The Fiction of Robert Charest

NEW CLEAR DAYS

a novel

NEW CLEAR DAYS is the story of a modern day prophet named Jeshua, who is purported to be the Second Coming of Christ.  Whereas Jesus came to preach on behalf of God our Father, Jeshua is come today to speak out on behalf of the Earth, our Mother.  He assembles twelve apostles, numerous disciples and a following that grows to multitudes as they travel the world.  When he begins performing miracles, such as healing polluted waters, restoring desolate lands and cleaning bilious air, the crowds begin to marvel at him as Christ returned, which he vehemently denies unto his end.  Relying heavily on hundreds of scriptures as pertaining to the environment and the end of the world, some common and many obscure, NEW CLEAR DAYS is an uncommon work of fiction.

PART ONE

 

John the Prophet

An Overview

Mary

The War

Flashbacks

The Peace and Marco Arbo

The Immortal Leonard Lazaron

Stubie Butterfly

Journey Nowhere

Blackflashes

 

PART TWO

 

The Nativity

I Speak Out and Become Silent

Goveneh

Of Nathan

 

PART THREE

 

We Are Called

Grass in the Desert

The Pueblos

The Public Ministry Begins

Believers and Non-Believers

The Church of the Gospel

At The University

The Celebration of Christmas

At the Capital

Things Revealed

Back to England

The Forest in France

Easter at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Governor Horn’s Estate

The Governor’s Garden

To the End of the World

Onward

The Millstone

The Moon

Of the Earth

To New Babylon

Crucifixion

 

Prelude

 

My muse is an angel, and when we were discussing how I should begin this book, he insisted that I jump right off with John the Prophet's speech behind the church.

"But that's such I long passage," I replied.  "If I start with a series of monologues, I'm afraid many readers who could truly appreciate what I've written will never turn past the third page."

"But it's such a beautiful speech, full of power and truth!" he answered.  "Perhaps you are right, however."  We paused and pondered the problem for several minutes.  I prayed for an answer, and at last he cried out:  "I have it!  Use this conversation as a prelude, and proceed directly from there into John the Prophet's story.  In that way you'll pique their curiosity, and if they can't get through John's wonderful words for their own merit, then they might continue reading to find out more about you, Matthew."

"What a most excellent muse!" I shouted with joy.  "You never stop showering me with your sacred, special gifts, and I am most fortunate to have you as mine.  God bless us both!"

 


 

Chapter 1

John the Prophet

 

My first memory in life is John the Prophet smiling at me.  I was in my mother's arms behind our church.  His face was hairy, and glowing with warmth.  Sunday worship had just concluded, and John, who had not attended the sermon, suddenly accosted the congregation in earnest under the morning sun.

"Brothers, sisters, pay heed to me.  In God's name, I beseech you to listen.  I am one of many messengers traveling through the world in the name of God.  We exhort you to leave off the laws of men and return to those of Nature; and to warn you that the latter days are upon us, and your abominable practices against our Mother and Father are hastening to the end, and judgment.

"Look what has been done to the earth!" John cried, pulling his hair.  "Her waters are foul, her air thick and fulsome, and her flesh diseased to the very marrow of her bones.  She is alive, and she is dying!  Don't you see?  And how was this accomplished?  It is the work of her unborn!  Insidious treachery!  They know in the end they will kill themselves, yet they rush to forbidden suicide."

"What do you mean by unborn?" a woman asked.

"The resurrection!  That we are all walking in the womb of the earth, not born until we die.  It is what Christ taught, so you must know and believe it!  Therefore obey the ways of Heaven, for all who participate in the murder of the Mother will be held to judgment by the Father.  Consider what you are doing to her.  Oil!  Oil, as it has been named by men, is in truth your mother's blood, her black bile, and you relentlessly pump it from her veins and burn it in her lungs, as if to conduct worship on an ungodly altar!  The putried smokes rise into your own nostrils, choing you, and still you cry out:  Burn on!  Burn on!  Stroke the engines!  Fuel the fires!  Find more oil!  Drill!  Drill!  Drill!  Rape her!  Rape her!  Rip her apart!

But I say that like the industrial infernos our fathers ignited, so too have men raged wildly over the Earth -- and both are insatiable gluttons!  As the size of the beast increases, so does its appetite; yet once all teh food is eaten, the beast must starve and die.  So shall it be with Industry and Men, when they have exhausted and consumed the whole Earth.  Fires lit by humans will swallow the world whole on that day; every last plant and animal must die on that day; the sky will open, and heaven will pour in on that day; that day of destruction is Apocalypse, and you are sprinting toward it like fools!  The mountains will crash into the seas, the oceans will overwhelm the splintered lands, and all will perish in violence!  The venomous black rains of acid that fall will not diminish the conflagration, but will inflame it, whil stinging the flesh of every living thing.  And why will all these horrors come to pass?  Because the children of the Earth have ravished their own mother, and sold her into harlotry, a whore!  Yea, Man is a race ruled by pernicious flesh-peddlers."

"Yet there still could be hope; the fires are not beyond quelling, and the injuries not beyond healing.  If all of you, everyone, ceased your practices that disease the air, ground and water with poisons and pollution, would not the Earth convalesce, return to health, and live on?  Certainly she would, with the Divine Healer tending to her care.  And would not we also then live on, depending on her as we do?  Of course we would!  But you must first remember that you are all children, young and old alike, and regard yourselves as such; for was it not said by the Lord through his Son, that understanding hs been hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes?  Therefore, does it not further reason that if you humble yourselves as children, you will know truth, whereas if you exalt yourselves to audlthood, you will know falsehoods?  You are impatient little ones who want to be grown before your time, and you must stop pretending that you're more than the infants you are.  You must give unquestioning respect to your parents and their laws before they will withdraw their chastising rods.  Be good, obedient sons and daughters; only then will the family be happy and life pleasant, when the father and mother are well-pleased in their children."

