Repent or Die - Week 2
As the curtains drew back, the huge, packed auditorium was filled with a deathly silence. The stage was bathed in a warm, pink glow of artificial twilight, and dry ice billowed and curled, cascading eerily into the front rows of the expectant audience. An ever-lasting synthesized chord of music began quietly, then began to increase in volume indicating the show was about to start. Momentarily the sound was drowned out by the ten thousand people crowd getting down on their knees in preperation. Then a solitary white hot spotlight pierced the pink gloom, illuminating a gold-enrobed figure kneeling before an altar at the top of a marble staircase. Above the altar hung an enourmous picture of Jesus, with long flowing locks of brown hair, bearded face and steely, determined, blue eyes which seemed to stare into the very soul.
Brother Sjoerd's rich, deep voice echoed and bounced round the hall beginning the opening prayer, a prayer that everyone knew and loved. His voice was joined in unison by the assembled throng.
"Our dear Lord, to thee we pray.
Help us now and everyday.
Guide our choice and what we say.
If the Sinner's guilty, let's make them pay.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,
Rising from his knees, Brother Sjoerd made the sign of the cross three times, then slowly turned to face the audience. The musical chord, still increasing in volume, was joined by a pulsating drum beat. Brother Sjoerd raised his arms like Rio's Christ the Redeemer, seemingly attempting to envelop the two billion holovision viewers in a three-dimensional love embrace. Cameras form every angle zoomed in for close ups of his perfect face, eyes tightly shut. The chord now started rising in pitch and the thumping drumbeat increased its tempo. Just as the sound was beginning to get uncomfortable for the ears, it abruptly stopped. Instantly Brother Sjoerd opened his eyes and broke into the whitest, most perfect smile, breaking the hearts once again, of his millions of adoring fans.
A rainbow of swooping lights, strobes and lasers hit the stage as the Evangelical Sisters of Mercy Choir burst into "Jesus is my sunbeam", the show's theme song.
The whole audience were on their feet now, belting out the words of the song as if their lives depended on it, dancing and gyrating in the rows and aisles, while spotlights zig-zagged over them. For a big man, Brother Sjoerd tripped lightly down the staircase and onto the stage where he stood swaying and clapping in time to the music.
The holovision viewers were treated to a split screen plethora of rapidly changing images of the choir, the audience, Brother Sjoerd and the massive picture of Jesus.
The song reached a crescendo then stopped and the crowd went wild, stamping their feet, cheering and whistling. Brother Sjoerd just stood there, letting the adulation wash over him, until he raised his right hand and the cheering ebbed away.
"Welcome Brothers and sisters. Welcome to...," he made the gesture of a conductor leading an orchestra and the audience, right on cue, screamed,
"Repent or die!"
"And what a show we have for you tonight. Sinner Carrot returns after narrowly escaping death last week, polling 62% for stoning, just under 5% short of the 66.6% devil's majority needed."
The crowd booed and hissed and shouts of "Kill the heretic" could be heard.
"Let me tell you Brothers and Sisters, about an amazing new record set by Sinner Carrot. He is the first person, ever, to score an absolute zero per cent for "Repented". However, not only did he score zero, but after checking the voting figures in detail, we found that there was not one person on the planet, of the nearly two billion voters, who considered him worthy of repentence. Amazing!"
This brought further cheering and clapping from the crowd.
Reaching into his robes, Brother Sjoerd pulled out a pile of printed g-mails.
"So what did you out there in holovision land think of Sinner Carrot?"
He began reading some of the g-mails,
"Kill him, kill him, kill him!"
He's scum! Send him to Hell!"
"Stone him AND burn him!"
"Torture his ass!"
Looking up into a nearby camera, Brother Sjoerd winked and said,
"I must admit that though the thought of torture is truly tempting, it must be stressed that on "Repent or die" we don't go in for gratuitous violence."
The cowd laughed and cheered yet again.
