The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
Al sat on top the statue in a very untenable position, almost laughing. Samuel grinned. Al didn't take it all that seriously, though he was certain whoever had built it must have, or did now. It was the nature of all cults that they found themselves to be more important than anyone else, even though the truth was all people were equally as important to God.
"I think it's a good sign." Samuel said.
"Why you grinning?" Jimbo demanded.
"Let's just say it's an inside joke and leave it at that." Samuel said, then turned back the way they could go.
"Well. If this is heaven, it's definitely the wrong direction." Nanny sighed.
Jimbo put an arm around her shoulders. "Buck up, cowgirl, hell never had it this good."
Jimbo grinned at him and they began descending the spiral staircase that seemed to descend forever into the darkness below.
"I don't get it." Nanny finally said, no longer able to contain her curiosity.
"Here we are, maybe several miles beneath the earth..."
"Or Shasta." Jimbo pointed out.
"Or Shasta." Nanny went on. "And yet both of you act as if it were no big thing."
"Nanny." Sam said, pausing a moment in their descent to look at her. He could see fear tinging her expression and his words softened a bit. "It's like this, when you've been through as much as Jimbo and I, and seen as much as we have, there's not a lot anymore that can shake us."
"Except death, of course." Jimbo said with a snort.
"Well, yeah. There's that." Samuel agreed. "But even death is not so scary anymore. We've both seen dead and undead."
Nanny stopped him there with a finger to his lips. "Dead and undead? What in the hell is that?"
"Jimbo." Samuel said.
Jimbo sat down and pulled out a twinkie for everyone. "Might as well have a snack. This staircase ain't getting any shorter."
They ate for a moment in silence, then Nanny looked at Jimbo. He nodded. "It's like this. The dead are those that die and go into the Light. And the undead are those that refuse to do so."
"Either because they're afraid God is going to zap them with a destructo beam or send them to Hell." Samuel interjected.
"Or worse." Samuel continued. "Make them eat their shorts."
Nanny gave him a surprised look, then hit him on his shoulder with his fist. "Stop that! That's just...just..."
"Unholy?" Jimbo asked with a smirk.
"No. Stupid!" She finally said.
"Oh." Jimbo replied, giving Samuel a look for help.
Samuel finished his Twinkie, then licked his fingers. "Nanny. God has a plan for all of us, it's just that we also have a plan for all of us, and they often times clash and when that happens we bail heaven to stay on earth."
"Hence the Undead." Jimbo added.
"You mean people are still here on Earth...well under Earth in our case...and don't go to heaven?"
"There is no heaven." Jimbo said. "Or hell. Only what we make of our lives, which can be either one."
Nanny looked even more confused. Samuel put a hand on her arm and patted it gently. "Nanny, it's a lot to get a handle on if you don't have the background, but it's the truth. People don't really die, and yes some people stay earthbound. For the most part they're tormented souls trying to put that last piece of the puzzle of their life back together again, but some are horrible monsters, not in the sense that they're dragons and that sort of thing, but they use people...real, living people...to carry on their obsessison."
"Hence, the dead and the Undead." Jimbo finished.
Nanny shook her head and got up. "Too much information."
She began down the staircase, not looking back.
"I'm worried about her, Sammie." Jimbo said in a whisper.
Samuel looked at him and shook his head. "She's facing quite a few challenges." He saw M giving him a smile and shaking her head, then smiling again. "But I think her intuition is good and strong and she will figure it out. One way or the other."
Jimbo sighed and reslung his backpack. "I hope so. God only knows what we're going to find at the end of this rainbow...and I don't think it's the Wonderful City of Oz either."
Samuel stepped down beside him and descended with him. "You never know."
They continued in silence for what was at least another hour and then they noticed something. Jimbo first. He stopped and sniffed the air. "Cattle."
"What?" Nanny asked, running back up to them. "Cattle. Where?"
"Close." Jimbo said. "Real close."
"How can you tell?" Nanny asked.
Jimbo winked at her. "Because their crap smells a lot worse when you're on top of them."
Nanny punched him again.
Jimbo sighed and gave Samuel the look of a wounded man. "Sometimes, I don't know why I even bother."
Nanny laughed, then gave him a hug. "This is why, you big jerk."
He laughed and hugged her back.
They descended faster this time and the smell of Cattle grew stronger, and also the smell of...
"Water!" Jimbo said. "Definitely water."
The stairs suddenly banked to the right and they stood on the edge of an opening into a pasture of green and gold, with fleecy clouds flinging themselves across the ceiling of the sky above. Literally a ceiling.
Al and M stood beside Samuel and pointed.
He looked that way and saw a luminous city made of what looked like light from where they stood piercing the sky. "I think we've found our goal."
Jimbo looked that way. "A city under Shasta?"
Nanny gave a gasp of awe. "Then the rumors are all true."
She had no sooner spoken those words than a beautiful luminous craft sailed past overhead in the wide open area, sparkling lights spiraling around its exterior edge, giving it the shape of a saucer, but with a bit of a triangular shape.
"It's beautiful!" Nanny cried out.
"Look, your cattle." Samuel pointed to their left where a huge grazing area was being swept over by what appeared to be hundreds of beautiful white and gold cows.
Then they heard a rumbling sound.
Jimbo sniffed the air. "The water smell's gotten stronger. No, wait!"
He spun around as the rumbling grew louder, then a faint spray of water came down the spiraling staircase.
"Sammie, it's not a staircase! It's a water pipe." He yelled and flung them all from the opening to the left as a huge flood of water shot down like a cannon into the space they had stood in.