It didn’t happen immediately, such being the distrust, but slowly the three of them became a part of the Gandolo tribe. The tribespeople explained that they did not now how they had gotten here, or what they were supposed to do here and, from Dak’s understanding, they simply followed their instincts and set up camp. That had been long ago according to the memory of the elder tribesman. And supposedly the language they spoke was the language they had always spoken. For the time being it remained a mystery, one which Jan was not sure if they would ever solve. As they integrated into the tribe Dak began becoming friendly with one of the younger girls in her mid teens. She had not been promised to a man, but the elders eyed the relationship with suspicion. Her name was Guntara and Dak found himself quite taken with her, although he tried to hide this when it was in fact obvious to all and would deny it if explicitly asked. For the first year with the tribe Jan carefully, trying not to be noticed, walked around in the eastern sections of the camp, going a little further each day. But he was always noticed and after a while one of the tribesman showed up in a subtle way of shooing him back to the group. Try as he might it was simply forbidden to enter the eastern lands unless a death had occurred marking time for a burial ceremony. And funnily enough, that death did in fact occur, with the eldest elder passing on one night in his sleep. They were cautiously invited to the burial and Jan was anxious to see just what was over the ridge they had never been over. The day came and the tribespeople gathered the body in sheepskin and brought digging instruments and started the climb up the ridge. When the three of them got to the top of the ridge they looked out before them. Jan noted that the rims to the north and the south seemed to go on forever, but progressively more and more land was opening up. As far as he could tell the land was basically the same as what they were currently used to, with the river winding its way throughout it as far as they could see.‘It could go on forever like that,’ said Dak. ’Perhaps they have already ventured out and found nothing. Perhaps that is why they stay here, were they awoke I guess.’Jan considered that. It seemed to make sense.’The question is, Dak. Do we take the risk and try to escape and explore those lands. Or do we live out whatever remains of our purgatorial existence here?’Dak nodded. That indeed was the question.
Gradually Guntara and Dak grew closer, while Jan and Chance’s relationship steadily grew stronger. Each day Jan was trying a little harder now. It was as if life suddenly had a greater purpose in reality than he’d had to deal with just on faith. He remembered some of the teachings from the Bible he had read in his life on New Terra, but mostly consoled himself with Arcturian Monotheistic religion which he had adopted. Both he and chance, while having religion and being devoted to it, were not spiritual zealots, not given over to become clerics or anything like that. But they appreciated now that religion always had had its purpose and concentrated on living lives pleasing to the One. Dak was changing as well. The old Dak, now, seemed something of the past. His faith had come alive and he too tried to live a life pleasing to the One. Every seventh day was a devotional day in Arcturian religion and on those days they would hold a short service saying a few prayers and Chance giving a short sermon on how they could improve their lives. Strangely, some of the tribesmen gradually took an interest in Chance’s religion, and Chance occasionally spoke her sermons in Gandolo, which she had learned a great deal of by now, to try and include the tribespeople. The Gandoloans had not great sense of religion or belief in the One as it were, but spoke of the mystery life in a sort of spiritual way as well. Almost like life was a circle in which each individual played a role connected to everyone else. And that everything had a purpose. But they were somewhat taken with Arcturian faith, even young Umbarra who had begun taking an interest in Guntara and trying to separate her from Dak as much as possible. It was a strange group which celebrated services each seventh day. One human, two Arcturian and a gathering of tribesman that may have been either or something completely different. But the gatherings gave peace to the hearts of those who attended and gave the answers that each in their own way were searching for. As the second year passed and the third year with the tribespeople got up and running, Jan had settled somewhat. Chance was still not pregnant, even though they had been trying for ages. They both surmised that it was perhaps something to do with purgatory and perhaps they couldn’t have children here. Gradually the clothes they had arrived with had worn away and they now wore sheepskin. Chance made moccasins, something which the tribespeople instantly took to, and they looked like any other ancient tribal people from a distance. In the end Jan concluded that whatever lessons he was meant to be learning here in Purgatory he was likely learning and that if he was to spend another life with Chance in such a place, well, as long as he had his wife it seemed bearable. But perhaps that was why he was here anyway. As the angel had said he was to learn to become holy. And devoted to that, in the world to come he would perhaps receive the promised reward his religious faith spoke of. 11 Dak looked at Umbarra. He was now coming of age and seemingly ready for mating. And he had his eye on Guntara. Dak knew, in truth, there was little he could do. Guntara and himself had not mated, that seeming to be forbidden by the tribe until a marriage ceremony, but now that Umbarra wanted Guntara Dak was the one left out in the cold. And that was hurting his heart which had been drawing close to Guntara since his time with the tribe. The two of them often went out together, gathering wild berries, drinking from the river and sharing their meals together. She even let him kiss her occasionally, something he delighted in. But nothing more than that was deemed appropriate or allowable by Guntara, apparently according to the elder’s wishes. Dak himself had never been a married man. Of course, he had visited Arcturian prostitutes as a way of life familiar to most League of Piracy members. But actually settling down and raising children had seemed something at odds with the lifestyle Dak Bluddhook had chosen for himself and the kind of person that lifestyle had led him to become. But that was then. That was before. Now he had, he felt, changed. The old carnal Dak was gone and a new man had begun emerging. One which took seriously faith in the One and one which cared for others. And more than anything else, one which now desired an intimate relationship with a female and hopefully the raising of family. And in that way in which he had developed Guntara seemed like the perfect person at the perfect time. It was just that Umbarra now seemed to stand in the way. In conversation with Jan, Dak shared his dilemma, but Jan reminded him that they were guests of the tribe in reality and could not really have things their own way. If the tribe deemed that Umbarra and Guntara were to be married – well such was life, and there was little if anything at all that Dak Bluddhook could do about it. In such a situation Dak found himself doing something quite odd, but which he had slowly been getting used to. He found himself praying to the One to do something about his dilemma. Chance shared with him that the One usually answered prayers if they were part of his will and plan, so Dak was bemused. He really did not think he was ready to understand the fullness of the One’s plans for even his own life so that he just left it alone thereafter. In the end he concluded that whatever would be would be and that if he and Guntara were to be together, well that would happen inevitably anyway. But still he longed for her and was tormented by Umbarra’s presence.
In some ways Jan had resolved himself to live out his days in this place. He was happy enough, fed when he needed to be, and got good sex from Chance. But there lingered a voice inside him which challenged him to meet head on the lesson he was supposed to learn. And so he decided to himself that he would, after all, try and escape to the east. He discussed it one night with Dak and Chance who had mixed views on the idea. Dak’s major complaint was that he felt he might want to stay, now, and try his luck with Guntara. Chance, while willing, did reflect that the time together between them had been good for them and that their relationship was developing. But in the end, with some persuasion, both agreed to try and escape. Jan felt they had earned the tribespeople’s trust to a degree now and decided upon leaving in the middle of the night, quietly, when hopefully nobody would see them go. It was the following afternoon, and he had gathered their possessions into a pile, ready to leave that night. There was never really any wind in their home, but it occasionally seemed to get a little colder, and that night it seemed especially cold. But Jan kept telling himself it was probably just his imagination. In the middle of the night, as best they could surmise, they ever so carefully crawled away from the group and, when out of sight, started their trek eastwards. They climbed the ridge and looked out over the land in front of them, still discernible somewhat in the dimmer light. As they had noted before the rims continued on in both directions, gradually getting wider apart. Jan suggested that they either travel north or south along the edge of the rim to avoid potentially going in circles. Dak agreed and as the river appeared to snake its way ahead of them more to the northerly side they agreed to travel north along the edge of the rim. They spent two days simply hiking, only resting briefly, before they decided the tribesmen were not following them and could rest. Dak suggested that maybe one of them stay watch, but Jan felt he was over-reacting. They would have given up the chase by now – Jan was sure of it. As they slept that night Jan dreamed, and in his dream the angel Ramiel appeared briefly and whispered to him, ‘Your test is near at hand. I will be watching.’ He woke soon after the words of the angel fresh in his mind. They were to encounter to something, soon or some other kind of test was just about ready. And Jan felt, now, their time in purgatory was just about fulfilled.
