Highlands

This is the first full length novel I have ever written. I hope you enjoy it!

This story is inspired by the music album “Highlands”. I wish to thank all of those who are part of the Christian rock group White Heart. With out their album this story may have never come to be.

We are called to share the message of Christ in no uncertain terms. We have discovered the difference God can make in each one of our lives. (White Heart)

Chapter One

You Can See the World from Here

The wind blew silently through the trees. No one heard it save the leaves that moved. The mountain stood silently against the sky waiting for someone to speak. It had stood that way for thousands of years and would stand like that for a few more centuries. No one knew of the magic or the love that that mountain had stored up into it. It was almost like a living thing. No one had ever tried to climb or conquer its peak. No one had ever tried to cross it to partake in any great battle. No one had ever tried to find gold or silver or diamonds in its rocks. The very thought that this mountain had anything of value on it was the farthest thing from anyone’s mind

Salmon Harris was the only man that had ever tried to climb the mountain. He had even given the mountain a name. He called it Mount Alush. It was a wild place. There were trees everywhere you looked. The bramble was all around almost as if it was protecting the mountain from climbers. He had tried to climb the mountain once but had been stopped by the bramble. He could find no way to get through it. It was the only mountain that Salmon Harris had not conquered.

Salmon Harris was a man of great wealth. He had the loving wife and the loving 2.5 children. Two already here and one on the way. He was a man of great power. He stood six foot 4 inches tall. He had mousy brown hair that with the help of his children had been turned into a corn rowed mess. But he loved his children so come tomorrow he would head off to work and be harassed about his hair till the end of the day when he would take out the braids.

Salmon was raised a Christian but had slid very far since then. He had attained his wealth through the markets and through some very shrewd investments. He had in his time taken over some small mom and pops businesses and turned them into money makers. Just to turn around and sell them for eight to ten times what he paid.

His parents were not rich nor did they have the home that Salmon did. He was dead to them and this hurt him very much. His wife loved him dearly and put up with his working late into the night not worrying if he was with another woman for he loved her very much. He would come home to her waiting in the family room ready to take him into her arms and hold him.

Salmon Harris had it all or at least he thought he had it all. He knew that if he could conquer this mountain then he would have it all. He did not know that climbing this mountain would change his life forever.

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Salmon had made all the preparations. He had all the equipment that he needed and this was the day that he would conquer Mount Alush. The bramble would not stop him. He had kissed his wife and his children and told them that he would be back in a week to bring them the news of the mountain. They said their good-byes and watched him drive out of the driveway to his destiny that awaited him.

Mount Alush was thirty-seven thousand feet high or in miles that are roughly seven miles. Its peak is covered by cloud all year round. The air is so thin that nothing could grow up there and no man could survive long because of the lack of oxygen. Salmon had anticipated that and had the oxygen tanks ready. Salmon started his climb at six in the morning and by nine had reached the bramble. He had seen the usual trees and animals. He had taken pictures to show his family. He was having a good time.

He walked around the side of the mountain and could find no way through the bramble. It consisted of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and a few other berry bushes he had never seen before. He picked a few berries while he searched. He searched and searched eventually after circling the entire mountain he found no way through. He had spent the entire day looking and it was almost dark when he decided to set up camp and get an early start in the morning. He would have to chop through he reasoned. He slipped into his sleeping bag after a small supper and fell off to sleep.

It was a bright and sunny morning when Salmon woke up. He hurriedly dressed and had a quick breakfast. He wanted to start chopping his way through. He stepped out of the tent and after taking it down he moved towards the bramble. He stopped in confusion. In front of him stood an opening in the bramble that was not there when he went to sleep.

Salmon moved towards it and started to walk. There were other paths that closed whenever he walked by or even thought about taking. He figured that he was meant to go this way and not to turn off the path. He looked at the bramble and saw the roses and the lilies. He could smell their sweet perfume. There were roses of every color and lilies of every color imaginable.

Soon he came upon a fork in the road. Down one path was nothing but dead things. The other path was lush and green with animals and flowers growing in abundance. He thought about going down the dead path and even moved that way but like all the rest of the other paths, it too closed to him. He walked down the path was obviously chosen for him. Salmon saw all kinds of animals. Lions lying with sheep. Bears swimming with salmon in the stream. Skunks walking around with their tails down. For that he was very thankful.

He felt a presence but was unsure of what it was. He wanted to find out but figured that he would know soon enough. He continued to walk all the time realizing that he was climbing up the mountain and yet he did not know how high he was. He was having no problems with the climb. It was very easy and was in fact very pleasant. He could not hear the traffic from down below. All he could hear were the animals and the gentle sound of the wind as it blew between the flowers.

Salmon stopped and looked at the sky. It was getting cloudy. He did not know how far up he had walked. He looked at his watch and many hours had passed and yet it seemed like he had only been walking for a little bit. He stopped to look at a stream. He realized that he was thirsty and bent down to get a drink. The water tasted like golden honey. It was clear and fresh and full of life.

Animals came up to him and nuzzled him. They were not afraid of the stranger. They looked at him and then quietly walked away. Salmon immediately thought about the story of Narnia but knew that these animals were not going to talk to him. He stood up and continued walking the path.

Salmon walked for hours and never got tired. The path seemed to start to thin out. He looked around and saw that there was an opening. He walked through and found that he was at the summit of Mount Alush. He went to breathe the air but thought he should put on the oxygen mask first. After putting it on he looked around and saw that he could see the world from here. He could see every part of the world. He was amazed at its beauty and its wonder.

He turned around to see the other side of the summit. He saw a bush. Some nondescript bush that was just sitting all alone on the summit. He wondered how it managed to grow at such a high altitude. He went forward to look at it and heard a voice in his head.

“STOP!”

Salmon stopped and looked curiously at the bush. It had talked to him. Bushes don’t talk. He must be going mad from the thinness of the air. He stepped forward again and again the voice spoke.

“STOP! Where you stand is holy ground. Remove your shoes if you wish to approach closer.”

Salmon looked at the bush and then without thinking about it removed his shoes and approached closer. He wanted to know what was going on. He could not understand.

“Who are you?” Salmon asked.

“I AM WHO I AM.” The voice replied.

Salmon thought for a moment. He had heard that before. He thought hard and remembered where he had heard it. It was what the burning bush said to Moses on Mount Sinai. He looked at the bush and spoke.

“Are you who I think you are?”

“I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am the God who sent His only Son to die for the world. I am who I am.”

Salmon looked at the bush and sat down. He could not believe that a bush was speaking to him. It was not burning nor was it even glowing. He just could not believe what he saw or heard. He looked towards the bush.

“What do you want of me? I am no one that you should need.”

“You are Salmon Harris. Son of Philip Harris. Son of Jeremiah Harris. You believed in me once and you turned away. You walked away from the free gift I offered you. You wanted nothing to do with me. But in all that I still love you Salmon Harris. I have not given up on you. You will be the one that will learn my truth and tell it to everyone that will listen.”

Salmon looked at the bush and wondered. How was he to do all this when he didn’t even believe it? He was sure the bush was wrong. But he also knew that if it was meant to be then he must obey. Suddenly the bush spoke once again.

“I understand your reluctance my child. It is hard to believe when you are sitting talking to a bush. Understand me now Salmon Harris. All will come clear to you while you go to the place I tell you to go. It is the place where you will learn all about which I am and what your mission will be. It is up to you if you wish to do what I ask. I will not force you to do anything you do not want to do.”

Salmon looked at the bush. He bent his head to one side much like a dog would.

“If I am to understand properly. I have the choice to do what you ask or to walk away. You will not hate me or love me any less.”

“No I will not love you any less nor will I hate you. I gave you free will for just that reason. You must want to do what I ask. If you chose not to then another will come to me.”

Salmon stood and turned away. He was a businessman and his business man mind took over. He wanted to know what was in it for him. He wanted to know what he got in return. He turned around and faced the bush.

“Might I ask what is in this for me? I realize this is a selfish question but a question nonetheless.”

“You will get the blessings of the most high God. You will receive eternal life. The riches you will receive will be given to you when you come to me in heaven.”

Salmon thought about this and sat down. He wrote in the ground. He had to think about this. It was not an adventure to enter on impulse. He needed time to think.

“Might I have some time to think on your offer. I am not a man to enter into anything without looking at all sides. Might I have a little time?”

“Yes take all the time you need. Lay there at your feet and think and sleep. I will protect you from the weather and the evil that might come your way while you sleep and think.”

Salmon knelt down and then quickly lay on his back to rest. In no time he was asleep. Dreams invaded his mind quickly. He saw his father telling him that he was raised a Christian and should act like one. He saw his grandfather telling him that this was a dealing that he should not get involved in. He saw his wife and his children begging him to come home.

Salmon tossed and turned all the time the bush watched over him. Salmon woke up many hours later and looked at the bush. He got up and brushed off his clothes. He looked at the bush and spoke.

“I will do as you ask on one condition.”

“What might that be my child?”

Salmon stood his ground but lowered his head.

“I do not want you thinking any less of me but I want the option of stopping should I find it too hard to bear.”

“I agree to your condition. I do not want you do anything that you can not bear. I will not think any less of you should you decide to stop. All I ask is that you tell me when you have had enough so that I might hold you up and walk for you.”

Salmon nodded his head and smiled. He felt that for some reason he must do this. He went to the edge and looked out. He could see the world. He felt like it was his destiny to do the task that was in front of him and yet he had doubts. It was natural he thought.

“I will go now. I do not know what will happen but I will go now.”

He started to go the way he came but he found that it was blocked. He turned around. He did not understand why he could not go the way he came.

“You can not go that way. You must go another way. Go to your right and that will take you to where you need to go my child. Remember I am with you always.”

Salmon nodded and turned to his right and saw the path that was not there a moment ago. He waved to the bush unconsciously and made his way down the mountain. He did not know what was in store for him but he knew that he would know in time.

Chapter Two

Nothing but the Best

The path was rugged and wild. There were pitfalls and boulders along the way. Just like any other trail would be like this high up on a mountain. Salmon picked his way carefully along to make sure he did not fall over the edge. He did not call it Mount Alush for nothing. Alush meant “wild place”. And this was a wild place. If he took the wrong turn he could get lost or worse. He could fall to his death.

Salmon thought about the bush. Was he going insane talking to a bush the way he had? It made no normal sense. If a shrink heard that he had seen or even talked to a bush, he would have been committed right away. But to him it did not seem insane. He had spoken to the most high God himself. Or at least he believed he had. He pushed the thought out of his mind. He was loosing focus at this moment. He had to get down alive.

Salmon stopped by a large out cropping of rocks and sat down in the shade. He was tired and he wanted to sleep. He curled up and slowly drifted off into a restful sleep. He did not dream as he slept. He woke rested and found that many hours had passed. He started to get up and found that he was slightly hungry. He grabbed the crackers he had in his knapsack and started to nibble on them. He continued to walk until he saw the light of a fire. He crouched down behind a rock. All he could see was the fire and the sound of someone singing.

Salmon sat and waited for silence to fall. He did not want to intrude on the stranger, He liked the singing but it was not something he really wanted to get into. He had had his bout with religion and it meant nothing to him now. He wanted to go home but he also had agreed to carry out his “mission” as it were. Salmon sat quietly and slowly faded into a restful sleep.

Salmon woke up to find himself lying beside a roaring fire. He did not know how he managed to get here but he was thankful for the heat. He looked up to see a man sitting on the other side of the fire. The man smiled and nodded at Salmon.

“Hello kind friend. You look somewhat shocked on how you got to this spot. Well to be quite honest. I brought you here. I heard you rustling in the leaves trying to keep warm and as I am a good man I chose to bring you here to give you the warmth you so dearly needed. If I have over stepped my bounds then I will leave you be and go from you. I only do the will of the Father.”

Salmon looked at him a moment longer then tried to get closer to the fire. He did not know what to think of this strange fellow but was glad of the fire. He nodded softly to the man and then quietly relaxed and warmed himself up. He looked at his saviour and wondered who he was. He was not that good looking of man and yet Salmon felt drawn to him. Salmon sat up on his elbow.

“Might I ask you a question?”

The man nodded.

“What is your name? I would like to thank you by name for saving me.” Salmon asked.

“My name is Zion Diadem. I am a follower of the One who is and always will be. We who follow Him call him the Father. There is no need for you to thank me. It was my duty to save you. One day perhaps you will save me and then we will be equal.”

Salmon shook his head softly. He did not know who the one who is an always will be but he seemed like a real nice guy. Salmon watched as Zion nodded off to sleep. Salmon was not far behind him. Salmon slept soundly and he did not dream. He awoke to find himself alone. Zion was nowhere to be found. Salmon sat up and saw a breakfast left for him. He ate it silently and wondered where Zion had gone off.

Under the meal was a simple note. It did not say much. Nothing but a few words.

Salmon:

I leave you because I have been called to other places. I must follow the will of the Father. I leave you with a breakfast and a message. While you are on your journey here, accept Nothing But The Best from people. You deserve nothing less. Do not second-guess yourself. Follow your heart my friend. Don’t ever second-guess your heart.

Don’t refuse the gift He’s giving. Deaths a bitter wine.

We will meet again my friend. We will see each other when the One that died comes for us again. Until then I shall remain as always

Zion Diadem

Salmon put the note down and looked at the fire. It burned slowly. He reached out and felt the warmth and the savagery. Salmon wondered where this journey was taking him. He did not ask to go on it and yet here he was. Going on an adventure willingly.

Salmon stood up and brushed his pants off. He doused the fire and gathered up his things. He started to walk away and then turned around. He had forgotten the note that Zion had written him. He picked it up and carefully folded it and placed it in his pocket. He made his way to the trail and headed off in a direction not yet known to him.

Chapter Three

Heaven Of My Heart

The day seemed to pass by quickly. Salmon heard the birds singing and the wind rustling in the trees. He thought of Zion often. He had only met Zion last night and yet it seemed like he had known him for years. They had shared a fire and a starry sky. They had laughed and talked as if they had been friends forever. They had said their good nights and then sleep had crept up on them quickly. The morning came and Salmon was alone. He had found the note and then went on his way.

Salmon looked around and heard a song. He walked to where he heard it. He watched and tried to spy to see if he could see anyone. Alone sitting on a log was a woman. She was beautiful and had such a sweet voice. He dare not disturb her. She looked as if she was in prayer or in meditation.

Salmon found that he could not take his eyes off of her. She was as beautiful as the day was long. He wanted to go to her but at the same time he did not want to impose himself upon her. He decided that he would try to skirt the area and leave her alone.

Salmon continued to walk around the area and then stopped. He heard the woman call to him.

“Wait. Stranger. Come back.”

Salmon turned around and looked for the voice. It was coming from the woman that sat so silent. He turned away to continue walking but found that he heard the voice again. He turned around and looked at the woman again. She had not moved and yet he knew that it was her voice that he heard. Salmon brushed the thought away and continued to walk.

“Wait. Stranger. Come back.”

Salmon turned around again and looked at the woman. This time she had moved. She stood looking at him. She had long black hair with tips of gray at the ends. She was a very attractive woman. He could not make out her eye color but they seemed to burn through him. He started to walk towards her and stopped. She was sitting back down but this time she was not in meditation. She seemed to be waiting for him.

Salmon walked to her and sat in front of her. He did not know what to make of her but he was willing to find out. She looked at him and yet she seemed to look right through him. Salmon was a little unnerved but he did not move from his spot. She motioned for him to come closer. He did and she seemed to move away. Not from being afraid but because she sensed instead of seeing. He lifted his hand and waved it in front of her face. Again she reacted not because she could see it but more like she felt it. He came to the realization that she was blind.

Salmon wanted to stay but he knew that he could not. He started to move but the woman stopped him. She stared through him and made him feel very uncomfortable. He did now know what to do. He threw off her arms and stood up.

“What do you want of me? I do not know you nor do I think I wish to know you. Tell me who you are.” Salmon commanded.

The woman looked at him with her eyes that no longer worked and smiled. She motioned for him to sit before him and listen to her story. Salmon said no that he would stand. She nodded and went on with her story.

“My name is Sisera. It means meditation. That is what I do. I meditate all day long. I do it because that is what the Father wants. But I get so lonely. I want to hear another voice and I want to interact with other people.

“I was born on this mountain many years ago. I was told that I was born blind. Yes it is true. I knew that you knew. I flinched when you waved your hand across my face. I did it out of reflex not out of anything else. I could feel the breeze coming from your hand.”

Salmon smiled softly and sat down on the ground again. He looked at Sisera for what seemed minutes and had a hard time getting his eyes off of her. She was so beautiful. He could not imagine doing nothing but sit and meditate all day long. He continued to look at her and wanted so much to touch her. She was a rare beauty.

“Why do you meditate all day?” Salmon asked.

“I meditate to be closer to the one that is the Morning Star. He is the reason I meditate. When I meditate I go to the other heaven of my heart. For up there,” Sisera pointed upwards. “In a sky so blue is a heaven made for you and me. But until the Lily of the valley comes back for me then I will go to the other heaven. Would you like to join me?”

Salmon bent his head down. He shook his head slowly. He did not have this heaven that she spoke of. He had never seen nor had he ever wanted to see it.

“I do not have this heaven you speak of. I am not sure if I have ever had it or if I ever will have it. You will have to go alone. I can not join you.”

Sisera reached out her hand and touched Salmon on the shoulder. She could feel his doubt and sense his disbelief. She smiled softly and released her hand.

“I may be blind Salmon but I can sense that you have love in your eyes and that in your heart, tucked away in a little corner. It is that heaven that I speak of. You have it Salmon you just do not know it yet. You will know in time. The Father will reveal Himself to you when the time is right.” Sisera said.

Salmon stood up and smiled. He knew that she meant well but he did not believe anymore. He did not want to believe anymore. He knew he had done to many things wrong to ever be able to believe again. But what this woman said made sense. It felt right. He knew that at one time he had had what she spoke of. But it was gone. Long gone. There was no way it was ever going to be there again. No one takes back someone that had moved so far away.

Salmon look at Sisera and touched her lightly on the cheek.

“You have your beliefs and I have mine. You follow the God of your choosing and I will follow the God of mine.”

“But you do not follow any God Salmon. Money is your God now. It is what makes you happy.”

Salmon smiled and walked away, leaving Sisera to her meditation and her unseen God. He continued to walk and yet felt bad for leaving her alone. He turned to walk back but the way was blocked. He was unable to go back. He remembered a song he heard once pumping out of some kids car. Don’t look back is what it said. He turned and walked away continuing on his journey.

Chapter Four

Once And For All

There was a path round through the woods. Salmon saw lots of animal life. He spied a stream and after getting to it knelt down for a drink. The water tasted so fresh and so wonderful. He didn’t want to leave but he knew he had no other choice. He wanted to get home and he had been on this trail all too long as it is. He started back on the trail again.

The sun shone high in the sky and yet Salmon felt as if he had been walking for hours and hours. He was hungry and yet he did not care. He walked continually and yet did not tire. He turned the bend in the trail and came upon a three- pronged fork. Each one had a sign attached above it.

The first one read:

‘He was a good man but no god.’

The second read:

‘He was a great prophet.’

The third read:

‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’

Salmon decided to take the third trail. He came to a clearing and saw a hill. There was nothing on it. Nothing and no one had been here in a very long time. It was the ugliest knoll anyone had ever seen. There was nothing but death here. He wanted to walk away but could not. He was fascinated with the scene. He felt like he had seen or will see the most spectacular thing any human being has ever seen. There was going to be something great happening here and he did not want to miss it.

Salmon sat on the ground and waited. He waited and waited for what seemed like hours and nothing happened. He was starting to get a tad impatient when suddenly a fellow came out of the woods. He was an ordinary looking fellow. There was nothing special about him at all. He sat down quietly beside Salmon and said not a word. Salmon looked at him and smiled. The man smiled back and still said nothing. The man smiled and stood suddenly. He offered his hand and Salmon shook his head no.

“Oh come on Salmon Harris. You are going to see something very few people have ever seen. You are actually going to see the death of a man. You will see him die the most awful death you can imagine. You will see him tortured and then crucified. Now come with me Salmon Harris.”

Salmon looked at the man. He could not figure out how he knew his name. He had not told him and yet he knew. Salmon was confused and yet he really wanted to go see the death of a man. He almost reveled in it.

“Wait. How did you know my name?”

The man stood quietly and then spoke very calmly.

“I know you very well Salmon Harris. I know you better then you know yourself. I even know you better the then He does. I have watched you and even sometimes guided you along the path that you have chosen. I have watched many a good man travel down the right path to my feet, all the time thinking that they were going the way that He wanted them to go. I have even watched you when you had that tryst with. Well we don’t need to go there now do we.

“You may call me any of my names. I have so many of them. Abbadon, Apollyon, Belial, Beelzebub, just to name a few. You may take your choice. But the fact of the matter is, is that you know who I am and it intrigues you doesn’t Mr. Harris. Now come on and join me. I want to show you a broken man. A man that is so torn down that there is no way in, excuse the pun, hell that he is ever going to get up again.”

Salmon stood and started on the way back down the path. But it was closed to him. He must go with this person. He knew he had no other choice. The man started walking towards the knoll and Salmon followed. He did not like it but he followed nonetheless.

Salmon suddenly heard crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth. He heard a mother’s voice as she cried out for her son. He heard women crying out for him to save himself. He heard children crying and grown men playing games. He did not want to go any farther but he had to know.

The scene that they came upon was frightening to say the least. Women and children were crying and men were angry and hurling nasty insults at the dying man. The men hurled rotten fruit and stones at the man. He said not a word but took the insults and the punishment of the stones and fruit. He smiled softly and spoke.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Salmon looked up at the man and although he knew who this was he could not remember his name. He felt sadness for the man and yet could not remember his name. Suddenly the man cried out in a loud voice.

“Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthani?”

Salmon tried to remember what those words meant but he could not. He wanted to but couldn’t. He turned to the other man and asked him but he just smiled and walked away. He moved towards a woman but she did not even notice him. He walked away and kept thinking about those words. Salmon looked right up at the man on the cross and he looked back.

“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?” is what the man said.

Salmon fell to his knees. He now knew who this man was. The other man that came with Salmon kicked him gently in the boot. Salmon looked up, tears running down his face. The other man laughed and laughed.

“Why do you laugh? Do you not understand what is going on here?”

“Of course I do you dolt. I understand better then anyone. I am the one that put Him there and there is where He is going to stay. He is not going to come down and try to play some martyr. He is going to die up there and then his body will be left for the birds and the wild animals.

“Now get up and stop the senseless blubbering. You should have blubbered long before this but you didn’t. You were too interested in making money. You were too interested in making people rich and getting the fair share that was due you for services rendered. Now come with me and watch as I torture some poor unfortunate that dared to betray the one that he supposedly loved.”

A man stood some distance off looking up at a tree. He was testing the strength of a limb when he threw a rope over it. He looked at Salmon and the other as they approached and nodded his head in greeting then went back to his business. He looked at Salmon and smiled.

“Hello.”

“Hello.” Salmon replied, “What are you doing here?”

“Oh nothing much. I am just going to hang myself. I betrayed a man tonight and I did it for thirty pieces of silver. I traded the love I have for Him. For a measly thirty coins. I did it and I am ashamed. Not because I did it but for the reason I did it. I did it because I was stupid enough to listen to the likes of that man.” The betrayer nodded to the man. “He has a name you know. Some people call him the father of lies and other call him the master of deception. I call him the monster of hate. He makes people do things. Well at least they think he makes them. In fact they would have done it anyway, they just need a scapegoat and he willing becomes one every time. People around the world say that “The Devil Made ME Do It!’ well I can honestly tell you that it is wrong.

“People all around the world lay the blame on him and it is not true. We are to blame for everything that happens to us. We are to blame when our lives don’t work out the way we want or plan. We are to blame if we end up in prison or hanging by a rope. We did it. We did it willingly and he has nothing to do with it. That man hanging on the cross is the exception. He is hanging there out of his own willingness. He is doing because he wants too not because for some need to be noticed.

“His willingness to die is a testimony to the fact that the monster of hate can not make people do things. The sacrifice that the man is making on the cross is for you and for me and for, yes tis true, even for the monster of hate. His Father sent him down for one reason and one reason only, to teach the people that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had not abandoned them. He sent his Son to show them that God had not stopped listening to them.

“One more thing before I leave you to do my thing here. When in the party of life, dance with the one that brought ya. Either dance with the devil or dance with the Lord. Don’t keep changing sides and jumping fences. Stick with the one that is the only one.”

With that the hanging man turned and put the rope on his neck and jumped. Salmon heard the sickening snap and crackle as the neck snapped Salmon turned away and looked at the man and then he looked down to the tree. It was over. He was dead. The man’s life had ceased to be. Salmon looked at the man that had met him at the beginning. The tears welled up in Salmon’s eyes.

“Oh good tears, that is always good. Tears always get me right here.” He hit his chest with his hand. “That really works with me. It really does. NOT! The thing that dangles on the rope had a choice. The thing on the cross had a choice. They both chose the wrong road. Now of course you have the choice right now. Follow the path you have been following or follow me. The path will take you to your final goal whereas if you follow me you will not only be off this cursed mountain but you will have everything your heart desires. Now you decide. I will give you time. I will come back in a few hours.”

With that the Monster of Hate turned away and Salmon was left alone to think. He sat on the ground and looked at the scene. To his left was a man on a cross. To his right was a man hanging by a rope. He wanted so much to be off this mountain. He wanted so much to be rid of all the problems in his life. He wanted to be someone.

Salmon lay down looking at the sky. He put his hand in his pocket and felt paper. He pulled it out and it was the note that Zion had given him. He looked at it and read it again. This time words seem to jump out at him.

‘Follow your heart my friend. Don’t ever second-guess your heart. Don’t refuse the gift He’s giving. Deaths a bitter wine.’

Salmon knew what he must do. No matter what he must follow his heart. It does not matter what the monster offers or promises him. He must no betray his heart. He closed his eyes and slept peacefully. He suddenly woke up and saw the Monster of Hate standing over him. He stood up and looked right at the Monster.

“Oh I know I am not going to like what you are about to say. You are not going to follow me are you. You are going to take the path and see what happens. Well let me tell you what happens. Yes you get your life back. You get everything you ever wanted. You even get your little family back with the two point five kids and the pretty little wife. But you have to earn them. They just don’t fall into your lap. You actually have to earn them. There is nothing free in this world. Everything has a price. Even following God has a price. Obedience is the price. With me everything is free. No price. Well not much of a one anyways. All I get is your soul. But then again, that’s all God gets isn’t it.”

Salmon looked at him and smiled. He turned and walked away down the path to his next destination. He looked back once to see the Monster of Hate screaming and kicking at the dirt. Salmon could do nothing but laugh softly to himself. He had found the one thing that was missing from his life. Now all he had to do was continue on in the journey.

Chapter Five

Excuse Me, Forgive Me
The path widened to a colorful collage of flowers. There were flowers of all types and sizes. Salmon stopped to smell the roses. He could spend the day away in this place but he knew that he had a destiny waiting. He picked himself up and continued down the path. The perfume of the flowers followed him for a bit then it faded away. Salmon tried to focus on the path but kept getting distracted. He kept hearing a voice. It was a soft voice that nagged at him to turn back.

Salmon continued to walk a he pushed the sound of the voice away. The path stopped in front of him and he was unsure of which way to go. He wanted to go to the right but he also wanted to go to the left. Both looked the same and had the same lush greenery. He heard the voice again and tried to ignore it but found that he couldn’t this time. He went to the left. He felt this sudden feeling of dread and yet continued to the left.

He came upon an open area that contained nothing but a man in stocks. Salmon looked at him and wondered what had he done to be in such a predicament. He moved slowly to the stocked man. He held his head up to Salmon and smiled.

“Hello stranger.”

Salmon nodded his head.

“In case you are wondering. I am here because I committed a serious crime. I committed the crime of being indecisive. I could not make up my mind on which to use. Excuse me or forgive me. I do not care which I use. I use whichever one suits me at the time. So they put me in the infernal contraption.”

Salmon smiled and looked at the man then started to walk away. This man was of no concern to him. He had committed a crime and now he must pay his debt to society. He suddenly turned around and wondered. Why was it a crime to say excuse me or forgive me.

“Wait a minute. I do not understand. How can you commit a crime when you have done nothing wrong.” Salmon asked.

A woman came out of the alleyway and looked at the man in the stocks then at Salmon. She looked him up and down from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. She sort of snorted then went her way. Salmon yelled after her.

“Wait. What has this man done that he deserves to be in those stocks?”

She stopped and turned around. She looked at Salmon again and then walked back to the stocked man. She grabbed his hair and pulled his head up. She looked at him and the let it back down. She looked at Salmon again and laughed.

“Did he tell you what he did wrong? Did he tell you that he is guilty of the crime of indecisive? Did he tell you that?”

Salmon nodded his head and then sat down on the ground. He shook his head trying to figure out what was wrong with this scene. He could not. He wanted to be on his way. He wanted to get off this mountain so he could be with his family. This is what he wanted. He looked up at the woman and spread his hands in unknowing.

“I do not understand. I don’t understand what he did wrong.”

The woman looked at him and smiled.

“That is okay. You are not the first one to not understand and you will not be the last. So I will explain it to you as best I can. You see this man is guilty of being indecisive. He would agree with whatever was said no matter what was said. When he was found out to be indecisive he would either say excuse me or forgive me. He used those two phrases as if they were the same phrase when they are not.”

Salmon looked at the woman and shook his head. He did not understand. He wanted to understand but did not. He was so confused. His journey had taken him to meet the great I AM and then to a man that was there one minute and in such a short time was gone. He had met a blind woman that could see. He had been shown the death of two men by the one that had caused it to happen. He wanted to understand but did not. He didn’t think he ever would.

Salmon stood up and started to walk away again. He had had enough of this scene. He wanted to be on his way. He heard the voices but did not turn around. He would not look back. He walked to the path but it would not let him through. He had something to learn here and until it was learned he was stuck here.

Salmon sat on a tree trunk. He held his head and then shook it slowly. He wanted to just go to sleep and pretend that this was a dream and nothing else. He closed his eyes and tried to forget the situation all together. He slowly let his thoughts slide into the abyss and clear his mind for a bit. He thought about his wife and his children. He thought about the fun they had. He got up and rested himself against the trunk and slept softly.

“Wake up Salmon. It is time for you to loose your misunderstanding.”

Salmon opened his eyes and saw a lake. It was not there when he closed his eyes. He must be in a dream. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head trying to get rid of the image but it would not go away. He tried to find the place where the voice came from but he could not. It sounded so sweet and soft. It had patience in it and loving kindness. He stood up and walked towards the lake and looked in. He saw his reflection and something else. It looked like a fairy but he could be seeing things. Salmon turned around and went back to the trunk and sat down. He shook his head again and this time he heard laughter.

“What the…?” Salmon exclaimed.

“OOO! Be careful. Swearing is not allowed here, now as for your question. You are in the land called Shandatha. It is the land of all those things that your kind say does not exist. My name is Gittith. I am what you think I am. A fairy. I heard what you were talking about in your world. We can hear and see all that happens but we never cross over. It’s usually the other way around. People think that they either dreamed it or it was their imaginations playing tricks on them but they came here.”

Salmon shook his head once more. It did not make any sense. He must be dreaming, either that or he is having an hallucination. He looked at Gittith once more and smiled. He was not sure of what was going on here but what the heck. He would play along.

“Okay let’s say for sake of argument that you are real. Where did you come from?” Salmon asked.

“We were created by the same God that created you and the rest of humanity. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the same God that sent his son to die for the world. He is the one that created us. We are as real as you are. The only difference is, is that mankind has chosen not to believe in us. Man has decided that we are nothing but legend. But we are not. We worship the same god as you do. We live the same way that you do.” Salmon looked at the wings. “Okay so fairies have wings. That’s a moot point. We have the same frailties that you do. We sin and do wrong. But we do not use excuses to deny what we did wrong. We do not ask for forgiveness by saying excuse me.”

Salmon looked up. He looked right at Gittith. He raised his left eyebrow just slightly.

“How did you know about the forgive me and excuse me?”

“I told you. We can hear all that is going on in your world. We can understand why you people are so mixed up. You have taken a gift from God and made it into some kind of joke. You pushed us aside and then just to make sure that no one tries to mess with you, you pushed God aside and said that He was dead. You use the phrases excuse me and forgive me as the same thing and they are not.”

Salmon smiled softly. He understood. It made sense but what the hay. The fairy was on a roll.

“Do you understand?” Gittith asked.

“Well sort of but you could explain a little further.” Salmon replied.

“Okay lets see if I can explain this right. You are arguing with your wife and you say something really mean. You see the tears well up in her eyes and she says something like `How could you say something like that.’ What would a man normally say?” Gittith queried.

Salmon thought about it for a moment and smiled softly. He looked at Gittith.

“I would probably say `Well excuse me for living. I didn’t realize what I was saying.’ Something like that.”

“Well did you mean to ask for forgiveness?”

“Yes I did.”

“Then why did you not ask for forgiveness.”

“Because in a fight the two words are interchangeable. They can be used one for another.”

Gittith shook her head. He did not understand she thought. The two words are not interchangeable. You cannot substitute one for another. She had to make him understand this. She flew off his shoulder and onto a flower that was beside him. She looked up at him and continued

“Okay now that I see that you do not understand at all. I will have to use examples for you to understand. Does that make sense to you?”

Salmon shook his head softly. Gittith thought to herself that this was going to be a long, long time. She sat on the ground and thought. She was unsure of what kind of example to use that would get her point across to Salmon. She stood up and looked at Salmon.

“Okay, here we go. I have the example that I am looking for and I hope that you will understand it. Okay picture this. You are arguing with your wife and you say something very mean to her. You realize what you said when she starts to cry and you look at her. She calls you a creep. You look at her and say….”

“Well excuse me for living. I thought you were thicker skinned then that.”

“NO! That’s not what you say. What did you do? Did you cut her off or something? You just insulted her and it hurt her feelings. So what do you say?”

Salmon thought for a moment and then smiled.

“I understand now. I would say ‘Please forgive me. I did not mean what I said.’

Gittith smiled softly. The human understood. He actually understood. She kissed him on the cheek and then quietly led him back to the stump. She watched as Salmon sat back down and rested once again. She spoke quietly in his ear as he drifted back to sleep.

“Remember you can not use excuse me and forgive me as one in the same. They mean completely different things. They are not interchangeable. Say what you mean. Not something else entirely.”

Salmon woke up and saw that he was back in his world. It must have been a dream. It couldn’t anything else. Yet it seemed so real. He smiled to himself. Gittith was real. He knew that she was but it seemed so much like a dream. He shook his head and walked back to the city. Through the dream he had learned something that he must pass on to the man in the stocks. He had to show him his error.

There the man sat, stocks and all. He looked very uncomfortable. Salmon walked up to him and sat down beside him. He smiled.

“When you told the people that the excuse me and forgive me was interchangeable, did you understand what you were saying?” Salmon asked.

The man looked at him and smiled.

“Well I sort of knew what I was saying. I knew that I was using the context wrong but I did not know how to word it differently.”

Salmon smiled and patted him on the back. He moved closer and explained it all to him. The man listened intently and when he had finally figured it out he knew what he had done.

Salmon got up after a bit and went on his way. The man had said his name was Parosh. He had listened and realized what he had done wrong and promised Salmon that he would never do it again. He had learned his lesson. He had also learned that it was not the same thing when he used excuse me instead of forgive me. He had learned a valuable lesson and he knew he would never do it again.

The path widened slightly to allow Salmon to pass. He could still hear the shouts from Parosh. He looked around and saw a bench. He walked over to it and sat down with a sigh. He rubbed his neck and then he slowly lay down and closed his eyes. He slept. He dreamed. He cried for they were not nice dreams.

Chapter 6

Change The Way

The house smelled of gardenias. Every piece of furniture was in the place it was meant to be. Nothing was ever out of place. Even the shoes were where they were supposed to be. Salmon looked around and felt the presence of someone that he had not seen in many a year. He walked towards a voice and felt very fearful.

It was a booming loud voice. It rang out like a lighthouse beacon. Everyone in the house could hear it and everyone in the house feared it. Even the parish priest feared that voice. Salmon knew that voice. Knew it all to well. It was his father’s voice. It boomed as loud as it did when he spoke, rather, ordered the things done before his funeral. Salmon did not want to walk into the room but knew that he had no other choice. He did so with trepidation. His father turned to face him.

“Well look at you. All grown up and still a useless human being. You tried to be the best man you could be but as usual you screwed it up.” His father ranted.

Salmon walked away and started for the door. He was not going to hear this all again. He would not stand for the humiliation that happened every time his father was around. He walked away and tried not to look back but all he could hear was his father’s booming voice.

“That’s right. Walk away like you always do. You good for nothing kid. You were good for nothing when I was alive and you are still a good for nothing now that I am dead. So you just walk away you coward instead of facing your fear. You could never live up to my standards and I knew that. I taunted you cause I knew I could and that you would stand there and take it. You wouldn’t fight back or say one word. You dummied up like some miserable mime.”

Salmon stood there at the door and tried to open it but he found he could not. He knew that now was the time that he had to face the fear that had followed him all the days of his miserable life. He wheeled around and looked squarely at his father.

“So the mouse finally has a voice. It is about time. I have been waiting for it for what seems like decades. Go ahead Salmon. Say what is on your mind.”

“You miserable old tyrant. You waited and waited for me to make mistakes. You always knew that I would. You made sure of that. I wasn’t like any of the other boys. Johnny joined the army and fought for his country and paid the ultimate price for it. Jerry joined the air force and was killed over Japan. I on the other hand didn’t do any of those things. I chose not to follow my glorious brothers into battle. I chose to stay away from conflict. I chose to live my life the way that I wanted to no matter what the consequences.

You belittled me every time you had the chance. You made sure that you brought up Johnny’s name or Jerry’s name. You made sure that you told me the same lousy stories over and over again. You kept telling me that I would never amount to anything. You kept telling me that I would never ever be able to fill their shoes. You held me up to what they did. You held them up as some stupid banner that you knew I would never ever be able to live up to.

I tried to love you as my father. I tried to do the things that I thought you wanted me to do but it was never good enough. It was always Jerry this or Johnny that. I went as far as to make myself a millionaire and you still tried to make me less of a man that I am or was. You chose to try and make me into something that I am not.

When you died I wept for you. I wept a long time for you but your voice kept haunting my tears. I kept hearing you. ‘Johnny would never cry’ or ‘Jerry would be stronger then you’. Even in death you would not stop trying to make me into something that I am not. I couldn’t get away from you then and it seems I can’t get away from you now. You haunt me even when you have been dead and gone all these years. I won’t stand for it anymore. I want you out of my life and out of my head and out of my memories.”

His father stepped back. He laughed and laughed.

“That was an awful lot of anger you have had bottled up boy. You have turned into a man. You have become the one thing that you didn’t want to become. You have become your father.”

Salmon shook his head. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Maybe his father was right and that was what was happening. Salmon shook his head. He was nothing like his father. He was a caring loving man that would never do what his father had done and yet he had done it in the past. Comparing Susie with Ellen. His wife’s cooking to his mother cooking.

He looked at his father and just started to laugh and laugh and laugh. His father was still laughing. Salmon laughed along with him and then the laughing stopped. Salmon smiled softly and looked at his father square in the face once again.

