The end of the world for one man can be a new beginning for another. For the men who met in that barn, the end was here. It was January, just above freezing, but the Siberian winds swept over the land like Mongol hordes biting flesh with icy fangs. The rain fell like daggers; it rapped off the tin roof of the stone shed. They were south-west of Wooler, close to the Scottish Border.
The Cheviot Hills loomed in the darkness. The howling weather battered the already beaten structure, but there was an orange glow radiating from lights within, offering the warmth of the inn to a traveller. The heat from the assembled men appeared like smoke, rising from rain drenched coats inside the confines of the shelter. There must have been a hundred ruddy farmers rammed into the barn. They gathered not through choice — it was the fear of change that brought these normally solitary beasts together.
The smell of silage wafted through the space, while a muted hubbub filled the airwaves. The rotund, red-faced orator, who now hushed the crowd, was a man named Rowell. He farmed near enough four hundred acres outside Hexham. Fit as a fiddle though well into his seventies, the man was flanked by his three sons.
As he smashed his fist into his open palm, he bellowed and blustered about the choice these men had to make. Give up their land and livelihood to the local collectives or, with support from Scotland, fight the land reforms. For most, the decision was already sown in the land.
The howling wind which whipped the shelter foretold the storm that was to come. In a dark corner sat a hunched figure, head down with white hair hung loose, meandering around his weathered brow. His hands were clamped together, resting on his lap, swollen and sore from pulling sheep out of snow. As he opened his eyes, Nat Bell looked upon the throng; although he knew every face, he had nothing to say to one. Some looked towards him for direction, but he bowed his head once more, his mind ready to explode as the evils amplified within his skull.
“Dr. Atkins Jacob the person responsible for new designs
of the android looked gloomily at his creation.The androids
were augmented with new artificial intelligence via the upload
of the program by the android leader originally created by Dr.Atkins
which ultimately backfired as the androids started considering
itself superior to the humans and the answer to the age old
question-how can peace really be established
Atkins had to endure harsh criticisms of his work instead of a barrage
of accolades and awards he hoped to receive..”
David Taylor II
Chapter 0 – What and Where is When?
The Grove was burning. The air around him tasted like soot and he could feel countless embers lighting on his skin. There were coconut and apple trees ablaze in every direction, and entire crops of wheat, corn and barley were ruined. The closest body of water was The Holy River. It loomed in the background as a place of refuge as the number of troops incurring plasma burns continued to mount.
The Ophanim started panicking because all of their eyes were stinging from the black smoke and they were paralyzed. The shrieks of millions of angry brethren started to shred his ears. Even at that distance he could glimpse The Leaves and smell their chestnut scent, but now his direct line to them was blocked. His lips were cracked from dehydration. As he turned to look up, he was sloshing around ankle-deep in puddles of acrid purple blood. What he saw when he looked up meant there was more bloodshed to come.
Was the Cocoon showing him this? Was this a dream?
Or a prophecy?
He didn’t know. And then it was time to be born.
Far northeast corner of The City
Inside the Creation Complex, Room 12
Creation Cocoon #6
Pain shot through his back as he stirred his wings with that initial flutter; wings make a funny porcelain crinkling sound the first time you move them.
The inner jelly of the Creation Cocoon was beginning to melt around him, and he smelled himself. Or rather, he smelled the very typical creation smells of burnt candle wicks, oranges and pauperie. He felt the cocoon’s glowing BirthSilk strings dripping down his shoulders, as he slowly stirred out of the fetal position and moved into kneeling. His tongue felt like chalk as the sweltering heat of emergence continued to caress every millimeter of his taut pink skin. He would later wonder if there wasn’t some kind of strange, fleshly painting process going on. He couldn’t tell if the creation jelly was melting off of him or into him. Every Cherub’s beginning in the pearl encased Cocoon was sacred unto The Throne, yet he knew inside of himself, before he could even feel all six of his incandescent hearts beating…that somehow he was something special.
His dream was still somewhere inside of him. He wasn’t sure where. Yet.
Thoughts can move faster than words, so his brain was full of ideas his tongue couldn’t quite articulate. His throat reeds sounded very tinny as he breathed. His biggest concern was the fact that he was stone blind. He didn’t know yet that the last things to fully form are the eyes, and no matter how many pairs one had, it seemed that so much of The Realm was blurry and out of focus after emerging. The eye sockets may as well have been filled with tangerine jam for all the good they were in those first few days. At least, that’s what all the brethren said to him later. His experience was no exception, but he wondered why that was so.
