Glen squinted as he leaned toward the edge of the mountain. He could have said he saw the land down below, but he knew that was not what the man was asking. The man was wonderfully patient, and Glen finally spoke.
“I see the shadows, growing. It is like a new dark ages coming. People don’t read Jack London anymore. People don’t read. They don’t tell stories. They watch them and are told the stories the few want them to watch. People aren’t happy. They are like spokes in a bicycle wheel. They go round and round, but never go anywhere, or they only go where the driver makes them go.”
“Oh!” Glen drew in his breath as he saw something clear as day. “Anger and hate are taking over, and the lies of the liar is driving them. No one knows what to believe any longer, and the Crusaders for Christ have become few and scattered. They cannot be lights in the darkness because people mock them and ridicule them and hate them and hurt them to shut them up. There are too many who no longer believe anything. No wonder they are no longer happy.”
“Oh, look!” Glen pointed. “The shadow has swallowed the churches. It has swallowed freedom. It has swallowed common sense and made everyone ignorant of the truth. There are too many who no longer believe anything.” He repeated himself. “A dark age, growing darker by the minute. It isn’t fair, but they call it fair. It isn’t right but they call it right. It is like the world is turning upside-down and evil is called good and good is called evil. But turning upside-down only puts the ocean in the sky, and everyone will drown.”
The old man put his arm around Glen’s shoulder and helped him back into the cave. Glen was weeping over what he saw and he wept himself to sleep. Sadly, perhaps, the vision did not stop.
In his dream, he saw people ruined and enslaved by the lies of the liar. They fell into syncretism, a true relativism that destroyed value and reason together. All things were called equal though the least bit of sense said they were not equal. He watched the people practice a kind of tolerance that was intolerant and diversity that crushed all real diversity and inclusiveness that divided people. They sought to destroy the cause of Christ as they destroyed the church with one departure from the word after another until the opposite was said to be true and the plain sense of the word was said to be false. All are equal, they cried. All are equal, they lied.
Indeed, good came to be called evil and evil came to be called good.
Life became anarchistic, full of chaos and crisis, and Glen found himself viewing the past where less but similar conditions gave rise to the worst sort of tyrants. When life became so unstable, the people willingly gave themselves over to poverty and slavery for the sake of stability. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and yes, FDR filled the world with war, death and ideas of genocide and activities horror. They punished prosperity and honesty and rewarded the fools. People became slaves to government, to the ideologies of the fools, to prescriptions for salvation that dragged people into the pit. Wide was the way to destruction, but destruction was the end.
And he saw millions slaughtered in the name of a god that Glen did not know. All he knew was he would never worship any god that slaughtered the innocent.
Glen woke and saw the man still dressed or dressed again for the outside. It seemed much darker than before, but the man said, come, and Glen decided anything would be better than his nightmares. When he got outside, he decided it was also colder than before. He pulled his cloak closer to his chest and slushed his way through the snow. He tried to stay in the man’s footsteps.
When they reached the edge that looked out over the land, the old man said the same words as before. “Tell me what you see.”
“It is all dark now,” Glen said. “The lights are too few. They are driven underground and into the darkness. The lights are afraid for their lives and the people are charging up the hill with torches and pitchforks, determined to burn the castle and kill the monster. But it isn’t a monster.” Glen turned to look at the man. “It is the only hope people have.” The old man said nothing, he just turned Glen’s eyes back toward the land below.
“No one listens. No one can hear. There are a few who decide what people must feel and what they must think and they punish anyone who strays. Right is wrong and wrong is right. The ones who work hard have nothing. The ones who never work have everything. The ones called unworthy are killed – they are allowed to die in their disease. They are forced. And not only the old. The innocents are killed by the millions. I can never live in a world that slaughters the innocents and turns away as if what they cannot see does not exist.”
“It is all dark now,” Glen repeated. “Faith, hope and love are taken away and the people are left being deaf, blind and dumb. No one can hear. No one can see. And no one dares to speak. They will be crucified.” Glen looked away again and would not look back, and the old man lead him again into the cave and into bed where Glen settled back into a fitful sleep. The night was not yet over.
He dreamed of five giants, standing in a circle, surrounded by little men and women of all sizes and shapes.
The first was Asian, and he smiled like everything was wonderful, but he was on fire. Glen could not tell if the ones around him were warming themselves by the fire or trying to set themselves ablaze as well. He decided the latter when he saw one, a big man, standing back just a step. That man kept shaking his head at the giant, but he appeared full or leprosy and appeared to be crumbling ever so slowly. Soon enough, he would be nothing but dust, whereas the giant would burn for a while. Glen had to move on.
The second giant was below the first. He was reaching for the sky and leaping for the heavens which he could never touch. Curiously, the man’s head was gold, his trunk was silver, his loins were bronze and his arms and hands were iron. Glen heard the clanking sound as those hands tried to grasp the sky, but then he saw the legs were mere copper and the feet were made of clay. They would not hold up that bulk for very long. Glen expected the feet and then legs to give way and the man to fall into little pieces at any moment. Glen could not watch.
The third giant was the biggest, but he was dressed in rags and kept in a cage. It was a ratty, old cage with loose hinges and rickety wooden poles that could hold no one determined to break free, least of all a giant. But this giant appeared content to watch as the other giants were being destroyed. Now and then he would call on one of his small sons, one small enough to get through the cracks, and send that son to take a swing at one or more of the giants. But otherwise, he simply waited, his wife and children behind him. Glen caught sight of the wife, covered head to toe in a tent. All Glen saw was the eyes, but they were enough. The look was hardly human. They were the eyes of one who was utterly broken, like a beast broken to the plow. That was all she was good for. That was all she was allowed. Glen turned his eyes away.
The fourth giant was seated on the ground with a cross around his neck, though the cross was hung upside-down. He had no people to speak of around him. He looked old and worn. As Glen drew near, he got a shock. It was not really a giant, but a composite being made up of many much smaller men and women. That was enough, but the thing that really shocked him was what they were doing. They were all eating themselves. It was like they so despised themselves, they were self-destructing. One had no fingers left. One was without feet and already gnawing on his own leg. Glen had to turn away again.
The fifth giant, Glen saw was really two, one male and one female. They also wore crosses though they were blackened, burnt, scarred crosses. And they were fighting like they wanted to destroy each other. The giant midget at their feet was no good as a referee. It was egging them on and trying not to get stepped on at the same time. The many men and women behind hardly paid attention to the fight. They each had a blackbird on the shoulder that made horrific sounds and whispered in the ears. Glen looked around for the doves to take those horrible sounds and turn them into heavenly song, but the doves were not present. The people were listening to the blackbirds and hitting themselves and hitting each other even while the giant man and woman fought, bitterly. Glen had to look elsewhere, but waking was not better than sleeping.