From Beyond

by Erik Scott Booth

     As a young child, Lilith Miller swore she would count, all of the stars in the sky. Each night, she would lay in the field, waiting for the suns to set, and once again begin, the daunting project. More times than not, her father would find her asleep, and would bring her back to the house, and put her to bed. Occasionally some cosmic event, such as an eclipse, a comet, or even the rare light display, from a distant super nova, would add fuel to her hunger, for more knowledge about the universe. Where others in her community looked up, and only saw stars, darkness, and the coldness of space, she saw wonder, creation, and infinity. To Lilith, space itself was the tapestry of God.

     One night, after Lilith had finished her chores, she looks up at the clear sky and glimpsed the streak of a meteorite, as she approached her favorite star gazing spot. It's speed, was slower than she expected. She closed her eyes and made a wish. It was the same wish, she had made, every time she saw a shooting star, the last two years of her ten years of life. She wanted to see her mother again. Though she knew her mother had died, she wished it any ways. Suddenly, there was another meteor, then another, then so many, they brightened the sky. Lilith stared at the sky with amazement.

     Lilith's father, Isaac Miller, sat in his living room, resting from a hard day of work at the sawmill. He put another log in the fireplace and stirred a pot of boiling stew. "Daddy! Daddy!" Lilith shouted, startling her father. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling." He walked out the door, of their wooden cabin, and to his amazement she was correct. Hundreds of shooting stars filled the night's sky, and as each passed, hundreds more replaced them. "You're right sweetheart. The sky is falling." He too realized, that their speed was slower than would be expected. "Odd though. None falling or burning up as you'd expect," he said. "Isn't it beautiful?" she asked. "Yes, it is indeed," Isaac said, as he sat on the cabins front step, next to Lilith. They continued to watch for several hours.

     "Time for bed Lilith," Isaac said, to his now sleepy daughter. "But it's not finished!" She retorted, a little disturbed. "Well yes, but is way past both our bed times, and it doesn't appear that the end is coming anytime soon," Isaac said. He helped his daughter to her feet, and they started inside when suddenly night became day. The land around them looked, as it would in the brightness of noon. They turned around to see a meteor, crash in the meadows, just on the other side of the tree line, with very loud booming sound. "Wow!" they both shouted, some what startled. Lilith shouted "Come, Daddy, let's go see it." as she ran towards the glow, that came from the impact sight, beyond the trees. "Lilith, No!" He yelled. It was no use, she was too excited to pay attention, and even if she had heard him, still wouldn't have stopped. "Too much like your mother," Isaac mutters to himself, with a smirk, as he gave pursuit.

     Lilith was the first to enter the meadow. On the far side was a crater, which was as wide as their cabin, and nearly as deep, as its tallest wall. Some of the dry grass had caught fire from the heat, but it was safe enough to approach from one side. Isaac caught up with her, though a little angry now. "Lilith! Don't go any closer!" he said in a stern tone. "But Daddy, please," she said. "Don't argue with me. Wait where you are," he responded. Isaac was always over protective of Lilith, after the death of his wife, Ariela. He put his hand on her shoulder, and they tried to peer over the edge of the crater, but the heat was too intense to get any closer. "We'll have to wait till tomorrow. It's too darn hot to get anywhere near it." Isaac said. Lilith looked at him with disappointment in her eyes. "Don't worry Lilith, it will be here tomorrow," he said as he took Lilith's hand, and returned home for the night.

     The next morning Lilith was up early. Her father anticipated, she might try to sneak out to see the meteor. "Stop!" he commanded, as she was about to step out the door. "Breakfast, school, chores, then, if you finish early enough, we will go see your rock from the sky." She was about to speak, when he added, "and don't argue." She knew better. Shortly after, her father brought the horse drawn buggy, then they were on their way to the town's schoolhouse.

     The school bell was ringing as they approached. The children, all dressed in identical clothes, entered the schoolhouse and took their assigned seats. Isaac dropped Lilith off and briefly said his good mornings to Abigail Fisher, Lilith's, and all of the other student's teacher. Before he could leave, the teacher struck up a conversation. "Did you see the meteor storm?" she asked. "All the town folk are talking about it. Some of the older women are saying it's signs, bad omens. Anyways, it was spectacular, or at least that's what I hear. I fell asleep early." she added. "Yep. One landed not too far from the cabin. Put the fear of God in us." he told her. "Incredible. I've never seen one on the ground. I'd love to see it." she said, with a smile, hoping for an invitation. "Perhaps," he responded, with a smile as well. Although he would never admit it, there was a definite attraction between himself, and the significantly younger teacher. Regardless, his daughter wouldn't approve. No one could replace her mother, and now, Lilith had become the most important person in his life. Isaac gave Miss Fisher a tip of the hat, then rode off to the sawmill.

