By Michael Chrobak
Read Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here.
Creativity…dying? How can that be? I wondered as I stared into the placid, expressionless faces assembled before me. I could tell they were waiting for me, wanting me to say something, but I wasn’t ready to speak. My mind was moving at light speed, and in every possible direction at once. The Prime made a sound that I knew was the equivalent of a human clearing their throat. He was getting impatient. I don’t know why I always thought of The Prime as male. I knew there was nothing specific about these creatures that made them appear to be of either sex, or of any, for that matter. In fact, none of the Arbitrators appeared to be anything more than, what, a thunderstorm inside a bubble, perhaps? Minus the clouds, of course. But that wasn’t it, either. Not really.
“Muse One-nine-four-three-eight?” The Prime’s voice shook me back to the present. Man, had my mind wandered that time. I knew the Arbitrators could tell when that happened. I still wasn’t sure how. Did they actually read my thoughts? Or perhaps sense a change in my brain waves? Someday I would find out, but not now.
“Muse One-nine-four-three-eight!” another of the Arbitrator’s said, its’ voice raised to almost a shout. I bowed my head and placed my hands back into the posture of respect. I knew enough to not speak, or move, or even think, until The Prime spoke again. I had violated a serious code of conduct by not staying focused in their presence.
“Explain yourself!” the voice of The Prime boomed out.
Keeping in the posture of respect, I replied, remembering to keep my voice quiet and calm.
“Apologies, Prime Arbitrator. I must admit, I was confused by your request. Am I to understand that creativity itself is in jeopardy?”
There came a long, drawn-out pause. I knew I was being tested. They wanted to see if my mind would wander again. To keep that from happening a third time, I stared at a scuff mark on the tile, repeating the words tuna salad sandwich over and over in my mind. Of all things I could think of, those words produced the least amount of emotional response. I could only hope they weren’t actually reading my thoughts.
“Very well,” The Prime finally huffed. “Do you understand what we are asking of you know? Or must I repeat myself once more?”
I shook my head, just enough for The Prime to see it move.
“No, Prime. I will not require a repeat of your request,” I said, hoping The Prime would accept my words and move on.
“You may rise, Muse One-nine-four-three-eight.”
I stood, calmly and slowly. At just the right speed to show I was neither in a hurry, nor was I trying to delay. The Arbitrators were such finicky creatures when it came to protocol and respect.
“Have you any questions, Muse?”
This voice came from far to my right. I turned to find an Arbitrator standing—floating?—on my side of the dais. This had never happened before. Not to me, and not to any other Muse I knew. There weren’t even any rumors of an Arbitrator coming over to our side. It just didn’t happen. Before I could stop it, my face flashed a look of confusion. I didn’t know what to do. Should I return to the posture of respect? Should I bow my head? Kneel? There had to be a protocol for this somewhere.
“Muse? Have you any questions?” the Arbitrator asked again, gently moving in my direction.
“None, Master Arbitrator,” I said, casting my eyes towards the floor and bowing my head slightly, just in case.
“You may call me…” At this point the creature made a noise that I had no idea how to repeat. It sounded like the hiss and burble of an espresso machine mixed with the rush of sound one might hear in a large auditorium while the audience waited for the show to begin. There were also quite a few squeals, squeaks, and clicks mixed in. The look on my face must have been priceless, for it appeared that the Arbitrator began to laugh.
“Don’t worry, Muse. I know you lack the ability to repeat my name in our language,” the Arbitrator said, then repeated the flashes of light and a slight vibration of its outer shell that made me believe it was laughing. “I have already chosen a name from your language. Steve.”
Steve? How did it come up with that one? I wondered, and then, before my mind could begin to wander once more, I replied out loud, “Steve. That is much easier to pronounce. Thank you.”
“Well, Muse? Have you any questions?”
After a moment of hesitation, I said, “Just one. May I be so bold as to ask why you are on this side of the dais? I’ve never known this to happen before.”
Again the shimmering appearance on the creature’s outer shell and the brief light flashes within.
“That is simple, Muse. I will be coming with you.”
Meet the Author:
So, who am I? Well, that’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a long, long time. And I’m not talking about labels, like; husband, father, brother, son, neighbor, friend, etc. Yeah, even ‘author’ is a label. None of those define me, they only define my relationship to this world.
Maybe that’s why I write. The more stories I tell, the more ‘me’ I find. There’s a little piece of me inside every character and adventure I create. The struggles I’ve had, the wonders I’ve seen, the beauty I’ve encountered, and the sorrow I’ve felt.
I’ve been writing since I was young; I just never had the courage before to let the world read any of it. But what good is creating something if no one sees it but you? Besides, I think the only way we can truly know someone is to find the memories they leave behind. I wonder what my memories will be…
Connect with Michael Chrobak:
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Don’t forget to check out The Paladin of Panama, Book 2 in the Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion series
Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion is a Christian YA Fantasy series that asks the question, “What if the Fruits of the Holy Spirit manifested as superpowers?” Faith, Patience, Chastity, Charity, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Modesty and Self-Control as superpowers? Why not? Jesus said our faith can move mountains, right?
Book One, Foundations of Faith (the fruit of Faith) begins the saga, as young Thomas, a typical teen with serious doubts about his faith, faces several significant trials as he begins to discover the true depth of his faith. He is visited in a dream by one of the Saints who gives him a quest – to find the Guardians of Zion, young people, much like himself, who have been gifted with special powers. The first of these is Theresa, who calls herself The Endlessly Dying Girl.
Book Two, The Paladin of Panama (the fruit of Chastity) finds Thomas deep in the jungle during a mission project to help build a school when he is once more challenged by The Darkness, aka: the Devil. This time, not only is his life in jeopardy, but so, too, are the lives of his friends, one of which is destined to become The Paladin and will wear the Armor of God.
Book Three, The Guardians Crest (the fruit of Patience) is currently in progress and is scheduled to be released before the end of the year. Who will the next teenage superhero be? And what spiritual superpower will they control? All will be revealed….soon.
You can find out more about the author, his books, and information regarding discounts for schools, churches, youth programs and book clubs on his website at https://michaelchrobakauthor.com or on Amazon by clicking here.
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