A Place to Stand
On Green Island
The crowd, so raucous and angry just a few short seconds previously, had grown very nearly silent as the voice of Ms Groland rang out in front of the court house, and I was catching my breath and listening to her when my tumbling thoughts were interrupted by a tugging on my sleeve.
"Sorry to interrupt you, Sir," Marsden, the GRIPP bodyguard who had been my shadow since the events of that morning began to unfold, was saying, as I dragged my attention away from the 10-meter screen affixed to the outer wall of the Island Broadcasting office that dominated the attention of most everyone, "but this lady seems to have something important to say."
I looked beside Marsden, and saw a face I vaguely recognized.
"Stephen - sorry, sorry, Mr. Bigelow, Sir," she spoke, a bit breathlessly, "I'm BethLee Fraser, we've met before in the Courthouse, but you probably don't remember me. But there's - ah - a new judge, or - or - or something - it seems, who has just come in, or arrived or something, a few minutes ago, and he's - ah - she - ah - they're starting a new hearing or something upstairs in Number 1. He - ah - she - ah - seems to be quite - um - authoritative - he - ah - I don't know who she is, but the word is out somehow that everyone involved yesterday should get back to the courthouse pronto - um - and everyone is coming, even some of the Americans and the Canadian Supremes and they, um, seem to be not really wanting to come to judge by their words but it's like their feet are moving themselves or something - and some other - ah - look, Mr. Bigelow, I can't really say much more, or you'll think I've lost my marbles. But could you please, please just come into the courthouse just for a minute for a look? Now?!? I'm really, really sorry to bother you with all that's going on here this morning, but it really is quite important, I think ...."
I looked back towards the courthouse, puzzled by Bethlee's words. I could see, as she directed my attention to it, that there seemed to be a great deal of activity in the second-floor foyer in front of the main courtroom, which was partly visible through the wide, building-long second floor windows, and as I looked down to the ground floor and the large front doors, I could see Fred Pierce, one of the older courthouse guards whom I had known for several years, a decent sort, waving at me with a serious look on his face. From what little I recalled of them, I knew both Bethlee and Fred to be reliable types, not given to baseless panic or undue excitement after many years of working around the courthouse, where the unusual was somewhat the norm and keeping lids on potential problems rather than throwing the hands in the air and the brain to the wind at the drop of a hat or loud voice was a topline JD item.
With a small frown and final glance to the big screen and the momentous speech of Ms Groland unfolding, I turned back and nodded to Marsden and Bethlee, and followed them through the throng.
A minute later we passed through the front door of the Green Island Law Courts building, a remnant of earlier days being phased out as we found more civilized ways of doing things but still serving as a bridge of sorts between the old and new ways, to be greeted by Pierce.
"Upstairs in Court Room Number 1, Mr. Bigelow," he said, eyes wide, reaching out as if to grab my arm but stopping at the last second, and simply leading the way towards the stairs, gesturing as he spoke, "They're waiting for you, I think! Or at least I don't think they've started yet! I had a look inside just a couple of minutes ago before running back down to look for you, and - well, it's a day like no other I've ever seen here, I tell you, Sir!"
I pushed my way upstairs through the crowd, with Marsden and a couple of other GRIPPs close around, the memory of what had recently happened to Brittany no doubt still as fresh in their minds as in mine, and then through the crowd of people milling about in the foyer, some talking in small groups, some looking up at the television screens that had been placed on stands in a couple of places to allow for closed-circuit feeds from the courtrooms if more people wished to see a proceeding than the rather smallish rooms allowed; I could see a lot of puzzled and confused expressions, but before I had a chance to start asking some questions, another of the courthouse guards spotted us and hurried over.
"Mornin', Mr. Bigelow, Sir," he said, "the place is packed this morning, Sir, and that's a fact - but I think they've saved a couple of seats for you, at least that's the word I've been given, somehow, nobody actually told me but I know, like, somehow .... - we've been keeping most of these people out, the courtroom is about packed as it is, but - well - well, maybe it's just easier if you come and see for yourself." He had a puzzled look on his face, but said no more, as he turned and led us through the crowd to the entrance to Courtroom 1, and pulled open one of the large double doors.