     It was a typical day school for Lilith. Being teased by other children, was a daily routine. Whether in school or in town, other children tried their hardest to torment Lilith. Perhaps it was because school and learning was not a challenge for her. Although education in their community only went to eighth grade, she had already read, and understood, most of the books in the schoolhouse. She was down to the last thirty books, which were for the most gifted of students, and she still had three more years of school left. Her teacher, Miss Abigail, as she had the students called her, saw the untapped potential within Lilith. She saw in that little girl, her replacement, some years down the line. Miss Abigail gave her students their reading assignment for the night and dismissed school for the day. All the students noisily dashed out the doors of the school. "Good bye Miss Abigail," Lilith said as she ran past.

     When Lilith arrived home she immediately began her chores. She feeds the animals and gave them water. She gathered the eggs from the hens and gave hay to the cow in the pasture. Then she cleaned the house, and prepared one of the simple dinners, her father taught her. She could have easily prepared some thing more elaborate for dinner, but she wanted to finish quickly. By the time her father arrived home, she had completed all her chores, and dinner was on the table. She sat impatiently, as Isaac slowly enjoyed his meal, all the while, he was thoroughly enjoying her impatience. Once finished he said, "do the dishes, and we will go. I can see you're an eager beaver."

     Twilight was upon them, as the aqua sky faded to shades of magenta and brown. They came to the meadow, where the crater was located. They saw that the grass fires had gone out, with only a slight amount of smoke, rising from ashes. The meteor had cooled down enough for them to look over the edge, and after carefully assessing the situation, make their way to the bottom of the crater, for a better look. A short distance from the crater's center, Isaac spotted some thing, he couldn't quite understand. "What is it?" Isaac said out loud, as he stared at the strange round object, which was floating inches off the ground, glowing an indescribable unknown color, and varying in qualities between shadow and substance. "I don't know Daddy," Lilith replied, not realizing he didn't expect her to answer. He motioned to her stay where she was and crouched down to get a better look. Isaac noticed there were patterns of dark and bright, in the light that emanated from the surface of the two-foot wide object. It appeared to be in constant flux, of existence and non-existence. Isaac, still crouching, circled the sphere, trying to comprehend what he was seeing. Suddenly, the patterns of dark and bright light, reorganized into a frightfully recognizable pattern, startling Isaac, causing him to fall backward. He quickly got to his feet, grabbing his daughters hand, and swiftly exiting the crater. "Daddy what's wrong?!" Lilith asked confused. "Nothing!" he said. "There's nothing wrong. We got to get home. It's late." He wouldn't tell her what he saw in the orb. 'Tomorrow', he thought to himself, he would 'bury the damned thing'.

     The next day began like any other. Early morning chores, breakfast, then off to the school house and the sawmill. Isaac, still shaken from the past nights encounter with the mysterious orb, slept little. Lilith however, got a good nights sleep. "Will we go to the crater today?" she asked. "We'll see," he said, carefully avoiding a lie. The ride into town, seemed longer than normal, as Isaac's mind was still focused on the orb. Isaac dropped Lilith off at school, and on the way to the mill, he felt the urge to stop by the church. He wanted to speak with a Deacon, a Minister or even the Bishop, but he knew the consequences of such actions. There was always blame. 'Lilith' he thought. They would blame her. Her life hadn't been the same, since the passing of her mother. Tormented by the other children at school, because of her ability to absorb and retain knowledge, she was some what of a misfit. After all, she was always talking about the stars, and older people didn't like that. Some people are too superstitious, too quick to make judgment. He decided instead, that he would bury the object when he returned home from work.

