It wasn’t until two in the morning when Timothy found, by accident, that he had wasted the whole day. He woke earlier in afternoon, eager to check for any replies from the message board. The dull, white screen illuminated his face. He was a college kid, who had nothing better to do than to argue with strangers he never met. Sometimes he wondered and imagined what these other people were like.
Knowing a wide variety of subjects, he could enter any of the debates that occurred within the forums. The philosophy and theology boards ravished his mind. There he came across good arguments; he also came across, what he thought, were lame arguments. “All of nature is contingent,” one reply said, “that is, all of nature could not exist. So it is by necessity that something, which is not a part of nature, exists. And so…”
‘This is, of course, God,’ he said, scrolling further down to find similar retorts. They were always the same. The same arguments and the same counter-arguments. Nothing ever changed. It was boring. ‘Then what made God?’ A different user asked. More back and forth between the original poster and various other people.
One of the posters, who had an image of a pale-faced Jesus, replied within the thread, saying that Jesus loved everyone. Timothy laughed at the idea. How could Jesus love everyone if he never met any of them? Even worse, how could Jesus love anyone when everyone were idiots? He could barely love his own family, and he was glad that he could afford to move on campus away from them.
What sort of person laid behind the image, he thought. Timothy imagined a person who looked as though they possessed Down’s Syndrome. Perhaps they were overweight.
He decided to make a post, and it wouldn’t be the greatest post, but enough to make some points. “How can Jesus love me if he never met me?” He titled. He waited as the drifting sun set below the window, and darkness penetrated the room. The computer screen served as Timothy’s only light. He browsed other websites in the mean time, distracting him until it was night.
A message popped up from his browser. A reply had appeared: “He’s God, so he knows everyone.” The reply was from the same user who had the image of a pale-faced Jesus. It felt as though he had waited his entire life for this moment. Timothy questioned whoever it was behind that image. “Can you show he’s God?” “How does he know me? I’ve never met him.” And so on. The answers from the user were not grandiose, as Timothy hoped they would be; they were simple, saying, “I know he’s God cause I’ve seen him” and “He knows you cause he died for you. He loved you so much he died for you.”
Timothy went back and forth with the user, pointing out that he wasn’t making any useful arguments. The user would reply back with bible verses, pictures of Christ carrying a lamb, and other stupid things. There was little rationality to any of it.
As Timothy kept seeing the user’s image, he began to loathe it. He knew enough that Jesus was of middle-eastern descent. He looked nothing like the picture. A white-washed, American Jesus stared back at him; his eyes seemed to contain the universe, and his cheeks upheld a smile of comfort. Timothy thought it was fake, thinking if he could break the man in the picture himself, then he wouldn’t look as cheerful.
“Is that how Jesus looks to you?” Referring to the user’s picture. He would finally have him.
“That’s my Jesus, the one that died for you.”
Timothy replied back, telling the user about what Jesus, if he really did exist, would’ve looked like. He linked images of poor middle-eastern men. He described in detail the type of clothing, hygiene, and skin color of what Jesus would have really looked like. As he did this, he stared more at the pale-faced Jesus, the ghostly God who never was.
He looked for more pictures of this Jesus, finding that he hated him more every time he found his face. All of the pictures were so clean and perfect. Fake, just like Jesus was. The pictures were lies, and Jesus was a lie, too.
If he could, he would grab that clean and white, ghostly Jesus, tear off his robes and push him into the dirt. He would kick him and roll him with his feet, browning that pure white skin of his. The man would beg, for sure, but Timothy wouldn’t stop. He wanted the man broken. He wanted to see that smile that knew no evil to know it. He would bash his face in against the earth, having him taste it, then he would have him walk thousands of miles for days. Beaten and dark, he would smell. He would smell of fear and sweat. Would his followers clamor after him now? He thought.
The user had replied back. “He died for you cause he loved you. He died on the cross, can’t you see his love?” He linked an image of a heart-broken Jesus carrying a wooden cross. The man in the picture seemed as though he went through a break-up with his girlfriend.
Timothy did not reply. The image was stupid, like the person who posted it. He would make him carry that cross with him for thousands of miles, too. His feet would be bleeding and have blisters. He would silently cry to himself, unable to go on any longer, stumbling to his knees as the rocks and gravel scratched up his skin. Blood trailed down his legs, mixing with the blood of his blisters; his eyes not gazing at heaven but earth. Timothy would kick him down, for good measure, then he would yell at him to pick it up and start moving again.
Sweat would run down the man’s naked back, as his chest heaved in weakness. The burden of the wood would break his shoulder. His armpits would stink.
There had to be more. Yes, Timothy thought, he dies for me.
He would grab the man’s hands as they quivered in fear. Splinters pierced his fingers as an iron nail would soon pierce his hands and feet. He tried to recoil, but Timothy yanked his left arm out, holding it against the wooden frame as he drove the nail into it. The first hit pierced his hand, crushing bone and flesh, but it did not penetrate the wood. He hammered down again, hearing the man cry out in agony. His blood splattered onto Timothy’s hands and a portion of his hammer.
Timothy lifted himself and proceeded onto the man’s other hand. He shook his head, crying, pleading for Timothy to not strike another nail into him. Faker, Timothy thought. He grabbed the man’s right wrist, pulling it towards himself before the man could recoil. He pressed down on it with the whole weight of his body, driving the nail into the man’s palm. He cried again in agony; his chest rising and falling from his breath. Timothy could smell it; he could smell the man’s breath. It disgusted him.
He moved to his feet to avoid smelling his breath. The man’s body convulsed in pain; his body attempting to recoil. Timothy grabbed his feet and tied them up so they couldn’t move. The man was naked with his hands pierced by iron nails. His breathing was deep and the sweat glistened on his body from the hot sun.
Timothy felt proud, as though a crowd cheered him on. He was doing a great service. This man was a fake, so he was being treated as such. He deserved it.
He grabbed the tied up legs, bending his blistered feet onto a small platform. He felt the puss-filled lumps as he held them against the wood. Blood and ooze poured out of them onto his hands. He placed the tip of the nail onto the man’s thin feet. He rubbed the tip of it in between the bones that were visible. The man recoiled as Timothy drove the spike in, causing it to miss his second foot. He moved the spike within the man’s foot, hearing the flesh grind against the iron. Striking again, he aimed through the second foot and into the wooden platform. The man wailed.
Several men came up to Timothy, helping him lift the cross upwards. The man groaned into the sky, his arms pointing to the left and right like a scarecrow. Timothy wanted to see the look on the man’s face. The face that was pale and ghostly; the man that was the epitome of comfort.
The God that was reduced to hanging flesh.
Blood dripped from the dying God’s hands. Sweat fell from the man’s armpits. He cried. He yelled. Timothy looked up, trying to see that face once more. The dying God looked down in agony. He gazed at Timothy and only Timothy. His eyes no longer contained the universe. They were a darkness. A darkness that Timothy felt would encompass him. He saw it, creeping into his own eyes. The blood of that hanging flesh dripped onto his face, blinding him and tasting like metal.
It was two in the morning. The pale, dull light of the computer screen illuminated Timothy’s face. He turned it off. He did not reply to the user of the pale-faced Jesus.
He walked in darkness to his bed as it crept into his eyes, wondering if he really could have done those things and why.