Beneath the Desert – Same Day
Could Jesus help her? Was he just a man? Now long dead? Or was he what he claimed to be? Could he really be the Son of God?
Sonti couldn’t wait to find out. She wiped her face once more then palmed the unit and re-entered the A.I. She headed to the files and raced up and down the racks looking for a particular file. She was looking for the beginning. She had seen the title before, and of course, she was aware of the myth, but she wanted to see it for herself.
She found the file at the end of the third row. Sonti still couldn’t believe it. ‘The Garden of Eden’. She read the file title and information. ‘The Garden – First Victory – Tree of Life lost – Garden Lost Forever – First soul taken.’ She quickly set her marks and timers and entered the file.
Sonti waited for the mist to clear as she entered the file. The side scrolls were listing off the technical data concerning the file: date, temperature, names of flora and fauna.
She passed through the light mist into a breath takingly beautiful plain. Flowers and trees bloomed in explosions of color. Red, blue, violet, green, yellow and every other hue splashed across her sight. A slight breeze (five mph her periphery vision registered, WSW) made waves in the sea of color.
The view panned left to right. The colors and details in the file were so clear that she once more became absorbed in the sights, sounds and smells she was experiencing. The flowers gave such a sweet perfume. And the air was so pure, so rich. She felt herself more alive in this file than she had ever felt in her own world.
Trees at the far edge of the plain (10 miles distant) indicated a forest. The trees towered over the rolling field as she made her way toward them.
The trees were huge. Size, type and age all scrolled past her vision as she passed through the first ranks of the stately sentinels. Spaced widely apart, their branches nearly covered the sky, but enough light fell to the floor of the forest to allow dense, passable foliage. The canopy formed by the tree branches was a hundred feet over Sonti’s head. Everywhere she looked, she saw the same geometrical form. Long hallways of lush undergrowth towered over by huge, stately trees, diminishing in height and clarity hundreds of yards away from her point of view.
Sonti stopped the file and restarted a few seconds back. There was something unfamiliar in the sky. What was it?
Starting again, she panned overhead and paused the file. Staring at the sky, Sonti realized that there was no sun. Sonti quickly restarted the file at the beginning and looked at the sky above the plain. She had been so taken by the beauty of the flowers that she had missed the sky. It was light without being bright. Light was evenly dispersed all over. There were no distinct shadows. Even the forest floor was receiving light. Sonti shook her head with wonder as she continued.
The forest gave way to a setting that could be best described as a garden. Pathways wandered through groves of trees and clusters of flowers. Birds were in abundance here. The species and count scrolled past on the side of Sonti’s view. And then she saw the woman.
The scroll displayed ‘Woman – helper of Adam – first direct attempt to subvert’.
Sonti couldn’t believe this! Adam and a woman …could this be Eve? The mother of humankind? And here they are, depicted as real people in history? She had always pictured them as religious mythological figures. But here they were. What was she being subverted from? And by whom?
Soon Sonti saw a magnificent creature approach the woman. Sonti stopped the file and gazed at the scene. She was looking at a beautiful garden. More beautiful than anything she had ever seen or imagined. The creature approaching the woman was covered in jewels and stones that captured and refracted the light, giving off showers of multicolored beams.
The woman caught Sonti’s attention next. She moved gracefully, almost effortlessly through the garden. Sonti saw that the woman was not wearing clothes but was covered by what appeared to be a sheet of light. Sonti moved the file second by second and saw the sheet ripple with movement. The woman’s face glowed with a golden radiance. Her eyes were the color of deep water. Shimmering brown hair framed her features. A pure smile played across her lips. A smile full of honesty and peace.
Sonti started the file again and watched the scene unfold. The data stream spelled out species of plants, insects, and animals. The woman’s creation data was listed separately. Sonti read it but didn’t believe it. Prior attempts to subvert were listed along with the results. The current tactic being employed was also listed.
The creature met the woman near a small group of beautiful trees that simultaneously held fruit and blossoms on the branches.
Sonti toggled the vocals on and listened to the conversation that took place between the creature and the woman.
“Woman, you are looking at a most beautiful tree. In fact, it is the most beautiful tree in the garden. You have searched the entire garden and can attest to that. It is not only beautiful, but its fruit is most delicious. Sweeter than any two trees here. And you feel so much better after you have eaten it.”
“We will die if we eat it. Even if we touch it. It is pretty, but…”
“You won’t die. Who told you that? I have eaten of it several times. I don’t appear dead to you, do I? In fact, I think that I have grown more beautiful, don’t you?”
“We may not eat it. God has told us that we will die if we do. I do not want to die.”
