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From The Village to the Vision

The Immortal

 

 

Author’s note: “wait upon the Lord and you shall renew your strength and rise like eagles”.the author

 

It has been a few months since the last post, and I hope that the wait will be worth it for all of you. This episode, “From the Village to the Vision “, will conclude the short story “The Immortal”. It will also bring to a conclusion the sequel to the previous book, THE VILLAGE ON THE EDGE OF THE SEA.

 

Many of you have enjoyed these simple stories about life in The Village on the Edge of the Sea, and some have even expressed a desire to live there. Our desire at THE SHORT STORY KITCHEN is that you be entertained and inspired by our stories, and that they may possibly touch you at some level that helps you make positive changes in your lives.

 

THE SHORT STORY KITCHEN will continue to provide fiction and anecdotes, hopefully on a more regular basis. Please help us with our expenses by regularly visiting our affiliates whose banners are posted on the sidebars.

 

No time like the present to begin the conclusion. :)

 

 

 

 

 

From The Village to the Vision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group of prophets broke their fast at the end of the third day. Ariel seemed to be the only one who knew exactly what their mission would be. Even Bernardo was not fully aware of where they were going and what they would do when they got there, but he discerned that he had a large part to play.

 

They had parked their cars The Villagein the lot at the marina near the village.  It was raining heavily by the time they reached them. William motioned for them to take shelter under a pavilion that was near the docks.

 

Ariel unfolded a map and spread it on a wooden table. He pointed to a large city in a Middle Eastern country. It was a city that was considered to be the center of business and trade in the world at that time. “This is our final destination, brethren. This is Babylon, the whore that we will confront.”

 

The group nodded their assent and choruses of “Amen”, and “hallelujah, praise Jesus” could be heard. When the praise died down, Ariel said, “This journey will take several days, and I think William would be a good one to organize things so that we don’t get split up along the way.”

 

William thought for a minute. “I think the best thing would be for us to meet at the entrance of a particular city each evening.” He pointed to a city on the map about a day’s journey from where they were. “Let’s try to meet up here tonight, and we’ll set a new destination each day.”

 

So, as soon as the decisions were made about who would be riding in which vehicle, they began the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first day passed without event or opposition of any kind. Everyone arrived at the rendezvous point in great spirits. It was as if the Lord had placed a cloak of invisibility around them. They knew that they were being hunted, and delighted in the mysterious ways that the Lord accomplished his purposes.

 

Bernardo turned to the group. “After everyone is refreshed, let us go aside and partake in “bread for the journey”. And so, later that evening, they seated themselves in a grove of trees and shared the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

When they returned to the spot where they were going to camp for the night, they saw several men dressed in clerical garb. One of them, apparently their leader, began to vatican courtyardaddress them as soon as they were within range of hearing. “We are here as an envoy from the Pope. We want to gather information about your mission. His Excellency is interested and desires to know whether he should support you and your goals.”

 

Ariel turned to the prophets and raised his arms to the sky. “Brethren! Do not talk to these men. They have been sent to deceive you and to dissuade you from your mission.” He then faced the envoys with his arms crossed. “Depart from us, evil workers of iniquity! You shall not delay us for one instant even if all the power you have at your disposal is brought against us. It is a fool who says there is no God. How shall He hear, how shall He see?”

 

The man who had talked to them turned to his associates. “We are wasting our time here. We might as well leave these heretics to their fate and return to Rome.” They walked to their large black van, got in, and drove away.

 

William laughed. “One thing is for sure. They will be back. They always come back.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria and Dorothy sat on a grassy knoll situated above the car that they had been riding in.  William was changing a flat tire and was leaning his substantial weight on the tire wrench, trying to break the lug nuts free. “This certainly isn’t going to come loose easily,” he grunted.  Just then, the nut suddenly broke free, sending William tumbling to the ground.

 

The two old nuns couldn’t resist laughing. “I’ve never seen it done that way before, William,” Maria said.

 

William got up and dusted the debris from his clothes. “I hope you’ll never see it done that way again, either,” he chuckled..

 

It was the third day of the journey, and the temperate climate of The Village had given way to much drier and warmer air. Trees were sparse,and sandy stretches had replaced the verdant pastures found near their homes. “The children certainly wouldn’t have to look far for a sandbox around here,” Dorothy quipped.

 

“Okay sisters,” William called out. “You can get back in the car now. We’re ready to go.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William’s mother, Anastasia FrancAna Franc, had been riding in the vehicle width Bernardo and Ariel. Everyone that knew her very well called her Ana. She was hale and chipper, but she was beginning to show the effects of the long journey. She was the oldest of all (except for Ariel, of course).

 

“Do you know how much longer our journey might be, Ariel?”

 

“I would have to check with William to be exactly sure. He has the map. But I think that we’re over halfway there.” He turned and patted her hand to reassure her.

 

“Praise Jesus for that. These old bones don’t put up with long car rides anymore.”

 

After riding for about another hour, they arrived at the rendezvous point for that day. They pulled into a parking area and waited for the others to join them. When they had all assembled, Ariel addressed them.

 

“Brethren you have all had opposition in your lives because of Jesus. From this point on in our journey, we will face conflict with all the powers of the world. The world has been given its warning for centuries, and now it will begin the see the wrath and the power of God. Do not fear what man can do to you. When our mission is accomplished, spread your witness of what you have seen far and wide.”

 

As the sun began setting, they assumed a prayerful attitude. The desert heat abated, a relief for them all, especially the older ones. No one complained, though, because they all knew the path they were on lead that the kingdom of God. And because the spirit of prophecy was upon them, they knew that the time was near when all things would be fulfilled. The wheat would be separated from the chaff, and the chaff would go into the fire.

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, William convinced his mother to join him in the vehicle he was driving. “We might not see each other for much longer, Mother. So, let’s journey together for now.”

 

They had gone about a half a day on the desert road. The heat from the sun shimmered above the sand and the road, blurring their view. Suddenly, William slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting an object in the road. “Mother, that’s a child! Why on earth is it out here in the middle of the desert alone?”

