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For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Dave Free on 16 January 2007 - 3:00pm.

"We're dead. Dad is going to kill us!"

"Us? You were the one driving!"

"Oh right, and I'm supposed to know that truck was going to jump the median? It wasn't my fault!" It was obvious Jake was frustrated. He was seventeen and had been driving for a year. He liked to go fast, but this accident wasn't his fault.

"Chill dude. It wasn't your fault. I was just kidding." Nate, who was fifteen could see this was not a good time to tease.

They stood on the curb with their twelve year old brother staring at the mangled piece of green metal that had been their car. A slight breeze chilled their sweat drenched t-shirts but none of them seemed to notice. Only seconds earlier they'd been on their way home from lacrosse practice. Their sticks and helmets were now scattered across the asphalt with broken glass and plastic shards. They were too shocked to care.

The driver of the truck that hit them was still strapped in his seat. He was moaning. Others who had witnessed the accident were running to his aid. A few ran past the boys' piece of mangled metal but none stopped to talk. The air smelled of gas and burning rubber. The terrible screech of the accident played over again and again in their heads. In the distance they could hear a siren growing louder as it approached.

The Samaritans had now pried open the door of the truck and were working to undo the driver's seat belt. McKay, the youngest of the three brothers watched for a moment and then looked back at their car.

"How did we get out?" He asked.

"What?" Jake replied, still frustrated. "We opened the--" He looked back at their car and stopped. Doors were no longer even recognizable. Almost in unison the three of them stepped off the curb and walked toward the car. None of them wanted to look, but none of them could keep themselves from looking either.

To see oneself from a distant is shocking. To see oneself mangled and dead from a distance is an experience few have lived to tell about. Jake was the first to recover.

"I told you we're dead!" He deadpanned.

Nate shook his head. "You're so dumb!" He said trying to hit Jake on the shoulder. He missed--at least that's what it felt like. McKay sat down on the curb, put his head in his hands and started crying.

"Why are you crying?" Jake demanded.

"Why am I crying?" McKay shouted back. "I'm dead and you ask my why I'm crying? You're such an idiot!"

Nate tried to calm the waters. He stepped between them. "C'mon guys, there is nothing we can do about it now. Let's figure out where we are supposed to go. Isn't there supposed to be a light or something?" He looked up and the others started looking around as well.

The paramedics had now arrived on the scene. One of them ran to the pile that was their car and made a quick assessment. He let out his breath in a low whistle, shook his head and ran to help the others with the man in the pickup truck. The three boys hardly noticed. They were looking around and up and down for some kind of bright light to walk towards. A man in a conservative suit came down the sidewalk towards them. The boys paid no attention to him until he stopped and spoke to them.

"Did you boys lose something?" He asked.

"You mean besides our lives?" Nate responded dryly then quickly apologized, "Sorry, couldn't resist."

The man just nodded. McKay studied him intently, walked over and waved his hand in front of his face. "Can you see us?" he asked.

The man nodded again.

"So are you dead too?" McKay continued.

"I sincerely dislike the word dead." The man replied. "It sounds so 'over.' But, yes, I am temporarily without a body, just like you. Now, if I can help you find whatever it is you are looking for, we can get on with our business. We don't have much time--as you call it."

Jake walked over and joined the other two talking to the man. "We heard there is a light you are supposed to go toward when you die. We were looking for the light."

The man smiled. "Perhaps you were right Daniel. They haven't lost their natural inclination for the light." He said out loud. The boys turned around to see who he was talking to. No one seemed to be listening. The paramedics had loaded the truck driver in the ambulance and were now coming towards the hunk of green metai with the hydraulic "jaws" to attempt to extract what remained of their bodies.

"Well, no sense dwelling on what has happened here." The man said, sensing that the boys were beginning to deal with the gravity of what had just happened. "This way please." He pointed to the east. The boys looked the direction he was pointing then at each other. None of them moved.

"Who are you and where are we going?" Jake demanded.

"Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." The man said.

"What?" Jake replied.

