When the son of man shall come in
his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit
upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered
all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as
a shepard divideth his sheep from the goats.
The Second Testament.
* * *
Winkler lay in his bunk in the long
narrow room the crewboys all shared, which looked out the front
windows above The Black Hole. That was the booze can the crew
ran as a source of income. Its fluorescent sign lit the room.
It was early in the week, and business had been slow, so they'd
closed fairly early. Jonesie, Richard, Billyboy and several
others were away on a raid they'd planned earlier that day.
Winkler hadn't gotten the details.
He'd planned to do some reading and
await their return. There was often a celebration after a raid.
But The Book of New Man lay unopened on his chest as
he leaned up against his pillow in the top corner bunk, one
arm behind his head, thinking about the future.
Winkler had only recently taken to studying
The Book. Not that he believed much of it, except for
some of the history of the Great Dying and the enclosure. His
mother had never raised him in the Church. But it was the only
book he could carry around without attracting too much attention.
Nearly everyone had a copy, even if they could barely read.
His mother had a good collection, though.
Somerset had smuggled them from the Island when she was exiled
to the Mainland as a young woman, carrying Winkler along in
her belly. She wanted him to have a proper education when he
was born, since books weren't widely available on the Mainland.
Not like they were illegal or anything, but there was no need
to attract the attention of thieves either. They could get good
creds for such rare items, so he and Somerset had always kept
them well hidden.
Most of Somerset's collection was history
and historical novels from pre-enclosure days, which she liked
herself. She also had a good selection of general and intro
books on the sciences, social sciences and humanities. That
was what Winkler spent most of his free time poring over now.
They were his way of escaping from daily
life as a crewboy, the gangs being an unfortunate fact of life
for young men in the interior. He'd soon be full patch, too;
a full member of the gang, with all of the responsibilities
that came with being a crewman. And the risks.
Three years seemed like forever to someone
his age. Even so, time itself would eventually free him
from his tenure in the gangs. Assuming he survived the experience.
The books held the promise of much more.
They were the key to escaping the Mainland itself. Its slums.
Its poverty. Its perpetual darkness.
He was already prepping for the UAppt
test he planned to take when he turned 19, and could apply to
the Coast's only university. Somerset's academic books were
all dog-eared and worn from his efforts. They were his ticket
out; his ticket to a better life. A life on the Island, where
he could attend grad school. Something only the best students
could hope for.
It was Somerset's greatest wish, he
knew, that he be allowed to return to the Island, where he was
conceived. Even though she would never be allowed to accompany
him. It was his "birthright," she always said.
It would be like a dream. Just like
you saw on the televid. From the Island, with its massive transparent
dome, you could even see the sun! The moon! The stars!
Growing up on the Mainland, Winkler
had never seen the sky.
He was still fantasizing about that
future when he fell to sleep.
* * *
He was awakened somewhat later by Jonesie,
the current boss of the Roslyn Crew. He had expected he might
be asked to come tend bar when they returned from the raid.
Instead, Jonesie stood in the shadows by the doorway in his
vest and underwear, a half empty bottle of corp whiskey in his
hand. His dark spikey hair stuck out above his headband, like
it usually did.
He called quietly to Winkler. He wanted
him to come to his room. "Bring The Book if ya want,"
he whispered, so as not to disturb the other boys.
Winkler got up and slipped to the floor.
He took the The Book, and while still a little groggy
from sleep, followed Jonesie down the dark hallway to his room.
Their bare feet padded quietly along the dirty linoleum floor.
When he got there he slipped into bed.
It was a simple double mattress, flopped on the floor in one
corner. Jonesie lay on top of the sheets, with his back against
the wall. The bottle of whiskey rested on the bed beside him.
Winkler positioned himself on his stomach at Jonesie's side,
propped up on his elbows, thinking he would be asked for sex.
He was Jonesie's favorite after all.
But when he looked up he saw by the
light from the street that Jonesie was pretty badly beat up.
He had a split lip, and a big welt on his forehead from a basher,
staff or whirlie. His knuckles, which clasped the bottle, were
bruised and abraded. The cut next to his right eye had left
a trail of blood down his cheek, almost like a tear.
