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Authors: Gilbert L. Morris

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11

The Visitation of Goél

F
or the three days following Sarah's Questioning, the group waited fearfully to be dragged off to the mines. During that time Crusoe would have died had it not been for the kindness of the Nuworld prisoners. One by one, the travelers were taken for interrogation. Yet, each time, those who remained in the cell seemed to protect the one being questioned with their thoughts.

“You know,” Jake mused, “I think there must be something to this.” He looked a little embarrassed but continued. “I mean, when I go to the Questioning, it's—it's like it isn't even me.”

“I know what you mean.” Dave nodded. Then his face grew very sober. “But this can't go on long. We've got to get out of here.”

“But, Dave, how?” Sarah asked.

“I don't know how, Sarah, but you were the one who heard what Elmas said. We'll all wind up deep in the mines if we don't get out of here.” He rose and said, “Let's go talk to the rest of them about escaping.”

“Maybe we shouldn't tell everyone.” Sarah suggested. “Let's ask Crusoe. I—I wish Josh were here.”

“Sure, Sarah,” Dave said, “but he's not, so we'll just have to do the best we can.”

They waited until later that night to talk to their fellow travelers, for during the afternoon Tam was brought in. As expected, Mat attempted to make little of seeing his twin.

“Well,” Mat grunted, “about time you turned up. Probably been having a good time for yourself while we've been sitting in this hole!”

“Ho!” shouted Tam. “
You're
the one who's been living it up!”

“Me! What do you mean?”

“Why, look at these two young ladies you've been romancing.” Tam pointed delightedly at the Gemini twins, Rama and Amar.

The twins giggled suddenly at Mat's discomfort, but before Tam could push the matter, Hamar dropped a bombshell.

“I hate to be the bearer of ill tidings,” he said, “but I'm afraid our time is about up. I've been making friends with the guard that comes on night duty—bribing him, actually. He says the word is out that tomorrow we'll be shipped out of here.”

A dread fell on Sarah and apparently on all the others as well.

“Them mines,” Kybus said heavily, “they no good.”

“Like I've been saying,” Dave said, “we've got to get out of here. Let's find out what Crusoe says.”

They found Crusoe and Volka sitting in a quiet corner of the common prison.

“Mr. Crusoe,” Dave began, “we have to get out of here—now! They're sending us to the mines tomorrow.”

“Dave's right,” Sarah seconded. “And we'll die there and never see each other again.”

They all began talking about escape until Hamar interrupted. “I don't think there's any way out,” he remarked grimly. “You know that court out there? Well, I don't know exactly what's out there at night, but whatever it is, it's pretty bad. The guard won't even talk about it, and he's a pretty tough fellow.”

“Are you saying we shouldn't do anything?” Jake demanded.

“Not at all. I'm saying I don't see how we can get out. It's not possible.”

An argument broke out, but Crusoe said nothing until they had worn themselves out. Finally, in his old quiet voice he spoke. “I have no word on this. I can't say what to do, but I think we'd better just wait until there is a word.”

“Mr. Crusoe,” Dave said hastily, “I know you believe in that business—and I do too. But we've been given common sense. Mine tells me we'd better try to break out of here.”

Crusoe looked at Dave peculiarly. Finally he said, “My son, without a hand to lead you, how could you find your way?”

Dave looked shamefaced, and they finally broke up, some to eat, some to sleep fitfully.

Sarah was confused. “I don't know what to think,” she said to Jake. “Mr. Crusoe is so wise—but it's getting to be so
close
.”

She finally lay down on the hard bunk and closed her eyes. Her head was swimming, and for a long time she tried to sleep. Just when she was about to slip off, she heard a voice call her name.


Sarah
.”

“Yes?” she answered sleepily.


Awake, Sarah
.”

The voice came so clearly that she sat straight up on her bunk. There, not five feet away was a stranger in a dark robe that had been cut from very rough cloth.

“Who—who are you?” she whispered faintly. It was so odd—she was afraid, yet at the same time she had never felt more safe in her whole life. She had seen him before—or heard him!

“If I tell you my name,” the strange figure said, “it will mean that you will have to make a choice. And the choice may be hard. Do you want to know?”

Slowly Sarah nodded. “Yes, I want very much to know you.”

“Ah, that is even more serious.” The man smiled, and his strong face was both sad and joyful at once. “Many want to know my name that they may use it for their own ends. But they do not know me.”

“I want to know you, please,” Sarah whispered.

Sarah had been taught not to trust strangers. But this man, though a complete stranger, was somehow different. He was not handsome. In fact, his face was rather plain. But his eyes . . ! Sarah was unable to look away from them.

