Chapter 8 of 21. If you haven’t read the earlier chapters, please read them first. You can find them here: The Willow, a serialized novel.
Matthew never returned to the Sisters of the Cross monastery. He knew that they wouldn’t understand who he had become. Matthew had lost his innocence in the desert. He was no longer a boy awkwardly studying his way towards a righteous existence. He was now a warrior with a mission, intent only on realizing his Father’s vision.
Consumed by his sense of duty, anything that he saw as standing in his way became walls to be knocked down. Matthew believed his stubbornness to be his strength. Confident that his was a divine mission, he let no one sway him.
For the next two years, Matthew toured the world with Benjamin, meeting all of the contacts and donors that Benjamin had put together over the past decade. Local chapters of their organization were set up anywhere they had a few followers together. Matthew’s followers had taken to calling themselves The Guardians, although their organization had no official name.
Whereas Benjamin knew every man and woman in charge of these local offices in twenty countries across the world, Matthew wanted to know every man and woman that worked for the one in charge as well. For their mission was built on trust and confidence, and there was no one who wasn’t important in getting things done.
Matthew’s own confidence and charisma entranced everyone he came in contact with. World leaders were ready and willing to send their armies into battle at Matthew’s instructions. But Matthew didn’t want to fight a traditional war with armies and mass casualties. He wanted to fight an underground war, rooting out those he felt were evil, before they even had a chance to be known.
Although Matthew saw their work as divinely inspired, Benjamin took a purely pragmatic approach. Matthew sought to unite religious leaders behind the idea that the same God was behind many names. Benjamin, on the other hand, believed that the only thing that united the world was money. It didn’t matter if you believed in the Gods or kings that were emblazoned on a coin, if it had worth, all would accept it. For Benjamin, money was the real unifying religion of the world.
Benjamin saw mystics who believed in love above all else, as ultimately harmful to the only thing holding the world together. It was love that caused wars. When you loved your religion more than another’s, your family more than all others, your own country first, you were willing to fight to keep those attachments out of harm’s way. Benjamin saw religion first and foremost, as necessary for creating order, but when someone became too fanatical in their beliefs, everything fell apart. The world worked, according to Benjamin, when there was a natural balance of power. When man was forced to walk a tight rope with money in one hand and religion in the other, he would be careful not to shake things up.
Though Benjamin was steadfast in his beliefs, he never desired to be the leader the world needed. Instead, he coveted the role of pulling the strings of the one in charge. Matthew was the mystic, and Benjamin the moneyman. Together they created a balance. Together they moved throughout the world, consolidating power, and uniting political and religious leaders around the idea of keeping God’s power structure stable.
After two years of constant introductions, Matthew was ready to start the second phase of his mission. He gathered a council of astrologers from across the world and had them convene monthly for the purpose of studying the stars and determining when the next men and women of God would appear. Even though he knew that these people were connected to the source, he also believed them to be polluted by the times in which they were born.
Matthew didn’t believe that God’s wisdom would change with an ever-changing culture, so took it upon himself to train those who came after him. He knew that these souls, who had the power to see more than the average man, were dangerous. Matthew was not a violent man, and would never consider harming them, they were God’s own children after all, but he would keep them and teach them until they understood the way. If they fell in line with the way Matthew saw the world, he would give them a role in his organization. If they didn’t conform, he would keep them from ever seeing the world at large. Most of the men and women he gathered up were content to sit in meditation for the rest of their lives. None seemed to have Matthew’s inner drive or ambition.
Throughout their travels, Matthew never stopped his meditations. For ten years, Matthew went about his business of gathering souls and pressuring world leaders, but everything changed when, in his meditation, he became aware of the pockets. The pockets were space in the atmosphere where he could enter a dual plane of existence, out of sight to ordinary people.
At first Benjamin didn’t believe in what Matthew was telling him. Matthew was describing layers of worlds upon worlds, all existing and flowing together. He didn’t believe that is, until one day, Matthew took Benjamin into one of the pockets, and changed the way Benjamin saw the world forever. They had been having coffee on a quiet street in Germany, when Matthew took Benjamin’s hand and walked directly into the side of a building; only they didn’t hit the building but instead found themselves in a pasture.
Benjamin looked about and couldn’t believe his eyes. Fear overcame him, as he realized that Matthew’s powers had reached a new level. With knowledge of something that was beyond Benjamin’s conception, Matthew was no longer in his control. Benjamin wasn’t interested in this new dynamic. He needed to get back to the security of what he knew, a world where all that mattered was manipulating someone’s desires.
“How do we get back?” Benjamin demanded.
“There is a light right here.” Matthew pointed to an area in the atmosphere. “You can’t see it, but I can. But if you look directly up, you’ll see a blur in the sky; everything is clear except that small foot of atmosphere that is out of focus. Do you see it?”
“I do,” said Benjamin in amazement.
“So just walk directly under that space, and-”
Benjamin quickly ran under and through the space. “And nothing,” he said, turning back to Matthew.
“It’s all in the angles,” said Matthew, who then took Benjamin’s hand and walked out of the pocket, and back onto the German street corner.
“This changes everything,” said Benjamin. By the time he had returned to the security of his own world, Benjamin was already thinking of ways to use Matthew’s insight for furthering their mission.
