The Chosen People
“The Gods of old were not remote, celestial icons. They were flesh and bone, sinew and blood,” she said, standing in front of the altar. She looked at the crowded nave. More people were entering. No one was surprised more than she at increasing numbers.
“Since we became aware of intelligences greater than our own,” she paused looking at an elderly woman standing to her right. “… their previous visits to Earth…” she continued walking forward between potted palms and stone columns. She reached out to people crowding on each side, touching outstretched hands. “…it became easier for us.”
She raised her face so she could be heard among whispering people clustered between columns.
“Glenda!” a man shouted from behind a column.
Other voices, female and male, whispering, shouting, “Glenda!”
“They defined us,” she shouted above their voices.
She became aware of Rick standing to her left, while Vyktorya stood on the right, walking ahead. She saw Rick’s face flush red, as he pushed two men away from her path.
Seeing stress and worry in his face, she resolved to hire body guards. Fundamentalists’ threats on her life were increasing. Rick was frantic. High tech devices installed at the temple entrance were not enough to detect weapons. The structure had been rebuilt, after the first one was destroyed by terrorists.
“They found an indigenous species,” she shouted, seeing others help Rick and Vyktorya push people back.
Looking straight ahead at the long walk to the temple entrance, she saw the sky darkening. It was late in the day. Night would soon fall. She glanced down at the sleeve of the garment she wore. She had several, all in the same style. This one was lavender, a color gay men once used to identify their sub-culture.
“They saw promise in our forebears. They trusted our natural tendency to share resources, food, and shelter.” She stopped walking. The way ahead was blocked by the crowd.
“They saw we were led by females who used sexuality to settle conflict. They saw we were a Matriarchy.”
“Please,” she shouted, “give each other room. Don’t crowd.”
She saw Rick’s face wet with perspiration. The numbers crowding to get inside, to get a glimpse of her, made it too warm. Thankfully, she smelled rain. Here in the Northwest, frequent rains brought coolness. She hoped the temperature would fall.
“They chose us” she shouted, gesturing to people crowding in front of her. “They chose us!” she repeated.
“We are,” she paused, looking around.
And, almost in unison, they shouted back to her, “…the chosen people!”
She smiled at their responsiveness. They had learned. They knew her phrases. She looked down at the floor realizing this is where she stood, two weeks ago when photographers from The Times had taken photos. In proofs she looked like a small woman approaching middle age, even though she would soon be 75.
She, Rick and Vyktorya struggled to find a name for their movement. Lacking an official title, others began to call it, The Order. The Times referred to her as “Leader of a new religion.”
She stopped at this point and gestured to those standing on each side, “Let us repeat the words of Anubis. The words given to us by the ancients.” She reduced her voice to a whisper as those standing around her, those crowding in front, and now, blocking the sanctuary behind her, repeated in unison,
“I spent yesterday among the First Ones.
I have cleared the vision of those who see.
I have opened the circle of darkness.
I am one with THEM.
I know those who live in the holy place.
I know those who took the harpoon of death
He of the cloth will transform himself into woman.
He will become she, the holy one.
He will become she, the high-priestess of men.”
She looked up at her followers. They believed she was the high-priestess the ancients referred to. They believed it was she who had been transformed from man to woman, who would lead them out of the world of sorrow they inhabited. They believed it was she who would guide humanity away from the brink of self-destruction.
Standing in front of her was a group of veterans wearing fatigues. Some stood, others sat in hover chairs. She saw desperation on their faces and remembered. There were too many. The religious wars drove them to her. Fundamentalists on both sides, murdering, killing, maiming the innocent.
“We offer a different path,” she said, smiling at a woman sitting in a hover chair. “Murder is not our nature. To kill those who don’t harm us is not only inhuman,” she paused as a man in desert military fatigues walked to within a meter of her. Rick walked quickly to stand in front of him. She gestured for her husband to stand aside. Seeing a glint of metal in his forearm she wanted him to come closer. His sleeves were rolled up, exposing new skin, like baby skin, covering metallic cables and chords. Both arms had been replaced.
