"Those who honor me I will honor" 2 Samuel 2:30
Several years ago, I signed a contract with Amazon.com’s Shorts program that gave Amazon exclusive rights to Elohiym’s Words, a fiction short story about a wavering angel. According to the contract, Amazon owned the story forever throughout the universe. I found the “universe” language extreme, but doubted anyone would be selling my material on Mars anytime soon.
Apparently forever doesn’t last forever. Amazon closed the Amazon Shorts program and returned the rights to their authors. Now that I am free to do what I will with my very first attempt at fiction. I’m giving Elohiym’s Words to you forever throughout the universe. Maybe…forever may not last forever.
Waver and Almodad stopped at the bottom of the holy mountain amidst a sea of worshipers. Waver had never seen Elohiym but everyone seemed to know him. They said he had no beginning and will have no end. Musicians praised him with rhyme and melodies. Scribes filled reams of paper recording his exploits and multitudes thundered his desires to all who would listen.
Almodad immediately fell to his knees and bowed in worship. Waver stared at the palace, listening intently.
Almodad looked up from his prone position. “Are you going to worship?”
Waver looked down at Almodad. “How?”
Almodad sat back on his heels and pushed his long brown hair behind his ears. “How! We’ve been here thousands of times and suddenly you don’t know how to worship?”
“Who do we worship, Almodad?”
“Have you ever seen him?”
“How do we know anyone is in that palace?”
“How do you know there isn’t someone in that palace?”
“Why doesn’t he speak to us?”
“Waver, we have always worshipped. Look around you. How could someone who doesn’t exist earn the adoration of so many?”
“Maybe the many are fools.”
Startled, Almodad grabbed Waver’s arm and pulled him to his knees. “Be quiet!”
Almodad whispered. “Do you want to bring wrath upon us?”
“I want Elohiym’s words. I want to hear him speak and I want them in writing. If he’s real let him speak for himself. The stories we hear conflict. We don’t know what to believe, so why do we worship?”
Almodad sighed. Tears flowed down Waver’s face creating tiny rivers.
“Waver…” Almodad searched for words to comfort his friend. “Elohiym doesn’t have time to talk to all of us. He has more important things to do.”
“Why doesn’t he write a book? Then we could read his words, and we wouldn’t have to depend on what others say.”
“He gave us life. He doesn’t owe us anything more.”
“Why did he give me a life that is so thirsty to know him? I would rather he take my life away than live like this.” Waver wiped the tears from his eyes. “I don’t feel like worshipping today,” Waver said as he walked away.
Almodad watched Waver until he disappeared from sight, then bowed in worship to pray for his friend.
Waver never suspected his thirst would be quenched the day Heylel summoned him. A servant escorted Waver to the garden behind Heylel’s cottage, and then left without announcing his arrival. Heylel busily trimmed shoots from a tall bush covered with tiny blood-red flowers.
He was taller than Waver expected. His facial features were sharp, a square chin under along pointed nose set between piercing blue eyes. His shoulder-length black hair matched the black knee length sleeveless jacket he wore. Under the jacket were brilliant white slacks and a matching long sleeve shirt.
Waver stood quietly waiting for Heylel to notice him. Though Waver was sure Heylel saw him, he continued to trim unwanted shoots from the bush. Finally, Heylel looked at him and placed the hand holding the shears on his hip.
“You’re late,” he said.
Waver wasn’t late but feared an argument with one so great. “I’m sorry,” he replied and quickly changed the subject. “May I ask what kind of flowers you are growing?”
Heylel studied Waver intently, examining every inch of his body. Waver trembled. Feeling naked, he crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Beautiful,” Heylel whispered, leaving Waver confused. Did he mean my body or his flowers? The growing tension prompted Waver to look for the quickest way out of the garden.
Heylel smiled easing his anxiety, “The flowers are called Ponos.”
“Ponos means pain.”
“I didn’t know you were a logophile, Waver.”
“Yes, of words and beautiful things.”
“Beautiful things can be deceptive.”
“As well as words, my Lord.”
Heylel turned to the bush and clipped off a branch with three blossoms. “A gift of beauty,” he said, extending the branch.
Waver eyed the gift warily.
