Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! Welcome back to another week of Story Time With Tim! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and you’ve come for another novella that, this time, is actually really lengthy and pretty much the exact length that a novella typically is. Well, maybe not in the fifty to seventy thousand word range, but it is around 27, 100 words in length altogether.
So, what exactly is Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age all about? The original impetus for the story was a dream. A dream about how many different ages humanity has existed through. I once heard that humanity had witnessed seven ages. But, this is to say that humanity has destroyed itself seven times. As such, I wondered what a story would be like if humanity really was wiped nearly out into existence in every age. Which got me to thinking about religion and the history of the universe in general. So, I toyed with a lot of concepts with this tale and I think it worked out well, but can be dragged down here and there by the religious ideological overtones present throughout most of the novella.
This novella runs around thirteen chapters so I think that’s exactly how I’m going to post these offerings. It means each posting will be a little bit on the longer side, yet, we’re talking about some thirteen weeks here! That’s a good amount of time! Even so, I think that the story still will hold up so I hope you stick around for the entire thing!
Alright, no more beating around the bush. Without further ado, part one of Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age. See you again next week!
THE VOICE OF GOD
Radiant starlight from the sun, setting at the edge of the horizon, reflected off the myriad of shapes and designs that made up the central form of a technologically advanced city. Fifty years earlier, the city was one of brick, concrete, and steel mesh. Now, it was composed of advanced carbonites, composites, titanium, and moderate amounts of steel and concrete. Whereas once thick and gritty building sides would absorb the sun’s energy, heating their materials, new structures, with slick and glossy surfaces, bounced that energy back towards the heavens.
Not so long before, this city had been hailed as representative of the future of humanity. For all intents and purposes, it had lived up to the hype producing well respected leaders around the country and throughout the world, being the development hub of many commercially viable technologies, and capturing a communal atmosphere the likes of which could only be matched by going to the technological and hospitality capital of the world, Japan.
Of all the cities in the United States, this mid-western metropolis had earned a unique reputation around the world as being the complete and polar opposite of New York City. It was no wonder then that so many thousands flocked every year to marvel at the pristine sight of such a remarkable place.
A young woman viewed the scenery from a path near the apex of a mountaintop that wasn’t so much a mountain as it was a massive hill that gave way to the panoramic splendor of the blinding cityscape resting in the valley below.
Wind blew her red, shoulder length hair gently back behind her neck as she stood staring at the city, her thoughts drifting through history.
Isn’t it amazing how far humanity has progressed? she considered, her expression one of contemplation. To think man was completely dependent upon the mother Earth not so very long ago… staggering.
It was a universal truth that the intelligence of man far exceeded his common sense. Hence his fascination for the lunatic activities he was willing to engage in: bungee jumping, skiing down avalanche prone mountains, sky diving, deep sea diving, swimming with sharks, sticking his head into the mouth of a lion or some massive lizard, and a dizzying array of other thrill seeking measures of which man never quite tired. Even artificial constructs reflected his ego in the face of nature: skyscrapers, monuments, space stations, aircraft, and things that defied the very will of the natural world itself.
Man lives such a very fast life, the woman reflected. What speeds he endeavored to achieve. The vehicles he was willing to race: automobiles, aircraft, boats, balloons, and someday, it was easy imagining him racing spacecraft. Already, mankind was capable of speeds half that of light and was in the midst of preparing manned expeditions to the fourth world in the Terran system, Mars. Two-hundred years before, flight was considered a dream of fancy, one that could never be achieved. Yet, two men in Ohio proved that flight was a reality and readily achievable.
They just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Planes, trains, and automobiles… Oh my. And even space has witnessed the footsteps of this humanity… I suppose man will survive. I wonder, though, is God even needed anymore? A swift breeze caused her white uniform to flutter around the her body. Closing her green eyes, she concentrated on the cool breeze flowing across her freckled cheeks. She breathed in deeply and exhaled that breath very slowly. Her eyes opening with her slowly exhaled breath, she took in the final emanations of starlight disappearing beyond the horizon. It was truly a beautiful evening.
Tattered strips of a grey-white robe blew fiercely in the wind and whipped out behind the Arabic man as he stood upon the top of Mount Sinai. He didn’t remember how he got to be there, but he was so enthralled with the clarity of the night sky, he could scarcely bring himself to consider the fact.
The man held his hands heavenward and smiled. His right hand went to the long beard that reached to his chest. His left hand followed suit and he was stunned at the length of the beard as he patted the wild, disheveled facial hair with both of his hands. The smile faded ever so slightly, but returned in full force seconds later and was accompanied with jovial laughter. He had never had a beard of such length before.
