Chapter Ten: Masks start to come off
Jeff parked his car in an angle parking slot just inside the gate of Star City's McDonald Park. The lot was only about half full, and he could see people gathering near the miniature lake in the center of the park.
"Are you sure this is the right address?" Jeff asked as he turned his head towards Brad on the passenger side.
"Positive," Brad said. "I even checked a map before we left Newellen."
Brad had been reluctant to come with him, fearful as he was of just about everything connected to Balazons, but Jeff finally managed to persuade him when he refused to go on his own. Brad's paranoia about the aliens killing his contact scared Jeff just enough that he wanted company if he was going to do this. They had no idea of what to expect.
Jeff got out of the car and breathed in a deep breath of the cool night air. The sun was going down and the air was chilly and damp. He could hear some murmuring in the crowd ahead, but couldn't quite make out what people were saying.
"I guess let's follow the crowd," Brad said and pointed towards the gathering crowd by the lake. "My contact didn't give any more details so we'll just have to play this by ear and see what happens."
Jeff led the way, following a well worn path through the short grass. They approached the crowd with caution, and waited patiently, lingering near the back.
A group of people near the front of the crowd had set up a small raised platform with a podium and microphone. They turned on an overhead floodlight to brighten the area and then one man approached the microphone and started to speak.
"We are here tonight to tell you the truth about the Balazons," the man at the microphone said. "Most of you are here tonight because one of our agents has directed you here or you heard about our meeting from a friend. Our numbers are growing everyday, and the truth is spreading. God's Spirit of revelation is being poured out in these last days and the Lord wants to save you tonight!"
Jeff felt adrenaline start to surge through his body and he started to panic, as he realized this must be one of the murderous fanatical religious groups that the news had been warning the public about. He could only imagine what timid paranoid Brad must be feeling.
"We are not going to harm you," the speaker continued, as if he had read Jeff's mind. "The media is the devil's tool to spread lies about us. They are the murderers not us! We only want to tell you about God's son Jesus Christ and about how he died on the cross for your sins, but Khur-ak doesn't want you to know this truth. You see, Khur-ak is actually the devil in disguise and the Balazons are his demons!"
The man's voice was rising and he started to jump and wave his arms in the air for emphasis. "They are deceiving the world in the Biblically prophesied last days deception! You must not follow them anymore or trust anything they say. Rebel! Kill them, or they will deceive you to hell! We have supernatural weapons that can help you kill the demons! Come follow us, or when you die, you will burn forever in hell! Confess you are a sinner, believe on the Lord Jesus now, and receive forgiveness before it is too late!"
Jeff turned to Brad. It looked as if he had tears welling up in his eyes, but Jeff couldn't be sure in the dim night. "Let's get the hell out of here, Brad. I've heard about these crazies."
A murmur was rising throughout the crowd, a feeling of nervousness becoming palpable.
Brad started sobbing. "But it's true," he said softly. I spent time in hell. I know it's true. I've been denying it all these years, running from the truth. I need to come to Jesus."
"What?! Are you losing your mind? You survived an attack from Xsalma, who was trying to prevent the unveiling. None of your perceptions were real. It was just an illusion."
Brad continued to weep. "No. I can't deny it anymore. I need to come to Jesus." Brad's chin sunk to chest level and he covered his face with his hands, continuing to cry.
"Look, I don't have time to be polite here. You've always been a little bit of an unstable wacko, understandable seeing what you have been through. But these cult types are dangerous. Haven't you been watching the news lately? We've got to get the hell out of here."
"No. I can sense the Lord really speaking to me in my heart. That's why God told my contact about this meeting. God wants to save me. I need to come to Jesus...I need to come to Jesus."
Jeff shook his head in disbelief. He was used to Brad's erratic behavior, but he picked the wrong time to lose it. Jeff wasn't about to endanger his life one second longer. The news warnings had given very specific recommendations for anyone who came across a preaching venture. Leave and report their whereabouts to the police immediately, or you could get killed.
Jeff grabbed Brad's coat collar and started to drag the man back to the car but he resisted. He kept mumbling about how he had to come to the Lord. Other people started leaving too, starting a trend that couldn't be contained.
"Infidels!" the speaker screamed into the microphone. "We offer you truth and salvation and all you can do is run? Then die like the demonic Balazon puppets you are!" The speaker reached into a black bag and pulled out a machine gun.