     After school, Lilith walked quickly home. She had contemplated going to the crater before her father arrived, but to her surprise she saw her father, in the buggy, heading towards the meadow. She called to her father, but he didn't hear. She ran as fast as she could to the meadow. When she arrived, she found her father, shovel in hand, throwing dirt into the crater. "Daddy, what are you doing?" she asked. "Go back to the house," he replied. "Why are you doing this? You promised you let me see it!" she said, almost sobbing. Isaac approached his daughter and put a hand on her shoulder. "Lilith." he said. "some promises have to be broken. It's not to hurt your feelings, but to protect you. One day, I will explain this to you, but for now, go home." he said in a firm tone. "It's not fair, it's not fair," she said, with tears in her eyes. Then without warning, she ran down into the crater, leaving her father, paralyzed in shock for a moment. He gave chase, only to find her moments later kneeling before the glowing sphere. "Lilith! Get away from it!" he shouted. "It's alive," she responded. "Lilith, listen to me," he saw patterns of dark and bright light, begin to take form once again, on the surface of the orb. It continued to shift from a solid state to an intangible one. Before Isaac had a chance to react, he realized, he was once again staring at the inhuman, but unmistakable eye he saw last night. "Lilith." his voice almost a whimper. The eye slowly turned toward her. She saw it as well, but it didn't frighten her, as it did her father. She reached out her right hand, to touch the surface of the sphere. "No!!" her father yelled as he ran towards her. However, her hand and forearm had already passed through its surface. Lilith let out a scream of pain, and a moment later, her father pushed her away from the sphere. Frantic, he visually checked to make sure his daughter was uninjured. She seemed physically fine. He turns towards the location of the sphere, but it had vanished. He again turned his focus back to Lilith. She was crying. Isaac knelt down and hugged his daughter. A few moments later, she realized, she had something clenched in her fist. "Daddy look." she whimpered, opening her hand, to reveal a small black sphere. Her father tried to grab it from her hand, but before he could, it changed from a solid state to a liquid one and was absorbed into Lilith's body. Lilith lost consciousness in her father's arms.

     It was twilight when Isaac arrived at Abigail Fisher's cabin. He startled the teacher, with his frantic knocking. He retrieved Lilith from the buggy and placed her on a couch. Isaac told Abigail the story of what happened. The teacher, concerned, looked over the child but could find nothing wrong, other than being unconscious. "I'm not a doctor. She needs a doctor." Abigail said unable to hide her anxiety. "I know, but the questions and people talk. It could turn out bad, especially for Lilith." Isaac said. Lilith stirred for a moment. "Father? I want to go home," she said. Both Isaac and Abigail were relieved. "Sure Lilith, I'll take you home," Isaac said. "Wait!" Abigail insisted. "Isaac. You need to tell the Bishop what happened." "Absolutely not! And please keep the matter between us," he said, as he put his daughter in the seat of the buggy. "Isaac. This may be bigger than you and your daughter. This could be dangerous. The Bishop needs to know. You have to consider all of us. We are alone out here. The nearest settlement can't help us, and the others, they are too distant," her voice sounded desperate, and frustration at his stubbornness began to show. "No!" he interrupted, as he rode off into the dark.

     Lilith slept peacefully for nearly two days. Isaac decided, had she slept past Sunday, he would take her to the town doctor. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary. Lilith woke with almost no memory of the events, that transpired in the crater. She was the same happy child as before that day, but also, some how different. It wasn't any thing Isaac could put his finger on, at least at first, but some thing inside her had changed, and it grew with each passing day. Abigail Fisher recognized the change as well. A teacher notices such things, especially when Lilith began reading the remaining thirty books she hadn't read, in the schoolhouse, at four times the speed she had before. Her mind had become even more inquisitive and imaginative. Isaac also realized that she was requiring less sleep each night. Most nights she would pretend to go to bed, but spend hours tinkering with things. One night, during her stargazing, she produced a make shift spyglass, she had built, to better view the stars. Curious, Isaac asked how she had created it. "It was easy Father. I had seen a picture of one and used that as my guide. The eye doctor gave me the lenses." Lilith answered. She pointed the spyglass towards a red star in the sky and looked through. "It's not Strong enough. I'll have to build a better one," she said. "Why?" Isaac asked. "To better see the planets," she responded. "Planets?" Isaac asked, his eyebrows raised. "Yes, Father, there at least three as far as I can see. They are the points of light, that travel in front of the stationary background of stars. I like the red one. It's the closest and easiest to see." Lilith stated. "Why doesn't Ms. Abigail or any of the townsfolk talk about them?" she asked. "It's bed time Lilith. Let's go." Isaac responded, ending the conversation.

     It was two nights later when Isaac awoke to the sound of Lilith crying. He rushed to her room to find her sobbing in her bed. Her bed was filled with unfamiliar tools and hardware. She had obviously been awake for some time, working on another of her creations. "What's wrong Lilith?" Isaac asked, as he sat beside her whipping the tears from her eyes. "I miss Mother!" Lilith sobbed. "I know. I miss her too," he said, comforting his daughter. "No! You don't understand. I could hear her voice, talking to me! Then she was gone! It was like before." Lilith whimpered. Isaac was shocked. Lilith had never had a nightmare that actually frightened her. "Lilith, that was just a dream. You fell asleep while you were, while you were staying up way past your bed time, and you had a bad dream. That's all." Isaac reassured her. It was then, that he realized that his daughter's emotional state, was more of sorrow, than fear. Isaac cleared Lilith's bed of all the clutter, tucked her in, and spent the rest of the night, in a chair, in the corner of the room.