“We are connected to each other,” she continued, gesturing for the man to come closer. She reached out, touching his cheek. “To kill those who do us no harm is alien.” She turned to her right, seeing a little girl holding a home-made doll by its arm. “To kill is not human.”
She turned back towards the altar. People moved away from the central aisle, giving her an opening to walk between them.
She raised her voice, continuing, “The Dusmanyu tried to change us. From time immemorial, they were here.” She turned around to face those who were gathering. “Implanting biological weapons in our bodies, traveling through time to change our DNA. But,” she said, annunciated the letter “T” strongly.
“But,” she said walking to the rear of the temple, “none of it worked.” She turned to the left. “None of it changed us. We are still who we were.”
She knelt down on a cushion in front of the statue to Auset, looking up at the face of the Goddess. The crowd grew quiet.
“Beloved Auset of the First Ones,” she began, kneeling on the cushion, with her palms turned upwards. “Dearest Mother, Queen of Heaven,” she said. A baby cried towards the front of the temple.
“Night is falling.
The Sun sets in the West.
The time of fear and shadows.
Unsure we will see the Sun again,
We battle demons in darkness.
Keep us mindful,
Your light lives within us.
Help us find you.
Help us grow and change,
Help us evolve,
Help us to love,
To move towards your light, as a seedling moves towards the sun.
Help us to hear your voice,
The voice of the First Ones within us,
The voice that conquers night,
The voice that rises in the East.”
She stood slowly and turned around to face her followers. She shouted, “We are ready. Humanity is ready. Let us join the fellowship of Genetically Compatible Races. Let us join with the creators!”
Glenda looked at the glass of ice tea in her hand. Then, into Batresh’s face. It was hot. More like Southern California than Oregon, she thought to herself.
She looked at Batresh with curiosity. “You know; you have hardly aged since I first met you. What was it, 30 years ago?”
“Got any more gin?” Batresh asked laughing. “I think the alcohol preserves me.”
Glenda smiled at her old friend. But, she had a strange feeling. A feeling that all wasn’t as it seemed. “Susan,” she began, “You only arrived yesterday. We haven’t seen each other or connected for 20 years.” She looked at her ice tea and brought the cold glass to her forehead, then continued, “You have been very mysterious. Why are you here?”
Bringing her glass down, Glenda saw a black and white cat coming from under the thick growth of a cedar tree. She turned to look at Batresh, “Why, after so long did you seek me out? Why did you move to Portland?”
Batresh looked at her own, now empty glass and knew she would have to explain. It was time. He would be here in 10 minutes. “You know, San Francisco is no longer really habitable, since the shift.”
Glenda nodded, looking at her own dry back yard. It hadn’t rained for months. It was October, and the rains wouldn’t begin again until December, if they were lucky. “It was so lush here before,” she said, referring to the shift, the Chilean earthquake of 2022, so strong that parts of Europe were pushed northwards. Most of Russia now sat where the Arctic Circle had once been. The United States was pushed further south. News networks reported the gulf stream had stopped.
Batresh looked at the gravel in Glenda’s back yard. Lawns were now illegal in most of the United States. “You know, earthquakes like the one that caused the shift, are their specialty,” she responded, relaxing back in the chair.
Glenda drew her brows together, “What?”
“The Reptilians,” Batresh replied.
“You mean the aliens?”
Batresh relaxed, looking up at the cloudless sky. It would soon be too hot to sit outside. She allowed her eyelids to close half way. “Exactly,” she responded.
Glenda sighed, beginning to suspect that her friend Susan was one of those people who saw the world as a swirl of conspiracies. “But, they only arrived last year.”
Batresh shook her head negatively. “No, my dearest.”
Glenda stood and reached over to get Batresh’s empty glass. “Let me refill your drink.”
“They returned in the early 60s, when you were a little boy,” Batresh offered.
