The Direction Never Changes


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Scene Title The Direction Never Changes
Synopsis Cat is treated to another vision from Joseph.
Date June 17, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church

There is no mistaking this building as anything but a church, with its arching glass windows and concrete cross fixed to the edge of the pointed roof. Curving stone steps lead up from the pavement to a set of black double doors, often kept closed during the colder weather, but unlocked during the allocated hours written on a blue sign fix to the brick wall. In white, formal letting, it reads GUIDING LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH and lists its hours of worship.

Through the doors, you first step into an open, nondescript foyer, with access to an unobtrusive staircase headed upwards, and a second hallway leading off somewhere less public also. Mainly, this room opens straight out to the much more spacious worship hall, with immovable rows and rows of pews. A small church, it only seats an absolute maximum of around one hundred and fifty people at a time. It has a high ceiling and is warmly lit, simple and reverent in design, colours light and earthy. The stage before the pews is wide open, with seats off to the side for other pastors and guest speakers, and there is a podium placed off center. On the other side, there is a small organ with music sheets kept nearby.

The left half of the black double doors opens, and through it comes a feminine shape taller than most similar shapes. Her steps are purposeful, although not swifter than a normal walking pace as the woman lets her eyes travel the interior. Through the blessings of her ability, a crystal clear record of what it looked like at last visitation is called up and compared with what's seen now.

With pensiveness about her features and curiosity in mind, maybe more than curiosity, she makes her way toward the organ if the Reverend isn't immediately at hand. So many things to wonder over regarding the future, and Helena's told her so little about where she went. This balances against the evidence displayed by R. Ajas in his technopathic presence and the claims of rapidly brewing war. The latter she sees the signs of herself without demonstration. Any glimpse of what's to come will be helpful, she believes.

But even with all of that, the woman falsely calling herself Joan still sights that organ and wants to figure it out if there's time.

Cat, or Joan, has a little time to herself to explore the instrument, once she reaches the corner of the pulpit. Despite the infrequency of its use, it's kept free of dust, and mostly untouched sheets of music lie on top of its surface. The sound is clear and pure, as can only be expected for something designed for worship. Otherwise, there is not much different about the church since the pamnesiac last saw, although in the center of the aisle veining up towards the pulpit, there's subtle marks in the fabric that indicates someone overused the bleaching cleaning chemicals to get rid of some mess or another.

But the timing works nicely, as it's not from the backway kitchen or the upper levels that Joseph emerges, but through the front doors minutes after the woman, a light coat over a button down and familiar beige slacks, or maybe he just has multiple pairs. That's kind of probable. A plastic container of salad is in one hand, his other in his pocket once he shuts the door behind him.

Easily noticing an addition to the familiar place, Joseph's gaze is instantly drawn to Cat's tall frame across the other side of the worship hall. His eyebrows go up in mild surprise, and then his free hand in a still wave as he says, "Joan, right? Hi."

"That's me," she offers in reply from her seat at the organist's bench as fingers hover over what seems to her the midpoint of the instrument, about to touch down on the key there and determine by sound if it equates to middle C on a piano keyboard. "Good morning to you, Pastor. One hopes it finds you well."

Then her finger comes down and makes whatever base sound is attuned to it, followed by a few others which occur to either side of it. "I do hope you don't mind this, I've a habit of laying hands on musical things and starting to learn them whenever a chance occurs." After all her political and quasi-military exploits, this is still a woman whose greatest wish is to be a rock star, and the place of greatest happiness on a stage making music.

His shoulders draw up beneath the light trenchcoat, a slight shrug, wandering on over although allowing for some distance. However, considering who it is, Joseph doesn't doubt she's not here like, say, Abby is here most mornings - for prayer and contemplation, and he knows to give these ones some distance.

"Not at all," he says, coming to stop a few feet from the pulpit. His gaze switches from her to more specifically her hands exploring the organ's mouth of keys. "That thing doesn't get enough attention, to be honest."

There are more keys pressed in her exploration of the range, notes thusly identified, before they go still and Doctor Not Of Arc speaks again. "That's a shame," she opines, "for a source of sound to be neglected. It seems in good tune, just the same, Pastor. I could teach myself to play it in a fairly short term, I think. It's all about identifying the sounds each key and button make, in the beginning. After that, well, I already play piano."

But her fingers lift from the instrument and she turns on the bench to face him more fully. "I have to confess that's not my sole purpose in coming here today."

And Joseph's dark eyed gaze goes back up from her hands to meet her's, once she turns around, and offers half a smile at her words, a little wry. The container of salad creaks a little in his grip as he fidgets with the clam-tight rim of the lid, and he nods his head, a singular, bird-like movement. "And if I might take a leap, I'm guessin' you're not too interested in counseling?" he says, although his voice is gentle and without criticism.

"I've on occasion partaken of such discussions, Pastor," she admits quietly, "on the most recent occasion asking with eyes to the sky if an event that occurred was the result of karma coming to rest upon me. Or in the terms Jesus is written to have used, reaping what was sown. Interesting," she muses, "the same concepts occurring independently in several cultures. It does suggest a universal order in place, and of guidance arriving in terms that culture would understand, given their experiences and origins."