"However, Brother Kaplowski of Atlanta, Georgia who made the the "torture" comment, is in the audience tonight and, God willing, if there is a Devil's majority of 66.6% for stoning, then Brother Kaplowski will be one of the lucky ten people chosen to hurl the rocks. Where are you Brother Kaplowski?"
Brother Kaplowski stood up and his face filled the holovion screens, a face that was so full of pride that he was almost bursting. The crowd went wild again with those people in neighboring seats patting him on the back and shaking his hand.
"So, without further ado, let's bring forth the Sinner. Brothers and Sisters, I give you, Sinner Carrot!"
The lights dimmed, the dry ice machines went into overdrive and spot lights illuminated a place in the centre of the stage. The crowd were all chanting, "Bring forth the Sinner, Bring forth the Sinner", as up through the floor and smoke rose Pooh Carrot. But this wasn't the Pooh Carrot of last week. Gone were the hippy clothes he'd worn to blend in with 1978 Earth. Gone was the long, greasy, surgically implanted hair, and gone too was the beard. He stood there dressed in black T-shirt and black jeans, face and head clean shaven, with a look of defiance and a copy of the Bible in his right hand. The audience gasped in astonishment.
"Why, Sinner Carrot", laughed Brother Sjoerd, "You appear to have gone through a transformation! Does this mean you've seen the light? Are you going to claim you've repented?
"We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?" retorted Carrot.
Without waiting to be asked, Pooh Carrot strode over to the Sinners' chair, where he sat down, crossing his legs casually.
"Let's rock and roll, Bro!"
"Before we start, let me run through the rules for you once more. You are allowed to ask any questions you wish, then you must "preach" a "sermon" from the "pulpit". Based on your sermon, viewers round the world will vote on one of three choices, death by burning, death by stoning, or they may judge you to have repented, in which case you will be free to leave and all charges will be dropped. However, if they vote for your death, the sentence will be carried out live, immediately after the final votes have been counted. Remember, that the Devil's majority of 66.6% has to be reached for any of the three options to be carried out. You may begin the questions, Sinner Carrot"
"OK, can you just confirm for me that there was nothing, zilch, not a sausage, nada that existed anywhere before God said "Let there be light". Then there was light and darkness, and that was on day one of creation."
"What did God do on day two of creation?"
"He created the sky."
"And what did he do on day three?"
"He created the land, the seas and all the plants."
"So what did he create on day four?"
"He created the sun, the moon and all the stars."
"Did he now? Surely we see day during the daytime because of the sun, don't we? And we can see at night because of the moon and all the stars, can't we? So if there was no celestial bodies of any kind until day four, this leads to one obvious question. On days one through three, where did the light come form?"
"The Bible is open to interpretation."
"What sort of answer is that? Clearly if there had been no sun, moon and stars on days one to three, it would have been impossible to see anything, and there would have been no day and night as the Bible claims. Basically, the first thirteen verses of the book of Genesis are complete and utter gibberish."
"Be careful about what you say about the Bible, Sinner Carrot, denying the authenticity of every word is a capital offence."
"You mean I'll be in even more trouble than I am now? I'd better be careful then, I suppose. You do of course realise that you are completely barking mad, don't you? Anyway let's move on to the story of Adam and Eve, because that's a bit suspect to put it mildly. Now, you believe that Adam and Eve were the Father and mother of the whole human race"
"That is so."
"And God also created from the dust, or Adam's ribs, or whatever other silly explanation you want, Kasandra, Kiley and Tracey?"
"There is no mention of those people in the Bible."
"So he only created Adam and Eve and nobody else?"
"And these two people had children, and their children had children etcetera, etcetera, and the human race was formed."
"How did Adam and Eve's children have children?"
"The normal way. I'm sure that you are well aware how human reproduction occurs."
This brought a snigger from the audience.
"Oh, I'm fully aware, believe you me, but are you?"
"What are you inferring?"