"Shit," Jeff said, and he felt more adrenaline surge his system. Brad seemed oblivious. Jeff slapped him hard, which seemed to snap him to attention. "They've got a gun. Move your ass now!" Brad nodded curtly, seemingly instantly clear in his senses, and turned and ran for the car, Jeff only inches behind him.
Rattling gunfire split the quiet night and people started screaming and running. The speaker yelled obscenities and continued firing at the crowd, but Jeff and Brad had been far enough on the periphery of the crowd that they weren't as clear a target as some of the other people. They made it back to the car without taking any bullets.
Adrenaline coordinated Jeff's movements with swift ease, as he flung open the car doors, slipped the keys in the ignition and hit the gas. Brad was already on his cell phone, reporting the fanatics to the police.
Jeff felt safer after about ten minute's drive from the park.
"The police said that was the second attack in Star City this week," Brad said. "I'm sorry I lost it back there."
Jeff didn't respond. He was still pissed at the man's stupidity. He turned on the radio for a distraction, and tuned to a soft country station. He kept the volume low, just something calm and soothing in the background.
"I can't explain it, but something happened to me back there. I just felt this instant conviction and belief in the Lord. I know there's a God now. The Balazons are deceiving us."
"Oh, don't give me that supernatural nonsense."
"I think you're suppressing the truth too because of your fear of falling into another cult."
Jeff instantly flared hot. "You idiot! I guess I should just go back and join that group then, huh? How stupid can you be?"
"I'm not saying join them. Obviously, they were nuts but that doesn't mean there wasn't some truth in what they said."
"You're nuts. I should take you to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. I've no doubt the Balazons inspired all our religious traditions. I can't deny the reality around me like you seem to be doing. I just also know deep down in my gut that they are evil too and will show their true colors sooner or later."
"Then you should understand how I feel. I too just know, deep down in my gut, the truth now. That's the power of belief, Jeff. You might not be able to prove it, but you just know that you know." Brad paused. "Wow!"
"I just felt the Lord speak to me very strongly. He asked me to consider why the media has only recently become so focused on warning about these preaching ventures where the speakers accuse the Balazons of being demons. I mean, the Balazons claim to have inspired all our religions and beliefs about God. If that's true, what about the devil? The concept of evil spirit beings exists in every religion too. Surely they must have inspired a belief in Satan too then? Why haven't they explained their rationale for doing this before now? It's like they've been clouding our minds from asking that obvious question."
"I don't know, but one thing I've learned in life is one should search for truth boldly, head on, asking honest questions, and facing legitimate doubts. Ok, Mr. Bigshot believer. How about this? Let's just go home and ask the Balazons that very question."
"I don't mind. I'm curious too."
Jeff was surprised at Brad's reaction. He thought for sure he could rattle him with that suggestion. "Aren't you afraid? You avoid Balazons like the plague."
Brad smiled. "You know, I was raised Catholic but was never really afraid of the concept of hell until the Balazons terrorized me with it. But that's all gone now. I can't explain it. I have peace in my heart and no fear anymore."
"We'll see about that." Jeff drove the rest of the way in silence, marveling at Brad's miraculous change of demeanor, but doubting its staying power. He knew the man too well. He had only been about five more blocks from his house, and within a few minutes, they were parking the car and approaching Jeff's front door. Brad still seemed as calm as ever.
Jeff opened the door and led Brad inside. The collapsible partition to the living room was closed indicating people were inside being entertained by the VRT. Jeff ripped it open, causing the transmission to shut down automatically.
"Aw, dad," Nick wined. "What are you doing? That was a good program."
His wife and two children were huddled together on the sofa, no Balazons in sight, but he knew he could bring them out with a word. They were just beyond human perceptual reality, somehow tuned to a person's thoughts or words, and ready to appear at a moment's notice. Khur-ak had specifically assigned a personal Balazon to each person on the face of the planet, ready to assist, answer questions, or just chat. All one had to do was ask: Garlez was for Valerie, Marcach was for Stephanie, and Stro-kar was for Nick. Acin-om was for Jeff, but he hadn't called on her in a long time. No matter.
"I don't care. We've got business to attend to. Acin-om, show yourself!"
Almost immediately, a bright light flashed and a mild warmth filled the room. "It has been a long time, Jeff," Acin-om said. "How may I assist you?"
"I have a few questions."
"Yes, I know you do. I'm aware of your encounter at the park."
"You were there?"
"Hmmm...not exactly. It's rather difficult to explain. Let's just say that we have a constant awareness of what our human assignments are thinking and doing."
"We could have been killed. Aren't you supposed to be protecting me or something?"
