Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Vindication of Hope

The 4th of November 2008 will forever go down as a pivotal moment in modern history, one we will undoubtedly be talking about for countless years to come, the day a man called Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States of America. For the better part of two years the world has been glued to the political show that America has laid out and it has proved to be unquestionably the most followed presidential election in history. And at the core of the story is the incredible journey of a man who was barely known outside the American political arena just a year ago.

Keen political observers would have first noticed him at the 2004 Democratic convention for John Kerry’s failed presidential campaign, where he gave a rousing keynote speech, but to most it was merely an announcement of the arrival on the political scene of a bright young Illinois senator entering his first term. Those who had the foresight to view him as a future presidential candidate had him down for a 2016 campaign, with the baton for the Democratic Party resting firmly in the hands of Hillary Clinton. It is this which probably makes his victory all the more astonishing. The manner in which he prevailed against the dominant Democrat brand for the last sixteen years (Bill and Hillary) in the primaries was quite unbelievable. This was clearly a man walking on a path to his destiny, contrary to the opinions of political experts who largely felt that he was running too soon. It was at the start of the Primary race in January, when he won the Iowa caucuses, that Barack Obama came to international attention, setting him on his way to a drawn out and improbable victory against Clinton.

Amongst the biggest challenges of Obama’s presidential campaign lay in fears and misconceptions about his faith (apparently up to ten percent of Americans still believe, incorrectly, that he is Muslim), patriotism and completely unfounded links to terrorism. Pretty early in his campaign he had to respond to questions about his character and beliefs after shocking videos of his former pastor of more than twenty years, Jeremiah Wright, were run by the major television networks and posted all over the internet. This led to his speech - “A more perfect union” - which tackled race relations and politics in America. In truth I consider it unfortunate that Jeremiah Wright’s own legacy was sullied by the video clips, which were largely taken out of context, and subsequent comments he made during Obama’s campaign (He was, after all, a father figure to Obama and the man who led him to Christ, officiated at his wedding, and baptised his children).

These are the kind of challenges Obama has had to rise above in a well-run campaign, and in doing so he enabled Americans to rise above their prejudices, to judge the man solely on the content of his character, and not on his race or name. That said, it was little surprise that hardly any mention was made of his middle name by either party once the campaign got into full swing. As a testament to his charisma, and ability to see the funny side of what could easily have been a sensitive issue if handled incorrectly, he even joked at a recent gala dinner that whoever gave him his middle name clearly never thought that he was going to run for president, going on to say that it wasn’t actually what we thought it was – “It’s Steve.” Barack Steve Obama.

What we have witnessed has truly been a historic moment but this is even more significant for the American people. Pro-Obama rallies across the nation were unprecedented in their scale and numbers. In the recent past Presidential candidates depended on rock stars or Tinseltown celebrities to draw crowds to their events. Obama himself was the star attraction at his rallies. He was the only draw that he needed. As time went on, the numbers continued to increase, Americans cognizant of the fact that they were about to become part of a great moment in their country’s fabled history, and many who attended did so to be able to say to their kids that they were there. In the same way, many in the UK and around the world did not sleep a wink on election night, if only to witness history in the making. It didn’t take long for those who stayed up all night to watch the drama unfold to realise how much this victory means to the American people, and especially to African-Americans. Many of black and African roots across the globe can admire the man from afar, but seeing the tears of Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and everyone else in that Chicago crowd really summed up what his victory means to black America. Many were old enough to remember the times when they were segregated and not permitted to vote, as well as the ensuing civil rights movement. They remember the efforts of one preacher from Atlanta who had a dream, who was taken away from this world too soon to see that dream realised. These are things that many of us can only read about, but it is clear to see that America is a step closer to realising Martin Luther King's dream, if it is not there already!

In truth, however, the election night proved something of an anti-climax. Ever since the crisis in the financial markets deepened in mid-September Obama moved well ahead in the polls and never looked back. He seemed to handle the situation with far more assurance than his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, who took the inexplicable step of temporarily suspending his campaign to help deal with the financial crisis (a move which ultimately backfired). Obama also appeared to have a clear advantage over McCain in all three presidential debates, but this alone would not have made the White House a certainty for him. Despite the fact that Alaska governor Sarah Palin gave her party a bounce in the polls when she was named as McCain’s running mate prior to the Republican Convention in August, a series of shocking gaffes in interviews the following month led many Independents and undecided voters to switch allegiance to the Obama/Biden bandwagon. She may have secured the evangelical Christian base for her party, but many argue that her lack of understanding of the important issues (such as foreign policy) and her inability to answer simple questions (such as which newspapers she reads to shape her world view), ultimately lost McCain this race. Even Matt Damon, star of the Bourne action series, was quoted as saying that the possibility of the self-acclaimed “hockey mum” from Alaska becoming President given McCain’s advanced years (he is 72) read like the script of a bad Disney movie! As such one could argue that by election night the result shouldn’t have been in doubt. But there was one nagging doubt lingering in the minds of many – would America really vote for a black man to be their President?

In the end, Obama received 364 electoral college votes in a landslide victory, much more than the 270 required to win the election. This was an incredible feat, especially given the fear of the dreaded "Bradley effect" – in which white voters, not wanting to appear racist in polls, claim that they would vote for the black candidate only to go on to do the opposite once they get into the booth. This phenomenon is named after Tom Bradley, a black candidate for the California governorship in 1982 who lost the race despite being well ahead in the polls. This was a victory for all of America and proof that they can rise above the racial divide. With this result they have proved that regardless of race, religion or creed, the country could come together to vote a black man with a funny name into the White House simply because he was the best candidate. In fact, many now argue that Obama benefited from a “reverse-Bradley effect”, where many conservative voters who may have been afraid to say they would eventually cast their votes for him.

In his victory speech Obama made it plain that he was never the likeliest of candidates for this office. It has been an incredible feat for him, and how he did it will surely be a case study for political campaigning for years to come! We should spare a thought for John McCain, who was very gracious in his concession speech, and would have made a fine President himself. He clearly loves his country, and having served it for the best part of half a century, would have deserved nothing less than to bow out at the top. But surely this is his last chance to do that, and he can now take a well-earned rest and reflect on his life of service and sacrifice.

Fans of the US television series 24 will excitedly tell you that the show was prophetic in presenting the idea of an African-American US President (twice), while followers of The West Wing will remind you that the writers of the show consulted David Axelrod (an Obama aide and eventually chief strategist for his campaign) and used Obama as a template for the Hispanic-American character that ran for President in the series long before Obama announced his actual candidacy. Obama then proceeded to run a campaign that had many similarities with the one that was depicted on the show. Talk about art imitating life only for life to imitate art back again! In a twist that would have been daring for any scriptwriter, it remains a shame that Obama’s grandmother, the woman who raised him, passed away the night before the elections and was unable to witness her grandson’s achievement, but it was great to see that he took time from the campaign trail to be with her before she passed. Throughout his campaign he showed himself to be a real family man, one who will present a great example for the First Family of the United States!

There is an interesting account in Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, in which he talks to a media consultant in late September 2001 who tells him the political dynamics in America had changed, with the face of Osama Bin Laden sprawled across the front pages of the newspaper before them. They discuss his political future, given the uncanny similarity between his name and that of the terrorist who still haunts American dreams. Clearly, changing his name would arouse even more suspicion. Either way, things must have looked pretty bleak for him at that point so it must be considered a triumph for the American people that they have been able to look beyond all that to vote for the man who was simply the best candidate. The political dynamics in America and indeed the world certainly have changed forever.

All that said, let us join with the people of Chicago, the US, Kenya, and the rest of the world in celebrating the momentous occasion, but let us also temper our excitement with the reality that Obama has a tough task ahead of him. He will not be a perfect president so we must continue to pray for God's will to be done in his life, for his protection, and that of his family (he is set to become the most heavily guarded President in history), and that his presidency indeed makes the US, and the world, a better place for all!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lewis Hamilton wins F1 Title!

