Gravity

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(Photo by Ben O’Sullivan on Unsplash)

 

My life changed the day I pulled myself into the Library. It was a place I never wanted to visit. Life was a daily grind of launching and landing. The struggle to keep the lack of gravity from dominating my life. Just like everyone else I knew. The struggle was very real. The day began with releasing the belts that held me in my bed so that I could sleep without worrying about floating to the ceiling or out the window and out into space. 

Then breakfast. Tubes of “Cap’n Crunch” squirted into my hungry mouth, trying to ignore the longing to have a plain old bowl of “Cap’n Crunch” in a bowl with milk and the satisfying sensation of the actual Crunch. Still, I wondered at the very existence of that thought. No one ever experienced that. This was life on Earth. A weightless existence. We all made the best of it. 

Every day, began the same. The effort to get from point A to point B. Home to work and back again. Everyone’s strategy was different, and much of it depended on how much money you had saved up. How wealthy you were dictated how much ease you were able to experience as you went about business every day. 

The most basic was the cable poles that lined the streets. First I would open the front door of my apartment and hold onto the door frame. Concentration is everything when attempting to move from point to point. And, yes after a bit you gain a certain amount of expertise in this. You either learn to move or you eventually give up and hide in your home and never come out. Thousands of people in our city give up every day. The insane asylums are overflowing with those that give up. But, I digress. Back to the door frame. 

Using my arms like the elastic bands of a slingshot I launch myself at the pole outside the apartment building. There I can grab the cable that winds its way through the city until I reach my office. The hard part is when you encounter people going the other direction. Yes, certain cables are designated for one-way traffic. But, many people let their frustrations get the better of them and they ignore those rules and just grab the first cable they come to. 

Then there are those that can afford a propulsion backpack. As I am pulling myself along on the cable I can look up and see the wealthy powering their way to work effortlessly and in their cocoon of privacy afforded by their backpack. 

Then there are the EMTs in their helicopters rescuing those that lost their grip on the cable. Or those daredevils that use the ancient launchers from the tops of their homes or apartments. A dangerous proposition as you actually need to have a computer app that will calculate exactly what kind of power to use on the launcher and at what angle and elevation to set it to reach your destination. It definitely requires a daredevil mindset to use those. These daredevils keep the EMTs busy. And, we lose a few every week as their launchers malfunction and send their users into orbit and out into space.

As I pulled myself along on the cable a sense of desperate hopelessness rose up in my heart. Why was living this way? Why was there a sense of something better nagging at the back of my mind? Wasn’t life always this way? 

Then I saw him.

About a mile ahead I saw a man walking down the sidewalk all by himself with a big grin and a to-go coffee cup. And, he didn’t have a hold on the cable. He was just walking as if his feet we stuck to the ground. I had heard that there were a few companies working on shoes that would stick to the sidewalks. But, the costs were thought to be too prohibitive as most thought the sidewalks would need to be electrified so that the shoes could be magnetized…or whatever it would take to make that work.

I was dumbstruck. How was that possible? That man was unaffected by the lack of gravity. Then he was gone. He WALKED around the corner. Unfortunately, I had stopped on the cable and received a quite nasty push from the woman behind me. So I continued on my way to my office. 

But, I never made it to the office. I saw a building I had never really noticed until this morning. “Public Library”, the dingy unlit sign proclaimed on the outside of the red brick building. There was that nagging at the back of my mind. Something that said that there was something new, something containing hope. Something tells me that life wasn’t meant to be hopeless and the same-old-same-old. My heart screamed to follow the nagging. So I launched myself towards the two large oddly barbershop poles on either side of the doors of the Library. 

I managed to grab the pole to the right of the double doors. Each door was made of solid dark stained oak and had large smiling faces carved into each door. The faces looked like the face of that mythological character Santa Claus that my father used to tell me about as a child. All those old stories about Santa and a man from the dark times named Jesus. I forgot about those stories. Probably hadn’t thought of them in years. Years and years of struggle to stay on the ground and not drift off into space. Just a life of survival and the mind-numbing hopelessness of the sameness that kept going like a bad dream.

As I opened the door a warm blast of air escaped and washed over my face, and light streamed out the growing gap between the two doors as I pulled with as much leverage as I could gain from the pole. Until I finally stood next to the door.

