Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! I am Timothy Scott Purvis and you are the awesome lot still reading my work and I am forever grateful as a result! This week it is part five of my ongoing novella Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age. We’re nearly halfway through the entire story! I’m pretty sure you’ve been liking what you’ve been reading elsewise you wouldn’t be reading it, yes?
Are we all caught up? If not, here are the links to the previous chapters of the novella. Feel free to go check them out and make sure you are where you’re supposed to be in regards to the story itself.
Now that we’re all caught up, let’s get on with the show!
FOLLOWERS TO THE WAY
“With the national terror alert at the highest it’s been since just after the historical events of nine-eleven, all of America seems too terrified to even move. Matters were only made worse with the bombing of the F.B.I. headquarters three days ago. Agents are scrambling to find those responsible, but, so far, have yet to produce any leads. This lack of information has many very nervous about the immediate future,” the newswoman stated, seeming quite frazzled herself.
“‘How can nobody know anything? Aren’t they the ones in charge of our security!? I won’t even let my children go to school anymore. I’m too afraid they’ll be next. Anybody can become a target… anyone, anywhere!’” An anxious mother cried out in response to a reporter who was holding a mic from off camera.
“Sentiments like these are echoing all across the nation resulting in a crippling of the economy to practically a halt. The stock market is at its lowest averages since the depression of the nineteen twenties,” the newswoman continued once the view shifted back to her tired looking form. “With fear running rampant, experts are saying it doesn’t look like things will be improving anytime soon.
“Meanwhile, the tense standoff between nuclear powers continues as American troops enforce a new and extremely strict no fly zone along the Mongolian borders…”
Light flickered and dissipated into a pin-prick as the television shut off. A room full of silent leaders stared at the unit hanging on the far wall of the Oval office.
“Why my shift?” President Delaney wondered with an audible sigh.
She fiddled with an object on her desk and felt very much the weight of the world on her shoulders.
“Mister President, how do you wish to proceed?” The Secretary of Defense folded his arms across his chest and frowned.
“Mr. Nielson, I don’t want to do anything that’s going to put this nation in any greater danger than it already is,” she said, looking the man in his expressionless eyes. “Unfortunately, with matters progressing the way they are, we may have no other choice than to stage a preemptive strike against Chinese silos to prevent them from launching those warheads. We’ll give the W.U. a little more time for a diplomatic solution. If one fails to present itself, I want our bombers ready to go.”
“Mister President,” Nielson saluted and departed the room.
“What about the terrorist strikes occurring across the nation?” The Director of Homeland Security stood near the entrance and looked at the President.
“You’re the Director, you tell me. The F.B.I., The C.I.A., everyone is doing all they can and I’ve yet to be given a satisfactory answer to that question. All I can do is attack the enemy I do see, Jim.”
“Americans are going to want to know what we’re doing about this.”
“I want to know too. I’m open to any suggestions you may have.”
After a moment of hesitant silence, the Director relented with a nod. “I’ll… uh… have to get back to you on that.”
He turned to leave the oval office and shut the door behind him. President Delaney watched the door shut and folded her hands in front of her. “I’m sure you will.”
Elizabeth Delaney wished she could cry in anguish. However, she clenched her jaw instead and held the tears back. Leaders didn’t cry. They made the difficult decisions that had to be made. Whether they liked it or not. That line of thought didn’t stop her from staring into the bright white distance of the skies out the window, or the tightening knot brewing in her stomach that hinted at the terror slowly creeping up her spine.
Kylie stood staring at the television screen showing thousands of people making their way to a stretch of land outside of Minos, Montana. She smiled slightly as she saw the faithful traveling to the replicated holy relic of the Ark. Even if they hadn’t seen it yet, they still believed in its existence and in the builder’s attempt to recreate its greatness.
The war has bitterly reminded people about how delicate and precious life is. I just hope it isn’t too late.
