Tony, Tie Li!” Mr. Parks stood at the back door of the farmhouse shading his eyes against the bright autumn sun. “I’m going into town. Do you want to come along?” There was no response–only the
whisper of the cool breeze as it rocked dry yellow leaves high in the big birch that stood by the barn.
“Strange,” he said to himself as he walked back into the kitchen. “I was sure I saw them go into Tony’s workshop.”
“What’s that, dear?” Mrs. Park placed a pan of bread dough in the oven. “What are you mumbling about?”
“The children. I can’t find them.”
“Oh, they’re probably around somewhere.” She wiped her hands on her apron and peered out the window. “They’ll show up. This is one of the reasons I love country life so much. You don’t have to
worry about your kids wandering off too far.”
“I guess you’re right,” Mr. Parks said, giving his wife a gentle hug. “After all, Tony knows how to take care of himself. Tie Li couldn’t be in better hands.”
Voyager stood on top of the little hill overlooking the lake. A muffled voice could be heard drifting into the clean, sweet smelling air. “You let me out of here this instant! Do you hear me? I want out
right now!” Inside, Simon’s reddened, sweaty face glowered down at his fellow captives. Tony struggled in the cramped quarters to reach and adjust the many dials and switches to help stabilize the
machine in its new surroundings. “Take it easy, Simon. I have to make sure everything’s OK before I can let you out. I’m surprised we made it at all. You added a lot of weight to the machine.”
“A lot of weight,” Tie Li said, trying to find breathing room between the bully and a panel of fuses. “You standing on my foot!”
With a click and a swish the door flew open. Simon sprawled onto the ground, followed by Tony and Tie Li. “Kidnapping, that’s what it is!” Simon jumped to his feet and shook his finger at the brother
and sister. “You tried to kidnap me, plain and simple. I’ll call the police, that’s what I’ll do. You’ll be sorry you ever met Simon Gorby.”
“Be sorry?” Tie Li rubbed her hip with the palm of her hand. “Too late. Already am sorry.”
Simon waved a clinched fist at the two, turned, and started down the hill, talking angrily to himself.
After about a dozen steps the bully began to slow his pace. Then he stopped all together. Tony and Tie Li watched as he looked to the right, then to the left. A large white egret flew by in front of him
and landed delicately beside the lake. From the woods emerged a long-necked giraffe, followed by a family of deer.
The bully slowly turned around and looked back up the hill. Tony and Tie Li still lay at the base of Voyager, staring down at him. Simon spoke with some difficulty. “What’s going on here?”
Tony kept still, afraid of what the big boy would do. Simon looked down at the ground and then toward the lake. “I said, “What’s going on here?” Where’s the workshop? Where’s the barn? What did
you do with the barn?”
“It’s kinda hard to explain,” Tony said carefully.
“Try me,” Simon said. But before Tony could answer, a large lion stepped from the bushes no more than a couple of yards from the place where the big boy stood. Simon froze completely, his face
white with fear.
“It’s OK, Simon,” Tony called, jumping to his feet and running toward the bully. “He can’t see you. Really. He doesn’t know you’re here.”
Simon remained glued to the spot, unmoving.
“Look, Simon.” Tony waved his hands at the lion as it walked by. “See, it can’t see you at all. But you can see it. Isn’t that great?”
Simon relaxed just a little.
“My machine–that’s Voyager up there on the hill–took us back in time. Well, it didn’t really take us back in time; it made time reversible, like a movie played backward. Oh, you can’t understand.”
The bully sank to the ground and sat looking up at Voyager.
“Don’t worry, Simon, we’ll be going back in a couple of hours. You’ll see. There’s nothing to be concerned about. Really.”
Simon’s face brightened. “It’s a dream. This is just a dream. I’m going to wake up and be back in my bed at home.”
Tie Li joined the two at the base of the hill. “He thinks he’s dreaming, Tie Li,” Tony said to his sister. “Are you all right?”
“Me fine,” she said, studying Simon carefully. “We better get going.”
“You’re right.” Tony looked toward the orchard bordering the far side of the lake and motioned Tie Li to follow. “I hope we’re not too late.”
“I’m going too,” Simon said with a smile. “May as well enjoy myself. By the way, where are we?”
