Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Novel(?)

[The following is from Chapter 3, as currently planned, which is tentatively titled, "Arrival of Dragon and Hero." Let me know: would you be interested in reading more of this story? Any suggestions?]

Before the rebellion, the Whitefield Villa was a place of light. Located in a broad clearing midway up a softly ascending mountain, the Villa was an enormous white rectangle with eight tremendous columns holding up a slanting green roof above a red brick porch. Rows of well-tended brilliantly yellow rose bushes bordered the porch. A geyser-like fountain sparkled in the front lawn. Entering the Villa through ornate polished bronze doors, guests found themselves in a spacious hall, suitable for formal dances. A series of large windows allowed sunlight to flood the hall. Directly across from the front door was a white marble staircase, which was broad enough that two carriages could have ascended it side-by-side. Before the rebellion, the Whitefield Villa was not much like a cave at all.

It was a bright, sunny day when news of the rebellion reached the Whitefield Villa. As reports of battle came in over the next few days, the weather remained fair, but spirits in the Villa were overwhelmingly gloomy. Due to the summer heat, the servants had been performing their duties rather casually, but with the great tension and uncertainly brought about by rumors of war, the servants began to work with rigid formality and attention to detail (as if each well-polished piece of silver could somehow help maintain order in the world), even though the master and mistress of the house–consumed with trying to determine the best way they might help protect their region from being ravaged– were now even less concerned than usual over the minutiae of orderliness.

When Lord and Lady Whitefield found it necessary to leave for the Imperial Capitol with their son, the servants continued to carry out their tasks like clockwork. Anderson– the Villa Chief of Staff, a thin, elderly gentleman whose family had worked at the Villa for generations– expected the Whitefields to be gone for about a month. When six weeks passed with no word from his employers, Anderson sent a messenger to the sheriff, who sent back word to Anderson that getting any information from the Capitol had become impossible. On the heels of this communication with the sheriff, Anderson received word that the Winding-Redfern Estate, whose lord and lady were similarly away on business, had been plundered by villagers, therefore Anderson decided to try and keep the Whitefields’ extended absence as quiet as possible, and so he refrained from contacting anyone else to investigate what might have become of them.

But the charade could only last for so long. Eventually, the money that Anderson had been given to buy supplies ran out, and then the supplies themselves became scarce. Systematically, various rooms were closed off, with drapes placed over the furniture. Over time, groups of servants began tendering their resignations to Anderson. When the first group resigned, Anderson marked them as faithless traitors. By the time the last group of servants left, provisions had become so scant and starvation loomed so large that Anderson bade them a heartfelt, compassionate farewell. So it came about that Anderson was left in the house alone. He broke protocol and, over time, ate the remaining perishables from the food closet set aside for the Whitefields themselves. Then Anderson realized that he too must leave. Before he went, old Anderson carefully boarded up the windows with the thought of hopefully preserving the glass from being broken and the house from being invaded. As he drove each nail into the windowsills, he felt that he was driving a nail into his own soul. Anderson then took all of the Whitefields’ valuables– everything from the silver candlesticks to the family sword, which had been hanging in the master bedroom– and he locked them in the basement vault. As he locked the Villa doors for the last time, Anderson prayed that Lord and Lady Whitefield would safely return someday soon.

Once Anderson had left, the boarded up interior of the Whitefield Villa– with drapes over all the furniture– looked very much like a cave indeed. It became even more cave-like as bats, which had always been a problem, now took complete control of the attic; rats and all manner of bugs took the lower floors for their own.

Now, it is important to note that while dragons would never inhabit elegant mountain villas, they would often inhabit dank mountain caves.

            One stormy night, three months after Anderson had left the Whitefield Villa, a wounded dragon plummeted down from the dark, low-hanging clouds about the house, crashing through the green roof. As the wood of the roof cracked and splintered, the bats that had been nesting in the attic screeched and took flight. A puff of green-yellow fire escaped from the bloody slit in the dragon’s throat, and the winged, horned green-gray beast collapsed upon the grand marble staircase, surrounded by a dozen burning bats. Jade shingles from the roof rained down upon the dragon’s quivering form.

            The dragon lay upon the stairs until the first light of dawn, when it dragged itself down the stairs and circled around to move between the columns supporting the staircase. Under the staircase, in the dark, the dragon seethed and healed, drinking rainwater that flowed down from the hole in the roof and eating burned bats, bugs, and rats.

            As it slowly regained strength, the beast began to sense silver. Now, it is common knowledge that dragons were covetous creatures, hoarding precious metals, which they could not spend and would not display to others, simply for the enjoyment of withholding something shiny from others who desired it. Dragons had developed a sixth sense by which they could perceive the presence of gold, silver, copper, and the like. These precious metals “sang” out to dragons; it was as if the dragons could hear or feel or taste or smell the silver, etc. Now in the Whitefield Villa, the dragon lay with knowledge of silver burning in the back of its brain. Finally, it heaved itself off the floor, stumbled toward the basement door, and then burst through, slithering down the basement stairs. The dragon clawed at the door to the vault, diamond-hard talons sending up sparks as they scratched against the iron. Tearing through the door, the dragon carelessly broke the elegant glassware and ripped the famous paintings; it piled up the metal valuables and then contentedly curled up in front of them.

            The vermin that had previously settled at the Whitefield Villa soon all scurried away, lest they become part of the vile worm’s buffet. And so, once it was fully healed, the dragon began leaving its new “cave” in the middle of the night in order to hunt amongst the nearby hills, always returning to its treasure trove before the sun arose. People from the town would occasionally catch glimpses of phantasmal green-yellow light (actually the dragon’s fire) shining in the direction of the Whitefield Villa, and so it became common knowledge that the place was haunted.

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