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SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT

Chapter Ten - Shepherd's Ruse

by Dennis R. Cook


SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT

Chapter Ten - Shepherd's Ruse

by Dennis R. Cook

Soon after Steven and I finished rejoicing like newborn Christian babes over the magnificent salvation Christ Jesus demonstrated in Prometheus we both realized we had erred. Our rejoicing was appropriate, but we had broken off our telepathic connection with the big guy, or so it seemed. Nevertheless, he was still missing. We were puzzled. Why hadn't he returned to us?

It had been hours since Prometheus had escaped the terror of the black mass. What were we supposed to do? I didn't have the foggiest notion.

Steven thought perhaps Prometheus had returned to our base camp at Old Blackgoat's trailer, perhaps to help him with some difficulty he might be having there.

"That may be true," I pointed out to Steven, "but if it is, why didn't he at least return your bootblack can of faith to us so we could have some protection?"

"You're right," Steven said, "things just don't add up."

"Let's remind the Lord that perhaps we still don't have all the information needed to complete His mission here," I said.

"Great idea," Steven said, "I can sink my teeth into that."

We sang praises and communed with God with our spiritual language for some time before kneeling in prayer.

There was no response at first, so we persevered, deepening our yearnings before the Lord with every passing moment. Then, there was a beep at the computer... A flashing light indicated an e-mail message to our room. I walked over to the computer and called up the message.

I had hated to stop praying in harmony with but knew the e-mail message might be important. The message was the answer to our prayers. Prometheus wrote:

"I didn't want to risk leading a horde of demons to your room where they could capture all three of us, so I broke off the telepathic connection and changed course. The two of you should be out of harm's way for the moment. I'm on the web at Kinkos as I write this. Quick thinking, huh?"

In his message, Prometheus went on to say how he had been captured, and how he had escaped. Of course we knew about the escape part, although we didn't know exactly how he had revived. Prometheus pointed out that they had loosed the spell of ropes from his hands in order to prepare him for the spell of the cross. That it was then he had revived enough to realize he was being covered head to foot with the pure oil of the lamb.

That was their mistake, Prometheus pointed out, for he could use the pure substance to break all the bonds he had been shackled with, if only Astarte delayed her incantation long enough for him to take advantage of the situation. "If they would have been aware that I had revived," Prometheus wrote, I would still be hanging there."

He went on to say how he had realized the significance of the cross as they were hanging him upon it, and from bits and pieces of information he had gathered from reading our minds, knew that the prayer of faith in Christ Jesus could return him within the parameters of the grace of God. He understood the doctrine of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus, and the significance of His blood.

There was more. Since he was covered in faith from head to foot, he assumed there would never be a better time to call on the name of the Lord. He used the enemies' own weapon against them. Prometheus had faith. faith. faith.

He prayed the prayer of repentance receiving Christ Jesus as his Lord and Savior without a clear understanding of what to expect. However, the next thing he knew, the weight of the world he had been carrying for five thousand years lifted right off his shoulders. He knew God had heard his prayer of faith, and had set him free. Realizing the devil couldn't hold him, he burst his bonds and escaped.

Later, Prometheus pointed out, while praying a prayer of Thanksgiving and praising God, the Spirit reminded him of our need to know, and showed how he might contact us without placing us in too much danger. He did the same for Prometheus, warning him that banshees were out to get him back.

I suppose the other most intriguing part of his e-mail message dealt with his capture. While tailing Dr. Sheolman and Astarte, a company of man-like angels stopped him and told him that the Lord and his angels were willing to cease their rebuke of him in the presence of the Father, but only if Prometheus accompanied them to heaven that very moment.

Not knowing quite what to do, Prometheus followed them, but soon found out their destination wasn't heaven. Then, without warning, four of the company wrapped him in a net and dragged him to the nether world where more secure bonds awaited him.

I realized, of course, that Prometheus didn't have the spiritual fortitude to pass up a chance to return to glory, and quite overlooked the fact that the Spirit of God, in all likelihood, wasn't bursting with glory round about his unholy companions. However, I wasn't there, and, scripture does say Satan can Masquerade as an angel of light. I suppose discerning good and evil is a true weakness of most Christians. Otherwise, if it wasn't, most ministers trained in the field of Psychology would never have been allowed in the pulpit.

Prometheus told us one other thing in his letter. He hadn't gone, and wasn't going to go back to Blackgoat's trailer. Reason? Unknown?

