WRITER’S NOTE: Hi there! The series is approaching its finale. But, if you haven’t read the previous episodes, don’t feel left out. The links are right here.
And now … let’s get into the story, shall we.
As the man awoke, his senses were suddenly pelted by numerous sensations. Memories and data waiting to fill his mind poured in.
He would not ask who he was. The people in his dream –or nightmare— had called him Jerry. Jerry Jenson, if he recalled correctly. He did not really think about this, he just knew. He was Jerry Jenson.
He had been sleeping, but it must have been for a very long sleep. His limbs felt numb. It would take a while before the blood returned to the parts of his body that were still asleep. How long had he been in the same position?
It was a laboratory, he could tell. Computer screens dotted the walls, connected by wires and tubing. Overhead fluorescent lights flickered ominously. The back of his head hurt terribly. Someone had probably been running some tests on him. Maybe that was when he had blacked out and dreamt of that hideous place called Towne. Why had that dream felt so real? Why did it still feel so important?
But what overrode all his sensations was the Light ahead. He was lying down in a dark room, with flickering fluorescent bulbs overhead, but there was a strong Light somewhere ahead and above. There were many others beside him, but they were still asleep. But he was enthralled by the Light beckoning from a deck above. The darkness in this room felt so hideous compared to that Light, that he wanted to get to it. Everyone knows that Light means safety, security, and probably food by a candlelit dinner table. But how he felt was akin to a man struggling up a pit for his life. He needed to get to the Light.
Something from his dreams popped up in his mind. A voice. Someone had said it.
“Run to the Light.”
That did it. With all the strength he could muster, he sprang to his feet. At least, that’s what he tried to do. His sleepy limbs did not budge. Come on! The more he stared at the Light, the more he felt a tingly excitement inside. He tried to exert more power in his limbs, but he still could not move. He gave in. There would be no moving until his limbs responded.
Suddenly, just when he relaxed, the Light shot out towards him. Literally! With a whoosh, a stream of Light burst down toward him and swallowed him whole. He gasped as he was yanked to his feet, and into the air. It sucked him into itself.
Now, like any other regular human, Jerry had never seen this kind of thing before. It was too fantastic to be true, but it was so real. He bit his lip to confirm, and sure enough, he felt the pain. It felt stupid to even doubt if this was real. He was actually flying in a vortex of Light!
Now he was rushing forward in this endless tunnel as if it was the most normal thing ever. It felt weird, but it was the good kind of weird. He could touch the Light all around him, feel it. It sent jolts through his body, but they were not painful. They were actually tickling him. He felt more thrilled than he had ever felt in his life. Ever! It was like a rollercoaster ride. The further he went, the brighter it was, and the more his excitement increased. He was hurtling towards the source of this Light, the point from which it was emanating. This could only get better.
He could hear voices, like there were others with him. He turned, but there was no one else flying here. The voices persisted as whispers. When he turned, he saw the first of them.
A floating screen appeared in front of him. It was not really a screen, more like a display without the screen. It just floated a few feet ahead of him. Before the details even registered, he knew that this was not supposed to be here. There was a boy on the screen, but his face was wrinkled in a horrific manner. That expression was called a ‘frown’ back in his dreams … that were not really dreams at that. But then the boy looked so familiar. He looked just like someone from those dreams. Perhaps someone he saw very frequently … in a mirror…
And then it dawned on him … that he was the boy. All big and stocky, even at his young age. He saw himself in high school, enduring the bullying and name-calling of the kids around him. He remembered that moment well. But the scene had moved on. The young Jerry turned and ran his fist into the face of another boy, sending the latter to the ground with a bleeding nose. Ooo… that did not feel so good, watching it now.
But then another display popped up a few feet ahead. Hey, what’s going on? This time he was huddled in a corner, crying, where no one else could see him. Remembering that moment brought a lump to his throat. He had had many of those growing up. What was this place, bringing up scenes from his life?
