By Brent King On February 16, 2015 Under Short Stories

City of Light 2I gazed out on the evening from Nansen summit. Affluent homes stretched out in tidy neighborhoods around me. As my eyes wandered through driveways scattered with German cars beyond my means, my mind followed suit. It moved from the image of The Scream, which had just sold for one hundred and twenty million, to the opulent urban high rises on the horizon. The rumble of a leer jet above me interrupted my reverie.

“I wonder what it would be like to be rich?” I asked myself.

“But you are rich.”

I jumped and spun to see a handsome young man standing near me. He grinned.

“Sorry to startle you,” he said, “but I couldn’t help overhearing you.”

I surveyed him from his Vans to his tussled hair. “It’s no big deal,” I said.

“Rich is relative,” he said. “Would you like to see something that would help your perspective?”

I cocked my head and peered at him with a furrowed brow. I shrugged. “What did you have in mind?”

He reached out and touched me. Electricity bolted to my toes and fingertips, and everything went dark. Well, almost everything. A thousand lights glowed about me in the darkness and I squinted to bear the brightness of the young man beside me.

“Whoa!” I said, “What did you do?”

“We’re going to see your life as it actually is,” he said, “Put these on.”

He handed me a pair of goggles. As I put them on, something warped or shifted—I don’t know—but the darkness fled before unbearable light. Even though my eyes were shielded by the shades, I shut them tight.

“Where are we?” I cried, “It’s going to kill me.”

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “you’ll be ok. Open your eyes.”

The light dazzled me, but I slowly became accustomed to it. Colors unknown to me took shape, but not the opaque, solid shapes of shadows that I have always known. Everything lived, radiant from within. A transparent city filled the heavens before me, set amid the constellations.

I gaped at it. “How, how big is it,” I managed.

“The size of Montana,” the angel said, “It’s been waiting here for centuries for its destiny on the earth.”

We moved in closer to the wall, which towered above us like a twenty story building that stretched into the distance. It shimmered with reds and yellows and radiance beyond description.

“Do you want to see it?”

“See what?” I asked.

“Why, your estate in the Eternal City, of course.”

“You mean my mansion,” I said.

Light spread across his face, and we shifted again. I say shifted because I don’t know how to describe the disappearance of one position in space and the appearance of another. All I know is that the next thing I knew we were standing on a transparent street. I gazed through it, and hundreds of similar golden streets crisscrossed below me. Thousands more tracked above me, but it wasn’t the streets that held my attention. It was the structure in front of me. Light shone through it unlike any jewel I have ever seen. Thousands of gemstones of mind-bending size and beauty were cut to form gable and arch and spire. It towered singularly above me, yet joined with others in a community of castles.

“It must have cost a fortune!” I said.

“A fortune is relative,” said the angel at my side, “Remember, the resources of the Eternal One are limitless.”

“Can I go in?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “But all you will see is but a shell.” His hands swept across the expanse of the city. “Only the redeemed, when they finally come home, can bring the Eternal City to life. Only the community of the saints can animate it and make it truly beautiful when all is put to rights.”

I followed him behind a waterfall that cascaded into crystal pools. A network of water interlaced the mansion, above and below, gushing from pool to pool. The water teemed with fish of every color and curious aquatic mammals peered at me as we passed through the spacious entry. We entered a concert hall with instruments I had never seen and ascended a spiraling staircase that wound around the fire that was central to the great room. Was it a fireplace? I don’t know, but it was mesmerizing!

Soon we stepped onto a balcony, and gazed out upon the city.

“It seems a bit unsafe without a railing,” I said.

“Who needs a railing when one can fly?”

I grinned and followed to the beds behind the deck. No visions of comfort such as this had ever crossed my mind. Yet they troubled me.

“I thought it said in Revelation that the saved won’t sleep,” I said.

The angel chuckled as he settled back on a bed. “But it doesn’t say no cuddling, nor contemplation.”

