Book 1: Mother Earth and the Apocalypse

Posted: August 9, 2011 in SciFi

Mother Earth and the Apocalypse

“He sang who knew

Tales of the early time of man,

How the Almighty made the earth,

Fairest fields enfolded by water,

Set, triumphant, sun and moon

For a light to lighten the land-dwellers,

and braided bright the breast of earth with limbs and leaves,

made life for all of mortal beings that breathe and move’

(from Beowulf, translated by F.B.Gummere)



The single tooth in her mouth was all that you could distinguish in the barely-luminant flickering of the small fire, as it cast long shadows against the ochre walls of the cave. Her silhouette blotted out all other features; her eyes were sunk into dark bottomless pits of hell.

Behind her the cave stretched into unknown depths.

In front of her lay the bones of her last meal. They were small bones; from rats, the innocuous and ever-present hyrax, rabbits and the odd bird someone had laid in front of the cave entrance to ensure that she caste no spells on the donor’s family. Behind her lay a mattress fashioned from the rough reeds growing near the nearby spring, from which all life came forth. It was covered with a blanket made from the soft furry skins of the hyrax and rabbits. A small, smoothly worn log served as her head cushion.

The smell in the cave was overpowering. It smelled of old dirt and darkness; of ancient thoughts and loneliness; of pain and suffering. It also smelled of fear, the fear of the small group of children squatting in front of the old hag. Each girl-child’s hair shone as if from burnished gold with flames streaking across the long tresses which reached down to their small waists. The children were watching the hag silently. They were petrified but knew that this was their lot. It had been ordained at birth. They were the Chosen Ones. What they had been chosen for was not yet clear to them. This is what they were here to learn.

The old woman stretched herself and slowly unwound her body to get up. The children shrank back and gasped at what they saw. She was tall, very tall and her hair shone red in the dim fire-light of the cave. As she turned toward them they could also see in the dim light that she had blue eyes which she now used to examine each one of them individually.

The children’s eyes were also all blue.

Satisfied with what she saw, the old woman turned away from the small group and walked slowly back into the far recesses of the cave.

They could hear her scratching around but were too terrified to move or talk. Presently she re-emerged into the light of the fire, carrying a strange object. It was something the like of which they had never seen. It was small, square and shiny and reflected light from all sides.

The woman sat down on a small stool and beckoned the children to move closer. Fearfully they crept towards her, close enough to see, yet far enough to flee from her reach. She placed the object on a rock in front of her and then opened it where no opening was possible. The reflections from the shiny surface glittered on the walls and roof of the cave. Pressing a couple of shiny knobs caused a light to shine on her face, lighting it up with strange colours which moved like the waters of a river. After a few magic moments, she closed the square shiny box again and held it to her chest as one would a treasure. It was clearly a magical box with powers the children could never imagine.

“In the beginning, there was a place from which all beings came,” she said in a surprisingly soft voice. The children strained their ears to listen because this is what they were expected to do.

“To listen, to learn, you are to become the Conduits of Wisdom; of a place as you would never imagine; a place where everything was possible. A place where people could fly; a place where people could speak over long distances and see things which were happening where they were not. It was a place where we could go to the moon and reach for the stars and look down on Earth. It was a place where many tribes lived, more than you can ever imagine. The tribes lived in villages larger than the very earth you know and built huts that reached into the skies and pierced the clouds.”

“We could move around so fast that between the rising of the sun and its setting, we could move a hundred, nay a thousand times the length of our earth. We had the power to move things without movement. We could hear things without others hearing it. We gathered food without growing it. We had story-tellers who were able to show us the stories in moving paintings without story-tellers. It was a great place.”

“One day we will go back to that place. That is our mission. That is what you are destined to do. It is also your destiny to carry with you the wisdom of the Ancients to the New World.”

The children were spellbound. They had heard of this legendary Place from their parents but considered it all part of legend and legend it was. They even played games trying to create their own versions of the Place. They created their own devils and gods. It was fun to be a devil and to ‘scorch’ the others with the Red Death. They did not know what the sun, moon or stars were as they had never seen them. These were legends.

So too the legend of the Lost Tribe was used by parents in all the villages to scare their children.

The old woman looked tired now and lapsed into a trance-like state. Only one of the children could see that a tear was coursing its way slowly down her wrinkled cheek.

The children looked around the cave and each silently found herself a spot where she could sleep. They settled down for the night.

Tomorrow the learning would start they thought, but the learning had already started.



Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport; London

 Flight BA 765 from London to Johannesburg via Frankfurt, had been cleared for takeoff and the giant Airbus 380 was slowly pushed away from the umbilical cord of the boarding tunnels at Heathrow Airport’s controversial Terminal 5.

It was 19hOO GMT, 4th May 2010.

After finding its position in the row of trundling jetliners destined for a multitude of cities around the globe, flight BA 765 finally lined up for takeoff all the while performing its pre-flight tests.