 

“I don’t know,” his mother replied. “But we had better rescue the child from what will happen out here in this heat.”

 

So they picked up the child (it was so emaciated they couldn’t tell whether it was a male or female) and carried it into their car. William used his cell phone to call the car that was carrying Bernardo and Ariel. He explained the situation and asked what they thought he should do.

 

“People in this country often abandon their children for various reasons,” Ariel explained. “We have seen this and worse over the centuries. Keep the child with you. It will be safe and it will fare better than if we turn it over to the authorities in this country.”

 

And so, about a day and a half later, they arrived at their final rendezvous with one more member in their small flock. They gathered outside a large city that Ariel referred to as Babylon, the great whore.

 

Ariel and Bernardo stood in front of the group. Ariel began to speak. “Tomorrow we will go to the center of the city. Bernardo and I will separate ourselves, and you will begin to witness the events to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four years later William addressed a group of Christians in a country far from his home. All the prophets in the group carried a similar message to Christians in many countries, with the exception of his mother, who had passed away soon after their mission was accomplished.

 

“From the book of Revelations. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophecy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and fire from abovedevours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. When they finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three and a half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Now after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, come up here. And they ascended to heaven in a cloud and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.”

 

William raised his hands and closed his eyes. After about three minutes, he spoke again. “These things have come to pass. We have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears, and testified you so that you may know.”

 

 

 

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The Manifestation

Author’s note:  This post marks a milestone for THE SHORT STORY KITCHEN.  We are the authorbeginning the second hundred episodes (not counting a few that I deleted).  As we move into the next hundred posts, I hope to move to a new setting and a new group of characters.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to ever make the bad guys into hero figures, nor will I ever use cheap tricks to get more attention.  Hopefully, wherever we go with our fiction and anecdotes, the readers will be inspired and entertained in a wholesome way.

The present story, “The Immortal”, is sure to take the reader away from the ordinary stories we’ve enjoyed sharing and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading.  My purpose is to help the reader to start thinking thoughts that will equip them for what will be coming in the future.  In this episode, “The Manifestation”, the people who will take part in the quest will be gathered and the journey will begin.  For some, this will be the ultimate test of their faith, because it will take complete surrender to the will of God and a total commitment to what is not seen with the eyes, nor heard with the ears.

 

 

 

 

The Manifestation

 

 

It didn’t take long for the apprenticeWilliam to gather the group of prophets, since they all had some sense of what was coming for the inhabitants of planet Earth.  Years ago, there was some semblance of being able to live a human existence, but the persecution of those who rejected the ways of the world had grown so strong that it was apparent that the Lord’s return was imminent.

They didn’t have a real meeting place anymore.  It had been seized a number of years ago when they were declared to be terrorists by the government.  Now, they met in secret, and changed their meeting place frequently. For this rendezvous, they were informed through the grapevine to arrive at William’s house one at a time.  William’s aged mother, a stalwart prophetess, greeted each one with a hug and a kiss.  She had been part of the group for most of her eighty two years, and was closer to them than she was with some members of her own family.  “I think everyone is here, William.  Hopefully, the police didn’t notice.”

William showed his affection by putting his massive arm around her shoulders.  “Don’t be concerned, mother.  God will protect us, as He always has.”  He motioned to Bernardo and Ariel to come to the center of the large living room.  “Most of you know Bernardo.  He has brought a man called Ariel to us.  I will not tell you all about Ariel yet, but be assured that he is a man we can trust.  He will speak and we will listen and decide, each one of us, what we will do.”

Bernardo and William moved aside, leaving Ariel standing in the middle of the group.  For a full five minutes, he moved his gaze around the room, meeting the eyes of each one.  Finally, he spoke.  “Brothers and sisters, prophets and prophetesses, we are going to Babylon.  We will face the whore who has afflicted and killed our brothers and sisters.  Some of us will manifest the power and the wrath of God, and many will be witnesses of these events.”

 

 

 

The large office space showed signs that it had once been part of a pleasant and well designed building.  The cinder block walls hadn’t been painted for much too long, and were covered with graffiti and pornography.  The present occupants were associated with the new regime, mostly comprised of low level military personnel.  Odors from stale alcoholic drinks and tobacco permeated the area.  Beer cans and liquor bottles overflowed from the wastebaskets and trash cans, and old cigarettes and cigars filled the many ash trays. Seated at the desks was a variety of unpleasant looking men, dressed in unkempt blue uniforms.  Their conversations were laced with profanity, chiefly snarling and sneering at each other or anyone else they happened to think of.

The phone rang at the desk of a man with a pock marked face who seemed to be in charge.  The call must have come from some higher up, because he listened intently.  When he ended the call, he got up and bellowed to get the group’s attention.  “Listen up!  That was the commander and he says he has intel on a terrorist group meeting in town.  He wants us to meet up with B squad and go down there and take care of it.”  He pointed to a row of lockers.  “Suit up and bring lots of ammo.  We don’t want any of them getting away.”

 

 

 

Dorothy stretched out in a dilapidated chair with her feet up on a stool.  “I don’t know about you, Maria, but since Bernardo came with Ariel, I feel more stirred up than I ever have…even when I answered the call to be a nun.”Sister Maria

Maria handed the older woman a cup of coffee, and sat down after retrieving a cup for herself.  “I think we are living in times that we have been eager for, but always thought it would be sometime long from now.”

“That’s just it, Maria.  These things always look like they are from some other time, or should be happening to some other people.  Look what happened to us.  We never thought our lives would be this way when we answered the call to become sisters.”

Maria sipped her coffee for a few moments, and paused to consider her reply.  “Ariel brings our situation to a higher plane.  Had you ever considered that there were people who are immortal?”

Dorothy’s face became animated, showing her excitement.  “His story confirms our belief that all Christians are immortal.  The Lord raisedaged Dorothy people from the dead!  Why would it be hard for Him to keep someone alive for as long as He wanted to?”