“You won’t die, woman. In fact, you will become as a god. You will know good and evil. You will be able to choose for yourself what you would like to do. There is much more to life than just this garden.”
The woman looked from the tree to the creature. She seemed confused. “I will call Adam”, she said, “he will know what to do”.
“This is something you can decide to do right now. You needn’t bother Adam.” The creature reached up and touched the fruit that grew on the nearest branch. “Ahhh. This is such a wonderful thing. It contains a vast array of knowledge. Truly, taking this fruit will give you great power!”
the creature watched the woman’s face intently. It stared at her, looking for some sign of acquiescence, a sign of choosing. As the creature’s gaze became more intense, the beautiful gems and glittering jewels that covered it faded and appeared almost like rough leather or crinkled scales.
The woman looked at the tree. She walked around it and gazed at the fruit it held. Touching several of the globes until she came upon one that looked as if it held all the colors of the flowers that carpeted the garden. She reached up with both hands and cupped it gently.
The creature continued talking to the woman. He was relentless in his pursuit. He nodded when she looked at him. His fine features were sharpened to a fierceness by his intense desire to have the woman obey him.
She looked once again in the direction she had come, searching for Adam. Seeing him in the distance, she gripped the fruit and pulled it from the tree.
The creature swept around the tree and stood close to her side. “It looks tasty, doesn’t it? Certainly, no harm has come upon you and you have not only touched it, but you’ve taken a piece for yourself. Now, woman, do you still believe that you will die? You can be like a god!
The woman looked at it with a hunger that was not for the food that it was, but for the promise of knowledge and power. She appeared to have made up her mind and was about to act on her decision when Sonti became aware of a buzzing in her left ear. She tried to ignore it and concentrated on the file she was viewing, but the buzzing continued. It distracted her enough finally for her to realize that it was her alarm, someone was signaling her to enter her cell.
“No!” she thought. “I can’t quit now. I’ve got to see what happens. Will she eat the fruit? What power will it give her? What is the knowledge she will receive? What is it like to be like a god?” Sonti looked at her watch, calculating whether she should answer the door or risk ignoring it. She yelled “Just a minute”, as she separated her mind from the file. She was still trying to figure a way to stay a few minutes longer when another thought crossed her mind: “What does the creature gain by this? And what does this cost the woman?”
She gave up trying to stay longer. She knew the risk was great, the doors were not locked against compound security, and besides, the file will still be there when she could get back. Making a note of the time reference point in the file, Sonti backed out of the histories and exited the system.
Rising from her couch, she went to the door and opened it.
“Gramps!” Sonti was surprised at her visitor. Very few people came to her cell to talk. They had video conferencing and community rooms for socializing, and most chose to utilize the technology.
“Are you busy? I can come back if you would rather….”
“No, Gramps. Please, come in. I was just…” Sonti scrambled to come up with an innocuous term for breaking into the computer system and viewing files. “I was just relaxing” was what finally came out.
Sonti sat across from Gramps at the table. He looked uncomfortable and couldn’t keep his hands still. He rubbed them on his pants, he fiddled with his shirt, clasped, and unclasped them. He just looked miserable.
“Sonti” he began, “I, ah, I need to talk to you about something. You see, the others in our group, ah, they asked me to check in on you. You don’t seem to be the same person that came in here with us, and I, ah, we want to know if you’re alright.”
“Oh, Gramps! That is the nicest thing I’ve heard around here since we got here. Everything we deal with seems to be so, well, so nasty and dirty. I guess that is what’s got me down.” Sonti hoped she didn’t have to come up with any other explanation.
Gramps looked at Sonti and shook his head. “No, I don’t think you understand what I mean. You are different. There is something extra in your personality. I don’t know how to explain it, but you don’t have time for anything except the chair. You don’t socialize, you don’t eat with anyone, you don’t have any relationships going. You’ve even let our friendship lapse. We are concerned. What’s going on? Is the work too tough? Is the environment O.K.? What is it?”
Sonti looked away from the older man. What should she say? Should she tell him that she was hooked on history? Should she tell him that she suspected that they were working for an evil organization that was trying to take over the world? Should she say that she thought the organization was headed by the mythological character, Satan? Or that she was beginning to believe that Jesus was real? Should she tell him about the files?
“Are you o.k.? Sonti, you look a little, well, a little lost. Can I help you?”
Gramps looked so sad, sitting across from her. Sonti decided that she must tell him something, but not everything. As kind as he was, Gramps could turn her in for her exploits in the files. She would be a wreck if she couldn’t get into the files anymore. So she told him a little story. Some truth, some not.
