A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story
By John Pirillo
The trek, walk, whatever anyone wanted to call it had been hard on everyone. They were running low on food and morale. Even Jaisu, who was usually a fountain of bubbly energies, seemed a bit on the downside this day as Shantel watched him move from pilgrim to pilgrim, urging them to keep going, not give up and then holding their baby, or playing with their child, or even carrying a complaining child for the parent who was just too exhausted.
She knew he was special, but even special people need rest. No one was inexcusable from the laws of matter she reminded herself, and then immediately flashed on the journeys of Jesus and the miracles he did on a daily basis and his stamina. Maybe it was possible to go on and on. He had. Even to the point of extinction on the cross. She smiled, but then he had arisen the next day in a body of light that all could see.
She never believed that he was just a physical being anymore. He had transitioned to a higher state. She knew enough about physics to understand such a thing was possible.
"Penny for your thoughts." Chesterton croaked from his dry mouth.
She laughed, her own voice cracking from lack of enough water. Everyone was suffering dehydration and that would kill them long before the loss of food to eat. It was the hardest on the children and the adults had mutually agreed to give them the majority of the food and water. But even that wasn't enough. She could see their tiny, angelic faces becoming hollowed out, dark and empty like her own must appear by now.
"How about an ounce of water instead?" She quipped.
He smiled, and then grimaced. His lips and corners of his mouth were cracking from severe dehydration.
The joviality continued among certain members, but it was also being emphasized more and more by pain and discomfort created by water loss.
Chesterton put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, almost touching Melody, who slept against her mom's shoulder, oblivious to the world about her. "We're going to make it. I can't believe we've even come this far. Hell, I can't even believe this tunnel actually exists. Can you imagine how much work must have gone into making it so it would last this long?"
"I can." She answered truthfully. "And I know one thing for certain."
"They're probably all dead now."
He burst into laughter again, stuck a hand over the corner of his mouth and grinned awkwardly at her. "Stickler for truth in lending."
"Never could stand bankers." She replied with a grin, causing her own mouth to tighten and hurt at the edges. She ignored the pain. It just kept her alert and able to focus.
He saw the look on her face, and read her thoughts. "I really do believe we're going to make it."
"Soon." Jaisu said, joining them. "Water is ahead."
"How do you know that?"
Jaisu pointed to small growths that were beginning to show in tiny sprouts from the floor they walked.
Shantel almost screamed with delight, but she was too late. People were dropping to their hands and knees and plucking the growth. Sucking on it, and then eating it. Then when done, the group as a whole would move further along and repeat the process.
This went on for what seemed like forever, when a soft sound echoed towards them from the distance. It was faint at first, like a very soft whisper, and then it grew into a thunderous roar...of WATER!
Even though there was a constant glow coming from the overhead moss, it was not enough to interrupt sleep. Everyone lay where they had stopped last, folded into themselves, wrapped around a partner, or curled against each other for mutual support. The children all clung to each other in tiny spreads of small bodies, clenching each other's hands for support, even in their sleep.
Shantel woke up first and noticed the children, checking on Melody first. Her adopted child, a victim of the Big One, like so many others of the children traveling with them, was a bright soul. The children had all been the sons and daughters of highly educated or very spiritual persons or both. Not a person in the pilgrimage had an ounce of darkness marring their soul. It was as if they had been chosen, like that one man in Close Encounters of the Third Kid. All those souls who had been prepared to go and only one was chosen.
And here, after billions had perished, a handful remained alive. Barely, but alive. Waiting to reach some kind of underground Shangri-La, an oasis of purity where they could be safe and secure. Warm and loved.
She smiled. Shangri-La. Was it really possible?
"It is." Jaisu told her from her left. She sat up and he was watching her face for reaction to his words.
"You read my mind again."
"Is it so hard? You want what all want. A place of sanctuary. Safety and...Love."
She nodded. Sat up and leaned back against the wall. Her back began to dampen. The moisture from the Grand Falls they had discovered spread for hundreds of feet down the tunnel, dampening the walls with its wonderful essence. In the reflected light of the glow moss it gave the whole area a kind of fairy tale like look. Any moment you might expect some kind of magical creature to appear and wave a wand or do a dance of magic with showers of pixie dust.
