Brian Vance continued to find himself locked in an unrelenting battle of conscience. He could no longer abide being a party to the mistreatment, unlawful confinement and murder of innocent civilians. It troubled Vance even more to see his own comrades treating local women like whores. Dressed in a buttoned shirt and blue jeans, Vance strolled through downtown Kamloops. It was a very warm fall day, a whopping twenty-two degrees Celsius. With the recent attacks on North American Police troopers, Vance understood the potential risks of being outside of the wire, so to speak. The devout Roman Catholic prayed to Jesus and Mary to protect him through this period of great tribulation. Vance stopped in front of Sacred Heart Church. It was doubtful as to whether the parish priest would be around. All the same, he needed desperately to talk to someone.
Vance entered. He dipped his right index finger and middle fingers in the small dish of holy water just inside of the church and blessed himself. A tall, somewhat stocky priest walked down the aisle and greeted Vance.
“Good day, Father.”
Upon hearing the young man’s Cockney accent, Tuck knew immediately that he was from out of town, quite possibly a member of the Royal British Parachute Regiment.
“How are you doing son?” Tuck kept his distance. If this kid was indeed an intelligence agent, he would be sure to trip him up.
“It’s alright. You don’t have to be nervous.”
“I’d like for you to hear my confession.”
Tuck felt a bit wary of the Englishman in his presence. He might be a spy. He might also be a poor, miserable sinner no different than everybody else in this fallen world. Besides, his job as a priest required him to be as impartial as possible.
“Come into the confessional.”
Priest and penitent went into the small confessional located at the back of the church. Vance breathed as he prepared to tell the veteran priest what was on his mind.
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been a couple of months since my last confession and I accuse myself of the following sins.”
There was a slight pause.
“Father, I feel as though I am guilty of an unpardonable sin.”
“Oh?” Tuck asked. “Please elaborate.”
“I’ve been dealing with a severe crisis of conscience. As you’re probably well aware, I am a member of the Paras. I’m from the midlands of England.”
“Just out of curiosity, I know that after the Protestant Reformation, and I’m partly of British descent myself, England went predominantly Anglican. Has your family always been Roman Catholic?”
“Yes it has. Now, they did suffer during specific periods of history, most notably the reigns of Edward the Sixth, Elizabeth the First and under the theocracy of Oliver Cromwell. Anyway, as I was trying to say, I can no longer stomach having to witness atrocities carried out not only by the North American government, but my own as well. I don’t know what to do, Father. I’m nearing the point of desertion.”
“I believe the unpardonable sin you’re referring to is high treason,” Tuck stated. “This is a very complicated manner. You, like countless young men in generations past, enlisted in your country’s armed forces mainly out of a sense of patriotism. Am I correct?”
“Yes. But as I said, I just can’t take any more of this.”
“Son, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your name?”
“Brian Vance. I’m twenty-one years old. Joined the Royal Army after graduating from high school.”
“You’re probably not married.”
“I have a fiancé back in England. I’m dying to see her again.”
“Brian, you have not committed any sins by not wanting to partake in the genocide that is occurring all around us. Come into my office for a minute.”
Tuck and Vance exited the confessional. The church was empty at this time in the afternoon. Vance followed Tuck into his office. Tuck pulled a business card from the pocket of his clerical shirt.
“Any time you wish to talk to me, call the church and we will arrange a time. But whatever you do, be extremely discreet about it.” Tuck had a strange gut feeling that this embattled young soldier could be of help to the resistance, but he wasn’t about to jump to any wild conclusions just yet.
“Thank you, Father Tuck.” Vance placed the card in his pants pocket. “We‘ll talk soon.”