Chapter Twenty-One

Harry flipped through the first few pages, speaking as he scanned the neatly penned handwriting in the journal. "We've already covered some of this stuff in the beginning here about Ra and Eoa. I suppose we should start with the arrival of God and Lucifer."

According to Harry, according to Paul, according to those who had supposedly heard it from the Immortals themselves...now here, a condensed version according to me for you...



...The Immortals are very similar to us, like the human race. Their appearance was as Harry had described Gabriel, a larger, more perfect body. Their people on the whole were also much like us. Some wealthy, some poor. Some strong, some weak. Some good and some bad. Most somewhere in the middle.

The Immortals were not truly immortal. A few stories told of Immortals turning on each other, fighting amongst themselves, and every once in a great while, one dies from the hand of another. But death, and especially murder, is very rare. The penalty for murder, if ever in your immortal life you are caught, is a life of imprisonment with just enough space to breath and enough nourishment to stay alive...forever. This sentence, to an immortal, is far worse than even death. For us, a 'life sentence' may be fifty to sixty years, yours given up for those you stole from the victim. No big deal. Not very long compared to the hundreds of thousands of years of complete solitude, the penalty for stealing as many years from an immortal. Spending hundreds of thousands of years alone, unable to move, forced to stay alive, for eternity...one could only look forward to death.

So the taking of an immortal life was the greatest wrong that could ever be committed, held the greatest penalty, and was therefore very rare. The consequences were far too high to ever warrant the risk. The death of a human being, well, that's a different story all together. What have we got? A hundred years tops. Compared to hundreds of thousands of years, what's our life worth? What could we possibly accomplish in such little time? How could any one life be important? Sound familiar? Ever stepped on an ant? Swatted a fly? It's okay, they only live a couple of days anyway. What's one day less? Half their life, that's what! You want a just penalty for swatting a fly? Try fifty years in solitary confinement. Half your life for half the life you took.

Silly, right? To the Immortals, we have the life span of a housefly.

Although we may not have a life span worth worrying about, we are capable of communicating better with the Immortals than can houseflies with us. This makes us at least a bit more interesting, or maybe entertaining. I suppose if a fly was to suddenly stop buzzing around your food and offer up a sacrifice and create a miniature statue in your honor and kneel before this statue and pray to you to allow it and its family to live another day, you might think twice about squashing it flat with the classified section of the newspaper.

And maybe you might not. The Immortals are not that different than us.

Just like we have those among our race who wouldn't hurt a fly, who have a strong respect for all forms of life and their right to live out that life as they choose or by natural instinct, so do the Immortals. God falls into this category. When He discovered this world of life being used and abused, toyed with and tortured by others of His own race, He made it His mission to free us from this injustice.

If you were walking down the street and saw a couple of bullies terrorizing a smaller boy, you would step in and put a stop to it, right? So would God.

Living forever, one can only stay in one place for so long before getting bored and needing to move on anyway, so when God had recruited Lucifer and His Army of Angels to free the earth's race of people from the "inhumane" treatment often inflicted upon us by Ra and Zeus and their cronies, they hadn't put up too much of a fight. Besides, God's army was a hundred times stronger. Most of the Immortals use about 80% of their brains, compared to the 6% we humans use, but even with our limited thought capacity, it would have been easy to predict the outcome of standing against Lucifer and God and the power He had in His Word.

God, like many humans, does not have a huge ego to feed. He is fine with who He is. He has nothing to prove. He is not interested in sacrifices and statues or even churches. He doesn't really care if we worship him or not. That is our choice. Everything is supposed to be our choice. That's why He chased off the bullies, so we could live as we choose. If we want to erect Churches as a means of spreading His Word, that is our choice. If we want to live our short lives not believing in Him or Them or that the world is flat or that Elvis still lives, that too is our choice. God really doesn't care. Do you care what an ant does when it punches out on the time clock after a full day of work transporting a bread crumb home to the hill?

