Saturday, December 24, 2016

Two Christmas Tales from me to you-2016

Merry Christmas. Christmas a day for Joy, Peace, Love and Hope-very good words and worth being happy over. For more information on why go to the main page of my blog and scroll down one. 

For now two Christmas stories. One is older one-written around five years ago and a second that I wrote this week. The first one-The Announcer" has been revised at least four times over the years, the latest just yesterday and today. The second-"The Red Sleigh" was revised one and a half times.

You might say the first one is fantasy, or perhaps paranormal, with a Christian bent. The second is steampunk. A total of 3,325 words


The Announcer

By L. E. Doggett

“What are you doing way out here?”

Tonid gazed at the star field one last time, he knew what this who called him but he didn’t know why—this time. He studied the lights for he wanted to remember those bright reds, cool greens, and that new color he couldn’t name. Their fires smelled very new. They must have been formed recently-compared to the whole universe that is. The combination solar rays from all those stars tingled in a different way. These stars each made a sound, combined they made him think of an unusual chour. If he opened his mouth he could taste their radiation. Very sharp and in a way spicy.
He turned. The newcomer hovered not far away. All nine feet tall-two feet taller than Tonid-and broad shoulders of him. His shiny hair hung down to his shoulders. As usual for a warrior, he wore bright golden armor. This set had five dents from a particular battle eons ago. A sixth one made very recently because of an accident with a sword married his lower side. Like Tonid his wings were extended to their fullest.
After a moment Tonid said, “I’m exploring creation.”
“I have been calling for you, for some time.”
“I know but this star nebular is interesting. I’ve never seen those colors before and it smells of a new creation.”
The newcomer looked around and saw what looked like a
thunder cloud in space. The inside rolled, as if colored oil boiled inside an invisible pot. Colors formed, disappeared and reformed in different areas. His eyes widened when he saw two certain colors form for half a second.
“It is beautiful and unique. I have seen those colors only once before...”
With a wench of his head he turned to Tonid with a level gaze, “But I have orders for you.”
With a sigh Tonid said, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t feel like being called on the carpet again, this time for something I can’t remember doing.”
He paused then with a sigh said, “Michael, I know I am the least of the Master’s servants. I try, but my actions do not always work the way I wanted them to. Out here it’s peaceful. I can enjoy creation like it was made to be enjoyed.”
Michael shook his head, “You have done nothing wrong. I have a special assignment for you. One you were designed for.”
“Is that possible?”
“It is—come. Hurry we do not have much time.”
With a flap of his wings Tonid followed his boss. In just moments they swept past stars, outdistanced comets-even felt the pull of a black hole they brushed. Their speed increased until they both out raced sunbeams. As always at this speed a certain noise made him think of time.
One near their destination Tonid slowed, came in for a landing. He settled his wings as he touched down on pavement, a second behind his supervisor. Tonid glanced at the short buildings and shiny pavement that made up their Headquarters. It had been a while since he had seen them, but as always they felt like home.
The complex was larger than any city on Earth. Winged beings like Tonid, and a species with six pairs of wings filled the buildings. Some flew through open high raise windows while others walked the shiny streets, and still more flew upwards and outwards, going on unknown errands.
Once he settled down he folded his wings out of the way. An unbidden image popped into his mind, of what happened the one time he didn’t fold his wings up. Of course no one was hurt, but it still hadn’t been pretty.
Tonid took a deep breath, he enjoyed the fresh scent here. Like a new day after a rain. His body relaxed when he felt the breezes caused by various angels as they arrived or took off.
He followed Michael into the building through a wide door-it looked wider than it had been Tonid thought with a grimace-, through a long corridor with doors everywhere. Finally to the assignment room. As soon as their feet touched the room’s floor an image formed in the middle of the room.
Michael said, “You are to give a message to the humans.”
“Yes you. You have dealt with them before,”
Tonid winced,
“You look the least threatening of all of us. You’re smaller and carry no sword.”
“Did you have to remind me of that? I still smart over the fact that it was taken away from me.”
Michael probably unconsciously, brushed the newer dent in his armor and said, “Don’t worry no one was hurt and you know you’ll get it back if you have need of it.”
With a blush Tonid nodded.
“Now you’re to go to this location.”
A scene that showed short, rolling hills formed in the center of the room. Tonid noticed that the hills were treeless and covered in grass. Medium sized furry animals grazed around the hills.
Tonid turned back to his supervisor.
“You sure you want me to do this?”
“The message is short, only three sentences. You should be able to give it without problems.”
“I hope so. What is the message?”
The other spoke the three sentences. When he was done Tonid stared at him wide eyed, he tasted shock and his skin cooled.
“What? So soon? It can’t be time for that yet.”
“It is. Can’t you feel it? All of the preparations have been made. It’s going to happen and someone needs to warn the humans.”
“But you can’t want me to give that message. It’s too big-too important. You’re an archangel, you should give it.”
“I have given my message already, this one is yours.”
“Remember you were designed to not to scare the humans out of their wits. I am a warrior you aren’t, which is good for this.”
“Okay I get that, but what if I’m attacked? That is very important event”
“Don’t worry you will have a large back up. They will also be there to back up you up for something else. No more stalling, this request came from Upstairs.”
Shock appeared on Tonid’s face as he stepped back, “He wanted me to give this message?”
“Yes, He was quite insistence about you doing it, obviously He knows you can do this. If you really want to you can tell Him He is mistaken. I would not advise it though…”
“No, no, no. I wouldn’t tell Him that. Okay, whe...when do I leave?”
“Right now. You’re cutting it close, but if you hurry you still have time.”
Tonid pointed to the image, “Where are those hills?”
“You’ll know.”
Tinod nodded.
“You got the message?”
Tonid repeated it.
The other nodded.
Tonid turned, hurried out of the room, then practically ran out of the building. On the way back to the landing area he felt tempted to take off from early that was frowned upon with good reason. With a last look at his supervisor he took off even as his wings unfolded.
As he headed for Earth he thought, he was right I do know where to go.
Within a very short period of time he entered the atmosphere of earth. He could feel the heat made by his passage, I wish I could land like a shooting star, like we used to do before the trouble started, but that would scare the humans, so no fireworks.
As he neared the ground, he smelled grass and...sheep manure.
He thought, oops better make sure they can see me.
Less then an eye blink later he became visible above a group of men. They either stood, or sat on rocks near the animals Tonid had seen earlier.
As they looked up; some shouted, while others ran, two backed up while they stared at him.
Tonid felt a bad taste in his mouth, he almost blew it before he could get the message out. He changed his form to one like a normal man, with a white, robe-type garment instead of armor.
Hmm, I can feel the other angels waiting for their part...I need to look my most unthreateningly--maybe it’s good I
don’t have a sword after all...I still think Michael should have given this goes.
With his empty hands spread out on either side he opened his mouth, in a voice he hoped sounded calm but would carry to them all, he said, “Be not afraid, I bring you...”
Without a conscious decision Tonid straightened, in a loud clear nice sounding voice he continued,
“Good tidings of great Joy....”

The End

The Red Sleigh

The red sleigh jerked as the onboard steam boiler started. The quiet night burst with the hiss of a fire and melting ice. I watched the scene from the shadows under a mass of pine trees, many other trees surrounded the complex with workshops and a cabin that looked like a home.

The bubbling of the hot water soon joined the other noises. Snow that had lain on the top white edges of both sides of the sleigh fell and joined the deep snow already on the ground. A device set in the back portion of the sleigh soon hummed.
My clothes were a dark blue which helped to cancel me even though my white scarf might be seen if anyone looked in my direction. I knew though I would need to move closer. I did but before I could step out of the shadow of the trees, someone moved. I stopped with such a jerk. I thought he might notice, but he went about his job of checking the device and the sleigh.
A cold wind blew on my face. A sniff brought with it pine scents and cold. But something else. Certain chemicals must be in some of those buildings whose shadows I could see. They might be paint and clue scents. I knew those odors well. Where toys storied in those buildings I could barely see? I wondered if I had walked a lot further than I thought. This place looked kinda of familiar but…
I had heard of some strange lights and noises out here and had decided to check them out on my way to my church. I had walked a lot further than I thought I would need to. As I watched s silver nitrate liquid, which glowed, began to flow through silver and copper pipes along the sides of the conveyance. The pipes had been hooked onto the sides in three rows, each of which continued under it and, I presumed, around the other side and back the rear end where they went up and connected to one large tank. Two of the pipes split off to travel along two long wooden frames. Eight four-footed animals waited in-between those support arms. The pipes continued on along around the front of the two lead animals and, I again assumed, continued on the other side to rejoin the ones on the sleigh. Or so I thought from what I could see.
It didn’t take long for enough ozone to form for me to be able to taste it on the air I breathed in, even though I stood many yards away from this contraption. Not only did the shadows formed by the forest trees hide me but the fact that the only light came from the moon and the lanterns that hung around the large cabin nearby. It had a porch and a steeped roof with two chimneys and three windows that I could see. A door should be around the corner. Three lanterns shown from the sleigh also. Other buildings, which included a large workshop sat further away in darkness, I could just make out the outlines of a some of them.
When the chubby man in a red suit with white fur trim and tiny bells, was preoccupied with something. I stepped out and moved closer. The man straighten, I froze pretended I was a tree, while he climbed on board. He wiped a hand over his white beard and thick mustache.
The glow from the liquid spread outward from the pipes. After a minute it enveloped the animals and sleigh. Once that happened, the whole unit lifted off of the snow. Only a couple of inches though.
Cold started to seep through my thick clothes so I hoped this show would get over fast. I figured another minute, maybe two to get the thing flying. I rubbed some of the snow from a branch next to my check, onto my lips. I would rather have hot chocolate but this would do. It melted fast and helped with my thirst. It had been a while since I had finished dinner, or had anything to drink. I had expected to have something hot to drink at my next stop but that report of strange lights, led me this way.
I never expected to see a bearded man in a red suit with a sleigh and what might be reindeer. All of that noise and steam didn’t fit the image of songs and stories, though. Of course the steam and white smoke could be mistaken for clouds or snow when the flew through the air, and high enough anyone who saw them wouldn’t hear the sounds. I stepped closer to see if I could tell who the person was.
Damn, the angle was bad. The steam created something akin to fog. I would need to get even closer.
Hey, the cloud of steam blocked me from his view also. So I stepped to another tree significantly nearer the contraption. It looked so real, but with certain differences.
He turned to the house and shouted, “I’ll be back just before sunrise. They will be greatly surprised when I show up tonight afterall.”
I startled again, I hadn’t seen anyone near the cabin or at a window. I must be losing it, I hoped they hadn’t seen me. Now though I noticed a curtain move. The head of a woman showed. She only looked at the man without fear so I suspected I was safe from view.
The animals started to run at a command from the man. The unit rose higher and the movement of the hoofs seem to push it forward. Of course there could be another aethery engine I couldn’t see. These reindeer must be very well trained and used to this, for they didn’t rear in fear or let out any scared sounds. I had gotten a good look at the sleight and contraption. It was as I suspected. I had gotten close enough to see the man’s winkled face and the make up of the sleigh
Now that it was roof high, it didn’t take long for the sleigh to fly away. No shout of good night and a Merry christmas though. I suppose the rider couldn’t think of everything.
I shook my head and the thought came to mind to see if he left anything here, but that woman could hear or see me. I figured it had been assembled here. I didn’t know where those reindeer-if that was what they were-had come from, but I now that I stood significantly closer I recognized that chemical smell as sliver nitrate, probably in tanks in those buildings and the burnt copper stink that came from heating up those pipes to bend them in the correct way. Maybe from melting the metal and pouring it in molds of some type also. There was some paint odor too which may have confused me earlier.
With a shake of my head I turned and continued on to my church. As pastor the people who lived around here-which included a scientist who was also a mechanic and tinker-expected me to be there tonight for the Christmas Eve celebration of Christ’s birth. I was cold anyway, that wasn’t good on these evenings.
After fifteen minutes I found the road: dirt in the summer and fall, mud in the spring and beaten down snow in the winter, and continued on. No shelter from the wind but I made better time along it. The way to the church was quiet but I thought I heard the steam pumps a couple of time carried on the wind. I thought of the hot chocolate, popcorn and candy canes that would be at the church.
Later that night, after the songs, skits and plenty of hot chocolate and candy canes, I headed home again. I thought about going in one of the steamautos or flatbed steam-trucks, but I wanted to check back at that workshop. It was, of course, even colder, but if I kept moving I would be okay. The moon was full now and even though few lights around I could see the road well enough. The quiet always helped me think on my sermons. I found my steps in the snow and took a side trip back to where I had seen the contraption. All was still there. Two of the cabin’s lanterns had gone out, but others still burned. Nothing moved but I didn’t see the sleigh or the animals. They could have been put away but I thought they were still out flying.
I turned back and headed home. I kept half an eye on the sky. Once at him though I saw something move through the sky. I stared at it. There would be no airship or even full zeppelins out tonight.
The object grew and passed overhead very quickly. I heard jingle bells-no hissing, but they could be coasting. I sniffed, smelled pine trees and snow. For a second I thought I smelled peppermint, oranges and of all things cookies. But that had to be my imagination fed by my memory. Pictures of a certain workshop invaded my conscious mind. I had been there a whole year. A lot longer than any other human. How I stayed there for so long was another story though.
I went inside, but didn’t go to sleep. I finally had that hot chocolate, a recipe 500 years in the making, if I was told correctly.
While I drank I recalled a conversation, my last day at that other snow covered workshop.
“Spilsong, we will miss you.”
“I must say that I miss you, the Mrs. and this grand workshop.”
He went on to add that, “I know you missed the calling you had which was given on this most Holy night at an earlier time. I can’t hold you back from it, but you can still visit.”
“Aye, I can.”
As the chocolate flavor washed through my mouth, I surprised myself by thinking that I wanted to visit that workshop and that home again, when though I didn’t know.
I shook my head at that thought. After a sip I stared at my cup.
I thought about how a real leather harness flexes and how another sleigh had a huge red bag in the back. Not to mention reindeer that could land anywhere they wanted to, effortlessly and with a precision that was remarkable. I had ridden in one like that.
Was the fake one I saw tonight part of some nefarious plan, just the man having fun, or if someone had challenged him, saying that not even he could make a sleigh fly? I shrugged, maybe I should find out, but not tonight. Better be off to sleep, I had to get up early to deliver presents, to receive some, have more hot chocolate and sing praises to our God and Savior. I smiled at that and at old memories. I could go in a day or two, maybe with a couple of men just to make sure.
I nodded and finished the cup, went to bed.