“Gramps, you’re right. I am feeling a little lost. I don’t know if I fit in here. I mean, the chair is such hard work for me. It leaves me exhausted, empty. I spend the whole shift looking at the underside of life. How to strengthen that ugly aspect of human nature, how to discourage attempts to correct it. That just goes against my grain, you know? I need serious down time to re-adjust, to normalize. And I’m afraid my ‘normal’ is slipping. It’s not bothering me as much as it did when we started.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?” Gramps suggested.
“No, it’s not. Gramps, I know we’re not supposed to talk about what we do and experience, but I have seen all of the seven deadly sins. And I’ve been involved in passing info that would hurt other people…even children. Maybe put their lives in danger. Oh, Gramps,” Sonti pleaded with the man, “what can I do? Where can I go?”
Gramps looked at her and grinned a friendly face at her. “Sonti, listen to me. You need to know…no, you need to believe that there is always hope. Hope is always in reach. You can do this! I know you can. Just push the garbage aside and ignore it. Concentrate on the function of the work. You can get through this thing. I’ll help you. Count on me.”
Sonti couldn’t help but smile at him. His warmth and concern helped ease her mind. She had a sudden thought. “Gramps, would you like to see something? It’s what has gotten me thinking about, well, about everything. But it’s a secret. You must promise not to tell anyone. Promise?”
Gramps looked at Sonti. “This sounds so mysterious. What is it? A vision like that creep Bradley showed us when we first arrived here?”
Sonti grew serious and said, “Gramps, you’ve got to promise. There aren’t many I trust in this place, but I trust you. I trust you to keep your word, and to keep my secret.”
“O.K., O.K., I promise. I promise that I’ll take your secret to the grave.”
Sonti didn’t like the phrase he used but said, “All right. I’m trusting you, now, don’t disappoint me, it could cost me everything!”
“I promise, already! What is so secret? What’s got you so riled up?”
“I’m going to get into the program, then I’ll ‘Y’ you into my connection. Do you have a ‘buddy’ connection on you?”
Gramps nodded affirmatively.
“O.K., give me a minute here.” Sonti closed her eyes and connected with the A.I. She maneuvered through the firewall and bridges, quickly coming to the file room. Once there, Sonti went to one of the recent files she had accessed, the Harlot accused before Jesus.
Sonti cued up the file and opened her eyes. “This is a history file. As near as I can figure, it is an actual audio, visual, data recording of history. This one is not dated that I can see, but it looks like it took place in ancient Israel. There isn’t much to see in this file, I wanted to prepare you for the next one. But I did want to show you the end of this file. Take a look at the woman on the ground and the man in front of her. Just get a sense of what might have transpired between them. And look at the ground between them. The man was writing something in the sand. See if you can see what it was.”
Gramps shrugged his shoulders and hooked into Sontis’ connection.
Gramps gasped as the connection was made and the mist parted to reveal the crowd of men around Jesus and the woman. He read the side scrolls. Exclamations of ‘No!’ and ‘It can’t be!’ escaped from him as he read about Jesus and this temptation.
The file came to the point where Jesus knelt in the street and wrote with his finger in the dust. Sonti moved the POV to directly over the head of Jesus and slowed down the file speed.
A few seconds later, she paused the file and read the side scroll. The data summary showed the names of each accuser in the group surrounding Jesus and the woman and beside their name was a list of commandments each accuser had broken that day.
Sonti continued the file and saw as one by one, the men in the crowd notice their names in the dust and pointed surreptitiously to their cohorts.
As Jesus knelt again, he smoothed a spot and wrote in the dust. As the file ended, Sonti broke Gramps connection and withdrew from the A.I.
“Wow!” Gramps said. “Wow. That was amazing! They just left because of what Jesus wrote in the sand. And then telling that woman to change her ways, wow. The file was so real! The emotion of the scene just poured over me while I watched. It was amazing! It was almost as if … No. That doesn’t make sense.”
“What doesn’t make sense?” Sonti asked.
Gramps looked directly at Sonti and said “It was just like we were there, right there in the dust of the streets, in the middle of the intrigue. And of all of the characters represented in that file, the accusers, Jesus, the accused, the bystanders, of all those characters, I felt the most like the accused. What does that say about my self image, huh?”
Sonti was sitting very still. Without looking at him, she asked Gramps “What about the last thing he wrote?”
“Well, I didn’t understand that last part. Everything else was so clear, but that last part was gibberish…made no sense at all.”
“Hmm. I read it, but I don’t understand how it can happen.” Sonti glanced at Gramps and laughed nervously. The image of what Jesus wrote still burned in her memory; ‘Sonti, you are now my child. I have called you.’