I was standing.

There before me were rows and rows of shelves filled with books and people standing around reading books…not held down by anything. 

I walked into the library and came face to face with the Librarian. 

“Hello, Derek. Welcome to the Library. I am here to answer your questions and to lead you into all understanding into the land of Gravity. Out of the darkness and into the light. Out of the hopeless and into the New Creation. My name is Jesus. 

You have been called out of a world that has lost its anchor. I am the anchor. I am the Way, The Truth and the Life. There are weight and gravity in the Kindom and a future. Life without Me is without gravity and lost. Most of the people outside those doors are stuck in their ignorance and have no idea they are lost and drifting off into nothingness. 

You have been called to take the message of gravity to those lost and clueless about their lostness. It won’t be easy as those lost can’t see the hope. Indeed, most won’t even see you. They can’t see beyond their hopelessness. There is a kind of comfort to being lost. Especially when you don’t know you are lost. 

Welcome to the New Creation. Welcome to Gravity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twelve “The Lewis List”: Reconnaissance

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Doc Savage and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks of Lester Dent, Inc.
Characters copyright © Lester Dent or their respective owners. All Rights Reserved.

(Derek’s Note: Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! May you find the peace that comes from His Presence as you gather with family today! A reminder that I am posting these “Rough Chapters” as a blessing and to solicit comments and critique. Please feel free to comment on my blog. And, if you like my writing, you can purchase my first book “Those that Remain” on Amazon Those that Remain )

 

Chapter Twelve – Reconnaissance

Arthur’s dinner suggestion had no sooner been spoken when Mr. Slowey appeared at the door and began to herd everyone to the bar. Arthur’s statement that he was buying was due to the fact that he had brought enough food to the Eagle and Child to feed – seemingly – the entire city of Oxford.

“The Mother recognizes the unique nature of the situation we all find ourselves in and would like you all to know that she is going to take care of everyone’s needs. And, that starts this afternoon with a small token of her appreciation for your participation.”

Mr. Slowey’s wife could be heard in the kitchen giggling and gossiping with Margaret Carter…who volunteered to help cook for everyone…as she prepared the large Lamb roast and all the trimmings. And, Mr. Slowey was pouring his best bitter, scotch ale and stout.

Tecumseh sat at a table close to the door with The King, while the Inklings and William Stephenson stood at the bar watching and talking about Arthur as if he were Aslan Himself. Sherlock and Challenger were deep in a discussion with Bass Reeves about the uneasiness they were feeling with their current situation and the seemingly nonchalant attitude of Tecumseh and Arthur. Joan of Arc sat alone in the center of the room sipping a small glass of Kopkes port as she seemed to be in a state of shock over everything that had taken place. Doc Savage was nowhere to be seen, with his absence noticed only by Bass Reeves.

Doc Savage quickly pulled Mr. Slowey’s great coat over his shoulders and his slouch hat over his head to disguise his remarkable features and disappeared out the back of the kitchen as everyone was trying to get comfortable. “I’m not hungry.” Thought Doc. “There is something going on here that I can’t put my finger on. All my instincts are shouting at me, and I’m not going to discover what that is from inside the pub. And, anyone with a desire for stealth can only mean trouble. Obviously, our unique group has been assembled for a purpose. And, we are being monitored. But, by who? And, what is that purpose?”

Doc emerged out the back of the establishment and turned into the small alleyway. Quickly Doc walked down the alley in the opposite direction from St. Giles street and worked his way around to the north of the pub to a position behind a butcher shop at the end of the block to observe the street. A quick once over showed nothing out of the ordinary. People strolled down the street window shopping or attending to appointments at the various businesses along the street. Many of the buildings held shops on the ground floor of the building and apartments above, and this is where Doc began to focus his attention. Slowly and methodically he began to scan the upper story windows along the street. Some of the windows were obscured by the branches of the trees that lined the street. His instincts were telling him that the most logical place for someone to observe the comings and goings of the Eagle and Child would be from directly across the street in the small pharmacy. And, his patience and observational skills paid off as the glint of a pair of binoculars showed behind the open window of the second story window. Then down the street a few houses down from the pub stood two men dressed very much in a style that Doc surmised to be out of place. They were dressed as longshoremen on the streets of a University town. Most of the people walking the streets were of a much better class of citizen as they were the wives of the professors and staff of the various Colleges that make up the University of Oxford. “Why would two dock workers be standing around on the streets of Oxford?” Doc thought to himself.