“I think we are to become a part of that story, Dorothy.  We are truly blessed.”

 

 

 

Twelve of the prophecy group, including William and his mother, decided to accept the mission, even though they had no clear idea of where they were going, or what would happen when they got there.  As the sun was going down, Ariel and Bernardo called them aside from the rest of the group.  “Tomorrow, we will leave for The Village on the Edge of the Sea,” Ariel explained.  “There are some people there who will also be coming.  You can be sure that some of us will not be coming back.  If any of you want to back away, now is the time.”

William stood up, drawing his massive frame to its full height.  “I think I can speak for everyone by saying that in no way will we be dissuaded or discouraged about this mission.  We have no life but to serve the Lord…the world has left us no choice.  If we stay here, we have no life.”  He looked around and viewed the nods of agreement from each of the twelve.  “I think we can all spend the night here, and leave early in the morning.”

As the conversation became animated, and the excitement grew, William and his mother busied themselves rounding up enough bedding for their guests.  The prophets who were not travelling with them began to leave, repeating the one at a time method in order to escape the likelihood of police scrutiny.  Most of them had children at home, otherwise they would not have remained behind.  Finally, everyone found a spot to get some rest before the journey began.

The next day, the early summer sunrise found the prophets refreshing themselves, and loading provisions into duffel bags and knapsacks.  Ariel and Bernardo had decided that they should set out at as a group, and make their way to the vehicles that would be used for the trip.

As soon as they crossed the street in front of William’s house, about two dozen men advanced toward them, armed with automatic rifles. They were screaming obscenities, and pointed their weapons toward the group of prophets. The one who seemed to be the leader walked up to Ariel and grabbed the front of his shirt.

“Where do you vermin think you’re going?”

Ariel raised his hands heavenward and calmly spoke. “Do not touch the Lord’s anointed.”The Immortal

The soldier was looking for any excuse to gun them down, so he turned to the others and shouted, “Hey boys. It seems they’re not going to come along peaceably. Show them what we do to terrorists.”

The men raised their guns, aiming them at the group of prophets. Each time they tried to fire their weapon, it would jam.

The infuriated leader threw his weapon to the ground and cursed. “Whoever was supposed to clean these weapons is going to have to spend a long time in the stockade. No matter. Move in and break their necks, every last one of them.”

Ariel raised his arms and repeated, “Do not touch the Lord’s anointed.”

Immediately, the man’s hand fell away from Ariel and went to his stomach. He doubled over and fell to his knees, groaning in agony. One by one, the other soldiers were afflicted in the same way.

Ariel turned to the other prophets. “The danger is passed. Praise God for delivering us from the hand of our enemies!”

The air filled with the chorus of “amen” and “hallelujah.” When the tumult died down, Ariel raised his hands to get the attention of the group. “We will travel to Bernardo’s village. If any of you get separated from the group, we will meet at the village marketplace.”

It was only about a half a day later when the last of the caravan arrived at the market place.  Ariel and Bernardo called them together and Ariel began giving instructions.  “William will take you to Bernardo’s home, and Bernardo and I will pick up those who will be joining us from here.  We will pray and fast for three days before we continue on to our destination.”

The enthusiasm of the group was obvious as they clapped their hands and cheered.  They gathered their gear and followed William down the beach toward Bernardo’s tiny fishing shack.  Ariel and Bernardo set out in the opposite direction, which would take them to the room where Sisters Maria and Dorothy resided.

As they walked, Bernardo questioned Ariel.  “Is this really it?…I mean the times that the book of Revelations foretold?”

Ariel nodded.  “We are a part of the prophecy, but only a part of it. Many others have parts to play, and there will be many to follow after us before the prophecy is fulfilled.”

Bernardo’s eyes Bernardo at 70shined as he replied.  “I can think of no greater honor from the Lord than to be called for this mission.”

They continued in silence until they reached the door of the women’s home.  Bernardo’s soft knocking brought the two old ladies to the door.  They peeped around the door and Dorothy took the men by the arm and led them inside.

“I’m glad it’s you,” she said.  “We’ve been praying about your safety.”

Bernardo laughed.  “I’m glad you did.”  He then related the tale of their encounter with the authorities.  “That’s all the more reason for two seasoned prayer warriors like yourselves to join us on our mission.”

Dorothy and Maria looked at each other with unspoken agreement.  Maria broke the silence.  “You have no idea how much we would like to be a part of what is surely coming.  When will we go?”

“As soon as you can gather enough things for a long journey,” Ariel replied.  “First we will join William and some others for prayer and fasting.”

Dorothy clapped her hands and her eyes brightened.  “Oh, good!  I haven’t seen William for such a long time.”  She hugged Ariel and Bernardo, then turned to Maria.  “Dear sister Maria.  It seems we have some packing to do.”

 

 

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The Aura of Ariel

Authors note: In the last episode, we introduced the concept that some would the authorthink to be fantasy, and others would think to be a real supernatural event. Ariel, or Reese, the name he goes by during the time of our story, explained to Bernardo the fact of his immortality. Bernardo is a prophet familiar to us from previous stories. He has shown strong connections with the supernatural God, and yet feels overwhelmed and awed by the aura of Ariel. Maria and Dorothy, two dedicated nuns who chose to leave the church rather than continuing in the corruption following the deaths of Pope Stephen and others, were introduced to Ariel by Bernardo. Why did God bring Ariel to Bernardo? What parts will Maria and Dorothy have in the continuing story? How did some of our favorite villagers fare since the time when chaos began? We will be answering these questions in this and upcoming episodes.

As you may have guessed by now, this story is not entirely about being entertaining, but should inspire many people to recognize the signs that are so visible on twenty-first century planet Earth. Churches, governments, schools, and other institutions of society are becoming so corrupt that we cannot relate to these factions as we did when we were youngsters. (That was a long time ago for me.)

So, shall we make our way back to The Village on the Edge of the Sea?

