Prophet Mark Lange’s very kind offer of a seat on the last remaining lifeboat on the doomed Reina Regenta is totally wasted on Rupert Keller. Returning to New York he proceeds to give a newspaper account of the disaster which includes the Prophet kicking little girls off a lifeboat to make room for his gold bullion, resulting in the sinking of the lifeboat, the death of Lange, and the death of everyone else with him. Indeed, Keller says the presence of the gold must have been the reason the ship was torpedoed by the Central Powers in the first place, lest it aid the cause of the Triple Entente in the Great War, which is now in its third year.
Keller’s widely published lies do their intended damage to the popular imagination of the American people. Many former supporters sour on the religion, and the growth of the Green Dome Church slows to a crawl. Shortly after that, by popular referendum, the state joins a dozen others in banning marriages between first cousins and the first serious persecutions of Greendomites begin.
Upon the death of Mark Lange the Apostle Peter Twofeathers automatically becomes the second Prophet of the Church. Peter in turn appoints a new Apostle from among the elders of the White Wing of the End Dome Church, a man named Klaus Hansen. Thus the lifetime office of Prophet alternates smoothly between the White and Red wings of the Church, and assuming this rule is never broken there can never be a succession crisis.
The sinking of Reina Regenta with the End Dome Church’s first prophet Mark Lange aboard, along with seven hundred other men who could not take to lifeboats, is one of the biggest factors that changes American public opinion about the Great War from an attitude of cynical isolationism to moralistic idealism. Another big factor is an intercepted telegram from Germany offering Mexico a share of the spoils if they come into the war against America. A month later Congress approves a declaration of war against the Central Powers, and a month after that forced conscription begins.
Despite Church of Green Dome roots in the pacifist German Brethren, and the slight bias in favor of the Central Powers by many Americans of German descent, very few Greendomites avail themselves of Conscientious Objector status after receiving their draft notification. Erik Zinter accepts the call to go “Over There” along with nearly five million other Americans. After a brief period of the most rudimentary military training that seems to consist mostly of standing for uniform inspections, Erik finds himself stuffed aboard on a troop ship on the way to Bayonne, France.
From the point of view of the Triple Entente, America is late getting into position for the First World War. General “Black Jack” Pershing trains the American Expeditionary Forces to operate independently of the allies. The US Marines make the first demonstration of American resolve at Belleau Wood, a single square mile stand of trees that still takes from the 6th of June until the 26th of June, 1918, before Major Maurice Shearer sends the signal, “Woods now entirely US Marine Corps.” Belleau Wood is six hundred acres of hell for three weeks.
The war drags on into its final two months before Erik Zinter even enters his first combat as part of the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. It is the third and easiest operation to straighten out the remaining German salients in the Western Front before the main Allied thrust to break the Hindenburg Line can begin.
The Americans are tasked to attack the German left flank against static positions they have held for more than three years while France, Britain and Belgium bled themselves white. But now the allies are getting a fresh shot in the arm from merry but homesick doughboys who go into battle singing and whooping with all the enthusiasm of a football team pouring out onto the field just before kickoff. The Germans know the Americans are coming and they began to pull out, but the Americans attack before the Germans estimate they would with 600 aircraft and 144 tanks commanded by Colonel George S. Patton Jr. The battle of St-Mihiel is Patton’s first battle as well.
Casualties are very light as battles go in the Earth’s First World War, but the weather is miserable. Nearly three thousand pieces of field artillery unleashed by the Allied side as well as bombs dropped from the air tears the battlefield into a pock-marked pig sty filled with mud.
The Germans might have been withdrawing, but they are quite capable of fighting a rear-guard action with a deadly bite. Erik takes two rounds from a German Bergmann Maschinenpistole 18/1 that shatters the bone in his upper left arm and he is sent by truck to a War Department field hospital in the rear just beyond German counter-battery fire.
Due to the development of gas gangrene, which is part and parcel of the mud and generally unsanitary conditions on the front, army doctors decide to amputate Erik’s arm, leaving only a two inch stump, which unfortunately would be a little too short to be usefully fitted with a prosthetic arm. Since the amputation is performed in non-ideal circumstances, Erik is sent by a hospital train to Paris for follow-up care.
There he meets Clara Brannen, a Red Cross nurse. After Erik sees her name tag they talk for a bit and Erik learns that Clara is from the branch of Brannens who had stayed behind in Pennsylvania when Mark Lange led the pilgrimage west, so she knows very little about the Green Dome Church. They talk for a bit more and both discover they share the same great-grandmother. They are second cousins. That and her all-American girl-next-door good looks interest Erik.
What interests Clara is Erik’s attitude in the face of his life-changing injury. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself even after losing an arm. There is pain, but right on through it he keeps a wicked sense of humor. They cannot talk for long, but Clara passes along to him the address of her parents in Pennsylvania, because he says he wants to be pen pals after they both get back home.
Their pen pal relationship gradually blossoms into love, and in 1922 Erik drives nearly all the way across the country in his 1916 Model T. He uses the Yellowstone Auto Trail and it takes nearly a month to get to Erie, Pennsylvania, averaging five dollars a day, not counting the cost of two major automobile repairs along the way. This money comes out of his twenty-five dollar per month Veteran’s pension, which has been supplemented by a job as a painter in Greendome. He could do his job with one arm, although with some difficulty.
After arriving in Erie he sells his Tin Lizzie to defray the wedding expenses. Although Pennsylvania is the original anti-cousin marriage state, it only prohibits marriage between first cousins, not second cousins. Still, it takes some doing by Erik and Clara to get her parents to sign off on it. In the end, they obtain the blessing of both parents, and soon the newlyweds are traveling west across the country by train to start their new life in Greendome.
When it comes to Erik’s parents, however, they are a much harder sell, and he becomes more or less the black sheep of the family because he passed over a perfectly good (if plain) first cousin who shared the same grandparents, and chose to fall in love with Clara who only shared the same great-grandparents with him, never mind that she was stunningly beautiful. Apparently love is very fickle. This thing with second cousins is now permitted by Green Dome Church doctrine under the “liberal” Prophet Peter Twofeathers, but some say it isn’t a brave choice, because any heathen could do as much.
The ones who say that are the Bunners, a subset of the White Wing who are not happy to have a Red Wing Prophet. They are called Bunners because both men and women roll their obligatory pony tail up into a bun, a little White power fist made of hair. The Apostle Klaus Hansen is Bunner Incarnate. His particular hobby horse is that the possession of the Golden Gift should transfer as well, to the White Apostle. Twofeathers insists the relic remains under the control of the Red Wing.
