It came out of the sky—an explosion of flaming circles full of fury and an all-encompassing noise. Mostly I remember being scared. I was just a child. My home was a little hilltop village in the shadow of Mount Moriah.
It all happened so fast. A blazing whirlwind of wheels with tongues of fire licking the rims slashed across the cloudy sky. There were screams and crying voices; there was a chaos of scurrying movement in the cluster of thatch-covered huts. The last thing I saw before destruction seized me were those who had been my parents shouting at me to run. Then I was all alone.
The transition was instantaneous. One moment I was herding a couple of wandering goats, then in a blinding flash of lightning, I was no longer on that path. My homespun garment was gone. I was standing naked inside a box with shiny white walls and bright torches burning above me. Shock swirled out of me; I was hollering loud, straining my lungs, but no sounds filled my surroundings.
My head felt funny as I gasped in deep breaths of odorless air, then all was black. When I awoke I was scared. There was activity around me, but everything was obscured.
“He is ten earth years,” a voice said, speaking my native language.
Confusion and fear clutched at me. I remained still and silent. Escape was the only thing in my mind; I had to be free. I had to be free. I was still inside a shiny-walled box and the brightness above hurt my eyes, but I was not on my feet or uncovered. A thick white blanket swaddled me. There were no restraints beyond that fleecy cover, yet I couldn’t move.
There was warmth flowing from those in motion around me. There were three of them, I believe. I was blinded by shimmering light so couldn’t see clearly, but sensed their presence surrounding me. Even though they moved as individuals there was a connection between them.
The chatter was rapid and overlapped; they finished each other’s sentences. Their voices were oddly familiar and quite similar, yet distinctly unique—the fluctuation in timbre was subtle.
Or maybe I was disoriented to the point of delusion. It was weird. I understood every word spoken, but could not grasp the meaning. My eyes strained to focus on the one speaking, but the images delivered to my brain were transparently blank. Suddenly they surrounded me. Their breath was sweet—a mesmerizing scent that filled my nostrils. My eyes closed as their hands settled gently on me.
All the negative emotions at play took a nosedive out of me. I felt comfort. I experienced pure awe. Enveloped in a supercharged glow, peace flooded every corpuscle of my body. A metamorphosis was taking place and it was beautiful. There was no pain, no discomfort.
I drifted down, down, down. Blackness swallowed me whole as softness crept up to receive me.
When I came to I was completely alone and radically changed. I was a man inside a stone cavern with iron grates over a single window. And I knew things. My cerebral cortex was a churning hybrid functioning at an adrenalized rate that quickly became normal for me.
My garb was strange. It included a hat like none I’d ever seen. My childhood was gone, but there were no regrets or apprehension of any kind. Assured acceptance of new realities surged through my veins.
Adjustments had been made to my physiology. The circuits of my brain modified to accommodate vast storehouses of information that could be accessed on a need to know basis. The new wiring included a universal translator to allow easy communication wherever I found myself.
My body was young, strong and hard, but my soul carried an ancient wisdom regarding the inner workings and motivations of humans. I considered my hands, staring at them—they were large with prominent knuckles, and I vaguely wondered what work would be found for them.
Even then, resting with my back against the coarse wall I was fully aware that the aging process had been drastically altered. It’d accelerated me into manhood, but now, it had slowed to a near stop. I was destined to live a long, long life—though while being swept along by ripples and eddies of the time-space continuum, years truly do become meaningless.
Who Am I?
I had to be free. The thought rushed back causing a broad smile because there were now no qualms or worries. My current circumstances were temporary. Soon and without any discernible warning I’d jump to some new locale because I’d been set free to ride the lightning.
My name, different from the one carried by that boy who’d been a herder of goats, came from two generations of my family—the first name for my grandfather; the second from my father.
A calm comprehension did a slow crawl through me. I’d been born in that region of earth known by various names and peopled by many warring factions. It’d spawned prophets, priests and holy mystics, and had often been a portal for manifestations of the supernatural.
Of those who captured me I have no remarkable knowledge. I never got a good look at them even once. The marvels seen since my transformation reveal that they were vastly superior to any civilization I’ve encountered on all my journeys.
Living on an edge precariously balanced between law and lawlessness has given me weight to be placed on the scales. Barroom scraps have been countered by palace intrigues and shadowy plots.
I’ve dined with kings and fallen in with slaves in distant places unknown to any star charts; I’ve eye-witnessed technological breakthroughs that were stunningly brilliant. The miles are not liars or court jesters. I’ve been privy to discoveries that altered the perception of existence, but not since that day near Mount Moriah, when an explosion came out of the sky, have I communed with such power, majesty and mystery.
What am I? Who am I? Why am I? What’s my mission? Am I an angel or demon? Am I an instrument of God? A secret agent, an interventionist cast upon the flotsam of time and space to do his bidding? Am I alone or are there others like me? I know not.
What I know is this: I am a flesh and blood man caught up in a stream of consciousness that I neither beckon nor control. I merely adapt, overcome, and dare greatly for I am a traveler and soldier of fortune.
Whoever that ten year old boy was before those flaming circles appeared remains entombed in a crematorium of memory.
Out of the ashes I, Jedediah Jodat, was created.