The lounge was practically empty. Only a few people sat inside eating and watching the TV in the small room, which was why it was so easy for Kylie to sense the movement behind her. Casting her gaze subtly over her right shoulder, she saw Jason Sommer’s mother approaching her. The woman stopped just in back of her, prompting Kylie to turn to speak.
“Mrs. Sommers, how are you doing today?”
“Hello, Kylie,” she responded and folded her arms over her chest with a sigh and a smile. “I’m doing good. I certainly appreciate everything you’ve done for Jason these last few weeks. They’ve been very trying times. My husband and I are at our wit’s end. We’re contemplating just moving somewhere else. Somewhere far away from any city. Maybe we can still live a simple life.”
Mrs. Sommers came up beside Kylie and stared at the television where a panning view of faithful followers of numerous religions chanted praises to God. She looked down and tears filled her eyes. Kylie placed her hand on her shoulders. The taller woman slightly sobbed but still smiled down to the nurse.
“It’s been so hard on all of us since the attack. It makes you wonder if there even is a God. Look at everything that’s going on. Those people, they have such belief that somehow everything is going to be alright. I… I don’t know if I can feel that anymore. What’s this world coming to?”
“I don’t know,” Kylie replied with a frown. “Have you thought about traveling there, to see the Ark?”
Kylie nodded towards the television screen and then looked up at the woman.
“All the way out there? Oh, heavens no! I don’t believe in that nonsense. It’s just someone else capitalizing on hard times,” the woman huffed with a barely audible chuckle.
“Well, I’ve been thinking of going. We could all go together,” Kylie ventured, trying to be as casual and subtle as possible.
Mrs. Sommers looked at Kylie with a perplexed expression that seemed almost to hope that she hadn’t offended the nurse. “Are you religious, Kylie?”
“No. Not really. I just thought, with the times being what they are, that it may be good to be amidst a group of people who have hope for life.”
“Yeah. Like Heaven’s Gate had hope, you mean,” she sardonically replied and tried to smile. “No, Kylie, thank you. If you go, good luck. But I’m taking my family to Texas, where my parents and siblings live. I think that, if this is the end, it’d be good for us all to spend our last moments together.”
“Yes. I understand,” Kylie said and watched the woman walk back to Jason’s room.
Secretly, though, she wanted to tell her it was a foolish move. There was only death in that direction. She sighed and came to a decision. Turning her back to the lounge, Kylie went to prepare for the task at hand.
“But, Mom!” Jason cried. “What about Elisa!?”
He didn’t wish to leave the girl behind. Her mother had custody of her and had worked for the school. However, she had been a victim of that tragic attack which left Elisa waiting to see if her father would come to get her.
“There’re no buts, Jason. Say goodbye to Elisa. We’re leaving tonight. I’ve got to stop by my work and let them know that I’m leaving so you be sure to be ready when I get back,” his mother demanded and left Jason in the care of the nurses.
Fear etched its way across his brow. I can’t leave her! I can’t leave Elisa! Why won’t she understand? The tormented thought burned its way into his soul until he reluctantly found himself making the walk to Elisa’s room.
He found her sitting by her window gazing out to the cloudy sky. She smiled when she saw him enter.
“Hey, Jason. What’s up? You look sad.”
“Yeah, kinda,” he said and went to sit near her at the window. “Things are going too fast, you know.”
“Tell me about it. I just found out that no one can find my dad and that the state will be taking custody of me until he is found.”
Oh no! I really can’t leave her now! What will happen to her if I leave? Lines scrunched their way across his forehead as he struggled to come up with a solution. All he could do was reply lamely and fidget with his fingers.
“That really sucks,” Jason let a few moments of silence pass between them as he stared out the window with her. “Looks like my Mom is taking me to Texas. I… I won’t be seeing you again, will I?”
Elisa looked down and then back out the window. She didn’t allow the sorrow to show and only let the joy be seen.
“We had a lot of good times together, Jason. I… believe there will be other times… at least, someday.”
“Elisa… I… well… that is…” he stammered, doing his best to find the right words to tell her how much she meant and continued to mean to him.
“Shh… Don’t say anything. Just hold me…” Elisa said, seeing his anguish, and gripped him in a tight embrace that spoke volumes over anything words could say.
The two didn’t want to let go as the seconds ticked by and they knew then that this would be their last day together. Though, it didn’t feel real to either of them. It was all some sort of delusional dream, wispy and formless as the heat off the street far in the distance. Jason squeezed his eyelids tighter as he hugged her, cursing life for how unfair everything was.
“Hmm. Is this what they call, ‘a Kodak moment’?” A voice quipped from the open doorway.
Jason and Elisa both let go and turned to see Kylie standing with her arms crossed and watching them in a manner as oddly curious, like she was new to the idea of a hug and wanted to observe it in action. They rubbed the tears from their eyes and smiled pleasantly.
“There are no need for tears, children,” Kylie continued and entered the room. “I have a solution to your problems. Would you like to hear it?”
Kylie knelt before them and stared them both in their eyes. They paused and looked at one another, not sure of what to make of her sudden certainty.
“This had better be good,” Elisa started with a tear stained smile. “Because today doesn’t seem to want to be our friend.”
“Oh, I think you’ll both like it… If you’re brave enough, that is.”
“Wow, that’s a lot of people,” Alexander quipped from an open doorway to the balcony of the warehouse that overlooked the grounds that Uday owned.
Uday could only nod very slowly as his mouth hung open in disbelief. He’d never been on a holy pilgrimage, the one that all Muslims were required to partake at least once in their lives, before. However, he imagined that the scene before them was fairly representative of such a gathering.
“H, how many do you suppose there are?”
“Too many to count. And I don’t intend to,” Alexander responded and turned from the balcony doorway. “There’s too much to be concerned with right now, and so long as they stay out there, I don’t care how many there are.”
Alexander sat down behind a desk in the center of the main office as Uday continued to stare at the sea of people being kept back by a contingent of police officers. He shook his head and strolled over to the office window to view the space Ark being constructed in the berth below. It was fortunate that, so far, no governmental body was curious as to exactly what they were building within the massive warehouse that could have played host to a fleet of Boeing seven-forty-sevens. He was impressed with how quickly the ship was taking shape, especially given its size.
Still, he was haunted by a feeling that they were all running out of time. He sighed and nearly jumped as the office door burst open allowing admittance to one of Alexander’s associates. Uday placed his hand across his chest and breathed out a slight chuckle.
“Sirs,” the young man started looking at them both in nervous anxiety. “We’ve managed to locate most of the specimens on your list, but we’re still coming up short on all the species.”
The man gauged their responses having related the present status of gathering the DNA of all plants and animals on Earth. Which was more than an impossibly daunting task that no one in their sane mind would attempt. Alexander shook his head with a frown and leaned back into his chair. He viewed Uday and motioned his chin towards the man.
“What do you think Uday? Will our ‘research’ be complete without the remaining specimens?”
“Complete? No. Having all of them would be nice. But I understand that such a feasibility is fast becoming unrealistic. We’ll just have to make do with what we’ve got if worse comes to worse.”
“Right. Nick, just continue getting what you can,” Alexander stated and leaned back forward.
“Yes, sir,” Nick replied and turned to leave.
As he neared the door and grabbed the handle, he stopped to take the two gentlemen in with cautious eyes. Uday thought he looked a little paranoid, but didn’t say anything as he looked out over the Ark.
“Uhm, sirs? Why are we collecting these DNA samples anyway?”
“It’s a special project we’ve been hired to do. Nothing to sweat over. Whatever we can get. Don’t worry, we’re not conducting any cloning operations. So, if that’s on your mind, eliminate it from your thoughts,” Alexander stated matter-of-factly and didn’t so much as blink as he said it.
Oh, good thinking. Uday had been dreading that question, praying that it wouldn’t be asked. But then Nick came along and crushed those hopes. Fortunately, Alexander was as quick on his feet as he was a gifted and savvy businessman.
The young man nodded and left them to their own devices. Alexander smiled as he looked over at Uday who was looking a little stressed.
“Kids. You know, Uday, considering how far we’ve come in such a short time, I should think you would relax. The crowd outside isn’t going to spoil the big surprise. Let them have their fun. And, frankly, Nick doesn’t concern me. So, don’t worry about him,” he said and Uday nodded appreciatively knowing full well that, indeed, things were coming along nicely.
“I’m just impressed you managed to get those samples with so few questions,” Uday spoke considering the difficulty of that task.
“Money talks where science is concerned. It’s amazing what a little funding will accomplish,” Alexander replied nonchalantly.
“Indeed,” was all that Uday could say.
“It’s a religious symbol. It represents the salvation of mankind. Just look at that painting on the side of the warehouse over there.” The young woman being interviewed pointed at the end of the warehouse where a relief depicting Noah’s Ark adorned the surface. “To know that a replica of that is inside, I just can’t wait to see it. It gives us so much hope for the future. There’s only one thing I’m curious about, though, how are they going to get it out?”
How indeed. The man thought darkly watching the interview on his television. Anger built within him as he contemplated the fact that diehard Christians were now constructing a version of the Ark. It was appalling to him. After all the work he’d gone through to teach them a lesson, here they were practically spitting on his efforts. They haven’t learned a thing! Oh, it would make such a beautiful target…
However, he knew that any attacks off the list had to be authorized and approved by the leader. He shook his head knowing that permission for a bombing wouldn’t come. He kicked the TV as hard as he could and sent it flying in a heap of sparks and debris against the closest wall. He stood breathing heavily when his pager went off. Looking at the number, he dialed his contact.
“Yeah…? I see,” a smile crept across his pale face and formed a hideous grin. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
The receiver hadn’t even clanged on its cradle before he was already preparing for the onslaught. Thousands of people were about to receive what had been dubbed ‘Big Bertha’ and the man couldn’t wait.
Forget the White House! Oh, yeah, let’s go get ‘em!
“Are we doing the right thing?” Elisa inquired from where she sat in the back seat.
Kylie silently viewed the two kids and continued to drive down the dark highway. She knew that the authorities would be looking for them soon. However, she also knew it wouldn’t be long until it no longer mattered. His mother will know where to find us. Let her come.
“What are you fussing about?” Jason turned to Elisa and asked. “Your mother’s… gone… and your father’s nowhere to be found. My mom’s going to just kill me and lord knows what she’ll want to do to Kylie! But, don’t worry, Kylie, I believe in you and I won’t tell ‘em where you are! Even if they torture me!”
The woman smiled at the young boy through the rearview mirror. “I appreciate that.”
“So, this ‘Ark’ holds the answers? I mean, why are we going to Montana?” Elisa wondered and looked to Kylie.
“To pray, Elisa. To pray for a safe journey. Then, we’ll go home,” Kylie replied with a pained expression.
“Well, all right. But I just hope things don’t turn out bad,” she said quietly and looked out the window, not seeing much but the darkness beyond her perceptions.
Kylie didn’t speak as they continued their journey into the unknown.
Okay. We’re done for today. It’s going good, if I do say so myself. And I think everybody who’s reading is in it for the long haul. Which is good because we’re almost to the halfway mark! That should come next Friday! Do come back and enjoy the festivities of this weekly reader! It’ll be amazing!
~Timothy S Purvis
Since I’ve got your attention, why not head on over to my personal Amazon Kindle author’s page and check out all the other work I’ve made available for purchase over the last few years. I’m sure you’ll find something of interest to enjoy! Whether it’s independent short story and novella presentations or collection sets on the cheap! You’ll also find several novels and some poetry! Feel free to peruse and I know you’ll like what you find! Just click on my name and get a link taking you there straightaway! So, what are you waiting for? Just do it –> Timothy S Purvis
Also, if you don’t want to wait for this novella to be complete, you can find it on my page via this link: