I was still pretty much a boy when God first spoke to me.
Everything around me moved. A soft breeze persisted through the quaint little church, cooling what would have been an otherwise uncomfortable atmosphere; what with everyone on their feet , clapping their hands and singing praises to their glorious God—a god I didn't believe in, mind you. I simply sat, pretentiously blind to the gazes shot at me like searing bullets from among the congregation, including the "I-am-holier-than-thou-o-heathen-sinner!" one that my girlfriend, who was sitting in the row in front of me, turned her head to give.
I wished that they would at least have a little sympathy; it wasn't easy being an atheist Seventh-Day Adventist—or asda, as my friend Simon would say, but more about him later. Not only did I have to sit through incredibly boring sermons that I thought completely ridiculous; I also had to do it on Saturdays when everyone else was out having fun.
"That's what you get for being 5th generation Adventist," Simon had once told me. He always seemed to enjoy reminding me of my church-going roots.
Anyway, I was sitting there by myself while everyone around me was on their feet; singing, clapping and swaying from side to side. My thoughts at the time ran along the lines of "when will this noise end?" And then, in a moment, it did. Everything just went completely silent. It was as though my ears had stopped working, except that at that same moment, I heard a single voice say a single thing.
It was strong, clear and pronounced, and blanketed with nothing but that brief silence. I never quite understood why I did it, because at that time it didn't occur to me that it was God who spoke to me, but glancing around the room to catch a glimpse of who had spoken, or at least see if anyone else had heard it, I slowly got to my feet.
I guess I was afraid.
Thomas leaned forward in his chair with an eager grin, waiting for the woman in front of him to ask her question—or at least explain her reason for interrupting him—just as she had commanded.
"Afraid of what?"
"I dunno…hormones? I was sixteen." Thomas said with a grin that could easily be mistaken for a smirk. "I dunno, I think the voice sort of invoked a short burst of terror, or anxiety—but I don't exactly remember."
"I see…" Molly Price, the woman in front of him, nodded smugly and scribbled something down on her notepad. He could tell that she didn't approve; or believe. She probably thought that he was the latest product of popular culture and its need to find a new person to exalt every other week. She probably thought that he had lied about his visions, or conversations with the divine Creator. Her small, brown eyes drifted up from what she was scribbling and settled on him again. They were full of judgment.
"Anyway," said Thomas, holding eye contact before she broke it in favour of the lamp sitting on his centre table. "I didn't understand the significance of his request until he explained it to me subsequently."
"And it was, what?" asked Molly.
"Well you'd have to wait, wouldn't you?" He leaned forward again. "Bon-bon?" He offered, holding out the bowl of candy that sat next to the lamp.
She shook her head with a cold scowl.
Molly Price was probably the kind of woman he would be interested in if he wasn't so busy doing God's work. Sure, she didn't seem like a believer, but that wouldn't have mattered in the first place. And even if it did to, say, his parents, her scalding personality would definitely make up for it; Thomas had always been drawn to cold and frigid women—he figured it had something to do with his mother.
She wore dark-red lipstick and a very little make-up. Her brown hair was straight and hung in what Thomas imagined was the laziest hairdo a woman could conceive, down to her shoulders. She was neatly dressed in a course grey suit and a white blouse. She was just what a reporter would look like...in the 90s. Except her suit was a trouser-suit and those didn't get popular until recently.
"Will you go on with your story?"
I was pretty much freaked for the rest of the morning, to say the least. I thought I was going crazy—hearing things, and believe me; back in 1998 it wasn't considered normal for a sixteen year old to be losing his mind. Shannon, that was my girlfriend's name said that it was just manifestation of my guilt for being such an ass in church.
"That's just fine," I said. "Except—I'm not guilty! I have nothing to be guilty about!"
"That's not really funny, Simon." I said.
It was later that day, and I was relating my morning to my good friend Simon while we helped his father wash his Accord. Actually, it was more like we washed the car while his dad sat on the front steps scowling at his laptop computer. We didn't mind though; Mr. Garber had promised to let us drive it afterwards.
"What? I'm agreeing with you," Simon laughed as he hosed some lather off the car's windshield. "And it is funny. You're way too tense."
"You people make me tense..."
"This new Windows is a pain in the ass!"
We both turned to where Simon's dad was sitting before looking at each other again.
"Your dad's a geek," I said with a grin.
"And you're an ass-da," he teased back.
"Yeah? Call me that again, I'll kick your ass."
"Guys just watch your mouths okay?" Mr. Garber said without once glancing in our direction. "Now why—why does it do that? I give up..."
"Lucky your dad's here."
He smirked at me and started on the tires. "Or what, you'd defeat me with your tears? You can't test me, Tommy."
I fell silent—he was right. After all, not only was he a year older than I was, he was also twice my size; I was one of those guys that were still skinny after puberty. Not that I had a problem with that; girls thought that I was cute, and if I ever got into any trouble, Simon had my back—in which case his age, size and general aggressive nature came in handy.
"What does all this have to do with anything?"
"You're doing an exposé on me, aren't you?" Thomas asked.
"I'm doing an exposé on your mission, yes."
"Well good then, Simon is an integral part of what mission has become."
"I see." Molly said with her eyes fixed on her notepad. "Whatever fancies you, I suppose."
Thomas almost laughed aloud at the thought. There was nothing fancy about sitting down in his dull apartment living room pouring out details about his life to a total stranger. He was here on orders; Molly Price was to be the next soul he would help save into the Most High's eternal kingdom. And he was going to make sure of it too; his orders were ten years in the making—he wasn't going to screw them up now.