I also say this will not happen until the end has come.  Did not our heavenly Father say at the beginning of history, to be a commandment forever: 'Honor thy father and mother?'  And did not our ancestors, even the next day, disregard both?  If the seven million people then on the Earth could not be taught obedience, how will seven billion be made to learn it now?  I say this commandment should now be read:  Honor thy God and the Earth!  Repent and ask forgiveness:  mercy will be granted to all that are deserving.  You must return to the Father you have forsaken, and beseech him to bring his blessing back into your lives.  You must worship your mother with sacred reverence, and stop renting rooms in the brothel where she is sold.  She has been forced into prostitution by the men who wilfully violate and soil her body to make money.  Money!  But it is you who pay them, and spur them on!  You must stop!  Look to the ancients for an example:  they lived in perfect concord with the Mother; they gathered the fruits she brought forth from the land, and thanked her with offerings and worhship.  But this is an ungrateful generation; they do not thank her, respect her, nor worship her, and offer her only pollution and disease.  This is folly; you are killing yourselves!  The Earth is essential for our existence; we are attached to her by umbilicals, for we have not yet left the womb.  If a pregnant woman dies, does not the unborn infant perish also?  Why then are you murdering the mother, knowing that you are the unborns?  Ragca!  Because her children now number billions, you should respect the greatness of this burden, and make yourselves even less offensive than the ancients!  And knowing this to be right and true, why then do you continue to gouge out her flesh, pump out her bloods, fill her skies with smog and her seas with poison?  You must use the past for a lesson--to shut evil from your hearts--and for a model--to restore the harmonies of the land."

"How would you have us live like the ancients?" cried a woman.  "Should we fear the sun and moon, and raise them up to be gods?"

"Nay, you should revere the Son of Man, who on the fortieth day afterward was raised up to God.  He is the way.  And you should honor his parents--the Father who has been forsaken, and the virgin who has been trampled into harlotry--for they are your parents also.  Let these good spirits rule you, and surely you will see truth, and know happiness."

"How could we be happy living like primitives?" she rejoined.  "Would you have us dwelling in caves, and killing dinosaurs for our dinner?"

"Certainly not, dear sarcastic lady:  there are not enough caves in the world to shelter us all, and dinosaurs have long been extinct.  I would have you purge yourselves of all your abominations against nature.  Cast them out!  Walk lightly upn her, don't roar over in automobiles that burn her back.  Park them, lay them to rest.  They fill her lungs and yours with noxious fumes.  They are like cancer cells, and have multiplied as wildly since their advent.  Stop supporting industries that are contaminating her rivers with chemicals; that is the same water you drink and bathe in!  Stop using electricity:  the power plants that generate it are spreading radioactive waste over the face of the Earth.  And plastics!  Ech!  You use them to make your vain trinkets, which you bury in the ground once you're done with them.  If you asked your mother for bread, would she give you a stone, or a serpent for a fish?  Why then do you feed her what she cannot digest?"

"But you know these things, and can see them for yourselves; I am sent to reveal what is not in your sight, what is yet known only in heaven.  I am the harbinger who declares the left branch of David will be seen in your lives, and yet will not be seen until one hundred years have passed.  He that is coming is greater than any save Jesus--the right branch, and the trunk of the tree.  Many will call this man Christ, but know that he is not; he will announce the Second Coming of our Lord.  As the right branch, the Son of Man, was sent by the Father to speak out for the Father, so will the left branch, the Son of the Earth, rise up from the Mother to speak out for the Mother.  Thus will the tree have both its arms before passing through the fires of Apocalypse.  All who wish may join me in a prayer."

"A tree with arms?" scoffed a man.  "Someone who will be seen in our lifetimes, and yet will not be seen for one hundred years?  Why don't you just proclaim yourself to be Jesus Christ, and raise these stones up into sons of Abraham?  And of course your babble wouldn't be complete if you didn't mention the end of the world.  Go back into the woods; you're no more than another of the Doomsday prophets who've entertained men and women throughout history, and who've always proven wrong."

"All that I've spoken is truth," John replied.  "The prophercies in the Scriptures concerning Christ were never understood until they were fulfilled.  So is it with mine."

He prostrated himself on the ground, and said:  "Our Mother, who art the Eart, hallowed be your soil; your daughters and sons, living as one, on you as they shall in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, and we clean after all who trespass against thee.  Lead us not into knowledge, and deliver us from our greed; for you are the kingdom, the source, and the glory of life.  Amen."

Many laughed, and most started to leave during his prayer.  He jumped up and shouted after them.  "Go on!  Get in your cars and drive home!  But first hear my parable of the Apocalypse.  God is like a man who left his family and went on a long journey.  Only he knew when he planned to return, so when years had passed by, his children, thinking he was not coming back, or dead, ravished their mother until she was near death.  At last he returned, with stealth in the dark.  Seeing his shadow, they thought him a thief--until he turned on the lights!  And when they saw the fury in their father's face, they shrunk down in fear!  He went to his wife's side, and seeing how near she was to death, in his mercy killed her, that her soul could escape her body.  Then in his wrath he brought the house in upon itself with a great quake, and every last child was destroyed!"

"All right, that's enough!" said Reverend Lartin, who was a stoic, grim, dogmatic, puritanical man.  "I won't have you disturbing the peace of my congregation with your nonsense.  You claim that Christ is returning as a great prophet, but we know the truth as it is written in the Gospel:  that His Second Coming will not be as a man, but in the clouds with powre and glory."

"You did not hear my words, for I said that a divine one was coming who many will call Christ; but he will deny it, for he is not.  And I also say he will appear in your lifetime, and yet not until one hundred years have passed."

"That's ridiculous!" the reverend cried angrily.  "Even if it was true, who would you have access to such wisdom?"

