The Voice of God

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“God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning – the second day” Genesis 1:8

You’re going to have to speak up Art, “ Flo advised him.

Captain Art Davis stood up, took a deep breath, and bellowed “I am God!”

“That’s better. I have it recorded now. Let me add it to your wrist speaker vocabulary. Where’s your robe?”

“Do I really have to wear that damn thing?” Art complained. “I can see the fake beard, but from what we’ve seen, these Neptunians run around naked. Maybe I should too.”

“You’re missing the whole point Art…we want to impress these aliens.”

“What do you mean by that?

“Listen Art, this is just Day Two. We’ve got a lot more to do.”

The Neptunians were huddled around a fire. Their leader, a short stocky biped with thick arms and a bald head, lit a pipe with a burning twig and took a long hit before passing it on.

His name was Alca, and unlike most Neptunians he was ambitious and sought power. The small band that he had gathered, and ruled, weren’t strong enough to take on the other tribes of Neptune.

Alca was a quick thinker. So, when he saw the two aliens (who looked remarkably familiar) get of their spacecraft one day, he didn’t run like the rest of his band. Instead he went to his knees, an uncomfortable positions for this thick legs, and bowed his head.

The two earthlings approached him. Flo nudged Art and he took his helmet off. “Good to know we can breathe in this atmosphere,” he said conversationally while walking over to kneeling Alca, who was trembling in fear and excitement.

“My name is Captain Art Davis, and this is Second Lieutenant Flo…”

Hold on Art! The recording remember?”

“I wish you’d address me with the proper military courtesy in front of others Lieutenant…”

Really Art? We’ve been sleeping together for two years and haven’t seen a human being since we went on this mission. Kinda late to stand on ceremony isn’t it?”

“Fine.”

Alca looked up at the two strange beings that appeared to be wearing some kind of shell and wondered if they came in peace?

Art pushed a button on his wristwatch and pointed at his chest, “I am God!” he bellowed mightily. The loud roar made Alca shake even more.

He sat up gingerly, and tapped his chest like a good Neptunian hound and said, “Alca.”

It took weeks of working with Alca, and his small band, but Flo managed to establish a crude system of signs and words. She impressed upon them that Art was the God of everyone in their world.

His voice was louder than any mere Neptunian’s. The very sound made them tremble in religious ecstasy.  They were taught that he had all of the answers to their problems. That his word was law. That his justice was supreme.

This went on for 12 cycles (7 earth years) as monuments were made by the Neptunians to honor their new God. All the while, Alca plotted how he could use God to further his aims. He started a cult that claimed to be God’s only true believers.

Finally, Art and Flo completed their mission and left Neptune to go on to their next assignment…Mercury.

As It Stands, earthlings as gods. Now there’s a funny thought!

The Golem of Bar Nune Wyoming

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Prologue:

1593, Prague

After the famous rabbi, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, created a Golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava River to protect the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks and programs, he eventually immobilized the creature when the job was done.

The Golem’s name was Josef and his body was stored in the attic Genizah of the Old New Synagogue, where it stayed until needed again. Centuries passed…

2017, Prague

Rabbi Leopold ben Bezalel finished reading a book – The Golem: Legends of the Ghetto of Prague (English edition 1925) by Chayim Bloch’s (1881–1973) – and sat it down on the end table.

He was frustrated, but not about to give up on his search for his ancestor’s Golem. He discovered that the attic where the Golem was put had been renovated in 1883, and there was no evidence of the Golem there at that time.

Not even a pile of sand on the floor. For whatever reason the Golem must have been moved by someone Leopold concluded, after reading about a Nazi agent who went up in the synagogue attic during World War II and tried to stab the Golem but he died instead.

To Leopold, that suggested that the Golem was still in the attic regardless of the 1883 renovation where searchers couldn’t find the body.

Getting into that attic was a problem. It was closed up again after WW II and no visitors were allowed. It was still closed.

