Foundation of Love

Based upon the writing prompt located at A Writing Prompt a Day

He stepped up to the pulpit, his normally steady hands shaking as he set his notes down. While his mouth was dry, he didn’t dare pick up the glass of water that sat waiting for him for fear that he would spill the contents. He looked out at the crowd, standing room only today, and waited for them to quiet down on their own accord before he started. When they had done so he scanned the church one more time and found the eyes of Miranda Hutchins. Her eyes were filled with sorrow and pain, fear and sympathy, but most of all, filled with love. He straightened up, wiped the sweat from his brow, cleared his throat, and began his last sermon.

“Thank you for coming out today.  The Lord has blessed us with a beautiful spring morning so I won’t keep you long as I am sure that you have gardening and barbecues to work on today.”  A few chuckles came from the congregation as he knew a number of them had standing afternoon beer parties on Sundays after church having been at a few of them himself.

“I wanted to talk to you about something that exists within each of us and drives us to do strange and miraculous things.  I wanted to talk about love.  I’m sure that you’ve heard me talk about 1 Corinthians before, but let me repeat myself one last time.”

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Love endures.”  He moved away from the podium, his voice becoming louder, carrying to the far corners of the church as the emotion took over.

“Love is what keeps us going from day to day.  It is the driving force for some of mankind’s greatest acheivements and it is the glue that holds families together.  Love is the greatest of gifts that God has given us.  The ability to love.  The experience of love.  As 1 Corinthians states, if you have not loved you are nothing and have gained nothing.  All of your faith and hope mean nothing if you don’t have love.”

“I want you to look around at your family and friends and know that there is love in this church.  There is a deep and abiding love from the other members of this church for you and from God, for you.  You are not unloved.  Each and every one of you are part of the reason why this church is so strong.  Your love is the foundation upon which this church sits and that foundation will never be broken!”

“Amen,” said many of the parishioners, their excitement building with his oration.

“I have seen this love in action.  I have seen you care for each other in times of need and sorrow and raise each other on your shoulders in times of happiness. I have seen acts of devotion that have brought me to tears and have seen commitment and love that has taken me to my knees.  I have prayed with you and for you.”

He paused as his throat closed up.  He went back to the podium, reached for the water and was pleasantly surprised that his hand was steady.  He took a sip of water and looked towards heaven.  “Thank you,” he whispered, confident that his newfound strength was a sign from above.

He stepped away from the podium and sat down on the top step leading to the altar.  He was still higher than the congregation so they could still see him.  He was noticeably quieter as he continued, forcing the parishioners to concentrate on what he was saying.

“In the midst of prayer I came to the realization that there was something missing from my life.  Something so core that my life, so full of meaning and duty and love for my fellow man, felt empty.  While I felt love, it was an empty love.  The love one feels for a good book or a good beer.”

“So I prayed.  I prayed for God to show me what to do.  I prayed for an answer to my question of whether or not I will truly find love. He answered my prayers.”

He stood back up, walked back to the podium and faced his congregation.  Faced his friends.  Faced his love.

“I have come here today to tender my resignation as your spiritual leader.”  The crowd gasped and started talking, but he continued and they quieted down quickly. “I am tendering my resignation because God has answered my prayers and he sent me someone that I could love and who loves me in return.  Not for what I am, but for who I am.  I am tendering my resignation while I discover what lies in store for my future. What lies in store for me … and my wife.”

The congregation erupted but he merely looked at Miranda, saw the tears of joy, smiled and then left the altar.

Flash Fiction – Death Personified

Based upon the writing prompt located at A Writing Prompt A Day

They said that the pain would go away in a few months as the bones knitted together. They said that the memory of that night would fade away and I’d be able to sleep better, hopefully without medication. They said that I would probably be able to walk again, with luck, and patience.  They said a lot of things, but they never said what happened to her.

I closed my eyes in order to concentrate better.  I let the sounds of the various machines around me fade into the background as I concentrated on remembering that night.  Remembering all of the details of Saturday night.  Last Saturday night?  The world faded, bit by bit, the sounds muted by his own breathing.

