Modus Operandi

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In the future... people all over the world have been swept up in a new cult of happiness called The One True Way. Ryan Poole of the Washington Sentinel reports on the harrowing assassination attempt on the cult's leader by a motley crew featuring a priest, a scientist, and a mystic. As the team infiltrates deeper and deeper into the cult's fortress, they'll each reveal their own perspective on the path to eternal happiness – their “Modus Operandi”.

© Copyright 2011, JOHN KRISSILAS

Modus Operandi

ASSASSINATION AT THE CAPITOL

Sentinel reporter survives harrowing attempt at bringing down cult leader

Monday, January 1st, 2052The Washington Sentinel — Ryan Poole, Chinese Bureau

BEIJING – That I am even able to be here, alive, sharing my story, is a miracle. Though the basic elements of the events that unfolded at the Capitol building exactly seven days ago here in Beijing have already been widely reported in the global media, none have yet to offer the perspective that I share with you today. I pledge, in the article that follows, to leave no essential detail uncovered, no revelation unturned. I report only on the truth, as revealed before my eyes, about the band of outlaws who took me on as their burden to document what, in their point-of-view, would become history. I will leave it up to this journal’s esteemed readers to determine whether they achieved their goal.

“The pursuit of happiness, my friends, and happiness itself, is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

I shifted in my seat as I listened to the electrifying words of the great orator before us. He stood on a massive stage, with no podium or microphone, just himself, his eyes, and his audience. I had never attended a session like this before. It was astounding.

“These are the wise words bestowed upon us by our good friend, Aristotle,” the man continued, “and they are also the creed, the benediction, that I bestow upon you.” The man paused, and took a moment to scan the audience, the blue pools of his eyes and the white shine of his teeth piercing each and every one of us sequentially. His silver locks were tied back from his forehead, but he allowed the rest to cascade on top of his shoulders and down his back. He wore a bright purple robe—the colour of royalty, I noted to myself—along with a long gold chain around his neck, which ended at a pendant in the shape of the Greek letter Omega. I took a second to sketch this symbol into my notebook, but only as a pretense to allow me to gather my own thoughts about the service. For this was a symbol that I already knew well, as did most people around the world.

This was, of course, the emblem of The One True Way. I looked up from my seat in one of the pews near the back of the Capitol auditorium, and saw a woman near the front convulsing in ecstasy. The man on the stage held his smile as two masked guards stepped forward from the shadows to gently carry her out of the auditorium through one of the side doors. The rest of the audience, numbering well into the thousands, by my count, remained silent, mesmerized. They all wore dark brown robes—the colour of humility, I believe—and each of them seemed to be clutching their own golden pendants. The room itself was set aglow by the rows of candles that lined each aisle and led up to the front, where they lined the stage itself. The only other source of light was the stream of moonlight that shot through the oculus, the hole atop the domed ceiling, and lit up the stage. Guards lined the walls, and stood there, watching the service unfold. They wore long, golden masks that ended with an extra-long golden chin that reminded me of King Tut. Their robes were jet black.

“Happiness, my friends, my followers, is what I offer you,” the man on the stage carried on as he walked its length, “what we offer you.” He opened is arms wide as a sign of benevolence. “Others may wish to rid you of that happiness. They preach repentance, excessive knowledge, and freedom of the mind and spirit. Each of these paths, my friends, leads to nothing but sadness.”

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