Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Light




     John Wilde escorted me across the vast expanse of a manicured lawn towards a brick building twice as long as it was wide. He held the door open for me and I entered somewhat reluctantly. I expected more from the interior of a so called 'cathedral'; it looked more like a school auditorium with rows of gray metal chairs. Almost every seat was filled with a white robed occupant staring blankly ahead; or at least they were, before the door slammed announcing our arrival and every head turned to study us. John and I walked quickly to the front and took two of the four empty seats directly facing the podium. No one spoke. Their weird silence made me question my decision to come here alone. I'd known John thirty years ago when we were in elementary school; I hadn't seen him since. But when I called, he was pleasant and accommodating.
I'd seen him on the news a few times, always standing beside the Prophet; John was in deep. In spite of his cordial attitude, I was shocked when he'd agreed to set up a day of visitation and an interview with the reclusive leader of The Light. The mainstream media had never been allowed inside the gated compound. The one stipulation of my invitation, was that I wasn't allowed to speak to anyone other than John or the Prophet during my stay. And I had signed a statement that I had come to The Light of my own free will. I wondered if that had been a wise decision. These people were obviously insane.
The lights dimmed and organ music played softly through the sound system. Heads bowed as a red robed figure strode across the small stage before us. He stopped at the podium, the lights came back up, and the music stopped. He smiled, and everyone beamed. Even I felt the electric charge coursing through the room.
He was an exquisite creature with crystal blue eyes and a full mane of wavy dark hair; the crowd was mesmerized. I caught my breathing which had quickened.
“Good morning my children.” He spoke with an accent I couldn't quite place.
In unison they responded, “Good morning Brother.”
I leaned in whispering to John,“So, where is he from? Does he have a degree?”
“We don't question Brother Malachi,” he snapped.
“I wasn't. I'm questioning you.” I couldn't help but shake my head in disbelief. This guy had them all brainwashed. I breathed deeply and calmed my heart. I would not get taken in.
John cleared his throat and handed me a colorful tri-fold pamphlet.
“This should answer any questions you have. We find that after you've been integrated into the community you won't find the outsiders questions to be relevant. Look around, the Master has created all of this for us. It is Utopia for his chosen. And we, in appreciation, have chosen him.” His voice was soft, but the intonation was firm.
I pressed on. “So there is still free will?”
His face screwed into a half smile.
“Oh yes, there is always that. And you can change your mind about us at any time, you are always free to leave. Just as Brother Malachi is free to ask you to leave, should he deem your 'investigation' to be in violation of the Moral Code.”
I studied his face. He was testing me.
The others watched me with their cold vacant eyes. I was keenly aware of their steely stares pressing into the back of my head. I wondered if all it would take was a wave of the Prophet's hand to have them attack me.
“So what's next then? I get my robes and trade in my heels for some Jesus sandals?”
My playful mocking tone was lost on his stoic demeanor.
“First you have a private session with Our lord. Oh, and don't call him that. You must address him as Brother Malachi, or as Prophet LeFevre. He prefers the latter from... non-initiates.”
I almost choked. Brother Malachi was no less than their savior.
This was exactly what I'd been waiting for; the reason for my visit. Several former members had made accusations of sexual impropriety in The Light; never specifically referencing Malachi, but the local papers had made it pretty clear it had been one of the higher ups. I'd been reading about the The Light for the past year. There had never been any concrete evidence, and never any formal charges filed, which was typical of cults like these.
I'd done a smattering of freelance investigative reporting, so I figured, why not? If I could get the right angle, it promised to be the expose of the decade.
“Well show me the light.” I whispered back, chuckling softly at my pun, until John shot me yet another icy glare. It was clear he was one of them.
The organ music resumed in the background as Brother Malachi began his spiel. I hoped his monologue wouldn't last long.
Electronics were forbidden in the compound, so I'd brought a pen and notepad. I listened intently, jotting down random quotes. Nothing I hadn't heard before, but the delivery was hypnotic. I realized I was getting lost in his words and began to consciously block them out.
When he finished speaking, he was ushered off the stage by two burly men in black robes.
John stood up and asked me to follow. We exited the same way we had entered, and followed a stone path to a small white cottage behind the cathedral. Brother Malachi was seated in a gold velvet chair by a fireplace with no fire. It was cold and I shivered as he glanced up at us. I stepped towards him and he arose and held out his hands to me. I took them reluctantly and he guided me to an identical chair opposite his.
“Let me look at you,” he spoke softly as he took my face in his hands.
I recoiled slightly, but said nothing.
After a few seconds he dropped his hands from my face and stepped back. There seemed to be a faint indigo light around him; or had I imagined it? My breath was shallow and my heart raced; I felt dizzy.
“Please, sit.” He motioned to the chair behind me. I didn't make it. I collapsed onto the floor in front of him. His smirk was the last thing I saw.
When I awoke, I was resting on a hospital bed in their infirmary; white robed novices rushing around and speculating in hushed voices.
I felt his presence before I saw him.
“Amber-Lyn. I have chosen you.” He was speaking inside my mind.
I nodded yes without thinking. I couldn't remember what my name was, but I was pretty certain it wasn't Amber-Lyn.
“What... what have you done to me? I... can't stay here. I want to leave.” I tried in vain to sit up but I was strapped to the bed.
He glided closer and touched my hand. This time I was certain; there was a bluish glow surrounding him. I was physically paralyzed as an electric current pulsed through my skin and up my arm. As it worked it's way through my body my mind fought against him. But he was stronger than me; his aura flowed into me like a drug, and my resistance fell away. I belonged here, to him.
I was one of them now, peaceful and happy. Happier than I had ever been.
I had no doubts, no fear, no questions. I had been shown The Light.

© GardenSummerland 2018


Photo: Copyright 123.rf

1 comment: