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Commentary On The Writing Life: Creativity Is A Terrible Thing To Waste, So Why Are You?

cropped-12301412301.jpg“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” Edgar Allen Poe.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”  Ray Bradbury.

What is the human fascination with horror or terror stories either book or film? It is certainly where I began in my imaginations beginnings. Let’s start there. What makes good horror or terror in a story? What elements do such tales have to actually possess be good let alone a classic? The problem with horror/terror is that it has become to common a subject and no thought goes into actually writing a good story that doesn’t sound like it’s been done before; which it usually does after a while. Good writing has gone the way of the dodo for just getting the story out there whether it’s good or not. Just get it out there and hopefully there will not be too many plot holes, bad character development, and vague scenery that leaves the reader wondering what is going on and where it was going on. Sloppy writing is not caring about those three elements of a good story of horror/terror. Writing good horror/terror stories requires one a belief that what you are creating have not been done before or if it has it can be written better or at least different; vampire stories come to mind on this writing problem. But the original question is the main question, what is the fascination with such horror/terror tales that draws people into that realm of the fictional life of horror/terror as something worth reading or observing via movies? The horror of a story is seen, terror is felt is obvious and simple enough to understand. Why do people like it so much? The simpler answer is that people simply enjoy a good story whether it’s horror/terror or simply a daily life story. People like good stories and it sounds cliched of an answer but it’s true. The appeal of Edgar Allen Poe’s, (1809-1849), tales, of Bram Stoker’s,(1847-1912), “Dracula” or Mary Shelley’s, (1797-1851), “Frankenstein” or even Robert L. Stevenson’s, (1850-1894), “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.” are great horror/terror stories but they are great stories to begin with. The elements around the horror/terror work to make those two elements work even better. Other writer’s would be Sheridan Le Fanu, (1814-1873), M. R. James, (1862-1936), and Oliver Onions, (1873-1961). All great story tellers who ventured into the realm of horror/terror but always kept in mind the art of the story and how to tell one. Even Charles Dicken’s, (1812-1870), wrote such tales. Where does the love of such things begin?

Mine began in my junior year of high school; Kubasaki High School, Okinawa, Japan. It was a literature class taught by a female French teacher. We were of course discussing the master of the horror/terror story, Edgar Allan Poe. My knowledge and reading of Poe at that time was probably small to maybe very little; I doubt I had even read a biography on the fellow at that time. I’m sure I read a few of his tales. But the assignment we in the class were given was to write a Poe type story. Mine was called, “The Love Of Death.” Don’t remember how long or even if it came easily to write this short story assignment, but it was written and it passed with the teacher liking it much. I don’t recall where the title idea came from but I had the title and the story followed. I remember most of it takes place on an old bridge with a lone figure talking; think talking like the person in “Tale-Tell Heart” if I remember correctly; which I am pretty sure I do. I’m sure I read Poe stories before this class because the teacher actually commented on how much Poe it sounded to her. My memory is that the lone figure was standing on the bridge at night contemplating his own attempt at murder, of his own father I remember, but at the end it’s only himself he kills; it was a split-personality story I think. (I should attempt to rewrite it again I suppose one day). It was as much a Poe story that I could have made it but the point being it was a story worth reading according to the teacher; and would a pretty French teacher lie, no! But where did such ideas of my story come from? Well, the obvious of course is Edgar Allen Poe on some or at least a major part of the story? But that’s for that story, what about the others that would eventual follow?

I grew up watching horror/terror films. I watched all those Roger Corman films with great delight and fun at the story plots. I grew up watching Vincent Price, (1911-1993), and all his horror/terror movies. He was the master of such tales via film and I don’t recall any of them I didn’t like. I am certain though I analysized them to death, which I still do but even more so as today’s horror/terror have nothing if even very little worth taking note of. But I grew up on Vincent Price and his films. Chances are good that due to his films I read Mr. Poe; it would make sense to me to have done so. My favorite films of Price? And why? Beginning with the “The Fly” (1958). A good horror/terror film of man turned into a fly; how could a kid not like that idea. As a kid I probably liked that idea as a story. The transformation of a human being into a fly just sounds horrible on so many levels. It’s from the short story of George Langelaan, (1908-1972), of the same name; I have yet to read this short story and I should. The next on my list would be “House Of Wax” (1953; with a young Charles Bronson). Another short story by Charles S. Belden, (1904-1954), called “Wax Works”. This story served as the basis also for the 1933 “Mystery Of The Wax Museum.” with King Kong’s Faye Wray. I remember this movie as being a good horror/terror story. I have never seen the second movie mentioned; something that I will fix one day I suppose. As a kid I am sure the actually horror/terror of the idea of what Price’s character was doing would have caught my attention. The “House On Haunted Hill.” (1959), by Robb White III, (1909-1990), I will have to admit is not a favorite as it is too campy, too silly, and just not anything to stoke a person’s imagination because it did nothing for mine; sorry Vincent, but it didn’t. (Though to be fair to Vincent Price, the remake of the film in 2007 was simply awful in every way and made Vincent’s look like a masterpiece of horror/terror). The next film that I certainly do remember and remember with a sense of dread because it really did scare me as a kid with too much imagination, “The Tingler.” (1959), also written by Robb White. A human-spine living creature that feeds and lives off people’s fear; how could I not like it. The Roger Corman films of Price, “The Pit And The Pendulum” (1961), “Tales Of Terror” (1962), “The Comedy Of Terrors” (1963), “The Raven” (1963; with a young Jack Nicholson), “The Masque Of The Red Death” (1964), “The Tomb Of Ligia” (1964). All good for what they were, campy yes, absurd yes, but also very good for what they are and who made them-Roger Corman! And these were some of the influences on my own short story “Love of Death” in my writing class. I also remember Price in “The Last Man On Earth” (1964), by Richard Mathewson, (1926-2013) of his novel, “I Am Legend”, as being fairly good; though the remake with Will Smith in 2007 is far better; excellent vampire story and one of the few good ones made into a movie.

So, what’s the point of this long winded paragraph of Vincent Price praise, well, someone sat down and wrote those stories that’s why and it’s influence was felt by a fledgling kid who had no inclination quite yet ready to claim writer as their future profession. Though I had actually written a story before this one for a class, (Honolulu Junior Academy, Oahu, Hawaii), but I don’t consider that story being created or formed due to the purpose of this commentary; Jules Verne yes, the fact the movie “Star Wars” just came out yes, but not Poe or Hammer films or even Vincent Price. It was another writing assignment but this one I never finished because I simply couldn’t finish it as I was enjoying the writing of it; the teacher was amused and passed me. The point being these works of film were an idea somewhere the mind of an author. Who sits down and writes about a human being being turned into a fly? Who writes about a strange creature living in the human body feeding off the human’s fears? Where does the idea for a wax museum with actual corpses beneath the wax? Horror/terror has to come from somewhere and for a reason from the depth of the human imagination. The imagination is a living, breathing, demanding realm of the human mind. It has something to say and the movies/stories mentioned show that and they have influence on those who watch/ read them. Creating horror/terror worth watching and certainly learning from takes a understanding that even the worse of tales can have merit for one’s own work. These writer’s of these good or even not so good stories sat down and created from an imagination that wanted to tell a tale of horror/terror that hopefully would be read. Writer’s do not create in isolation and no writer writes to be ignored; maybe not paid, but never ignored.

I grew up on a lot of the Hammer Films movies. I grew up on watching Christopher Lee, (1922-2015), Peter Cushing, (1913-1994), and host of others but mostly those two great actors of Hammer Films. It was the best of the horror/terror films that a kid could grow up watching with too much imagination. One of my most treasured books was the “Movie Treasury Of Horror Movies.” I read it countless times as a kid. Horror/terror stories simply became something I really enjoyed. How can one not still watch these great actors in their Hammer Film roles as Dracula, Frankenstein, Doctor Frankenstein, and the Mummy; classic monsters of horror/terror of all time. I grew up on these stories retold by these films and their telling of the story as only a Hammer Film can tell a story. Horror, terror, and of course the ever present cleavage to add the sexual nature to the story of what it is to be in a Hammer Film; oh, the ladies of horror/terror of Caroline Munro, (1949-   ), Ingrid Pitt, (1937-2010), Veronica Carlson, (1944-   ), and others. I grew up on the movies of this film company and it’s story telling via older classics. This fueled the imagination of a kid like me with indeed too much imagination who would write eventually his own stories of the darker side of human behavior and it’s man-made creatures of reality or the imagination. Those movies simply are better than the Universal Films of the same creatures of horror/terror in that there is a reality to them. As much as I did enjoy those Universal Films, and I still do, but to watch a Hammer Film is to see and feel blood is red and death is painful and sometimes doesn’t stay dead long. There is nothing wrong with Boris Karloff’s (1887-1969), “Frankenstein”, in 1931 was and is still a classic of horror; but it’s not Lee’s nightmare of a monster in the “Curse of Frankenstein” (1957). Karloff was a monster you felt a sorry for but as with Lee’s Monster you felt horror/terror at the sight of it. The writing in the Karloff film is too clean, it has horror/terror elements but it’s clean of blood and sanitized; Lee is pure red blood and messy. There is also of course the acting of Peter Cushing who makes the other film’s Doctor Frankenstein seem pale and one dimensional. Cushing is brilliant and simply far more multi-dimensional in all the Hammer Films. It’s all in the writing and it should always be in the writing. My imagination grew up on these stories and films. I even prefer the Lee version of “Dracula” (1958), than Bela Lugosi, (1882-1956), version of “Dracula” (1931). Lee just comes across as a more evil, more dangerous, and certainly more king of the undead, than Lugosi’s charming but just below the surface evil vampire. Once again the writing is the key to all these stories either being good or simply okay. I prefer Lee’s Dracula because he is indeed very good at being dangerous without saying a word as his physical presence is enough to know to not mess with this vampire. Lugosi’s vampire seemed reserved in his actions; Lee wanted to rip your throat out. Lon Chaney’s (1906-1973), “Wolfman” (1941), and Oliver Reed’s (1938-1999), and his “Curse of the Werewolf”, (1961),  are tied in my love of such movies. There both fairly good for what they were. Though I must admit I did like the “The Wolfman” (2010), starring Benicio del Toro. Will admit that Karloff and Lee’s “The Mummy” (1932, 1959 versions), are a toss up as both are excellent. Again the story telling is very good and so is the writing.

The point being of course for all this is to point out the influences on my young life and why I would have written that story in my creative writing class so long ago.  I have not mentioned my favorite of the horror/terror films as it doesn’t deal with the classic creatures of the Hammer world, but I have always considered it my favorite of the type I am discussing, “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.” (1954). It has it’s faults but as a story and as a creature indeed it is the best of them; the two following sequel’s are not so much. I have always loved the movie because the idea is so well done and written to my young kid mind; I still see it that way. Other films that influenced me in my growth of imagination? Cannot go far in that question without mentioning the 1954 “Them”. Greatest of all the 1950’a monster movies. What is there to not like about giants ants terrorizing humanity in the desert and then Los Angeles. Great movie about giant insects that this guy loved as a kid will never get old; unless it’s one of the bad ones. And even bad one’s can be quite good for generating creativity. And creativity is the point. These films generated an imagination despite their obvious horror/terror landscape. Other films of imaginary interest that caused the seeds of imagination to grow? As a kid I enjoyed such movies as “It Came Beneath The Sea” (1955), because who couldn’t or wouldn’t like a movie about a giant octopus? I certainly did. Who couldn’t see imaginary potential for a future writer in such movies as, “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.” (1953; based on a short story by Ray Bradbury). How about “20 Million Miles To Earth.” (1957). Or even the bad movies such as “Monster On The Campus.” (1959). Campy yes, slightly dumb at times yes, but still worth watching even if it is slightly silly; and besides it gave me my favorite fish-The Coelacanth. Probably one of my favorite bad movies to watch. Others of questionable good or bad or somewhere in the middle would be movies like, “Tarantula” (1955), “The Black Scorpion” (1957), “The Giant Gila Monster.” (1959), and the list goes on for the 1950’s movies of my young imagination into the horror/terror and everything else to help with the create life of a young kid. Some of them may have been bad and simply awful but the imagination takes care of those things by not caring and simply seeing the potential of the stories behind the movies.The point being is that somewhere along the way imagination/creativity was planted and grew and helped create my imagination. Of course that most of those creatures and monster’s were created by one man of create genius, Ray Harryhausen, (1920-2013), also helped. His creations in the movies from his “Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” to his last, “Clash Of The Titans.” (1981), were the landscape for my imagination to grow and create my own stories. I grew up on his creative talents through his countless films and creations in those films. I grew up on his love of creating creatures such as in “Mysterious Island” (1961), “The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad.” (1958), “Jason And The Argonauts.” (1963), “First Men In The Moon.” (1964), “The Valley Of The Gwangi.” (1969), “The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.” (1973; with the wonderful and beautiful Caroline Munro), and “Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger.” (1977). I grew up on this stuff and it’s no wonder I have the imagination I have. The films I left out that effected by imagination and creative output could be longer; a lot longer as I still have fond memories of them despite their good or bad worth as films themselves. Just to name three, all with Doug Macclure, (1935-1995), being, “The Land That Time Forgot.” (1974), “The People That Time Forgot.” (1977), and “At The Earth’s Core.” (1976; with of course Peter Cushing and the still perfect Caroline Munro). All campy, all silly, but worth watching because creativity and imagination created stories in the first place from the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs, (1875-1950).

The point being with this long list of movies and those behind those stories and acts of creativity is that someone had an idea they liked and created something from their imagination and it had it’s influence on my writing life and thinking. As Ray Bradbury said, “If an idea isn’t exciting, you shouldn’t do it.” These acts of other people’s creative imaginations excited me to create my own stories. These people who sat down and became excited about their ideas and wrote them down and created have always fascinated me. So, from all this watching and reading and observing helped create a short story for my creative writing class for a very lovely teacher of French; fairly certain she was actually French as well. But she asked for a Poe like story and I find it hard to believe that I had no background influences because of these movies and books. So I must have sat in my sparse room at that time; I think I had a Farrah Fawcett poster and that was about it on the wall and very few books. But I sat and the idea came from somewhere. Somewhere a creative spark was coming to life and a story was coming into being and written. I had my influences in my early growing up life. Creativity does not happen in a isolated life. Creativity doesn’t happen without something being observed and thought about. It’s the act of creation from a single idea that created the world’s of these movies and those who wrote them or created the creatures within them. Creativity is about thinking and feeling and trying to fathom let alone understand life and all that life is about even in the imagination of those who created those worlds and it’s inhabitants. Creativity is a living and growing organism that needs constant cultivating and pruning to grow and to create the landscape of the imagination’s reason for putting pen to paper. Without creativity what’s the point of writing let alone living life worth writing about? Life is a creative act, writing is recording that act, and one cannot live without the other, so get out there and stop wasting life by not writing as if there was nothing to write about. There is always something to write about even if it’s mundane in the beginning and seems pointless with the first draft. Creativity is a terrible thing to waste, so why are you?

“A man who limits his interests, limits his life.” Vincent Price.

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Stephen King.

RECOMMENDATIONS/REFERENCES.

Complete Works Of Ray Bradbury.

Movie Treasury Of Horror Movies.

Hammer Complete: The Films, The Personnel, The Company. By. Howard Maxford.

The Art Of Darkness: The Life And Fiction Of The Master Of The Macabre Stephen King. By. Douglas E. Winter.

Complete Works Of Stephen King.

On Writing. By. Stephen King.

The Dance Macabre. By. Stephen King.

The Price Of Fear: The Life And Career Of Vincent Price. By. Joel Ilsner, Peter Cushing.

Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography. By. Victoria Price.

Boris Karloff: A Gentleman’s Life. By. Scott Allen Nollen.

Christopher Lee: Tall, Dark And Gruesome. By. Christopher Lee.

Peter Cushing: The Complete Memoirs. By. Peter Cushing.

Ingrid Pitt: Darkness To Dawn. By. Ingrid Pitt.

Life’s A Scream: The Autobiography Of Ingrid Pitt.

Ingrid Pitt: Queen Of Horror: The Complete Career. By. Robert M. Cotter, Ingrid Pitt.

Land That Time Forgot. By. Edgar Rice Burroughs.

People That Time Forgot. By. Edgar Rice Burroughs.

At The Earth’s Core. By. Edgar Rice Burroughs.

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Lost Colony. (Short Story).

cropped-12301412301.jpg“It’s Earth isn’t it, Sir?” He knew it was but he spoke for them all on the bridge of the Saratoga, “I thought it wouldn’t look the same after so many years.”