Kimberly Zinter is born to Erik and Clara in 1925. She would be their only child. Kim knows her two best friends Sofie Krause and Dory Fuchs from as early she can remember, perhaps as far back as the summer of 1928 when they share their days at the same nursery while their mothers also found work. This is nearly the peak of the Roaring Twenties, when unemployment dips below five percent. Then comes the stock market crash in 1929.
By 1930 the Great Depression is just getting started. Their mothers are soon booted from their jobs, followed by Kim’s father, as employers suddenly found many other men willing to paint who had two good arms. Still, Erik does not despair, but retains the good spirits that had caused Clara to fall in love with him at first sight in France. And it soon turns out that Erik’s optimism is justified.
Twofeathers has compassion upon Erik Zinter and gives him employment which involves a deep and sacred trust. With his single arm, he is to wield the Golden Gift to carve a network of tunnels under the Green Dome hill and the surrounding area. For there are rich seams of coal under the townsite but the geology of the area is so jumbled there has not been an economical way to reach it by drilling a straight shaft. The coal would only be exposed here and there. But with the Golden Gift, Erik Lokken easily creates twisting passageways through this rock, and others follow in his wake to reinforce the tunnels with timber and remove the coal.
While the rest of the country wallows in unemployment that reaches twenty-five percent, the area around Greendome experiences a boom that hasn’t been seen since the brief gold rush days after the Civil War, when the town swelled with the ranks of ’69ers. The population sells to three thousand souls. Great heaps of black gold from the mines pile up on docks as far away as Chicago.
Financially, Erik Zinter does far better than he ever did as a one-armed painter in the Twenties. Soon enough he has a nice new brick red Ford Model 48, his first car since selling his Model T, and he also pays off his modest home. Thinking ahead, Erik sets some money aside in a rainy day fund. There is enough left over even after all this to send Kim to the Green Dome parochial school rather than the free public school, partially so she could be with her friends Sofie and Dory, but especially because it was an excellent school that gets students engaged in learning experiences outside of the classroom as well as within.
These are the words Haziel speaks to the people of Salem and their king as the orange sun sinks below the horizon. In after-years this sermon becomes known as the Sunset Discourse:
“Chokhmah is a lamp whose light is these words. The darker your thoughts, the further from Chokhmah you go. Sha who is far from Chokhmah is no better off than hy who denies Chokhmah.
“Celebrities are known by many nephilim and are called famous, but sha who embraces Chokhmah sets an example by har deeds and is called influential.
“Yeng are said to be superior to the animals because they can control their own environment, but sha who embraces Chokhmah can control har own behavior.
“The wealthy accumulate many riches but cannot keep all of them safe. Sha who embraces Chokhmah has few desires, and so holds on to all that sha has.
“Thieves take from those who do not have enough to supplement their own bounty, but sha who embraces Chokhmah diminishes the overflowing to enrich the impoverished.
“The moralist sits back in judgment of the causes of a tragedy, but sha who embraces Chokhmah is too busy mercifully addressing the needs at hand to render judgment.
“The judge demands to see evidence of good in others, but sha who embraces Chokhmah does good in this moment, and does not live for yesterday or for tomorrow.
“A strong yang can do hy wills to do, but hy cannot determine what hy wills. Sha who embraces Chokhmah makes har own awareness of injustice the determinant of har actions.
“The boastful put their riches and knowledge on parade, but sha who embraces Chokhmah does not tell all that sha has, nor all that sha can do.
“The proud would rather break than bend in pliable humility and admit error, but sha who embraces Chokhmah considers those who point out har faults as her greatest teachers.
“Traditionalists would teach an old thing before cultivating a new thing, but sha who embraces Chokhmah finds that creativity is the coin to buy har way.
“Leaders examine who speaks rather than listen to what is said, but sha who embraces Chokhmah knows that half of a conversation is listening.
“Warriors retaliate for suffering an indignity by committing yet another indignity, but sha who embraces Chokhmah knows the greatest revenge is not to be like hym who did the injury. The greatest conqueror is sha who has conquered harself.”
Haziel finishes delivering the Sunset Discourse and heals many of the people who came to hear har speak. After that King Melchiyahu bids Haziel to visit the throne room for a semi-private talk. After sha enters the castle and draws near to hyz seat, the King asks, “Lady Haziel, when you repeatedly say, ‘sha who embraces Chokhmah’ do you mean to say that no yang can become your disciple?”
“Not at all, Your Majesty. When I speak in those terms, I wish to convey an image. As a rule, yin are much gentler than yeng. A yang that admires Chokhmah will have a gentle heart, like a yin, because hy sees others around hym as another ‘I’ yet hy will retain his strength and hyz male nephilim nature, as hy rightly should.”
“Thank you for explaining that, Lady Haziel,” the aged King says. “For it seems to me that for many years my own daughter had a fierce heart, yet in recent days sha has come to admire your teachings, and it has gentled har. This gladdens me.”
“The King is aware that one in six nephilim are born with a preference to use the left hand,” Haziel says, and at first both the King and the Princess are puzzled by this apparent non sequitur. But Haziel continues. “This is not a matter of choice, there is an element of chance that is a part of every birth, otherwise all of our sons would look exactly alike, and of our daughters would also be identical. Allow me to demonstrate.”
And Haziel thrusts first har left hand into a nearby jar of assorted dried fruits, then har right hand. Sha opens both hands to show the King. “If you count the number of fruits I have in each hand, and their kinds, you will see they are not exactly the same sets. This is similar to what happens with every birth as well. And yet, because left-handers are a minority, our culture traditionally ascribes their preference to evil. We speak of the ‘left hand of the damned’ and there are many charlatans who profess to change this preference to the so-called ‘normal’ one.”
Haziel returns the delicacies to the jar, but retains one to eat.
Then Khondiel and her father realize exactly what Haziel is speaking about. Haziel has been oblique, to avoid offending them in front of the courtiers. The King takes har cue and says, “There are other desires that must have the same random cause as left and right hand orientation. There can be no moral culpability for any of these inclinations. We should love these nephilim without condition!”
Khondiel beams. “Thank you, my father and King.”
“Princess Khondiel,” Haziel says, “you are who you are. Good for you! Lucky you! Never try to undo that and live a lie because someone says your ancestors would not approve.”
Prince Melchizedek, the son of the King and newly returned from Earth says, “Lady Haziel, never have I known a yin with such wisdom and grace. Who are you? How did you come to know such things?
“Who am I?” Haziel draws near to hym. “Prince Melchizedek, years ago you were commanded by your father the King to travel to the other world and find a human candidate for a student of Chokhmah according to precise specifications that came from Thaumiel himself, but ultimately from Chokhmah.”
The Prince is astounded. “What? How do you know this?”