But God is also very wise. He has lived a long time. He has seen many worlds. He understands our need to believe in something, in someone, that can give purpose to our short and meaningless lives. He delivered to us through Moses the Ten Commandments, knowing like children, we needed to have direction. He gave us that direction and told us what we needed to hear in a way in which we were used to hearing it. After sharing his basic personal morality system with us through Moses, he instructed us to listen to only Him, to obey none others but Him. He tells us this in the same vane a parent would tell his children not to talk to strangers. God simply doesn't want us to get thrown of track by others of His own race with lesser values or respect for all life that might tell us something different or make promises with hidden agendas.

Once God was sure that Ra and Zeus were gone and that the human race was at least pointed in the right direction, towards independence and free will, God's mission had been accomplished. It was His desire to move on, to find more wrongs to right, more wills to free. He is like the Lone Ranger of the Universe. Roaming the solar systems and galaxies, seeking out the bad and making it good. It is His purpose. It is what makes Him tick.

Because the Earth was so rich with life, and such cognizant life at that, God decided he could not leave this world unprotected from the wanderers of His own race that don't give life and free will the same regard that He does. For the same reason, He chose His only Son, Jesus, to provide that watchful eye. And to give His Son the ability to stave off any vindictive or defiant threats against His Will for the human race on Earth, He also chose to leave Lucifer and half His Army of Angels under Jesus' leadership.

Very shortly after Ra and Zeus were run out of Dodge, while Jesus was still doing His thing "in person" on earth, God moved on, confident His Son and Lucifer could handle things, anxious to free some more depraved souls.

This is probably God's only true fault, a case of over-confidence. He has never believed in failure. He holds this same confidence in His Son's desire and ability to maintain His goal's and intentions for the luscious, green planet and its inhabitants. He is equally as confident in Lucifer's abilities and loyalties towards the cause.

Apparently even God occasionally makes a mistake in character judgment. Or maybe it wasn't a mistake at all. Maybe He is just testing His Son. Confident that His Son will succeed. Maybe even while gone, He is still keeping an eye on what's going on.



I figured if Harry knows the answer, I will too before too long. I quickly took a sip from my Dew and snuggled back into the cushions so as not to miss a word when he resumed after sipping his tea.

* * * * *

Lucifer had then of course betrayed God. He desired the earth and control of the life roaming its surface in the way that Ra and Zeus had enjoyed it. He began to recruit his own army from the ranks of Angels that had served under Him in the name of God and His Son, Jesus. Once His own numbers began to climb too large to remain unnoticed, He even approached Jesus Himself and tried to tempt Him with power and potential. But of course, Jesus was a chip off the old block and could not be swayed by Lucifer. Jesus declared Lucifer an outcast, an enemy to God and His Word.

Though His army of Fallen Angels, or His Demons, as He called them, was only a quarter of the size of that which God had left in His Son's service, Lucifer had plucked out the most ruthless and merciless Angels to serve His own cause of chaos, turmoil and bedlam. There was a battle that lasted three hundred years in which many of Lucifer's recruits were killed. Lucifer and His surviving collection of mendacious Demons were finally forced to retreat.

At the time of Lucifer's withdrawal, just as all the villainous humans who survive a losing battle tend to do, He vowed to Jesus that He would return, that He would have His revenge, "...when the seven planets align and The Archer points the way."

In the meantime, for almost two thousand years now, Lucifer has remained near, rebuilding His own Army, planning His revenge. Even with Angels stationed all over the world keeping an eye out for interference with God's Will, the free will of Humankind, spiteful Demons have continued to sneak in and stir up some Immortal-made trouble. They talk to Humans and lie to them, make them promises. They use them and deceive them. Every now and then they get lucky and cause an assassination or a Holy War. Humans are very easy to manipulate.



Harry closed Paul's journal and looked up at me. The smile that I had assumed the previous night was glued to his face had vanished. He said nothing, waiting for me to reveal my first impression of Paul's revelations. I wondered if he could handle my true feelings. The last line he had just spoken said it all, didn't it? Humans are very easy to manipulate. Once the manipulatee, now the manipulator, sat in the next couch, possibly unaware that any manipulating was even taking place. I decided that in the long run, it couldn't matter. The truth is always best, right?

"Sounds about as real as Star Wars to me," I finally said. "I know you believe all this, Harry, but I just can't. It's all just too much. It sounds like something Steven Spielberg might have fun with though." I stood with the intention of thanking him for his time and escaping. "I have enough to deal with right now, Harry. A woman I know might be dying soon and I need to try to prevent it. I don't know why I thought coming here might help me do that, but I did and that was the only reason why I accepted your strange invitation to begin with. I thank you for your hospitality. You and everyone here have been very kind and friendly, but I think it is time for me to get back to what I need to do. My friend and her daughter need me thinking about them, not about what Lucifer may or may not be supposedly planning on doing to Jesus or mankind soon because He promised He would some two thousand years ago." I stepped in front of him to shake his hand. "Sorry, but thanks anyway and good luck with your quest."

Harry slowly stood and accepted my hand. With his story still running around loose in my mind and Katelynn pushing her way back into the already overcrowded picture, I didn't think to avert my eyes when our hands touched. we can help you help katelynn, john. just give us the chance.

I quickly let go of Harry's hand as though it had burned me and took a step back, looking down at my own hand as I reeled it in. But the sensation I was getting wasn't pain and the source was not my hand.

The sensation was a numbness of the brain. The source had once again been the mind of Harry. He alone seemed to be sending me messages other than the date of his death whenever we touched and I peered into his eyes. I shook my head back and forth a couple of times as though I were trying to shake free the thoughts and rid myself of them once and for all as I sat back down on the couch. Unaware that I was again seated, I stared at Harry. He was smiling again. I shut my fly hole again.

"Tell me about Katelynn," Harry said.

* * * * *

"How do you even know who Katelynn is?" I asked suspiciously. "You told me you couldnít read minds."

"I don't know who she is," Harry replied, confusing me even more. "Randi mentioned her name yesterday when she was sitting right where you are now. Then you just spoke of a woman who needs you. I put one and one together, is all."

"Then how do you know you can help me help her? You don't even know what kind of help she needs," I reasoned.

"I would assume," Harry said slowly, "that you touched her and saw she was going to die soon because you told me that is what you do, and you want to change her destiny."

"I don't believe it is her destiny," I said.

"And what does she believe?"

"Well obviously she doesn't want to die," I snapped back, probably a little too sardonically. Knowing what he meant, I added, "She believes she will end up doing whatever God wants her to do. She figures if she dies, God has a good reason. I convinced her that God sent me to save her."

"But you don't believe in God, John."

"What I don't believe is that Katelynn has to die. There's nothing wrong with her. And besides, according to you, God isn't even in our galaxy at the moment and even if He were, He wouldn't care. So all she's got is me. And I plan on being there for her. So don't be using her to rope me into your family because it would be dirty pool and I think you are a better person than that, Harry. If you can help me, tell me how. If not, then I hope you will understand why I must go."

Before the accident, I would never speak my mind as boldly as I had with Harry just then, or as I had during the last visit with Dr. James. Maybe it was because my feelings for Katelynn had possibly grown a little more than I would have admitted and her ever nearing d-day was affecting me more than I knew. Or maybe the events of the past few weeks had simply hardened me somewhat. I wouldn't have dreamed of taking off to who-knows-where with just the cash in my pocket a couple of months ago. Even though that was going to be a fairly healthy wad of cash, there was a reason why I was still living in the same house I had been born in. Yet I was looking a little bit forward to going, to starting fresh, as soon as I had seen Katelynn into the 30th day of her twenty-ninth year. It's not like I was going to be a wanted criminal on the lam. I would just be trying to avoid the Medical and Science communities, as well as any physical contact with other people for the rest of my life. If I ran low on money before establishing a half-decent income, I could always sell the house. For now though, I just planned on preparing it to sit empty for a while. Let them wonder.

At any rate, whether it be Dr. James for the advancement in brain-ology or Harry for some psychic war against the Immortals to save mankind, I couldnít imagine either one having a place in my world. But I still needed an explanation from Harry.

"Tell me about Katelynn, John. Tell me your story. When did you start seeing into people's minds? If what I feel is true about you," he said, and I could see in his eyes that he believed what he was telling me, "then yes, I believe we can help you."

"I don't see inside minds. I just suddenly know when they are supposed to die when I touch them and look into their eyes," I explained. "Itís like Iíve always known and just suddenly remembered."