 

 

The Aura of Ariel

 

 

The truth was that few in the Village were prepared for an event as monumentally evil as the execution of Pope Stephen and his companions. When the rumors began to surface that the assassinations were guided by factors within the church, many people began to panic. The church hadprayer chapel been a stabilizing influence in the Village for many generations, and now it seemed that there was nowhere to turn.

A new Pope was appointed, a man who was open to many behaviors that had been considered sinful since the beginning of mankind. He no longer required a belief or a love of Jesus, or any kind of belief in God to continue as a member of the church. He postulated that there was no such thing as hell, and that God would take everybody into heaven. Any priest that did not agree with what he said were sent to “reeducation centers.” Many simply left the church, but the Pope had no shortage of people who had more allegiance to him than to God.

A priest was sent to the Village to replace Adrian, and one of the first things he did was to close the shelter for abused women that was being run by the church. “There is no point in wasting money on something that their family should be doing,”he said. The money should be going to Rome.”

Angel Realto, Sr. Dorothy, and Sr. Maria begged him to reconsider, saying that a real service was provided and that many of the women had no other family but the church.

Angel’s voice was rising to a higher and higher pitch as her anger grew. “The fact is, most of the work is done by volunteers, so you won’t be able to add that much money to the papal treasury.”

The priest stroked his pointed goatee, his eyes narrowing to appointed slits. “That would be truevatican courtyard except for one thing. We’re planning to sell the building and send the proceeds to Rome.”

Angel’s fists clenched at her sides and she shouted, “You CAN’T do that! That building was a donation. Whatever made you decide to become a priest, anyways?”

A smug grin appeared on the priest face. “You ladies should realize the the times are changing.”

Dorothy drew herself to her full height. “God and his ways are unchangeable. You are making a big mistake, and if you are lucky, you’ll live to regret it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ariel and Bernardo sat perched on a ledge high above the ocean and not far from Bernardo’s shack. They had been there for several hours, initially sharingbody and blood the Lord’s supper, then quietly listening, meditating, discerning their path for the near future. They could hear the ocean’s waves lapping on the beach and the azure blue sea stretched out to the horizon. Normally, these sights and sounds would be an inspiring message about the nature of God himself. But today, both prophets knew the thoughts about God’s creation were not what they were there to hear. From their vantage point, The Village on the Edge of the Sea was barely visible.

Finally Ariel spoke. “Your time here is coming to a close.”

Bernardo looked at Ariel but remained silent.

Ariel stood up. He picked up a handful of pebbles and tossed them over the edge. “Our quest will take us far from here…we will testify before nations, kingdoms, and principalities.”

Bernardo grabbed his pack and rose to his feet. “The women, Dorothy and Maria, rely on me.”

“They will come with us to witness events that not many believe can happen.”

The two men found the winding path that led to the beach and made their way to Bernardo’s long time home. Neither man had much to say, pretty much the normal for them.

“William, we must find William. He will definitely want to be included in this quest. You should at least meet him, Ariel,” Bernardo said.

Ariel slowed his pace. “I will  meet William, but first you must tell me about him.”

Bernardo paused to reflect on his many memories of William. “William joined me many the apprenticeyears ago to learn more about the ways of the Lord. Some people called in my apprentice, but I thought of him as someone whose path simply brought him to me. He belonged to a prophecy group on the other side of the province and he brought much wisdom with him.”

“Why isn’t he with you now?”

“William fell in love with a beautiful woman and they had a fine family together. His spirituality did not decline but he simply didn’t have the time for the kind of life that we were living, what with providing for a wife and child. Through the years, every decision that he made, he made for the Lord. When the “reeducation” began, they took his children saying that he was an unfit parent.”

A pain that he had experienced far too often was reflected on Ariel’s face. “This is your time, Lord… This is your time.”

Bernardo turned his face away from Ariel, and gazed at the horizon far out to sea. “His wife was desperate to find the children, as was William, and she went far and wide to search for them. After she had been gone for a long period of time, William concluded that she had been captured or killed.”

“Why did he think that she was killed?”

Bernardo sighed and his shoulders drooped. “You would have to hear the story of another one of our friends in order to understand. Soon after the chaos began in the church, the provincial government fell under the same influence, the same alliances that had been responsible for the deaths of Pope Stephen and others.”

“What happened then?”

“The government commissioned “reeducation” teams to instruct those who held positions of authority about the new way their jobs would have to be done. The chief of police in this village, among others, refused to comply the commission’s orders. Carlos was a good man, Ariel, and he had a wife and three children. One morning the mayor the village came into the police station and ordered Carlos to either comply or turn in his badge and firearms. Carlos replied that they would have to come and take them, that he wouldn’t surrender his badge or his firearms to any of the commission teams.”

Ariel took off his hat and wiped the beads of sweat that were beginning to run down his forehead. “We were seeing the same kind of thing happening in many other places around the world at that time.”

“The next morning, some dogs found Carlos’ bullet ridden body in an alley. That is whycold steel William thought that his wife may be dead. He knew that if she was captured, she would never submit to “reeducation.”

They reached Bernardo’s shack and went inside. Bernardo motioned for Ariel to sit down and began to prepare some food. “We might as well have something to eat and rest ourselves. We will have a long journey to get to where William lives now.”

 

 

 

 

 

It was four in the morning and William was loading a large utility trailer with the equipment he would need for a long day of work. He had taken a job at a landscaping company owned by one of his friends. Two riding lawnmowers, one push mower, several string trimmers, and various hand tools would get him through the day. He secured two five gallon gas cans in the box of the pickup he would use to pull the trailer, and checked his schedule.

Two men joined him in the cab of the truck, smelling of alcohol from the night before. “What’s up William?,” one of them asked. “Where’s the party today?”

William turned away, stifling an angry reply. “We have thirty eight lawns today, so it doesn’t sound like much of a party. Anyhow, you guys smell like you need another party like you need a hole in your head.”