Gramps broke into her thoughts “Do you think the file was real?”
Sonti thought for a moment and said “From what I’ve seen, these files are real. The people are real and the events are real. And,” Sonti hesitated before she continued, “I believe all the myths and Sunday School stories about this man we just saw. This Jesus is the Son of God.”
“Oh, you can’t believe that! Especially not here! They’ll find out! They’ll fire you! You read the contract!” Gramps’ was nearly hysterical.
“They won’t fire me.” Sonti said. She gulped as she continued. “The contract reads that we will be … that our employment will be … decommissioned.”
“You’ve got to change your mind! C’mon, Sonti! Think about it! If what you believe is true, then there is a whole sub-culture of Good versus Evil in this world. The whole God-myth would be true. The fallen angels, the Garden of Eden, Jesus being born of a virgin, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the miracles, the Rapture and Judgement things, all would be true! You are a reasonable person, Sonti, you can’t possibly believe these fairy tales!”
“I believe them, Gramps. I’ve seen a lot of these files. Enough to know that they are real and that what society teaches is wrong.
They fell silent for a moment, each reviewing the new thoughts coursing through their minds.
Sonti asked him, “Gramps, what did you see on the wall when Bradley brought us down here? I mean, do you remember any of the details?”
“Oh, not that again!”
“C’mon Gramps!” Sonti pleaded. “Tell me what you saw.”
Gramps looked at his friend and smiled. “O.K. I’ll tell you.” He chuckled and said, “You know, I’ve reviewed that scene every night since we arrived here, hoping that somehow, I’ll see more of it, or understand what I saw.”
Sonti waited as Gramps’ features relaxed and a smile played across his lips.
“I saw a huge sphere. It was the size of a planet, ten planets, I’m not sure. Anyway, there were brilliant points of light surrounding the sphere. They were flashing all different colors and refracting in a thousand different variations.
“Suddenly, I was inside of it, it was hollow, and I saw millions and millions of men, women and children from all races and histories. Their backs were to me as they faced the center of the sphere. They were shouting and cheering in great admiration.
“I passed toward the center of the sphere and saw the throne. Around the throne I saw magnificent beings honoring and worshipping the One who was at the very center of this great room.
“The noise was deafening, but if I listened carefully, I could hear individuals speak. I only remember one sentence. I heard it from one of the creatures that flew around the throne. It said, ‘Blessed is He that is and was and is to come!’ It shouted this over and over. I had the feeling that the creature had been saying that since time began and would continue to say that until time ended.
“The throne was filled with a piercing light and I heard a noise so deep and intense that I felt my body was going to melt.”
Gramps looked at Sonti and said “That’s when I fell to the floor. But I didn’t fall from the effects of the noise or the light. I fell from an overwhelming desire, no, a need to worship the One on the throne. A need so deep that I could not ignore it. It was as if even the marrow in my bones longed to worship! It was an awesome feeling!”
Gramps fell silent. His face looked years younger as he remembered his vision. Sonti watched him and had an idea. “Gramps, Paul, if I can find that file, would you like to go there again?”
Paul looked at her and said, “I’d go in a heartbeat!”
“O.K., then. Give me a few minutes and let me search for it” and Sonti went back into the A.I.
“Hub Security. Yeah? Where? When? If you see it again, don’t lose it! Out!”
The Security Manager noted on his log the report of a possible kingdom thread here in the Hub. Not likely, but a threat they couldn’t afford to ignore.
The log was uploaded to the A.I. where it was instantly noted by beings that were something other than human. Something beyond ‘natural’.
Paul sat watching Sonti work through the files. Occasionally, she would mutter a few unintelligible syllables but other than that, she was quiet and still.
Paul reflected on what they had talked about. The idea of a god and a devil, of good versus evil was one he had not thought of since he was a child.
He remembered walking to church one Sunday morning. His mother would shove him out the door early enough for him to walk the two blocks to the little church down the street. She always said she might join him there.
He would walk up the steps to the big front doors and turn to look up the street toward his house, hoping to see her face. But his mother never came. He had always equated the Bible stories with disappointment. But the stories were still in his memory. He found the place where they were stored and paraded them across the screen of his mind. The memories flooded back, bringing with them the sights and sounds, colors and smells of his childhood. The stories of Jonah, David and Goliath, Adam and Eve, were mixed with the memories of orange Kool-Aid and vanilla cookies, Mrs. Jones’ perfume, and, for some reason, fresh cut grass.
The Bible stories always seemed to have a happy ending, Paul remembered, but the overwhelming feeling he had as he looked into his past was one of abandonment.