“You are right old man. I am like you. I do try to compare my children with my other children. I do compare my wife’s cooking to my mom’s cooking. I even try to compare which secretary is better looking. BUT that is where the similarity stops. I would never ever compare what one child did to what another one had done. It would not be fair nor would it be right.

“You tried for so long to make us like you, judgmental and ruthless. You tried with Johnny and Jerry. They didn’t join the military to please you. They joined to get away from you. They joined so that they wouldn’t end up like you. So you might say that they committed a kind of suicide just so they could be as far away from you as possible.

“You say that I am like you. I am nothing like you. I love my children and my wife. You don’t know the meaning of the word. I try to get my children to do better by making sure that they know they can do better if they try. You compared me to my brothers and then belittled me every chance you got. I love my family, which is more, then I can say for you. You didn’t love us. You didn’t appreciate us. You didn’t even try to teach us anything. You just forced us to live the way that you lived and to think and act and believe the way that you did. Well it stops here father.

I love you but not for the reasons most children love their fathers. Most children love their fathers because the fathers have given them reason to. You never gave me or anyone reason to love you. The love I have for you is a love born out of respect not out of a need to be loved or feel love. You are my father and no matter what happens in my life I can not change that. I would not change that. But what I can change is how I look at you. How I tell people about you. How I tell them why I love you. Not the reason that I don’t love you but why I do love you.

“Everyone tells me that to love my father is the best thing that a man can do and that it is a fitting memorial to your memory. The Bible tells me to honour my father and mother. I do honour you dad but I do not love you. I love mom because at least she tried to make our life worth living. So when it all comes down to it dad. I love you out of respect and nothing else.”

Salmon stepped back and smiled. He had said it. He had finally said it. He was able to tell the one person that needed to hear it more then anyone else. He had made sure that he had said it to the face of the one that needed to hear it. He looked up to see his father red and angry.

“You don’t know me at all do you boy. I was everything that a father was supposed to be. I was the perfect loving father that every boy could want. You could never appreciate the love I had for you. I worked hard to make sure that you had everything you needed. I worked twenty-hour days to put food in your stomach and a roof over your head. Not to mention the clothes on you’re back. I did it out of love and responsibility. Don’t you ever forget that boy.”

Salmon smiled and started to laugh. He walked over to a chair and sat. He looked up at his father and listened to the ranting of a man that had been dead for a number of years. He tried to stifle a laugh but could not.

“You really make me laugh you know that. You really make me want to just roll around on the floor and laugh so hard that I collapse from lack of oxygen.” Salmon stood up and faced his father. “ You don’t know what love is. Love is patient…You were never patient. Love is kind…You were never kind. Love is blind…You were never blind. You made sure that we knew our faults. Love is not jealous…You were always jealous of the love that I had for my mother. Love bears all things…You didn’t do anything out of love. You did it to make points. Love believes all things…You never believed a thing we told you. We told you that we loved you and you wouldn’t believe us. Love endures all things…You didn’t endure a thing for us. When we were sick, so sick that we couldn’t get out of bed or eat anything. It wasn’t you that made sure that we were okay. It wasn’t you that made sure that we at least tried to eat something. It wasn’t you that stayed up all night to make sure that we didn’t die. It wasn’t your smiling face that we woke up to and said that we were loved. No you were to busy trying to be a father instead of actually being one. When we called out in our sleep because of a fever. It wasn’t you that came running. It was always mom. You were too tired from working or too tired from running around with the boys or the girls to care about us. You were too busy trying instead of doing.

“You want father of the year awards then you better be ready to prove that you deserve them cause I know from personal experience that you were never the father that we needed. You were just a wanna be father. You had three sons that in fact you didn’t want. But hey there comes that responsibility junk again. Funny how that keeps creeping in to the equation.

“I have one father that really takes care of me. He does it willingly and he does it a sight better then you ever did. He looks at me and sees that even though I have faults he takes me as I am. He doesn’t see a failure like you did. He sees a diamond in the rough. He sees a piece of clay that He can mold into a vessel that He can use. He sees a person that does not always have the ability but is available. You never did that dad. You always saw my faults and made me feel like I was a failure.”

Salmon walked away and looked out the window. He felt his father’s eyes burning into his back but he didn’t care. He had finally been able to say all those things that he wanted to say all those years ago. He turned around and looked at his father. He smiled and then went for the door. As he placed his hand on the knob he heard his father’s voice.

“Salmon. Don’t leave. Don’t go with this rift between us. I don’t know if I can take it”

Salmon turned around just far enough to look at his father. He smiled.

“You should have thought about that all those years ago. You should have been able to tell me that when you were alive. You didn’t and you took that rift with you to the grave. You chose not to try to mend the rift. Instead you let it widen and widen till neither one of us could cross it. Then you died on me. So now we have the rift. We have a chasm that neither of us can attempt to cross but I think I am a better man than that. I will at least go so far.”

Salmon turned right around and walked up to his father and took his hand in his.

“You are my father and I will love you because of that. I will tell my children about you and I will tell my grandchildren about you. I will tell them the truth. I will tell them that I did love you. It may not be the same kind of love that I have for my children but it is love nonetheless.

“Someone once told me that I needed to change the way I feel about the way I love. The way I love my mother and the rest of my family. Including you. I need to change the way I feel about love in general. Love is not something to play around with and spout off about when it isn’t true. I try to love my wife and kids the way that Jesus loves me. I try to love my mother the same way. But I can not love you the same way. All I can do is love you because you are my father. It is as I said before, a love borne out of respect and nothing else.”

Salmon shook his father’s hand then headed to the door. He smiled as he felt the weight of a thousand years rise off of his shoulders. He turned around to see his father smiling. He spoke as he opened the door.

“I love you father. You know the kind of love I have for you. If you can not handle it then I can do nothing about it. It is something that you will have to deal with as you sit wherever you are. But the joy is that even though I never showed it much, I did love you as a child. Now that I am a man I can tell you this, I do love you.”

Salmon walked out the door and turned slightly to wave.

“Goodbye father.”

The smells of gardenias were still in the air when Salmon opened his eyes. The tears were still wet on his face. He wiped them off and looked at his watch. He had been sleeping for six hours. He wiped his face and thought about the dream. He felt good as he stood and started on the path once again. He smiled softly and whispered. “I love you father.”

Chapter 7

Highlands of Love

The little boy sat against a tree and read his book. It was a simple book with simple stories. He read them with wide-eyed wonder. He had read them time and time again and every time he read them it was like he was reading them anew. He turned the pages and read about the moon, about the man that knew perfect love. He read about being chained and about saying the word. He read the story of who owned who and where the thunder roared. He read with delight the stories of a silhouette and someone that had a vendetta, but not the kind that everyone thought. He glowed at the reading of a love story between some man and his lost love Gabriela. He lit a candle when he read the next story. He cried when he read about fallen people.

His eyes never left the book and yet he could feel the presence of a stranger. He wondered where he came from and if he had ever read the book. Not the one that he was reading now but the other book. The one that tells about the Rose of Sharon, the Lilly of the Valley. He was the Son of the Most High. His name was Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. He was the one that would do what no other man would do. He willingly gave his life so that others might be free.

The little boy could sense the man coming closer. He could sense that he did at one time know the One. He could sense that his confusion and lack of trust had forced him to rethink his faith. The little boy finally looked up to see a large man standing in front of him. He stood so tall that he seemed a giant.

Salmon looked down on this boy and smiled. He smiled because it was such a wonder to see a child actually read. He knelt down beside the boy and spoke.

“Please, do not be afraid. My name is Salmon. What is yours?”

The little boy looked at Salmon and smiled. He stood and still didn’t come to Salmon’s head. He placed his book on the ground and then smiled at Salmon again.

“My name is unpronounceable. My mother calls me Daniel. My father calls me Jaaziel. So you may chose either one to call me.”

“Okay Daniel Jaaziel. I like Jaaziel. I will call you that. Now can you answer me a question?”

Jaaziel looked up at him and then back at the book. He smiled softly and then nodded.

“Where am I?” Salmon questioned

Jaaziel looked around. He looked at Salmon and then took his hand.

“Come with me and I will show you the place you are in. It is called the Highlands of Love. Here you will see wondrous things and signs that only He can do. It is a place of beauty and wondrous perfumes that float in the air. Come and let me show you.”

Salmon walked with Jaaziel. He marveled at the beauty of all that was around. He looked to his right and saw all the beautiful flowers in colors that he had never seen before. In every shape imaginable. He looked to his left and saw mountains. He continued to look at them until Jaaziel noticed him.

“ You do not want to go there. It is a bad place. No one that goes in there comes out again. it is not a place for the likes of us. There is nothing but suffering in there. It is a place of the evil one.”

Salmon nodded but found he could not take his eyes off of the mountains. He was being drawn to them as a moth to a flame. He let go of Jaaziel’s hand and walked over to the mountain range. Jaaziel called out after him but Salmon no longer heard. He walked until he saw the shimmering beauty of the rock and smiled. He has seen beauty before but not like this. He could almost hear the rock calling his name.

“Salmon. Come to me. I am the one that has shown you what you are to be. I am the One that you seek. Not the other one. Me! Come to Me!.”

Salmon walked into the opening and into a hell that he could not imagine.

*****************************************

Salmon walked for what felt like ever. He saw nothing but rock and heard nothing but that voice beckoning him. He smiled for the voiced seemed so sweet and innocent. He liked the sound of the voice and wanted to find it. he could hear the sweetness of it and yet it seemed a voice he had heard before and yet could not place it. He shrugged off the last thought and continued on.

The path snaked around and around and flowed in a way that was not normal. Salmon felt lost and then suddenly it opened up and there stood the most wondrous site of all. It was the bush that he had seen. He immediately took off his shoes and stood expecting to be spoken to. It did not speak. It did nothing. It stood there burning and yet it was not consumed. He bent down and put his shoes back on and suddenly it spoke.

“You pathetic fool. You believed that I was that smoldering rubble that you first encountered. You need not do anything in my presence except bow down and worship me. I am the one who deserves worship not that other one. He is a false one. He is not the one who did all this. I AM! I created it all. I made it all. I AM THE ONE!