He looked out the window and watched the snow steadily fall on the towns main street. Bar Nune, population 3,209, in Natrona County, Wyoming had become a bad place for Jews to live. His congregation was constantly being harassed by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

The authorities turned their backs on what was happening. They were part of the problem. They weren’t interested in protecting Jews anymore than the neo-Nazis. Their hatred seemed to increase in the last year and their attacks against the Jewish population increased.

Leopold saw what was happening and was determined to do something about it.

It took every last bit of his savings, but Leopold came up with the money to fly to the Czech Republic. Once he arrived at Prague he went right to the Jewish Corner, which was once a ghetto, and looked up an old friend.

Rabbi Franz Philippson’s friendship with Leopold began two decades ago when he was a studying in a New York synagogue. For the observant Jew like Leopold, the study of sacred texts is a life-long task. The New York synagogue was famous for its well-stocked library of sacred Jewish texts.

The two old friends greeted warmly and Rabbi Philippson invited Leopold to stay with him. The house was within walking distance of the Old New Synagogue. The two men talked throughout most of the night.

The next morning after prayer services the two friends strolled around the small courtyard outside of the Old New Synagogue.

“So you see my dear Leopold, Josef was never in the attic. That story was created by historians who didn’t have their facts right. If you need Josef I’ll help you in the rituals that it takes to summon him,” said Rabbi Philippson.

“Thank you! What do we do first?”

“We go down to the banks of the Vltava river for clay. That is where Josef has been all along. Let’s go to my house and get the book of Hebrew incantations in my library.”

Hours later the two men were standing on the river bank and Leopold was gathering a lump of clay. When the Golem appeared he addressed it – calling it Josef – and hung a necklace with a plaque on it with the name of Shem.

“Remember my friend,” Rabbi Philippson cautioned, “On Friday evenings you must remove his necklace before Sabbath begins and let him rest.” 

Bar Nune, Wyoming 

Rabbi Leopold ben Bezalel walked out of the synagogue’s candle lit interior with a light heart. It was nearly a year since any of his congregation had been harassed with anti-Semitic remarks.

The population did shrink by about four hundred residents, but no one seemed worried about it.

As It Stands, on the fringes of legends and myths there are certain cryptic truths.

 

A Spy on a Saturn Battleship

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The command center board lit up and General Adams turned on an encrypted communication device and listened closely: 

“Major Mark Steel, US Army reporting

I haven’t got much time.

I’m hiding in the deep cargo level of a T722 Saturn Battleship bound for earth. I’ve been listening to bits and pieces of the deck officers conversations and it looks like this is the real McCoy…Saturn is breaking our peace treaty and have put together an invasion fleet!

I’m in the flagship Conquering Star.” Please advise. I’ll contact you again at 17:00.”

General Adams turned off the device and turned to his assistant Col. John Hedy. “Our worst fear has come true, John. Saturn is attacking us despite the peace treaty!”

Col. Hedy had cotton mouth when he asked the general what their next step was? The general knew it was time to call the president. It was up to him.

President Oliver Henderson calmly listened to General Adam then told him to prepare all of the US military forces for war. Then he called the president of Russia. Then China. Then England. Then Canada. The calls took a full day to make.

Only the Big Three countries, America, China, and Russia, had any kind of defense system against hostile aliens. It was still relatively new, and untried. The plan called for perfect coordination between the three countries for maximum defensive strength.

Earth’s defense system circled the globe scanning for targets for the massive laser arsenal to eliminate. Each country’s defense system had to be careful to change orbits so there were no collisions.

Each firing platform also carried Atomic Bombs, and Hydrogen Bombs attached to jet-drones that could be controlled from Earth’s command centers. The combined firepower of the defensive network was mankind’s only hope.

17:00

“Major Steel reporting

I heard two deck officers talking about how easy they expected this invasion to be.

I also heard one say Saturn’s Premier Warlord Sheth Zorneath is aboard this flagship. Apparently it was he who talked Saturn’s ruling Kellith-Ashur Lords into breaking the treaty.

What are your orders?”

General Adam’s deep voice was soothing and clear, “Mark we think we’re ready. What I need you to do is when the attack starts turn on your open emergency channel and wait for further instructions.

You don’t mind me calling you Mark, do you major?” 

“Not at all sir.”

“Ralph. My name is Ralph. Good luck soldier.”

The attacking space armada approached earth at cruising speed. Russia’s spy satellite spotted them first and relayed the news to the others. The fighting platforms made rapid sight adjustments as the fleet got within range.

An opening salvo from six American and Chinese platforms struck two of Saturn’s Aircraft Carriers, disabling, but not destroying them. The return fire from the fleet pulverized all six attacking platforms.

The rest attempted to regroup at different coordinates. Some were able to fire all of their ordnance before being destroyed.

General Adam’s hands were shaking as he flipped on the secure communication device connecting him to Major Steel. This was it! One last chance…

“Mark…earth is doomed. They’ve knocked out our defenses. Is there anything you can do?”

Affirmative Ralph! I’ve been scouting things out, and I’m sure I can get to the control room and sabotage this big tub. Tell my wife I love her, and we’ll meet again somewhere in eternity.”

Col. Hedy ran into General Adams office to bring the good news; “For some reason there was a star-shattering explosion and the enemies flagship was destroyed. The remaining fleet has fled.”

As It Stands, I enjoy reading and writing spy/hero stories.

The Gods Last Meeting

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Celestial music. Clear blue skies. Trees and flowing rivers heavy with fish.

A gentle breeze tickles the grass meadows where the gods are gathering. Their colorful flowing robes mimic exotic butterflies.

They’re coming from every culture in earth’s history to the Elysian Fields to attend an emergency meeting. The site had more room than the Christian God’s Heaven, Seven Heavens, Tian, and Valhalla.

The atmosphere is electric with powerful energies. A mighty horn blast suddenly gets everyone’s attention. All eyes fall on Odin as he walks into the center of the gathering. His one good eye ablaze with emotion:

“I’m sorry to say we’re all going to be forgotten by mankind soon. Every book about us will turn to dust. Every story will be forgotten. No one will ever call upon our names again in times of need.”

Zeus stood up and asked, “Who dares to threaten the gods!”

“Mankind,” Odin replied.

“How so?” Aphrodite asked.

“First off, let me say all of our fates are not the same.  Allah, Jesus, the Christian God, Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi still have many believers who worship them. The dwindling pagan population in the 21st century however, is barely enough to preserve the rest of us.”

“What about scholars? They read about us. They know of our numerous followers,”  Chalchiuhtlicue asked.

“The scholars get fewer by the day,” Odin explained. “Our real problem is that mankind is turning away from all religions. The ones that still exist are fighting a daily battle that is going badly for them.”  

 “How can this be?” Horus asked. “Mankind has always needed us.”

Hsi-Wang-Mu rose from his sitting position and stretched. “Has this not always been a concern?” he calmly asked.

“You speak the truth,” Poseidon agreed. “Why should we worry now?”

Odin looked at his fellow gods and a trace of sadness momentarily crossed his face.

“I didn’t arrive at this observation alone. For years Apollo, Mercury, Frigg, Isis, Thor, Venus, and I, have been studying these modern humans. They are rejecting the idea of a higher power.”

“But like you said Odin, they still believe in some gods, and we are still living in libraries worldwide,” Athena pointed out.

The gods that are still openly worshipped have been losing followers at a rate never seen before in history. As for libraries, they too are becoming a thing of the past,” Odin said.

“Then this is our last meeting,” Dionysus said, after sipping his wine.

“It appears that way,” Fortuna agreed. “Our luck has run out.”

As It Stands, where do you turn when in crisis or seeking solace?

All Aboard the Soul Train!

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A dimly lit train station surrounded by darkness.

Flickering souls, like giant fireflies, waiting impatiently. They hover around the loading platform. A train’s whistle breaks the silence…

“Step right up folks! Have your holo-tickets ready. No shoving or cutting into line now,” an old man with a conductor’s hat on, called out.

The train took off into the vast darkness, its steel wheels humming like celestial music. Inside, two souls were deep in conversation:

“That sure was close,” the first soul, whose name was Rosco, said with a sigh of relief. “If it wasn’t for those extra points I earned giving up my life for those kids, I think I would have gotten a one-way trip to hell.”

“Don’t be too confident now. We still face challenges before making it to Heaven,” the second soul, whose name was Harry, pointed out.

“You’re right, of course. We still have three trials to face before getting our wings,” Roscoe agreed.

“My first ticket is to a place called Agincourt, on October 25th, 1415, during the Hundred Years War,” Harry said.

“What’s your new name?” Roscoe politely asked.

“Peter Archer, I’m a long bowman for King Henry V.”

“My new name is Albert McColloch, and I’m a bystander at the OK Corral shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881,” Roscoe said, after closely scanning his holo-ticket stub.

“Looks like you’ll be getting off this train after me if the stops are chronological,” Harry observed.

“I hate to admit it,” Roscoe said, “but I was a politician in my old life.”

“That explains your close call for getting the tickets.”

“I know,” Roscoe confessed. “I’m sure grateful that I qualified for the Karma program and got these opportunities to show why I’ll make a good angel.”

“Next stop coming up!” the conductor’s voice suddenly rang out.

Harry stood up and stretched.

“Agincourt!” the conductor announced.

“Good luck to you Roscoe. I hope to see you in heaven some day,” Harry said before hurrying down the narrow aisle to the open door.

Roscoe watched him leave and the conductor close the door. He looked out into the darkness and prayed that he wouldn’t run for mayor of Tombstone.

As It Stands, souls, and what happens to them, are one of my favorite themes.

Beware the Treacherous Tides of Titan

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Surfers from the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are drawn to the tides of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, like moths.

Considered the most treacherous tides in two galaxies, it is a must ride for any surfer who had aspirations of making a name for himself (or herself) to shoot the tube on Titan’s Tides.

In a recent issue of Solar Surfers, some of the dangers were described in chilling details. For those unaware of the challenges, Titan’s oceans are full of carnivorous creatures ranging in size from an inch to four-hundred feet long.

The article, a first-hand account from a Mercurian surfer who survived a full ride, warned that lone predators, like the foot-long Teethers, wait until they see a surfer waiting a long time for a clean-up set to attack.

Decisiveness was crucial, the article emphasized.

Buzz, considered one of the three best surfers on Earth, set his copy of Solar Surfers down and checked the official drone provided by The Inter-Space Surfing Federation for validation.

Without the drone recording him it didn’t matter what he did…no one would ever know if he put on a spectacular show.

After registering his DNA with the drone he picked up his long board and walked towards the distant waves. The golden sand beneath his feet glittered beneath the blue Titan sky. A small patch of purple clouds gathered in the north.

Buzz looked up at the clouds and thought about the article he just read. It pointed out his best chances for avoiding sea creatures was during the short light cycle – a period of three hours of daylight.

He checked his waterproof wrist computer. Everything looked good. The water was pleasantly warm as he paddled out.

The waves were jacking as he rose with each swell. The hallow and intense waves grew higher as he paddled on. Then he was beyond the waves and paddling on a calm sea. The water around him shimmered with all the colors of a rainbow on Venus.

But he knew he had to make a move soon. He paddled back and forth impatiently trying to spot a clean-up set. Waves so immense they had no equal in two solar systems. Then he saw what he wanted.

The purple clouds were now overhead. Buzz wasn’t aware of that, his eyes were riveted to a spot deep behind the peak of a massive hollow wave.  Man and board shot through the wave’s tube to the other side of the peak!

He was riding pigdog, clutching the board with both hands, when he made a powerful sweeping move that allowed him to establish even more speed and go in the direction he wanted. Towards the shore. The drone, faithfully recorded the heart-stopping ride.

He didn’t feel the first strike when he was waist deep in the water walking towards the shore. He grabbed his board feebly when the second, and third strike, took away the lower half of his body!

The drone meanwhile recorded Buzz’s last moments. It was programed to return in four hours to the Inter-Space Surfing Federation headquarters. When it arrived, the Director viewed the film – like so many others – and confirmed his death, time, and place.

Having to contact the family was the hardest part of the Director’s job. Surprisingly, most of the families said the same thing, “Well…he died doing what he loved the most.”

As It Stands, I was thinking of rock climbers here on earth when I wrote this piece.

Adventure of a Lifetime: See Jeb

 

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Raleigh, North Carolina

Okay, my friends! It’s time to put your backpacks on and to follow me!”

Seven people dressed for a long hike fell into an irregular line behind their guide Jeb Brewster, III. Four men, and three women. All city-slickers. All wearing expensive new gear and clothing.

All out for a big adventure.

“North Carolina is the Pine Tree State,” Jeb said, as he led his clients deeper into a narrow forest pathway.

We have eight different kinds of pine. My favorite is those loblolly pines on your right.” Nine pairs of eyes briefly swiveled to the right. Thus far, Jeb was the only one talking which wasn’t unusual.

Finally, the woman just behind Jeb asked, “How long until we set up camp?”

Another hour,” Jeb replied.

There were more than 5,500 acres of woodlands inside the city’s Outer Loop, and Jeb knew them all like the back of his hand. He was raised in these wild woods. His family, the Brewster’s lived in Raleigh since 1800.

Jeb came from a long line of famous guides, and trackers. His reputation brought in a steady flow of clients. He charged more than any of the other local guides, but promised an adventure of a lifetime.

He refused to take a client who wasn’t in good physical shape. He made his clients sign contracts that they would not sue him if something went wrong on the four-day excursion.

Jeb called for a 10-minute break for anyone who had to void their bladder. It was a good time to sit for a short spell. Jeb had set a brutal initial pace to make sure they made it to the first clearing to camp out before night fall.

The group sat around a fire Jeb built and smoked weed. They laughed, ate food, and told scary stories late into the night. Jeb listened, but didn’t contribute to the story-telling. He quietly sipped on a silver flask filled with homemade moonshine.

A Red Wolf howled as the group settled down for the night. Two raccoons watched them from the concealment of the debris on the forest floor. A Bobcat slowly approached the fire but suddenly ran away when Jeb threw a rock at it.

The pace was slower the next day. They were in Cherokee territory when Jeb began pointing out small monuments, and grave sites off the beaten trail. He talked to them about how the white man almost wiped the Cherokee off the face of the earth.

On the second night they camped out near a running stream. This time the group built the bonfire. After listening to the group tell their stories for awhile Jeb spoke up, “I’ve got a story for you folks.” 

The little group turned their full attention on Jeb.

My kin have been up here for over 200 years. The first Brewster to enter these parts befriended the Cherokee people. We even intermarried. My mother was mostly Cherokee. Through all of these years we’ve hunted these woodlands.

“Heck! We still enjoy hunting, but we’ve been running out of game for the last twenty years.”

One of the men coughed, and then passed his pipe to the woman next to him.

That’s why I decided to start my own guide business. City folk like adventures in the wild and like I told you from the onset, I’ll provide you with the experience of a lifetime. If you live through it, you’ll agree.”

Nine worried sets of eyes latched onto Jeb. “What the hell?” one man asked.

Then the group saw them. They were wearing traditional war paint and carried tomahawks. Their leader came up to Jeb…and they hugged.

Joseph says he’ll give you a lead,” he told the group. “You have until daylight. If you bear north you just might make it back to Raleigh!”

As It Stands, traditionally native Americans have got the short end of the stick. I thought I’d reverse that for once.