Patience was something that was in short supply for William at this point in his life. Ever since he had suffered the loss of his wife and children, he didn’t have the heart to make excuses for people who came from the same kind of life as those who were responsible for destroying his family. If it weren’t for his faith in the Lord and the support of friends in his prophesy group, he would have succumbed to deep depression.

He had moved away fromJuanita The Village on the Edge of the Sea about five years after Juanita, his beloved wife, disappeared. The reminders of his family constantly tugged at his emotions, so he, his sister Jasmyne, and her husband Eduardo moved to the Franc family home in a city on the other side of the province. Now, he simply tried to get through each day without becoming too sad or too angry.

It was still almost dark when he started the truck. In the grayness, about a quarter of a mile away, he noticed a strange glow that seemed to be coming toward him. “What do you suppose that is?” William said, pointing to the light.

“What are you talking about? I don’t see anything.” The one in the front seat peered into the darkness. “There’s nothing there. And you’re calling US drunk?!”

As they drew closer William recognized his old friend and mentor, Bernardo. “Wait here, guys.” He exited the truck and quickly covered the ground between him and Bernardo. He greeted the old man with a crushing bear hug.

“Take it easy on this old man, William. You don’t know your own strength.”

William laughed heartily and emotions were awakened in him that he hadn’t felt for years. “I don’t think anything could hurt you, my friend. What brings you out this way? I haven’t seen you for so long. And your friend… when you walked up, I could see a glow around him.”

Ariel smiled mysteriously, the same mysterious smile that William had seen so many times on Bernardo’s face. It had always intrigued him and drew him in from the start. “Not everyone can see the aura. The fact that you can see it means that you are a prophet and you have been accepted.”

William clapped his hands. “This is wonderful! Someone who is at least as mysterious as Bernardo. I know why you two were traveling together.”

Bernardo grasped William’s elbow. “Ariel and I have a mission to accomplish. The prophecy is moving quickly to its fulfillment. You must come with us and I will explain to you about Ariel.”

William knew that to refuse Bernardo was the same as refusing the Lord, so it was easy for him to decide to drop everything and go with the two old men. He quickly walked back to the pickup truck and spoke through the open window. “Find Franco and tell him that the Lord has need of me. He will understand and give you instructions on what to do today.” He then turned back to Bernardo and Ariel, and the three men walked to where William’s car was parked.

“For now, we should go to your house, William,” Bernardo said.  “Later, we will call for the prophesy group to gather.  They will be informed of the quest, and some will come with us.”

They got into the car and as they drove toward William’s home, Bernardo related the incredible facts surrounding Ariel’s life and how the Lord had chosen him.  As he listened, William knew more deeply in his heart with each word that was spoken, that his life  was being transformed and directed to a path he had never followed.

 

 

 

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The Immortal

Author’s note:   Thankfully, I’m getting some time to begin a new short story, which will be presented in about six episodes over the coming weeks. the author This story is titled “The Immortal”.   I can describe it as thought provoking, if nothing else.  In today’s atmosphere of total commitment to scientific principles, “The Immortal” will help people to think about and believe in supernatural events.  The basis I use for this tale is a quote from Luke.  I do not say that the events to follow are happening, just that they could be happening.  Hopefully the readers will have desire that this story could take place, and believe in the possibility.  I should add that this story will be the end of the time we have been spending at The Village on the Edge of the Sea.  We began this journey a few years ago, and at the conclusion, we will be moving to another setting.  We will miss The Village!

 

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

Our story will jump back and forth between a few different time periods, and I will try to make the transitions as clear as I can so that readers don’t have to struggle.  I’m not going to preview the story anymore than I have…I will let the readers watch it unfold.

While you’re at THE SHORT STORY KITCHEN, don’t forget to check out our several affiliates by clicking on their banners.  Or, you could pick up a copy of my first book, THE VILLAGE ON THE EDGE OF THE SEA, an anthology of short stories that can be started when you lay down and finished before you go to sleep.The links are shown on the sidebars.    If you don’t have a Kindle or Nook and need a different format, go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/107059

 

 

 

The Immortal

 

No one really tookThe Immortal notice of the old man.  His clothes were worn, but not shabby.  His wide brimmed hat covered a full head of pure white hair.  He was seated at one corner of the Village marketplace, stroking a short, white beard.  If anyone could see under the pulled down hat, they would look into eyes that were infinitely deep.

The marketplace had been alive with activity twenty five years ago.  People came from the surrounding area in great numbers to buy goods from the numerous vendors.  Fish, wine , cheese, candy, baked goods, and handmade clothing were some of the products that were sold.  Now, most people went to the government store on the outskirts of town because of the lower prices. There were only a few diehards that continued selling their wares.

The old man had been coming to the marketplace daily for about a week, occasionally buying something, but mostly observing another old man who was selling fish at one of the booths.  Many of the locals called the fish vendor, “The Prophet”Bernardo at 70, but his name was Bernardo.  His seafood  was always fresh, but the customers frequenting his booth always came away with more than they paid for.  Bernardo had a special connection with the Lord, and shared his perceptions with everyone who crossed his path.  He had lived near the Village since before the church had exploded into the chaos caused by the murders of Pope Stephen, Samuel, Adrian, and Pepe.  Most of the people relied more on Bernardo than they did the replacements for Father Adrian.

Reese was the name the old man went by now, though he had gone by other names in the past.  He removed a striped poncho from a small knapsack and pulled it around him against the cold.  It was made of a coarse, thick cotton material, and looked older than Reese, if that were possible.He rose to his feet and quickly covered the distance to Bernardo’s booth. His gait did not reflect the age that his face showed.

“Were you interested in buying some fish today, my friend?” Bernardo’s face had a strange, almost mischievous smile.

“I think we both know that’s not true. You’ve been waiting for me a long time, haven’t you?” Reese folded his arms behind his back and walked around the booth, glancing at Bernardo’s freshly caught seafood. “I used to know someone who was quite a fisherman, but that was a long time ago.”

“You’ve probably known quite a few fishermen over the years.”

“Ah yes, but he was more than just a fisherman, as are you. We have much to talk about, you and I.”

