Out of this world

Issue 4/1996 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Virkamatka (‘Business travel’, Otava, 1996). Introduction by Jyrki Kiiskinen

I spent a couple of weeks alone at home that summer. My brother was at camp and my father on a business trip. Bored one rainy day, I opened up their last game on the computer. They had been going on about it for weeks.

I began from the beginning, A splendid start: texts backed by imaginative visions, Then darkness. In the middle of it a gold-coloured, glimmering dot. Nothing else. I waited for a long time. Nothing else, I waited. Nothing. Then I pressed the computer’s space-bar. The dot exploded and the explosion filled the entire screen. From its centre swarmed familiar patterns, Diagrams of atomic nuclei, electrons, radiation.

So: the big bang. The clock had begun to tick. Digital numbers flashed. So: the beginning of time. The explosion faded. The screen turned dust-grey and a hand appeared at its centre. A hand in the middle of empty space? I pressed the Help button. A text appeared: Get going, time is not eternity.

I moved the hand with the mouse. As it moved, it wiped the screen clean of the fine dust. When I had cleared a large, circular area and had got the dust into a heap in one corner of the screen, I clicked the mouse and the hand pressed the dust into a ball. The intention was not, after all, to clean space of dust, but to collect it. I prodded the ball with the finger. It began to move. It drifted outside the screen. I scrolled the screen and brought the ball back into range. It moved, collecting dust. I prodded the ball harder: it broke into two pieces, both of which continued to roll. They grew and became round. Not only did they wipe dust into themselves, they attracted it. The larger they grew, the more intensely they attracted dust and the faster they grew, Then they changed from grey to red, yellow and glowing gold, I made more balls, set them spinning and dashing across the screen, When a small ball came near a large, glowing one, it began to circle it. Gravity. I realised that I could use one of the function keys to zoom. I zoomed the screen further away from the balls, and three-dimensional space opened up before me.

The same process was taking place at every level of space. Balls of different sizes were being created from dust. Some of them glowed red, some yellow, they circled one another. I had created space, with stars and planets. But what is the purpose of the game? Star-wars? How does it work, what gives it rules, magic or science? What is its aim? I pressed Help.

A billion years have passed; get moving, the text chided.

Then one of the stars collapsed, glowed white and exploded.

I zoomed closer. All that was left was lumps and coarse dust. I remembered from school physics lessons that our solar system is built of the primal elements created by the pressure inside a white dwarf, mainly carbon and metal. So I gathered the remains of the white dwarf on to my hand and pressed them into a large ball, and made a group of smaller ones circle it. The big ball began to glow and I had a solar system. A very beautiful solar system, when I had patted a couple of planets into a slightly rounder shape and made rings for a few more.

The game appeared to be a scientific teaching game, fairly simple. But why had Dad and the boys stayed interested in it for weeks? I tried the function keys. A window appeared, with distances, temperatures, speeds, masses, analytical diagrams.

Good. I moved the earth a little closer to the sun. The ground was deserted and empty and covered in water. I checked the temperatures at the poles and the equator, and straightened the axis slightly. I made depressions in the earth with the hand. I crumpled the earth’s core into mountains, stroked it into valleys. Continents and oceans were born. Volcanoes appeared.

What now? It was probably necessary to create plants and animals. How to create life? Help told me I was about fifty thousand years late. Late for what?

I zoomed to the sea’s surface. Went on zooming. What a surprise, the game programme went all the way to molecular level. Even atomic level. The dimensions were nanos, the numbers raised to high powers. Naturally, the screen displayed the information that the substance was H20, but it also contained amino acids and other protein compounds. I followed the chemical reactions. They took place slowly and monotonously: atoms sought their places in molecules, adhered, detached themselves, adhered. I switched the time to express. A billion years flashed by. Atoms collided, molecules trembled. Chance did not bring about any particular strings of protein molecules, only, sometimes, a short one that soon tore in two. I tried different temperatures, changed the earth’s position relative to the sun, changed the radiation doses, with no result. Then I found a peaceful puddle in a sunny area, one with ideal test-tube conditions for the birth of life. I let a couple of billion years pass (half a day in my time). No result. Then a thought occurred to me: what about the hand.