“O.K., Paul” Sonti broke into his thoughts abruptly. “I think I’ve found the right file. Plug in and let’s check it out.”
Paul shook his head as if to clear his mind of his memories. “Are the stories really true, Sonti? Have you seen the files that show the stories of Jonah? David and Goliath? Christmas and Easter? Adam and Eve?”
Sonti had been shaking her head ‘no’ at each story but looked at Paul and said “I’ve seen Adam and Eve! The story is real! That’s where I learned about the war between Good and Evil. Do you want to see that file?”
“Yes. No. Yes, but not now. If you have that throne room file set up, I’d like to see it first.”
Sonti explained what section she had found the file in and how it was listed; Code Name – Job. “I don’t know what kind of ‘job’ it is, but it’s some kind of effort to change this job by being cruel. But the location is in a throne room in Heaven.”
“Heaven.” Paul breathed the word. “Can there really be a heaven?”
“Let’s see. Together.” And the mist took them into the file, to the streets of Heaven.
Fifteen minutes later, they emerged from the file. Stunned and trembling from the experience, neither said a word for several minutes.
Finally, Paul whispered “It’s just like what I saw that day on the wall, but it is so much more! The purity of the place was almost too much to bear. My nerves are still tingling!”
Sonti just smiled. In fact, she couldn’t stop smiling as she recalled the file. When Sonti entered the Throne Room of God she saw all heads turn toward her. Angels flew to her and carried her to the foot of the massive throne. She felt the down draft from the angels that hovered around the throne shouting the Glory of God. She felt a soft refreshing breeze flow down the sides of the throne. And then she felt a warm hand cup her chin and lift her head.
‘Open your eyes, Sonti. Don’t be afraid. I am your Father, and the love I have for you cannot be measured!’ The throne room trembled at His voice and then erupted in tremendous sound as the cheers from billions of saints and angels gathered there rose to the throne.
Sonti felt such emotion! An overwhelming flood of feelings rushed through her core and left her feeling scrubbed clean, brand new. She smiled and felt like laughing.
Joy surged through her and receded, leaving it’s refreshing scent everywhere; in her memory, her emotions and her soul. Finally, Sonti was able to ask, “What did you see, Paul? Was it Heaven?”
“I saw the throne room filled with people and angels. A beautiful angel was leaving when we entered. It looked powerful and angry!
“I saw God on a throne at the center of the sphere. And then I went to the throne. It smelled like fresh cut grass … and vanilla cookies. When I got there, I saw everyone turn and look at you and cheer as if they knew you. I saw you move to the foot of the throne and look up. I heard a rumble and felt the room shake, but I couldn’t understand what was happening. Then everyone cheered again!”
Paul stopped and looked at Sonti. “You know what that noise was, don’t you?”
Sonti’s face beamed as she answered, “Yes, Paul, I do. That was God speaking to me. He said He was my Father and that He loved me. I believe Him.”
Paul looked perplexed. “But how could the file record a conversation that hadn’t happened when the file was created or downloaded?”
Sonti shrugged, “I’m not sure. I’m guessing that the file is an actual ‘recording’ of a historical event but the individuals, or at least one individual, can interact with the viewer of the file. The same thing happened with the last file we looked at. The man writing in the dust was Jesus, the Son of God. He wrote a message in the dust to me. How could He do that? I don’t know! You couldn’t read it, but I could. I think that He was actually in that file while we viewed it. He planned the whole thing right down to who would be there and when they would be there. That’s you and me, Paul. He, God, planned on us being here at this specific time and place and He met us in the files! Isn’t that wild?”
“No! It’s scary!”
“C’mon, Paul! Think of it! Remember how wonderful you felt when we were in the throne room?”
“Yes, but …”
“Remember who told you that the one you saw wasn’t God?”
“Yes, but …”
“Remember those Sunday School stories from long ago?”
“Yes, but …”
“Let’s go look at Adam and Eve! You’ll see! It all makes sense to me, now that I’ve seen the throne room and the message in the dust!
“There is an epic struggle going on! It exists at the spiritual level, but it also plays itself out on the physical level. It’s a battle between Good and Evil and humans are the battlefield.
“One side fights with hatred and envy and the other side fights with purity and love.”
Sonti spoke excitedly. “C’mon! Let’s see what happened in the Garden of Eden! Then we’ll check out David and Goliath, the Great Flood, the first Christmas, all the stories you knew as a child. We’ll see that they’re all true and all point to God, His Creation, and our part in it!” Sonti flew through the A.I. and was into the file in no time. Paul was plugged in and, despite his attempts to argue, allowed himself to be pulled into the file. Because, more than anything, Paul wanted to believe.