Monday, December 19, 2016

The why of Christmas Words:Joy, Peace, Hope, Love

Christmas is almost upon us which makes it time for my yearly note on Christmas. The last couple of years I have talked about why Christmas and the fact of a relationship with Jesus. This year I decided to talk about some of the words associated with Christmas. In most Christmas displays and books on Christmas you see some certain words: Joy, Peace, Hope, Love. 
    Love comes from the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten-or born-son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. And that God showed His great love toward us while we were yet enemies of God Christ died for us. The Just for the Unjust. God is Love and even though we-each one of us-blew it and became separated from God, He still wants us back and decided to do whatever it took to allow us the choice of forgiveness and a right relationship with Him.
   Hope comes from the fact that God loves each one of us. It matters not what we have done, how many times we have done it, or what was done to us. God is good at wiping away tears and healing our inner hurts and emotional issues. Again it doesn’t matter who we are, what we have done-or not done. God, The Creator, Loves You. He proved it in a simple way everyone can see and understand. And God gives us second chances in our lives. There is a judgement coming for He is the perfect Judge, but He has given us a way to be declared innocent and to skip the judgement. God is Love and will heal and forgive you. 
   Peace. Jesus said that He will gives us a peace that goes beyond understanding. It is there at all times and in all situations. God is there with you and is able to help in any situation. He is powerful, caring, all knowing and able to heal and help. He knows what we need, He knows our hearts and He is with us. That last is part of the Christmas message. God with us. As a people-as humankind, but also He is with us individually. Once we have the forgiveness for our sins He offers, we can know His peace and Know He Is With Us.
   Joy. This comes from a personal relationship with God. Jesus was born on the day we celebrate as Christmas, a very important event worthy of celebration. But He came to live as a perfect Human-He put aside His God powers and walked as a man. He then not only taught us about God and did wonderful things, but He died as an innocent man in our place. Each of our places. This wonderful gift brings Joy unspeakable. I have experienced this Joy and know how much above happiness it is. It is good to be happy, but this is above that. You can have this Joy in any circumstances, even in hurt, and trouble. It comes from Hope which I mentioned already, from knowing God is with us and from Jesus Himself. He promised to give us Joy and He keeps His promises.    
    The promise of Christmas is great and wonderful. Love for the whole world-love for each of us individually makes it fantastic. The promise that God is with us makes live worth living even if we feel the opposite. The promise, that came later, that Jesus would die for us thereby showing His great Love and allowing us forgiveness of sin and right standing with God gives us Hope. For salvation but for a changed live and healing also. Joy and Peace follow those like puppy dogs can follow their master. 

It is easy to believe this even if we think it isn’t. You really are one step away from this forgiveness and right standing with God and a healing relationship with Jesus. Tell God what you want, tell Him of your doubts, of your pain, of your sin. Even of your anger. He is a big God and knows how to deal with that too. 

There are churches, web sites, and individual people who can tell you more. The Bible is good for that too. 

Below are two places online where you can talk to people but there are a huge number of other places. 

A prayer for salvation

A Christmas message from Billy Graham