“I made the world and even made this one. I did it all. I did for my own pleasure not to show a world of love and understanding. I did it to show a world where greed is king. Where those who have are much better then them that have it all and the rest of them can go fly.

“A world where I AM worshiped and not some pathetic excuse for a god. I did it all. I did it. I was the one that killed the one who was suppose to be the Saviour of this world. I am the one that convinces people that he didn’t really rise from the dead but that it was all a conspiracy.

“Now Salmon Harris. Who do you worship? You love money and all the power that it gives you. You love the feeling that it gives you and the ability to buy anything that you want. You love the way the women bow to your every whim. The way they follow you around like puppies that are trying to please their masters. You love the way your wife doddles over you. The way your little urchins worship the ground you walk on. The way your own useless parents bend over backwards to make sure that they don’t get left out of your will.

“Tell me Salmon Harris who do you worship this day!”

Salmon thought about it hard and long.. He sat on the ground and drew in the sand much like someone else did. He stood and smiled softly.

“I worship the only One worthy of my worship. Not to mention the only One worthy respect. The only One that earned every drop of love that is in my system. That is the One that I worship.

“That is fortunately not you. It is the One who willingly died for me. It is the ONE that created this world and all that is in it. He is the One that took the hearts of those who once worshiped you and turned them to the true GOD! He is the One that bled on a tree and spilled His blood so that the likes of me might have eternal life. He gave the likes of me a second chance and understood when I screwed it up. He didn’t revel in my pain. He picked me up and gave me a reason to live.”

Salmon turned around and went to leave. The space he had come through was gone. He could no longer go that way. He turned to see the monster smiling. He held his ground waiting for Salmon to break. The monster was not going to let him leave. Salmon frantically searched for a way out but found none.

“The more you try to struggle, the more I wrap around you. I am not called a snake for no reason at all. You can claim what you want. You can pledge allegiance to whoever you will. But a piece of you will always be mine. You can not change that no matter how much you try. Many have tried but not many have succeeded. There was One but why bring Him into it.

“All the rest have fallen on many occasions. Moses was a great leader but he failed. David fell at the feet of another man’s wife. Judas succumbed to power and money. None but One are immune to my power. You are not the one! Claim what you want but you are and always will be mine.”

Salmon looked at the monster, It was right. He would always be his. He knew no matter whom he pledged allegiance to that he would always come back to the monster. He knew it. Salmon smiled softly and walked towards the monster.

“You are right. Part of me will always be yours. There will be, just like all mankind, a part that you control. But that does not mean you have total control. We poor beings that you love to browbeat are human and are faulty. We make mistakes and we do so in spite of the one we pledge allegiance to.

“You try to scare us with your nonsense that you try to snare us with. You rush in and try to fill the void that is left after we fall flat on our faces. We fail and you slide in and try to show us that we are a failure. Listen to me monster. You have dogged me since I got here. You have tried over and over again to turn me to your side and every time it does not work I told you to leave me alone but you have not. You showed me all my faults and yet you do not get the picture.

“I belong to another. You may throw your sticks and stones at me. You can hurl your insults at me all you want. I will falter. I may fall down and fail the One that I pledge allegiance to but I will not go back on the allegiance that I have pledged.

Salmon looked right into the monster’s fiery red eyes.

“I will say this slow and loud enough for you to understand. I pledge allegiance to the One who died for me. I pledge allegiance to the One who created this world. I give Him my unconditional love and my unconditional praise and worship. You have not earned it but He has. He showed his love for me when He let Himself die in my place. You did no such thing nor would you.”

The monster stepped back as if in fear. He smiled then shook his hands as he lifted them over his head. Suddenly he laughed. As he did he dropped his hands.

“You are very funny. You let yourself believe what you want. Go ahead and humor yourself. Many others have said what you said and have come back to me on bended knee, begging for me to take them back and I did.”

Salmon looked at the monster. It had raised it’s hands yet again but this time heads came up with no bodies from the mist. The heads of Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler and Rameses. Each one of them were in extreme agony.

“Each of these poor unfortunate souls did what you did. They claimed to worship and ally themselves to another. But in the end they gave in and now they belong to me.

The monster looked at Salmon. He nodded his head and the four heads nodded at the same time. The monster’s face turned to a snarl and he hissed and spit.

“You go and pledge yourself to that ONE! He will treat you like you don’t matter. He will ignore you!” The monster moved closer as the disembodied heads sank into the mist, “You want to leave this place. You want to find your way out. Then do so without help. I will not open a way. Pray to the ONE for help. Maybe he will hear you, if he is not asleep!”

Salmon watched as the monster slowly faded away. He found himself in a space, the same space he had walked into. The mist remained but all else was gone. He looked for a way out but found now. Salmon looked for what seemed hours. He finally gave up and realized that he was not going to get out. He looked for something to sit on and found a nearby rock. He looked at his situation and wondered. He knew he had done the right thing. Salmon cocked his head. He heard a sound. He could not tell where it was coming from but he heard it none the less.

Salmon looked around looking. He searched again for a way out but still found none. At first he thought it was the monster coming back but was mistaken. The voice sounded so sweet. He tried to get his directions from the voice but was unable to. He continued to search and finally threw his hands up in despair and heard another voice laughing in evil glee.

“I am here. You will come back to Me. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Salmon shook his head and frantically searched for an opening, but found none. The more he searched the more despair came into his mind. He again sat down.

“What am I going to do? Why didn’t I listen to Jaaziel? What will happen to me?”

He wanted to sit and cry. He had been through so much and it was all his doing. He didn’t have to come into the mountain range but he did. He chose the path he was on right now. He had to figure out how to get out. He cocked his head again. He could hear the voice so clearly

“GET READY! THE BRIDEGROOM COME! GET READY! THE BRIDEGROOM COMES!”

Suddenly a space opened up in the wall of stone. It was a straight line through the mountain. Salmon could see the plains below. He got up and walked to it and hesitated. He pushed his hand through to make sure it was not an illusion. He found it wasn’t and ran. He ran straight to the plains and came out the other side. Jaaziel was sitting, waiting and reading his book.

Jaaziel looked up at Salmon. He smiled. Closed his book and took Salmon by the hand. The saw gates in front of them. They walked together thru the gates. In the distance they could see a castle.

Chapter 8

The Cry

The castle was large. A lot larger then anyone could imagine. It was stone gray. Huge blocks of granite had been placed, block by block onto each other, to build this marvel. It soared into the sky higher and higher. It looked like it touched the sky itself. The main gate was so large and tall that a giant could walk through it without having to stoop it’s back. There was a moat around it. It was deep. Deeper then all the oceans put together and yet you could see the bottom without the need of any assistance.

The parapets seemed to scrape heaven itself. Atop of each one stood a gargoyle. Each was different. The first gargoyle was that of a winged lion. The second was that of a centaur. The third was that of a four headed leopard with four wings. The fourth was that of angel. It was unusual for it seemed not to fit. They all seemed so lifelike but made of stone.

In the distance, these statues with sightless eyes could see Salmon and Jaaziel. They didn’t wait with baited breath for their coming. They wouldn’t jump for joy when they got to the castle. They would in fact do nothing at all. At the side of the centaur hung a door. There were doors at the side of all the statues. No one ever used them anymore. The statues stood just as they had for a thousand years. they were always alone and they liked it that way. They were content to sit on their perch and keep the evil spirits away.

 

*****************************************************

 

Salmon looked at the castle from far away. it still looked so imposing. It stood out like a sore thumb.

“How long has that castle been here?” Salmon asked no one in particular.

“I can answer that question.” a voice answered

Salmon looked down to see a fairy. But not just any fairy. It was Gittith. Salmon smiled softly and bent down to touch her shoulder. Gittith avoided his hand and flew up to his shoulder and made herself comfortable. Gittith spoke softly into Salmon’s ear.

“The castle has been for thousands of years. It is said that it was here before the world was created. Others say that it the first creation of the One for He needed a place to reside. I tend to believe the latter.”

Salmon smiled. He knew that Gittith would tell nothing but the truth. He softly patted the fairy on it’s little back.

Suddenly they hears a cry. It was far off but hear it they did. Salmon looked in the distance. Jaaziel also looked up. Gittith flew off before any realized that she was gone. They listened to the sound but they could not quite make out what was being said. They hurried along wanting to understand what was being said. As they neared the castle, they could start to understand what was being said.

“The Bridegroom is….”

That is what they heard. the sound stayed the same until they were close enough to hear all of it.

“The Bridegroom is a coming!” They heard more.

“The wedding feast is dawning! Keep watching the eastern sky, For the chosen day and hour!”

The cry stopped for a second and then started again.

“The time is near, When in clouds of glory He’ll appear. Sing for the end of fear. From the midnights lonely tower.”

Gittith came flying back. Almost like she had a royal commandment that could not wait.

‘HE comes! The Bridegroom comes. HE IS COMING! The one we have waited for all these centuries is coming. Praise be the Father of all! The Bridegroom is coming.”

Salmon tried to get Gittith to calm down. He spoke to her softly and held her till she was calm. He spoke to her.

“Who is the bridegroom ?”

Gittith looked at Salmon like he had called her some ugly name. She rolled her pretty green eyes and shrugged her shoulders. She flew away and then came back. She understood that he could not be held responsible for being ignorant.

“The Bridegroom. The Father’s Son. He is coming. He is coming!”

Salmon shook his head. He did not understand. Who was the bridegroom. Who is the Father’s Son. No one seemed to want to answer him. He let go of Jaaziel’s hand and walked away slowly. He walked to a tree and sat down. He was so confused. He knew who the One was. He is the creator. But he does not know who the Son is. He covered his face and cried. He wanted to know but was ashamed for not knowing. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see a woman in white. She smiled down at him and spoke so softly that only he could hear her.

“Do not cry my child. You will know who the Son is soon. He will show Himself to all those who are true believers in Him. Those who do not believe in Him will see Him as He is. A judge and righteous one.

