Copyright (c) Victor Darnell Hadnot
"What light there shines beyond the glimmer of the glen" Douglas Pacoway
You'd have thought she would have preferred an Amish man, a roaring lad like Norory, who had all the women after him. But that, as Martha had intimated, might be the whole trouble. Norory couldn't see Martha for all the rest of the crowd. And so Martha preferred it that way.
Well, then, what was all the fuss over him?
He would see Martha in a few minutes. There ought to have been joy bells ringing in the temple, but that wasn't the case.
She was out in the open now, at Martian sea level. Norory drove the horse drawn buggy along scrub grass, at the head of a few shallow terraces leading down to the Martian beach. Ahead of her, facing seaward, stood the overlarge, over constructed structure which Martha had rather grandly named "The Lord's House."
And there wasn't a light inside it, not a light showing at only a quarter past eight.
Norory started the engine, switched on the lights, and moved around the building. In the darkness Martha could hear the sea charge the beach as the mighty hand of God moved it.
Twisting open the handle of the buggy's trunk, he dragged out some supplies. Norory closed the compartment with a loud slam which echoed out above the tumbling of water. This part of the Martian Amish coast was too lonely, too desolate, but it was the first time such a thought had ever occurred to him as he disappeared around the bend.
Martha went to the house, round the side and toward the front. Her foot steps clacked loudly on the strange paved path on the side. And even in a kind of luminous darkness from the splash of the breakers ahead, she saw why the structure showed no lights.
All the windows were drawn on the building, on this side, at least.
When Martha hurried round to the front door, she was almost running. She banged the gray iron knocker on the door, then hammered it again. As she glanced over her shoulder, another flash of lightning paled the sky to the east.
It showed her the sweep of gray sand. It showed dark water snakily edged with foam. In the middle of the beach, strangely, stood the small natural rock formation, shaped like a towering temple, eternally facing out to sea, which for a century had been known as the Temple of Heaven.
The white flash of the lightning closed. Distantly there was a shockwave of thunder.
This entire structure couldn't be deserted! Even if the elders and Norory were at the main house some distance along, there had to be someone here.
Martha managed to make it across the field and then, as the lightning flashed, she saw an image. A tall man, carrying a small girl and two little boys walking with him. They were coming from the direction of the Badlands, where months ago, three of the community's children went missing. Without thinking she ran over to them, it was the missing children, this stranger had somehow managed to rescue them, but he was seriously injured, what ordeal had he endured?
Martha uttered, "Here, come, let me help you, stranger." The kids rejoiced to see her.
The stranger collapsed to his knees, handing Martha the girl, then he fell into the mud.
We see a group of elders and younger people, all Amish, as they are gathered around the stranger. He is lying in bed, while the older women tend to his wounds.
Elder Thomas asked, "Where did you say you found him?"
Martha answered, "I found him by the rocks. He was coming from the way of the Badlands."
Elder Mark spoke, "We have talked to the children that were missing, they tell of a struggle that took place with their captors, as this man fought to free them."
Maid Anna stated, "It really doesn't matter about all of this. The fact of the matter is that this man saved our young children. I'd think it would be obvious that he was engaged in quite a battle to free them. Just look at his wounds, to be honest, it is a miracle that he is still alive. You did well, Martha. Thank God that you were where you were and spotted them."
Martha asked, "Will he live?"
Elder Thomas got up and looked at the others, "We'll know more in the morning. Right now the important thing is that he needs rest and when he can, nourishment."
The men left, while the women continued to treat his wounds. Martha uttered, "He must be ever so brave to have done this."
Maid Willa spoke, "The fact is that you found him."
Martha said, "Yes. I did. . ."
Maid Anna uttered, "I didn't think that we'd ever see the missing children again. This is a miracle and it comes on such a stormy night."
Maid Willa stated, "Mars has stormy nights often but none bring such joy with their wake."
Maid Anna asked, "What were you doing out that way?"
Martha answered, "I happened along Norory as he came in. I watched him as he took out supplies and as the usual swoon of young women, showed their attention."
