Lily was the first one moving about that wet morning. She walked around their lean-to and gathered the sticky residue from the balsam fir trees. When she returned to the campsite, she prepared a small breakfast from the vegetables that the villagers had given them.
After everyone had eaten, she handed them each a lump of the sticky substance.
“What’s this, and what do we do with it?” asked Joel.
“It’s spruce gum,” said Marc smiling at Lily. “How’d you learn about spruce gum?”
“You, Marc Labonté, may know more than me when it comes to most plants,” Lily popped her chunk of gum into her mouth, “but I was brought up in a tree. And trees are my strong point.”
“So, do I just swallow it like a candy?” asked Joel.
“No, you chew it like gum. It’s not going to kill you, even if it were poison,” giggled Marc.
Joel looked at Petal and Meribah, who were already chewing their lumps. He reluctantly put it in his mouth, “Hey, this is pretty good. Can we market this stuff?”
“I don’t think so,” Lily laughed, “it’s on every balsam fir there is in heaven.”
“You never know,” Marc interrupted, “I used to buy it in stores. And we had lots of trees.”
The morning hours went by as quickly as the wind pushed away the dark clouds, and pushed at their backs making progress easy. The scenery, a mixture of lakes, rivers, ponds, trees, and small mountains, kept their humour up.
Marc and Joel headed the way, with Meribah and Lily, carrying Petal, following behind.
“So how long do you think we’ll be going from encounter to encounter?” Joel asked Marc.
“How many days has it been so far?” Marc asked himself. “Hey Lily, how many days have we been travelling?” Marc waited a few seconds for an answer, but none came. “Lily, Petal, Meribah! Where are you?”
They started walking back the way they had come, looking in the trees for some sign of their companions.
“Excuse me gentlemen.” They turned again to see Mirash, the angel who had talked to them during the Sorom council at the beginning of their journey. “Your friends and family are fine. I need to talk with you.”
“Why take them away? They know everything that we do,” said Joel.
“You are the original two. You are the ones that I need to talk with. They would only make the conversation that more complex.” Mirash waved his arm, and three cloud chairs appeared.
“I had forgotten about the clouds.” Joel sat down stiffly.
“Yes, I guess you would.” Mirash motioned and Marc sat down as well. “Living in the savage parts of heaven, anyone might forget what civilized heaven was like. Anyone might turn savage only to survive.”
“Are you insinuating that we are savages?” Marc met Mirash’s stare and kept it.
“I wouldn’t do any such thing. But you make your own judgment.” Mirash broke the stare and turned to Joel. “We’ve two angels, both of whom have revoked their wings. One whose gown in covered with grass stains, dirt, and sweat. The other, I find hard to look at, wearing the hide of animals and carrying a device used to kill fish.”
“You and your friends are the ones who expelled us.” Joel stood, kicked his cloud chair away, and sat on the ground. “If we’ve turned into barbarians, you’ve no one to blame but yourselves.”
“On the contrary, we sent two Dorom, very intelligent and decent ones, on a quest that no one could ever complete. Yes you see, you are only pawns. First we used you, when that silly Peter came to us about Satan, we took two of our brightest Dorom. Gave you up to him. Then when you returned, he had awakened something dangerous in you, the human need to learn. We didn’t want you going around Paradise spreading this disease to all of the other Dorom. So we gave you an impossible mission. We had hoped that you would both find a place where you would desire to stay.”
“Only we didn’t. And you’re starting to worry,” said Marc.
“I wouldn’t say worry.” Mirash crossed his legs. “We would just like you stop interfering in the societies that you meet. You go around changing everything you see. You’re not Midas. Why can’t you just be happy? Build a community of leather wearing, fish killing angels.”
“You’re not telling us everything.” Marc crossed his legs to match Mirash’s. “You don’t care about anything beyond Paradise, so you wouldn’t care about the Dorom we’ve changed. We’ve gotten farther than you intended, and you don’t know how far we can get. Are you going to talk straight? If not, we just won’t listen to you.”
“Alright, I’m sure you’ve both read parts of the bible, if not all of it. You’ve seen religious movies. Do you have any idea what significance the number forty has? Christ’s temptation lasted forty days, Moses prayed for forty days, Elijah fasted for forty days, and the flood lasted forty days. I won’t even get into what lasted forty years. This is the thirty-seventh day of your quest. We thought that you wouldn’t even get passed twelve, but here you are.” Mirash uncrossed his legs, and started to drum his fingers on his right leg. “We’ve calculated a sixty-three percent chance that you will, at the end of forty days, meet the Creator. This meeting may bring about the end of the Seventh Day. And that would bring about change for the Sorom, but also the Soron, and the Dorom. Think about your brothers and sisters living on earth. Do you want them to be cheated of their chance at living?”
“We’ve talked about that before,” Joel said. “And we’ve decided that God won’t be persuaded by five angels. If he intends to end the Seventh Day, he will do so. We are going to finish.”
“Oh, how noble,” chided Mirash. “Listen friends, we are brothers. What effects one will effect the other. I may have been rude earlier, but it came from a frightened soul.” He nodded and he and the chairs disappeared. Marc was caught off balance and landed on his bottom. “Remember, what you do; Do you do it for yourself or for your people?”
“We’ve been waiting for hours,” Meribah said to Marc and Joel. They turned to see her, Lily, and Petal. “That’s twice you’ve disappeared behind a wall, and have been gone for a long time.”
“What happened?” asked Petal.
“A Sorom, Mirash, was trying to talk us into ending the quest. And, I believe, that a lot of angels are backing him up.” Joel crossed his arms and shook his head in frustration.
“Why would they want to stop us? They sent you looking for Him.” Lily picked Petal up and put her back in the tote.
“They didn’t think we would come this far. And they are afraid of change. And they’re afraid of the Eighth Day,” said Joel.
They walked quietly thinking until, at dusk, the road came by a medium sized lake. There was a fair sized log cabin with lights in the windows. Closer to the lake, there was a smaller log cabin. The smaller cabin’s chimney was smoking, and the smell promised warmth and comfort to the travellers.
“Strange that someone would heat such a small cabin on a night like this,” said Lily.
“My dear, I believe that that smaller cabin is a sauna. It’s a room where you throw water on hot rocks, and allow the steam to warm your bones. Finns believe that saunas cure all illnesses,” Marc explained. “After you’ve stayed in the sauna for a time and you can’t take the heat any longer, you jump in the lake.”
“It sounds deliciously like our hot baths in Utopia,” Lily shouted. “Do you think the owner will let us take a sauna?”
“Let’s ask!” said Meribah marching over to the door of the larger log cabin. “Uhm. I think you guys should come here.”
“What? Are you scared?” asked Joel.
“No, not at all,” Meribah assured Joel. “But there’s a letter on the door, and its addressed to you.”
“Well read it,” prompted Petal.
Dear Joel and Marc,
For your time and trouble on the quest, I reward you with this gift. This house and property are now yours. Please take good care of it, as it is a special place of mine.
Forget about the quest that those silly Sorom sent you on, it’s time that you were permitted to relax.
“What do you make of it?” Meribah asked holding it closer to the window to see it.
“Well, let’s go inside our house and think about it,” suggested Marc.
They entered into a well kept and decorated den. Comfortable chairs beckoned to be sat in, and a hardwood floor was covered with throw rugs in strategic areas to allow one to sit close to the stone fireplace. A large coffee table, with room for the whole family to sit around, was prepared for the evening beverage: two coffee, two wild berry tea, and one hot chocolate.
“This is eerie.” Meribah went into the kitchen. “Even the kitchen looks like I would want it to look. Does everyone else feel the same way?” They all nodded and mumbled under their breaths. She went to one bedroom, then the other. “Even the bedrooms are perfect. This is our house!” she shouted.
“Let me see the letter.” Meribah gave the letter to Joel. “Friend, with a capital ‘f’. Could be God.”
“Well, lets not look a gift horse in the mouth.” Marc took Petal from her mother. “How would you like to take a sauna?” Petal shouted happily. “Are you coming? We can figure things out in the morning, after a sauna and a good night’s sleep.”