Zanzibar – Part 45
(Sorry this is late, dear readers. I had a family emergency Saturday that lasted all through yesterday. All is well though. Thank you for your patience.)
Zanzibar – Part 45
by Lori Carlson
Tang felt odd praying to a being who, by his own omission, was not a true god, but if it would stop the impending catastrophe, then he would do it. He chose the location for ceremony away from the dwellings. If something weird happened, he didn’t want it to destroy their homes. He didn’t trust this Great Black Head and didn’t put anything past him.
The Settlers gathered along a barren stretch of mesa. When they tried to form a circle, Tang stopped them. He knew it was their way, to always go into a circle when celebrating, but this was not a celebration. At best, it was worship, something he could deal with. At worst, it was a farce, but Tang didn’t want to tell them that. He instructed them to form four rows and then to sit on the ground, something they weren’t accustomed too either. Confusion washed across all of their faces. When they’d formed the rows and sat down, Tang went in front of them and stood on a large boulder.
“My new family, I know all of this is different for you, but I come from a place where worship is a daily routine. In order for me to perform this duty, I need you all to do as I ask. As I pray, I will pause every now and again. At that point, I will need you to say amen. Is that understood?”
The Settlers nodded.
“Very well. Please bow your heads and close your eyes.”
Tang looked out at those gathered. They all bowed their heads and most closed their eyes. Tang was familiar with this. There hadn’t been a mass yet that he presided over where some didn’t keep their eyes opened. His eyes scanned the gathering once more and then he realized Lena wasn’t present. Would this affect the outcome of the prayer? Should he go look for her? He shrugged it off. If the Great Black Head spited them for one absence, then they would just deal with it when the time arose. He began the prayer.
“Oh holy Great Black Head, we come to you as your servants and pray for absolution…”
When Comet relayed to Miss Simone and the other Caverners what she had heard and witnessed, they were all outraged.
“Pray to him? What gives him the right? He banished us here without a thought and now he expects us to pray to him?” Miss Simone exclaimed.
“Of all the egotistical…” Hannah began, but was too furious to continue.
“I know how it sounds,” Comet said, “but if it stops this catastrophe from happening, shouldn’t we at least try?”
Bukura stepped forward with his hands one his hips. “I’m with Hannah. I think this is all an ego trip. If we are to pray to anyone, shouldn’t it be the Architect?”
Miss Simone’s face suddenly lit up. “That’s it. We will pray, but not to the Curator, at least not inwardly.”
Comet scrunched up her face. “What do you mean?”
“It’s true that we owe the Curator nothing, but we owe the Architect everything. What’s in our hearts is all that matters. Correct?” Miss Simone asked.
“So we will say the Curator’s name outwardly, but inwardly, in our hearts, we will speak the name of the Architect. He is our sole advocate. The Curator will not know what’s in our hearts. He is not omnipotent. Agreed?”
Again, everyone nodded.
“No sense in making a big to do about this. Since we are all here, let’s pray. Who wants to lead us?”
Hannah raised her hand. “I was a Sunday school teacher. I will lead the prayer.”
Everyone bowed their heads. Their thoughts lingered on the Architect as Hannah prayed to the Curator. When she finished the prayer, they opened their eyes and smiled at one another. They’d done as the Curator had instructed, but their loyalty still rested with the one who’d given them everything. They decided to mark the occasion with a feast and celebration.
While everyone ate and danced, Comet wandered away from the group. She worried about what they’d done. The Curator had said he could read their thoughts, but she wondered if that was only while in his presence. She certainly hoped so. Her wandering lead her to the Temple door. She sat down in front of it, watching the red lines. For now, they were at the lowest point of the doorway. Suddenly, she heard banging coming from inside. She reached out her hand to touch one of the lines, but felt her body shimmer, almost as if she was having a convulsion. She knew what that meant.
Once again, Comet was in the chamber with the Curator, and once again being addressed by her real name. She glanced around. There was Rodney and Billy. She could also feel Ruth’s presence. Where was Chad though? She ran over and hugged her friends, but before she could say anything to them, the Curator began to tell his newest tale.
Comet had listened to everything Norman said, but when he suggested that she deceive Chad and help him with his latest scheme, she wasn’t sure she could. Chad was the love of her life. Could she really trick him into giving her information? Did she really want to help Norman? He’d been lying to them from the start. Why should she trust him now?
When she reappeared at the Temple door, she could still hear the banging. She reached out and touched the red lines, and thought about Hemi trapped inside the Temple. She poured every ounce of her love into her intentions and soon felt the whoosh of warm air. The Temple door opened and there he stood. Hemi. Her true love. Comet stood up and rushed inside, hugging Hemi tightly.
“Hey, hold on,” Hemi said as he squeezed Comet. He gently pulled her away and gazed down at her. “Why the long face?”
Comet sighed. “We’ve got to talk.”
“Yeah, in a serious way.” Hemi replied. “Want to go to my room?”
Comet walked over to the doorway and touched it. The Temple door closed.
Hemi glared at her. “Why’d you do that? Now we’re trapped again.”
“I can get us out, but what we need to talk about, can only be said in here.”
“Let me guess. Norman?”
Comet nodded. “He’s scheming against you and the Architect. I don’t trust him.”
“What’s he want now?”
“For me to gather information that the Architect told you and give it to him.”
Hemi’s face went red and his eyes turned dark. “That little weasel! What’s he planning?”
“I don’t know. Something diabolical, I am sure. He says you know the full truth now.”
“I do. He won’t get away with this, Comet. I don’t know how we will pull this off, but we’ve got to trap this weasel somehow.”
“Will the Architect help?”
“Indeed, I will.” It was the Architect, in all his booming presence.
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, Part 39, Part 40, Part 41, Part 42, Part 43, Part 44
or Jump ahead to Part 46