“We can keep the high borns here,” said Matthew. Matthew had taken to calling the uniquely divine souls high born. It was a term Benjamin hated because it gave them an aristocratic air.
“I told you I don’t like it when you call them that.”
“We have to call them something.”
“Well then you give them a name.”
“How about false prophets.”
Matthew sighed and stared at Benjamin. This was a conversation they had already had many times before. Irritated, Matthew once again explained, “They are not false prophets, they just have to be taught how to see correctly.” Matthew couldn’t forget that he was also one of them. He was just the only one who saw the complete picture. It was his duty to share that picture with the others.
As Matthew sat for his daily meditation, the floor dropped out from under him and he felt as if he were suddenly floating in space. A suffocating pulsation permeated the atmosphere. Remembering his days in the desert when he was young, Matthew opened his eyes. The darkness had returned. The black hole was again before him and rays of negativity were shooting into, and being sucked back out of, his body. Unlike years earlier, when he had to gather his strength, this time there was no trace of fear in him. This time he was comfortable with it – at home in it. After a moment’s reflection, the ease that he felt, both confused and disturbed him.
“You are wondering why you are not moved by me. Why I feel so normal to you this time. It is because we have been working so closely together over these last twelve years.”
“I have not been working for you, but my Father in heaven,” said Matthew.
“I don’t claim to be your father, but I am the one who set you on this mission so many years ago.”
“No. Through you, God showed me the way to keep his house in order.”
Matthew thought he felt a smile in the darkness. For the first time, doubt started to creep into Matthew’s consciousness.
“Why have you come?” Matthew asked.
“Because there is a danger to you so powerful that your own people have kept it from you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A girl was born in America who is much stronger than you. Her sight will bring down your entire empire.”
“It is not my empire, but my Father’s,” said Matthew.
“Well then, I suggest you ask your council about her, for you will not find her content to merely pass the time in silent reflection like the others. She will destroy everything you’ve worked to protect.”
The darkness disappeared and Matthew called Benjamin and explained his vision. Benjamin was beside himself.
“Why do you worry when our Father has everything under control?”
“The same knowledge that I used to find you can be used to destroy you,” said Benjamin franticly. “We must find this girl immediately.” Matthew had never seen this side of him before.
Benjamin called for an emergency session of the astrologers. Benjamin owned a three-hundred-acre compound in a small city in southern Spain that they used whenever they needed to have private meetings. The compound was out of the way, so they didn’t have to worry about anyone accidently wondering by and overhearing the things that they discussed. On the land, they had more than five hundred boarding rooms and a big theatre to meet in.
It took two days for everyone to arrive, but when Matthew finally stood in the theatre before them all, he understood that the words of the darkness were true. He could see the sadness in their faces. He now understood that they were indeed keeping something from him.
“Why,” Matthew asked.
No one spoke up.
“Did you think that I would not know you were keeping something from me?”
Only silence was offered.
“Have you lost faith in our mission?”
No one would meet Matthew’s gaze.
Benjamin had been pacing behind Matthew, but he couldn’t hold his frustration in any longer. He saw their life’s work crashing down before them and decided to take matters into his own hands. There was no time for Matthew to do it his way. Benjamin took a gun from one of his personal security attendants and walked up to the closest chair in the crowd. He put the gun to an astrologer’s head and pulled the trigger.
Matthew, terrified, did all he could to hold himself together. It was essential that Matthew always project control. If his followers believed that Benjamin ever did something without Matthew’s consent, it would unravel the fabric of their ministry.
Benjamin knew however, that Matthew would not question him in front of the others. Benjamin stared boldly into the crowd as a short, stocky woman stood up in the second row.
“The girl is pure,” said the woman.
“What are you trying to say,” said Matthew trying to match Benjamin’s intensity in an attempt to convince Benjamin that he had control of the situation.
The woman held her head high and defiant. She was ready to die.
“The girl’s power is unlike any we have come across before,” said the woman. “She is a fully divine soul. We couldn’t, and won’t give away her location.”
Benjamin walked towards the woman and shot her in the head. Matthew felt vomit rise in his mouth and held it down.
“Seattle!” yelled a young man in blue jeans and t-shirt. “The girl is in Seattle! I have the coordinates.”
The astrologers surrounding this man began beating on him mercilessly. Matthew was horrified by the scene unfolding in front of him. He looked over at Benjamin who had already sent in his security detail to save the one who had spoken up. After removing the man from the crowd, Benjamin looked over to his chief of security.
“Kill them all,” Benjamin said, and his security team opened fire on the entire conference of astrologers. People went running for the doors, but every door was blocked. Within two minutes, 334 of the 335 astrologers in attendance were shot dead. The man, who had confessed, was the lone survivor and walked out with Benjamin. The man was barely able to stand on his own two feet, horrified by the massacre he had just witnessed.
“What is your name?” Benjamin asked.
“I need all of the information that you have on the girl.”
Phillip went to Benjamin’s office and wrote everything down. He knew it all by heart, as had all of the other astrologers. They had never come across someone so clearly born to save the world, as the girl they were protecting.
Matthew spent the night in tearful prayer not understanding how he had lost control of his whole mission in a matter of seconds. In the morning he went to visit Phillip in his room and found him hanging from a rope that he had tied to a ceiling fan. Matthew stared at the dead figure before him.
“Your death shall not be in vain, my friend.”
I’ll see you next Friday for chapter 9.
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