“Uday…” A voice thundered causing him to stumble under the weight of its authority.
Uday found himself suddenly on his knees and looking towards the sky where a bright, white light filled his sight. The light was all encompassing and had no form. He was frightened in a way he had never been before. His body trembled as he dug his left hand into the thick dirt collected upon the stone surface of the mountaintop beneath his prostrate form.
“A, A, Allah?” his weak voice quavered as his right hand covered his eyes for the glare.
“It is I, thine Lord. I have summoned you here for a purpose…” Allah spoke, his voice less intimidating than a moment before.
“A, a, anything y, you command, Lord! I shall o, obey f, for I am your humble servant!” Uday bowed ever lower before the light, his face touching the dirt.
“As always, you are my faithful servant. Yet, it is your knowledge that I seek.”
“M, m, mine?”
“Fear not, Uday. You do bow yourself too low. It is true I am all-knowing, yet it is forbidden for me to interfere directly with humanity.”
“F, forbidden?” he questioned and raised his head from the dirt to cast his gaze slightly towards the light.
“Concern yourself not with this vexation, for the Lord will not destroy man again. It is by his own hand that annihilation will be wrought. You, Uday, are a man of science,” the divine voice spoke softly.
“I, I repent, Lord! I cast aside my arrogance in your light!” he pled and placed his face back into the dirt.
“It is knowledge that I seek. What would you repent for? That you have done My will? You know as well as any other, especially in this time, of the dangers inherent in man’s folly. For it is that war is once more upon his door.” Allah’s voice rose and fell in rhythm to his own words.
Uday looked up from the ground and sat back on his knees. Puzzlement and fear etched itself across his visage. Tiny beard hairs bristled in the night air as a look of consternation furrowed his brows and he stared into the deep blue night far in the distance. His lips dried and he felt he could barely breath.
“War?” the word came out in a terrified gasp.
“Of the kind none shall survive. Nations have declared war against one another, and their arsenal of nuclear warheads are poised to deliver their fatal strikes,” the voice related.
“…nooo…” Uday cast his eyes down to the ground and felt his body tremble in trepidation.
“You, my faithful servant, are to construct a new Ark. One that has never been seen by human eyes before. Into your mind, will I give the specifications required to bring into existence this vessel. It will take you into planetary orbit and there you will wait for one year until the fallout subsides and I have cleansed the lands and the seas and winds of all poisons, so that you and your people may return,” the voice of the Lord commanded.
“But, what of the radiation?” Uday inquired, continuing his submissive prostration.
“Concern yourself not of this for I will purify the lands.”
“I, I do not know if I can build such a ship, my Lord! Where will I build it? What materials will I use?” He cautiously questioned the voice with his eyes still downcast.
“Your assets you will liquidate and, with those funds, you will purchase the lands. Once you have found these lands, there you will find the ones that will assist you. With the assistance of these people, find two of every species of animal and plant and bring them unto the Ark,” the voice continued.
“Two of every animal? How will they fit?” he asked raising his eyes.
“Their DNA, of course. You’re a scientist and you did not consider that?” The slightly booming voice chuckled and then grew serious. “Go now, build the Ark.”
Uday Al Hassyn woke with a start, his eyes widening as he sat up, and tried to see through the dark. He rubbed his eyes with his right hand, adjusting his eyesight, and glanced over to see his wife sleeping peacefully. Slowly, he swung his legs over the bedside and absently rubbed his chin with his left hand. His hand stopped rubbing when he felt that there was no longer any beard.
That’s right, he remembered. I never grow my beard out like that. Hmm, maybe I should. He looked at the radio alarm clock on the small lamp table, at the head of the bed, and saw that it read five thirty-two a.m. It was an hour earlier than he normally awoke, but he figured that, since he was up, he’d use the extra time to grab breakfast before heading into his office at the automotive plant.
Uday worked as plant engineer for Orion Motors that was located at the city’s perimeter. It was a job he didn’t mind for a career. It gave him flexibility in hours, to be available for his family, and paid well. However, it wasn’t quite the career path he had expected to take given that he had attended the New Hampshire University of Advanced Sciences. He had dual-majored in Biomechanical Theorum and Technological Constructions MA, and went on to receive a masters in the later.
Though Uday could have taken a military assignment or a private industrial post, he chose the offer from Orion Motors to serve as their Senior Engineering Consultant which allowed him the extra free time to care for his children and spend time with his wife who he had met during his first two years at the University.
