- Clockwork Series (Category for this series of WordPress postings).
- See the Introduction and postings list of this new series on the Science Fiction Stories Page.
Posted so far…
Planet Earth, United States of America, Kansas, Kansas City.
“Mother’s Day” Sunday, 12 May 1963 CE.
The Sunday school classroom of the Well of the Souls Church, which I was assigned to, was only about 18 feet long, about 12 feet wide, with a 9-foot ceiling. There was one door from the hallway into the classroom. As I stepped inside, one 12-foot wall was immediately right of the door that was at an end of an 18-foot wall. There was the one door-size window in the middle of the 18-foot wall opposite the door wall. Chalkboards hung on both of the 12-foot walls at each end of the room. Low bookshelves were built into the walls under the chalkboards. The outer wall was red brick. Inner walls were stained wood. The ceiling had one long florescent light fixture centered with the rectangular room. Furniture in the room was just one long table, with one chair at each end, and seven chairs on each long side of the table.
One teacher of course. Fifteen students, all present that Sunday.
Mrs. Smythe sat at the end of the table near the door to her left. “Be seated.” she ordered. “Be silent.”
I sat in the middle chair on the door side of the table, facing the window. Three students to my left, and three to my right. Seven across from me. The teacher at the table end to my right. One more student, at the table end to my left, who had scored the highest on the previous Sunday’s test, got to sit in that special chair. Most of the students in that room were seven years old, plus or minus a few months. Eight girls. Six boys.
The Holy Bible was not the only book in that classroom. We used bible storybooks with pictures, bible workbooks, and a number of other books to be used with the bible’s New Testament. There were different versions of the bible in that classroom, and the King James Version was only one of them. The other versions were worded differently, and in a way that was apparently intended to make the Holy Bible easier to read and understand. With most adults being treated like ignorant children, you can guess how they treated actual children. At that time, I didn’t have a favorite bible or preferred version. Looking back, I’d say the King James Version of the Life Application Study Bible, published in 1989, which I purchased at a store in Shreveport when I was there on a trip in 1991, has proved to be the most useful to me.
Whichever book we were reading that Sunday morning, it was the usual routine for a particular paragraph to be singled out and read. Then the teacher would explain its meaning. After that, as she would say, “Now, turn to…”—and while all of the other students were turning pages, I would read on a bit further. I would find that her explanation might very well apply to that paragraph, taken out of context, but not to the other relating information in that chapter or section of the book. I discovered that some of her explanations conflicted with explanations in the writing at the end of each chapter or section or at the bottom of a page. Then, in other chapters or sections, and in other books, she would contradict herself, and other books would appear to contradict each other—as perhaps the authors were not in agreement with each other. So many different “versions” of the Holy Bible.
I felt that in human form we might not ever be able to fully understand all of the complexities of the Realm of Heaven in the spiritual universe. I mean what Christians refer to as the Kingdom of Heaven, being the male-dominated religion that it mostly still is. However, it should not be difficult to fully understand and live the simple teachings of Christ Jesus. Yes, Christ Jesus. Not Jesus Christ. After all, we don’t refer to King James as James King. Christ is a title like king, not a last name, not a family name.
I just happened to find a contradiction in what we were being taught on that Sunday. At the moment, I don’t recall exactly what it was, because there were so many I discovered that year. Age seven was an awakening year. I went so far as to boldly point a couple out to our teacher and the other students on previous occasions. This usually made nearly half of the students angry. On one occasion, my challenges made one of the other students cry. The rest of them, surprisingly, agreed with me, and then joined me in asking more challenging questions. At first, the teacher would allow the angry students to respond with their own answers, as if it were some kind of a debate. Their side fell back on what I called “circular logic”—coming from nowhere and going nowhere. Finally, the teacher would simply give the usual run-around answer “adults” liked to give “children” when they themselves did not know the answer.
I looked up to my left at the clock on the wall above the chalkboard. Class was about half over . . . thank God!
I looked across the room and out the window. I could see the church gardener, who was then watering some flowers near the window. That Mother’s Day was a warm day, but there were cool breezes and gusts of wind. I noticed the gardener wearing a green windbreaker jacket. He was hanging on to a weather-beaten straw hat. Seeing his face, I guessed him to be about 70 years old.
We were taking turns reading paragraphs from a bible storybook. It had pictures in it. Some of the color picture drawings reminded me of the Prince Valiant series in the Sunday newspaper color comics section, which my father and sister liked to read together.
I was not entertained by any of the religious stories at that time in this life. I was entertained by the kind of stories presented in The Twilight Zone anthology series on TV created by Rod Serling. I remember the introductions…
“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.” ~ Rod Serling.
On that Sunday morning, I didn’t know that what would happen to me would have been ideal for a story in that unusual TV show. Words from the season one introduction…
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” ~ Rod Serling.
“Between science and superstition,” the truth was about to be unveiled.
Clockwise, on around the table, each of us would take a turn reading, even the teacher. About every third student would be stopped by Mrs. Smythe, who would then ask us if we understood what was just read. Then, she would go ahead and explain it, even if we claimed to understand it all. It was as if none of us could ever hope to understand it without her help.
I had just finished reading a paragraph, and realized I had just uncovered another contradiction. While the next student took a turn to read, I turned back to a different paragraph read earlier, which appeared to state the opposite of the paragraph I read out load when I took a turn. Or maybe it was the fine print explanation included in that version. I don’t recall now exactly what it was about. I continued to study it while other students took their turns reading paragraphs.
Time passed, and it was back to Mrs. Smythe to take a turn to read a paragraph. She was then in the middle of one long paragraph when she suddenly stopped reading.
Silence. Sudden silence. Absolute silence.
I briefly wondered if I had lost track of who was reading and whose turn it was next. I started to ask, “Oh, sorry, is it my turn to read again?” But then I was sure the teacher had stopped in the middle of the paragraph she was reading. So it wasn’t the kind of silence one gets after one has not been paying attention, and it is one’s turn to read again.
It wasn’t the kind of silence one experiences very early on a Sunday morning when most people are still sleeping, and no cars can be seen or heard driving out on the streets. It wasn’t the kind of silence one rarely experiences late at night, when the neighbors are quiet for a nice change, the family in the house is quiet, a dog isn’t barking somewhere, cats aren’t trying to kill each other to death and beyond, no planes flying overhead, the refrigerator can’t be heard running in a mad frenzy, the water pipes aren’t groaning, the fan is not on to circulate the air in the house, the wind is so calm for a change you wonder if the world is still outside the house, and everything is totally still. No, not that kind of silence.
It was more like the kind of silence one experiences in a cave that is totally dark. Yes, a cave. So dark you can feel the walls of the cave with every cell of your body and even with your ears. You can hear the silence between you and the cave walls, a kind of silence echoing silence.
I looked over at the teacher. Her eyes . . . looked strange . . . glazed over . . . as if she was dead with her eyes open.
I could move my eyes . . . turn my head to look around. However, I didn’t feel that I could get up from the chair, as if some kind of force, other than gravity, was holding my body there.
No one in the classroom was moving. The eyes of the other students had the same look as those of Mrs. Smythe.
I could see out through the window. The old man gardener was frozen in his tracks. The water coming out of the garden hose appeared to be caught in a strobe light effect, with each drop suspended in the air on the water arc stream. Beyond the gardener, I could see a bird in flight near the building, and it was just a blur. Other birds appeared to be suspended in the air. Further, I was able to see a few cars out on the main road . . . some blurred more than others. It was as if time had stopped out there, as well as inside the classroom.
I looked up at the clock and noticed the second hand had stopped moving. I felt like I had become suspended in time, or existing between two moments of time. Even so, apparently, a different kind of time was passing for me, while normal time had stopped for everyone else. At that age, I did not yet know about the possibility of compressed time . . . that I was experiencing a compressed time event being planted in my memory, downloaded into my brain . . . that the flow of time had not actually stopped for anyone. My perception of time was being manipulated.
Suddenly, the feeling of thunder interrupted my thoughts. No, not the sound of thunder. I didn’t hear it. I felt it. No sound. Even so, it was like the horrible kind of thunder that would blast me out of bed late at night during a disturbing storm. However, those included blindingly bright flashes of lightning. There was no lightning with the thunder I felt then. The feeling of thunder felt like it was coming from a particular direction.
I looked up to the southwest corner of the room, to the right of the window, where the window wall, the wall to my right, and the ceiling created the upper southwest corner of the room. There, three lines of three dimensions reached a common geometric point.
Suddenly, it was as if gravity tilted toward the upper southwest corner of the room, but nothing fell into that corner. Nothing moved. I felt the sensation of falling, but remained in my chair.
An image flashed through my mind . . . something like an aircraft . . . something familiar . . . flying at a very high altitude. The image viewpoint shifted to a view inside the aircraft or whatever it was . . . then focused on a large hole suddenly appearing in its side. I felt and heard the blast of depressurization . . . all the air rushing out of the craft. Even so, the air was not rushing out of the classroom.
The image vanished. Silence returned.
Abruptly, the three corners—being the upper left corner of the west wall, the upper right corner of the south wall, and the southwest corner of the ceiling—began to open up . . . and curve—folding outward . . . into a vast darkness that was absolutely black. It was as if a giant invisible monster was pealing open the walls and ceiling in that upper corner. However, I could not see this world beyond the opening. Instead, it appeared to be a complete void. Each corner formed a triangle of 45-90-45 degrees as the outward folding continued. Those three triangles together created a larger triangle of equal angles, and therefore equal sides . . . about three feet on each side as the outward folding stopped.
Three forming one. Equal angles, equal sides.
I felt it was important. It seemed like a problem in math . . . and at that time, math wasn’t my best subject. I was trying to understand the meaning of it with physical values, while the meaning was actually in spiritual values.
Three forming one. Equal angles, equal sides. Spiritual values?
“The Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit?” I managed to ask in a whisper, not expecting an answer.
Suddenly, a single point of light appeared in the center of the black triangle. Like a distant star . . . but then it was moving . . . slowing becoming larger . . . coming closer. Abruptly, the point of light separated into three points of light, each moving rapidly outwards on separate lines perpendicular to the center of the sides of the triangle.
One forming three.
At the moment those points of light reached and touched the sides of the triangle, they vanished . . . and as those three vanished, a deep field of stars materialized inside the great triangle, filling the black void . . . with spirals of light, multi-colored clouds of gas mixed with multicolored points of light. Each point of light appeared to be flickering to a musical rhythm, but without me hearing the sound of the music.
Thus, I watched and waited in more silence for what would happen next…