“Take it,” Heylel demanded.
Waver grew weak as he approached. He dreaded being close enough for Heylel to touch him. When Waver took the branch, pain ripped through his body, and he collapsed.
“I have a message for you.” Heylel sneered as he watched Waver writhe in agony. “Elohiym has appointed you to sit on the Council of Twenty-Four.” At the mention of Elohiym’s name, strength entered Waver’s body. He slowly rose to his feet and gazed fearlessly into Heylel’s eyes. He turned and strode quickly from the garden leaving Waver alone with his gift of Ponos.
Waver was shaking manna flour into a bowl when Heylel appeared in his kitchen. Startled by his entrance, he dropped the bag of manna on the table. The bag burst releasing a fine white cloud of flour that settled on his face like a mask.
Heylel smirked and handed Waver a large emerald box. “Report to Elohiym’s palace when you hear three trumpet blasts. You will need everything in the box.” Without further explanation, he vanished as suddenly as he appeared.
Waver set the emerald box on the table to wipe the manna flour from his eyes. Then gently opened the box. Light flooded his kitchen and intensified as he withdrew each item. A crown glowed softly. He set the semi-circle of golden leaves upon his head. Next, he withdrew a shimmering garment without embroidery or seam. Waver slipped the long-sleeved garment over his head; the hem rested on the floor. The only exposed parts of his body were his head and hands. He withdrew a red sash, three feet in length with fringed ends, and tied it around his waist. The hem of the garment lifted off the floor exposing his bare feet. He checked the box for shoes but there were none. The only item left was a book titled Love. He opened the book to read, but every page was blank.
Waver sat confidently upon his white stallion whose nostrils flared, breathing heavily. Almodad clung tightly to the mane of his black mare as he raced toward Waver. The black mare stopped abruptly. Almodad lurched forward then back but managed to maintain his position upon the mare’s back.
“What took you so long?” Waver chided playfully.
“How can I keep pace when you give me the slowest nag in the stables?” Almodad laughed.
Waver pulled the reigns towards a well-worn path and prodded his stallion to a walk. The mare followed. “We have eight more horses to exercise. You can pick my next ride,” said Waver.
“It has been thousands of years since Elohiym chose a new Elder, so why are you still exercising horses?”
Waver shrugged. “Why do you ask? Can’t wait to get rid of me?”
“You know that’s not true. It’ll be lonely around here without you.”
“All I’ve been told is to report to the throne room when I hear three trumpet blasts. Until then, I plan to continue in my duties as Stable Master.”
“You don’t seem in a hurry to leave your position here.”
“I have mixed feelings about this honor. All of my existence, I have longed to see Elohiym face to face and hear his voice. Walking through those ruby doors will be the grandest day of my life. I just wish Heylel wasn’t a part of it.”
“I’ve saddled horses for Heylel. He gives me the creeps too. I question Elohiym’s wisdom in allowing him to be an Elder.”
“Almodad! You question Elohiym’s wisdom.”
“You questioned his existence. We are not all that different, my friend.”
A deafening trumpet blast shook the trees causing the horses to buck and prance nervously. Almodad fell from his horse and swiftly crawled on his hands and knees into a cluster of nearby bushes. The second blast was longer than the first. Waver trembled with excitement as he fought to keep his stallion from bolting. One more blast would call him into the presence of Elohiym.
As the third blast sounded, Waver kicked his stallion into a full gallop leaving Almodad peering from the bushes, eyes wide with fear. Waver burst through the cedar door of his humble dwelling and retrieved the precious emerald box from his closet. He carefully slipped into his new clothes. Rummaging through the closet, he found his sandals and put them on as well.
Waver grabbed the book from the emerald box and ran back to the waiting stallion. He mounted the stallion and quickly calculated how long it would take reach the palace. He hated transporting, but feared he would be late. He dismounted and closed his eyes to concentrate. As the image of his destination formed in his mind, he felt his body explode into thousands of spinning particles that would be carried on the wings of the wind like seeds from the Tree of Heaven.
Waver always fretted his particles would arrive at different places, causing him to materialize as some grotesque creature minus half his face. His leaders assured him they moved too fast to lose particles during transportation. Waver felt like he was floating, not zipping from place to place. The reassembling of his parts was agonizing, each particle slammed together until he was whole again leaving him disoriented and sore.
As his grogginess subsided, he opened his eyes. “Missed!” he mumbled, disgusted. He stood in the long golden corridor outside Elohiym’s throne room. “It is forbidden!” A shrill voice shrieked behind Waver. He spun around to witness a short plump angel, clad in a bright yellow tunic, running toward him. His red thickly curled hair was so long it parted down the middle and flopped like two red wings. Waver bit his lip to suppress his laughter. The angel stopped abruptly in front of Waver and placed both hands on his hips. “It is forbidden!” the angel repeated, his amber eyes flashing with anger.
“It is forbidden to transport directly into the throne room.”
“My name is Waver. I’m reporting for the Elders’ meeting.”
“I know who you are. Transportation told me they would divert you to this corridor.
Being an Elder is the only thing that saved your particles from being scattered to the four winds of heaven.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“I was waiting for you at the royal stables. Didn’t Heylel tell you come on horseback and meet me at stall twenty-four?”
“No. He gave me an emerald box and told me to report when I heard three trumpet blasts. Transporting is the quickest…”
“Humph…never mind. I’m Bildad, your transition assistant. Anything you need to know, ask me. After the meeting, I’ll show you to your cottage and get some information for the ordination service. We haven’t had a new Elder in seven millennia. This is very rare. Angel Resources yanked me from the archives and created my new position. I’ll have to do some research but—oh dear…do you hear that?” Faint sounds of chanting echoed down the long corridor.
“I think it’s coming from the throne room,” replied Waver.
“You must go. You must go now! The meeting is about to begin.”
Waver left Bildad fretting in the corridor. As he walked toward the ruby doors, the chanting grew louder and clearer, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was and is, and is to come.” Waver stood in front of the ruby doors trembling. He inhaled deeply, released his breath slowly, and then jerked the door open before he could change his mind.
The beauty overwhelmed him. “Holy, holy, holy—,” the continual singsong chanting drew him into a room without walls. A pearl white throne sat in the middle with seven unlit torches in a straight row spaced evenly in front of the throne. The expanse between the torches and throne looked like a pool of crystal glass from which a stream flowed as far as his eyes could see. Like stepping into eternity, whichever way Waver looked extended forever.
Twenty-four gold thrones sat in a semi-circle before the torches, twelve to the right of the stream and twelve to the left. Elders talking quietly to one another occupied all but one of the thrones. Waver crossed the narrow golden walkway that stretched over the stream and walked toward the empty seat by Heylel, who was having a hushed but animated conversation with the Elder sitting next to him.
Heylel abruptly stopped his conversation. “No shoes allowed! This is a holy place,” he barked.
“Yes, sir,” Waver said meekly. Dropping his book on the floor, he removed his sandals, jogged back to the door, and threw his forbidden shoes into the hall. When he reached the golden walkway, on the way back to his seat, he was startled by an unexpected trumpet blast. The noise sent him plunging face first into the swallow stream.
Waver lifted his face from the warm water to total darkness. Fear seized him. Fortunately, the seven torches in front of the pearl white throne exploded into huge blazes of fire. Relieved that he had not gone blind, he stood up. The soft chanting changed to a deafening roar of “Holy, holy, holy…” Knowing something important was about to happen, Waver bounded across the stream, then leaped in front of the Elders’ thrones to retrieve his book. He took one dignified step before tripping over his soaking garment and sliding on his face to the base of his throne. Heylel snorted in disgust. Waver grinned sheepishly and sat obediently on his throne, glad the chants were too loud to permit an explanation of his entrance.
A cloud of thick darkness emanating continual lightning flashes appeared on the golden walkway, accompanied by three beasts covered with eyes, which enabled them to see in all directions simultaneously. The strange parade moved slowly toward Elohiym’s throne. A lion trotted in front of the cloud roaring, “Holy, holy, holy.” An eagle gliding above the cloud screeched, “The Lord God Almighty,” and a bull ambled behind the cloud bellowing, “which was and is and is to come.” When the cloud and its strange entourage reached the pearl white throne, the lion settled to the right of the throne, the bull stood to the left and the eagle landed nimbly on top.