"You've been inside my mind," he reminded me. "You are here, aren't you?"

True. I was there. I didn't feel like I had been inside anybody's mind. Both Randi and Ronnie had been inside my head but that was their doing, not mine. I wasn't real anxious to go over the whole story again, but he had said he thought he could help. I wasn't as confident as he was about that, but if there was the slightest chance he could help me help Katelynn, I couldn't leave without exploring that possibility.

By 4:30, I had caught Harry up to the point where we had met in Benny's room at the hospital, and Mary walked in to see if we needed anything.

"Will you be staying for dinner with us tonight, Mr. Johnson?" Mary asked me after Harry had requested two Mountain Dews.

I looked at Harry. He saw the reluctance in my eyes and said, "Small group tonight, John. Nothing like last night. If you don't have any place else to be, I think we got a lot to talk about."

"If I stay," I said, "we need to start taking more smoke breaks."

* * * * *

Randi and I sat across from each other at the table. Everyone else, Paul, Harry, Ronnie and Steven had adjourned to the library after dinner. We had eaten in the smaller of the two dining rooms this time, on the opposite side of the kitchen, but the meal had been just as grand on a smaller scale. Mary and two others dressed in castle employee attire whose names I didn't know cleared away the final dishes. I had a fresh bottle of Dew in front of me, Randi was blowing on a fresh coffee.

Harry had explained to me what he had in mind before dinner. I was a little bothered by the fact that he had apparently already talked to Randi about working with me before he even knew whether or not I would agree. Randi had been the last to arrive for dinner. It had not been talked about during dinner yet there she was, the last one at the table with me. I knew that had been the plan, but she shouldn't have.

Then it dawned on me. I was possibly sitting at a table of mind readers. Randi was a pro. Ronnie had a touch to some degree. Steven was new to me but appeared to be probably RonnieĎs husband. He hadnĎt been at last nightĎs dinner table. So for all I knew, there could have been a completely separate conversation going on at the table that I hadnít even been aware of. While I thought I was listening to talk about meaningless things like the weather and the price of gas, Randi could have also been reading the thoughts of others and sending thoughts all around. Or more likely, she and Harry had had a long silent discussion between them. What he was asking of her was not something one could take lightly. But there we were, just as Harry had hoped, facing each other from across the table. I felt naked when her eyes met mine.

She put down her coffee cup in front of her. She was no longer the essence of black today. Today she was green. She wore a short lime green skirt. Her long-sleeved shirt with the ends that snap together between two of the fingers on each hand was a deeper emerald green. Over that was a sharper, darker green sleeveless tank top. She had a green jewel in her belly that had revealed itself when she had pulled the chair out to take a seat at the table. Her finger nails were all painted green and if I could have seen her feet under the table, I was sure that at least half of them were now green as well. Her hair was still raven black and seemed to be trying to escape her head in all directions, but the pink was gone. Now there were streaks of lime green running around amidst the black. And of course, she wore a shade of green on her lips that I don't think I had ever seen before, certainly never on a pair of lips.

Our eyes met, I waited for her to break the ice, which she thankfully did right away. I couldn't have held her eyes more than a few seconds. Even though she was probably half my age, she had a confident, knowing look in her eye that was a little intimidating.

"So. Harry thinks you need some trainin' with that gift you got."

"Did you two talk about it during dinner?" I asked. "I mean, in your minds?"

She nodded.

"Are you reading my mind right now?"

She shook her head no. But who would know? I didnít disbelieve her, but I didnít believe her, either.

"Do you know the specifics about my thing?" I still refused to call it a gift.

"You can see when people are supposed to die."

"Basically, yes."

"But you have no idea how you get the information," she continued.

"Other than the touch and the eyes, correct."

"Yet you have read thoughts from Harryís mind twice."

I realized Harry had managed to tell her quite a bit over dinner. "Apparently, I guess I have," I said. "But I donít know why it was different those times with him."

"Itís because he was concentrating so hard on the messages. He was waiting for you to come." Then she said, inside my head, and you donít need to be touching them, john. eventually, you wonít even need to be looking at them.

* * * * *

Chapter Twenty-Two


Michael

Front Desk

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The Master Plan

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine
Epilogue