Thursday, January 21, 2010

Something is Wrong Here

"Rayford," Jesus said.

"Yes, Lord," Rayford responded.

"When you see My throne, join those on My left, your right."

Rayford didn't notice he had stopped in his tracks. He didn't notice that others were moving passed him. All he noticed was that something was wrong. He had been waiting for this moment for seven years. He had studied it for just as long. He was supposed to be on Jesus' right. He was sure of it. But he was just as sure of what Jesus had said.

Something was wrong.

Perhaps it was a test of faith. If it was Rayford would pass. He would do whatever Jesus commanded of him. "Yes, Lord," Rayford said. He made his way rightwards.


Big Sky-Man told him to move left, so Jacob moved to his left. He considered disobeying for the sake of disobeying, but didn't see the point. Big Sky-Man could simply teleport Jacob there if he didn't move, and over there didn't look any worse than where he was standing. He felt like stretching his legs anyway and didn't see any gain in pissing of Big Sky-Man. Jacob moved to his left, Big Sky-Man's right.

Jacob had never studied theology and never set foot in a church, he had no idea the significance of being on the right or the left. In fact the only thing this right-left thing brought to mind was an episode of the original series of Star Trek. It was a heavy handed commentary on race with a memorable scene in which one black on one side white on the other side alien shouted that he was superior to another similarly colored alien because the other one was, "white on the right side. All of his people are white on the right side!"

Jacob smiled at his faded memory of the scene as he made his leftwards through the crowd.


Below them the vast heavenly hosts were assembled. A great raised platform stood under the assorted saints and angels. On the platform Jesus sat on a throne and five angels stood. The three angels of mercy were behind Jesus, Michael and Gabriel stood to either side.


One of the angels stepped forward and made a speech. Jacob thought its wings were pretty.

"Jacob, " Big Sky-Man said, "come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. "

"I've never seen you before," Jacob said.

"Assuredly, I say to you, Jacob," Big Sky-Man said, "inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren," Jacob's mind was flooded with memories. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, all the times he gave up his water ration because others needed it more, strangers who would one day be friends camped out in sleeping bags in his living room after an earthquake had toppled so many other houses.

He remembered on the night of the vanishings meeting a teenaged girl who had lost everything -literally everything- standing in the street staring at her burning house wearing nothing but a blanket, the only thing he'd had to give was the clothing he'd been wearing. It wasn't complete charity though, she'd given him the blanket in trade. There were also instances of donating clothing to charities, but they were much less notable.

Most of all he remembered the hospital. The damned hospital. He hated it. The smell, the knowledge that so many of those he was visiting would die, the horror of seeing a child, always under seven years old, being wheeled through the halls with bits of them missing. Everything about it, he had hated. But his friend had been right, there was a need. By the time there were children in need of a children's hospital all of the children's hospitals had been abandoned or repurposed. He couldn't build, he had no medical training, he had no money. He watched as others worked to make it operational, but couldn't help with that. Once it was he watched as others did the work of healing, but couldn't help with that. All he could do was go from room to room and talk to the children. So he that was what he did.

Jacob didn't actually have any memories of coming to anyone in prison.

"you did it to Me." Big Sky-Man finished.

Jacob said, "Oh."


With anger and yet sadness, Jesus said, "Rayford, depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me."

The words didn't really parse properly in Rayford's brain. When he said, "What! When?" it was more of a reflex than an actual question.

Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these,” Ray's mind filled with images, a woman on the ground next to an empty stroller that he drove passed on his way home, homeless people he had ignored on his way to various places, every person who's suffering he had left unattended because he was too busy spying on Nicolae. The images were too many to number. "you did not do it to Me. You will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life," Jesus finished.

This wasn't right. Rayford wasn't a goat. He was a sheep. He knew it. Bruce and Tsion had both told him so. Something was wrong here. "No. No! NO!"

Somewhere, to his right, Rayford heard someone yell, "But I said the prayer!"


A woman near Jacob asked, "Is this a trick?"

Jacob didn't understand how she could even think that if her experience had been anything like his own. He knew, somehow, exactly what this was. He silently asked Big Sky-Man if he could tell her. Big Sky-Man said he could. He approached her, looked her in the eyes and said, "No. It's not a trick. This what we've earned. At long last our suffering is at an end."

"But I took the mark. I have the mark of the beast."

Jacob looked at her empty forehead. He had to lean slightly to see her hand. "Not anymore. I don't think marks matter anyway. It's what you do that matters."

Jacob looked passed her, the earth cracked under the people on Big Sky-Man's left. The crack expanded, lengthening and widening until it it swallowed all of them, then it shut itself. "And kerplunk. He doesn't screw around." Jacob thought for a moment, "I hope He doesn't just leave them there. I can't believe that they're all irredeemable."



I originally misread "Rayford knew instinctively that every living person on earth was gathered in that valley." as "Rayford knew instinctively that every living thing on earth was gathered in that valley."

As such it made sense to include:

The onlookers instinctively knew that every living thing on earth was present. Rayford tried to determine how many human beings had survived this long. Jacob wondered where his dog and cat were. And his spider plant.


It took most of the morning for everyone to get where they were supposed to be. Jacob had located his pets and his plant, but the cat had gotten bored and moved on.

Unfortunately that doesn't make much sense when looking at what the text really says.

Also, Krystall, Nicolae's secretary, was originally supposed to be the one Jacob talks to, but apparently she died before the series reached it's conclusion. As a result I had to drop the original last line:

"I don't know," Krystall said, and she told him of a man who'd once tormented her when she was immersed in total darkness.


JE said...

it's a better story than L&J could ever write, because it's more human than they could ever be.

James Hanley said...

I'm enjoying these snippets. But I'm trying to figure out if "fan" fic is really an accurate description of them. ;)