The Winds of Change – Part 2

THE WINDS OF CHANGE
♦♦♦ Part II ♦♦♦
The Pillars of Justice
Apocalyptic Fiction by Jason Youngman

Samson stood between the Pillars of Justice with arms outstretched and palms evenly rested upon its smooth surface. It was as though he was indirectly making the sign of the cross. The noisy chatter quickly came to silence. All the friars were gathered together in the main hall, which seldom happens, not even for funerals. Samson cleared his throat before he spoke.

“Pope Francis means to transfer his authority to Jason our Abbot, and unleash the devil’s offspring who remain imprisoned in the underworld so as to enact the final Judgement of God. This means three souls are to journey into the crypts below to ascertain the Keys of Solomon. We all know what lurks down there. Some of us may not make it back alive, or with sound mind. Yet it is our sworn duty to venture below, no matter the consequence. Lots will be drawn and those who are selected will immediately prepare for the descent below. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, let’s pray that the Lord our God will choose the appropriate men… Beginning to my left please approach the Alter in single file. Put your hand into the box and retrieve a single pebble without looking. Then hold it up for all to see. Those who obtain a red one will sit next to me. The rest of you will return to your duties, quietly!”

Samson scanned the room to see if there was any resistance to his command and found none. All were quiet and given over to pensive wonder. The sole purpose of their Order is to be ready for such a day, but few ever thought that the mandate would be enforced. Many of the friars had come to believe that the monastery was preserved for the sake of tradition, and for well to do officials who keep their hand in Church politics.

The friars spent most of their time in silence and had little need for spoken word. They were not disturbed or troubled by the outside world. The cluster was largely self-reliant. It grew its own produce and gave food to the poor. Due to the high elevation of its vineyard, and several generations of cultivation, the wine remained most in demand in all of Italy. Even the heads of the Italian Mafia forbid a single bottle to be exported outside of the Country. They called it sacrilege, believing that the wine comes from heaven and should only be consumed by true Catholics. No priest is permitted to deny them the Eucharist, even if they enter the chapel with blood on their hands.

Thomas took his seat next to Samson and held his pebble up to the window in order to give it a more thorough inspection. From this angle it appeared pinkish orange, but no optical illusion was going to get him off the hook. He belongs to a northern family of middleclass carpenters specializing in household furniture for the nobility. Here in the Order his primary responsibility is to restore the interior woodwork of the chapels. Most would say that his craftsmanship excels that of the other men but that is largely due to the fact that he likes to take credit for the items that appear most aesthetically pleasing.

“Are you afraid?” Samson asked, while holding eye contact with the confused looking friar.

“Who me? Not at all Director. I wouldn’t miss this for all the tea in China.” Thomas’s sarcasm spoke volumes for his frame of mind, but the nervousness in his voice said otherwise.

A small elfish looking creature appeared around the tabernacle calling to Samson. “The passage way is open, Father, and all the torches are lit.”

Samson blessed himself and nodded at the wee fellow who quietly crept away.

“Who in God’s name is that!?” implored Thomas, nearly dropping his red pebble.

Samson eyed Thomas with a laser beam of concentration, which nearly rendered the carpenter into a junk of wood.

“Tread lightly Thomas,” Samson warned, “these creatures don’t share our social etiquette, and will do you great harm should you provoke them in the wrong way.” Samson softened his face, and his eyes returned to normal.

Thomas tried to speak but opted for a few deep breaths instead. A minute passed by before he opened his mouth to ask, “Are these the spirits that protect and preserve Solomon’s crypt?”

Samson nodded his head yes before Thomas continued, “But Samson, how do we keep ourselves safe from them?”

Samson raised his finger to his lips, which prodded Thomas to seek clarity, “Are you suggesting that we ought to remain quiet?”

The silence became loudly clear to Thomas, who felt compelled to interpret its meaning, “By keeping silent we can increase our chances of survival while in the midst of these creatures…”

Friar Borgia slammed his hands onto Thomas’s shoulders, preventing him from jumping out of his skin. Then he proceeded to massage his back and neck before he recited his favorite philosopher. “Never was anything great achieved without danger.”