"Your questions will be answered shortly." The man replied. "Please sir, this way?" He pointed to the east again.

"Sir?" Jake looked at his brothers. They both shrugged. He turned and decided to follow. The instant he made his decision, his surroundings changed. He had lifted his foot to walk in the direction the man pointed, when he set it down it was bare and landed on a bright white, highly polished stone-like surface.

"What the?" He looked quickly around. The man with the conservative suit was gone. Jake turned back around quickly. Both of his brothers were there looking just as astonished as Jake felt.

"Whoah!" McKay said, "That was cool."

"Check out these robes!" Nate said and spun around. The white tunic he was wearing, spun with him. All three boys were now wearing simple white tunics. They had no shoes. Though the floor was hard and polished like granite, they felt no cold nor warmth from it. They slowly took in their surroundings. They were standing on what appeared to be the front porch of a large home. The porch was semi-circular with two steps leading down to the garden which surrounded the home. Though the boys had never thought of gardens or yards as anything more than the work they required, they stared in amazement at the beauty of this garden. Everything seemed to be in bloom and there was a peace that even teenagers could sense.

Leading into the house was a huge door that appeared to be made of gold--at least it shone like gold. But it was brighter than gold. It seemed to be illuminated from within.

Jake took a step toward it and held his fingers close to it, thinking that it might be hot. He felt no heat. The surface was smooth. The other two boys approached.
"There's no handle." Nate noticed.

"Think we should knock on it?" Jake asked.

"He did say 'knock and it shall be opened.'" Nate commented.

Jake knocked on the door three times. He would have kept knocking, but Nate reached up and touched his arm. The door had begin to shimmer at the edges as if it was made of water. Soon the whole door was shimmering and then it disappeared.

"Amazing!" Jake said.

As the door disappeared a bright light from within the house burst out upon the boys--too bright to see anything within. The boys looked at each other for a few seconds, wondering. Jake spoke first.

"We're already dead. What's the worst that could happen?" He stepped through the doorway and disappeared into the bright light. Nate and McKay followed quickly behind.

Any fear the boys might have had as they went through the doorway vanished as they stepped into the light. A sense of security and belonging instantly replaced the fear. Like a warm bowl of their mom's chicken noodle soup on a cold day, they felt comforted. A pleasant voice greeted them.

"Welcome brothers! Welcome! It is so good to be with you again! Come sit, there is much to talk of!"

As the boys' eyes adjusted to the light they looked into the smiling face of a man that appeared to be in his mid-twenties. He had dark eyes and dark curly hair to match. His smile was huge and warm. The boys couldn't help smiling in return though their minds raced with questions.

"You are confused. I know. I apologize for the sudden change in your conditions, but we had little choice. Our mission is urgent and of great importance. Please, please be seated." The man motioned to large white cushions arranged in a circle on the white stone floor and took a seat on one himself. The boys hesitated. "Come, come, it is so good to be with you again! Sit, please." He motioned to the cushions again.

The boys each chose a cushion and sat down facing the man. The room was well lit. Most of the light came from the man talking to them. He shone with brightness and yet they could look upon him without squinting. He looked at each of them in turn, smiled again, took a deep breath and began speaking.

"I know that you have many questions. I have many myself. I will try to answer all that I can but our time is limited by our circumstances."

"Where are we?" Jake interrupted.

The man smiled at him. "I've missed you Jacob. Your determination will serve us well. My name is Daniel. You cannot remember me, but we have fought and won many battles together. We were--are, all members of a noble force of devout warriors, commissioned by the Source of Light himself to thwart the adversary. After participating in the victory of the first terrible battle, we were each given missions to complete on earth. Many have gone and returned. My mortal time was thousands of years ago. Many more are on the earth now--such as you-- or soon to go.

"Were." Nate interrupted. "We're no longer on earth."

Still smiling, the man continued. "Nathanael, how I have longed to put your intelligence to work once again. It is true, you have died, but please hear me out before you draw any final conclusions. The war rages on my fellow warriors, in fact it nears the brutal end. We certainly know the final outcome--that will never be in doubt thanks to our Master. What we don't know is who will be standing on His side when the end comes. The adversary's forces grow by the moment and his methods become darker and more powerful."

The light shining from Daniel seemed to dim a little as he spoke of the adversary. He paused for a moment and then lightened again. "The end is near. There are battles that must be won now to save the souls of many of our brothers and sisters. To that end, I have been called to choose from our force a special cross-veil team tasked with protecting the light. You are here now because I would like each of you on it."

Daniel sat back and waited for the boys to respond. They tried to take in everything they had experienced in the last few minutes and make sense of it. They all liked Daniel--even wanted to please him--and it was also obvious he was offering them something that he thought they should be excited about, but it was just too much for them to grasp.

Nate was the first to speak. "Can we back up just a little?" He asked.

Daniel smiled and nodded.

"So are we dead or is this a dream? Where are we?"

"I assure you this is not a dream. It is very real. At this precise moment in earth's time you are dead. That is, your spirits have left your bodies."

Nate started to talk again, Daniel held up his hand and continued, "But, that is not a permanent condition. This is a temporary place," Daniel pointed at their surroundings. "From here you can either return to your bodies and your earthly existence or you can go on." Daniel pointed to the ceiling.

"So then we're not really dead yet?" McKay brightened at the thought.

"You can go back to earth." Daniel nodded in agreement.

"In fact, I need you to go back to earth. There are things that only those with bodies can do. We need the three of you there. The rest of the force will remain on this side."

"The rest of the force?" Jake asked.

Daniel turned to him. "It's a small force. There will be only six of us if you agree. But by small means God bringeth about that which is great."

"Who are the others?" Nate inquired.

"They are waiting to join us. However, until I have your commitment, I must limit what I share with you. The less you must forget, the better."

McKay now spoke again. "So you want us to join your special force and then go back to earth, right?"

Daniel nodded.

"What will we have to do?" McKay continued his inquiry.

"And how will we know to do it?" Nate added.

"You won't be asked to do anything that you are not capable of." Daniel replied, "And you will each be given special gifts to make it possible."

"Like super powers?" Nate asked.

"Something like that." Daniel replied. "We will also communicate with you as often as we can from this side."

"Do we have to die again every time you want to talk to us?" Jake asked with a straight face.

Daniel laughed out loud. "No this was necessary due to the urgency of our mission and to introduce you to the rest of the force. We will communicate in less obtrusive ways in the future."

"I'm in." McKay said. "I'm not ready to die."

"Thank you McKay." Daniel smiled at him and then looked at Jake and Nate.

"I may be back here sooner than you expect." Jake said, "When my dad sees our car, he is going to kill me again. But I'll give you all the time I have. I'm in."

Daniel chuckled. "We'll take care of that."

"So can I have the same powers Superman has?" Nate asked.

"I'm afraid I'm not familiar with superman." Daniel responded.

"He's just jerking you around." Jake jumped in, "Are you in or not Nate?"

"So if I say 'no' what are my options?" Nate now asked.

"Nate!" Jake and McKay both said in unison.

"Ok, ok I'm in." Nate finally said.

Daniel looked at the three boys without a smile and seemed to dim a little. He turned to Nate and said, "Nathanael, the choice is yours and yours alone. The sacrifices you will be required to make are significant and you alone need to shoulder the responsibility for this decision."

"I'm in." Nate responded without hesitation. Then said it again to make sure it was heard, "I'm in."



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Dad! I love this story! The

Dad! I love this story! The characters definitely portray who they are supposed to be! hah, I almost started crying. . .it was very witty though and I can't wait for the next chapter!

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AHH! I love it! Keep the

AHH! I love it! Keep the chapters coming! You always have great ideas for stories! Yeah!

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Oh great, just what I need.

Oh great, just what I need. To be hooked on another story. There are some good "startle" points in this. Very fun to read. Looking forward to the next chapter.

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