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Chaordia - A Novel of Transformation Ch. 3

Because of climate change, a man wants to transform an old farm into a new colony



It was a rainy Thursday. School was a drag, and I went through the motions of being a student--going to the different classes, sitting in the back row where I always sat, usually by the window, so I could see the trees and watch the birds scampering on the grass in front. But that day, it was dreary and pouring. I kept looking up at the clock, watching the hand moving slower than ever. I doodled in my notebook, making intricate designs, and occasionally listened to what the teachers were saying, but then tuning it out, returning to my thoughts.

Finally, we were in Tim’s car, an old green Jetta with a dented front fender, looking for Elizabeth’s house. Alice had her cell phone map and gave Tim directions. It was raining hard, and the window wipers were clicking, keeping the glass clear. Tim’s big tuba case was next to me and took up over half of the back seat. I don’t know what possessed Tim to become a tuba player, but he got selected to play in the State Orchestra each year. He was also an excellent drummer and played in a rock and roll band called, “The Cookers.” He’s just about my best friend next to Alice and really smart. I couldn’t wait to find out what he thought about the Atlantis books. He said he had just downloaded the first one, ‘Twins of Atlantis,’ the night before.

."Turn here,” Alice said. "Meadow Lark Drive should be right ahead."

It was hard to see the numbers through the rain, but I could see we were on a street that had big stone mansions. Alice leaned forward, looking at the addresses, then turned around to face me in the back.

"Are you scared?"

"A little. I don’t know what I’m feeling." I leaned forward to see if I could see the address through the blurred windshield.

"It should be on this block," Alice said, straining to see. "Slow down so I can see the numbers."

"I don’t believe you think this woman knows about Atlantis," Tim said. "How could she know about it if it got destroyed over twelve thousand years ago?"

"I don’t know," Alice said. "That’s what we have to find out, but she knew about the Bendula, and she said she had memories that she wants to could forget."

"Bendula?" Tim asked. "What the hell are the Bendula?"

"You’ll find out. You’re just at the beginning of the book."

"This is too weird." Tim shook his head and gripped the steering wheel.

"Stop!" Alice shouted, leaning forward. "That’s it! We’re here!"

Tim pulled over to the curb, and we could see the numbers one-thirty-nine painted on a mailbox in front of a large stone wall. The house was hidden by a lot of trees and was dark except for a light in one room on the second floor.

Alice turned to face me, and I could see her apprehension by the way she closed her eyes and held in a deep breath.

"Now what?" I asked.

"I’m not sure. I guess we should drive up to the house."

"It’s so dark except for that light on the second floor."

"This is your movie," Tim said. "I’m just the driver. I don’t have a clue what we’re doing here, although I think this is nuts…extremely nuts."

Alice took another deep breath, something she always did when she's about to say something important. "Let’s do it. Let’s go. We have to."

I agreed then saw Tim close his eyes, shake his head as if exasperated. "Okay, what should I do?”

“Drive up to the house,” Alice said. “We’re here. We have to find out what she knows.”

We were all quiet. The only sound was the swishing and clicking of the window wipers and the rain drumming on the car roof. We drove up the long, winding driveway and parked in front of the stone house. We sat there for a minute and though it was dark and raining hard, we could see a big brown door and shiny brass knocker.

We dashed through the rain to a small brick landing with the two tall white columns holding up a small roof and stood in front of the huge wooden door. I stood next to Alice with Tim behind me. Just as I reached for the brass knocker, the front door opened, and it was the black man we saw at the library, wearing a white shirt open at the color and black suspenders holding up his jeans and didn’t look like a servant. He had a thin mustache and patch of beard on his chin.

"Come on in, Elizabeth has been expecting you," he said and held the door wider.

"Really," Alice said. She’s been expecting us? I don’t get it."

I was surprised he called her by her first name and wondered what their relationship was.

"She knew you would find her and come. It was just a matter of time," he said, then smiled, revealing a gold front tooth. "She’s upstairs. Follow me."

Fortunately, we weren’t too wet from the rain since we had parked close to the entrance, then dashed up to the front door. He led us to a wide gray carpeted stairway with a shiny banister that curved half way up to another landing. A dimly lit chandelier hung in the center hall, but its light was bright enough to cast our shadows on the stairway wall. Over a large stone fireplace in the center hall was a painting of a lot of men on horses and lots of hunting dogs.

When we reached the top of the stairs, he turned to us. "By the way, I’m Lou, and I know why you're here."

"You do," I said.

"How do you know why we’re here?" Alice asked.

"I’ll let Elizabeth explain," he said, then led us down a long hallway with many paintings on the walls. He smiled at us before knocking on the door. My palms were sweaty, and I swallowed a huge lump in my throat. Alice glanced at me. Though we were both nervous, I knew, by the way, she bit her lower lip, she was as determined as I was to find out what Elizabeth knew.

"This is fucking nuts," Tim muttered behind me.

Lou knocked, then opened the door. "Elizabeth, your guests are here."

When he stepped aside, we saw her sitting in a big maroon chair in front of a fireplace. The flickering flames gave the room an eerie glow. A small table with a lamp was next to her, a book on her lap.

“Good. I’ve been expecting you. Come in and take a seat.” She pointed to a small floral covered couch next to her in front of the fireplace.

I wondered why she seemed glad to see us when before she seemed so reluctant to talk about her memories. When we entered the large room, I noticed a small, dark, wooden desk in one corner with a typewriter. A large brown bureau lined one wall. On the other side of the room, a big bed covered with a white quilt and several large white pillows lay against the dark backboard with two carved posts rising from it. A large oriental carpet with a few worn few spots by the chair covered most of the floor.

Lou stood in the open doorway. "Lou, would you please bring us raspberry tea and the chocolate chipped cookies."

"Be right back," he said, glancing at each of us, then closed the door. His relaxed manner seemed like he was more of a friend than a servant.

The three of us sat close together on the small floral couch. The warmth of the fire felt great after the cold rain.

Alice glanced around the room, then looked at me with her wide green eyes, I knew she also felt this whole scene was strange. She faced Elizabeth and cleared her throat."By the way, I’m Alice, and this is Alex, and that’s Tim."

Elizabeth looked at each of us with her dark piercing eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses, the small hearing aid in her right ear, her black dress similar to the one she had on at the library, except she had a black wool shawl draped over her shoulders. I could see blue veins through the thin, wrinkled skin of her hands as she held the book on her lap.

"What do you mean you were expecting us?" Alice asked after a brief, awkward silence.

"It seems we might have an Atlantis connection," she said.

"Right," I said. "I thought it was weird when I heard you say Bendula the other night, and then you said you had never read these books we read."

"And you said you had memories," Alice added, "but you seemed upset and didn’t want to talk about it."

"Yes, it’s painful to remember." She sighed and looked into the fire.

"I don’t understand," Alice said. "Do you have memories from Atlantis? I mean, how could that be?"

"We read these books by Arnold Greenberg, but they’re fiction. What’s going on?" I asked. "You seemed to know what was in them."

"I just started reading, Twins of Atlantis, " Tim said.

"I’ve never heard of any books by the author you mentioned," Elizabeth said. "However, it’s interesting that they mentioned the Bendula. It’s strange, very strange. And now it seems what happened to Atlantis is happening now." She closed her eyes and looked away.

"Are there really people alive today that were once on Atlantis?" Alice asked.

"It’s hard to explain," Elizabeth answered, "No, the people from Atlantis are not alive today, but there are certain things that never die and stay alive, ancient memories that get jarred loose under certain circumstances. They remain alive. When I was younger, I had several close women friends in England who also had memories, but they have all passed on."

Lou knocked on the door and entered, carrying a silver tray with a large blue ceramic pot, four cups and a plate with several chocolate chipped cookies. He placed the tray on a small table next to Elizabeth and poured tea into each of the cups. He handed her a cup, then lifted the tray and stepped in front of her so that we could pick up our cups. He then placed the tray back on the table. "Help yourself to the cookies," he said, smiling at each of us.

"Thank you," Elizabeth said, smiling up at him. "Lou, I’d like you to meet Alice, Alex, and Tim. I told you that they were curious about Atlantis."

"Cool," he said, nodding at each of us. "You're goin' to hear how strange life is." Before he left, he picked up a cookie from the plate that surprised me, and I was now certain he was not a servant.

She turned back to us. "Lou is a wonderful man and a dear friend. I don’t know what I would do without him," she said. "It’s strange how we met, and it’s connected to Atlantis."

"Really, what do you mean?" I asked.

"Yes, I'm fortunate to have found him several years ago," she said. ."He wasn’t doing well. He was in a homeless shelter when we met."

"Really, did you work in a homeless shelter?" Alice asked.

"No, but my daughter, Emily did. She was a volunteer and asked me if I would buy turkeys for Thanksgiving, and I did, and then I decided to help there that day since I was alone. My husband was away on a business trip to Greece, and, for some reason, I felt like I wanted to be with my daughter and help." She took a sip of her tea.

"This is really good," Alice said, after sipping her tea. "I’ve never had raspberry tea before."

Elizabeth nodded, then narrowed her eyes as if she was trying to see something in our eyes. Why is she looking at us like that? I wondered.

"So you met Lou in a homeless shelter?" Alice asked. ."What was so strange?"

"He had just arrived at the shelter two days earlier and was taken there by the police, who found him shivering in an alley somewhere. He was pretty raggedy looking with torn pants and shoes with holes in the soles. He was a mess, but he was in the kitchen washing the dishes after we ate, and I was nearby slicing up what was left of the turkey so somebody could make soup with the carcass. I heard him humming while he was doing the dishes. I didn’t pay attention, and then suddenly, the melody sounded familiar, and I couldn’t place it. I listened, and it came to me. It was a melody I used to hear in my memory when I was with my friends long ago in England before I came to this country. It was a melody I remember hearing a gypsy play on the violin in a café I used to go to with my friends, the ones who also had memories. I loved that melody, and so did my friends and we would often hum it together, harmonizing. We remembered the melody because it was chanted by the Sisters of All in our memories. So when I heard him humming it, I asked him what he was humming, and he said he didn’t know the name. He told me he used to play the violin when he was a child in Chicago, and his teacher taught him to play it, and he never forgot the melody. He loved humming it. He no longer plays the violin, but he loved that melody and always hummed it. In fact, he still does."

"That’s strange that you and your friends heard a gypsy play the same melody on a violin in a café in London, and he also heard his teacher in Chicago play it," I said.

"And you remember the melody from the chanting of the Sisters of All," Alice said. ."There were the Sisters of All on Atlantis. It was Sophia who blessed Dimitri and Jethro in, Twins of Atlantis. "

"That’s’ quite interesting," Elizabeth said, nodding. "That’s strange. I never learned how the gypsy violin player knew that melody."

"In the book, Amelieus sent the twins to Sophia so they could be blessed before becoming Children of the One. She was his daughter," I said.

Elizabeth looked at us over the rim of her cup as she sipped her tea, then nodded and seemed to be thinking about what I had said. She put her cup down and looked into the fire, then back at us. "That’s interesting," she said, pausing. "There was a Sophia in our memories, and we wondered why we remembered her name. Anyway, at first, our memories were more like vibrations that we felt, but we could not know exactly what we were feeling. Sometimes they were strong, and sometimes we could barely feel them, but we knew they were from Atlantis. We would sit in a circle and hold hands, close our eyes and hope that we could remember more vividly. We called ourselves 'Sisters of Harmony,' but I don’t know why, perhaps because of the melody we heard and the haunting harmony. It is hard to explain why that name came to us."

"In the books, Sophia, and these other women called themselves 'The Sisters.'" Alice repeated.

"And Sophia held a crystal in the palm of her hand, and The Sisters walked around Dimitri and Jethro in a circle, and they were humming in harmony," I added.

"Interesting, I wonder if it was the same melody we heard." Elizabeth paused as if she was thinking about the humming, then continued. "I met these women during the war. We were all in our early twenties."

"What war?" Tim asked.

"The Second World War when Hitler and his armies took over Europe. We met in a bomb shelter when the Nazis were bombing London. It was horrible hearing the planes overhead and then hear bombs exploding. Then when it was over, and we came out of the shelters, we saw flaming buildings and people crying. It was frightening."

"Wow, you were there when that was happening," Tim said.

"At first, we didn’t know each other, but then one night I heard one of the women say the word, ‘Bendula.’ I had never heard anyone say that word before, but when she said it, somehow I remembered hearing it. I didn’t remember where or how, but I knew what she meant as soon as she said it because a strange, frightened feeling came over me, and then I noticed two of the other women had heard her. One said, ‘What word did you just say?’ And she repeated it. "'It’s the Bendula.'”

" You mean the Nazis were the Bendula?" I asked.

"Yes, they were," Elizabeth said. "And that’s how we became friends. We were all from different backgrounds but just happened to meet in that bomb shelter. Then one night after the air raid, we went to a nearby café, and that is where we heard the gypsy violin player and recognized the same melody. After that night, we were more certain than ever that we had been together on Atlantis, so we started meeting to see if we could remember more. At first, as I said, we just felt vibrations when we held hands, and then we started humming in harmony the melody we had heard from the gypsy violin player. One of the women, Alisha, had a crystal that she placed on the floor in front of us, and we made a circle of candles around it. We closed our eyes, and gradually we began to remember Atlantis more vividly as we concentrated, and then we began remembering more and knew something was awakening in us. Memories. We remembered going to the Bendula with our warnings that they must not use the Great Crystal, that horrible weapon, or Atlantis would be destroyed, but we were ignored. Then one night we were holding hands, sitting in the dark with just candles around the crystal and saw the horror of the end, the explosions, the fires; the huge waves that took Atlantis away. We were shaking, and sat in the circle, gripping each other’s hands. When we opened our eyes we were crying, not just crying, we were sobbing. I will never forget that night, and that’s why when you asked me about Atlantis at the library, I couldn’t speak. I was remembering."

We didn’t say anything, but could see her staring into the fire, the glow shining on her glasses, her wrinkled skin. She picked up her cup and took a sip. "That was long ago," she said. ."After the war, we met a few times. They each married and moved on. I married my husband, George and became Mrs. Massingale. I came from a poor family in Yorkshire. He was a soldier in the American Army, and we met at a USO canteen, and he swept me off of my feet, as they say, and after the war, he asked me to marry him, and that’s how I came to America over fifty years ago."

"Did you ever hear from those friends again, the Sisters?" Alice asked.

"Not the others, but I corresponded with Helen. She was the one who first said the word Bendula in the bomb shelter. We wrote from time to time until she told me she had pancreatic cancer about ten years ago, but we always wrote about how the Bendula had taken over England and America, and how important it was to stop them. She told me about the different peace groups she was involved with, and how they went on marches against Vietnam, and I told her what I was doing, how I got arrested in Washington in nineteen sixty-seven and eight years ago in New York protesting the invasion in Iraq after the World Trade Center disaster. Neither of us ever stopped fighting the Bendula, but Helen would have been horrified with what is happening now."

"I can’t believe what you’re saying," Alice said. "I don’t know what to think. You never read these books we read, but you know about the Bendula and the Great Crystal. I don’t get it."

"I don’t either," Elizabeth said, shaking her head. "But I do know, if the Bendula are not stopped, what happened to Atlantis will happen again. It’s already happening."

Lou knocked on the door and stood in the entrance, "Elizabeth, your husband called from New York, but I told him you were busy and couldn’t talk."

"Thank you, Lou, that was smart."

She placed her teacup on the tray, then turned to us. "My husband is ninety-two and goes to his office every day which delights me. The more we are a part, the better I like it, sad to say." She covered a yawn with her hand. "If you’re finished with your tea, Lou can take your cups. It’s getting late. I’m usually in bed by now."

"We should get going, too," I said. "We have school tomorrow."

Alice gave me this astonished look with her eyebrows raised when I mentioned school. She knew I didn’t give a damn about it.

"Can I ask you a question and then we‘ll go?" Alice asked.

"Certainly, please," she said. "What is it?"

"Does your husband know about Atlantis and the Bendula?"

"Well, that’s an unpleasant topic," she responded and sighed.

"Maybe it’s none of my business," Alice said.

"It’s something we avoid talking about. He’s in the stock market and lost a lot of money a few years ago. We almost lost this house, but he had money in various other banks in other countries, so he managed to make some deals. He doesn’t talk about it. I guess you would say we have an understanding."

"I know it’s none of my business," I said, trying to figure out how they could be married to each other and be so different. "What does he think about you going on all these protests and getting arrested."

"He thinks I’m crazy, and years ago tried to have me put away," she said. "He knows my thoughts about Atlantis, and when I used to call him Bendula, we had horrible fights, but now we hardly speak to each other. I have no idea why he’s calling me, and I'm thankful that Lou knows how to handle our situation. He’s really very special."

I was surprised to hear her say that and glanced at Alice and could tell she was also thinking about what Elizabeth had said about Lou. Tim stood up. "Come on guys. Let’s get on the road."

Elizabeth remained seated when we stood up to go, and then looked at each of us. "I know nothing about the books you read, but I can see they have had an impact on you, and now you know my story."

"I do," I said, nodding, "but nothing makes sense. What we read is fiction, but what you told us seems like it really happened."

"There is an explanation for everything," she said.

"That’s interesting," I said. "In the book, this old man named Solomon said, 'Few things happen by chance.'"

"Maybe what that character said is true. Maybe it wasn’t chance that we met. Maybe we will find out why it’s happening. I knew you would find out where I live," she said. "Thank you for coming, but remember one thing--the Bendula must be stopped."

When she said that, I realized the Bendula were not just in the books we read but were real and wondered, Why did she say that? What do they have to do with us? Why is this happening?

When Lou opened the big front door, he smiled, revealing his gold front tooth. I thought about his humming the melody from Atlantis, how he learned it from his violin teacher, and he and Elizbeth found each other in a homeless shelter, and now here we were. Before he closed the door, he said, "I think we will meet again."

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