The place was packed - and although every courtroom gets occasional large crowds of spectators and famous (or infamous) people as the star attraction, today as I slowly made my way down through the still-getting-seated crowd of spectators, I saw around the front tables a gang I would never have dreamed of in my wildest flights of fancy.
I could see the area had been reorganized a bit, with a couple of large tables added to accommodate a much larger than normal group of people in the area normally reserved for defendants, in legal cases, or respondents in civil. At the first large table I could see a man who appeared to be George 'Pinokioynkoynk' Shurbullie, President of the United States, looking a bit shell-shocked (although not a particularly new expression for him), surrounded by a number of substantial-looking suits, grey and blue and obviously from expensive tailors, who appeared to be lawyers. At a second table I recognized, again with much surprise, in the middle of a smaller group of suits, Conwell Smokupyerbum, the Canadian PM, and the three Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada who had presided over the same room yesterday, looking considerably less arrogant today, dressed in normal suits (or dress on the not so august slightly cellulitic body of the female) - lesser in every way, indeed than when perched behind a great impressive desk several feet above the peons with their billowing black and purple robes and good lighting and makeup and several servile attendants ready to kill for them if anyone dared show disrespect and the rest of the paraphernalia, and the arrogant attitude that goes along with that sort of thing. Most of the 'guests' were speaking furiously, roaring in whispers as they tried to speak above the others but without having their words heard by the crowd watching behind them, with one or another or several of the suits around the tables, looking up every now and then at a yellowish shimmering light that I saw that seemed to surround them - as I watched a couple of them reached out to touch it, carefully, evidently having tried something similar before and got the same response, drawing back their hands quickly with furious frowns as if the shimmering was hot or electrified or something - unwilling guests, it seemed, they all were at the proceedings; I learned later they had been escorted from their various locations earlier by the same shimmering light, the 'unwilling guests' I suppose that Bethlee had referred to. But my attention, remarkably enough, was only held a minute by this unprecedented spectacle, for at the front of the courtroom, above and behind the bench reserved for the regular judge or judges, was an even more eye-stopping scene. Truly amazing, awesome in the true sense of the word, not just modern demonstration-of-power that any tinpot dictator can buy with the help of suitable 'aid' money or Hollywood FX amazing - this was the Real Thing.
As one of the bailiffs touched my arm to get me moving again and led me through the gate that separated the spectator area from the action area of the courtroom, towards an empty seat behind a table at the left side of the front of the room, I was barely aware of taking my seat, being, for perhaps the first time in my life, truly gobsmacked, a word I have never used before, but it seemed perfectly suitable here - a brief flash of Elizabeth ran through my mind watching the birth of a baby goat at Greenways, her first such experience, and watching it find its feet and give its first bleat, "Gobsmacked, Daddy!" - she whispered as she turned to me, eyes wide and bright and shining so beautifully at the wonder of it, and now I finally understood what she meant - the wonder at seeing something entirely new and wonderful for the very first time.
Where the High Bench normally sat above the mortals who appeared in this room to be dealt the justice of the rulers was now a large circular hole of some sort, a construct somehow extending through both ceiling above and floor below of the courtroom, without causing any evident structural renderings. As I stopped and observed in my own wonder for a moment the great but simple design became clear through the portal, black and white engaged yin-yang spirals of the ancient eastern Tao design, the black being apparently emptiness or nothingness within the whitish parts which were composed of some countless number of tiny points of very bright light. I had no sooner noticed this than the wheel began slowly spinning (it seemed to be spinning in many more than just two dimensions, an effect almost impossible to describe, imagine a kaleidescope of round spinning tops or something, with all the colors of the rainbow dancing and splashing and whirling within), and within seconds had begun spinning so fast the details were lost, until it rapidly became the visual equivalent of a large round mass of white noise. The central portion then began to assume the appearance of something less random and opened into a largish oval window with rounded corners. It seemed as if the very fabric of spacetime had been rent, and we were looking into the star-speckled blackness of the universe itself. The air around the whole yin-yang construction seemed to shimmer a bit, with a somewhat bluish tinge to it. A high-pitched, faint sound emanated from it - something like a high-voltage electric current combined with a chorus of angels whose faint voices were coming from over a distant hill and once we crossed the crest of the hill we would receive the full glory of their song might sound like - but whatever it was, the power of the thing was vibrating through everything, like standing on the edge of a controlled Krakatoa an instant before eruption or being strapped atop a Saturn V as the ignition sequence initiated. I suspect, at the moment, I wasn't thinking entirely clearly, and my memories may be a bit suspect - the brain, when faced with things it cannot accept, often does little step-dances around them one way or another to twist them into something understandable. I suspect at that time I was into such a minuet, although not aware of it at the time.
