The young bishop looked up, jaw gaping, amazed at the incredible display. The artist’s skill with a brush was beyond what could be expected of a mere mortal. The bishop swore that he could see the figures moving, breathing.
That assumes of course, that the angels breathed. If they could still be called angels, now that they knew the truth…
The discovery and translation of the Real Gospel of Adam, the First Gospel, had thrown the Holy See into chaos. It had challenged the fundamentals of the faith, the origins of man, who or what was waiting after death.
The meaning of life.
The real purpose of man.
Ah, the real purpose. This last revelation, this still kept the young bishop up at night. Sleep no longer came easily, and he, like many of his peers, had turned to strong wines to seek peace. Opiates were more expensive, so was only common amongst the Cardinals.
The artist had been given complete access to the First Gospel, and the instructions to paint the chapel in dedication to its new learning. To paint the ceiling of the Sistene and to instruct the faithful on the proper manner of worship. Of sacrifice.
The artist had exceeded all expectations. The work had aged him, had sickened him, and the bishop could see why. Staring too long at any image was enough to start him trembling, but he could not look away.
The bishop still had his mouth open when a thick droplet of paint landed in it, causing him to cough and choke. Bright blue froth formed around his mouth, a bizarre ultramarine beard of bubbles.
The artist looked down, tired and angry at his approach.
“What now?” the artist’s voice was raspy, irritated at the interruption. “Im nearly finished. What does Julius want?”
The young bishop found his voice “Not Jul… Not the Pope, Michelangelo. Pope Julius II is occupied on the translation, and he has delegated oversight to Cardinal Carafa.”
Michelangelo visibly started to seethe, his long beard bristling. “Carafa?” he shouted, “That deficiente…? Well then, what?!”
Intimidated, the poor bishop could only stand on his toes and pass the list of ‘client changes’ dictated by Cardinal Carafa to the artist. Michelangelo reached the corner of list and allowed the rest to fall. It reached the floor and rolled out a further four feet.
Michelangelo read the first line out loud, voice almost cracking in despair; “Dear Michelangelo – Pope Julius II has approved some minor changes be made to assist the ‘commercial appeal’ of the Sistine Chapel, and to improve the ‘user experience’ of the faithful…” his voice trailed off. Michelangelo looked over the roof. Four years work, and only a few brushstrokes shy of completing the most important message of truth to humanity. He looked back to the list, full of words, empty of meaning…
…softer interface with more problematic aspects of the most recent paradigm…
“Carafa,” he whispered to himself, closing his eyes, “faccia a culo…”
Another short paragraph of flash fiction, a ‘bite’ – another response to a the #PopQuizHotShot challenge from Jacopo della Quercia. Dated 5 September 2014.
I was also influenced by this Oatmeal comic.
Let me know if you enjoy it.