Melchiyahu says to Haziel, “My son found a man on Earth by the name of Abram, but he refused to accept the offer. Abram’s loyalty to his own father’s well-being exceeded any loyalty to what was, to him, an unknown god. My son found no other matches, and he has only recently returned.”
Haziel causes a large bubble to appear in the throne room, touching the floor but taller than any yang. Through it, from every angle, the members of the King’s audience can see Harran on distant Earth. Gasps of shock and surprise are heard. Even the heat of the desert seeps from the bubble to filter into the King’s chamber.
Haziel says, “Prince Melchizedek, know that Terah, the father of Abram, is dead. Return to Earth at once and fulfill the task as your father once commanded you.”
Melchizedek looks from Haziel to hyz father and has naught to say.
Haziel says to the Prince, “Make haste, and think not to take anything that you think you will need, for I myself will provide them for you.”
King Melchiyahu says, “Proceed as Lady Haziel commands, son, only accept Guriel and Iofiel here as your new subordinates, for Zophiel and Kemuel have reached early yenghood, and I have released them from their service to you.”
The name Iofiel means Beauty of God, and Guriel means Whelp of God. Together with Melchizedek they enter the bubble, and as soon as they do, the bubble is gone.
The question of Haziel’s identity has been answered in a spectacular fashion. The king hymself approaches har and bows to har on one knee. Haziel bids hym to rise, saying, “Yes, I am the holy one you call Chokhmah, but for my part I call you my Students, not my Servants. I am quite different from Thaumiel in this respect.”
Hearing this, the King rises and says, “My daughter has expressed to me her strong desire to become your leading student, Lady Haziel, or Chokhmah if you wish.”
“Call me Haziel, please, Your Majesty. I have not yet formally gathered disciples to myself, and if I did, it would be a far greater commitment than a few hours a day away from this castle. Sha might be asked to travel to the other lands of Barbelo, or perhaps even to the other world where har brother has just now returned in the sight of everyone here. Would you, Princess Khondiel, be willing to part with your father for years, decades, perhaps even for half a lifetime? Consider hyz age. It might be the case that you would part from hym and never be reunited.”
“I am willing to do so, Lady Haziel, and more, I would put my Fallen Angels entirely at your disposal.”
The King says, “Take Princess Khondiel to learn at your side, Lady Haziel. I beg this of you, for I deem that you will return to me a daughter who is more fit to be called a Princess of this city.”
“In that event, Your Majesty, I will take Khondiel to be my first disciple.” Sha bows deeply, a goddess paying homage to a king, and the audience is concluded.
King Melchiyahu arranges for Haziel to spend the night in the castle. The next morning Haziel summons har avatar once more to the city of Salem, and sha takes Khondiel in a suborbital flight to har abode in distant Anshar, but ever the two remain chaste, and sleep separately one from the other.
Years after Prince Melchizedek first visited the crossroads town of Harran, Old Man Terah, father of Abram, can still sometimes be seen moving around inside his idol shop near the town’s central market square. His well-to-do son has done much to keep his father’s body and soul together, but Terah is very feeble now, and he works in his shop only very slowly. One night as he is working late he is startled by a sudden sharp pain in his head, stands up, and drops his chisel. He collapses to the floor of his shop with a fatal stroke, but this is witnessed by no one. Only in the morning is his body discovered.
Sheep and cattle roam the grasslands a number of leagues away from Harran. Abram is walking in the field with his flocks when a messenger runs up to him and speaks. Abram looks alarmed and turns to follow the messenger back to the place where Abram has set up his tent.
A few days later Terah’s body is lowered into a tomb in Harran as many others look on. Stones are moved into place over Terah’s body. Abram says to the people gathered there, “My father is dead. Nothing remains now to tie me to Harran. I will now take my wife, my son Isaac, all the lifestock we have raised, and also as many of you who agree to remain under my employ. Spread the word to those of our people who are not here. We will leave this place forever. As much as I loved my father this town is sick with false gods.”
Isaac, a mere slip of a lad, asks, “Where will we go, father?”
“We will journey by the road southwest, to the land of Canaan. I have come to believe the true God wills that we should dwell there. When it was revealed to me I could not obey this divine will before because my father could not travel very far, and he could not survive without me. But now he is gone.”
Then Abram takes his extraordinarily beautiful wife Sarai, his son Isaac, all the livestock they have raised, and all the people from Harran who agree to remain under Abram’s leadership, and they travel southwest to the land of Canaan, which lies beyond the winding river that begins on the snows of Mount Hermon and ends in the Salt Sea.
A number of days after Abram and his people have left, Prince Melchizedek reaches the town of Harran with his two servants. They see Terah’s idol shop is empty. Melchizedek inquires of the townspeople about Terah and Abram. Soon they too are on the road south and west, following Abram and his herds. It is not difficult to find him, because his business has a wide geographical footprint, made even wider by the drought.
At Sechem, Melchizedek and his yeng approach Abram at the center of his flock. When Abram sees them he approaches, bows reverently, and says, “You see? I obeyed the call of God after all!”
The Prince says, “I am Melchizedek. I was sent by the one you seek with your innermost heart, none other than the Most High God. And yet I swear to you Abram that God also needs you. And God has said, ‘I will give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abram to be their inheritance forever.'”
Then Abram is suddenly moved by a religious impulse all his own. He claps his hands once and turns to his servants, saying, “Bring to me the best animals in my flock.” Then Abram, aided by other servants, constructs an altar of stones. His servants kill the animals and lay them on Abram’s altar.
Abram intones, “In the name of Chokhmah, the most high God of heaven and Earth.” Then he sets fire to the animals and makes a burnt offering in the presence of Melchizedek and Iofiel and Guriel.
Melchizedek and Abram go for a walk, and when it is night, Melchizedek asks Abram to look at the stars and see if he can count them. “So shall your descendants be,” says hy.
There are only about six thousand stars visible to the unaided human eye but Abram immediately gets the point. Chokhmah agrees to reward Abram with countless progeny and help them thrive in the land of Canaan. Abram agrees to worship only Chokhmah as God and trust that she would always do what she said she would do. That is the basis of the first covenant between the elohim and human beings, the first contract made between the divine and the mortal on something like an equal basis.
On Barbelo Thaumiel never concludes a similar covenant, for he considers the nephilim there to be nothing more than his servants. Slaves obey or they are punished, they didn’t make covenants with gods.
Abram is the head of a large nomadic clan and possesses great riches. He is already living in the golden age as far as he is concerned. Abram does not pine away for salvation or an afterlife. Abram has already lived a full and blessed life here. He accepts that he is mortal like everything else in the world, from mayflies to olive trees, and the only thing left that Chokhmah can promise him is that his name and his blood would be carried into a future without limit by a people who would live in the land he has ventured to reach.
