The Kingdom is at Hand


amato_icon.gif delia_icon.gif

Scene Title The Kingdom is at Hand
Synopsis The admissions of a sinner are not absolved in confession.
Date August 15, 2010

A Catholic Church - Staten Island

Despite both the reputation Staten Island has for being a no-man's land of vice and debauchery, and despite the National Guard that prowls all over the island in the aftermath of the raid on the Institute, there are still those who remain faithful and rest their hopes in the hands of a higher power. And despite his own efforts to remain off the grid and under the radar, Amato Salucci still attends mass at one of the smaller parishes that is still operational in Staten.

After the service, Amato, known here by those who care to ask as Benjamin Sall, slips into one of the lesser-used confessional booths. There are many reasons for this smaller sanctuary. It's quiet, and Amato knows he will be undisturbed while the priest attends to other matters and the congregants gather for a quiet social hour. With a sigh, the blond Italian leans his head against the back of the wooden booth for a moment, letting his eyes slide closed.

It's been years since Delia went to church. It used to be a regular Sunday event for the women of the Ryans family to dress up in their best clothing and walk to mass together. It stopped when the girls hit their teenage years, it just wasn't cool anymore.

Dressed in a plain black skirt that falls to the knee, a nice-ish blouse, and a light jacket, Delia climbs the steps up and into the church. She missed the mass, but that wasn't what she was really here for. Stepping into one of the small booths at the side of the parish, she closes the small door behind her and taps lightly on the wooden block over the window.

The creak of the door followed by the knock snap Amato out of his prayerful repose, but he doesn't jump so much as to make a noise on his side of the intricate barrier between the two booths. After clearing his throat, Amato does his best to recite an appropriate blessing not in English, but Latin. "Beatus, cui remissa est iniquitas, et obtectum est peccatum." Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. He waits, then looking sidelong through the thick screen, wondering who might be on the other side.

He straightens his tie and smooths his suit jacket with his hands as he waits for the scripted response, doing his best to get himself into the needed mindset. It doesn't matter who is over there. They came looking for counsel and absolution, and even without ordination and without being aware, it is he, Amato, who they have come to. He must do his best to oblige both this lost soul and the god they both recognize.

"Forgive me father, for I have sinned… I can't remember when my last confession was." A female voice, low and a little hoarse, sounds through the screen. There's silence for a long while, with a quick gasp of a breath at odd intervals, as though the woman on the other side is trying to speak but just can't get anything out. "I'm afraid— " the thought is cut off with a sniffle and then a small shuffle before a flicker of white can be seen being whipped out and shaken. "I'm scared and I don't know what to do. I need help."

On her side, Delia pushes some of her thick hair behind her ear and then lowers her hand to fold it with the other on her lap. The cloth handkerchief, damp in one corner with tears, is twisted between her fingers as she tries to eke out just a little more for the priest to work with. "I think I'm…" her voice drifts off and she swallows loudly, her breath shuddering as a sob threatens to interrupt. "I think I'm one of them… Evolved."

There is a moment of silence on the other side of the screen as Amato's eyes widen and his heartbeat picks up. A smile flickers in the corner of his mouth before he shakes his head and focuses anew. "Some see these abilities as gifts from the Almighty," he says, choosing his words carefully. "Others, a curse. Tell me, child," he says before taking a deep breath and squinting through the screen even as he keeps his head turned toward the door.

"How do you see it?"

"I'm scared, I don't know why God's punishing me," the quivering voice replies. The white lacy cloth in her hands takes more abuse as Delia twists some of the fabric into a little point. Taking a deep breath, she looks over at the wicker screen to see spots of skin behind it. There's not enough to tell who it might be, just enough to give peace of mind that there is someone there. "One of them killed my mom," she continues slowly, "I had a dream the other night but not really a dream. I was walking through my dad's guilty conscience. She was going to leave him if he didn't quit his job but he left anyway, she died before he came back."

It sounds similar to Amato's own ability. Enough to make him raise one of his eyebrows. "These abilities," he begins, taking another deep breath as he clasps his hands together. "They're just like any other talent or skill, but one that is innate. Much like a child who is gifted with the ability to play a musical instrument, or who has an unusual skill. A prodigy, in a sense.

"What separates those Evolved that the government has qualified as dangerous from those who are still able to live peaceful lives is how these individuals choose to use their talents. There are some with the ability to hurt others, and rather than harness this and make it useful for the betterment of mankind, they choose to cause needless havoc and pain.

"Now, seeing someone's dreams seems rather innocuous, but if you used it for ill - if you turned this skill into a vehicle for sin - then you would need absolution." Amato smiles, and the expression carries through into his voice. "Child, God cannot forgive you for being afraid. It is not a sin against Him. But he can offer you a way to use your gift. Alternatively, you could see it as a test of your willpower. A challenge He has given you to refine you into a better person."

