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Cry of the Wounded Soldier

An eNovel by Frank Allnutt:

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Chapter 8

In the Heavenly Realm

The Pastor turned in his sleep. Something was different about the sofa. Consciousness suddenly erupted in his mind and he sat bolt upright. But he was not in his study. He stared wide-eyed at the nacreous cloud that surrounded him. It was in a peaceful, ethereal world of luminous, iridescent whiteness.

It seemed so real, yet so unreal. He was sitting in a cloud! He tried to make sense out of it, but thinking such a mind-boggling thought only made his throbbing head throb all the more. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face to massage away his fatigue and troublesome thoughts.

He opened his eyes and surveyed this peculiar new world. He had driven through clouds in the mountains and had flown among them in airplanes, but now he was sitting in a cloud. And it was not like other clouds. It had a thin, foggy atmosphere on the surface, but just underneath was so dense that it supported his weight and kept him from falling. He reached down and watched his hand disappear into the thick vapor. The cloud gave gentle resistance, until inches further down where there was more firmness—not rigid, but spongy firm.

Clouds! the Pastor thought with contempt. And yet this peaceful cloud was nothing at all like the violent cloud Jonathan had brought upon him.

“Hey, there!”

The Pastor jerked around with a start. There was Jonathan, sitting cross-legged in the cloud.

“How do you feel, Pastor?”

“Humph! Dizzy, of course. A little sick to my stomach. Confused. And—and....”

"You’ll feel better in a minute,” he said, giving a reassuring smile. “It takes a little getting used to.”

"And the confusion? When will that clear up?”

"What are you confused about?”

“What am I confused about? You know what I’m confused about! Where am I? Who are you? And what is happening to me? Have I completely lost touch with reality?”

“Over the years you lost touch in a lot of ways. But now, I pray you’ll get back in touch.”

The Pastor bristled. “You are an impertinent, condescending—”

"Whoa! Hold on, now, Pastor. I only want you to realize that there is a spiritual dimension of reality, and that—”

“Don’t patronize me, young man. You are speaking to a theologian, you know!”

“Please, hear me out. It’s appointed to most mortals to be exposed to only an infinitesimally small sliver of a very broad spectrum of reality.”

“You have a real gift for observing the obvious,” the Pastor said sarcastically.

“Let me finish, will you? There is so much more reality than you can begin to—”

“How much more?”

Jonathan threw up his arms in exasperation. “Please! Quit interrupting me.”

“Well, now, maybe we’re getting somewhere,” said the Pastor. “You’ve come to show me new realities, is that it?”

"I’ve been sent to persuade you to open your eyes and ears, to see what you have been too blind to see and too deaf to hear.”

“Humph! I think you’ll find I have the faculties to recognize reality when I see it.”

"Reality,” said Jonathan, speaking slowly and choosing his words carefully, “is as broad and wide and high and deep as is God Himself. What mortals are privy to and what is beyond them is like comparing a grain of sand to all the beaches of the world. No, a grain of sand is too big. It’s more like a molecule—or, smaller still, an atom. Or, even smaller, a single quark compared to all the quarks in creation! That only covers the material realm. As for non-material reality—”

“I’ve got it! I’ve got it,” said the Pastor dismissively. “Skip the imagery, will you? Just tell me—”

“It’s not so much a question of telling you and showing you, Pastor, God will see to that in His own time and His own way. It’s more a matter of your hearing and seeing what already has been revealed to you.”

The Pastor wondered what his strange visitor must know, must have seen, must have heard, and must have experienced from wherever he came. He had to change his tactics.

“I must confess something, Jonathan,” he said in a reconciliatory tone, “I’ve underestimated you. You’re more intelligent than—than you first appeared to be.”

“You don’t understand, Pastor. I’m not withholding anything from you. It’s all right there for you to see and hear.”

“Humph!”

Jonathan stood up in the cloud and said, “It’s time to be on our way.”

“I can’t move,” the Pastor protested. “My head is spinning. I feel sick.”

“I promise you’ll feel better in a few minutes. Now stand up and let’s get going.”

The Pastor was not used to being ordered around, but he knew that lingering there in the middle of the cloud was not going to answer any of his questions. “Very well,” he agreed. “You have the advantage.”

The Pastor cautiously stood up. He sunk to his knees, but there he was, standing in a cloud.

“That’s it,” said Jonathan, “keep on coming.”

The Pastor hesitated. Sure, the cloud was supporting his weight where he stood, but “Does it have holes?” he asked. “Like thin spots in the ice on a lake?” The thought of falling through the cloud turned his spine into jello.

“It’s nothing like that,” Jonathan assured him.

“How high up are we?”

Jonathan smiled. “It’s not that kind of cloud. There’s nothing to fall to. No up and no down like you’re used to. Now, c’mon, step over here; we’ve got to get moving.” He raised an index finger skyward and, as before, St. Elmo’s Fire appeared to sparkle and emit a glow of blue-white light. The cloud began to churn.

“No! Not again!” cried the Pastor. But his plea was lost in the screaming wind of the swirling cloud.

Continue to Chapter 9 >

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