"Why would I not?"

"Because you're wearing rags, your teeth are broken, and your hair is gnarled and knotty:  you are filthy.  Why would he announce the coming of the greatest holy man since the immaculate and spotless Jesus Christ through the mouth of a vagrant, and why would it be you?"

"Pay heed, for I say unto you now:  as the first holy mother--the heavenly Mary--was a virgin, the most pure among women, so will the second holy mother be a whore.  For she is of the Earth, who has been sold into prostitution by her depraved children, to satisfy their lusts and greeds.  As the Son of the Earth will be raised up from her, to plead for her, so will he be born of a whore.  As for me:  what am I, but a man?  How else would God announce the coming of a great prophet but through the mouth of one of his servants?"

"Leave that body now, blasphemous demon!" the reverend yelled.  The Devil himself has poured poisons in your ear, and now they're dripping off your tongue.  You may once have been good, and may yet be again, but now you're just another of the deluded prophets of Apocalypse who've been falsely proclaiming its approach for centuries.  There's wickedness in you, to needlessly frighten the Lord's flocks; and although I will pray for Jesus to exorcise you of the evil spirits plaguing your soul, I am asking you to leave this sacred place of worship at once, with the warning that if I find you lurking here again, disturbing the peace of my congregation with your babble, the law will be summoned, and I will have you locked up for vagrancy if need be!"

"I am not the first prophet who was ignored, nor would I be the first to be jailed for what he said.  And to know that the flocks should be frightened, look to the Scriptures, where it is written:  Behold!  The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."

"Come along people, ignore this fellow.  Let us go our ways now, for we give him credence just by listening.  Come now, come along."  Reverend Lartin walked away, and the few remaining people trickled off behind him, so that my mother and I were left alone with John.

"I think I believe you," my mother said, "though I don't understand why."

"Then you are one of the few who can see truth when you hear it," he replied.  At that moment I was looking above his head, where an angel appeared.  It had four wings, gently vibrating, which held it aloft, and wore a long robe that faded into the air behind it.  The prophet moved closer, and looked into my eyes.  "What a beautiful angel your child is; his face is aglow with the Ghost.  What is his name?"

"Matthew."

"Do you see the angels watching over you, Matthew?"  He carressed my head, then softly grasped my fingers.  "Will you follow me to the water, and allow me to wash Matthew's feet, and yours?"

The water was the small stream flowing through the field behind the church.  My mother set me down, and I started runing toward it, tumbling, falling and rolling as befit my age.  Once there I stood in the edge, ankle-deep in the water.  My mother had chased after, and snatched me back into her arms.  I looked to John, who was walking toward us with the angel gliding overhead.  He removed my shoes, and asked my mother to slip out of hers; it was then that I first noticed his feet were bare.  He dropped a handful of water on each of mine, and said:  "It is a dirty and dying world you will grow up into; she has been soiled and broken by milleniums of men trampling over her back, and putting her under their feet.  Thus by this will you be properly cleansed and prepared for the pristine path on which you will be taken."  As he was rubbing my feet, the angel was washing the rest of my body, and my face.  "You will see majestic magnificence, and you will see the darkest depth of inhuman horror."  The angel was swabbing my eyes with its fingers.  "You shall hear the pure words of heaven, and the profanities of hell."  The angel was turning a finger in each of my ears.  "Fragrances of grace and ecstacy will fill your nose, and also the rancid brimstone of hell; your tongue will taste the sweet and the sour, and will have to speak the same."  The angel reached its fingers inside my nose and mouth.  "I cleanse these feet not only that they may leave spotless footprints, visible only to God, in the beautiful places they will go, but to protect from the poisons of the polluted ground whereon they will also walk.  Matthew, you are a bud on the left branch of David, and by this watering I pray you grow straight.  Elizabeth, I wash your feet in preparation for the streets of heaven, and because you have carried Matthew."

"How did you know my name?"  He smiled, then took her hand and led her into the stream.  She was puzzled, and said:  "What you've done feels good, and my intuition tells me you speak the truth, but can you be more specific?  I can only guess at the meaning of what you say."

"There will be a great destruction of the Earth; one hundred years will pass; a great prophet will live and die like Christ, followed by the greater destruction that will be the Second Coming of our Lord.  I cannot explain how this will all come to be, for now you know as much as I.  I know only that these are events to come, not how they will be accomplished."

"But how are these things known to you?" she asked.  "Did you have visions?  or dreams?"

"They were revealed to me by the same Holy Spirit that not only told me your name, but that today is Matthew's second birthday."

"That's right, it is!  But how did--"

The angel drifted away, and John grinned.  "The Lord knows all things, and can make them known to any he chooses."

"Matthew's father and I are planning to celebrate the occasion," she said.  "We have a roast cooking, and vegetables, and fresh bread, and a cake; if you come home with us we'll feed you, and we have a large sofa you can sleep on indefinitely."

"I'm grateful for the offer," he replied.  "I've traveled many days and nights on foot; I'm dirty, tired, and in need of a brief sojurn.  I could fully appreciate all you could give."

She was delighted.   "O good!  Let us get back into our shoes, then we can return to the car and go."

"I'm going to walk," he answered; "so if you'll explain the way, I'll meet you there."

"Why don't you just ride in the car with us?"

"Because fuel-powered vehicles are destroying the world, and I refuse to participate in that destruction.  I have to act according to what I preach, you know."

"But we're going there anyway; my car won't create any less pollution because you chose not to ride in it.   And it's no short walk; it's over four miles."

"It wouldn't matter if it was four hundred miles, I'd still travel it on foot," he said.  "You're not going to persuade me to get into your car, so you may as well give up and direct me."  She did, and he walked, arriving an hour later.

I know he stayed with us for two days, but my memory of that time is blank, until the moment he was leaving.  I later learned that he spent most of the two days lying out in the yard, asleep and in prayer.  He told my parents that his fate was to wander in the world delivering the message to all, and bringing individual messages to some, such as me.

I was sitting in a chair when the eyes of my memory were briefly re-opened.  He was standing in the doorway, and said:  "You're generous people, all three.  Could I stay longer I would, but I need to be stretching my legs, and moving along.  Mind what I've said:  your boy Matthew is blessed above others, and for that this family is a special house.  I would gladly return and visit you were I to pass this way again, but I know I shall not.  We are all being saved for our purposes, wherein we shall all find salvation; you have your ways, and I have mine.  Nevertheless, the greater prophet whose coming I foretell--a ragged wayfarer like me, yet more greatly charged with the Holy Ghost--will sojourn in this very home.  Take care to yourselves, strengthen ech other through love, and to my end I will think on you as my own beloved kindred."

The door closed, along with the eyes inside my head, and my memory of all this remained obscrue until the next moment I saw John the Prophet, six years later.


Chapter 2

An Overview

 

The first destruction of the Earth occurred in 20--.  I need not describe the series of political manouvres and military offensives which preceded the final explosions that were the Ten Minute War; there are already more books published on the subject than any other event in history, and it is not my intent that this be another.  What needs to be known here is that in the fated year, on the day of our Lord's wrath, thousands of nuclear warheads--the abominations of desolation--were launched, and our defenseless planet laid to waste.  All the trillions of God's living creations died in the worst of unimaginable horrors.

My death was somewhat common:  I was vaporized in an instant, and can only recall the fraction of a moment in which I saw the wall beside my bed shower down on me, an eerie glowing powder.  It was like some hundred thousand tiny stars exploding in my fact.  Then my ghost drifted away into darkness, and was gone.

My death, however, stands mundane when compared with some of the horrifying experiences described by thos who viewed the more heinous monstrosities of the Ten Minute War.  Many people watched friends and relatives melt, while the same was happening to them.  Some saw immense trees shrivel to the size of bricks, twisting and contorting all the way down, in agony, Some saw houses, sailing through the sky, burst in midair like beehives in an erupting volcano.  Millions were trapped in large crowds, and described ineffable sensations of dying silumtaneously with thousands of other people.  Many watched animals evaporate in colorful mists.  People who dwelled on coastlines saw the mighty ocean waters heaved skyward by the invisible forces of nuclear warfare, smashing down villages and cities like they were twigs.  Islanders sank with their sands into the sea; inlanders watched the ground erupt, relentlessly destroying everything upon it.  There were some brave curators and spectators in museums at the moment of impact, who were witness to the flash disappearance of history's greatest masterworks of art.  Tourists and natives alike were privy to witness the same fate befall the relics and ruins of the ancient world.  The symphony orchestra of Bonn, which had commenced a prayer performance immediately following the Bombing of Jerusalem, and had played uninterrupted for nearly seventy hours, was scattered in wind during the chorale of Ludwig Van Beethoven's glorious ninth.  Countless people sponteneously exploded, and remembered the experience, but none could find any way to describe it.  Murders and rapes were as prevalent in the chaos as screaming babes.  Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and citizens went berserk with powerful weapons.  Perhaps the experience of my neighbor, Stefan Montilarde, summarizes it best.  He was pinned to his living room floor by a missile that had flown through the window, yet failed to detonate.  He was trapped beneath it for ten full minutes, and the utter terror that appeared on his face when he described those interminable minutes, and his joy in the merciful explosion, has in my mind  come to epitomize the horror of that war.

There are many more unique accounts of death, billions in all, which, if they were each documented and compiled would form a great book of many volumes.  And when Man's unthinkable destruction consummated, not a single living thing survived.  There are those who claim to have lived, but they are like men who call themselves Christ, liars.  That everyone perished is a fact; and though it, like everything, has its skeptics, there is no doubting nor questioning it:  just as truly as God exists, all the Earth and her inhabitants died in the Ten Minute War.

Ere I finish this all too brief recounting of recent history, I have some thoughts about the war that I would here like to publish.  Before the greatest of bloodsheds, whence none emerged victorious and all lost; before the only war not decided by hand to hand fighting, in which soldiers combated solely for the sake of keeping themselves and their commanders occupied and feeling purposeful, there were billions of people who considered the use of nuclear energy reprehensible, and warfare involving nuclear weapons unthinkable.  I was of their ranks, and despite the vehement protests of our masses, the armaments buildup continued in all nations.  To speak it plainly and not to glorify myself nor sound my own trumpet, but that you may know:  I was a precocious child.  Even at eight, my age at the Death, I could equate nuclear arms with Eden's fruit--knowledge too great for Man to control, and far beyond his understanding.  Because of John's words, other visions that I saw, and the manifold insanities that I was witnessing in the world, I knew that an ultimate war was inevitable; and although I prayed hard to be wrong, it was evident to me that with all the stupid, inane, ridiculous things Man had done to himself and his planet throughout history, he was going to be foolish enough to burn down his house while sitting inside.  He was, and did.

I was a young cynic then, and I'm an old one now; but truly, what other outlook could I adopt?  Optimism and faith in Mankind to overcome his problems is no more than wishful thinking; any wise, clear-sighted person would not subscribe to a realistic thought of anything less than eventual doom.  For even if we could attain the impossible, and people could learn to coinhabit the planet peacefully for billions of years, the earth would still someday fly into the sun, and our posterity would then be destroyed in a natural eschaton.  But that thought is only a fleeting and optimistic fancy, for mankind has already destroyed himself once, and is poised to forego his gift of second life and do it again.

