Holiday Journey 7

Chris put a note on the door.  It had instructions directing Lilly to stay with Missus Minelli, if she should come back. He got Missus Minelli from next door to watch for Lilly.  Missus Minelli, an older widow, had children and grandchildren who lived some distance away. She did not get visited very often by her own family.  She loved Lilly, and watched her from time to time before these last few months, when Mary moved in.  Chris said nothing about Lilly being missing, though Missus Minelli might have guessed something was up.  Hers had been the very first door they knocked on when they started knocking on doors.  Still, Chris let the assumption stand that Lilly had gone out, perhaps with friends, though he did not say exactly where she might have gone.

“Lilly knows, if I am not home, to stay with you until I get home.”

“I remember,” Missus Minelli said.  “Lilly is such a nice, polite child.  But where should I tell her you are going?”

“Mary and I are going to church,” Chris said.  “And thank you for being there for me, and for Lilly.”

“Happy to do it,” Missus Minelli said.  Her old, craggy face wrinkled up in a big smile as she eyed Chris and Mary. “You two make a lovely couple.”

“Oh, we’re not…” Chris started to say something, but looked at Mary, who looked back at him with those big, puppy-dog eyes, wondering what he would say, and how he might feel about that idea.  Chris let his voice drop and said, “Thank you,” to Missus Minelli.  “We won’t be long.”

He walked beside Mary to the elevator.  She dropped her eyes to the floor.  He never stopped staring at her, even on the elevator; but she never looked up at him.  At last, they stepped outside, and Chris took Mary’s hand; and then he would not look at her. But Mary looked at him and smiled with all her might, and her heart danced the three blocks to the church.

 

Cue: Angels We Have Heard on High

A Holiday Journey, The London Symphony Orchestra

conducted by Don Jackson.  Ó℗CD Guy Music Inc., 2001

 

Chris, like so many his age, made it through church confirmation, and did not go much after that.  He was not sure what he believed, exactly, but he knew he believed in love, and so did God, apparently.  That seemed to be what the church believed in, even if most Christians did not live or act that way.   He believed in love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and all that God supposedly taught, even if most people did not live it or really believe it for themselves. He tried to do these things in his life, and he tried go to church since he and Lilly got left on their own.  He felt it was important for Lilly to hear and learn about God—about love, joy and peace.  She certainly would hot hear about such things on the street.

He found his Episcopal church closed and locked up tight.  He took Mary slowly down the street, and mumbled something about it being a week before Christmas, and Sunday no less, and the church had no business being closed and locked. They tried several other mainline churches in town before they got to the Catholic church at the end of the street. Chris never stopped holding Mary’s hand, and Mary never stopped smiling.  Chris did not smile at the thought of the churches being closed the Sunday before Christmas.  It irked him.

They found a small side door open at the Catholic church.  It let them into the sanctuary.  They found a very old priest there, setting up the nativity scene for next Sunday.  It would be Christmas Eve, with Christmas Day on the following Monday.  The priest noticed as they came in.  He waved, but kept to his task, while Mary genuflected briefly at the altar and Chris went to sit in a pew and cry. He wanted to cry out to God for help, but he did not know how.  He could only hope God could read what sat so heavily in his heart.

Mary wandered to an alcove where there appeared to be a statue of a saint.  It might have been Nicholas.  She was not sure, but in any case, her heart and prayers went out to the one above all the saints.  Her tears were large, but quiet.  Her words got whispered.

“He is broken.  How can I abandon him?  He is such a good and wonderful man.  I cannot leave him alone to suffer.”

“And you love him,” the words came to her, as a tall, thin blonde, with the lightest eyes, that sparkled with specks of gold, appeared before her.  It was the Christmas angel.  Mary trembled in the presence of the angel, and a holy fear gripped her heart.

“Merry.” The angel called her by her name.  “Do not be afraid.”

“Holy one,” Mary responded, and found herself opening-up, almost like her heart could not keep quiet.  “I do love him.  He is my heart,” she used the well-known fairy phrase.  “I know the little spirits are not supposed to form attachments with mortal humans, but I would become human in a heartbeat, give up all the glories of the second heavens, and never return to the land of Christmas, if only I could be with him for the rest of our days.”

“And Lilly”

“That was…I…” she could not say the angel was wrong.  Such words were unthinkable.  Clearly, the angel allowed Lilly to be taken quietly in the night. Lilly belonged with her mother, and generally, it was better if humans did not know about such things; but Mary had to express her feeling.  Neither would the angel accept anything less than the truth.  “He deserves to know what happened to her.”

“No one deserves,” the angel said.  “What humanity deserves for sin and rebellion is horrible beyond imagining.  Instead, what they got was a baby in a manger, who grew and died so they would not have to get what they deserved.”

Mary lowered her head.  She knew, and above all honored the story of how the source chose to deal with humanity on that most basic and deep rooted level.  The trouble was, as a non-human, her place was to be obedient to the source as represented in the form of the angel that stood before her.  She was to do her work in the world, and could only hope that she might be included in the miracle of grace.  Mary said no more.  She could not argue with such a statement.  All she could do was turn her head and look longingly at Chris, and maybe pray for him.

“Two brothers,” the angel spoke over her shoulder.  “The older brother, the most fortunate of men, both loved and was loved in return by a fairy for however brief a time.  Now, the younger brother has captured the heart of a young elf maiden.”

“Now and forever,” Mary said, and watched as the old priest finally stepped over to talk to Chris.

Avalon Pilot part II-6: Before the Beginning

Too far, Glen thought.  Alice, how did you make things work at the beginning?  How did you survive? he asked himself, and felt surprised that Alice was not there in his subconscious to answer.  He had to think, and quick.  He expended his air at last with the words “Air bubble.”  A bubble of air instantly formed around him.  He quickly said, “Big air bubble to encompass everyone, and normal light.” The air bubble grew until everyone was inside of it.  They were still floating weightless, but a quick scan around him told Glen that everyone would survive despite the hacking, gagging, and gasping for breath.

Think, Glen told himself.  Way back at the beginning of time he remembered Alice appeared in a place on a rock.  The old god, Cronos appeared, along with Angel—that is what he called him anyway, if Angel could be called a him.  With that thought, he said, rock and stared down beneath his feet, though everyone’s feet were certainly not pointed in that direction.  Still, the rock began to grow and it continued until the air bubble became a dome.  Then he said, “Solid and heavy with gravity like a mountaintop on Earth.”  Everyone fell.

Glen felt lucky.  He was the one who fell the farthest, then Roland, but the elf proved to be nimble enough to avoid being hurt, and Boston, though she was young enough to also go without injury.  Some of the military equipment in the backpacks bumped rather hard, but Glen did not worry about that.   He felt he twisted his ankle.  He tried the word, “Heal,” but it had a minimal effect.  Meanwhile, Lockhart held up the bleeding hand he used to catch himself.  Everyone watched in amazement as the bleeding stopped.  In only a few seconds, the wound healed itself.

“Because we are at the beginning of things?” Boston wondered out loud.

“The grace of our god.”  Roland had another suggestion, and looked at Glen.

“Some magical cure?” Lieutenant Harper asked.

Glen shook his head.  “He is still filled with those Gaian healing chits that healed his back and legs.  They may help you, Lockhart, but you best not depend on them.  I’ll say it again, leaning on them is a good way to get killed.”

“Understood.”  Lockhart responded shortly, since he already stood and reached out from the edge of the rock to touch the stuff of Primordial Chaos.

“Big dome of air.  Plenty of air.”  Glen said and waved his hands.  The swirling mass complied and soon they had no fear of running out of air.

“Doctor Procter?”  Roland knelt beside the old man.  Doctor Procter wore the amulet, but held it in his hands and shook it, like he could not see what he needed to see.

“Lincoln?”  Meanwhile, Boston knelt beside Lincoln because the man looked ready to cry.

“I’ll get our bearings in a minute,” Doctor Procter responded, as Roland looked over at Boston and Lincoln.

“No way she survived this, even with her magic.  I don’t see how.”  Lincoln let his tears flow.

“Confession.”  Glen spoke loud enough to get everyone’s attention.  “I was afraid something like this might happen.  We went back further than I planned.  It all happened so fast.  I could not control it.  Alice is out of touch.  It may take a long time to get home, as I feared.”

“What?”  Lockhart pulled away from the edge, and even Lincoln looked up.

Boston thought it through and lifted her voice in protest.  “But I can’t live 6500 years to get back to where I belong,”

Glen waved off her complaint.  “The time gates should still be there where I am at the center.  Doctor Procter’s amulet should work as well.  How I get home may be a bit more problematic.”  He mumbled most of that.

“Man!” Boston started again but stopped when she got interrupted by a great light at her back and a voice in her mind that said, simply, “Do not be afraid.”

Boston turned to see Lockhart, Glen and both soldiers on their knees, and she felt the need to join them, especially after Glen named their visitor.  “Angel.”