Even as I reached my seat and lowered myself into it the Tao void became non-void. My first impression was like I was standing in a blowing Island snow storm in a dark night out near my old cottage in Harry's Corner, with a bit of light and a lot of wind from behind, the flakes blowing by my face creating a reverse funnel effect, like I was falling down some long tunnel in the universe, kept only on the ground by a tenuous sort of gravity but almost ready to leap into the air like a kite about to fly. Then the flakes started becoming larger, and at some point I realized they were 3-dimensional and not 2, and then sort of round rather than armed, pointed, decorated snowflakes, and then with features, and then I could see small heads with faces blowing by, all kinds of faces, big and small, hairy and bald, old and young, male and female, happy and sad and oblivious and furious, smiling blissfully and screaming with rage, every now and then one blowing into the calm backdraft created by the viewpoint and stopping for a revolving second when I could see the many varying forms - many alien types, but all essentially humanoid, some combination on most of eyes and mouth and nose and ears and hair of some sort decorating a roundish head of some kind. I barely started recognizing this when the field of view rapidly started expanding, and the faces started becoming less defined individually but began blowing into a larger form, with the faces coalescing into darker and lighter spaces, and a pattern began to appear. A huge eye-shape was the first recognizable thing in this new pattern, a swirling sclera surrounding an iris with its light-speckled pupil, then slowly/quickly the retreating perspective continued until a mouth, eyebrows, nose, ears, long hair began to be seen as part of some huge, impossibly vast face, and even vaster body also forming below the face. The initial viewpoint was from front and side, it was dressed, apparently, in some long, simple loose robe, long flowing hair, long spread fingers at the end of extended arms, which were semi-extended and flexing and waving around a bit as if the figure was finding its balance, or perhaps testing its newly created body.
The most noticeable thing, from its first appearance until the very end so very much later yet so soon, was its ephemerality - the colors were constantly changing, the outlines subtly shifting and reforming, like a seashore with waves or a figure behind a waterfall in floodlights at night. The great figure was androgynous and ageless, sometimes appearing female, sometimes male, sometimes younger and sometimes older, sometimes everything all mixed in together.
At first the great figure was not really with us, it kept slowly looking around, but the eyes in the great humanoid face, such as they were, had not yet found us in our anthill courtroom so far below it or removed from where it was, had not yet found the lens through which we were observing it. But then came a point when it became aware of us, perhaps even of itself as well, and its attention seemed to expand, the eyes focus on us all. It was no god anyone had ever heard of as far as I understood such things, but that was what I at least felt was examining us - but a god of and with us, rather than separate and above - or perhaps every god rolled into one, an essence of godhood or something - it would be an interesting study someday, to talk to others and see what they saw that day. The figure eventually seemed to get its bearings, and slow its freeform drifting and spinning and assume a sitting sort of posture, although we could see no chair or table, and began to breathe deeply as it cast its eyes around the courtroom.
All the mystery or wonder in the universe can not deter certain people, however, whose focus is ever on more mundane and important things like money, and as the great figure looked again through the opening to the courthouse, began to find a focus, evidently this time seeing in as we could see his/er eyes becoming more alert by the second, and surveying us, one of the suits in front of the President (it did turn out that that was indeed who it was), a smallish, thin bespectacled man in his 50s or so, lips drawn in a firm line I suppose he felt was authoritative, rose to his feet. He rapped the table a few times in front of him with his knuckles in what, I suppose, he thought to be an authoritative manner to attract attention, looking into the great shimmering void, and when the One turned his/er head slightly and looked at him with just the slightest of frowns discernible on that shimmering brow and purple-reddishness flashing in the eyes, indicating the two venues were indeed in contact, began speaking.
