Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Asia (02/26/09)
TITLE: The Asian Element
By Tim Pickl
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Skeptical, distracted by the music on my iPod, I left the mall and sauntered through dozens of parked cars toward the Fair. I stopped at the main road. As traffic sped by, I spotted a huge circus tent propped up in a parking lot across the street.
I thought, Thank You Lord for such a beautiful night.
I saw a huge sign, in large, bold letters:
Under it was scrawled in smaller letters:
“Interesting…” I said aloud. When the traffic light changed, the cars stopped and I walked across the street. Intrigued, I powered off my iPod in the middle of my latest favorite song (“We Three Kings”, a new choir arrangement) and walked toward the tent. It was surrounded by dozens of people dressed like aliens and characters from a dozen different sci-fi movies.
I passed by a kid dressed like E.T., The Extraterrestrial. “Phone home”, he said in a scratchy voice, pointing at my face with a long, bony finger. It was strange-- in-a-good-way strange-- because it reminded me to call my mom and let her know I was going to the Fair.
As I stepped through the main opening in the tent, a green lizard-like humanoid alien handed me a Sci-Fi Fair Bag, filled with goodies, trinkets and advertisements.
“Thank you.” I said, smiling.
“It’ssssss sssssssssooo good to have you here. Enjoy the fair!”
I looked around—I was in a different world. It was dark inside, except the lights emanating from various displays. I looked up, gawking, because they had the stars projected on the tent ceiling.
It was amazing.
Weaving through the Fair, it almost seemed real. I knew it was all science fiction, and some of what was being sold was just outright outrageous, but there was one display that caught my attention. On a simple, threefold cardboard was written:
(new element symbol MEU)
Wow, I thought. What’s this?
When clasped in both hands, MEU is guaranteed to transport you via a temporal vortex to the place and time you are thinking of as soon as the element is trapped. The more MEU you use, the longer your visit will be. The temporal vortex is temporary. Take as much MEU as your hands can hold, but remember to concentrate.
Sitting in front of the display was a sealed aluminum container, completely covered with “Hazardous Waste” stickers, marked MEU Sample. I turned my head both ways, and saw no one looking. I picked up the container, unscrewed the cap and tipped it over toward my left hand. A sparkly, glowing thick silver substance dripped out.
It felt hot, and it scared me.
I dropped the container and grabbed my left hand with my right, inadvertently clasping them together.
Where am I?
It was a calm, clear winter night. I noticed right away the stars shining so bright in the sky. They seemed so close—especially one of them.
I was standing on a hill—in a desert?
I heard some men yelling and looked down. There was enough light to see a several camels. I heard them grunting and growling.
One of the men spotted me.
“Hey, you on the hill, come here now!” Somehow I was able to understand them.
I noticed I was dressed like them. I half-stumbled down the sandy slope.
“We need your help. Here, feed these camels.”
“How do I—“
After feeding the camels, we sat around a campfire and talked.
Curious, I asked them, “Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going?”
Snickering, one of them answered, “You ask many questions, lad. We are the Magi. We are on a quest from Asia to pay homage to the newborn King.”
“You are the three kings!”
All the men convulsed, laughing for several minutes. Finally, one of them spoke. “We are not kings as you suppose. We are servants of the kingdoms we hail from. We seek the True King, to give Him gifts. Here, hold this gift in your hand.”
Interesting, I thought. It looks like MEU.
“I tried calling and you didn’t answer so I came--”
“Oh, mom--I have a story to tell you.”
Matthew 2:1-12 (New International Version - NIV)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:"
'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
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