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October 3rd (Suspense/Thriller)

It had taken two years.

Jack stood in front of massive earthly arches in front of him, nervous and fatigued. He could barely keep his eyes opened, his body scraped and worn from the plight through the mountains to reach the remote shore. A soft whisper floated around him every step he took, but he couldn't make out the words. He trudged across the warm, sparkling sand toward the end of the arches, hoping the trip had not been in vain.

As he reached the first arch, a mild wind began to pick up, swirling the sand at his feet, and at a distance, creating a seemingly formidable cloud of sand which blocked his vision. Passing underneath it, the ground behind him rose and cut him off from the entrance of the shore: this was it. The whisper grew with a calm intensity, the raspy and almost sharp hisses it commanded intruding his hearing; sounds similar to a skipping audio recording played in reverse filled his ears. He began to feel a sense of dread and fear as he continued onward toward the second arch.

Around him, the vast ocean had dissipated into a barren desert, the bones of fishes and other creatures he couldn't recognize adorned the once seafloor. He could feel a lump in his throat, his body slightly shivering as he continued moving. In the direction of the mountains now existed a massive landscape of rock and fire, a darkening sky loomed over his head as ash fell on the forsaken ground.

When he reached the second arch, the cuts and hisses he heard disappeared, replaced by a clear statement repeated over and over again: only the noble may rise. As he stepped under the arch, the mountains and ocean reappeared again, returned to their beautiful wholeness. The statement rose in pitch and urgency, being repeated slightly faster and faster as time went on.

Only the noble may rise.

Jack knew he was in no way noble, but he also knew that the notion of nobility the current era of man had created was not the noble the voice meant. He had been chosen. As he passed the second arch, the once-blue sky had now taken on an ethereal glow, an almost holy white light beamed down from the heavens and illuminated the path toward the third arch. Instead of an ocean, a great city floated on what seemed to be clouds, the mountains were replaced by a field that stretched until the horizon.

Only the noble may rise. Only the pure may change.

Jack recognized the prophecy, every added clause an indication that he was reaching his destination. The site had been the earliest place of worship, a fitting scenario, for early man to worship and feel awe of his Mother's creation. The arches had withstood the test of time and nature, a feat most scientists would deem impossible. But, nothing was impossible for what was ahead. He had been reborn once from an early grave, and heard the whisper that eventually led him mad with curiosity: the same whisper which led him to this desolate location.

"God is not immortal. He is not superhuman. He is not immoral. And, he is tired."

His steps became drags as he continued toward the final arch, his body inflamed and sore from his trials to this location. Lack of food, an inconsistent supply of oxygen, and a number of other complications had taken its toll on his body. He knew soon enough he'd have to slow to a crawl. As he neared the arch, the light overhead glowed brighter and brighter, to the point of nearly blinding him. The city began to shake and collapse, the field became lit and burned as wildfires do. A piercing screech filled his ears as he sluggishly motioned on, he felt a trickling of liquid on one of his ears: he was bleeding out of it.

Only the noble may rise. Only the pure may change. Only the chosen resurrect.

Upon being underneath the final arch, the visions once again vanished, returning the mountains and ocean to their original state. Am I looking forward in time? Backward? He stopped for a moment to collect his thoughts. Both? He had spoken to God once, while in his personal limbo. It had told him that it was not the original God, and that the God before it was not either.

"No one knows who the first God was. Hell, we don't even know if there WAS a first God. It's completely possible that the God before me was the first God but we didn't know it because we assumed there was always something before us. It's also possible that we may never know, that it never introduced itself so we couldn't know how it all really began."

Only the noble may rise. Only the pure may change. Only the chosen resurrect. Only the martyrs become.

He fell to his knees in front of the third arch, and began crawling toward the horizon. The words of the Secundus echoed in his head: "Even in omniscience, we know nothing." He finally saw what he had been searching for for two years, a tear formed on the corner of his eye. The altar stood in front of him erect, but quaint; minimal adornments blemished its pale, white brilliance. Jack managed to drag himself onto the altar, and peered at the book that laid on it. The chant was there, the cup empty but waiting for his blood. He reached into his pocket, and reached out a small, radiating purple jewel: his soul, he had been told.

He was finally ready to begin the ceremony. The final words of the Secundus echoed around him as he began his destiny, slicing his wrist and bleeding into the cup.

"Every boss needs a replacement, even God. Go forth, Joaquin. Assume your rightful role in this world. Become their new God."

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