Well, Adam and Eve had children who were all boys. In order to make more children you need a man and a woman. By your own admission there were no other women around apart from Eve. Therefore Cain, Abel and Seth must have shagged their own mother, mustn't they? The God you believe in condones incest!"
"He certainly doesn't! Jesus said it was a sin."
"So how do you explain where all the other people came from?"
"God must have created them."
"But it doesn't say so in the Bible, does it?"
"Not in so many words, no."
"Well let's move on to the Garden of Eden, then."
"What about it?"
"There was a talking snake, that's what about it!"
"You are referring to the serpent who tempted Eve with an apple."
"That's the critter in question. I mean, come on! It's just like Mr Floppsy Bunny goes to Toytown, isn't it? Snakes can't talk, they lack vocal chords. But you believe a snake could talk?"
"Sheesh! Unbelievable! And what separates mankind from the animals?"
"God gave us free will."
"Ah, yes, free will! Your godipidia website defines free will as "the power of making choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will." Does that sound accurate?"
"That seems an adequate description."
"God gave Adam and Eve free will. He also said to them in Genesis 1:29 that he gave them every tree that has fruit with seed in it."
"That is correct."
"Adam and Eve then exercise their free will and make a rational decision to eat an apple from the Tree of Knowledge and what happens? God gets a right strop on and kicks them out of Eden."
"But God had forbidden them to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge."
"Why on earth did he put it there, then? He gives Adam and Eve free will, he says they can eat ANY fruit, God himself creates Hissing Sid, the talking snake, and then he only goes and sticks an apple tree with delicious-looking apples right next to them and says don't eat the apples. What did he expect would happen? For a God, this God of yours is pretty near-sighted and stupid. if you see a park bench with a sign saying "Wet Paint", doesn't everybody touch it to see if it's wet?"
"Touching a park bench is hardly a commandment from God."
"How do you know that God didn't paint it himself? He does move in mysterious ways, doesn't he?"
"You're just being silly!"
"And the Bible isn't? God further goes on to infer that Adam and Eve were dumb and if they eat the apple they will gain knowledge and become intelligent."
"They should not have eaten the apple."
"So mankind should have remained dumb forever? Mankind should never strive to better itself by gaining more knowledge? If mankind had remained as thick as a sheep would that have pleased God?"
"Of course not!"
"Are sheep stupid?"
"They possess no free will and are easily controlled, so that is a reasonable assumption."
"Just how do sheep differ from the population of this world? A population that believes everything it is told about the Bible. A population who do not want to gain knowledge. A population that isn't prepared to step out of line and question things which are just plain daft."
"Some things are indisputable."
"The early christians believed the Earth was the centre of the universe and the sun and all the planets went round it. Galileo was branded a heretic for stating otherwise, wasn't he?"
"The early christians were wrong."
"And you lot are right?"
"The Lord is my shepherd and we are just sheep."
"That quote is incorrect!"
"It may be incorrect, but it's true. The Bible wants you to be no better than a brain-washed sheep, believe everything implicitly regardless of science or logic, and never question anything. Of course it's easy to believe the Bible if you, yourself are ignorant, if you lack even a basic intelligence. After all, ignorance is bliss."
"You do realise that you are offending every man, woman and child in this world?"
"The truth can be painful, but I'd just like to make one thing perfectly clear. I do not totally disagree with everything the Bible says. There is a lot of very good, powerful stuff in it. I agree with the majority of the Ten Commandments, and if you ignore the scientifically impossible magic tricks, Jesus seems like a decent dude who talked a lot of good sense."
"You have the gall to refer to Christ's miracles as magic tricks, and the Son of God as a "decent dude"?! Have you no shame, Sinner Carrot?"
"I'm ashamed to say, no."
This witticism brought a little titter from some members of the audience, but was instantly curtailed by Brother Sjoerd's angry look.
"Getting back to the creation fairy story, God created all the animals on one day. He didn't create anymore another time, did he?"
