The sea lurched. Doctor Bae Hyong tensed and Miss Ryu steadied him. She was remarkably adept: his head swam and his gut revolted but for her touch.
General Namgung seemed unperturbed. His eyes were locked on the Ring. Thousands of troops likewise stood resolute on the decks of the vessels that encircled the Ring.
“How long now?” asked the General.
“Soon, General,” said Hyong. He pulled a watch from his pocket and glanced at it. “Very soon.”
The waiting stretched on. Namgung paced like a hungry dog. “If you are wrong, many people suffer death.”
Hyong only grimaced and nodded.
Genet stood atop a dais before the throng of pilgrims. As the day had approached, their dozens had become hundreds and then thousands. To them he appeared to stand within and fill the nearly complete Ring.
“We are all in God’s hands now,” said Genet. His words were passed backward through the crowd by his selected Speakers. “Our beloved brother Ephrim is not here with us,” he said. “But we will see him again soon, at the head of God’s host.”
He began to sing a prayer and when the multitude took it up the din shook the very ground.
Luiz shook his head without looking up. “Ain’t going to happen.”
Ellie crossed her arms. “There’s more of these damn fools every day, Lu. They’re gonna get killed.”
Luiz shrugged. “Let ‘em. Who are you to say otherwise?”
“Dammit, Lu, I’m serious. They’re dragging their kids out there.”
Luiz sighed. “Say I agree: no more supply runs, no more guides. That’ll stop them?”
“Some of them,” Ellie said with transparent uncertainty.
“I know you want to help these idiots, Ellie, but it isn’t in your hands”
“Then who’s hands? God’s?”
“No. Their hands. And that’s the way they want it.”
Just a quick note, aside from The Ring Makers micronovel (which i promise I will discuss in depth at some point):
I just submitted Elger and the Moon to DAW Books. They are having an open call at the moment. And now I am pretty sure I am going to spend the next 3 months (the estimated response time) in a state of high anxiety.
Here’s the thing: I really like that book and I was really crushed when it became.. inert so quickly. I understand that I could not give it the marketing attention it needed, but despite that understanding I still felt like it was a failure. Submitting it this way to a traditional publisher is a big step for me. It’s me saying that the failure of Elger and the Moon as a self published novel does not mean Elger and the Moon is a failure, and by extension it doesn’t mean I am as a writer. I know that is going to sound self indulgent to folks (it sounds self indulgent to me) but that is honestly how I felt for over two years now at least as it relates to fiction.
The Ring Makers is partly a healing strategy for that, forcing myself to write daily with intent and direction and within limits. Submitting Elger was a much bigger part of that process, though.
So, here goes nothing.
The rows of dishes pointed skyward. They turned ever so slowly, like flowers following the sun. They listened, as they had been listening for thirty years.
Not far away inside the squat concrete building the servers hummed. Strings of numbers were recorded, representations of the signal that streamed from the sky. It had repeated nearly one million times over those years. There was enough storage to record the signal for another thirty years, if the solar collectors and batteries held out that long.
That would not be necessary. The signal was nearly finished transmitting, it’s purpose soon to be fulfilled.
Hyong shuffled into the office. Miss Ryu rushed to him, her firm gentle grip on his elbow. His nod was little more than a tremor. Miss Ryu’s face remained pleasant and warm but her eyes shone glassy.
General Namgung said, “Welcome back, Doctor.”
“I trust you have found your motivation.”
Hyong bowed sharply. Miss Ryu’s expression remained placid despite the storm inside.
“Good. There is not much time and we need answers.”
Hyong bowed again. Namgung left.
“Doctor, perhaps tea–”
Hyong sighed. “Yes. That would be fine.” He hobbled toward the monitor room. “Thank you.”
Genet watched from above as the workers laid the tiles. He had arranged them.
Abal stood beside him, awaiting his command. Genet ignored the pilgrim and watched as the image formed below him.
Across hours of work, Ephrim’s face appeared amidst the tiles. As it did Genet felt an ache he could not endure without weeping, so he did.
Finally Abal said, “It is nearly complete.”
“Yes,” said Genet. “Our prophet’s face will look upon our work again.”
Abal bowed. “Pardon me, brother, but I was speaking of the Ring.”
Genet’s expression hardened. “Yes. Of course.” Let God’s vengeance come.
Ellie pulled her laden truck into Deaver City. The tents and lean-tos had multiplied and some had given way to sheds and shacks
Monica greeted Ellie. While her people unloaded Ellie’s supplies she said, “Could be any day now.”
Ellie peered up at the Ring. It was impossible to know but she could believe “Closure” was imminent. “Yeah.” She grimaced.”We’re pulling back another couple miles. You should, too.”
Monica laughed. “Hell no. We have the best seats in the house.”
When the truck was loaded with cracked stones in payment, Ellie drove off as fast as it would go.
“The prisoner will stand up!”
The guard’s command echoed against the walls. Bae Hyong did not move. He sat in the corner with his head resting on his knees.
The guard unlocked the door. “The prisoner will stand up!”
Hyong did not move.
The barred door slid open. “The prisoner will stand up!”
Hyong made every effort to lift his head but it simply lolled off his knees until his chin hit his chest.
The guard pulled him up by his hair then slapped his face. “The prisoner will stand up!”
Somehow Hyong found the strength to lock his knees.
“You must run!” Genet yelled, shaking Ephrim.
“No,” said Ephrim. He guided Genet’s hands away and kissed his forehead.
“They are coming!”
“I know. I have always known they would come. It doesn’t matter.”
“But the temple! The Ring!”
Ephrim stroked Genet’s cheek and soothed him. “My part is done. We are merely waiting for God now. Whatever they do to me, they cannot hold back the inevitable.”
Genet sobbed. “I do not want to lose you!”
Ephrim embraced Genet. “You will find me again in heaven. Have faith.”
The apartment door exploded inward, followed first by smoke, then bullets.