All three of them were bitterly disappointed the following morning when each of them was poked with a spear and awoke to find a dozen of the tribesmen threatening them with spears. They had gotten so far but now their merry little adventure was over with and Jan was livid. As they began the trudge back to the camp Dak mentioned to Jan that he had overheard some of the elders speaking that they would now have to resolve the situation with the intruders, permanently. Jan did not really know what permanently meant, but didn’t at all like the sounds of it. It was a long and frustrating march, but when they finally arrived back at the camp one of the elders who had not come to find them approached Jan and spoke.‘You will not escape again. See, it is useless. We will come and find you no matter how far you run. And perhaps next time you will not be so fortunate.’ Saying those last word he ran his finger across his neck in a cutting motion. Jan definitely got the point. They were back at camp for just three days when Jan finally determined that they would indeed run again, but this time they would not be caught. They were only caught the last time because they had stopped running and rested. It was the one flaw in the plan. Both Dak and Chance complained that the villagers would be watching them even more closely this time but Jan didn’t care. He’d had enough and wanted to resolve the situation. That night they waited later on in the night and then crept away. But after only a few miles the tribesmen had again caught them and brought them back to the camp. This time they were not so friendly and handled them quite roughly. Back in the centre of the camp Jan knew they might this time have to pay. He had perhaps acted recklessly and foolishly and endangered lives. If this was the test the angel had said he was to go through, then he had bitterly failed. Dak overheard the tribesmen talking. There was a heated argument and then silence as one of the elders finally nodded. And then they placed a tribesman on guard to watch the three of them. Things were not looking good. 14 It was the following day that Jan decided on their final option. The option they had all agreed was their last chance. ‘We go for the ledge and see what is down under the rim. They will never follow us down there.’ And despite Dak’s affections for Guntara, both he and Chance agreed. It was down to the final decision. When the guardsmen later that night had dropped his eyes and started dozing, they snuck off and begun running back westwards to their original camp. But no sooner had they begun then the drums began. Perhaps this time they would be hunted until they could be hunted no more. Perhaps this time would come the killing blow. As they ran Jan thought over the words of the angel. A test would come. Was this, now, the time of the final test? They came closer to the edge of the rim and Jan looked back to see a tribesmen had just spotted him who then ran off to tell the others. They quickly climbed down the rope, Chance going first, swinging, and leaping to the ledge. Jan went second and then, finally, Dak. But Dak missed the ledge and slid down the rock beneath the ledge till he was clinging to the side of the rim, barely holding on. ‘Come on Chance. We have to see were this cave goes. We can’t help Dak, there is no time.’ Said Jan, anxious to leave. He had seen were Dak landed and realized that if the tribesmen came down the rope and started throwing spears they could soon be injured or dead. Chance was reluctant to leave, though, but Jan persuaded her that they just couldn’t risk it, and so she followed him but bemoaned Dak. However, as they started their way into the cave, the walls glowing some sort of light, Jan came to himself. He couldn’t leave Dak. They were friends now. And even though it might cost him a spear in the side, he would go back and rescue his friend. He told Chance to wait for him, not wishing to endanger her life, and started back for Dak. He came to the ledge, peered down, and spied Dak barely holding on. He looked up at the rope and saw it swinging. One of the tribesmen were now coming down it. He would have to be quick. He climbed down, ever so carefully, keeping his footing, until he was able to reach down. Dak looked up at him, looked into his eyes, and reached out his hand. First fingers touched and then with one last thrust Jan grabbed Dak’s hand and began pulling him back up to the ledge. No sooner had they gotten onto the ledge then one spear, followed by another was hurtled at them, one catching the corner of Jan’s sheepskin. ‘Let’s get out of here,’ he yelled to Dak, as they made there way into the tunnel. As they traveled into the tunnel a voice in the back of Jan’s mind said ‘Well done. You have passed.’ They found Chance quickly and then continued along the tunnel. The walls glowed and seemed to increase in brightness the further they travelled along. They had walked for quite a while, about 2 kilometres as far as Jan could tell, when they entered a large cavern. It seemed without any other exits, but against the far wall there appeared to be something glowing and shimmering. They came closer to inspect it. Dak reached out to touch it and brought back his hand.‘It’s like water,’ he said to the other two.’‘What is it?’ queried Chance. Jan quickly came to the answer.’It is a portal. Some sort of ancient portal or gate, for travelling between worlds. I saw them in old science fiction shows.’‘But were does it lead?’ asked Chance.Jan turned and looked back up the tunnel. He then turned and looked around the cavern. He finally spoke.’I don’t know, Chance. I don’t know. But I don’t think we really, in the end, have much of a choice, do we.’Chance looked at Jan, then looked at Dak who looked at Jan. Dak spoke.‘No we don’t, do we.’ Dak looked at the portal and then said, ‘Well here goes,’ and stepped in. The two of them waited about a minute when Chance finally said, ‘I don’t think he is coming back to us.’ Jan nodded. Chance looked at her husband, leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. ‘See you on the other side.’ And she ventured into the portal. Jan watched her go and steadied himself. Perhaps this was it. Perhaps this had been the final adventure of the illustrious Rimwalker, chased down a rocky Rim of all the ironic things to end it all. He looked at the portal, took a deep breath, and stepped in.
