2 EXODUS 2: Stone of Atonement

Posted: September 20, 2011 in SciFi

The time had come. The young learner priests were assembled around the Stone of Atonement. It was very hot but not as hot as the heat of anticipation the boys felt with the sweat pouring from their shining faces.

They had been in the open for a considerable time when the priests emerged from the Place of Special Prayer.
One priest was beating a solemn walking rhythm on a drum made from a tube of shiny white and unblemished metal which had been covered with the cured skin of a buck. The skin was drawn taught with plaited ropes of hemp. The rhythm reverberated into the temple and further afield across the valley.

The priests walked into the  circle between the learner priests and circled the Stone. Once they were all settled in their predetermined places the High Priest emerged from the Place of Special Prayer and next to him walked the Red Priestess.

The learner priests were quite surprised by this as no-one had told them that she would be present or that she was in the area. Her position and role in the ceremony was not clear to them but there could be no doubt that her mere presence added to the spectacle as well as to the tension of the occasion. The drum continued its monotone beat as the two figures, resplendent in the robes of their respectivecere monial offices, approached.

The High Priest wore a long robe which shimmered blue in the daylight. On his head he carried a shiny crown made of the same shiny material as the material from which Place of Special Prayer had been constructed. He carried in his arms a sceptre of polished wood upon which carvings of animals and spirits had been made. It was decorated with the polished teeth of various animals and wrapped around its intricately carved head the shiny metal had again been used.

The Red Priestess wore a red robe which wrapped around her body like a fire leaping up towards her long red hair. Over her back she had a hideous wrap made from the head and skin of a hyena. Its teeth were locked forever in a death grin while its eyes, which were made from some transparent material, stared out behind her as if to warn her of any attack from the rear or maybe to warn off any would-be attacker.

There were no spectators except the womenfolk who had been forbidden to attend the ceremony. They remained in the cooking hut from where they were able to observe the proceedings.

The High Priest turned to place himself at the head of the Stone while the Red Priestess positioned herself at its foot. As they reached their positions the drum ceased its beating rhythm.

The High Priest raised his arms and the commenced with the Call of Atonement.

“See us Lords of the Clouds,” he intoned. “Send us your messages and visions. We are your servants and await your signs.”

With this he held up the Divine Rod and struck it hard onto the cold rock in front of him. A loud explosion shook the arena and bright red smoke arose amidst a fierce fire which burned with an intense red flame for a while until it died leaving a pall of acrid smelling smoke around them. All the boys jerked in fright. The Red Priestess herself could still not resist jumping in fright although she had known what was coming and what had caused the loud explosion.

As the red smoke cleared, on queue, as if in reply, a bolt of lightning descending from the swirling clouds above them and burning into the stone with a thunderous crash, knocked all the participants around it to the ground. Stunned and dazed by the lightning, their ears hurting: all they could hear was a loud buzzing sound.

The Red Priestess lay crumpled about ten feet away from the stone. She looked dead but after a few minutes, a low  moan could be heard as she turned onto her back. Her eyes were wide open in fright. This was more than they had bargained for. This was powerful stuff and would serve them well, she thought through the mists of pain and buzzing ears. She struggled to her feet to find everybody else slowly getting up from where the thunder flash had thrown them.

Nobody had been hurt, which clearly indicated the power of their gods as well as their munificence. The Red Priestess realised what had happened. The flash of the old flare they had recovered from the Airbus disaster and which was cleverly hidden in the ceremonial sceptre to explode when it was struck on the rock, had created what experts from the Ancient World, used to term ‘a burning path’ through the air by ionising the air molecules. This created a fiery conduit for the lightning which had been building up in the clouds above; to strike as if called upon by the priests.

The High Priest, who had also been flung a distance from the Stone by the lightning bolt, crawled back to the Stone and gasped in shock and wonder. The stone had been split into two clean halves. What could the message of this be he pondered? The test of the learner-priests had taken a totally unexpected turn. They would have to wait for another opportunity. This sign from the gods was far too important and significant to ignore. This would require him to interpret and to send this message out to the villagers, including the Jesuits. Even he who foretold the future had been taken by surprise. The gods had indeed spoken.

He prostrated himself in front of the two stones and closing his eyes, entered into the unknown realm of the future. His body shuddered and jerked as he was possessed by the spirits.

Meanwhile the Red Priestess, seeing the impact the lightning had had on the rock sat down in a yogic meditational position and went into her own trance. She centred herself and through careful and well practiced breathing techniques was able to bring her racing pulse rate down to normal levels and even below. It had taken her years to master the technique after learning how to meditate from her Teacher.

The other Priests as well as the learners all prostrated themselves in a circle around the split stone and awaited further signs from their spiritual superiors. The dramatic spectacle they had just witnessed had totally convinced them of the High Priest’s power and when combined with the presence of the Red Priestess, it was clearly sheer and simply terrifying magic. It also indicated to them how the gods in the clouds had sent them a message which they had yet to interpret.

It was a long wait.

