The following short story was created for a writing contest on ArsTechnica.com. The rules were that the short needed to stay within a 500 word limit and be set somewhere within the Mass Effect universe.
The Citadel Bells
Everyday, I wake up and ring the bells. Their metal on metal clang reverberates throughout this small corner of the Citadel, wailing echoes fading while these aging bones climb to the pulpit. Most days now these bones cry out louder than the bells, but their echo doesn’t fade.
I look across the time-worn faces of those who have gathered this morning and begin to preach the words of His return. The words I speak lay in writing upon the now ancient book laying in front of me and I laugh inside, remembering the days I would read of His glory from this very volume. Such an eager young man I once was, ready to bring salvation to the masses, to teach what our prophet believed true. Auto-pilot engaged: each word now scripted, eagerness now faded, beliefs now questioned.
In the afternoon I take my only break, a lunch of vegetable broth and heavy bread before entering the box. A mixture of new and familiar voices begin confessing their repented truths, most of them sincere, some of them not. It is in this box where I have aged the most.
The things I have heard!
“… but she was just, laying there. That look… Father, why wouldn’t her damn eyes just close?!”
Would He want this flock to be saved?
“I’m sure that dirty Blue stole it, Father. Anything with skin like that can’t be trusted!”
To be forgiven of such unspeakably cruel intentions?
“They had it coming, Father.”
No, the creator must have intended for these things to happen, known they could happen. He didn’t create this universe and not expect such evil to pervade it unless, unless He had left it to never return again. A way out that never saw Him coming back and seeing, day after day, what has become of us. What a greedy bastard He is, bringing us here to be left wondering if something greater is out there, never satiating our spiritual hunger in an infinitely massive universe. We are united regardless of thought, build, species, or religion. Blue, hair, metal, skin, white, black. United in a universe of planets and stars by the billions, but where is He?
He is gone.
I leave the box and hang the curtain across the doorway. My soft shoes make slight thumps on the metallic station flooring as I make my way through the church, past the pulpit my bones call out to, and into a small chamber. There is nothing but a bed, a dresser, a computer, and a picture of Him flickering in a holographic display. His once warm and consoling smile now seeming to mock me, to mock us.
I turn the display off.
We are united.
Tomorrow, I will wake up early and ring the bells.