Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Day the Fire Burned

[Inspired by an idea we had at writer's group.]

January 29, 2109 -- Day 5

God forgive me! I had no idea, no idea! No, I must record this, for posterity, to know what is possible.

Today started like any other day living 100 years in the future, amazed by the way everyone now lives. My foster parents--that's what I started calling Benjamin and Mary since they took me in, though they're a few years younger than I--informed me that today we would go shopping. I was told to prepare for an all-day experience. I was certain that meant long lines, but was once again mistaken.

We entered into what resembled a Super Wal-Mart, but only in terms of what it carried. Groceries, clothing, tools... virtually anything one could need. A major difference was there were no price tags on anything, nor checkout lines. I keep forgetting that money stopped being exchanged in 2031. I heard another story today from that year: it seems that a young man had broken his arm and could not work in construction for a few weeks. Well, the owner of the company gave him a raise on the spot to offset any medical expenses. He went to purchase his food and the grocer wouldn't take his money; he must take the food as a gift. He returned home to find a message waiting for him; someone at the electric company found out about his injury and credited him as having paid this month's rent. The man, having been so blessed at this outpouring of love then went and gave his entire paycheck to the local homeless shelter.

But back to the market. Apparently, it was not the act of shopping for items that took all day; it was the social atmosphere. Hundreds of people filled the store, from all around the community; each time we passed someone for the first time today, we stopped to talk, swap stories of joy, and most of all pray. I decided to use this to my advantage and find out as much as I could about these last hundred years and what had transpired to bring about this utopia. Here is what I could gather before... well, before.

No one remembers what instigated the change. Even the eldest only have vague memories from their childhood, meaning it had to have happened sometime before 2020. What I can gather is that the transformation was immediate and worldwide. Nearly 90% of the population accepted or re-committed to Christ within a year's time. The remaining holdouts were so moved by the majority's new overflowing of love, mercy, and goodness that within 5 five years everyone else had bought in and been saved.

In 2027, the militaries worldwide were disbanded, after rapid disarmanent the previous 3 years. Looking to find employment for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, governments across the world teamed up and christened the Warriors of Light. These men and women, trained in combat techniques, would now use their skills for spiritual warfare. To remind them of their duty, they continued to wear camouflage-patterned fatigues, but white and crimson, symbolizing the blood that washes us clean. I met a few Warriors while shopping, and besides having the most powerful prayer session I've ever experienced, I also learned that recently they've teamed with doctors to provide care.

I also chatted with two lawyers, as they call them now. Back in my time, the best word to describe them was theologian. I also ran into a locomotive conductor; with communities now the central hub of activity, and work being offered to everyone locally, the highway system and automobiles themselves are now relics of my age. Trains are used to transport goods, and the conductor herself, whose primary task is to share experiences from other parts of the world. Ships, by the way, still sail the seas.

Still, there are a few garages in town, though I might call them fix-it shops instead. Anyone who has an issue with a mechanical or electric appliance that is beyond their know-how may bring it there for repair. Jonathan ran one such shop, a shop I dearly wish now I had never entered.

I only went there yesterday, seeking to find parts to repair my time-traveling device, which was damaged upon arrival (for all those future travelers, please remember to start it on the ground floor). Anyway, Jonathan was thrilled to meet me and help tinker with something new. Looking back on it, I think he was more excited about having someone with which to share his work. He had worked with his dad before God blessed him into heaven.

We were making good progress, and I thought a few more hours would do it, but it was getting late. I asked Jonathan if he could turn on the lights so I could see these last parts. He said he didn't have lights. It seems that after his father passed on, he tried to maintain the same workload, laboring all through the night, night after night. One of his neighbors, on a sleepless night, noticed him still at work and was concerned. Soon after, the community elders came knocking to his door, saying they were blessed by his work, but in love they could not let him continue at this pace. The agreement was made that the lights would be removed, so he could work only in daylight and must rest at night.

Well, that's when it happened. I couldn't believe it. We were so close to finishing, and he just told me we had to stop. I grumbled. I bad-mouthed the elders. Jonathan tried to console me, and that's when I let him have it. How dare he get in the way of what I wanted to accomplish! What's with these stupid rules? And why couldn't he just stand up for himself, so I could get my repairs done. I shouted at him for what must have been ten minutes, and he just took it. Actually, he was a deer in headlights, unable to move. At the end of it all, he still stood there, waiting. Looking back on it, I think he was expecting an apology, an asking of forgiveness. I just told him to leave, that I didn't want to see him anymore.

Then, today at the market, that's when it happened. I faintly smelled something burning, but it grew. Then, there was a loud shriek and people scattered. Parents grabbed their kids and ran. A few people were knocked over the panic. This all felt like a normal reaction to me, but it was highly unusual for this age. If a fire broke out, people ran to put it out. Kids were guided away from danger by any adult. And never, NEVER, did anyone knock someone else over to get anywhere. And that's when I heard him. "I hate this market. I hate this town. I hate this world. And I hate God." It was Jonathan. I ran towards him, and saw him in a fury, standing over a flame no larger than a campfire. It was so unlike him. He's always been a gentle creature, full of compassion and humility. Just like everyone else I've met. Something had happened. No, I had happened. He saw me lose it, grumble, complain and shout. Simply be selfish. And he learned. Boy did he learn.

Since then I've heard stories across the community of other acts of lovelessness, some trivial, others heinous. It's spreading like a disease. A disease I infected them with. God, why? Why did you let me come here? Please, don't let this spread. Take it all out on me, and spare this town, this world. Bring fire from heaven, or whatever you must. Just don't let me become the Serpent for this Eve. Oh God! It would be better for me if I had not been born! Please take me now and spare this world. Please, I beg you, please!


Linda said...

There are times when we enter a situation or come in contact with a person where we do bring the fire. It was a good reminder to try and not focus on ourselves.

Jen said...

Wow, this is so great! I like how you took and entire world view. Mine only covers one town. The scriptural implications are incredible. A very good reminder indeed.