New Rome

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The Pope escapes to the United States, as the Islamic State takes Rome. A secret is going to be revealed to the Pope about the leader of the Islamic State.

Submitted: June 11, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 11, 2018



The air feels solid, like a brick wall, all was quiet inside Vatican City, and I was pondering about life.  I could hear the thunder in the distance while I was sitting at my office desk.  I stepped outside as the rain started to fall, like a thousand insults hurled at my head.  Feels foreboding, my stomach is in knots while thinking about the responsibilities of a Pope.  Last month I was elected Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church as Pope John Paul III.  Parishioners around the globe are hopeful of a new beginning of the church, but I feel uncertain.  Even though I was an Archbishop and Cardinal, I feel uncomfortable with my abilities, even with the support of the people.

It was around nine in the evening when I received a call from my Camerlengo, a wonderful man, very devoted to his job and the Church.  He was a Graduate of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and went to the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, for seminary.  He would make a better Pope than me, I thought.

Picking up the phone, I hear him say, “There is some disturbing news out of the Middle East, your holiness.”
“What is it,” I replied, knowing full well that this kind of news wasn’t going to be good.  

“The Islamic State has made a resurgence in Iraq.  They have taken the City of Baghdad, and their leader has stated that he wants to conquer the entirety of both the Middle East and Europe.  He has made threats to the Holy See, stating that Rome would be the ultimate prize.”

  This kind of rhetoric is quite common in the Islamic world; I know the Islamic State does not represent true Muslims, and the leaders of this so-called state do not adhere to the Islamic faith; they distort it to justify their hidden agendas.

Besides, before I became a priest, I fell in love with a lovely Arab woman from Alexandria Egypt.  She taught me about the Qur’an and different Islamic Customs.  But I didn’t convert to Islam, I moved back to Rome, and entered the seminary.

I respect the Islamic faith and its followers, but it wasn’t for me, I was a lifelong Roman Catholic.  After seminary, I became an Archbishop, then was appointed Cardinal by Saint John Paul II.  He impacted my priestly life, and I worked closely with him during his pontificate.  I wish he were here to help me through this.

A few months later, I received word that the Islamic State had advanced through Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and now had entered Europe.  There is now a growing necessity to set up an early escape plan.  But to where?
My Camerlengo, Father Vandenberg, was from the Diocese of Grand Rapids, located in Southwest Michigan.  The United States seemed like a viable option for an escape.  Father Vandenburg contacted the Bishop of Grand Rapids to discuss the possibility.

After a lengthy conference call with the President of the United States and the Governor of Michigan, the plan has started.  We prepare for the move.  The logistics of such a move is enormous, and it will take many people to make it happen in such a short period.

With the help of the United States military, we moved the entirety of the Vatican Archives and Museum to a newly constructed bunker underneath the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Grand Rapids, now to relocate the citizens of Vatican City.

I landed to a warm and welcoming crowd at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.  One could not ask for a better day, it was beautiful, warm and sunny, even though the circumstances back in Rome wasn’t that beautiful.

“Welcome, your holiness,” the Bishop of Grand Rapids stated.  Extending out his hand to shake mine, “I hope you had a good flight.”

“It wasn’t a bad flight, but I'm still thinking about Rome.”, I responded, “Even though I was safe, I still feel awful for those souls left behind.  Oh well, might as well make the best of it, we can only pray for their safety.”  The Bishop nodded in agreement, and with that, we were off to Cathedral Square.

I was saying Sunday mass a few weeks later when I heard that the Islamic State had taken Rome and Vatican City, but I was shocked at learning that the Calif declared no harm to the City and its inhabitants.  Was he having a change of heart?  Or was it a political move?  Who knows, I was happy he decided to make such a declaration.  

The next day, I heard from the Governor of Michigan, that he and the President had signed executive orders that made Cathedral Square into an autonomous city-state, much like Vatican City.  So, I decided to call it New Vatican City, which seemed to prompt a growing trend in the area, since many Catholics, both in Grand Rapids and across the United States, started to push to rename the City of Grand Rapids to New Rome.  
I’m flattered, but I don’t think that it is necessary for the City to change their name.  But, at the next City Council meeting, they approved the proposal.  

I couldn’t get the fact that the Calif spared Rome out of my mind.  Why did he do that?  Everywhere else he conquered, he ravaged and plundered, but not Rome?

Even though the answer was right in front of my face all along, I didn’t think about it.  

As the cool breeze was blowing over my face like a mother’s gentle touch, I began to remember Miriam, the Arab woman from Alexandria, Egypt that I befriended when I was there studying Islam.  My interests are with foreign languages, cultures, and religions.  Learning should be done every day of life.  

I remember she had a 5-year-old son named Abdullah.  A respectful child who shared my interests.  He would ask about what life was like in Europe, and about Catholicism.  Our conversations were always entertaining.  I wonder what he is up to these days, I thought to myself?

A few months have gone by, and the Islamic State still had control of Rome.  But this day felt different to me.  Somehow the foreboding feeling that I had deep inside my soul seemed to disappear.  

It was cloudy and a bit gloomy as I started to say mass, but as the mass continued, the clouds seem to part, like the red sea did for Moses.  Rays of sunshine entered the church through the large stain glass windows, seemingly landing on the altar.  Was this a sign?  What could it mean?

After mass, I went to my office and logged onto my computer, wanting to clean up my email box and to see what was going on in the world.  Surprisingly, I received an email from Abdullah, the son of Miriam.  He stated that he was in Rome with the Islamic State.He asked me for forgiveness, not as a Pope, but as a friend, for his role in the conquering of the Middle East, Europe, and Rome itself.  

The message went on to say that he felt awful for what he did to all those innocent people, they were not his enemy, nor were they the enemies of Islam.  He even admitted that what he and his comrades had done was in direct violation of Islamic law.

It wasn’t until I seen his email signature that I realized the answers to my questions.  He signed, "Abdullah, the son of Miriam, Calif of the Islamic State."

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