"Your Honor, if that is the appropriate form of address here," said the suit in a loud, attention-attracting sort of voice, "If it please the court, as I presume, given the surroundings, this must be, although I must confess I am not familiar with this particular venue, I must object most strenuously to this proceeding. We have all been brought here by means as yet undetermined but most irregular, with no warnings or official documentation or summons or any of the standard instruments, and aside from a most unsatisfactory and short briefing from apparently one of your aides that we seem to have received again by means unknown as we cannot actually remember speaking with anyone or anything about the means of delivery, we have no idea what our role here is or what is going on. You may be aware, Sir, that seated behind me, my client, is the President of the United States, the most powerful and important country on earth and fully and truly dedicated to freedom and happiness and Democracy for all the peoples of the world, and he is a very busy and important man, with crucial matters of state to attend to, the duties of which he was quite rudely interrupted in his conduct of quite recently to - ah - be brought here. We really do not have time for this proceeding, we have had no time at all to prepare anything for it, and it is also completely without precedent to demand the presence of the President at any legal proceeding without prior consultation and approval well ahead of the desired meeting. Ah - yes, our communication devices are also not functioning, from some kind of unauthorized blocking device it would seem, and we demand that ..."
The suit got no further. We now were introduced to the Voice - a voice which defied description, as did everything about that figure, but not unlike a rolling thunder heard at a distance, indeed at times the floor and walls and seats did tremble a bit, as if a train was passing through the hall outside the door, or a more ethereal version right through the very room, and even if at times the volume was at bearable levels, there was always that depth, that timbre, that could shake one's soul as much as the floorboards and walls of the 1st Charlottetown courtroom.
"Silence!" The word was dragged out over several shaking seconds as the great kaleidoscope eyes burned a bright penetrating bluish color and the great head turned and leaned ever so slightly towards us, the voice like a small earthquake emanating from the void, but with a somewhat obvious tone of annoyance even through the power. S/he looked down at the suit with a terrible frown on his/er face - actually I suppose just a normal sort of facial frown, but terrible in effect on that particular face. His/er voice, when s/he continued, was low, although it could be high at times, and s/he spoke slowly, "I am not yet ready to commence. We are still assimilating this corpus, and this presence, and your means of communication, learning context and history, understanding why we are here. In this - place, this - courtroom you will speak when you are spoken to, and not otherwise! You will at the appropriate time have a chance to present whatever story it is you have to present, and it will be listened to fairly, and so judged! As will the stories of everyone else we must listen to at this time." It seemed like the courtroom was shaking from the great power of her/is voice, like a low-level earthquake or something, although this effect lessened somewhat each time the voice spoke, as if the figure was learning and adjusting.
You had to give credit to the suit though - although you could almost see him shaking in his size 9 1/2 Oxfords, he carried on. I suppose he had been so close to the center of the greatest power on earth for so long he couldn't quite accept there might be something even bigger, or perhaps he was so used to smoke 'n' mirrors shows for the public he just assumed he was witnessing a new one of some sort, not to be particularly feared if you could figure out how to get to the wizard behind the curtain, which you always could with enough money, at least in his world. Or possibly still a bit more afraid of those behind him than the august presence he faced.
"Your Honor," he began, again (obviously, from the form of address used, at least uncertain as to the status of the various players and taking no chances that someone not sanctioned by his people might actually require such an appellation), "You don't appear to be American, or even really hu... ummm - I think you perhaps don't really appreciate the position here..."
The Voice thundered forth once more, this time the anger a bit more real and obvious, almost literally spitting fire from those fearsome cosmic eyes like red lightning at the offending suit - the vibrations emanating from the Great and Fearful Voice actually seemed to have the suit suspended a few inches off of the floor, his glasses hanging from one ear, eyeballs bulging, and now there was indeed fear in those eyes, and a darkish patch had appeared in the crotch area of his pale blue suit visible as he seemed to be suspended in the air, his knees about table height.
"Did I not say 'silence'?!? Is there a problem with my understanding of your language?? - "
- and silence there was in the courtroom, as the suit remained suspended for what seemed like several minutes, although I think it was probably no more than a few seconds, unmoving, and no one else dared breath or speak, as the great figure continued to grow, and turn, looking here and there, occasionally into the courtroom. The tiny points, for such they were now, continued to stream steadily into the great body, giving it more presence, as they did all through this wondersome day, although at a much reduced rate as the great body became incorporatized.
