by Rachel Green
Michael opened his eyes, aware that he had lost consciousness for a moment and looked at the canopy of blue above him. There was some sort of trick involved, for although the blue was directly above his outstretched fingers he couldn’t quite reach it. He waved his hand trying to judge how far away it was based upon the length of his arm but could not establish a basis of comparison.
He tilted his head back instead. There was a half-dome of black cloth partially obscuring the blue in that direction, leading him to conclude that the black lay between him and the blue. He stretched his arm to the dome but couldn’t reach that either, though it seemed much closer.
Bringing his gaze further inward, he noticed a line of mystical symbols hanging in the air in the foreground. He was delighted to find that he could reach these and laughed aloud.
“Blue,” he said, touching the one to his right. “Green. Red. Yellow. White.” He touched each of the signs in turn, surprised but content with the ringing sound they made.
A giant head occluded his view of the blue.
“He’s beautiful,” said the head. “What’s his name?”
“Michael,” said another voice. He couldn’t see the source as it seemed to be behind the black dome, but it was higher in pitch than the heads.
The head looked down at him again. “You are beautiful, aren’t you, Michael?” it asked, sending a wave of fetid air at him. It stank of the dark places; rotting corpses on beaches stained red with the blood of angels. And coffee.
Michael had a desire for coffee. Rich black espresso made from Columbian beans roasted over a charcoal fire.
“Where can I get some coffee?” he asked, trying to sit up.
“Oh, he’s happy,” said the head. “How old is he?”
Only when the rocking stopped did Michael realise he was on some sort of boat. They must have reached a shore of some kind. He struggled upright in an attempt to see over the sides but failed.
“I’ve been restrained,” he shouted. “Undo these straps at once.”
“I’m sorry.” The head looked past the black dome. “I think I’ve upset him.”
“He’s probably just hungry,” said Voice.
A second head appeared, stealing more of the blue. “Are you hungry, Michael?” it said. Fortunately, this one carried no stench, but filled Michael’s lungs with the scent of gardenias. He remembered this scent from the dream he had while unconscious, and it made him feel comforted. He tried to memorise the features of this second head, trying to place it with other aspects of his dream.
“You must be dead proud of him, Mary. Was it a difficult birth?”
“Actually, no.” Gardenia voice laughed, provoking a similar response in Michael. “I was dreading it, after all Mum’s stories of when she had me, but he popped out like a cork from a bottle. We hadn’t even got as far as the hospital. I had him right there in the car.”
They were talking about childbirth, Michael thought. He’d helped with that once, when Cain was born. Eve had been a lovely mother, never suspecting that Adam wasn’t the child’s father. Only God knew that, God and Eve’s mysterious lover.
Gardenia’s head grew larger, giant hands pulling him free of his confinement, but holding him captive still against a warm chest. It too smelled of flowers, and Michael ceased his struggles, taking solace in the recollection of the scent from his dream.
The view from Gardenia’s grip enabled him to ascertain that the blue was a dome that covered everything. A flaming ball of fire hung suspended at one point and it hurt his eyes to look at it. He focused instead upon the expanse of green below him, broken by a strip of grey upon which his vessel sailed. Great swaths of green and gold obscured parts of the blue dome, each ten times taller than the tallest of these giant mortals.
Michael felt a pressure in his torso and squirmed in Gardenia’s grip.
“He can’t want to get down already, surely?” The first voice was grinding, but at least he wasn’t affected by the smell this time.
“Down?” he asked. “Yes, I demand that you release me.” The pressure inside eased.
“Oh.” Gardenia seemed disappointed. “I think he’s filled his nappy. No wonder he’s squawking.”
Nappy? Michael had a sinking feeling. He looked at his hands. His fingers were no longer the slender digits he had so often used to coax music from the lyre and sighs of pleasure from his brothers, but short stubby things that he had trouble coordinating.
The blue dome was the sky, the green and gold were trees dappled by sunlight and beneath him was grass.
Gardenia was his mother.
Memories cascaded upon him like pages torn from a picture book. God’s order that he reprise his role for the new millennium; the annunciation (and how ironic that He had chosen another Mary?); the birth of the new messiah in the back seat of a Mini Cooper. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” he shouted.
“You’ll have to change him,” said coffee-breath. “He’s making a hell of a racket.”
How could she know that Michael was screaming, or that his cries were in Hebrew?
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Copyright © 2006 by Rachel Green