It is a sight that you will rarely see in sport – two opposing teams celebrating victory over each other at the same time. But this is exactly what happened in the exciting climax to the Formula One season last Sunday. In a dramatic final race, McLaren’s British star Lewis Hamilton started seven points ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, knowing that all he needed to do was finish 5th in the race to win the title, even if Massa won the race. Interestingly this was exactly the same position Hamilton found himself in last year’s final race, where he had the chance to become the first driver in the history of Formula One to win the title in their rookie season. That time, it was Kimi Raikonnen, also of Ferrari, who started that race seven points behind him in the championship race, and that time it was Raikonnen who took the title, one point ahead of both Hamilton and his then McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso. Hamilton was clearly hoping that the similarities between the two season finales would end at the starting grid.

Felipe Massa started on pole position in Sao Paulo with the chance to win the championship in his home race, while Hamilton started in fourth on the grid. Massa was to lead from start to finish in a commanding performance, leaving Hamilton to fulfil his side of the bargain. The drama of the day was heightened when a sudden shower of rain delayed the start of the race for ten minutes and forced all the drivers to switch to their wet tyres. But the rain was very brief and this meant that after about nine laps each driver was pitting to switch back to dry tyres. The likes of Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Vettel and Alonso, now back with Renault, pitted earlier to make this switch, catapulting them to 2nd and 3rd positions respectively. Hamilton, on the other hand drove more conservatively. Knowing that he only needed 5th to win the championship, he waited for a couple more laps to change his tyres but then fell to 6th place. From this position he would endure a tense race, but he did seem comfortable as he slowly battled back to fourth place over the course of the 71-lap race.

It looked like Hamilton was going to finish in a comfortable 4th place until the rain returned five laps from the end of the race to ensure a nail-biting finale. Neither Massa nor Hamilton could afford to take any chances that this would just be a light drizzle, so they both pitted to change back to wet tyres. However, while Massa maintained his healthy lead in first place, Hamilton emerged from the pit lane in 5th place and with Vettel, breathing down his neck. Toyota’s Timo Glock had gambled and not changed his tyres, jumping ahead of Hamilton into 4th place. His gamble looked to have paid off as the rain refused to fall hard. And in the penultimate lap of the race, the unthinkable happened – the irrepressible Vettel went past Hamilton into 5th place. Hamilton was now in 6th place and was about to lose the championship in the final race – again. He wasn’t fast enough to get back at Vettel and they were both 18 seconds behind Glock going into the final lap. All seemed lost for Hamilton and his fans began contemplating another heartbreaking end to the F1 season.

But what happened next will be forever etched into Formula One folklore. When Massa crossed the line he had won the title, for Hamilton was still in 6th position. The Ferarri team burst into scenes of wild celebrations, but barely twenty seconds later, so did McLaren. What Ferrari hadn’t yet realised was that on the penultimate corner of the race, seconds before the final straight, Hamilton went past a slowing Glock, who was now struggling to keep his dry tyres on the track as the rain started to fall more heavily during that final lap. For Massa, it was exhilarating joy, followed by devastating heartbreak all within a matter of moments. For Hamilton, it was a heart-stopping finale, followed by relief and unspeakable ecstasy once it was confirmed to him that he had indeed finished in 5th place and become the youngest ever driver at 23 years and 301 days to claim the F1 Driver’s Championship!

Hamilton had already shot to global fame thanks to his image and status as Formula One’s first black driver. However, he believes that his victory, much like Barack Obama’s victory in the US elections two days later, should be an inspiration for people from all walks of life to reach for greater heights, and in his case, get involved in motorsports. With several multi-million pound endorsements under his belt already, he is now tipped to become the sports first billion dollar man, such is the potential of his marketability. But more importantly, the question being asked now of his natural talent is – how good can this guy get? Given his early start in the sport, the question now is whether he can go on to match Michael Schumacher’s seemingly impregnable record of seven titles and 91 wins. Hamilton now has one title and 9 wins. Would you bet against him surpassing that record? Only time will tell, it’s early days yet!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Return of the Man of GOD

Hey people! I hope you are having a great week - The weekend is almost here....Happy Friday! Without further ado, I present to you the final chapter in this "Man of GOD" saga! I really do hope you've enjoyed the ride if you've managed to come this far! I certainly have enjoyed writing the story. Perhaps I will pick it up from here in the future!

The Return of the Man of GOD


The days went by, then weeks and months, but no one saw or heard from Johnny. Every night, before she went to bed, Cynthia recounted all the facts in her head. A missing persons report had been filed the day after Johnny had disappeared. Abidel had been charged with kidnapping, though he had not given the police any meaningful leads to Johnny's whereabouts. What was even stranger was that his identity could not be traced. His name drew a blank in all the police searches, he was of no known fixed address, and he certainly wasn't a citizen of the United Kingdom. As far as the authorities could tell, he wasn't a citizen of any country for that matter. According to him, he was the citizen of another world. Another kingdom. According to the police, he must be the member of some kind of crazed deep undercover sect; if they could find this cult then they would apprehend his accomplices and uncover whatever hole they were keeping Johnny, dead or alive. After six months, no one could deny the possibility that Johnny may not be found alive. Under normal circumstances, she would agree with the police's version of the story. But her other-worldly dreams and Abidel's accurate knowledge of them made her doubt common sense. What if he really was from another world? What if Johnny was really there right now, valiantly attempting to bring their baby back? She was deep in these same thoughts she'd had every day since Johnny disappeared when she heard a knock on the door. She looked through the peep hole. It was Detective Carter.

"Good afternoon detective," she said as she opened the door. "Please do come in."
"Thank you Cynthia. How are you keeping?"

"I'm okay, thanks. But obviously my mind will never be at rest until I know what's happened to Johnny. Do you have any new leads yet?"

"No, unfortunately we have nothing yet. We have people working round the clock to make sure we find him. We're doing everything we possibly can."

"Has Abidel given us anything? Or is he sticking to his original story?"

"He's stuck hard and fast to his original story. A real nutcase, that one is!"

"I know you're a sceptic, but what if there is some truth to this story of his? After all, in half a year, your best detectives and secret service agents have failed to prove that he is from planet earth!"

His lack of objection betrayed the fact that he didn't entirely disagree with her. In fact, if she could read him correctly after six months of knowing him, she could tell that he was holding something back. "What are you not telling me detective?"

"I think you need to sit down for this."

"Don't tell me to sit down, just tell me what you've got!"

"Well, I was going over the autopsy report for your baby."


"As was stated in the coroner's preliminary report, the cause of death was perinatal asphyxia which resulted in cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, the coroner died shortly after and was unable to complete his report, but these documents were recently found in his home."

"What do they say?"

"It seems that there was a discrepancy with the time of death. According to this, the coroner was investigating the possibility that the baby died sometime before the time of birth, up to seventy-two hours before."

"How is that possible? I had a scan the day before the delivery - my baby was alive and healthy!"

"There is more. As you can imagine, DNA tests are usually not conducted during autopsies, especially when the course of death is natural as was the case here. I decided to take some DNA from frozen samples from the autopsy to conduct a maternity test. I have conducted the test with three different samples this week, and each time the results were conclusive. There is a ninety-nine point nine percent certainty that you are not the mother of this child!"

Cynthia's head spun. She felt dizziness clouding her mind so she sat down to catch her breath. "How could this have happened? How could you let this happen? My baby has been out there somewhere for six months and you let me think he was dead?"

"Please understand this, the cause of death is only revealed in about forty percent of autopsied stillbirths. The new coroner who took over the file would have had no reason to keep the file open after the cause of death had been determined! There is no way anyone would have thought to do a maternity test unless they had suspected foul play!"

"Or unless they had listened to Abidel!" She got up and grabbed her coat. "I am going to speak to him now to find out everything I can. If you can't do your job right then I will have to find my baby and Johnny myself!" Her words were ignited by the suddenly new possibility that her baby was out there. Alive. Somewhere. But before she could get past Carter to the door, she burst into tears. She grabbed the detective tightly and wept into his chest.

