The Orb

Soon they began coming in greater numbers; despite the warnings and those few who took ill, they came to seek counsel and for healing. For some it was peace. You would always leave with a sense of calm, a feeling of relief, like after a first drink, but it would persist, that feeling, for days sometimes. There were people who won lotteries and recovered from cancer, and some people saw their dead husbands and sons.

We couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. Word got out. They’d march right out into the desert. You’d see a fantastic line of them stretched out for miles, single file. Orderly and calm, and the strange thing was that nobody spoke at all when they were heading out to the Orb, or coming back. It was spooky quiet, like some holy passage to a shrine. Two lines of hopeful pilgrims, one coming and one going, and nothing but the wind and the sound of their feet in the sand.

Some folks would talk to it and others would weep. But there were a few who howled in pain when they touched it for the first time, like they’d stuck their hands into fire. They would run off into the desert, never to be heard from again, shrieking like the swine of the Gadarene. But that didn’t happen often. Mostly you’d see people with that expression of beaming hippie-joy, like they’d just been let in on some wonderful secret of which they were beneficiary.

But some got very sick, as I said. They fell into a coma-like state three days after they’d touched the Orb. They didn’t seem to be suffering. It was like they’d fallen into a deep, hibernating sleep where there was no dreaming, no brain activity at all. This gave people pause, but they came anyway, all kinds of people. There were the homeless and downtrodden as you’d expect, but there were businessmen and doctors too. All walks of life. Many said they felt called. They said they saw the Orb in a dream and just started heading south. It was like some vestige of a migratory gene got turned on. An ancient homing signal.

Bald men grew hair and terribly obese women underwent miraculous transformations. Meth addicts never hit the pipe again. They say it permanently cured depression. Cured it, as in it was gone to never return. Nobody knew why it chose who it did, to cure or to punish. If there were theories nobody voiced them. There just no longer seemed to be the need to gossip or conspire. People were happy all over, not just in proximity to the Orb, but everywhere. The feeling was spreading, and for those who had touched it, and remained unstricken, they found that their own touch could pass the light on. The Orb’s joy was infectious and it spread. And anyone who caught it would see it in their dreams and it would tell them things, sometimes just a word or two, like believe, and be brave. And people listened.

In a matter of months everything had changed. People were no longer afraid. Each person was given a secret they believed was all their own, but it turned out it was the same secret for all. We didn’t discover that until the no-dreamers awakened. That’s what they started calling the coma victims, the sleeping ones. And they told us something else too. They told us that there was a place now were all the stricken had been banished, those who were burned and ran away. And we were to go to them, for it wasn’t true, what everyone had been saying. It was never too late to be saved. They were just not ready. They just needed time to see themselves as they truly were. Sometimes it takes a great shock to make a transformation. Sometimes you need to see you’re own death. We all get there, eventually. That’s something that the Orb told us, also in secret.

I had thought that once word got out there’d be no stopping the greed for it, the violence. I imagined the worst in us would come out, that there’d be a panic, a rush for its destruction. But it didn’t happen. It seemed to neutralize our lower, baser instincts. Every thing I expected us to do in response was wrong. I was wrong. It wasn’t here to be used by us. It was here to use us, to heal us, to change us. I’m the one who found it and was thus the first one changed. What happened was it took away the fear. It neutralized time. And it showed us that we are all the same. That’s what we saw. Reflections.

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8 thoughts on “The Orb

  1. At first the cynic in me thought, ok where is the government, or army, because you know they always come in to “protect us” from things unknown. I am so glad the story had more hope and power than that. Thanks for the dose of optimism.

  2. “So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.”

      • I thought the reference to Jesus casting out the demons (“I am Legion”), and sending them into the Gadarene Swine was appropriate to the general theme of the life changes that your characters underwent. I’ve never thoroughly considered what a person may feel when they have been released from a host of demons. I’m being somewhat oblique I guess. But you never know where your thoughts will take you when you start looking for meaning. Enjoyed the story. Thought provoking.

      • What is SO odd is that I just finished writing a story about the Gadarene swine. So your comment was surreal. But I see your point. I like that perspective. Thanks again. Your feedback is always thoughtful.

  3. Wow! Congratulations on another great work. There is an exceptional beauty and symmetry to your prose. Anyway, I don’t want to start gushing! I was just really moved as I sat there reading it.

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