"Not at the expense of other higher priorities, such as walking the fine line of exerting influence but not interference in human affairs."
Jeff requested Bert to bring up the conference room simulation, closed the collapsible partition, and waited for the room to change. Then he had Valerie and the kids call up their Balazon representatives, and was only mildly surprised when Brad spontaneously did the same thing, still seeming totally at ease in a room with now five Balazons visible. Jeff motioned for the aliens to sit on one side of the simulated rectangular oak table and humans on the other.
"What's this all about, Jeff?" Valerie asked, looking him straight in the eyes and with a scowl.
Jeff got right to it. "We were attacked tonight by some cult fanatics who raised an interesting suggestion. The Bible says God has spiritual enemies, the devil and his fallen angels. I want to know how we can know for sure you Balazons aren't demons trying to deceive us for some evil purpose."
"Oh, come on, Jeff," Valerie said. "It's been years since the world has had to contend with mysterious supernatural nonsense. You of all people should be more level headed. Do I have to worry about this cult taking over your mind?"
Jeff ignored Valerie's sarcastic insult and kept his eyes on Acin-om, trying to read her reaction, but she only smiled and nodded her head. The other Balazons were smiling the same condescending grin. Nick and Stephanie started protesting too but Jeff raised his hands in a stop gesture and told them to be quiet.
Acin-om said, "For a period of time after an unveiling, we need to suppress a species' minds from full understanding of how the conscience-bubble influences individuals with the more negative aspects of spirituality. It might embolden rebellion and possibly increase the risk of self-annihilation. So we suppressed people's minds from seriously considering we might demons. We'd still prefer not to talk about it."
"Well too late," Jeff said. "I want to know right now what you're hiding."
Acin-om sighed. "Very well. We can only suppress this idea for awhile anyway. It was inevitable that we would have to address this question sooner or later on a worldwide scale. There's actually a very straightforward explanation. The reality is that an actual devil doesn't exist any more than does one all-powerful God that created everything, nor do literal angels and demons exist. All such things are simply concepts we use on your minds, as I'll try to explain further in a way you'll understand.
"Almost every religion has this concept of a great cosmic struggle between spiritual forces of light and darkness, where the light side is stronger and wins in the end. These implant-inspired beliefs are just a microcosm of your inner struggle, as the conscience-bubble tries to subtly inspire hope that that person, as well as mankind collectively, will one day overcome their dark nature and evolve to become like us, god-like beings, entities of pure energy, light and love, the highest form you can attain. So really each individual is both the 'light' and the 'darkness' in this struggle, although every person starts out life as predominantly 'darkness'.
"Thousands of years ago, the only way your primitive awakening consciousness could understand these evolutionary realities was by us enumerating them to your subconscious in the form of simple stories about a battle between God and an evil arch enemy, and we use these concepts to accelerate your consciousness. By way of a biological analogy, you could say our involvement with humans is the equivalent of intentionally inducing genetic mutations into physical organisms to more quickly adapt them to the environment and accelerate growth into higher forms."
"More evolutionary mumbo-jumbo, just like when they first unveiled" Brad said. "I don't believe it anymore."
"Let's hear what they have to say before getting critical," Jeff said. "And why do you want to keep this a secret?"
"Because we still use the conscience-bubble and we need it to work as maximally as possible in order to help you. Our experiences on other worlds has shown that too much understanding of how the implant subtly uses fear, especially right after an unveiling, can embolden people to actively start resisting it, increasing the likelihood of rebellion, rejecting our help, and eventual self-extinction.
"You see, at your current stage of development, you have a conflicted nature between your lower animal-like qualities, the dark forces, and the higher god-like essence you are evolving towards, the light forces. Through the implant, we simply use these ideas to inspire people to cooperate with the natural upwards pull of evolution so they can better win the battle over their brutish, self-centered animalistic nature that currently seeks, through natural selection and survival of the fittest, to dominate or destroy others, horde all resources, live as long as possible, and spread their DNA to the next generation. You need our help to resist this dark side of your human nature, or you won't survive the millions of years necessary to reach our state of existence, your 'heavenly reward' for living a life of obedience to the ideals of love.
"We reinforced these concepts when Khur-ak walked the earth as Jesus, by taking over people's bodies by so-called 'demon possession' and letting Jesus 'cast us out' to convince people of his power and authority over these 'evil forces'. We wanted people to follow his teachings. But really mankind is both the light and the darkness in this imagined cosmic struggle for supremacy between God and the devil. We're trying to help your race reach exultation, where there is no longer any conflict. Then you easily and naturally always operate from the standpoint of pure love. Until then, the implant is programmed to use fear of sharing the fate of the dark forces to motivate you."