Maid Willa asked, "Why were you not amongst them?"
Martha uttered, "Oh please, Maid Anna, isn't it enough that he has all of them crowing after him, what does it matter if I am not among them? Besides, if I had been acting like the rest of them, I surely would not have seen this stranger."
We see a young man as he comes in, "His name is Zioniah. See here, it is part of his military identification."
Maid Anna said, "Military? That explains why he could fight off the bandits of the Badlands and still survive, because of his training."
Martha expounded, "You say it like he as a danger to us, surely he is not. Just look at his face, I see kindness in it."
Maid Anna and Maid Willa glanced at one another. Maid Willa said, "I think this is the first time I've seen you take an interest in a man so keenly, Martha."
Martha blushed, "Oh please don't read into this any more than what it is. I'm just impressed at what Zioniah had to have gone through to save three young people that he never met. And then to take them out of the Badlands, to safety. Surely the Lord was with him."
Maid Anna stated, "He is military, Martha, I doubt seriously if he even believes in God."
Martha voiced boldly, "Then I shall be the one to teach him. . ."
Maid Willa said, "Martha! I believe you have an honest affection for this young man. What troubles me is that you know nothing about him."
We see the Martian Amish people as they work out in the field. The high dome above protects them from the harsh Martian atmosphere, but under the dome is an environment resembling what Earth once looked like. Clean air and trees and farm land. There is even a sea off to one side, something once thought unheard of a hundred years ago or so. Martha is out in the field working with the others when a young girl runs up to her.
Little girl yelled, "He's awake! He's awake and the others are calling for you."
We see Martha as she drops whatever she is doing and goes running off with the little girl towards the main compound. Once inside we see a small group has gathered around the bed in which Zioniah is laying.
Elder Thomas said, "We wanted to you be here. This is the young woman who found you. You have been in a coma for three days. We all have been praying for you and God has delivered you."
Maid Anna told, "He is refusing to eat anything."
Martha's eyes met with Zioniah's. She quickly moved on over to the bed, some others getting up to give her room. She took the food and sat beside him, "My name is Martha. I'm the woman who found you and the children that night."
Zioniah asked, "The kids? Are they all right?"
Martha nodded, "They are fine. We all want to thank you for saving them. We had all but given up hope. We are all most grateful."
Zioniah began to accept food from Martha, "I came upon the bandits. There were the three children there. I was there because I had business to deal with them."
One of the elders asked, "Business? Are you a bandit?"
Zioniah shook his head, "No. I'm a soldier. Or was. I'm discharged. One of the bandits killed my sister. I was out for revenge. There was a fight and in the fight, I discovered they were holding the kids. I managed to overtake them and win, but I got pretty busted up in the ordeal."
Another elder asked, "What made you bring them here?"
Zioniah answered weakly, "They told me where they lived. I didn't have anyplace else to go. I was wounded, dying really. I thought if I could get them home before I became too weak or died."
Martha stated, "You are very brave, Zioniah. The rest of you, can't we talk about all these unpleasant things later? Let me tend to him. . ."
We see the others as they nod and leave the room. Finally it is just Martha and Zioniah. She feeds him carefully.
Zioniah asked, "Where am I?"
Martha answered, "You are under the Martian Amish dome. Out on the outskirts of the Martian wilderness. There are several biodomes in the area. Off to the far end are the Martian Elves and there is another human biodome a hundred miles past that."
Zioniah uttered, "Martian Amish? I'd heard of a community of Amish but never thought I'd come across them. This is kind of dangerous land to be inhabiting. The Badlands are just off there."
Martha nodded, "Yes. We know. But the land is ours, colonized a hundred years ago when people first started to colonize Mars. Generations have grown up here. It is our home."
Zioniah asked, "Why not move to the super domes, where there is more protection from the bad elements of society?"
Martha answered, "We keep to ourselves. It was like that on Earth and it is like that here on Mars. Our religion and faith in Jesus Christ carries us throughout the years."
Zioniah said, "The food is good. But I need to recharge. If I can recharge my wounds will heal much faster."
Martha frowned, "Recharge? I don't know what you mean?"
Zioniah explained, "You wouldn't understand. Your people are a people of peace. Living as simply as one can here on Mars. I have nano implants that course through my body. They were drained during the fight I had with the bandits. There were so many of them. . ."
Martha asked, "How many were there?"
Zioniah stated, "I think I killed fifty, not including the man who killed my sister. He was the one I was originally going after. If the others hadn't gotten in the way. Well. He was my only business up to that point."
Martha muttered, "You have such gentle eyes, Zioniah, how is it that you can offer up such violence?"
Zioniah responded, "Believe me, it's not that I want to, it is just what I am and what I do. When you join the military, they change you. They change your mind, your body, after awhile, you don't even remember who you were before you became a soldier."
Martha said, "That is so sad and so awful, Zioniah. The things they must have made you do."
Zioniah uttered, "I will not tell you. I can see that your people don't approve of me as it is. They are just being kind because I saved the children."
Martha countered, "That is not true. We Amish are a kind and gentle people. Strong in faith and throughout the centuries, greatly tested by God. Yes. We are all grateful that you have returned what was once thought lost. But kindness is not based upon approval."
Zioniah said, "Then you are a stranger group than I have ever come across."
Martha said, "I am simply Martha. . ."
Zioniah repeated, "Martha. That is a pretty name."
Martha uttered, "Your's, is a strong and noble name. Have you family that we might let them know that you are safe?"
Zioniah shook his head, "My sister was the only family I ever had."
Martha asked, "What happened?"
Zioniah explained, "She got caught up with the wrong crowd. The wrong type of people and after awhile she lost herself. They found her dead in a dive. Later it was discovered that the bandit I killed, the one I was hunting for, was responsible for her death."
Martha expounded, "We all make mistakes. It is ashamed that your sister's had to be fatal. But you have to let all that go."
Zioniah uttered, "Now that I got my revenge, I think I can."
Martha shook her head, "No. You need to give your heart over to Christ Jesus, ask for forgiveness and let that poison that drove you to the Badlands be released."
Zioniah looked off, "Look. I do appreciate everything you are doing for me. And I do understand that you are just speaking to me what you feel is true and good, and maybe, it is good. But I've done a lot of things, Martha. Things that I can barely live with myself. . ."
Martha touched his forehead, "Maybe that is why God led you to us, Zioniah. Maybe it is time for healing, but in a different sense. Healing the spirit, the soul."
We see Zioniah as he walks out of the building that he was in, he seems a little more rested. It has been maybe a week or so since he was first brought here. There are men and women working, doing various chores. He observes a group of men trying to lift a heavy bail of hay into the barn. But as he watches he sees that something has gone very wrong, the cable misaligned, then snaps. Without thinking, the rushes to the area and pushes one of the men out of harm's way and then deflects the enormous object to one side. They all stand stunned at what has just happened. He save the man's life perhaps, Zioniah extends his hand and helps the man to his feet. Elder Thomas hears the commotion and comes over.
Elder Thomas asked, "What happened?"
A young man responded, "I was suppose to have the pulley fixed but I forgot. I'm sorry, Elder Thomas."
Elder Thomas surveys the situation, "Your lack of responsibility could have ended in a tragedy. That hay weighs a good ton."
One of the men uttered, "It was good that Zioniah happened by, somehow he was able to push the bail out of the way."
Because of the commotion some of the women come out to see what has happened, Martha is among them. They inquire to make sure that everyone is alright, then everyone goes back to their chores. Martha is left with Zioniah.
Martha asked, "What manner of man are you, Zioniah? No one could have pushed a falling ton of hay out of the way, to save lives like you have just done?"
Zioniah responded, "I told you about my implants."
Martha said, "The nano implants that you said had to recharge?"
Zioniah nodded, "Well. It looks like they are starting to do just that."
Martha asked, "Are you human, Zioniah?"
Zioniah laughed slightly, "Only barely. But you have nothing to fear. In fact, I was thinking of moving on. I'm feeling better now."
Martha took his hand and led him around the side of the barn, "I will not have that!"
Zioniah uttered, "Have what? Did I do something wrong? Violate one of your rules?"
Martha shook her head, "No! It is not that. You can't leave."
Zioniah asked, "Why? Am I a prisoner?"
Martha was frustrated, "Oh. For the love of our Creator! Zioniah, you are not well. . ."
Zioniah said, "What?"
Martha voiced, "You are not going to make this easy for me are you?"
Zioniah said, "I'm trying to follow you but. . ."
Martha stated, "I want you to stay. There. I have said it. I want you to stay. . ."
Zioniah studied the woman for a long moment, "But I don't fit in here. I'm a soldier. What would I do here?"
Martha uttered, "Were you always a soldier, Zioniah?"
Zioniah shook his head, "No. I was a normal man. Once. A long time ago."
Martha spoke, "Then by God you can be one again."
Zioniah said, "Like I told you before. I've done a lot of horrible things since I became a soldier. I can't undo those things."
Martha touched his face, "I'm not asking you to undo the past, Zioniah. I'm asking you to embrace a future. Here. With me, and my people. Where else have you to go?"
We see that it is in the evening and a group has gathered around the table. There are groups like this throughout the community. Zioniah is seated at the table as well. Martha comes over to him with a plate for him and a plate for herself. They all make room for her as she sits next to Zioniah. Some elders seem to disapprove of this while others seem to nod approval. There are a lot of rules in the Martian Amish village. After having said grace they all begin to eat, after a long and hard day's work.
Elder Mark asked, "What are your plans, Zioniah?"
Zioniah looks up from his plate, "Oh. Well." He glances at Martha then over to the others. "I was planning on moving on."
We see some of the others as they react with surprise. Elder Mark went on, "We have been talking about you. You are a strong man and you seem to be well liked by most. Your wounds have healed in a manner that, well, you heal quickly. And what you did out in the farm yard, you saved lives. If you leave, what are your plans?"
Martha interjected, "Zioniah and I have talked about this at length. He's really hasn't made up his mind to leave us. Not just yet, have you, Zioniah?"
Zioniah frowned, "Well. You all belong together. I'm an outsider. By chance in seeking my own goals, I happened here. The bulk of you have been kind to me and I am most grateful. But what would I do if I were to stay? All I know is war?"
Elder Thomas uttered, "You are a young man. You can learn other things, can't you?"
Zioniah nodded, "Sure."
Martha said, with loving desperation in her voice, "Then learn our ways."
Maid Anna uttered, "Plainly speaking, Zioniah, we all like you and we are learning to trust you. Some of us already sense that you are a good man." She looks straight at Martha. "Some of us more than others."
Zioniah said, "Look. I know what you are doing and it is nice to invite me into you home. But I just don't fit in here. I mean, no offense, but I can tell that some of you are actually frightened of me, I can see it in your eyes."
Maid Willa responded, "You are a very powerful man, Zioniah. It would be only natural that some of us were a little bit cautious. Have you religion at all?"
Zioniah answered, "Only the religion that Martha has been trying to convince me of."
Maid Anna asked, "And why is that, Martha?"
Martha held her pretty head down for a moment, she had curly long red hair, green eyes and freckles throughout her skin. She put her hand on Zioniah's hand. He had black curly hair and strong hands and black skin.
Martha spoke, "I sense something of this man. There is great good in him, it just needs to find the light. I can guide you, Zioniah, if you'll let me. Give me the time. . ."
Elder Thomas cleared his throat, "Then it is settled then. The decision is no longer ours to make. We will accept whatever the outcome. What happens now is between the two of you."
Zioniah whispered, "What just happened here?"
Martha smiled, "We just happened. Now eat up."
Maid Anna explained, "In our community, but not in all. The woman have as much right as the man. We pair up according to what is written and what is in our hearts. Not all communities do this, but ours is one of mutual respect and love. God created all of us, and that includes you, Zioniah."
We see that the evening meal has ended. People are going about their way, doing things that need to be done before everyone turns in for the night. Martha and Zioniah settle in on an empty wagon. They look out onto the fields, through the biodome, the stars are shining through.
Zioniah finally asked, "Why me? I'm sure you don't offer this to just any old stranger?"
Martha stated, "To be sure, you are correct! But you are not any old stranger, are you?"
Zioniah said, "Sure I am. You know nothing about me, Martha. And as long as we are counting, I know nothing about you."
Martha voiced, "Isn't that what the heart is all about? Learning each other's ways? Where would be the point in anything else?"
Zioniah uttered, "At the meal. I got the feeling that I was being paired up with you."
Martha responded, "You have been. I have been talking with the elders about you. In fact, we all have been trying to decide what to do with you. Just send you on your way or ask you to become one of us."
Zioniah asked, "And how is that coming about?"
Martha answered, "Well for me if you decide to stay. Poorly if you leave."
Zioniah asked, "Why is that?"
Martha told, "Because then I'd have to decide if I were to stay here with the family and community that I have been brought up in, or leave it all to be with you."
Zioniah uttered, "What are you talking about? You can't be serious."
Martha got up and paced, "Oh, but I am, Zioniah. From the very first time I laid eyes on you, I knew I felt something. There you were, bloody and all covered with mud, those little children clinging to you. I knew, they trusted you to bring them to safety. After everything that they had been through, they knew something about you, so they led you to their home. In that moment, I knew the important things that I needed to know."
Zioniah uttered, "I'm just some guy, Martha. Surely, you are too beautiful and wise, you could have any of a dozen young men in your village. Not some broken down stranger."
Martha said, "What's broken can be fixed. And who are you to say that I don't need fixing?"
Zioniah responded, "From where I'm sitting, you look just fine to me."
Martha countered, "And from where I'm standing you look just fine to me."
Zioniah asked, "Martha, what is going on with you?"
Martha exclaimed, "My heart is set. If you reject me then you'll be rejecting the one and only women in creation that has accepted you without condition. Now how precious is that?"
Zioniah told, "But I'm ugly inside. I told you, I've done unthinkable things. Things that I am ashamed of. You can't know what I've seen and the things I was ordered to do. What is inside of me is not right for this place, for your people. For you. You can do better than me."
Martha said, "How do you know what I can do? To be honest. Most of the folk around here have me pegged to become and old maid."
Zioniah asked, "What?"
Martha explained, "It is a term to signify that a woman has not been married. Never will be married perhaps. Most of us marry young and about time you get to be my age, well, old maid. . ."
Zioniah said, "Wow. That is harsh. You are about the same age of my sister. Late sister. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don't let anyone call you an old maid."
Martha added, "I'm looking to you to solve that problem for me."
Zioniah said, "I came here to save some kids and then go on. I wasn't looking for a reward or a wife or anything."
Martha voiced, "You came here to die, Zioniah! I can see that. Elder Thomas can see that. Maid Willa can see that. We all can see that. That was your intentions. But that was not God's intentions. God brought you here, to this community. To us. To me, for a greater purpose. You must trust him. Let go of the helm. . ."
Zioniah asked, "What?"
Martha explained, "Jesus Christ is not a pirate! Your body is a vessel. A ship upon the open sea. So long as you choose to captain your vessel, then God stands back and lets you do so.
He's not going to force you to let him guide you to safety."
Zioniah said, "I'm a vessel. . ."
Martha went on, "You are. But the problem is that a vessel can't captain itself. It needs help to get from port to port. Stand down and let the real Captain take charge."
Zioniah finally said, "Martha. You are one of the sweetest women I've ever met. By far the most filled with faith! I've never met anyone like you. In fact I'd go so far to say that the whole village has only one of you even though you all are Amish. But this is crazy talk, Martha. I've got all sorts of tiny robots inside me, I'm not even human anymore."
Martha quickly walked over to him and gently slapped his face, "I shall not have talk from you like that, Zioniah! They took that from you! Your sense of self and replaced it with the corruption that they wanted you to have so that you would kill in their name! But you can not let them rob you of your basic humanity!"
