The time after his disappearance (though the Defense Authority called it a terrorist transgression) from the Ward lay in the distant past. So much had happened, and it continued to shock him that he had not been more aware of the promise the Way offered.
In those moments when he was not on assignment with his cohort, Stephen would find himself thinking that most people did not listen because the silence the Way offered, other than through song, led people to hear themselves. Often for the first time. As he had learned and continues to re-learn since becoming a Deacon of Cohort LX is that the silence reveals truth that too often we would rather not hear. Hearing requires responding, and the Universe has a way of changing you when people realise they are an intimately connected part of Infinity.
Such musing, however, was not for Now. He and his cohort stood at the Precipice singing their song. He loved when they dissolved and became the Beacon. Nothing could alter the song, even in pain and death, as he had learned so long ago on Broadway: once connected, always connected. The physical dissolved and that was important as this is where the Humboldt Cohort had learned John had disappeared.
John – a legend or martyr – was one of the founders. Some actually claimed the founder. Stephen remembered, as he recalled his first tutorials about the Way’s history, that he might have made mistake. He was always hesitant and doubtful when people from the past were glorified and placed on pedestals. At first, that is what he thought the Mentors were doing.
He learned quickly, however, that was not the case. In fact, one of the opening oral stories about John was entitled: “Yep, a real bastard!” If Stephen retained any resistance to his awakening in the Ward, it was dispelled in that teaching.
Time – for the Walkers of the Way – is different than normal time. What he remembers in those first lessons is that the Way began in the second apocalypse, perhaps 50 years prior. But time, as is experienced upon the Way becomes moot.
What Stephen remembers from the oral telling is that John and the first martyrs fled north, into the bush. The song called them as violence hunted them. How far he got or what he found remained part of the various tales, all with different learnings and each filled with paradox. What was known, for certain, after John’s disappearance, was that the Way stopped talking and simply sang their message of awakening. The rest – at that point in the teaching – became legend …
That was until the Humboldt Cohort sang the Song at one of the DA’s “secret” facilities. It is hard to explain what the Song does to those who are receptive. Not all awaken, but those who are touched become aware of interconnexions in time and space. Often these moments are short for some, longer for others, forever for Walkers of the Way. In that time of awakening, one is compelled to share the revelation of Truth. No one knows quite how, in moments of awakening, Walkers could hear others song and those individual songs secrets revealed. At that facility, on that day, truths were shared.
As the Humboldt Cohort – some now call simply “The 16” – were expedited by the DA, their physical song came to an end. Their physical vessels were sprayed with fire, and a new revelation dawned, which was immediately transmitted along the Way: John did not disappear! He was abducted at a place called the Precipice in the northern zone, where even the Zom’b could not survive.
With the sacrifice of The 16 in mind, Stephen and Cohort LX began to sing. They did not know what they were singing for – really they never knew. Perhaps it was a collective intuition or at some fundamental level shared communal consciousness where the song reached the Universe. In turn, It responded.
As they sang, they knew something was happening. The air became charged, ozone filled the air, and when the final note ended, before them, hovering above the shoreline, where John had last been seen, was a portal? Door? Some circular apparition through which you could not see. At its centre shimmered liquid silver light. It was pulsating in rhythm to the light wind that danced from the tamarack trees out toward the glacial lake. As Stephen responded to the Universe, the Cohort began a new song, which began with the word “Precipice” …