Rene’s Short Stories

The Bishop’s Flight

A divine invitation

darius-bashar-3KYviZ-qG7M-unsplash (2)                              Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

A voice of rolling thunder speaks to Bishop Hawley rousing his soul to separate from of his sleeping body. “COME UP HERE.”

Three immense pulsating white clouds hover above one-million Roman Colosseums embellishing the baseline of Italy’s Apennine Mountains to the seventh-dimension. Fifty-five thousand souls from every nation and tongue sitting in each arena stand up. Hands and voices offer high praise and worship in one accord. The sun relinquishes its light, yielding its strength to brilliant undeniable glory.

Struggling against the powerful hold, Bishop Hawley tries to awaken and free himself from the grip of the golden-winged captor drawing his soul away. Why can’t I open my eyes? He wonders, yet, while he wrestles, he watches, seeing himself and everything else with crystal clarity.

“Peace. Be still,” says the Arch Angel Gabriel. Bishop Hawley relaxes immediately, and trusts.

“Come, beloved of God. You shall answer the Living God,” said, Gabriel, zipping Bishop Hawley up and away into flight.

Soaring across iridescent midnight velvet skies at the speed of light from his bed in Pennsylvania, Bishop Hawley marvels watching the topography of his city shrink to minuscule light-dots and borderlines.

“But I didn’t hear the Lord,” Bishop says, clinging for dear life to the loose fabric of Gabriel’s glistening white sash.

“You shall hear,” Gabriel replies, ending the three-second international journey to Italy. “Now, behold!” Gabriel stands at attention by the Bishop’s side with his shimmering sword in hand.

High above gravity, Bishop Hawley sees hundreds of ancient Roman Colosseums filled with billions of cheering spectators. The number of the Souls surpassed the seating capacity of the one-million stadiums, leaving standing room only for the overflow. Suddenly, living cobalt blue light floods the Apennine Mountain terrain. A sweet scent riding a billowing wind transports the Bishop seating him safely on the top cornerstone of the center Colosseum.

matthew-mcbrayer-qD9xzm7yK9U-unsplashPhoto by Matthew McBrayer on Unsplash

Voices from the multitudes fade to silence as the presence of the LORD inhabits dense enfolding inferno clouds. The quiet voice of an invisible being speaks from behind Bishop Hawley, explaining why he and the multitudes are present.

The Bishop hears, “Rise up, Nathaniel Hawley. Be of good courage and fear not, for I, the Lord thy God, am with thee.”

Recognizing His voice, Bishop Hawley obediently stands to his feet keeping his eyes to the ground. “How may I serve thee, King Savior?” Bishop Hawley, falling to his knees listens for instructions.

“Stand, beloved and faithful servant! Judge ye. Speak the eternal torment of the devil that is Satan! What say ye?”

Instantly, the sounds of worshiping Souls intensify. A different voice from above proclaims, “Harken all ye saints of God. By divine invitation, you are present to inflict additional anguish and torment as a judgment on that devil called Satan. Evil shall have no weapons to form against you, and no thought of discouragement or fear shall enter your hearts. The enemy is now vulnerable flesh and blood. He shall feel the wrath of affliction as you shall imagine and speak.”

Upon hearing the proclamation, resounding cheers and applause attract flying birds to land and observe. A million dungeon gates crank-n-clank open. Into each area emerges a cowering Satan. Following him are Cain, Elizabeth Bathory, Talat Pasha, and thousands of ancient and modern-day wicked souls. Satan and his devils immediately recognize the Soul-sea of faces belonging to every unjustly murdered victim. Evil huddles together—they tremble—they weep. Evil gnashes their teeth.

The first Soul to impose infliction on Satan is Abel who stands wearing animal skin. A ferocious stab through the heart strikes Satan. His devils writhe in agony ten times worse. Like the spectating Souls, Bishop Hawley praises God whooping with his fists pumping high above his head.

In Philadelphia, Pauline, the bishop’s wife, thinks twice to awaken her husband, but when he quiets down, she goes back to sleep to enjoy her own dream.

Bishop Hawley’s dream continues as the second Soul, Job, wearing fine dyed linen and a crown, steps forward to voice his sentence. Job calls oozing painful boils to sweep over Satan and his cult covering them from the soles of their feet to the tops of their heads. Hot breezy air quick-dries weeping puss-filled boils turning them into crusty scabs that crack open with the slightest movement. The bombarding tortures cause Satan and his devils to grovel for mercy and plead for compassion. God hears them not. The Soul-sea laughs.

Next to his wife at home, Bishop Nathaniel Hawley sleeps soundly. His feet kick rapidly above the mattress as he dreams of stomping evil sin into one congealing mound of screaming smoldering miserable wickedness. Inflicting torment on Satan and his devils is a joyful happy event for all the invited spectators. A bounty of roasted succulent meats, artisan loaves of bread and cheeses, fresh fruits, and delectable fine wine is served. Unmanned musical instruments play themselves in the background bouncing to a medley of jovial second-century tunes.

“Arise, Nathaniel Hawley and come forth.”

“Yes, Lord,” Bishop Hawley says, eager to take his turn.

