BY J. H. SOEDER
This is the second and last half of a two-part story. Read the first half here. Copyright is held by the author.
HE FELT that he should be in fear, yet there was no fear in his heart though he felt frozen in place. There were no ropes holding him, yet he could not move or speak; he could only shift his eyes to look about the place he was in.
Looking over and to his left, he saw another form. It was like a man, but its elongated head was too long, reminding him of the hat his adopted father, Ramses, wore. Its skin was soft translucent white; the eyes were larger than a normal man’s, and yet, the face was childlike. He remembered how the Egyptians wore kohl around their eyes, giving the same appearance of the face he now looked upon. But the difference here was that there was no facial painting around the large eyes; the eyes of this face were shaped naturally in the shape of a tear.
The figure turned its head toward him momentarily as if it knew he was looking at him, then turned its child-like face up to look to the right. Beyond the group surrounding him, his own eyes followed the direction of the being’s black, obsidian tear- drop eyes to see the glowing image, of what he had no description for. Even as he gazed at it, the form had changed, somehow! It was now the bush he had seen on Mount Nebo! Across the distance between the two, unearthly beings he heard words in his mind. The words were like thoughts, but clear in form and understanding. To Moses it felt as if the thoughts had come from the pharaoh headed-like creature, though no lips moved while it looked at the glowing image behind all of the others.
Can you be so sure?
The soft, glowing burning branches of the living bush, floating in the air behind the collected group, moved as if they were being blown gently by a wind, though he felt none, other than the cooling puffs of air surrounding his body and keeping him warm. The sound of the Voice, which filled his mind, was the same Voice on the mountain and engulfed him in an indescribable peace but a day or so earlier.
For such a young race, there is no other choice. Far more powerful for any being is the belief in one’s self, rather than faith in machines to do one’s work. It is that faith in one’s self that raises any species’ desire for something better. And there begins the journey to self-consciousness and self-awareness. For it is that single idea, which pushes one toward greater realities.
The throbbing sac floated around to his right side and moved past the other glowing bodies surrounding him. Coming within inches of him, thin, tendrils of light moved toward his opened chest cavity. The fine hairs of light began attaching themselves to bone and flesh as the sac flattened slightly then gently pulled itself into his body.
Larger cords of fibrous light twisted and turned, avoiding other vital organs as they attached themselves to his central nervous system. Other stands, appearing to have their own intelligence, moved purposefully toward his heart, liver and spleen. Once connected to the heart, another large strand of moving light sought out the Vena Cava, responsible for feeding his life’s oxygenated blood to his brain.
Gently, the snake-like cord of light moved along the carotid arteries then split into a myriad of small, glowing projections attaching to various parts of his brain. He felt nothing, but a surge of energy pulse within his body as each small connection was being made. The voice in his mind continued:
More powerful than machines is the power of the mystical. It is the idea that one can achieve greater things using pure thought and belief that the power of Life lies within one’s own self. What cannot be seen by man, and whose powerful force is demonstrated, is one of the building blocks of faith. Such faith moves mountains and in time, sends man to the stars.
The same, questioning tear-drop eyes from across the room, looked at glowing image once again. As Moses’s own eyes then shifted back to the glowing bush, he was astounded to see that the image or form had changed! It was neither male figure nor bush, but the figure of a child with shining feathery wings fully extended from its back. Beautiful golden locks flowed about its head as the figure hung softly in the radiant light. Its tiny, delicate hands moved with the voice that filled his mind once again.
There are those out there who seek gain of this race–for their resources and their ability to serve.
There will always be others, Enoch — those who have fallen from the truth of Life. But what we do here is to see if, over time, this race called Man can rise to greater heights and one day, join the ranks of Truth and Light.
Our duty is to plant the seed of knowledge and see if this race can harvest the truth lying in each of them. It will be their challenge to uncover those truths which have for eons, been buried deep inside each and every one of them.
It will be that knowledge that saves them, in the end, Enoch.
Enoch! He had been carrying that name with him as long as he could remember! It was the name told to him by his fathers and forefathers, in the stories he had been told after leaving Ramses. It was the name of one who had gone back, yet promised to return to his people some day. Was this creature that the voice spoke to, Enoch? How could this be? The creature, though appearing like a man, was no man he had ever seen!
And yet, he thought, the writings of the Egyptians and their paintings on the wall mirrored the living image he now looked at. How could this be? Could the form he saw, changing in front of his very eyes, be the God of all? And its voice — it was the same voice that had spoken to him throughout his entire life. It was that voice that haunted him, yet walked with him as he did his God’s bidding.
The Voice that he heard in his mind resonated with deep certainty. It filled his being with the peace he had sought for his entire life. And yet, what was this “experiment?” Was it a plan? Was he only but one step of many in the growth of Man? And the forms, human or otherwise, which he saw in his mind, were they Devils or Angels?
It seemed to him that he was doing the bidding of Jehovah — the God of his forefathers and Isaac and Abraham. Through the following years when his mind was clouded, the staff would calm him, directing him in what he needed to say. Did this make him a prophet? It was then he realized that the visions he had throughout his later years were not of his own making. It was the power within him of the thing inside of him that guided and directed him.
Those who followed and believed in him had not seen what he had seen, experienced what he alone had experienced and what no one else would understand or comprehend. But who was this God? Was this God’s dreams and visions but a giant “experiment?” It was such a foreign word and yet, seemed that it was not a test. Was it a plan, then? If it was a plan, was it therefore not a prophecy?