Doc walked slowly bending slightly to disguise his height, until he came to the pharmacy. Slowly he turned to see if the two men almost directly across the street were watching. But, their attention was on the front of the Eagle and Child and not their compatriots hiding place. Taking a quick glance through the front windows of the establishment, Doc jumped up and grabbed the edge of the second story window of the room next to where he had seen the binoculars. The window luckily was open and Doc was in the room quickly and silently. He was in a converted store room for the pharmacy as shelves of bottled remedies and supplies lined the walls and a number of tables in the middle of the room designed as work tables for the process of filling prescriptions.

Normal background noises of a home and the quiet hum of the business below accentuated the clinical smells of the chemicals in the room. The door to the room was closed and to the right and where it should lead to a staircase. Doc assumed that the other room was directly across the hall. He removed the great coat and the hat placing them on the window sill. Slowly turning the knob to the door, Doc heard a muffled voice coming from across the hall…speaking Serbo-Croatian. Doc intuitively knew that he was listening to a native Bosniak giving instructions to the men across the street. He hesitated for a moment as the realization of how he would know that after being alive for only the last hour or so, followed by another thought that told him that Doc Savage was the master of more languages than any man currently alive. The thought continued and became louder and insistent, “It’s how your life was written Clark. You have many skills and strengths that you and the others will need to draw upon in the future. Be strong and courageous!”

Doc glanced out the window as he prepared to open the door and noticed that Bass Reeves was now standing outside the pub and had his eyes on the two men down the street, and had gained the attention of the men.

Doc realized that things were going to escalate quickly. So he opened the door and came face to face with the man in the other room. He was a small man in the process of removing a headset attached to a German Army Torn.Fu.d2 portable radio set. He had set up his radio in what looked to be the chemist’s bedroom. The radio set sat on the floor underneath the window sill. Laying on the beside table was a Luger pistol, and leaning against the wall next to the window and radio was an MP 40 machine pistol.

The man took one look at the giant bronze man and froze, which Doc took advantage of and struck like a cobra. Doc’s left arm reached out and grabbed the man’s neck and shoulder applying precise pressure to the baroreceptors on the the right side of his neck and he dropped as dead. Doc caught the man and laid him on the bed unconscious.

Doc stuffed the luger in his pocket and draped the machine pistol over his shoulders then looked out the window, and instantly jumped through the open window with the luger in his hand, shouting a warning to Bass Reeves who would know nothing about automatic weapons.

The two Bosniaks were reaching for their MP 40 machine pistols that had been concealed beneath their greatcoats. Bass Reeves glanced up and to his left as Doc catapulted from the window, and saw the movement of the two men his curiosity had been focused on in his peripheral vision, and muscle memory took over and the Colt Peacemakers materialized in his hands and steadied upon the two targets.

At that moment is seemed as though someone kicked an ant’s nest.

 

 

 

Chapter Five: Lester Dent

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Chapter Five

Lester Dent…

(Derek’s Note: Lester Dent (October 12, 1904 – March 11, 1959) was an American pulp-fiction author, best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels about the scientist and adventurer Doc Savage. The 159 novels written over 16 years were credited to the house name Kenneth Robeson.)

Lester Dent – author of the famous pulp-fiction series Doc Savage – finished describing his famous character for his next installment in the series – The Submarine Mystery – and leaned back in his chair. “Good old Doc!” Lester thought. “But, I think you need to change. Just like I am growing old, my old friend. It’s time for you to grow older also. No longer will you be completely infallible. You need to become more human, same weaknesses, same propensities.” Lester leaned forward and reached out to the page with Doc’s description; …giant of a man. Trained from birth to be an expert in multiple disciplines. Deductive reasoning of his mind trained to a razor’s edge, body trained beyond Olympic standards. His bronze skin stretched over perfectly proportionate muscles, Doc stands closer to seven foot than six. Close napped hair a shade darker bronze than the skin framing golden flake eyes. An imposing awe inspiring giant of a man…

Lester began to pull the page from the typewriter. But, as his fingers touched the page the words began to vibrate and bounce upon the paper, bulging on the page pushing themselves off of the paper. With a definite popping sound they jumped into the air and ignited. Slowly the words began to swirl before Lester’s eyes, gradually picking up speed and scrambling themselves until the only thing visible to Lester was a miniature fiery multi-colored tornado. As the tornado began to pick up speed Lester stepped back in amazement not sure of what to do next. And, as the last syllable of his question disappeared from his mind, the tornado began to advance towards the bookshelf. Eventually, the tornado stopped before the bookshelf causing the books and knick-knacks to rattle and jump where they had been carefully placed by Lester’s wife Norma.