He never regretted any of his decisions since he led a content life free of conflict and uncertainties. Uncertainties were something that ran rampant throughout his family history. His father spent most of his life as an underpaid actor, his mother refused to work and spent a good portion of what little money his father managed to make at underground gambling houses. Yet both of them were self-proclaimed Muslims.
Adding to the chaos were Uday’s three siblings. His two brothers were always getting into fights and hanging out with the local thugs. Meanwhile, his sister was a raving alcoholic who slept around with every man she met. From what was understood through family circles, this sort of behavior wasn’t uncommon throughout the history of their bloodline.
Fortunately for Uday, he didn’t follow the lunatic patterns of the rest of his family and moved away from upstate New York to attend college in New Hampshire. He never looked back, but remained in contact with certain members of his family. Through his contacts, he discovered that one of his brothers had been sent to prison, that his other brother had gotten married and was working at a retail outlet, and how his sister had moved to Kentucky for some unknown reason. Further contacts had revealed that his mother had spent the family savings to cover her gambling debts resulting in her husband leaving her to move out to Los Angeles permanently.
Given everything that had transpired, Uday was happy being where he was and didn’t desire to introduce any more insanity than was necessary.
Stopping before the dresser mirror on his way out, Uday viewed his own reflection.
Ark… What are you thinking? he chastised himself and slapped his right hand against his face. You’ve got to stop watching those old biblical movies before going to bed. Why would God choose you to do anything? He pointed a finger at the shadowy reflection in the mirror. This ego trip has to end, my friend. Oh well, time to get ready for work.
It was eight thirty-five a.m. and classes were in the midst of changing. The hallways of the three story Beckwood Elementary, a predominantly white school in the heart of the city, were teeming with students heading to their next classes. Those who tried to congregate by their lockers, were quickly ushered to their destinations by the vigilant teachers keeping watch over them.
Despite the continued presence of the ever watchful adults, though, many students still found ways to stop and chat with their friends over issues such as what they were doing after school and which boys or girls were the cutest. Three such students found a small alcove at the top of a stairwell to stop and hold a conversation.
“Denise is coming over after school today. You two in or what?” Jacob Asterby, a young blonde boy of twelve, inquired.
Beside Jacob, stood Elisa Whitaker who had long brown hair drawn into a pony tail. The twelve-year old girl looked over to the remaining member of their group, Jason Sommers, who was a five-foot-five eleven-year old. He nodded in secret acknowledgment which prompted Elisa to voice their collective agreement.
“Of course. You just make sure that stupid dog of yours doesn’t get in the pool again!” she scolded, remembering their last foray into watery entertainment, and pointed her finger at their friend.
Jacob shrugged and made the same smug expression he always made when he wasn’t going to verbally agree on anything.
“Can’t make any promises,” he responded, prompting the rolling of eyes from Elisa and a smile from Jason.
“Don’t worry, ‘Lis,” Jason spoke, pronouncing her nickname with a long ‘e’ sound. “It’s hot outside and you’ll barely be able to smell the wet dog!”
“Ew!” Elisa replied to the laughing of Jacob.
Traffic moved fluidly throughout the streets, making it easy for the tan car to pull into the back lot of Beckwood Elementary. School was in session and classes were changing over to second period. Which was precisely what the driver wanted.
The driver pulled up to the back entrance, where one of the rear stairwells was located, and put the vehicle into park. With black-gloved hands, he turned off the car and took the keys out of the ignition. The man pocketed them as he opened the door and looked around the parking lot. No one else was around, which caused him to smile to himself. Through black sunglasses, he viewed the back exit to the building roughly six-feet from his position and closed the car door. Straightening out his leather jacket and running his left hand through his short hair, the man turned from the building and headed towards a sidewalk leading away from the school.
Several minutes later, he found himself a block away. He looked back and could barely make out the building through dense foliage that separated a massive garage complex from the school grounds. Turning back around, the man headed towards a small alleyway that ran between the garage and a convenience store. Once at the middle of the alley, he approached a blue car and got inside the vehicle.
Inside the car, he pulled out a remote device and entered a combination into the number pad on its face and hit a key that read ‘enter’. He started the car up and put it into motion, driving down and out of the alleyway. No one noticed the man or saw the vehicle pulling away.
Hello, what’s this? a patrolling security guard thought as he puzzled over a tan car parked beside the emergency escape exit out behind Beckwood Elementary. Fifteen minutes earlier he had been by the location and the car hadn’t been there. I swear, if these parents would just drop their kids off out front… unless it’s a teacher? Better check, just in case…
Walking around to the back of the vehicle, the officer looked over the license plates. With his left hand, he pressed a button on the CB mounted on his right shoulder.