And then another screen popped up, and another, and another. They just kept popping up, showing him scenes he remembered, some he had long forgotten. Some were wonderful memories, some were funny, and some were just painful. The day he got enlisted in the police academy, the day he got his first house, the day he finally got married to Hayley after years of asking and asking, the day his daughter was born, the day she accidentally threw up on Santa’s lap! He sniffed as his eyes watered, remembering that day. Marty had decided, anytime she remembered that event, that she was really ‘Claus’-trophobic! Ah, the memories.
But he noticed that, from behind him, the Darkness from the previous room was creeping up through this vortex, blotting out the Light. The scenes in front of him started to change. While Marty had been born, he watched as Hayley’s life ebbed away. As the darkness crept over, he felt the pain afresh in his heart. Other painful memories crept up, from things he experienced to things he had actually done. The numbness crept over his body, even as he tried to get away from it, thrashing with all his might.
And then he saw Marty’s body in that gutter, her hands bleeding from cutting, her eyes glazed. So terrible was the pain that he howled, but it got stuck in his throat. Marty… He had pushed her out into that world.
Those ‘dreams’ were not dreams, after all. While the experiences were true, it felt unreal compared to the world around him now. But this real world was not much better, apparently. The pain and regret he felt inside were further amplified by the darkness creeping around him here. He had not lived the best of lives.
Dear God, have mercy on me! Please …
But the vortex had been pulling him to its centre all this time, even as the Darkness kept creeping in. And as the Light grew brighter ahead, he saw where it was coming from.
There was a man suspended on a crossbeam, up ahead. If Jerry’s eyes were telling him the truth, the Light was coming from that man. He was bleeding all over. His face was contorted in a cruel mess as he screamed to the sky, or whatever was above. Jerry realized that a cry had been playing in the background along with the voices all this time. Now, that cry was at a fever pitch as this man on the crossbeams mouth was torn in pain.
He was the Light.
The screens that had been assaulting Jerry swept ahead with a whoosh, and surrounded this man. Suddenly, they streamed into his body. One by one, they disintegrated into tiny luminous particles and flowed into the body of this man. Jerry realized what was happening there. Every single one of them, the good and ugly moments of his life, poured into that man, and the man kept screaming into the sky. He was sharing in Jerry’s pain in this way. His face mirrored Jerry’s pain.
The darkness still surrounded Jerry, and the only Light in the room came from this man. This Man that was also the Light.
Suddenly, his eyes fell on Jerry. Whatever strength he possessed fell away as he stared into those disarming eyes. In that small moment, Jerry felt a small connection with the man. They shared the same moments and memories, the same joys and pain, the same guilt and regret. He had seen it all and experienced it all. Perhaps even more, for he looked totally horrible … and hurt. And he just stared at Jerry with his weak pained eyes.
No words were spoken. Jerry was only struck by the pain this man felt. He blinked back the tears. Why would this man, who was the Light, deliberately pull him and all his experiences to himself? All the Light had been rushing from this man, and had carried Jerry with it.
He was still surrounded by the Darkness, and the Light just stared at him. Jerry knew he wanted to get away from the Darkness… but he could not. His limbs were numb. He stared up at the Light. Was there a way—?
And with that, the man that was the Light closed his eyes and inhaled. The hideous displays poured into him with renewed force. The Darkness was swept along with it in large chunks, like cinder blocks from a volcano … and so was Jerry. Like a pin to a magnet, he was picked from his place and slammed into the body of the man that was the Light, and clutched his arms around him for dear life. The Light’s hands wrapped around Jerry as the Darkness poured into the man.
Jerry shut his eyes, sobbing as all his pain and guilt poured into this man. He cried as the Darkness tore in, even as he was wrapped in the arms of the Light.
It is finished.
And everything came tumbling down around them. Finally. Until there was nothing but silence.
The laboratory was no more. Everything was gone.
In all this time, Jerry’s eyes were shut.
The first thing to evade his senses was a laugh. It started deep, and just kept increasing until it was a full-blown hysterical guffaw. Jerry tore an eye open. And it stayed open.
They were in a beautiful meadow, with the greenest grass and the bluest skies. Birds flew across the sky in marvelous formation, and flowers dotted the fields below. Hills rose to the horizon in the distance. But in the midst of all this, what overcame Jerry the most was the unexplainable feeling he felt inside.
Describing it in words we can understand may be quite difficult, I must apologise. But do you know that feeling that comes when the last bell has been rung, and school is over with only the summer vacation ahead? Do you remember the excitement and anticipation that overtook your heart in that very moment? Now imagine that feeling multiplied a thousand times … and if it was not ruined on the way home from school. He felt better than that. It was as if, for the very first time, he could breathe.
Am I in heaven?
He turned and saw the Man again. The Light. He was different now, in magnificent clothes. He did not look old, but his eyes bore the wisened look of one that had seen many ages. The laughter on his face was enough to make the saddest child laugh as well. Jerry found a chuckle developing from within.
The Man wrapped his hands around Jerry again, and carried him into the air, laughing. “You’re ALIVE!” he bellowed. “Finally! You’re ALIVE!”
As he set Jerry down, the former cop stepped away, dizzy, his heart dancing within him. “What happened? Sir?” He did not know what to call the Man, but it felt inappropriate not to recognize His authority.
The Man laughed again. “You’ve come to LIFE, that’s what happened,” He said. “Finally! Ha!”
Jerry shook his head in wonder. “I was … dead?”
The Man cocked his head. “Anyone in the system is dead.”
He remembered the people lying asleep along the walls in the laboratory. “As I was…”
“As you were. But not anymore, Jeremiah! Because I beat the system, you did as well. You LIVE! Finally!” He was jumping in excitement. In our world, watching a grown man jumping like that would have made Jerry feel embarrassed, but here it looked like the most normal thing. In fact, Jerry wished he could jump like that. The Man stopped and grabbed Jerry’s shoulders. “Now we can get into the Great Story!”
Jerry blinked. “The Great Story?” And then he realized it. He sank to his knees as the full weight of the moment dawned on him. It felt like a memory he had known for so long, but forgotten. “Lord,” he gasped. “It is You… It really is You!” The Man laughed, placing His hands on Jerry’s shoulders. “You’re the One that writes our stories. You wrote me and all the worlds to being.”
He chuckled. “Indeed.”
“All these years, I doubted if You were real, and … now I know.” The arguments he had placed in his minds against His existence all felt foolish now, staring into His eyes.
The Man that was the Light, that was the Great Storyteller, smiled. “You are My joy, Jerry. Because you believed in Me, you are now free from the captivity of the Darkness.”
Jerry could not believe he was in the presence of the One that had written him into being. The Great Writer of everyone’s story was staring at him. Jerry’s smile faded. “But, Lord, how did the Darkness come into Your story? I thought you were always good.”
“Indeed, I am. And, more than anything, I want my characters to live to the full forever. But I gave them the freedom of choice. It is a price I have had to pay, watching them choose the Darkness every time.”
“So all the bad things that happen…”
“Are the result of a world that chose the Darkness.” He pursed His lips.
“Even Hayley and Marty?” The Man nodded, with sadness on His face. As Jerry said their names here in the Real World, he did not feel the pain he had always associated with their memories. It was as if he were stating a fact, not with joy or sadness. Just stating a fact. “But … I saw the Darkness sinking into You. You destroyed it.”
“I took away the Darkness in you, dear one. That’s my way of defeating the Darkness, one character at a time, until that great day when it shall be smitten by My mighty hand.”
“Just like that.”
“Just like that.”
“But why can’t You just … write it all away? You’ve got the power.”
The Man smiled as he sat. “I cannot break My own rules, My son. It will remain as long as men choose it. But its days are numbered.”
Jerry felt like a child here, now seating with the One that penned his life to be. “It’s amazing, no one really believes you’re real down in your story.” Saying it here felt absurd, staring at the Man Himself. That was why He was the Light. He lit up the lives of His characters.
