Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: End Times (02/27/14)
TITLE: The Astronomical Clock
By Phillip Cimei
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“I'm sorry Jacque, the treatments have not been working; the brain tumor has grown so fast no radiation, operation or chemo will help. I have prescribed you some stronger pain medication. I'm afraid it will keep you mostly sedated.”
Jacque tried to mask the uncontrollable twitching as he stared into space. Tears swelled up as he asked the inevitable question, “How long, Doc?”
“Soon, real soon. I'm so sorry.”
Jacque left the office with a prescription clasped tightly in his hand. He wandered aimlessly down the streets in the old section of Strasburg, France. Then, he turned into a store and walked up to the chemist, still holding the prescription.
“Yes, may I help you,” said the chemist at the desk.
“Do you have any cyanide?”
“What do you need it for?”
“I have a rat problem and need to put some in food to kill them.”
Jacque left with a bottle of cyanide in one hand, the prescription still in the other and a plan.
As he stepped into the street, his eyes caught a glimpse of Notre Dame. His chest exploded with excitement. As a child, his mother would take him to see this magnificent Gothic structure with its ornate carvings, breath taking stained glass and “the astronomical clock”. “This will be the perfect place, “ he said.
He walked briskly to the west entrance, clasped the cast medal handle on the massive door and entered. He immediately focused his attention on the towering astronomical clock. He had lucked out and had entered at the scheduled time when the unusual movements would begin.
He watched as figures would emerge from one side and parade around in a semi circle, then disappear on the other side. Death stood with his sickle watching as each age appeared and passed in front of him. A child looking so innocent and pure would hold up his tiny hand and strike the bell indicating the end of childhood. Youth with an inquisitive look raised his hand and rang the bell, an adult with his robust arm would strike the bell, then an old and decrepit man would lift his time wearied arm and strike the bell. Finally, death, depicted by a skeleton, would strike the passing of life. Jacque sighed a deep breath.
Jacque knew where his life fit in this parade, he focused on death and thought how soon “his” bell would be rung. He bowed his head and wept bitterly. Then he felt a hand rest on his shoulder.
He flinched and turned, “Who are you?'
A man, who bore a similar resemblance to Friar Tuck in the movie Robin Hood, dawned a comforting smile and said, “ I am brother John. You look like you need a friend.”
Jacque broke down and confessed that he came there to see one more time the story of life through this clock and then end his. His lips quivered as he confessed his hopelessness.
Brother John told him that each stage of life has its end, childhood, youth, adulthood and old age. Even life has its end time.
Brother John gently raised him up and said, “Come with me and I will ease your pain.”
He led Jacque through the ominous archways to the base of what looked like the side of a mountain. There at the top of this structure was a cross with the figure of Christ hanging on it.
“You see that man there, he bore the same anguish as you knowing that he would soon die. He prayed to God so fervently that great drops of blood spewed from his pours. He was given comfort from his father and his trust carried him through. Do you believe in God?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
“Do you believe in that man who bore that pain for you.?”
“Then go home, and I will send some sisters to care for you till the end.”
“Jacque, wake up. Jacque come on, it is time to get up. You will be late for your school field trip to see the astronomical clock.”
Jacque stirred a little, shook his head and let out a sigh of relief. It was a dream
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