Donald James, in 101A settled in and almost immediately fell asleep. He was tired and flight BA 765 was one of six flights he had taken in the past 48 hours. Tomorrow would be Wednesday, and he was looking forward to spending the approaching weekend in bed in his rented apartment in Durban, South Africa. Monday he would need all the energy he could muster to finalise the 2010 World Cup arrangements which had been bedevilled during the last four years in South Africa by incessant squabbling between inept officials and corrupt politicians and City Councils, Contractors, labour unions and the mafia-like organisers of the World Cup or ‘Mafifa’ as he liked to refer to them.

Most of the arrangements were now in place but security had been a major headache all along with the South African Police Services unable to resolve the problems and curtail the activities of massive internationally controlled crime and drug cartels that were using the country as a major launching pad into other countries. The World Cup was an ideal opportunity to strengthen the stranglehold they had on greedy officials, politicians and business people. Donald James was a security specialist and had extensive experience of cartels as well as the incessant corruption of officials in countries such as the United Kingdom, the USA and Germany.

His task in South Africa would be to finalise the security arrangements for the World Cup, and ensure that the influence of the cartels is minimised.

He was a marked man and knew it.

Flight stewardess Peterson strapped herself in into her customary position on the starboard side crew seats. Her mind was not on the preparations for the flight. She was thinking about what the doctor had told her earlier in the morning.

“You’re pregnant, Ms Peterson, I trust that this is good news?” he had said rather enquiringly. Shit, she thought, that’s the last thing I need now, Paul will be furious.

“Oh yes! My husband will be delighted,” she lied glibly, “it’s just that I’m rather surprised. I’ve been on the pill for years now.”

“It’s common to fall pregnant while on the pill. At least you can stop taking them now. From my examination I would think the baby is due in December. You’re about six weeks now.” The doctor gave her a prescription for vitamins.

She had not told her boyfriend, Paul before boarding her flight.

The pitch of the four giant Rolls Royce Trent 900 motors of the Airbus, increased to a roar and seconds later the familiar thrust of thousands of horses in her butt brought Peterson back to the present.

As the massive plane left the runway and clawed its way into the sunny evening skies above London, Father John Ridgeway in 36G marvelled at the miracle of flying.

“Still can’t believe that hundreds of tons of cargo, fuel and passengers can be lifted so effortlessly. I wonder what the Egyptians and Israelites would have said if they were to have seen a sight such as this. At least I don’t have to wander around for forty years in the desert as Moses was obliged to, to get to my new congregation in South Africa.”  Prophetic thoughts they were.

The thought of his new vocation excited him. A new country, a new people, new things to learn and adapt to. There are so many who require counselling and whose souls needed God’s interventions through him. Father Mbuli had said that the small Catholic parish in Mthubathuba was very poor and then there was the convent and Jesuit School he was expected to manage. But then, so what? Money doesn’t buy salvation. The locals much preferred their local adaptation of Christianity which is a mix of animism, witchcraft and Christianity and even with some Coptic practices woven into the fabric of their societies.

He would set them right and show them the true and only path to salvation; the heathen practices which included the slaughtering of animals to celebrate their ancestors will have to stop.

Directly behind Father Ridgeway, Dr. Van der Merwe was perusing ‘The Times’. She pointed to the main article and remarked to her husband: “The floods in the Netherlands, are attributed directly to global warming, they say here. According to this article, the temperature of the planet has climbed faster than anyone expected. The ice cap of the North Pole has shrunk by over 45% over the last three years. They say that this makes it the smallest ice cap the planet has had for the last 50 000 years! The South Pole is not as badly affected it seems.”

“Uh-Uh, wonder who was there to record it last time around? All I could care about is that the air hostess, bring us our night cap,” came the sleepy response from her disinterested husband.

He had been attending what to him was a boring conference in London concerning the economic plans of the Big Eight economies of the world. His wife, a world renowned economist was one of the guest speakers. As a development economist, she had made a strong case for the removal of agricultural subsidies in the economies of the rich countries to assist the poor and developing economies of the Third World Countries to compete on a more or less equal footing. This debate had been raging for the last decade. He had been the supportive husband but now wanted to get back home to his mistress and his successful hardware business in Pretoria.

The pilot banked the aircraft towards Frankfort, their first stop. Switching to autopilot, he turned to Fred Macmillan the co-pilot: “She’s yours, Fred; I hate this bloody leg of the flight. Too much noise from the world and too short a flight to settle down.”

“Got her. Oscar, what’s the ETA to Frankfurt please?” the co-pilot asked the Flight Engineer.

“There are some atmospherics ahead, but hold your course; it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Our ETA is 20h30 GMT.”

Outside, the sky was darkening rapidly as flight BA 765 reached its short-hop cruising altitude of 10 000 metres to Frankfurt. Air Traffic Control, Frankfurt already had them on their radar screens. Routine stuff.



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