“Who are you, my brother?”

“We will meet at your home and I will explain much. There’s a time and a place for everything under the sun.”

Bernardo looked quizzically at the old man. “Do you know where I live?”

“Of course.” He strode away and retook his seat at the edge of the Marketplace.

 

 

 

Dorothy and Maria sat in the kitchen of the large farm house belonging to Maria’s brother, Zane, and his wife FloraMaria. It had only been a few monthswind rows since the funerals of their friends Pope Stephen, Adrian, Samuel, and Pepe. Their grief was fresh and deep, as much for the hatred that caused their deaths as for their deaths. They both knew that their friends troubles were over, but sorrow remained for the emptiness caused by their absence.

Zane entered the kitchen carrying a straw basket filled with eggs that he had just gathered. “That should last us for a while. The old girls treated us pretty good today.”

Dorothy was not ready to be comforted so easily. Her hands were folded in front of her on the table and her unsmiling face towards Zane. “Has anyone heard anything about the death of our friends? Were they in pain? Why were they killed?”

Zane put his large calloused hand over Dorothy’s hands. “They didn’t feel a thing Dorothy. The shock wave from the blast killed them instantly.” He took the basket of eggs and started putting them in the refrigerator. “Carlos said Stephen’s old friends from the military, who are the best of the best at finding things out, were investigating the murders on their own time. They said that so far, it looks like factors within the Church who were against the reforms that Stephen was instituting hired some renegade Muslims. They haven’t been able to specifically identify who it was that hired the killers, but I’m sure they’ll never stop until they do.

Maria, who had been silent, stood up and leaned against the sink with her arms folded in front of her. “I’m sure that’s true, Zane, but where do we go from here? If the Church is not the Church anymore, I don’t want to be a part of it. Bernardo says it’s part of the prophecy. Maybe the separating of the wheat from the chaff has begun.”

“I’ve never known Bernardo to be wrong,” Zane said. “It might just be that all of our lives are about to change in ways that we can’t even imagine.”

 

 

 

Just a few days later, as Bernardo was rowing toward the beach next to his shack, he spotted the old man sitting on the steps. Bernardoprophet home pulled the boat onto the beach.

“You found me, I see. Will you be staying long?”

Reese held Bernardo with a piercing glance. “I will be staying until it is time for us to leave.”

Bernardo had never felt this way before when talking to another person. It was as if he were talking to an angel, or a prophet existing on a much higher spiritual plane than he had ever attained. “Will you go to the market with me? I mustBernardo's catch take these fish while they’re still fresh. I have no way to store them here.”

“Yes. We can talk along the way. I have much to tell you.” The old man got up and started toward the boat. Bernardo held up his hands.

“Wait. I stopped here to get something to eat before I set up my booth. Are you hungry enough to eat?”

Reese’s laughter seemed to come from another time and another place. “People my age don’t eat very much, but… Well, yes, I’ll eat with you.”

After a hasty meal of fish, cheese, and bread, the two began the short trip to the marketplace in Bernardo’s small fishing skiff. The water was calm and the only sounds came from a few seabirds and the oars as Bernardo rowed steadily towards the marina. Bernardo watched as Reese pulled what looked like an old weather beaten Bible from his knapsack. He opened the book and began to read.

 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.  But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

Reese closed the book and sat in silence for a couple of minutes.

“I was standing there when He said that.”

Bernardo was so stunned that he stopped rowing the boat. He stared at the old man’s face for what seemed like a long time, but could detect no signs of deception. “I believe you, Reese. But why are you here?”

“I will tell you more after we appear before the Lord. For now, I can tell you that there are several of us scattered around the world. We are Messengers, and we have been serving the Lord in a unique way since that day when He chose us. At first, I thought I would rather die than remain in this life until the Lord came back again. Then I realized that I was highly favored to be chosen to make this sacrifice.”

Bernardo began to row again.

“Tell me more about yourself, Reese. Did you always have the same name?”

“My father and mother called me Ariel. My name means, lion of God, and is another way of saying Jerusalem.”

“What was the Lord like? Many people today would give anything to have seen the Lord face to face.”

The old man leaned back in his seat and crossed his ankles. “Life was so hard in those days. If your heart was prepared, it was easy to see the contrast between His love and what the Jewish aristocracy had to offer. People who were trying to follow God’s ways were drawn to Jesus.”

Bernardo silently rowed for about twenty more minutes and they docked at the Village marina. It was necessary to make two trips to the marketplace in order to carry all the fish that Bernardo had caught. Reese took his usual place at the edge of the market and Bernardo quickly set up his booth. The marketplace was busy and it didn’t take long for Bernardo to sell most of his fish. He gathered up the remaining five or six fish and put them in a large bucket. He motioned to Reese and the old man slowly got up and walked toward Bernardo.

“There are some people I think you’d like to meet. If you’ll follow me, it’s not very far.”

They made their way through winding back streets leading to one of the worst appearing areas in the whole village. Bernardo knocked on the door of a small building, no bigger than twelve feet by twenty feet. An old woman answered the door.

Bernardo held up the bucket containing fish. “Hello Maria. We brought you some fish.”

Maria smiledSister Maria brightly. Her face showed years of troubles, but nothing could hide her delight at seeing Bernardo. She took his hand and turned to the inside of the shed. “Come and see who’s here, Dorothy.”

The other old woman made her way towards the door. “And not a minute too soon, I think. I don’t know whataged Dorothy we would’ve eaten tonight if he hadn’t gotten here.”

Bernardo and Reese entered the dilapidated building were the two old nuns had been living since the government took over the church and didn’t allow any preaching about the Bible. Neither one wanted to serve in a church that taught that anything goes… they preferred living in abject poverty.

Bernardo put his hand on Reese’s shoulder. “Sisters, this is Ariel, lion of God, Jerusalem, friend of God. We will all have much to talk about.”

Reese put his hands up. “Please, brethren. Always remember I am someone just like you.”