"That is correct."
"So God created two dogs and they had puppies, and their puppies had puppies and so on. Then the dogs evolved to match their environmental surroundings, leading us to this day where there are Great Danes and Chihuahuas, both of which are classed as dogs?"
"Sadly for you, you have read the Bible but haven't quite grasped the true meaning. There is no such thing as evolution. Charles Darwin is regarded as an apostle of the Devil. His obscene heretical views were discredited many years ago. Nobody believes in that evolutionary nonsense in our modern world."
So God created each breed of dog individually, then?"
"That would be the logical assumption."
"There are over three hundred different types of dog."
"If that's how many there are, yes."
"I got that figure from the on-line encyclopedia, godipia, so I trust it's correct?"
"It will be."
"You're saying that four and a half billion years ago God created all the animals, and the dinosaurs, and nothing has evolved since then?"
Brother Sjoerd and the audience burst out laughing.
"Sinner Carrot, you do jest at times. Where on earth did you get that four and a half billion years figure from? Most amusing! However, everyone on this planet knows the world is just over six thousand years old."
"Using the Bible, it can be calculated that God created the world a mere six thousand years ago."
"You're stark raving bonkers! You can't seriously believe that, can you?"
Brother Sjoerd just sat there, smiling saintly.
"Good God! You DO believe it, don't you? You seriously and actually believe the world is only six thousand years old. That means that you believe that man and the dinosaurs co-existed together. Well, if that's the case, why are there no dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible? I mean, come on, they were pretty damn big, pretty hard to miss, I'd say. If they weren't wiped out by a meteor strike, what happened to them?"
"Ah, Sinner Carrot, if you had read the Bible properly, you would have known about the great deluge God sent. The flood that carved out the Grand Canyon in the United States. The flood that covered the whole world beneath water for forty days and nights. The very same flood that killed off all the dinosaurs. You must remember that at the time of the flood, mankind had only just begun and only inhabited a very small area of the world. Dinosaurs co-existed together with man, but there is no mention of them in the Bible because they inhabited lands that man had yet to set foot in."
"Is this flood you're talking about the one with Noah and his Ark?"
"Oh, well done."
"And you believe the Noah's Ark story too?"
"Please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Noah story go something like this, God told Noah to build an Ark for he was going to send a flood. God also told Noah to round up two of every living creature to go in this Ark."
"It all makes perfect sense to me now. All the animals mentioned in the Bible are indigenous to the Middle East, and because dinosaurs didn't live in the Middle East, there is no mention of them. That explains why Noah didn't round up two veloceraptors and two brontasauruses."
"So how do you explain the existence of kangaroos? Or Pandas? Or llamas? Or polar bears? None of these animals are mentioned in the Bible. None of these animals are indigenous to the Middle East. And you yourself said that man had not yet set foot in the lands where these animals live. These animals all exist today, so how is it possible for these animals to have been on the Ark? If they hadn't been on the Ark, they'd have gone the same way as the dinosaurs, wouldn't they?"
Brother Sjoerd looked taken aback and a buzz of noise erupted from the audience. Then, for the first time in the programme's history, Brother Sjoerd stumbled on his words.
"I...um...that is..um...obviously...er...all the creatures on the Ark were living in close proximity to man."
"But not the dinosaurs?"
"How bizarre! So after the waters had receded, kangaroos, koala bears, wombats and duck billed platypuses, (or is that platypi?) disembarked from the Ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey and made their way overland to Australia, where they only exist today, having to swim the last remaining distance because Australia is an island."
"Can Koala bears and kangaroos swim?"
"I don't know."
"And Noah lived to be over six hundred years old?"
"Remarkable! On this Ark then, because you say evolution does not exist, there must have been over six hundred dogs, four hundred sheep, and one thousand six hundred cattle. Not to mention the estimated three hundred and fifty thousand species of beetle. Incidently, these figures I got from godipidia, which you have already stated is accurate. Do you know how many animal species there are?"
