by CJ Reddick
Parts 5-7 of The Gopher Wood Series: "Chase," "Ark," and "Reception"
Part 5: "Chase"
It finally happened. Shem knew it when Japheth came back to the ark with that look on his face.
They all lived in the ark now. A year ago, the ark had been deemed “move-in ready.” At that point, Noah had banned jeans and had Leah make full-length robes. Technology was ousted completely, aside from air motorbikes, which were needed for transportation uses. Ham was extremely unhappy about this.
The ark was done. They had finished it last week. For the past week, animals of every kind were flocking to the ark. Two by two they came, a male and his mate. Smaller animals hitched rides on bigger animals’ backs. Just an hour ago, two deer had come in with about four different types of birds on their horns. Japheth and Noah had gone to get a book with every known type of animal at the library.
And now Japheth was home, alone. Shem ran out to him.
“Japheth! Where’s Father?”
Japheth looked sullen. “They took him.”
“Took him? Took him where?” Leah asked, coming up behind him.
Japheth breathed out slowly. He was obviously panicked. “They took him to prison, Mother!”
“What? How?” demanded Ham.
Japheth sighed. “We were going to the library to check out that book. But, Father’s library card was expired. They accused him of stealing. They tried to arrest him. Father argued that stealing was no longer against the law. Then they said that it had been a test and that he was now in trouble for resisting arrest.”
“Oh, no!” Milcah said.
“It gets worse, I’m afraid,” a voice came behind from behind them. Noah’s family turned around.
“Elohim!” Japheth exclaimed. He dropped to his knees. Everyone else followed suit, even the pregnant Monu.
Elohim nodded in approval. “Your respect is well placed. But there is not time for reverence. Noah has been captured. You have all of the animals. And the flood is today.”
“What!?”everyone exclaimed at once.
Elohim nodded. “You have the food. You have the animals. You have the ark. And the floodwaters are at ready.”
Elohim looked up to the sky. Water began pouring from the sky.
“Elohim, you would not start the flood without Noah safe, would you?” Leah asked.
Everyone except Elohim was tense at the rain. Monu massaged her swollen belly, soothing the baby, probably for an excuse to soothe herself.
“This rain is not the only source of flood. Rain takes time to accumulate. To destroy the whole world by natural causes, you need more than rain.”
“So, you say, we still have time?” Shem asked. Light burst from the sky and struck the ground. An earth-shattering noise split their ears. Milcah screamed and clutched Ham. Radmah and Japheth wrapped their arms around each other. Shem pulled Monu close. Leah seemed perplexed and a little apprehensive, but she held herself in too high a respect to seek physical comfort besides her husband.
Elohim nodded. “That is thunder. Do not worry about it. The flood will not be overpowering until two hours from now,” he turned to Leah, Monu, and Milcah. “You three must stay at the ark. Monu shall deliver her baby before the floodwaters swallow the earth. The rest shall go and rescue Noah.”
Another thunderclap sounded, and Elohim was gone. Everyone stared at the spot where he had been. Monu snapped out of it first.
“C’mon, people! We’ve got two hours! Let’s move!”
Shem smiled. Only Monu would be able to command knowing she was within two hours of giving birth. She was the most amazing woman he had ever met. Strong, stubborn, loving, and funny. His four favorite qualities.
Everyone moved inside the ark. They made their way past the animals on the lowest level, to the stairs that led past six more levels to the living level. The ark really was an architectural feat. Shem had to give credit to Monu for this one, as well. She was an architectural genius. Elohim had visited her from time to time as she sketched out plans, advising her. Each level had the animals, as well as their food.
The lowest level had the larger animals, the giraffes, the elephants, and the rhinoceros. The next level was carnivorous and dangerous animals. Lions, tigers, bears, other assortments. The third level was the grazing animals. The fourth level was the nursery. Some animals were too big or too dangerous, like behemoths and leviathans. Behemoths had many different species within themselves, pterodactyls, triceratops, and brontosaurus. All were too large to be taken at maturity. So they had rounded up babies. Leviathan babies could not breathe fire in the early stages, so they would not have to worry about fires. Reptiles were on the next floor. The insects were all throughout the ark. They had burrowed their way into the wood, or made colonies somewhere. Elohim had assured Monu that the insects would find their own places to live in the ark. The sixth floor was the smaller animals, like dogs and cats. The seventh floor was the living level. They, aside from the birds, which were on the eighth level, were the highest level.
They reached the living level. Shem led everyone into the dining room. They all automatically assumed their places at the table, with Japheth taking Noah’s place.
Japheth cleared his throat. “Ahem. All right. So, we need to break Father out of prison. We don’t have time for combat, so our best bet is stealth. They’re keeping Father in the county prison. Right now, he’s one of five prisoners. Each is in their own cell. I was allowed to visit Father. I scoped out the prison. There’s about eight guards, each armed with a rifle and a knife, as well as other weapons hidden on their bodies.”
“How do we break out Father?” Ham asked.
Japheth looked around. “Well, I’m not sure. There are three guards guarding Father, but they were particularly interested in their poker game when I was there. I’m sure they are really not very good guards. I was thinking that Radmah could set off a small explosion in the unused part of the prison. And then we could sneak in and get Father out, since all the guards would be running to where the explosion was. And then we could drive back on our motorbikes.”
Radmah nodded. Shem thought this plan sounded good. “But who will guard the ark while we are gone?” asked Ham.
“I believe we can help with that,” a new voice broke in. They all turned towards the door.
In the doorway stood and two old men and an old woman. “Methuselah, Lamech, Aayla,” Leah began.
“Grandfather? Grandmother?” Shem asked. His grandmother, grandfather, and great-grandfather had just appeared.
“Good to see you, Shem,” Aayla said.
“But, why are you here? You can’t ride the ark.”
Methuselah smiled. “We know.”
Lamech continued. “We came to wish you goodbye. And to give you this.”
He held out a parcel. Leah accepted it.
“What is it?”
“Words of wisdom from Noah’s ancestors,” Aayla said.
“You see, we’ve all known this was coming. Our God Elohim had divulged the secret of the flood to Adam and Eve long ago. He instructed them both to write letters to Noah. They, in accordance with Elohim’s word, passed this secret down to Seth, who passed it to Enosh, who passed it to…”
“Grandpa, we’re kind of on a time limit,” Japheth interrupted.
Methuselah nodded. “Well, the point is, each of Noah’s forefathers, plus Eve and Aayla, have written letters. They are in this parcel. They contain advice for Noah in restructuring the world.”
“Thank you, so much,” Leah was nearly in tears.
“And it seems Elohim has sent us at just the right time,” Lamech pulled a rifle from his shoulder scabbard.
Methuselah nodded and pulled two handguns from his belt. Aayla reached into her purse and pulled out a small rod. She pressed a button and it expanded into a full blown snipe rifle.
“We had a feeling you’d need help with defense,” Aayla said.
“We also each have swords, in case we run out of ammo,” added Methuselah.
Japheth turned to Shem and Ham. “Our grandparents are awesome.”
Shem smiled. “I know.”
Ham nodded. “I’ll go to the appliance store and get a small bomb,” he said.
Ham went to leave. Methuselah stopped him.
“What you must do, do quickly,” Methuselah breathed out a sigh.
Ham looked confused.
“Yeah, get along,” Monu demanded.
Ham left quickly. Within fifteen minutes he had returned, bag in hand.
“I need to take it out of safety mode,” he said.
“There are some leftover tools in the closet down the hall. Father will destroy them after the flood. They are for emergency repairs,” Japheth replied.
Ham exited the room and within five minutes returned with the bomb. It’s set to a two minute timer. When you press the red button you have two minutes to get out of the blast radius.”
“Which is?” Radmah prompted.
“A radius of about 33 cubits all around.”
Another thunderclap sounded. No one flinched this time.
Lamech checked his watch. “How much time before the flood comes?”
“Well, Elohim said two hours about thirty minutes ago,” Japheth said.
“You’d better get going, then,” Aayla said softly.
Shem let out a deep breath. “Let me talk, in private, to my wife,” he said.
Everyone nodded and left the room. Only Monu remained.
“You’re wasting time, you big goofball,” Monu said with a smile.
Shem moved closer. “I’m so sorry…” he began.
“Sorry? Sorry for what?” Monu asked.
“I’m going to miss our baby. I’m going to miss his birth.”
Monu laughed. “Oh, relax, Shem. I’ll be fine without you. Remember what I first told you when we were betrothed?”
Shem smiled. “I can fend for myself. Don’t even think about coming near me until we’re married.”
Monu smirked. “I can fend for myself. But your father needs you more than I do, right now.”
Monu squeezed his hand. “Now go.”
Shem sighed and pulled her into a hug.
“Ow!” Monu exclaimed. She began hyperventilating.
Shem pulled back, startled. “What? What is it?”
“The baby…” Monu sucked in a deep breath and tried her best to compose herself. “He’s coming!”
Shem reared into action. “Leah! Milcah!” he yelled. He heard the patter of quick footsteps. They burst into the room.
“Baby’s coming?” Leah asked.
“Yeah…” Monu panted. “Can you just get me to my bed? I think… once I lie down… this will be easier,” she turned to Shem. “What are you standing around gaping for? Go! Shoo! I’ll be fine!”
Shem clamped his mouth shut. “Just go, Shem,” Leah said.
Shem nodded and quickly climbed down the stairs to outside the ark. Radmah, Ham, and Japheth were waiting for him, all on air motorbikes. There was one bike waiting for him. Radmah had the bag with the bomb tied to the back of her bike.
Methuselah was about seven cubits away, handguns in hand. Lamech was a little further back. Shem had to look around for Aayla. She was perched on the top deck of the ark, snipe gun set on the railing.
“Let’s go, Shem,” Japheth said.
Shem climbed on his bike and turned it on. The engine whirred and he lifted off of the ground. Japheth took off, Radmah zooming behind. Shem and Ham followed. Eventually, they pulled to the point where they were all in a row.
“What’s the rest of the plan?” Shem yelled over the wind and rain.
“I really wish we had sunglasses to block the rain from our eyes,” Ham yelled.
“What rest?” Japheth yelled. “Even if all three of the guards stay, we can overpower them. They’re all fat and lazy.”
“Okay!” Shem yelled.
They passed through the town. Local neighborhoods were in uproar. The rain and thunder had struck fear in the hearts of those who knew none of it. Riots were happening everywhere. Mass violence, worse than usual, was in the streets.
“They know something is wrong,” Radmah observed. “Wonder how long it will take them to connect it to us?”
“Long enough,” Japheth said. “We have to keep praying for protection.”
“You’re right,” Radmah replied.
Another fifteen minutes, and they were at the prison. They parked in a grove of trees near the prison. They climbed off and stealthily stole up to the trees at the edge. “Father’s in the cell block on the right. The unused wing is on the left,” Japheth said.
“How do we get in?” Ham asked.
Japheth straightened. “I’ve got an idea.”
Japheth led them around to the front door. Radmah carried the bag with her. Japheth held the door for everyone, and they entered.
“Yes, may I help you?” a dull guard asked. He apparently was not frazzled by the rain and thundering noise.
“We’re, uh… here to see my father,” Japheth said.
“Name of your father?”
“Noah, son of Lamech,” Japheth replied.
The guard looked at his clipboard. “Aha, there he is. Just incarcerated today, looks like. Resisting arrest. Hm… doesn’t seem like a big crime. I’ll let you see him.”
“Thank you,” they replied.
“Right this way,” the guard said.
He led them through a glass door. Japheth looked at Radmah. “Ahem,” Radmah began. “Do you have a ladies’ room?”
The guard stopped. “Down in the right wing. There are no prisoners there, so I don’t need to send a guard. Just go right away and don’t get lost.”
Radmah nodded. “Thank you.”
She hurried down the hall.
“So, seems like a big prison,” Shem said casually. He wondered how Monu and the baby were doing.
“Yep. One hundred thirty cubits long and one hundred thirty two cubits wide.”
Shem silently did the math in his head. If Radmah placed it in just the right spot, the bomb would take out about one half of the prison.
Japheth tapped on Shem’s shoulder. He pointed at the guard. He drew a finger across his neck.
Shem nodded and pulled out his Taser. Silently, he walked up to the guard. He took a deep breath. Killing was something he was not good at. Something he didn’t want to be good at. But this was necessity.
Shem pressed the button and pressed the electrified end against the guard’s chest, right by his heart. The guard lit up for a second, and then collapsed to the floor. Shem felt the guard’s pulse. Dead.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
“Shem, let’s go!” Ham exclaimed. Ham dragged the body over under a desk. “Let’s get to Father’s area,” he said.
Japheth led them to the cell block. Noah was in there, looking sullen. Japheth backed himself against the wall on one side of the door. Ham and Shem got on the other side. Shem braced himself for the explosion. He could hear Radmah running down to the hall. She found them and leapt into Japheth’s arms.
The bomb exploded with a shaking boom. The whole prison shook. Dust rained down on them. Radmah and Japheth clutched each other as pieces of the ceiling fell. The three guards dashed out of the room, not even bothering to look behind them.
Shem slid carefully into the room, looking for other guards. None were there.
“Father,” Shem said.
Noah looked up. “Shem!”
Japheth, Radmah, and Ham entered. “Father, we don’t have time. The flood is going to happen in an hour. It’s already started raining! Where are the keys?” Japheth spoke quickly.
“On the hook over there,” Noah pointed. Radmah grabbed them and unlocked the door. Noah ran out. They all began running for the exit as an alarm sounded.
They passed the guards, returning. “Hey!” one yelled. The popping noises of gunshots sounded, but the guards apparently had terrible aim, too.
They pushed their way out of the prison and around back to the bikes. Japheth and Radmah dove for one, Ham boarded another, Shem got another one, and Noah climbed on the last one.
“Let’s go!” Noah yelled. They all started up their bikes. The bikes lifted off of the ground. More sirens sounded.
And they sped. Shem was nearly blinded by the rain blowing in his eyes. Shem looked back once. They were being followed by five guards. More gunshots sounded. One whizzed near Radmah’s head.
“Return fire!” Noah yelled. Radmah pulled a gun out of her husband’s bag and began firing. She took out one guard right away.
“Tree!” Ham yelled to Noah. Noah whizzed around it. They kept going, as fast as their bikes would go.
A gunshot landed on Ham’s bike. It began to whir and crash. “Jump!” Shem yelled.
Ham looked down at his bike. Quickly, he dove from his bike to Shem’s bike. Ham’s bike hit the ground and exploded, nearly taking out Shem’s bike.
“Faster!” Radmah yelled.
“I can’t go any faster!” Japheth screamed back.
The earth began to shake. “They’ve almost caught up!” Noah yelled.
A crack opened in the earth in front of them. It widened, until it was about seven cubits wide. The earth buckled. Part of the earth formed a ramp. “It’s Elohim!” He wants us to ride the ramp!” Shem yelled.
“Are you sure?” Noah yelled. “We could try to go around it!”
“No!” Shem yelled. He revved the handle and sped ahead. “Shem! What are you doing?” Ham yelled.
“Trust me!” Shem yelled. The crack moved closer and closer. Shem closed his eyes and revved the handle all the way. The bike launched into the air. Ham screamed. Shem opened his eyes as they flew over the crack. He looked down into it. He saw water. Rising fast.
They landed on the other side. Shem turned his bike around. “Come on! Before the water comes up!”
Radmah and Japheth followed quickly. Noah was a little more hesitant, but he made it, just before the guards overcame him.
“Come on!” Japheth yelled.
Water burst from the crack, like a gigantic fountain. “Let’s go!” screamed Radmah.
They drove away from the water burst. “We don’t have much time!” Noah yelled.
Shem’s thought wandered to Monu. He hoped she was faring well, in labor. He wondered if there were many people attacking the ark. He would find out soon.
They drove onto the large field the ark was on.
“Oh, no!” exclaimed Japheth. Hundreds of people were pushing their way towards the ark.
Cries of “Let me in!” or “Take my baby!” were heard even from that far away. A gang had brought guns.
“Let us in or we shoot!” they yelled.
Aayla was firing snipes into the crowd. One of the gang members looked up and aimed his gun.
“Grandma!” Shem yelled. The man fired. Aayla fell. The crowd pushed closer.
Shem and the others rode their bikes through the crowd, clearing a path or running over people. They stopped next to Methuselah, who was kneeling next to Lamech. They all got off of their bikes and ran to Lamech.
Methuselah looked up, tears in his eyes. “They got him just before you came,”
“Grandfather…” Japheth trailed off.
Methuselah looked behind them. His eyes widened. “Ham!” he yelled. He shoved Ham backwards as a bullet fired. The bullet hit Methuselah.
“No!” Radmah cried. Noah grabbed Shem’s hand. “Let’s get inside. Now!”
Shem nodded and ran for the ark. The crowd was about to follow when another shot came from above. Shem looked up. It was Monu! And Milcah! They had taken over Aayla’s sniper position.
Monu looked exhausted, but happy. “Get in!” she yelled as Milcah loaded another. Monu fired at the gang.
Everyone rushed into the ark. Just as Radmah, the last, entered, the door slammed shut behind them. Noah grabbed some pitch from a nearby bucket and quickly painted over the cracks, sealing it.
They could hear fists banging on the door, still. They all ran up to the top where Monu and Milcah were.
The crowds now looked desperate. Monu and Milcah fired relentlessly, but the crowds kept pushing. Ham took over for them. He knew how to fire it properly, so he could do it himself, as Aayla had.
“There’s too many!” Ham cried. “We can’t hold them all back!”
Just then, thunder clapped again. The earth shook, hard. Multiple cracks opened in the earth. Water shot out like geysers.
“The flood! It’s here!” Noah yelled. They quickly threw Aayla’s body overboard, and climbed inside. Noah was last, and he sealed the trapdoor with pitch.
They heard the sounds of screams outside. Water rushed against the boat. Shem held his breath for the moment of truth. Would this colossal thing float?
The birds were uneasy. Actually, Shem could hear the screams of all sorts of animals. Including a baby.
“My son!” Shem exclaimed. At that moment, the water rushed under the boat and lifted it off. Everyone lost their footing for a moment, but they all regained quickly. The ark rocked back and forth.
“I have to see him!” Shem yelled.
Monu nodded. She led him down the set of stairs. Shem noticed how sweaty and exhausted she really was. “After this, you should go get some sleep,” Shem said.
Monu yawned. “For once, I will not argue with you. Childbearing is exhausting. You should try it sometime.”
Shem laughed. Monu opened the door to their room.
Leah sat in the corner, on a chair. She was humming softly and rocking a little tiny baby boy.
“What is his name?” Monu asked.
“I get to decide? I thought you chose something.”
Monu shook her head. “That was my special ‘Happy becoming a father gift.’ You decide.”
Shem combed through a long list of names in his mind. He could call him Lamech, or Methuselah. But those didn’t sound right. Shem? Too self-serving. Then, the perfect name popped into his head.
“Elam. For the highlands have been overcome with water. But he floats higher than the highlands.”
Monu nodded. Leah smiled. She handed Elam to Shem.
“Good morning, Elam,” Shem said. The baby smiled in his sleep. Shem laughed. “You have your mother’s smile.”
Monu was too tired to even laugh or say anything else. In fact, she immediately collapsed on the bed and was snoring in seconds. Shem laughed again and put Elam over his shoulder. “Let me show you around,” he said. “You know, Mama designed all of this.”
5 months later…
“Look at that, Elam!” Shem exclaimed. He held his son up to see the array of color in the sky.
“Isn’t it pretty?” Monu said.
Shem nodded. The floodwaters had receded. Everything seemed cleaner. Radmah was now pregnant with Japheth’s first child. And now, Elohim had placed an array of color in the sky. “It is his bow,” explained Noah.
“And it came from rain,” Radmah mused. “A rainbow.”
Noah nodded. “It came to me while I was sacrificing those doves. The rainbow is a promise that Elohim will never again destroy the entire earth with a flood. It will rain again, but it will never be a flood of this proportion.
Leah smiled. “Let us celebrate! I have some grape seeds; let’s plant a vineyard!”
Everyone cheered. Shem lifted Elam high into the sky. “Look, son! It is the new earth! Your home!”
And no one noticed as the corner of a paper thin laptop slipped out from under Ham’s robe.
Part 6: "Ark"
“I swear I’m going to throttle him,” Monu muttered under her breath as she entered the living room of the ark.
“Really? What is it now?” Radmah handed baby Elam back to her. Monu graciously accepted her son from her sister-in-law.
“What do you mean, ‘what is it now?’ Why do you act like you’ve heard this before?”
“Because I have,” Radmah pointed out.
“What do you mean?” Monu demanded.
“Well, yesterday you were mad at Shem because he couldn’t be aroused to calm Elam when it was his turn.”
“And the day before you were mad at Japheth for accidentally dropping a sack of feed right in front of you. And then the day before...”
“I get it!” Monu snapped.
“Well, sister, I’m just telling you. You’ve been a little... on edge lately.”
“Well... I just... I... well... nobody asked you!”
“Gah!” Monu marched out of the living room and stormed to the aviary, Elam in her arms.
Elam fussed a little bit at the sight of the birds. The ten month old was a little scared of birds. Why was beyond Monu.
Monu climbed up a ladder to the only open window in the entire ark. A while ago, Noah had released a raven, then a dove, then another dove. None had come back yet.
Monu liked to go up to the sill and think. The sill was large enough to sit on.
Monu looked out over the waters, to the sunset. She rocked Elam back and forth, and he stopped fussing.
“What is the problem, Elam?” Monu pondered. She shouldn’t have been so harsh to Radmah. Radmah was about the last person that would ever make anyone angry on purpose.
“Maybe I am losing my mind,” Monu mumbled.
“Or perhaps it is something else.”
