Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bon Voyage (09/05/05)
TITLE: Gathering Darkness
By Jan Ackerson
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As I said, I’ve been watching Noah ever since he started building. He even got his three weird sons to help him out on most days. I suppose they were just humoring the old man—didn’t want to jeopardize their inheritance. But a few weeks ago, I decided to have some fun. I told Avram and Eli, my companions from the village, to meet me at Noah’s field. That monstrosity he was building was starting to take shape.
I knew I could count on Avram to bring a few extra wineskins, and he didn’t let me down. The three of us spent the day drinking and taunting Noah. Eli was in especially rare form.
“Hey Noah, you planning on living in this thing?” Eli called out. “Ever thought about putting in more than one tiny window?” “Don’t you think this is just a bit too big, Noah? What—are you going to keep your animals in here, too? Gonna smell real nice, buddy!”
Noah just kept right on building. He mostly ignored us. I’ve never seen such single-mindedness. Occasionally we heard him mumbling; it sounded like he was memorizing lists of provisions for a journey. Frequently he looked up at the sky. I suppose his god was talking to him.
One morning not long ago, I awoke to a horrible stench. A brief stroll to Noah’s field revealed the cause: Noah was covering the entire structure with tar. This was just too much; I went back home and got my children to come and watch. We had a sort of picnic, and the kids made up funny little chants. I had to laugh when Lillith came up with “Noah, Noah, where you gonna go-ah?” And little Itzak daubed his hands and face with mud in a mockery of the old man. How I laughed when Itzak found a rock and imitated Noah’s every move, covering it with tar-like mud!
That brings us to today. For the last several days, I’ve been conducting business in the village. On the way home, I led my donkey past Noah’s place, and I was surprised by what I saw. His entire field had been trampled down, as if herds of animals had been there. They seemed to have flattened a path right up to Noah’s construction. And indeed, as I traced the trodden path with my eyes, there was Noah at the hatch, slapping the rumps of a pair of sheep. Eli was right—he’s planning to live with his flocks! He’s crazier than I thought!
And then—it must have been a trick of the light—Noah went inside, and the hatch seemed to close of its own accord. Rumor in the village has it that he and his family say they are going on a trip. I don’t see how that’s possible. They’re currently sealed in a giant, tar-covered building. They’re all just as crazy as he is. But—have a great trip, Noah. Bon voyage. Won’t be able to see much from that one tiny window, pal. But it’s all right—that thing’s not going anywhere. Yeah—bon voyage!
I’m heading home now. I’ve never seen the sky look quite like this.
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