Zanzibar – Part 39
Zanzibar – Part 39
by Lori Carlson
Miss Simone and Comet had stood vigil at the Temple door after the tragedy occurred in the chamber. They’d lost five important members of their community. The loss was felt by everyone, but Comet took it the hardest. She’d just be reunited with Hemi and now worried that she would never see him again. For days, they sat upon pillows at the door, watching the markings light up. By the middle of the second day, Comet couldn’t keep her eyes opened any longer. She’d drifted off into a fitful sleep. She dreamt of endless mazes and a search for Hemi that never ended. She only awakened when she felt a warm whoosh of air. The Temple door had opened.
Comet followed Miss Simone into the Temple. It was an incredible sight. Comet rubbed her eyes to make sure she’d actually woken up because this place felt like a dream. The room was circular and the walls were covered with flowing lava, like sheets of red rain falling from the sky. In the center of the room stood a large, pulsating crystal, six metres high. It glowed an eerie green color and massive heat radiated from it.
“This is it?” Comet asked.
Miss Simone nodded. “In all its glory. What were you expecting?”
Comet shrugged her shoulders. “Not sure I knew what to expect. A god, maybe?”
Miss Simone laughed. “Do you feel a presence here?”
Comet stood in stillness. She closed her eyes and allowed her mind to search the room. She’d already felt something. It was the reason she’d volunteered to become a devotee to the Temple. Now that she was actually in the Temple, she felt so much more.
“More than one. A collective presence.”
“I’ve never felt that, but then, being in this Temple has always been stressful for Ethan, Nellie and I. We’ve never spent enough time in here to notice anything extensive.”
“Can you tell me what you do in here? I want to see if what you do is what I am being prompted to do.”
Miss Simone nodded. “It’s pretty clear-cut. When we discovered this room early on, we just stood around the crystal and allowed its pulsating power to fill us. Eventually, we heard a voice who told us about the chamber, how to guide ourselves through the Smoke and what markings to carve into the Temple door and on stones to guide our way through the Smoke.”
“Did any of you ever feel an affinity for the crystal? Or did you just view Temple work as a ritual that had to be done?”
“I don’t understand, Comet. What are you suggesting?”
“Look at your arms, Miss Simone. Do you see how the black goo is pulsing in your veins like blood would?”
Miss Simone looked down at the small section of exposed skin. It was true. The blackness that ran through her arm did indeed pulse.
“I still don’t understand.”
“What I am sensing is that none of the three of you were ever supposed to be in here. You weren’t called for this work. You found the room and took it upon yourselves to participate even though you didn’t believe.”
Miss Simone hunched her shoulders. “It’s true. We’ve never enjoyed this aspect of our lives here. And when we each became sick from spending time here, we became less inclined to do Temple work. I am the only one who still comes here.”
“Out of duty?”
“Yes. I fear if I do not show up when the room opens, someone else might wander in and be harmed, or we will miss important instructions from the presence here.”
Comet closed her eyes again and listened. After a few moments, she opened them again. “The Collective had no choice but to work with you while they waited for their Chosen One. They apolgise for your illness.” Comet pulled up the sleeves of her white robe. “See, no sickness here.”
Miss Simone examined Comet’s arms. Not a single black line. “So you are the Chosen One? And you can hear the collective voices?”
“So who are they and how did they get here?”
“They are the spirits of all who have died here, wherever here is. Even they don’t know where this place is.”
“But surely there is a leader to this collective. Someone who was already here.”
“Indeed there is.”
“Who is it then?”
“They call the being The Architect. Creator of All.”
Miss Simone crunched up her face. “Then can this Architect please explain what the hell is going on around here? Why are the days and nights colliding? Why is time speeding up? And why did the Temple open up early?”
“Yes, the Architect can explain all of that…”
Before she could complete her sentence, Comet disappeared. Miss Simone was thrown with a mighty force from the Temple and the door slammed shut. She laid on the stone floor just outside the Temple, stunned. She got to her feet and walked up to the door. With a single finger, she traced one of the markings. Normally, she would have felt a sense of when the door would open again, but this time, she felt nothing. The Temple had chosen its guide and that was no longer The First Ones. She sighed. Her duties as a First One was diminishing. She wound her way through the caverns until she ended up in the Common room.
Maggie and Hannah sat at one of the large tables. Alstair ,with his hung low, sat at smaller table alone. Miss Simone knew she would have to deal with Alstair eventually, but she also knew it wasn’t his fault that he was flung against the stone table and upset it. When the three saw Miss Simone, they looked up at her with curious eyes.
“Where’s Comet?” Hannah asked.
Miss Simone shook her head. “She just vanished.”
Maggie cocked her head and furrowed her brow. “Vanished? So, we’ve lost six members now. What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t know. Honestly, strange things have been happening since the Motorhead gang arrived. It’s as though a balance has been breached.”
Alstair flinched at the mention of the Motorhead gang. It was his fault that Hemi went through the small vortex. If he’d just held on.
Miss Simone noticed Alstair’s reaction. “It’s not your fault, Alstair. Apparently everything that has and is happening… there is a purpose to it. I just don’t know what that purpose is. How can I guide any of you without understanding this?”
Miss Simone sulked off to the First Ones’ chamber. She sat down at the table she shared with Ethan and Nellie. She’d never felt so alone, nor so helpless. Everything they’d learned about this place – the star charting, the markings, the hidden chamber – suddenly felt obsolete. The rules were changing before her eyes. She’d never dealt well with changes. After a long self-pity party, Miss Simone stood up and went to her small bedroom. She laid down on the bed and closed her eyes. She was exhausted, but her mind wouldn’t shut down. Who was this Architect and what gave it the right to mess around with so many people’s lives? And why the hell did it and its collective communicate with Ethan, Nellie and herself if it knew by doing so, they’d all become ill? What kind of cruel being was it?
Hours passed way too quickly as Miss Simone quibbled over her thoughts. She’d just calmed down and was about to drift off to sleep when she heard a pounding at the chamber door. She got up and made her way into the meeting room, pressed her hand against the cold stone and stepped aside as the door rolled open. Hannah stood on the other side.
“You’d better come with me, Miss Simone.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“Comet has returned and she has something to tell all of us.”
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
If you missed a chapter, click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16,Part 17, Part 18,Part 19,Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, Part 34, Part 35, Part 36, Part 37, Part 38
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