The Serpent In The Garden
By David Edward Nell
“Larger than anything ever built by man, the traveling tower could flatten hills and mountains,” Dad told Gabriel, his face glowing red from the candlelight.
“Our Great God,” said Gabriel from her bed, making a sign of the crucifix with her hands.
Dad did the same, and replied, “What we call it today. We used to call it World Eater. We were wrong about many things.”
“Where did it come from?”
“They say Our Great God came from the sky. No one really knows.”
“What did it do?” Gabriel asked.
“When it came, all the cities of the Old World were crushed. For good reason. Back then, the people were living sinful lives. Me, too. I was what they used to call an Atheist.”
“What’s that?” Gabriel asked.
“A terrible type of man. But I’ve changed my ways.”
“How did you escape the Old World cities?” Gabriel asked.
“I believe Our Great God chose me in spirit, though I didn’t know it at the time. See, I was one of the survivors who fled to the sea and formed this new settlement, and I think there’s a reason for that. Eventually, when the tower caught up with us, we were so, so afraid. But remember, we didn’t understand at the time. As I remember, it was mid-winter. Suddenly we heard this great rumble, and the ground quaked. Everyone went outside to see. When the traveling tower came again, you couldn’t even see the moon anymore, only its… lights. Seemed like it was heading right for our shacks.”
Gabriel’s mouth was wide open now.
“I still remember going to collect my things so I could try to run away. But then it cut into the sea and simply stopped. It spared the people that day. Been a long time since it moved. Well, it doesn’t need to anymore, because it’s here to teach us great things. It’s chosen us. It’s a blessing, really. If only we knew what we know now.”
“Wow,” Gabriel exclaimed.
“Our Great God then communicated to the Preacher in his dreams. Imagine that.”
“What did Our Great God say?”
“Our Great God wanted our servitude.”
“What is servitude?”
“Serving. That’s what we do. We serve Our Great God in many ways.”
Dad laugh-coughed weakly and smoothed her soft hair. “You ask many questions. I can tell you’re excited, but you better get some sleep.”
“Please, Dad, just one more question. Like, who lives in the tower?”
“Forbidden knowledge, my girl. We must never speak of that.”
Dad pointed upwards. “They’re watching.”
“Tomorrow you will know everything.”
“Will Our Great God bring Mum back some day?” Gabriel asked.
Dad paused, rubbing his wrinkled face. He spoke softly, “No one has ever come back, girl. That’s a good thing, though. Mum is probably having a very nice time with Our Great God. Better than struggling here, don’t you think?”
“Like, what will happen when I see Our Great God?”
“I don’t know, but look, this is a good thing. All right? Consider yourself very lucky. No more questions.”
Dad blew out the candle, and Gabriel dreamt of her mother. In the morning, Dad was weeping.
Gabriel was given a special necklace by the Preacher. She was happy but wished Dad was, too. The Preacher put her on a boat and paddled against the Atlantic Ocean tide, and then Dad was gone.
On the way, Gabriel kept asking the Preacher questions, but he wouldn’t answer. As the tower came into view, it wasn’t so beautiful anymore. She saw the sun for the last time as the boat entered a tunnel at the tower’s base. The Preacher picked her up under the arms, put her on a platform, faintly thanked her and left.
The little girl stood in darkness for a while, waiting.
- - -
David Edward Nell writes from Cape Town, South Africa. He can be visited at: http://davidedwardnell.blogspot.com
Thursday, April 16, 2015
The Serpent In The Garden
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