Sojourn for Ephah
by Marina J. Lostetter
I cannot get the Bishop to hear me, and his are the Ears of the Church. The Holy Scrolls were
written for an infant race, an infant intelligence. There is another layer to the stories -- a hint at
something fundamental about the universe -- but the Church continues to teach them at face-value. I feel a hair's breadth away from it, like the knowledge is under my fingernails and I have
only to dig it out.
-- Personal Journal of Father Aaron, Parish Pastor to Our Lady of the Skies cathedral
"Come quickly," Brother Landers called to me. "There's -- there's something strange out on the
I flipped the page as he spoke. Private time was scarce, and I often used mine to go over the
documents Father Aaron had bequeathed to me. He'd discovered a new -- or, lost -- aspect to
our studies, but failed to impart his revelations before passing. The spine of the heavy, leather-bound volume squeaked as I shut it.
"Some thing?" I asked.
Brother Landers was given to fits of excitement, making it difficult to distinguish between a
summons of real urgency and self-indulgent rushing.
"A . . . a creature. On the steps. The people -- they're pouring inside to get away from it,
With an effort I hefted the journal back onto the shelf between my favorite tomes on quantum
mechanics and cosmology. "A lion, or a --"
A clammy hand curled around my wrist. I turned from the shelf and saw sweat on his brow.
"Father . . . It's like nothing I've ever seen." He made a warding sign. "It has the look of a
Before he could say another word I ushered him out of my study.
Making our way as fast as dignity allowed, we marched through the crossing and across the
nave. Worshipers trickled through the cathedral's open airlock, fresh off the city streets.
Anxious whispers passed between them, and their darting eyes revealed true confusion.
"There are still more outside, in the square," Landers said. "They fear to mount the steps, even
for a chance at sanctuary."
Six inches of folded steel marked the barrier between our house of worship and its foster city. I
lifted the hem of my white deacon's robes as I passed over the threshold.
The bright mid-day glare from Chandra -- this system's star -- confused my vision for an
instant. Even blinded I could tell the atmosphere was strained and unnatural. Though I could
sense a crowd of people, all was silent.
"There, Father. There." Shielding my eyes, I followed his quivering finger to the northern
corner of the steps, where the foundation of the landing pad met seamlessly with the docked