Jan looked down at the young man. It was himself, about 15 years of age, in his parent’s back yard. He was hovering in space, suspended almost, and then Ramiel appeared.’By the way, well done in rescuing Dak. It was a good choice. A very good choice.’‘Where are we?’ asked Jan.’We are at the judgement. I hope you are ready. Now look at this youth and listen to what he says.’Jan watched on, trying to remember the things he may have said at this time, but let himself speak in the end. Young Jan was holding a saber, pointing it at trees, and blasting them. His father, returning from work, came into the yard and smiled. Such was his son’s fascination with guns. ‘But remember, Jan,’ his father yelled. ’Guns can kill people. And your not a murderer.’Jan nodded and shouted back, convicted. ’Sorry dad. I guess guns can kill people can’t they. And life is precious, isn’t it? As you and mum always say.’‘That it is, son,’ said his father, and went inside the house. Young Jan looked at the gun in his hands for a few moments and then threw it away. ‘I am not a murderer,’ he said to himself, and went inside. The angel besides Jan smiled. ‘That was a good choice, Jan. You never did murder, in the end. You never did. And that brought you life with God. But let us move on.’ The next scene they came to was on Arcturia, before he had met Chance, in the arms of a harlot. Jan looked down at himself in the harlots arms and grimaced. For some reason he was now embarrassed about his former life, in a way he had never been before. The angel spoke, ‘But listen to what you say, Jan.’ ‘You know, I love you gals. I lost my virginity to one of you sort.’ The prostitute nodded. Then Jan continued, ‘But, you know. I guess. Look, I guess in truth I regret that some way. It would have been nice to have done it the proper way and all, but sometimes we make mistakes which just can’t be undone.’ The prostitute nodded again. The angel spoke. ’You were convicted, weren’t you. On your sense of sexual morality.’Jan nodded. ‘After I met Chance that part disappeared from my life. I guess in later years I viewed it as the recklessness of youth, but I am glad I left that lifestyle in the end and chose marriage over debauchery.’ The angel smiled and spoke, ‘A wise choice. Now we go to the final scene.’ They came to old Jan Kolby, on his deathbed just a few hours before he died. He had just spoken his final words to his family and was drifting off to sleep. But his mind was alert and Jan could here his prayer to God.‘God. I don’t know who are what you are exactly. I know you are the creator of life and death and the judge of life and death. And I fear you now more than I have ever done, cause I might be meeting you shortly. Whatever else you might have to say about my life, lord, can I say this on my behalf. I may have been a rogue at times, a thief and a smuggler. But there was something in my heart. Something which carried me on and told me that better days were one day coming and that I would eventually grow up and become a man. Hopefully, lord, since that reckless youth I have become that man. A man you might hopefully be proud of. So I want to say this, God. Forgive me. Forgive the sins of my youth, because I was young, dumb and naïve. And accept me now to life. Please grant me that gift, I ask you God. Amen.’ And then Jan went silent. The angel turned to Jan and said, ’That was a good prayer, you know. Really, a very good prayer. You showed yourself a man in more ways then one, and God was really impressed.’Jan looked at him. ’Is this time for the judgement.’’You have been judged already, Jan Kolby.’Jan looked bewildered and looked around to see if he could see some great throne, some divine prince of glory, ready to pronounce judgement. But it was only him and the angel. He finally turned to Ramiel and said, ’By who.’‘By yourself, of course. Who else.’ And Ramiel winked at him, and flew off, yelling, ‘See you soon on the other side. It will be good meeting you in a more substantial form.’ And with that the angel disappeared into white clouds. Jan just floated there, and returned his gaze to his death bed. His family was all around him, hugging him, and praying for him. His heart moved within him and he smiled. This was the judgement, was it? Ones own honest opinion? But no, the purpose of life couldn’t be in judging ones self. Surely there was more to it than that. As he stared at the scene it gradually disappeared and he was left alone, floating in white space. As he stared things started happening. Rainbows appeared and shone brightly above his head, flowing around in musical dance. And then harps started playing and angelic voices started singing. And then he was thrust upwards, very quickly thrust upwards, away from this angelic glory, up to the surface of a planet. But he had not yet arrived at his destination, somehow he knew that. And looking