"It is magical." Jaisu commented with a smile edging his lips. He wiped his brow. "I'm sorry this has been so hard for all of you."
She eyed him warmly. "You've saved our lives. How can we complain?"
"It seems to be human nature." He said with the hint of a grin.
"But you know it isn't. It's our mastery to face, isn't it?"
He smiled at her words and was about to say more when the cry of a baby burst into the tunnel, echoing towards them. He rose and looked back at her. "Duty calls. Soon. One day. This will all seem like a dream."
"It already does." She responded with a laugh.
Chesterton work up on her left and sat up, rubbing his eyes. Krishna and Melody were huddled to his left, arms wrapped about each other. So cute! Her heart wanted to burst as she looked on the two little angels. So much loss. So much pain and here they were. They'd found comfort somehow. And friendship. Like herself.
She tapped his knee. "Sleepy head."
He yawned, and then stretched. "Did I hear a baby, or Jaisu?"
He yawned again. "Must be close to time to get back on our tractor wheels."
"That what you're calling feet these days?"
"Yeah. Because they keep on digging and digging into the road, and we don't seem to get any closer to where we're going."
She nodded, giving him a sympathetic look.
Then he smiled at her, got up and headed for the falls. "Maybe I'll get lucky and find a flying fish. Want some?"
She laughed. "Only if you promise not to hurt it."
His stomach growled so loud that several people behind him were startled from their sleep. He laughed. "I'm not promising anything, Shantel."
He stomped off towards the falls, his laughter echoing behind and ahead of him. As he walked people began stirring from their sleep, checking their loved ones, stretching, yawning, coughing, and looking for a place to relieve them without getting too far away from the rest. Everything was returning to normal. Or at least as close as it could for such a ragged batch of pilgrims.
Shantel scooted over to Krishna and Melody. She didn't disrupt their sleep. Not one person would move forward until all resting were through. It was an unspoken law between them. Everyone got the rest they needed. No one interfered.
Melody began to mumble in her sleep. "No. No. No."
Shantel put her head against Melody's shoulder and the child fell back into a deep slumber again, the hint of a smile on her angelic face. Krishna stretched a bit and put his arm around Shantel as well.
Chesterton came back and found them all three huddled together in sleep. He smiled.
Jaisu came to his side. "Angels come in all sizes, do they not?"
"Indeed they do."
Then a very unusual thing began to happen. The end of the tunnel near the falls grew brighter, as if a dimmer switch was being turned the opposite direction and the lights were coming up. As the light came up, it began to fill with twists and turns, swirls and tumbles of a light mist of rainbow colors. Oranges. Reds. Yellows. Blues and Greens.
Chesterton and everyone awake stood, sat, or leaned against the walls watching the display, their eye wide with awe and surprise.
"It is God speaking through the water." Jaisu said.
"I'd feel a lot better if it was food speaking through the water." Chesterton answered sarcastically.
No sooner had he said that then a huge swarm of fish flew from the falls and into the tunnel, more and more of them, until the people nearest the falls were tumbling back to keep from being buried.
Shantel woke up suddenly and gasped when she saw the lights and the fish.
Jaisu said nothing. His eyes glowed with a certainty.
That day they walked no further, but instead made small fires from dry moss and burned fish that had dropped in to their midst. It tasted like the food of t he gods, and it was. Literally. As far as Shantel and the others were concerned.
Even the vegetarians had some fish. No hunger went unanswered that day or night.
They all ate until they felt like they were going to explode.
And the whole time they ate the bursts and swirls of light continued to exude from the falls, lighting up the tunnel like Christmas lights.
"I wonder what time of year it is outside." Shantel asked Chesterton.
He looked at the broken wrist watch on his right hand. "I'd say about half past anytime you'd like."
They both laughed.
Perhaps they would survive to make it to the Promised Land. Whatever that was. Wherever that was.
Time would tell.
Meanwhile she felt content, Chesterton at her right shoulder and Krishna and Melody at her left side leaning against her, singing softly to each other in tiny voices. Maybe it wasn't Christmas. Maybe it was. She was content to just enjoy it. Miracles don't need names to be miracles.