“Come. Kairos.  Stand.  You are required to resolve this.”

Glen got slowly to his feet while Angel did something to lessen his own light so the others felt less afraid and could look up.  Even so, none dared to look into Angel’s face.

“How can I resolve this?” Glen asked.

The answer came without hesitation.  “You must offer yourself in place of the woman.”

Glen stepped over to touch the sticky ooze.  “Will I die?”

“I cannot say.”

“Will Mingus return with the woman?”

“I cannot say.”

“Will I still be able to help my friends get home?”

“I cannot say.”

“What?”  Lincoln found the courage to speak.  Perhaps it was the prospect of getting his wife back after all that inspired him.  “You do not know, or you are not allowed to say?”

“I cannot say.”  Apparently, that was the only answer they were going to get.

Glen looked at the suffocating mass that surrounded them before he turned from the chaos at the edge of the rock to face them all.  He took the glowing golden ball out of his pouch and Boston saw that it was indeed an apple.  With a sharp knife that Glen also carried in his pouch, he cut three slices.  He handed the first to Lincoln.  “Take and eat,” he said.  Lincoln ate the slice and at least half or more of his age fell away from him.  He still seemed older than Boston, but not much older.  He ended up around thirty at the most.

“Take and eat.”  He handed a slice to Lockhart and with the same effect.  “The golden apple of youth,” he explained.  “You will age normally from this point, but I could not let a couple of old men face the time zones.  You would not live long enough to get home.”  He turned toward Boston.  “Sometimes you may have to run,” he confessed with a grin.  “And to you I give this slice for Alexis.  I know you won’t eat it because you won’t want to become a baby.  Tell her to take and eat as soon as she arrives.  And now the one-minute review.”

“It would be best to stay out of whatever trouble you can and not kill if you can help it.  Remember, no matter how impossible it may seem, these are real people in real time and they are capable of fear and pain and they will respond to hate as well as love and kindness.  I understand there may be times when you will have to defend yourselves.  Do not hesitate.  Remember, if you die you will stay dead.”   Glen looked at Angel, but there was nothing there for him to hold on to.  He needed to do this himself.

“Two things.

One:  The only difference between you and the people is they are confined to their place in time whereas you can move from zone to zone through the gates and can jump forward anywhere from a few years to fifty or more years at a time.  Not counting the things you have with you, whatever other stuff you take from time zone to time zone, will age a corresponding number of years based on the number of years in your time jump.

Two:  Don’t forget that Ashtoreth wanted to control and change time.  Some of her creatures are still out there.”  He paused before he added, “Most dangers you can escape by simply going through the next time gate.  I suppose if they can follow you from time zone to time zone, you will know they are a real danger.”  He turned on the marines.

“Decker and Harper.  You need to consider Lockhart your General, and in his absence, Lincoln is your Colonel.  If I recall, he got designated a light Colonel at one point with the CIA.  Anyway, they know more about what is involved than you do, so don’t get cocky or I’ll see you stranded in some place unpleasant.  Is that clear?”

“Sir, yes sir.”  Lieutenant Harper responded.  Decker said nothing, but he nodded his agreement.

“Boston, you have the medical kit?”  Boston nodded.  “Let us hope you don’t have to use it.  Meanwhile, I have filled your packs with elf bread-crackers since you don’t have to carry extra clothes.  The fairy weave you wear can be shaped to your needs, and just so you know, Boston has vitamins in the med kit since you won’t always get a square meal.  Oh yeah.”  He clapped his hands twice.  “So now you will understand and be understood whatever the language.  It will all just sound like English to you.  Now I have to go.”  Trouble does come in threes, he thought, and with the word, “Three,” he ran and leapt into the ooze before he changed his mind and chickened out.

Alexis immediately came back, Mingus clinging to her sleeve.  And after Boston gave Alexis the apple slice, she became more nearly Boston’s age and flew into Lincoln’s arms.  They kissed for a long time.

Boston licked her fingers and became something closer to twenty-three.  Mingus fumed to see his daughter in the arms of that human, but with his son holding him back there was little he could do—not to mention the fact that the presence of the angel scared him beyond reason.  Lockhart, alone kept his head.

“But where do we go from here?” he asked.

“I can’t get a good reading this deep before history,” Doctor Procter admitted with a whack of his amulet.  “Your thoughts Mingus?”

Mingus said nothing, but the angel said one more thing.  It pointed opposite the direction Glen had jumped and a bit of the primordial goo cleared off to reveal a tunnel that led a long way to a distant light.  Angel spoke.

“This is your way home.”