Vol. 1 No. 3 2008



BEYOND BOOKS: Short Fiction


The Apparition:


By Fred Beauford


“The terrible silence of God.”

IT WAS 7:36AM, Sunday, December 10, 2008. I was out early. I love Sunday mornings. Always have. I know that this is not a time for “sleeping in.” This was a quiet, blessed time to be outdoors, whatever the season. The many tourists crawling all over Manhattan, even turning Harlem, on Sundays, into a white Mecca-- have not quite yet fully awaken; the city’s lowlifes were still peacefully asleep, blissfully unaware of what they where missing; no loud students disturbed your thoughts with their chatty nonsense; and hurried workers were no where to be seen except occasional Central Americans on their way to open up fast food stores everywhere.

I was standing all alone on the Garfield Station of the Jersey City light rail, heading toward the Exchange Street station. There was also no one on the opposite platform.

As far as I was concerned, this was the great moment I looked forward to, whenever the weather permitted. And today wasn’t disappointing. This Sunday was a bright, crisp cold day, just as predicted. There was not one cloud in the sky, and the air felt clean, pristine, and refreshing. On days like this, all the talk about global warming, pollution and scary stuff like that—seemed unreal, made-up.

I was headed to the city, whose mighty outline I could see to my left. To my right, Lady Liberty stood proudly. Sometimes I am often as proud as she, now that I have lived in Jersey City for over two years. I discovered, much to my delight, that this famous symbol, the very image of the city, and New York State for that matter, is really located in my new home of Jersey City, not my old home of New York City just across the river.

Sorry guys!

I was thinking about my now ex. I had wanted so much out of her. So very much. But it was not to be. Perhaps if I hadn’t projected so much into our relationship, just laid back, enjoyed a few laughs, kept it…

I looked up at the clear blue sky, a real sky, as I now bragged to the friends I left in the expensive city, who wouldn’t even know what a real sky looked like, since they have never seen one.

I wasn’t sure, but I thought I was now seeing something strange. Something wasn’t quite right. Something was forming in the sky, right over the torch of The Lady. It was just forming out of nothing; first as a round grey ball. Then the ball started slowly taking shape, and, much to my utter amazement, I was sure I could now make out a pair of eyes, a nose and a mouth.

Suddenly, the mouth opened widely and I hear a loud, booming voice come from it, speaking English, and talking directly to me.

I quickly turned away from the spectacle in the sky as two Hispanic men approached me.

“Holy shit! Did you see that! I said excitedly. I pointed to the sky, but now there was nothing there. Whatever was there, was now gone.

“Did you see it? Did you hear what it said?” I was so agitated and excited I could hardly catch my breath.

They were both dressed in dark, heavy hoodies, as was I. The men first looked at each other with a puzzled look on their faces. “See what?” the short one answered.

“You mean you didn’t the voice,” I asked, incredulous that anyone could have missed that loud, booming voice with its clear message.

The taller man face turned thoughtful. “Yeah. Yeah,” he said, “I did hear a loud voice coming from over there in Spanish.” He pointed in the direction of the Stature of Liberty.

“Did it saying anything? Do you remember what did the voice said?” I asked.

The man recounted what he thought he heard, apologizing to me because he said he was so heavily in conversation with his friend, that he didn’t quite remember all that was said.

I nodded in recognition as the Hispanic man spoke, and who now seemed for the first time, to understand that perhaps something totally out of the ordinary, something truly profound, had just happened.

At this point I decided not to continue waiting for the train to take me to the city. I started walking back to my apartment, my brain buzzing. Maybe it wasn’t anything? Maybe I thought I saw something, when nothing was there? But I know what I saw, and what I heard. It was the face of a person. It wasn’t male, or female, or racial, just a vague, cloud-like apparition. That’s the word, apparition, except for the clears, loud voice directed at me. Perhaps that’s why the Hispanic man thought he heard the voice speaking Spanish. The voice was directed only at me, that much I knew. No wonder he thought it sounded like Spanish.

Yet, how could he have heard the same message if it was only directed at me?

I immediately turned on my flat screen HDTV. Maybe others had seen what I did? Maybe it just didn’t appear over the sky of New Jersey, but was worldwide.

Everything seemed normal on all the channels; the same Sunday morning blend of political talk shows, sports shows, and light features on the Today Show, Good Morning America and the Early Show. I changed the channel to CNN and all was much the same. Just as I was about to switch to Fox, a “Just in,” bulletin came on.

“This just in,” the attractive young black female said, reading what had just been sat before her. “This is a developing story. Reports are coming into our studios from a wide variety of sources, from all over the world of a strange apparition in the sky at approximately 8:36 am Eastern Time. Some people also heard a loud, booming voice coming from the apparition. To help us sort through this I am joined in our New York studios by our science consultant, Dr. Sean Disicoll. Sean, what do you make of all of this?”

“Thank you, Deborah. By the way, did you hear or see anything?”

“Well, I was indoors. Right here. You know we never get to see blue sky. But I did heard a booming voice speaking directly to me in perfect English, the way it was taught to me at Oxford. The voice only lasted for a few seconds, but I am absolutely sure I heard it loud and clear. And you?”

“Well, I heard nothing. I was at my home having a final early morning breakfast meeting with my staff for my upcoming special on CNN. I was sitting in a room with nine other people. We were still trying to nail down those last little details. You full well know what I mean; those little things that drives you batty.”

“I do, I do.”

“Dawson Levine, one of my staff members, suddenly stood up from the table and said, “Did you hear that?”

He ran to the window. “Oh my God, look!”

“We all ran to the window, and crowded around it, forcing some to seek out another window to view whatever it was that Dawson had saw, and why it was making him so agitated and his face so ashen.”

“It’s gone! It’s gone,” he said, as the rest of us looked out at the window and saw nothing.

“What’s gone?” I asked.

He looked at me with a new, strange look on his face, and in his eyes, as if he had seen something awesome, something words couldn’t do justice.

“The face of God. I saw the face of God It was vague, but I am sure it was the face of God.”

The anchor interrupted, perhaps guessing the question all of us viewers, now watching, transfixed, wanted answered.

“Did he tell you what the face looked like? She asked in a serious voice, her professional face still very much intact.

“Yes. He was very clear about it. He said God looked Jewish.”

“Interesting. I am sure our viewers find this just as riveting as I do. I have been just informed that we will take few commercial breaks, as this is turning into a remarkable story.”

“The most remarkable I have ever covered, or heard about,” Sean answered.

***

It was a remarkable story, indeed. In the days and weeks, and now months that followed it seemed that The Apparition appeared all over the globe, now with capital letters and all. In India it appeared to some as a light blue, four arm Lord Krishna. In parts of China it a appeared to some as the Buddha, In Iran it had a long bearded and was wearing a black turban.

But many looking up at the same sky saw nothing. And even less heard the large booming voice.

Even the Pope weighted in. A week after the event, he gave an excusive interview to the BBC after the cries grew louder for him to comment on what millions believed they saw in that early morning sky.

He was dressed in white, and looked regal enough.

“So what is your opinion, your holiness? Did you see or hear anything?”

“I was sitting with Cardinal Owabo discussing the Church’s growing role in Africa. It was very late, but we were having a simulating conversation. He is a very smart man.”

His holiness spoke in German, and it was only through the translator, and watching his body language, that I received any indication of how he really felt.

“All at once,” he went on “Cardinal Owabo stopped taking and walked over to the window. “Chirst has returned. Come look!” He felled to his knees and began praying feverishly.

I rushed over and looked to the sky where he had pointed. I saw and heard nothing. I did here a few voices call out that also said Christ had come. Their voices carried loudly throughout the courtyard because of the latest of the hour. But where was our Lord Savior? I saw nothing. I heard nothing. Cardinal Owsbo said the apparition spoke to him in a loud, booming voice in his native African language.

“What did he look like? I asked him.

“It was so vague. I saw eyes and a nose and a wide mouth, but I am sure he was black.. He spoke my native language perfectly. “

The Pope, however, was having none of this. “But I ask you to be wary of these accounts,” he told the BBC, “this so-called apparition. Enemies of God, and of the church, are plentiful. They now have tools at their disposal to deceive and mislead the public that we couldn’t even begin to imagine just a few short years ago. How can one see something so clearly when the person standing next to you sees nothing? How can you hear something, when the person next to you hears nothing? If

God were to speak, he would speak to us all. Wouldn’t you think so?”

***

Good question, your Holiness, “ I thought. “You would think so. “

***

It has now been over a year since the apparition, and researchers around the globe are still trying figure out what it was so many thought they saw and heard. Data has been collected from every corner of the earth. Finally, the National Science Foundation issued a report. Here is some of what they found:

* 100% of believing Moslems saw the same bearded man with the black turban, but heard nothing.

* 100% of believing Jews saw the same Jewish looking man, but heard nothing. “He looked a lot like Mayor Bloomberg,” many said.

* 100% of atheists saw and heard nothing.

* 100% of agnostics saw a vague figure, only able to make out eyes, a nose and a wide mouth. However, they all heard a loud booming voice telling them: “All of you will join me. You have no worry. You have a purpose.”

Until the report came out, many of religious leaders who had seen and heard nothing, including the Pope, called the entire thing a huge trans-global government plot; even blaming their own government of taking part in the “biggest fraud” ever attempted.

After the report, however, many, including the Pope, started changing their story. Now, not only had they saw something, but heard something as well; they heard a loud, booming voice speaking the language of their faith, telling them that they were on the right track, and for them to continue serving the One on High, and all of mankind.

***

All I know was what I heard, and I certainly didn’t hear all that. I heard a guy with a Bronx accent tell me not to worry. Which is a good thing.

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