Prince Melchizedek journeys once more to Harran, the land of Abram’s own people. By chance hy ends up at the very house of Abram’s original clan and sees there Bethuel, son of Milcah the wife of Nahor, who is Abram’s older brother. And Bethuel has a daughter named Rebekkah. That means Rebekkah is Abraham’s great niece. She is therefore Isaac’s first cousin once-removed.
Melchizedek tells her father of hyz mission, and showers the family with many lavish gifts from the now greatly-enlarged estate of Abram. Then Bethuel calls Rebekkah in, allows her to speak with Melchizedek for a time, and at the end he asks, “Will you go with this man to marry his master?”
And she says, “I will go.”
By this acceptance, Rebekkah takes her place in the great story set in motion when Chokhmah, through Melchizedek, first commanded Abraham to go to the land of Canaan. Yet Rebekkah does not make her decision on the basis of Isaac’s character, which remains unknown to her, but on the basis of how Melchizedek represents hymself to her and her family: courteous, humble, and devout.
The gold and jewels are obligatory, but Rebekkah decides to go on a hunch. This servant Melchizedek (for a servant she thought hym to be, rather than a prince in his own right) was a good man. And the master of that man must be a good man as well, she reasoned.
Melchizedek brings Rebekkah to the oasis at Beersheba. Isaac brings her into his tent, takes her as his wife, and he loves her. Melchizedek, in a sense, has provided Isaac with a replacement mother to love. Rebekkah herself senses this and feels a twinge of regret, but she has already assented to the marriage. She is committed. And later she gives birth to twin boys, Esau and Jacob.
Then Melchizedek knows hyz service on Earth is complete, and hyz obligations to Chokhmah are fulfilled. Hy returns to Barbelo soon after this, for hy has learned that hyz aged father Melchiyahu has taken sick, and hy would not remain king of Salem for very much longer.
In 1937 Kim, Sofie, and Dory are twelve, that wonderful last year of their tweens when their bodies are gathering power for the changes soon to come. They talk about boys in idealized, abstract terms that have little bearing on the clumsy, stinky, stupid little barbarians that happen to be actual boys. In slumber parties they practice necking with each other, so long as it is perfectly understood that one of the neckers has to be a boy, at least in theory. Sofie Krause, at great personal sacrifice, plays the role of beau nine times out of ten, especially when it is Dory Fuchs’ turn.
Likewise, in class, the tight trinity of friends send flowery little love letters to each other. The girl-love of tweens is love of a high order that knows no jealousy. Share and share alike. But they dread having one of their masterpieces of amorous soliloquy discovered by a classmate, or God forbid, the teacher. So they create their own secret language called Relbimian. And in that language, the word for “group of three” is boda.
This, then, is the state of the Boda in seventh grade:
Dory Fuchs: Blue eyes, long jet black hair tied in the obligatory pony tail but with the cutest bangs ever. She is the skinniest member of the Boda but the first one to begin to grow breasts. She likes to read books by English authors about dragons and elves and wizards and unicorns. Already, at age twelve, Dory has pinup model stems.
Academically, Dory deliberately aims at getting straight B’s to strike the middle ground between pleasing her parents and not appearing to be a bookish girl. In the Boda Dory takes the middle ground, becoming “all things to all women” and she becomes the glue that holds them all together. If the Boda could be said to have a leader it is Dory, yet the character of her role is persistently one of support. Instead of dragging them along she pushes them from behind.
Sofie Krause: A tomboy who keeps her ash-blond hair cropped short in a crew cut, with no pony tail, in defiance of the Church. Not even her father has anything to say about that, for already Sofie has the physique of a wrestler. She is the only girl on the football team. One time a boy at school says her football uniform makes her look fat and she flips him to the ground and pastes him good. Knocks out his front tooth. No one says that to her again. She is, however, like all the girls at school, required to wear skirts rather than pants in the classroom, and this annoys her to no end.
One Halloween morning Dory comes to school dressed as a pirate’s wench and she has ripped her dress into long strips so that when she walks her slender legs poke out now and again. Sofie sits there with her mouth wide open and feels a shiver from her face to her toes. In that moment she knows what she is. Sofie has graduated from her tomboy phase to a full-service tribade. After that, Sofie loses all interest in sports, and everyone can hardly believe it. But chasing Dory has become the ultimate sport to her. Sofie is a scrub, but Dory eagerly helps her do her homework, which keeps Sofie hovering in “D” territory rather than a hard fail.
Kim Zinter: Auburn hair about halfway between mahogany and carrot-top. Light green eyes. She has a pretty face but she is a little chubby. Or perhaps just Rubenesque. In temperament she is the most classically feminine member of the Boda, for she takes after her mother the nurse. She is compelled to wear her hair in a ponytail at all times, of course, like her mother and father and elders and all the other good little Greendomites, male or female.
Kim is an infidel. She doesn’t really believe any of that stuff about Chief Wanica and the Golden Gift written in the Buron, which is testimony to how tightly her father Erik is capable of keeping Peter Twofeather’s secret with respect to his “borrowing” the divine weapon. But Kim isn’t prepared to let her folks down. So she grits her teeth, wears the damn ponytail, and when she ventures out of the Greendome area she ignores the comments at the edge of her hearing like “Oh there goes another Pony. Look at her hair.”
In eighth grade science class the teacher pairs everyone off for lab partners. Kim ends up with Sofie, and Dory ends up with one Jerry Shybear, the youngest grandson of Jashen “Two Pricks” Shybear who played a role in the early days of the Green Dome Church.
“No offense, Pally,” Sofie mutters as she kicks Jerry out of his seat and sends him shambling towards Kimberly. No one is going to separate Sofie and Dory.
Jerry is one of the few Original Inhabitants who attend the Church school in Greendome. He is a skinny boy, and shorter than Kimberly even, but the other boys are afraid to pick on him because he has already demonstrated a hidden wiry strength in a series of earlier fights, and all of them learned why young men in the Red Wing are called “braves”. He becomes the fourth member of the Boda, sort of, which is an oxymoron, like having a fourth novel in the Galaxy’s Fall Trilogy.
Jerry can tell right away that Sofie and Dory are a unit, so he gravitates towards Kim. At the ice skating rink they even hold hands, since Sofie and Dory aren’t afraid to do so. He is not Kim’s first or even second cousin, and therefore he can never be her husband someday, so it is fun to experiment, but they both know it can never turn into anything serious. Then again, thirteen year old kids never take anything serious.
There is absolutely no body modesty in the Boda, and if Jerry wanted to be a part of it, they would have to break him in. The first time they went skinny dipping at Lake 13 Jerry liked what he saw, and so did Kim. She began horsing around with him at every level short of the full jackpot. Naturally she is required to keep Sofie and Dory appraised of every move.
