A short story with a question.
It was another cloudless and crisp Queensland morning. The sun hadn’t yet appeared above the horizon, but the painted morning sky with its red and lilac hues ran ahead of the awakening giant, belligerently prophesying the dawn and betraying any surprise the fireball had in store. As if this wasn’t enough treachery, the darkened, calm waters of the Coral Sea reflected like a perfect mirror, joining into the sky’s intent on treason and before the massive light could lift its brazen head, the betrayal was complete just before dawn arrived.
The job site on the beachfront lot began to come alive as one after another, workmen arrived, shivering in the pre-dawn light while trying to shake the relentless effects of sleep from their bodies with a gymnastic stretch and an exuberant yawn, then assemble their tools of trade for another long and gruelling day in the Queensland sun.
The builder-foreman’s day started well before sun up and he had already fielded a dozen phone calls from concerned concrete workers, making sure the extensive pour would go ahead as planned. Once the concrete started to flow from the first agitator truck into the apartment complex slab, it couldn’t be stopped until the last truck arrived and discharged the final load, several hours later.
If anything went wrong to interrupt the concrete supply, the slab would be ruined and it would cost everyone involved a small fortune.
Jesse Bell was five years old. He was born with lightning in his feet and fearless curiosity flowed through his veins. The sounds of the building site next door coming to life after another long night was a welcome reprieve to the lonely, darkness-filled night.
He and his mother wrestled together in a battle of wills, vying for top place in the chain of command, especially when it came to going to bed. Even after Jesse had reluctantly conceded defeat, he pushed the line further and spent hours wandering around the house until his father had had enough and ‘Milo’–the wooden spoon–made an appearance and put an end to his exploration.
Jesse climbed onto a chair pushed against his bedroom window and peered out at the activity going on in front of his eyes. A beaming smile lit his lips and he turned to face another small bed, the bed of his brother, Troy. Troy was four and worshipped the ground Jesse walked on, but constantly found himself on the wrong side of his parents’ ire following his brother’s wayward adventures. From his position pressed against the glass, Jesse could see a large cardboard box, open and discarded, next to the builders’ rubbish bin. The large cardboard flaps of the open box, teased by the gentle wind, lazily waved to Jesse and beckoned him to play. Imagining an adventure about to unfold, he swiftly climbed down off the chair and sprinted to Troy’s side and shook him aggressively.
After watching his father’s example and remembering what to do, Jesse escaped the confines of his bedroom, easily removing the bug screen covering the window. Troy was a little reluctant to jump the few feet to the ground beside Jesse, but when Jesse threatened to leave him behind, Troy plucked up the courage and abandoned his fear, sprawling in an uncoordinated mess of arms and legs at Jesse’s feet.
Agitator trucks lined the street, waiting their turn to unload their cargo of concrete into the massive pour while their rotating bowls gently stirred the wet mixture, keeping it from setting hard in the truck before it could be discharged. Workmen swarmed all over the site like a nest of determined ants, each having a specific job and each reliant on his companion to finish his part properly so the job would continue smoothly.
A workman signalled to the next agitator truck in line and motioned for the truck to enter the site and carry his load to the back of the job. The driver, from his seat, meticulously examined the sandy track leading to the rear of the job and determined the request would be possible, but he would have to use low gear and so long as he didn’t stop, the momentum would keep him from bogging his twenty tonne load. Selecting low gear and pushing the throttle wide open, the heavy truck mounted the kerb and the tyres skipped in the soft sand. His anxiety level began to climb as the driver coaxed and wrestled his heavy freight, urging the truck to keep moving and not bog down. Then, to the driver’s relief, the load began to move slowly forward towards the anticipated delivery point, skipping the tyres as it went. So long as he didn’t stop, he would complete his task easily.
In a moment of concern, the driver saw an upturned cardboard box lying in his path, but a quick glance to the bin close by convinced him it had blown across the track and he couldn’t stop to remove it. Running it over was the appropriate thing to do; the empty box wouldn’t damage his truck and he could collect the flattened remains and place it back in the bin after he had discharged.
The truck engine roared as the behemoth lumbered slowly down the sandy track, bearing down on the box…
I wonder, as I interrupt the story, if you could see what’s going on, would you warn the driver? More importantly would you try to save the little boys from something they weren’t expecting? Maybe they aren’t in the box at all and maybe they are safe somewhere else. But what if they were and you did nothing? How would you feel after something nasty happened?
The world is in a mess and it doesn’t take a genius to work that out. Our governments are lying to us and are about to remove our freedoms for good, and launch us into the wickedest times in history.
But what can I do about that?
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, then I encourage you to escape the horror that is coming on our very near horizon by getting out of the empty box and making your peace with the Creator of the universe. Maybe this is your warning to get out of the box and get to safety before we are all overtaken by something devastatingly nasty. All it takes is a simple prayer of faith in Jesus Christ; confession of his Lordship over your life and a realisation of our need to be forgiven for breaking His commandments. He does the rest. If you prayed that prayer, tell someone who can help you learn about Jesus and teach you how to rescue other doomed cardboard box dwellers.
The Legend of Ataneq Nanuq, available on Smashwords, Nook, Apple, Kobo and more – 18th September 2015.