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In the Absence of Utopia I
By James Audie Hall
Monday, June 11, 2012
Not rated by the Author.
A short story that I have a lot of fun with
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The gnarled and weathered face lay sleeping as a youthful group clustered about the room. Hushed voices enveloped the ornate quarters. A deep yawn and a stretching of his frail arms dropped a cloak of silence over the room. The group closed in tighter.
The old man opened his eyes to a theater of anxious faces. An unrelenting electronic beep, like the caution signal on a truck backing up, was an ominous reminder of the patient’s waning health. Except for blinking lights on the heart monitor, a single lamp offered the only illumination in the room, the dimness masking their deep concerns.
“Professor, some of your students have come to see you,” a pleasant but anxious voice uttered. “Is there anything that we can get for you? Is there anything you need, Professor?”
The old man, in his weakened state, tried to speak, but the words remained lock inside. After wiping the sleep from his eyes, he gestured toward a pitcher of water on the nightstand. With help, the old man sat up. Slowly, he raised the glass to his mouth. After a few slow and painful swallows, grimacing from the pain, the old man spoke.
“More light,” said the professor, his voice hoarse and cracked. In an instant, the shadows retreated and the room was bathed in light. Squinting slightly, he scanned the circle of faces.
“This is finals week if I am not mistaken. So, what are all of you loafers doing here?”
“For your full recovery we beseech the Eternal in hopes that we may once more drink from the fountain of you wisdom. And we are we are alone. Millions more across the country and indeed around the world share our deep thirst. Your masterful works, Chronicles of World History, has helped to liberate the minds of a grateful world. Many others were turned away by a mountain of a nurse.”
Bursts of laughter erupted around the room, and then just as quickly subsided. The old man’s parched lips formed a weak smile.
“So, how have you managed to remain behind pass visiting hours?”
“Well, let’s just say that we got special permission,” the young co-ed replied, with an enigmatic smile. The self-appointed spokesperson glanced over her shoulder at the others as they encouraged her forward with nods of approval.
“I know that you’re not just here to comfort a sick old man. If there is something that you intend to ask me, go ahead and ask and be swift about it,” he grumbled. His incensed tone froze the young woman in mid step. Her face went blank. A slight tension invaded in to the room.
The old man, with a playful wink of his eye, dispelled the tension and planted a glowing smile on the face of the nervous young women.
“Go ahead, what’s on your mind”, he asked, attentively.
“My name is Catherine, Professor, Catherine Donovan,” she informed him while inching forward to the foot of the bed, her eyes diverted downward.
“Donovan you say? Any relation to our Council President,” the aged scholar inquired with a mischievous grin.
“He’s my father, Professor.”
“Of course, please continue, lassie”
“Professor, the history classes and spiritual retreats offered by the Centers for Enlightenment have fallen short of revealing what it was really like during the last days of the Old World.
“The books are factual and informative, but there is something woefully lacking in them. Perhaps they are too factual.” The others collectively voiced their agreement. “Your voluminous works as well as the works of other great scholars has revealed much about our past. Nonetheless, the books and the lectures are noticeably silent on the subject of our deepest interest.
“Not that we’re questioning the Centers of Worship, the Grand Council, or the nation’s honored scholars and scientist. Nor do we want to appear as spoiled and ungrateful youth. It just, well, sometimes we find their scholarship a bit insipid.”
“Insipid? Ha, down right boring is what it is.” The old man’s voice was growing more spirited, and there was a mischievous glimmer in his eye. His mind was reaching back.
“I was young once, and like you. I too yearned for more. That’s the way it is with each generation as they come of age. I would love to divert the culpability elsewhere, but I was a part of planning that gave rise to the present curriculum.”
Hesitantly, the young woman proceeded. “Our elders, guided by the enlightened Counsel of our beloved Monrovia, have given us the priceless gift of lasting peace and abundance. No one wants for anything and every citizen is encouraged to pursue his or her deepest passions.
“The need for competition and conquest has been cast off like old clothing. Utopia is no longer a theme of a writer’s pen, or apparition of hippy communes. Nor is it a dream we must wake from. We are living the dream. For this, we bow humbly before the wisdom of our elders and the power of the living God.
“Nevertheless, we are waiting to hear your story. As I said, we have been greatly enriched by your lectures, but we have all detected subtle evidence of another story, your story, Professor.