Professor Wallace was slow to respond as something troubled him about the image of the planet below them, “Yes, it does look somewhat similar to ancient Earth of two thousand years ago…” He thought about that length of time with mild amusement. “Two thousand years ago is a long time to be away from home…”

“There was a mission to Earth some time ago, Professor Wallace, it never returned.”

“Yes, true, I read up on that mission.”

“Two thousand years is a long time.” Captain Thompson commented for no reason as he observed what he figured was  quit probably the Pacific Ocean, “I did notice that most of the land mass is covered in snow and ice, it’s cold down there…”

“It’s an ice age down there, Captain Thompson, another cycle of the Earth’s climate.”

“Except it’s not suppose to be there.” Captain Thompson replied, “Or at least covering that much of the planet. I know there was speculation that the planet was going  through an ice age of some kind, but look at the planet, it’s a damn snow.”

“You’ve read the reports I see. Every living thing was suppose to be dead. Basically extinct due to man’s last war to end all wars as I read somewhere.” Looking at the military man, “It’s not covered everywhere, Captain Thompson, just where we are looking. The sensor’s indicate land masses that were not completely in the grips of that ice age down there.”

“But the sensor’s have been picking up life signs. In fact a lot of life signs. All animal though.”

Professor Wallace beamed, “Fascinating isn’t it. Absolutely amazing that life survived and it’s flourishing.”

“Yes, Professor Wallace, but what it is doing down there?”

Wasn’t sure he understood the question, “It’s thriving, Captain Thompson, it’s surviving without us meddling.” Amused at the men’s look, “Nature is bigger than man, Sir, we are the smaller creatures in the grand scheme of life.” Looking out the window at the cold planet below, “It’s fascinating to wonder if maybe that lost colonist ship made it back here…”

“No human life signs have been detected, Professor Wallace.” Captain Charles Thompson scratched his short trimmed red beard as habit when something bothered him, “Well, life certainly survived the last two thousand years somehow on a planet that was dying when we left.” Looking at the man with stared with such boyish interest at the planet below, “Well, life survived, that’s good, so why are you not allowing the research team to go down and explore. We’ve been here a week….”

He looked at the man he liked, “You are correct, Captain, you are very correct to ask your first question. What is life doing down there? We left a dying world two thousand years ago. What we left was a world so poisoned that microbial life shouldn’t even be down there. And yet, we are detecting huge life forms to very small living creatures. We are detecting something that shouldn’t be there.” He stopped to regain the moment, be patient he told himself, explain to them slowly, ask them questions, draw them out, “What do you know about our world down there since we left?”

“Nothing really. No one’s been there…”

“Yes they have.”

He looked at the man carefully, “It’s says nothing in the reports that the last mission ever reported back…”

“It wouldn’t, Captain Thompson.”

“Explain that statement.” He was beginning to suspect why it was the man wanted to meet up with him alone on the observation deck. Strange man he thought but quit a chess player Thompson discovered. But he also came to trust the short man with the wire-rimmed glasses. He hadn’t been wrong up to this point.

“You know about the first attempt to return home. That mission failed miserably because they did arrive back here and what they reported back was a planet still in the grips of the last bits of becoming a sterile world as barren as our moon out there. They reported an earth incapable of supporting life of any kind.”

“Did they not send down a research party?”

Wallace thinly smiled, “Yes, of course they did. They reported back what the ship’s sensors already told them. Planet Earth is dead.” Adding, “Then the transmissions from the ship was never heard again.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I have seen the archives and computer transcripts of the message. That’s all it said basically. Earth is dead, do not come.”

“Okay, but…”

A hand went up as he studied the frozen world below, “A little over three hundred years ago another attempt was made. And no, you will not find that attempt recorded because it was an unauthorized exploration undertaken by one Professor Suzuki. He felt it was time to again try and return and see if it was different.” Looking at the man briefly, “He didn’t believe the original transcript. He felt there was something odd about the message and then he found something odd that had been added to the message, as if something new had come across the vastness of space to reach us from old Earth, and I quote, ‘I’d like to see that land beyond the pole. That area beyond the Pole is the center of the Great Unknown.’ That’s a direct quote from the transcript.”

“I don’t understand.”

He smiled at the comment, “It’s a quote from an artic explorer, Admiral Byrd.”

“Okay, still not really following.”

“it’s said that he discovered that the earth was hallow; he flew over an opening in the earth in the artic. It’s said by some of those who latched unto the theory of Byrd that it explains certain oddities. Such questions as why does one find tropical vegetation in fresh water of icebergs was one question they felt could be explained by the earth actually be hallow. They claim that it is warmer at the poles rather than 6oo or even a 1000 miles away they claimed…”

“Sounds weird to me. The earth is hallow.”

“It’s what the quote I stated is referring to.” Something below caught his brief attention, “Supposedly Admiral Byrd discovered a huge opening in the Artic, that the earth is actually a hollow sphere.” He observed what he was sure was a massive snowstorm occurring on the planet below, “It’s of course more detailed than that in the book but the whole idea is that what we are looking at is actually hollow.”

Captain Thompson Looked out the window at the planet, “What do you believe, Professor Wallace?”

Placing a hand on the glass with his private thoughts, “Down there are mysteries. The first mission here didn’t report that the planet was going through an ice age on a global scale. It reported that the temperature was a little colder than they thought it would be but nothing like an global ice age….” He couldn’t help the smile that came to him, “The message was simple and to the point, planet earth was still dead, no life.”

“Well, where did all the life signs come from. Because that planet has life.” He took notice of the look the older man, “What’s troubling you?”

The slight smile came and went, he blinked at the storm below, “A little over three hundred years ago as I said before, Professor Suzuki, came here and sent back a cryptic message. sent it for a reason…”

“I never heard of him…”

Amused, “Her, Professor Yuka Suzuki was a woman.”

“Yes, well, have not heard of her either. But continue.”

“Most people have not. She simply disappears from the records. Mainly because she proved the academic circles wrong on a few points so they pretty much removed her from the scientific records.” Adding with a smile, “Well, they tried to.”

“Apparently.”

“”I was doing some late night research in the main academic system when a single name show up. It was simply there without context really. I think when or who ever tried to delete her missed a few files because I found more than one file as I kept searching. There was even a picture from a news clipping. Must have been a very early clipping because in the picture she looked in her early twenties…” A fondness came over his features.

“By that look she was not unattractive?”

He laughed at the remark, “This was three hundred years ago, Captain Thompson, I’m sure she’s aged by now…”

“She was attractive apparently.”

“Yes, well, she certainly ruffled the feathers of those who felt it was pointless to go and see what out old world looked like. They were convinced that it was a lot cause. They even took a vote on the subject and by consensus of opinion declared earth dead and of no scientific interest.” He tapped the glass, “And with that said they eliminated her from the scientific community and expunged her from their presence to dare question their authority.” Looking at him, “Except history didn’t forget her. Someone accidently or on purpose left just enough of her name to make it possible to make her theories plausible.”

Pointing outside, “And this was what you think she was referring to?”  Adding, “But we are not picking up any human life, Professor Wallace. We’ve scanned numerous times and there simply is no human life on that planet…”

“Very true.” The storm below on the surface seemed to be growing in intensity, The surface seems quit free from human life. Maybe Byrd was correct and they found that hole on top of the world…”

“The Earth is not hollow, Professor Wallace.” Looking at the man who remained silent and the look he was giving the image below was bothering him, “So, the planet is going through another ice age? Because that I can see with my own eyes, Professor Wallace.”

“Well, let’s call it a semi-ice age, and I’m sure our senior geologist Tollerson would agree with that assumption at the least.”

“She might, she also might just say it’s a nice summer day to be argumentative.”

Professor Wallace turned from the window, “She likes to debate her own little theories about what we might or might not encounter.”

“Yes, but did she know that it would be so cold down there?”

“Professor Tollerson will be up here shortly, Captain Thompson, and I am sure she’ll say none of this surprises her. And it probably wont surprise her as she got into hot water with her theory that quit possible what we would find would be an Earth in the midst of snow and ice.” Looking at the man with a look that said much, “Professor Suziki also made it this far to Earth. Her few transmissions I managed to find made it clear she got this far and reported back what we are looking at.” He looked briefly at the planet below, “She also reported back in one transmission one word and only one word.”

“And that would be?”

“Life, she simply said life.”

“Life? On that frozen world below?” He folded his arms, “Professor Wallace, I’m just the captain of his research vessel, my briefing was to the point and that was to get us to this point without losing my ship, my crew, and a couple of scientists with ideas that old Earth can be returned to. I don’t see much of a world down there worth coming back to. It’s colder than hell down there. It’s below zero on most of the land masses we are looking at, the oceans are even just as cold, what life is down there is…”

“Surviving, Captain Thompson, it’s surviving just fine as our sensors have been indicating.”

He was bothered by that piece of information, “There shouldn’t be any life on that world, Professor Wallace.”

“Is that what they told you?”

“It’s what the reports I was given told me, so yes.”

He smiled, “They lied, Captain Thompson, they simply lied.” Looking at him as he leaned against the glass, “It’s very simple, Captain Thompson, consensus of opinion told you there was nothing to find on old Earth and certainly no life. I’m sure they were very adamant in their reports to you that there was nothing here but a dead burned out planet where life was no longer possible.”

“A completely sterile world they actually said.” Adding, “Several times they said it.”

“Yes, I am sure I have read the same report by the esteemed and highly important academics and President of the Science Academy. He was quit upset with my idea of this exploration back here. I still remember the look he gave me when I told him I was going on this fact finding voyage.” Amused at something, “He was quit annoyed with the whole plan.”

The officer nodded with a look. He stared back at the earth below, “So, our old home is going through another ice age down there?”

“Well, let’s call it a semi-ice age at the very most, Captain Thompson.”

“How do theorize that?” Tapping the glass, “Looks all frozen over to me for the most part…”

He smiled at something, “Professor Suzuki made it too earth and orbited the planet for a long time. Her messages back to the new colony simply stated what we are looking at, a frozen planet for the most part.” Softly, more too himself, “The simple word, life.”

“Life?”

Reflectively, “Professor Suzuki stayed orbiting the planet for a week or so before making a landing….”

“Why so long?” Asking again, “What about life? Our sensors do show some minor readings of life signs. Small creatures one would expect surviving such a cold climate.” He studied the man who he knew wasn’t really listening but the look in those light blue eyes of the man told Thompson he was thinking, “So why, Professor Wallace, did she wait a week to land on the planet? Do you have any theories?”

“That is a big unknown. She never said anything about why she waited so long. Maybe she did and that message lost or destroyed by those in charge and afraid that it would make them look bad let alone wrong. Bu look at it, Captain Thompson, look at our lost world and down there somewhere is a lost colony.”

“Yes.”

“Lost colony? So you do think there’s a lost colony down there? Human life?”

The smile slowly came, “The records of all this we are discussing is heresy back in our last home, Captain Thompson. We are speaking against the scientific consensus of opinion of those who were very glad to see us leave. What we are seeing down there shouldn’t be there in there thinking. It should look like a desert and the life signs should be so small that it’s best to say it’s a sterile planet down there…”

“But it’s not sterile.”

“Well, there is animal life down there as we already have via the sensors proven.”

“Why do I get the impression, Professor Wallace, there are things you are not telling me.”

“Because there are, Captain Thompson, but I am sure as time passes I will make things clearer for you.”

“Promise.”

He laughed, “Captain Thompson, so far everything about this voyage has proven them wrong who said this was a waste of time and energy. But I am convinced the lost colony is down there and they found a world worth returning to. Yes, it’s cold…”

“The present temperature is below zero…” Amused, “Thirty degrees below zero and a wind chill lower than that. And you think there is a colony of human survivors down there? Our sensors have picked up nothing human alive on that planet…” Holding up a hand, “Ya, ya, maybe they went into the earth to live. Quit possible but I am not going to believe the earth is hollow…”

“But you believe there might be human life below the surface?”

“I believe that professor Suzuki eventually landed a research team on the planet and explored the world below. I also read some of her reports that I have found and I think she hints at something the other closed-minded bunch ignored or didn’t notice.”

“How?”

“She obviously read the same book I read, in one of the transcript she used the phrase I read in the book about the hollow earth theory but she knew her blind audience wouldn’t catch it so she wrote it. She was trying to say something that others would hopefully notice. I quote, it was written February of 1947, ‘I’d love to see the land beyond the Pole. That area beyond the Pole is the center of the Great Unknown.’ Written by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd. He was implying something as well…”

“Rather strange to me. A hollow earth?”

“I think she was trying to tell someone that humanity had gone underground. Not sure she would have agreed that the planet is hollow. Someone back on the new home was suppose to get that message and understand it.”

“Seems a lot of work to be that secretive about what she found.”

He smiled at the foolish comment, “You don’t understand the scientific paralysis of the consensus of opinion crowd that has become the scientific mind back home. That planet should be a sterile ball of dirt and not much else. There shouldn’t even be any weather of any kind let alone a practical global ice age. There shouldn’t even be one single microbe of any kind of life but it’s apparent there is animal life…”

“Is it really global?”

“No,” The reply came sharply, “I have been doing some readings and it appears that a lot of the places we are looking at isn’t as snow or ice covered as it appears. Oh, it’s cold down there,  but not everywhere.

Looking at the world below, “Looks like we are going over what once was Europe…”

“A yes, it does.”

It was the way he said it that made the soldier wonder what the man was not telling him or anyone.

He knew he was being stared at, “The computer is having a hard time for some reason being sure what the geography we are seeing. Looks like Europe as we might have seen it but the computer seems to still not be sure…”

“A computer glitch?”

He studied the landscape with a smile again, “Quit possible.”

The intercom came to life, “Captain Thompson, this is Peters, I am getting some odd signals from the planet surface…”

Captain Thompson didn’t like this news, “Odd readings? Explain.”

The voice was shaky for some reason, “Sir, um, one minute there were no life signs, and then the next, Sir, we have human life signs…

“Peters, is that confirmed?” Demanded the voice of Professor Wallace. “Are you certain of your readings?”

“Yes, Professor Wallace.”

“Where?” Wallace interrupted the captain, “Where exactly on the surface? And how many human readings?” Looking at the others, “I will assume they are human until further evidence…” Looking over his shoulder at the geologist who had been standing at the door listening, “Is that not fair Professor Tollerson?”

Natalie Tollerson, senior geologist, was too busy to answer as she stared and studied the planet below, she was frowning at something. “Very fair….” The answer came from somewhere as it was apparent she was thinking of something else. “Probably wrong, but it’s fair at the moment.”

“You have that look, Professor Tollerson, what’s the problem?”

Still refusing to look away at the planet below, “This is the Northern Hemisphere, correct, Mr. Peters?”

Interrupting annoyed, Captain Thompson spoke up, “Yes, of course it is. Look at it. I can still see the basic outline of Europe or what was Europe….”

“That’s my point, you shouldn’t be able to see the basics of what was Europe, there’s not enough snow and ice in what we are looking at. My theory was that the planet was in a deep, deep, deep ice age! That isn’t an ice age, that’s a normal winter in Europe a few thousand years ago….” She folded her eyes, “Something is very wrong.”

“Yes, you’re theory on the global ice age you predicted.” Professor Wallace responded, “You were simply wrong. It’s not as cold or ice covered as you predicted.”

Annoyed, “I am not wrong, that down there is wrong!”

Professor Wallace spoke up with a amused grin, “Well, I’m sure you will figure out where the planet went wrong and not listened to you or your theory. But for the moment,” With a slight look at the uncomfortable looking geologist, “Let’s deal with what we are looking at. And dealing with. ”

Captain Thompson interrupted, “Peters, report. How many human readings?”

Peters was happy he wasn’t in the same room as the captain, “Three, Captain.”

“Attempted contact I assume.”

“Yes, Sir, I have, but no response yet.”

“Keep trying, Peters, keep trying.” Looking at the scientists with a moody look of a man quit convinced he was not being told everything by someone. And those someone’s where standing in front of him with stony features. Though Natalie’s features still held the softness that all woman have despite the rigors of interstellar travel he always noticed; the red hair added to her look.

“Yes, Sir.” Peters clicked off the mic with relief.

Captain Thompson spoke the Wallace with a look, “You do know what this means now?”

Professor Wallace stepped closer the viewing window and seemed lost in thought as he studied the cold planet below in silence.

Professor Tollerson spoke up, “All I am saying is that it should be colder, much colder.”

“It’s an ice age down there now, Professor Tollerson, a very cold one. Sorry it’s not further below zero than it is. Sorry that fifty below zero upsets your mathematics.”

