Five: Episode Fifty-One is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction, supernatural, thriller, The Contingency Generation.
I listen to the sea and the gulls and the wind carry out the last strains of the heralds’ song. The sound is more beautiful than any arrangement I’ve ever heard.
A voice interrupts. “Soul Evie, you still have time.”
It’s a different voice than the one that spoke only moments ago and gave me instruction on how to resurrect Natalie.
I open my eyes to locate the speaker. I see the older herald. He holds my picking basket which I’ve completely forgotten in the excitement.
I slip the handle over my arm. “Thank you, but I’m not certain that I’ll attend. My flowers look a bit droopy.”
I shift the hydrangea blossoms to find their best side. My enthusiasm for the festival is displaced by the wonder of the miracle I’ve just witnessed.
“Don’t miss out because of me,” Natalie says. “I’m fine now, although I really can’t explain what happened. I only know that I’m safe, and it’s all because of you.” She smiles at me.
“Him.” Corrects the older herald. “It’s because of Him. Evie did as she was told, and Author Perfecter gave power to bring you back alive to us.”
“Of course. You’re absolutely right. I was almost too frightened to complete the task,” I say with some regret.
“But you did it. That’s the most important thing.” Humor speaks and helps Natalie stand.
Cyril wraps a blanket around her shivering wet form.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to participate in a life’s return. But the Substitution Festival is all about the one who made such powers possible. Let’s go together and bring your offering. I know The Son will be pleased, and I dare say the flowers will know their master and be on their best behavior when we get there.” Humor chuckles and pokes my hydrangea blossoms with a chubby finger.
“If Avery will take the lead, I’ll follow with Natalie and Evie. Humor can bring up the rear.” Cyril directs.
“The rear again? Is that all I’m good for?” Humor seems to pout but does not appear able to maintain his sour look, because his radiant smile prevails.
“No, dear brother, I put you last for other reasons. Mainly strength. We’re got to take the short cut over the bluffs to make up time. You’re last only because you can scale the cliffs singlehandedly without resorting to a push from behind.” Cyril stands on tiptoe to pat the curly haired oaf on his broad shoulder.
Humor lunges playfully at Cyril and then scoops him up and carries him dangling upside-down and over his shoulder. Cyril hollers and thrashes about until Humor finally sets him down and adjusts his rumpled clothing.
Natalie and I giggle at the antics, and Avery, the older herald, smiles and looks on. I’ve never seen heralds play. Although heralds are always kind, most of the time they tend to act quite dignified.
We fall into formation along the worn path, and the ruby sand beach gives way to ever widening patches of gold beach grass. The strands dip and sway and make soft ruffled ridges along the gray cliff base.
The rock is warm and smooth but the climb is steep. Avery points out cracks and crevices to place our hands and feet. Cyril’s reach is handy, and Humor remains a steadfast support from below.
Soon we gain the summit. There we all lie on our backs to catch our breath and watch the clouds puff past in merry formations.
When I turn over, I can see the festival in progress in the lush green valley below. Kites provide a joyous array of jewel tone colors as they fly along the perimeter. Dipping and rising they beckon us on.
The descent is much easier. I discover Lily of the Valley blossoms are plentiful between the stones. When my hands and feet brush through them, the scent they release is divine.
At the bottom, we find five donkeys tethered to a laurel tree.
“Five of course,” Natalie says. “So many things seem to be grouped in fives. Why is that so? Do you know?” Natalie asks this looking at me.
I shake my head. I’m at a loss for an answer. I’d heard rumors about the significance but never a complete clarification.
The three heralds are silent as if something is not to be said, but then Humor shrugs and Cyril nods at Avery, and the two begin untying the donkeys.
“All will be explained when your permanent home is complete, but the main answer I can give is that Five reflects the significance of your community,” Avery says. “On Five, there is nothing here that can harm you, and you exist here in the constant company of our Author Perfecter, the three in one. Author, Son,and Comforter, and then you and your fellow resident make a community of five.”