in front of him images started appearing, images of his life past, almost in a dream like way. He watched the images come and go for a number of moments, smiling here and there at fond past memories. There was his father pushing him on his first tricycle. Another scene with his mother making his 3rd birthday cake. And then another scene with his first kiss, a girl from high school. Heck, he had nearly forgotten all about Jenny Taylor. And then the scene changed again and this time, instead of seeing the past, he somehow knew he was gazing into the future. And it was a future which seemed as if it had already been written somehow. As if it was a destiny he was treading down the pathways of. Chance came into view, and she had a child in her arms. And then he saw himself standing next to Chance, looking at the young baby. And somehow he sensed that this would be soon. Sooner than expected, and his heart leapt because of it. Another scene began. He was sitting in a large audience, watching a lecture. He could somehow discern that it was a spiritual lecture in a church university, on some or another subject of spirituality. And then the lecture ended and people started talking. But the funny thing was that everyone knew each other and were extremely loving and friendly with each other. They showed kindness, affection and true love. It was as if they were learning the secrets of life and the universe now, and that all things were good for them in life. That it all had meaning. That it all had purpose. And then the scene changed again and he saw himself with Chance in a large general store. It seemed to be on a planet like earth in some ways, and both of them were the store owners. And then a voice from heaven spoke to him. ‘Glory doesn’t come cheap Jan Kolby. Expect to work a while to earn your keep. But, I am sure, you will love every minute of it. Trust me on that.’ And then the voice left off speaking. The next scene began, but this he could somehow tell was millions of years later. There he was in the same store again, but a chain had begun. And he could tell there were hundreds of other similar stores they owned. And he had more family now. Dozens around him, all calling him and Chance Father and mother. Jan smiled to himself. Of all the things the future could hold, something as basic as a simple life working to the top seemed to make sense in some way. As if, to reach long term goals you had to steadily work to achieve them. The scene, though, changed yet again. And this time Jan was in a university lecture hall again, but this time he was teaching. And then the scene changed to the teachers lounge were he could hear some of the teachers saying, ‘That young Kolby is coming along. He really is beginning to learn his lessons.’ Jan just smiled to himself at that, but the scene changed yet again. Suddenly he was on top of a mountain, a very difficult and challenging mountain, and Dak Bluddhook was standing next to him. He patted Dak on the back as if to say well done. As if they had conquered some challenge or another. But ever so quickly the scene changed yet again, and Jan was again in the store, over by the corner, in a rocking chair, reading to one of his new-borns. Reading from his memoirs. And he could here himself say to the child, ‘a long life, yes indeed. But we are children of eternity after all. Never forget that. Never forget that truth, blessed one,’ and he kissed his child. Jan’s heart warmed, but the scene changed yet again. Suddenly he and Dak were standing together, but opposing them was a figure of darkness. A big dark figure, something which was hell bent on challenging them and declaring them nothing against his power and might. But he and Dak stood firm and the testing came and went. That was a puzzling scene to Jan and he had no real idea what that was all about. In the next scene he was walking along a path and Ramiel was beside him. And they were muttering something about the war of the sons of darkness with the sons of light. And the scene ended. And the, one last scene in which he was sitting with Chance, in a new home, a new lovely home, sitting on the bed. And he could here himself saying to Chance, ’These will be difficult times ahead of us, Chance Kibb’star. But we are children of the One. We always have been, and always will be. We will overcome this challenge, in time. And we will be better, stronger people for it. And he hugged her, and the scene ended. And then, yet again, he was floating in white space. He was thinking quickly on all that he had seen and was fascinated with just what the future could indeed hold for him when a voice, the voice of eternity, finally spoke. ‘HELLO DEAR SON. IT IS GOOD TO FINALLY MEET YOU.’ Jan was shocked at the immensity of the voice, as if it carried with it the weight of all eternity. But he responded to the One as best he could. ’Hello father.’