“So what’s it like to kiss an actual, you know, boy?” Dory asked.
“Just like kissing Sofie. Same pressure. He smells different up close though. Not bad, just different.”
“Did you pitch woo?”
“We did indeed pitch woo. He feels like a rubber wet suit stretched out over a suit of armor. Soft on the surface but with a hard core underneath. I like it.”
“They look like beer bottles instead of Coke bottles,” Sofie complains.
“There comes a time when you grow up and move from soda pop to beer,” Kim replies, but only Dory seems to agree.
The great common ground of the Boda is music. Their parents are sufficiently well-off to provide their instruments, except that Kim’s only instrument in the very beginning is her own voice. She is a member of the Green Dome Temple Girl’s Choir, and an amazing soloist with a rich, breathy, lyric mezzo-soprano voice that belies her youth and borders on being too sultry and sensuous for spiritual music.
In band class Dory Fuchs plays double-bass standing on a shortened end-pin so she is more comfortable. She especially likes to set down her French bow and pluck the strings pizzicato, playing meandering bass lines that make her imagine she is a cat slinking around at night. The bass remains mostly in the background but provides harmony and structure to the songs, the same role Dory performs in the Boda.
Sofie Krause pounds the skins with all the power that makes her a formidable offensive guard. She can practically read Dory’s mind (and vice-versa) so they became one of the all-time great rhythm sections. Sofie is inspired to change her name to Hunky so people would refer to them as Hunky-Dory. This is more than just a nickname. By dropping her ‘patriarchy slave name’ of Sofie Krause and replying only to her freely chosen name of Hunky, she actually inaugurates the Name Ritual that becomes an important part of the Boda when it expands and becomes the B’nei Elohim.
Jerry’s “axe” is a saxophone, and in the beginning he isn’t very good at it, but he figures that is the reason he is taking band class, after all. He gradually improves and by the close of 1938 the kids have the bare bones of an actual jazz ensemble on their hands. They call themselves Hunky-Dory and that never changes.
Their earliest performance as Hunky-Dory alone, apart from band class, comes during the end-of-semester band class recital, during the encore, when they perform “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” while the rest of the kids set their instruments aside. It is a triumph, but their first paid performance would come in the Forties, and their first recording in the Fifties. Money was never the focus of Hunky-Dory at any rate. They did it mostly just for fun.
Even as Thaumiel aids Chokhmah to establish a covenant people on Earth, he implacably opposes her doing the same thing on Barbelo. For years the human avatar of Chokhmah, a yin named Haziel, has been safeguarded in the city of Salem by King Melchiyahu, even as Thaumiel positions an army to take Haziel by force (or kill her in the effort), but now Melchiyahu is dead and hyz son Melchizedek has returned from Earth to become king. Thaumiel has stayed his attack, waiting to see what the new king will do.
Haziel wishes to bring matters to a head, and sha wishes to do so without bringing harm to the city of Salem, so sha counsels Melchizedek to turn har over to Thaumiel’s mouthpiece Zadkiel. Things would have been difficult for Melchizedek if hyz sister (and Haziel’s closest disciple) Princess Khondiel had been present to protect har good friend and teacher. But Haziel has sent Khondiel and all har Fallen Angels away to bring a collection of food to a hungry village far from Salem, and this provides a narrow window of opportunity for King Melchizedek to send Haziel outside the city gates and invite Zadkiel and the Eyes of Thaumiel to scoop har up.
Haziel is placed naked in a cubical wooden cage and taken by cart to the city of Thaumiel. There after many humiliations sha is put through a public trial to incriminate harself by har own words so there would be no doubt among the people that har teachings blasphemed Thaumiel, the god of House Gerash.
The voice of Thaumiel, Lord Zadkiel, serves as the prosecutor, while Princess Khondiel, through a special waiver in the law of the city forbidding women to work and to speak, serves in her defense. High Lord Patriarch Kirodiel Gerash himself serves as judge, jury, and executioner.
The charge is insurrection. Specifically, Haziel is accused of inciting infidelity to Thaumiel. As in any theocracy, to sin against god is exactly equivalent to breaking the law.
The ordeal wears on for days as Zadkiel attempts to trip Haziel up with riddle-words, but hy is dealing with an advanced composite being, both eloah and nephilim, and Haziel has a suitable answer at every turn. Haziel alone, even before har possession by Chokhmah, would have been able to handle hym. Zadkiel is too stupid to realize hy is being soundly beaten in an intellectual sense by Haziel’s rhetoric. But Haziel suspects that none of this will matter in the end. The outcome of the trial is surely fixed.
Zadkiel turns to the words of Haziel’s famous Sunset Discourse in Salem, which has been preserved as scripture in a growing collection of scrolls called the Buron. Hy zeroes in on something that even Melchiyahu had wondered about. “I find it interesting that you always say ‘sha who embraces Chokhmah’ meaning yin, and obviously excluding yeng. Do you imply that all yin are your disciples, and no yeng can be?”
Haziel replies, “Sadly, no, the patriarchal mind-set is not confined to your gender. By these things you shall know a yin is not my disciple: Sha is caught up in every fad and does not affirm har uniqueness. Sha grows annoyed at situations sha cannot help, and so sha is perpetually angry. Controversies that divide the people and stir up the disciples attract har. Assuredly, no yin who does these things can call harself Chokhmah’s follower. And any yang who does not do these things may be on the path to considering hymself Chokhmah’s follower.”
Zadkiel said, “And yet, contrary to the Code of Thaumiel you employ your disciples at labor, and even call them Fallen Angels, which some say is really an army of females. An army of females! Such a ridiculous contradiction has never existed in all of the history of our world.”
Haziel replies, “The army of a patriarch gathers the wealth and scatters the people. The Fallen Angels scatter the wealth and gather the people.”
Zadkiel asks, “So you espouse income redistributionism?”
Haziel replies again, “I espouse only giving yen work that draws them together in service of their sisters. There is no overlap with the work of yeng.”
Zadkiel asks, “Sisters, sisters, sisters! Where do yeng fit into your schemes, Haziel?”
Haziel says, “Just as nephilim were called out of the lower animals to have a closer relationship with the elohim, Chokhmah has called the Fallen Angels out of the nephilim that they may unite and nourish other yin and one another.”
Zadkiel asks, “Do you mean lesbian separatism? I point out that such a thing is considered completely unnatural by all our ancient traditions, even if the commandments of Thaumiel make no mention of it.”
