Read Margaret's Ark Online

Authors: Daniel G. Keohane

Margaret's Ark

MARGARET'S ARK

 

Daniel G. Keohane

Published by Other Road Press

Copyright 2011  Daniel G. Keohane

Cover Design by Elderlemon Design

 

This book is also available as a print edition from most major retailers.

For additional titles and author information, please visit
http://www.otherroadpress.com
and Dan's website at
http://www.dankeohane.com

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to others without the direct, written consent of the author. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient from Amazon, it's cheap enough. Thanks.

 The story contained herein, including names, characters and places, are works of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Table of Contents

Title

Acknowledgements & A Few Points to Ponder

60

59

58

57

56

55

54

53

52

51

49

47

46

45

43

41

40

39

38

32

27

26

23

18

15

14

11

10

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

0

Epilogue

About the Author

Acknowledgements & A Few Points to Ponder

For my family – past, present and future, with love and gratitude. 

Every story begins with its author asking, “What if?” He or she may not ask the question outright, but boil the genesis of any tale down to its basic component and you get this question.
Margaret’s Ark
started this way. Years ago, friend and fellow writer Fran Bellerive and I picked a random word from the dictionary to write about: “Lavish.” My result was a short story with that title which was eventually published in a science fiction magazine. The novel you hold in your hands came about when I decided to learn more about the characters in the story, to find out what it would take for someone to give up everything and do what Noah did a few thousand years ago. In a purely strategic / theological sense, could I write a modern Great Flood tale without having a million of my fellow Judeo-Christians write to me and say, “Hey, God said he wouldn’t do that again?”

I think I pulled it off. If you read the tale that follows and disagree,
then
send a letter. But be nice about it. In the end, remember this novel is a work of fiction, an answer to a specific
What If
question.

As I did a final edit on this novel (which has always been one of my favorites), I was reminded how strong a feeling of
family
is carried throughout. Not just for the characters, but myself. A lot of personal little bits thrown in to make it an homage in many ways to my extended family. A significant date throughout the story is June 8
th
because, aside from some logistical reasons in the plot, it’s also my birthday. Recently, however, the date has taken on a sadder tone with the passing of my cousin. Barbara Stanton Jones was one of those rare smiling, wonderful women of God whose love touched so many people, and whom I wish I’d gotten to know a little better over the years. To her, this novel is also dedicated.

As always, I thank God for allowing me this chance to write, a gift I’ve so often taken for granted. Mom and Dad, for being proud even if I couldn’t hit a baseball or get a basket. Andrew, Amanda and Audrey for your excitement over my bizarre little pastime.

Linda, for your love, and encouragement to get this book off the shelf and into readers’ hands.

Fran and Janet who took their turns over the years with the editing pen after this book was written. John Craig, a man I’ve never met but without whom this book simply wouldn’t work – for explaining over a number of emails and detailed diagrams how an everyday person can build a sea-worthy ark with nothing but Home Depot supplies.

Father Jim Calderella, Steve Dorato, Dr. Joseph DiFranza, Komal Patel, Al Ganksy, Sara Camilli, Brian Hopkins, Bruce Boston, Melissa Singer, and Dave Brosha (another person I did not know until I had a specific question, who became my eyes and ears in the Arctic Circle) for sharing expertise and advice over the course of writing this story. And George Andersen, who inadvertently pointed me to the scientific concept that allowed me to at least
pretend
I knew what I was talking about with one particular plot point.

And as always, to all of my family, friends, coworkers and every reader who has taken the time to read my stuff.

Enjoy the story.

Danny Keohane

 

 

MARGARET’S ARK

 

 

 

60

 

 

Margaret Carboneau was dreaming.

The edges of the trees glowed where there should have been darkness, as if some massive light just winked off and cast an aura around everything it had touched. The world was silent. No car sounds from Route 101 two blocks to the east.

Feeling the grass under her bare feet, knowing this was a dream, it
had
to be a dream, Margaret walked across her yard towards the back porch. Where her neighbor’s house once stood was now only woods. The stranger moving beside her was tall, clean-shaven, wearing dark jeans and a loose-fitting black shirt.

No one spoke, but Margaret was not uncomfortable with the silence. Maybe this man had been in her dreams before. Though his expression and demeanor was that of an old friend, she did not recognize him.

They reached the back steps. The stranger stopped and turned towards her.

“You're dreaming,” he said. His voice was strong, breaking through the uncertainty in the air around her.

Margaret put her hands into the pockets of her nightgown and looked at the ground. “I know,” she said, “but I didn’t think people in my dreams were supposed to know that.”

The stranger smiled, laid a hand briefly on her shoulder, then put his hands into his own pants pockets. “My name is David,” he said, expression flattening to a neutral stare. Margaret found herself looking at him intensely, as if the loss of emotion on his face meant she should be attentive.

Unspoken rules of dreams and nightmares.

He said, “I am one of many sent by God Almighty, with a message. Pay close heed to what I have to tell you. What I and my brethren are saying at this moment will be remembered when you and the others awaken. This will not be the last time we speak.”

The others
, Margaret thought. These two words sent a wave of dread through her that  she could not understand.

David’s clothes shimmered deep blue, darkened again to black. “God loves you, Margaret Carboneau. He loves your daughters. He loves everyone - even those who deny or despise him.”

Something tickled her ankles, like a thousand insects scurrying across her feet. She wanted to look down, kick or brush the feeling away. She could not. Margaret could do nothing but stare into the angel's face.

“What you are being told,” he continued, “is spoken out of that love. You may not think so, not at first, but you must trust God’s perfect judgment.”

“Judgment?” Her voice sounded weak, a nervous child afraid of words implying punishment. The tickling crept up her calves. Cold. Wet.

Water.

The bottom of her nightgown was heavy with the weight of it. Her feet were cold.
She
was cold. Again, David laid a hand on her shoulder.

The chill faded, but the tickling continued.

His voice grew in volume. “Let the Lord’s proclamation be spoken unto all mankind, in both words and actions. Let it be heard and acknowledged.”

The water rose past her waist.

“In sixty days,” the angel continued, “water will rise again over the world.”

To her neck. Margaret wanted to raise herself on her toes, reach above the rising flood, wanted to scream. She could not.

“Over those who have denied His love as well as those who have lived within it all their days.”

Over her face, into her open mouth. Lungs filled. The world spun and spun and spun. The angel's voice remained clear.

“God loves you, Margaret. He loves your people. And he wants to spare those willing to believe...”

The paralysis ended. Margaret flailed, grabbing for the angel, for anything. With the darkness and the spinning, she couldn't tell which way was up. She opened her mouth to scream, but there was only water.

“...who hear his warning and do what is required. Build your tribute to the Lord. I will show you how. Tell others about what we have said. Bring them into your fold, and He will spare them. Please, He begs you. Build it. Save your people.”

Build what? Help me!

“The ark.”

Margaret awoke with a gasp. Sweat-soaked bed sheets clung like frightened children around her body. She kicked them away, tried to couch the dream from her lungs, but the water was gone. The dream was over.

The bedroom was dark, silent save for the rhythmic hum of the overhead fan. She looked at the clock on the side table. Ten thirty-five. A renewed wave of fear washed over her. If she'd fallen asleep, into such a vivid dream, it could only have been for a few minutes. The numbers of the clock switched to ten thirty-six.

 

 

 

59

 

 

She slowly worked the spatula under both eggs, slid it back out, then realized she'd forgotten to flip them over. When she did, the eggs sputtered anew in the butter. Margaret was tired.

The dream. Usually when she woke from a nightmare she could roll over and let it fade into insignificance. Not this one. It was as if
David the Angel
had been talking to her in person, in the real world, not letting her discard their meeting as a dream.

It
was
only a dream.

“Mom, is my egg ready?” Katie sat at the kitchen table, gently tapping her fork against the table.

Four-year-old Robin sat in the seat beside her, Mickey Mouse fork in her own hand and tapping it like her big sister. “Mom?” she said, as if Katie hadn't spoken, “Is my egg ready, yet?”

Margaret flipped one each onto their respective plates beside the toast and said, “Yes and yes.” She put the plates onto the table. “Now eat up. We have to leave for church in a half hour and you still have to get dressed.”

She dropped two more eggs into the pan for herself. Though Sunday offered some respite from the usual weekday crunch, the three of them had to scramble to make it to Mass on time, especially since Vince died. On school days, it was a race to get herself and the girl's dressed, drop Katie off next door at the Duddy's to wait for the bus and bring Robin to the early drop-off at the daycare which, thankfully, was housed in the elementary school. Being a full-time science teacher at the high school next door had its advantages. Margaret usually made it into class well before her first students arrived, a few spare minutes to organize lesson plans or last-minute grading. Today was Sunday. The only thing on the docket after church was Katie’s softball game at four o’clock. Time had lessened, at least for the girls, the pain these Sunday mornings brought to the family, Vince’s glaring absence between them in the pew. Katie still missed her dad, but her grief was concentrated in moments that gratefully showed themselves less and less, as life slowly filled in the gaps. Robin played along, but Margaret wondered how much of it was simple imitation of her sister. She’d been only two when it had happened. A year and a half was a long span for a girl that age.

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