"God, Jonesie, what happened?"
"Things went badly." He just
stared into the distance.
Jonesie took a long swig from the whiskey,
then passed it to Winkler, who sipped and passed it back. He'd
probably finished the first half of the bottle himself, Winkler
thought, after they got back, as the place was pretty quiet
There was a long silence while Winkler
waited. There was something more, he knew, but Jonesie didn't
seem to want to talk about it, at least not yet. So Winkler
reached over with his right hand. He trailed it down Jonesie's
muscular stomach towards the waist band of his shorts, thinking
he just wanted to be serviced, that maybe he just needed cheering
But Jonesie reached out and caught his
wrist, tossing it aside. He grabbed Winkler by the back of his
head, roughly forcing his face into his crotch. Winkler was
shocked. Jonesie had never been so violent with him before.
He gagged several times as he attempted to complete the deed.
Felt humiliated when Jonesie finally consummated the act.
Afterwards, he just stared down at the
sheets, trying to ignore the taste of Jonesie's orgasm. Then
he felt the coldness of the bottle of whiskey against his face.
A peace offering. He took a deep draught
this time, coughing several times from its bitterness. But at
least it washed the taste away.
Finally, Jonesie reached out with his
"I see ya brought The Book."
He picked it up from where it lay on the bed.
"Ya know, the way you've been carryin
it round lately, some of the guys're startin to call ya 'The
Preacher'?" He managed a weak smile, which made him wince.
Jonesie took another shot and passed
"What do ya think of The Book,
Winkler, I mean really? Yer a smart guy. Everybody knows that."
Winkler wasn't sure what to say at first.
Nor was he certain whether he cared what Jonesie thought, or
any of the other guys, at least at that point. He knew Jonesie
couldn't read much, though, like a lot of the other guys. But
none of them had ever asked him about religion before.
"Ya really wanna know?" His
tone was as sarcastic as he thought prudent, under the circumstances.
"Well, I'm really just interested
coz that stranger got a copy. Member, a couple weeks past? The
one with em jewels, who didn't know his way round, nor bout
creds? The one what said he wanted to study our culture?"
"Ya," Jonesie paused, remembering.
"Ya knew what he meant, didn't ya."
"It's Somerset ain't it, the way
she grew up Chosen, on the Island. She tells ya things they
don't tell us in the gov school don't she, teaches ya prep lingo
That was how Winkler explained the things
he knew from his books, about history and such, that they were
stories his mother told him. Actually, he and Somerset didn't
talk that much at all, especially about the Island, or how she
was down and outed.
"And yer interested in The Book
coz of what that stranger said?"
"Ya. He was a scientist ya know,
like from the Island."
So Winkler told him the rest of the
story for the first time. The way he'd followed the stranger
to the greyland and talked to him after the crew released him.
The way he'd been lying about being from Torona, but had actually
been studying their culture, and the way their dome worked.
The way he was really lost with no proper creds, and had just
left the way he promised.
Jonesie wasn't angry. Actually, he was
"Not many crewboys would've had
the guts to do that. Goin to the greyland by emselves. Specially
bein lone with that stranger, what with those weird powers he
had. The way he knocked out Billyboy, and froze Richard in his
tracks without even touchin em?"
"But most of it still don't make
no sense, specially that weird shit he did."
"Ya. But even so, ya learned more
than we did. More than the Foreboss did, even."
Jonesie passed the bottle again. Winkler
didn't drink whiskey much, mostly the home brew, but he was
getting used to it now, starting to feel it.
"And so yer interested in The
Book coz that stranger was. Coz ya wanna be a scientist
Winkler nodded as he passed the bottle
"I think he figured he could learn
bout the way we live by readin it. Maybe how we think, I ain't
"What do ya think he found out?"
"Well he went to Church, too, member?
But I think the Church is wrong bout The Book."
The whiskey was beginning to loosen him up now. "The preacher
always talks like there's no difference tween the three testaments,
like they're all equally portant. But I think he's wrong. The
first two books're from before the arks, when God was different
too. He was even different in em first two. In the first one
he's a real bastard..."
Jonesie smiled and winced.
"...always sendin plagues and floods,
like with Noah. But the second one, where Jesus come the first
time, it's like it's all bout forgiveness. The way he died on
the cross to forgive our sins."
"But I think it's only the third
book, The Book of New Man, that's really portant no more,
coz it's the one that tells bout the Third Age, and how it is
now. How it all started with the Antichrist and the Great Dyin,
for example, and how Jesus come gain like the second book said
he would, and gathered the Most Righteous, and told em to build
the arks, kinda like with Noah. How Jesus died on the cross
a second time too, but so as the Lords could be resurrected
the way they is now, this time, as the Born of God. That way
they could defeat the Antichrist, and rule the arks like Jesus
told em and stuff, ya know?"
Jonesie passed him the bottle.
"And God's different gain, too,
and so're the teachins. It's all bout service and status now,
not forgiveness. More like the first God that way, tellin us
how we gotta live til the end of the Third Age, or else..."
"Or else we'll be outed, like your
mom, or worse, stuck livin in the Fringe, or as slaves in the
"Ya. Course then there's the Final
Resurrection itself, when Jesus comes gain in the future and
we can all leave the arks, and the faithful are reborn. But
that all not for a thousand years, coz of the Antichrist's curse
on the land. Anyhow, then things are supposed to be like it
said they should be in the second book, only better. See, the
stranger'd be interested in all that, too, coz it tells how
we live and what we believe."
"Or what the Church tells us to
"Ya." He passed the bottle
back to Jonesie, reaching for The Book as he moved to
sit up beside him with his back against the wall.
"Let's see if I can find what I
mean." He flipped through the pages of the Third Testament,
pausing to scan a page for the passage he wanted.
"Here it is, in the second book
of Resurrection, third chapter, verse two," then he quoted,
"And Christ ordained that man himself be divided into three,
as the Godhead itself is divided..."
"Like the trinity."
"Ya." Winkler picked it up
in the next line, "And thus were formed the Born of God,
whom Christ himself caused to be born again from the Most Righteous
at the Second Resurrection; the Chosen, whom the Born of God
were bidden to select as their closest and most favoured servants;
and the Saved, whom He caused to be the servants of all. And
these three He did cause to be divided based upon their righteousness
in the eyes of our Heavenly Father."
Winkler closed The Book. He motioned
with it as he continued, "Ya see, that tells bout how we
live. How the Lords rules from up bove in the Heavenly Land,
ownin the corps, facts, preps and polfacts, and backin candidates
in the gov lections on the Island and stuff; how the Islanders
gets better stuff and better schoolin and the vote and all that,
like we sees on the televid; and how the rest of us're stuck
workin in the facts."
"And in the gangs."
Winkler nodded. "Least we ain't
in the Fringe."
They both laughed. Jonesie winced a
little less now that he'd had a few more shots, and passed the
"But ya see, it's all bout how
close ya are to God too. That's what that last bit bout 'righteousness'
means. It means we all deserves what we got coz God sez so."
"Ya mean the Lords're rich and
powerful and angelic coz they deserves to be? That's why they
were Born of God?"
"Basically. Ya. And our place is
"Coz that's what we deserves,"
They were quiet for a while, as they
passed the bottle.
Then Jonesie said, "But the preacher
always sez if we has faith, and works hard and makes sacrifices
God'll see it too. I heard Elvis even gave that jewel the stranger
give em when he bought his copy of The Book as a sacrifice
to the Church, so as to try and win its indulgence, and become
Chosen, and be lowed to live on the Island."
"Really?" The Church's blessing
was the only ticket to the Island outside of education, he knew.
"Ya. And the preacher sez Islanders
can even be born gain as Lords in this life time, without even
waitin for the end times. If they has faith and makes sacrifices
and stuff. Is that in The Book too, Winkler?"
"I think so. There's a lot in the
three books of Salvation, actually, that's what I'm readin now.
Anyhow, they're bout Christ's teachins for the Third Age. They
all talks bout the things we has to do to win salvation in this
life, or be granted resurrection, specially at the end times.
The way hard work'll be rewarded with worldly success and status
and stuff, if we has faith and hope and makes sacrifices, just
like ya sez."
"Do ya believe that, Winkler, in
faith and stuff?" Jonesie passed him the bottle, which
was almost empty. "In God rewardin the faithful like the
"Not really. Why, do ya?"
The thought hadn't even occurred to him until now.
But it was the only hope for most people,
he suddenly realized. People like Jonesie, with no prep. Nor
no books, like himself.
He passed the bottle back. He would
have felt guilty for what he'd said, if not for Jonesie's behavior
Jonesie drained the bottle. He looked
away into the distance for a while. Then he suddenly hurled
the bottle angrily into the corner. It shattered loudly, adding
another stain to the walls.
Finally, Jonesie continued, his voice
thick with emotion, "I don't know anymore. I used to...
I want to. But life's so fuckin unfair."
When he looked back Winkler realized
he was sobbing silently, so as no one would hear. Tears streamed
down his cheeks.
Winkler put his hand on his shoulder,
suddenly sobering up. "What is it Jonesie? What's happened?"
Jonesie sobbed silently for a moment,
his head in his hands. At last he looked up, his eyes red, "Richard's
Winkler put his left arm around Jonesie's
shoulders and they sat quietly for several minutes, while he
hung his head and cried. Richard had been Jonesie's previous
favorite. He'd also been teaching Winkler combat skills on the
staff. Winkler found himself quietly crying too, though he tried
not to, so he could console Jonesie.
He blames himself, Winkler thought.
He was sure of it.
After a time, when it seemed like Jonesie
was beginning to pull himself together a bit, Winkler said gently,
"How'd it happen Jonesie?"
Jonesie sat up, wiping his eyes and
sniffing. Then he leaned forward with his hands clasped together,
arms on his raised knees.
"It didn't just go badly, Winkler,
it was a trap, a fuckin trap. And Jesus Christ I should've seen
it, should've done somethin to stop it, but we walked right
He went into the story, then, just like
he was reporting it to the Foreboss "from the top."
Probably the only way he could get through it.
"Do ya member that raid we did
a couple weeks go into the Straddy Crew's turf? The one all
the guys've been braggin bout, where we were gonna hit some
shops, but ran into one of their bangers bein shown home by
two of their crewmen instead?"
Winkler nodded and remained silent.
They were feuding with the Straddy Boys. Apparently they'd bled
the two guys and laid them out, then raped the banger. Several
of the guys were bragging about it, especially Billyboy. About
how much she'd liked his "big boy" when it was his
turn to "giv'er a go."
"Turns out that was no banger."
Jonesie sniffed, and wiped at his eyes. "That was Crazy
Boy's girl, the one he was gonna marry."
"Jesus," Winkler breathed.
Crazy Boy was Boss of the Stradbrook Crew. A well deserved name,
too, from what Winkler had heard.
Jonesie continued right on, like if
he stopped he'd never be able to get it all out.
"Course we didn't know that til
"This aft Billyboy and Richard
and some others come back from King James's club in the greyland,
sayin they had a scoop on the Straddy Crew's plans tonight.
Course ya know both gangs has contacts in the greyland, specially
at The King's place."
"Billyboy said there'd been a big
meetin of the Forebosses of several crews of the Wardlaw Gang,
includin the Straddy Crew, coz one of their turfs'd been hit
from the Fringe a couple days go and they were gonna hit em
back hard with several crews. He'd heard the Straddy Crew was
gonna be part of it, so he thought it would be a good time to
raid their turf, while most of em'd be way.
"We decided to hit Archer's place,
coz Billyboy said the contact told em the Straddy Boys'd pawned
some of our stuff there from their last raid. So as we could
make an example of em, ya know, and coz it's only a few blocks
from the greyland. So we was proachin up the back alley, thinkin
we could get in the back without bein seen.
"We was almost to the back door
when a half dozen guys come runnin out. Richard layed out four
in a trace with that staff of his, and Billyboy got the other
two with his basher. Richard turned back, spinnin his staff,
with that big grin he gets when he's in a mix up, like he was
bout to say how easy it'd been."
Jonesie paused as the tears came again.
He struggled to keep himself together so he could finish, then
finally continued as best he could.
"Then suddenly they was everywhere,
they'd been hidden all round, several crews at least, and they
didn't just want to bleed us, they wanted to make meat. It was
like Crazy Boy come out of nowhere, screamin bout his girl,
and before Richard could even lower his staff it was like a
red line just peared out of nowhere, right cross his throat.
Jesus, there was blood everywhere, and he was meat before he
hit the ground Winkler, with Crazy Boy holdin up his sharpie
and yellin bout havin venged his oath for what we'd done to
his girl, and then they was all over us. Christ Winkler, we
had to fight our way all the way back cross the greyland, we're
lucky we didn't lose more. But..."
Jonesie sobbed heavily, once again.
He could barely bring himself to say it. Then he finally managed
to push it all out between sobs.
"Jesus... Winkler... we had to
leave his fuckin body... we can't even do his... final sacrifice
Jonesie cried again, briefly, wiping
at his nose and sniffing. Then Winkler could see anger begin
to overcome his tears, though they continued to flow.
"And ya know what the worst part
is Winkler? Ya know what the fuckin worst part is?"
Winkler could barely shake his head.
He was almost petrified from the story, and the intensity of
"Richard hadn't even raped that
girl for fuck sake. Me and em just stood watch."
Then Jonesie just collapsed in Winkler's
arms for a timespent, sobbing silently with his head against
Winkler's shoulder, until it seemed like he just couldn't cry
Winkler cried quietly too, not only
because he'd liked Richard as a friend and mentor, but because
of Jonesie's reaction.
Finally Jonesie slowly sat up straight;
his face stained with tears, his head hanging and his eyes staring
down at his feet. He was obviously down on himself.
"I should've done somethin Winkler."
"But how could you've known?"
"I'm supposed to be the Boss of
the crew for Christ sake." He was clearly more angry now
than sad. Angry at himself. Angry at the world. "What the
fuck've I been doin, always followin Billyboy and Richard's
And answering for their mistakes, Winkler
thought, but said nothing.
"Ya must've seen it Winkler, the
problems they've caused for the crew with this feud, other things.
But Billyboy's so hard to say no to, and Richard. Well, you've
never seen Richard in a mix up. How good he was. How much he
loved bein good at it. But I'm the fuckin Boss, and I
should've never taken em on a raid like that, on any
raid, without havin gotten the info for myself. Confirmed it
myself. Looked in the contact's eyes as he sez it."
A contact who wouldn't last long, Winkler
knew, if they ever saw him again.
Jonesie shook his head angrily. "I
should've known better." Then more quietly, after a time,
"You'd've known better."
Winkler didn't know what to say. They
were quiet for a long time, leaving Winkler alone with his thoughts.
And then something began to become clearslowly,
bit by bit, until Winkler knew it had to be true. Mostly just
little things here and there. From Jonesie's story tonight,
and his reaction, especially. But also the way Jonesie so rarely
ever asked him to share his bed. Little things about the way
he and Richard acted together. The way they were always together.
The way they were both still single.
Finally, he had to say it. It was barely
"Ya loved em, didn't ya."
Jonesie just nodded sadly, not even
looking at him. Maybe afraid to.
"Course we would've had to keep
it hidden." So quietly Winkler could hardly hear. "Would've
had to marry anyhow. Ya know. So it wouldn't show."
Winkler nodded slowly, almost frightened
himself. Course they would, he thought.
Not like it's something they didn't
all do. As part of the gangs. As part of the code. And while
lots of guys just did what was required for initiation, or came
for a crewboy when they needed a go at night, when they thought
no one would see, there were also guys who seemed to want to
give them all a go at least once.
Billyboy was the worst. He had the biggest
of all the crewmen, which he just loved to show off. Winkler
remembered that for the first few weeks the other crewboys were
afraid to go to the common showers up by their rooms. It seemed
like Billyboy was always there; washing it slowly and with great
pride, waiting for the next crewboy to walk in so he could have
a go. He had even heard him bragging in The Hole after hours
about the way all the little crewboys had to get to know his
"big boy" more than once, so they wouldn't forget
"what a real man was like."
Course the other guys razzed and joked
him about it. But it was all according to code, part of the
initiation, so that's as far as it went.
And yet despite their initiation, or
perhaps because of it, Winkler thought, it was a completely
taboo topic with the older men who had left the gangs. There
were worse words on the Mainland than suckfuck, or buggerfuckas
they called guys in some of the other gangsfor what the
televid called "gay" men. They were considered even
lower than slags. And no one who was open about it would have
lasted long, Winkler knew, in or out of the gangs. Not on the
"But you'll keep my secret, won't
ya Winkler?" Jonesie whispered, still not looking at him.
"Course I will Jonesie. I swears
Jonesie smiled weakly and finally looked
up, giving him a playful "shot" across the chin with
his bruised knuckles. Winkler could see that now that the story
was outeven more than intended, maybeand his emotions
spent, the whiskey was finally starting to catch up with him.
"And ya'd probably bleed yer palm
and do it proper if ya had a sharpie handy. And then I'd have
to wash my sheets."
They both laughed quietly, sadly.
"I wasn't kiddin earlier though.
When I said ya'd do better than me. And ya will."
"But Jonesie, I'm just a crewboy,
I'm not old nough."
"I know, but ya will be. And I'll
stay on til ya sez yer ready. But I'm almost old nough for the
facts, Winkler, and then can marry.
He said it so matter of factly, yet
then paused, like he'd just noticed what he'd said, and remembered
that Winkler now knew the truth.
So used to hiding the truth it was reflex,
Winkler realized, like me and my books.
Then, after a moment's silence, "But
I want ya to advise me, soon as yer full patch, tell me if I'm
bein stupid, okay? You'll be my second."
"Anythin ya say Jonesie."
Then Jonesie slid down, so as he could
lay his head on his pillow.
God he looks old, Winkler thought,
as he watched Jonesie lie quietly for a moment. Old and tired.
"What's it like to live on the
Island, Winkler?" Jonesie asked with a sigh, "Where
near everyone can afford prep and there's no gangs? Where this
stuff wouldn't matter?"
Winkler didn't think Jonesie really
wanted an answer, just dreaming out loud.
"I bet you'll find out though,
even without faith. Not like the rest of us. Yer better than
the facts, Winkler, I know y'are."
There was a pause, then Jonesie continued,
half to sleep now.
"And what's it like to be a Lord?
They must be almost like gods..."
Then after a short silence, "How
much faith does it take, Winkler, to become a Lord?"
He trailed off.
Winkler realized he didn't have to answer.
Jonesie had finally fallen to sleep.
* * *
Winkler sat for a long time, watching
Jonesie sleep. He was no longer tired himself, having slept
earlier. Nor could he sleep after all he had been through, or
so it seemed to him now, just sitting there in Jonesie's bed.
It would be a long three years, he thought.
Eventually he picked up The Book.
As he flipped through the pages of the Third Testament, he thought
about what Jonesie had last said, as he was falling to sleep.
He knew the passage would be somewhere in the three books of
Salvation, which he'd been reading.
Finally he found it, 2 Salvation 7:46,
which he read in the light from the street:
For no man can be Born of God, according
to the word of Christ, nor Chosen from among the Saved, lest
he have faith in both the Father and in his Son. And if a
man is to have faith, he must needs also have hope, that he
too may become Chosen, or even Born of God in this life, or
that he may be Resurrected upon Christ's return at the end
of this Third Age. Further, a man cannot attain to faith and
hope lest he also be meek and lowly of heart, and submit his
own will to that of Jesus Christ, to the teachings of Our
Father, who speaks to the world through Him, and to the Lords
which serve Him. Hence, a man must also have charity. He must
make sacrifices unto Christ's people and to the Church which
serves them, and he must render service to those who are Born
of God if he seeks salvation. Wherefore, cleave thee unto
charity, which is the greatest of all. For while all things
must fail, as the Great Dying has shown, charity is alike
unto the pure love of Christ, which endureth forever.
Winkler closed The Book and placed it on the bed beside
him, thinking about what he'd just read, and what Jonesie had
Faith, hope and charity. Sacrifice to
the Church. Service to the Lords. Without creds it didn't seem
like someone like Jonesie could even hope, at least not for
anything beyond a life in the facts. And faith was the least
of the three. Jonesie was right, how much faith does
Winkler never read The Book again.