“So this is the rock.” It was the guide’s duty to say so, as if the tourists who had made their way from their respective corners of the world needed to be told.
It came to this, thought Hyor, whose unusual height, among other things, made him stand out in the group, where he was second in line. His previous assignment before going undercover as an Earth-being was to simply observe this sentient species of a mediocre star cluster, to perhaps make sense of their linguistic traditions, which seemed to center on one very specific document, telling of one man in particular who had died some 2,000 Earth-years prior, with portents confirming the manner in which this event occurred. That would explain, to his superiors, why he was lurking by the scene of the murder.
The peculiar thing, he had noted during his orbiting days, was that these people had no technology to reconstruct the events of this ‘Bible,’ yet nonetheless strove to live by it. Not to say that many if not most of the inhabitants didn’t turn away from its message, having dismissed the tales as the superstition of ancestors, or perhaps only being vaguely aware of such traditions from an odd neighbor or the help.
Yet there remained the few faithful. And Hyor could not understand how they could be so certain they were right. It all happened as stated in the Book, though no sufficiently sense-reliant means of recording the celebrated life, death, and resurrection was available to these people. He saw the phenomena for himself, though could not just yet come to the conclusion that the man was God.
God. It’s not like his home planet didn’t have its share of crazies who made this claim. No, none of them could be God, except in some metaphorical sense where everyone was God, some concept of immense practicality that gave purpose to existence. Back when literal worship was a big thing, there was Glong, a being from 34,000 revolutions ago, venerated by the majority of his people, until it was determined by documentarians long before Hyor’s time that when this supposed messiah was pulverized, he remained powder.
Judging by the means of execution, this Jesus went through much greater suffering than an instantaneous laser zap would cause. And his death was supposedly for the salvation of all people. Not just his Jewish nation. All people on Earth.
“No, it couldn’t be,” was how Hyor had brushed off the thought as soon as it came. But it would come again, and again, and nothing he did in his lonely ship could suppress its persistence.
“Is this Jesus the God?” was how the question formed in his head, betraying his hesitation in acknowledging the divinity of this creature of dust, born of those who might be visually mistaken for other Earth creatures that lived in trees or cages.
Resurrection technology, still rather new, is the only explanation, the man above reasoned to himself. But who did the resurrecting? That would assume an as-yet undetected galactic race sprinkling magic dust across the heavens so as to leave his race stumped. But wasn’t that a matter of blind faith as well?
God Himself. It would be stupid to believe, he thought. Yet, who? Why?
And so 10 Earth-months passed in this questioning manner, daring him leap upon leap, until he found himself in front of where it all went down.
Was it too much to ask, he said to what he now referred to quite simply as God, for a sign upon touching this artifact on which Christ breathed his last? That is, last until he breathed again.
“Today maybe?” barked the Earth-man behind Hyor, smelling of intoxicants, more than most pilgrims did in this holiest of lands. Hyor wondered what the man would say if he revealed the true color of the whites of his eyes. That would shut the — what’s the word they have for it? — prick up, he thought.
But it was his turn. It was now or never. Or some future not guaranteed. He crouched down, crawling the remaining distance to the rock, and touched it.
Nothing, he thought. He felt nothing. He left the site wondering what it could mean, and settled for supposing that this was precisely the temptation to disbelieve, of not feeling the presence he so longed for. The sleep of Gethsemane, not a mile from where he was.
It’s a test, he told himself. And the minutes after crawling up from the hill turned into hours, and then days.
“I’ll never really know, will I?” Hyor asked, looking up one night. But as he asked it, he could have sworn he heard something at the most primitive, human frequencies.
Hyor returns home for a short visit, trying to convince his girlfriend Mient to take the pilgrimage soon, but she could only express shock at his confession of undying love for some earthly man. Will Hyor stay by Mient’s side, waiting for her to accept Christ as he eventually learned to do, or will he get with the next woman that comes along?