I got out my school biology book and began to build a string of proteins, molecule by molecule. I followed the pattern in the book and picked suitable molecules. I put them on strings. Difficult work, because they could not be threaded. They were held in place by electrical charges, and each molecule had to be turned many times before a charge could be found on its side which it could use to stick And the difficulty was increased by the fact that heat made the molecules throb and the string wriggle.

I poured water into my hand and took it out of the earth into temperatures close to absolute zero. There, out of sedated molecules, I made a few ladder-like strings.

I carried the strings carefully back to the warm puddle. Many of them tore in two. Some stayed whole, but no change took place in them. Some of them tore in two along the sides of the ladder. Of these one, yes just one, began to reproduce itself like a crystal. It grew the rungs of its ladder to their full measure and then joined the rungs together. It had completed itself. But even crystals complete themselves.

For a long time I looked for another torn half. I did not find it. Instead, I finally found another, identical ladder thread. My thread had reproduced itself by extension. I had created life.

For a week I enthusiastically awaited my brother’s return from camp. Before he had time to take off his sweater, I pulled him in front of the computer and showed him how I had created life through the deep-freeze method. I suggested we should work together to develop micro-organisms, cells, plants, water-animals, that… My brother interrupted me. He had kept the molecules still simply by stopping time. And their group already had micro-organisms, plants and water-life, and some amphibians. If I wanted to join them, that was fine. If I didn’t interfere.

My brother looked at my ladder-creatures thoughtfully. There were already four of them. Good, very good. But with that structure I’d only get as far as the blue-green algae stage.

 

So I stopped my game and joined theirs. I followed the planet’s development as an external member of the triumvirate. I tried not to interfere. They worked well together. Dad set goals for the group: he anticipated the possibilities for success of various experiments and processes, analysed experiences. Clearly experience of working life also helped somehow in the game world. My brother, ridiculously enough, grew fond of the creatures they developed. He never wanted to abandon even the bad experiments, such as the dinosaur, which was constantly falling over, or the sloth, which was unable to defend itself He constantly suggested improvements, even when the rest of us were prepared to let the species disappear from the earth’s surface. Let’s change its weight ratio, make it a bit smaller, give it horns, or what about a trunk? He gathered disappearing species into his own databases and pondered to himself how he could have saved this or that poor thing.

My brother’s friend, for his part, had a good knowledge of the game’s physical and biological aspects. Without having to ransack the computer’s memory, he could easily recall energy consumption patterns, food chains, climatic effects, how the organ of equilibrium had functioned in long-necked dinosaurs.

The period of the dinosaurs was a long one. Our group created big ones and small ones, dinosaurs with long necks, large ruffs, big teeth, solid legs. Every time the climate, energy availability and predators changed we had to alter the old ones or construct new species. As the climate cooled, the entire proud clan of the dinos had a narrow escape a couple of times. It was a struggle for existence: the planet threw down challenges for us and we responded to them with increasingly clever variations. The dinos were splendid: the ground boomed and trees crashed as they galloped through the landscape. I had an opportunity to distinguish myself by adding the finishing touches to their appearance. I gave them expressions that struck fear into their enemies, invented a roar that transfixed their prey to the spot, sharpened their nails and teeth, and added a stench to their excrement.

 

The dinos became the real rulers of the planet.

We succeeded in keeping the dinos alive for a long time. They were simple to make and the conditions of the time were relatively clear-cut. We gained experience of joints, bones, organs of equilibrium, eyes. We soon learned which constructions to use to react to decreasing moisture, paludification, parasites and so on. We tried to infiltrate experimental humans, too, but they were trodden underfoot before we even had them upright.

Then the dinosauruses died, and we did not know why. My brother’s friend went into the program’s matrix and discovered the reason there. He tried to explain it to us, but to understand it demanded a knowledge of the C++ machine language. I thought of pressing Help. ‘You have practised enough. You are two million years late. Get on with it,’ urged Help.

Late for what? Apparently the planet needs the human race. Otherwise there isn’t really any sense in the whole game.

 

The next project, then, was to construct man.

Dad took the lead: ‘Let’s divide the project into sub-targets. What is man?’

‘First, man is a warm-blooded, omnivorous, upright primate. Second, man is intelligent.’

‘Third, man is the image of God,’ I continued, and the others looked at me as if I was an idiot.

‘Yes, and screws from the front,’ said my brother’s friend.

