for a free sample of the PennSTAR Master Curriculum:
4,830 Objectives and 2,719 Activities
Who Killed Jesus, and Why?
and parents who are homeschooling--
Download the PennSTAR Master Curriculum
Chapter 16: The Big Show
Now You Can Read Gone on Your Kindle
Click to Send E-Mail
Return to Gone Home Page
Valley Colony, New Jersey
Friday, January 3, Noon
When the resurrected and glorified body of Jackie Dark passed from view through the vaulted ceiling of Cottage 4's east dormitory, Mark Marlow firmly believed he had just seen a unique miracle.
He had often heard people refer to persons with mental disabilities as God's special children and apparently there was real substance to that platitude. Evidently God did have a special place in his consciousness for people like Jackie and that's why he was not required to endure the ravages of decomposition and eventual nothingness as was the destiny of everyone else who dies.
Chalk one up for God.
Suddenly Mark, whose body was still locked in a timeless state of motionlessness, was roused from his philosophical musings. A covey of robed creatures vaulted out of the metal cribs lining the far wall and landed lightly on the carpet. The stance of their landing was identical to the manner in which a troupe of high wire artists would take the center ring before beginning a Madison Square Garden performance.
With fluidity of movement, a pink-garbed creature directly across from Mark reached down, grasped the rear hem of her robe, and pulled it up between perfectly-molded thighs to tuck it into her sash in the front. Soon the rest of the group was similarly-attired, with all of them dancing lightly on the balls of their feet like boxers waiting for the bell to start the first round.
Mark guessed there must be at least 30 of the beautiful personages moving gaily around the room and he realized with a start that there was more to this phenomenon than the isolated resurrection of poor Jackie Dark. Could it be that every resident in Cottage 4 had been touched by Jackie's miracle? But that's impossible! One case of resurrection under special circumstances? Perhaps. But a mass metamorphosis of profoundly disabled persons not even dead? Out of the question!
And yet, where did these people--if they could be called people--come from? More important, where did the previous occupants of Cottage 4's thirty cribs go? As Mark scanned the portion of the dormitory he could see, there was no denying that each crib was empty.
But wait, the cribs weren't completely empty. Without exception, each crib contained a pinned diaper and a State-issue nightgown. In addition, a crib here and there possessed a discarded body brace or some other prosthetic device.
No doubt about it. The previous occupants of the cribs, 30 persons with profound mental and physical disabilities and with an average IQ of near zero, were--gone!
But Mark's trained mind rebelled against the evidence. It just can't be. There's absolutely no way 30 seriously disabled residents of a State institution can instantly disappear or turn into supernormal individuals. It's impossible; educationally, psychologically, clinically impossible!
While Mark argued the lack of the logic of it all with himself, the creatures quickly cleared the central part of the room of all obstructions. The mat table was placed on its side and carried into the hall. A steam food truck filled with nutritious gruel and a laundry hamper loaded with soiled diapers received similar treatment. The cribs were pushed back into the four corners of the spacious room and piled two high. Male and female creatures worked shoulder to shoulder and the clearing operation took no more than 30 seconds.
After the flurry of activity, Mark realized the single trumpet he had heard earlier was being multiplied a hundred fold and the air now rang with the liquid brass of a magnificent trumpet choir. The basic melody was vaguely familiar but he couldn't remember the name of the tune. Something he'd heard Sunday mornings on TV perhaps. The phrase "all hail" kept coming to mind.
Although the tune was unknown, there was no mistaking the mastery of its presentation. A solid three-part harmony was embellished by variations and improvisations which would have taken his breath away--if he had been breathing. Some of the trumpets chose the winey resonance of the lowest register. Others flowed through and around the basic harmony in the middle registers. Still others soared far about the staff with eagle flights of faultless artistry. The supreme execution of each tone was literally out of this world.
As soon as the center of the room was cleared of furniture, a splendid creature approached each of the onlookers who had come originally to pay their respects to the frozen corpse of the former resident of Walnut Valley Colony, Jackie Dark. Now, these paralyzed mortals were lifted like so many feathers and deposited carefully around the extreme perimeter of the cleared area.
Mark's transporter was robed in soft pink and her exquisite facial features bore a vestigial resemblance to Sally Carter. Sally was--or had been--an 18-year-old hydrocephalic who had never been fitted with a shunt to drain excess cranial fluid and thereby control the unusual growth of her head. Her arms and legs had been the diameter of broom handles, and almost as inflexible. She was just about as low-functioning as a human being could be and still be classified as alive. Blind, deaf, no rooting reflex, no startle reflex, no gag reflex, no head control--nothing. Her food consisted of a fortified gruel which entered her stomach via a tube passed through a stoma in her abdomen created by a gastrostomy. Aside from cardio-pulmonary action, her only physical capabilities were digestion and excretion.
Now, the somehow-glorified Sally Carter of the overlarge head and tube-fed mush-meals placed her soft hands under Mark's armpits and carried his 180-pound six-two frame as easily as he would have carried Kevin's inflated Bozo the Clown.
As soon as the audience was positioned to their satisfaction, the beautiful residents of Cottage 4 moved back to the center of the dormitory and smoothly formed a double pyramid, one facing north and one facing south. Several years earlier the exterior walls of the east wing were thought to be splaying slightly at the top. In an effort to pull the walls in a little, long metal rods had been run through the building above the window line. The pyramids formed under these metal rods and the top three from each group climbed up on the two-inch shafts and stood erect. The remaining 24 other-world beings dropped softly to the floor and stood at attention.
The signal for the show to begin came from Sally Carter as she raised her hands above her head and clapped three times. And what a show it was!
The effect was so awesome and beautiful, Mark didn't know where to look first. The six up on the metal rods were doing a combination balance beam and highwire act which would have given P. T. Barnum cardiac arrest or earned them all top marks in Olympic competition. Below, on the carpeted floor, the rest of the performers ran through such an intricate series of floor exercises the scene became a colorful montage of grace.
About every 30 seconds the pyramids would reform and a new group of six would be up on the overhead rods. When the fifth group was in the air, Mark noticed that the former Sally Carter was part of it. Her act was best of show.
Not content to stay on her assigned rod, she leaped over to the other one, a distance of at least 20 feet, and continued her magnificent performance there. With Sally's gliding leap to the other rod, the century trumpet choir picked up the tempo significantly. She responded by urging three of her fellow performers into a high-wire pyramid and then nimbly vaulted to the head of the third creature.
With a triumphant smile, she released the tail of her robe from where it had been tucked in her sash and rose on her toes to the pirouette position. Slowly she began to turn and then faster and faster. At the point her image became a pink and ivory blur, Sally lifted from the head below her and passed out of sight through the varnished surface of the vaulted ceiling. Instantly the remaining 29 glorious creatures followed in her wake and they were gone.
Mark Marlow looked at the clock across the room and saw it was running again. He slumped back against the wall and slowly slid to a sitting position.
The woman who had been standing next to him began to cry quietly.
Return to Gone Home Page