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Chapters 33-34

10:40 By Kelvin P. Bik


10:40 Synopsis: Learned and self-controlled, a teen awakens to find himself inexplicably lost in a barren land. He is alone, or so he thinks. Many things are planned for him: by enemies he does not know and by friends he cannot recognise. How then is he to find a way home without knowing who he is or where he must go?

Text copyright © Kelvin P. Bik, 2014. All rights reserved. Cover design copyright © Kelvin P. Bik, 2014. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Quotations designated (NIV 1984) are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc®. All rights reserved worldwide.

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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For my Father in heaven Hallowed be Your name forever.

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,� even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:11-12

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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33 It seemed strange how fast Eve was recovering. The fever had left her, and even her voice had seemed stronger. Even Joshua himself, much as he tried to be rational about it, felt a tad stronger, as if healing had begun in him. If Eve knew she had eaten meat and blood from the bird she feared and despised, she did not say anything. Instead, she had asked for a drink of water, and Joshua lumbered mutely to the lake with his bottle. He washed his bloody hands there, before moving a short distance away to fill the bottle. Surely, Eve wouldn’t want to drink all that blood again. Surely, he himself wouldn’t. Josh felt like crying, but the tears had dried up and wouldn’t come. He looked upon the lake. Curious. The water seemed clearer now. It mirrored the skies which were mostly grey, but the water seemed to glisten. Curious, thought Josh again. He gazed unthinkingly at the water, watching the fascinating design that the faint light seemed to draw upon the water. The lake seemed alive again. Josh bit his lower lip. How could he? He felt a little angry and more than a tad guilty that he had forgotten about the Koel and once again, enjoyed the world and its fascinating sights. The wind picked up and tickled his ears. It smelled wet yet refreshing. Josh licked his parched lips. Would his friend had wanted him to mourn eternally?

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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No, he replied, but surely he should mourn at least for a while. For how long, his mind questioned. Josh didn’t know. Months perhaps, or years, he finally answered. “How long did I mourn for Pa?” That thought confused him. Josh couldn’t recall. How long was it before he began looking around himself again, watching all the curious designs in the world? How long was it before he had realised that Pa would have wanted him to go on living? He remembered Pa’s hands, withered as Pa’s body lay in that cold, claustrophobic room where the nursing home staff had brought him that final morning. Josh recalled it had been Wednesday, February 23, 2005, the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year that year. Pa had fought so hard. He didn’t want to die during the New Year, Pa had said, but he failed. Pa had not wanted Josh and Ma to come visit him on the 9th, which was the first day of CNY. “Go, enjoy yourself,” he had gasped. But how could they? So the family had spent the Chinese New Year together, his Pa shrivelled, his Ma pale and Josh unnaturally cheerful. Ma had been too tired even to scold Josh for being inappropriate. After all, she had insisted that Josh wore his new and bright red shirt that day. It was far too rich, thought Josh, and it made him look like a red packet, but he had relented. He was glad he did, for Pa’s eyes lit up when he saw the shirt. 10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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Ma then left the room, to heat up the somewhat festive soup she made for Pa. Pa had waved to Josh to draw closer. Then Pa whispered that not only was it the first day of Chinese New Year, but it was also the first day of Lent. Josh had smiled overly bright, pretending he understood why Pa was still so fascinated with his religion. Pa had wanted several times to tell Josh, but Ma threw tantrums and Pa eventually stopped trying. Pa smiled now, almost too knowingly, and patted Josh on his head. “So big now,” Pa had whispered hoarsely. “So tall.” Josh wanted to laugh and say Pa was lying. But he didn’t. Then Josh said, almost too loudly, that Pa’s birthday was coming up less than one month later. March 4th, he said brightly. Pa would be 41. Did he want anything for his birthday? Pa shook his head after a while. Then he nodded his head again. Josh got confused. “When I’m gone,” said Pa with his ragged breath. Josh had shaken his head firmly. “You’ll be here,” said Josh resolutely. Pa smiled. “Only God knows when and how I will fall asleep in Christ, my son,” whispered Pa. “But when I’m gone, don’t be sad on my birthday.” Josh didn’t understand. 10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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“I wasn’t a faithful man,” continued Pa, coughing as he did so. “I haven't walked with God faithfully, especially these past 10 years. I was David through and through.” Josh frowned. He was 10, well almost 10. It was less than five months till his own birthday in July. Was it then his fault that Pa lost God? The thought troubled him but he dared not say it out loud. Pa coughed again. Josh wondered if he should help Pa strap on his oxygen mask. But Pa shook his head. “If only… Joshua, I do love you. You ARE a blessing. I’m sorry, so so sorry,” coughed Pa. “Yet by grace, I lived. And by grace, I will live on,” said Pa after a while. His eyes were too bright. Then again, so were Josh’s, though he couldn’t understand why. “I was born again on my birthday,” whispered Pa. “I was 19 then. Who would have known?” Again, Josh fought to understand. Pa strained to sit up in bed. Josh hurried to help him. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me1,” Pa recited softly, almost inaudibly. Josh began to cry, though he tried not to. He brushed away his tears crossly. Ma would be angry. “No crying,” she had warned him. “Don’t upset your Pa.”