     The next day, school went as usual. The taunting of the other students increased, with the exceedingly unusual behavior from Lilith. The taunting phased her less than the occurrence the night prior. Lilith could still hear her mother's voice in her head. Even with her father's reassurance, she knew she had not been dreaming. Once school was dismissed, Lilith stopped by the eye doctors office and returned the lenses from the small spyglass she had built prior. Since she had taken such good care of the first ones, the doctor allowed her to burrow the two largest ones he had. She would use these to build a better spyglass. While on her way home, Lilith heard her name called from the wooded area to the side of the road. Startled, she froze. The voice sounded familiar. The bushes rustled, and Lilith took a step backward. Then several boys and girls from school stepped out, from behind bushes and trees, and began to hurtle stones at Lilith. Several struck her, causing her to fall down. The children ran away, realizing if they injured Lilith, they would likely get into trouble. Lilith brought herself to her feet and ran down a path, that led to a pond, close to her farm. She sat beneath a tree, looked over the waters, and placed her head on her knees and cried.

     After dinner, Lilith went to her room and put together the pieces, she had collected for her improved spyglass. This time, she created a primitive tripod, to secure the spyglass to. By the time she was finished, it was getting late. Isaac, reluctantly agreed to accompany her for a short viewing of the stars. It took Lilith a few minutes to find it through the spyglass, but she was able to view the red planet. Her favorite. "Father look!", Lilith said. "You can see it much better now." Isaac looked through the spyglass and agreed. He was even able to see that the planet had two small moons. "Lilith, it's late. Let's go." Isaac requested. "Alright, Father," Lilith said. Once home, Isaac tucked her into bed. "Good night Lilith, no bad dreams," he told her with a kiss to her forehead.

      In the early morning, Isaac awoke from his sleep. He realized, he heard noises in the cabin. He heard the sound of Lilith's voice in her room. But he quickly realized Lilith wasn't alone. Another voice emanated from Lilith's room. A familiar voice. His heart skipped a beat. As he approached Lilith's room, he could more clearly make out her words. A woman's voice spoke of the one God, and the day of his coming. She spoke of how all things eventually become part of God, even after death. Isaac quickly opened the door to Lilith's room and found his daughter in her bed. Sitting in the chair, he had slept in the previous night, was his wife, Ariela. She smiled at him and said, "from death, comes life." The dream ended. This time Isaac was truly awake. His heart was pounding, and he was short of breath. There were no noises in the house. Lilith was asleep in her bed. He returned to his bed and lay there the rest of the night, awake. There, he would relive the pain, of the loss of his wife, all over again. He would fight back the flow of tears, until dawn.

     The next night, after the suns set, Lilith was ready for more stargazing. Tonight would be a late night, as it was the weekend, and there would be no school, the next two days. "I'm ready, are you Father? Lilith asked. Isaac grabbed a blanket and an oil lamp. "I'm ready," he said with a laugh. They walked to their spot and set every thing up. Lilith set up the spyglass, as her father reclined on the blanket. She scanned the sky for the celestial objects, that so fascinated her. "Look, Father, I see the bright planet," she said. Lilith presented her father with a map of the sky she had drawn. The map showed the locations and movement of what Lilith believed were planets. "I thought there were only three planets, but I think I've found a fourth!" Lilith announced. "I'm pretty sure it's farther away. I'll keep track its movement to be sure. Isn't this exciting?" she asked. "Yes, it is. How did you get so smart?" Isaac asked curiously. His thoughts reflected on the incident with the meteor. She laughed out loud, as she continued looking through the spyglass. "Father. Do you think Mother is out there? In Heaven?" Lilith asked. Isaac choked a little on his answer but maintained his composure. "Yes. Your mother is with God." Isaac answered. Lilith didn't respond and stopped looking through the spyglass. "Some things wrong!" she said. "What do you mean?" Isaac asked. "Look," she responded. He looked toward the sky, where she was looking. "No. Not there. Here." she pointed to the spyglass. He looked through and he saw Lilith's red planet. However, it didn't look the same as last night. The planet, still red was surrounded in part by a ring of bright yellow light, giving the appearance of a halo. Isaac looked away, puzzled. "What is it?" Lilith asked. "I don't know," he responded. He had a sinking feeling. They continued to watch for the next hour. During this time, the ring of light faded out of existence. Then the red planet began to slowly faded until it was no longer visible. Both Father and Daughter were confused at what had occurred. They sat on the blanket for a while, continuously checking the spyglass and the sky, but the red planet never reappeared.

     "Father," Lilith said. "I know you don't believe me, but the other night, I told you I could hear Mother speaking to me. Well, I heard her again last night," she said. Her father gasped. The memory of his dream flashed through his mind. "She told me she would see me soon," Lilith added. Stunned, Isaac quickly gathered their belongings, and they returned to the cabin. Isaac sat Lilith on a chair in the kitchen. "Lilith. What else did she say to you?" Isaac's voiced trembled. "A lot of things Father. She said she can see the world through my eyes, and how perfect the world was for life. Mother also spoke of God, and being a part of God." Lilith answered. "Did she say anything else?" he asked. "Yes, Father. She said that everything ends. Darkness and destruction are just the means of transformation, and it should not be feared." Lilith replied. "And," she started. "And what?" her father asked. "From death, comes life," she responded. Isaac dropped a cup he had been holding. To him, the cup appeared to fall in slow motion and shattered even slower. The sound of its breaking sounded surreal, as his brain began to sharpen his senses. He could hear his very breath, as well as his daughters, and his own heart beats. Isaac grasps Lilith's hands. "Lilith, you are never to speak of this again! Do you understand?" he shouted. "Yes Father." she whimpered, out of fear and pain. Isaac realized the strength of his hold on her small hands and the extent of his fear. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry," he said. He pulled her close. "Bed time," he said to her. Tonight, he would share her bed, but for Isaac, he knew sleep would never come.

     Today is the day of worship. There is no school for Lilith and no work at the sawmill for Isaac. Normally they would ride into town and attended church. However, today is not a normal day. Every thing that has happened, troubled Isaac. They spent the day at home, doing chores, and taking the time to pray. The day passed quickly. After dinner, Isaac sat for a while, by the fire place, and kept a watchful eye on Lilith. As the stars came out, Lilith grew eager to look through the spyglass for the red planet. Isaac could tell she wanted to go. "Father please, can we go, just for a short while?" There was still a little light out and Isaac felt more comfortable doing so now, rather than later. "Yes, but only for a very short while," Isaac answered. Isaac didn't bring a blanket. He didn't plan on staying that long. Lilith visually scanned the sky, but the red planet was nowhere to be found. "You won't find what you're looking for." said a female voice from behind them. Startled, father and daughter turned to see Ariela standing there. "Mother!" Lilith shouted as she ran to her. Isaac staggered backward in shock. He could not find words. "You said you would come," Lilith said. "Yes Lilith, I did," Ariela replied. Ariela knelt down to embrace Lilith. Isaac regained some composure. "How? How" he sputtered. "How am I here? It is God's will that I am here at this time." Ariela answered. "What?" Isaac asked, still in shock. "He is coming," announced Ariela, looking skyward. Isaac built the courage to retrieve his daughter. He looked Ariela in the face. Every thing about her was how he remembered his wife. Isaac pulled his daughter from her grasp. He reached forward and touched Ariela's face. It was absent of warmth. Inhuman. Isaac recoiled inside, as what sounded like thunder, echoed from a near by valley. Then, if only for a brief moment, there was silence.

     The ground across the lands trembled, as if in anticipation of what would happen next. Ariela pointed to the stars. "He is here!" she exclaimed. Light from the stars began to distort, as a mirage does in the desert. The ground benighted their feet continued to tremble, and a loud low pitched sound, emanated from all directions, piercing their bodies, perhaps their very souls. "What is happening?" Isaac yells. Suddenly, a brilliant amber line of light, sliced the Heavens, from the eastern horizon to the western horizon. It was not a straight line, but rather a jagged one, which more resembled a crack in the fabric of space, hundreds of miles above the planet's equator. Pouring from the crack, deep yellow light flowed, but not as normal light, more with the consistency of liquid. Then the rift in space opened, thousands of miles wide, revealing a realm beyond comprehension.

     The mind of man was never meant to behold eternity. Isaac instinctively covered Lilith's eyes. He felt himself slipping into madness. The light from the rift illuminated the land, with an other worldly glow. The rumbling continues to grow louder, as near by trees shake, and the ground beneath them convulsed. He couldn't turn away, even though he knew the consequences, even as an immeasurable form began to birth itself into the universe.