As the shadows lengthened on the ground the Red Priestess came out of her trance. She stood up and walked away from the circle towards the House of Special Prayers without a backward glance to where the acolytes and priests were still lying.

After a short while the HighPriest also came out of his trance and lay exhausted on his back staring at the clouds above.

What he had seen puzzled him.

He stood up and clapping his hands, indicated that everybody return to their huts. He walked without a word to the House of Special Prayers where the Red Priestess awaited him. They closed the door to the inner sanctum and sat down across from each other.

“The thunder flash almost killed us! My ears still hurt,” she said holding her head to one side as if to shake out any objects from it.


“What?” she asked.

“Blue,” he repeated, “everything blue.”

“What do you mean?”

“The gods will leave us.”

“Stop talking nonsense. When and what is it you saw?” she asked impatiently.

“The clouds will disappear after the next migration of birds. The skies will turn blue, a blue such as I have never seen. A fire will burn in the skies during the day and at night there will be a ball of ice with many thousands of small lights.”

The Red Priestess stared at him silently and then laughed from the depth of her soul and laughed and laughed until the tears ran down her face. The Priest stared at her uncomprehendingly. This was a serious matter. The gods must be very angry if they decide to leave in the clouds. Where will the birds come from? Where will the rain from the clouds come from?

The Red Priestess jumped up with surprising alacrity for her age and slapped the priest on the back.

“It is the beginning, my boy,” she shouted. “You have seen the true skies, the sun, the moon and stars, which I told you, lay beyond the clouds. I am the only living person to have seen these things and I tell you they are wondrous indeed. The gods are not leaving us. They are preparing us for the exodus to the New World. This is what we have been waiting for, for eight stones.”

“…yes but the circle of stones is not yet completed.”

“I know, I know, that was merely a clock I created to heighten the tension and to create the expectation of ultimately leaving the Valley,” she replied irritably. “Think what this could mean for us! It is the beginning of a whole new era and if we play this carefully we will be able to predict the new era and in such a manner we will win over those who resist us but more importantly create unity in order for us to plan for the exodus.”

“How will we explain what’s going to happen?” the Priest asked.

“You know that all the villagers including the Jesuits respect me or at worst fear my powers. I believe that they’ll listen to me if an invitation to a special ceremony to bless the next bird migration comes from me. We can do this quite quickly as the migration is due in a couple of weeks. Then what we’ll do is to set up an opportunity for each village to perform a special ritual in commemoration of the Ancients and at the same time to bless the migration. At this point I’ll ask every village leader if he would like to share with us his vision of the future. Then I’ll ask you to do a reading of the future that you have just seen. You’ll share with all villagers in a most dramatic fashion the beginning of the new era. Think about it. It’ll be most wonderful occasion and give us power such as you’ll not believe. I will close off the ceremony with a special Blessing from the Ancients and a message of things to come.”

“Where will all this take place?”

“On top of KRAT.”


“Yes. I’ve thought about it. It’s the most sacred place. It’s neutral as we all respect the Ancients and our Coming. That is where it all began. It’s also where the birds first land and congregate. If your gods smile upon us, the migration could coincide with the ceremony. Remember also that’s where I lived with the other Ancients before the mountains split open and the seas withdrew. It’s where I came from.”

“When do you think we should do this?” the priest asked. It was clear that he deferred to her as she was the wise one and one of the Ancients. She had taught him everything he knew. She was the one who first recognised his special talent to see. She wasalso his mother.

“In ten days time, Michael. The Jesuits have predicted the next migration to start within five to seven days and they are preparing for it, but they’re all wrong. Even the New Londoners have the dates wrong.”

“Why? How can you tell?”

“I can feel it,” she said mysteriously, “but I also keep my own calendar. The weather’s not right. There’s too much wind and the clouds, as we have witnessed today, are moving with much lightning. The birds will be delayed. They’ll be coming ten days to two weeks from today,” she predicted with confidence.

“Ten days will also give us enough time to get the message to all the villagers and to set up the site on KRAT. I will go there immediately after I’ve returned to my cave and picked up the girls. They’re going to be very important for the ceremony. On my way to KRAT I’ll speak to the Jesuits. You must send out messengers to the New Londoners as well as to the Caesareans.”

“How do you move around so easily at your age?” he enquired. It has been a mystery to him for a long time that she was able to move without being seen and he marvelled at the speed with which she accomplished this.

With a smile, she got up fromher chair and walking around the table, said, “There are things never thought of in your imagination, my son.”

“You know what they say about you and the hyenas.”

“I know and I let them wonder. I’ll meet with you in nine days on KRAT. You’ll find me at the Sacred Source of the Ancients. That’s where we’ll perform the ceremony. You must prepare your priests and the boys.”

She left the inner sanctumand disappeared into the night.

He had forgotten to ask her what she had seen when she had gone into her trance after the splitting of the
Stone of Atonement.

In the distance he could hear the whooping laugh of the hyenas and shuddered involuntarily.


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