Haziel replies, “It is natural to stink. It is our frequent bathing and use of perfumes that are unnatural. No one suggests turning back the clock on personal hygiene. To the Fallen Angels, the word ‘unnatural’ simply means ‘not on the level of animals.’”
Zadkiel runs completely out of arguments. He tells the judge there are no further questions. The judge orders a recess before the defense can begin.
In private, Khondiel tells Haziel, “I think I can handle this Zadkiel fellow just fine, but why do I have to? I saw how you simply conjured up a bubble and sent my brother to Earth. Why not conjure up another bubble and walk out of here?”
Haziel says, “You don’t understand, Khondiel. On Barbelo, Thaumiel controls the position of his endpoint of the fold-line absolutely. I told him I was ready to send Melchizedek back to Earth immediately and the bubble appeared.”
“Thaumiel does as you bid?”
“In that project on Earth we are united. But in this trial here on Barbelo we most certainly are not. Do not be afraid, Khondiel. I am confident that you will do well.”
Although sha is not trained to act as a legal advocate, Princess Khondiel has been a good student of Haziel, and har spirited defense would have been more than adequate to secure Haziel’s release in any other court on any world.
At first sha focuses on the fact that the Code of Thaumiel had come well after Haziel began to teach, spitting Zadkiel’s own words back at hym when hy first began to preach in Salem. Khondiel concluded that clearly the Code of Thaumiel had come after Haziel’s ministry had taken root on Barbelo, and might even have been introduced purely in reaction to her teachings.
“At no time in our history have we ever condemned a person for committing actions that were made illegal after the offense,” Khondiel points out. “And even if that is to be the case in this instance, there is still the question of jurisdiction. Haziel was apprehended just outside the walls of Salem, in lands ruled absolutely by my brother King Melchizedek. It is said the scepter is given to a king without repentance, short of war, of which there has been none, which in turn makes this trial itself illegal.”
All these objections and many more are allowed to spool out until Judge Kirodiel grows tired of each one in turn and instructs the princess to move on to har next one. The unfairness of the situation begins to grind Khondiel down, but Haziel takes it all calmly. The important thing is not so much the outcome, which is certainly predetermined, but that the people in the courtroom see the injustice of the whole thing.
As the defense of Haziel draws to a close, Khondiel puts Haziel on the stand, swears har to veracity, and asks, “Lady Haziel, despite all the evidence we have heard for the charge of impiety toward Thaumiel, you still maintain your innocence. How can this be?”
Haziel says, “For most wives on Barbelo it is not a powerful decision to stay married, because har only alternative is to starve. In the same way, it cannot be a powerful decision to worship Thaumiel anywhere in the Middle Land, because the alternative is a mock trial and execution.”
Khondiel asks, “So my Lady, you contend that any ‘piety’ which is compelled by law is invalid?”
Haziel answers, “Precisely. Such ‘piety’ is as phony as the ‘love’ found in many, if not most, patriarchal marriages, as I indicated. How much more vital is the love of two people who are utterly free to stay or to part, yet who still choose to stay together! Does that sound risky? Living dangerously is the very thing that lends excitement and significance to our lives. Only with conflict can we flare with incentive to create a new destiny.”
In cross-questioning Zadkiel asks har, “New destiny? Doesn’t that go against everything we have been taught about the inexorable workings of fate?”
Haziel says, “Thaumiel once told Chokhmah that to take fate into one’s own hands was to rise beyond good and evil. In reality, a rock and a tree are beyond good and evil, and so is everyone suborned to the laws of cause and chance. Rocks, trees, and people who are not permitted, or refuse, to make a choice are amoral. Not immoral, mind you, but amoral. The entire field of ethics simply doesn’t apply to them.”
Zadkiel asks, “So you don’t think High Lord Patriarch Kirodiel Gerash ought to legislate morality?”
Haziel replies, “Not that he ought not legislate morality to but that he literally cannot. It’s a logical absurdity, like a three-sided rectangle.”
Then, after Zadkiel stands down, Khondiel tells the court, “The defense rests.”
The trial wraps up with a judgment entirely against Haziel, to no one’s surprise except perhaps Princess Khondiel, who was allowed to pay one final visit to har client in the dungeons beneath the Temple of Thaumiel before the sentence is to be carried out.
The first few minutes are spent in a wordless embrace, as best as can be managed through intervening iron bars. Then Khondiel glances around, assuring herself that their attorney-client privilege of private counsel, no matter how brief, is still inviolate. Sha says, “Guilty! And a sentence of death. I can’t believe it Haziel. So what’s your plan?”
Haziel says, “Plan? There is no plan. Look around you Khondiel! Look at this security.” Haziel reached through the bars again to touch her friend’s face. “They’ve been planning this thing for years. And that trial? It all stinks of Thaumiel moving behind the scenes. He wants something from me. It only remains for Thaumiel to lay it all out in the open. He has another much easier way to communicate with me but he refuses to use it.”
Khondiel says, “What if you’re wrong? Granted, that’s not very often, but if you are wrong then I say we fall back to my plan.”
Haziel narrows her eyes and says, “Khondiel, don’t do anything stupid. Better yet, don’t do anything at all.”
They are interrupted by Khondiel’s escorting guard, a kind but unswervingly loyal yang. He said, “I’m sorry, that’s all the time I am permitted to give you.” Then he takes Khondiel by the arm and gently but insistently steers her out of the chamber.
Haziel calls out after her. “Khondiel! Just drop it, do you hear me?” But then Haziel sighs, knowing the princess all too well.
After Khondiel is escorted away Haziel’s next visitor is the prophet Zadkiel, who comes down into the dungeon and moves very close to Haziel’s cell to look directly into her eyes. After studying her quietly for a long time, he says, “Thaumiel sends his regards . . . Chokhmah.”
Haziel smiles. “What gave it away?”
Zadkiel says, “In the court transcript Thaumiel could not help but notice you used for your defense certain private conversations known only to himself and Chokhmah. But that is not the only thing. The Lord Thaumiel has also learned, after the fact, that you put on something of a conjuring act just before he sent the fold-door to Salem to whisk Melchizedek away. Only Chokhmah could have timed things so.”
“Point conceded. If you have spoken to Thaumiel then you already know only too well I can choose to end my own life at any time. No threat of death or torment can make me do his bidding, let alone the bidding of one of his slaves.”
Zadkiel smiles and says, “Oh, a martyr is the last thing we want, Haziel. Unfortunately, your friend Princess Khondiel has har mind quite made up. Do you really think the Eyes of Thaumiel are unaware of the preparations she has made to rescue you?”
Haziel frowns at this, for sha harself is in the dark as to Khondiel’s plan. “What does she have in mind?”
Zadkiel says, “You will be proud when you see it unroll. Fallen Angel commandos! Guards taken out with a head twist. Secret disguises and safe houses from here to the edge of the city. But as you’ve probably surmised just now, it’s a trap. That way we catch Khondiel red-handed, scoop up key Fallen Angels, and crush your whole movement over the span of a single night. Then you yourself are to be broken and braided on the wheel with no one left to rally around your rotting corpse.”
Haziel says, “Khondiel may be young and female, but don’t underestimate anyone who has spent three years under my wing. And don’t sell Khondiel’s Fallen Angels short either.”
Zadkiel says, “Well as it happens the Lord Thaumiel has a far better plan that will save the lives of Khondiel and all of her Fallen Angels, and it doesn’t require you to do physically do anything except refrain from terminating your own life. If you agree, your sentence of death will be set aside and Khondiel has no reason to carry out her suicide run. Instead, we shall parade you captive in a cage through every city, town, and village in the Middle Land.”
Haziel, knowing that it would have precisely the opposite effect, bluffs and says, “No! That would have the effect of discrediting me and everything that I have taught. I refuse.”
Zadkiel breaks into a sly grin. “Haziel, you must not refuse, because the alternative is Khondiel, remember? Har plan?”
Haziel sighs, and makes a show of hanging har head. “So no End of Cycle? Is that all Thaumuiel requires?”
Zadkiel replied, “No, the Lord requires just one other thing from you, and that is the secret of merging with a living avatar, as you have done with the body of this glassblower’s daughter.”
Haziel says, “I can give him the secret, but I cannot be responsible if he abuses it. He risks dissolution.”
“Let the Lord Thaumiel judge if that is true.”
In the end Haziel has to accept the humiliation because it really is the only alternative open to her. She has no fear of execution or torture. If her body is destroyed she would live on for many lifetimes of yin as the star Sol. For Haziel was no longer solely nephilim, and Chokhmah was no longer solely an eloah, but both were a single hybrid being. However Haziel did have an intense fear that har friends would attempt to rescue her from execution, and knowing the efficiency of the Eyes of Thaumiel it would mean certain capture and a slow and bitter death for Khondiel and all the Fallen Angels sha led.
So Haziel agrees not to commit suicide. Sha agrees to give Thaumiel the procedure for taking possession of a world-dweller.
To Khondiel, after she learns of it, this development merely delays things somewhat. From the moment sha is ejected from the city Khondiel never ceases plotting to get Haziel free of Zadkiel’s bondage.
In 1928 a girl child is born to Benjamin and Edith Gervasi in London while Benjamin is attending Imperial College. He names her Lilith because it is such an interesting name.
“Interesting in the way ‘Jezebel’ or ‘Medusa’ or ‘Typhoid Mary’ is interesting,” Edith complains, but she knows she can do nothing to change Ben’s mind, so her daughter is Lilith.
In Jewish legends Lilith was Adam’s first wife, created from the soil at the same time as Adam rather than from his rib like his second wife. Lilith left her husband when she refused to accept the sex position that Adam insisted on doing, since it left the man on top. She wanted to do reverse cowgirl. Cursed by God, Lilith became a she-demon who roamed the night looking for souls of newborn infants to steal, but the prophet Isaiah foresaw that even Lilith would find rest in the Messianic Age.
As the decade of the 1930s wears on, Jews are systematically stripped of their civil rights on the Continent, and begin to be moved into work camps that evolve into racial hygiene (extermination) camps, but nothing like that happens in Britain. There are even Jews in Parliament. The Gervasi family has been royal subjects for many generations, and Benjamin Gervasi is a meteorologist with a specialty in “numerical methods of mesoscale forecasting”.
Jews on the whole are rather rare in the United Kingdom. During the years of the Great Depression Benjamin Gervasi could only find work as a lighthouse keeper at St. Catherine’s Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight, just a few miles off the southern coast of England.
This job, however, has several good points associated with it Benjamin thinks. First, his wife and eventually also Lilith aids him in his work. It becomes a family endeavor. Second, the lighthouse grounds double as a meteorological outstation. During daylight, they send by Teletype hourly reports of temperature, humidity, cloud height, cloud formation, wind direction, and wind force to the Meteorological Office in London. Benjamin derives some satisfaction to work within his chosen field.
Once a week when Benjamin is paid his salary, a small amount of petrol is also delivered to power the engine that turns the lighthouse shaft. He is never tempted to divert even a small portion of this petrol to his motorcar, as he had no motorcar, but he does have to keep an eye out for certain neighbors who do.
Every weekday morning Lilith trudges up the hillside to the nearest village for her Primary school, and sometimes her mother accompanies her when she needs to attend to shopping. On Shabbat they cease from their labors and remain indoors. Very rarely, Benjamin arranges transportation by bus and ferry, and they take such holidays as they can afford, sometimes even to the beautiful Lake District, camping in the high, treeless hills called fells that qualify as mountains in England.
In the lead-up to World War II British scientists are tasked to create a death ray based on radio waves to take down German bombers. They never quite manage a death ray, but in their research they find that metallic objects at great distances can reflect a radio pulse and the time delay displayed on an oscilloscope is a very accurate indication of distance. Rotating an antenna can pin down a target’s position. Thus is born RDF, or Range and Direction Finding. A network of RDF stations called Chain Home make all the difference in the Battle of Britain, which occurs over the summer of 1940.
Numerically the Luftwaffe has an edge over the Royal Air Force, but when the Luftwaffe attacks they have to hunt for RAF fighters, while the RAF (aided by Chain Home) knows exactly where the Luftwaffe is and can concentrate planes. The Luftwaffe also has an edge when it comes to the quality of their aircraft, but with Chain Home providing early warning of attacks, RAF pilots can rest until they are scrambled, use less fuel, and put less wear and tear on their aircraft.
As the Luftwaffe begins to take heavy losses in bombers and fighter cover, they try to attack some of the Chain Home stations, including one that is constructed nigh to St. Catherine’s Lighthouse. But as the Gervasi family can attest, the antenna towers with their open structure are not very susceptible to blast damage from bombs. The few antennas that actually are knocked down are repaired within days while operators from nearby ‘dummy’ stations broadcast signals that fool the Germans into thinking no damage was done at all.
The Luftwaffe tries flying lower, approaching England below the sight line of Chain Home stations, but the British uses smaller RDF systems intended to direct gunfire against ships, and German losses continue to mount at an unacceptable rate. So the Luftwaffe switches to night raids, knowing that even if they are detected, the RAF can do nothing about it, since the defending planes cannot see the bombers in the dark when it comes to actual combat. The British quickly miniaturize the RDF systems and install them on fighter planes, which rapidly ends German night bombing over England.