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Psalm 23:4 (NIV 1984)

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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But Josh hurt. It hurt so, so much. Pa choked. Then laying an arm around Josh, and looking up at Ma who had returned to the room, Pa shook his head and said, “There is a time for everything… a time to be born and a time to die…. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.2” Josh heard a stifled sob. He lifted his head, and to his horror, Ma was crying too.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-2; 4 (NIV 1984)

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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34 As the sun set, the sky deepened into a shade of blue that Joshua couldn’t name precisely, but it comforted him. The lake too shared its hue, such that he wasn’t sure where the lake ended and the sky began. Josh noted how some pillars of wood, aged by the sun till they became pale, almost ghostly white, stood in the water. He wondered vaguely if a wooden bridge once stood in these waters, and why it had been left to fall apart. Some fair distance above the horizon, the clouds there were salmon and magenta. The sun must be beyond the clouds, such that they were touched by such warmth in colour, he figured. It was just that where he stood, he couldn’t see the sun at all. He wondered if anyone could, a pilot perhaps, or maybe a bird, an eagle even. The Koel might have known the sun there too, in that faraway world above the clouds. Perhaps he himself was there, singing his heart out in worship. Josh picked up his heavy bottle and set off into the thicket behind him. The air smelled damp, but not disconcerting. The leaves on the ground crackled faintly; the recent storms had sullied most of them, though new ones had joined their fallen compatriots. A few drops of rain, perhaps dew, dripped down. Josh was startled by how cold they were, as they fell on his head and nape, as though someone were baptising him. “Eve,” he cried, as he neared the spot where he had left her. His smile vanished. There was no one.

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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His backpack, almost lost in the impending darkness, lay forgotten near a tree root. Eve, who was supposed to be lying next to it, was missing. “Eve!” he cried again. He would not panic. “EVE!” Josh ran round and round about the trees. His bottle fell to the wet ground, but he didn’t notice it. Josh wanted to scream. His neck felt choked as though someone had grabbed him by the throat. There was no answer from Eve. Returning to the original location, Josh noted how no trace remained even at the very spot where she had lain for so long. “The lake!” The thought came to him in a flash. He ran, his legs stretching and protesting at the effort. Had Eve… did Eve? No, she wouldn’t, Josh cried desperately. Was it all a diversion, a ploy to get him to go for some water, just so that she could do what she had wanted all along? To, to, to… Josh fought the thought. “No, please, don’t. You have me! You do!” Then again, he had just been at the lake. Surely, he would have seen her. No, no, no, no, no! Josh scrambled to a stop at the bank of the lake. Other than ripples caused by the breeze and an occasional leave falling on the water surface, Josh could see nothing. 10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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“Eve!” he yelled at the top of his voice. “Eve, where are you?” All around him, the trees were silent. The sky darkened to a midnight blue. Joshua was alone once more.

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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Chapters 33-34

10:40 (Chapters 33-34)

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10:40 (Excerpt: Chapters 33-34)