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The Right to Life, Pt 1

1st Part of three: Sci fi kicks in for the shock ending!

A member of Opus Dei, Christophe had never considered himself a fanatic. And even as the plan took shape in his head he recognized the externally fanatical aspects to it but believed also that there was really something that needed to be done. Christophe was not a loner: He had 2 daughters, a devoted wife, and lived in a decent-sized home in Los Gatos Hills in Silicon Valley. He had everything to live for, and he knew it.

But something was wrong. Deeply wrong. The Holy Father had not been seen by the public in more than two decades, placing his age in the low hundreds. Pronouncements and blessings had all been by video, or else made in the presence of one of his trusted advisors. And starting perhaps 7 years ago, there had been a steady stream of...heresies? Corruptions? Clear but small deviations from the established truths of the Holy Church. And although the Holy Father certainly had the authority to override previous statements of doctrine, for most of his reign (prior to dissappearence from public visibility) he had done so sparingly, and only after a long process of engagement and debate. But this stream of small heresies, probably not obvious to any but well-trained priests and the extremely pious, these came without any apparent debate or interaction of pronouncement. Statements, for instance, calling the sacraments mere symbols and thus overthrowing the traditional doctrine of transubstantiation.

But the final and decisive indicator was, for Christophe, when a statement came forth indicating that Jesus had been raised in a "astral" body, with the clear implication that he hadn't been raised in a physical body. This was absolutely heretical doctrine, and it was issuing forth from a Holy Father that no one had seen for decades. There were murmurs, of course, but they were rapidly silenced. The few outspoken priests were unceremoniously removed from their office and excommunicated. Even the Jesuits were officially silenced, and they complied.

Christophe knew there were few who could perform the necessary task, and he knew that he was one of those that could. He also had a rare form of access to Vatican Medical records, which indicated a steady stream of life-sustaining supplies, including advanced dialysis machines, respirators and so on. So it appeared that the Holy Father was indeed alive, but in what state it was impossible to tell. And as a high-ranking power-weilder inside Opus Dei, he could work getting granted the closest thing possible to an audience with the Holy Father these days. Christophe made preparations, creating a living will and leaving a record of what had caused him to attempt to do what he was about to do.

Christophe knew there were few who could perform the necessary task, and he knew that he was one of those that could. He also had a rare form of access to Vatican Medical records, which indicated a steady stream of life-sustaining supplies, including advanced dialysis machines, respirators and so on. So it appeared that the Holy Father was indeed alive, but in what state it was impossible to tell. And as a high-ranking power-wielder inside Opus Dei, he could work getting granted the closest thing possible to an audience with the Holy Father these days.

Christophe made preparations, creating a living will and leaving a record of what had caused him to attempt to do what he was about to do. Kissing his wife and children at the airport, he bid them a teary farewell, knowing that he would most likely never see them again.

Arriving in Rome, Christophe spent some time meeting with various other members of Opus Dei and intelligensia attempting one more time to assess the situation. Many were reluctant to discuss the peculiarities involved, few still the theology. But there was were some of the faithful who were bold in their belief that the Holy Father was either likely dead, or perhaps somehow deranged, and the steady stream of heresies a clear deviation from not only church teaching but church operation as well. The Holy Father was out of control.

Interesting premise, but...

This is an interesting premise, but right now it's suffering from the 'show don't tell' problem. I think readers would feel the tension of the story better if the narrative did more to draw them in.

For example, what if the story began just as the Opus Dei gathering was getting underway? Then we might learn about Christophe's concerns and how badly they worry him because he's having a hushed and nervous conversation about them with two other members sitting nearby. Then the meeting itself begins, and we find out what the organization plans to do, etc., etc. You could even start with one of the men whispering your last sentence, "The Holy Father is out of control", and the other two members, alarmed, talk the first person down.

I'm only offering that as a suggestion, of course. But something like that might help you take your idea and give it some extra punch.