“It’s not just my math, Professor Wallace…”

Annoyed at their bickering as he saw it, “Can we get back to the fact that we have actual human readings on a supposedly dead planet.”

“Yes, human readings…”

Natalie noted his tone but said nothing; something was indeed troubling her about the cold below but also about the man who studied the planet so closely, “They must be underground then….”

“Most certainly.”

“I wonder how long?”

He smiled a bit, “Human beings have returned to earth and recolonized the planet.” He was somewhat pleased about something, “We have colonized the earth and reclaimed it as our home.”

“And yet something is troubling you, Professor Wallace.” Replied Natalie next to him looking out the window, “What it is?”

“I agree with you on one small point of what we are seeing down there, Professor Tollerson. Something is off, something is wrong.”

“What?”

“What is down there seems to…” He frowned a bit, thought for the word to use.

“Too clean?” She smiled to herself, “Yes, too clean not only not cold enough.”

Captain Thompson spoke up puzzled, “Too clean?”

“Yes, Captain Thompson, too clean, that is a good way to put it. When we left the earth it was a wasteland of a dying planet, it was rotting and decaying from war and disease and just plan human folly. That was about two thousand years ago….” Looking at the man, “Captain Thompson, ” Addressing Natalie as well, “Whether it’s cold or not cold enough down there. That planet looks as though it had never gone through any of the things I listed. Look at it. We left a toxic wasteland, no life should have survived, let alone human life.”

“You seem very disappointed that we have found life on earth still?”

“Captain Thompson, I am not unhappy that we have discovered life on our old home. I am certainly not unhappy that we have found human life….” He felt frustrated because he knew he wasn’t explaining it very well. He had the habit he knew to be vague with answers when something troubled him or he couldn’t figure something out quick enough; Professor Tollerson found this about him worth a laugh on more than one occasion. Looking at them with his troubled thoughts, “As much as I hate to admit it, but our geologist is correct, it’s too warm.”

Natalie tried not to smile. “Was I now?”

“Yes, but I am not sure for the reason you are thinking.” He didn’t like her amused brief smile of victory on the scientific level, “There is something very wrong but not for the reason you are thinking.”

“What’s that suppose to mean? You just said I am right about the temperature anomaly.” She folded her arms, “What are you not telling us, Professor Wallace?”

Professor Tollerson spoke up again, “All I know is I am growing impatient with all this waiting around for you to decide when we can go down to the surface. Why are you delaying?”

Professor Wallace tried to not look amused at something, “I’m not delaying to simply be stubborn and to deny you the itching scientist in you to explore your all to warm old home, but that is the point. It’s too warm. It should be colder. It should all be colder.”

“As I have been saying since we left.”

“I sent a probe down to the planet a few days ago…”

Angry, Professor Tollerson spoke up above the protesting Captain Thompson, “Without telling me or anyone? What are you hiding, Professor Wallace?” She stepped in front of him and stared at him with annoyance, “You’ve been keeping us from going down the surface for a week now. What’s up? What information did the probe send back?”

Softly, looking passed the angry woman, “That’s the issue, Professor Tollerson, it never came back. It never sent a signal back of any kind. It simply entered the atmosphere at twenty thousand feet and then simply wasn’t there anymore…”

Captain Thompson finally got a word in, “No act of aggression? That seems an act of aggression to me and I should have been told! It just disappeared? No debris of any kind anywhere? Nothing hit it?”

He nodded negatively, “The probe entered the earth’s atmosphere and at twenty thousand feet it simply ceased to exist. No trace of anything. No explosion.” He held up a hand as they both were about to comment again, “I sent another one earlier this morning…”

“Another one? What happened?” Demanded a not happy Captain Thompson, “And stop sending out probes without telling me!”

He slightly chuckled, “It was done in the name of science and it was needed.”

“I should have been informed, Professor Wallace.”

“I demand to know what’s going on with the second probe, what happened?”

“Always the rational scientist, Natalie, always get to the major point. The second probe didn’t vanish but something caused it to stop sending a signal for a while and then it sent one….”

The interruption came.

“Captain Thompson, this is Peter’s again.”

Annoyed of course, “Yes, Peter’s what?”

“Um, Captain Thompson, we are being signaled…”

“From the planet? Human life?”

Peter’s heard the question but wasn’t sure he had a good answer from the statement sent, “Captain Thompson, it’s directed to all of us…”

“Peters! What is the damn message?”

Peter’s really didn’t want to say it because it bothered him.

Captain Thompson shouted, “Peters?”

Slowly, “Simply put, Captain Thompson, it says ‘Leave’. Just leave.”

There was of course a brief silence as they all heard the message.

Captain Thompson interrupted both of them, “Peters, that was the entire message?”

“Yes, Captain Thompson, it simply stated that we leave. Nothing else.”

Captain Thompson studied the two scientists with a hard long look, “I want answers, Professor Wallace and I want them now. I suspect you know more about this than you are letting on….”

Natalie interrupted, “There are people down there. Humans are down there!”

He looked at her with a hard look and ignored the impatient captain, “Are there really? A few thousand years have passed since we were here and then the lost colony lands and then what happens to them? How do you know that the message is from a fellow human, Professor Tollerson? We were just told to leave. You assume it’s from the lost colony, why do they want us to leave so badly?…”

“They must know who we are, Professor Wallace…”

“They probably do.”

“That’s our home! We came from there and it’s our planet!”

Calmly, “It was. We ceased to be it’s owners when we left, Professor Tollerson.”

“We left to survive, the planet had become unlivable…” Pointing the planet below, “We are from there! We left our home and survived and now we are back home. I didn’t travel all these years and miles to be told go away from a message from my home world, Professor Wallace! We escaped the wars and the horrible aftermath of those wars. We barely survived but we did….”

“That’s our history, yes.” Professor Wallace simply was going to agree with his fellow explorer, “I read it to.”

Captain Thompson again interrupted annoyed, “I’m not being told everything, Professor Wallace, I demand answers! What are you not telling me!”

He understood the man’s anger and the look of something else in those eyes of the captain; maybe it was fear? Natalie’s look was a mixture of that same unknown fear but the look of a scientist wanting answers. But would they understand the answers? Because there was something very wrong and it had only been recently that he discovered it and he was sure no one was going to like it.

“Yes, Professor Wallace, what are you not telling us? You sent probes and they told you nothing?” Professor Tollerson’s voiced her mind calmly, “I think there is a lot you are not telling us…” Pointing again to the planet below, “Is that or is that not our earth?”

“It is.” He studied the planet again for a few seconds as if troubled by what he knew, “Doesn’t anything strike anyone other than me that what we are seeing is too much of what shouldn’t be there?” He spoke mostly to Natalie who only stared back impatiently, “You said it yourself, Professor Tollerson, the planet isn’t cold enough. It’s too warm even for the ice age we are seeing…”

“What are you driving at?”

Professor Wallace spoke bluntly, “And now we are getting a threat from somewhere on the planet…” He knew it was coming, but he wished he didn’t. “”We are assuming that the threat is from the lost colony. We are assuming that what we are seeing is in fact what is actually down there…”

Captain Thompson with impatience, “You are making no sense, what are you delaying for? Out with it!” Pointing violently at the planet below them, “Is that not Earth!”

Professor Wallace knew what was coming.

“Captain Thompson?” Peter’s voice came loud and clear, “Another message…”

Yelling, “What now?”

Professor Wallace answered, “We have just been declared war on, Captain Thompson.”

He glared angry, “What the hell is going on…” Grabbing the man and slamming him into the huge window, “Start talking, Professor Wallace…what are you not telling me!”

Professor Wallace simply smiled.

“What’s so damn funny! And how did you know what was coming?”

Calmly, removing the man’s tight grip from his shirt, “Because, Captain Thompson, we’ve been doing this since we got here…”

“What?”

Looking at them, “We’ve been here a lot longer than we think let alone remember, Captain Thompson…Have you not noticed that time seems disjointed, as if bits and pieces of it is not in order? Doesn’t it seem odd that for a colony ship we are the only one’s we actually interact with?”

“Explain yourself or so help me I’m going to slam you through the window into space…”

He wanted to laugh but he knew what was coming, “We’re a ghost ship, Captain Thompson, we arrived here a ghost ship, we were the only survivors when the ship finally reached this point..Something happened to the life support systems and we were the only one’s who survived somehow….even I don’t remember that part…”

“What about the message?” Natalie asked afraid and staring at the planet below, “It’s why the reading don’t make sense…”

“We are reliving that moment, we seem to be stuck in that moment, Natalie, Captain Thompson….” Looking at the planet below, “We are indeed about to be destroyed by someone down there and we will never know who but we never get beyond that point…”

Captain Thompson yelled, “Peter’s!”

“He wont answer, Captain Thompson, he can’t. He’s a ghost. He’s trapped like we are in a moment we seem to not be able to escape…”

“How long do you think we have been doing this?” Natalie asked walking closer to the window and looking at the planet below, “We never get home?”

“I think we crash into the planet, Natalie.”

“How long have we been doing this?” Looking at him, “How long have we been living this moment over and over and over?”

“Not sure,” He walked to the window and stood there, “For some reason I began to suspect something was wrong and I suspect that we have been doing this a long time…”

Sadly, “We never get home?”

“No.”

“Looks so peaceful down there…” Natalie spoke with a sob, “We never get home…”

The explosions ripped through the ship,

“I guess it begins again…” He knew that it would be a few minutes before there section exploded and killed them again and it would start all over again.

The ship in the horizon noted the wreckage orbiting the planet once called earth.

Writer’s Block. (Short Story).

cropped-12301412301.jpg“You must be having writer’s block, Ben, as it’s one of the few reasons you need me it seems lately…” So replied the young girl who stood at his office door frame, “Good thing I still have my spare key, because I knocked for a while…”

Ben looked over his shoulder at the owner of the voice he had just realized was there a while, he smiled at the girl in the beat-up old jeans, thin strapped dark red pullover, “Sorry, Melissa, I guess I didn’t hear the door.”

“That’s apparent, Ben.” Stepping gingerly into the library known as his office and taking note of the clutter of crumbled up paper and half eaten something on his usually cluttered desk, the usual open notebook with it’s usual handwriting she couldn’t read anyway, and of course the usual cup of tea which was probably cold by now. “You look like you haven’t changed your clothes in a while?”

Ben swung the chair around, looked a the girl with a look, “I changed the shirt yesterday, and besides I like flannel even in summer. And you’re one to talk with that hole in the knee look…”

“I make the hole in the knee look, Benjamin,  look very good.”

“Well, you do have great knees.”

Looking at the chair with the books on it, “Can I sit here or these books too sacred to move?”

Looking over the desk a bit to see them, scrutinizing the stack newly bought World War Two books, “Take that bottom book out and hand it too me and take the others and just, well, put it on the floor….”

Saluting with dramatic effect, “Yes, Sir, I will obey Sir, whatever you say Sir!” Removing the bottom book and looking at the cover, reading the title as she handed it too him, ” Hey, Ben, what’s ‘Island Of The Damned’ about?

“It’s a memoir of a Marine during the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa.” Placing the book near a stack another books on the same subject, still talking as he straightened the stack, looking back at her, noting the look of actual interest in the subject, “Peleliu is a small island in the South Pacific during the island fighting campaign during the Second World War….” He could see her being patient in those dark brown eyes that were probably laughing at him, “Okinawa was the last major battle of the war. Bloody battle indeed, very costly in America lives as over 14,000 were killed, it’s said over 77,000 Japanese soldiers were killed….”

Melissa sat down and crossed her legs, “Is that why you called for me to come over, to talk history? Because I do have other things I could be doing other than talking to you…”

He sensed her amusement despite the tone she was using, “What, no foreplay?”

“Is that what we are doing?” The eyes never left his but she was laughing, “Generally when I am summoned it’s to get to my professional point for being here….but we can talk first if you want. Tell me more, Professor Morrrison.”

He sat back down, “Melissa, don’t take up writing as a profession.”

“I’ll keep that in mind for the future when I grow too old to do what I do now.”

“Yes, well, at the moment the book is going very slow.”

“Nothing wrong with slow.”

“Are we still talking about writing?” He eyed the girl who simply stared back with that ever present patient smile of knowing what was coming.

“I will discuss writing or other things all you want, Professor Morrison. I’m flexible.”

“Are we still discussing writing?

“Only of you are planning on writing about me later.” She ran a hand through her very long dark hair, thought about tying it up but knew he liked to pull on it sometimes. Why guys liked to do that was a mystery to her but they did.

“You actually should write a book, Melissa. You’ve lived an interesting life.” He leaned back a bit in the chair, he liked to observe the young girl sitting across from him, wondering how long he could keep up the role playing game. The woman before him was certainly pretty, enjoyable to look at and certainly to make love to, and despite her false knowledge of history was very knowledgeable. He could tell sometimes that playing a dumb girl part bothered her.

“My life has been rather ordinary, Professor Morrison. Nothing special about me.”

“I find that very hard to believe.”

Smiling warmly, stretching out her legs a bit, laughing at something, “I’m only 24, Professor Morrison, what life could I have lived worth writing about?”

“I think we all have stories worth telling, Melissa.”

“Is that why you are having a bout of writer’s block and called me?”

He thought about that, “Partly. I also simply missed you.”

Surprised, “Miss me, what’s to miss?

“Everything, Melissa.”

“You just missed the sex as I know I am that good.”

“Ah, modesty.”

“It isn’t bragging if it’s true, Professor Morrison. Just saying.” Looking about the large spacious at home office and library, “You actually read all these books? You been to any of these places in the books?”

Looking about the library and stacks books on the too many shelves, “I’ve read most of them or at least used most of them in my writing or teaching…”

“All history?” Standing up as she noticed a book title that caught her eye, “They don’t look all history.”

“Most are either history, biography, some science and even theology…” Watching her walk slowly toward a bookcase, “Many subjects….”

Reaching for a book and taking it out of it’s slot, “What’s Shibari?….” Looking at the cover of the young Japanese girl showing only her back but certainly tied up with rope, “Ah, never mind, Japanese rope bondage…” Looking over at him, “What is a historian doing with such a book?” Flipping through the book slowly, not bothering to hide her thoughts on the pictures, “And I could ask if you have ever actually done any of this…” Turning the page she was looking at up-side-down, “Not possible even with all that rope….” Looking at him again, “You didn’t answer my question?”

“I have….”

Commenting on another page, “That simply looks painful…as you were saying?”

“I have thought about it a few times.”

“No volunteers?”

“Never had the courage to ask would be an honest answer. It’s not exactly a question you ask on a first date…” Being slightly dramatic, “Excuse me, um, Rebecca, would you mind if I tied you up and then hang you up by a pully system…”

“Who’s Rebecca?” She teased him as she studied a particularly complicated looking picture of a girl tied up. Commenting on it, “Sex seems so much simpler without rope being involved….who’s Rebecca?”

Laughing, “One would think that was true, but some people like it.”

“Who’s Rebecca?”

“Just a person I once knew a while back…”

“Why did you use her and not make up a person? Was she into such things?”

“I don’t think so, she was pretty shy a girl when I lived in Anaheim , California. I believe it was my freshman year in high school. It’s been a while, we worked together in the theatre department…”

“Ah, a theatre romance. How sweet and with rope already about the building.” Closing the book with a loud closing of the cover, “Interesting, surprised you don’t have the Kama Sutra next to it…”

“Wrong shelf.”

“Of course it is.” Asking again with a smile, “So, what about Rebecca?”

“I just knew her briefly, Melissa. No romance…”

“But apparently she is rope worthy?”

Thinking about it, “I’d have to recheck my yearbook for that time. She probably was.”

“So, no Rebecca stories?” She looked over at him with a hopeful look as she continued to look at the different books on the shelves, “Any other books on tying up helpless girls with rope and such things and then who knows what else do with them?” Noting another book with an interesting title, taking it out, reading the title more to herself than Ben who watched with a look, “Hmmm, ‘The Complete Tales And Poems Of Edgar Allen Poe.’ Never read Poe, not even in school….” Putting the book back, “So, any Rebecca stories at all?”

Laughing at her serious look, “Sorry, Melissa, I knew the girl off and on and in one class.”

“Too bad, but you could have made up something and I wouldn’t have known.” Kneeling down to a lower shelve, “Are any of these books in any kind of order, Ben?”

“I put them where I put them, so no, Melissa, no real order…”

“Then how do you know where one is if you need it? That’s probably why you are having writer’s block lately.”

Amused of course by a question his wife asked a lot, “I am certain I know where everything is if I need it…”

Looking at him with a look and a slight smile, and wondered if she should have worn her shorts instead of the jeans as that might speed up things, “Really? I could name a book or subject of a book and you would know where it is without moving from that desk?”

“Name a book or subject, Melissa?”

She stood her ground with a pleased smile, “Any subject?”

Knowing where this was going with that question but he was enjoying how she stood there looking, well, like a pretty girl knowing how it was all going to end, “Within reason of course, Melissa, name a book or subject…”

“Within reason? That sounds boring. I was going to say De Sade…”

Pointing behind her, “Behind you, top shelf next to the biography.”

Swirling around quickly, surprised somewhat, “Figures.” Pulling the biography from it’s place, flipping through it, asking softly, “Ever see that movie based on his life?”

“You mean ‘Quills’ with Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet? Yes.”

“Inflicting pain and suffering for pleasure, not for me thank you.” She slapped the book closed and shoved it back into the opening where it came, “De Sade was a creepy guy with even creepier tastes in pleasure when sex is involved and what is simply inflicting pain to inflict pain. Rope bondage I am not sure isn’t just as bad…” Looking at him again with a look, “What are you trying to write about anyway?”

“Bored of the game already?”

“You can multi-task.”

“It’s a fictional story of course taking place during the Second World War. Hence the books on the subject I bought yesterday….”

“How about gardening? Any books on gardening?”

He tried to not smile, pointing to the other side of the room to a smaller shelf next to a large stone statue of a sitting wolf, “A few down there.” He would have added that they were actually the wife’s books but why complicate things at the moment, adding as the girl looked back at him with a not so pleased look, “Though my plant books are mostly on fungus, mostly mushrooms…”

“You ever actually tie a girl up?”

“Back to that again?”

“I find it more interesting.” She replied as she took another book out, looked at it’s cover and simply put it back without comment, “That’s usually why you call me and ask me to come by. Generally you need a distraction from something bothering your writing life…” Thinking about something, “You may even have a complete and well-stocked torture chamber down in your basement all I know as I have never been down there.”

Laughing, “Sorry, no torture chamber downstairs, only the one in my head.”

“Ha, so you have thought it.” She looked at him with triumph in her expression of a smile, walking a little closer to his desk, “You have thought about tying me up?”

“No, I wouldn’t go that far, Melissa.”

“You have at least thought about something involving me powerless to stop you then?” Adding with a shy smile, “At least in your head?”

“I admit that far.”

Standing her ground with her arms folded across her chest which of course pushed her breasts up a bit; and she knew it. “And?”

He enjoyed the image she was posing with full understanding of the eventual outcome of the afternoon, “And what?” She was a woman who took care of herself and it showed.

“I want to know what exactly you would do with me if I let you? Or if you wish, against my will…” She would have added it wouldn’t have been the first time it was against her will but Ben never seemed to be inclined to force the, well, friends with benefits scenerio against her wishes or what she was willing to do. But with him what wasn’t she willing to do? The truth was there probably wasn’t much she wouldn’t do for him.

“When did we cross that bridge? I like the way it is now, not complicated.” He took notice of her shapely knee sticking out of the hole in her jeans; you have issues Ben. Yes, one of them was standing in a provocative pose trying to get a literal and physical rise out of him and she was good at it because he was getting one. And this while she was still pretty much dressed.

“It’s not complicated. I am asking what is your wildest fantasy you’ve ever thought of involving me. You’ve never once thought in the five years we have known each other as we do know each other…”

He laughed at her expression of either being annoyed with his lack of tying her up interest or something akin to it. Maybe frustration? “I don’t deny I have often thought about, well, some of that stuff in my books…”

“Books? As in you have more than one on how to tie up a defenseless girl and have your way with her kind of books?”

“You actually sound shocked, Melissa.”

“Not really, I was trying to be dramatic and shit. But seriously, you’ve never wanted to see what it would be like to actually do that to a person who is willing as long as it doesn’t turn into rape and torture porn?”

Frowning a bit at the comments and willing to see how far she was serious on the issue, “Not sure what brought all this on but….”

“You’re not the only one who gets bored with one’s job. I get bored like anyone one else. Not everyone I go somewhere with is a interesting guy with lots of personality. Believe me I have had some dull clients…” Looking about the room mentioning another possible book title, “You ever been to Hawaii?” He scrutinized the girl’s comment as she stood at another shelf looking at the books and their titles, she took one out and simply putting it back as if the title simply bored her. “I have been to a few places but never Hawaii. Somewhere where I can get a good tan.”

“I lived there a bit as a kid as my dad was in the military, U. S. Navy.”

“You have anything on learning to dance?”

Laughing, “No, no, oddly enough have not had the need for it…until now apparently.”

“Did you enjoy Hawaii? How old were you then?” Looking at him with a struggling to not look too impatient, “You sure you don’t want to tie me over that stool over there and whack my butt with that nasty piece of wood you have in the corner…”

“It’s a cricket bat, Melissa.” And answering her first question, “I was about seventeen or so, I probably didn’t for the most part but I am sure there were good points.” Looking over at the old cricket bat he had bought on a trip to England some years ago with his wife. “It’s a game I thought I could master, but it’s a cricket bat.”

Smiling, “Okay, cricket bat, but the question remains.”

“You are in a mood today.”

Melissa smiled pleased with something on her mind, “I want you to whack my ass hard with that damn cricket bat, what does a girl have to do to get that point clear? I demand to be tied to this chair, my pants pulled down to my ankles or knees for your personal tastes if you wish, and simply be corrected for the bad girl I am!” Softly but seriously, “But I protest any attempt to shove the handle up my ass, that would hurt….whacking butt, yes, sodomizing my ass, no….” Looking at him seriously, “You can whack, rub, and maybe a few other things I will think of later, but there will be no shoving anything up my ass!”

Clapping with a deep laugh, “Very good, the almost correct impatient outrage but a little over-dramatic…”

Bowing with a shy soft smile, “Too overly dramatic you say?”

Shrugging his shoulders, “Well, it would be considered over-acting in some corners of the theater world, but your look of demanding to be tied up and willingness to be whack in the said ass would probably sell the moment…but I think the sodomizing part might be too much, but none the less everything else was very good.”

“Now who’s being sappy?”

“You started it.”

Bowing again, “Anything to get the fun part going.”

Calmly, with a motion with his hand, “Take your pants off. Leave the underwear and socks on.”

Melissa stood motionless a few seconds as if another part of her had been allowed to take over, “Yes, Sir.”

He smiled pleased at the sight of the girl undressing; and what wasn’t there to be pleased by as the 24 year old slowly and shyly removed her jeans as if she were being forced more so than being asked. What did Marlyn Monroe once state, ‘Make a woman laugh and you can make her do anything’ or something like it? Maybe it was true.

“You still run I note.”

Looking at her own legs, “I grew up in dance classes and even took ballet for a bit.” Looking at him with a coy smile ass she bent over and remove her pants; he could see right down her top and at the soft round breasts that seemed to demand to be seen let alone be enjoyed he thought. Standing up and holding out her pants, “What you want be to do with these?”

“Just tossed them over there and stand still please, Melissa.”

Melissa tossed her pants near the lone potted plant; look like a fern she thought.

“You still dance I assume.”

“I don’t mind going out to dance.” Adding softly as it seemed what was called for, “I stopped going around fifteen or so. Lost interest for a while….”

Ben stood up and walked around the desk and looked at her, “Why did you lose interest?” He motioned for her to stand behind the chair she had been sitting on, “I would think with such wonderful legs that dance would be a better profession than the one you are in.”

Sadly, “Life just didn’t work out that way, Ben.” Melissa sensed him behind her, “I still go dancing when I can. Never lost the love of it, Ben.” Why was it making her uncomfortable she asked herself, but she knew the answer, “So, what do you plan on doing back there?”

He had some ideas, “At the moment admiring the view.”

Looking over her shoulder, “That’s corny, Ben.”

“Not from where I am standing.” He looked over at the cricket bat, “Might be fun.”

“What might be fun?” The concern was there as she noted where he was looking, “Oh, the cricket bat…I was kidding….”

“I wasn’t, bend over the chair, Melissa and hold unto the hand rests and don’t let go or else.”

“Or else what?”

Seriously for effect, “You’ll find out how far that handle can go up that wonderfully round soft and warm butt of yours.”

Horrified but hoping he was just kidding, looking straight ahead hoping this was all part of the act, “Please don’t, that would actually hurt a lot….”

“Then behave yourself and do as you are being paid to do, Melissa.”

Bending over and grabbing the armrests, “This is going to hurt no matter what…” She could hear him picking up the bat and returning to standing behind her contemplating what he was going to do to her and how much fun it was going to be doing it. “I didn’t think you’d actually do this to me, I was kidding…”

“Well, you brought it up.”

Trying not to smile at the double-meaning she was sure he meant to say, “Just don’t hit me that hard that I can’t sit down, how’s that for a compromise, please?”

He noticed she was actually and slightly shaking, “You’re shaking, Melissa.”

Somewhere between being afraid and uncertain, “I’m bending over a chair with my pants off and being completely exposed butt wise and you think I shouldn’t be shaking?”

Placing a hand on her butt softly. It was indeed round, soft, and warm to the touch and certainly smooth.

She jumped, “Damn your hands are cold!”

“Almost sorry.” He returned his hands to the warm round mass.

“Fine, just get it over with. Whack away!” All she could actually feel was that he was messaging her butt softly and actually it felt good she would have added but why ruin a good moment before the pain. “What are you waiting for back there, come on!”

Ben laughed at the girl, “I wonder if De Sade had these problems? His play toys didn’t talk back.”

“Yes, if I had been there there, Ben, there would be some talking back.”

“I think you’re actually enjoying this.”

“I am suffering horrible punishment for my life’s choices, Ben. I need to be punished and punished with a cricket bat…”

“Such melodramatic bad over-acting will not speed up the whacking, Melissa.” He stood back a bit and held the cricket bat softly against her butt, slowly rubbing it across her soft white flesh, he smiled, “You do have a great ass, Melissa, very round.” He ran a hand down her smooth tanned legs with the cricket bat with satisfaction and noted she shivered a bit. “But certainly a great butt.”

“Original parts.” Adding with a growing impatience, “What are you waiting for?”

He laughed as the cricket bat slammed into her butt with a good amount of force to make her react.

She did with a jolt and yelp of pain, “Hey, that hurt….do it again but harder.”

He obliged a few more times.

An hour or so later he looked up at the woman straightening her clothes, “So, is the writer’s block gone away, Rebecca?”

Rebecca, his wife smiled sweetly, adjusting her jeans somewhat, “I think I know what to do with Melissa in the next novel anyway…Thanks for the help.”

“Always happy to help.” He scribbled something down in his open notebook, “I am always here to spank my wife whenever she needs a good whacking of the butt.”

“Yes, I am sure you are.”

“You’re the one who likes to act the roles of your character’s when you get into a writer’s block frame of mine; I’ll stick to writing history and teaching it to my students….” Under his breath with a look, “You like sex.”

“It helps me think as a writer, Ben. I need to think and feel like my characters do…”

“You’re a nympho.”

“And yet you married me.” Rebecca smiled at him with a coy look and then added, “We really should try that Japanese bondage thing one day as I am the one who bought you that book….”

Amused as he continued to write in his notebook, “Anytime you wish to be tied up to the bed you let me know. I’ve read the book and I think some of those scenes look managable for both of us…”

“Why can’t I tie you up instead?”

Looking at her with a look, “On your birthday?”

“Deal.” She bent over his desk and kissed him with a smile, “And on your birthday you can tie up Melissa, she enjoyed herself….”

The voice came from the front door as it opened, “Mom, Dad, I’m here!”

Rebecca was amused, “Our kid arrives from college a day early…” She looked at her husband of the last almost twenty years, “Hannah has arrived.”

“Yes, indeed.” A little louder of course, “Up stairs, Hannah, in my office.”

The foot steps up the stairs could be heard slowly moving toward his office.

“If only she knew what happens up here during her nineteen years of living with us…” Noting the look she was giving him, “What?”

As the door opened and Hannah bounded in happily looking very much like her mother at her age.

To Ben with a knowing smile, “She does, Ben….” She embraced Hannah with a happy laugh, “Hannah, Hannah, my good girl!”

Ben had to laugh; his life was not a dull one and maybe he needed to look into buying a whip just in case it became dull? He watched the mother and daughter interaction with a deep sense that his life probably would never get dull.

He bought a whip anyway.

The Hole in The Road. (Short Story).

cropped-12301412301.jpgThe day was cloudy but at least it was no longer raining he was glad for as he also thought about all the school work that still needed to be done. He had noticed the pot hole had yet to be filled in; what was taking so long? He frowned at his own thought, but it had been filled in twice already and yet, it remained again unfilled?

The elderly lady, one Mrs. Esther Johnson was talking to him with a very concerned look on  her face, “He’s missing.”

“Who’s missing?”

She cocked a head at him as if he should have known, “My cat, Mr. Peaches. He’s been gone for three days now and that’s not like him…”

He had encountered the Mr. Peaches before and wasn’t all that unhappy that it was missing, “Sorry to hear. Been missing for three days? Maybe he’s just being a typical male cat…” Speaking of pets he had to go and get dog food later that day he reminded himself.

A little upset, “He’s fixed, he cannot do that anymore…”

Might explain it’s bad mood it seemed to be in constantly thought Matt with a patient look, “Well, I am sorry, Mrs. Johnson, I have not seen your cat. I’m sure he will return….”

“Other’s have reported missing animals as well.’ She looked down the street with a nervous smile, “Mrs. Hanson’s cat is also missing….”

Matt didn’t like cats all that much but remained patient, “Sorry to hear.” He heard a car somewhere down the line of houses start up with a sputter and gasp; had to be the young kid and his piece of crap of a car.

Mrs. Johnson spoke up, “That’s the Martin’s kid and his car. He shouldn’t be driving that piece of junk on the road..All that smoke and noise….”

“Well, he is working on the car best he can for a teen age kid, Mrs. Johnson.” Returning to the original topic, “So two cats are missing?”

“Yes, my Mr. Peaches. Such a wonderful cat…”

Yes, for a min-saber tooth tiger but he didn’t say it as he knew the woman loved her cats; Mr. Peaches was not the only one she had. He took notice of a car going by and hitting one of the pot holes; the thud was loud and unpleasant. And oddly enough the thud didn’t sound right if that was possible.

Mrs. Johnson took notice of the thud behind her, “Their bad this year. Long hard winter will do that. My tax dollars at work…” The features seemed very displeased by her statement as she also noted her own well-manicured lawn with the way too many lawn animals; the woman liked rabbits that was very obvious and certainly there were too many of those mushroom figurines; Alice and the Mad Hatter would have liked it though he thought. “…George needs to trim the hedges again, such a lazy man. He’s suppose to be doing that today but instead he snuck out this morning to play stupid golf with his buddies from the AFW…George fought mostly in the Korean War even though he liked to tell people he fought in the last year of World War Two….”

He had stopped listening to the woman a while back as something caught his attention and wasn’t sure he was seeing what he saw or at least briefly thought he saw. It had been a brief movement that seemed to come from the crater in the ground. Movement? Well, movement might be stretching what he thought he might have seen but something about the pot hole that seemed to, well, move?

Mrs. Johnson was still talking, “….Yes, I am worried about Mr. Peaches. He usually doesn’t disappear this long. He’s an indoors cat really. I’ve told George countless times to not let him outside but did he listen. No, he let him outside the backyard…”

“Cat’s do like to be outside.”

“Not Mr. Peaches, he is an indoor cat…”

“I’m sure he is fine and just being cat somewhere and will show up eventually…” He was simply answering to say something because he was being distracted by something he wasn’t sure he saw ever so briefly but the woman standing in front of him was still talking; he didn’t want to be rude. “I’m sure, Mrs. Johnson, the cat will return and be just fine. He’s been outside before and returned just fine….”

Both heard a house door open and a young girl came running out of her house and toward her dad’s black truck. She noticed them and waved with her usual eleven year old enthusiasm at the adults she knew well.

“Hey Mrs. Johnson, Mr. McPherson….”

“Hey Caroline.” Replied Matt, “Got the cast off, back to playing the violin.”

Caroline, waved again with a smile, and waving her no longer broken left arm to make her point, “It’s the cello, Mr. McPherson. It’s always been the cello.” She stood at her dad’s truck and yanked on the door which didn’t open. “Dad, it’s locked.”

“Where are you going?”

Looking at the two adults still with her usual cheerfulness, “I have ballet class today.” Again toward her house, “Dad, the door is still locked!”

Mrs. Johnson spoke up, “Carol.”

“Yes, Mrs. Johnson?” The frowned said something only Matt understood.

“Have you seen my cat, you known, Mr. Peaches, he is the tabby?….”

It was the look in Caroline’s young features that Matt noticed and that was uncertainty she liked the question. In fact one would get the impression by her young round features that she really didn’t like the question and was hoping that no one asked her about it.

Yes, Mr. Preaches is missing for a few days.”

“The grey tabby is missing?” Her voice asked the question but it wasn’t happy about the question and it showed. She dropped the dark blue and green backpack on the ground, looked at the two adults, looked at her dad’s truck, returned to the waiting adults, “He’s missing huh?”

“Yes, dear, my Mr. Peaches is missing?” She seemed to want to walk toward the young girl who was quit happy remaining near her dad’s truck.

Caroline shifted a bit on her feet nervously, didn’t seem to want to get any closer to the old lady asking her questions, “Well, I saw a tabby yesterday that might have been Mr. Peaches…but I was looking out my bedroom window while practicing my cello,” She smiled at Mr. McPherson with a sweet look, “It’s a cello and I was looking out the window only briefly. So it might not be him…””

“That’s nice, Carol, but my cat is missing….”

“My name’s Caroline, not Carol.” She was very serious, “Caroline Christine Corkin.” She enjoyed saying all three names, “I am eleven, I play the cello, and I am taking ballet…and Mr. McPherson is a teacher at my school.”

Matt laugh a bit, “Next year you’ll be in my history class.”

“I don’t like history.”

Matt smiled, “They all say that until it’s time for grades, Caroline…”

The elderly hand went up with some impatience, “Yes, yes, Caroline, I just need to know what happened to my cat…”

To the point, “I think the pot hole ate him.”

Mrs. Johnson was not amused, “This is not a funny matter, young lady. Not funny at all.”

Her expression didn’t change, her bare shoulders in the bright blue sun dress despite the weather shrugged, “All I know is that I was practicing like I always do, was taking a break as mom had just brought in my hot chocolate without marshmellows, I dislike marshmellows, and was looking out my window and saw a grey cat walking across the road near one of those nasty pot holes, I looked away briefly because my little brother had come into room just too annoy me…”

“This is a very long story, Caroline….”

“You asked me a question, I am simply answering it.”

Matt could see from her house door her father standing there listening with a look on his face that was somewhere between amused and puzzled by his daughter’s comments.

“….I heard what sounded like a cat being grabbed but it didn’t last long and when I turned back to the window the tabby was gone. He or she was standing near that pot hole….” She really didn’t look directly at the offending hole in the road but all knew which one she was talking about. “All I know is I heard a cat make a terrible sound and then it was gone.” Hopeful, “Maybe it just ran away…but I think the hole in the road ate Mr. Peaches yesterday.”

“Nonsense, Caroline, you simply have too much imagination.” Mrs. Johnson was not happy, “It’s just a hole in the road.”

“Well,” Caroline brushed a hand though her long dark brown hair, pushed her glasses back up her nose, “I know only what I saw and then heard and saw after. The tabby was there and then it wasn’t. It made a sound of surprised and then it was gone.” Noticing finally her dad at the door, “Dad, the door is lock.”

Harry Corkin smiled at the kid who again demonstrated it was locked and yanked the door again, “Well, I thought I had unlocked it earlier.” To the others, “Mr. McPherson, Mrs. Johnson, stopped raining finally.”

“You’re daughter is quite a story teller, Mr. Corkin.” Mrs. Johnson laughed and yet she seemed nervous thought Matt, “She is telling a strange story of pot holes eating my cat, quite an imagination she has…”

“Yes,” Walking toward his truck, his kid smiling away but she was also impatient to get going, “Caroline has an imagination…” Looking up at the sky, “Finally stopped raining as well.”

“yes, it’s been a wet weekend. My wife, Abby, doesn’t mind. It’s good for her gardening…” So interjected Matt.

“Daddy, we’re going to be late and I didn’t make it up.” Looking at the three adults, “It also seems to move as well because it wasn’t there an hour ago, it was over there…” Pointing closer to the parked car on the road, “It’s moved about ten feet where it was last time I came outside…” Looking at her dad with an impatient look, “Daddy, we are going to be late and if no one wants to believe me, well, keep your cats away from it anyway.” Her father unlocked her door, kiss the kid on the forehead, and helped her into the car.

Going around the driver side of the truck, “Quite the imagination.”

Matt noticed the look in her eyes as she stared at him from the front seat as they drove away. It was the look of a child afraid of something and no one was going to believe her till it was too late. And she apparently convinced her dad to drive in the opposite direction of the pot hole she spoke about; her dad laughed at the request but didn’t anyway. Matt looked at the pot hole and saw nothing but something did seem to feel wrong for some reason. It was just a damn crater in the road!

“Very imaginative child.” Looking at the man, “Some story.”

“She seemed to believe it.” In fact Caroline seemed very afraid of what she claimed to have seen or at least heard part of. “Maybe she saw something?…”

Annoyed, “She’s a child, too much imagination, she saw my cat and then my cat ran somewhere…” Her features seemed to indicate something was bothering her, “George never should have let Mr. Peaches outside….Well, when he gets home from his pointless golf game I will give him a piece of my mind again on the subject of the cats…”

He looked over at the pot hole. It was just sitting there like any other pot hole created by the last long winter in Minnesota. It was a basic looking hole in the ground caused by winter and the effects of that weather called very cold and whatever else caused pot holes. It was just a pot hole so why was he having a hard time not looking at it as if it shouldn’t have been there. Caroline said it had moved ten feet from where she saw it before? How does a pot hole move he would have asked the girl if she hadn’t been in a hurry to leave. Of course it doesn’t move. It’s a hole in the ground! It’s nothing but a damn crater in the road only dangerous to cars and people on bikes. Then why did he have the bad feeling slowly creeping into his thoughts that it wasn’t normal? Because the more he stared at it as if hypnotized by something indeed but certainly strangely felt he wanted to go over to it and see for himself that it was nothing more than a crater in the road.

The voice interrupted him, “Are you even listening to me, Mr. McPherson?”

“She was very convinced she saw something, Mrs. Johnson.”

Laughing a bit, “You are taking the word of an eleven year old child.”

“True, but I see no reason why she would make up a story like that one.”

“She’s a child, they have imaginations.”

Matt studied the woman, “Well, then your Mr. Peaches will show up at some point.”

“You actually believe her?”

“Doesn’t it seem odd to you that it’s the only pot hole on this street that keeps showing up. Because I have seen the repair crews filling in the holes and the next day, that one is still here and still a hole in the road?”

“You should be her creative writing teacher next year and not her history teacher because all I see is a hole in the ground.” She seemed also to not want to look in the direction of the hole in the road, “I hope Mr. Peaches returns and that settles the matter of my cat being eaten by a hole in the ground.”

He had been barely listening because he was certain this time he saw something he knew would be pointless to point out to the elderly lady. It had blinked! It was the only way to describe it he thought, it looked as if something had blinked very fast.

“You have a very unpleasant look on your face, Mr. McPherson, what is it?”

“Do I?” He thought out loud to the woman, “Ever get the impression you’re being stared at but no one else is around?”

“No, I do not. I don’t allow my imagination to run away with me like Caroline apparently does.” Adding, “I don’t believe in ghosts or monsters or some spiritual realm. Been alive for eighty-eighty years and have never once seen a ghost or something I can’t explain using my brain…”

“Well,” Slowly because he wasn’t really sure what to do or say until this woman went away, “I believe that there is more to the universe than we see or understand….” He felt stupid saying all this to this woman who really only cared about her cat, “Maybe she did see something. The universe is a big place and maybe there are other creatures out there…”

Laughing at him, “And their using pot holes to reach out and eat my cat? Don’t be ridiculous, Mr. McPherson, that’s just a pot hole and nothing more.”

“Then look at it because you’ve been avoiding doing that for a while now. Why wont you look at it?”

She didn’t of course.

“It’s been bothering you for a while hasn’t it? When did that start?”

The woman’s face seemed to go ashen a few seconds before she spoke up, “Nothing is wrong. I am concerned for my Mr. Peaches. He’s been gone two days.”

“And George?”

“He’s golfing as I told you.”

He decided to not push the question as he was beginning to fear the hole in the ground wasn’t just interested in cats, “Why wont you look at it? It’s just a hole in the ground, Mrs. Johnson?” The hole just sat there and it seemed very much alive? He knew he saw movement and though ‘blinking’ was a bad term for what he was sure he saw it fit what he saw. The woman in front of him was growing greatly agitated with his questions was very obvious but it was making no sense; except to an eleven year old girl who was gone with her dad. If he were less imaginative he could blame it all on the weather and the lack of sunshine and warmth the last few weeks. Maybe even blame it on the coming to end school year of class work and having the kids take their final tests.

The weather wasn’t helping as it was still cloudy, still cold, and still either lightly drizzling or simply pouring rain. It was a wet May. But he couldn’t blame what he saw on the weather or being a little tired. It was a strange feeling when he looked at the crater as well and the odd feeling of being watched just seem to be growing. He felt an urge to investigate this strange feeling but everything else in his mind told him to just walk away and ignore the damn crater in the road.

“Something is also bothering you, Mr. McPherson about that pot hole. I’m not the only one…”

“You mean the fact it’s been filled in twice and it still looks like it does now. Yes, something lately has been bothering me about it before Caroline said anything.”

Laughing at him, “I was joking, Mr. McPherson, it’s just a badly filled in pot hole which is very common in this state.”

A little annoyed with the woman, “Then look into.”

“I have better things to do than looking into holes in the road for mysterious blinking or whatever. You’ve allowed that girl to get to you. She’s eleven, they imagine all sorts of things at that age.”

“That might be, Mrs. Johnson, but she looked afraid of something she saw or heard or both. The look in those normally cheerful eyes was nothing short of being afraid of something she experienced looking out her window…”

“My cat was not sucked into a pot hole by some creature or anything else. He is simply lost and can’t figure out how to get home…”

“And George?”

“Playing golf!”

“In this weather? It’s not raining but still it’s not exactly the greatest golfing weather.””

“Playing. Golf. Mr. McPherson. George is playing golf!”

He looked at her with a hard look, “Except I see his car sitting in your open garage. So, where is George? How long has he been missing?”

“He’s not missing, he’s playing golf! Friends picked him up earlier this morning to play golf…” She so badly wanted to walk away he took note of, “He likes golf, he knows I wanted him to do some trimming of the plants today and he snuk out of the house….” Her features were growing more annoyed, “I know where George is!” She simply stormed off muttering under her breath something Matt didn’t understand and maybe he didn’t want to hear as he was sure it was not good. He watched the woman waddle back across the road, avoiding the hole in question as if she expected a tentacle to reach out and drag her screaming into the small dark unpleasant hole in the ground, and then slam the door shut once she was inside her house; a few seconds later the garage door closed.

He wanted to laugh at the whole strange incident but he couldn’t shake the feeling that the hole in question was actually listening? Another strange thought indeed and made no sense to a rational mind he told himself. He stood his ground and yet wanted to walk up to the hole and prove that he was just have a bad day and letting his imagination take him to a weird place. Caroline was just a kid with an active imagination; Mr. Peaches was just lost somewhere which would please George to no end after his golf game if that was what he doing at the moment; and Mrs. Johnson was being, well, Mrs. Johnson. How exactly would he prove that all this was an over-active imagination due to a long miserable stretch of wet, windy, and certainly chilly weather and simple end of school year stress? He looked up into the dark and light grey cloudy sky and found himself walking toward the thing in the road that of late seemed to never stay filled let alone go away. He felt the impulse as he got closer to not get any closer but he kept walking. This was stupid he heard himself say but he ignored it. He felt the strange feeling of being watching, of being observed, of something just waiting for him to get closer. Or was that the feeling of being dragged ever so slightly toward the crater.

“This is idiotic!” He blurted out because what he was feeling was getting too strong that he was indeed being watched by something. The hole looked so normal he wanted to laugh as he slowly walked up to it and stood looking down at the deep darkness in the hole that he couldn’t see the bottom to. He looked at the pot hole and couldn’t see a bottom. No few inches of water but complete blackness that seemed to be looking back at him. He looked up to get his bearings again and felt the off and on dizzy feeling come over him. He shook his head and felt himself backing away but he wasn’t moving. He was actually falling. He certainly felt like he was falling. The dizziness was increasing and the feeling of vertigo wasn’t being helped to go away as he looked away from the hole in the ground. The landscape around him seemed to be growing brighter and yet fuzzy as well. He closed his eyes hoping the terrible feeling would lessen or go away. It didn’t. And fact he felt as if he was actually falling. He felt like he was falling into a cold icy darkness that was very much alive. He wanted to scream but the darkness was engulfing him and drowning him in a terrible cold. He stopped remembering after that.

“Just like George, just like George…” Mrs. Johnson muttered painfully from her living room window as she watched Matt McPherson simply dissolve into the mass of darkness of the hole in the road.

Caroline knew what happened better than the cops who were convinced that a normal crime had taken place and a man simply disappeared without a trance and it would be solved eventually. But Caroline knew better and watched and waited and felt the thing in the crater in the road watching and waiting for her to be too curious about it. Curiosity was such a human falling it thought that it was easy to hunt for them on the third planet from the lone sun in the sky. It could wait, it had all time in the world for it’s next trophy.

Commentary On The Book Of Jonah.

cropped-12301412301.jpg“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amit-tai….” (Jonah 1:1; II Kings 14:25).

Jonah was a prophet from the Kingdom of Israel under King Jeraboam II, (793-753 B. C.). He was from Gath Hepher, a small town in Zebulun. Jonah was the son of Amit-tai; other prophet’s of that era where Amos, Hosea. These are the basics of the most stubborn and rebellious of the Lord’s prophets but it seems the most remembered.

Chapter 1:2. The first is simple in its commands of the Lord-Arise, go, cry against it and the reason why the Lord is about to rain judgement on upon the City of Nineveh. God was about to bring judgement upon a wicked city; but He sent Jonah to warn them despite the fact Jonah didn’t want to warn them. He wanted them dead, destroyed, wiped all the face of the Earth is what this prophet wanted, not repentance! To quote from H. A. Ironside’s own commentary, “This was a most unexpected and uncongenial mission for an Israelite to be sent upon.” (Noted on the History of Jonah, pg 8). But is it not understandable why? Here was Jonah not minding being a prophet to his people and thundering the warnings of His God to his own. He could except that as a mission. It’s understandable in the context of the Assyrian Empire that Jonah was being asked to preach to that he didn’t want to do it. Assyrians were a brutal conquering Empire; they destroyed and killed to depopulate areas in their conquests. To put this in a modern historical context, sending Jonah to preach to the Assyrians would be like sending Jonah to preach to Nazi Germany. And people can’t understand why Jonah didn’t want to go?

But Ironside has a point further on in his own commentary about the prophet’s unwillingness to venture forth into the Assyrian Empire. Jonah was quit convinced that the Assyrians needed to be left to die in their collective sins and not be bothered with being preached at my a lone Jewish prophet. The core of the issue was simply that Jonah jut didn’t care about these people and saw no reason to do so. But as Ironside write’s, “”For that it was pride and bigotry that was at the bottom of all his wilfulness and waywardness is clear enough. He knew God was long-suffering band that He delighted in mercy. He tells us that in the end. He therefore feared for his prophetic reputation; and his thoughts were so far from the Lord that he should could not endure that grace should be shown to a Gentile power.He knew that of old Jehovah would have spared the cities of the plain had there been found but ten righteous.” (Notes on the History of Jonah, pg 9).

So what did this Prophet of the Lord do, “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” (Jonah 1:3). This is the result of human pride and a deep rooted bigotry that believes it’s chosen status allows it to look down on the Gentile nations as not worthy to be reached with the God of Israel. The chosen status had become a way to marginalize and minimize the Jewish people’s interactions with the nations around them. The attitude was becoming that if the nations want to know the real God of the universe they need to come to us our way and then we as the Chosen will explain it but we are not going to go out and find you. So, Jonah ran away from the will of God and tried to hide in the bottom of a ship on the sea that God created and controlled. Jonah sought to avoid and hoped God would find someone else to do His will and preaching to the people of Ninevah. Jonah was sadly blinded by his rebellion and pride to see the absolute foolishness of his actions. Jonah seemed to forget who was who in this little story of God and His prophet, “But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.” (Jonah 1:4). The Lord was about to show Jonah who exactly was in charge; He did the same thing with Job if you read that book. God commanded the waves and wind and they obeyed; something He would do a few hundred years later on the Sea of Galilee in a small fishing boat, (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:36-41, Luke 8:22-25). He proved who was Master and Lord of nature with Jonah and He certainly showed who was in control in the Person of Jesus Christ on the Sea of Galilee. Jonah ran away from the God on a ship thinking God wouldn’t notice or have any power to correct His prophet? It would seem so as one ponders the mind-set of this Jew who simply wanted to not preach to the Assyrians and certainly wanted no converts. He wanted no repentance, no salvation, nothing good to come of his mission so as to make sure that happened Jonah ran away on a ship and hide in the bottom of that ship as if the God of the universe had no idea where Jonah was hiding? Jonah was wrong as he was about to find out from his hiding place in the bottom of a ship helplessly floundering in the wide sea of the Mediterranean as a storm of God-ordained magnitude make God’s point to Jonah.

“Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for this cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? What is thy country? and of what people are you?” (Jonah 1:5-8).

These rugged seamen were pagans. They had a faith in their gods to help them let alone save them from this terrible and sudden storm’s wrath. They prayed and acted to save their vessel. And what is the prophet of the God of the universe doing? He was down in the sheep asleep as the storm above rocked and rolled the little vessel; they didn’t built huge ships back in Jonah’s day. How Jonah was able to sleep as the wrath of God was happening is a mystery; maybe God put a deep sleep on Jonah for His reasons? Maybe to make a point to the pagan seaman about their gods and their impotency to help them perhaps. Note though, the ship master went looking for the hiding prophet who was fast asleep and found him and asked why was he sleeping and not helping during the crisis and praying to his gods; they would have assumed he believed in gods because the idea of one and only one God was just not within their spiritual world-view. The seamen finally did what they thought would show them the real culprit of all this misfortune; and it fell upon the rebellious prophet! It was Jonah that was causing this evil upon them and they were not happy with him at all. He was going to get them killed for his rebellious behavior and maybe even sleeping as they fought the storm and prayed to the gods who seemed oblivious to their need of help. They demanded of the man who he was and who was his God? They had a right to ask as their tiny ship was tossed about violently. Who was your God, what is your nation, who are your people! Their lives were at stake because of this sleeper during a raging storm; it had to be the work of a god and some offense committed toward the god.

First of all, he admitted he was a Jew. But was it  humble confession because of the pagans who surrounded him as he was discovered hiding in the bottom of the ship? Or was it simply spoken with the pride that convinced him he could run away from God? Jonah was a Jew to his core. He was proud of his chosen status. That was part of the problem and why he ran away from the will of the Lord God of the universe. He simply did not want to proclaim so much of a word of hope to his enemies. His belief in his chosen status was a badge of proud honor. He was a proud Jew because it gave him a smug sense of being better than the pagans about him. He didn’t want to preach to Ninevah and he wasn’t going to if he could help it. These pagans who had found him hiding where the kind of people Jonah wanted nothing to do with. These are the people God decided to send a message of repentance for. He sent Jonah and Jonah was going one way or another.

Jonah’s second statement takes a little deeper looking into because if he feared the lord, he would have obeyed the Lord? But Jonah ran away from the Lord, so how could he state such a thing in a good conscious before these seaman not to mention God? Jonah probably did fear the Lord, no reason to doubt in his heart he feared the Lord, but his actions said something very different when it came to obedience to the will of the Lord. Jonah was a prophet of the Lord, he had been given the message to deliver and he simply didn’t want to do it. The basic and straightforward answer? Because Jonah was a normal human being with a human nature like anyone else. He simply didn’t like the pagans or their ways and certainly hated the idea of them hearing about God’s justice about to come upon them and even worse hear about God’s possible mercy toward them.

“Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.” (Jonah 1:10-11). Their first reaction was fear of what was being done to them, but why? Just pray to your gods and it will be fine? But look what they said, “Why hast thou done this?” But the reason for the statement is recorded as they knew full well why this storm was raging about them. Jonah was running from the presence and will of the Lord God of Israel; apparently they knew enough about the Jew’s and their God to know that was a bad idea. They asked a very human question of Jonah, what do we do to make the storm stop that you caused to happen; they didn’t return to their gods of the seas or weather to do battle with this Jewish deity because they knew it would be pointless; not much faith in their gods indeed it would appear. They simply abandoned their gods and turned to the One God of Israel. There seems to have been no doubt in their minds who was going to save them from this Jonah inspired problem.

So what did Jonah say, “And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” (Jonah 1:12). At least Jonah realized how great a danger he had placed these pagans into by his rebellion and running away from the will of the Lord God of Israel. He knew full well what must be done and said it. He fully expected these sailors to do just that.

Except they didn’t do just that. “Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not; for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.” (Jonah 1: 13). Why did they try to save Jonah? Where they trying to save Jonah? It was a futile gesture by desperate men in a storm they had no control over and their gods even less control over. Maybe they feared Jonah’s God wouldn’t take to kindly to his prophets being thrown over-board into the sea and possibly drowned? They battled the elements the best their human strength could muster against a God inspired storm until it became very obvious it was pointless. “Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life , and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.” (Jonah 1:14). They cried unto the Lord? Why didn’t they cry unto their gods of the sea? You would think they would have cried unto them as they worshiped them and not the God of the Jews. Yet, they cried unto another God that they didn’t know as their God but certainly and apparently knew something about. He certainly controlled the weather and the waves because their gods seemed to be unable to do anything. The twice repeated ‘we beseech them’ means a deeper awakening of their minds and hearts to a greater God than their gods of the elements. Jonah’s God controlled the very fabric of nature whereas their gods simply it appeared were part of it or had less control than Jonah’s deity they now called upon to save them from having to toss Jonah into the raging sea. The last phrase is their complete understanding that there was a sovereign God over their less than stellar in power and answering gods. They simply obeyed what was obvious to do, “So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea, and the sea ceased from her raging.” (Jonah 1:15). The sea simply stopped. “Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.” (Jonah 1:16). They must have stood amazed as they watched the Prophet Jonah bobbed up and down and then something occurred that really shook them to their sailor’s core.

“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17). First point is this, this was no ordinary fish. This was a particularly specifically created fish and for a specific reason. The idea that this story is a fable or some morality tale doesn’t go with Scripture’s account and reason for the story in the first place. God created this fish for one reason, for one single purpose, for one mission, for one rebellious prophet trying to escape God’s mission for him. God can do and does as he wishes and He doesn’t need human approval to do as he wishes with His creation. Some how the modern theologian has convinced himself and his great intellect that God must work in the framework of man’s choosing and methods of dealing with rebellious prophets. God must somehow check His sovereignty at the front door of higher theological thought and education and still to modern man’s ideas of what is and isn’t possible. Sorry, but last time I check God is still is sovereign and man is sinful to the core. As much as modern theologians like to think their smarter than God and God must do as they think is best and follow whatever rules they think are true and accurate. It’s this prideful thinking that got Jonah in this mess in the first place and it’s prideful thinking that gets these modern theologians of higher learning that leads nowhere and proves even less in the mess they get into. God created a fish because He can and He sent the fish to teach Jonah a lesson in humility.

“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly.” (Jonah 2:1). What a place to pray from! The prophet of the Lord had been reduced to a confined space of another creature’s stomach to think about his life and actions. It’s the most perfect escape proof prison that God placed Jonah so Jonah could realize who exactly was in charge and who was made of earth. “And said, I cried by the reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me ; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” (Jonah 2:2). The cornerstone of this whole chapter is this prayer uttered in the hellish creatures belly by the prophet Jonah. Jonah was finally broken. He was in a hellish place both physically and spiritually. Jonah was place somewhere he could never get out of on his own accord or abilities. He cried out to God in this great distress of heart and soul and as Jonah stated, ‘Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.’ The Lord hears the prayers of the truly repentant. He always has. Read the story of the wicked King Manassah’s the 14th King of Judah and the last years of his life; II Kings 21:1-18, II Chronicles 33:11-13. Read about this wicked man who went out of his way to rebel and commit evil before the Lord and it took captivity by the Assyrians to make this man realize who was God and who wasn’t god. Jonah cried out in his dispair and agony of soul and heart, “For thou hast cast me into the deep, in the midst of the sea; and the floods compassed me about; all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about; even to the soul; the depth closed me around about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottom of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever; yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto thee into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanity forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:3-9). It’s the prayer of a drowning man in his own pride and rebellious spirit. It’s the prayer of a man seeing the folly of his running away from his responsibility as the prophet of the Lord he served and claimed to follow. It’s the prayer of a man seeing himself in the proper perspective of himself and the God he was sent out to proclaim. It was a man praying to his God he knew was always listening even at the greatest of depth of the seas for which Jonah was traveling through. Despite Jonah’s great disspair and agony of spirit and body he still clung to his faith in the Lord to save him from this hell of the stomach of the great fish. His entire pray King David would understand because it was a prayer from a repentant heart and a soul crying out to God for deliverance from the bondage of the fish’s gut. His great cry that salvation was of the Lords was his lesson to learn and to preach and proclaim.

Chapter three opens, “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying. Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” (Jonah 3:1-2). So once again the reluctant prophet was sent on his mission that he didn’t ask for or want and hoping to change nothing or hearts by the message he was going to preach to these pagans he hated. As stated despite every part of his being not wanting to do any of this soul winning, “So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord, Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city three days journey.” (Jonah 3:3). Jonah the reluctant prophet arrived in Nineveh, “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4). The evangelist Jonah preached his message of repentance and hoped no one did let alone listened. He didn’t want Nineveh to repent. No, Jonah wanted them wiped off the face of the earth because he also knew the people he was preaching to and what he was proclaiming. He was a Jew preaching a very different god than the one these people worshiped. But Jonah preached and spoke to the very people he hated let alone feared as a Jew knowing full well what the Assyrian Empire was capable of and was going to do. He knew they were going to wipe the Kingdom of Israel off the map and scatter them into other lands.

Jonah 3:5, “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” Did they really all repent? The Scripture seems to indicate a repentant city of pagans who relished in their culture of war and conquest. This was the age when gods and goddesses ruled the hearts and minds of people without question. One simply does not question the gods even if it’s a foreign God of the Jews. But did they truly repent? The message of repentance would have been very different than the one their gods proclaimed. The preaching of repentance was a Jewish idea, not a pagan one. The pagan world saw no gods of judgement for the idea of a fallen humanity. Judgement came for the deeds of men and for some of the gods it was just something they did because they could. The Assyrians were brutal conquerers and had no compulsion in destroying entire civilizations to make room for their empire. They had no respect for Jews so why did they repent? Or did they? But did they have respect for the God of the Jews and why? Jonah 3:6, “For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” The message was so upsetting the citizens of Nineveh that it reached the kings ear and what he heard he took to heart in his own life and actions. He repented in sackcloth and ashes a sign of humbling oneself in the ancient world and recognizing that one was nothing but dust of the earth. He responded to the message of God’s coming judgment and obeyed the voice of the strange Jewish prophet from the Kingdom of Israel. But the fact is that this Assyrian king of Nineveh listened and spoke to his people who had also heard Jonah’s message. The king spoke, “And he cause it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the degree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water.” (Jonah 3:7). Everyone and every beast was going to fast and repent! These people were taking Jonah seriously; which was not want Jonah wanted. He didn’t want them to repent, he wanted them punished! Basically the people of Nineveh were doing exactly what Jonah didn’t want them to do-listen to his message and actually obey it. Jonah the Missionary was not interested in converts, he wanted Nineveh punished and destroyed and Jonah hoped on the same day. The king of Assyria went on, “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.” (Jonah 3:8). Why would a pagan king and people even heed the voice of a Jewish prophet? Who was this God of a unknown nation that it should be listened to by the greatest empire of that age of the ancient world? Who was this Jew to tell the mighty and great Assyrian city of Nineveh to repent of anything? What evil way? What violence? Who was this God of the Jews to tell them what they could or could not do in their own country? But they did listen and the king did listen and made it known throughout the city that this voice should be taken seriously. And they took it very seriously. Why did they listen and why did the king even bother with this Jewish prophet? What did the king proclaim, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:9).

What does repent mean anyway? It means simply to change one’s mind. That is all it means but it has such deeper spiritual meanings when God does it and when humanity obeys it. They prayed, they fasted, they repented, they cried out to this unknown God to them but was being preached by this Jewish prophet of the Jews. So, why did they listen? The simple answer is that they were not ignorant of Jewish history and the history of their God. One must remember that the stories of the Jews coming into the land and how they conquered it was well known as secular history as well of spiritual fact that their God helped them conquer the land. One must remember that nations in the ancient Middle East didn’t live in a vacuum. Those nations paid attention to it’s neighbors and their God or gods involvement in the nations history. You don’t think the Assyrians heard the stories of the Jews in Egypt? Or how they left Egypt? Or how Joshua conquered the land with the help of their God; they heard of Jericho.

And what happened, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil ways; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not.” (Jonah 3:10). God showed mercy to a people He knew in a hundred years from then He was going to use to punish the Kingdom of Israel; Jonah knew this as well which was another reason he hated them so much. God showed them mercy they certainly didn’t deserve despite the fact that at the moment they showed repentance toward Jonah’s preaching. The God of the Old Testament seems to always be pictured as a God of judgement and harsh punishment for every little or great infraction of His law. Life under the Law of God was strict, it was hard and it was difficult but throughout Scripture there are countless examples of God showing Israel and individuals mercy and forgiveness; another problem Jonah had with God over the Assyrians he was sent to preach to. The Scriptures are clear on  what Jonah thought of the whole thing, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly , and he was very angry.” (Jonah 4:1). Jonah knew his own history. Jonah knew the life and mercy shown to the greatest of Israel’s kings, King David and his prayer to God, (Psalms 51), after his affair with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband Uriah, (2 Samuel 11:3-26, 12:9-10,15, I Kings 15:5). Jonah knew of the great mercy shown the sinful king of Israel. God could have simply taken the kingship away from him but didn’t. God showed David great mercy and forgiveness. Jonah knew that God wasn’t just a God of Commandments and Laws and strict in it’s enforcement. But judgment without mercy with not the way that Jonah understood his God to be or act toward His people. Jonah understood that God was strict but He was not above showing mercy to the truly repentant; another problem Jonah had with God was that He was merciful to even the enemies of Israel.

Jonah was to the point, “And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God, merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2-3). Jonah’s God wasn’t a tyrant, wasn’t a monster, wasn’t without those qualities that made Him worthy of worship, of love, of service. Jonah was a man of the Torah, he knew his Scriptures and he knew his God’s Law and Commandments. He knew that God was gracious, that He was merciful, that God was indeed long suffering with His people, that the Lord had and did show kindness to His rebellious children. And Jonah resented it every step of the way when he was called by God to go and preach to those Assyrians he hated with a blind passion. Jonah didn’t want God to show them people anything but what Jonah felt about them.

But Jonah also knew that the Lord was not Jonah and would show those attributes to those people because it was His nature to do so; with Jonah grumbling about that as well. God spoke up as Jonah grumbled, “Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry.” (Jonah 4:4). So, Jonah, how’s that anger working out for you was basically God’s reply to His reluctant prophet’s grumbling and complaining. As there is no reply from Jonah to God’s question it must be assumed Jonah said nothing but his heart was well read by the Lord. Jonah continued to his anger and stubborn resistance to the very message he was sent to preach to a people he could have cared less if they repented, “So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.” (Jonah 4:5). Jonah was just not getting the point nor did he care but what he cared about was the hopeful destruction of the people in the city he watched. Despite his declaration of the virtues of the Lord God of the universe and of His grace, mercy, kindness, and long-suffering to those He would show or not show these actions, Jonah was hoping for another Sodom-Gomorah event; absolute and total destruction of the people and city. It’s what he wanted and hoped for.

He was a messenger of God’s coming judgement and justice who wanted no one saved from it. He wanted to hate these people, God wanted to save them. The Lord acted on Jonah’s behalf, “And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come over Jonah, and that it might be a shadow over his head; to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” (Jonah 4:6). God was showing Jonah a great mercy and kindness by His actions to His stubborn rebellious prophet. The Lord was demonstrating His great grace to Jonah and trying to show His prophet that he had no true understanding how the Lord God of Israel deals with His people let alone with pagan nations and peoples. God was being merciful to Jonah’s plight and showing Jonah that he had no true understanding of the plight of the people Jonah was sent to preach to. God was being merciful to both the repentant and the stubborn at this point in the story. The story continued, “But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.” (Jonah 4:7). God was showing His sovereignty, God was demonstrating His own words, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9). Jonah’s narrative continued, “And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:8). This was still a stubborn prophet justifying his behavior and attitude toward the people he had been sent to preach to. God was remaining merciful and showing His grace to the prophet who just wasn’t going to see it God’s way. God asked His troubled prophet, “And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.” (Jonah 4:9). Jonah was angry to be angry and he wanted to be angry at the mercy and grace of God toward a people he really wanted destroyed and wiped out. He seemed to have forgotten his very words via Jonah’s words while trapped in the belly of the fish for three days. He simply chose to not remember; God had not forgotten. Jonah’s narrative continued, “Then said the Lord Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.” (Jonah 4:10). Jonah was being reminded he had nothing to do with the gourd and had no real reason to be angry and he was having only real pity for himself and not the plant let alone the people of Nineveh. Jonah was being told that he was being angry to be angry and had no real justification in being angry. The narrative continued to it’s conclusion, “And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and much cattle.” (Jonah 4:11).

God was showing pity to the children of Nineveh while Jonah was only concerned for himself and was having a pity party for Jonah’s life and fate. God was trying to show that like Him, the people of God need to show pity for those lost without the knowledge of the true God. Jonah knew of the mercy, kindness, and forgiveness of God towards those who sough Him with a truly repentant heart and life but in this case Jonah decided that this particular people deserved nothing but God’s judgement. God thought otherwise. Jonah had decided who should or shouldn’t be reached with the message that God is indeed always merciful, gracious, forgiving to those who seek Him and turns no one away who seeks Him or His message of hope and salvation in Him. Jonah is the story of a stony heart of a man who feels he knows better than God who is worth preaching to. Jonah knew he was wrong in his attitude, God knew that down through the centuries the story would be told. It’s not just a story symbolic of the three days of Jesus in the tomb, it is also a story of human pride and hate up against the mercy and grace of God and a lesson in compassion and doing the right thing in the face of the worse of human nature of anger, hate, and basic human nature to feel superior to others in the name of God. The book of Jonah is a testament to the mercy, grace, and kindness of God and the stubborn pride and anger of a man who only wants it for himself. A lesson to learn from this short little work of great importance, God is just and we are not.

REFERENCES/RECOMMENDATIONS

The Bible. (KJV).

Jonah: Fact Or Fiction? By. M. R. DeHaan.

Notes On The History Of Jonah. By. H. A. Ironside.

Interpreting The Minor Prophets. By. Robert B. Chisholm, jr.

The Prophets: The Assyrian Period. By. Klaus Koch.

Jonah. By. Ellen Gunderson Traylor. (Biblical Fiction)

Beneath The Thames. (Short Story).

cropped-12301412301.jpgLondon, 1888.

“When I was younger…” So the twenty-two year old commented as they parked the buggy near the Ravenbrook Cemetery entrance, “I wanted to make love in a cemetery…”

John was unsure a response was wanted or even expected, so he said nothing. He should have been shocked by her statement but he wasn’t. Lately Miss. Felicity Stone seemed to be saying all sorts of things that should have made him uncomfortable but never really did anymore. There was a strangeness about her that also attracted him to the pretty girl from somewhere she refused to tell him.

“…Mary Shelley was suppose to have lost her virginity that way.” Calmly, “Sounds very Gothic indeed. Brilliant writer, I was reading a biography of her and she fascinated me. She died at fifty-three….” Looking at the fenced in cemetery, “There is something quite captivating about graveyards. I have always thought so.”

John looked out at the ancient looking cemetery and tried to fathom what she was thinking. He didn’t recall ever seeing this particular cemetery on his other travels about the city of London; seemed strange that he had never heard of the Ravenbrook Cemetery. But there it sat along the Thames river. It certainly was old and vines seemed everywhere crawling and entangled themselves in and around the graves. The trees seem old as well as they seemed massive and great stretches of branches and leaves seemed to blot out most of the sun. He had to chuckle at that idea that sunshine actually reached the ground in London anymore as bad as the dirty air was. And yes, the cemetery seemed unaffected by the city around it. It seemed to be ignoring where it was and simply decided to be a lush dark green trees and twisted vine covered place surrounded by an old iron fence. Everything about the scene seemed old, maybe very ancient as the history of London went John thought. He looked back at the young lady in the green and white well-fitted clothing and took notice of the profile.

She was still talking, “I find them fascinating, John. There is an ancient feel to this one.” The smile came and stayed a bit with some hidden secret, pointing at something she could only see, “There is an old legend that graveyards are the most haunted by ghosts who simply refuse to leave what they see as their garden to attend….” The eyes seemed to notice everything thought John. He saw nothing but an old and yes it had it’s gothic charm to it of a cemetery. “It is said that some souls never really die, they haunt and they stalk and they protect their last resting place….” The deep grey eyes looked at him, she smiled a bit, “You have often asked me where I am from. I am not born in your grey cloudy country of England. It rains too much, it’s too cold, and and certainly this city is not for me. It’s dirty, it’s without sun…” Something caught her attention in the graveyard. Whatever it was caught her attention for a few seconds, she smiled softly, “I was born in Greece on a small island that is too small to take notice of by even the British Empire…” She again smiled at something, “My father was an Englishman…he died when I was young but my mother, a true Greek beauty, took care of me the best she could.” She smiled at him, “She was a true redheaded beauty my mother….”

“You take after her in that regard, Felicity.”

“Yes, I have her looks. Mother was quite beautiful.” The smile was genuine, soft hint of sadness, “We had come to London ten years ago. Mother and I were on the Princess Alice coming up the city….” Her tone changed to a soft haunting tone, almost afraid to repeat the story she was about to tell.

“I remember that awful morning…..”

She continued as if she hadn’t heard him, “The Princess Alice was a paddle steamer that had collided with the collier the Bywell Castle on the river…” Pointing in the direction of the Thames, her long thin fingers seemed to be making a unspoken accusation.” Looking at him with those eyes that at times unnerved him with their intensity of knowing more than she wanted to say and something else he didn’t like the look, “Over six hundred to seven hundred people were killed that terrible day.” She returned her look to the cemetery for a few seconds, the features seemed in conflict, “Form Swan Pier…”

“Near London Bridge, yes, I know of the place…”

“The paddle steamer was heading downstream that foul smelling river toward Sheerness to Kent and back to London again. Mother and I had thought it would do us some good to get out of this city of yours. How a great empire such as yours can allow this great city to be such a foul place for humans to live…but it was her idea to take this particular trip and I agreed because even I felt unhealthy in this place and needed clean air. It was an hour after sunset….the collision was unfortunately near where raw sewage had just been dumped into that river of yours….” The grey eyes seemed to flash an anger that vanished quickly, “The Princess Alice shattered into three pieces. The nightmare and terror of that night is well remembered by me because of those who drowned in the polluted water and one was my mother. One minute she was there and then the shudder of the ship breaking in pieces, the screams of the others, the horrible panic of those around me, she was right next to me one minute and then the next she was drowning in that polluted river of London. I saw her no more. I have a strange memory of my own actions….”

Gently, “What strange memories?”

“I remember in bits and terrible pieces becoming frantic about the fate of mother, I vaguely remember trying to even go to her rescue in the water below and someone held me back. I remember another shudder of the dying ship sinking into the river, I remember the smell even to this day….” She smiled again at something she noticed in the old cemetery, returning to John, “I have an odd memory of someone calling my name, but only a name my father would have used and a hand grabbing me before another shudder of a dying ship went through the dying sinking thing on that river. It really did sound like him, I even felt the hand that grabbed me to my rescue was him…” She glanced up at the unpleasant sky, frowned at something, returned to John who was listening quite patiently she noted, “I have no memory of a face or actually seeing the owner of the hand that pulled me from plunging into that dark water to either rescue mother or to my doom….”

“How did you survive?”

The smiled seemed lost, “I don’t remember. There was another terrible shudder, more screaming, so much dying and those around me falling into the water and simply being drowned in that water and sewage….” Looking at him, “Dante’s hell would have had no equal in what I saw, John. But I simply have no memory of how I survived. I remember nothing how I got off that sinking nightmare and unto the shore of the Thames. It is quite strange….”

“What do you remember?” John’s profession was coming through again, but that was the nature of being a would be medical student he told himself. “Do you remember much?”

“Waking up on the shore.” Looking at the cemetery, “Maybe my fascination with such places stems from what I went through. I remember waking up on the shore, on the pier I suppose. It’s a vague memory but I was shocked I was alive. My unseen rescuer nowhere to be seen. That I found strange that whoever this person was they did not stay around long to see if I was alive and okay or not. I have often convinced myself that it was indeed my long dead father giving me help…His ghost doing his beloved child one last service?” Softly, sadly, “Mother was lost beneath the Thames river.”

“I am sorry for your loss on both accounts.”

“I remember standing somewhere, looking about me, my clothes soaking wet and I was cold, very cold. It was a strange cold I might add, I could not get warm…” Laughing at his look of puzzlement, “I even thought what you are thinking, I am dead, I am already a ghost, no one can see the poor little girl shivering and looking lost and terrified. I started to cry at my strange and unpleasant state until someone placed a blanket upon my poor frame from the  shivering dreadful cold and they repeated over and over that it was okay…”

“People will try to comfort best they can.”

“I remember looking up into the face of a woman and it was apparent she was a nurse of some kind…she was gentle, kind, and tried to warm up the terrified twelve year old girl that I was.” The odd look returned to her features as if remembering something her twelve year old self vaguely understood, “I even remember her comment about my dark red hair. It was a remark I would later understand when I met her own daughter…she would become my best of friends after I got over the shock and tears of what I had lost. They took me into their homes…”

“Would I know these kind people? I don’t think I have met your parent’s or this new found sister.”

“No, but they were indeed very kind to a orphan girl. I think they felt that their own daughter, my beloved little Isabella, who was two years younger than I, could use a older sister. I became her big sister. She too had that hair…”

“You speak fondly of them.”

“They had no reason to take me in but they did. I was their daughter from the moment I was found an orphan and brought home. Me and Isabella took to each other very quickly.”

“You seem to speak of them as if they are gone, Felicity.”

Softly, “Me and Isabella are all that are left of them. They caught the cholera. It was another terrible time for me and Isabella….”

“Where is your sister now, if it isn’t being too impolite to ask.”

She smiled with an odd look of someone pleased about something, “Do you believe in ghosts, John?”

A little puzzled by the question, “I don’t know. I have never seen one I am sure…”

Laughing a bit, “Don’t be so sure about that, John.”

Deciding to play along, “I assume you are not one as you told me you are not.”

“I remember I did fall into that Thames of yours. I sank beneath the Thames for a brief moment, I say that because I have a memory of doing so. I remember choking on that sewage and Thames river, I remember feeling lost and a violence being done to me as I sank into the water. I do remember it so briefly I do sometimes wonder even today if it did happen. But it did.” Leaning a bit forward, studying something only she could see thought John in the cemetery they still remained near. “I remember a very strange brief moments of that terrible night, I remember drowning and yet not dying. Because there I was on the shore. I was alive…” She looked at him with a look he didn’t like for some reason.

John fondled the head of his walking stick, he felt strangely uncomfortable, “But you are alive.”

“Yes, I am very much alive.”

“And Isabella?”

“Very much alive as well.”

“You speak in riddles my delightful, Felicity.”

“Yes, I suppose I do because most of my life has been one of one riddle after another. Because as I remember I was drowning and I also remember hearing a voice in those unpleasant murky beneath the Thames waters….”

“Voices?”

She laughed at his look, “I am sure it was all imagination, dear John, as I was busy drowning. I have that memory in such a vivid dream like scene in my head I am not sure I didn’t die and come back to life somehow.”

“You still speak in riddles.”

She smiled at something, “Have you been hearing of those dreadful murders in Whitechapel, John. Terrible murders of those four women.”

“Dreadful business indeed, Felicity.” He found himself for some reason holding unto his walking stick tighter, “Strange subject to bring up all of a sudden.”

“Is it?”

“I do because it seems an unfit subject for such a young lady.”

She looked at him with a penetrating look, “Someone is killing women so I don’t see how it doesn’t concern me, John. There’s a monster on the loose in London…”

“We are not in Whitechapel.” He didn’t mean for the tone to be so cold, “I am only saying that I am sure you are very safe with me and where we are….”

Felicity smiled at her own private thoughts, “I suppose I do speak in riddles and half memories. But that is the way my life has always been, John. I remember drowning but I certainly didn’t drown or die. I am here. I am very much alive and have been for a long time.” A thought seemed to make it’s way into her next comment, “I simply remember drowning I think and, well, waking up someone else?”

John was taken back, “You woke up someone else, Felicity? Strange comment.”

She seemed troubled all of a sudden as she stood up in the coach, seemed to notice something in the cemetery, “I believe in ghost, John. I believe something happened beneath those waters of the Thames I can’t explain. One minute I do feel like myself and can explain much about myself. Then, well, it’s as if….” She jumped off the coach and stood on the firm ground and stared at the ancient place she always felt drawn to for ten or so years, still talking, “I have memories I don’t recall as mine, John. I remember drowning but I don’t remember….” Walking toward the old iron fence, “I remember Felicity…I am…was Felicity….”

John frowned as he felt a coldness to the air, “You are Felicity.”

She was still talking as she pressed herself against the fence as if staring past the scene before, “I even remember Isabella…she was my….who was she?””

He slowly dismounted the coach and stood his ground, strangely clutching the walking stick, a cold fear was creeping into his mind, “Isabella was your sister….”

The young girl turned around, everything about her was different, the scream was in pain and sounded very lost, the eyes blazed dark brown, the once red hair fell to her shoulders in strands of dark brown, “Who Am I! Why do I remember drowning when I didn’t!” Lunging toward him the face screaming with a terror of the lost, “I remember drowning, John, I remember drowning but not here!”

John stood his ground more uncertain than terrified by the sight.

“John, who am I! Why do I have memories I don’t recall as mine…” She attacked him with a terrible ferocity that he had no choice but to defend himself with the stick. The terrible blows ended her attacks. The stick shattered on the fifth or sixth blow as the bloodied and shattered woman collapsed to the ground dead. John back away in horror of his actions, heard a constable’s whistle somewhere in the direction of Whitechapel, stared at the horror he had committed upon the poor girl. He backed away in horror even more as the body seemed to loose all cohesion and melt into a mass of what was once a human being and into a puddle of dirty red water and muck that smelled of the Thames River.

He ran with terrible thoughts and a horror of what he saw until he was walking a bit calmer somewhere in Whitechapel.

 

Commentary On II Timothy 3:16-17.

cropped-12301412301.jpg“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” II Timothy 3:16-17.

“Seek the truth, listen to the truth, teach the truth, love the truth, abide by the truth, and defend the truth unto death.” Jon Hus.

“There can be no doubt whatsoever that all the troubles in the church today and most of the troubles in the world, are due to a departure from the authority of the Bible.” Martyn Lloyd Jones.

Does the Church of Christ really believe in the Bible as the complete Word of God? Does the Church still hold to the Scriptures and defend the truth of the Scriptures? What is the foundation of the modern Church, Scripture or something else? Does the individual Christian believer really believe that every word in Scripture is the actual Words of God? My own answer is that I question to what percentage does the modern Church/Christian believes is the actual Words of God and the words of men. Do Christian’s really believe that the Bible is the absolute complete Words of God and can they defend that position? They can and do confess their beliefs in the Bible, but do they really believe every single word from Genesis 1:1 to Revelations 22:21 as God inspired, God inscribed, God breathed, let alone God’s very voice to humanity as recorded in Scripture? Does the Church of Christ believe it enough to defend it? The Word of God has been questioned, under attack, and distorted since day one of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God’s Word had been under relentless attack from the very beginning; the Devil is a better theologian than anyone. But it seems that he doesn’t have to try very hard to make people who confess their belief in the Scriptures to also treat those same Words of God as possible of questionable origin.

The Devil is a very good theologian and knows the Bible better than most Christians. He’s been attacking, distorting, and rewriting Scripture since his first question to Eve. The Devil knows his business, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). The Devil knew what to challenge when he questioned Eve about what God had told both her and Adam. Look at the story and it is obvious that Eve knew what God meant and knew that God didn’t state anything else but do not touch this tree. She knew this; Adam standing next to her knew this. But both listened to the Serpent instead. Read the story, Genesis 3:1-24, and see what the tactic was and is still being used up to this modern day in it’s attacks on the Bible as God’s complete Word. The Devil in the Garden knew exactly what to say to Adam and Eve. Why did Adam and Eve listened to the Devil if they knew what God had told them to not do? Eve repeated what God had told them they could do and not do; Adam was there so he must have agreed with her comments. She even repeated the warning what would happen if they did eat of that particular tree. Eve was not tricked into eating the fruit of that particular tree. What was the Serpent’s response, “And the Serpent said unto the woman, Ya shall not surely die; For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5). The promises of the Devil are three, her eyes would be truly open to her world, she would be like a god, and she would know good and evil. These promises appeal to her and Adam’s  human senses of wanting something they felt they didn’t have, not being satisfied with what God has given them, and a knowledge of something they didn’t fully grasp but would be to their destruction not benefit. The serpent promised them wisdom and growth and like all the Devil’s promises it lead to destruction, loss, and  separation from their very Creator. The serpent lied, the serpent distorted and corrupted God’s Word, and still Adam and Eve knew what God had said but they still chose to listen to the one telling them the complete opposite of what God said. Neither one of them was tricked into eating of the fruit of that tree. They ate freely knowing what God said because they repeated His warnings to the serpent. The point being, even when we as humans heard, read, and see what God commands we still corrupt it to what we want and listen to the serpent tell us what God really meant even when we know it’s wrong.

The Scriptures, the Word of God spoken or written down has been under attack since God spoke everything into existence. Nothing has changed since the serpent spoke to our first two parents. They listened because the serpent appealed to their belief that God was holding something back? Was pride already in the Garden of Eden? What provoked these parent’s of humanity to simply listen to a serpent telling them that God didn’t really mean what He said and that God was hiding something from them? Adam and Eve knew God’s Word; He spoke to them directly. It was not a shocked to either one of them when they heard God walking in the Garden in search of them; knowing full well what happened. It was not a shocked to them that God was speaking to them. They had a perfect fellowship with their Creator until that moment in the Garden of Eden; the serpents plan to destroy that was about to bear it’s own fruit. What does the Word of God state, “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9). The Word of God spoke to them face to face before the serpent put into motion the destruction of their perfect fellowship with the very One who spoke to them. One must grasp what that eating of the fruit did to them. It made them corrupt, sinful, and it separated them from His Holy presence. Their choice to listen to someone who questioned and was corrupting God’s Word cost them and the future of humanity a loss so profound and so great a rebellion into a fallen nature that God had to send into humanities future Himself in human flesh to pay the price for this single moment. But at the moment God had to judge His most perfect creation for it had become imperfect, rebellious, and fallen into sin that humanity could never escape on it’s own.

What is the Word of God? What does God’s Word say of itself, “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrew 4:12). What else does it say about itself, “…for thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name.” (Psalms 136:2c). Other comments on His Word, “Is not my Word like as a fire? Saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). and, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4). Also, “Sanctify them through thy Word; thy Word is truth.” (John 17:17). The entire Psalm 119 is a praise and lifting up of the Word of God. And our commentary verse, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17). The serpent in the Garden of Eden brought into question all these as he spoke to Adam and Eve. God’s doctrine of His sovereignty was brought into question. Adam and Eve knew God and they knew His Words. They had the inspiration they needed to live a godly life, they had the foundation to build upon a true doctrine, they had the Words of reproof and correction to avoid eating of the fruit, they had the guide to live righteously before their God and Creator. What went wrong? They had the Word of God walking with them in the Garden of Eden  in the cool of the day and they still failed to listen to His voice. Neither one was without guilt in the moment they decided to disobey God’s clear words on the matter. Both chose to disobey and both chose to listen to the corrupted version of God’s spoken Word to them. People have not changed and they are still choosing the serpent over the Creator for their version of the Word of God.

Jewish history is a long history of what happens when God’s Word is not listened to and the voice of the serpent is treated and listened to instead as if from the mouth of God. Would their be a Jewish-Arab conflict if Abraham had just listened to God and not to Sarah’s advice would not Jewish history have been very different? God had promise Abraham a son, God had promised Abraham children as numerous as the stars above. Abraham is called a man of faith and he was but he was also a man of flesh and blood and even a man of great faith can sometimes not listen or remember what God has promised. Abraham was a man of faith but still just a human with his own faults. And like those who followed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and even Joseph into Jewish history they too had a hard time listening, obeying, believing God meant what He said to them. From the Book of Exodus to the conquering of the Promised Land one sees the struggle of the Jewish people to believe God’s spoken word to them and to obey it. The Wandering in the desert, (Though in fact they wandered, sat around for forty until that generation died off), was caused by the grumbling, disobeying, and not listening to His Word of that generation of Jews lead out of Egypt by Moses; only Joshua, Caleb, from that generation entered the Promised Land because they were faithful and believed the Word of Lord. That generation died off in the desert because they refused to listen to the Word of The Lord as the Lord Himself warned constantly of the consequences of disobeying His Word.

Let’s look at an event in the Wanderings of the Children of Israel with Moses. Numbers 13-14 and the telling of the story of the spies sent into the promised land and events of the actual searching out the land and all the great and wonderful things they saw. It was God who sent them, He promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Cannaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among men.” (Numbers 13_1-2). They came back with glowing reports, “And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it flowed with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.” (Numbers 13: 27). It looked wonderful to the spies and they brought back proof of the great land they had been given to by God, but of course their was grumbling and complaining about what else they saw, “Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites, (Descendants of Esau’s grandson, Amalek, Genesis 36:12, 16), dwell there in the land of the south; and the Hitties, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.” (Numbers 13:28-29). One excuse after another despite the land they saw and the God who was giving it to them they still grumbled and complained and decided that God’s word wasn’t enough. God told them that He was giving them the land and that He would defeat their enemies as He did in Egypt which brought them out of bondage. This was the very same generation that had witnessed the miracles of the Lord against the gods of Egypt and saw and lived through the greatest of moments in their history called the Passover. They saw the parting of the Red Sea. They were fed manna from heaven. They were given water from the Rock Moses spoke to, (Exodus 17:4-6). And they stood before Moses and the rest of the Children of Israel and complained, grumbled, and showed their defeatism in the face of the past history of the fact that God had taken care of them up to that point. God had given Him His word, via the commandments and His actions, and only two of the spies stood up and took God at His word. One of them spoke up up, “And Caleb still the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it: for we are well able to over-come it.” (Numbers 13:30). The defeatists continued, “But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we….And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:31, 33). The majority complained and murmured against God and Moses. They even contemplated returning to Egypt! “And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return unto Egypt.” (Numbers 14:4). It was getting worse as Caleb and Joshua along with Moses and Aaron appealed the people that the land was worth taking and was a good land, (Numbers 14:5-9). This only enraged those against the idea and were on the verge of stoning Moses and those who believed them and with the Lord appearing  in the tabernacle, (Numbers 14:10). The Lord had had enough of these stubborn, complaining, and people who refused to listen to His word, “And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed them?” (Numbers 14:11).

God was angry, God was about to simply destroy them all for their rebellion and disbelief at His Word. They had provoked God and might as well had called God a liar for telling them to take the land and telling  them the land was theirs to take. “I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and  mightier than they.” (Numbers 14:12). God wanted to be rid of these rebellious people; He had a right to. Moses spoke up. Moses became the advocate for the Children of Israel against the wrath of God. Moses spoke, “And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear of it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people,that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goes before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.” (Numbers 14:13-14). Moses is reminded God of His own works and actions before the people. Moses continued getting to his main pointed as he advocated for God’s Chosen people, “Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He sware unto them, therefore He hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken,” (Numbers 14:15-17). What was Moses reminding God? His Word was at stake? His Word would be attacked and not believed? God did not need Moses to remind Him of His own words to the people but God allowed Moses to defend and remind God of His Words to Abraham and to His servant Moses. Moses was defending God’s Word to God for the sole reason of saving the people who were complaining, grumbling, and denying His Word who deserved to be destroyed. Moses spoke on, “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” (Numbers 14:18-19). Moses was reminded and defending God’s Word and reminding God of His Word. He was fighting for the survival of the people who actually wanted to go back to Egypt and return to slavery most likely and turning their backs on the God who brought this out of bondage. They chose slavery over God’s Word that He had shown over and over that He keeps. What was the Lord’s response to Moses and his plea for mercy upon the people. “And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it. But my servant Caleb because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.” (Numbers 14:20-24).

God was listening but He was not done with the rebels against Himself and His Word to their fathers, God’s judgement was about to be told to them for their unbelief and rebellion against Himself and His Word they chose to reject or ignore for the gods of Egypt. God spoke His judgement upon them, “And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard their murmurings of the Children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you. Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of nun.” (Numbers 14:26-30). God had passed judgement on those people. They would spend the next forty years in that wilderness before their children would enter the land of milk and honey. God spoke of the future generation, “But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.” (Numbers 14:31-33). Why did they wander for forty years? God answered that as well, “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.” (Numbers 14:34).

What happened to that generation that murmured against the Lord? They were denied the Promised Land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and that Moses had brought them out of Egypt to journey to. They died in the desert. They had the Promised Land within their grasp and they simply came up with one reason, excuse, and stubborn attitude of rebellion after another. They saw the miracles, they walked on dry land through the Red Sea, they saw the destruction of the might of the Egyptian army and they still complained and saw it as impossible to take the land. They saw the power of the God who had spoken to Abraham and had defeated the gods of Egypt and they still simply refused to believe God said what He meant quit clearly to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God spoke for every day they spied out the land and then grumbled about what they saw as a problem He was going to make that forty days into a forty year punishment for their disbelief and complaining. It was a harsh punishment but God takes those who call Him a liar or rebel against His Word very seriously. It cost Adam and Eve a great deal as they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and it cost these people no chance to enter the Promised Land. God spoke, “I the Lord have said, I will surely to it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and they shall die. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against Him, by bringing up a slander upon the land. Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord.” (Numbers 14:35-37). I think the Lord was repeating Himself to make a point and it was a point He wanted to drive home into the very hard and rebellious hearts of these people and that to ignore or deny His Word has major consequences! They had the land in their grasp, they had seen the milk and honey of the land and still they refused to trust in the Word of the Lord. Remember though there is always though who have faith and God reminds them of it, “But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.” (Numbers 14:38). There will always be a remnant who take God at His Word and who follow the words of II Timothy 3:16-17 to the letter of God’s Word.

What was the response of the people? “And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.” (Numbers 14:39). But it was too little too late? Why was God not merciful or forgiving? They appeared to have realized their great sin and seemed to have repented? Or had they? They seemed to have realized their great sin and felt they could fix the problem? They were going to take the land themselves despite what Moses’s had just told them and warned them about. They were still not listening and still in a state of rebellion, “And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised; for we have sinned.” (Numbers 14:40). Moses warned them again, “And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? But it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you.” (Numbers 14:41-43). They were simply not going to listen to the warning of Moses that they were headed toward a terrible slaughter. “But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.” (Numbers 14:44). They had been warned and went anyway, they refused to listen to the Word of the Lord and Moses’s warnings that the Lord was not with them. “Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.” (Number 14:45). The very name of Hormah means utter destruction and they were destroyed; the Book of Numbers then switches to dealing with the younger generation. The point being is that they of the older generation refused to believe God at His Word and then compounded the sin by not listening even more when they were warned to not attempt to take the land. It cost them everything because they didn’t take God at His Word.

Taking God at His Word and because it is His Word is a very important lesson that both Adam and Eve learned much to the destruction of their fellowship with God and the Children of Israel to the loss of the Promised Land. The above examples-The Fall of Adam and Eve and the denial of entrance into the people caused by the grumbling and doubting of the spies-are the effects of hearing God’s Word and decided God really didn’t mean what He said or simply ignoring it as not possible. Other examples of direct denial of God at His Word or simple disobedience toward God’s Word is throughout the Scriptures and it’s effects on the future of the Jewish people. The Bible, the Scriptures, the Word of God is for correction, for doctrine, for reproof, for the instruction into the righteousness that God desires for everyone to live by. The Bible is not just a book of stories and some higher form of moral or ethical code of conduct. It’s the very thing that God Himself has placed above His own Holy Name. The modern church seems to miss that little bit of Scripture that God actually placed something above His name-His Word! God’s Word is for a personal relationship with a God who desires a personal relationship and fellowship with His very creation. The Word of God cannot be treated like any theology book because it is far beyond theology let alone a book. And yet it has been turned into a theology book that God just happened to write and is just as important as all the other books on theology? The Word of God is not a theology text book; it has nothing to prove that it’s from God and certainly not from another book or set of books! But that is what has happened to the Word of God. It has become theology and not God’s Word to humanity anymore important than the latest author’s book on theology. When did honoring, defending, and standing up for the Word of God become something akin to worshiping the Bible? Too many in the Church of Jesus Christ are quite comfortable with a Bible version that may bring into question the very Word of God by the translation that may or may not add or take away from it’s Scriptural authority. How can the Church claim to be a defender of the Word of God when it is comfortable with claiming it’s worshiping the Scriptures by defending it from corruption and bad translations that really do bring into question some major doctrines of Scripture?

How does the Church stand on a firm foundation of II Timothy 3:16-17 when it allows into it’s thinking that it’s okay for the Word of God to be brought into question whether God said it or not? Why is the Church listening to the Serpent again and not the Word of God? God put His Word above His name, (Psalms 136:2), let that sink in the next time someone defends Scripture and that there is one Scriptural version and the Church finds that a problem within the Church. The Church cannot stand on the foundation of II Timothy 3:16-17 on one hand and on the other claim that it’s okay that all translations have merit even if they don’t agree or even contradict the very Scriptures they stand on. The Word of God is either everything God spoke and had written down or it’s a bunch of stories and man-made theology to explain God without the Word of God. Adam and Eve listened to the Serpent in the garden when he brought into question God’s Word and did God really say that. The Church is doing the same thing by allowing God’s Word to be abused by the thinking that all translations are just different ways of saying the same thing; most of the time but not really if you compared them they say very different things. If the Church of Christ really believes that the Scriptures is the foundation of the Church then why does it seem to willingly to sit back and allow the very Word of God to be constantly brought into question by ignoring II Timothy 3:16-17? The foundation of the Christian life is the Bible, the Scriptures, the very Word of God, God’s very voice in print and the Church seems quite comfortable with scripture that may or may not really defend or prove that it’s God’s Word! Jewish History is sadly a portrait of a people who had God’s Word given to them and simply either disbelieved it or ignored it; that first generation lost the Promised Land because of their actions. And they compounded the problem by not listening again and thought they and they alone could take the Promised Land; they failed miserably. They lost the Promised Land because they listened and believed people who doubted and complained to God about everything instead of the two spies who took God at His Word. The Church either stands on the Word of God as God has preserved or the Church will fall because it has convinced itself that God can use whatever version of His Word that the Church decides to use and not listen to the version of His Word He preserved for the Church. The Church of Christ might as well disregard the whole doctrine of II Timothy 3:16-17 as a foundation for apologetic’s on the Bible because I am sure one or more versions has rewritten that as well to mean whatever one wants it to mean. The Devil is winning the battle of and for the Word of God because He continues to repeat the old words, “Ye, hath God said?” And too many in the Church are listening? When the Church begins to allow, think, and even defend the idea that footnotes and comments about the Bible in their Bible are okay even when the comments state or imply that a verse, chapter, or entire section of God’s Word needs to be seen with a questionable eye then the Church will collapse from a foundation more on the words of theologians and world men than the Word of God. The Devil wins when the Church looks the other way and rationalizes that God can use any version even if that version denies, contradicts, and or simply has it written out. God wrote one version of His Word; the Devil and theologians will keep writing a version until there is no Word of God left but the words and thoughts and theology of sinful men and the Devil will be laughing along the way. The Devil needed only four words to convince Adam and Eve to question God’s Word; and the Church is doing the exact same thing. The theology of the Church is either the actual Word of God or it’s on the half-Word of God depending on which version the Church decides sounds better to the ear. The foundation of the Church of Christ is the Scriptures, so shouldn’t it matter that the version used be the Word of God and not mostly the Word of God?

REFERENCES/RECOMMENDATIONS

Bible. (KJV).

Saved Without A Doubt: Being Sure Of Your Salvation. By. John MacArthur.

William Tyndale: A Biography. By. David Daniel.

Tyndale:The Man Who Gave Gd An English Voice. By. David Teems.

The Obedience Of A Christian Man. By. William Tyndale.

Learning Theology With The Church Fathers. By. Christopher A. Hall.

Reading Scripture With The Church Fathers. By. Christopher A. Hall.

The 40 Most Influential Christians Who Shaped What we Believe Today. By. Daryl Aaron.

Understanding Theology In 15 Minutes. By. Daryl Aaron.

Christian Theology For People In A Hurry. By. Daryl Aaron.

Early Christian Doctrines. By. J. N. D. Kelly.

Early Christian Fathers. Edited, Cyril C. Richardson.

Early Christian Writings. Penguin Classics.

Four Witnesses: The Early Church In Her Own Words. Edited, Rod Bennett.

Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, And Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe For The Next 1,500 Yeas. By. Philip Jenkins.