Lester stepped closer to the tornado to get a better view of what it was doing, and realized that the tornado was whistling. But, not just whistling, it sounded like Doc’s trademark trilling sound. Lester watched as the tornado began to pull books from the shelf and opening each one the words were “peeled” from the pages. Faster and faster the books began to fly from the shelf until volume after volume were suspended in the air while their words were stripped from the pages.

“Norma!” Lester called somewhat weakly. “Norma, come here please! I need you to see this! Please hurry!”

Lester could hear Norma walking quickly down the hall as one final book came off of the shelf, and he realized which books the tornado was pulling from the shelves. These were all the Doc Savage novels – his first editions – Lester could see that the words were gone. Each book was now empty! Every printed word of every first edition of his novels had been consumed and now were spinning in the ever expanding kaleidescope of a tornado right before his eyes.

Norma came around the corner from the kitchen almost at a run and almost ran right into the tornado, which startled her so much that she screamed at the top of her lungs and slipped on the throw rug in front of the book shelf. This caused the tornado to disappear, and sparked action on Lester’s part to keep his wife from falling on her derriere.

Lester dragged a struggling wife over to his typing chair, set her securely upon it, and turned to look at the heap of blank books on the floor before the shelf. A sense of incredulity set itself upon Lester and he whispered to himself. “My Books…”

 

 

 

If Your Presence . . .

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As a writer I have found inspiration just about everywhere. As I walk through life, events, incidents, people, places, dreams, all spark the creative urge to write. I don’t write to chronicle events, rather I write stories. I find them more satisfying and — it seems to me — stories written well have more of an impact upon the reader to convey feelings and complex interactions between people. Probably, the one most crucial factor that catalyzed my desire to write was my Mother. My Mother was the one that instilled a passion for reading. This in turn birthed the urge to write. A publisher’s representative once made a comment to me that I seemed to be well read and that it was reflected in my writing. I would have to agree with that. All writers that work at their craft — like musicians — are influenced by the writers that came before us and that we enjoyed reading.

This is not, however, about writing in general. But, about the one source of inspiration that guides my writing. The Holy Spirit, and a particular encounter with Him in the wee hours of the morning.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, lots of things in life trigger ideas for stories. I think if I tried hard enough, I could imagine a story out of just about anything, regardless of how mundane. At times I make a game out of imagining — postulating — a story line from something completely ordinary. Building a world around a complete stranger standing in line at the supermarket, just because they look unique. Sometimes I get myself in trouble doing that, as I tend to get lost in those thoughts and my wife often has to nudge me to get me to come back to the world my feet are actually planted in.

The stories The Holy Spirit brings are much better and definitely not mundane. His imagination dwarfs mine. So when I am half awake in the mornings — the time He likes to share His ideas the most — I have learned to pay attention and write down what He gives me. So I have learned to depend upon Him for ideas. Most of what I have blogged recently has come from Him. I am not afraid to admit that I am in some ways taking dictation, rather than creating something completely new. I don’t consider it plagiarism as He is giving it freely to me. In fact, I think He would be disappointed if I didn’t write down what He was sharing with me. Of course much of what He gives me, He expects that I will use my own imagination to illustrate and amplify what He is showing me so that others will be inspired. It’s how He has gifted me.

But, sometimes the morning visits are not about the writing. Sometimes it’s just about His Presence.

Monday May 6th 2013 dusk, I was talking with a friend about writing. She felt as though The Lord was calling her to write down the things He was giving her. So I told her to talk to Him before going to sleep and give Him permission to wake her in the night to talk. Since, this is often when The Lord wakes me to talk, I thought it might be a time He could connect with her.

So it was natural later that night, as I prepared to go to sleep, to do the same. So I told The Lord — I invited Him — to wake me if He wanted. And, I added; “I won’t complain”. This part was important to me, because in the past when God has awakened me, I would complain about missing my sleep. “Seriously!?! Can’t we do this in the morning Lord!?!” I would whine. So it was important to me to make sure He understood that I wouldn’t complain this time.

Tuesday Morning May 7th 2:57AM; I felt the familiar nudge to wake up. So I woke up and asked Him what He wanted to talk about? Did He have something for me to write? Was there something important that He wanted me to understand?

Silence.

“Okay Lord, then I’ll just pray”. So I took a few minutes to pray and tell HIm how much I Love Him. I was fully awake. So I sat on the edge of my bed and continued to pray for a couple of minutes and eventually ended up standing next to my bed with my arms reaching to the ceiling in worship.

That was when The Holy Spirit overshadowed me. It is not easy to describe the feeling of being overshadowed. The emotions are fully engaged and aware of every physical sensation. I know what it is like to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Being baptized in The Spirit is a joyous thing. But, this was different. The Power of the Holy Spirit was not so much emphasized as was His Presence.

I had not turned on the lights in the room and the moon was not up. So it was very dark and quite cold. I was standing there in the middle of my room in my underwear, but I was not uncomfortable. I only felt a warm and comforting peace that lifted the weight off of my feet. Almost as if I were not standing on the floor. The Peace was profoundly intimate and passionate, but not in a physical sense. It was a basic primal familiarity that comes between A Creator and His Creation. It was as basic as that.

He did not say anything. I didn’t see visions or images of any kind. I just stood there and was enthralled, captivated, overshadowed, breathless, between laughing and crying at the same time. It seemed to be the essence of falling in love for the first time exponentially magnified.

When I lowered my arms the glowing arms of the clock said 3:47 AM.

I sat back down on the bed and basked in His Presence. I was wrapped up in Him.

Eventually, I went back to sleep. I got up to prepare for work, remembering what had happened just a few hours before. I wondered, “Do I write this one down”. What did it mean?

I know what it meant. It meant that He was with me. Simple, uncomplicated and unpretentious. The only important thing about that morning was His Presence. He just wanted to be with me. No other purpose. Just to be together.

It reminded me of the following verse in Exodus chapter 33.

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

To set this in the proper perspective, I want you the reader to understand what I have come to understand. There is no heavy theological explanation for this. From what I can tell, God just wanted to be with me. His Presence was profoundly alive in my room. I am not anything special because of this. The sense I received is that this was something He desires for all of His Children. And, in discussing this with my pastor and friend Larry Lane, we agreed that the key to all of this was the willingness — the invitation — for God to interrupt my sleep. To inject Himself into my life.

I had a very clear thought related to Exodus 33: 14 & 15. I could understand why Moses said that. Once you stand overshadowed by His Presence, everything else seems to dim. The cares of life no longer matter. If He is with you all else in life gains it’s proper perspective. No matter what you are going through in life. When He comes and fills you, overwhelms your being, touches the most central part of your heart with His Presence, life in this world trapped in the bubble of time, is revealed for what it is — transitory. He is the reality of life. His Presence sets all things in order. It is no wonder that Moses, favored by The Presence of The Almighty, would understand that life without His Presence is dicey at best, but amazingly victorious with it. It made no sense to Moses to proceed unless The Presence went with him.

Again, the key to this was the willingness to be interrupted. To allow Him to step in to the room whenever and wherever so that He can just be there with us. Are we willing to set aside our plans, our daily routines, our friendships, our wounding’s, our needs, to make time for Him? I will never be the same after Tuesday morning. I realize I am now spoiled. It would be great to spend all my day standing in His Presence filled with that Peace. But, I know my job is to paint this picture. To describe His eagerness to desire my presence. That is the other side of this coin. In the midst of all of this, I realized that as much as I wanted to be overshadowed by Him. His desire for me was far greater.

Oh what an incredible gift we have in Him.

I exhort you. Evaluate your day. Find time to invite Him to surprise you. Invite Him to interrupt you no matter where that might be. Maybe He will share a funny story with you, or illuminate His Word from the Bible with His unique perspective, or maybe He will just sit there and be with you.