Did he hear a call while he was emerging? Was he being personally addressed? He couldn’t quite tell. The frequent and confusing audio static was either in the cocoon or in his head. “Birth ears are not your friends,” they’d tell him later. He felt what seemed to be three pairs of gentle hands around him, but couldn’t make out whose they were. These mysterious hands were embedding something in his still-forming guts, something metallic…and he couldn’t wait to be able to see well enough to discover what it was. He felt soft somehow, almost lumpy, like manna dough; not the greatest feeling. Creation Day experiences were nebulous at best.
His very first cohesive thought after emergence? I’m a mushy metal mess, he said to himself. I love it. Give me more.
It must have been eighteen full days or so in timelessness before he could see worth anything. He realized upon waking from what had been a series of naps, deep slumber, and whiteout sleep, that his sides still felt really strange. But maybe that’s normal too, he thought. He looked down towards his abdomen and discovered pipes! And tabrets! His lower rib cage seemed to be made of reeds, similar to the ones that made up his larynx. This was awesome. This meant he was a Sound Generator and not just a Responder. That also meant, according to the Data Stream that was fed to him during his cocoon cycles, that he was most likely going to be a part of worship in The Realm. Like worship for real. It was such an honor for any of the brethren to be involved in worship at any level, because it meant being closer to The Throne on regular occasions.
Though that would involve a certain level of danger.
It also indicated that he was a naturally created leader, and the perks of that were beyond imagination. At least, according to the Data Stream that is. He was still newborn to The Realm, and aside from hearing the assorted and jumbled whispers of the brethren (because he had no proper name yet), the Data Stream was all he had to go on. That didn’t stop his skin from going all goosebumpy with anticipation.
And then he sat up too quickly, clonked his head on the pod ceiling and passed out.
For the next three weeks, his creation place was his home. The northeast corner that contained the most flat and level ground in The City was where he was. That’s where the massive circular Creation Complex was, and it housed the Creation Cocoons and Recovery Beds. One huge continuous grey quartz wall with yellow streaks and golden spikes on the walltop encased the Complex. Every twelve meters on that wall, there was a Class I Cherubim armed with a FireSword standing guard. The Cherubim’s eyes were open around the clock, both the eyes in his head and the eyes on his wings. Nobody gave the Class I Cherubim any attitude except the Seraphim, but they gave everybody attitude.
The all marble front gate would only open to let a newborn out, or let his personal guide in. At the time of his creation there was a total of fifty-six rooms, all coated with alabaster and silver. The three kinds of rooms in the Complex were laboratories, Creation Chambers or Recovery Beds. Most of the brethren didn’t like the cylindrical shape of the Creation Chambers, but they had learned to deal with it.
Sometimes between assignments brethren of all classes would visit the Complex. They’d congregate just outside the walls to share whispers. Many of the brethren also wanted small diamonds to add to their collections, and they could easily find them around the Creation Complex grounds. The cocoons inside the Creation Chambers were encased in pearl, and after they’d been used one of the byproducts from their expended Genesis Energy was small, nearly flawless diamonds. Ironically said diamonds were daily thrown out by the Cherubim attending the newborns. These discarded jewels then “somehow found their way out of the trash bins” and into the hands of certain brethren. Some of the more decorated brethren laughed at these diamond runs because they were unearned gems. Or so it was whispered.
Though the Creation Cocoons were arranged inside the individual chambers in groups of three, with no more than twelve to a cylindrical room, one or two cocoons at most were in use at any given time. The Throne liked to bring living things into existence in a circular environment of safety, giving each newborn their due attention.
And his day to leave all of that was fast approaching like a thunderclap.
Off to School
In a small, Midwestern town lived a twelve-year-old kid named Alexander Smiley. Alex was neither big nor small but of average height and stature. He wore black-framed glasses and his standard combination of a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and black high-top sneakers every day. Alex enjoyed riding his bicycle, studying, and reading historical books on ancient civilizations. His passion was studying ancient Egyptian culture and he was able to read and translate some ancient Egyptian text. He was neither athletic nor popular but was very smart. He was an only child who lived with his parents in a small, bungalow-style house on a street teeming with kids his age. Unfortunately, Alex didn’t have many friends. He had only one, to be exact. He met her each morning at the school bus stop. Her name was Karen Stubblefield.
