As I walked to the podium, I looked out on the gathered. My flock, my followers. My sheeple. They came to me, usually alone and lost in the world. Poor things. Well, not always poor. They brought all they owned. They got hold of all they left behind. Into the “communal lockbox” it went. Good little sheeple. I helped myself and doled out bits for their basic needs.
It took hours of practice to teach my face not to grin at them, at their willing enslavement, when I came before them. I showed them my solemn and gratified expression now. It had become easy to call it up, it and other handy ones. “Friends,” I began in a tone that was warmth personified, “my friends, let us give thanks for the blessings that brought us together. Without those blessings, we would not bask in the glory of the Knowledge of Peace.” See, that was the hook. The “Knowledge of Peace.” They ate that stuff up.
“We think back to the situations in our former lives tonight. We remember the feelings that spurred us to leave those lives. Hopelessness. Despair. Worthlessness. We contemplate these memories and what brought them about tonight.” Ah, so nice to have them each a sad, lonely victim. Their misery rolled off them, bathing me in their desolation. I thrived, I soaked in it. Beautiful.
Time for testimony. This was my joy. It magnified the misery. I tried on the expression of sad compassion and found it fit well. Timothy came up to the front – I liked it when they came close to pour their guts out – and told of being fired from the job he loved for twenty years. A victim of new technology. His sadness was hidden in anger. By the end of his testimony, he was nearly spitting with rage. Others of the gathered cheered him on, many were in tears. Some just felt bad with him. Many related with their own anger. Delicious.
Bethany took his place as he sat down, clenching his jaw, anger hardly dissipated. She fumbled with a tissue. Already tears were trailing down her cheeks. This would be good. Bethany was always good for a tear jerker. Tonight was no different. As she spoke of her abuse at the hands of a wonderfully vicious stepmother, a woman so violent and creative that Bethany bore scars throughout her body to this day, many of the women and no few of the men caved in upon themselves. They were caught in their own private hells. Fear filled the room, fear as though years hadn’t passed since they were tossed around and raped by their own family members. Utterly delectable.
I had to turn away several times, my expression too difficult to maintain. As I shook with silent laughter, the flock saw their Leader overcome with sorrow for the afflicted. I pulled myself together, schooling my features before turning back and wiping a tear from my eye.
It was my turn for the psychobabble. “And so we give thanks for these things, for without them we would not be who we are. We would not have sought one another out and become the Family of the Knowledge of Peace as we are. Blessings upon those who have harmed us for leading us to one another. Blessings upon them.”
The sheeple bleated, repeating it each time I said it. “Blessings upon them.” Their fear, their despair, their righteous anger did not dissolve. It blended exquisitely and flowed toward me, their focus. Their Leader.
It was too sweet. Truly, a kingdom of riches for me, feeding me. Inspiring me to go into the world to perform heights of the horrors that created sheeple like these. “Leader, you have returned to us!” they would cry when I appeared before them after an adventure. “Beloved Leader, we have done as you required. We gather each day to share our stories and give blessings for them.”
“ Good,” I told them. “That is how we come to the Knowledge of Power.” They basked in the praise. Such delightful creatures, as biddable as innocent children.
Tonight had been enchanting. To a person, there were tears, red faces of anger, mutterings and even a few rocking and keening. I was full up with their self-hatred and anguish. Time to go out and put my fix to good use.
“Now we bless what brought us together, my friends,” I intoned, my voice becoming a focus for all.
“You!” cried a voice. I shook my head and waved it away. No no, not me, I dissembled
“Yes, Leader, it is you! We bless you!” The cry was taken up, soon all were calling out blessings upon me.
Standing, tears still streaming down her pathetic face, Bethany called out, “You are our angel, Beloved Leader. Our angel in disguise. Blessings upon you, our angel.”
“Our angel!” called out another of them. Voices chimed in.
I was their angel. My halo is made of razor wire.
© 2010 Jessica Rosen