Glenda took the glass from her. “I think you watch The Examiner Channel too much,” she responded.
“Are those tomato plants near the spruce tree?” Batresh asked, pointing towards the tree near the fence.
Glenda looked towards drying plants. “You know, when I was little in Mississippi, I saw elderly women working in gardens. They wore large brimmed hats and dresses with floral patterns.” She walked to the railing on the deck and continued, “Sometimes they leaned on posts, stopping to have a glass of ice tea; most times they were tending tomatoes.” She turned, facing Batresh, “Growing big, juicy tomatoes was a sign of good breeding.” She smiled, remembering her aunt Lala.
“I used to fantasize about being one of those old ladies; sitting on the porch, fanning myself, feeling proud of my tomatoes. My aunts grew so many they had to give them away,” looking into the distance, she smiled at the memory of relatives, long dead. She continued, “...after putting some aside for stewing and canning, that is.” She took another sip of tea and looked into Batresh’s face as if she recognized her from a former life.
“Living in the Northwest, where tomatoes used to struggle to get enough sun and warmth, I was afraid I would be denied that fantasy. I lived vicariously through my female friends who remained in the southern states.” She turned towards the glass door, taking hold of the handle. “But, no more. Since the shift, I can grow tomato plants like my ancestors.”
She opened the door and looked back at her friend, “Come inside, it’s too hot.”
Batresh followed her into the kitchen, allowing the glass door to shut behind them. The cool air felt good.
“You want another gimlet?” Glenda asked.
“So, you’re saying I have those Reptilians to thank for my tomatoes?” she tried to laugh.
“Glenda, I don’t watch The Examiner Channel. In fact, I don’t watch TV at all, unless I have a reason.”
Glenda smiled at Batresh as if she were a foolish child.
They both turned around, hearing the doorbell.
“That will be Jerry,” Batresh offered.
Glenda looked at her with confusion. “Who?”
“Answer the door.”
Glenda placed the glasses on the counter, looking at Batresh with suspicion and began walking towards the front door. The large, open floor plan allowed Batresh to watch her.
Glenda bent down to look through the peep hole. “Who is it?” she asked.
Batresh saw Rick, Glenda’s husband walk into the open space from the hallway.
She opened the door and saw a young man with a dark complexion. Immediately, she felt recognition. But, she couldn’t place him. She tilted her head to the side, drawing her brows together.
“Come in, Jerry,” Batresh offered, authoritatively.
“May I?” he asked.
Glenda stood aside and gestured for him to walk in.
“Bet you didn’t think you’d see me again,” he offered, looking at Glenda.
He looked her up and down and whistled low. “You made a beautiful woman,” he said walking inside.
She shut the door behind him. “How?” she stuttered. “Do I know you?”
“Yes you do,” he responded.
Rick walked to Glenda and Jerry.
Jerry turned to him and extended his hand, “You must be Glenda’s husband. I knew her when she was a little boy in Mississippi. I’m Jerry Means.”
Glenda gasped, bringing her hand to her mouth.
Batresh smiled and walked towards them.
“You can’t be!” Glenda said, almost shouting. But, there he was. She recognized him. “How can you?” she didn’t finish her sentence. “You would be almost 100 years old,” she looked at Rick with fear.
Batresh walked to her. “Glenda,” she said, taking her hand. “You had better sit down.” She led her over to the sofa in the family room. “Do you remember a woman selling makeup to your mother when you were about five years old?”
Glenda stepped back.
“Sit down, darling,” Batresh offered.
Glenda sat down. Rick came to sit beside her.
Batresh continued, “My name is not really Susan.”
Glenda’s eyes widened.
“Do you remember a man running to you when your Daddy tried to throw you off Pickwick Dam?”
Glenda gasped again.
“Jerry was that man,” Batresh said. “I was the woman who sold your Mama makeup.”
Glenda stood, not knowing what to do.
“We have been watching you your whole life,” Batresh said. “My name is Batresh. I am your daughter.”
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