“Eden,” Tie Li said over her shoulder.
“Eden. The word has a nice ring to it.” Simon walked behind the children as they made their way along the lake. “I like it here. This is a great dream.”
Tony looked at Tie Li and shrugged his shoulders. At least the bully was happy for the moment.
The trio walked along the shore, then cut inland. Soon they were passing under fruit-burdened branches bathed in sunlight. The songs of many birds made the air alive with music. Every sound was
gentle; every touch, soft.
“Strange place.” Simon’s voice carried in the wind. “No weeds.”
As they entered a small clearing, Tony stopped and look slowly around. “This is the place,” he said quietly. “She should be here any second now.”
As if on cue, the woman emerged from the far side of the open space. Tie Li smiled in recognition. “Eve,” she whispered. “Beautiful Eve.”
Simon stood transfixed by the scene before him. “This is the best dream I’ve ever had!”
Eve seemed to be walking aimlessly among the flowering trees and bushes, stopping to admire a multicolored blossom here, the song of a bird there. Each received her loving attention.
Suddenly a voice called from the branches of a nearby tree, “Eve! Come here, Eve.” The woman turned to listen.
“Come taste the fruit of this tree, Eve.”
The children watched as the woman walked toward the sound. Then she hesitated. “What’s wrong, Eve? You’re almost here. Just a few more steps.” The voice was smooth and deep.
“I can’t.” Her words carried a feeling of frustration. “The Creator said that we could eat the fruit of all the trees in the garden but this one.” Eve pointed at the tree from which the voice came. “He said
that if we eat this fruit, we’ll die.”
Simon shifted uneasily as he watched Eve hesitate in front of the tree that grew in the middle of the orchard. “That doesn’t seem fair,” he said to Tony and Tie Li. “Why would someone make a tree full
of delicious fruit and then not allow anybody to eat it, and say that if he did, he’d die? This dream is getting weird!”
“You won’t die.” The voice moved from the top branches and made its way toward the center of the tree. “The Creator knows that you’ll become smart like He is. He doesn’t want you to do that.”
Tie Li looked up at her brother. “What does it mean, Tony? Why God make tree and then tell Adam and Eve not to eat fruit?”
“I think it’s a test.” Tony spoke as if deep in thought. “The tree is a test of whether they believe what the Creator says.”
“But there no death here,” Tie Li said. “How Eve die in Eden, where there no death?”
Eve stood under the tree and looked at the fruit now hanging within reach. Crystal-clear drops of morning dew covered each leaf with a shimmering coat that reflected the sun’s warm rays. Slowly her
hand began to rise toward a large fruit hanging above her head.
“That’s right,” the voice encouraged. . .”it’s delicious. Trust me; you won’t be sorry.” Tony spoke. “She doesn’t know what she’s losing. By eating from that tree, Eve is obeying a voice that isn’t God’s.”
“So what’s so awful about eating a little fruit from a tree?” Simon asked, looking at Tony. “Fruit is fruit, right?”
“It’s not so much the fruit, Simon, or even the tree. It’s which voice she believes is telling her the truth. Right now I think she’s going to trust the voice in the branches.”
The serpent picked the ripe red fruit and put it in Eve’s hands. She looked at it, turning it slowly, thoughtfully.
“Eat it, Eve,” the voice said. “It can’t hurt you. It will make you feel so good.”
“Fruit is fruit,” Simon said, watching the scene before him. “I don’t need any voice to tell me what I can and can’t eat.”
Eve lifted the fruit to her lips and took a tiny bite.
“You see?” said the voice in the tree. “Tastes good, doesn’t it? The Creator doesn’t care about you. He just wants you to be His slave.”
A beep-beep from Tony’s watch intruded on the scene. “We’ve got to get back to Voyager. Our time is up. Come on, let’s go.”
Simon was silent as the trio made their way up the hill. As they entered the machine, he spoke. “This is not a dream, is it, Tony?”
“No, Simon. This is no dream.”
Voyager faded from sight and disappeared. From the orchard came a deep, throaty laugh. In the distance Adam’s voice carried on the wind. “Eve, Eve, where are you?”
(To be continued)