“I need to run a make on a tan ‘Epsilon Runabout’. License number…” he said and continued to relay the information to the dispatch unit.
“Hey, hey, break it up and get to class!” Mrs. Lenshurr commanded the three students still talking at the top of the stairwell.
They had been discovered and moaned as the teacher motioned for them to continue to their classes.
“Oh, come on! I hate English!” Jacob groaned as Mrs. Lenshurr smiled broadly.
“If only I had a dollar for every time I heard that. But, you need to get that education if you wish to be a productive member of our society. Now, move it, mister.”
Bookbags slung across their backs, the students headed down the hall, intermingling with the horde still jamming the corridors. Jason watched Jacob turn towards the room nearest the stairwell, which was the dreaded ‘English’ class. He smiled at Elisa realizing that she would be happy at what small amount of torture could be delivered to the pompous young man.
“See you later, Jacob,” Jason called out as Elisa just dished out a malicious grin.
The two continued further on down the hall, since they both had the same second period class. They managed to get halfway down the hall when a vicious boom assaulted their ears and caused them, and many others, to fall to the floor. Glass, steel, plastics, and various other materials, charged through the air, propelled by a super-heated blast of hot air and the searing touch of fire.
There was hardly a chance to think, but Jason still reached out for Elisa as he watched her fallen form get blown further down the hall with a dozen other children. He could only watch helplessly as he found himself grabbing a steel bar that had appeared from nowhere and was firmly wedged into the floor. Seconds felt like an eternity as his world turned into a raging inferno. He closed his eyes against the chaos and felt bodies slam into his back.
Jason lifted his head and took in the scene of total hell. He saw the steel bar he held onto and where it connected to the internal structure beneath the floor. Then he looked beyond that to where the hall had been and saw a massive chasm that looked as if a demon, with an immense jaw full of razor-sharp teeth, had just taken a bite out of all three stories of the school and its basement.
Blood and body parts littered the floors and ground outside. The stairwell, where he and his friends had just been chatting, was completely gone. A cacophony of ear-piercing screams, wailing sobs, and tearful moans intermingled with the stench of charred flesh and metal byproducts. Tears filled his eyes as his vision blurred and the nightmare world faded into darkness.
“‘…fatal blast ripped through Beckwood Elementary at eight thirty-seven this morning…’,
‘…A third of the building is completely destroyed…’,
‘…all signs point to a terrorist attack…’,
‘…police and rescue workers are working feverishly at the scene of this tragic…’,
‘…all our prayers are with the families and students of Beckwood Elementary…’”
An endless void carried on for what seemed like an eternity. Until the voices, mingling together in a confusing collage of fragmentary sentences, entered into the consciousness of the young man. He tried to remember what happened. The truth was there.
“…Do you remember your name? Tell me your name…” a voice called out in the dark.
My name? Uhm… Uhm… Where am I? he felt himself say, struggling to name himself.
“…You’re hurt, but you’re going to be all right. Tell me your name,” the voice demanded, its authority difficult to dismiss.
It was feminine sounding, yet it seemed strangely masculine as well… commanding. His name came to him then.
Jason… my name is Jason. He mumbled and felt consciousness returning. The dark world slowly turned white and Jason opened his eyes. Knelt over him, was a beautiful woman with green eyes and shoulder length, red hair. Freckles dotted her cheeks and he saw that she was short of stature with an average build. Yet her aura seemed to glow and he felt safe in her hands.
A bump caught his attention and he realized he was laying on a bed in the back of an ambulance. An oxygen mask was around his nose and mouth and, for the first time, he understood the woman was a nurse. She reached down with her right hand and stroked his forehead.
“It’s ok, Jason. You’re going to be all right now,” she soothingly spoke.
He blinked his eyes and knew that he would be fine, just as she said.
Alright! Part One is done! Hope it was all that you expected it to be! See you next Friday for chapter two! I know you look forward to it in eager anticipation! See you soon!
~Timothy S Purvis
Since you’re here, why not check out my author’s page over at Amazon Kindle? There, you can get a look at numerous works I’ve already made available and follow my page to be kept up to date when I have new offerings available for purchase. Just click on my name to go straightaway to my site–> Timothy S Purvis
Also, not interested in waiting for the time involved to read each entry into the Holy Shards The 13th Age novella? Well, it’s available on my site as well! You can find it here for only a buck: