Oil lamps burned throughout the room, contributing as much haze from their smoke as they did light from their wicks. Ventilation wasn’t even a passing thought in the modern world, but in the post-modern one, the simple things were as deadly as the obvious dangers. Too much time without a break for fresh air could end a life as quickly as a bullet. A shadow contracted and elongated in the soft, flickering, light commensurate with its owner’s pacing. It took only a few paces for Dinah to cross the small, windowless, inner office. The dark copy nearly enveloped the original, such was the brevity of the circuit. It was the floor between the small mahogany desk and the worn leather couch on the opposite end of the office that endured her frustration. Doing nothing was not in her nature, nor was she used to being of no help.
It had been nearly twenty-four hours since she had been made aware of Dylan’s failed mission and disappearance. Worry had consumed her every thought since she found out Dylan had gone missing. The first few hours were spent grilling the mission commander and everyone else she could find that had been involved. After gathering all the information available, Dinah proceeded to consider every possible angle. There had to be something nobody else saw, something they overlooked. Yet, she could find nothing that had not already been explored. Everyone she came in contact with at that point felt the full scope of her fear, anger, and frustration. Dinah was ashamed that her emotions had gotten the better of her.
In an effort to protect the masses, Lucas had corralled her and directed her to this cave in the middle of the building. No windows were present to demonstrate the passing of time. No one else had need to be in this space so she was left alone with her own thoughts. Dinah knew the intent behind her cousin’s suggestion, but she also knew that she didn’t have it in her to calm down. Thus the scuff marks from her heels in the floor’s hardwood finish. What she couldn’t understand was how easily everyone else de-prioritized the situation and moved on with their duties.
Dylan was a leader of the resistance. They needed him. His charisma was powerful, almost as powerful as his selflessness. It was he who had used this building as a rallying point. Dylan believed in logic and reason, but understood the internal turmoil of others better than anyone Dinah had ever met. He could take a confrontation from critical mass to breaking bread in moments through his calm demeanor and ability to identify and speak to that which was truly in another’s heart. Dinah had lost count of the number of times she had witnessed her cousin bear the brunt of rage’s breaking wave, weather the undertow, and leave a tranquil sea in his wake. It was truly his gift. An invaluable gift in this world of blame, contempt, hatred, and discord. They had to find him.
The cessation of her pacing resulted in a collapse on the couch. Exhaustion crept in as darkness around the edges of her vision, the emotional upheaval finally taking its toll. Warm leather welcomed her with a comforting embrace. She hadn’t realized how tired she truly was until that very moment. Dinah kicked her heels off on to the floor and curled up, sobs building in her chest. The fight against overwhelming fear and anxiety was lost. She had to let it wash over her so she could move past it. The tears ran hot as lava from burning eyes. Even in her emotion she clung to the all consuming purpose of her cause, driven to get through this moment of incapacitation so she could be of use again.
Dinah couldn’t recall when she fell asleep but knew she had. The room was now awash in the soft glow of sunlight, yet the source mystified her, considering the lack of windows present. A voice that made her feel equally as warm on the inside as the light did on the outside cascaded over her. She wished at that moment that she would never awaken.
“Daddy,” Dinah’s voice was nothing but a gasp as she searched for him.
“I have missed you more than I can express,” strong weathered hands rested upon her shoulders as the words were spoken.
“What are you doing here? How is this even possible?” she knew the truth even as the words escaped her lips.
“I am here with a message for you. I am so proud of what you have accomplished. You are truly an example for those around you. Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. I know the burden you bear, yet you don’t need to bear it alone. Let go of the control you crave and allow Him to use you. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Him. Don’t let that be your sin as well,” His words were hard to hear but his tone was loving.
“How do I do that? It was always you and Isaac that held fast to your faith.”
“You have always seen yourself as unworthy. Held yourself to a standard that even He doesn’t hold you to. Choose to turn toward Him and you will find that He has never been anywhere but by your side. Seek Him.”
“I don’t know if I can.”
“I know you can. It is in your blood. We have been chosen. You have been chosen,” his voice began to fade like an echo.
“Daddy, don’t go! I need you.” The sobs threatened to return.
“You have me. Always. I love you!”
Dinah woke with her father’s name dying in her throat. She sat up and looked wildly around the room. The oil lamps had all burnt out, and shadows blanketed the small room. One candle still stood on the desk. A candle she didn’t recognize, and certainly couldn’t remember lighting. Her dream rang in the back of her mind as she approached the desk. Dinah trembled as she fell to her knees and bowed her head, as she had been taught as a child.
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” the words flowed from memory. Dinah cleared her mind and worked to present an attitude of worship to the Living God as she spoke His prayer. Once she finished, Dinah wasn’t sure what else to say. Prayer had never been something she felt particularly comfortable with. Asking for something from God when she couldn’t convince herself she deserved it was disconcerting.
“I guess you know what I am dealing with don’t you? I can’t do this alone. I need your help. You know how hard that is for me to admit too. I’m trying to follow the path and vision you gave my father, but I am not him. I don’t have the charisma of my cousin or, if I’m being honest, the faith of my brother. It all seems so impossible. And now with Dylan lost and Isaac on his own mission, I don’t see the way anymore. Maybe that’s what you’re trying to teach me. I need to trust you.”
Dinah rubbed her eyes and then knotted her fingers behind her head, frustration pooling in the pit of her stomach.
“I wish I knew how! I wish I knew what it was like to trust anyone other than myself.” Dinah sat back on her heels, a sigh of exasperation escaping as she did so.
It was at that moment the candle on the desk grew brighter. What had been soft, diffused, flickering, tendrils of light became a beacon. White light burned away all shadow and darkness. The glow intensified and expanded until it enveloped the entire room. Dinah backed away and shielded her eyes so as not to be blinded. Just as she was about to turn and run for the door a voice boomed forth from the blaze.
“You know how!” Dinah felt the words explode in her mind and resonate in her chest before she fell to the floor, gripped by terror.
“Why are you afraid? Did you not ask for my help?”
Check out all the chapters of The Mountain by Duane Deats