Jandrax 22

Chapter 6
Interlude: Incident on Hallam’s World

“Andrax, you can’t seriously contend that crucifixion is a viable part of the Monomythos. It is a barbaric concept, not a true part of the Word.” The speaker was angry, as was my father’s reply.

“It is not my place to advise God on what is and is not proper. Crucifixion, the self-sacrifice of God for Man, is a part of a vast array of religions from Zulis to the Christ. Who are we to throw it out?”

They stood face to face, poised like fighting cocks, two small men with pretensions to power, each secure in his own theology. This I know now, but then I only saw that my father was threatened by the heretic Baylor and that, insofar as he was threatened, I was likewise threatened. I was twelve years old.

I remember the incident clearly still. It was the last argument that Baylor and my father had. I had been schooled in the Danneline Monomythos and I believed it implicitly. There was no room for doubt in my small, ordered world.

The sun was warm; flowers were blooming in the village square on the imported fruit trees that were our village’s special pride. The grass was green after a long winter of brown and the pond at the base of the muddy main street was clear blue again, having shed its winter coat of ice. All these details are made more poignant by the intervening years and the comparison they offer to this cold hell-planet. Hallam, or Hallam’s World as it is often called, is a prime property.

A crowd gathered as the argument continued, each man gesturing with the staff he carried to kill the poisonous reptiles then prevalent. Baylor’s supporters were almost exclusively newcomers to Hallam, the company of a ship that had planeted only two years back. They were followers of the Pertoskan Monomythos, demons to me then. Now I recognize that the difference in doctrine between their people and mine was small.

When Louis Dumezil collated the earth’s religions into one grand scheme, he had hoped to put an end to religious persecution by deriving a universal religion. Scholars are uncertain today whether or not he believed in his teachings himself; it is a common theory among historians that he was not a religious man, merely a man of peace working through religion to attain his ends. If that is so, he failed miserably, for there has never been a more fractious group than the Universal Monists.

By the time the argument had continued for ten minutes, most of the village had gathered, each group of adherents separating from the other. My father was red-faced; Baylor had gone white. Each was gesturing, shouting, cutting off his opponent, making personal slurs. Then Baylor struck my father – or my father struck Baylor. I have never been quite sure who struck the first blow.

*****

I wrote Jandrax in 1976, less than a year after completing my first master’s thesis. It shows. I won’t ever rewrite Jandrax, but if I did, the end of the third paragraph is an example of what needs help.

This I know now, but then I only saw that my father was threatened by the heretic Baylor and that, insofar as he was threatened, I was likewise threatened.

If I were rewriting, I would replace it with:

And what threatened my father, threatened me.

Ah, the joys of hindsight.

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