It had been a beautiful Saturday night.  The moon was out and warmth of summer kept the night comfortably warm, even down by the dock where Meghan and I were walking.  Hand in hand.  Almost looking at each other more than minding where we were walking.  I stumbled as my toe caught a raised board and Meghan reached out, faster than I would have ever thought possible and grabbed my arm, preventing me from falling.  We looked at each other for a moment before she laughed.

“You really need to watch where you’re walking Wade.  You can’t have women saving your butt all the time.”  The corners of her mouth inched upward in a little smirk, but the humour in her eyes made it all a playful jest.

“Maybe I did it on purpose,” I said, moving closer to her.  I took the hand that was still on my arm and placed it over my heart, letting her feel the rapid pounding within my chest.  “Maybe I did it in order to get close to you.”

I tilted my head downward slightly as I came in closer, looking in her eyes for any sign of rejection.  All I saw was the unadulterated love that we had for each other.  I put my hand underneath her chin and tilted her head up slightly.  I lightly caressed her lips with mine – the barest of touches, yet she breathed in quickly as if both expecting it and surprised by the tenderness.  I moved forward again and gently nibbled her plump bottom lip.  Her head tilted back and she pressed her body tight to mine.  I fed on her emotion and started kissing her along the chin, aiming for the spot on her neck below her ear.  Her weak spot.

I didn’t really register the sound of the footfalls or the sound of the gun being cocked, but Meghan did.  I found myself being thrown to the ground as Meghan tried to get me out of harm’s way.  My nose hit the wooden walkway and the sound of breaking cartilage penetrated my skull.  The sound of gunshots quickly followed.

I looked up in time to see Meghan breaking the neck of the man in front of her and using his body as a shield against the next attacker.  As she got closer she literally threw the bullet ridden body at him, causing him to pause in his firing.  Meghan closed in and quickly dispatched him as well.

I stood up, my hand reaching for my handkerchief so that I could plug the hole previously known as my nose and stop the bleeding.  The carnage before me was complete, but that’s what you get when you mess with my babe.  I started to smile at Meghan when I saw the third attacker throw something in our direction.  I had time to scream her name before it exploded and flew backwards, hitting my head on one of the pier posts.

I regained consciousness enough to see her body being dragged off before succumbing to the darkness.

They haven’t told me anything about Meghan.  I need to find her.

I will find her.

Flash Fiction – Home

Written based on the prompt at “A Writing Prompt A Day” for February 13th, 2015.

He stared at her white blonde hair cascading down her back.  In the dim early morning light that was all he could really see of her as the black jacket and pants she wore reflected almost none of the faint starlight that came through the clouds.  The desert had faded into rolling grasslands and the walking was getting more difficult as the hills increased in size.  He glanced at his watch, the glow in the dark hands telling it was 4:30.  Fifteen minutes to the apocalypse.

“Trin, we need to find some cover.  We’ve got fifteen minutes.”

“I know. We’re about to crest this ridge and at the very least we should be able to find some cover in the lee of the hill.” Trin didn’t pause or slow her stride, she kept on walking.

Race took a deep breath and continued following her away from Home, where he had spent all of his seventeen years.  He glanced back, but from this distance all he saw were evenly spaced lights stuck to a large black wall that rose from the ground high into the sky where a single beacon stood guard.

From the other side of the wall that black mass was painted and decorated with scenes from a world that no longer existed except in old books and movies.  Pine trees and waterfalls covered the wall and hid the sand and grassy plains that stretched in every direction from Home.  Until Trin had shown him the truth he thought that the walls were images of distant lands that he could one day visit.

When she told him the truth and proved it by showing him a window in the wall his world had collapsed. It had only been through her strength of will that he was alive.  He had spiraled down into a bout of black depression that had threatened to consume him and eat him alive.

But Trin had been prepared.  She kept him focused on living.  She kept him focused on wanting to live. She was the one thing in the mass of lies that he still believed in. Trin was not happy with just living with the lie, she wanted to expose the people of Home to the truth or at least get them asking more questions.

“Over here,” she said, moving towards a natural stone outcropping.  Neither of them thought that they would need the protection, but better safe than sorry his Dad always said.  He crouched down behind the rock, next to Trin, and stole one more glance at his watch.

Less than a minute.

“This won’t hurt anybody, right?”

Trin looked at him and for the first time since he had started asking this same question he saw doubt in her eyes.  She didn’t answer, but he didn’t need to hear her to understand that this tim she didn’t know the answer.  They both turned to face Home and waited.