Karen lived right next door to Alex, and they had known each other for as long as they both could remember. Karen was a very sweet person who was petite in stature but had a fiery personality. After Alex finished his breakfast of Froot Loops and toast one warm and sunny May morning, he walked outside to meet her at the bus stop, like every other school morning.
“What’s up, Alex?” asked Karen. “Did you finish reading your history assignment?”
“I finished it this morning,” Alex said. “Last night, I got caught up reading an article about ancient Egyptian languages I got from the town library. I just found myself struggling to read an article about the American Constitution again. It seems like that’s the only thing we study in that class.”
“Well you know Ms. Gateway,” chirped Karen. “She’s very patriotic. The only things we are going to learn in her class are Bill of Rights this or Constitution that. You know she served in the military a while back. She’s a hero here in Brownsville.”
“I have no problems with her being a proud military person. I just wish she would be more respectful,” said Alex. “She can be so stubborn and degrading. One time I suggested, and very
Mitch struggled to maintain his balance. He felt nauseated, and his head punished him with intense pain. Mitch’s best friend and rescuer, Jack, steered the watercraft toward the bank. Watching Jack kept him from vomiting. Mitch wondered how Jack knew to drive the damn thing but he didn’t have enough energy to ask. He tried speaking, but pain overwhelmed him. Mitch thought of his wife Mabey, and with quiet desperation, he wished she were here. Her presence alone would be a comforting salve. His tingling lips felt massive as if he had rubbed mango rind all over them and they’d swelled in an allergic reaction. Jack turned and looked directly into Mitch’s eyes. Mitch felt reassured because Jack’s eyes seemed familiar.
The last few days, ever since Jack had been shot with an arrow filled with Alien juice, Mitch had been waiting to see Jack’s normal eyes. It was comforting to see their familiar glint again and he hoped his friend was back for good. At this very moment, Mitch may not have Mabey’s warmth and loving touch, but he did have Jack back. Or so it appeared. Jack started to speak, then stopped. Mitch could see he was struggling with what to say. What came out of Jack’s mouth roused Mitch with new intensity, head pain and swollen mouth forgotten in an instant.
“Mitch, I don’t know how to say what I am about to say without coming right out with it.”
“Spit it out, Jack. I’m not in the mood for games.”
“I’m sorry, my brother, but the town of Outlaw River is under some type of an attack, and people are in hiding. We need to get back immediately.”
“Sure, Jack, but why so quick?”
“Mabey is missing, Mitch.”
Carl T. Ward
In downtown Philadelphia, a slight breeze compliments the unusually warm weather. The upper 90 degree temperatures during late autumn are uncharacteristically warm for the northeast states, but no one can explain why. Many experts blame it on the sudden increase in mining operations while others point at the shrinking polar ice caps. However, the government officials consider their theories as simply “theories” and continue to do what they think would be best for the economy.
A few short years earlier, the discovery of Trevistium had the entire world buzzing. The new metal was dense, yet solid and infused with diamonds. Its stock nearly tripled that of any other. Almost every country took part in the race to acquire what was commonly referred to as T-Grade. Thus far, none of them had been able to gain an edge. One thing was for certain though: whoever controlled it would be established as the one true global power.
Geologists gave warnings about the consequences involving the increased mining activity. However, no one listened because they seldom had proof to back their claims. There were similar doomsday predictions early in the twenty-first century, but thus far none had come to pass. Congress was starting to get frustrated with their inaccuracies and discussed cutting their financial support altogether.
There was another issue starting to get the attention of the powers that be. Nearly ten years earlier, a slew of diseases nearly wiped out half of the population. Somehow, these diseases were able to adapt and ultimately became immune to treatments. Now there was a new threat taking the world by storm.
Remotollinaextraverdia, or Rx as it was known worldwide, was unlike anything they had ever seen before. Rx contained traits of Sickle Cell Disease, autoimmune diseases, neurological conditions like Myasthenia Gravis and Cerebral Palsy, cancer, and Lupus. A series of unexplained seizures and collapses led to its discovery, and shortly thereafter, the death rate spiked.