I just hated that guy. ‘All I mean,’ I explained, ‘is what’s the point of the game. Is the aim to develop, out of yourself and your world, a conscious being. And what for. For eternity. Look, the computer says time is limited. Thirteen billion years have already gone by. How much time to we have to reach our goal?’

‘Let’s try and get points one and two working and then consider point three. Perhaps the intention will become clear when we get a bit further,’ said Dad in his project-leader style.

To try and create conditions that were at least somehow favourable to the existence of a humanoid creature, we had to start from the very beginning. The temperature and composition of the atmosphere had to be changed, the variation of the day and seasons regulated. To establish the new conditions, the rotational speed of the planet, the angle of the axis and even the orbit of the planet had to be changed. Even a continent had to be torn in two. There was plenty of work for the hand. Man is an aesthetic creature, said my brother, so we made flowers and colourful sunsets and made the stars visible through the atmosphere ….

We made many experimental versions of man, but none of them seemed successful. If we made the best possible conditions for man, plants and animals did not survive and food ran out. If, on the other hand, the rest of nature flourished, man had problems. Too cold, hot, damp. When man was improved to bear other natural conditions, a group of hairy, monotonously mumbling creatures were born, club in hand. The trio created primates with tails, primates without tails, primates that were hairy, primates that were naked, primates that were sociable and primates that were solitary. Most of them were unsuccessful, a few survived, but they were not really people: they could not absorb the computer programme’s intelligence. The group had a problem. The world was unsuitable for man, and a world that was suitable for man was impossible.

I happened to be present when the problem was solved.

‘Let’s make a test-tube man and a test-tube world’, said my brother’s friend. I looked at him like an idiot, but Dad and my brother were enthusiastic.

The trio built a human being in carefully controlled conditions under a glass dome from the best raw materials. The construction employed all the experience they had gathered and recorded during the course of the game, from primordial cells onward. Blood circulation was taken from the primates, organs of equilibrium from the dinosaurs, the digestive system from pigs, sense of smell from dogs, reaction speed from gazelles.

 

The first experimental man went into overdrive and shattered to pieces.

We lowered all the stimulation thresholds, simplified the digestive system and so on. Gradually we achieved a man who stayed in one piece and was able to keep part of his nervous system free for intelligent thought.

Then Dad linked the man with the computer’s databases. The man was able to use the computer’s memory and information-handling capacities to make decisions, comparisons and other intelligent activities. He realised such things as which database to search for the characteristics of animals, which database contained information on material suitable for food. All the information about the environment, the planet and the universe at large was, in fact, available to the man.

The only problem was to find it and arrange it according to the need at hand.

‘But it has to reproduce, too,’ someone said.

My brother’s friend set about making a woman with particular enthusiasm. My brother was still in late adolescence, and he suggested the most extraordinary features for the woman. Dad equivocated and concentrated merely on creating a good companion. Gradually I detected Mum’s features in his aims.

In her basic structure, the woman was very like the man. Most of the organs could be used as such. I got the job of her external appearance. That took a surprising amount of time … I designed the woman to a great extent according to the fantasies I had about my girlfriend. Fantasies, because of course I had only seen her in a swimming costume.

The woman’s expressions demanded fine-tuning. We did it together. We were unanimous about, for example, smile, laugh, happiness, tears, shyness, embarrassment, admiration. Decisiveness and concentration we reserved for the man. And in the man they were not expressions, but characteristics. Then we decided that everyone could add other expressions to the woman’s repertoire according to their own preferences. My brother made mystery, I dedication and faith. My brother’s friend saved a bunch of lewd gazes for the woman’s use. My father revealed some unexpected aspects. He gave the woman expressions resulting from subjection, despair and extreme terror. In reserve, he explained.

The woman was very beautiful. ‘You’d certainly screw her,’ said my brother’s friend, and I almost hit him. We connected the woman to the system and put her to sleep beside the man. This was a decisive moment; would it work? The man woke up, scanned his databases for a moment and began to screw the woman. The trio hurrahed and I left the room.

We experimented with prototypes under the glass dome and organised the databases they used. The recognition databases worked well. The first people named plants and animals with considerable certainty. We automated most of their reactions, some we grouped into larger wholes, drives and instincts. We changed the addresses and search-paths of the databases. It was not often easy. For example, we had difficulties with the sex database. It was on the main menu, the search-path was short and the prototypes had sex all the time. I suggested moving the sex database somewhere further away. We tried it at addresses in the food, security, and morality databases, and even in the database linked with rational thought, but this resulted in awkward sex practices that did not always aid reproduction. We ended in compromise: we left parts of sex in a lot of different databases, but took most of it back to the main database. This affected the behaviour of our prototypes in that they now had sex whenever there was no particular reason not to.

I was somehow troubled by the dominance of sex. Was the psyche of the people we had created so largely based on rutting? Did sex overshadow their entire consciousness so powerfully?

Could the image of God be so lewd?

Then I heard that the second-year theology students had developed moral guidelines on computer, mainly for business and political life, but also for family and sexual behaviour. I copied it and fed it into our game. I replaced the command section with a computer virus, so that the morality program could be hidden without an address. It moved and reproduced like an infectious disease.

I installed it in the female prototype’s databases.

The male prototype was at first completely taken aback when the woman began to criticise him and everything else. The man was good/naughty. An animal was innocent/treacherous, food was yummy/yuck. Gradually the morality virus transferred itself into the man’s databases, too, and now a day was too long/short, conditions – warmth, dampness, vegetation – were only sometimes good, and the woman talked too much. The man criticised the order of things, and made suggestions for improvement. The glass dome, in any case, should be removed; it hindered the fresh wind and the refreshing rain.

Dad was irritated. They were prototypes. Experimental units. They wouldn’t be able to survive in uncontrolled conditions for ages yet. Their databases hadn’t yet even been adapted for the real conditions on the planet. They would be destroyed.

The creatures covered their sex, the woman wrinkled her nose, the man pressed his ear to the glass dome and listened longingly for the patter of rain. It looked as of the human race would be driven to extinction by the boredom of its prototypes. It’s not worth going on, said Dad. If only they were setting their values on the useful/useless, functional/dysfunctional, effective/ineffective scale. But good/bad. Who the hell gave them such an indefinite typology. So approximate, integrated. ‘Bloody hell,’ said Dad, and I kept a straight face.

‘They have a soul now,’ I said, and the others looked at me as if I were an idiot.

Then my brother’s friend got excited. ‘Our creation has grown independent: it has something that has come into being but we have not created. A mutation? Information is approximated, to decimal figures, and that gives scope for chance.’ I smiled into my beard. The friend went through one matrix after another, but did not find anything strange. Everything was as it had been installed, at least more or less. Apparently the new factor was the end result of many small, unnoticeable changes. Fascinating. I laughed into my beard.

The morality virus was well-hidden.

‘They don’t like it under the glass dome any more, they cannot yet survive outside it. Is it worth going on?’ According to Dad, we could give up now. ‘In any case, we won’t reach the goal of the game, whatever it is.’ My brother wanted to go on; he did not care about the result of the game: he had once more, as usual, grown attached to the game characters. My brother’s friend rattled the keys of the computer absentmindedly, causing the inhabitants of the dome to growl and jump strangely, in a wild rhythm, as if to rock-music. Then he switched off the screen and turned toward us:

‘It would be nice to see how they managed, outside the dome that is, in the real world. The solution may lie in mutation. I’ll cut the decimals of the most important matrices to four places and put random values on some. Mutations will increase by a factor of three thousand. And we’ll make them reproduce fast. We’ll have to limit their life-span. Their senses will have to be connected to so strong a pain that they learn to avoid danger. Then they themselves will develop the characteristics they need to survive. What we did for the dinos, they will do for themselves. With difficulty, at random, but still.’

Even Dad was enthusiastic: ‘And they themselves will define the aims of the game?’

My brother hesitated: ‘Pain? They will feel pain?’

My brother’s friend: ‘It’s necessary for the development of the species. But let’s give them, in compensation, orgasms, as if sent from heaven. And geometry and rock music.’

We decided to carry on: we had, after all, already done the groundwork, and didn’t our people already have considerable intellectual resources at their disposal? Dad withdrew, excusing himself through pressure of work. In what followed, he took the role of a kind of consultant.

We removed the dome and the people shivered with damp. They blamed each other bitterly for the state of affairs. They longed to go back inside the dome; and have, ever since, built themselves domes, material and immaterial.

My brother’s friend was forced to change a few things: the age-span had to be shortened a number of times, and the women’s period of gestation lengthened, which made giving birth more difficult; control of body temperature had to be improved by adding sweat-glands that covered the entire skin area.