Unseen power elevates Bishop Hawley and transports him center-sky above the arenas. The desire to awaken is long forgotten. Feeling bold and full of divine courage, Bishop Hawley clears his throat. He is fully aware that whatsoever penalty he speaks, it will be exacted upon evil sin. Elated, he listens to the devil’s beg and demand to return to hell. Righteous scourging repeatedly rips their flesh open minute after minute. The bishop calls for a pouring out of fine salt over their wounds to increase agonies and pains. Laughter and roaring celebrations reach to the heavens, approving of Bishop Hawley’s brand of judgment.

Recalling past bigotries, humiliations, and anger; reliving betrayals, griefs, and needless deaths, Bishop Hawley proclaims justifiable indignation against Satan and his evildoers.

“Let Satan and his devils be eternally accosted by serial rapists and serial killers. Let evil make sport of maiming and raping evil!” The crowds go wild. “Let starvation, blindness, arthritis, every type of cancer, diabetes, and every mental disorder come upon them hour-by-hour in a never-ending repetitive cycle from which there shall be no relief or healing!” Encouragement from the multitudes of cheering Souls adds fuel to his fire. The bishop shouts, “Agony, infighting, and damnation shall vex them for all eternity!!”

At daybreak, Pauline stirs and awakens hearing her husband’s command. She sits up in bed feeling drowsy and curious. He must be having some amazing dream. Knowing she won’t be able to go back to sleep, she goes into the bathroom before going downstairs to the kitchen.

Two hours later …

Footsteps speed down the dark walnut stairs. Feeling fresh and full of energy, Bishop Hawley enters and sits down at the breakfast table. “Good morning, Sweetheart,” he says, kissing Pauline on the lips. “Man-alive, I’m starving!”

“I don’t doubt that for one second, Nathaniel,” Pauline smiles, serving her husband hot pancakes, sausages, and decaffeinated black coffee. “Sweet dreams, I hope.”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bell’s Niece

Bells Niece Pic (3)            Photo by Yousef Espanioly on Unsplash

Emerald green-eyed tears drizzle down her plump sun-kissed face. Broken dried twigs and shriveled brown leaves hitchhike on bouncy red Shirley Temple curls.

Auntie Bell lives near Warm Daddy’s Bar & Grill—The trip never takes this long, she remembers.

Her favorite pink cotton dress with embroidered butterflies and flowers tells the tale of fresh splattered blood at home.

Auntie Bell knows what to do about Daddy, Mommy, Uncle Mike, the puppies, and me on the kitchen floor, she trusts.

The five-year-old ducks under the barrier to cross the highway. Skidding rubber against asphalt creates a foul stench to which she winces and wrinkles her freckled button-nose. Crumpling metals and glass explosions scrape, tinkle, and litter the road left and right of her. Fire and smoke funnels smear black and gray streaks beneath the clear blue sky. Settling dust clouds dull the shine on her tiny red patent-leather shoes. Her reflection she no longer sees crying up at her. She hears chaos echoing high and low-down from center view. Women scream. Car horns blare agony and fear. Whirring emergency vehicles approach warning her to be careful. The world stops. It’s safe to finish crossing the highway without a scratch.

Auntie Bell will make it all better, she believes with all her heart.

The Highway Patrol team searches for the little red-haired girl wearing a pink dress and red shoes. Action news reporters arrive at the scene. Firemen extinguish fires.

“Roll tape. Can you tell us what happened, ma’am?” the reporter asks, shoving a microphone in a woman’s blood-streaked face. Helicopters hover.

“When I saw the child step onto the highway, my foot jammed on the breaks,” the hysterical woman replies. “Then, the car following me smashed into my bumper and rolled down that embankment over there,” she points. Her body trembles in shock.

“Where did you see the little girl, Sir?” A patrolman asks, searching underneath and in between damaged cars and burning SUVs.

“Man, she came from outta’ nowhere ‘bout a-quarter-mile back!” proclaims a tractor-trailer driver stepping down from his jack-knifed cab. “Her dress is fulla’ blood. She ain’t but a minute big, officer.” Bewilderment floods his heart. Tears spring into his eyes. “She’s out there all alone. Cryin’.”

“My infant is asleep in my back seat!” screams a frantic new mother grabbing a patrolman’s arm. “The door is jammed! I can’t get him out! PLEASE, HELP MY BABY?!”

“Officer!” an elderly man calls from one of several rolling gurneys, “The child. Find the little child. I saw her running across the highway to the other side before she disappeared.”

“Disappeared?” questions the emergency technician. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” shouts the elderly man. “She vanished right before my eyes!”

Mayhem, sirens, traffic, and death choke the miles between Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina.

Later that day in Durham …

“Welp, it’s that time of year again,” Glen Bolton calls to his wife Carolyn from the living room standing in front of the television. Thunder rumbles in the distance as lightning cracks the sky. Uncrossing his arms, he turns and walks into the kitchen.

“Don’t tell me,” Carolyn answers standing at the stove. “Bell’s niece done crossed I-85 again.” Shaking her head, she sighs stirring a pot of beans. “It’s been a hundred years since the murders. That poor little lost soul may never rest in peace.”