Forever 1.9: In the House

            It was just after Glen’s breakfast was taken up by his silent feeder when Glen felt a rumbling in the cell.  He thought it was an earthquake before he realized it was coming from the wall to the outside, the one with the unreachable barred window.  He heard pounding against the wall, and he imagined there was a battle going on out there.  He thought the pounding was the concussion from artillery shells exploding in the nearby field.  The rumbling came again, and he thought of cavalry troops pouring across the fields, or maybe tanks and armored vehicles thundering along.

            Glen moved to the back corner of his cot, as far away from the window and outside wall as he could get.  He pulled his blanket up to cover him, and placed his excuse for a pillow between him and the outside.  He held tight to his bible and as he feared, the window and a huge section of concrete around the window came plummeting to the floor.  Glen barely had time to pull his blanket over his head and turn his face to the corner when the massive section of wall shattered his toilet.  Ceramic splinters and concrete pebbles sprayed the room.  The blanket and pillow caught most of it.  Glen only got a couple of small cuts and bruises that would heal soon enough.

            When Glen pulled down the blanket to look again, he saw something he never expected.  His shirt came in the gaping hole and fluttered to the floor.  All Glen could do was stare in disbelief for a good five or ten minutes.  He might have continued to stare if he did not hear a familiar voice.

            “Hello?”

            Glen had not spoken with someone in such a long time, it took him a second to remember he was supposed to answer.

            “Hello?”  He got off the cot and stood as close to beneath the hole as the fallen concrete and broken toilet would let him.  He got his shirt and clutched it while he continue to clutch the Bible in his other hand.

            “Hold on there.  Let me tie this off and we will get you out.”

            Again Glen stood in dumb silence for a moment before he thought to say, “Thank you.”  It was a few minutes before a rope was lowered down to him. 

            “Grab hold and I’ll pull you up.”

            “Just a minute,” Glen shouted back as he quickly tied his Bible into his shirt and tied the sleeves so he could wear it around his shoulder like a pack and keep his hands free.  He grabbed the rope and began to climb without another thought, and when he got to the opening, a strong pair of hands grabbed him and pulled him out.

            Glen could see nothing but light.  The outside sun was blinding his eyes which were no longer used to the brightness.  He felt it best to keep his eyes closed for a time to give himself a chance to adjust.  He did not let that interfere with his words, however.

            “Thank you.  Thank God.  Oh, thank the Lord.  Thank you.”

            “Yes, yes.  But we better get you away from this place as quickly as we can.” The man said.  It was a man, and he picked Glen up and set him on the back of a horse.  Glen held on as well as he could.  He tried not to jiggle too much and tried not to fall off as the man walked the horse for a considerable distance.

            By the time they stopped, they were in the shade of some trees, and Glen’s eyes were adjusting to the light, slowly.  He managed to get down from the horse by himself and without falling.  He paused to pat the horse on the neck before he looked around.  There was a little camp set up, with a fire and meat roasting with some roots and greens stuffed inside the roast.  Of course, Glen recognized the man right away.

            “1192!”

            “Yes,”  Sir Duncan said.  “But this is a bit of strange for me.”

            “Why?”  Glen asked.  “But first let me thank you for getting me out of that endless holding cell.”

            “Yes,” Sir Duncan intoned the word and spent a minute tending his roast.  “The truth is I did not get you out.  I did not even know you were there.”  Glen looked curious and Sir Duncan sat and invited Glen to sit as well before he explained.

            “I arrived here and stopped where I could keep out of reach of the House of the Lord.”

            “The House of the Lord?”

            “That is what the middle ones call it.  No telling how many of them there are, but if you stay here for any length of time you will come across one now and again.”

            “So why do you keep out of reach?”  Glen had some thoughts on the subject but he wanted to hear what Sir Duncan had to say.

            Sir Duncan stared at Glen for a bit.  “Your feminine side must be acting up,” he said.  “You must be starved, but you are not staring at the roast.  You are asking me personal questions instead.”

            “Sorry,” Glen said before he added, “so out of reach?”

            Sir Duncan laughed.  “All I can say is I have seen people go into those places and they never come out again.”

            Glen nodded.  “They feast you and then take you to a place they call the Hall of Grace and Justice.  Actually it is a judgment hall where they pass judgment on where and how you will spend eternity.”

            Sir Duncan looked up and nodded slowly.  “I figured it was something like that.”  He looked at Glen again.  “And you were supposed to spend eternity in that little dirty cell?”

            Glen shook his head.  “They had not decided my case yet.  That was a holding place.  I was there a month and still no action.”  Sir Duncan looked but said nothing.  Glen finished his thought.  “Apparently they could not locate my guardian angel, or as I told them, I haven’t got one.  I never had one.”

            “Not possible,” Sir Duncan said.  “Even I have one, lout that I am.  His name is Ariel, though I haven’t seen him but twice in these thousand years.”

            Glen shook his head.  “If I have got one, I have no idea who it might be, and the angels, er, middle ones in the house have no idea either.”  Glen pointed toward the buildings.

            “Another strange thing about you.”

            “Also, I’m not dead yet.  That kind of messed with their heads, if you know what I mean.”

            Sir Duncan nodded, turned his roast and told his tale.  “I saw a giant walking across the open field there, headed toward the building but not toward the front gate.  If he had been carrying an ax or big war hammer I would not have given it a second look, but he was carrying a shirt and carefully I might add.”

            “A giant?”  Glen figured who it was.  He still had a few aches and sore spots from his beating more than a month ago.

            “Had to be over eight feet tall.”  Sir Duncan raised his hand as if to indicate the height.  Glen imagined the man was not that tall, but near enough.

            “A giant.”  Glen settled that description in his mind.

            “And he walked right up to the house there where all the basement windows are barred against intruders.  He appeared to sniff.  He sniffed the shirt and sniffed the air until he came to one window.  Then he pounded on that window and tugged at it and pounded some more until it finally caved in and left a big gaping hole.  Last, he dropped the shirt in the hole and went away with a very satisfied look on his face.  I’ll tell you, even in this place that was an odd sight.”

            “It was my shirt,” Glen said and he took it off his shoulder and unwrapped it.  He put it on and left the Bible on the ground.  The shirt still fit, though Glen realized he had lost some weight over time.

            “I figured it was someone’s, so as soon as he was gone, I rode up and yelled down the hole.  I was not surprised to get an answer.  I looked down and saw the cell.  It was smaller than a monk’s cell and I bet there was not a cloisters to walk around in or chapel to go to services in.”

            “No way out but a grate in the ceiling,” Glen confirmed.

            Sir Duncan turned the roast again.  “Well, I figured it was my duty to help whoever was trapped down there, so down went the rope and up you came.  I must say, though, I was a bit surprised when I saw it was you.”

            “Why?”                                                                           

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