We, all of us, here sharing the Earth, have nowhere else to go; the planet has to support us, the population grown out of the first children she spawned many thousands of years ago.  The Earth is our one true mother:  if we live upon her respectfully, she will treat us, and our children, well; but if we disdain her, and her welfare, so will she do also unto us.  My pessimism stems not from Man's seeming failure to recognize this simple fact, but rather, and even more disturbingly, that men do understand the problems which their ancestors created, and gave for an inheritance, but they perpetuate the evils and wrongs instead of setting them right.  By the close of the twentieth century, and the second millenium since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, there were great efforts being put forth to preserve and prolong individual human lives, yet incredibly little was being expended for the Earth in the very same regard.  So is it again today.  It is not an uncommon occurrence for three doctors to spring from the midst of their night's repose and rush to the hospital, where they work feverishly to extend by one day the brief life of a deformed infant whose only salvation, and only fate, can be death.  Why are these same measures not being taken to save the Earth, the one, only irreplaceable Mother, who is bein put to death by her children, yet whoe end will only condemn them to extinction?  Why did they wilfully destroy her once, committing suicide via matricide, and why are they doing it again?

Like the plants and animals they support, planets are alive, having births, histories, and deaths.  The life of ours certainly bore this out:  she had her strong, youthful days, when everything existed harmoniously upon her surface:  dinosaurs roamed freely, subsisting on plants and each other; the plant life regenerated, the dinosaurs multiplied, and all lived in concord with the Mother.  Those were the innocent days of her childhood, when she felt invulnerable and immortal, with her end nowhere in sight.  But then came puberty, growing pains, and her entry into adulthood, which, in our Mother's case, was the advent of Man.  Her relationship with the earliest men was still compatible:  they took the fruits and foods they needed to survive, and she readily replenished the trees and ground plants.  In this way all that he needed was supplied in excessive abundance.  But as he grew older, and his numbers increased, he began to turn his curiosity into knowledge.  First he hewed down trees and displaced wildlife to clear the land on which he built his homes.  Clusters of dwellings quickly burgeoned into towns and cities, which required roads, walls, and weapons for protection from potentially hostile neighboring tribes and villages.  This began to put a slight strain on the Earth, but wasn't anything she was unable to handle.  Her child condinued to age, and to accumulate knowledge, until one day, with the shovels of his own inventions, with which he found the resources hidden beneath his mother's skin--iron, oil, gold, silver, water, elements, minerals, gems and chemicals--which, once discovered and utilized, addicted us, and could no longer be lived without.  He rapidly removed all these vital things from her sacred body without putting anything but waste and pollution back in.  And thus we aged together; Man through his years, and the Earth through hers, though she as a much faster rate due to her growing child's reliance upon her flesh.  He was still relatively young when she became diseased, and started deteriorating as quickly as his numbers increased; and though he was able to diagnose her condition--which was him--he couldn't treat it.  We consumed her like the cancers that devour us, and when we had finally sucked all of the blood from her flesh, and filled the empty veins with poisons, we mercifully decreed that the hour of her unnatural death was at hand, and pushed the buttons.

I could write many pages concerning the great contributions made by Money and its three bastard children--Greed the dissolute, Waste the wanton, and Crime the unlawful--to the demise of the globe--of businessmen who, after immorally and illegally aggrandizing themselves at the expense of their town's water supply, which their particular trade required them to poison, retired with their wealth and their families to warmer, cleaner, healthier climes; of factories which daily dumped countless gallons of toxic by-products into the rivers on which they were situated, mercilessly killing thousands of fish and equatic plants, as well as seeping into and contaminating any public drinking reserves fed by that waterway; of unethical companies (which surely outnumbered those with integrity) who practiced planned obsolescence, whereby the product they manufactured was not built as durably as the said company's knowledge and capabilities would allow, but which was intentionally constructed to break down quickly, thereby requiring repair or replacement, either of which further puffed up the profit figures; of national governments which, behind the guise of professing "equality for all," worked diligently to increase the riches of the affluent--who already had enough to supply their basic needs ten thousand times over--at the expense of the poor, who were nigh to nothing anyway; of the same governments condoning the construction of nuclear power plants using inferior materials and sub-standard methods (the same time-honored building practices which were always monetarily beneficial to avaricious contractors), while disposing of the resultant infected wastes for insufficiently (though with the least expense) that they exposed thousands, and perhaps millions, of people to harmful, deadly levels of radiation, and so altered the land in places that dandelions grew to be ten feet high with twelve deformed flowers, and flat stems riddled with huge holes; equally reprehensible were the corporations who ignored the warnings of science and common sense, and hewed down the tropical rainforests--which were akin to being a vital organ on the body of the world--with alarming speed and efficiency, that they might more cheaply breed the beef which they served in their restaurants, using the tiny foam containers which were as devastating to create as they were to dispose of (though it must be added, none of these practices would have flourished if any of several governments had intervened); of oil overlords, who steadily removed the stuff from the bowels of the earth without considering that it may have been there for some purposes other than to be removed by them and liquidated into cash, and subsequently burned into pollution (nor should I fail to make mention of the insufficient--nay, inept--methods of dealing with the oil when it happened to spill into the ocean, because niggardly executives deemed the money better spent on themselves then on cleaning up their destructive mess); all of these practices contributed directly to the rapid destruction of our home, and all were directly accountable to the exaltation of the almighty penny--but I do not wish to dwell on that here, for it will only succeed in rousing my ire, as penning just this paragraph has already done. 

Neither did the violent, aggressive adulterous, blasphemous, irrational, selfish, mean, proud, foolish, base-spirited and bloodthirsty aspects of Man's nature help him to handle himself.  The evil results have been thousands of years of murder, injury, rape, coveting, oppression, and senseless havoc.  And though these factors certainly help to explain how history culminated with men wilfully destroying each other, and their Mother, the truth is that the end of the world was written as it happened before the first man ever lived.  For it came to be as it was spoken by God through his prophet Jeremiah 2600 years earlier:  Ye have not hearkened unto me, thy God; therefore have you provoked me to anger with the works of your own hand, to your own hurt.  And since God promised Noah that he would never again destroy the world by flood, that left us to do it to ourselves (which we accomplished by stockpiling huge arsenals of powerful weapons, stored behind a dam of trust, which, when broken down, sent them flooding to all the corners of the world); and since we ignored his exhortations, and went after our owns ways, rather than following Him to a life of peace, He allowed us to do it.

