“Can you explain to us why you’ve decided to ban religion?” A reporter said as she shoved a microphone into Zao’s face. Liakos watched as Lord Zao turned and gave her his full attention. He had been in the front row during Zao’s speech, and felt like squirming out of his skin. He was not a fan of religion, but he believed in freedom. Zao promised peace and security, all he asked in return were individual liberties. Liakos fidgeted as Zao answered the question.
“It’s simple Shandra.” The reporter’s face showed the slightest hint of surprise at Zao using her name. “We’ve all seen the devastation that religion has caused. It has created war after war, and for what? Another inch of ground. The prolonging of an archaic doctrine. Or the protection of inequality and intolerance. The most important threat that the world faces now, is an attack from the rogue star. We must work together and stand as one. Religion has always been what divides mankind, not what brings him together.”
As soon as he stopped speaking the crowd of reporters erupted with more questions. Lord Zao spun toward a young man with a microphone that had a number 4 on it. The man formed a question. The wording was so precise that Liakos wondered if it was staged. Maybe Lord Zao had staged all this. Wasn’t that possible? After all, he was an alien — whatever that meant.
“Lord Zao, you claimed in your speech that religion was originally founded on intentional dishonesty. Can you offer the people some evidence for this claim?” The young reporter said.
“Yes I can, Bradley. Until now I have not shared this information, even with my closest allies.” The crowd of reporters seemed to lean in. They were about to receive a spike in ratings. The viewers gobbled up everything Zao said. His speech had been the cake, this would be the icing. He went on.
“I’ve been to Earth before. I’ve visited this world many times, in fact. Each time, I tried to warn the people of the coming danger. I knew that some day the Mad King would come. It was my love that kept me coming back,” Zao said.
“Wouldn’t we have some record of your visit?” Another reporter asked.
“Yes,” He said, allowing the single word to sink into their minds like a speeding bullet. They were salivating now. They wanted more. So he gave it to them.
“I visited men of influence. Each time I explained the danger and instructed them to share the message. In each they twisted the message before it reached it’s audience. At first I thought that this twisting was a simple mistake. Yet, after it happened many times I realized that it was not possible for humans to tell the entire truth.”
“Can you give us an example?” A middle aged reporter said, pressing her way to the front of the circle.
“I tried to explain the danger to men, many of which you’ve heard. Siddhartha, Moses, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, and many others. Each time these men twisted the message and used it for their own purposes.”
“Are you saying that you started these religions?” The reporter inquired. Liakos bit his lip. This would send shock waves throughout the world. Lord Zao smiled as he answered.
“I did not begin any religion, but every religion is a result of one of my visits. It was in my absence that these twisted messages spread. I was still loyal to the Mad King, only in appearance. I could never break away from his gaze for long enough to set the story right.”
“This is an incredible claim,” A man with a large fuzzy microphone said. “Is there any evidence to corroborate this story?”
“Yes. I had found that coming in my true form frightened mankind. They worshiped me, which diluted the message. A little over two millennia ago I made a visit to Earth. I disguised myself as a human man and lived among the people for three years. I taught about the coming threat of the Mad King and his cruel dictatorship. Out of love I restored biological health to those I came in contact with. It was a simple task considering my people’s superior technology. Even then, humans saw me as a miracle worker. They twisted my words and spread the so-called good news that the Kingdom of God was coming. They even became eager to see this arrival. When I tried to set the story straight, they murdered my body.”
The crowd of reporters stood stunned. Liakos had never seen reporters at a loss for words. He counted to himself wondering how long the silence would persist. A lone reporter formed the question that all were thinking.
“Are you saying that you are Jesus Christ?”
“Yes, that is what they came to know me as. In all cases, religion was not the end goal. I was trying to warn the world of a coming threat. At each of those visitations the threat was still far off, but now it is here. I am the seed of all the worlds religions, and for that I am sorry.”
“If this is true—” The reporter was saying, but Zao interrupted.
“It is true, Bradley. You know it in your heart. I am glad that the world is finally ready to hear my message.
“Are you saying that there is no God?” A young woman asked.
“I have traveled the billion year long streams of light. I have traversed this majestic universe. I’ve seen cosmic events so terrible and beautiful that they would obliterate mortal men. I have experienced things that language will never be able to express. You can put your complete trust in me when I say, there is no God.”
Liakos felt a knot tightening into a ball at the pit of his stomach. He had no evidence to support belief in God, but he had always taken a distant comfort in the idea. He assumed there was some benevolent force that guided the universe. What bothered him was not the destruction of his soft ideology. It was something more insidious.
Zao had pulled the rug out from under the entire population of the world. In these dark times, there were still those who clung to the hope of religion. As he turned these things over in his mind Zao continued.
“People of Earth, there is no one that can save you but yourselves. I can help, but the power is in your hands,” Zao said.
Liakos didn’t hear any more questions. He wanted to get away. He needed some space. He felt like someone had crawled into his mind and taken the controls. They had pulled levers, hit buttons, and tugged at the wheel, until the ship had lost it’s way. He thought about his boat listing aimlessly in the Mediterranean