Friday, December 30, 2016

A Final Story for 2016

I was invited by Eleseren Brianna (Donna Kantaris) way back in September to write a companion story to her own "The Curio," composed to accompany her 3-D artwork creation in Second Life ®.  I was immediately inspired, did a MESS of research, reading, and took a raft of notes.  Then the story sat as the rest of life intervened, asserting itself over the necessities of fiction.

But, miraculously here the story is! It seems appropriate to be sharing it as 2016 draws to its thankful, inevitable conclusion. Enjoy, and please accept my wishes for a fresh and delight-filled New Year.

Many Blessings to you all,

~ Judy
Image by Inara Pey, of "The Curio" 3-D Artwork by Eleseren Brianna

Eternity's Test

by Judith Cullen

The sun was warm on his armor.


Just as it would be cool by moonlight, again.  So long had his form been bent in this fashion that heat and cold no longer mattered. It was another unimportant detail of occasional, casual notice.  "Oh, it is cold once more."  It was no different from noting the green of the grass, the iridescent glow of snowfall, or the perpetual motion of tiny creatures all around him.  He had long since ceased noting the constants, but waited for the one inconstant to reveal itself.  He bent, hoping for resolution, praying to once more have the power to move and act.

Poised over his tiny scrap of rock and sand, the voice would come to him every now and again.  Just when he believed that he was forgotten, it would murmur in his head, "Wait.  Not yet.  They are not ready."

He would have jumped, had he the ability to move.  No, instead the sound of the voice awakened his memory and sent it back to where this had all begun - a time when that voice had been a familiar part of every moment - a focal point for his existence.

He had been a messenger, a soldier of communiqués. He was enkeli, ängil, ἄγγελος, angel.  Dispatches had been his purpose and task.  He brought glad tidings, ominous warnings, obscure illusions delivered from the celestial sphere to the child-like race inhabiting the terrestrial plane.

The Creator had woven a spell throughout the universe, coaxing the natural elements to form and reform, and then form yet again. Always guiding, encouraging creation to make natural connections and reactions.  If things got out of hand, and the reactions became too destructive, the Creator stepped in with a swift firmness that little resembled the former benign guidance; patient and tolerant one moment, full of wrath when need be.  The child-like race had become the Creator's special project. "I have invested more of myself in these creatures than in any other of my creations," still sounded in the Enkeli's memory.  That was when it all began.

"These creatures are held in higher regard than even the most accomplished among us," one of his comrades had whispered - an angel of no little note among the ranks.  "Look at the care and diligence bestowed upon them, while we higher beings are sent to toil on their behalf."

The Enkeli had to admit the aptness of the point.  These children of the Creator were rash, bumbling, quick to anger, selfish, and ignorant of their place in the universe.  Yet, he found them fascinating.  They were so energetic, even when misdirected, so inquisitive and full of living.

He lingered one morning, perched high in the vast canopy of trees, his assigned task completed. One of the child-beings was trying to build a shelter out of sticks it had gathered.  It subjected itself to all manner of awkward mishap: smashed fingers, slivers under the skin, nearly poked its eye out.  Yet it continued on.  As the Enkeli watched from his leafy seat, the being abused itself less. Its shelter stopped tumbling down at the slightest touch.  Eventually, it brought others of its kind to the place, and they curled up to rest in the now sturdy shelter.

How remarkable: the determination of the creature.  Difficult though it was, it learned and grew in its understanding right before his eyes. The Enkeli was conscious that angels did not seem to grow and learn. Their purpose was the serve or observe, sometimes in aid, sometimes in judgment, never on their own initiative.  Angels did not make mistakes, and no angel would consider not fulfilling his task.  I just was not a part of their serene make up - except for one.

Perhaps there had been something in the Enkeli's expression when he had returned that time - the day the first house was built by mankind.  His comrade had cornered him, questioned him. 

"Doesn't it seem odd," he said, "that we who reign above are not allotted the free will that these low creatures are encouraged to exercise?"

"They are just children.  They hardly know what they are doing."

"Yet, to be afforded such liberty!" His comrade regarded him, his gaze drilling deep.  "You find them interesting, don't you?"

"They are comical creatures, artless, abusing themselves mightily. Yet there is a kind of magic about them as they discover and grow.  It ennobles them, and makes me wonder what the Creator is trying to achieve with them."

"Whatever it is, we will never know of it.  The Creator feels no necessity of illuminating us with the great vision.  We must simply go and do, fetch and carry.  Why cannot we also be free to make our own choices as these scrabbling mortals are?"

The Enkeli could not help but see his point, and yet there was something missing from the argument that he could not quite identify.  It had the feeling of incompleteness about it, a false logic. He saw his comrade move on to others as they returned from their terrestrial tasks, his eyes always darting about, his voice pitched low so that only the speaker heard his words.  Yet, the Enkeli was sure of what was being said, and wondered if he had been the first to hear these mutterings of revolt. 

Another day, another message delivered and the Enkeli tucked himself into a cluster of mossy rocks while yet another child-being stood thigh high in a chilly stream and learned how to fish.  There was a lot of splashing and flailing of arms.  Many a grunt and cry was heard before the creature learned to be still, quiet, with hands open under the surging surface of the water, waiting for the fish to swim into its grasp.

The creatures face exploded with triumphant joy as it held aloft the squirming silver trout, the very first caught by its own hands.  The Enkeli wondered what it would be like to feel that kind of excitement, to experience that kind of victory.  How unfathomable the Creators purpose for these beings was!  A few days later he saw this same child with a crudely fashioned wooden spear, catching another fish.  Not only did the human-being learn, but it kept on learning - never satisfied with just one accomplishment.

The heavens were moody, and uncharacteristically dark the day it happened.  The day that one angel stood out from the rest and accused the Creator of cheating the celestial host of freedom, enslaving them, and denying them the right to determine their own course.  There had been confusion and anger.  The Enkeli had found himself next to his rebellious comrade, reaching out a hand and entreating him, "There has to be another way, another path ..."  He'd never gotten the chance to finish that sentence.  Suddenly he, and a third of the host were tumbling head long from the celestial sphere, following Satan in a free fall that seemed to go on, and on, and on.  A great fire seemed to erupt in their path and he saw his fellows disappear one by one into the smoke and flames, following their cast down leader.

Then the fiery pit was gone and the Enkeli collided with terrestrial ground.  Landing on his hands and knees he felt the jolt, like a great clap of thunder, through his entire being.  He blinked slowly, trying to rise and found he could not.  His sinews had frozen into a humble posture even as the cold of the bed rock seeped into his body.  He was in a wilderness somewhere.  He could not move his head to look around. What little he saw, plus sounds and smells told him all he needed to know. 

Why had he not fallen into the fire like the others?  Satan had been cast out, and all their stars had fallen with his.  He should have stood up to the Accuser, he knew it now.  He had been silent, and had not questioned.  He had stayed out of it, and had become guilty by omission.  He probably deserved worse of the Creator, and yet why was he here and not with the others?

(Not the end. See note below)


UPDATE - June 2017:  The story does not end here, as some of you know.  I will be releasing it in full this month for Kindle only.  It is a story I am very proud of, and it is time it got out there and circulated about.  I think we could use it just now. Stay Tuned!  ~ jdc

"The Curio" 3-D Artwork and Image by Eleseren Brianna 
NOTE:  For those interested in Eles' story, we are hoping to present them in Second Life ® sometime in the New Year, and it is possible that they might appear together elsewhere in print.  I'll keep you posted.  The two stories compliment each other, and "The Curio" creation, quite well, I think.


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