Man increased rapidly. Soon after the removal of the dome, social problems increased, among them murder. But more threatening was the decline in the environment. The crowds of people guzzled everything, ruined what was left, and then appeared, helplessly, to be about to die of hunger.

We sunk everything in the sea. We saved just one family as the seed of the new humanity, giving them certain rules of co-existence, which we installed in their instinct databanks. According to them, human beings always tried to come together, to form groups.

And the group cares for, defends and extends its territory. From its territory the group gains its food, and its territory gives it security. A pity that this system caused feuds between families, clans, social classes, as well as genders and age-groups, nations, races and religions. They often escalated into wars. But we couldn’t think of a better solution. And people used their territorial drive at all times and in all places. Children in their sand pits, scholars in their universities.

Beyond sex and survival, man’s definitive feature is, indeed, defence and extension of territory. Everything else can be traced to it. But now that the planet is full of people, territories are leading to an impossible game situation.

We held emergency meetings, ideas palavers, brainstorming sessions. Dad was pretty fed up with the way the game was going: ‘After all, we made man an intelligent being, not an instinctual one. Is there still too little intelligence? What about knowledge? With this intelligence and knowledge, it ought to possible to turn this planet into a paradise.’

‘Or decrease the instincts, the air is thick and the ground sticky with them,’ I said.

‘The experiments in which we tried sexless or territory-less societies have led to catastrophe, or at least stagnation – monasteries and co-operatives, ‘ said my brother.

My brother’s friend pondered: ‘On program level the problem is that there’s a direct connection between rational problem-solving and instinct. The logic processor always checks the instinct database so that the suggested solution does not, when put into practice, cause short-circuits in the instincts. So on the level of behaviour intelligence is always supervised by instinct.’

‘Let’s cut the link,’ Dad suggested.

‘That’s not possible, at least in the long run. Pure intelligence can’t be bothered to survive, let alone reproduce. We can sometimes allow individuals, at some evening moment when all instincts are dreaming, a purely intelligent thought. But it’s always followed by existential angst.’

‘Can’t we tell people, beyond all instincts and drives, what is sensible and wise,’ said my brother, and the rest of us looked at him as if he were an idiot. ‘Revelations,’ he suggested.’ He had to explain himself for a long time before Dad and his friend understood the idea of revelations. I never approved of it, but I kept my mouth shut.

Dad appeared as thunder, as a burning bush, as a rainbow, as a voice in the wilderness. ‘Do not kill, do not commit adultery: he insisted. My brother appeared as a quiet voice whispering comfort and encouragement. My brother’s friend appeared as intuitions, often in dreams but also as revelations. Sometimes he offered visions, sometimes ready solutions straight from the databases.

The wonders and visions did not have the hoped-for effect. Their effect was shortlived and random and unpredictable. Miracles often went unnoticed. Or they were awaited patiently by crowds. Programming miracles, however, took its time, and the crowds died of hunger. Once a vision appeared half-finished by accident, and the faithful ran into a lake. Directing the world through miracles and visions proved very awkward. Creating them was laborious, the game’s program had to be changed, and often even the computer’s operating system. And one mistake in the operating system and the whole game is over.

It was by accident that progress was made in the game. Dad, my brother and my brother’s friend were entwined in a network of miracles and revelations (a suitable revelation had to be invented for the side-effects of a miracle, a miracle for the difficulties caused by a revelation, and so on). I happened to be playing with the computer and found the religion menu. It was there, clearly on offer, but no one had noticed it. According to the program book (more than 500 pages), it was possible to direct the world through religion without attending separately to every detail. Religion directs and stabilises the way of the world.

All that was necessary was to choose the religion according to the direction one wanted. But that was the problem. Toward what? (Help: Don’t mess around, time flies.)

The menu offered a number of possibilities. Debate surged through the group. Everyone had his favourite.

Awaiting the Great Pumpkin

(This was my brother’s friend’s favourite. I, my little brother and Dad expressed our reservations: )

Awaiting the Great Pumpkin gives rise to abstract lyricism, expectation, yearning. It does not offer material for the visual arts.