"Shh, don't cry," Carter said, trying to console her. "We will find your baby, and we will find Johnny. But there's nothing you can do right now, it's the middle of the night. Get a good night's rest and we'll speak first thing in the morning okay?"

After a few minutes, she resigned herself to staying at home, at least for the night, and slumped unto the couch exhausted.

"Is there anything I can get you?" Carter asked as he readied to leave.
Just then, he got a call and answered his cell phone before Cynthia could respond to his question. He listened to the call attentively and after a few seconds, Cynthia could see his eyes go wide with utter shock and disbelief. "Okay, we will be right there!" Then he hung up.

"Quick, put on your coat. We're going down to the station. Now!"

"Hold on, I thought you said nothing can be done tonight?"

"That's changed. We need to hurry down now. I will explain on the way!"


Emperor Melek sat in his courtyard playing with his new toy. The gift that Johnny had brought him from the other world. The I-pod. He skipped from one song to another excitedly taking in the deluge of new sounds, beats and percussions emanating from the earphones. This garage music as Johnny had called it was certainly fascinating. The Oracle on the other hand wasn't so impressed. Johnny and Beza had taken the baby he had tried to pass off as the Chosen One to return him to the other world, and for the first time his grand plan slipping away from him. He strode across the room, deep in thought, ignoring the Emperor's playful antics with the I-Pod.

"Your Majesty, I do not believe that we should have allowed them to leave with the baby," The Oracle finally said, turning to face the Emperor.

"I allowed them to leave. I, not we," the Emperor replied without looking up, too engrossed in uncovering the secrets of the I-Pod. "I believed my wife when she said that baby could not be ours. They shall return him to his world and bring our boy back here."

"Why does thy highness believe that they shall return with thy child? What incentive does this Johnny of London have to find the child when he returneth to his own land?". At that question, the Emperor looked up at him and put the I-Pod down. Now that he had the man's attention, the Oracle pressed on, "If thou had kept one of them prisoner, the other would have had to return with the baby! I suggest you go after them and stop them before it's too late!"

"You speak with reason, but I don't think that would be necessary. I am sure they shall return with my child..." as he spoke, he noticed the screen of the I-pod flashing with the words BATTERY LOW. Without further warning it went dead, and try as he may, he could not turn it back on.

The Oracle realised that his was his moment. "Your Majesty, now thou hast seen with thine own eyes the deception of Johnny of London? How can thy trust him if even his gifts are filled with lies? You must give chase. They are only three days ahead of us. At full stride, we can catch them before they reach the gateway!"

After several futile attempts at turning the I-pod back on, The Emperor threw it on the floor in frustration. "Ebed-Melek!" he called for the General of his Royal Guard who was never far away. "Quick, take 100 of the Royal Guard and saddle a horse for me. We set off for the Path of the Oracle immediately!"

Beza and Johnny were near the Oracle's hut when they saw the Royal Guard approaching from the plains of Masai at full gallop in the distance. They hurried into the hut and lay Johnny's baby on the table in the middle of the living area. Beza knelt by the child and said a quick prayer. Beza rose and was leaving the hut to confront to fast approaching men when Johnny grabbed his arm.

"I'm not going back to my own world, am I?" Johnny had considered this outcome for a while but had waited until the last possible moment to confirm it.

"As you know, for one to be able to cross from one world to the other, another must cross in the opposite direction. Right now, only Abidel awaits to cross from the other side. The Emperor's child died just before crossing over, and too much time has passed since then for it to be part of any exchange now."

Johnny had prepared himself for this moment for some time. Given the choice between he or his baby returning to London, there was only one option. The baby would return to Cynthia to restore her joy after being misled to think that her baby died at birth. When they stepped outside the hut, they were face with The Emperor, The Oracle, Ebed-Melek and his Royal Guard.

"Where is the child?" The Emperor thundered.

"He is in my hut!" The Oracle screamed, "We may be too late. Quick, seize them and kill them!" When the Emperor and his men hesitated, the Oracle hissed and his eyes turned black as the clouds above them went dark. "Then I guess I have to do it myself!"


"We're on our way to the prison," Carter told Cynthia as he sped down the highway, "It seems like Abidel has escaped his cell!"

"What?! How is that possible? How will I find my baby now?"

"From what I've been told, he just disappeared into thin air. There was no sign of a break out and no one heard any noise or commotion. Only the cries of a baby."

"The cries of a baby?"

"Yes, it appears that a baby was found in his place in the cell this evening. I've been informed that the child is approximately six months of age!"

Cynthia's mind spun. What if this was her baby? Could her pain and anguish at having lost her child during labour finally be over? It took two days for the maternity test to come back, and it confirmed that this was indeed her child. She'd missed out on six months of his life, but now she had the rest of his life back, which is more than she had realistically hoped for until Detective Carter got that call. The months and years rolled by and Abidel was never seen again. Johnny was never found either and the official search for him was called off a year after he disappeared. Cynthia thought that whatever world Abidel had returned to, Johnny must be there also. From time to time she wondered if he was happy, and prayed that one day she would see him again, that her child would know his father. And she called the child Johnny, in memory of him.


The Oracle's hands rippled with energy. Johnny could see what looked like electricity coursing through the man’s veins and palms, finely poised to discharge bolts of lightning in their direction. "What are we going to do?" he asked Beza, as the Oracle approached them, the winds and rain seemingly at his beck and call now slamming into them.

"We're going to stall him. Buy some time, but I don't know how long I can hold him off for!"

No sooner had Beza spoken did Abidel come crashing out of the door behind them. With the Oracle bearing down on them, Abidel stepped forward and lifted up his staff. Suddenly, a wall of fire came crashing down from the heavens, separating them from the Oracle, the Emperor and his men. Motioning to Beza and Johnny, Abidel led the way for their escape to Low Earth. The wall of fire followed them every step of the way, burning up everything in its wake including the Oracle's hut. Low Earth would now be there safe haven - having already been banished from High Earth once, there was surely no way back from this.

The Oracle's plan had been thwarted for now, and his hut, the portal to the other world, had been destroyed. However, with the unwitting Emperor's help, he would continue his plans to bring the abomination that would reek utter desolation to the ends of High and Low Earth. Once he used the Emperor and his armies to conquer Low Earth, nothing would stand in the way of his opening a new portal to Earth and taking hold of that world too! And there were only three who could stop him now. Abidel, Beza and Johnny. That Man of God, his clueless assistant and their new apprentice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Emperor and The Man of God


When Johnny awoke, he looked around and quickly realised that he was no longer in his one bedroom apartment in Finchley. He was lying on what looked like a wooden bed in the middle of a small room. There was a huge fireplace at one end of the room and what looked like a kitchen at the other end. Perhaps the bed was not a bed at all - it could have been an altar of some sort...

"Welcome," he heard a voice say from behind him, "how did you sleep?"

He spun round and saw a man in a white robe standing behind him. Then it all started coming back to him - this must be Beza, the man who Abidel referred to as his apprentice. He was in this other world that Abidel had called High and Low Earth. Or he could just be having a very vivid dream.

"I slept OK. Where am I?"

"You're at the Path of the Oracle, the gateway to Low Earth." The man stretched out his hand, "I am Beza. I believe Abidel told you I would be waiting for you?"

"Yes, he did," he replied as a look of concern suddenly washed over his face. "This is the same Oracle who Abidel told me has taken Cynthia's baby?"

"Yes, the one and the same. This is his hut – we must hurry and leave before we are discovered. Even though he is on his way to High Earth now with the Emperor and the baby, he has eyes and ears about this place who will no doubt inform him of our presence here at the earliest opportunity."

"Where are we going?"

"We must follow them back to High Earth, to the Emperor's palace, to petition the return of your child!"

"What if we don't succeed?" Johnny nervously asked as they discreetly crept away from the Oracle's hut.

"We must succeed," Beza replied, "or we may very well be witnessing the abomination that will reek utter desolation to the ends of High and Low Earth!"

When Beza and Johnny arrived at the gates of the Emperor's Palace, they were taken in chains immediately the guards recognised Beza, the apprentice of the Man of GOD who was banished into the wilderness with his master for making blasphemous comments about the Oracle and doubting the imminence of the Great Prophecy. Even though Abidel was not with him, he was accompanied by a man with very strange clothing. Whatever they were up to, the Emperor would want to know about it immediately.

They were brought into the main hall of the palace and presented before the Emperor. There, seated at his right hand as his chief advisor, sat a small man dressed in long, flowing, black robes. He may have been short in stature but had an air of confidence about him; an assuredness that even the Emperor himself could not boast of. Johnny had never met the man before but the moment their eyes met, the man’s eyes opened wide with surprise, his confidence clearly shaken by Johnny's unlikely presence. He knew then that this must be the Oracle that Abidel had spoken of. The man who had stolen his child and given him to the Emperor. Seated on the Emperor's left was his wife Marah, and cradled in her arms, a baby boy quietly asleep. His baby boy. He felt his pulse quicken as he laid eyes on his son for the first time.

"What manner of intrusion is this?" The Emperor's voice echoed loudly in the hall. He was clearly angered by their presence.

Beza stepped forward and knelt. "Forgive thy servants your Highness, but it was necessary to bring you an urgent message concerning your child..." He hesitated before continuing, "The chosen one."

"Be careful what you say peasant, or I will have your head taken off where you stand! Thou and thy master Abidel persist in spewing this blasphemy, that the child is not the one? Where is Abidel, and who is this fool that has accompanied you here to his death?"

"Your highness, this man beside me is living proof that the child which your wife nurses is not of this world." He pointed at the child in Marah's arms. "That baby is an impostor, is not thy child, and is not the chosen one!"

An outcry of voices emanated from the crowd present – Chieftains, Elders and Holy Scroll scholars from all over High Earth. "Sacrilege! Blasphemy!" were the cries that began to fill the room. "Kill them now!"

The royal guard started to draw their swords but their leader, Ebed-Melek, was already moving across the room towards Beza. His sword stopped at the man's throat, waiting for the slightest order from the Emperor to strike.

"Wait! Let the man speak" The Emperor said, raising his left hand. Then he turned to Beza, "Choose thy words carefully and know that they may be thy last breath!"

Beza breathed in deeply, Ebed-Melek's blade pressed against his neck. "This man with me is also not of this world. He has come from another world called London. He is also the father of this child!"

The ripples of murmuring spread across the room. Beza quickly continued while he had the chance, "Look at his clothes, rough blue trousers and a light red tunic that does not even cover his arms. The likes of which none have ever laid eyes on in High or Low Earth, not until now! And his shoes..."

"Lies!!!" The Oracle hissed interrupting Beza mid-sentence. "Your Highness, do not fall for this deception. This man whom thou rightly banished for his blasphemous speech must not be trusted. He is not even a true man of God. He hath no power as he professes to have and I shall prove it!"

The Oracle stood up, took his staff and threw it to the floor in front of Beza. The moment the stick touched the ground it turned into a snake, poised for attack and hissing at Beza. Startled, Ebed-Melech took a step back, careful to remain an arm's length from Beza, the venomous snake's supposed target. The sword was no longer at Beza's neck and this was when he decided to act. Flexing his chest and raising his arms he snapped the chains that had tightly fastened him as if they were twigs. When they touched the ground, they turned into three snakes which wasted no time in gobbling up the Oracle's snake. They lifted their heads up, posied for the next attack, seemingly waiting for Beza to give them their next orders. Horrified screams filled the room as people started fleeing. Only the bravest remained, eyes transfixed on the unfolding duel before them. The Oracle took a large rock in his right hand, and flung it at the snakes. When it struck the first one, the rock disintegrated and the snakes spontaneously combusted into flames! The Oracle smiled wickedly, enjoying his momentary victory, however fleeting it may be, as the stench of barbecue snake filled the palace.

Beza seemed unconcerned by this, and turned towards the Emperor. "Your highness, we waste time with these petty displays of power. I have come here to expose the truth to thee. We may calleth rain, fire and thunder from the heavens all day and all night to prove whose power really comes from God. Instead, I will let my comrade speak, and if this convinceth thee not, we shall return to the wilderness without the baby. But know that without this child, your child will remain trapped in this other world I speak of."

Silence descended upon the room and after a few moments, the Emperor motioned to Johnny to speak. "Sir...your Highness...," Johnny said stepping forward, "I bring thee a gift from my world. It is the power to light fire with your own hands." He brought out a metallic object from his pocket and when he clicked on it, a small flame emanated from his hand.

The Oracle laughed mockingly. "How does this tiny flame compare to the display of fire I have just shown you?"

"The difference is that anyone can start this fire. The source of its power is not in dispute. It comes from fuel which is inside it. It is called a lighter." Johnny stretched his hand out with the lighter towards the Emperor, at which point Ebed-Melek, who happened to be one of the brave souls who remained, stepped between them to take it from him. He was ready to test it himself and bear the consequences if this was a trap, but the Emperor waved him over and took the lighter from him. After fumbling with it for a few seconds, he lit the flame and stared at it with fascination.

The Oracle tried to speak up to interrupt the moment, but the Emperor had turned to Johnny. "Is it possible to make more of these lighters? They would make a fine tool for all our camps and travelling parties."

"I suppose it is possible."

"Then lighters for all chieftains and generals of the royal guard!" The Emperor said rising up and pumping his fist as he raised his voice excitedly. There was a muted cheer from those that remained, such was their bewilderment at the unexpected turn of events in the Emperor's courtyard.

"Come, tell me what else have you brought from this world. London you called it?"

"Well, we call our world Earth, but I am indeed from a city called London."

"London will do," The Emperor chuckled. "So, Johnny of London, what other gifts have thy brought from thy world?"

Johnny reached into his pocket and brought out another rectangular object, this time thin, white and slightly bigger. A white rope with two leads were attached to it. He stuck the two white leads into either ear, and when he pressed the white object, the Emperor and all present could hear an interesting, somewhat melodious noise coming from his ears. No, from the white leads.

"What manner of sorcery is this?" the Emperor demanded, though the look on his face wore fascination rather than indignation.

"Again, it is not sorcery, it is simply music."

"So it is a musical instrument?"

"Not exactly. It is a device that plays music, you can download music from the internet and play it on this device."

"What is the internet?"

"Never mind. Here you can have this one. It's called an I-pod."

Again, Ebed-Melek took the device from him and handed it to the Emperor. The Emperor stuck the white leads in his ears and tried without luck to play the music.

"You have to press the button in the middle, that's the play button."

The Emperor did so, and after about a minute, pulled the leads out and looked up excitedly. "I have never heard music quite like this before. What is it called? Can we also make these I-pods for all the Chieftains and Elders?"

"It's called garage music. Unfortunately, it might be a bit more difficult to make more of these than the lighters."

"In that case, garbage music for the Emperor and his Court!" The Emperor said, pumping his fist in the air again. "It sounds like dirty music, is it meant to?" The Emperor chuckled. The Oracle looked across and tried to hide his disgust! If this Emperor was his own court jester, he would have beheaded himself a long time ago!

"Your Highness, Sir, please let us not forget the matter at hand. If we have been able to convince you, I have come to take my child and return him to my world and his mother."

Suddenly, the Emperor's countenance changed. A frown spread across his face, and the Oracle stole his moment while he had it. "Your Highness, thou seest now that they use deception to soften you, lower your guard and steal the baby! Remember I told you it would need my protection from untold evils seeking to end its life! End this dialogue with these snakes while you have the chance!"

The Emperor appeared to be ready to have Ebed-Melek and his royal guards take the two men away until Marah, who had not spoken until now, leaned over to him and whispered in his ear, "Melek, my King, I believe this Johnny of London speaketh truth. I have looked upon this child every night since he was given to me, three days after he died, when he was risen again with the Oracle's power, and I have known since then that this is not my child. Let them take him. If our child is out there somewhere, leave them to bring him back. Even if he is not alive, let us find him and give him a burial befitting of royal blood."

"What of the Great Prophecy of the chosen one? How can the child not be alive?"

"What if Abidel was right? What if this is not the time? Let us leave the matter in God's hands, otherwise I fear that history may record that we took part in a great deception and abomination."

Emperor Melek sat back deep in thought. His mind had almost been made up but since he married this young maiden Marah barely a dozen lunar cycles ago, he had always taken her word over all his most trusted advisors, much to their chagrin. Now he would do so once more, much to the Oracle's disgusted annoyance.

"Please, Your Highness," Johnny added as softly as he could, "listen to her Highness, a mother would always know. Right now this child's mother is distraught to the point of death in London, at the apparent loss of her baby. I beg you, please put her out of her misery. Let her have her child back."

But he didn't need to beg. The Emperor had already decided to let them go with the baby. That night, they stayed in the royal stables with the horses, and at the first rising of the sun, they were given two of the finest of the royal horses, enough supplies to last three lunar cycles, and safe passage to return to the Oracle's hut, which they believed was the gateway to the other world. Marah said her goodbyes to the baby which she had raised as her own for three lunar cycles, kissed his cheek and bade farewell to the two men, begging them to find her own baby and bring him back. The Emperor said nothing as he looked on and saw the two men and the baby disappear into the distance.

Does Johnny return to London with he and Cynthia’s baby? Does Abidel escape his jail cell in London and find his way back to High and Low Earth? Find out in the conclusion to this “Man of God” series in ‘The Return of the Man of God!’

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Detective and The Man of GOD

Recap: Abidel and Beza, Johnny and Cynthia. A man of God and his apprentice, a praise worship leader and his girlfriend. Two very different worlds collide in one epic story. In a bid to end the famine and drought that plague the Edge of Sara, Abidel and Beza journey from High Earth to Low Earth to see the Oracle. Little do they or the people of High and Low Earth know, the Oracle is not true to their Holy Scrolls. He craves domination of both lands and seeks to open a portal to the other world. The world of Johnny and Cynthia. A place called London. Abidel drinks a potion given to him by the Oracle and he starts dreaming through Cynthia’s eyes, and she through his. The first link with the other world. But this is only the first phase of the Oracle’s plan, of which unwittingly, Johnny and Cynthia are pawns. They sleep together on the first date and Cynthia gets pregnant. With this Abidel and Cynthia’s dreams end and the rains fall on the Edge of Sara once more. The Edgeans rejoice but for Cynthia her world is falling apart at the seams. The Oracle tells the High Earthens of the Prophecy of the Chosen One, and when Emperor Melek journeys to the Oracle’s Path with his expecting wife, everything is in place for the Oracle’s great deception. Their baby dies, but the Oracle swaps babies during Cynthia’s childbirth and she is left to think that her baby is stillborn. Abidel and Beza realise the Oracle’s plan but by the time they get to the Path it is too late – the Oracle has simulated the birth, death and resurrection of their saviour to great effect. Now with the Emperor in the Oracle’s pocket, all of High and Low Earth would worship the Seer as a deity. Abidel must journey to the other world and Johnny must go to High Earth if they are to have any chance of returning Cynthia’s baby to her and stopping the abomination that would reek utter desolation to all of High and Low Earth and beyond!

First there was the Oracle, then an Old Prophet and then the Prophecy. Now meet the Detective and the Man of God!


When Abidel awoke, the first thing he noticed was the lush softness of the bed in which he lay. Johnny's bed. He had not slept on anything so comfortable since before he and Beza were banished from High Earth into the wilderness and even then, he doubted that the royal beddings in the Emperor's palace could match the comfort of the mattress which lay beneath him. He quickly got out of bed and walked into the living room with intent. Though he had not physically been in this apartment, he had appeared to Johnny there in a dream. That made it familiar enough for him to know his way around the place. He was looking for anything that would help him find Cynthia's address. He had to find her and tell her that her baby hadn't really died at birth - he had been taken and replaced by another. He spent thirty minutes rummaging through the living room but found nothing. He did notice a large circular object on one of the side tables. The words "Map Of The World" were inscribed on it and he observed the globe in fascination. Some of the most respected scholars in his world had theorised that their world was perhaps round and not flat, though this had been dismissed by the prevailing school of thought. Perhaps when he returned he would encourage them to reassess their thinking on the matter. If he returned. If Johnny was unable to rescue the child or return himself, then he was stuck in this new world.

After a while, he found what looked like a small pouch on the chest of drawers in the bedroom. In it there were coins that looked like they were made of copper and bronze, surely of much less value than the gold and silver coins they used on High Earth. Then there was some paper, perfect rectangular sheets with the picture of a woman with a crown on one side, clearly a Queen. "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ten pounds," it read. This paper must have some monetary value, he thought. Another interesting concept, which he would no doubt be returning to High Earth with. Assuming he returned. Eventually, he found a card with a picture of Cynthia in this pouch and on it, a line which said "address". Finally, he had found what he was looking for. He locked the apartment behind him with the keys he found on the chest of drawers and went outside to stop one of the black chariots on the street by raising his hands at them, much like he had seen many people of this world do in his dreams. Armed with the coins and paper from Johnny's purse, they should take him anywhere he wanted to go. At least this is what he hoped.


When Abidel dismounted the black chariot that had taken him to the address on the card with Cynthia's picture on it, he tried to give its rider the copper and bronze coins he had found in Johnny's pouch as a payment for ride, but the man refused. He did however accept merely two of the paper monies from the purse, and even gave him many more coins in return. "Don't you have any notes in your wallet?" The man had asked him, pointing to the pouch. Odd that the paper would be worth much more than the coins, he thought, as he knocked on Cynthia's front door.

"Yes, may I help you?" she asked, opening the door slightly as she peered round it.

"Well, actually I believe I can help you. Are you Cynthia Robles of Kingdon Street, West Hampstead?"

"Yes, this is she."

"I don't know how to say this, but I have reason to believe that your baby is alive. There was more than meets the eye to your difficult delivery. If I could come in and explain..."

She didn't let him finish. She slammed the door shut, turned both locks, and put the chain over the door. She had suffered a terrible miscarriage only the day before, and was only allowed to leave the hospital this morning only one the condition that her doctor would check up on her round the clock for the next week. Now, a strange man wearing long flowing white robes was at her doorstep, with details of her delivery and claims that the baby hadn't died. As much as she wanted to believe the latter part, she was instinctively wary for her immediate safety. She tried calling Johnny, but his number just rang through.

"Johnny sent me to find you," Abidel shouted from outside, as if on cue. "The baby that died isn't yours, he has gone to find your child and bring him back!"

After a short pause, she shouted back. "Are you a doctor? Were you at the hospital yesterday?"

"No I'm not a doctor, I am a prophet. A man of God. I was not at the hospital but I witnessed your child being taken!"

As she thought, the man was a lunatic. Clearly from some sort of cult. She dialled 999.

"Good afternoon, please state the nature of your emergency."

"I have an intruder who is trying to get into my home. Please get the police over here immediately!"

"Okay calm down ma'am. Putting you through to the police now..."

When she got through to the police, she gave them her address and stayed on the phone with them, explaining the exact nature of the intrusion, and her fears about the surprising amount of detail this man knew about her circumstances.

"Please let me in," the man shouted, "it's imperative that you hear what I have to say!"

"You better leave now!" she shouted back. "The police will be here any minute now and then you'll have to answer to them!"

"I'm not leaving until you listen to what I'm saying!" He sat down and made himself comfortable on the front porch.

No sooner had he sat down did her hear the sound of sirens approaching in the distance. Two of these chariots which he now knew as cars, pulled up in front of the house from different directions and out jumped four men wearing the same uniforms each with some kind of weapon in hand. They began to approach him cautiously. This must be the "police" that she spoke of. Some kind of officers of the law.

"Put your hands where we can see them, and don't make any sudden moves!" Their weapons were pointed directly at him. He did as they asked and put his hands above his head. They approached him quickly, grabbed his hands, put them around his back and locked a pair of metal shackles unto his hands so that he could not move them.

As they led him away, he shouted back towards the house, "You've got to listen to me Cynthia! I know about your dreams, because you dreamt them through my eyes! Johnny is with Beza at this very moment, journeying to High Earth to rescue your child!"

Cynthia opened the front door and stared at the man as the police bundled him into their vehicle, transfixed by the words he had just spoken. Her dreams, the name Beza, another world. Cult or no cult, he was frighteningly accurate about these visions she'd had, just over nine months ago now. She breathed a sigh of relief. At least, now that this strange man was in custody, she was safe, and all her questions about his peculiar appearance at her doorstep would be answered.

Abidel was taken into a dark room and left seated alone at a desk. There was an empty chair opposite him and a lamp on the desk that only slightly illuminated the room. The room had three walls painted grey, and a fourth wall made of glass. Thick black glass through which he could see nothing. After a few minutes, the door opened again and a tall man wearing a dark brown coat walked in. The man walked towards him slapped some papers unto the table. He placed another object on the table, rectangular in shape and pressed a button on it.

"My name is Detective Carter," the man said as he sat down, "Please could you state your name and where you are from for the record."

"My name is Abidel. I am from the Edge of Sara, the town at the end of High Earth."

"Abidel what? What's your surname? Your family name?"

"I have no other name. I am Abidel of High Earth, servant of the Most High. Abidel will suffice."

"Yes Cynthia mentioned that you said you were a Preacher. ‘Man of God’ I think were your words. Is that how you knew about her miscarriage? You saw it divinely?" His voice smacked of sarcasm.

"In a manner of speaking, yes. I saw it happen, but from my world. Cynthia's baby did not die; it was replaced by a baby that died in my world."

"You've got to be kidding me," Carter remarked. Amused, he stood up and walked towards the glass wall. "Can you believe this guy's story? That he's from some other world and that is how he got the info that he had?" For some odd reason unbeknownst to Abidel, the man was talking to the glass wall.

Suddenly, Carter's countenance changed from one of amusement to one of seriousness. "Listen," he said spinning around and turning to Abidel, "you need to start talking because you're about to get into serious trouble if you don't. Trespassing and harassment are the least of your worries at the moment. Johnny's wallet was found on your person, and he hasn't been seen since yesterday. We've done a sweep of his house and there's no trace of him. No one has heard from him today, so considering that you had his wallet, you're the only person who we know has been in contact with him since yesterday or knows his whereabouts. A missing persons report cannot be filed until 24 hours after they were last seen, so I warn you, if he doesn't show up before that time has elapsed, you will be charged with kidnapping in addition to the other crimes already mentioned!"

"No one seems to be listening to me! I do know where Johnny is. He is on his way to High Earth now to rescue the child from the Oracle!"

Carter paused for a moment and gave him a long hard stare. "Okay, let's try this one more time. Who are you and where are you from?"

This time Abidel was quiet and gave no answer.
"Do you now refuse to speak? Now you listen to me, don't you realise that I have the power to keep you here or let you go? But you need to co-operate if this is going to end well."

"You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. As I told you, I am not of this world. If I was, you would not be able to arrest me or keep me here."

"Would you look at that!" Carter smirked, "now he thinks he is some kind of modern day Jesus Christ!" He was talking to the glass wall again. He turned back to Abidel one last time. "I'm going to leave you here to think about your situation for a while. When I come back I want answers. Real answers!" His voiced echoed as he turned to leave the room and slammed the door behind him.

Abidel was once again left in darkness and quiet solitude. A darkness only slightly illuminated by the small lamp which sat on the table before him.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Prophecy and the MOG - Alternate Ending!!!

Hey people! I bring you the alternate ending for the Prophecy and the MOG! In actual fact, this was the original ending for the story, except that it's not actually the ending, it is more like the middle! (It was changed and ended early for publication in Outflow as a trilogy!). Call this alternate ending an interlude if you will, it is simply the prelude to another trilogy of stories for this series! Stay tuned for much much more!

Did you ever wonder what might have happened if the Oracle had succeeded in his plan to swap the babies between the two worlds? Did you ever wonder how his plans to rule over High and Low Earth could possibly be thwarted once he had completed this deception? Did you ever wonder how a rescue attempt could be launched for Cynthia's baby if she truly did (and unwittingly too) lose it to another world?

All and more will be revealed on and enjoy!!!

The Prophecy and The Man of GOD
The Alternate Ending!!!


Abidel and Beza rode their horses through the plains of the Masai as quickly as they could. They had to reach the Path before it was too late. After a period of forty days and nights in the wilderness dedicated to fasting and prayer, the Oracle's plan had been divinely revealed to Abidel. The Oracle planned to simulate the birth, death and resurrection of the Chosen One in one fell swoop. By stealing a baby from the other world called Earth, he would deceive the people of High and Low Earth to worship him as a deity and thus cause the abomination that would reek utter desolation to the ends of this world, and beyond. If Abidel was right, they only had three days to stop him!

On the third day, the Emperor and his men went to the Oracle's hut to take the baby's body and begin the long procession back home. The Oracle met them at the door, stopping them in their tracks. "Have thou forgotten the Prophecy of the Holy Temple, that it shall be destroyed and built again in three days?"

Ebed-Melek, the head of the Royal Guard and the Emperor's right hand man stepped forward. "Of what consequence is the Holy Temple to the Great Prophecy? Hath thou not proved thyself a false prophet already? I should run my sword through you right now!"

"O thee of little understanding," the Oracle cried as he lifted his hands to the sky and the clouds began to darken and gather above them. "Now thou shalt understand the meaning of the prophecies and see the very power I have to give life!" The Oracle's eyes turned a pupil-less black as lightning flashed across the skies above and a storm engulfed them. The Emperor and his men began to run for cover but the Oracle simply smiled and lowered his hands as if to tell the storm to calm. As suddenly as the heavens had opened above them did the storm suddenly subside. As the clouds began to move away and the skies began to clear, a cry could be heard from inside the Oracle's hut. The cry of a baby!

(This is where it all changes!!!)

The servant of the Oracle ran into the hut, and moments later, came out carrying the baby, alive and kicking! "Look! The child has risen from the beyond!"

There was a riotous cheer from the Emperor and his men. They now understood the meaning of the prophecies - the child was indeed the Chosen One, the Holy Temple that was destroyed and rebuilt in three days! And they had the Oracle to thank for opening their eyes and making all of this possible! Right there, at the Path of the Oracle, they all bowed down and worshipped him. Following this, Emperor Melek asked the Oracle to return to with them to his palace in High Earth to become his personal spiritual advisor. The Oracle accepted the offer with glee. The first phase of his plan had worked like a charm.


As Abidel and Beza arrived at approached the Path of the Oracle from the plains of the Masai, they could see a long procession readying themselves for the journey back to High Earth. Abidel saw that these people were joyous in song and in the highest of spirits, and it was then that he knew they were too late! From what he could make out, The Emperor rode on the Royal Chariot near the back of the procession, surrounded by the finest warriors of the Royal Guard. And from what he could see, his wife Marah stood by his side cuddling a healthy bouncing baby boy. The boy from the other world, stolen from his real mother who during childbirth unwittingly received, in exchange for her dead baby, the Emperor's baby who had died three days previously. All this to fulfil the Oracle's selfish desires, not the prophecies that he had claimed were being fulfilled. Abidel shook his head in disgust. Righting this wrong and convincing the people of High Earth that they haven't been deceived was not going to be easy.

"What do we do now?" Beza asked despondently, as they peered at the leaving procession from the cool shade of the trees that concealed their presence at the scene.

"We wait."

"We wait? Wait for them to leave? What good can we do here once they tak the baby and return to High Earth?"

"The only good we can do is here. We cannot follow them back to High Earth to take the baby. Even without our banishment, that would be impossible. But now, if we are so much as sighted a rising and falling from High Earth they would take us in chains immediately!"

"So what good can we do here?"

"I have a plan. I believe that the Oracle's hut is the portal to the other world, the place called London. It is the place I saw when I dreamt through the eyes of the woman called Cynthia. Do you remember?"

"Of course I remember, thy dreams began the next rising of the sun after our first visit to the Oracle!"

