Five: Episode Nine is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction supernatural thriller, The Contingency Generation.
Evie’s Grande Lesson
Finding my way to the dais by the sea is not difficult. Pristine grass parts slightly ahead of my footsteps indicating the direction I should follow. It seems unusual to me that there is no customary road to the dais, and yet I have often heard of Grande lessons occurring there. On occasion I glance behind me. The field is remarkably untouched, as if I’d never been through it. I’m always amazed at this. Any terrain you cross on Five, other than intentional roads and paths, remains unmarred.
I stop to ease the pounding in my chest. It’s not from exertion, but fear. I wait. I know it will pass. It always does, but I have to deal with it before it gets worse. I’d hate to arrive at the lesson knowing the Herald can sense my struggle. It embarrasses me. I’ve never heard anyone talk of feeling fear on Five. It’s a beautiful tranquil place. One hundred fourteen years of living here have proven Martha’ s words true,“Nothing is here to hurt us. Everything is for our good.” It’s why I love her for being my friend. She knows my struggle and whispers this comfort often.
Still, I’m afraid, and I don’t know why.
I sit down on the grass and mentally list the things that I do not have to be anxious about on Five. I’ts an exercise that usually calms me.
I smooth my white gown. That’s one. My gown shimmers in the light and the texture is soft but substantial. Clothing on Five fits perfectly, looks beautiful, and best of all, feels wonderful. It’s provided. So is the food. Delicious spreads of daily food and nothing is lacking. It fills the belly but never too full. Nothing is uncomfortable. I can’t ever remember experiencing pain on Five. My occasional clumsiness yields nothing. No marks, bruises, or scraped shins. It’s as if I am protected by an invisible buffer, yet somehow, I still know about hurt and pain. Even to make a list of all that is good, I’m contrasting it with something bad.
It’s this reference to bad, a fuzzy indistinct image that eludes me, that feeds my anxiety and fear. It seems that if I could name my shadow, then I could be healed from its effect. Of this, I am certain. Healing happens all the time on Five. Most people are healed as soon as they arrive, just after their journey.
I know it exists, my dreaded thing, but I also know it’s not on Five.
If I am here living on Five and my dreaded thing is not, then why should I be afraid?
My heart has become silent and calm again. A light breeze fingers my hair. I hear the voice whisper again, “You are loved.” My heart soars. The dark has lifted. I stand and brush out my skirt and twirl to see the backside. This old habit of self-inspection makes me laugh, because my newer habit, developed by living on Five, is that I know I will find no flaw. I practically skip the rest of the way to the dais and reach the base where my parted grass path stops right in front of an enormous rugged boulder.
I wait. It’s odd that the path did not circle around the rock. No law prohibits me from finding another path on my own, but learning to properly wait was the first habit and lesson I learned on Five. To me, waiting has become an almost magical experience. I’ve discovered many unusual and wonderful things happen when I wait.
The boulder wiggles slightly. Then it rocks sideways as if gathering momentum. Then it rolls to my right. The heavy weight trembles the earth slightly under my feet and flattens the feathery grass, which springs back up as quick as the stone passes.
I giggle and reach out to press my palm on the warm granite surface. “Thanks,” I whisper in awe. Rocks, trees and fields are quite alive on Five. It’s truly glorious.
I climb the sloped surface in front of me and walk out onto the wide expanse of the dais. Others are assembled. Some nearby greet and embrace me. I feel confident. I know from past talk with others that the subject matter of Grande lessons is not basic. It’s personal. Others who’ve experienced Grande lessons tell me how happy they are that they did.
Not all Grande lessons occur on the dais by the sea. There are many other locations. But as I gaze at the turquoise rolling water and the endless ruby red expanse of it’s shore, I’m certain there’s not a more beautiful place to learn.
I close my eyes and inhale deep. Then I exhale slowly and let the sea breeze carry away the last tiny fleck of worry that has surfaced.
“Souls,” a voice booms above the surf noise. I turn and see a herald, standing radiant and three times as tall as any I’ve ever met. He must be an arch herald. His white robe billows behind him like a great cloud, and when the wind lifts the hem, I see the gleam of metal. A patterned crimson sash bands his waist. Although I am not certain, because of my distance, I imagine the brilliance from his sash is likely the effect of diamond studs, a design detail often applied to Herald’s suits. A long gold scabbard hangs at his side.
“Souls, you are chosen for this lesson because of something you all have in common. What that is, is not important today, but my directions are.” The Herald’s voice strangely echoes It’s as if the wind carries it across the water to the horizon, and then the sky bounces it back.
People shuffle and look at each other.
“Remember, you do not have to engage in this lesson. It’s a choice. It’s been given to you as a choice for your good. As always, nothing will harm you on Five, but I will warn you, this lesson will hurt.”
Murmurs from those around me indicate the same surprise. My mind fills with questions. A choice to hurt? How is hurt not harm?
The arch herald continues. “But much healing will also come to you with this lesson.”
I am caught. I want to be healed, but I don’t want to hurt to get there. There must be other options. Eager to catch every clue, I press in closer.
The Herald pulls out his sword and writes in the air, a move that is so unexpected, that we back up in unison. The letters he carves in the air materialize in shimmering gold dust. They gleam momentarily and hold their form, then spill into the wind.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived what is prepared for those who are loved.”
I know the words. They are from The Book of Wisdom. The beauty of seeing them glittering in the air takes away all my fear. I want to commit to the lesson.
“Here is the lesson process. First you must dip in the ocean. Go under once. Make sure your head is covered with the water. Then come back up to the beach and write.”
It sounds simple enough.
“What will we write on?” A man asks.
“Your words will be marked in the sand. You will make them anyway you can.”
“What should we write about?” A young women near me with beautiful auburn hair shouts boldly.
“You will know what to write after you dip in the ocean. If you accept this lesson, from this day forward you will be called a Scribe.”
It sounds too good. What about the hurt and healing part?
A dark skinned dark haired man with an accent speaks my question. “You said this would hurt, but that we would gain healing. What exactly does this mean?”
“The part that might cause pain will be the memory that returns temporarily after you dip into the water. But it is the memory that will guide you about what you should write.”
“But all writing has an audience. Who are we writing for?” A woman who is familiar to me speaks this. I’ve seen her in the gardens where Martha and I work.
“Your messages are to a world that is ending. The place where you all came from. It’s almost finished.” The Herald speaks in a tone of reverence. He bows his head and closes his eyes, but his voice still echoes. “If you accept the process of this lesson, you will become a messenger and share these things. Only one of your family members will see your words, so chose them well. Tell what is best. What is true. What fits. What helps. What persuades. And above all, tell them Who Love is.”
My throat tightens unbearably. I fear I will choke. Facing an endless ocean, I long for water.
This blog post is an excerpt from my supernatural thriller, Five, presented in rough draft version. The posts will 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.