"I don't think like the religious folk at all, Acin-om," Nick said. "So you're gonna have to explain that one a bit more about using fear to motivate us."
"It's a very subtle effect that the implant exerts on the subconscious. It still directs you too, Nick, in various ways but you're just not aware of it. Basically, almost all religions pick up on the implant-inspired idea that the fallen forces of darkness, the fallen angels in the case of Christianity, are doomed to hell forever and God will never forgive their rebellion against Him even if the rebels desired it. So if God is that hard and unforgiving to some of His creatures, it follows that humans could also sin to a point that God will never forgive them. However, by not precisely defining at what point this could happen, it creates some subtle fear to control your behavior. Although every human baby starts out life basically like a 'demon', a bundle of selfishness, we try to bring each person to a point of balance in their lives. The idea is we want to hold people in the middle between hope and fear, believing all your choices are slowly making you either an 'angel' or a 'demon', ultimately sending you either to heaven or hell, and motivating you to keep striving for the ideal of love, lest you cross some vague point of no return and become forever damned to a fabled hell with the imaginary devil and his angels."
"I never could believe in a God that would torture His creation in a literal hellfire forever," Nick said. "It's disgusting. How does your implant so effectively convince people of that kind of drivel?"
"Again, it's a subtle thing, affecting even you, Nick, that works deep on the subconscious, whereby we use your own base human nature against you to convince you hell is true. The concept of God we created is one who is Almighty and can do anything, and yet He allows all the suffering and injustice that you inflict upon each other on a daily basis, such as crime and wars, as well as the daily suffering of diseases, natural disasters etc... So, it follows that this God could conceivably also allow the suffering of a literal eternal hellfire in the afterlife. So we used the 'hell' of your daily existence, to reinforce the concept of greater suffering beyond this life for those who are disobedient to the promptings of the conscience-bubble and Biblical directives. Add to that, on some deep level, most people could imagine causing great suffering to someone if they believed they were sufficiently justified to do so, so you naturally project this capability onto God and convince yourself that He is capable of doing such a thing.
"We want you to move beyond these simple beliefs that we used to imprint evolutionary realities into your subconscious minds to moderate your actions. We'd hoped not to have to reveal all of this too soon because once a person has a better understanding of how we use subtle fear to manipulate your minds with these concepts, it will lessen the effectiveness of the conscience-bubble. We have found that subconscious fear is a very effective behavioral modification tool for beings as primitive as you, even after a successful unveiling."
"This makes sense to me," Nick said. "You're using our own imagination and ability to think in abstract concepts to influence us. If you think about it, it is pretty hypocritical that God says in the Bible that we're supposed to love our enemies and forgive our enemies, but God doesn't have to love and forgive His enemies, the devil and the demons. Now I get it. God does love demons, which is who mankind is! I am an incarnation of a 'devil', already burning in the symbolic hellfire of our daily suffering existence, and God will forgive me and release me from 'hell' if I truly repent! Hellfire is a good thing then, if it refines my character and makes me perfect in love! I just have to overcome evil on the human plane of existence by accepting Jesus and living a life of love by faith and... yada, yada, yada..." Nick laughed and rolled his eyes. "I suppose I shouldn't get too sarcastic. Many intelligent people have struggled with these kinds of things over the centuries."
"This is kind of insulting," Valerie said. "I don't like to be compared to a demon."
"It's only an allegorical concept we use on your mind," Acin-om said. "You also have potential to become light beings, if you let us help you. Your own Bible says these very things in many subtle ways."
"That's interesting," Stephanie said. "I used to be something of a Bible thumper. Show me where these things are in the Bible." Stephanie requested that the computer create a holographic version of what used to be her favorite Bible, the King James Version, and handed it to Acin-om. Jeff remembered many a fight in the past where Stephanie had used it as a weapon against Nick.
Acin-om opened the book and flipped some pages before settling on one section and handed it back to Stephanie. "Notice Khur-ak says in John 6:70, 'Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?' By comparing a human to a devil he is insinuating that humans are the so-called 'fallen angels', metaphorically speaking of course."
"That scripture is talking about Judas," Brad said. "It just means he was an evil man. Jesus wouldn't call any of his true followers a devil."