Since the battle takes place over United Kingdom home turf, if an RAF plane is shot down, the British pilot can bail out and be back in the air flying another plane, perhaps on the same day if he is not injured. But if a German pilot bails out over land, he is invariably captured, and if he bails out over the Channel he is likely to die from drowning or exposure to cold.
When the Battle of Britain comes to an end in October 1940 the British have lost only about 500 airmen while the Germans have lost eight times that number. Nearly a thousand German pilots are captured. The Luftwaffe lose nearly two thousand planes and Hitler is forced to shelf his invasion plans indefinitely. Hitler has been thwarted for the first time in the war. So he turns his gaze to the East and begins preparing the Barbarossa campaign against the Soviet Union.
The UK shifts emphasis from defense to offense, and during the course of 1941 it becomes clear to Bomber Command that night navigation to the correct target is a serious issue. In 1942 an electronic guidance system called Clarinet is developed that uses two highly directional radio beams, one transmitting Morse code dots and the other one transmitting dashes, to be received by a single bomber flying in the lead of the wave (to minimize the chance of the Germans reverse-engineering the system from a downed plane). They fly out along the dots, and when the lead plane encounters the strongest part of the dashes it drops a load of marker flares, and the bomber wave drops their bombs on these flares.
A Clarinet antenna is constructed inside Benjamin’s lighthouse mounted to the central shaft. That way the white structure of the lighthouse would hide the antenna and the Germans would never suspect a thing. From time to time a targeting order comes to Benjamin over the same Teletype he uses to transmit his weather information. The message gives him a precise angle to position the antenna, a duration in time, and whether he was to use dots or dashes. The Gervasi family are quite busy throughout 1943 as the RAF focuses their bombing campaign on Hamburg and the industry centered in the Ruhr valley.
In 1944 a large number of American, Australian, En Zed, and Canadian troops are transported to the south of England to join the Tommies in preparation for the invasion of France, and to ensure their success a monolith of operational deception is built up that the world had never seen before nor since. False radio traffic is created to give the Germans the impression that Patton is gearing up to take the entire force over the narrowest part of the Channel where the white cliffs of Dover can be seen from Calais. False plans are planted on a corpse that is allowed to wash up on a French beach. Admiral Sir Bertrand Ramsay, in overall command of the invasion, leaves nothing, absolutely nothing to chance. In the run-up to D-Day Sir Ramsay even pays a visit to Benjamin Gervasi in his lighthouse on the southern-most point of England.
The weather is quite murky and wet, so the Admiral’s inspection of the exterior of the lighthouse is necessarily cut short. While his driver waits in the car, Benjamin shows the Admiral the room where the Teletype and Clarinet transmitter are installed. Ramsay thanks Benjamin personally for his service to the King, and Benjamin, for his part, considers it prudent not to mention the assistance he receives from his wife and daughter. Then the Admiral’s eyes are captivated by a wall chart, and he asks Benjamin to identify it.
“That’s my moving five-day weather forecast for Undercliff, Sir. That would be this little strip of land where the lighthouse is located. We are in a rain-shadow, you know. And also a fog-shadow, if you will. The weather here is typically not quite as immoderate as it is for you Overners.”
Benjamin leads the Admiral into the white octagonal tower to inspect the Clarinet antenna. He takes him spiraling up the ninety-four steps to the top, where the huge crystal lens (chipped by a 1943 air raid) slowly rotates, and they can see for thirty nautical miles out to sea. The whole English Channel in fact is roiling with whitecaps from high winds which threaten to derail the invasion.
“And you do this weather forecasting as a sort of hobby?”
“Perhaps a bit more than just a hobby, Admiral Sir Ramsey. I’m trained as a meteorologist, and I’m a damn fine one, if you don’t mind me carrying my own chair. But with the war I find myself. . .over-qualified for the task I currently occupy. Now I know we’ve all got to pull together to stop Jerry, and I’m sure other professional men are in the same predicament, but all the same, one must use the skills one has been trained to use, or one’s mind gets in a bit of a rut.”
“It’s not a purely sterile pursuit as you might imagine it to be. By a strange fluke of geography and wind and water currents, the weather here at the lighthouse, which can be quite different from the rest of England or even the rest of the Isle of Wight, almost always corresponds to the weather across the Channel on the coast of France, in the Normandy area. I’ve checked it for years, in every season, and the match is very good, more than eighty percent of the time, well outside the possibility of coincidence. I plan to publish a paper about it after the war.”
“Is that so? Remarkable! And what do you predict for Undercliff?”
“A twenty-four hour break in this weather, partly cloudy, winds drop to five knots. Then on the afternoon of the sixth of June we return to the same pattern. This forecast holds for here and the Normandy coast. Everywhere else along the English Channel there will be no twenty-four hour break. There will be only fog and rain and winds gusting to thirty knots.”
Sir Ramsey is suddenly filled with great admiration for Benjamin Gervasi, because Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist has predicted the very same short break in the weather over Normandy, using B-17 aircraft far out over the Atlantic to gather the data, but General Eisenhower is dithering as he is ever wont to do. The Admiral knows if he tells the General the doughnut hole in the bad weather is confirmed by a second independent source, it might be enough to make him decide to launch the invasion of France on the morning of June 6, just when the Germans will be letting their guard down with intelligence of a solid week of terrible weather.
The Admiral asks, “Does the strange correlation of weather between Undercliff and the French coast hold for the Pas-De-Calais?”
“Alas, no. I’m afraid that predicting the weather for Dover and Calais is more like a jigsaw puzzle, and my reports to the Weather Office are but one piece.
The Admiral sighs, reluctant to proceed. There is one final duty Mr. Gervasi can perform for England, and it saddened the Admiral to deceive the man, but there is no choice. It is, in fact, the main reason for his visit. The net of operational deception woven around Operation Neptune must be watertight. He says, “Then it is time to reveal the real purpose of my visit here, and why I have attended to this myself rather than send a staffer. What I’m about to tell you has the highest possible classification. You cannot mention a word of it even to your wife or daughter.”
“Of course. I understand, sir.”
“Mr. Gervasi, the following three weeks will be very lively ones for you, I’m afraid. You are no doubt aware that most of southern England has become one large armed camp containing millions of troops and all their supplies. As we get closer to the invasion across the Strait of Dover, which is set for June 20, you will find that your Clarinet task orders will be coming in at a much greater rate.”
“Daily rather than weekly?”
“Twice daily, I’m afraid. We will soon be bombing the landing areas more or less continuously. Now is the time we must make our greatest effort. I needed to tell you this, Mr. Gervasi, lest you think something has gone terribly wrong. And I could not trust this information to others.”
Benjamin assures the young admiral he understands his duty perfectly. And with that they part, but Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay feels thoroughly soiled.