Saturday, December 03, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner... or Not—Episode 4

(based on Genesis 7—a story of creation)

There was a lot of back and forth about whether he should, but the decision had already been made. Noah saddled the mare. Though not quite as fast, she was much more sure-footed and not as skittish as her mate.

One of the large heavy doors creaked open, Noah dashed out. Ham move quickly to close it. Watching the water roll back toward the opening, he couldn't help but think that slanting the deck for the first five feet of the entrance was a stroke of genius on his wife's part.

Upon reaching the city, Noah had to ask for directions from the gatekeeper. It had been a long time since he had been within the city walls. He found the meeting hall. The meeting was already underway. Noah pressed into the back. Speaker after speaker got up advocating for "swift retribution against the savages that had perpetrated such an unforgivable atrocity." "This was no time for dallying, no time for hand-wringing, no time for investigating precisely who had done what." "The time to strike was now!"

After the conclusion of the meeting was cast by the city leaders as sufficiently foregone, the floor was open for public comment. Noah waited his turn, and then he spoke, but his impassioned plea fell upon deaf ears. No one wanted to hear about the exorbitant and often hidden costs of war. No one acknowledged that the poor always paid a disproportionate amount of those costs. No one seemed to care about the rising waters of greed, lies and death that would engulf and drown not just those connected to the war but would eventually spill over the walls of their little valley and flood the whole world. Noah's objections and any other concerns raise were merely bumps in the road to an inevitable end.

Noah left disheartened, but he had to make one more attempt. Noah rode his trusty stead back pass the ark. Rain poured. Lightning and thunder clapped, as if to get him to turn in, but he kept riding. He road out over the hills and broke into the treeline. The woods were dark and thick with old-growth. So thick in fact, that the rain seemed shut out for a moment as if Noah had gone inside. Noah did not allow himself to become distracted from his purpose. He knew where to find those he sought. He had grown up a nomad, part of the line of Seth. He knew exactly where they were at this time, the time of the cicadas. That's how they marked the days, by the seasons, by the fields where they pitched their tents with each new cycle and what bounty grew there. Noah drove his horse hard, knowing that just because he could not feel the brunt of storm or see the waters rising did not mean they weren't there.

He was riding downhill at a slant dipping and dodging between trees like a slalom skier. He drove straight toward the nadir of the gorge he was chasing, Fat Horse Squeeze they called it, a short passage that constituted the narrowest portion of a ravine between two walls of rock that obscured one's view through to the other side. As he got up on it for some reason it seemed much tighter now than it had when he was a youth. He thought briefly of dismounting and walking through the pass but now he was upon it and had no choice but to pull up his knees and hope for the best. His beloved mare darted through with ease and delivered them into the clearing on the other side full of empty tents and stray animals lowing. Though midday, the sky was dark with dismay. Shallow pools have begun to form on the clearing floor. Most of the herd had undoubtedly been taken to higher ground.

Noah's people had taken to the caves. Noah dismounted, tying his horse to a nearby tree. He ran up the path that led to where he knew the nomads would be. With eat step happy memories splashed in the back of his mind of growing up free to roam. But now wasn't the time. He recalled once having to climb on his hands and knees up this last bit of ground, but now as a man, it was much easier to take it in stride. He bounded into the cave, the highest and biggest of those around. There they were, his clan, huddled along the walls, with a warm fire glowing in their midst.

Noah paused, looked and listened. There were more than just his people there. He had stumbled into a summit of all outlier clans in the region, both nomads and wild ones. This was better than he had hoped for! He rushed down the path that skirted the wall and led to the base of the cave. Because time was no longer on his side, Noah did not wait until he had made his way all the way down to speak. Picking a still elevated landing beneath one of the torches mounted on the wall, Noah projected his voice aided by the natural acoustics of the cave, "Men and women of the outer regions, please forgive me for interrupting your deliberations, but my message is urgent and concerns the very matter you are discussing. The city council has just voted to declare war on all outliers."

A gasp bounced around the chamber. "Let them come," a large muscular man bellowed defiantly jumping to his feet, "and we will give them such a reception that for generations their descendents will tell of it as the day they learned their proper place in the world," to which a shout of affirmation rose among the ranks.

"No, my friends," Noah contended, trying not to lose the crowd. "This is no time to take solace in boast and bravado. You have seen, nature herself weeps at this turn of events and, at her Creator's command, will do all she can to stop it!" As if on cue, a bolt of lightening cracked just outside the cave opening. "This is no early-season return of the stream that waters your clearing. This is the start of a deluge that will eventually swallow up everything you hold dear.

"Elohim, seeing this day afar off, directed me to build that ark that you may still chuckle about when you walk by or use as a threat in stories to your children about why they better obey. That ark and the community that resides within it will weather the storm that humanity has brought upon itself.

"I must go back now before it is too late. Years ago when Elohim warned me of what was to come, he promised to save me and my household. You are part of my household. The ark isn't just for me and mine: it's for all of us. Let's together find shelter from the approaching storm."

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