The flash that erupted from the top of Home temporarily blinded him, and when he could see again the ball of light had faded but was still bright against the night sky. And then, as if a curtain was dropping down all of the lights of on the wall of Home started going out..

Trin stood and dusted off her pants. With one last look at Home, visible only due to the glowing ball at the top of the structure, she turned and started walking away from where she had lived all her life.

“Come on, Race, I want to be farther away when they find my message.”

“Your message?” He squeaked.

She paused and looked at him with a devilish glint in her eyes and then continued walking.

Starvation

Chuck Wendig, posted a challenge on December 19th, 2014, for a flash fiction with the title being a random song title.  It turns out that mine was Starvation by Thomas Bergersen.  (YouTube video here.)


They were dying. All of them.

Humanity had come to this world, full of hope, full of wonder and full of themselves. We had conquered faster than light travel and we were set to conquer the Universe. We had come to Avalon with the intention of helping the indigenous population grow and reach out to the stars themselves.

Instead we killed them.

No, it hadn’t been smallpox or the flu or even the common cold. We literally killed them with kindness. We gave them everything that they needed, everything that they wanted. They needed more food? We helped them genetically engineer food so that they could grow five times as much with half the effort. They needed more housing? We showed them how an automated factory mass produced homes in less time than it took to pick out china patterns. They needed a cure for a nasty disease? We showed them how to create cures for diseases that had plagued them for centuries.

We gave them so much, that they lost the desire to learn. They lost the fundamental core of their being: hope. We gave them so much that they lost hope and they became nothing more than replicas of ourselves. They left the planet in droves. Those that wanted a different life escaped the gravity well of their home and flung themselves at the stars. Those that gave up? They wandered into the wilderness and disappeared.

It’s ironic that a television show from centuries ago showed humanity what we had done wrong. Once we realized what was happening on Avalon we instituted a Prime Directive: non-interference with indigenous people. But it was too late for Avalon. It’s people were gone or fading away and the planet …

This is where I came in. As a xenobiologist my specialty was alien ecosystems. I was the “expert” they had called in to save the planet. I was supposed to fix what we had spent years destroying. I was supposed to work a miracle, and that was why I was here, in the middle of this forest, on my hands and knees, comforting a dying lamort.

A cross between a lamb and a warthog, this furry creature was dying a slow death caused by the destruction of the ecosystem into which it had been born. The Avalonians had had a symbiotic relationship with their planet, much more so than humans had with Earth. While we existed at the whim of Mother Nature, the Avalonians were Mother Nature. They breathed, and the planet breathed. They cried, and the planet cried. They died?

The lamort was dying, starving to death in a field full of food. The one thing that it needed – the planet itself – was not responding. The Avalonians had left or had entered the forest to die. Mother Nature was gone, and the planet didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. This was so much more than just the “global warming” or “genetic slippage” problems that the Earth had faced. In those situations man had caused the problem and man could solve the problem, but here on Avalon it was different. Man had caused the problem, but we couldn’t solve it.

How do you fix the problem where an entire race of people has disappeared? How do you create a new Mother Nature?

I looked down at the lamort, petting it’s long, silky fur and whispered nonsensical sounds while it lay there. Being part of the planet, being an integral part of the ecosystem kept these creatures alive. With the devastation that we had caused by our “good deeds” we had doomed this planet. We had killed everyone and everything left behind.

The creature looked up at me with sad green eyes and for an instance it looked like it was thanking me for keeping it company. I held my breath and smiled.

“Go to sleep, little one,” I said softly. As if in understanding it seemed to nod and closed its eyes. Shortly afterward its breathing stopped, and it went limp. I held the lamort in my lap and closed my eyes while the tears flowed. I don’t know how long I had been crying there – minutes? hours? – but when I opened my eyes I was surrounded by Avalonian fauna. Some were standing while others lay in the grass around us but all of them were staring at me.

I didn’t want to ascribe human feelings to these alien creatures, but if I had to pick one I would have said that hope was in their eyes. Hope that things were changing. Hope that things had changed. Hope that Mother Nature had come back.

Perhaps it had, I thought to myself, stretching my arms wide and looking up into the blue green sky. Perhaps it had.