The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
The other side of paradise must look this, Samuel thought to himself as he woke up, stretching his feelings to see if anything was near that might affect him and his companions. It was something he didn't like to talk about. His ability to sense danger and to see around him without using his eyes. At least his physical eyes. He knew better though. Not all eyes were physical, which is why most popular Buddhist literature and India literature, as well as the American dollar bill used a third eye as symbols.
The ability to see into worlds normally invisible to man had enabled him to save his and Jimbo's lives many a time. It was a gift and he also knew that if he misused it, he could lose it. Many a pyschic and occultist found such gifts and used them to covet fame and fortune, and unfortunately fell from Grace and lost their powers over time. The hidden world was a gift to man and not a treasure to be spent on common things.
He sat up.
Nanny was sleeping on her side, curled up into a fetal position inside her sleeping bag. Her mouth was slightly open and drooling slightly. He smiled, then looked at his best friend and long time partner and companion. Jimbo was laying on his back with his hands folded across his chest like a dead man. But dead he wasn't. He was snoring loud enough to scare off a rattlesnake, but even that noise didn't bother Nanny, who had been more tired than she pretended to be.
Samuel smiled again. People were such complex and yet simple creations. They were layered with seemingly complex motivations and habits, that usually unwound to the same things...the same basic desires and needs: to be loved, to be wanted, to be cared for.
He cared deeply for both of them, even if Nanny was just a momentary friend, she was still precious to him. He felt a disturbance and turned to see Al seated in a lotus posture next to him, his eyes flashing with amusement.
"Sam, your thoughts do you credit."
"Thanks, old timer." He answered with a grin.
Al held up a thumb. "You should live so long."
"I'll consider that after I'm seated at your table in heaven." Samuel retorted.
Al laughed. He laughed at most things, but Samuel knew he had a huge heart and cared deeply about life. He had been such a man in his earthly years as well. Once he had sat with Samuel when he was imprisoned by a cult in Egypt and explained to him how tormented he had felt for a time by the way his information had brought about the death of tens of thousands with the atomic bomb, and later the fears of so many millions during the Cold War.
"Angels shouldn't have to apologize for what they've done." Al had told him.
Samuel had laughed. "You're no angel, Al."
Al had smiled, but not responded to that, which immediately got Samuel to thinking maybe he had missed something in his observations.
"So what now?" Samuel asked in his mind.
Al shrugged. "Some secrets are better left untouched, but you and Jim have never been ones to do that, have you?
Samuel nodded. "Got me in one."
"And second." Al continued. "I wouldn't want you to do anything differently. A closed mind is a loop that ends in self defeat and acrimony. Hail to the hearty soul who dares to climb the stairway to knowledge, and hence to self discovery and heaven."
"Man!" Samuel thought. "You sure are wordy this morning."
"I've had my morning manna." Al said jokingly, then manifested a piece of cloud in his right hand and began eating on it.
Samuel laughed so loud that Nanny woke up. "Eveything all right?"
She sat up, rubbing her eyes, looking at the amusement on Samuel's face.
"Perfect." He responded. "Just talking with an old friend."
"Oh, him!" She said, nodding at Al, who gave her a thumbs up too. "He and Marilyn sang me to sleep last night. They sound cute together."
"More like off key." Samuel shot back.
Nanny laughed. "But lovable."
Al gave her two thumbs up and vanished.
"Does he always do that too?" She asked, finally all the way awake.
"It's his way of saying good-bye." Samuel said with a shrug. "No accounting for the manners of man or angel, especially angels."
"I thought you said he wasn't an angel."
Samuel did a double take. "You can read minds too?"
"Sometimes, especially when I'm relaxed." She said. "So now what?"
"We eat and hike." Jimbo growled, sitting up to yawn. "You two gotta go yapping and break into a man's dreams. I was just about to eat a ten piece pizza loaded with everything." He complained.
Nanny and Samuel laughed.
They spent the next ten minutes packing and going to the bathroom in various places outside, but when through they met at a large leaf that was perfect to sit comfortably upon, like a soft green sofa.
Nanny bounced on it like a child a few times, then looked at Samuel. "I wish we had these trees back home."
"Yeah. So they can be cut down and destroyed like all our other forests." Samuel groused angrily.
She sighed. "Why can't people see that we're all part of a big chain, that if you break one link, you break all of them?"
"Oh, I think they see it." Jimbo said, yawning again. "They just like the touch of money and power more than the love and affection of those they could help."
Nanny had no response to that.
Samuel touched her right arm lightly and pressed it. "If you look at the world as a school, then it's not so bad."
"How so?" She asked. "We're too old to be in school."
"Nanny, there's not a soul on earth that's not in school. The whole planet's a school."
Jimbo snorted. "Yeah, this outlaw here thinks we're all here to learn how to get along and play nice."
"Well that's not happening." Nanny replied. She remembered her first grade and the two bullies that had shoved her into the mud that day and how she had met them twenty years later and they were executives in the forest service, stealing public funds. "Not at all."
Samuel touched her again. "Don't judge them so harshly. Some do change. And even if not in this life..."
"Another, if you believe everything my hairy faced partner spouts from those pretty lips of his."
Samuel scowled at Jimbo and he laughed. It was a running joke between them about Samuel being virtually hairless and having very feminine lips.
Samuel stood up and shrugged on his backpack. It was mostly dry now and didn't feel so chilled as it had the day before.
Samuel threw Nanny's to her and she shrugged into hers, and he shouldered his with a shrug, not even straining. They had barely emptied the treasure trove he kept in that pack. It had to weight about a hundred pounds, and he carried it like it was no heavier than a feather. Strong man.
At least that's what Nanny thought.
Samuel knew Jimbo was strong in many ways, besides the physical and one way which had kept them in friendship for decades. Jimbo had a big heart. Big as the state he was born in: Texas.
A shadow came across them. They turned to look. The floating city was passing to the North West this morning. It eclipsed the bright light above them, which seemed to radiate from everywhere and a great shadow passed over them momentarily.
"So now what?" Nanny asked.
Samuel felt the presence above him and wondered that himself. The people of the city were conscious of them, but doing nothing about it. That got him to thinking about a great many things, and mostly not good.
"We keep on moving West."
"Why?" Nanny asked.
Jimbo touched her arm and pointed.
She turned to look and on the other side of the teepee was a huge inscription on the tree from which the leaves had fallen. "For those who pass this way, know that you are not alone and we have passed this way before....Jules."
"Oh my God!" Nanny cried out. "He really did go to the Center of the Earth!"