 

 

 

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Not Just the Good Die Young

Author’s note: Finally we come to the conclusion of FISH… LOVE… and MYSTERY. If the resthe authort of the story follows the path of the previous episodes, there should be a pretty satisfying conclusion. However, as in real life, life in The Village on the Edge of the Sea is unpredictable. Certainly, we’re looking for the good guys to win every battle, for all love affairs to turn out happily, and for everyone to go to sleep at night with full bellies in a safe place.

Our story has several different characters, each with their own part to play in the conclusion. This is a fictional work, but it’s influenced by what I see and hear in real life situations. Since I created this imaginary village, I’ve tried to maintain an idealized a scenario in contemporary setting. By the time you’ve finished reading this episode, you’ll see that we’ve moved from the idealized towards real life.

At THE SHORT STORY KITCHEN, our primary goal is to provide inspiring and entertaining fiction and anecdotes. The feedback we’ve received indicates that we’ve been doing a pretty good job. Another goal that we have is to provide for your card and gift sending needs, simply by using the several sponsors that we have scattered around our blog in various links and banners. We appreciate your support when you shop for your family, friends, or yourself.

We have a lot of ground to cover in this concluding episode, so let’s begin and I hope everyone enjoys.

 

 

Not Just the Good Die Young

It didn’t take long to get the sputtering and protesting Grossmont secured into a holding cell at the village police department. ” I haven’t done anything wrong. You haven’t got one shred of evidence I had anything to do with the mercury poisoning.”

When Carlos slammed the cell door shut, it clanged with finality. ” We don’t have time to stand here andthe cage argue with you Grossmont. Thanks to you, I have a lot more work to do today. Don’t get used to that nice cell you have now. Where you’re going makes this place look like a hotel room.”

Carlos went to the locked gun cabinet, retrieving his thirty ought six. It was his weapon of choice. His father had given him the gun when he was a young teenager. Carlos was an expert marksman and was extremely comfortable with this particular firearm. He grabbed three boxes of shells totaling seventy five rounds. “What kind of ammo do you need Alik?”

Alik opened his leathercold steel jacket, revealing a large pistol in a shoulder holster. ” This is a 45… maybe you have some rounds for it.”

Carlos handed him two boxes of shells while Eduardo and Jasmyne took down two 12 gauge shotguns from the gun rack. They each took two boxes of shells. ” Are we ready or what!” exclaimed Eduardo.

Carlos shook his head. ” We’re never ready. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into a shootout, but if it does, we’ll be as ready as we can be.”

The three officers and the deputized Alik climbed into two squad cars. It would take them about fifteen minutes to reach The Village Dunes resort area. They were about a mile from the long driveway leading to the clubhouse when they pulled off the road into a thicket of trees. Carlos motioned the others to his car. ” We should be out of sight here. Grossmont said that our guy comes to the bar every night. We’ll wait here until happy hour and then move in. Remember, he’ll be dressed in black, so we won’t have any problem picking him out.”

Alik checked his weapon. When he was sure that it was in perfect working order, he filled it with bullets. The others followed suit. There was nothing more for them to do except wait for the evening to come.

The afternoon wore on, but the time finally came for them to make their appearance at the happywaitresses hour. Carlos drew a diagram of the bar, marking the entrances and exits. ” Jasmyne and I come in the front door, and Eduardo and Alik will approach from the rear door. Be careful of crossfire. We don’t want to hurt any bystanders or each other.”

Carlos lead the way and parked his vehicle in front of the bar. Eduardo and Alik drove around to the rear door. When Carlos and Jasmyne entered the lounge, their suspect was immediately obvious.

Alik followed Eduardo through the rear door of the bar, arriving just in time to hear Carlos saying, ” Man in black. Come outside with us. We want to ask you some questions.”

The man spoke with a thick Russian accent. ” Sure. No problem.” He raised his hands and started walking toward the door. Suddenly, with catlike agility, he leapt to the side, flipping open his black suit jacket and pulling a medium sized automatic weapon from the rear band of his pants. He leveled his weapon and began firing. Jasmyne spun around and fell to the ground.

Apparently, the man hadn’t noticed Eduardo and Alik, which gave Alik a perfect opportunity for clear shot. BANG!! BANG!! Two shots rang out and the man in black pitched forward on his face, blood spurting from the base of this skull. Alik ran to him and checked for a pulse. ” He’s finished, men. Help Jasmyne, quickly!”

Jasmyne was lying on the floor with blood seeping from two wounds, one in the right chest, and another in her left thigh. Her eyes were open and she was moaning weakly. A small trickle of blood was coming from her mouth. Carlos grabbed several cloth napkins from one of the tables and tossed a couple of them to Eduardo. ” Apply pressure on her leg and I’ll apply pressure on her chest.” He handed Alik his cell phone. ” Speed dial eight and tell them that there is an officer down… Send paramedics ASAP.”

Eduardo pressed hard on her leg wound, hoping to staunch the flow of blood. Jasmyne cried out in pain. ” I’m sorry sweetheart. This has to hurt or it won’t do any good.” He suddenly realized that he had used a term of endearment, just as if their relationship had been more than just being partners. As the color faded from her face and her lips began to turn blue, Eduardo realized why the word tumbled out so naturally. ” Stay with us, Jasmyne. Couldn’t stand to lose you… You’ve got to stay with us.

As they waited for the paramedics to arrive, Jasmyne lost consciousness. ” Alik. Try to find some blankets and a stool,” Carlos shouted. ” She’s going into shock and we have to elevate her legs and keep her warm.”

It seemed like it took forever for the paramedics to arrive… in reality, it was only ten minutes. They inserted two large bore IV lines, adding fluids as quickly as they could be delivered. Eduardo tearfully watched as they loaded her onto a gurney and into the ambulance. Carlos put his hand on a Eduardo’s shoulder. ” She’ll be okay. She’s as sturdy as they come.”

As soon as the dead thug’s body was on its way to the morgue, the three men departed for the hospital.