“You quote Machiavelli during a time like this!” exclaimed Thomas, while he rifled through his habit in search of his fallen pebble.

“The only danger around here is from you rubbing off the paint from your pebble.” Borgia took his seat next to Samson who couldn’t help himself from laughing.

“You two are like the sun and the moon. At complete ends of the spectrum. But I wouldn’t exchange either of you for any expedition. Borgia, how is it that you keep ending up on duty with Thomas?”

“That’s a no brainer,” smirked Borgia, “like St. Paul, who had a thorn in his side, I too have a pain in my arse.”

Samson wanted to keel over in belly laughter but kept face. He can remember when Borgia first came to the monastery in hand cuffs. The police didn’t know what to do with him. But Jason knew then and there that he belonged in the Order’s ranks, and made a deal with the authorities to keep him safe until the Orsini boys thought him dead or gone.

Samson shook his head convulsively and squeezed the arms of his chair to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming. He brought his attention back to the present with a deep breath that sounded like a dreadful sigh.

“What’s wrong Samson?” Borgia gripped his Director’s arm with concern.

“Oh no, it’s nothing, I just lost my frame of reference. Something pressing just occurred to me, so my mind went on a tangent there.” Samson covered his absentmindedness with cleverness.

“I’ll be back in a minute. Don’t go anywhere!” Samson demanded, and then hightailed it for the Sacramental wine, nearly drinking down a litre of it before he realized what he was doing.  He put back the bottle with both hands as a sign of respect for the sacrifice of our Lord.

“What got into him I wonder?” Borgia jumped over to the next seat and began to play with Thomas’s hair.

“Cut that out damn it! Don’t you realize the difficulty we are up against?” Thomas pouted, trying to cover his baldness with the few hairs left on his head.

“It’s all in your head. My mistake! The solution is on your head.”

“What do you mean?” Thomas was eager to find relief.

“For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent,” Borgia quoted Matthew chapter 10, verse 29.

“And your point exactly?” Thomas welcomed Borgia’s riddle.

“As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. – Which are not many might I add. – So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!” Borgia finished reciting the remaining verses.

“You are hilarious,” Thomas smiled, “and I’m not sure how you can find the sunny side to every single dilemma in life, but you do, and I love you for it.”

“See, we can face anything in this world, with the love of God,” Borgia spoke with complete assurance, filling his good friend Thomas with optimism.

About Jason Youngman

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.
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9 Responses to The Winds of Change – Part 2

  1. Good to see the story developing and I’m glad to know more about Jason’s order.

    • Thank you David! I’m presently editing the whole thing again. Trying to keep it in ‘past tense’ doesn’t come natural for me.

      • I understand. This is the kind of thing that gets easier with practice. The most important part is to be in a consistent tense.

      • Good to hear. Remaining in a consistent tense makes good sense to me. However, I was wondering if I might be able to break from that rule now & again in order to create a kind of fresh rawness of sorts. For instance, around the halfway point, the paragraph beginning with ‘You can tell that Samson…’, I include an abrupt change in the narrator’s voice for effect, which is written in italic. I’ve actually thought up this technique while in correspondence with you. I believe you suggested trying to give clues as to the hidden nature of the main character. Would you say this is doable and/or workable?

      • Allowing the narrator to speak in present tense in italics could work. You would be breaking a convention that a lot of readers expect, but if you do it deliberately and in an internally consistent way so the readers see and understand what you’re doing, then sure, it could work. It’s important to make sure it adds to the story rather than detracts or distracts. At the very least keep running with it and see how it plays.

      • David, your line of reasoning is as lovely as a Summers breeze. 😉

  2. inese says:

    Good to be back and find some new chapters here.
    I enjoyed the simplicity of choosing the appropriate men. It is low-budget, fair, and gives the God a full credit.

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