The Dead: Book 1 (Frag. 3)

The Book of the Story

"TELL ME," THE FIGURE SAID, "What do you think of your friend's little diatribe? Do you think I'm being unfair?"

Daniel glanced at Peter, who merely raised a questioning eyebrow.

"I... Well, I, of course, would very much rather that he got to come with me..."

"I'm afraid that's out of the question—and it's not what I asked."

"No. Of course not. Well, I—I guess, first of all, there's no way that You could be unfair. I mean, You make the rules. If You decide to do something it's, well, it's fair by definition."

"Go on."

"I mean, I suppose that even if You decided to break a rule after You made it, it couldn't be wrong—it would, I guess, just change the rule, change what was right."

"An interesting, if rather convoluted, thought. What about your friend's complaint that I hid myself?"

"You had to. If You had made a world in which You obviously existed, there wouldn't be room for faith. Everyone would have believed, and it wouldn't have meant any more than... than believing that the moon exists."

"And that is important, because...?"

"Because it leaves room for the gift of free will."

"Very good. And free will is important, because..."

"You wanted us to relate to you out of choice. You didn't want to present us with a world in which the only choice was to believe in You. That kind of love wouldn't be real. You wanted a real relationship with us."

"Excellent. Well done." The figure turned to Peter. "Your friend has come to the heart of the matter, Peter, even though he has missed the crucial point. But you've grasped it, haven't you?"

"I think I know where you're headed with all this, yes. It makes me like you even less."

"Then you won't be surprised that I'm pleased to hear it. But let me clarify a couple of points for you both..."