The Other Son


It was no ordinary birth. 

Twins were highly uncommon at the time, generally resulting in death for both mother and progeny. 

The holy men said it was a twin virgin birth, truly a blessing, a gift from God above. 

Many discussions were had; they quickly agreed that only one child could truly be chosen, so one was sent away to live in isolation with the shepherds.

Abiah never knew his origins as a child; he never questioned his keeper Sardis over this. 

Sardis taught him the way of the sheep. The grazing, shearing of wool, the gentleness that the sheep's eye reflected back. 

“Of all of God's creatures, Abiah, the sheep is best. It is generous to man both with fleece and with flesh,” Sardis would often remark. “But, like man with God, they require the guiding care of the shepherd”

Sardis would write small poems and recite them daily to Abiah.

“The Shepherd loved His little lamb,
And gave it His tender care...
And followed it with His loving eyes
As it wandered here and there.
 And as He sat by His grazing flock
Who so meekly His voice obeyed,
He pondered sadly His little lamb
As again and again it strayed”

“But still the lamb would soon forget
And unthinkingly wander away,
And not really noticing what he did,
From the Shepherd's side would stray.”

“Until one day, the Shepherd kind
Took His rod in His gentle hand,
And what He then did seemed so cruel
That the lamb could not understand.”

As Abiah grew and matured, Sardis began to relay to him of tales of the modern world.

There was talk in the towns of messiahs and demons, Romans and peasants, war, death, plague, sacrifice. 

“God is always active in His judgements and workings,” noted Sardis. “His justice and power are never ending in their grace. Like the coin, all human actions have two sides, one that faces the dark and one that faces the light.”

Sardis knew that great power lay inside Abiah, and tried to educate him the best he could. But there were some things that just could not be taught through poems and sayings. 

As Abiah approached manhood, the times were indeed changing. Rumours of a messiah had spread from village to village, hand to hand, mouth to ear. A humble carpenter had been performing miracles and was attracting followers. 

Poverty knew no bounds; roving bandits had multiplied, pillaging and looting villages. 

They descended upon Sardis and Abiah one night. Sardis was killed; they slaughtered the flock for meat and flay Sardis. 

Sardis was the only human that Abiah had known; he wept deeply upon his violent death. The bandits enslaved Abiah. 

“It is God's will.” Abiah spoke as the bandits whipped and broke him. 

“You will become like us, Abiah, a true warrior and a killer of men,” the bandits said, “God has forsaken you.” 

Scarred and barely alive, Abiah escaped one night to the refuge of a great cave. 

As the sun rose, small beams spread through the hole, illuminating the crude drawings on the walls. Abiah became feverish and delusional. 

A hermit, Maachah, dwelled in the caves. His eyes were white and cloudy, his voice rough with lack of use. 

He spoke to Abiah as the hallucinations fluttered and expanded through his mind. 

“No one will come for thee, as no one has come for me. We have both been forsaken, by God and Man alike.” Maachah whispered, laughing to himself. 

“The bird flies and circles thine corpse, boy, death is calling out for thee. Will thy answer it's call?”

A nude siren appeared to the bloodied Abiah. Abiah had never seen a woman before and the sight was troubling.

She floated through the cave, singing a wordless tune to him, caressing his wounds. Her eyes shone with the intensity of the stars, stars that Sardis would point out to him whilst they wandered the mountainsides. 

“A great power resides in you, Abiah. Now is not your time of dying.”



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