Certainly no one, save John the Prophet, could have predicted that the Ten Minutes War--in which the whole world was destroyed, and everything therein--was not an end but the second beginning.  And certainly no one foresaw, nor would have believed, that we would all return to life in the same bodies in which we died.  The limbo into which we passed held no light, but darkness, and no hereafter, but the unconsciousness of sleep; so how much this period--which is referred to simply as the Death--resembled permanent death can never be more than conjecture, at least until someone who has been to and returned from both bournes stands here to speak of it, which will likely never be.  Permanent death? you say:  how can death be anything but permanent?  If this question arose in your mind, then you were born after the war, and must bear shortly with this narrative.  During the Death--which was incapable of being measured with time--there were no men anywhere on the planet; and while we were away, the world was completely, and inexplicably restored.  Everything--animals, plants, automobiles, sea vessels, railways, trees, paintings, buildings, rivers, the oceans, waterways, houses, power wires, windows, missiles, streets, sidewalks, signs, lawns, fences, furniture, books, bricks, toys and balls--was perfectly intact, and like new.  In our absence the world had been transformed from rubble and waste into a place of beauty, completely free and devoid of pollution, filth, graffiti, age, wear, deterioration and the like.  She wsa gresh and wohle, as if she had been born with the creations of Man already upon her.

When the new earth had been fully made ready for our return, we were awakened from the sleep of the Death (called Armageddon by some) by a spot of light, and that mass resurrection was afterwards referred to as the Flashback.  Within minutes of arriving in our bodies, we knew that more than just our surroundings were different.  Life in the restored world was life without pain--for anyone who had previously had an injury or ailment found it healed, and suffered no longer; it was life without evil--for all with wicked impulses were now incapable of acting upon them; it was life without tribulation--for with men no longer sinning, neither were they offending one another; it was life without fear and anxiety--for all was good.  It was a world without imperfections.  And we weren't long in discovering that it was life without birth and death; for as the old were not dying, and lived on in perfect health, neither did the pregnant women give birth, nor were the fertile gotten with child.  Everything proceeded as it was on that day:  not one of us aged, nor became ill, nor sinned, nor died.  And the years of this serenity accrued, and added up to one hundred before the world and its people were given again to the old ways; therefore is this period of history called One Hundred Years Peace.

But even after we had flashbacked, and had become accustomed to the new way of living, so that we understood the differences, still was there one change that had not yet been made known to us.  On the third day following the whole world was immersed in light, and kept so for three days, in fulfillment of the prophecy:  For then will I turn the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.  In that light God introduced himself unto all people as Goveh.  In every language, in every belief, the truth was made known to everyone:  Goveh was God, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Molech, Ashtaroth, and all deities of the imagination.  Goveh was the paragon of gods--the All-Knowing, Feeling, Mighty, Powerful, Merciful, Understanding, and Caring--and was accepted so by all persons, to the last billionth of us.  And then He taught us a beautiful hymn, in a tongue that no person could comprehend, but which the whole world sang all together every Sabbath.  In these ways, and others which I will ere long relate, Goveh was known to everyone, and that was how we were able to live in perfect peach for one hundred years.

But that century ended in a minute of darkness, and men were again in control of themselves, and the Earth.  And in that same black minute was born the left branch of David, as John had prophercied.  His name was Jeshua, and this is the record of his history.

 
Mary

 

On my seventh birthday, one year to the day before Ten Minutes War, Mary was brought to us.  She had been struck by a car, and though she appeared physically sound, she had been lying unconscious awhile when my mother discovered her while on her daily walk.  She way lying in tall grass beside the road, but was instantly roused at my mother's touch; and though she was dazed, she was able to stand and walk to our home.  When I first saw her she was lying in my bed; she rolled over, facing me, and through her scraped and dirty cheeks I clearly saw the angel who had washed me before John the Prophet.

Then she became suddenly delirious, and began speaking.  "Where--where--who are you?  Where as I?  Who am I?  O God!  Where is all this pain from?  When will my agony end?  Ooohhh, I'm so dizzy, so--so giddy.  My whole life, my whole life, my whole life--I've always had bad--nothing but bad!  No--I had good once--my husband--but you took him away!  All the users and abusers of the world have had me;  I've been kicked, and kicked, and beaten, raped--I've sold myself for money--O God!  When will my agonies end?  Why didn't you carry my ghost off in the wake of that car?  I have nowhere to live, and no one to love.  Please, God, judge my soul now--I want to become an angel.  Let me come!  Please!  Take me out of this miserable world!  What little I've ever had, you've taken away.  I don't even know the fathers of my babies--my children!"  She sat up bolt and opened her eyes.  "My sons!  Where are they?  Where are my sons?"

"Rest, dear woman," my mother said, patting her forehead with a damp cloth.  "You've received a severe blow, and you need to lie still.  Your wits are still a bit scattered, and you don't know--"

"I know I have two sons, Jason and Jordan, and they were with me!"  She ran out of the room, and the house, but stopped on the front grass, where she knew not which direction to take.  My mother and I were straight behind her, and when she espied us, she cried:  "Where did you find me?  Which way do I go?"  We each took one of ther arms, but when she discovered the way we led her, she shrugged loose and sprinted ahead.  The accident had occurred over a mile away, but on the same road, so that when we caught up she was already there, kneeling over something in the brush.  We approached, and she lifted the small crumpled frame of a boy into her arms.  "O, bless you God!  I am grateful for your mercy.  Thank you for the gift of death, whereby our Jordan was able to escape his miserable life and come into your arms."