“Of course,” Natalie points to me, “You and me. How perfect.”
“What about heralds? Why not six?” I wonder aloud.
“Heralds travel between your past home, your future home, and here. Author Perfecter directs, and we carry out His instructions,” Humor explains as I climb onto one of the donkeys while Cyril holds the reins.
Our discussion ends as we finish loading my picking basket and resume our trek to the festival.
When we get close to the booth area where the heralds are distributing the kites, I dismount my gentle steed and turn the reins over to Cyril.
I notice a woman untangling a kite string for a young boy who sits on the grass beside her. It’s Martha, and next to her on a quilted blanket is Kate, who holds out her arms to receive a small wrapped bundle from a herald.
Martha jumps up when I call her name, and Kate waves but then puts a finger to her lips signaling me to be quiet. I know why. She’s cradling an infant, an Unborn who will be brought to The Son to be named. With every festival, new arrivals of Unborn are brought and dedicated back to the glory from which they came. Then, from that day forward, they are brought every five years to a procession until they reach the age of The Son at his perfection, which was 33. It is the age they will remain forever.
Kate beams at me. Childcare is her special gift, just as mine is gardening. The herald will present the baby to The Son, but until it’s time, Kate will hold it.
Martha helps me prepare my arrangement. Red and green pears form my tower on the gold platter. Creamy white hydrangea sprigs to fill in the crevices. Humor is right, the flower blossoms are back in perfect form, and I’ve added to the effect by tucking a few Lily of the Valley stalks in for scent.
I’m pleased, and I follow the herald, who now carries the baby and we complete the final stretch of the long line of the procession, the last of which has been a multitude of heralds, each holding a baby to be presented and named by The Son.
When we get close to the throne, my heart beats fast. Every time I approach, I hunger so strongly to hear his voice that sometimes I become afraid. I want to bring my very best to him, but I know that the exercise is truly for us. Our offerings are symbol of the sacrifice he made that set the standard of perfection. The Son became the perfect substitute and exchange that allowed us to come to our home on Five.
Between the figures of heralds in front of me, I catch familiar glimpses of his presence. His hair is brilliant white like snow, and his feet glow like burnished bronze. His voice is like the sound of many waters. As I get closer, I shield my eyes because of the glow coming from his face.
Soon, there is just the the herald carrying the Unborn between me and the throne. I can no longer see because of the brilliance. I close my eyes and let rushing gentle words bathe my soul.
“This one will be called Samuel. His mother and father love me very much,” the Son says. The heralds’ chorus rises to incorporate the baby’s name in the song being sung around the throne.
Then it is my turn. Blindly, I step forward and feel the weight of my offering lifted from my hands.
The welcome words come.
I hear Him say my name.
“Well done, Evie. Do not be afraid. I am the First and The Last. The Ever living One, and in you, I am pleased.”
. . . . . .
This blog post is an excerpt from my supernatural thriller, Five, presented in rough draft version. The posts appear weekly as my story development progresses. The story snippets will likely be full of typos, garbage, and confusion. I’m sure to regret allowing readers a sneak peak of the chaos involved in this process of making a finished book.
Someday, if I still have an audience, my book(s) and screenplays will be polished and for sale. Until then, my story snippets are free, but payment by “subscribing” with your email would be a nice gesture. For doing this you might get a discount on my purchasable work should that day ever arrive. All you get now is a notice via email of a new story episode that I have ready to read on my “blog.” I don’t sell my email list or do anything else with it.
Why am I doing this stupid and terrible thing—letting readers see my “off the cuff” story writing?
Book industry experts say that in today’s world of book marketing, an unknown author must build their own sales platform. I’m supposed to advance my platform by collecting readers, and for now, by blogging. Since I can’t imagine blogging about what I had for breakfast or the things my cat does, then instead, I’m blogging fiction excerpts of my work(s) in progress.
Thanks for slogging along. Maybe we’ll meet on a bookshelf someday.