Monu yelped and jerked around, tossing Elam out the window. Monu screamed again, but Elam disappeared in a poof of smoke. Another poof, and he and a child of six appeared next to her on the sill. Monu gasped and smiled and cried at the same time. “Elohim! Thank you!”
Elohim smiled at the baby in his arms. Monu pondered the visit from Elohim. He was not really a child. He was infinite, older than everything, the creator of everything. He chose the form of a child to appear to Noah and his family. Usually his visits were to give advice in a hard time.
“Monu, it was my pleasure,” he rocked Elam and the baby laughed. Monu considered taking Elam back, but he seemed to enjoy Elohim’s arms so she made no move to take him.
Monu became serious. “Elohim, why are you here?”
Elohim looked up from the baby, “Monu, do you realize that you and your family are what’s left of humanity? I want you to all be the best you can be. I guide you always, sometimes visible, sometimes invisible.”
“And I’m going to guess that I am in need of guidance?”
Elohim laughed. “Dear Monu, you make me laugh.”
“Well, guide me then!”
Elohim smiled. “How few people would be willing to say that in the world you came from!”
“Elohim, please get to the point. I beg of you.”
“What has been bothering you?”
Monu sighed. “Well, you have to admit that these are not most comfortable living conditions, compared to where we came from. I would kill for air conditioning right now.”
Elohim nodded. “Keep going,”
“And I’m really tired of all these animals. And the stench!”
Elohim nodded again, “You’re not getting to what really bothers you.”
Monu sighed and put her head in her hands. “It’s so hard, being a new mother. It’s annoying that the only one that has time to help me is Radmah. I don’t know what to do!”
Elohim nodded. “Leah could help you. But, do you remember the letters Aayla delivered to Noah?”
“Well, one of those letters has a paragraph for you.”
“They knew I was going to be here?”
“They knew the world was going to be destroyed, and repopulated by several mothers who would have little to no guidance. So, the first mother wrote instructions for you all.”
“Mother Eve?” Monu asked incredulously.
Elohim nodded. “She had to go at it alone, learning as she went. You, on the other hand, will have a paragraph of advice and a mother-in-law.
Monu nodded. “Let’s go get it!”
Elohim handed back Elam and Monu descended the ladder. When she looked up, Elohim was gone.
Elam had fallen asleep in Elohim’s arms. Monu smiled and rocked him gently. She had a letter to read.
Part 7: "Reception"
Ham loved the sunrise. As he watched from his palace, he could see the sun glint off of the rising tower. As he looked over his terrace, he could see the cell phone factory. His handmaid, one of his great-great-granddaughters, fanned him with a palm leaf.
The tower had been Ham’s lifelong project, after the flood, of course. The past eighty six years of his life had been dedicated to two things: developing the tower and developing the cell phone. Ham’s wife, Milcah, had not known any of this. She was not the brightest. Ham often worked late at night with his smuggled laptop, as Milcah slept. When she finally died during the bearing of their last child, Caanan, Ham had gone into full gear building.
Before the flood, Ham had tracked down how to make cell phones, cell towers, and electricity, as well as TVs, radios, video games, light bulbs, and air motorbikes. He didn’t care what Elohim said. There was no way that he could live without electricity for the rest of his life.
Unfortunately, as Ham had been escaping the police before the flood, the USB with the plans for everything except the cell phone and cell tower had fallen out of his pocket. Luckily, he had already downloaded the cell phone plan onto a laptop, which he had smuggled onto the ark. He had kept it under a loose floorboard.
Ham arose from his throne and turned to his handmaid. “Hanisu, do you think I should have gone further south? Should I have followed the Great River into lower lands?”
Hanisu shook her head. “No, lord, Shinar was an excellent choice. The sevens streams from the Great River form perfect land for farming. The sea is to the north, which provides fish. To the south, I believe there is only desert.”
Ham nodded. Hanisu was a wise one. She and her husband were the only red-haired people in the whole city. Both possessed green eyes and particularly pale skin. “How is your husband, Hanisu?”
Hanisu looked uncomfortable at being asked so many questions. “Celt is fine. He is excited for the tower’s completion… as we all are.”
Ham nodded again. He was bored with small talk.
“Hanisu, it is quite warm. Fetch some water for a bath, will you?”
Hanisu nodded and backed away. Ham stared out at the tower. It was completed yesterday. Today was the large ceremony, where everyone would finally be able to use cell phones. Ham would turn on the tower and then everyone would rejoice at a feast of great proportions.
Hanisu reentered. She bowed low. “I have filled your tub with water.”
Ham nodded. He walked to his bathing chamber, with Hanisu following. Once entering, Hanisu helped Ham undress himself. Ham lowered himself into the tub and let the cool water soothe him. Hanisu began pouring scented oil on his head.
A rapid knock at the door sounded. Hanisu looked at Ham. “Should I open it, lord?”
Ham nodded. Hanisu opened the door and a sweaty man came rushing in.
“Nimrod, the mighty hunter,” Ham said.
Nimrod bowed. “Sire, I was out hunting, when I came across an old woman. She said her name was Monu, and she came seeking an audience with Ham the son of Noah.”
Ham stood up and nodded at Hanisu to start drying him off. She grabbed a towel and began drying him off. “Monu has come to see the tower, eh?”
Nimrod nodded. “Should I send her away, lord?”
Ham let Hanisu finish drying him and then slipped into his robes. “No, send her to the royal throne room. Tell her I will be there in a moment.”
Nimrod nodded, bowed, and exited. Ham turned to Hanisu as he slid his crown back on his head.
“Hanisu, get your husband. He is a royal guard, is he not?”
Hanisu nodded. Ham breathed out a sigh. “I need protection. I doubt Monu would try to harm me, but I still need it. And I trust only you and your husband.”
Hanisu nodded again. “I will get Celt.”
She left quickly. Ham exited the bathing room slowly. “What could Monu possibly want?” he mumbled. It had been eighty four years since he had seen her last. She and her husband, Shem had come to visit, to see how Ham was doing. Ham had marked a trail for them to follow, should the family want to visit. But then Noah had cursed Ham and cast him out of the family. Monu must have remembered the trail and followed it.
As he descended the stairs to his throne room, Hanisu and Celt joined him.
When Ham entered the throne room, Nimrod stood at the right of the throne. Celt took a place at the left, while Hanisu kneeled in front as Ham sat down. The great doors opened, and a bent old woman entered.
Monu had aged considerably. She had a large hump on her back and needed to lean on a stick to walk. She seemed not to have grown an inch since the day she had left eighty four years ago. Her ochre skin had few wrinkles, but just enough to show she was very old. Her hazel eyes still shone clearly, but her dark hair had faded to a dark gray. It fell down her back in waves, but her wavy hair had also straightened a little bit, so the waves had less bounce.
Ham arose from the throne. “Monu,” he stepped down and embraced her. “It is good to see you. How are you?”
Monu pulled away from his embrace. “Ham, what have you done?”
Ham wrapped his arm around her and began leading her around the room. Though he was at age one hundred and six, he was still very active and mobile. “I have created a glorious new city. Shinar is a wonderful place, do you not think? The communication lines will soon be open. We will have a new age of communication? Isn’t it wonderful?”
Monu tried to squirm out, but she was too weak. “No! It is not wonderful. You have directly disobeyed the command of Elohim!”
Ham laughed. “I have disobeyed the command of a child who destroyed the world in a flood. All that was good was destroyed with the bad. The flood was unfair. So unfair.”
Monu scowled. “Unfair? Even if it was, I will still obey the command of Elohim!”
Ham scowled back. “He let innocent children and babies drown. He destroyed the technological advances of over a thousand years! He destroyed my friends, your friends, your family, my non-immediate family! Why should we listen to him?”
Monu managed to wrench out from his grasp.
“Because he saved us! He could have destroyed the entire world! Everything! I know I wasn’t perfect. Shem wasn’t perfect. You aren’t perfect, but he saved us! And this is how you repay him? By directly disobeying him and piercing the sky with a metal tower? I urge you, destroy the tower! Destroy the cell phones! Repent while you have the time!”
Ham’s face hardened. “Go back to Shem.”
Monu’s face drooped. “Shem is dead,” she said sadly.
“Then go back to your children!”
Monu frowned even deeper. “Let it be known to Elohim that I tried to stop you,” she turned her face upward. “Oh, Elohim! You have seen the efforts of a helpless old woman! I am sorry. I have failed you.”
“No, Monu. You have not,” a new voice said. Everyone turned around towards the entrance. There stood Elohim, in the form of the child he had appeared as before the flood.
“Elohim!” Monu cried. She dropped to her knees.
Elohim grinned. “Arise, Monu.”
Monu stood up with a strength she had not displayed earlier.
“Elohim! How I have missed you!”
Elohim continued smiling. “I know. But, the truth is, I have never left your side. I have been with you every day of your life. And, you have offered your best to me. You knew that Ham would never believe you, but you tried anyways. I commend you for that, and I shall grant you your hearts’ desire. I know what it is, but speak it aloud.”
Monu’s lip quivered. “Every day, since Shem died, I have wished nothing more than to be with him. Is it possible you could bring him back to me?”
Elohim smiled again. “I cannot bring him back to you, but I can send you to him.”
“Does that mean I would…”
“Die? Yes. But it would be painless, and you would be with your beloved, and Noah and Leah and Japheth and Radmah and Milcah. Do you still want to?”
Monu looked afraid a moment, and then gave a confident smile. “Yes.”
Elohim smiled yet again. He walked to Monu and touched her forehead. “Be free,” he said.
Monu’s eyes widened. “Look! I can see them! My beloved Shem, holding his arms open for me! And Radmah and Japheth hand in hand. Milcah, painting alongside a stream. Noah and Leah, resting in the shade of an oak tree! Oh praise be forever to Elohim!”
With that, Monu froze. Her body began to crumble to dust, until it was no more. A strong gust of wind came and blew away the dust. Elohim smiled. “For dust to dust,” he said. “But the soul lives forever.”
“You killed my sister-in-law!” Ham screamed.
Elohim turned to Ham and scowled. “Capture him!” Ham screamed to Celt and Nimrod. The two men moved to attack him, but Elohim held up a hand. He whispered something inaudible. Celt and Nimrod stopped. Each began speaking in strange noises. Both spoke different tongues. Celt turned to Hanisu and said something. Hanisu replied in the same tongue. They both smiled with relief and rushed into each other’s arms. They disappeared in a puff of smoke. Nimrod disappeared in his own puff of smoke as well.
“What have you done?” Ham yelled. “You cruel, heartless coward!”
Elohim scowled deeper and deeper. “What have I done? I have saved you from the flood. I have allowed you to live so long. I have even allowed your tower to grow against my law. I gave you time and time again to repent! But you have not! You have continued in your selfish ways! Now, look upon your beautiful Shinar!”
Elohim snapped his fingers and they were both on the terrace. In the streets, people ran in confusion, speaking different languages. One by one, each family disappeared in a puff of smoke.
“Has the sacrifice of Methuselah meant nothing to you? He knew! He knew what you had in mind because I told him! But even after his sacrificial act, you still went on with your plan.”
Ham got angry. “Methuselah was a good old man. He knew he would die that day in the flood, so he committed a selfless act to save me. That we can agree upon!”
Elohim stalked towards Ham. As he spoke, his voice got deeper and more bellowing. “Do you know the reason I did not allow Aayla, Methuselah, or Lamech to ride the ark?”
Ham got angrier. “What are you saying?”
“The reason they were not on the ark was because their fates were to SACRIFICE themselves to save you and your family! I could have allowed them to enter, but I did not because I knew that you needed protectors!”
This made Ham so angry his face began to turn red. “You mean… you could have sent them on the ark? You could have protected us yourself, you coward!”
Elohim yelled, “I worked THROUGH them!” Then, he disappeared, but his voice remained.
“AND NOW YOU HAVE DISOBEYED ME!!!” Ham had one thought, the tower. Maybe he could still get reception. Even if it was his last defiant act. He pulled out his cell phone and began to run down his palace.
As he entered the street, the whole city began to shake. More and more people disappeared in puffs of smoke. Ham ran for the tower as fast as he could. With a horrible realization, he noticed that the city itself was beginning to sink into the marsh.
“HAM, SON OF NOAH! YOU HAVE DISOBEYED A DIRECT COMMANDMENT FROM ELOHIM! FOR THAT, I SENTENCE YOU TO A TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT!”
Ham made it to the tower. He began to climb the ladder to the top, where the big “On” switch was. Elohim’s voice boomed over the city as the last people disappeared in smoke.
“BECAUSE OF YOUR DISOBEDIENCE, YOU SHALL NOW BE SEALED UNDER THE EARTH!”
Ham was at the top. He pulled the switch. The tower would take a few seconds to load.
“YOU SHALL BE SEALED UNDER THE EARTH, DEAD, BUT WITH YOUR SOUL TETHERED TO YOUR BODY! YOUR SOUL WILL NEVER LEAVE THE EARTH UNTIL ITS DESTRUCTION, AND THEN YOU SHALL BE CAST INTO THE BURNING LAKE!”
Ham pressed the power button on his phone. He looked at the top, where the signal strength was.
“Yes! Five bars!”
The phone burst into flame. “NOOO!!!!” Ham screamed.
With that, the city sunk into the ground, never to be seen again.