"Is he--dead?" asked my mother.

"By the grace and goodness of the Lord; yes, he is," she replied.

"How can you thank God for the death of your son?" my mother inquired incredulously.

"Because now he's an angel in heaven.  He was a child crippled with illness and disease.  He's been mercifully spared from further misery, and because he's only a child, his soul has surely been turned into an angel.  Jordan is now in the river of good spirits."  She was weeping gently and smling, with her eyes closed, while rocking the corpse in her arms.  Then she dropped him suddenly, and cried:  "Jason!  Jason!  Where are you?"  She ran around frantically, calling out his name, with us keeping behind as best we could.  We heard the wailing of a small boy, and she stood still; she traced it to a tree, behind which she found her son.  He was on the ground crying, and she fell down and embraced him.  "O God, now I've been twice blessed!  He's alive!  Thank you!"  Her tears mingled with his on his cheeks, then she fainted away, whacking her head on a root of the tree.

"Mary!  Mary!" my mother cried, and fell to her.  "We must get you a physician!"

Moments later Mary stirred, and groaned:  "No--no doctor.  Have faith--all will be well again.  I just--I must--I need to get back to the bed, to pray and rest,  I'll be able to walk as far as your home.  Come help your mother to her feet, Jason."  He did, and she amazed us by standing alone. She returned at a brisk pace, and collapsed in my bed.

For days she lay dazed, mumbling mostly incoherence, but also proclaiming her faith in Jesus for healing, and her wish to not be seen by a doctor.  We respected that; although my mother did remove her clothes, cleaned her with a soft sponge, and laid on a light cover.  Jason never left her side, and was always holding her hand, releasing it only when he needed to care for himself.

While Mary was out of sense, providence made a visit, discovering to us a place to be home for her and Jason.  Mother and I were walking in the city, just a few miles from our house, when our path crossed with a man familiar to her.  His name was Philip Miamo; he and my mother were in school together, but hadn't seen each other in fifteen years.  They exchanged briefly the details of their lives since:  my mother called herself a wife with a son; Mr. Miamo had inherited a nearby tenement building, which he managed.

"Do you have any apartments to let?" she sked.

"That indeed I do; but it would be a tittle small for a family of three,: he replied.

"No, it's for another woman and her small son.  I'm not certain, but I have an intuition that she needs somewhere to live.  She was struck by a car near our house a few days ago, and I found her lying beside the road.  She's recovering with us for the time, but I don't believe they'll have anywhere to go when they're ready."

"That's terrible, and I pray she'll be well again soon," he replied.  "It's the biggest brick building around that corner; bring them by as soon as she's able.  Come on any day.  Making your acquaintance was an honor, Matthew.  Pray be well, and I'll anticipate seeing you soon"  With that he departed his way, and we ours.

 

On the fifth day of Mary's recovery, my mother offered again to give Jason a bath, and was adamant that he accept.  Dirt made her mad--not angry, but crazy--and his skin, hair and clothes were a rich source of agitation; and although thus far he had been firm in refusing her, on that afternoon she posed the suggestion emphatically, as an order, and he, quite startled, allowed her to lead him to the tub.  I stayed at Mary's side, and held her hand, which felt warm and pleasant in mine.

Anon the room was filled, so that all the air around me felt like her hand; then I looked out the window, which was closed, and saw an angel with four hands enter into the room.  It hovered above Mary, and the first it did was to look at me and smile.  A fountain then appeared in the midst of the air, the waters of which were not wet.  The angel pulled back her cover, dipped his palms in the spring, and washed her whole body.  It scrubbed her hair, face, arms, hands, breasts, stomach, legs, and feet; then it reached all four of its hands in between her thighs, while a voice in the air said to me:  "This womb must be clean."  The angel then bathed itself in the fountain, and vanished.

When my mother returned with Jason, minutes later, I tried to tell her what had happened, but stood there dumb.  My tongue had been seized, and the words would not leave my mouth, so I resigned myself to it being a secret, and gave up straining my throat.

 

Mary's condition seemed unchanged until the morning of the eighth day, when of a sudden she was remarkably alert and awa.  We found her sitting up and she said that she knew she was going to be well.  Then she went on and explained that all her life she had been sharing her body with a demon named Asmodeus, of whom she had finally been freed, when he was knocked out of her by the car.  She sipped the hot water and lemon I gave her, and said that she and Jason would be leaving in a day, after confirming that they had nowhere to go.  My mother then explained about the apartment she had found, and so on the following morning we went to speak with Mr. Miamo.

Mary looked at me often, with warm smiles; and she spoke softly, saying many nice things to me.  Jason said nothing to neither my mother nor I, and would only whisper into Mary's ear.  She consoled him with kind words, and hugs and kisses, but her remained sulky and morose.  He also flashed occasional queer looks at me when neitheir of our mothers were watching.

Mr. Miamo received us warmly, and by preparing a pot of tea.  We partook thereof pleasantly, and then were taken to see the apartment.  It was two plain rooms, with no wall between them, one of which contained a kitchen.

"We have no money now, but I'll be able to get some soon," Mary said; "when I am well and whole again, which will be soon, I will find a way to earn some."

"Certainly speak no further of that !" exclaimed my mother.  "You will rest and regain your strength, and we will care for those cares until I say otherwise.  We have some extra money saved, and since we don't use it, you're going to."

"Mary and Elizabeth, you have not heard my terms yet,: Mr. Miamo said.  "The first condition is that I won't accept anything from either of you.  Bear a moment, Elizabeth, before you object.  I don't want your money because I don't need it.  I want you to live here because you need to.  I have just recently discovered the doorway to the Lord Jesus, and with these circumstances, I couldn't possibly agree to any other arrangement.  With the abundance I have, this isn't even generous.  You must also grant me these two requests:  you mustn't offer me anything but your kindness as a tenant; and you must help me clear out my basement by taking from there all the furnishings you need.  I have three of everything down those stairs."

"I wouldn't consider depriving you of your penance in any way," Mary answered, and began weeping.  "We've been brought from wandering in hell to this haven of good people; and I thank God for being my guide, and for you.  It's the first love--outside of Jason's and Jordan's--that I've felt in years.  We are most fortunate and grateful to have found you."

Mr. Miamo's face grew flushed, and he exacted from her the promise not to make him blush again.  He then led us into the basement, and we carried up a bed, sheets, blankets, a table, chairs, dishes, and two cartons of preserved food in jars.  Mary insisted that she and Jason were going to stay there, to avoid causing us any further bother, so after we had helped to set things in order, we returned home without them.

Throughout all the ado my father never deviated from his normal self; the other four of us in the house were considerably shaken, and our routines disordered, but he absorbed everything calmly.  While we were worrying and wondering, he went about his business as ever, knowing all was well.

He published and opined in the Independent Freedom, a weekly newspaper in the city.  His editorials were written with a loud and liberal voice, which gained attention everywhere, and were revered by many people.  He was at all and odd times busy with these responsibilities, but still donated every Saturday to working in the library.  He also reserved many hours for himself, which he devoted to enjoying literature.  And related to this pastime was his membership in a book discussion group by mail.  This was a rich source of amusement for my mother and I, for whenever he received a letter, he inevitably had a grievance with its author; and if he'd had a glass of wine, he'd go into the bedroom and read it aloud, interrupting himself often to laugh and make comments.  Then we would hear him compose his response in the same emphatic fashion, much to our delight.  It is also worthy of noting here that he very much loved my mother and I, and had no qualms about making a show of it.

 

Before I proceed to the account of the war, there is yet one incident that needs reporting.  Three months after Mary and Jason had moved into Mr. Miamo's building, my mother and I happened by one afternoon, so we stopped to pay an unannounced visit.  We had seen them frequently, both at their apartment and our house; and though Mary's recovery was progressing well, she still suffered periods of extreme weakness, and was yet unfit to look for work.  This mattered not, however, for Mr. Miamo was not only insistent that she indefinitely give no thought to paying rent, until he deemed the time ready, but he had also given them clothing, and regularly brought them all the food they required.  God bless you, Mr. Miamo!

On this day we found Mary in such high spirits, that she nearly knocked us through the doorway in her excitement.  "I feel so wonderful!  I can't describe how wonderful I feel!"

"What?  What?" my mother cried.  "We're happy for you, but tell us why."

"First come in and sit; let me pour out some tea."  That done, she continued.  "Jason and I went to the park yesterday morning, where we met the most magnificent man."

"Well, what of him?" said my mother.

"Well what of him?" Mary repeated.  "Elizabeth, can't you see how happy I am?  He was the most kindly gentleman.  His name was Jonathan, and he spent the nicest day with us.  We played in the park, and went swimming in the pond, and laughed all afternoon."

"What does he do?" asked my mother.

"He entertained us, and made us happy, and made me feel a hundred times better," she answered.

"But where does he work?  What kind of job does he hold, wherewith he earns his living?" my mother said, rephrasing her question.

"I don't know, Elizabeth; he didn't say, and it's not important.  His presence brought us joy, and that's what mattered.  So to continue, after we left the park he came here and cooked us a delicious dinner, over which we had the most enlightening conversation--he had insights into spiritual matters and the teaching of our Lord that you couldn't imagine.  I was gooseflesh inside and out!  Then, after we had cleaned up, I knew it was right, so I brought him to bed and we laid together."

"Mary!  Shhh!" my mother cried.  She was a woman of many inhibitions, and was frankly appalled at Mary's candor.  "There's two young boys present!  I can't believe you would give yourself so freely, but this is certainly not the place nor the company in which to discuss it!"

Mary merely laughed.  "Elizabeth, releax.  It was a good thing that happened.  And as for Jason and Matthew, they will know these things eventually, so why not now?  Children would have fewer problems growing up if their parents were more open before them.  Beside, where do you think Jason stayed all night in this small apartment?"

"I dred to imagine," my mother replied.

"He slept with us," Mary said, as nonchalantly as if she were giving the time.  "What happened was good, Elizabeth; don't you understand?"  She looked at me, smiled, and I understood:  there was a child in her womb.

"No, I don't understand; not a whit," replied my mother.  "How somebody could desecrate the temple of her body who's suffered what you have I don't understand.  These types of actions are what caused all the problems in your life, remember?"

"No, Elizabeth, this is much different," Mary replied; "But if you can't see it yourself, I can't open your eyes.  Jonathan's visit made me srong and whole.  As of last night, the weakness is gone from my body forever.  I'll never feel giddy again."

"Well, I can't approve of any of this," said my mother; "But where is this Jonathan now?  When will he be back?"

"I don't think he will at all," answered Mary.  "He was already gone when we awoke, and I don't know where to find him--at least, not in this world.  But God only knows, our paths may yet meet again."

"Please excuse me," my mother said, rising; "but to be honest, I find this all rather shocking.  I can't understand how you could condone doing--that, with a man you don't know and won't see again."

"I wouldn't have given in to anyone but Jonathan," she said.  "Matthew understands, doesn't he?"

I smiled, and when Mary turned again toward my mother, Jason glared at me.

"Why would Matthew understand? he's only seven," said my mother.  "We must be going; don't be offended, but I've always found stories such as this upsetting, and that much more so when they involve my friend."

"Don't worry about me," Mary said, while we moved toward the door.  "I passed the last of my life's hardships when that car knocked Asmodeus out of me.  From then to now, and till I die, there's nothing but blessings awaiting me."

"I do sincerely pray that you're right," my mother said, and we left.