A short story fanfic segment that completes John Updike’s short story The Varieties of Religious Experience

How Faith Almost Heals

by Brian Bohmueller

Thirty years later:

Hermione, in her casual khakis, rolls the armchair to her desk.  Working remotely from home is all she’s ever known.  From the first interview seven years ago to her last electronic paycheck, she hasn’t had a single face to face contact with anyone at Drone3K.  She logs in to the secure operational server.  Expert system AI avatars hover on the bottom right of her monitor projection, indicating oversight logging is engaged.  Another work day begins.

An hour later, Hermione overviews the XT-17 Raven task list.  All line items approved, she clicks the go-ahead primary and secondary icons, which directs the Patriot Force drone to alter course through the night-time sky of southeast Syria.  Minutes later, reconnaissance subtasks complete and verified, she activates the number six laser guided explosive device and targets the ISIS village encampment.

Ever so briefly, Hermione wonders if the family of the target terrorist will feel pain at all or die in their sleep without ever waking.  Inhaling slightly, she refocuses her senses and executes with alacrity what she has done a dozen times already this week.  A silent flash occurs on the tactical overlay precisely where lethal force was intended.

"Orders are orders," she recites sotto voce, followed by an even quieter "forgive me lord."