Chapter 4 Render Unto Caesar...

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Toby sat down at the far end of the long table in the back of the cafeteria with his tray of food and his copy of Caesar's Bible. The orphanage, like everything else, was run by the Empire. Therefore, everyone followed imperial rule to the letter. This meant that everyone carried the Good Book and everyone went to church on Sunday. It was the first day Toby had been allowed to join the other boys for lunch. He would have rather eaten in his room again, but all the energy it had taken to attack one of the attendants and get himself confined to his room had drained him fully with his first attempt. However, being alone for three days left him with nothing to think about but his father and he became flushed with grief. He had no way of knowing when they would take his dad to the city where he would die. All he knew was the sentence. For all he knew, his father could already be dead. He could feel the pain flow from his heart, up his chest, and to his face. It felt as though it would pour from his eyes but only tears came and still the suffering went on.

He looked down at his tray of mostly uneaten food. He had consumed about one full meal's worth in the past three days of bites he had choked down here and there. Absentmindedly, he opened the book and turned to a random page. The top of the page told him he was looking at the book of Hosea beginning with chapter 13. He read through the first verse on the page, verse 16, and immediately slammed the book closed. There would be no comfort for him in this book. His father told him about the parts that had been taken out of the Bible. Before the Empire, there had been a man named Jesus in it. In fact the book had even been split into two sections titled the Old and New testaments. Toby's father told him about the now mostly missing New Testament. And about how the one book that remained from it had been altered, replacing the name Jesus with Caesar. Toby had to fight himself back from weeping again. Everything he thought about always reminded him of his dad. He looked over at the other boys sitting at the table. They were all eating, joking, and laughing with each other. Some of them were laughing at him as he expected.

From watching the other boys, he learned some of them were part of some kind of gang. Not an ordinary gang. This gang was actually encouraged by the staff. It was called The Enforcers and they were always on the lookout for nonbelievers and sinners. They were led by a boy named Craig Thompson. Thompson was a tall, powerfully built 17-year-old with gritty black hair and crooked teeth who looked more like he was thirty. Billy Featherston, a younger boy in the next room from Toby, had told him all about Craig Thompson. Thompson wasn't like the other boys. He had parents who could take care of him. The reason he was here was far different than the other boys. He had barely escaped getting the same sentence as Toby's dad. The story went that Thompson had a best friend named Joey. Joey had been your typical jock. The two played on the high school basketball team together. They were as close as brothers. So close that one night when Joey was spending the night at Thompson's, having been under a lot of pressure between basketball, grades, and regular high school stuff, Joey confided in his friend. The two went for a walk out in the woods to have some privacy and Joey told Craig his darkest secret.

After Joey had exposed the truth, Craig did what he knew would make his father proud. He knocked Joey over the head with a large rock and then beat him to death with it. Craig Thompson would gladly be drained of every drop of blood by the most gruesome of beasts than have a faggot for a best friend. Of course the judge had been torn on whether to send him to Necropolis or have a parade in his honor. He had committed murder, an offense that usually meant death. However, homosexuality was one of the major morality offenses requiring the death sentence.

So, the judge sentenced him to spend the rest of his high school years in an orphanage because juvenile detention centers would be too rough for a "hero" like Thompson. Toby even once overheard the "hero" brag about his kill. Mysterious disappearances happened often since Thompson and The Enforcers started watching the other boys. When Toby was around any of the boys from the gang, they had made it obvious they were watching him, waiting for him to slip up and show his true colors. And it was well known that sinners begot sinners in most cases.

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