“We know that you were some one important during the dark times,” her tone more pressing. “However, the holographic disks provide only the usual biographical material that appears on the jackets of your books. We know there’s more, much more.”
“Your words flatter me as does the spring lilies flatter the June sun, young Catherine. I am honored that so many find my work inspiring. Unfortunately, I am not altogether certain that I can still summon what your hearts and minds so eagerly crave.”
Responding to the professor’s voice command, the head of the bed rose like a drawbridge, slowly with a soft hum. His heightened view disclosed a room of familiar and long forgotten faces; all displaying the same desirous look.
Two young women stepped forward to fluff his pillow, gently leaning him forward and settling him gently back again. His head sank back into the pillow like the evening sun nestling down behind the soft, green foothills on the edge of barren plain. As he lay there, his eyes scanned the ceiling as if searching for the answer there.
As if commanded to a telepath, the enthused visitors settled down on the floor, on the receding windowsills, and along the walls. In the few minutes that passed no one spoke. No one dared turn away. Their eyes fixed on the old man with great anticipation.
Then, he leaned forward. After clearing a roadblock from his throat with a sip of water, he dimmed lights. The half shadows returned and he started to recite from the final volumes: volumes already authored and spread across the lectern of his mind.
“As the twentieth century came to a close, war and terrorism swept over the planet threatening to topple civilization. The political and economic systems strained under the weight of a post-Cold War era.
“What remained of a free America tittered on the edge of a dark abyss when the hand of All Mighty drew His children back from the edge of the apocalypse. God’s hand would take the outward appearance of a child Messiah.
“Like a tarnished coin retrieved from the depths of a watery basin and restored to it pristine luster, my faith was restored and my life profoundly changed by his words and deeds. My own accomplishments, while considerable in the minds of some, are but a pale reflection of His awesome spender. I was a young man then.
“A young man’s blood no longer courses through my veins. Thinning and lacking in sustenance, my blood lags and loiters about in abstention. Time has stolen my vigor, obscured my vision and nestled a silver crown upon my brow.
“Though my time on this earth is nearing its completion, my soul still burns with the intensity of the primordial sun, fanned by the winds of distant memories.
“After the wars, the master entrusted me with the sacred chronicles, much of which was revealed in my earlier works. However, your insight was correct. There is another part that I had planned to publish. Ironically, the sinking sands of my hourglass have left me little time to complete the last volumes.
“Although, we have not talked in many years, the Master’s voices still summons His weary agent into service.”
He paused as if reliving a special moment. Then he smiled and returned to his enamored listeners. His gaze appeared sharper and more attentive, his voice more robust.
“I will not bore you will another lecture; I too tire of academician formality. Instead, a tale seems more in order, a grand tale. A tale of a boy destined to rescue a nation and to transform a world. I knew him better than most. I was blessed to witness his extraordinary rise. You see, we lived and journeyed together through the life and dead labyrinth that followed in the aftermath of the great upheaval.
“Here, my young friends are my recollections of the world, the way it was just before the dawn of the present era. So many years have passed since He walked among us. Yet, His spirit is ever where present. I will draw from this spirit now. Here is what I know.”
On the eve of the New Millennium beneath the once bustling city of New York, the Messiah drew his first breaths. His birth, in a war torn pocket of resistance against the manslayers, passed with little notice except for tiny spontaneous gatherings in remote parts of the country.
Yet, in the hearts of the hopeful all over the world, a star of faultless radiance appeared high in the spiritual sky. The star would grow in its brilliancy, relief against the endless darkness of wide spread suffering and despair.
A clairvoyant sisterhood also gathered to be witness to the divine event. A perilous pilgrimage, across a treacherous wasteland, could not detour the Sisters from their sacred journey.
Seers of all faiths and keepers of the mystical flame heralded his coming. A child brought forth by God to rescue America from herself, and to be an arch over the tumultuous waters of fear and doubt to a distant shoreline of supreme knowledge and volition.
Skeptical clerics marked him a false prophet, as they clutched tightly their crumbling world of stoic illusions and dogmatic perversions of the Word. When this failed to dissuade his followers, political powers sought the Messiah’s death.
Nothing less than pretender’s blood could satisfy them. Pursued by ruthless raiders, commando units, and the world most powerful military, the miracle child blossomed in to a shepherd of men and as an enlightened commander on the battlefield.
The boy savior ascended from the ashes of a collapsed civilization as a beacon of light for the righteous, and a final warning to the iniquitous. Those with ears to hear his message, eyes to recognize the countenance of truth and the pureness of heart to perceive the presence of the God in all things, gathered around the boy savior’s campfire as he rendered a God inspired dream for the world.
Displaying the mark of the lamb, he carried the heart of a lion into battle. Undaunted, he would assemble legions of spiritual warriors for a final reckoning with the soldiers of darkness. The seeds of his unconditional love and supreme wisdom would give birth to a mythos and spiritual order of unparalleled peace and prosperity.
Under the gripping spell of materialism, the world had accepted the death of God and celebrated His demise. Pious pillars supporting the church shook and crumbled under the strains of scientism and technology. The last vestiges of fidelity blasted away by the twin tempests of political ideology and the capitalist paradigm.
Man placed his faith in the institutions of his own making. As his puny and atrophied social structures faltered, starvation, war, and mutated viral strains claimed the lives of hundreds of millions.
Groping in ceaseless deprivation, man imagined himself alone. With no memory of his divine self, he sank deeper into the darkness. In the darkness, an inscrutable presence revealed itself.
From the recesses of the dark place, it came offering the gift of deliverance. Frightened world leaders were deceived by him. Many pledged heir loyalty to this unholy menace, placing the world in great peril.
Greed, the blind will to power, and the drive to enslave all of humanity became the unholy mission of these arcane lords. For centuries, the dark lords worked to raise the antichrist to a place of worship.
Toward that end, the truth became a lie and a lie became the truth. As long as their dark influence prevailed, humanity was cursed to dwell in a state of barbarism and war. With every world crisis, the powers of the dark one grew
As the new millennium drew near, this demonic order plunged the world in to a New Dark Age. It was an age of that fostered the spread of ignorance, the perpetuation of fear and dissemination of misinformation.
The world witnessed a period of unprecedented economic growth followed by a rapid decline of the world’s financial system. Behind the scenes, sinister forces worked to bring about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The world stood helpless as rouge nations and terrorist organizations tightened the hangman’s noose around the necks of a world sentenced to death and awaiting final execution.
The floodgates of reason were flung open and waves of ignorance and loathing flooded the lush fields of tolerance and reason.
The threat first appeared in the Middle East and then spread to the West and the Far East. The western alliance was fractured. Economic competition and the resentment of American hegemonic role in world affairs dampened relations with former Europe. Dozens of former allies routinely lined up in opposition to American foreign policy.
America found herself alone, with the exception of Great Britain and few others sovereign nations, and up against an increasingly hostile Asia. Shifting geopolitical conditions hampered the war against global terrorism. The cost of which was astronomical. The world was never more dangerous for America.
However, the real story was in the United State of America. Domestically, the great nation was showing cracks in its political and economic base. Whispers of discontent grew into organized rebellion.
In a climate of crisis and fear, mid-western states challenged the federal government’s authority and power under Article I of the Constitution. Acts of terrorism by domestic and international groups, unprecedented crime rates, and a crumbling economy forced the government to revoke the Bill of Rights in favor of marshal law.
Faced with an insurmountable task, the President called upon the Pentagon to guarantee internal security. When the central government’s police efforts failed to calm the escalating turbulence, there was a disintegration of confidence in Washington’s capacity to govern. As an undercurrent of panic spread across American, a splinted electorate demanded sweeping political changes. Only chaos ensued.
The nation began to come apart at the seams. The seeds of secession sprouted up in the mid-west and spread like brush fire through prairie town and big city alike. Washington’s powers continued to erode until it could no longer preside over the Union. Events began to spiral out of control. Anarchy followed in the wake of wide spreading rioting.
Fundamentalists fanned the flames of racial and ethnic paranoia helping to plunge the land into a Second Civil War. The nation fractured into separate sphere of influence. As the central government’s power continued to decline, so did the state of things. Hordes of lawless warlords, opportunistic mercenaries, and Techno-corporations rushed in to fill the vacuum of power.
A murderous and brutal autocratic government would rise up laying siege to Washington and taking the land of the free by storm. From it seat of power in the middle west, New America world replace old America. For the survivors, “…and liberty and justice for all” seemed a distant memory
Alone against the onslaught, a federation of divinely inspired Americans, led by a supreme sage, unlocked the gateway to a realm of infinite possibilities. The course of world history would be forever changed by the battle that was to follow, a battle pitting the forces of good against the forces of evil, with American the battleground.
Site: Orb Publishing
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