Higher yet we rose, until the expanse of the castle tower opened before my gaze. Even Disney’s Beauty and the Beast had failed to envision the scope of the library that appeared before me. All of my favorite books were already there.

“And there’s a host of favorites here you still haven’t read,” the angel said.

We descended through the vaulted art gallery and exited through a kitchen, the likes of which no chef mogul could even dream.

I stopped under the waterfall. “This,” my eyes scanned the edifice, “this is…mine?”

He chuckled and pointed to a name I didn’t recognize inscribed in fiery letters above the threshold.

“Yes,” he said, “That’s your new name.”

I stepped back a few paces. It was a few moments before I could speak.

“No one,” I said, “No one is this wealthy on earth. We are all playing with dolls and Tonkas down there.”

“And this isn’t the half of it,” he said, “I have something else to show you before we return.”

As we left, I saw a man on the high balcony of my home. At least I thought it was a man until He smiled at me. I held up my hand as if to touch him.

“This isn’t the half of it?” The city vanished before my question.

A beach appeared below us. It was a perfect crescent of white sand in a crystal-clear lagoon. A warm breeze tugged at my hair. I took a deep breath, glanced at the young man, and beamed.

“Wow! I could get used to this place,” I said, “Are you saying that this I mine too?”

“Well,” he said, “Yes…and no.”

Before he could say any more, a flurry of motion broke the surface of the water in the lagoon below us. A group of tawny creatures with long tails and wings flew toward us. As they circled and landed behind the angel, I realized how big they were. They dwarfed me by several feet. Immense eyes set into black and crème fur searched me.

I stepped backward, but they didn’t come closer. Instead, they hid behind the angel like they were shy or something. I lingered there with my eyes wide open and my teeth in my mouth. They spoke to the angel in soft tones.

“They want to welcome you,” he said. “They are Splattletawns. This has been their home for many millennia. Their tutor was lost in the angelic rebellion. They are lonely without a mentor.”

“What does this have to do with me?” I asked.

The angel met me with a twinkle in his eye, but said nothing. Instead, he spoke again with the Splattletawns. What I heard next was beyond my thought or expectation of heaven.

“Ask Master Brent when he’s coming,” the largest Splattletawn said, just loud enough for me to hear.

“Master Brent?” I repeated the words.

“Yes,” the angel said, “Caring for Splattletawns on this planet is one of your first responsibilities in the new order.”

My mouth dropped. “I, I…”

The Splattletawns didn’t wait for me to answer. They engulfed me in a soft and fuzzy Splattletawn group hug.

“We can hardly wait!” They said all at once.

It was then that I knew that I was born to take care of Splattletawns.

“I can’t either,” I said, when I found my voice.

I came to my senses in a familiar place. The evening breeze on Nansen summit wasn’t as invigorating as a Splattletawn hug, and the lights weren’t as inspirational as those of my home in the Eternal City.

The young man was still by my side in the fading light, gazing toward the twinkling lights of my town.

“Things are not what they seem,” I said softly.

“No,” he said. “Things are not as they seem. You are as rich as anyone on this planet.” He put his hand on my shoulder. “Sadly, you’re richer than most, for the majority possess all they will ever have right now. Don’t ever forget it.”

He faded into the twilight and I found myself gazing into a world that had changed. I had seen a better world and now this one would never be quite the same.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Crowinka
    April 24, 2015
    5:54 pm #comment-1

    What a beautiful, and inspiring piece this is Brent. I felt like I was along for the glimps into what will be, what is! “Spattletawns” ~ I feel you’re creativity is another reflection of your richness – God graces you with a fluidity of precious ink. Please keep it flowing and I thank you for enriching my faith, and softening my fears in this life. Much gratitude.

    • Brent King
      April 24, 2015
      6:28 pm #comment-2

      Thanks Chris! All around around us is a world that has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth. Though there is a transcendent cause to pursue here, I can’t help but long for that great day when the world will put to rights!

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