the asylum. They were worried about the involvement of the judiciary in the matter and the possibility of publicity if Jesus made his appearance at the court. Thus, it came to be that the man who called himself Jesus Christ occupied one of the rooms as a patient at the Mount Olympus Asylum and Institute of Psychopathology.

When Dr. Samson finished reading the case files, he had a vivid picture of the events in his head. Some of the details might have been influenced by his penchant for excessive imagination, but most of the story was clear in his mind. For a moment, given his open-mindedness, Dr. Samson thought the man might be Jesus Christ himself. Although he neither took the Bible seriously nor went to church regularly, he entertained the possibility that the Second Coming had indeed come and gone, with the world unaware of the entire episode.

For three days and two nights, Dr. Samson toyed with the idea but reserved it to himself. On the third night, driven by a morbid curiosity, he decided to visit the mortuary. He desired to take one look at the man who suffered from the delusion of being Christ himself.

At the morgue, he was ushered to the freezer box where the man’s body was kept awaiting further orders. Dr. Samson requested a moment of solitude so that he could grieve in silence. He was drenched in sweat and shaking with a strange excitement. He almost expected a miracle to happen. He opened the box with bated breath. And there it was, the miracle he almost expected to happen. He blinked his eyes twice. He rubbed them furiously. There was no body in the freezer. It was empty!

Dr. Samson rushed back to his chambers. He was thrilled and terrified at the same time. His knowledge of life and death refused to acknowledge the Resurrection. But he could not deny what his eyes had witnessed. What had happened was no hallucination; the body was indeed missing from the freezer. If it was the Son of God, then his colleagues had committed a grave sin by treating the Savior as they had done. If it was not him, how did the body disappear? Dr. Samson kept his thoughts to himself, fearing the repercussions if he revealed them. Soon he became so engrossed in the conundrum that his work as a psychiatrist suffered. Within days, his condition deteriorated so much that he could no longer handle his patients. His services at the asylum were terminated.

Dr. Samson tried to contact Zardar but found out that he had given away everything and retired to the countryside to live as a humble farmer. The children and the dogs were still hungry and waiting for food as before. The destitute men, women, and animals were shivering and searching for warmth as always. But Dr. Samson was happy as he discovered a company of believers in them.

The chief’s son, overjoyed at getting a second chance, spent his days pub-hopping. One night while drunk and driving back to his village, the car crashed killing him outright. Only this time there was no Jesus to bring him back from death.

As for the body that disappeared, the watchman at the morgue swears he saw a form in white moving through the halls in the faint light of dawn on the third day after it was shifted there. The asylum officials maintain the body didn’t vanish but was transported to their research facility earlier than anticipated. They say they will release a paper about their findings shortly.

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Beryl Zephyr

An occasional writer but a regular thinker, Beryl sometimes fiddles in speculative fiction. He sees both humour and tragedy in everyday events and is extremely concerned with the fate of other creatures trapped in the monstrous march of 21st-century human civilization.

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