Zeck had asked him why.
"They are deceived by their own desire," Father had said. "They wish the world were a better place, so they pretend that polluted things are pure, so they don't have to fear them."
He couldn't let Father know what Mother had said, because it was so impure of her. Can't let Father know.
If he whips Mother I'll kill him.
The thought struck him with such force he gasped and stumbled against the wall.
If he whips Mother I'll kill him.
Wiggin was still there, talking. "Zeck, what's wrong?" Wiggin touched him. Touched his arm. The forearm.
Zeck couldn't help himself. He yanked his arm away, but that wasn't enough. He lashed out with his right leg and kicked Wiggin in the shin. Then shoved him backward. Wiggin fell against the wall, then to the floor. He looked helpless. Zeck was so filled with rage at him that he couldn't contain it. It was all the weeks of isolation. It was all his fear for his mother. She really wasn't pure. He should hate her for it. But he loved her. That made him evil. That made him deserve all the purification Father ever gave him--because he loved someone as impure as Mother.
And for some reason, with all of this rage and fear, Zeck threw himself down on Wiggin and pummeled him in the chest and stomach.
"Stop it!" cried Wiggin, trying to turn away from him. "What do you think you're doing, purifying me?"
Zeck stopped and looked at his own hands. Looked at Wiggin's body, lying there helpless. The very helplessness of him, his wormlike, fetal pose, infuriated Zeck. He knew from class what this was. It was blood lust. It was the animal fever that took a soldier over and made him strong beyond his strength.
It was what Father must have felt, purifying him. The smaller body, helpless, complete subject to his will. It filled a certain kind of man with rage that had to tear into its prey. That had to inflict pain, break the skin, draw blood and tears and screaming from the victim.
It was something dark and evil. If anything was from Satan, this was.
"I thought you were a pacifist," said Wiggin softly.
Zeck could hear his father going on and on about peace, how the servants of God did not go to war.
"'Beat your swords into ploughshares,'" murmured Zeck, echoing his father quoting Micah and Isaiah, as he did all the time.
"Bible quotations," said Wiggin, uncurling himself. Now he lay flat on the ground. Completely open to any blows Zeck might try to land. But the rage was dissipating now. Zeck didn't want to hit him. Or rather, he wanted to hit him, but not more than he wanted not to hit him.
"Try this one," said Wiggin. "'Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.'"
"Don't argue scripture with me," said Zeck. "I know them all."
"But you only believe in the ones your father liked. Why do you think your father always quoted the ones about hating war and rejecting violence, when he beat you the way he did? Sounds like he was trying to talk himself out of what he found in his own heart."
n't know my father." Zeck hissed out the words through a tight throat. He could hit this kid again. He could. But he wouldn't. At least he wouldn't if the kid would just shut up.
"I know what I just saw," said Wiggin. "That rage. You weren't pulling your punches. That hurt."
"Sorry," said Zeck. "But shut up now, please."
"Oh, just because it hurt doesn't mean I'm afraid of you. You know one of the reasons I was glad to leave home? Because my brother threatened to kill me, and even though I know he probably didn't mean it, my guts didn't know that. My guts churned all the time. With fear. Because my brother liked to hurt me. I don't think that's your father, though. I think your father hated what he did to you. And that's why he preached peace."
"He preached peace because that's what Christ preached," said Zeck. He meant to say it with fervor and intensity. But the words sounded lame even as he said them.
"'The Lord is my strength and song,'" quoted Wiggin. "'And he is become my salvation.'"
"Exodus fifteen," said Zeck. "It's Moses. Old Testament. It doesn't apply."
"'He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.'"
"What are you doing with the King James version anyway?" said Zeck. "Did you learn these scriptures just to argue with me?"