     "Oh my God!" Isaac gasped as he watched in terror. His mind reeled. "No," Ariela replied. "This is mine. The god of death, darkness, and destruction. The one god. Nameless, timeless, older than this universe itself." Ariela said, with a smile on her face. Isaac stepped away from her. This was not his wife, even in spirit form, he realized. This is not even the words of a human. Her eyes were black and lifeless. "Who are you?! What are you??" Isaac asked. He continued to position himself between Lilith, and the apparition. Ariela smiled. "The answer is complicated." she coldly responded. "Try!" he demanded. Ariela was silent for a moment. "In the most basic of terms, you, your kind, are like the fish, that live in the water. If your hand were to pierce the surface of the water and scoop one out, what do you think goes through its mind?" Ariela asked. "I don't know! That's not even relevant to the question!" Isaac shouted. The sky began to grow darker. "It's completely relevant. Don't you see? The fish has no concept of the world beyond its own." Ariela explained. "When you place your fingers upon the water, your finger tips are in their world, while the rest of you, is in yours. The principle is the same, I am still a part of a greater whole. I am the part, that pierced this realm. I am here to experience and taste this reality. To continue the search for fertile ground, for there is no more, on the other side." Ariela continued. Some thing in her words frightened Isaac, although he truly did not comprehend her explanation. "Your world is just one piece of a new beginning. The cycle will continue, as it has since before the birth of this universe, as it will long after it is no more. Until a time when every thing and every dimension has become a part of the One. You will also become!" Ariela's tone became more menacing. She leaned forward and whispered into Isaac's ear. "From death, comes life."

     Fear overcame Isaac. "Father, what's wrong with Mother?" Lilith ask. "That's not your mother! I don't know what that is! But that is not your Mother!" Isaac replied, stepping away from the thing, that had been posing as his dead wife. He lifts his daughter to his chest, and slowly backed away from the Ariela apparition. Another step backward, then he ran as fast as he could, for the paddock. There, he grabbed his mares reigns, and they rode towards town. Isaac looked over his shoulder for Ariela, but she had vanished. It had become darker than before, Isaac noticed. He saw the light in the town houses ahead. As they approached, he looked to the Heavens. Through the gaping tear in the sky above, a flood of black liquid poured down towards their world. Isaac noticed that the liquid was layering high above the planet's atmosphere. He also notices the light from the rift, and from the stars was fading. Towards the west, an entire section of the sky was completely blackened.

     The sound of the church bell echoed through the night. Isaac knew the town folk would be there. They would be seeking, guidance and salvation, as most would suspect that the Apocalypse was upon them. Upon dismounting his horse, he heard the prayers from inside the church. "Can Bishop Jeremiah help us?" Lilith asked. "I hope so," Isaac answered in a manner, hoping to conceal his doubt from his daughter. Isaac realized Abigail was right, as they entered the church. He should have told the Bishop, what happened in the crater to Lilith. He decided he would make right, that lapse in judgment. Isaac also knew that the others would need to be warned as well.

     "On this thirty-second day of July, in the year of our Lord, Three thousand one hundred and eighty-one, your children, a united people, live together on this world, we have named Ammann. We lift our heads in praise of your goodness. God almighty, we have also gathered here, to ask for forgiveness, of our sins and transgressions." Bishop Jeremiah led the congregation in prayer. "Although Lord, you are not here in body, you are here in spirit. We accept that if it is your will, that the destruction of the body, will purify the soul for eternal life, we give ourselves to you freely, and without reservation" the Bishop continued. Isaac led Lilith through the crowd, that had gathered into the modest wooden church. Every man, woman, and child tightly fitting into the cramped space. Many were weeping, as the ground moved beneath them. Most had their heads bowed in prayer, but the few that were raised, their fear could not be concealed. "Bishop!" Isaac called out. The Bishop turned and pointed towards Lilith. "She brought this upon us!!!" Bishop Jeremiah yelled, over the din of another quake. "She has always been an instrument of evil!!" he continued. Abigail lowered her head when Isaac's glance met hers. "We know of the demon she conjured, the night of the falling stars. Take her from our presence. She has no place here." the Bishop demanded. Lilith began to cry at the Bishop's words. "This is not an act of God, nor the Devil!" Isaac shouted. "That which threatens us is from beyond the stars. We will not survive this, that is certain, but the others need to be warned!" Isaac said. "It is forbidden. Technology is of the Devil!!" the Bishop asserted. "Then God can judge me." Isaac retorted.