 

 

Father Adrian was in theAdrian's garden vegetable garden, cultivating around the tomato plants. He heard someone coming up the sidewalk and saw the mail man holding up a letter. “It appears you have some important mail today, Father… all the way from Italy.”

” It’s a good thing this isn’t something I’m trying to keep secret, isn’t it.” Adrian took the letter from the curious postman.

” Aren’t you going to open it, Father Adrian? It might be an emergency and you have to read it right away.”

” And it might be confidential, so maybe your should we’ll check on some other people’s mail.”

The mailman huffed, pretending to be insulted. ” I can take the hint. I’ll just be on my way.”

Adrian walked to a stool next to the garden. He opened the long envelope. It contained two airplane tickets and a handwritten note.

Dear Adrian,
I would very much like for you and Bernardo to meet with me in Rome. I have enclosed airplane tickets so that you can make it in three days. Samuel and Pepe will meet you at the airport. I’m sure you remember what we discussed when I was there. I am hoping to lay the groundwork for a few different areas that I have some great concerns about.
God willing, I’ll see you all in three days.
Your friend in Christ,
Stephen

Adrian put the letter on his desk, wondering how he was going to find someone to cover for him so quickly. He made a few phone calls before he found a priest who was available. ” Now I’m going to have to find Bernardo, and that might not be too easy,” he said to himself. Staying dressed in his work clothes,he grabbed a hat and left the rectory, making his way toward the marketplace. When he arrived there, he searched for Bernardo’s booth. He wasn’t in his usual spot and a quick perusal of the many booths in the market place informed Adrian that Bernardo was not there. ” Looks like I’ll have to hike down to hisprophet home shack.”

Adrian made the forty minute hike down the beach, only to find that neither Bernardo nor his boat were there. ” He probably went fishing, but I’ll have to find him by tomorrow or leave without him.”

The next morning, he searched again.  There was still no sign of him at the marketplace or his shack.  “I don’t understand this.  He’s always around somewhere.  He’ll have to catch up later.”  Adrian began the walk along the beach toward the Village marina.  As he made his way, he was filled a strong sense that he was saying goodbye to this familiar shoreline.  “This is silly.  I’m not going to be gone that long.”  His rationalization did nothing to rid him of the impression of final departure.

The abused women’s shelter was on his way to the rectory, so he stopped there to find out if anyone had seen Bernardo.  Sister Dorothy answered the door.  “We haven’t seen him for a couple of days.  I wish we had.  I need to buy some fish from him.”

“I have to begin the drive to the airport.  If you see him, let him know that Stephen wants to meet with him.  I’ll leave his ticket on my desk.  I’ll try to phone when I get there.”

About thirty six hours later, Adrian disembarked the plane, carrying a small knapsack.  There was so much activity compared to what he was used to.  Rome, despite being an ancient city, was a destination for countless tourists, businessmen, and military travelers.

He spotted Samuel and Pepe waiting for him outside the passenger area.  They greeted each other with hearty hugs and started for the exit.  “I couldn’t find Bernardo…hopefully, he’ll catch up to us later.”

Pepe pointed to a maroon van parked near the exit.  “That’s our ride.  Put your stuff in the back.  I see you like to travel light.”  After a short ride to the Vatican, the trio made themselves comfortable in Stephen’s private den.  He joined them, carrying three large red notebooks.

“Take a look a these and tomorrow, we’ll all ride up to a mountain top lookout near here.  We can brainstorm up there.”

The next morning was dark and stormy.  Rain squalls were frequent and heavy.  As they made their way through the city, Stephen commented, “This would be a good day to stay in bed.”

At a traffic light, two cars pulled close to their van.  Stephen glanced at the occupants, and a flash of recognition went through his mind.  “DRIVER!…”

BOOM!  A large, fiery explosion interrupted Stephen’s command.

 

 

 

 

The hospital waiting room was filled with people.  Jasmyne had a lot of friends in the Village, and they were all concerned about her condition.  William Franc, Carlos, Eduardo, Alik, and Armando Garcia were huddled in the hallwaySofia Delgado.  Sofia De La Rosa was the nurse  attending to Jasmyne, and she approached the men.  “Jasmyne is awake and is asking for William and Eduardo.   She’s very weak and groggy from the surgery, so try to be calm so that she doesn’t get too excited.”

When they entered the room, Doctor Fortunato was bending over Jasmyne.  She was attached to several machines, and had two IV’s in her arms.  “It was touch and go there for a while, guys, but we think she’s going to pull through.  Don’t stay too long.  She needs complete rest for now.”

William and Eduardo positioned themselves so that the could each take one of her hands.  She turned her head toward Eduardo.  “I thought I was going to lose you.  I wasn’t upset until I realized I might never see you again.”

Tears formed in Eduardo’s eyes and began to drip down his cheeks onto the white coverlet.   “I just wish it was me, instead of you.  What would I do without you, Jasmyne?”

“Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.  I’ll tell you what…next time, it’s your turn to get shot.  We can have matching scars.”

 

 

 

 

 

Sister Dorothy and Sister Maria solemnly plodded along the beach leading to Bernardo’s shack.  They had been crying and their faces were set in grief.  When theyBernardo reached their goal, they saw Bernardo seated at his work bench.  He wasn’t doing anything, but looked as if he were waiting for them.  As they approached him, he looked up without speaking.

“They are all dead, Bernardo.  Adrian,Samuel, Stephen, Pepe…all dead.  They were killed in a car bombing yesterday.”  A sob shook Dorothy, and she paused.  “We need you to come back with us to the Village.  People will need you.”

Bernardo turned away from them, gazing out over the azure sea.  After a few moments, he turned back toward them.  “I will come.”

Dorothy took his hand.  “Thanks be to God that you are here for us.”  She released him to gather what he would bring with him.

When he was read, Bernardo smiled, a radiance coming from within.  “Be comforted.  It is God’s will that He allowed this.  This and much worse will happen.  It is part of the fulfillment of the prophecy.  Jesus will soon return.”

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