Stealth would have helped us through this alien jungle. But this team wasn’t built for quiet, not anymore. I had Gilligan in my left ear asking if we were there yet and two Jesuses in my right arguing over who was the real Messiah.
“Jesus Christ, everybody shut up!” I yelled. I should’ve phrased that better.
Gilligan obeyed. The Jesus I called “Life of Christ” looked at me with hurt eyes. I called him that because he was all ministry and Gospels. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” he said.
“Yeah,” the other Jesus said. I called him “Second Coming of Christ”. He was all post-Resurrection. “Don’t take my name in vain.”
“It’s not your name, Philistine,” Life of Christ said.
It was gonna start again. “Shush,” I told them both as I took the half smoked, unlit cigar from my mouth. “Alien jungle’s bad terrain. Hard to tell what’s poisonous, where you are or where you’re headed, or where the hell you fit in the food chain. We don’t need the racket.”
“Duke is right, stop this fight,” Roadblock said.
My name wasn’t Duke. And I knew for damn sure his name wasn’t Roadblock. But that’s who he said he was, and as long as he served hot lead along with his hot rhymes, I didn’t have a problem being Duke. It beat Skipper.
There was a rustle coming from the dense brush across the clearing. We froze and brought our guns to bear on the jungle. More of the foliage shook. Then a score of men emerged wearing camouflage uniforms similar to ours.
Similarity ended there. They were the enemy and were bringing their guns into play. Identity crises aside, our training took over.
Life of Christ’s machine gun jumped to life, the muzzle flashes displaying his angry countenance. I could hear him yelling over the gun bursts and the screams of dying men. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do!”
Gilligan, whose normal expression made it seem like he’d just as likely blow his own face off as aim at the right target, had dropped into a prone, unsupported firing position and was taking precision shots at combatants with his rail gun.
Roadblock laid suppressive fire, which meant spraying the jungle as he yelled “Yo Joe!”
Me and Second Coming had the laser blasters. Neither one of us had a war cry. We melted unfriendlies.
Our team made it look easy. Least something had improved after the stasis malfunction; I remember when these guys couldn’t hit the side of a barn. Life of Christ called me over. One hostile was face up on the ground, still breathing.
He was a lieutenant, just a kid, caught a bad laser burn to the hand but otherwise alright. I put my chewed up cigar back into my mouth and spoke around it. “Your life’s only as good as your info. Anything you want to tell me?”
The kid glared up at me. “You’re under arrest.”
We were found guilty by a military court of a crime we didn’t commit. I could state our innocence, but it wouldn’t have mattered. We weren’t up for appeal.
I hoisted him up and dug my laser into his groin. “Know what happens to a wiener when you put twenty-eight thousand kilojoules of energy to it? It plumps when you cook it.”
The kid swallowed. I asked where his base was. Roadblock got in his face.
“Start talking, bruh, or we fry your cobra.”
“Uh… five kilometers north of here.”
“See, that wasn’t so bad,” I told him. “Now, how many stasis ships you got there?”
The kid shook his head. Second Coming dished out a gut shot that doubled him over.
“Your Lord and Savior here knows a little bit about pain and suffering. You want more of His good news or are you chatty yet?”
“I’m actually his Lord and Savior,” said Life of Christ. “That other Jesus is an imposter or a nut.”
“Zip it, Hebrew.”
The kid spoke through teary eyes as Roadblock pulled him upright. “Our ships punch wormholes. Stasis hasn’t been used in over two hundred years. Too dangerous; you guys are proof of that.”
That wasn’t what they told us when we took the long nap. They said they had found the right balance for healthy stasis. Not enough external stimulus and major portions of the brain atrophied from disuse. Too much stimulus and you woke up stuck in a little glass tube for hundreds of years.
But mindless television was the key. Twentieth century shows, where there were no storylines to track from episode to episode. Happy sitcoms. Bible stories.
The machine should’ve cycled through a variety of shows. Sometime during the nap our machines got stuck on the same show, all except mine that is.
Least one of us knew what we were doing out here.
I looked at the kid. “How many wormhole punchers?”
I looked at his insignia. “You can fly them.”
He looked away, not wanting to acknowledge what I already knew.
A plan formed. We’d escape this planet and disappear into the Los Angeles underground. The government would still want us, but we’d survive as soldiers of fortune. Sounded good. I smiled.
“Time to get off this rock.”
“Really, Skipper?” asked Gilligan. “We’re really getting off the island?”
“That’s right, little buddy.”
“This is great, now what about the snake?” asked Roadblock.
Life of Jesus pointed his rifle. “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I’m sure he’d like to see his.”
I pushed the muzzle away. “Tie him up and gag him. He’s coming with us.”
They all looked at me with the same question on their faces.
“All part of the plan, trust me,” I smiled through the cigar. It was risky, but it beat stalking through the jungle. Things were looking up.
I love it when a plan comes together.
The story behind the story: I read an article in some random magazine about how a psychologist working in a asylum had three patients who all thought they were Jesus, so he put them into the same room and let them fight it out. The story virtually wrote itself after that.
This story doesn’t get a lot of play with editors. All my characters either being from the bible or old tv shows has a lot to do with it. Throw that in with some good time religious offensiveness and it pretty much seals it that this story’s getting shelved. But just in time for Jesus’ B-day, here’s Reprieve for Rehashes getting a reprieve and giving you a double dose of that Messiah. Bonus points if you can name the main character/narrator.