     Isaac and Lilith ran from the church. The Bishops prayers continued in the background, obscured at times, by the intermittent ring of the church bell and the rumble of the ground. Father and daughter approached a large abandoned well at the edge of town. "What are you doing Father?" Lilith asked, still sobbing. "I have to warn the others," Isaac replied. "Others?" Lilith asked. "Yes. Those that brought us here," he said. Isaac walked around the large well, pressing upon every third brick on the rim. The sound of mechanical gears moving echoed from deep inside the well, and a bright light emanated from within. "You see Lilith, we came from a world, where we no longer belonged. There was no place for us there, any longer. The world had changed, and evolved around us, while we remained unchanged. Ammann is not our peoples birth place. We arrived here five years before your birth." Isaac explained. "Lilith. I need you to be brave for a moment. The well is going to open, and some thing large is going to come out." Isaac said. Then the walls of the well separated into four equal sized pieces, as the ground they set upon pulled them apart, revealing a large shaft. A rocket, gray in color, slowly emerged from the shaft, rising nearly as tall as the trees. Painted upon the rocket were the letters UW-RP. A few yards away from the well, a holographic control panel, flickered into existence, in mid-air. Isaac and Lilith approached the hologram. It was a simple display with only two words. Emergency Launch. Isaac looked towards the Heavens and knew time was short. He passed his hand through the holographic image. 'Emergency Launch Initiated. Thirty Seconds, Twenty-Nine, Twenty-Eight' a disembodied female voice announced. "Father, who is that? What is this thing?" Lilith asked with fear in her voice. The countdown displayed upon the holograph panel. "Lilith, take my hand! We need to get away from here!" Isaac insisted. "But," she started, however, her father had already grabbed her, and pulled her to his chest, and ran as fast as he could. 'Twenty'. Isaac reached deep inside for strength. 'Fifteen'. While running, he noticed a large rock formation jutting from the ground. "Ten'. Isaac ran behind the rock. "Lilith, put your hands over your ears as tight as you can," Isaac commanded. He did the same, and using his body, pressed himself and Lilith, firmly against the rock. 'Five, Four, Three, Two, One'. Blinding white light, and the roar of thunder, a hundred times louder than normal, came from the rocket. The ground trembled even more violently, all the while, Lilith screamed. Smoke filled the woods, as the rocket rapidly accelerated skyward. Coughing, Isaac emerged and watched the rocket leave the atmosphere. The blackness floating in the sky, closed the hole through which the rocket escaped moments later. "Thank God... Thank God." Isaac muttered.

     Isaac knelt down and embraced his daughter, as they witnessed the last gaps of unobstructed view of the stars close. Then there was absolute darkness. "I love you, Lilith," he whispered to her, as he pulled her closer. "I love you too Father. I'm scared," she said tearfully. "Hush, hush." he comforted her while wiping tears from his own eyes. The air began to change, both in taste, and smell. It became some thing unfamiliar. The wind began to violently gust. In the darkness, Isaac and Lilith lay upon the ground, and looked up, as lightning began to streak continuously across the sky, illuminating the blackness, that has enveloped their world. Each lightning bolt, revealed an image of the blackness, with its fluid like movement, as father and daughter witnessed its downward motion. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!" Lilith cried out in terror. Without warning, the air pressure changed, and they felt a heavy weight, come upon their bodies, as well as an unbearable pressure against their ears. Their last breath, pushed from their lungs, in agony, before they could even begin to scream. Death fell from the sky, in black liquid form, its thunderous weight shattering mountains, and fracturing the land in every direction.

     In the darkness of space, the UW-RP rocket approached its destination. It's cameras and sensors, still focused on Ammann's surface, which was now black in color, etched with veins of glowing magma. The planet appeared to be devouring itself. The reconnaissance probe maneuvered itself into position and activated the planetary systems massive ring shaped Trans-Spatial Inversion Conduit. It transmitted its recorded data, through the artificial wormhole, to the blue planet, now visible through the devices vortex.

     Three days later, leaders of over a hundred inhabited Confederation worlds, converged on Earth, in the city of New New York. An emergency assembly session, headed by the Director of Home World Security, Joseph Adkins, convened within the mile high translucent tower, known as the United Worlds Building. Those in attendance would return to their home worlds, forty hours later, never truly understand the scope of the events in planetary system 19237. Just enough details were provided by the Director, to make off world leaders wonder, whether the destruction of planets Ammann and Menos were the result of an unknown natural phenomenon, or caused by a deliberate attack, with an unfathomable weapon. The Director knew that there would be those, in the assembly, that would suspect Earth of testing a new weapon, on remote, scarcely inhabited, and expendable outposts, such as Menos and Ammann. In fact, his narrative further encouraged this belief. It was his way, of ensuring Earths continued dominance within the Confederation. Leaders from the other worlds would have to accept whatever facts the Directors office provided. Shortly, they would discover, travel through systems 19237's Trans-Spatial Inversion Conduit had been disabled, or rather could only be activated with the correct security codes. Without two connected conduits, a fully stable wormhole between each, can not be created, and the destination wormhole becomes completely random. Travel from the nearest inhabited Confederation world, at the fastest sub-light speed available, would take hundreds of years, to reach the planetary system. A fact which, to the Directors pleasure, ruled out prying eyes.

