Short Story: Hadaly’s Day Out (Part II)

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Without another word she burst into motion and ran—at the fairly restrained rate of about the speed of a sprinter—up the length of Cady Mall towards a heavy clustering of college students all standing around a single orator.

Elaine almost dropped her phone trying to grab Hadaly’s arm—several feet too late. “Oh fsck,” she said.

Frog looked at Elaine, her expression actually looked to be the conjunction between amusement and concern. Together they ran after the quickly fleeing android girl who now had a good thirty feet on both of them and counting. Unaccustomed to running, Elaine didn’t expect that she’d catch up very quickly, so when Frog touched her arm and nudged her to slow down she paced down from a sprint to a jog.

Elaine caught Hadaly’s arm and looked up at a tall, blonde male student whose stance made it look as if he’d been conversing with her for the entire time it took them to catch up. “You shouldn’t have run off like that,” Elaine subvocalized, knowing that the android’s audio pickups had enough gain to hear her even if nobody else could.

Frog sidled up next to her and looked up at the nearby preacher curiously.

“…his name’s Brother Jed,” the student was in the middle of saying. “He apparently visits campuses all across theU.S.and he comes around here every year or so.”

“We should go,” Elaine said aloud.

“You must be her friends,” the boy said to them. “My name’s Adam. Hadaly said the one with green hair would be hot and her friend would be a cute geek girl.”

“Spot on,” Frog said. “As usual.”

“He’s fun,” Hadaly said. “Can I keep him?”

“Absolutely not,” Elaine said.

Standing on the peach-colored stone embankment in front of the Hayden Stacks, the mall preacher, Brother Jed, concluded a tirade that involved long declarations and swift thrusts with his hands. The preacher’s attire looked back in time to when men wore dark suspenders and vests over light shirts and tan pants. His broad glasses sat on a nose browned and leathered by the sun and below heavy, bushy eyebrows graying with age.

As he shouted, would sit in a folding chair or stand suddenly in order to punctuate his words. Adding to his costume, he carried a long, smooth wooden cane-like staff from-appearance carved from a single branch with a crucifix affixed to the top—the bronzed countenance of Jesus, spikes through the hands and feet crucified. The preacher swung it about with dire emphasis and stamped it on the ground as he prowled around his chair.

“You see, girls, the boys on this campus only see you as a piece of A-S-S,” Brother Jed shouted, pacing back and forth with his staff. His voice warbled in strange inflection as he spoke and he overemphasized the spelling of the word “ass.”  Elaine looked up momentarily from her smart phone programming to track his movement as his shadow crossed her, but quickly returned to her work. “But you are more than that. You also have brains. However, you sorority girls would rather have an orgasm than a bright idea!”

“Why I can’t I have both?” Frog shouted back.

“He’s extraordinarily annoying,” Elaine said, folding her arms.

Well, when you dress like that, one of these boys here might be willing to help you with that,” replied Brother Jed in a slightly quieter tone. “I see that you know well enough to dress like a lady, in a skirt—” He leaned down a little and cupped a hand as if to whisper something not lowering his voice at all. “—but your bosoms are showing.

“Perhaps you should speak with one of the Muslim girls here about how to dress. Their men, at least, know how to keep their women in line. Neither of them would be out here with green hair, like you, what does your father think about that?”

Frog snorted, placing her arms akimbo and smiling rakishly. “He helped me dye it the first time.”

“Ah he did…did he.” The dark eyes roving underneath bushy eyebrows found Elaine tapping away at her phone and his voice boomed out once again. “Are you trying to be a boy or a girl, young lady? Are you a student here?”

Elaine’s gaze snatched angrily up from her work on the Android—she’d managed to shut him out for most of his bellowing at Frog, after all her friend could hold her own against one such as him—but she wondered what he had against a video game shirt and cargo pants precisely.

“Undergraduate and I am the Secretary at Arms of the ASU Godless Society,” she said.

“Are you with the secular society over there?”

“No. We’re not exactly related.”

“And you belong to a group of atheists?”

“I am, but much of the group isn’t,” Elaine said. “Most of them are some form of Christian, a few Jews, a Buddhist, and several Wiccans.”

“If you’re not atheists,” Brother Jed said, rumbling out the word with a stern emphasis, “why would you call yourselves the Godless Society?”

“That’s easy, it’s because we’ve killed one.”

“Young lady, you should know that you cannot kill God,” the preacher man said, shaking his head. “Even Nietzsche only said, ‘God is dead.’ Now, there have been those who have thought that did. But they were dopefiends and under the influence of L-S-D!” He punctuated each letter of the acronym with a pointed thrust of his index finger.

“Lysergic acid diethylamide?” Frog said. “Why would I go with that when I can make far more interesting pharama in my lab?”

“H-E-double-L awaits you if you don’t give up your druggie, sinful ways,” replied Brother Jed. “Turn from your sin or you will end up in the lake of firrrrre-uh, where there will be screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeeeeeth-eh!” He mimed the actions of gnashing teeth as he did so, running his jaw side-to-side. “You seem pretty smart, young lady,” he added. “Surely you know in your head that you shouldn’t do drugs.”

Elaine shook her head. “And you can know this ‘hell’ with your brain?”

“Yes, the Lord gave you a brain so you could know this,” Jed said.

“Your hypothesis is already disconfirmed, then,” Elaine said. “If brains are the only mechanism by which we can access this ‘hell’ and must first die to do so. Brains cease to perceive when they die, meaning there’s no logical connection between any brain and ‘hell.’”

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