When Angels Sing: Chapter One. The Prequel to The 12/59 Shuttle
An Author’s Note
I wrote “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today” almost five years ago. It was my first novel and because it was, it holds a special place in my heart. There have been three novels since then as well as four novellas, one non-fiction book and thousands of articles, and I love them all but still, the Shuttle is my one great literary lover. It has its flaws, and it is not my best work, but still I love it.
So it should come as no surprise that I have always wanted to return to that book in one fashion or another, and I’ve been doing that over the past couple of years.
In “The Shuttle,” the main heroine is Sheila, a woman with special powers and a special agenda. The novel ends with a future vision of Sheila’s granddaughter Hope, and over the years I have included Hope in some short stories and, in fact, there is a sequel to “The Shuttle” just waiting to be told….but….
We never heard, in the novel or any short stories that followed, about Sheila’s younger years. What was she like as a child? How did she acquire her special powers and how did her parents help her to harness those powers for the good of mankind?
It is time to correct that deficiency.
This, then, is the story of Sheila as a child.
The original that started it all
In the Beginning
She had not uttered a single word by the time she was three years of age.
The doctors had no explanation for it. There was nothing wrong with the child physically, they said. Tests were conducted and all came back negative. Structurally she was a healthy three-year old. Perhaps, they said, there is a psychological reason for the silence. Perhaps she needs a specialist, they suggested. Perhaps the trauma of 1959 scrambled her brains a bit, they posed.
Nonsense, her parents said. There is nothing wrong with Sheila. She is simply taking her time, observing, reflecting, and when she is ready to expound on life she will do so, starting with that which is most important because seriously, isn’t that the way we should all approach speech, her mother asked.
And so it happened that on August Fourteenth, two months after her third birthday, the child named Sheila looked at her mother and father over a dinner of sprouts and goat cheese and said, “Love.”
If we’re being accurate, “love” was actually the second word she spoke. Back in 1959, as a one-year old, having been crushed to death by a falling tree during a raging storm, she had come back from the dead in the medical examiner’s room and asked for “water,” but that’s a story for another time.
She was a beautiful child with obsidian hair, green eyes and porcelain skin, appearing to be an expensive doll from a distance, but get close to her and you would see the sparkle of eyes, the joy of expression, the gentleness of nature.
She was Baby S in St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage in Tacoma, Washington. Shortly after she was adopted her parents, Sam McCabe and Heather Miller, named her Sheila because, according to them, she looked like a Sheila, caring, kind and loving, and she’s been Sheila ever since.
Dirt Poor or Rich?
Her parents like to tell anyone who will listen that, back then, they didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, but in another universe they were richer than the richest of Sultans. Those who are curious among us have asked about those other universes and been treated to hours of discussion about time travel and the energy of love, walking away shaking our heads, beyond confused. Still, they are peaceful people, Sam and Heather, and they love their Sheila something fierce and will also tell anyone listening that when Sheila was born the angels sang, an odd statement since they adopted Sheila and thus never saw her birth and really, they don’t believe in heavenly hosts singing “Hallelujah,” but still, it’s a lovely sentiment now isn’t it?
They tell time in terms of BS, Before Sheila, and AS, After Sheila, so this story begins in the year 5 AS, or for us normal humans, 1963.
Heather and Sam had traveled the back roads of America in a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, spreading the word to anyone who would listen, camping on the side of the road and making love, sweet love, in the backseat, but once Sheila arrived they lived on the property of some friends, twenty acres overlooking the Deschuttes River in Olympia, Washington, a seventeen foot travel trailer their home, sweet home.
It is there that we find them, 1963, Olympia, trailer, Sam, Heather and Sheila, one big happy family.
Sam brushed himself off and entered the trailer to the smell of fried okra and lavender tea. Heather was just pouring two cups of the heavenly elixir when he walked in. He felt the familiar catch in his breath upon seeing her, a full-figured woman in peasant dress, auburn hair cascading down her back, a perpetual smile on her face, full lips inviting all to partake in her taste.
“Damn, woman, if you aren’t the most beautiful creature ever to grace this universe,” he said as he put his arms around her waist and nibbled her neck. Truth be told he felt himself to be the luckiest man alive, somehow meeting and marrying this creature of loving light.
“You hush now, silly man, and don’t you be nibbling my neck. You know it drives me crazy and makes me think of fornication between universes. Besides, you need to go say hello to your daughter and take her for a pony ride like you promised. May I assume you finished chopping wood?”
“I did, although wood is a living thing and I don’t feel right about chopping it. I swear I could hear its cries of anguish as the axe bit into the grain. But that’s a topic for another time.” He walked down the lone hallway. “Now where is that little rascal Sheila?” he hollered.
“Here, Daddy, I’m here,” came the cry from the second door on the left, no shortage of words by that time, and shortly after the cry, timed in seconds, the door flew open and the girl with raven hair and green eyes jumped into her father’s arms all smooth and smelling of lavender.
“There she is,” he laughed. “Are you ready to go ride the horse, young Sheila?”
“Silly Daddy,” she said. “I told you before, I don’t ride Mutare. We become one and travel together.”
He laughed again as he set his daughter down on the ground.
“That’s right, I forgot. I really am a silly daddy. Okay, young lady, let’s go get Mutare and you two can travel together with you on her back. How’s that sound?”
It must have sounded wonderful because the little girl raced ahead of her father, the trailer door slamming in her wake, a cloud of dust kicked up by her little feet sprinting for the barn.
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Sam lifted his daughter up and on the horse, a gray gelding of mercurial temperament but downright gentle in the company of Sheila. The girl giggled with delight, grabbed the reins with her tiny hands and gave a gentle kick in the flanks, signaling the beginning of their journey. Sam walked alongside them.
“What does Mutare’s name mean, Daddy?”
“It means ‘change,’ darling.”
The girl thought about that for a few moments.
“And what is changing, father?”
“The world, my darling, and existence as we know it, and one day, when you are older, you will be a voice of reason and you will help millions of people.”
“How will I do that, Daddy?”
“With love, daughter, with love.”
See You Next Week
Well that was fun, ‘eh? I’ve always wanted to write this prequel, so I hope you enjoy it as it unfolds. This story is all about the message and the message is all about the story, one big happy mess rolled up into a few thousand words.
I’ll see you next week!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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