"Think Prometheus is going to do something like what Paul did after his conversion and move to Damascus for a few years?" I asked Steven.

"Doubt it," Steven said. "I think he has had enough conversation with other than flesh and blood. My guess is he needs some space to sort things out. Besides that, we need him too much. I can't imagine him abandoning us all together, but time will tell.

Still, Steven and I marveled at it all. The work of the Father in Christ Jesus and their amazing ability to deliver creatures from bondage astounded us. Their works were awesome!

If any man will do the will of God, he shall know. Well, Steven and I knew we had done it, the will of God, that is. We had rapturous feelings. The Lord had answered our every prayer.

Thanks to our spiritual insight, eh, vision of Prometheus and Prometheus' e-mail message, we were equipped with a keen understanding of what Dr. Sheolman was up to. Hell, Death, the Devil, Mother Babylon, (Astarte), and he, were prepping for the final battle. Still, on the inside, we knew we were not finished. Our adventure had just begun. We each felt a powerful tug pulling us back to New Mexico. Hell Central would be where the real action would take place.

Steven called the service desk and had them checkon flight times for us while we collected our things and freshened up. By the time we were ready to head out the door, our room's fax was printing out a possible itinerary. The only thing left for us to do was settle the bill, and with a little extraordinary help, we hoped to make our flight.

Last call for boarding alarmed us. We wouldn't have time to check our bags through. It didn't matter. We were traveling light enough. We could carry our luggage on board. The hitch, of course, was getting through the security gate without a lot of hassle before the flight attendant closed the boarding hatch. But, you know, when God is for you...no problem!

It was four P.M. We tossed our bags in the back and climbed into Steven's old 4X4. We had an outside chance of making Old Blackgoat's for dinner. I was starving, but I could wait for some of Old Blackgoat's home cooking. We had missed lunch, but had downed a few peanuts on the flight. They were just gonna have to do till we got to Old Blackgoat's place.

Passing "Giant," a fine place to eat just east of Gallup, wasn't easy, but we sucked in our guts. Turning on to the rough outback road to Old Blackgoat's church and home brought my attention back to the sheep. Perhaps we would transport them up above hell central for pasture after all. The idea intrigued me. Steven wasn't so sure. We both knew of the hazards that lurked in that pit. Nevertheless, there was some merit to the idea. The time Steven and I had spent praying in Los Angeles had cleared my head and sharpened my spiritual perspective. Perhaps taking the battle to the enemy wasn't such a bad idea. The sheep would benefit, and working them would sure beat sitting around on our laurels waiting for Sheolman to make his next move.

Another thought that whizzed through my mind as Steven rolled the old 4X4 to a stop behind the rugged exterior of Old Blackgoat's church had to do with Prometheus. It concerned me that Father hadn't encouraged him to return home immediately, and I intended to find out why. Perhaps getting closer to Father on the mountaintop would bring the answer.

Old Blackgoat came dashing out from behind the sheep shed when he heard our car doors slam. He was holding a nasty looking pair of sheep shears. He told us he had been in the mood for some time for shearing season, and had managed to motivate himself to the task of sharpening his cutters.

"Why are you back so soon?" Old Blackgoat asked.

"No one would feed us," Steven said, tongue in cheek.

"Haven't you eaten?" Old Blackgoat asked, not realizing Steven had set him up.

"Let's eat," I said.

Mumbling something under his breath, Old Blackgoat walked off to rustle up some chow. Steven and I unpacked.

"What did he say?" I asked.

"Lamb chops, I think," Steven said.

"At least I don't have to do the dishes," Old Blackgoat said, self satisfied from the sumptuous feast. "I believe you two could get jobs doing that, you know, he teased," still sitting at the dinner table with a smug look on his face.

Old Blackgoat's enthusiasm soon brought Steven and I to recount what had cut our trip short. We couldn't, of course, reveal the whereabouts of Prometheus unless, or until he contacted us telepathically or showed up in person. That left us without the comfort we might have experienced if we had known the when and the where of his return. However, we did have his e-mail letter, and we did derive comfort from it.

On the down side, explaining what happened on our stay in Los Angeles to Old Blackgoat enabled us to face facts, that is to say humbly, we really messed things up by assuming that Dr. Sheolman had no plans for Good Friday, and we knew we had to do better. Nevertheless, it was still Easter weekend, and the Son would indeed rise on the morn.

* * *

With Easter past, Monday arrived early and we all hit the deck running at 4:30 A.M., eager to transfer the sheep to the meadows on the mountainside above the passageway of the serpent. Something phenomenal was about to take place. I knew it...just didn't know why, and I had to be there.

