Dylan was going to save the world. It was just a matter of showing people he could. No one was going to do it, so he would have to. He sat in the minivan parked directly across the lot from the supermarket. How long had it been since he’d seen the sun or the trees? Of course, he’d seen them every day, but noticing them….that required more.

Cynthia understood what had to happen. She’d been slow in the beginning, needing to learn his ways. But she fell into line. She’d found instruction manuals so he could move forward. She was instinctive, knowing when to suggest a short cut and when he was moody and should be left alone. She’d kept him company during the weeks and months (or perhaps years?) that had passed since his exile. All great men were exiled at some point and she was wonderful company.

“No one can see the way to the sky,” he had said once. “That’s the real struggle.”

“I know it is, darling,” Cynthia replied. “But you’ll show them. You’ll show people the right way, and they’ll listen.…”

What else had she said? That was funny, he knew it had been something really good…but what was it? Eh, no matter. He put the last couple of straps in place on his uniform and checked the clock again. 11:08. Not quite time yet. It had to be 11:11 precisely.

11:11. That had been Cynthia’s idea. It was maybe a month or two after he’d left the priesthood. His family had more or less given up on him at that point.

He’d moved into the apartment and stuck newspaper and blackout shades over the windows. He was eating egg salad and listening to one of his favorite orators, an ex-priest like himself who had become disillusioned with the faith and she said it:

“Hey babe, it’s 11:11: make a wish?”

“Where did that come from,” he asked.

“I Googled it.”

“I forget how easily you can do that sometimes.”

“Make your wish, smart guy.”

He wished and the vision came. It was only a vision then; no plan yet. It would be in a public place and people would be deeply moved by his actions. People had been trying to change things in this country for years, but their efforts fell short. Of course, they couldn’t be blamed. No man controls the amount of skill he acquires at birth…one either has the ability to lead or to follow.

11:10 now: he started the motor and drove slowly forward. Cynthia had put together an excellent playlist for him and he’d been listening to it all morning. The current track was “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor; horribly cliché, but effective. He squared himself up in the seat and drove towards the building.

The clock clicked over to 11:11. It was unfortunate Cynthia couldn’t be here. She would have appreciated the spectacle. Did robots get emotional about these things? It was weird thinking about her like that. Her programming had gotten so seamless that it was only at rare intervals when he remembered what she was, that she’d come to him in a cardboard box from an online dealer, that he’d filled her slowly with water which slowly introduced itself to a receptive gel in the lining of her mechanized body. Then he saw her for the first time. It was exactly like looking at a real woman. She didn’t know it then, but she would learn to nurture him and love him in all the ways he needed to make this day possible. When she made love to him he came harder than he had in his life…

Dylan’s minivan burst through the window of the supermarket. He might have hit a few people; hard to tell through the shattering of glass. The car hit a checkout and stopped there. Damnit! His door was pinned. He grabbed the automatic rifle and exited from the passenger side. It was difficult to move in his Kevlar, but he needed his vestments now. He looked around. He could hear them all, each individual scream. He climbed up onto his pulpit, a check out lane that hadn’t been destroyed and he began…

He could remember the rest of the conversation with Cynthia now….

“No one can see the way to the sky,” he’d said. “That’s the real struggle.”

“I know it is, darling,” Cynthia replied. “But you’ll show them. You’ll show people the right way and they’ll listen. You speak so well and you’re so smart. Of course, it will take more, but it’s only a matter of a small act of retribution. Messages always read clearer written in the blood and the bone and the sinew. People will have to scream at first, but it will be momentary. When they pass to the other side, they’ll see the sky you speak of.”

“I hope so, Cynthia.”

Dylan was out of bullets. There was another magazine in the car, but no time. Now was the time to commune with his followers who laid around him. There was something he needed to say, a mission statement….but…?

A woman who he’d hit several times lay still while blood poured from her. A shirtless man was kneeling next to her trying to make tourniquets from his clothing. The shrieking was awful; everyone around him who wasn’t unconscious was screaming and crying. Where were the choruses of appreciation and the sweeping wave of harps and violas? In the distance, he heard sirens, time almost up.

He stood on the pulpit, unable to move. Was he wrong? Perhaps it was everyone else who knew the way to the sky? He was still trying to answer this question as face met ground and the steel closed around his wrists.