“I sense in you my child that you are a believer. You know who the Son is but you have lost your way. You have supped with him and drank with Him and enjoyed His company. You will know soon my son. He is calling out to those who are willing to be the announcers of his coming. Those who are willing to take the abuse and scorn of those who do not wish to believe. He is raising up a people that are willing to go the distance. The world will know who they are because they will see Him in them. I must go now for He calls me.

“Take care my child and know that He loves you even if you have doubts. Believe. That’s all you need do. Believe.”

The woman walked away and Salmon noticed that she was dressed all in white. She walked like she had a purpose. She walked like a woman that was on a mission and no one was going to stop her. Salmon waved after her and noticed she was gone. Gittith flew over and smiled at Salmon.

“Do you know who the Bridegroom is yet?”

Salmon nodded. He stood up and placed Gittith on his shoulder. He took Jaaziel by the hand they continues towards the castle. He walked with a purpose now. He wanted to see the Bridegroom. He wanted to bow before Him. He wanted……..

Suddenly the cry went out again but this time it was different. The words were not the same.

“God is raising up a people…clothed in light. Holy people to stand through the watch of the night.

“God is raising up a people…Robed in truth and they know what the Father has told them to do.

“Don’t be left with a lonely heart. Don’t be left in a world of doubt. When you can live in the Fatherland. Love too deep to comprehend.”

The figure looked down and smiled. He pointed down towards Salmon.

“Do you understand that the cry goes out for you! Will you come and join the people…standing on the heights. Holy people brave enough to carry the fight.”

Salmon stopped in his tracks. The crier was pointing at him. He felt so ashamed. He was not worthy to join those people on the heights. He was not worthy. He did not know what to do. He thought he had come so far but in fact he had not. He thought he knew himself but he did not. His fathers words came back ringing in his ears.

`You tried to be the best man you could be but as usual you screwed it up.’

Salmon shook the words away but couldn’t get rid of them. The same words echoed in his head over and over again.

“SCREW UP! SCREW UP!”

Salmon covered his ears and ran. He ran as fast as he could. He had to get away from the screaming. He left Jaaziel and Gittith behind and ran as fast as he could. The faster he ran the louder the words became. He screamed and screamed. He knew that he could not stand with those on the ridge. He had no right. He was a screw up. He would always be a screw up. He found a spot to sit and thought about all his life has been. One screw up after another. He sat back and closed his eyes. Sleep came quickly.

Chapter 9

Let My People Go

Water softly flowed in the creek bed as Salmon woke up. He looked around and found he was not in the same spot as when he drifted off. He was not scared as most people would be. This place seemed so peaceful and warm. He could hear the birds softly singing in the trees. The branches were being softly moved by the gentle breeze. Animals were everywhere and none seemed the slightest bit scared of his presence.

Salmon stood up and the animals looked up at him but they did not move. He wandered over to the creek and knelt down for some water. He cupped his hand and brought the water up to his lips. It tasted like milk and honey. He placed his hand back into the water and little fish came close. Nothing seemed scared in this place. He looked around but saw no one.

Salmon sat back down and listened to all the noises. It felt so nice to hear the sweet sound of nature. He walked back to the place where he was sitting and saw a little boy. This was no ordinary little boy. This boy was in a wheelchair. Salmon smiled at him.

“Hello.” He said.

“Hello.” replied the boy.

“Where did you come from?” Salmon asked.

The little boy looked up at him. He smiled a little grin and then wheeled away. He looked back to see if Salmon was following. He was. He was walking at a distance but following he was. Joshua stopped and turned around. He waved for Salmon to hurry up.

“Come on! I don’t have all day and neither do you!”

Salmon hurried along and caught up with the little boy. He was puzzled. How did this boy get here and what was with that chair. He shook his head and let the boy lead him to where they were going. He wanted to say something but felt it best if he were to stay quiet and wait. Soon they were at the place where they were headed.

The building was large. It was of average height. The roof was a brown thatch roof. The walls were painted white.. The doors were solid oak with big brass hinges and handles that shone bright inb the sunlight.

The boy rang the bell and the door opened. A man stepped outside and held the door and the boy and Salmon walked in. He did not say a word. They walked down the hall to another door. Another man opened the door, again not saying a word. They entered into a large room. There were lots of pictures on the wall of different men. The ones that stood out were the ones on the back wall. Under the pictures were the words:

`WALL OF RECOVERED FAILURES’

Salmon looked at the pictures. He looked at each one intently. He looked at the names just as intently. Peter, Moses and David. Salmon looked at the little boy. He did not understand.

The little boy smiled. He moved to the first picture.

“This is Peter. He was a follower of the One. He was a good man, a family man. In fact he was more then that, he was a failure. To name just a couple:

He was timid and afraid.(1)
He denied his Lord three times. (2)
He was a coward.(3)

The little boy moved to the next picture. It was of a fierce looking man. He held his hands out and the water parted. The little boy mentioned that although he had performed wonders, he too was a failure. This is Moses:

He was Argumentative. (4)
He felt unworthy. (5)
He was given to anger. (6)

The little boy moved to the next picture. It was of a king. He sat on his throne in his majestic robes and royal posture. The little boy said that He was the greatest of all the kings, but that he too was a failure. This is David:

He was an adulterer. (7)
He was a liar. (8)
He was a murderer. (9)

The little boy moved over to Salmon. He smiled up at him and tilted his head. Salmon still didn’t understand. Salmon looked down at him and shook his head.

“I do not understand.”

The little boy sighed and then waved his hand. The silent man that was standing by the door came over. He looked at the boy. He smiled.

“Yes Master Joshua. What might I do for you?”

Joshua looked at the man. He pursed his lips then let out a soft sigh. He wagged his finger at the man. He was not upset but rather surprised that the man would use his name. No one had called him that for many years since he had been in Maschiah, but no matter.

“Eshton, would you please explain to Salmon all I have said.”

Eshton nodded.

“Salmon, I sense that you have no idea what Joshua is talking about.”

“You are right. I do not understand.” Salmon replied.

“Well then let me see if I can help you to understand. First of all you have to understand what a recovered failure is. We are all of us recovered failures. We fail at most everything we do. We fail our families and our friends. We fail our fellow workers and the people we see on the street. We even fail our God.

“Now depending on which God you follow depends on what the failure means to Him. The three men that Master Joshua talked about were all failures in one way or another. I hope that you understand that. If you don’t then we can always come back to that.

“The first one we will look at is Moses. As Master Joshua told you he was argumentative and given to anger. They are both failures that, if we have those failures, we can overcome very easily. All we have to do is do it. But his chief failure was that he felt unworthy. He felt unworthy to lead the children of the Sovereign into the promised land. It was a failure not in the Sovereign’s eyes but to Moses it was. That is something he never got over but with the help of the Sovereign, he was able to. The Sovereign used him anyways. That is what makes him a recovered failure.”

Salmon scratched his head. He understood but didn’t understand. He looked at the picture of Moses. He was such regal looking man and yet he was so ordinary. Moses was just a frail man with faults and yet the ONE used him. He thought he understood and yet was so unsure of himself.

“So let me see if I understand. Moses was a failure. Not in the Master’s eyes but in his own eyes and he thought of himself as a failure.”

Eshton smiled. He looked down at Joshua and then back at Salmon.

“Well not exactly. Yes he was a failure in his own eyes but he was also a failure to a certain extent in the Master’s eyes. He had faith to do the things he knew he could do but he did not have the faith that was needed to see what the Master could do. To a certain extent we all do that. We tend to not let the Master work through us because we lack the faith to believe that He can do it. Does that make sense?”

Salmon nodded and then Eshton interrupted Salmon’s thought. He moved towards the picture of Jeeseson. Salmon looked at the picture

“This is David. He was one of the if not the greatest of the kings. He was fair and just. He did not do anything that would consider him a failure. Or did he.” Eshton smiled, “He was a failure just like Moses. He murdered, lied, stole, committed adultery. Yet the Master used him.”

Salmon looked at the picture. It was such a royal picture. He seemed like such a like-able fellow. It was hard to believe that he was a failure. He had reached the highest point of power known to man at that point. How could he be the things that Eshton said he was.

The king was dressed in a purple robe. It was draped around him and covered his other clothes. He sat on the throne, left leg stretched out and his right leg pulled in under him. He was smiling a boyish grin that seemed right for him. In the window in back of him you could see the sky. It was a bright blue with small fluffy clouds going by. You could almost hear the screaming of his people as they cried out his name. He looked like a much loved king.

“Salmon!”

Salmon looked at Eshton. He had been so lost in thought that he failed to hear him. He had been blathering on about David and Salmon didn’t hear a word of it. Eshton smiled and then started again.

“You might think that this man was not a failure yet he was. He murdered a man just so that he could have his wife. He laid with this man’s wife and made her with child. He not only committed adultery but to cover it up he murdered the woman’s husband and then took her as his own. He failed the Master and yet the Master used him. He took the first child but gave him another.”

Salmon looked at the picture again. How could this man who looked so regal and gentle murder a man? He didn’t understand it and yet he was beginning to understand what Eshton was talking about. Even though David and Moses were flawed, The Master used them. Eshton looked at him.

“Do you understand yet? Traveled all this way and now you are just beginning to understand. I think that the last of the pictures will open your eyes. He is the worst of all. Well not exactly the worst but he is in the top ten of failures.”

Salmon looked at the the picture of Peter. Here was a burly man. Tall with huge hands and feet. He looked like he could take care of himself and handle a whole army by himself. You could see in his eyes that he was a family man. He kept pictures of his kids in his eyes. He loved them with a never ending love. Salmon smiled. He did the same thing as he guessed all fathers did. He kept pictures of his kids in his eyes. He always saw them without knowing it. Part of the joy of being a father was seeing your kids no matter where you were.

“This is as Master Joshua said, Peter. He was one of the Master most devoted followers but even he was a failure. He loved the Master very much and yet was a coward. He denied his Master three times. He lied about knowing his Master. Three people asked him basically the same question and three times he said the same thing. `I DON’T KNOW HIM!’ Now what makes him a recovered failure.

