The Secret Invasion
The God Chronicles Trilogy
It took less than twelve hours for four year old Adam to die silently, alone, and unnoticed in his sleep after his encounter with something beautiful. Something with vivid colors of red and yellow and black, lying motionless on the ground. It was just too enticing for a four year old boy not to want to touch it, not to want to pick it up, to keep it, and to take it home. He simply wanted to do those things. So without caution, or hesitation, or fear, he bent over, reached his hand down, and picked it up. He tried to put it in his pocket. It started to move, the movement at first startled him, then frightened him as he struggled to fit it into his pocket. He felt a gnawing, pinching like pain on his finger. The pain wasn’t severe, but it hurt. He quickly pulled his hand from his pocket, and rapidly shook it to get this biting thing from his finger. It immediately fell to the ground, and disappeared in the leaves and the grass of its’ habitat. This beautiful, round colorful baby coral snake was gone, and gone too was Adam’s fright and pain.
Adam didn’t run to his parents to tell them what happened, he rubbed his finger a few times, and continued his exploratory stroll through the grass and bushes of the park, though not alone. His parents kept him under a watchful eye while they were preparing a picnic area, though they did miss the episode with the baby coral snake.
Adam was still walking through the landscape when Mary, his mother, called him to the picnic table. Adam came running, he knew there was pie, and a variety of foods that he liked. When he got to the table he saw one desirable entrée after another. A pie, a cake, potato chips, peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches, but he went directly for the pie. His mother indulged him, and let him eat whatever he wanted.
Everything appeared normal. The party of five sat down at the picnic table in the park and began to eat. Adam had not mentioned his encounter with the beautifully colored object that caused him some pain, nor had he complained about the slight discomfort that he felt in his mildly swollen finger. No one in the picnic party of Mary, her husband Joe, and their new neighbors, Michael and Susan Williams, noticed the pinkish, slightly puffy finger on Adam’s hand.
Several hours later the picnic ended. There was not much activity during the picnic, it was mostly conversation. During that time Adam kept himself busy exploring the park area. Only now he was a little more cautious about what he handled. He pretty much limited himself to rocks and sticks of interesting configurations. He continued his exploration while everything was being loaded into the van for the thirty minute drive home. He never complained about anything.
It had been a pleasant day for everyone, and during the drive home the animated conversation continued the pleasantries of the afternoon. An afternoon designed to welcome Michael and Susan Williams to their new neighborhood in an upscale suburb of Austin, Texas.
They arrived home in the early evening, too late to prepare a dinner. Mary recommended that they all come to her house and have the picnic left over’s for dinner. Michael and Susan agreed. As they were moving everything from the van into the house, Adam told his mother that his stomach hurt, and he was tired. Mary felt guilty, she assumed she let him indulge himself a little too much, and he was feeling the effects of all the pie and chips he ate during the picnic.
Mary excused herself, took Adam to his room, and put him to bed. She kissed him goodnight, and asked him if there was anything he wanted. He was already asleep. She looked at him as he laid there with all the love a mother has for her child. She felt the warmth and the strength of that emotion as she returned to the dining room where everyone had already started to snack on the picnic left over’s. Susan asked, “How is Adam is doing?”
Mary said, “He is doing fine. He’s already asleep. Just an upset stomach from all of the junk food I let him eat today.” Adam isn’t mentioned the rest of the evening.
In every one’s thoughts the day had been an absolute success. Mary and Joe found Their new neighbors delightful. They are in their thirties, as are Mary and Joe, and they are educated and professional, also as Mary and Joe. Michael is starting as a physics instructor at the university and Susan is a psychologist. Joe is a corporate attorney, and Mary is a stay at home mother, interrupting her career as a teacher, until Adam starts school.
Michael brings an abrupt end to the festivities declaring that he has a seven AM meeting with the pastor of their new church to rehearse for he and Susan’s membership into the First Baptist church on Eden Street. This is another pleasant surprise for the group, Mary and Joe are also members of the same congregation. The day couldn’t have ended on a more sublime note.
It was ten o’clock in the evening as Michael and Susan walked to their new home right next door to Mary and Joe Smith. Michael asked his wife what she thought of their new neighbors. Susan said, “I like them. They seem to be genuine, and I think little Adam is adorable. What do you think?”
Michael replied, ” I agree with you. They seem like very nice people, and Adam is a sweet boy.” Michael stopped talking, looked at Susan, got a sly look and said, “I think we should get busy on our decision to have a child. Maybe we should start tonight.”
Susan’s countenance changed, her eyes became softer, more narrow, she got a slight smile, as she silently acquiesced to his overture.
Michael and Susan both woke up at six Am to get ready for their meeting with pastor Roberts. Susan got up first and began her ritual of preparation for going to events where she will be noticed, where she wants to look her best.
Michael stayed in bed, he knew that if he started to get ready at the same time as Susan he would finish well ahead of her, and begin a lingering waiting period that sometimes irritated him. So he laid in bed, his thoughts drifted from the day’s scheduled meeting with the pastor, to some preparation he needed to do for tomorrow’s physic classes, to just enjoying his new house.
His idle thoughts were interrupted by the sight of flashing lights on the ceiling of his second story bedroom. He laid there for a second, and just stared at the montage of red and blinking bright lights silently moving around the room, wondering where they were coming from, while innately aware that they were symbols of something tragic.
He got up and went to the window. He saw police cars, a fire engine, and an ambulance in front of Mary and Joe’s house. He stood there for a few seconds looking, trying to figure out what happened. He called Susan, and told her what he saw She quickly went to the window, looked, and had the same thought as Michael. What happened?
Michael looked at Susan and said, “Do you think we should go outside, and try to find out what is going on, or do you think that would be thought of as prying into the problems of our neighbor just to satisfy a curiosity, or something worse, just getting in the way?”
Susan thought about Michael’s question for a few seconds, the way he phrased it sounded like they would be more curious , rather than have a true concern for their new neighbors, after all they weren’t family, or long term friends she said, “Lets’ just go ahead with our plans for the morning with pastor Roberts. We’ll find out what happened soon enough. I only hope it isn’t serious.” Michael nodded in agreement.
By the time Michael and Susan departed for their meeting with the Pastor, the neighborhood was again serene, there were no signs of anything out of the normal. All vestiges of any activity that portended disaster were gone. It was if nothing happened on this quiet tree lined street of upper middle class homes.
They arrived at the church just before seven am, and went directly to the rectory. Michael rang the bell. Very shortly, Mrs. Roberts, the pastor’s wife answered the door. Michael and Susan introduced themselves, and their purpose for being there. Mrs. Roberts invited them in, and apologized for the pastor’s absence. She told them that he had to go the hospital to provide support for one of his parishioners, and she had no idea when he would be back.
Michael and Susan were not taken into the office, or the living room, all of the conversation was taking place in the rectory foyer. It was evident that Mrs. Roberts was not going to ask them in. Michael realized this, and thanked her for her time . He said he would set up another meeting with the pastor sometime after services today. On his way out, Michael turned to face Mrs. Roberts and said, “Do you know who the person was that needed the pastor’s support? I don’t want to appear nosey, but There were fire engines, police cars, and an ambulance at our neighbor’s house, Mary and Joe Smith, early this morning.”
Mrs. Robert’s demeanor changed instantly. She became less impersonal, her face showed the emotion of what she was about to tell Michael and Susan. She said, “It was Mary and Joe Smith that he went to see at the hospital.” Her voice quivered as she continued. “Their baby boy, Adam, died in his sleep last night.”
Michael remained motionless, his face displayed his emotion. His eyes became sharp, penetrating, his lips were taught, waiting anxiously to speak, to find out what caused this tragic event. Susan immediately threw her hands to her face, covering her cheeks and eyes. She spoke instantaneously, momentarily silencing Michael, she said, “What happened? We went on a picnic with them just yesterday. Everything was fine.” Her emotional voice tailed off as she again calmly asked, “What happened?”
Mrs. Roberts replied, “I don’t know. All I know is that the pastor was called to the hospital. When he got there he called me, and told me what happened to Adam, he said the cause of death was unknown at this time. He said that he would be back in time for the ten o’clock service.” She hesitated for a second then continued, “God acts in strange ways to our understanding, but God’s will, is God’s will.”
Susan smiles, and shakes her head in agreement. Michael is silent, as he takes Susan by the arm, thanks Mrs. Roberts, and they leave. When they reached their car, Michael angrily said, “God had nothing to do with this. All my life I’ve that phrase when something tragic occurs.”
Susan interrupted and said, “Its’ just an expression. It helps people get through a very traumatic time. It offers an understanding for the tragedy and hope for the future.”
Michael said, “You don’t believe that God willed this do you?
Susan pauses for a second, then said, “I really don’t know one way, or the other, but if it helps people get through their trying times, then what harm can it do?”
Michael looked at Susan in disbelief. He said, “You don’t really believe that there is even a remote possibility that God had anything to do with Adam’s death? And as for the harm that it can do, it can keep people in a state of ignorance, and dependence on God, who has never provided any answers, rather than depending on the knowledge to understand what really happened, and to go forward with that knowledge.”
Susan quickly replied, “No, I really don’t know, and as for you, being a physicist, I thought that you and your scientific disciplines do not believe in absolutes, so how can you say absolutely that God had nothing to do with this.”
There was silence for several minutes. Michael finally said, “Do you want to go home until its’ time for the ten o’clock service, and then come back?”
Susan replied, “Yes. She turned to look at Michael and continued talking, “I can’t get young Adam’s death out of my mind. Yesterday I was playing with him, talking with him, holding him, and now he is no more. And poor Mary and Joe, I can’t imagine what they must be experiencing.” Michael has the same emotions, only he doesn’t verbalize them, he expresses them with a sadness in his countenance, that Susan sees.
They went home to have some coffee, and try to think of something other than Adam. They can’t. Each is consumed with finding out what happened to Adam, and they hope the answer will be given to them at the ten o’clock service.
They arrived at the church at nine forty-five. The parking lot was nearly full and more cars were arriving then there would be parking spaces. They parked and quickly went inside. They don’t know any of the members, so they are relegated to listening to their conversations to hear if any of them knew anything about what happened. It appeared that tragedy spreads rapidly in this community, as Michael heard a lot of, its’ God’s will.
At exactly ten o’clock pastor Roberts arrived at the pulpit. Michael waited anxiously to hear the words of the pastor. He knew that the pastor was going speak about Adam, for every gesture, every look, every word of the pastors, reeked of tragedy. He began by telling the congregation that God had taken one of their most precious members, four year old Adam Smith. About five minutes into the speech, Michael had enough. He wanted to just get up and leave, but he knew he couldn’t. So he continued to listen to the pastor’s words about the mystery that is God, and how God’s will is a part of that mystery, and beyond reproach. Be happy for young Adam, for he is now with God.
There were many times in Michael’s life where he had his doubts about the existence of God, and there were also many times when his blind faith took him into the bosom of a loving God. And when he doubted he felt guilty, which ultimately strengthened his faith, and made his belief more personal, and less in touch with organized religion that had too many repressive taboos for his scientific mind. So he listened, but didn’t hear the pastor’s words. He did this for Susan, who had a strong traditional religious background.
The service ended with a sadness, even though the pastors intention was to inspire, to uplift his congregation, in their belief that young Adam was in a much better place. Michael had some rather amusing sacrilegious thoughts on the theme of the pastor’s speech about being in a better place. He wondered why everyone didn’t go home, commit suicide, and be really happy. He continued his thoughtful amusement, he reckoned the pastor forgot one thing, everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there, including young Adam. Of course he kept these thoughts to himself, for his personal amusement, though he really wanted to share them with the congregation, or at least with Susan.
Just one day before the funeral for Adam, the newspaper published the story about Adam, and the cause of his death. There were rumors that he had been bitten by something venomous, so it was not a surprise to read that he had been bitten by a coral snake. What was a surprise was the fact that he was the first fatality from a coral snake bite in forty years. This was one of those rare occasions where the bite was not that painful, no one knew he was bitten, and the anti-venom, which had been one hundred percent successful, could not be used to save him, simply because no one knew he had been bitten.
Michael and Susan had heard the rumors, and felt some guilt, even though there was nothing they could have done, they were still a part of what happened merely by being there when Adam was bitten. They had not spoken to the Smiths since Adam died. They did not want to intrude on their grieving, and they were also aware that they were a part of the tragedy , a memory of that awful day. They did send a card of condolence to the Smiths.