"I hate them." Delia emits, even quieter than before. "I hate them all. My dad keeps telling me that it was just one, but…" A long sniffle follows and she hunches her shoulders, letting her head bow down low. The loose red curls fall forward to hide her face from the screen, even if the priest could see through it, he wouldn't be able to tell it was her.

"… Maybe it was just one, but I found out that's it's not just one. My dad left because he was trying to stop another one from killing more people. He left because if he didn't, there were going to be a lot more." She turns her head toward the screen and places a hand on the glazed wicker. Letting out her next breath in a long shuddering sigh, she pulls her hand down the partition and rests it against the sill. "I'm scared that if I'm on a list, my dad will have to hunt me too."


The word breathed as much as it is said, and Amato closes his eyes with it. "Listen to yourself. So long as you do not use your skills to sin, your father will have no reason to hunt you. You are no different than you were before you could do this. You are still you, and you are still his daughter. So long as you commit no crime in the eyes of man or God, your father will have no reason to fulfill his duty."

Amato turns his head to look through the screen, if only as an unseen gesture of comfort. "And if your name finds its way onto a list through no fault of your own, have faith in the notion that your father will be wise enough to know your innocence, and strong enough to resist the powers that be."

"But if I register," the quick words come up too close behind Amato's. Delia's fingers curl against the sill and her fingernails dent the waxed wood that separates the two of them. "Everyone has to register, I'll be on his list." Her eyebrows furrow tightly together and she wets her dry lips with her tongue before drawing her lower lip between her teeth to chew on it.

"Did you have a vision, Father? The day that everyone collapsed?" Her words are quiet again, a hushed and hurried whisper as she speaks close to the window. "I had one, they were loading us onto boats. Something bad is going to happen, I don't want to register, I'm scared of going on the list."

"I did not. I was upstate when that happened." But the vision the girl relays is no less frightening. Amato gulps, then takes a deep breath. "There are many like you, child," he finally says, "those who are no more harmful with their abilities than any one without one, who are afraid to be in this registry. Some see it as more of an invasion of privacy than something that will benefit us all in the long run." There are countless parallels that can be drawn. Nazi Germany. Communist Russia. But Amato doesn't mention them.

"The world is changing, child. As it always does. I…I do not know much about these visions," other than what he has gleaned from what little news coverage he has seen, "But I would not put too much faith in them. There are some whose abilities allow them to do such things, and so…it could all be a ruse. Listen to your own heart, and to what God has put forth in his word. I would also suggest paying a visit to the Suresh Center. There are people there who don't ask questions - they only answer them. Perhaps they can allay some of your fear, and help you not to hate."

"The Suresh Center? But…" A quick gasp of a breath is taken in before she continues. "Will they test me there?" Her heart feels like it's trying to jump out of her chest it's pounding so hard. She's never even attempted to go there, she was never interested in gaining education on the people she hated so much. Understanding them and what they do, all of their possibilities was always just too much for the young woman to fathom. Now…

"Thank you, Father," she says, her voice a little firmer than before. Chewing on her lip again, she edges forward on the little bench. "I'll try my best, I've just been.. Well you heard. It's just been hard, I feel like it's going to wreck my life. I wanted to do so many things. Dad said I still can, but— I feel like, you know before Apartheid was abolished in South Africa, they made people carry papers. I feel like that. I don't know what's going to happen next and I'm scared that there's just going to be more."

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

It would be a lie, a sin, for Amato to deny he has similar fears regarding mandatory registration and the state of the world. If the government were not already aware of his own crimes, if he were able to flee the United States, Amato can't even say he would have done so by now. But he smiles, lifting a hand to the screen. "Go with God, my child."

"Go with God."

There's a smile from the opposite side of the screen and to answer, Delia lifts her hand and places it against the wicker. "Thank you again, Father." Her voice sounds less weighted, a little smoother. With a small huff of breath, she leans a little closer and turns her head toward the door of the confessional. "Am I supposed to get some Hail Marys and absolution now? I haven't done this for as long as I can remember."

"The only sin you have committed is hate, and the only absolution to be found comes in eradicating that hatred." Amato's eyebrows furrow on the other side of the screen. It's very unconventional, the way he is doing this. Off script almost completely. "The first step in doing so is to learn more about that which draws such a negative response from your heart. Then, asking for forgiveness from those you wronged with that hate."

He smiles then, and nods his head. "Then, continue to trust in God. Have faith that he will not lead you astray. Forgiveness, and the Kingdom, is at hand."

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