Thread: Small Worlds
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Old 07-01-2012, 05:29 PM
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Whot ho chums!

Here's something I wrote quite a long time ago - in fact, I think it's the oldest piece of writing in this thread.
It's based on a story from the Bible - specifically about a man called Eli who was the High Priest of Israel and teacher of Samuel, the latter being someone I expect more people have heard of as he has a much longer role in events than Eli.

There are a lot of good stories in the Bible, whether you believe them true or not. A lot of very real people with strengths and flaws, with very interesting and emotional lives. The way the Bible tells them is brief though, and as a lover of stories, my imagination runs wild reading it. There are a lot of stories in there that I feel I could adapt, and (with some artistic licence), here's one of them.



Eli

In a way, he had watched it drawing near for years – in the way you tilt your chair back knowing you will never overbalance, or watching a child playing at the top of a stone stairway, knowing it’ll never quite get close enough to fall.

So when he had watched his sons taking bribes for justice, stealing offerings from the people and forcing sex from the women who came to serve in the temple, he had said to himself, “They will never go beyond redemption. God is merciful.”

Yes, he had rebuked them, scolded them, shouted at them, but he had never stopped them. He had never taken the matter into his hands. It was so much easier to lie back and sink into complacency, into lethargy. He was an old man; it was hardly his part to deal with such things. High priest, maybe, but so old, and world-weary, and he needed rest. And wrong or not, the takings of his sons did make life that much more comfortable, with stolen meat and underhand money.

And then the day came when the chair tipped back. A man had come with a message from God. That God did not speak directly to him was insult enough, but the message he brought… “You honour your sons above the Lord… I have rejected your family… Not one of your descendants will live to old age… Your sons will both die on the same day… Another will take your place and your descendants will beg at his feet…”

The terrible days that followed, the sleepless nights, arguments with his children that did nothing to change their ways. The walls were closing in around him and people still came for aid, for advice, for wisdom, and he wished to scream at them, “What can I do? What power do I have now?”

Old and fat, he tried to shy away from the world, but the world still needed him.

“The Philistines are attacking, teacher. There numbers are far greater than our own… Please, you must appeal to the Lord for our salvation.”

The Lord, the Lord who had rejected him, “Do what you will.”

And they had done what they would. The Ark of the Covenant, where God had promised his spirit would always dwell, they had taken with them, to carry into battle, to try and win God’s favour to them.

And his sons had gone too, laughing, strolling off to war, and he had tried to stop them, “Do not go! Don’t you realise you are cursed men?”

They had jeered, laughed, they had not believed, “Go back to your scrolls, old man; go back to your chair by the fire.”

And he had, in the end. Oh, he had paced, and worried, and burnt sacrifices, and prayed at first, but his age, his weak heart, his bulging stomach had pulled him back, and that chair was too inviting.

He was at the end of a corridor, watching a child playing at the top of a stone stairwell, had watched the child trip, its face warped in horror as it teetered on the edge of the abyss, had run, knowing that he could never be fast enough. There was nothing he could do.

He was wakened by a banging on the door. A moment later a messenger burst into the room, gasping for breath, doubled over. “Teacher… Philistines… We are defeated… Israel’s army turned and ran… Philistines took the Ark… Your sons… Your sons are dead…”

And he threw himself back in his chair, howled in grief. And in response his chair tipped, reached that indefinite, endless point where you know you have gone too far, that powerless, hopeless moment where the balance tips, and you know the fall is inevitable; there is nothing you can do.

Time stood still.



-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.
1 Samuel 4 v 18


The Ark of the Covenant was eventually returned to Israel because wherever the Philistines took it, bad stuff happened to them.
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Oddworld novel: The Despicable. Original fiction: Small Worlds.


Last edited by Splat; 07-01-2012 at 05:36 PM..
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