"I don't have that information to hand at the moment, Sinner Carrot."
"I do! According to godipidia there are approximately one million two hundred and fifty thousand. In the Ark there were two of each, making a total of two and a half million animals. It would have had to be an enormous boat to house that many don't you think? Did you know that two plus two equals five?"
"What? Of course it doesn't you fool! It equals four."
"How do you know it equals four?"
"Are you simple Carrot? Through my own personal experience, two plus two has always equaled four. So why should I believe it equals five?"
"But I bet if the Bible said it equaled five you'd believe it, wouldn't you?"
"Of course I wouldn't!"
"Really? So if the Bible said two plus two equaled five you wouldn't believe it because of your own personal experience?"
"That's just what I said!"
"The Bible says that Noah lived to be six hundred years old. Through my own personal experience, I don't believe this.
The Bible says that an old man and a few of his family members built a sea-worthy boat the size of a small town to house two and a half million animals. Through my own personal experience, I don't believe this.
The Bible says that an old man and a few of his family members were able to identify, sex-test and round up two and a half million animals from the four corners of the world. Through my own personal experience, I don't believe this."
"Very clever Carrot! You're just trying to bamboozle me with words."
"Exactly like the Bible, then."
"Look! The story of Noah is true. Everybody believes that."
"How do you know everybody believes the story of Noah? Is anybody allowed to say the story of Noah isn't true? No, because either they'll be executed or forced to be a contestant on this show. Dog food!"
"Yep! Dog food! How many cans of dog food would Noah have needed to feed just the dogs on the Ark? Let's assume each dog eats one can of dog food a day."
"I don't bloody know!"
"Well, if there were six hundred dogs that would be twenty four thousand cans for the forty days the Ark was at sea. That's a lot of dog food. Now how did the animals get onto the Ark?"
"They went in two by two. What the hell are you on about now?"
"OK, I'll be generous and assume it took each pair of animals thirty seconds to go up the gangplank and get onto the Ark. Obviously the cheetahs would be faster than the snails, but I think thirty seconds would be fair. For the sake of argument, let's assume that Noah had already collected all the two and a half million animals and they were standing in a long queue waiting to go on. Once they started boarding, assuming they boarded continuously twenty four hours a day, seven days a week without any disruption, it would have taken them over two years to all get on board. So if the dogs went on first, Noah would have needed almost half a million cans of dog food to feed them for the two years plus forty days which is seven hundred and seventy days. If the dogs went on board last, you'd still need the same number of cans of dog food to feed them with, while they were standing in the queue.""
"Are there any more blasphemous statements you wish to add, Sinner Carrot? Because we must cut for a commercial break soon."
Pooh Carrot thought about it for a minute.
"No. That'll do for now."
"Right! Let's have a word from our sponsors, then we'll be right back with Sinner Carrot's "Sermon", which I for one, am looking forward to with bated breath. Stay tuned."
When the programme returned, Brother Sjoerd was standing at the front of the stage.
""Brothers and sisters, it's "Pulpit" time.
"Pul-pit, pul-pit", clapped and shouted the crowd, as up rose the pulpit next to Brother Sjoerd. Taking his Bible, Pooh Carrot took the stairs two at a time and stood there in the pulpit, surveying the audience. This was certainly not a bunch of happy, shiny people. The rabid animal that was the audience jeered at him and mouthed obscenities. Pooh Carrot decided to make it short and sweet.
"One of the world's greatest and most respected authors from the last century, Terry Pratchett, wrote in his Nation novel, "God made us clever enough to work out that he doesn't exist." Don't any of you lot get it? Are you all so blinded by your faith that you can't see the truth? God gave YOU free will. If God gave you the ability to choose right from wrong, what to believe in, and how you choose to lead your life, then nobody should be punished for exercising this God-given right. If anyone should be punished, it's you people who act like brainwashed sheep and believe unquestionably, everything they're told, no matter how fantastical, for you are the ones who are disrespecting God. God gave you intelligence. For God's sake use it!
