In recent news the Pope gets to tear up his donor card because his body belongs to the Church and, hey, if he was beatified all his organs would turn into holy relics. (Never mind that he's 87 and not exactly a desirable source of young, healthy donor organs.)
This got me thinking ...
What about the status of donor organs from other beatified/canonized persons? Especially in light of the Catholic Church's recent trend towards creating new saints much faster than the historic norm.
Which led to the first germination of a story I shall not write ...
Let us postulate a world in which Christian doctrine is actually True — specifically Catholic doctrine.
Our hero is a 40-something newspaper editor and investigative journalist with a history.
About 20 years ago, while investigating a story in Eastern Europe, he was nearly murdered; a corrupt billionaire oligarch took exception to our hero nosing into his family history and arranged for a minion to stir some Death Cap mushrooms into his stroganoff. However, he was saved by a kidney transplant, using an organ donated by a priest working with the local hospital who happened to be a perfect histocompatibility match.
In the aftermath, our hero managed to lay his hands on some highly incriminating documents and promptly found a Swiss bank vault to lodge them in; he has to prove he's alive and free once every six months or the bank will release the papers to wikileaks, causing some minor embarrassment to our shady billionaire oligarch from the Carpathians.
$PROTAG is at home on a sunny weekend afternoon when his front doorbell rings. Chaos ensues: the two Men In Black on his doorstep aren't Jehovah's Witnesses, they're hit men. Our hero manages to escape and runs like hell, then calls the police on his cellphone. The police arrive, and the hit men are duly caught. $PROTAG is invited back to the station to make a statement, and all seems to be going well when the inspector who is taking him in receives a phone call. The cop's manner changes, and our hero realizes that from being a witness or a victim, he's now being treated as something else.
His second escape — from the police — is rather harder. As he goes on the run he rapidly realizes that he is being tracked by his phone, and is forced to turn it off. (This is harder than you might think, especially as circa 2015 your mobile phone is also likely to be your credit card/cash wallet.)
We now have a classic man-on-the-run setup.
$PROTAG goes to visit an old friend, now working as a PI. The PI starts digging and discovers that an eye-watering reward has been offered for the return of $PROTAG, or his left kidney.
$PROTAG puts two and two together and hits the net. The priest who donated his kidney died three years later. Two years ago he was beatified. The process of canonization is being pursued with indecent haste for some reason, and he's a couple of weeks from being officially declared to be a saint. A shadowy agency associated with the Vatican is therefore trying to secure the rogue holy relic before it "goes live" inside our hero, granting him whatever eerie superpowers come from carrying a no-shit saint's left kidney.
Through slack internet security discipline, our hero has given the bad guys a clue to his whereabouts. That night, more MIBs turn up, ready to kidnap or kill him. His friend the PI has an unregistered handgun; there's a shoot-out, and our hero is facing certain death when more MIBs turn up and lay into the first bunch.
It turns out that the Carpathian oligarch hasn't forgotten about the blackmail material after all ...
Well, this all came out at the pub last night and survived the hang-over. I've got no definite end in mind and no use for such an extremely silly novel, so I thought I'd dump it here on my blog in all it's rawness, just because.
What we've got is a classic man-on-the-run thriller plot. What he's running from is obvious; what he's running to needs further development before there's an actual story arc. However, in the background there's clearly scope for a B-plot revolving around the less obvious implications of Catholic doctrine being true. For example: let us postulate that the transubstantiation of the host during holy communion is real, and that in the communicant's mouth the wafer and wine are turned into the flesh and blood of the son of God. We can remove tissue samples from the stomach of a believer right after communion without too much difficulty; and such tissues will of course contain stem cells, and with the right techniques we can come up with pluripotent Jesus stem cells. What are the applications ...?
Lurking in the back of my head there's also a mischievous conceit: the classic vampire story — setting aside all the dubious rape/disease symbolism — rests on an artificial mythology that presupposes the truth of Christian theology. Vampires are repelled by crosses, don't show up in mirrors, and so on. Creatures of the night, in other words. It's trivially obvious that the thriller plot I've just described will go well with vampires. And wouldn't it be fun to have a vampire yarn revolving around a hapless journalist who is in demand because he pisses holy water?
Alas: I don't have time to go on a six month diversion into vampire country — not to mention that I find the literalist content of most religious doctrines to be deeply silly, to such a degree that I'd have difficulty suspending my disbelief for long enough to finish the yarn. Moreover, believers can get quite irate when you start treating their beliefs as a science fictional shared universe and go looking for loopholes in the laws. I can happily forgo the consumer boycott or hate mail or whatever.
But if you want to see where this kind of thing ultimately leads? Here's Apocamon, a Manga style re-telling of the Revelation of St John the Divine.