The Following is an excerpt from Chapter Four:
Wil walked between the rows of corn, admiring the height of his planting. As tall as himself, the stalks were dark green and well cared for. It was almost time for them to turn color and signify the harvest, a time he thoroughly enjoyed. He loved driving the large combine and bringing in the bounty.
Corn wasn’t the only crop he had planted. In the southwest corner were fields of soybeans. In the southeast, the sunflowers were in their prime. That field would get the winter wheat; the soybeans he would replace next year with alfalfa for the livestock.
He emerged from the field and turned to face the sun, low on the horizon. The colors of the sky were a magnificent backdrop to his lush, green fields. He could feel the sun’s warmth on his face. This was Wil’s favorite place. He turned again and headed towards the farmhouse where Rosie and the kids would be. Dinner should be ready soon.
An angel was waiting for him when he came in.
She wasn’t his regular angel, that one was tall and blonde, wore a white robe and had wings- the archetypical image that everyone possessed when they thought of an angel. This woman was shorter and biracial; he couldn’t tell, but she had a face t hat seemed to be Eurasian or Polynesian. She had black hair that went past her shoulders and wore a blue tunic that came to the top of her knees- and she was barefoot. H e saw no wings on her back.
Even so, Wil mile and bright green eyes. A glow seemed to emanate from her; not an actual glow but an otherworldly shimmer outlining her body, as though she was out of sync with the rest of the program. When she spoke to him, he lost all doubt; it was as if she were singing with the most melodious voice.
“What do you want? Where are Rosie and the boys?”
is having dinner with you at this very moment. I wanted to speak with you alone.”
Her eyes and smile were infectious, compelling him to look at her. She motioned to the couch. “Please sit down.”
“Do I have a choice?” He slowly dropped onto the worn, floral-pattern couch, staying on the edge of the cushion and leaning forward ever so slightly.
“Why would you be watching me?”
“Because you are different from most- special,” she said. “Let me ask you something. Are you happy here?”
Wil shrugged, “I guess… this is my favorite world. I like to come here most of all.”
The angel took his hand in hers. It was warm, and he felt a calmness envelope his body. “Do you ever ask yourself why you are so happy here in this world?”
He thought for a moment. “I guess it’s because I feel like I am doing something with my life. I can feel something positive in here… but it isn’t real, I’m not getting anywhere at all. I’m just killing time until I die and join Jesus in heaven. So… I’m not happy. Who could really be happy here?”
Her face betrayed a melancholy mirroring his own struggle of their lives. These worlds provide for them, if not happines s, then a complacent acceptance. Not long ago, people who were bored and lost would turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to accept themselves. Now they have virtual worlds. This has become their drug of acceptance.
“Most people who come here go to worlds of sex or violence. They fight wars or jump from airplanes or ski down mountains. They go to the worlds that make them feel alive, but in truth living is the last thing they want. It is too much of a challenge, so they hide in here.”
She turned to look at him again, her smile returned. “But you, Wil. You come here, to a world where there is no adrenaline rush, just hard work, and challenges. You come to a place where you can feel as though you are giving something of yourself, accomplishing things, making a difference. That makes you very special, and I am here to help you.”
“Help me do what? No one gets out of the box. We’re just passing time until we can go to our reward in heaven, where we can be with God and happy forever.”
The angel was silent for a moment. She looked deeply into his eyes.
“What if all there is… is now? What if all you possess is within this life? What if there is no heavenly reward waiting for anyone, just the end of existence? Do you want to spend the time you have, the life you have, in this prison, accomplishing nothing, passing quickly and leaving nothing of yourself? Or would you rather leave this machine and go into the real world, where you can strive to make a difference for yourself, and for others?
“I already know the answer, Wil, and you know it yourself. I will help you to leave here and find great things out there.”
Wil felt something that had been missing for a long time. He didn’t recognize the feeling at first, but the angel had brought it back. It was hope. Still, it sounded too good to be true.
“How do you plan to go about helping me?” he asked.
The angel stood up and opened her arm. “The men and women who created this machine did not mean for it to be used as a game or a prison. It was to be a place of teaching and learning. For you, it will once again have such a purpose!”
“That’s crazy. I’m no good at school. That’s why I’m in here.”
She gave him a wry smile. “Did you not teach yourself how to be a farmer?”
“That’s different. It’s just a world where I get what I want anyway. The crops will grow whether I know anything or not.”
She smiled at him in a manner his mother often had. “You are wrong, Wil. You have been doing all of this on your own. If you had made mistakes, the crops wouldn’t have grown. Instead, you asked the local farmers for help and learned from them, and you read the books and manuals provided. You used the program to improve yourself
He looked at her, astounded by what she had just told him. The corn outside that grew so high was his doing! Hope grew stronger.
“Ok, so where do we begin?” he asked.
“We begin with the basics. You must have a foundation in the sciences. Over the next few weeks, you will meet some very important people, Newton, Einstein, Steven Hawking, Charles Darwin to name a few.
“Every day I will meet you and take you to a special place where you can learn from them and others. When you have learned enough, you will begin to develop more specialized skills.”
The angel touched Wil’s face. “You must understand a few things. I can accelerate your learning curve, but even so, you will still be here for at least one more year.
“I don’t understand. You’re an angel.”
“Yes, but I am not their angel. I am an angel that is not a part of their software. I am unique. No one must know of your training or myself.”
“Ok, I get it,” Wil said. He thought for a moment, “What about Sonya? I want her to come with us too.”
The angel frowned. “I am not sure that she is special like you, Wil. She is unpredictable, and her choice of worlds is not like yours.”
“We can talk to her together. She is strong and smart and hates this place as much as I do,” Wil replied. He looked at the angel, his voice pleading. “She’s better than me in so many ways.”
He saw the angel considering it. “Alright, we will go to see her together but if she doesn’t cooperate I will have to take her memory of myself and the conversation away. You must never mention anything to her again.”
“She’ll be fine,” Wil insisted. He paused, “There is still something I don’t understand. You want me to learn and train, but in the end, I will still have to go out into the real world and try to find work. What are the odds of that happening?”
“No, Wil, you don’t understand. You are special, but you aren’t the only one who is special. There are thousands just like you who m I am helping. A great change is coming, and all will be needed.”
The angel smiled, and her aura brightened the room.
“Something wonderful is about to happen!”