And as for the Bible, well, I know in this society it's a crime punishable by death not to believe every word, but how can you believe every word? How can you be sure that every word is true? Did God write the Bible? No, he didn't! It was written by man. Now God might be infallible, but man sure as hell isn't.
In all probability, I will be shortly murdered in a most barbaric fashion, but for what? For exercising my God-given right of free will? For daring to say that man is not infallible? You have absolutely no right to vote for my death, simply because I don't believe in the same mythical, bearded sky pixie that you do. And if any of you have even the remotest doubt about the absolute truth of every single word of the Bible, then your conscience should dictate that you vote "Repented", for I have committed no real crime."
When the last word had been uttered, he opened the Bible, ripped out the book of Genesis, tore it into little piece and flung it into the air.
"This is all complete and utter pants!"
As the pieces were fluttering down like confetti, he turned and descended the pulpit's steps.
The audience went beserk and rushed the stage trying to rip Carrot limb from limb. The security guards struggled to keep the mob back, firing Tazers indescriminately. One big guy, face contorted with rage, managed to break through the security guards, clambered on stage left and rushed at Pooh Carrot. Pooh Carrot stood there, not giving ground as he weighed up the onrushing assailant.
"You filthy heathen bastard! I'm gonna wipe that smug smile off your face".
When he got within striking distance, he unleashed a killer haymaker of a punch. Time seemed to freeze as the blow arched towards Carrot's head, but at the last moment Carrot's left arm shot up parrying the blow, and his balled right fist delivered a ferocious straight jab, connecting with the attacker's chin and virtually lifting him off the ground. He was unconscious before he hit the stage and lay sprawled in the remains of Genesis.
"Here endeth the first lesson," said Carrot and with a shrug of his shoulders, he turned his back on the audience and sauntered nonchalantly back to his seat.
Brother Sjoerd, mouth gaping, stared at Pooh Carrot.
"Sinner Carrot! You do realise for that little stunt of desecration I could have you instanty executed?"
"No, you couldn't. That would be breaking the rules of your own game. If you tried to have me executed, you'd lose all credibility and this show would be finished. Not to mention the fact that you'd make me into a martyr. The only way to kill me, is if 66.6% of people vote for for my death. So let's vote Bro!"
Brother Sjoerd turned to the hostile crowd,
"Brothers and Sisters, it's voting time. Should Sinner Carrot be burned to death, stoned to death, or has he, dare I say, convinced anyone in the world that he has repented and his life should be spared? You have three minutes to vote, starting from now. While the votes are being processed, let's hear another word from our sponsors."
During the commercial break, a digital scoreboard had been wheeled onto the stage proclaiming the three options of "Burning", "Stoning " or "Repented".
"Welcome back Brothers and Sisters. Now it's time to look at the old scoreboard and see just how you all voted. First, let's have the votes for "Burning".
Next to the word "Burning" the numbers started rising. First 10%, then 20%, then 25% as the figures started to slow down. 30% was reached but the numbers were really slowing down now, then a red light came on and the "Hallelujahs" sounded indicating a final total of 32.7%.
"Oh dear Sinner Carrot. By my reckoning that leaves 67.3% of votes left, over the Devil's majority. It looks like your time in this world will soon be at an end."
Pooh Carrot looked non-plussed.
"It ain't over till the fat lady sings, you know."
"True Sinner Carrot. But if I were you I'd start believing in miracles. Now let's have the votes for "Stoning."
Next to the word "Stoning" the numbers started rising rapidly without showing any sign of slowing down. 40% was reached, then 50%, then 60% and only then did the numbers start to slow. 65% was reached, then 66%, as Brother Sjoerd sat there with a smile playing across his lips.
The crowd, having been threatened with arrest by the Religious Police during the commercial break, had calmed down, but were now clapping and cheering, for surely the Sinner would soon be dead.
The scoreboard's red light flashed, the "Hallelujahs" sounded and the final total for "Stoning" was displayed. The crowd went suddenly quiet, and Brother Sjoerd stared disbelievingly at the figure - 66.4%!
"Impossible! Let's have the votes for "Repented". The figures rose for a second then stopped at 0.9%
"Well, Sinner Carrot, truly unbelievable! But it looks like you've escaped for another week."
Turning to the audience one last time, Brother Sjoerd completed the show's closing lines,
"Brothers and Sisters, Sinner Carrot will be back again next week so make sure you are too. May God go with you and may the good Lord Jesus protect you. A-men."
The credits rolled as two billion holovision viewers sat dumfounded, staring incredulously at their screens.
It took almost five hours to clear the auditorium, all the time Pooh Carrot sat on the Sinners' Seat twiddling his thumbs, surrounded by heavily armed guards. Eventually, when the coast was clear, he was frog-marched back to the secure room. He was feeling very pleased with himself, and not a little releived until he was greeted by a scowling Dot-C.
"Hiya Dot-C. I told you "I'll be back". I'm still alive...just. What did you think of my performance?"
"Carrot, you are an imbecile. What the hell do you think you were doing? When you tore up that Bible, I felt like slapping you myself. I thought we'd agreed it was best not to antagonise them? So what did you do? You only went and destroyed their Holy Book, didn't you?"
"Well, you know how it is. Spur of the moment decision and all that. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, it wasn't the whole Bible, just one book."
"Whatever! It was stupid! Very stupid! But you've done it so you'll just have to live with it, although probably not for very long."
"Thanks for the support!"
"Oh, do shut up Carrot! Now, do you want the good news or the bad news?"
"The guy you laid out has recovered consciousness and is being lauded as a hero for his actions, video of youtaking him out has shot straight to number one on the godtube site, a T-shirt with your face and the words "Heathen Bastard" has already been produced and is selling in unprecedented numbers..."
"Ooh! Do you reckon I'll get a commision from each one sold?"
"Fat lot of good that'll do you if you're dead, I must say. Also, the ratings for the show were over two and a half billion, making it the most watched holovision programme of all time."
"OK, OK, tell me the good news now."
"That was the good news. The bad news is that you are marginally less popular than a turd in a swimming pool, the holovision company has received nigh on five million death threats against you so far, and there is an unruly mob numbering in their tens of thousands outside this very building chanting "Death to Carrot". The only reason the building hasn't been torn apart brick by brick is because of a massive Religious Police presence, and these Police are not particularly subtle in their approach to man-management. There have been reports of several dozens of injuries, but thankfully no deaths yet. In almost every major city on the planet there have been demostrations denouncing you and calling for your immediate execution."
"Could be worse, I suppose."
"You're right! I haven't finished yet. Here's the good part. In order to placate the world's population, Brother Sjoerd has gone on live holovision promising a rule change for the next programme. For next week's show, the number of voting options is being reduced by a third. "Burning" is being taken out, leaving just "Stoning" or "Repented". This means that you'll have to convince 33.5% of the population of a world that hates you, that they should vote to let you go free."
"Bugger! Oh well, at least I managed to convince 0.9% this time, so where there's life, there's hope."
"Um...actually, no you didn't convince people. A lot of people who voted "Repented" have come forward to say that you're guilty as sin, but after seeing you KO that guy, they said it was the "best damned holovision" they'd ever seen. They voted "Repented not because they believed you, but because they want to see you come back next week. In a world of sheep, you're a wolf. You're unpredictable, a loose cannon. That's why they voted."
"So basically you're saying I'm screwed."
"It would appear so."
"Do you, by any chance, happen to have any good advice as to what I should do now?"
"After weighing up the evidence, there is one course of action I could suggest."
"What is it then?"
"Have you considered prayer?"
"Oh ha, ha, Dot-C. Very droll!"