Free Will

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The column of light extended either way into infinity, so bright as to cut the mind’s eye to even contemplate. It was The Judgment of God, and Xaphan was trapped within it. Pinned in midair, wings spread to their fullest span, arms and legs akimbo like a celestial insect, the apostate angel watched helplessly as the Seven Angels Who Stand Before God hovered, circling him.

“What is my crime, then?” Xaphan asked. “Daring to ask if the design of these heavens we were made to build originated from God, or the vainglorious Viceroy of Heaven?”

Lucifer Morningstar’s countenance, normally bright and a thing of beauty, soured at Xaphan’s words, becoming a dark and heavily shadowed thing, despite the ever-present light.

“Tread careful, creature, for I know your name be jealousy,” Lucifer said through pursed lips. “Though you wear the guise of my brother, still will I smite you.”

“What right have you to question our brother?” said Gabri-el, Ruler of the Cherubim, and the Governor of Eden.

The corners of Xaphan’s mouth curled slightly. “Free will grants me that right. Is that not our entitlement? I have made no secret that I believe this to be Lucifer’s heaven and not God’s own, and I intended to prove my theory.”

“By attempting to set Heaven ablaze?” Lucifer said.

“Attempting? Did it not burn?” Xaphan replied.

“I cannot understand why he would harbor hatred toward the Celestial Choir,” said Micha-el, leader of the Celestial Armies, Angel of Destruction and Vengeance in the name of God.

“Hatred? Xaphan stated that he was only exercising his free will. Do we all not have that option?” said Rapha-el, Guardian of the Tree of Life in Eden, and Chief Ruling Prince of Second Heaven.

“Xaphan’s heart is filled with pride, not hatred,” said Uri-el, Angel Who Watches Over Thunder and Terror, and the Cherub who stands at the Gate of Eden with a fiery sword.

“Be that as it may, Uri-el, his free will was honored when he chose not to assist in the construction of the heavens,” said Ragu-el, Angel of Earth, and keeper of the Trumpet of Ice and Snow.

“Precisely,” said Remi-el, Angel of True Divine Visions. “He had no right to set asunder the fruits of our labor. Xaphan could have exercised his free will in any number of non-destructive forms, such as leaving the celebration, if it offended him so.”

“Perhaps, but did we do our brother a disservice by not opening his opinions to debate?” said Razi-el, Giver of Divine Mysteries.

“And what of God’s will, Razi-el? Lucifer was appointed viceroy by the Almighty! Should Xaphan’s will supercede Morningstar’s own?” Gabri-el looked from face to angelic face.

“Free will is a gift we should not accept lightly,” Micha-el nodded.

“Agreed. There must be rules set in place to govern the use of our free will.”

“And a punishment to be meted out should one of us fail to adhere to the guidelines? I do not agree,” Rapha-el said.

“If we do not make an example of Xaphan, then what keeps the rest of the Choir from repeating his mistake?” Ragu-el asked.

“Mistake?” said Uri-el. “Xaphan made a conscious choice and acted on it! He is our equal in all things! Who are we to judge him?”

“I must agree,” Remi-el added. “Who are we to judge? We are the Shadowside of God. Only God should hold judgment upon the Mal’akh.”

“A good point, which leads to an interesting question: Why has God remained silent and allowed these things to happen?” Razi-el asked.

“Enough!” Lucifer’s tone was a knife. “True, the voice of God has grown silent within me. That is why I have called you together. To decide the fate of Xaphan. The only vote not cast here will be mine. As God is hushed, so too shall I be. Your options are to either: Pardon Xaphan, Strip him of his celestial nature, Imprison him, or End his existence. Cast your ballots.”

Gabri-el was the first to break silence. “Our pardon, Lucifer. Not bearing the mantle of viceroy allows us to forget its burden. Since pardoning Xaphan is out of the question, and the other sentences are too ghastly to imagine, I vote for imprisonment.”

Rapha-el, Uri-el, Ragu-el, Remi-el and Razi-el concurred with the imprisonment vote.

Lucifer turned to Micha-el, “What say you, Micha?”

“I choose none of the options you present, brother. Though I agree an example must be set, I opt to wait until God has spoken,” Micha-el said as he flew away from the table. “Until such time, I will not be party to such gatherings.”

Gabri-el turned to follow. “Micha! Wait–!”

Lucifer, suddenly at Gabri-el’s side, placed a hand on her shoulder, stopping her. “Let him be. Our brother is exercising his free will.”

“Xaphan, you are sentenced to imprisonment on Raquia, the Second Heaven, until the Word of God dictates otherwise. As part of your sentence, you are commanded to construct your own prison by hand in the same manner by which the heaven you destroyed was built.”

Xaphan considered his punishment a long moment before he spoke “What is the definition of Free? Is it having no obligations? And the definition of Will? A disposition to act according to principles? Then does not Free Will mean the freedom to make choices without obligation or divine intervention?”

The Seven could not find fault in his logic.

The column of light melted off Xaphan.