Zioniah said, "And you think slapping he is a good idea?"
Martha blurted out, "I'd just as soon kiss you, but I'm afraid what my heart might allow me to do." She joined him on the wagon and leaned on his broad shoulders. "Love makes fools of us all. . ."
Zioniah asked, "Are you saying you love me?"
Martha answered, "At first sight. So. Go on, break my heart because you won't be able to pick up the pieces. And don't be saying that I'm easy because I've rejected the proper advances of many a fine lad."
Zioniah uttered, "You are proper, Martha. And I do appreciate you telling me that you have feelings for me. You'd be surprised at how something like that just flies over my head."
Martha laughed, "Oh really. . ."
Zioniah laughed too, "No. Really. I can tell when a person is lying to me but I can't tell if a person loves me."
Martha said, "Must be a problem with your programming. We'll have to work on that."
Zioniah voiced, "You know, some women think that they can change a man."
Martha added, "I'm not seeking to change you, Zioniah. I'm seeking to get you to allow me to love you. Your soul has gone through so much in your short life. Most of it manipulated by the government, as a soldier. You haven't had a chance to life to see that there is another way. In a sense, you and your poor sister were caught up with the wrong crowd."
Zioniah asked, "So. You hate soldiers?"
Martha shook her head, "No. I've fallen in love with one." She extended her hand and he gently took it. "Trust me, Zioniah. Somehow God has shown me your heart."
Zioniah finally said, "Maybe I'll give it some time. Six months?"
Martha uttered, "Oh a lot can happen in six months."
Zioniah uttered, "It'll give the others time to get to know me a little better and give me a chance to see if I can adust to this new lifestyle."
Martha said, "My. My. My. Now look what has happened here? We are just sitting on this wooden wagon. Looking out at the fields and the stars, and you listening to me and I listening to you. And we are already acting as a couple should. You showing me respect and I showing you respect. . ."
Zioniah kidded, "Except for the slap on the face. . ."
Martha said, "You are not going to let me live that down now are you?"
Zioniah nudged her gently, "No I'm not."
We see Maid Anna come on out and over to them, "The two of you seem to be getting along famously."
Martha answered, "We are just having a little conversation. Learning the rules."
Maid Anna pointed out, "I can see that."
Zioniah quickly released Martha's hand, "I didn't mean any disrespect."
Maid Anna smiled, "There is no disrespect in a man holding a maid's hand, Zioniah. We might have a lot of rules, but we are not that archaic."
Zioniah said, "It's just that I don't know what to say or do."
Martha uttered, "He has agreed to stay on for six months."
Maid Anna responded, "Well that is wonderful. I'll tell Elder Thomas the good news. We'll make a room for you."
Zioniah said, "That is kind of you, if it is not too much trouble. Actually I was going to sleep in the barn. Believe me, I've had to sleep in worse."
Maid Anna frowned and looked at Martha, "What does he mean?"
Martha answered, "He's had a hard life, Maid Anna. I'll explain everything later."
Maid Anna went on, "There will be chores to do. I suppose Elder Thomas or Elder Mark will be teaching you the ropes around here. The does and don'ts. We have a book that list the rules and of course you'll be given a Holy Bible."
Martha interjected, "I was wondering if I might be permitted to let him read from my personal bible?"
Maid Anna studied the couple for a long moment, then said, "I suppose there would be no problem with that. But you really should have your own."
Zioniah answered, "I accept them both. One to keep and one to read."
Maid Anna said as she left, "The two of you seem to get along very well. This is most impressive, Martha. He will not be approached by any of the eligible women. He is all yours. The Elder Council has ruled."
Zioniah asked, "Ruled? What was that all about?"
Martha said, "If a man and a woman are spoken for, then no other member of the community may tempt them with advances. It is considered a sin to try and break them up."
Zioniah uttered, "Wow. What if I turn out to be a creep or something?"
Martha answered, "A creep would not have risked his life to bring those three children home. Don't pretend to be lesser of a man than I know in my heart you to be."
Zioniah voiced, "Thus the slap."