A Priest with a rare power of healing is interrupted by another from the distant future in order to heal the country's ailing president, and rescue the only such healer of the future, the kidnapped child, Element the Follower.


Ten days later, alone in his rectory back at St. Jerome in Peoria, Father Pinegully was preparing the liturgy for Sunday mass when the two-o’clock bells rang, and a rather erratic knocking on his door told him it was time for a break. Opening it with an electronic hand-held devise, he saw that the man behind it was a small, weasel-like figure with a wild-eyed grin on his face, circling his right wrist in a playful demonstration of ball-and-socket motion.

“It’s fixed Father Pinegully! It’s actually fixed! The arthritis is gone! I can throw that Nerf football around with little Teddy! Thank you! Thank you!”

“Don’t thank me,” said the Father, pointing heavenward. And having no time for a cordial coffee and cookies, Pinegully eased him off, returning to his study where presently he turned on the television in lieu of finishing his liturgy.

… “and at this time, we are told the condition of Pope Arias I continues to decline, even by an apparent visit by the supposed guru miracle healer…” He shut it off. He thought of surrendering to a brooding melancholy. Instead, he made his way down the accessible ramp to his small, entertaining bar downstairs. There, in the darkness, between two barstools, and before an open liquor cabinet, he stayed, staring, surrendering to a brooding melancholy. He unloosened the collar of his cassock.  A bottle of something, within reach, called out to him. Hesitantly, he began to reach for it. Then, like some illuminated cosmic brush stroke, a shaft of light sliced through the darkness between his hand and the bottle, stunning him, opening his deadened eyes.

“What the…”

In strange swirls, the light began to manifest itself into something, some presence. Quickly, open-mouthed, he made the sign of the cross. “Okay, Lord, you win. I’ll never touch a drop.”

The light, which was dazzlingly white, quickly assumed a shape, a human shape, on the barstool next to him and a “person” solidified.  Dressed in an all white garment of some kind, the male entity retained a mysterious phosphorescence around him from the initial…whatever.

Father Pinegully could only stare in wonder.

“I have arrived. I have found him,” the entity announced into some kind of com-link near his mouth.

“Jokes off! Not funny! Turn the lights on!”

But it fell on deaf ears. Instead:

“I have little time to explain.” He was very tall and thin, with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. The radiance of the white garment and surrounding glow, made the father squint. “My name is Goodcross. Father Willowman Goodcross. You have nothing to be afraid of. I come to you from a faraway place and time, but do not be intimidated. I am visiting you because the gift with which you’ve been blessed is required in the future world where I live. Most urgently.”

“But couldn’t you just…”

“Find another healer?” He was shaking his head sadly. “I’m afraid not. In our time, there is only one–the child known as Element the Follower. And he has been kidnapped. I will explain to you more when we arrive. But now…it’s time for your passport.”  In a wispy stroke, he transfixed the sign of the cross on to the others’ head and torso, and then: “You have twelve hours ‘till departure. Be ready.”

In a flash, the personage was gone. Into thin air. Dazed and perplexed, Father Pinegully, more out of nervous energy than of necessity, closed the wine cabinet door. If this was some elaborate practical joke…no, somehow he didn’t really think so. Still, what happened to ‘does this sound like something you might be interested Father Pinegully?’ Real or prank, the idea of choice was nowhere in ‘future man’s’ vocabulary. And what  was going to happen to him if this was for real. Some kind of Star Trek ‘beam’ job? Who knew? Yet. But assuming the thing was real, Pinegully mapped out his course of action into an unknown craziness twelve hours away. First he would have to let the church know he would be gone–pressing family business? Tell them not to worry…He shook his head. Crazy.

For now, it was to the computer he went. People Search ought to be able to answer a question or two. Forget Carmen San Diego, where in the world, if at all, was Father Willowman Goodcross? A complete search told him. He didn’t exist.

When it happened, it happened in his sleep. In the study room of St. Jerome’s he told Deacon Ron he was going to do some late reading, and that he would be obliging an invitation beginning the following day to visit some friends for awhile that lived far away. (He didn’t like dishonesty, but if ever there was a time for a white lie, this was it.) It was 1:30 in the morning when he nodded off in his chair. When he awoke, he was anywhere but in the study room of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church.

