Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Duane L Herrmann

Photo by Sachin Nihcas on

Trabor slowly began to wake up. The throbbing in his head was noticed first, then the aches in the rest of his body. Everything hurt! Liquid trickled across his face. He wanted to wipe it off, but his hands were pinned, and twisted oddly. So were his legs and feet. And his head; his neck hurt from the twist in it. But, he couldn’t move anything except the fingers on one hand, and they only felt dirt. He struggled and struggled, but his arms and legs were pinned tight.

    ‘What happened?’ He wondered’

    “Help!  HELP!!” He called in vain until he could not get out any more breath. The effort tired him a great deal. He dimly realized the dirt around him had largely absorbed the sound. Then he began to remember what happened.

    He and his friend, Soljoe, wanted to explore some of the newly dried parts of Greenland. The island was emerging from its thousands of years of ice and snow. The thawing had accelerated in the last century. Climatologist had predicted that the warming of the earth would soon slow down, carbon emissions had been controlled for a century now, but the warming had taken on its own speed and had taken decades to slow down. Politicians and vested interests had been blind to all but their own pockets and power. Billions had died, but most of the remaining population of Earth lived on higher ground now, so were safe.

    Soljoe had had to cancel at the last minute and Trabor had decided to proceed alone. Now, he realized that had not been a good idea. The land wasn’t even completely dry. He had been so eager to be the first one to explore it. Now, he knew he shouldn’t have come alone. He began to remember the beginning of the day.

    It had started with a beautiful sunrise over the raw land. No one had ever seen that sight before and he was astonished. He took lots of pictures with his handi and immediately sent them out to the world.  He hoped a satellite relay had picked them up and rebroadcast them. The photos, by themselves, would make him famous. Still, maybe he shouldn’t have come alone.

    ‘Where is my pack?’ He wondered, remembering he had broken camp and replaced everything in his pack. He could feel it was no longer on his back. Something hard was jutting into a lower corner of his back. It was not his pack.

    He tried to open his eyes, but they were swollen shut.

    ‘How long have I been here?’ He wondered. He was hungry, so he knew it had been some time.  He had eaten a good breakfast. ‘Is it lunch time?’ He didn’t know and couldn’t reach his handi. ‘I can’t reach any food.  It’s in my pack, wherever that is.’

    He forced his eyes open, but only one would cooperate. He managed to open it just enough to see dirt and rock in front of his face. Actually, his face was pressed against it. There was a very dim amount of light. He could see nothing else.

    Memory returned of losing his balance. He had been on the edge of a crevice. It wasn’t very wide. The soil must have pulled apart as it dried. He had seen other such crevices as he had hiked, but none were as large as this, and he hadn’t thought much of them.

    He remembered beginning to step over it, it didn’t look that wide, just a long stride, nothing he was sure he couldn’t handle then, with one foot in the air and the other beginning to push off, he felt the soil under that foot give way, and he fell. He clawed the air, but there was nothing to grasp. His hands slashed at the side of the crevice, but found no hold, and he continued to fall. Then his head hit something hard, and he blacked out.

    It was all clear now and the pain made sense.

    ‘Will anyone find me?’ He wondered. ‘I told my parents I was going hiking in Greenland, but not where exactly. I simply got off the Stiltwalker where it touched the southern tip of the island.  Soljoe was supposed to join me there, but that’s when I got his message. I’d already come so far, I didn’t want to turn around and go home. I could have hiked where the land had begun to green up, but that was old hat. It’s exciting to see Greenland finally living up to its name, and that name was given as advertising centuries and centuries ago! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s prophecy is finally coming true.  But, we wanted to explore truly new land, so I went alone.

    ‘The receiving satellite should give the coordinates of the photographs, but I’d already walked most of the morning before I fell. It will take hours to find me, that is, once anyone knows I’m missing. That could take a week.  But, if I don’t send any more messages, will anyone assume it’s because I’m hurt? Before I left, I told people I didn’t want calls, so my not answering calls will not be a clue.

   ‘How will they know? 

    ‘Only when I don’t show up for work, I suppose. And that will be a week or so. I may be dead by then.

    The hunger pains in his stomach were now overtaking the pains in the rest of his body. He was very thirsty. He was also tired and slept a bit. When he woke up he opened the one eye that could open. This time he saw no light, only darkness, black, solid darkness.

    ‘I guess it’s night now,’ Trabor thought. ‘How long has it been?’ There was no way for him to know.  He passed out again.

    When consciousness returned, he tried to move his arms and legs again. Nothing. They were pinned tight.  Now, though, they were feeling numb. It was more difficult to wiggle the fingers he could move before.

    ‘I really can’t move now. How can I get out?

    ‘If I can’t get out, and no one finds me, I’ll die here.’

    This was a sobering thought.

    ‘There are worse things than dying, though. Not knowing any purpose in life, that would be worse, but most people have a purpose now – to restore the Earth. Yet, not knowing that we are truly and essentially spiritual beings, with this life on Earth just our first step. People who don’t know that are really lost. They’re afraid of dying. They think death is the end of their existence, but really, it’s just the beginning: the beginning of our real existence and purpose. I wanted to live longer, but with so many having died due to the flooding and violence, what’s my death?  It’s insignificant.

    Trabor passed out again.

    “Help!” He called again when consciousness returned, but the effort was exhausting.

    ‘How long will it take to die?’ He wondered. ‘With no food or water, maybe a few days. Unless I bleed to death.’ He had tasted the liquid trickling across his face. It wasn’t water as he had originally thought, but blood. He couldn’t feel any cut, the throbbing was so great.

    He lost consciousness again.

    ‘What can I do to pass the time I have left?’ He asked himself when he woke up, then he had an idea. ‘I can recite, even if recite in my head. I can repeat what I’ve memorized. How much can I remember?

    “Is there any remover of difficulties save God? Say, praised be God, He is God. All are His servants and all abide by His bidding.”* ‘I should have been saying this all along.’ This prayer helped his spirits rise and he repeated it several times. It was a prayer he had known since he was a little boy.

    ‘I’m glad I’ve memorized some prayers and other writings,’ he realized. ‘I can repeat them all.  When I was younger, I didn’t want to do the memorizing, but my parents and teachers said I wouldn’t always have my handi with me, so it was good to memorize – and they were right. I never dreamed this could happen.

    Trabor thought back to his home and town. It was a mostly new town, built after the warming, using solar and wind power for energy. There were residential towers which caught the higher winds, with open space on every level so no one felt closed in. Every fifth level was a garden level, no residential units, just trees, parkland and open grass. No one had to walk far to be in a garden.

    Most people grew food. So much so, that not much had to be imported to the tower. All towers were like that. The living units above the garden levels were arranged in such a way that light and rain could fall on the garden level. Additional water was available if irrigation was needed, but that was not often.

    Small, food producing animals were raised in the gardens: goats, sheep and chickens mostly.  And, there were tanks of fish and kelp. With no need any more for armies or military except for local police, taxes were low and everyone had time to raise food. Other work was mostly done at home. Distance was no longer a factor.

    And, the views were magnificent! You could see for miles and miles and miles!

    Halfway to the horizon you could see other cities, with their own towers. The towns were connected by trams that traveled regularly between them. No one needed personal transportation any longer. The petroleum wars had exhausted the planet and were now seen as wasteful and destructive. 

    ‘I hope the human race has grown up,’ he thought. ‘We have. I know it. The Federation finally was organized to stabilize the world economy and put down terrorism. Once that happened, terrorists had no place to hide. Why that couldn’t have been done back in the 21st or 22nd centuries, I don’t know. But, we didn’t destroy the planet completely. And, it’s beginning to heal now.’

    Once again he passed out.

    When he revived, his thoughts turned back to the views from home. He liked to watch the trams down below. They easily connected everyone to the Stiltwalker and, on it, you would travel anywhere on the globe. Construction had started on the Stiltwalker even before the melting of Greenland and the Antarctic. Now, it was the only way to travel. It crossed the oceans deep enough to be safe from surface storms and was held up by the floating cities. 

    Trabor liked to travel under water. He remembered the first time he noticed the dimness of the light all around and the occasional large fish that would swim up to the cabs in the transparent tubes.  Each cab had lots of windows so people could see out. Under water, or high over land, the views and scenery were magnificent. To anyone traveling the Stiltwalker any distance at all, it was obvious the earth was one country and all people were its citizens.

    ‘I will miss all that,’ he thought. ‘But, maybe not. Once a person’s dead, they have no physical limitations. I’m sure I’ll be able to go deeper down into the water and higher in the air than the Stiltwalker can go. I’ll really be able to fly!’ He smiled at that possibility. He loved flying, but the flysuits and their sails were bulky, and you couldn’t go higher than you could breathe. ‘Once I no longer have this body, I can fly as high as I want! To the moon, or Mars, or anywhere else in the universe. WOW! What will that be like?’ He smiled at this and passed out again.

    ‘I guess I’m ready,’ were his first thoughts coming back. ‘I have to be ready. I’m okay. I’ve had a good life. I have good parents. They were kind and loving. I was a good boy. I didn’t get into too much trouble. We had our disagreements, but who doesn’t? I didn’t tease my sisters much. I was good to my little brothers. I taught them a lot. I hope they learn this last lesson from me: don’t go hiking alone!

    He passed in and out of consciousness and no longer thought about day or night. He was now numb to the pain.

    ‘What can I remember?’ He wondered.

    “It is clear and evident that all men shall, after their physical death, estimate the worth of their deeds, and realize all that their hands have wrought.”* Trabor recited almost silently to himself. He didn’t have the energy to say the statement completely out loud, but still, the words felt good to hear. ‘I’ve done nothing that I regret.’  

    “They that are the followers of the one true God shall, the moment they depart out of this life, experience such joy and gladness as would be impossible to describe…”*  

    ‘I wonder that that will be like?’ He mused. “I’ve had a pretty happy life. My family had been able to move to higher ground two generations before me, so we weren’t directly affected by the rise in sea level. Not that there was no effect, all the world was affected, but I didn’t notice any of that as a child.’

    “Well is it with him that hath quaffed the choice and incorruptible wine of faith through the gracious favor and the manifold bounties of Him Who is the Lord of all Faiths.”* 

    ‘I think I have done that,” Trabor thought. “At least I’ve tried, and making the effort is all that God asks. ‘I have no regrets.’

    Trabor walked into his home and smelled good things cooking.

    “Hi, Mom,” he greeted his mother with delight. It seemed like a long time since he’d been home.  “Smells like you’re making my favorite food. I sure am hungry….”

    Trabor woke up and groaned. He didn’t want this reality and remembered he was dying.

    ‘I wonder who will meet me on the other side?’

    “Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship.”* ‘That should be interesting,’ he thought.

    ‘I’ll be busy, I’m sure of that,” Trabor said, then recited: “The light which these souls radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being, and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest.”*  

    ‘There will be no standing still.’  

    Trabor walked into a space where he saw his grandmother, the one he was especially close to.  She was doing some kind of work that he hadn’t seen before.

    “What are you doing, Granma?”

    “I’m preparing for you,” she smiled and he was enveloped with her love.

    Trabor woke up barely conscious of his body.

    “Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty.”* 

    ‘That’s a good future to look forward to,” Trabor smiled to himself. ‘The Earth is recovering from the exploitation of humanity’s adolescence, so to speak, and people are more conscious of our role in the destruction. We’re finally becoming worthy of being human beings. I wanted to help the restoration, but I know it will happen without me. Maybe, from the other side, I can continue to help. I’m sure I can.’

    At peace, Trabor took his last breath and transitioned to an existence of which even the scriptures he recited could not tell.

    Trabor began making great effort to help a little boy figure out a problem. Finally the boy understood what Trabor was thinking and solved his vexing problem. The boy thought he had solvede it on his own, but that’s the way help comes.

* selections from the Bahá’í sacred scriptures.

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