     Director Adkins felt little remorse, at the Confederations decision to allow colonization along the edge of explored space. Earth based scientist have been long aware of anomalous long range sensor readings, from that region, that defied the basic laws of physics. Amongst the high-security scientific team, there was speculation as for the whether or not those laws applied consistently across the entirety of the universe. That didn't matter now, as all scientist's eyes were focused on system 19237. The lives lost on Ammann and Menos were unfortunate, but a calculated risk. To the Director, their deaths were the second productive act, that either the Amish or Mennonites had ever performed, for the Confederation. The first being, when they gave up the land rights held for more than a millennium, for transport and two terraformed planets, to begin their new lives, unregulated by the Confederation. Land was the most valuable and scarce commodity on the home world. Shortly the Office of Home World Security would release a report, which would shroud the occurrence in mystery, while simultaneously enabling the implementation of additional security regulations. Never let a tragedy go to waste, the director thought to himself.

     The Director sifted through now a months worth of data at his workstation. Multiple holographic screens provided analysis, from teams in orbital observation ships. He then glanced at two, continuously changing images on two of the displays. The videos appeared as time lapse images would, with its images appearing in motion unrealistically fast, but the screen indicated it was a live feed. Adkins sat back in his chair and pondered the significance and the impact of what had been discovered. He wondered how it would shape the future. His future. He closed his eyes and tried to piece together the answers, but more importantly comprehend the questions, that had been pulling at the back of his mind, since the discovery. His thoughts shifted to atoms, the building blocks of matter, with their nucleus and orbiting electrons, which were not that dissimilar from planets, and their moons. Stars have their planets, and the galaxies have their stars. All similar in many aspects. But what stuck with him was perspective. If one were able to view a single atom of a grain of sand, they would realize that from an atomic point of view, the distance between atoms is vast. However, the collected atoms of the grain of sand, to a person's perspective, has no perceivable distance between them. The same can be applied on a galactic scale, with galaxies from a distance looking compact, but when viewed from within, the distance between stars is staggering. Director Adkins then pondered, what form the universe would take if viewed from a sufficiently distant vantage point if such a place exists. Is all that exist, just a part of some thing larger than can be perceived, he wondered. Would we see the face of God? The Directors attention returned to the two holographic displays of spectral analysis feeds. He stared in amazement at the transformation of what had been Ammann and Menos. A third monitor displayed a probes launch from an orbiting ship to the surface of Ammann. He marveled at the beauty of the un-enhanced visuals, and more so when the probe was within meters from the ocean like surface. The glow of an indescribable unknown color. The light that emanated from within, having both qualities of light and darkness. But mostly, bewilderment on how such a thing could exist, and not exist, at the same time in this universe. This thing, that was unrestrained by the very movement of time itself, compressing days into seconds, within its expanding membrane. The probe returned to the ship, after collecting its sample. It's cameras recorded the rapid gargantuan cellular division, beneath the translucent surface of Ammann. The probes initial scans of the sample were relayed to Director Adkins. He analyzed the data and considered its implications. Adkins is a man, whose genius, was only surpassed by his desire for power. His life had been spent acquiring power or obtaining the tools and knowledge, that would lead to that end. An endless desire, that could never be fulfilled. Today, he knew, that would all change. Then slowly, he smiled, as a dark revelation entered his mind.

     There are things, in the universe, beyond the scope of mankind's comprehension. Existences that predate time, and forces that move outside of our perception. There is that, which lurks beneath the subatomic, and the form, which cast a shadow over all creation. Infinitesimal and finite, we struggle to bring relevance to our existence, and understanding to that, which was never meant to be known to us, or at least in our current evolutionary development. The measure of our awareness is but a grain of sand upon the endless shore of time. With each tide, there is either the accumulation of more grains or the washing away of all that has been learned. Some times, in extraordinary circumstances, the receding tide uncovers knowledge, better left unknown. One day, mankind will be ready, after countless eons, after transcending the physical form, to one of pure energy, then transcending again to pure thought. But today is not that day. Mankind is closer to amoeba than to ascension. However, one man has partaken of the fruit of forbidden knowledge. A man who believes his destiny is to storm the gates of Heaven, touch the face of God, and in doing so, become a god himself.


© 2017

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