The cloud burst into a blazing fire and, to Waver’s amazement a creature who looked like the other Elders stepped out of the blaze and sat on Elohiym’s throne. Waver debated whether this was the great Elohiym or not. He had not expected him to look so plain. The large fire divided into twenty five small blazes and rested upon each throne. Waver welcomed the warmth from the fire, which thoroughly dried his soaked garment. The beasts chanted their appointed rhapsody one last time; then the room grew eerily silent.
For the first time, Waver noticed that all of the Elders were bowed at Elohiym’s feet except for him, Heylel, and seven Elders. Instinctively, he knew that he should be bowing instead of sitting and ran to join the others. Before Waver had time to fall to his knees, the distinctive voice of Heylel pierced the silence. “I will be like the most High,” he screamed.
Astonished, Waver turned around. Heylel shook with rage. His seven comrades stood somberly behind him.
“I cannot grant your request,” Elohiym calmly responded. “You will die.”
“We won’t die! You will kill us.”
“I did not create you to kill you, nor is it my desire that you die.”
“Don’t try that creator crap on me,” Heylel spat. “You didn’t create us; you enslaved us.”
As Waver turned to face Elohiym, nausea overwhelmed him as he fell prostrate with the other Elders. He was caught in the middle of a war.
“Give up the pearl white throne or have it taken by force,” Heylel demanded.
A deafening roar filled the Council Chamber as a wind whipped through the room. Waver slipped backwards and grabbed the foot of the Elder laying prostrate next to him, who was clinging to the torch in front of him with both hands. The wind stopped as suddenly as it began, immediately followed by a serene feeling of peace.
“Return to your thrones,” Elohiym commanded the Elders, who were scattered about the council chamber. Several pried their fingers from the torches they had clung to. Others scooted out from under the Elder’s thrones. Three had landed in the stream. Waver was appalled to see Heylel perched proudly on his throne.
“The seven Elders who have rebelled against me shall remain in chains until the day of judgment.” Elohiym explained. “One third of my citizens support Heylel’s cause.”
The number stunned Waver. Kill them, kill them all, he thought.
Elohiym stopped and stared intently at Waver. Waver shifted uneasily in his seat as every eye followed Elohiym’s gaze to rest upon him.
“Wouldn’t it be better to save them?” asked Elohiym.
“They betrayed you. How can they be saved?” Waver replied.
“They have been lied to. I will teach them the truth and all who can be saved will be saved.”
“But we already know the truth.”
Elohiym’s pointed question unnerved Waver. He looked at his bare feet unable to respond.
“A lie will judge those who have rebelled against me and justify that I speak the truth. I alone am God. There is no one like me.”
“But how will a lie justify you when lies have torn us apart?” Waver immediately regretted his outburst, but Elohiym continued unperturbed.
“I will create peace with a new creation. In the end only those who know my love and reject me will perish.”
“But Elohiym, we know that you love us and we love you.” Waver insisted.
“Why has a third of my kingdom turned their back to me?”
“I haven’t turned my back to you. I love you.”
“How can you love someone you do not know?” On Elohiym’s last word, the room began to spin; first slowly, than faster and faster. As the room became a blur, Waver shut his eyes. When the spinning sensation stopped, he opened his eyes to a forest of trees with malachite leaves shimmering a haunting green hue. Waver’s attention was distracted by the gurgling of a stream flowing beside them. He wondered if this stream began at Elohiym’s throne.
“Follow me,” Elohiym commanded the Elders.
Their feet sank into the ground, making it difficult to follow as Elohiym walked toward a long table. The Elders assembled in front of the table, upon which a large mound of dirt rested. Waver looked back to the place they came from and traced the stream’s path to a pool behind the table.
“Did we leave the room or did the room change?” Waver whispered to the Elder standing next to him. The Elder shook his head, pressed a finger to his lips and then pointed to Elohiym.
Elohiym removed his garment of shimmering blue light revealing loose fitting trousers, a sleeveless shirt, and muscular arms.
Waver tightened his sash. No one told me I was supposed to wear clothes under this robe!
Elohiym filled a solid gold bucket with water from the pool behind him. He doused the dirt on the table repeatedly until the mound was saturated. Then he flattened the dirt and shaped four appendages and a head.