“Even though he denied his Master, and lied about knowing Him. the Master used him. Peter holds the keys to the kingdom. The Master uses him still even though he failed. He cries out the same thing that Moses did all those centuries ago. LET MY PEOPLE GO!”

Eshton looked at Joshua then back at Salmon.

“Do you understand now? Is it clear to you? The choice is yours. You can roll the dice and take your chances.”

Salmon looked at all the pictures and saw people that he did not know and yet they were all the Master’s. They were all failures in one way or another. Just like he was. A failure. He failed as a father and as a husband. He failed as a son. He failed as a Christian. He was a major screw-up and yet God still used him to carry on the shouting. He was to scream those words and join those people on the heights. The cross he carries use to weigh him down. He felt unworthy to carry it but carry it he did.”

Salmon looked at Eshton and Joshua. He smiled the biggest smile he could. He looked like the cat that had just swallowed the canary.

“Yes I understand now. Just because I fail the Master now and then, that should not stop me from serving him the best way I can. I am prone to failure just like all His children. All we have to do is try to do our best and spread His word to all that will listen. I must walk in His way no matter the cost and try my best. Yes I understand now.”

Salmon closed his eyes. He opened them to find himself in the same spot that he was in before.

“It must have been a dream.” he thought to himself.

Salmon got up and started to walk towards the castle. He came upon Gittith and Jaaziel. He smiled at them and then walked with them to the castle. He could still hear the crier crying out. Salmon smiled. He knew what he must do. They reached the corner of the castle and the crier looked down at Salmon. He pointed his finger at Salmon.

“Will you come and join the people on the heights? Are you brave enough to carry on the fight? Are you Salmon Harris? Are you?”

Salmon looked up at the crier and nodded. He raised his hands to the sky and screamed.

“Let My People GO!”

The crier smiled and turned around and continued his cry. Salmon took Jaaziel’s hand and joined the people on the heights. He watched as he took his spot. He saw those who had been with him as he traveled. Sisera, Zion Diadem, Jaaziel, Gittith. He looked down the line to see Moses and David. He saw Peter and other people he did not know. He looked closer to him and saw Joshua and Eshton. He smiled. It was not a dream. It was real.

Salmon looked down the line as far as he could see. They were passing something. He could not make out what it was but it was being passed from person to person. Each person held it for the slightest of moments then passed it on to the next person.

Chapter 10

The Flame Passes On

Gittith held the flame with the help of Salmon. He held it for her for she was too small to hold it herself. Fairies are not that big and they have real problems holding human size articles. She smiled softly and let Salmon have the Flame completely. He took the flame and wanted to pass it on but he could not. Something insisted that he look into the flame. He looked at the flame and suddenly frowned. It was showing him something that he did not want to see. Salmon tried to avert his eyes but it was not to be.

The flame was showing him all of history. It started with creation. Adam and Eve. Eve being tricked by the serpent and Adam giving in as well. Cain killing able because of jealousy. It showed him Noah and all the persecution that he took for being faithful to God. It showed him the slavery of the Israelites and how they were treated under the yolk of the Egyptians. It showed him the travels through the desert under Moses and how they were treated by some of the inhabitants. It showed him the exiles and how some of the chosen ones were treated. It showed him all the persecution that they endured and the fact that God had not forgotten them. Even though they turned their backs on Him, He never turned his back on them.

Salmon tried to avert his eyes but found that he couldn’t. He continued to stare at the scenes that were flooding towards him.

He saw the birth of the Saviour. His life and ministry. He saw the terrible way that he was beaten by the Romans. He witnessed the people that said they loved Him, turn their backs on Him and yell out the words crucify. He saw and heard the three times that Peter denied his Master. He watched as this man was forced to carry His cross up the hill to Golgotha. The way the nails were driven into His hands and feet and yet he didn’t utter a word. He screamed in pain yes, for He was human but He did not cry out for them to stop. He knew that His death would be the final sacrifice that His Father would accept. He saw the punishment that was set upon Judas for betraying his friend.

Salmon saw the burial of this Man and how his followers took care of Him. The wrapped him in fine clothes but did not have time to cover Him with the burial spices. He saw Mary come to the grave to find not only Him gone but an angel sitting on the rock. He saw her run to His other followers to tell them that all He said had come true. He had promised that if they destroyed the temple. He meant His body but no one understood that at the time. They thought He spoke of the Temple. He saw the Ascension of this Man and how he promised that He would come back the way that He left.

Salmon looked away to see all the face looking at him. They each had a smile on their faces. He didn’t understand why. He looked down at Gittith.

“Why are you all smiling at me?”

Gittith looked up at him and smiled an even bigger smile.

“Because you are finding out everything. From the very beginning to the present. You are learning all that God wants you to know. You are finding out who the Bridegroom is. You are finding out that Jesus is the Bridegroom and that He gave His life for His bride. You are finding out that He has gone to build a mansion for His bride. There is more to come Salmon Harris. You have more to see and learn. God has a purpose for you. Look back into the flame.”

Salmon did as he was asked. He looked back into the flame. He saw the followers of Jesus all gathered wailing and wanting to know what to do. He saw the descent of the spirit and how it fell onto each one of them causing them, each one to speak in a different language. He saw how each of the followers died proclaiming that Jesus was who he said He was. Paul was be-headed. Peter was crucified on a upside down cross. The rest were all killed except for the one that Jesus loved the most.

He saw as each of the followers of Jesus passed on the very same flame that he was holding onto another to carry on the work that Jesus started. This is the same flame that had been passed from generation to generation. It was the same flame that was passed when the Romans persecuted the Christians for believing and praying to a God that was against the law. It was the same flame that was passed on down through the centuries and down through the millennium from father to daughter and from mother to son. It was the same flame that was passed on through two world wars and through the internment camps by Christians. It is the same flame that is passed on now. Passed on from believer to believer. From one generation to another generation.

Salmon looked up from the flame. He looked right into the eyes of the Crier. He smiled softly and put his hand on Salmon’s shoulder. He spoke softly yet all that were in the line of believers could hear him.

“This flame has been passed from hand to hand down through time. It has always said the same thing. From the heart of the people comes love for the people. Love that is burning strong. Oh from one to another, this dream of forever …..the flame passes on.

“Because of the men and women that have passed on this flame, this world knows the name of Jesus Christ. They have sacrificed their lives and their families to pass the flame. To proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as Lord of all. They did it because that is what He wishes of us. To proclaim His name in all the corners of the earth.

“Down through the centuries, tyrants have tried to crush this mutiny that is called Christianity. They refuse to see the truth. But for those who have seen the truth, it has set them free. People all over the world know who this Jesus is. Through the pages of an illumined book, the word of this Jesus has spread and grew and this light, no matter hard they try, can not be put out. Generation after generation have come to know this Jesus.

“Salmon Harris, are you ready to pass on this flame to your children and then with their help. pass it on to their children and so on and so forth. Are you ready to take the persecution that comes with this flame. The weird looks when you sit in a public place and give thanks when those around you don’t know the Jesus you know. It will not be an easy thing to do Salmon Harris. No where is it written that following Jesus is easy, but the rewards are great for those who can continue to pass on the flame. Passing it on is one thing but keeping a part of it inside you also part. The choice is yours Salmon Harris.”

Salmon looked at the flame and then back at the Crier. He smiled and took a part of the flame and placed it over his heart. He felt the warmth and he could it feel it go through his body and into his heart. It warmed him. He knelt down and cried out.

“I am yours Lord Jesus. Take me and make me into the creature you want me to be. Help me to pass on this flame to my children and one day to my grandchildren.”

Salmon got back to his feet and looked down the line of believers. They were all clapping their hands and praising God. He smiled and watched as Gittith flew up to his shoulder. She kissed him softly on the cheek.

“Oh the light of the ages illumines the pages. The words of an ancient song. O faith is the fire that burns ever higher and the flame passes on. So lets lift the cross and proclaim the name of Jesus to the world.”

Salmon smiled and then waved to all those he met He started to walk down the mountain. Gittith came after him. She took his hand and guided him off the mountain. She took him to the tree line and would go no further. She smiled and then flew off back into the trees. Salmon walked down and smiled. All this time and he had finally learned who Jesus really was. Salmon looked at his watch. It was three in the afternoon. He had started this adventure five days ago and yet time had passed as normal here. Salmon found his car. He got in, started the engine and made his way home. He had many things to tell his wife and children.

Epilogue

Salmon sits on his porch. He rocks gently in his chair and watches the children play in his front yard. He watches as his son sits with him and watches his children play with each other. Salmon slaps his son on the back. He cries out to the only girl.

“Gittith, come and give your old grandpa a hand up. I am not as young as I use to be.”

Gittith runs up and helps Salmon up. He walks to the door and smiles. She watches and then sits on her father’s lap. She smiles up at him.

“Papa. may I ask you a question?”

“Yes.”

“Why is my name such a funny one? It sounds like something you would give a fairy.”

“Yes it does doesn’t it.” he replied.

Joshua sat with his daughter and watched the bids fly by. They danced in the sky and then stopped and sat in the trees. They chirped and sang their song, almost as if they were stopping to praise the Holy One. Gittith watched them then heard a crash in the house. Joshua put her down in the chair then rushed in. He found Salmon on the floor.

“Papa.” he started. “Dad, wake up.”

Salmon didn’t move. Joshua stood up and grabbed the phone and dialed 911. He quickly walked out and closed the door to the house after sending the children up to their rooms. He waited for the ambulance to get there but knew that his father would not be coming back. He sat on the floor beside him and tried not to cry but the tears came anyways. Standing up he gripped the table for support and then found the note.

`Joshua, keep the flame passing on. Keep telling my little ones about the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t ever stop. Praise Him everyday and keep the flame in your heart.’

************************************

On the heights, the people standing hand in hand has grown. Day after day their number grows. Salmon is found there right beside Gittith. He is holding her hand and watching as the flame passes on. More and more people coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ. He smiles softly and then waits for his children to join the line. He looks down and sees his wife. She smiles and then passes the flame on.

 

The End

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