“Thank you, but I decline.” he said politely and flew off.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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Songs As Stories: Stars Go Blue

When Stars Go Blue

*Inspired by the song “When The Stars Go Blue” by Ryan Adams

It was a secret place, a quarter acre of Eden abandoned and erased from the mind of mankind the instant the original sin was committed, and I had stumbled upon it quite by accident.

No, that was a lie and I promised myself I would not defile the sanctity of the garden if it could be helped.

I was not proud of the actual reason of how I came to be in this place, simply because I was a stalker. In my defense, it was only the once, I hadn’t made a habit of following women around without their knowledge. Just one woman. The one I was currently spying on, crouched here in the bushes amongst the flower blossoms, berries and leaves.

Mari.

Coworkers called her Marionette behind her back and sometimes to her face, passing it off as good-natured teasing. There was nothing good-natured about it. She acquired the nickname because she was a gangly woman who moved about in a jerky fashion, as if the unseen wires that made her move were constantly in a tangle that the puppeteer hadn’t been able to sort.

Mari did as people of her ilk often do, she kept herself to herself, stared at her shoes rather than make eye contact, and accepted all the negativity heaped upon her shoulders with nary a complaint. But she couldn’t hide the fact that she was miserable, just as I couldn’t hide that I was somehow drawn to that misery.

Although I wanted to know her for a while, I was too shy to make an approach. Today, I told myself, would be the day. As I went through my daily grind, I slowly mustered all my courage and screwed it to the sticking place. Ten minutes to quitting time, I marched to Mari’s cubicle, prepared to make my intentions known…

But she wasn’t there.

I searched by the fax machine, in the kitchen near the coffee maker, I even bore the brunt of strange stares when I loitered outside the women’s restroom, but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. Completely and utterly defeated, I grabbed my coat and left for home.

Half a block before the entrance to the subway, something grabbed my attention out the corner of my eye. Across the street, Mari sat on a bench at a bus stop as the 5:17 pulled up. I wanted to run across the street, braving the crosstown traffic and hop on the bus to make my stand. Instead, I froze. All my former courage had long abandoned me.

For the second time today, my heart sank. And for the second time today it did so without merit. The bus pulled away to find Mari still seated. And she sat as bus after bus pulled up and away. She did not read a book. She did not listen to music. She simply sat patiently.

Then when sufficient time had passed, Mari stood and walked away. I couldn’t tell you what possessed me to follow her on the crooked path that weaved through narrow alleyways, towering overpasses, black as pitch underground tunnels. Eventually her journey came to a halt in front of a lot that appeared to have been vacant for centuries.

Mari stood at the perimeter of the lot and at the precise moment the evening woke and forced the daylight into hiding, a door appeared with seven locks. She stood absolutely still and waited. In the newborn evening sky, stars bloomed and seven of them twinkled blue in a sequence that repeated seven times. The locks tumbled one after the other and the door opened slowly.

Mari stepped through the door frame but hadn’t appeared in the lot on the other side. From my vantage point, she simply vanished.

I ran to the door and managed to squeeze through before it shut, but instead of finding myself in the overgrown and refuse-filled lot, I stepped into paradise. My clothes melted from my body and ashamed of my nakedness, I hid in a nearby bush.

In the very center of the garden stood a mammoth tree that bore unrecognizable fruit of various shapes and sizes, the roots of which branched out along the grass and touched two streams on either side, one that appeared to have been made of milk and the other honey.

Standing beside the tree was Mari, naked but no longer that gangly woman who was awkward in her skin and awkward in the world. Here, her jerky movements flowed gracefully, her normally dull and lifeless eyes were polished to a fine shine, and her crooked mouth straightened and nearly split her face in half when she unleashed that radiant smile.

Mari blew a kiss up to the tree and somehow that kiss became a breeze that rustled the leaves which made a sort of melody unlike any I had ever heard. A pure music played by nature itself.

She danced around the tree all night without tiring, in time with the tune, and sang in a voice that was different from her normal mousy tone, stronger now, more confident. And I watched all the sorrow and strife, all the hurt and anger, all that was wrong with her life evaporate from her body.

When she sensed it was time to leave, Mari reached up and plucked the smallest of the fruit from a low hanging branch and dipped it in the stream of honey before washing the meal down with a cupped hand from the stream of milk.

The door reappeared and her clothing was folded neatly in a pile beside it. With each layer she put on, the transformation to her old self, the Mari that people mocked, began.

I thought about following her, but how could I ever leave this place, this patch of perfection? I knew she would be back and the next time I would talk to her, for certain. Until then I was contented to wait until she returned to dance again. I would wait until the stars went blue.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Genaissance: A Parable Scribed By The Shadowside Of God

Genaissance

The time? One of innocence. The place? A land that no longer exists; the Earth Pre-Flood. It is here that a gentle soul named Enoch, on the 365th year of his life, is lifted up into the Seven Heavens and brought before the unbearable face of God. Elected to be the Scribe of God, Enoch encounters the Archangel Micha-el, who begins relating a fantastic parable. Through Enoch’s mindseye we witness the evolution of God, the creation of Earth, the formation of Heaven, the birth of Lucifer Morningstar, and much, much more.

©1999 – 2016 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys