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THE VAULT KEEPERS: THE JOURNAL
By Christine G. Broome (Excerpts)
It was a time between times. The past was dead and buried and a new world had come forth. A world that chose to close itself off from its history and forbade any changes to its future. Everything that was to be taught and learned was closely monitored. No longer were mundane monthly calendars kept nor were any individual days recorded. The only measurements used to mark the passing of time was the time of the day itself and the passing of seasons. There was the season of rebirth, the season of long sun, the season of plenty, and the season of darkness. At least that is how it had been measured since the Big Occurrence. That was some 68 seasons of darkness ago.
For Kally, she was experiencing her fourteenth season of rebirth. As she leaned back up against the large, cool, black rock that jutted out from the grass carpeted ground beneath her, she removed her shoes and stretched forth her legs on the warm, baked grass and wiggled her toes delightedly from the sheer freedom they had sought. Looking around, Kally could see a number of tiny bees scurrying about as they went from one flower to the next. From the vast array of colorful flowers that lay before her, she surmised that they had been quite busy for some time now and were doing a glorious job of helping to bring forth the rebirth season. A sudden flutter in the tree to her right caught her attention. She glanced high up, squinting through the sun bathed leaves until her eyes caught the source of the noise she had heard. Two blue birds were fluttering about, working masterfully in the preparation of a new nest. This was yet another sign of the season. Kally smiled as she watched them arrange, then rearrange each little twig or scrap of dry leaves they had found to make sure the nest that they were building would be the best and most secure place they could create to raise their little ones that were sure to come soon….
“Miss Farnsworth! Where is your mind child? I’ve had to call you three times. Principal Bailey is ready to see you.”
“Yes, Mrs. Caufield. Thank you.”
Kally truly liked Mrs. Caufield whom she had known all of her life. She was an elderly, grey haired widow and Kally guessed that she had seen at least some 300 seasons by now. She was very tall and slender and had perfect posture, no slouching like some of the other elders in the village. What was most striking about Mrs. Caufield were her eyes as they were a very soft blue and seemed to always sparkle. That was probably because Mrs. Caufield was forever smiling. Yes, Kally thought, Mrs. Caufield was an extremely nice person because she could not personally remember a single instant in which Mrs. Caufield ever said anything mean against anyone in all of the Region of Many Waters.
Standing up from the bench and tugging down on her shirt, Kally sighed. “Well, I guess there is no sense in putting this off any longer,” she whispered, “so let’s get it over with.” And with that she slowly turned and walked into Principal Bailey’s office.
“Come on in Miss Farnsworth,” Principal Bailey spoke, “and please close the door behind you.”
Principal Bailey leaned back in his overstuffed, brown high-back chair. Kally wasn’t totally certain but she believed the chair he was sitting in was one that her grandfather had made. It at least looked like one of his designs. For many, many seasons her grandfather had been one of the village’s top carpenters, that is before he died some five seasons past. Pulling down his spectacles so that they sat loosely on the bridge of his nose, Principal Bailey stared intently at Kally. Finally, after what seemed to be several interminably long moments, his questionings began.
“Well Miss Farnsworth, I haven’t seen you in here for quite some time now. So, tell me, what is the reason this time, or need I ask?”
With a heavy determined sigh Kally asked her question once more. “What is religion?”
As Kally came out from the thickly grown evergreen forest that had shielded her, she located her three friends waiting for her. These were not just ordinary friends, they were Kally’s best friends and they had all been her best friends since she was just a few seasons old. Their little group consisted of two boys and two girls. There was herself, naturally, and then there was Jade Lee. Jade was nearly the same age as Kally. Lately, Kally had begun to notice how pretty Jade was becoming as she grew older. She had soft olive skin and dark black, waist length hair that, no matter what the weather happened to be, it seemed to always have a beautiful, shiny shimmering glow to it. In addition, Jade was tall and curvaceous. However, what really intrigued Kally the most were Jade’s eyes for they were a deep, emerald green that slanted ever so slightly, making her look mysterious. Finally, whenever Jade spoke, her voice sounded like music floating on the air.
Kalina Marie Farnsworth, or Kally as her father had called her from birth, was a little under five feet four inches tall, some two inches shorter than Jade. She also had such ordinary, nondescript medium brown hair that no matter what she did, she was never able to get it to straighten out nor did it ever have that shiny, shimmering glow that Jade’s hair always had. As such, Kally mostly wore her hair pulled up in a ponytail. And as for her own eyes, they, too, were just an ordinary blue. To top it all off, she had to face the fact that she could really stand to lose a few pounds. Overall, compared to Jade, Kally believed her own appearance was plain and simple. Perhaps, as she got older, she would find one redeeming feature that she possessed but for now, she was just plain Kally.
As for the two boys in their group, they were just about as opposite from each other as were Kally and Jade. Quinn Marshall was turning into quite an extraordinary handsome, sought after young man. He was eight seasons older than Kally and Jade and, over the past two seasons, had done a tremendous amount of growing. In fact, at the very beginning of the present school season, he and Kally were virtually the same height. Now he stood more than a full head taller than her. “Okay, so maybe a little more than a head taller than herself if she didn’t stand on her tiptoes.” Kally laughed. He also had the most delightful wavy, blond hair and, unlike Kally’s eyes, his eyes were a soft, honeysuckle blue that always seemed to have a little twinkle in them. Quinn seemed totally unaware of the effect he had on the young girls in the village which made him all the more likeable.
Like Kally, Quinn was always full of questions but he seemed to know when to keep quiet and not draw unnecessary attention to himself. He had not spent any time in Principal Bailey’s office nor had he ever spent any time in the detention room. Quinn had far better judgment qualities than Kally. He had the innate ability to look at a situation and come up with a sound way to approach the issue, whatever that issue may have been. Quinn was a born leader and, though it had never been verbally spoken, their little group silently appointed him as their leader and he did lead them well. It had always made sense that he would one day become one of the ruling leaders of the community as well. However, that all changed this past season of darkness when the ruling leaders advised Quinn that he could best serve in the community by working at the blacksmith’s shop. Quinn quietly accepted their decision for, to do anything else would have been foolish, and so he began working at the shop after school each day. Whether he was happy or unhappy with that decision, Quinn never voiced his feelings either way on the subject.
Rounding out their group of four was Doc. Doc was the one who always made everyone laugh. Even when times were stressful, one could count on Doc to get them through it with his humor. Doc would soon be seeing his sixteenth season of plenty and so, like Quinn before him, he would then be told which duty he would be assigned to work in the community.
Born as Jeffrey Beckett, the youngest of six children in his family, Doc found love in the enjoyment of medicine at a very early age. Almost from the time he could walk he could be found following Doctor Pinswell on his daily rounds. Soon it became a usual sight to see the young Jeffrey examining nearly every animal he could get his hands on from cats and dogs, to pigs, to cows, rabbits, chickens, horses, and once even an unsuspecting skunk. By the time Jeffrey was six seasons of plenty, he had developed a tender and caring bedside manner. It was also around this time that the villagers started to call him “Doc” and the name stuck ever since. Hardly anyone called him Jeffrey anymore, except for his mother when she was upset with him.
Doc was going to be as tall as a tree one day, Kally smiled. He was already approaching six feet two inches tall. He had dark brown skin, the deepest, most chocolate, liquid brown eyes, short dark curly hair and a smile that dazzled even the staunchest members of the community. Even with his height, Kally thought, Doc looked like a doctor just in the way he carried himself. Still, as they had all spoken of on many occasions, just because Doc loved the field of medicine and would be a really good doctor, the ruling leaders might not appoint him to that position. It was common knowledge that the ruling leaders were looking to appoint Doctor Pinswell’s son to fill that role but he would not reach his sixteenth season until the end of the next season of darkness. Doc tried his best not to let this bother him but his friends knew that, deep down, he was very concerned. To do anything else but doctoring for him would be devastating.
Brushing aside the dirt, leaves and twigs, Quinn banged on the metal plate three times. As before, the ground rumbled and the door slid to the side. Total darkness met them. Quinn stepped in and the glass globe lights came on. This time there was no hesitation by Doc as he quickly followed Quinn. Jade was next and Kally came in the rear. When they reached the second door, Quinn turned the darkened globe and they heard the upper door close shut. A few moments later the door before them opened. For another moment they were thrust back into darkness and then the ceiling globes began to glow until the room was completely bathed in light.
“Where do you want to start first?” Doc asked as he went to locate the medical books.
“We start with the Journal naturally,” Quinn replied and he headed straight to the raised platform.
One by one the others joined him. Quinn traced the outline of the book until he reached the latch. He pushed it up with his right hand and the lock easily fell open. He then lifted the book cover with his left as each of them leaned forward to read the first page.
* * * * *
“Today is May 19 in the year 2016. My name is Jason Hastings. I am forty-three years of age though lately I have begun to feel quite a bit older. My son Tad, who is fifteen, is here with me. Because of the current events that are taking place in the world today, I have decided to make an accounting of those events, what led up to those events, and, God willing, will try to continue to record the conditions of our world until my last dying breath. It is with great sadness that my efforts here will reveal the downfall of our society. Rather, it will reveal the downfall of our entire world.
If you have found this record, I hope that you are a friend. If, however, you are an enemy, no doubt you will destroy it as you have destroyed so many other things. I wish to believe that you are a friend and so I welcome you to read the contents which I have written within this Journal so that you will be able to learn what happened to our world and, subsequently, how it affected your world.”