Finally it turned once again and looked through the Taowindow at us, at the suit hanging trembling alone in the crowded room and at his table even, those in the seats around him having opened up gaps on either side, mouth downturned just a bit. And spoke again, to the suit mainly, but including all of us in this his/er first words.
" - Evidently YOU do not appreciate the 'position here' - so let me make it clear, as I now understand. One time. At this time, the third in the history of your species - and we have never accepted doing so more than once with any other race in this entire universe! - this - this - this Incarnate Council, yes, this Council of Decision, of Judgement, of Question, of Appeal, of Truth, embodied from and to be the Universal Oneness, has been convened at this time to adjudge for one last time the actions of the intelligence-gifted people of this planet, a small planet in an out-of-the-way corner of the Being, but one bearing one of the beloved Evolvements at one time as experienced by the previously sentient, one of the most beautiful, one of the most privileged, one of the most hopeful in every way! - your privilege has been as great as your fall! You have been observed through the millennia of your growth, your much gone astray growth, we do not yet know what foul gene cursed you or disease infected your spirit, noone has had time to study such a mote in the Great Being - but your millennia of violence and bloodshed and tears and pain and destruction of your own homes like the most primitive, most insane, most UNintelligent species, of which there have been many also, have shown you to be a cursed species! And then much of that destruction and violence quite falsely, quite perversely, undertaken in Our name, your infantile 'gods' no more resembling the reality of what an intelligent species would childishly regard as 'god' before they rose to understanding that they themselves are that god than a fish's bubbles contend to the writings of the great scribes of your species who have arisen in spite of all your attempts to destroy such things! - and your understanding has been no better than a fish's, which has displeased Us greatly, such potential falling sterile in the blackness of the Being, such fertile ground, which is not common and every one to be cherished, being despoiled by such seed! But still the Balance has left it to you to find your own destiny at all times, to see if you could rise above the cursed gene or disease, and find your path to the light and the Truth. We do, we have done long, what we might after the fact to comfort the afflicted - the Balance has spent much time dealing with your victims, although many intelligences go through similar stages on the path to maturity - most achieving that maturity, however, after a short period of youthful violence and foolishness - you here, for some reason, have turned away from the usual road to the light and sanity, most forcefully when necessary, killing many who would advance, and continued far beyond the proper time with your juvenile violence and stupidity, allowing the primitive reptilian stage to dominate your collective psyche when it should have been relegated to the control of higher instincts long since.
"Indeed, your species has been on the verge of self-immolation for some time now, and, though it pains me to say, many saw with relief your imminent end, the removal of this cancerous influence, this painful reminder of how very undesirable life can be in our midst when it is controlled by the unbalancing forces.
"It has come to us however to intervene this one last time - to afflict, as one of your more intelligent members once put it, the comfortable - before allowing you to progress to your inevitable self-annihilation, should you choose to continue along the course you have been on. Although were it that simple, we would probably let you go - you have been a truly painful process to watch in almost all ways - even the Universal Balance has, it seems, limits, and eventually fails."
The Voice softened briefly, the mighty head recoiling and turning slightly, as might a boxer stung by an unexpected blow, a now gentle-seeming mouth downturned in reflection, looking somewhat bitter perhaps, the great eyes staring morosely at the void or something out of our vision in front of him/er, in no hurry - after 15 billion years or so another few seconds at this point in time wouldn't make much difference; undoubtedly his/er conception of time was measured in far greater units than ours anyway. And far smaller. There was no sound from the floor of the courtroom, no suit interrupting - in a few short minutes, the majesty and power and control of the situation of the One had made believers of everyone present - there was no wizard behind a curtain here, this was the reality, noone doubted. After a few moments of reflection, s/he raised his/er head once again, and continued speaking, the volume toned down a bit, but not the awe-inspiring rumble that vibrated the walls around us and the chairs we sat on.
"But ... but at this time, you see, at the last, the penultimate moment before the fires of final destruction rained over your planet bearing you all to your final destination whatever that might have been, there is a Hope that has been entered into the situation.
"And we are always happy to see Hope in the void and will cherish and encourage it always, even at the very end of times we will always wait for the small Hope, the tiniest ray of light, the weakest spark of life, but so determined, so joyous in its light and love and striving for freedom and life and consciousness!!, trying for a chance - unlike the countless lesser minds who prevail at this time and who despair so easily. In the midst of all of the growing, all-encompassing darkness perpetrated by the false leaders and false destructive gods of this world these many millennia now, a ray of light has shone forth, not only a ray but a bright, beautiful and strong ray, a beacon of Truth flashing into existence, which we value above all things, a beacon that says to those with ears to hear and eyes to see and a brain to consider with even a spark of true humanity, your true destiny lost so long, that maybe - just maybe - against all odds, in the face of great powers aligned against you, your species has somehow overcome the many barriers, has somehow stared the Great Unnameable Unbalance Incarnate in the face and spat defiantly in that evil face, has somehow shot a bold arrow through the thick darkness with a lifeline of Truth to reach for the Light, and is now ready to make the transition into true life, true intelligence, a finally mature life form in the universe, to join us here in the One Joyous Life. Just maybe!"
The great head lowered again, shaking slightly from side to side, frowning, lips pursed, and when raised again the great eyes had angry fire.
"But no sooner has that light taken its first small, immeasurably brave step into the darkness than the great forces of evil that have spawned in this place and been allowed, even encouraged, to prevail, have even rushed and gathered to cruelly, heedlessly, fearfully stomp it out like the merest infant in its cradle ere it challenge their reign - as indeed your distant forefathers attempted to do with such a serendipitous light when it appeared once before as a very newborn in your midst showing you the true path, at which time you coldly slaughtered, with the horrible screams we all heard, thousands of new lives even as, in a fashion so typical of the ultimate incompetence of evil, failed to kill the one light you sought - but then destroyed him most cruelly later as he gave himself to you in a wonderful courageous gesture of offered peace, as is your mindless barbaric way, ever to follow the dark path by choice, to seek out the Darkness and embrace it like the insane drivelling fools you are!
"And it was this great gathering of evil that suffused throughout the very ether of the universe like a hideously foulsome odour and alerted us as well - normally the balancing dark force is not so eager to get involved in the circumstances of small beings any more than is the Universal Oneness. So it was observed, and thought curious - and the Balance was finally moved to come once again, to see for ourselves, and examine this situation, bring the Light to shine on it. And now either you will change your ways when the Light of Truth is shown you in a way you cannot deny, or you will continue to destruction in the fire of your endless despicable lies - be certain I tell you there will be no further interventions in this place. We will regret with our tears the loss of one small flame of Hope. But we will rejoice with our laughter the passing of another evil."
Another pause, until the One continued after a few seconds of perusal.
"It pained us greatly to see this Light, this Hope we have waited for on this small planet for millennia, about to be so cavalierly snuffed, and because it was that close to the final judgement for everyone anyway, the enlightened races and citizens of the universe decided to make this intervention with you all this one final time, to give the light, and you all, this one final chance. It was a long-contended decision, but the view that you could be as great at some point in the future as you have been evil in the past prevailed, and it was a chance we could not pass. The Universal Balance takes precedence over all and will not, cannot, be denied, and if that balance holds true beyond this event you may have great things ahead, if given a chance. We must not be a bad Samaritan, to remind you of one of your own stories, and leave that chance to die by the side of the roadway, or more accurately, to be cruelly and foully murdered by those who have no greater purpose than a blind hatred of freedom and truth to maintain their own power, when it was within our power to push back that evil and give the Truth this one chance to survive until it had found the strength to beat back the evil itself, as Truth always will, given the chance.
"Thus you have, as you like to put it, your day in court. All of you. You will be seated now, and speak again when spoken to, as instructed."
The suit who had been the instigator of the entire speech from the One, released from the force that had held him, dropped almost bonelessly to his chair with a thump.
The Incarnate then looked around the courtroom for what seemed to be many minutes, pensively, seeming to take the measure of each and every person there, many of whom I am sure were regretting their rush to the spectacle, so unlike anything else they had ever seen, so frightening, so serious, so real, unlike the television dramas that passed for 'reality' in most lives these days. All met his/er gaze - I am sure many would have declined but there appeared to be no choice. I felt her/is gaze for a short time myself, it was like a spider of light loosed in my brain for an instant that lasted much longer, but felt no malignancy in it, no desire for fear, just an all-encompassing curiosity with overtones of something like a mother's firm but unquestioning love that would guide as necessary, and for some reason felt reassured that whatever happened this day, the right thing would be done.
But it would be a long day.