‘YOU HAVE SEEN JUST A GLIMPSE OF YOUR ETERNAL DESINY, JAN KOLBY. JUST A GLIMPSE. BUT KNOW THIS. FOREVER I WILL BE WITH YOU, WATCHING YOU, TEACHING YOU, GUARDING YOU, JUDGING YOU. YOU ARE MY CHILD AND YOU ARE DEAR TO ME, AS ALL MY CHILDREN ARE. I WILL HAVE MANY WORDS WITH YOU OVER YOUR LIFE AHEAD OF YOU, BUT I WILL START WITH THIS. ENJOY YOUR FIRST YEARS, BEFORE THE CHALLENGES. ENJOY THEM AND REST IN THE BLESSINGS I WILL PROVIDE FOR YOU. FOR YOU WILL NEED THE STRENGH WHICH COMES FROM THEM. INDEED, YOU WILL NEED THAT STRENGH. AND REMEMBER THIS. I LOVE YOU, JAN KOLBY. YOU ARE DEAR TO MY HEART.
’ And then the One left off speaking Hearing the voice of God Jan knew he would never forget it. The aura, the power, the majesty. But above all, the sheer loving concern. As if he, Jan Kolby, was a vessel of high esteem in God’s eyes, and that he loved him dearly. As he floated there, waiting whatever would come next, his body leapt upwards yet again. He spiralled up, up into the neverending eternity above him, and as he flew or was thrust up he could see a vision. A vision of life opening up before him. It was heaven. He was coming to heaven. And quickly, almost in a snapshot, he saw they mystery of the ages, and took in all its wonder, its scope, its vibrancy, its beauty. And he saw, almost enmeshed throughout all the eternal heaven before him, a glowing light, a radiance which seemed to speak of the glory of God. And then silence. Darkness came in. He was at rest. He waited there, dwelling in the final place before his rebirth he somehow knew. He waited there, and as time passed he gradually felt light coming back onto him. And then, sensing himself in a large room with many people, he rose from his resting place, looked around him, and smiled. And then one of the people said, ‘Welcome,’ and Jan Kolby was finally, and eternally, home. Final Words I guess, reader, if anything is true in life is that we don’t always get what we want, or even expect. We often dream dreams and have great wishes for a wonderful life. But, tragically, for so many of us what we want most desperately often fails to materialize. Even with our most fervent prayers to the one. But if there is one thing I have learned in this sojourn so far, it is that the One really is out there, watching over us, working in our hearts, and leading us on in a destiny which may just last forever. What is beyond this shroud called life nobody really knows, for who has ever come back to tell us? But like you, and like Jan Kolby, I am a walker in this mystery of life, treading down its often hectic pathways, making the best of it that I possibly can. It is not always easy. God knows it is not always that. There are trying times, for all of us I would imagine, bringing challenges which challenge the bravest of hearts. But, with a little courage, with a little strength, with a little faith, we can make it through this mystery into, hopefully, a better day. I wish all of you who read this text a very happy day and week and year ahead. Rimwalker will return, inevitably, in some future life. But for now I bid you farewell, and if any of us are destined to meet in this thing called life, I can only wish it to be under the best of circumstances. Goodbye to all...
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