"Well, I believe that she is the real mother of this baby trapped in our world. The Oracle found a way to bring him here, and I believe that one can travel there in the same way. It may be our only chance of rescuing her baby and saving this world from the Oracle!"

Beza was caught totally off guard by the revelation. "How is this possible? And even if it is, how will this save High Earth from the great deception that has befallen them?"

"We shall know by the rising of the sun if my plan will work. And if it does, here is what we shall do..."

Beza listened intently and his eyes went wide with amazement as Abidel explained this plan in intricate detail. Only a man of faith could believe that such an audacious and bold plan could possibly work. And Abidel was a man of great faith.


When Johnny woke up in his living room in the middle of the night, he had barely slept a wink. Earlier that day Cynthia has lost their baby during childbirth so understandably he was too distraught to sleep. He got up to fix himself a drink but stopped dead in his tracks before he could get to the kitchen. Right in front of him, where his own kitchen should have been, he saw a charcoal scarred fireplace with a large obtuse black pot sitting underneath it. While he was still trying to make sense of this anomaly, a slim tall man wearing flowing white robes and brown sandals stepped into his line of sight from the corner of this strangely transformed kitchen and stood in front of the fireplace.

Startled, Johnny took a step back, and then the man spoke. "Don't be afraid. My name is Abidel, servant of the Most High. I am from the Edge of Sara, and I'm here to help you."

"Help me with what? What are you doing in my house? What on earth is the Edge of Sara?"

"Well that's exactly it - It's no place you know of on this earth. In my world, it is the town at the end of High Earth. I am the man of God that Cynthia spoke of from her dreams."

Johnny was taken aback at the mention of Cynthia’s other-wordly dreams. They had abruptly ended at the start of her pregnancy, and they now seemed like distant memories. "How do you know about her dreams?"

"Because she was seeing my world through my eyes, and I was seeing your world through hers."

Johnny paused, at a real loss as to how to respond. He was still trying to digest everything this man was telling him. He was sure that any minute now he was going to wake up and have a very interesting dream to talk about.

Abidel continued. "Your baby isn't dead. He was taken by a man called the Oracle and replaced with a baby from my world. I bore witness to this act some distance from where this deception took place, but unfortunately I could not arrive there in time to stop the Oracle."

"What are you talking about? Even if such a thing possible, why should I believe you?"

"The Oracle found a way to link our worlds and stole your baby to simulate the birth, death and resurrection of the Chosen One spoken of in the Holy Scrolls. You must be familiar with the prophecy? I gather that this has already happened in your world, long ago?"

"You mean Jesus Christ? Yes, but I don't know of any Holy Scrolls."

"I think you call them the Bible. Well, the ones that we have are part of what you call the Old Testament."

"How do you know all this?"

"Some things can only come by intense fasting and prayer. I have been in the wilderness forty days and nights. There I discovered what was necessary to appear to you now. Listen, we don't have much time, so I will have to explain to you fully later. Right now, you're the only one who can return your son to your world."

Johnny was having a hard time believing anything this strange man said, but he decided it might be easier to humour him and play along. After all, this was just a dream and he’d be awake any minute now. "How will I be able to do this?"

"You will cross over to High and Low Earth to convince the Emperor to return the child to you. My apprentice Beza will be there to help you every step of the way."

"And where will you be?"

"I'll be here, in your world. It seems that the only way for one to cross over is for someone else to move in the opposite direction. It was how the Oracle took your baby. I will remain here until you return with the baby, it's the only way!"

"Okay...," Johnny hesitated as he looked across the kitchen. It certainly seemed it was from another world. "So how do we do this? Do we just walk across at the same time?"

"No. This is just a dream, but the next time you sleep you will wake up in my world. Beza will be there waiting.”

“I didn’t need you to tell me that this is a dream! That much is already clear to me! The next time I sleep I won’t be waking up anywhere else but my bed!”

Abidel smiled sheepishly. “Don’t worry. In time, you will believe. You should have faith that your baby is still alive. And you will.”

“Perhaps,” Johnny paused, “hopefully I will wake up and find that Cynthia’s miscarriage was all just a bad nightmare?”

“Perhaps,” Abidel responded knowingly. “There is one more thing,” he said as he turned to leave.

"What's that?"

"Make sure you hold on to one or two things from this world. You will need them to convince the Emperor that you are indeed not of High or Low Earth!"

Find out what happens next week, in "The Detective and The Man of GOD"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Prophecy and The Man of GOD

‘A child shall be born, the son of a King and a young maiden, and he shall rescue all of High and Low Earth from their tribulations. I, the Oracle who watches over all the Earth, must bless the child, for untold evils seek to end its life before it begins. I tell thee truth, the expecting mother must make the journey from High Earth and the child must be born here to ensure its protection and the fulfilment of the prophecies.'


The Oracle paced back and forth in his hut with intent. Even a man of his short, thin frame didn't need many paces to cross from one end of his humble abode to the other. But not for long, he thought. He would very soon trade this meagre hamlet for the most royal of palaces on High Earth. If only the High Earthens knew what deception he planned to feed them. He would give them their Great Prophecy and in doing so finally get all that he had craved so long for – more power, dominion over High and Low Earth, and ultimately a gateway to the other world. A world where his powers could far surpass anything these puny, primitive people of High and Low Earth could even dream of or imagine.

His plan was already well in motion. Abidel, servant of the Most High, had already returned to the Edge, the town that linked High Earth to the deserts of Sara. He had returned with the prophecy as told to him by the Oracle. Messengers were immediately sent to the Emperor Melek's palace with the news that the time for the Great Prophecy was nigh. The fact that the Oracle had subtly implied that the child would come from High Earth was not lost on Abidel. Even though he thought it strange that the Oracle had included such specifics that weren't in the original prophecy, it did help them narrow down the search. Despite his concerns about the accuracy of the Seer's claims, he’d felt obliged to deliver the message. After all, the Oracle had correctly predicted the end of the drought that had plagued the Edge.

Alas, of all the Lords and Chieftains of High Earth whom the prophecy might have been speaking of, it was the Emperor himself who had taken a young maiden, Marah, as his wife only two lunar cycles ago. She was immediately summoned and once the medicine men verified that she was indeed with child, all the Emperor's advisors and scholars of the Holy Scrolls agreed that this must be the child spoken of in the Great Prophecy. Immediately, the Emperor and his wife began making preparations in earnest for the journey to see the Oracle. As Abidel had feared, suggesting that the Oracle's claims were untrue caused an uproar in the Palace. The Elders of the Emperor's council accused him and Beza, his right-hand man, of blasphemy and banished them to the desert of Sara to live out their days. They had only been spared the death penalty because of Abidel's popularity as a man of God who had performed many great wonders on High Earth. Still, this was more than the Oracle had hoped for. His plan was unravelling nicely.


The course of Cynthia's life changed forever when she discovered she was pregnant with Johnny's child. They had only started dating when the unthinkable happened, and months later she was still reeling from the consequences of what they had done. She had once been the talk of her church as the most elegant, most God-fearing woman who had graduated with a 1st class and owned her own studio flat. Now she was the talk of the church for very different reasons. The youth she had once taught secretly sniggered at her whenever she walked past them, and many of her peers whom she had considered friends seemed to be making less than subtle efforts to distance themselves from her. Things were not much easier for Johnny, she thought. His family had given him a very hard time since the news broke, particularly because it was unclear how he intended to financially support the child. Even his parents had resented the fact that he had turned down a lucrative R'n'B career to lead praise and worship in the church, and now they were pillorying him for what they had considered a stupid decision on his part. Cynthia was startled back to reality by a knock on the window. It was Johnny. She'd been sitting in her car daydreaming about what might have been. They had come to church for the parenting class they had agreed to attend together. They stepped into the class which had already started and couldn't help but note the disapproving looks from the other parents-to-be at their lateness, or perhaps at their presence altogether.

"Everyone's staring at us," Cynthia whispered to Johnny as they took their seats.

"Don't worry. This is for the best, remember?"

"I suppose so. But it's very awkward, how long do we have to bear this for?"

"Not for long I'm sure, they're just not used to an unmarried couple taking the class. Give them time." He was right, never in the history of their church had an unmarried couple taken this class, and it was certainly ruffling a few feathers. But they both knew that their Pastor had advised them wisely. There was no point compounding one mistake with another that would last a lifetime. They would resist the pressures to get married just because they were having a baby. They only would if they were sure it was God's will. Right now, they were simply focusing on how each of them could be better parents when the baby arrived.

After a few moments she firmly grabbed his hand, and somewhat startled, he returned the squeeze reassuringly. "Don't worry, the baby will soon be here, then we can focus on doing this for real."

"It's not that," she responded in a panic, "I think my water just broke!"


After the journey from High Earth that took three lunar cycles, The Emperor and his men where nearing the Path of the Oracle when Marah went into labour. They rode at full gallop to meet the Oracle, who was waiting with his assistant to usher the expectant mother into his hut. No one else was allowed to enter during the delivery so the Emperor and his men waited outside pensively, but patiently. A look of anxiety swept across the Emperor's face as Marah's screams only seemed to intensify after she was taken in. Her wailing persisted for another thirty minutes and then suddenly stopped. Ten minutes later, the Oracle's assistant stepped out of the hamlet, holding a blanket with the baby wrapped in it. The Emperor stepped forward to receive the baby but his initial excitement evaporated when he saw the despondent look on look on the servants face.

"Your Highness, cursed am I to bringeth thee this terrible news - the child hath not survived the delivery."

The Emperor's face twisted in anguish as he fell to the ground. He let out a wail that could surely be heard for miles beyond the Path of the Oracle. His Royal Guards rushed to pick him from the ground as he wept bitterly. After a long time, the Emperor finally composed himself, dusted himself down and once again looked the epitome of dignity and nobility. He turned to Ebed-Melek, the General of his Royal Guard. "Set up camp to the west of the Path and we return at first light!"

At this point, the Oracle stepped out of his hut and all eyes fell on him. The Emperor walked straight up to him looked him in the eyes. "Is this thy blessing and protection of the Great Prophecy? It may be better if thou leavest this place. If thou art still here by the rising of the sun, I may return to High Earth with thy head on a platter!"

The Oracle didn't bat an eyelid. He returned the Emperor's stare and responded with an air of confidence that surprised even the Emperor. "At least, thou must remain here three risings and fallings, in accordance with thy customs, to pay respects for the dead. Thou knowest not what wonder thy God might perform if thou abideth in obedience."

Hence, Emperor Melek, his wife Marah and his men remained at the Path of the Oracle three days in observance of the time of mourning before making the return journey to High Earth.


Cynthia was hauled onto the stretcher when they got to the hospital and Johnny ran along beside her, encouraging her as much as he could. She was pushed straight into the delivery room but Johnny waited outside - they had agreed that this was as far as he would come. Inside the room, the delivery was anything but straightforward. Cynthia had never experienced so much pain in her life. She had a migraine that was so severe that she started suffering hallucinations. She saw flashes of a thunderstorm, lightning and torrential rain. These were very much like her other worldly dreams she'd had just before she got pregnant, but even more intense. One minute, she was lying on the delivery room bed, and the next minute she was in a tropical monsoon, and so the flashes continued. The only constant between the two switching scenarios was the piercing screams, which the midwife no doubt attributed to the normal pangs of childbirth. If this is what childbirth feels like, I might as well die now! Cynthia thought. Then suddenly, the storm calmed and subsided. After two hours of intense pushing and gut wrenching screams, the baby eventually came. But it wasn't crying. It didn't make a sound.

After cutting the umbilical cord, the midwife checked the baby's airways. After clearing the airways, there was still no breathing. She turned to the second nurse present, "Turn on the gas supply, and pass me the mask. And get Doctor Patel in here!"

"Is my baby okay?" Cynthia asked looking at midwife who strapped the mask across the baby's nose and mouth and started pumping oxygen into the boy's airways.

Doctor Patel came in and took over the ventilation process from the midwife. After a few minutes, he moved on to chest compression techniques but there didn’t seem to be any improvement in the baby’s condition.

"Shall we try to administer drugs via an umbilical venous line?" the midwife asked. She knew this was a last resort procedure.

"I'm afraid there's no point in giving him drugs if he isn't breathing adequately!" the doctor responded.

A few minutes later, the Doctor came out of the delivery room to give Johnny the bad news. "I'm sorry, the baby was stillborn. There was nothing we could do for him."

Johnny slumped to the floor distraught as he felt his world crumble around him. And then everything went black.


Abidel and Beza rode their horses through the plains of the Masai as quickly as they could. They had to reach the Path before it was too late. After a period of forty days and nights in the wilderness dedicated to fasting and prayer, the Oracle's plan had been divinely revealed to Abidel. The Oracle planned to simulate the birth, death and resurrection of the Chosen One in one fell swoop. By stealing a baby from the other world called Earth, he would deceive the people of High and Low Earth to worship him as a deity and thus cause the abomination that would reek utter desolation to the ends of this world, and beyond. If Abidel was right, they only had three days to stop him!

On the third day, the Emperor and his men went to the Oracle's hut to take the baby's body and begin the long procession back home. The Oracle met them at the door, stopping them in their tracks. "Have thou forgotten the Prophecy of the Holy Temple, that it shall be destroyed and built again in three days?"

Ebed-Melek, the head of the Royal Guard and the Emperor's right hand man stepped forward. "Of what consequence is the Holy Temple to the Great Prophecy? Hath thou not proved thyself a false prophet already? I should run my sword through you right now!"

"O thee of little understanding," the Oracle cried as he lifted his hands to the sky and the clouds began to darken and gather above them. "Now thou shalt understand the meaning of the prophecies and see the very power I have to give life!" The Oracle's eyes turned a pupil-less black as lightning flashed across the skies above and a storm engulfed them. The Emperor and his men began to run for cover but the Oracle simply smiled and lowered his hands as if to tell the storm to calm. As suddenly as the heavens had opened above them did the storm suddenly subside. As the clouds began to move away and the skies began to clear, a cry could be heard from inside the Oracle's hut. The cry of a baby!

All of a sudden, another cry could be heard emanating from the Masai plains. A battle cry. Abidel and Beza appeared in the distance at full gallop. As they approached the Path, Abidel raised up his staff, and the clouds darkened again. Lightning rippled through the sky and the sound of thunder deafened the ears of all present. The Oracle's assistant rushed to enter the hut and retrieve the baby, but before he could reach the door, a bolt of lightning struck the hut with such force that he was thrown into the air and landed several metres away, body completely fried! Abidel and Beza did not wait to survey the damage they had caused. They rode on to Low Earth, with the Royal Guard led by Ebed-Melek hot on their heels. The Emperor rushed into the Oracle's hut which was now only half standing. His child lay on the altar inside, miraculously without a single scratch on his body. But to his dismay, the baby was not alive. He threw his cloak over the child and wept bitterly.


The nurse was about to call the time of death for Cynthia's baby when he suddenly coughed and burst into life, breathing his first breath of fresh air since being delivered, at least in this world. She ran out and met Doctor Patel in the hallway, who had just delivered news that had floored Johnny. She ran towards them screaming "The baby is alive! The baby is alive!" The child's recovery from certain death had been miraculous. Later, tests showed that his heart had been jolted back to life by a charge similar to that from an electrical defibrillation unit, even though no such procedure had been administered. After spending two days on life support and another week in intensive care, the child lived to make a full recovery.


The Oracle's plan had been thwarted for now, and his hut, the portal to the other world, had been destroyed. However, with the help of an unwitting Emperor now seeking revenge against Abidel for the loss of his child, he would continue his plans to deceive and reek utter desolation to the ends of High and Low Earth. Once he used the Emperor’s armies to conquer Low Earth, nothing would stand in the way of his opening a new portal to Earth and taking hold of that world too! And there were only two that could stop him now. Abidel and Beza. That Man of God and his apprentice.