He knew his own faith was strong. He knew that he believed. Yet questions haunted him. Sometimes he would wake from his sleep, when the tent moved slightly as wind-blown sand pushed against the outer walls. His clear eyes would look beyond its sturdy hand-woven ceiling, straining to see beyond the veil of stars he sensed above him.
Though his eyes could not see the stars through the ceiling of the darkened goatskin tent, he knew the glistening lights in the sky above him would be silent. No words of wisdom would be heard from them, no comfort would be given to the questions he had. Like the stars he would have to remain silent, shining brightly on his people; resolute in administering the Will of God.
It would be one secret he could never share.
Joshua’s innocent though adult voice pierced the veil of waking memories that had shrouded him. He was no longer in that place, but standing there in his tent.
Joshua, waiting for his for his answer, looked at his teacher expectantly. He had to know. He knew Moses had spoken that his time was near. He wanted so much to get an answer, sometimes be far more persistent than a child who always asks “why.” There were times like this where he would ask his Master a question when it appeared to him that Moses would retreat within himself for several long moments. It was as if his Master had to go deep within himself to retrieve the words, yet each time no answer left his lips — at least the answer that Joshua yearned to hear. The question to tell him how it all began — how Moses came to be chosen. This was a question he had often asked of him throughout his early and now, adult life. In quiet respect and reverence, though, he had learned that Moses would speak the words when he so chose to do so. For all he knew, those moments when his Master’s body glowed, he could be receiving guidance from God, his Lord and Master.
Moses was silent. Raising he right hand to his side he gently rubbed the side of his chest.
“The Almighty has spoken to me and chosen me. I know not why I was chosen, I only know that He has come to me and me alone. But He has come to me in a dream and advised me that He will speak to you when your time has come. That He has already touched you and made you ready for His Word.”
Joshua thought for a moment, reflecting on his own past. He remembered one night that he sat out as a young boy, tending the goats overlooking his family’s encampment. Dusk was setting in to the small, protected valley, filled with outcroppings of tall, statuesque rocks carved by the wind. The goats wandered here and there, looking for tasty morsels of scant grasses. He, himself, had also become slightly hungry; the scent of lamb stew with herbs carried in the gentle wind reminded him he should be eating soon.
He saw the moving light in the sky. It glistened in wondrous colors transfixing his stare, mesmerizing him and subduing his fears to run and hide. The last thing he remembered was being engulfed by the light then floating peacefully in what seemed a sea of air.
Moses intently studied his pupil, soon to become leader. The handsome, tanned face and square jaw appeared to be lost in a timeless moment, while his eyes remained steady and fixed on something long ago.
“You remember then!”
Stirred from the momentary past memory, Joshua looked into the old, wizened eyes. He felt his master’s eyes piercing his own soul, as if to uncover secrets he had not yet told.
Those secrets, however, were not to be had; Joshua only remembered the shining light that had devoured him, then waking only to find himself on a different low hill, overlooking the camp where his family slept.
“I remember seeing the light, that is all, Master.”
“It is all that you need to remember.” The old man’s eyes looked out beyond the tent and into the night. In the twilight, he could see Mount Nebo, the place where the Voice beckoned him.
“His voice will touch you when I am gone.”
Joshua gazed into the quiet eyes, seeing a great abyss between his own reality and his master’s. It was a distance filled with the knowledge of God, and yet, he sensed a yearning for rest within his teacher.
“I must go now. Take my staff and lead our people. The rod will comfort you as it has comforted me.”
Tired but warm hands touched his head. They were the hands of a man who blessed the infirm, the weak and the strong — hands that held the faith; hands that passed faith to those needing consolation.
This time it was different: the warmth he felt was different and overpowering. He sensed a pulsing energy from the large, fleshy but strong aging fingertips, as his Master’s hands came closer to his head. All the while, he felt something deep inside of him, awaken and pulse an energy he had never felt before. It was an energy that filled his entire presence, consuming him in thought and then in ecstasy.
He was floating; in the distance he could hear a soft prayer. He knew the words came from his master, yet, what had first felt like warm hands surrounding his head now were the invisible arms of the stars holding him in space.
Unable to decipher the loving words of what felt like a father blessing his own son, the comforting sounds began to blur and fade. A deep peacefulness filled his entire being. Even with his eyes closed, a pure white beam of light entered his mind’s eye and heart, illuminating the stars that had been holding him in timeless space.
It had been but a few moments, it seemed, before he suddenly realized he was now standing completely alone. Turning around, he felt a soft breeze on the back of his neck. He noticed the left flap gently swaying open, alerting him to the knowledge that his master had begun his final journey up the mountain.
He realized he could never understand all that his master had been and his life as an acclaimed prophet. Resigned to the responsibilities now entrusted to him, his eyes caught glimpse of the moonlight’s faint outline of the polished, weathered staff, holding the other tent flap in place. Taking a few steps toward it, he gazed at the memories it had held for him for so many years. It was the staff of miracles, the sign of God.
Momentarily the sapphires embedded in the rod glistened and glowed as he was within inches of touching it, beckoning him to grasp it. Within him, something stirred, pulsing to the rhythmic glow of the staff now directly in front of him.
Take me, said a voice in his head.
The voice he heard was not his Master’s; there was something about it, though, which erased his fears, filling him with strength and certainty. Reaching out and taking the rod, his own body began to glow, pulsing with the same rhythm of the crystals embedded in its polished and worn surface.
It is time to lead my people, said the voice in his head.