A Place Called Serenity; The Oracle of Serenity - Part 1

Serenity had its own oracle, every bit as
good as the Greek's Trophonius.
There were times the kids of Serenity gathered in early evening and looked into the skies. They wondered, speculated, and spun strange tales often about god, demons, angels, ghosts, hags, ghouls, and Martians. All were told with conviction and clarity. Details were available on the spot. Seldom, if a question was asked about a tale, did anyone say ‘I don’t know.’ Plausible explanations and answers were supplied as if already known and established fact.

“Why are Martians green?”

“The lack of sunlight.”

“Why can’t we see God?”

“Because he’s on the other side of the Moon.”

“Why do stars twinkle?”

“They are either exploding or sending code messages to aliens already on earth.”

“Why do ghosts come out at night?”

“The sun burns their souls.”

One crisp Fall evening Dickie, Becky, Char, and the Martins gathered in the yard next to Dickie’s home. They were looking through a clearing in the branches into the infinite star lit night. The earth was dark. Shades at the homes were drawn tight and scant light escaped from the minute gaps where the sill and blind met. An occasional lonely set of headlights appeared from the highway in the distance and over the bridge they would go and disappear as if they dropped of the earth. The night time was full of mystery and wondering.

“Sometimes, for no reason at all, holes open in the ground and swallow people up,” Tom Martin said. “It happens at night. It’s the Devils work. He’s lookin’ for people to help him keep the fires of hell burning. A family could be driving along and suddenly the earth opens and they fall straight to hell and never heard of again. It’s happened to trains and ships in the ocean. They just sink to the bottom and it opens and the Devil goes inside to collect the souls.”

“What do you do to keep that from happening? Charlene said.

“As soon as you step out of the house everyday you spit on the ground and say ‘I spit on the Devil.’ That will keep him away from you.

“But I’ve never done that before,” Becky said. “And I’m not about to start.”

“Than I hafta do it for ya,” Tom said. “Cause I don’t want anything to happen to ya.”

Tom Martin had all the stories and explanations for every phenomena. He was the smartest kid in Serenity. He would likely be President someday.

That night he had a captive audience open to his yarns. The night was perfect for such tales.

“Ya never want ta go ta bed with yer shoes on?” Tom said.

“Why? Dickie said.

“Because the dead spirits are looking for the dead at night and they take everyone who wears shoes, because they figure they’re ready ta go. That‘s a fact. We had an ole man down in Kentucky who went ta bed every night with his boots off and one night he was too tired ta take ‘em off and the spirits done got his soul that night. The next morning he was as dead and cold as stone, but his boots were on.”

A sudden cool breeze rustled the leaves on the ground and swept them down a path that led to Doc’s and Chuck’s Cabins.

“Ya’ll know what that was?”

Nobody said anything.

Tom cleared his throat and everybody waited for his explanation.