One question, however, still haunted us. Would Dr. Sheolman arrive at school on schedule? Or, was he neatly disposed of? From what we had seen in the vision Prometheus had given us when he had communicated with us spiritually, if Dr. Sheolman was in trouble with his mentors, there wasn't any hint of it in what we saw.

No, I expected news of his return. In fact, I figured he was at school that very moment. After all, his absence across state boundaries would bring an FBI investigation that might make some poltergeists mighty uncomfortable. Of course Steven didn't agree. He thought we would no doubt be considered chief suspects in his disappearance. After all, we were convenient scapegoats...

Not long after the break of Monday morning light, a mid-sized cattle truck arrived with the wherewithal to move the bulk of Old Blackgoat's sheep entourage up and away. By seven A.M. we were on the road heading north. Blackgoat opted to ride with his friend. Steven and I followed in his 4X4.

Turning up the steep mountain grade that would bring us to our destination, I commented to Steven that somehow our little trek seemed familiar.

"Could it be," Steven offered gamely, "we've been up a portion of this road before?"

"Could be," I laughed.

Steven flipped the 4X4's turn signal upward to indicate a right turn off the main highway.

As he slowed to turn, I caught sight of a Bald Eagle, and watched in wonder as it lifted from a far off rocky crag, and soared high above the rich, flowing mountain meadow we were driving toward.

The cattle truck had entered ahead of us. I noticed, as we followed closely behind it, that the trail we were on looked vaguely familiar.

"How far away do you think that parking garage attached to the hideaway is?" I asked.

Steven laughed. "How far? We just rolled over it!"

"Oh..., I didn't realize we were going to be this close to hell central," I said naively, rolling my eyeballs around a few times.

"Yes," Steven said, "things could get real hairy for us up here in a hurry."

I sobered somewhat, then turned my gaze skyward to catch a last glimpse of the huge white headed bird that had come to greet us.

"Looks like we're going to have some mighty interesting company during our stay up here," Steven said.

"Better than what's just below us, anyway," I said somberly.

Steven sobered, and paused a moment. "Better hope it stays that way," he mumbled.

The mountain pasture was surrounded on theupper side by the same tall pines that were prevalent below. The lower side of the meadow was split by what appeared to be a drop off of some sort. I assumed it to be the cliff from which the debris had rained down upon us earlier. On each side meadow grasses continued on beyond my vision.

10:30 A.M. came and went before we finished unloading Old Blackgoat's sheep in the northern most corner of the meadow. There was a small, half open shed made of wood that could provide some shelter from rain, and perhaps snow, if the conditions didn't become too blizzardy. A wire pen with a wooden gate would enable us to keep the sheep from straying in the evening.

Off the cuff I caught the name of Old Blackgoat's friend and introduced myself. His name was Harold Yazzie. He was one of the board members of Old Blackgoat's church, but I didn't recall him being present the night Mrs. Begay revealed what she knew about Dr. Sheolman. I would have enjoyed learning more about him, but he and Old Blackgoat were soon on their way back down the mountain to load and transport the remaining sheep.

Steven and I stood by the sheep gate as Old Blackgoat and Harold rolled off toward the mountain trail that would get them back to the main road.

The sun was now high enough in the sky to give our corner of the meadow some needed warmth, and I could tell the sheep appreciated it, too.

"I wonder how far we are from the mountain's crest," Steven said, eyeing the tree-line above us obstructing our view.

"No idea," I said. "I, for one, am more interested in locating our water source. There has to be one around here somewhere."

"Which way, then?" Steven said. "I'm game. We aren't going to find anything standing around here."

"Why not try south," I said.

"Fine with me," Steven said. "Let's grab our canteens. What have we got to lose?"

Going south meant we would walk a straight line from the sheep pen. If we would have gone north we would have eventually met up with the highway. East would have taken us to the mountain crest. West, of course meant we would, at some point, be faced with the challenge presented by a long hike back up the mountainside. I wasn't eager for that much exercise, yet. Besides, from where we stood we could see that a search for water westward from our vantage point would most likely be futile. Some trees obscured our vision near hell central's entrance, however, but we already knew that area was dry.

We passed through the tree line on the south side of the meadow and fought pine needles for a few hundred yards before wearying of that direction. Anyway, we didn't want to stray too far from the sheep.

Steven insisted that we try east, and although I wasn't eager to do any climbing, gave in, because it was his turn to choose the direction. As it turned out, we found a small brook directly above us. It was tiny, perhaps a yard wide, and ebbed from a ground source at the mouth of a small rocky cave. From there it wound its rickety way down the mountainside back toward the highway.

If we had gone east toward the mountain crest as first choice we would have saved ourselves half an hour. Notwithstanding, we had time to kill.

Steven laughed and said, "Joseph, you might as well get used to it. We'll most likely be walking to that water source with all the sheep twice a day. You know sheep cannot drink from water rushing down the mountainside."

"I know," I grumbled, "they'll drown unless they drink from still water."

"You're catching on Joseph," Steven said. "There may be hope for you yet."

I wasn't so sure. Nevertheless, putting the thoughts of minor inconveniences aside, I anticipated what a hot cup of coffee would taste like when brewed with the sparkling spring water. I kneeled beside the brook, cupped my hands, and scooped up what I hoped to be a mouth full of thirst quenching wetness.

"That's good stuff, Maynard," I said.

Ike gave me a puzzled look. "Good stuff, Maynard?"

"Kid's phrase," I said. "Used to use it around the neighborhood when I was growing up. We used it to describe something special. Guess I should quit using it, huh?"

"You don't get out much, do you Joseph? I mean, where you actually have to carry on a conversation with adults that isn't about cars."

I didn't have to answer. He had made his point. Steven kneeled beside me and began filling his canteen. I followed suit.

It was 2 pm by the time Old Blackgoat and Harold Yazzie returned with the remainder of the sheep herd and some bales of straw. While waiting Steven and I had busied ourselves collecting wood for an evening fire. That job done, and the last of the sheep pinned, we needed to get back down the Mountainside to load provisions for the week.

Four P.M. came and went and there was still no sign of Prometheus. We had loaded the 4X4 with provisions and were ready to roll. I can't say Steven and I were worried, having witnessed his escape, but I, for one, was starting to feel a tad pressured, anxious, or whatever, and I suspected Steven was, too.

We all felt the need for Prometheus to be with us. He was a hedge against onslaught. He had proven that. His importance to the mission was, at the least, great; at the most, critical. He was our friend, one to be counted on in the clutch. Even the sheep would miss him.

The light had dimmed considerably and the air had cooled somewhat by the time we pitched and rolled back into the colorful pristine alpine meadow. We would need a fire. If all the evenings were to be as cool, fetching wood had a place in our daily routine.

Oh joy! Busting shins in the underbrush. There was plenty of firewood for the taking. Most of it was pine; dead, dry wood that had been brought down by time, harsh winters, and relentless winds. It didn't look like the mountainside had been cleared by fire in quite some time. It was ripe for a natural burn. We'd have to be careful. Our own carelessness, the carelessness of others, or lightning could trap us in a hell hot fire with no escape.

"We're going to have to be careful about fire up here," I told Steven, tongue in cheek. "But don't worry none, you hear, I'll make it my special job to fetch wood and tend the faar."

I used my best imitation of a hillbilly voice.

Steven laughed. "Don't think you're going to get out of trekking up and down the mountainside with the sheep." I wasn't amused.

"Hey," Steven said, changing the subject by pointing his index finger eastward. "There is a path above the spring that leads to the mountaintop, and there is another meadow up there."

"How do you know?" I asked.

Old Blackgoat told me," he said.

"Oh, joy of joys," I said sarcastically, wearied from the thin mountain air and our long hikes.

Old Blackgoat and Harold Yazzie had brought several bales of straw with them on their last trip to the meadow, and they were our first priority after unloading the week's provisions. We had to provide Old Blackgoat's sheep with some of the comforts of home, and we, too, were rewarded with pallets of our own in one the corner of the shed. Man, what a life!

The evening was consummate. A full moon draped tall pines and meadow grasses with soft, glistening rays. Our campfire cast flickering shadows against the backdrop of our crude mountain shanty. Beef stew, fry bread, and honey butter, hot coffee made with spring water and sweetened with goat's milk..., Steven rose and dumped his empty dinner tin in the wash bucket.

"Time to draw straws for first watch," Steven said.

I drew first watch.

"Who wants to sit down there alone?" Old Blackgoat asked the two of us. "Let's all go."

I wasn't about to object.

Flickers of light cascading between spindly pine limbs aided in our descent. We moved as quietly as possible, Old Blackgoat leading the way. The lonely whir of a single truck echoed from the stretch of winding curves below us. I wondered who that could possibly be?




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