Perhaps not so much counseling as he speaks of, but the woman is at least intellectual and philosophical enough to engage him in such conversations when they meet.

His half-smile emerges into something more full, walking up the short steps onto the slight raised platform, setting his minimal lunch down on the podium he so often stands behind as he comes to stop in front of her. "The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life," Joseph recites. "The Galatians. Nice choice. I figure, values and morals span the world over, and we all come to God and His message our own way. Some people manage to find the way that's narrow. The way into Heaven. But that doesn't mean a man doesn't get to live his life correctly while on Earth."

"There are always multiple paths to go by, and still time to change the road one is on," the woman offers in response. Plant and Page paraphrased. "But at times there are signs when roads meet, and she who seeks to see the signs posted along that road, to gaze into the distance, is a wiser woman than most. It stretches on ahead, the signs and important things to base decisions on are often over the horizon and one needs assistance to look past the curve."

Returning to silence, false Joan extends her right hand for the Pastor to take or abstain from taking.

Lured into the temptation of theological and philosophical pondering, Joseph pauses for a moment when Joan offers out her hand, and there's only a minor pause before he responds. Both his hands go out to clasp around her's, his hands dry and rough in texture but otherwise as gentle as she'd recall them to be.

And while Joseph's hands remain a steady constant, the world changes for Cat in her perceptions of sight, of sound. A crack of lightning up above heralds the coming of her vision, and she finds herself standing on a field of grass, deep and rich green that stretches as far as her eye can see. The sky is has a pendulous quality of rolling storm clouds, and blue electricity makes them thunder above her in jagged veins of neon through the indefinite grey.

"There are always multiple paths to go by, and still time to change the road one is one."

Thunder cracks, and Niles Wight is standing before her, in clothing of vague black, vague in the way irrelevant things in dreams are. His eyes are focused forward, and he appears ageless, in some ways. The lightning storm above continues on and on, a constant war drum of light and sound.

"You're not wrong," he says, in his accented voice. "But everyone misses the fact that the direction never changes. The ultimate destination is the same. Turn around."

And as with orders from such entities, Cat's perception unstoppably spins, a slow circle to take in the view of the field behind her, but it's not simply the blank canvas of green grass. It's littered with head stones, an infinite, impossible graveyard, and all of them bear reflective, mirror-like surfaces that show her the field behind her, save for one. One seems to stand out like a crooked tooth, the only name she catches: Eric L. Willard.

"The only way to escape death is to be godly." Her perception changes again, angles a little away from this gravestone to see Niles— another Niles, as she can see the one she'd been talking to pace cagily in the reflections of the tomb stones just behind her— moving through the tomb stones, coming to stand before a statue of an old, winged man with a long beard carved of granite. "And the only way to be godly… is to escape time."

Niles smiles, and electricity, much the same colour as the lightning storm, flows over his body, apparently without harming him as he smiles all the wider, and points. Lightning from the heavens leaps over head, impossibly close, serpentine in the way to zigzags through the atmosphere, and from behind Cat, there's an ungodly, pained, masculine scream. The last thing she might see, before the vision comes to the end, is the reflection of Niles in agony as lightning passes through his body.

A deep breath is taken as the imagery commences, Cat's eyes close. Questions form in her active mind as she observes what is shown to her and begins to mull it over, the meaning of it all. A cemetery doesn't surprise, given the Elder's activities and the potential course of the Younger's life. Escaping time. Being godly. Those are more cryptic, though she thinks they may associate with Edward Ray. Most likely, though, is one of the two versions ending the life of the other. So much else is riddle. The timelessness about the one which spoke, being unable to tell if he's Elder or Younger. But the name on the gravestone, this stands out. Eric L. Willard.

Once the parade of perceptions auditory and visual has passed, she reopens her eyes to regard the pastor's face. "Thank you," she offers him sincerely. "It showed a possible starting point. Not so much as a line aimed at pavement saying 'begin here', it's more metaphorical, but the intent is clear." And as she reflects further, "it could also be the point of conclusion. Two paths to go by, the direction never changes. The ultimate destination is the same. That can only be true in a circle."

Joseph withdraws his hand as it seems the vision has come to a close, and Joan offers her interpretation, of her experience, something he listens to closely. His brow furrows a little, and he offers, "There are theories about time. About it bein' like a circle, somethin' that never ends and just repeats. 'course, that's never anythin' us down here have to worry about. There's only one inevitable fate for each of us. I hope it helped, in any case."

A pause, and he adds, "And be careful. I wouldn't want what I show you to be somethin' that gets you or anyone else in real danger."

"There's always danger," the false Joan answers wryly. "Theodore Roosevelt comes to mind. Far better it is to dare mighty things than to take rank with those poor, timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. And the storm clouds are gathering for this world. Violence escalates all around the globe, people turn to unreasonable things like Frontline, give away their liberties without thought. Keep the lights on, Pastor. Safe harbors and voices of reason will be needed. These dangers I see, they exist. To not meet them is to let them run unchecked and spread."

A few steps are taken in turning to depart before she pauses to let eyes settle on the organ. "Danger or not, I'll be back to teach myself the rest of that instrument. Thank you for letting me work with it." Then her footsteps resume, soon resulting in the doors closing after she's stepped through them.

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