Spiritualised mystics, restrained smiles. Favours a class system in society, the isolation of the intelligentsia from the masses, ivory towers. Slows practical activity. Very charming, but the story is accepted extensively only among pumpkin-farmers. Very ethereal for others. A religion of mystics and poets.

God is everything that is

(Dad’s favourite religion; for the rest of us:)

Well yes, it explains everything and nothing. People’s species-based needs remain mere species-based needs, they cannot be spread out against the universe. Good and evil, at least, demand a more concrete explanation.

To be expected: narcissistic disturbances, depression, stagnation, astrology, theoretical philosophy.

The world order cannot be treated with irony. There is no room for humour; there is nothing for authority to stumble over. Scholarship loses its resistance. A religion for pedants.

On the other hand, the field is free for shamans and witchdoctors to romp through. In stories, a belief in fate; in art, ghost stories.

The great bull

(My brother was not very interested in religions. But in order to have something to say, he suggested this. It provoked cheerful debate:)

There is something for everyone in a bull. A down-to-earth, materialist religion. Economics and politics explain good and evil. Favours entrepeneurship and skill in cooking. Obesity becomes a problem. As do refuse, parking spaces and industrial pollution. Functionalises science, favours coarse humour. Income distribution problems. Employment struggles. What will happen to social work? A religion for cowboys and money-changers. Dismembering the bull gives a kick to practical philosophy.

The Good Father

(This was my favourite solution, and I held fast to it. There was a long debate in which voices were raised, but in the end I wore the others out by constantly inventing new arguments:) Everything is under the Father’s control and he loves people, his children. Evil can be explained as follows: the Father wants good and has taken man to his heart to fight Evil. Evil nevertheless wins, and the Father is seriously wounded. He withdraws to gather strength and awaits a suitable moment to destroy Evil.

Me: This explains the current state of things and gives hope for better days. My brother’s friend: Quite a good thing, really: only those who really need religion will believe it. So it won’t get in the way of getting things done. My brother: Offers material for stories, music, visual arts. Dad: Manna for the quiet people of the world, who are also awaiting their moment with their fists clenched. In the continuing debate: Explains evil simply and understandably. Intellectuals will find difficulties: the story is not sufficient to answer the fundamental questions. The standard of theology will fall; this religion favours legends, not analyses. But there is attraction in the plot, and love and action. And a virgin is fructified at some point.

There is a problem: Can a child, that is a human being, respect a father who loses a struggle and leaves him alone in face of the enemy. The struggle cannot be lost by the father, the father is omnipotent, the God of heaven. Let’s change the story so that the struggle is lost by someone else, His representative, his son for example, so that the defeat is not so disastrous. The son comes down to earth, fights and dies. Yes, now the fight can end in death, because the Father still remains. My brother: and the Father, in His omnipotence, can awake him from the dead. We can get some twists into the plot. And miracles. Miracles will increase its believability. My brother’s friend: Let’s get witnesses to the events. And plenty of details for the death-struggle. A cross would be a good logo. How can we get it into the story? Suggestions? Well, let’s leave it to the next meeting.

 

After the choosing and establishment of a religion, there was not very much of the game left to play. Religion defined to a great extent what could happen in the game. Soon, however, we noticed that religion did not, after all, fulfil its promises. The actions of the people we had built were still dictated by their instincts and their drives. Education, the mass media, entertainment and art were still pure instinct: sex, territory, the struggle for existence, fear. Actions were simply justified through new principles.

Directing the game even became more difficult. All the commands now had to go through the religion database, and they often got lost on the way. In the religion database was a really impressive group of prohibitions. They were augmented by the morality virus I had installed, which had made its home for the most part there. My brother’s friend blamed our choice of religion. Waiting for the Great Pumpkin, everything would have been different: people would have been sensible and cultivated.

In our group, enthusiasm for the game waned. I had exams, and Dad his pressure of work. My brother’s friend was still enthusiastic and full of ideas. He developed science and technology, but somehow they always backfired as race problems, economic crises, weapons systems. The game had deteriorated, but he continued with passion. Help warned of the shortness of time. My brother’s friend wanted to find the meaning of the game, to attain its goal before the end of time. But it did not seem to succeed. There was something wrong, there was some virus, he moaned. All there was in his life was the game. He had nothing else.

I did. I thanked God that, instead of the game, I had something real. I only had my eschatology exam to take and I would have my degree in theology.

Translated by Hildi Hawkins

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