Elohiym studied his work for a moment, and then turned to fill the bucket again. This time as he flung the water onto the mound, the water hit Waver in the face. Elohiym laughed.
The others were as astonished as Waver.
“Get on with it,” Heylel bellowed in disgust. “This is no time to play a child’s game. Why have you brought us here?”
Pain filled Elohiym’s eyes as he turned his attention to the saturated dirt on the table.
Waver had never seen such skill as he did that day and was sure he would never see it again. Elohiym scooped out the interior. Grabbing one handful of dirt at a time, he fashioned a variety of odd shapes; each item neatly and cleanly connecting to the last. Finally, he covered his handiwork with the saturated dirt leaving the image without seam.
Starting at the head, Elohiym ran his hands over the image stopping intermittently to shape eyes, then a nose, ears, a mouth, and teeth within the mouth. Trembling with excitement, Waver realized Elohiym was showing them how he had created them. He shaped ten fingers and ten toes. Poked several holes into the image, then he stopped.
Finished, Waver thought. What a beautiful creation!
Elohiym walked around the table several times, pausing occasionally to adjust his handiwork. Stepping back from the table, Elohiym carefully studied the simulacrum, which looked eerily like him.
“This is my son,” Elohiym announced.
“Son! Son! What is a son?” Heylel demanded.
Elohiym ignored Heylel’s outburst. “He can be like me.”
Heylel’s face flushed red as he shook with rage. “I will be like you.” Heylel screamed like a wounded animal. “A third of your kingdom demands to be like you and you bring us to this filthy place to make a statue to be like you. “
“I didn’t make my Son like me, Heylel, I said that he can be like me. As I have already told you, to create one like me would not be good.”
“Liar! You always say that. It won’t be good. It won’t be good. You make a statue and call him your son to prove you are the Creator who gives us life. He’s not alive. He is dirt.
Waver’s face flushed. He drew back his fist to end the mockery. An Elder placed his hand on Waver’s shoulder and Waver’s entire body went limp as Heylel continued his tirade.
“You use “good” like chains to keep us in bondage.” Heylel seethed. “Everything is your way. Do you think you’re the only one who is good? We are good too but let one of us try to prove you wrong and you chain us in dungeons. Just let one of us whisper a law of yours is not good, and you use your law to destroy us.” Heylel spit in Elohiym’s face.
Waver shuddered in terror bracing for the devastation that would be sure to follow.
Elohiym calmly wiped his face. “Heylel, what you and those who follow you desire will be placed within my son’s reach. He will choose your way or my way and his choice will judge you.”
“So, you are the fool I always believed you to be. How will that lifeless pile of dirt choose?”
Elohiym walked swiftly to the table, placed his mouth over the image’s mouth and began to exhale; first shallow breaths, then longer, deeper breaths.
“Look at me,” Heylel screamed at the Elders. “Is this the one you want to follow? Elohiym’s lost his mind. He kisses dirt and thinks it will come to life. I’ll give you one last…”
“Look! Look at Elohiym,” Waver interrupted. Elohiym’s was engulfed in light. They stared in awe as the light rapidly engulfed the image on the table as well.
Waver opened his eyes and sat up. His ears still rang from the explosion. Heylel lay next to him, motionless. He looked at the others covered in muck, and assumed the statue had exploded.
“Are you all right?” A soothing voice echoed in his mind.
Waver looked at Elohiym grinning broadly and the image he had made, no longer a motionless pile of dirt but a living moving being.
“I…I…I’m fine…” Before Waver could stand, all of the Elders except Elohiym were sitting on their thrones in the familiar council chamber again. The fire above the throne of Heylel and his seven friends were extinguished. Heylel looked at Waver with contempt before he stormed out of the room. The other Elders quietly whispered to each other as they exited until Waver was alone.
Exhausted, Waver closed his eyes and sat quietly. Will all the council meetings be this dramatic? He reached for his book to make notes. To Waver’s astonishment, everything that was said and done from the time Elohiym sat on his throne was already recorded in his book called Love. Waver’s eyes filled with tears and his heart exploded with joy as he read Elohiym’s words.