Ironically enough, it was at the exact moment Father Pinegully departed to a distant time that Acting Pastor Long broke his leg in an outdoor accident. It would be only days later that he would receive his own notice to visit the bishop–a notice concerning a small little investigation from his own church regarding a hydraulic lift. His answers: “Of course not.” On all counts.

“Of course I want to believe you, Father Long,” said the bishop. “But we’ve got this little problem with proof. You see…”


How could he describe it? Priest reads in library. Priest falls asleep. Priest wakes up in…where? Dazzling white everywhere. He was outside. Buildings, people, floating things, all white, all pinned against an almost too sharp, too blue sky. All around him, wedge-shaped hover crafts buzzed to and fro in a kind of layered elevated freeway system. Wherever he was, he was out of place, and his head spun. Before he had a chance to take in much more, a hand fell upon his shoulder.

“Be at rest. You have arrived safely. Welcome.” He knew the distinctive, deep voice. The events of twelve hours ago had not been a joke. Father Willowman Goodcross was real, and he had just been reunited with him.

Father Pinegully turned to face him. “Do not be alarmed,” the future priest repeated soothingly. “You are now in Washington D.C. It is the year 2999. You have been brought here on a matter of national interest. Let me explain.”

Goodcross explained that another blessed healer such as Pinegully existed, and that this person had been appointed for the first time in history as a “health healer” or protectorate to the president. This healer, a blind boy named Element the Follower, was kidnapped by troops of the sole standing evil dictator known as Baron Ruecoff across the sea, in order that he might be forced to revive the ailing dictator.

“When he was kidnapped…” Goodcross seemed to be searching for something, or seeing to it that no one was within earshot. “When he was kidnapped, our president was also shot with a p.l.t.”

“A what?”

“A pocket laser turret. At first the worst was feared, but…he is still clinging to life.”

Goodcross snapped his fingers, and a shining, van-sized silver hovercraft was at their side. “What we need from you, my friend, is to restore our president to health, and to serve as his temporary protectorate until rescue operations can return Element the Follower. And then, our hope is that both yourself and the boy might be respectively cured through each others God-Given graces.”

A strange door made of something that could almost be described as fuzzy slid open and for the first time in his life, Father Pinegully entered without the use of a ramp. He actually floated in. Goodcross sat beside him. No directions were given to the driver. The fuzzy, silver door shut, and they were off. Pinegully felt as if he were atop a huge bubble as the thing floated on air to their destination.

“Why is this boy called the follower? The follower of what?” Father Pinegully wanted to know.

“You mean you don’t know? Why, he is a follower of the same thing as you and I. Of Jesus Christ and His teachings. You see, in our time, people are much closer to the Good King than in yours. Indeed, only one evil really still exists. And that is Baron Ruecoff and his empire.”

Peering out the window of the strange floating van, Father Pinegully could see what Goodcross had been talking about. Although they were hovering four feet above the surface, he could see street names below. Each one had a Biblical origin.  Currently, he saw that they were traveling on Daniel Street. Running parallel to it was Jeremiah Street.

“So do they know where Element is?”

Goodcross nodded his head. “Yes, and that is a blessing. When he was kidnapped two days ago, the hovercraft was followed by one of our own. It was seen plummeting into a special region in the ocean–a region called the Atlantic Seasnatch–which is a special portal that descends to a relatively new underwater bubble city called Oceania. Our hovercraft was shot down, but not before it transmitted the information of Element’s location.”

“Wow.” It was the only response Pinegully could think of. “Couldn’t the White House security have done a better job than to allow these thugs in?”

“Ahh, you have good questions and a probing mind, man of old. There is low security everywhere in our time because we’ve lived in almost complete peace for hundreds of years. We knew Ruecoff was dying–but this came unexpectedly. One of the expressions from your own time, I believe, is ‘out of the blue.’

Pinegully nodded. “And into the blue, it sounds like. The deep blue.”

The hover-cab came to its suspended stop. Pinegully saw that it was in front of a huge building called Hospital of the Heavenly Presence. Goodcross stepped out, and once again, somehow the wheelchair floated out of the cab and onto the ground.

“How do you do that?”

The Father of the future explained that it was by a process called localized gravitational control, and that the physics of it was something he really didn’t want to know. He did say, however, that there also existed the other extreme, where gravity could be increased locally, to render someone incapable of taking a step forward.

Father Goodcross allowed his guest to roll himself by ordinary means into the hospital. As they entered: “I must inform you that there is a time frame in which we must work. The Boss has allowed one week to perform what has to be performed.”

“A week! Is that going to be long enough to…”

“It’s going to have to be,” Goodcross said. “He doesn’t want to subject you to this time any longer than that. And He does know what’s best for all involved. We also know that we have His blessing.” He added that the return trip to 2005 would be just as smooth and painless as the trip out.

The president had a personal wing and room in the corner, and all in all, Father Pinegully thought this future hospital was not all that dissimilar to the one’s of his own time. Two security officers stood outside the door as they approached. Evidently recognizing the tall, blonde person of Willowman Goodcross and his cause, they nodded, addressed his name, and fell away from the door, which looked to be made of a thin sheet of laser material. One of the guards pressed a button near the door-frame, the laser vanished, and the two made there way into the room. Two additional men stood by the president’s bed. One was tall, with long, blonde hair and wore a burgundy robe. The other was dressed in the same white laced with gold that all the doctors throughout the building were wearing. “Welcome gentlemen,” the one in burgundy said amiably. “You must be Father Martin Pinegully from the old country whom we’ve read so much about.”

He nodded, returning the warm smile. “Yes. Thank you.”

 There seemed to be a certain air of strange gentleness, confident peace, among all the people of this time, and it certainly helped in the adjusting process.

“I assume Father Goodcross has filled you in by now on the nature of the reason you are here. My name is Obedientor Evan Eversing. Defender of the Peace. It is good to make your acquaintance.  Beside me”, and he turned to the man lying in the bed, “is President Lonnie Lantern. He is the leading representative of the United States of Christ.”

Father Pinegully could say nothing. He just stared at the president, lying there unconsciously. He was an African American man, tall, bald and thin. Pinegully wondered if he were the first such president.

The doctor spoke. “The president was hit crucially in several vital regions with the laser-turret. Most critical is his right ruptured lung. I will point out to you the areas of concern.”

As the doctor did this, Pinegully wasted no time in administering his duties. Making the sign of the cross, he laid hands on the wounds. “May God bless you, Mr. President.” To his delight, the sedated president responded favorably nearly instantly. First he awoke, and then, moments later, showed signs of decreased pain. There was a warm feeling emanating throughout the room, and all looked upward. Still, Father Pinegully couldn’t help but wonder whatever became of another important patient of his helped hundreds of year ago–the other day. The question about the pope had all but formed on his tongue when he stopped himself, thinking better of it. This was no time to get caught up in forbidden knowledge or grandfather paradoxes that could affect all history. He’d better just do God’s work according to God’s will and not ask too many questions. The plan must have been the right one, because all marveled as President Lonnie Lantern was up and about in less than four hours. The Lord be praised.


“We don’t call it the White House any more,” Obedientor Eversing was saying on the way there in the hover-van. “We are all one nation under God, and we are His children, close to Him and under His good law. It is called the ‘Enforcement House of the Children of God.’ God uses His people to carry out His will. But the people as a whole are in unity with Him far more than they were in your time.”

The hovercraft came to its stop in front of the White House…or, The Enforcement House; whatever its name, Pinegully was surprised to recognize it.

“Look the same to you?” said Goodcross. He chuckled. “Why change a good thing, or mess with tradition? It’s had some makeovers, but the basic design hasn’t changed much. Shall we float out of the van and take a little tour?”


The little tour was whatever could be seen and digested on the way to the Strategy Room. Here, plans were being finalized in the execution of ‘Project Element.’ Element the Follower, appointed protectorate to the president, had to be apprehended, if still alive, and brought back to safety. Furthermore, the status of Baron Ruecoff was uncertain. There was no time to waste. That was the consensus of the men in the room when the others entered. A giant screen on the wall displayed what Pinegully realized was the ocean, with what appeared to be a giant white whirlpool shooting through it. A gathering of eight men stared up at it until their attention was diverted:

“Mr. President! I…I can’t believe it. You’re back!” It was Vice President Bluey, a look of genuine surprise written all over his chubby face.

The president walked to him, rested his hand on his shoulder. “I barely do myself, but I owe it to this man, Father Martin Pinegully,” he said, turning, gesturing with his hand.

Once again, humility won the day, and the 21st century priest pointed upward, shaking his head.

“Anyway, I am back…miraculously. Lets leave it at that. Mr. Vice President, Mr. Highland, I’m going to need a quick briefing before I address the country in one hour on this Element matter. Has anything changed concerning my young healer protectorate?”

The Secretary of Defense shook his head. “Very little, sir. We’re ninety-eight percent on location Oceania, Eighty percent on Downpopulous Stronghold. We know that’s the primary mansion of Ruecoff.” He handed the president a gold-plated manual. On it was written the words PROJECT LIGHTS OUT.  “We’ve perfected it sir,” he allowed a smile. “On demand invisibility is now operational. We can enter, and be out of sight, out of mind.”

“Good, very good.”

“Your timing is actually impeccable, sir. We feel we’re ready, and just waiting for the order.”

President Lantern smiled. “You have the nod, General Highland.” He turned to the colonel standing beside his superior, and then back to the General. “I want a small teams force on this. Deploy Colonel Dansizen, two of his men, along with the Father. Use one of the LIGHTS OUT capable jets. ASAP. I want that boy back and out of harms way. Father Goodcross, that is to be your sole objective.”

He turned to Dansizen, put his hand on his shoulder. “Colonel. I’ll want a report on the status of Ruecoff. Don’t leave there until you’re sure he’s dead. We’ll accommodate your return transportation, of course. We’ll need to keep communication lines open so we can have a timeline to work with.”

“Yes sir.”

The President shifted his glance to the giant screen, shaking his head. Shortly thereafter, those thoughts were verbalized: “Good afternoon my fellow Americans…”


Father Pinegully served as acting Presidential Healer Protectorate in the House of the Children of God for all of 12 hours. His work, it seemed, was virtually finished now that Mr. Lantern was healed, and restlessness was just about to overtake him when he was called into the oval office.

“You know, Father Pinegully,” the president told him, “I never really got a chance to thank you in a proper way, if there is one, for what you’ve done and the risks you’ve taken to do it. What I want to say is, my life is in your hands. If there’s anything I can do for you. Anything at all?”

Scratching the back of his head, remembering the almost daycare center boredom of the last day, Pinegully responded: “Well, you’re welcome. As you know sacrifice is part of the job of the priesthood. And, yes, actually there is something.  Really, two if things go well.”

“Name it.”

“I’m certain that there are many folks in Oceania this very moment that are in dire need of healing. I know I can be much better served where there is a need…and I’m willing to take my chances.”

At first the president objected, but the obstinate priest cleared his throat as if to prompt him into changing his mind.

“Under the circumstances, my friend, I cannot deny the truth of what you say. It would be selfish to force you to stay here and keep your talents from where they’re needed.” He paused. “If it’s really what you want…”

Pinegully smiled, nodded.

 “What’s the other thing?”

“I think I’ll hold off on that one.”

“Okay, have it your way.”

The president pushed a button on his desk. “ Please send in Obedientor Eversing. I need to speak with him for a moment.”


In a jail cell within the dark mansion called Downpopulous, the boy Element the Follower waited. Waited, scared and trembling, for the return of the Rough Man, as he had come to think of him, to take him back to his boss. He had already been whipped and battered for his disobedience, thrown in here to suffer, but he would never willingly heal such an evil malignancy as Baron Ruecoff. Indeed, he could not. The healing power he possessed could only be used willingly; not against his good will. But the Rough Man would keep trying. He would not give up. Element squirmed into the corner of the dark cell, unseeing, the corner of the adjoining walls his only protection. His clothes, once white, had been reduced to torn rags, and his coal black hair disheveled. He heard footsteps. He made the sign of the cross, prayed. The Rough Man was coming back. Wait. He listened closer. There were two of them. He heard part of their conversation…

… “Because he doesn’t want to, that’s why he won’t. His will is resisting it. Blocking it from working.”

“You think the brainwash will work, Gon-Jor?” the stooge with him could be heard saying.

The footfalls seized and the sound of clinking took their place as the two men arrived at the jail cell.

“Lets ask the boy, shall we?” Gon-Jor said.

He opened the ancient jail cell door. “My friend tells me you might have a little conscious block against helping our cause.” He waved his finger. “It’s not nice to be disobedient to adults. Well then,” and he brought forth a crown-like contraption made of gold. “Brainwashing is a beautiful thing. If you won’t help us consciously, perhaps we could try it… unconsciously.” And the laughter could be heard echoing throughout the chamber.


In the meantime, PROJECT LIGHTS OUT worked like a charm. The jet disappeared from view fifty-two miles west of the Oceania Seasnatch, and entered the protruding giant white portal to the deep without incident. Father Goodcross, Colonel Dansizen and his troops could see each other, but the jet itself was invisible to the outside. So, here they were, within one of the most fantastic, yet forbidden entities in existence. The very existence of Oceania seemed to defy physics, but it worked under some nearly mind-blowing innovation. Seasnatch worked like a giant tube, or umbilical cord, if you will, to the underwater bubble city. The miles long tubing connected the sealed city below, yet no water was let in since the tube was elevated above sea level by means of a weightier floatation devise at its mouth. Not dome shaped, but terraced, the immense oblique covering to the city, miles in diameter, was a turquoise-colored marvel of indestructible craftsmanship. In fifteen minutes, they had descended the twelve-thousand two hundred feet from the portal tube and into the air space of enclosed Oceania. Dansizen carefully landed the craft in the immediate hover-port below. Other such vessels were here, and there was no immediate fear of being tracked. They had six hours of invisibility, before the phenomenon wore off, but they’d still have to wait for the perfect moment to exit. When that happened, when they saw that nobody was around, they did so quickly and quietly. Once out, Colonel Dansizen pulled free a map of sorts, and pointed north. The direction of the Downpopulous Stronghold of Baron Ruecoff. Father Goodcross followed their gaze, taken in by the strange, lighting system of the marine city. The roof, a thousand feet above, was artificially lit by strange, self-sufficient sheets of neon incandescent light, and the upper city, as a whole, was built in layers, showcasing miles and miles of what appeared to be old-fashioned walkways and railings. No great buildings accentuated the place, no great beauty. It seemed comprised only of hundreds of tall towers and small storage facilities. And over yonder, beyond sight, a great and evil mansion.

Many people dwelled here, in this oversized aqualung of a city, all dressed in peculiar turquoise uniforms, and all seemed to go about routine business apathetically. The hover-port afforded many vehicles, and the small group wasted no time in accessing one. Colonel Dansizen, wearing civilian clothes along with his men, rubbed his neck nervously, and turned to the priest. “You might want to give us your very best prayer.”

They were off, but at least they were armed. They had no idea that they had overlooked a far quicker, far more efficient means of arriving at their destination. But in reality, it was just as well.

Forty-five minutes into the drive, Dansizen stopped the hovercraft in a barren zone between two of the storage sheds that littered the city. Off in the distance he pointed out Downpopulous mansion. It stood separated, towering and artistic–an exception to the otherwise industrial, monotonous landscape. Creeping closer to it, the men became able to denote the layout of its entrance. In lieu of a moat, the front of the place featured a flat, concrete “yard”, extending many meters from the mansion and circling it. At its fringes, a tall brick wall surrounded the flat. From their elevated place, they could now make out three guards near an opening in the brick wall. They wore the customary turquoise uniform of the city, but with a kind of ancient Gestapo-like red band on one sleeve. They stood beside two six-foot iron poles.

“Zip zones,” Colonel Dansizen realized, lowering his binoculars. He turned to his team. “Gentlemen, there’s some gates down there that are our pass into the mansion. Here’s what I think we should do.” He explained that with their concealed, miniature laser guns, they would take out the guards, steal their uniforms, and walk the white-robed Goodcross through the portal and into the mansion as a prisoner. “Once we’re in, ten to one no one will suspect us,” Dansizen explained. “One guard’s another guard. But we’ve got to move quickly and precisely.” He nodded his head. “There’s no room for error, gentlemen. This is where our training has to pay off.”

Fortunately, it paid off. Dansizen, and troops Brink and Sizemore, flanked into their respective positions for clear shots.  The three unsuspecting guards were gunned down from three different angles in a crossfire of stunning marksmanship.

“Let’s move!” called out the colonel. Once in uniform, the men escorted their new prisoner through the zip zone, disappearing.


He always liked the view. Now, especially, since he’d been restored to health by the boy’s remarkable powers, Baron Rankin Ruecoff could take it in with a new sigh of relief. Here, upon the roof of his Downpopulous Stronghold, on one of the four flat overhangs that jutted out, he could embrace the landscape below, and call it his own. He walked along the four-foot iron, gothic fence on the outer fringes of the overhang, plotting out dominion in an otherwise peaceful world.

Submitted: April 08, 2011

© Copyright 2023 CP Dawson. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Facebook Comments

More Science Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by CP Dawson

Short Story / Historical Fiction

Short Story / Historical Fiction

Short Story / Science Fiction