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May 21, 2022 2:05 PM
Jesusland Bruce on the honesty planet
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Bruce has run out of homework, all too soon as usual, and is now out of distractions, so he's sitting at his desk watching the rain run down the window and dreading Hell.

Knowing his fate is what he deserves doesn't make it any easier to cope with. It just makes him a fugitive from justice, another sin added to the pile. The biggest one of all, really. If he could accept God's goodness, could trust in Him, could actually believe deep down that God was good and ask His mercy with a contrite heart, it would all be forgiven. But when he looks inside himself for that love and that trust, it isn't there. He wishes he could just be erased from the universe, and this too is a sin, ingratitude for the gift of his life, and he wishes it anyway and he probably always will.

The rain gets louder, and the thunder follows faster on the lightning's heels, and yet faster, and when the fire brigade searches the wreckage of the house they find no sign of Bruce. His parents weep, but gently, for they shall surely see their son again in Heaven.

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There is a bright flash and a boom and a moment of pain, which is startling, and then it all stops, which is surprising. And how he's--on the street of a mostly ordinary-looking city? He climbs to his feet and stands on the sidewalk, confused.

Why this. There's no reason to miraculously teleport him. Being struck by lightning, yes, that was definitely going to happen sooner or later, but this doesn't look like Hell at all, or like Heaven either for that matter. He just stands there for a minute, staring into the middle distance.

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A parade of small children holding hands and led by two teachers approaches him on the sidewalk. Some cars drive by.

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He rocks back and forth indecisively and then walks up to one of the teachers. "Excuse me, I'm sorry to interrupt, but can you tell me where I am?"

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She - frowns at him, and then points at the street sign. "...yes? You're at Martin Luther King Jr and 4th."

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"I don't think Greenfield has a street named that. Am I still in Greenfield? I, ah," he can't just say he miraculously teleported, they might think he's especially holy or something, "am having a weird day."

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"You're in Atlanta. I feel bad about ending this confusing interaction without helping you but if I get distracted one of these kids is going to wander off. Bye!"

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"Thank you. Sorry. Goodbye." Why is he several states away. Is this going to be one of those stories where a sinner experiences Christian charity and finds true faith and then testifies about it a lot? Bruce is pretty sure things like that don't happen to people like him but that's what those people always claim to have thought before it happened to them. He starts wandering off in a random direction looking for a police station or a library or something so he can call his parents and figure out getting home when he doesn't have any money for a bus.

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There are billboards.

 

PLANET EARTH

8 HOURS OF HIGHLIGHTS OF 5000 HOURS OF FOOTAGE

60% of viewers agreed it was the best documentary they'd seen this year

43% of all viewers and 35% of viewers who called PLANET EARTH the best documentary they'd seen all year watched at least five documentaries.

 

 

T-MOBIL

If you happen to be in one of the limited areas where our coverage is reliable we're a lot cheaper than the big carriers



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That's a weirdly thorough description of a movie for a billboard! It sounds like a good movie. If he wasn't stranded in probably-Georgia with no money he might want to see it. It would be eight entire hours of distractions.

He hasn't heard of T-mobil but apparently it's so small it actually admits to being small so that's not surprising.

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If he wanders for a while there's a public library. It's big and brick. There are kids playing on the steps and enormous concrete pots with dead plants between the sidewalk and the street. 

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As he walks past the first couple streets something starts bothering him. He doesn't realize what it is, at first, but by the time he gets to the library he's figured it out: he hasn't passed a church yet. Maybe Atlanta has just a few really large churches? Or this part of town doesn't have any for some reason and everyone here goes to a different neighborhood every Sunday? But now that he thinks about it he also hasn't seen any houses with crosses on the doors, and if anyone was wearing a crucifix necklace he hasn't noticed. It's--odd.

He goes into the library, which is also strangely undecorated, and looks for an information desk.

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It has a bored college student with her feet up on the desk. "Hey," she says without looking up. "Bathrooms are on the right."

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"Actually I was hoping I could use your phone? I, uh, was in Greenfield, Iowa and spontaneously appeared here. By the grace of God," he adds, because he doesn't want to claim to be especially holy but even more doesn't want to give the impression that he thinks he can do that himself. "And I need to call my parents."

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"By the whatsawhosit? Yeah, you can borrow my phone, as long as you're planning to give it back and not look at my pictures or anything."

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Did he mumble? He must've mumbled. He's in a very mumblesome state of mind. 

"I will give it back and not look at your pictures or anything." He attempts to dial his house's landline.

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"What?" says an unfamiliar voice. "I was napping and if you're a scammer I'm going to disconnect this fucking phone."

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"What, no, this is Bruce. Who is this? I'm trying to reach 631 Luke Street."

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"This is Cynthia Harris. Never heard of Luke Street. Maybe you pressed a mistaken button."

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Wow, he is just inconveniencing everyone today even more than usual. "I'm sorry, I probably did." He hangs up and checks the call record very carefully to see what typo he made in his own phone number.

Nope, that sure is his number all right. . . . Did the lighting strike burn down his house instead of leaving everything except him miraculously untouched and they already reassigned the number? Why? His parents are good people, they don't deserve to have their house burned down God's justice is perfect as always. He hopes they're not hurt. Surely they won't be hurt if he's not.

(Bruce is staring at the borrowed phone with an expression of barely-restrained despair that looks very at home on his face.)

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"Kind of want my phone back but you look like you're about to cry so I don't want to be a jerk," the girl says. 

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"No, you're right, I--here you go. God bless you." Social scripts are a nice thing to have when saying anything more relevant will definitely result in crying.

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"Say what?"

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"You're right about how I should give you the phone back?"

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"No, I heard that part, I meant 'God bless you.' I've never heard that before. What're 'God' and 'bless'?"

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"You know . . . God? Omnipotent creator of the universe? Sent His Son to die for our sins?" They're definitely both speaking English right now because he doesn't speak anything else so what the fuck.

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