Dark, with light flecks near the pupil, they seemed to have a warmth that crossed the short distance that lay between them. In his glance, she felt the same sense of safety she had felt during the Questioning.

“You can call me Goél,” he said. “That is one of my names. Later you will know others.”

“Yes, Goél,” Sarah whispered.

He smiled at her briefly then grew serious. “Daughter, tomorrow they plan to take you from this place to die alone in the mines.”

“Oh, Goél!” Sarah said fearfully. She reached out her hand to him as she had to her father when she was very small.

He took her hand and held it firmly. “You must believe in what I tell you, Sarah. It is not my purpose for you to go to the mines. I have come to open a door for you.”

“And for all of us?” Sarah asked quickly.

“Yes, for all of you, all of you who will believe.”

“Oh, Goél, come with me now, and you can tell them all about it.”

She rose, but he pulled her back and said carefully, “Sarah, I will open the door. Do you believe me?”

“Oh, Goél, yes, I believe you!”

“But you must go to the door without me.”

She drooped at this.

“If you will believe in me strongly enough, you will not fail. Wake up all your friends and tell them what you have seen. Tell them about me. And tell them that you have my word that tonight I will set the prisoners free. Can you do that, Sarah?”

“But …” She searched wildly for an excuse. “They'll never believe me.”

He did not answer, nor did he smile anymore. He fixed his eyes on her face and waited. Finally he said, “I cannot help you to convince them. I will open the door, but you have to believe enough to get to that door. Goodbye, Sarah. I'll be waiting for you on the other side of the door.”

How he left, Sarah could not exactly say. He was there, then he was not there, and she was rubbing her eyes hard.

“Goél!” she cried out, then louder, “Goél!”

“What is it, Sarah?” Dave called.

She saw that Dave and Jake, who had been dozing close by, had been awakened by her call. Then the rest of the prisoners began to stir and gather around her.

“Are you all right, child?” Crusoe asked. “I heard you call out, and I was afraid for you. Who did you call?”

Crusoe's question put Sarah in a very awkward position. It's one thing to have a dream and another to tell it before a crowd, no matter how close they are. The hardest thing of all is to convince them that your dream really wasn't a dream at all.

Sarah struggled awkwardly until Dave said kindly, “Oh, she just had a bad dream.”

“No!” Sarah said quickly. “It wasn't a bad dream. It was something else. Mr. Crusoe, did you ever hear of someone named—Goél?”

Crusoe straightened up and looked directly at her. “Goél! What do you know about Goél?”

“Well, he was here tonight.”

“Here?” Dave questioned. “What do you mean, here? Where is he?”

“I hope you won't laugh—but I was alone in the darkness, and this man named Goél suddenly appeared. He talked to me.”

“Oh, come on, Sarah! You just had a nightmare. Look, there's no one here.” Dave swept his arm around the large open room.

“Wait a minute, Dave,” Crusoe interrupted. “I'd like to hear what you saw, Sarah.”

Sarah would have shrugged it off then, for she saw doubt on Dave's face. But with Crusoe's encouragement, she told them what she had seen and heard. “And so we've got to leave here tonight and go to that door,” she concluded.

“Well, I don't believe your dreams, but I've been saying that all along,” Dave said grumpily. He waved his hand at the courtyard. “We can't even get
through
that door.”

“Oh, yes, we can get through that door,” Crusoe said matter-of-factly.

“What?” Dave cried with some irritation. “I guess you'll work a little miracle?”

Crusoe shrugged. “Getting out past that door has never been a problem.” He smiled. “It's always been possible. But what to do then? If we go out in daylight, the guards will see us. If we go out at night, that thing—whatever it is—is waiting.”

“But it's our only chance, isn't it?” Sarah said.

She found a surprising supporter in Mat. “I think it's all hopeless. But if there's only one door, you don't have to like it. You just have to take it.”

“I agree, Mat,” Crusoe said. He looked at Sarah carefully. “Do you believe this man Goél, Sarah?”

“Yes, I do,” she said stiffly but firmly.

“Then you can go first,” he answered. He turned to Volka. “Are you ready, friend?”

“Yes.”

Sarah and the others followed Volka and Crusoe to the massive steel door and stood looking at the thing.

“Well, how do we open that?” Dave challenged. He was obviously miffed at not being on center stage.

“Oh, Volka can open it, I'm pretty sure,” Crusoe said.

Crusoe nodded at Volka.

The giant determinedly wrapped his huge hand around the strap of steel that formed the small window. As easily as a normal man would straighten out wet clay, Volka pulled the steel free, then reached outside. Sarah heard him slide back the heavy bar, and the door swung free.

“Ho! That was easy!” he said cheerfully.

Then Sarah felt every eye on her. She knew that this was the most terrible moment of her life. Every fear she had ever known was laughable compared to her dread of the thing that lurked outside. She did not see how she could ever make herself go through that door into the awful darkness. How cheerful the cell seemed in contrast to what lay outside!

Then Sarah began to hear the voice of doubt. The voice chided her as one who lived by dreams, dreams with a foolish message.

The voice nibbled at her courage, wearing it down, until she heard Dave saying spitefully, “What will you do, Sarah, if you look back and nobody's following you?”

Somehow the remark needled Sarah into action. Looking directly into Dave's eyes she declared, “I won't be looking back to see who's following me, Dave.”

Then, before she could give way to that nagging fear, she swung the door open and marched confidently into the darkness.

It was so black that she could not see her hand before her face. But she had looked out the door often and knew that the gate that led out of the prison was about fifty yards at the end of the cobblestone walk she felt beneath her feet.

Don't think! Don't run! Just believe in Goél. He's there, right on the other side of that gate.

But was he? The nagging voice began again, suggesting that she had made up the dream herself. Only by saying with each step, “Goél, Goél,” did she manage to keep a steady pace.

And then she heard it! She had been hearing the sound of the others following her, but this was something else.

She did not actually see the thing, even though in the darkness the sky itself seemed to be blotted out by a mountainous shape. Nor did she smell it, though suddenly it seemed that the breath of an open grave touched her face. Nor did she really hear it, though a heavy throb like a massive drum or monstrous heartbeat seemed to touch her ears.

No, more than anything else, Sarah simply knew that the
thing
was there beside the path. The darkness grew darker, the smell more deathly, and the throbbing filled the air. She heard the others beginning to moan and realized that they were on the point of panic—and death.

Sarah was no singer. As a matter of fact, she sang off-key. Neither was she a writer or a poet. But at that moment she opened her mouth, and her voice broke
sweetly on the dark night air. She began to sing in a strong voice.


Goél is my daysman.
My redeemer and lord is he.
From all the danger of death
He has delivered me.”

As she sang, the air grew sweeter, the night less dark, and the sound of her voice replaced the monstrous throbbing. Then, with the last of her courage, Sarah reached the outer gate and pushed it. It swung open, and on the other side she fell into the arms of the one who had slipped the lock.

She cried out in joy, “Goél! Goél!”

12

The Fifth Sleeper

I
n the years that followed, Josh would rarely talk about what happened when he plunged into the depths of Roaring Horse River. Once he tried to tell Sarah.

“Well, it was like I—well, really, it was something like—like dying, I guess, Sarah,” he whispered. Then he continued in a stronger voice, “The water was cold—I knew that. Yet, I didn't feel cold.

“And you know those rocks were like knives, but I was never cut once! Sarah, it was like—like I was surrounded by some sort of—oh, I just can't tell you. I don't know.”

And he gave up trying to explain.

The moment the cold waters closed over his head, Josh knew he was dead, but just as he began rolling over and over in the powerful current, something happened. He felt himself surrounded by a strange sense of warmth and safety. With one part of his mind he knew he was dying. Yet he felt somehow as he had felt when he was a small child and his father had held him close after a nightmare.

Josh's hopes faded. But just then, a tiny light appeared in the darkness. The light grew stronger, and as it grew, the voice returned again. Josh heard himself joining the song:


When my soul fainted within me
I remembered Goél,
And my prayer came in unto you,
into your holy temple.”

Then Josh seemed to hear the voice of Goél speaking. After that, he came to himself. He was sitting in the still waters on a sand bar.

Josh slowly got up and looked himself over for injuries. To his amazement, he was not even bruised or scratched. Then he looked around. It seemed that the sky was bluer and the grass greener than he had ever seen them.

His hearing seemed sharper too. He could hear a tiny cricket singing from twenty yards away. He began to walk slowly downstream, not knowing where he was or what he was going to do.

His friends were in jail, he had no food, no money. Yet somehow Josh felt good. He actually laughed out loud, then paused, amazed at himself.

He wandered on, totally unafraid. When he came across a path that led away from the river canyon, he took it without hesitation. He soon reached a crest that offered a clear view of the countryside. The first thing he saw was a city.

“That's it!” he said softly, then sat down on a tree stump to think.

“Let's see—what did the song say about the fifth Sleeper? I remember …

‘Close to the stars the Sleeper lies,
atop a tower rising high,

reaching to the windows of the sky.

‘
And yet
—
the waters o'er him flow,
Such watery depths he lies below'”

Josh was puzzled by the words of the song, but he truly believed that the city in the distance must be the place where the fifth Sleeper lay. He had quickly figured
out that 25 was the first number and 17 the last. Then he found the intersection of those numbers on the map he carried in his mind.

He thought of the words again and murmured his puzzlement. How could the Sleeper be up in a tower and down under the waves at the same time?

For a long time, Josh sat and tried to piece it together. Finally he got up and started toward the city. Before he took the first step, he spoke out loud to no one in particular.

“Well, I don't have Sarah's heart to help me this time.” He glanced around self-consciously. “Goél, I'll just have to trust you to get me there.”

It was dusk by the time he reached the gates of the city. Once there, he kept himself hidden by dodging behind trees or buildings. Red-robed guards were looking carefully at those who filed through the entrance, and Josh racked his brain trying to figure out a way to get in.

He waited two hours, watching for his chance to slip through unnoticed. The light slowly began to fade, and Josh felt sure that they would soon lock the gates.

Just then he heard the sound of heavy hooves. Peering through the darkness, he saw a train of camels approaching. Later, he would wonder if he had actually heard a voice ordering him to join the caravan or if the thought was his own.

In any case, Josh took the chance without thinking. There were only three or four drivers, and he slipped by them easily, dodging between the shuffling animals.

Once among the herd, Josh lost control. He was pushed and jostled by the smelly beasts, but he suffered no harm and was swept inside the city. As the last animal entered, Josh slunk quickly into a dark alley. He heard the closing of the iron gate.

Rather aimlessly, he stole along the alley until he noticed that the full moon was already lighting up the entire city.

He was getting hungry, but he knew that he would have to find the Sleeper before dawn. So he found a wide street that seemed to go through the city and began to examine the words of the song again.

“Well, one thing is clear,” he muttered to himself. “The Sleeper is in a tower. Guess I'll try to find the tower. Then I can worry about the rest.”

Finding the tower turned out to be quite simple. The town had been built of adobe houses and other buildings, none of them more than two or three stories high. But beneath the bright face of the full moon a massive tower hung over the city. Josh found his way to the tower in less than an hour.

He felt strangely apprehensive when he finally turned the last corner and came face-to-face with his destination. Strange astrological signs were on the doors, and somehow the place seemed evil.

Josh chose one of the doors and walked in, fully expecting to be snatched up by a red-cloaked guard. But he found only an empty room with a hall leading down to the depths of the structure and a stairway leading up. Josh quickly began climbing upward. He didn't stop until he had passed through a door and stood on the roof all alone.

“Why—why it's a lake!”

And so it seemed. Evidently the builders had used the ancient system of constructing a watertight roof to catch rainwater and cool the building. Except for a wall and one small rectangle in the center, the roof was like a still lake, reflecting the huge silver moon without a ripple.

“It's so pretty,” Josh breathed. “But—where's the Sleeper? Must be way under the water.”

Then his eyes lit on the small rectangle of stone exactly in the middle of the roof.

“That has to be it!”

Carefully Josh waded into the warm shallow water and walked across to the stone.

“Here it is!” he cried excitedly. “A door!”

It was indeed a door—a trapdoor, set in some kind of rubbery material to keep out the rain. However, Josh could not find handle or hinges.

“Well, this will be easy—or it will be impossible.”

He began to say the words of the song, and, as in the past, the voice-lock clicked. Swiftly the massive steel door opened upward like the lid of a box.

In seconds Josh had descended the stairs and found the small room that contained the capsule. Without hesitation, he pushed the red button marked AWAKE. There was the hissing sound of gas escaping, and then the plastic cover swung open. Josh got his first glimpse of the fifth Sleeper—and his heart sank.

“He's not any older than I am!” he muttered in disappointment.

The Sleeper must have awakened instantly because he caught Josh's words and snapped back in a twangy accent, “Well, seems a pretty good age to me.” Then he climbed out of the strange box. “Who are you, anyways?”

Josh just stared in puzzlement at the character before him. The fifth Sleeper was as tall as Josh and, as Josh had noticed, about the same age. He wore cowboy boots and a fancy Western shirt with red, green, and purple stitching that almost hurt Josh's eyes.

As if to outrage Josh still further, the newly awakened Sleeper stooped over and picked up a high-crowned straw hat with a feathered band. He clamped it down almost over his eyes with an air of satisfaction.

The hat gave him a comical effect, but the blue eyes peering out from under the broad brim were tough and steady—the type Yankee troops learned to fear at Bull Run and Missionary Ridge.

The Sleeper glanced at the capsule and shook his head. “That thing makes me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!”

The comment finally stirred Josh to reply. “I'm Josh Adams. I guess you've got a lot of questions to ask—at least I did when
I
woke up.”

“Well here, yes, I got some questions!” The boy's hat nodded emphatically with each word. “But guess I better introduce myself. I'm Bob Lee Jackson, but most folks just call me Reb. Course, I can see you're a Yankee, but I reckon you heard of General Bob and Stonewall.”

“Who?”

Reb looked at him, then shook his head in disgust. “I'd of thought even a Yankee boy woulda heard of General Lee and General Stonewall Jackson.”

“Oh, sure, I've heard of them. They were Southern leaders during the Civil War.”

“Well, I'm happy you got a little learning.” Reb smiled. He had a nice smile, and Josh liked the fearless look in his eyes.

“I have a lot to tell you, Reb. Look, I've got this food here, so you eat while I tell you what's going on.”

“Well—some vittles might set pretty good at that. Any chitlins in that batch?”

“No, but here's some canned beef and some cans of cola.”

“Shoot!” Reb complained. “Might of knowed not to trust them to pack fittin' grub.”

He grumbled for a while, but Josh was amazed at the way he gobbled the food. While he ate, Josh told him what
had happened—about the Uprising, the Seven Sleepers, the Sanhedrin, and then about the capture of the others.

Josh brought his tale to an end as Reb thoughtfully finished his meal. Josh could see that Reb was stunned by all the events that had taken place. At last, the Southern youth looked out from under his huge straw hat.

“You mean it's all gone, Josh? All the South really ain't there no more?”

“Not the South or the North, Reb.”

He saw the pain in Reb's eyes and knew what was happening. Reb was saying good-bye to his world, just as all the Sleepers had been forced to do.

Josh wanted to shake the boy out of his grief. “But I think it'll be better someday, Reb. That's what the words say—that when the Seven Sleepers awake, the house of Goél will be filled.”

“And this here Goél—who do you reckon he is?”

“I—I'm not sure. But he's not just—anybody.”

“Sort of like General Lee, you mean?”

“More than General Lee, Reb. He's more than anyone.”

“I'd be right proud to meet this here Goél, I reckon.”

“I think you will, Reb. I think all of us will, sooner or later. But now we're in a mess. I mean, we have to find the others, then we have to get them out of jail, then—”

“Well,” Reb interrupted, “I reckon finding 'em won't be no problem. Shoot! Easiest thing to find in any town is the jail.”

“But how?”

“Don't they teach you Yankees nothing? Why, all you got to do is find a building with bars on the winder or a wall round it. It'll either be full of crazy people or criminals. You ought to of knowed that, Josh.”

Josh grinned. It was hard not to like this flamboyant character.

“Yes, I guess I ought to have. But how do we get them out?”

“Why, shoot, Josh! It ain't really hard to get folks outta the pokey. My Grandpappy Seedy was in and outta the county jail for makin' shine so often they had a revolving door put in just for him! Shore they did! We may be livin' in some mixed-up time—but you betcha bird that if it's a jail—well, they's gotta be jailers, ain't they? And if they is jailers, they can be had, can't they?”

Josh sensed that Reb's experience with jails and police was going to be invaluable. The pair packed all the food they could carry into their pockets and left the room. Then they sneaked down the stairs and emerged in the brilliant moonlight.

“Let's just meander ‘round some,” Reb suggested.

Reb was enjoying the whole thing, Josh saw, in contrast to his own quaking heart.

“If anybody messes with us, they'll get whupped like a redheaded stepchild!” He pulled something from his pocket, and a sharp click followed.

Josh saw that his new friend had a six-inch switchblade in his hand. “I thought those things were illegal.”

“Blamed guvmint tries to run a man's business!” Reb complained. “Tell him what to plant, and how much. And sayin' he can't make shine—and we don't stand for it. Anyways, this ain't Arkansas, is it?”

“That's right,” Josh said, and he thought of his bow and of the arrow he had buried in the back of the priest. “I guess we'll have to do whatever the Quest calls for in Nuworld.”

“Well, now!” Reb grinned hugely and gave Josh a staggering slap on the shoulders. “See? That's what we all said during the war when we fit you Yankees. And this time, we'll win, won't we?”

Josh seemed to see some difference between the Southern cause and evil Nuworld, but he did not think this was the time to discuss it, especially with Reb. Instead, he suggested they begin their search for the jail.

BOOK: Flight of the Eagles
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