The Man arched a brow. “My story? We’ll get right down to that. But, even in your world, I slip in signs of my presence into the story. I light up the lives of my characters. And, for those like you who have come to life, my Light just keeps bursting forth. Though, of course, the Darkness makes me sound like a bad thing. Even in Towne.”
Jerry stared at him. “How?”
“You tell Me. You were a cop.” Jerry remembered it, but it was a distant memory. “Do you remember the one they called ‘The Taser’?”
Jerry’s eyes widened. How could he have forgotten about Gigi so soon? “I remember!”
He nodded, staring carefully into his eyes. “I wrote Grace into your stories – every single person’s story – to bring you to the Cross, the moment where I opened the portal from your World to Mine.”
Jerry shook his head, blinking. “What do you mean?”
“Whenever Grace was speaking, that was me talking to you. When I came into your world bodily, many years ago in your timeframe, I tore open the portal to Life, to My World. I did that, on that Cross, so that everyone can come here, into Life. Grace and Truth came through me. Now, in all times, Grace and Truth are always around to bring you characters to that portal; to that very same moment, so that you all may come to life.”
The images were forming in his mind as the Man spoke. Grace Verita. That had been her name. Verita, Latin for Truth.
“So she was not real?”
The Man cocked his head. “Are you real?”
“I think I am.”
“Well, she’s more real than you are. Unlike you all, she’s Me. Not all characters see her, you know. But she’s in every character’s story, waiting, ready to bring them to me. Not everyone chooses her way. The evil one always tries to make her look bad, like a terror, clouding their desire for me. He makes them think they’re already free.” He shook his head, staring into the distance. And a smile played on his lips. “But the Light still shines in the Darkness, and the Darkness has still not comprehended or defeated it. Nor can it. Ever.”
Jerry ran a hand through his hair, staring up at the sky. It felt good to be dead. To be free. To know that he was on the good side. To be alive with the Writer of his life. The Word, who was the Light.
He stood and beckoned for Jerry to join him. He led Jerry to the top of a hill, from which he could have a full view of the land below. There was a great city in the distance, and a river flowed from it, parting the land before them. Trees dotted the landscape, and various creatures grazed beneath. There were people too, flowing in and out of the City ahead, picking fruit and leading the animals. Everyone seemed so happy. It was unlike anything he had ever seen. It was what people in his world called ‘Heaven’.
“These are the many that have come before you, Jerry. They have defeated the Darkness through my power, and have come home to rest. This is your home too, Jerry,” the Man said. “So that where I am, there you may also be.”
Some people below waved at them. Jerry raised a hand. A chuckle formed in his throat. “Did you write this land too? You are the Light in this Real World as well.”
He nodded. “But it gets better,” the Man said. “Remember what I called the Great Story? To this moment, you have lived your own story, where Darkness reigned. Where you had no choice but to blindly follow the Darkness. But now, You are dead to the Darkness and truly alive; alive in Me. Now, you can live in My story. The Great Story.”
“You see, my Grace ignited you. Now, Grace and Truth are alive in you. The Light.”
Jerry stared at his chest. “The Light. Grace and Truth … meaning You?”
“Meaning Me. Now I am free to write your story the way I’ve always want to; the best way. Like I lived in your story through Grace, I will live in your story through you now. You will find strength where there was none before. The peace and love you need, and that the world needs, while shine in you and from you. Just like the Light. You will defeat the Darkness and ignite many, as the Light in the Darkness. Until the day I return and destroy the system.”
Jerry sank to his knees again. “I will forever be faithful to you, my Lord. But, must I return to that world again? Haven’t I already come home?”
The Man smiled and sat in the grass again. He patted the ground beside Him. “Come on, sit with me.” Jerry sat. “Do you trust Me?”
Jerry had never had a real father figure before. He felt like a child, staring in the eyes of the Man that was the Light. He nodded. “Yes I do, Lord.”
“Call me Father.”
Jerry nodded, overtaken by emotion in that moment. “You are my Father.”
“Don’t ever forget this moment,” He said, extending a hand to him. Jerry took it. “How does it feel?”
His hand was in the hand of the One that had penned him to life. “I feel … safe.”
“And you trust Me?”
“Yes, how can I not?”
“You know that I love you, right son?”
Jerry nodded, remembering Gigi using those words. “You know I love you, right bro?” Jerry smiled. “I love you too, Father.”
He nodded. “Close your eyes.”
And Jerry did.
Oh no! This was not supposed to happen.
He was back in the laboratory. The place shrouded in darkness. “Father?!”
“WHERE ARE YOU, SON?”
Jerry turned around on the spot, looking for his Father. “Hello? Father, are you there?”
“WHERE ARE YOU, MY SON?”
“I’m in the lab!”
The place was silent again. Jerry was scared, staring out in the darkness in the room. But now, he could see the place more clearly. Even the spot he had been picked from. Along the wall, on either side of that empty spot, more people lay still, asleep. Dead. Their heads were connected to the walls via cables. By each person, a screen showed different numbers, in varying percentages. The numbers were reducing.
This was what his sister had meant. I was hooked to the system. Like a mainframe computer system, these people were connected to the evil system of Darkness. It controlled them, and whatever it was downloading into their heads was killing them slowly.
He ran a hand over the back of his head. The pain was gone.
“WHERE ARE YOU, MY SON?”
Jerry turned again. No sign of the Light. “I … I’m sorry for whatever I did wrong. Please forgive me, Lord. I don’t wanna be in this place.”
“DO YOU FORGET SO EASILY?” his Father said. “HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN WHERE YOU REALLY ARE? WHY ARE YOU AFRAID, MY SON?”
“Because of the Darkness,” he was going to say, but then the truth dawned on him. All he had just seen could not be a lie. He had actually seen the Light defeat the Darkness. He had been in the midst of all that. And hadn’t his Father just said that He was now alive in him?
“YOU MUST BELIEVE, MY SON.”
Jerry smiled, despite his environment. “I wanna believe.”
“SO TELL ME, WHERE ARE YOU, MY SON?”
Jerry closed his eyes, trying to feel what he was about to say. “I … I’m seated with You,” he said. “I’m seated with You in that field, in Your heavenly place, far above, and … and my hand is in Yours.”
There was a pause. “NOW YOU ARE READY. NEVER FORGET THAT I HAVE DEFEATED THE DARKNESS.”
Jerry felt on top of the world. My very own Father.
“I LOVE THEM AS MUCH AS I LOVE YOU,” his Father continued. “I WANT THEM TO COME TO LIFE TOO.THAT’S WHY I’M SENDING YOU BACK. IT IS A GREATER HONOUR THAN IF I BROUGHT YOU HOME IMMEDIATELY. YOU WILL BE ON THE FRONT LINES, SHINING MY LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS. A VIRUS IN A SYSTEM THAT MUST BE DESTROYED FROM WITHIN.”
His gaze fell on the meters beside the people. The numbers kept dropping. “What happens to them when the meters reach zero?” he asked.
When his Father responded, he sounded pained. It was good to know that his Creator had emotions, and was not the aloof being he had always imagined. “THE DARKNESS WILL HAVE THEM FOREVER. THEY WOULD BE DEAD BOTH IN THIS WORLD AND IN THE NEXT, FOREVER TORMENTED IN FIRE AND SEPARATED FROM ME.” He paused. “WE CAN IGNITE THEM, JERRY. WE CAN BRING THEM TO LIFE. THIS IS MY STORY.”
Jerry smiled. “It will be an honour and a privilege, Father.”
“I LOVE YOU, AND WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, SON.”
“I love you too, Father.”
Jerry was awake on his bed. He was back in Towne.
TO BE CONCLUDED… in A NEW STORY
Tune in to the Series Finale!
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