"Not true. Please turn to Mark 8:33". Acin-om waited until Stephanie found the passage before continuing. "Here Khur-ak rebukes Peter, one of his closest disciples, saying, 'Get thee behind me Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.' So by calling Peter the arch-demon Satan, he's insinuating that people of all different stripes, true followers or not, are actually the 'devils'."
Jeff wondered how Acin-om could so easily quote verses from memory, and hypothesized that the alien's massive brain power must have the entire Bible memorized, perhaps even all the different versions.
Brad's face soured. "That just means Peter was acting like a type of Satan in that he was tempting Jesus to divert from his mission to die for the sins of the world. Peter didn't do it on purpose though, and it shouldn't be taken literally."
Jeff marveled that Brad was so boldly challenging the aliens. He figured the man would have lost it by now for sure.
"That's one level of meaning, but you must understand that Khur-ak had full memory and knowledge by this time. He knew exactly what he was saying, and he was also trying to hint at the full truth so that we could use his words down through the centuries."
"What do you mean by use his words?" Nick asked.
"The Bible was an authority for many people down through the centuries, and we utilized it as much as possible, especially Khur-ak's words. Another example is in Matthew 25:41 where Khur-ak says, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels'. Again, by describing people being thrown into hell, and then specifically saying hell was created for the devil and his angels, the subtle subconscious suggestion is that humans are the so-called 'fallen angels'."
"Interesting," Nick said. "It's sort of logical that if God prepared hell specifically for the devil and his angels, then He would only throw beings in there that actually fit that description. So describing humans going there too means that's who we are. But I've never heard of such a possibility ever even being suggested by any Christian denomination, not even some of the weird cults and sects. Why has nobody made this connection before?"
Brad made a lame rebuttal that the only demons in the room were the Balazons, but it didn't sound very convincing to Jeff. Jeff might not like the Balazons, but Acin-om's explanations sounded more realistic to him at this point than Brad's insistence there was a God. However, his continuing steady demeanor impressed Jeff. He figured surely the man would have lost nerve by now.
"That's because we suppressed your conscious minds from comprehending the full meaning and purpose behind the fictitious archetypical images, so that people could only read and understand the Bible at a certain conscious surface level. That way the implant was more effective at causing people to take the verses with symbols of hellfire, and imagery about angels and demons quite literally. Then we use those same verses to speak secret meaning to the subconscious, sort of like subliminal messages. But it's not all negative. There are equally many positive Bible verses we can use to subliminally suggest to people that they can become holy angels and children of light, such as Ephesians 5:8, John 12:36, and 1 Thessalonians 5:5. I could go through the Bible in great detail, if you're interested, and explain the many subtle levels of meaning we were trying to communicate to the writers."
"I'll pass," Nick said. "Thanks anyway."
"We're not always negative, but unfortunately, given your current state of development, we've found most people's minds respond better to threats of eternal punishment in hell and comparisons to becoming fallen angels, than positive messages about rewards in heaven and comparisons to becoming something like holy angels and children of light. We still use these concepts and images on your subconscious to moderate your actions, but now that you have a deeper understanding of how the implant uses the negative aspects of Biblical imagery, there is a greater risk of people feeling emboldened to resist the implant at a subconscious level, which is mostly where it does its work. Now that you understand all this, your conscious minds will eventually work this revelation deep into your subconscious, which may prove damaging to your psyche. At the very least, for the greater good of the survival of your species, please keep this information to yourself and don't let it become common knowledge."
Brad shook his head. "See how clever they are. They turn it all around and make us into the demons. Amazing! All I can say is you spin a good yarn, Acin-om, but evolution is just a demon inspired abstract philosophy you're using to deceive the world that there is no God and no judgment for sin after death in hell! I don't believe it anymore."
Brad suddenly shuddered and gasped. "Here is your proof you are a liar, Acin-om. The Holy Spirit of God has just spoken to me deep in my spirit. The true God has supernaturally popped scriptures into my mind to show me how your demonic deception was prophesied long ago. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan, that's you 'Balazons', not us humans, is transformed into an angel of light. Oh, today's secular-scientific mind might dub you aliens of light, but the meaning is the same and clear. You are deceiving mankind! And all the lies you are spouting are summarized nicely in 1 Timothy 4:1 where it says that 'in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.' You are the devils, not us, trying to seduce us with your lies! Galatians 1:8 warns that 'though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed!' You are those false fallen angels from heaven, the true devils of your master, Satan, preaching another gospel, and I pronounce cursing on you, as the Bible says to do. In the name of Jesus I curse your lies!"
Acin-om simply smiled and calmly said, "All those verses you are quoting are from our agent, the apostle Paul. Like Jesus, we eventually appeared to Paul and explained everything to him and also did 'supernatural' things to affirm his ministry. We could tell that Paul was an exceptional person who would willingly work with us if we let him in on all of our secrets, so we did, in order to make him a more effective witness to the risen Khur-ak, otherwise known as Christ to his followers. Paul absorbed scientific evolutionary realities as best as his first century mind could digest, though we often had to explain it to him with Old Testament quotes like Psalm 82:6, 'I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High'. Then he could accept that the scriptures testified to the fact that humans are evolutionary children of this concept of 'God', and gods themselves, evolving into gods, as it were, given enough time. Once convinced, he then willingly labored the rest of his life to spread the new message we wanted mankind to embrace. The man was a fanatic, but of the good kind once properly directed. We regularly appeared to Paul and taught him deeper and deeper truth as he was able to take it in. I knew him well and consider him a friend. I look forward to fellowshiping with him again millions of years from now, assuming mankind survives long enough to evolve to the exultation stage."
"No way," said Brad. "Then why did Paul warn us of an end-time demonic deception from seducing spirits, fallen angels, from heaven?"
"Haven't you been listening? I've already explained that concepts like angels and demons are but fictitious archetypical images that we use to moderate your actions and enhance evolution of your consciousness to exultation. Like religion in general, concepts about evil supernatural entities were meant to be but a temporary preserving influence, and are no more real than the ancient gods Zeus and Thor. Paul understood this and was simply continuing in Khur-ak's tradition of speaking about these entities as if they were real. Mankind, in general, was not ready for the full truth back then, minus a few exceptional men like Paul. Paul had to try and threaten and intimidate the early believers with fear inducing talk to try and preserve what we were trying to do. As with Jesus, we tried to psychologically enhance Paul's fear statements, but general apostasy and spiritual anarchy eventually ensued anyway, as our future forecasts told us was likely. Mankind is exceptionally stubborn and rebellious. But we continued to work with mankind down through the medieval centuries until finally, only now, are we able to tell the world the full truth, not just rare individuals like Paul."
Brad frowned and his mouth curled up in a snarl. "I'll never believe you! You make up great sounding lies, but the spirit of God tells me Jesus is the true God and you are demons! There is a hell and you're going there, and so will any humans who fall for your lies!"
"Calm down," Jeff said. "This is getting out of hand. We're just trying to get to the truth. No need to panic."
"I'm not panicking," Brad said. "I don't know what to say to convince you all. I know the truth now, even if I can't think fast enough to outmaneuver demonic explanations. The Bible testifies of the devil's power to deceive. He is very good at what he does, twisting logic, scripture, reason, evolution, science, anything and everything to deceive you into following him to hell." Brad rose from his chair. "I won't stay here any longer and listen to this." He went over to the collapsible partition and opened it, immediately ending the holographic simulation and left without another word.
Jeff spent a few more minutes soliciting opinions from his family about what they had just heard, but none seemed to show any concern, accepting all the aliens' explanations. Jeff wasn't that accepting, yet not willing to take the opposite leap of faith into religion like Brad had done. He still couldn't bring himself to blindly trust the aliens anymore than he would another cult leader, as Jeff had learned to trust only his own intuition after that experience, and something still didn't feel quite right.
"Mankind's collective consciousness is waking up," Acin-om said. "More and more people are asking these kinds of questions, considering these possibilities, a common thing that happens several years after an unveiling. We can't suppress this awakening forever; only delay it for a few years. But we're pleased with the progress mankind is making. We believe most people are now ready to assimilate this new revelation without undue damage to their conscience-bubbles and are mature enough to reject any notion that we are demons. Nonetheless, as I said earlier, if you desire to help others, please try to keep these details to yourself. We disseminate this information on a need to know basis, and for those who insist, we would prefer to tell them ourselves."
Jeff nodded his head, seeing no harm in the restriction for the time being. He went to bed early that night, and lay awake for several hours, unable to fall asleep, meditating on everything that had transpired that day. Eventually, he totally wrote the demon theory off as nonsense, but still refused to embrace the aliens, trusting that instinct inside him that told him something was still wrong. But he figured at this point he might have to wait patiently to see if and when the aliens might reveal an evil persona, just like his cult leader had eventually done. He was sure he'd just lost his best ally in trying to discover any rational ulterior motives of the Balazons, as Brad seemed stuck on his theory that the aliens were demons.
As he took comfort in accepting that he would just have to play things by ear, he was able to find peace and fall asleep.