Tarren quietly opened the door to the orphanage and sneaked inside. He yawned and looked at the clock on the wall, which read four twenty. Six stops after the meeting, and none of the shops in the area had any openings. All of them had cousins or friends that might be hiring, but those only led to wild goose chases all across town, and rumors of jobs on other planets. He was going to have to seriously consider taking a job at one of the mines, whatever Eugene said. That would have to wait until after getting some sleep, though; Eugene was going to be pounding on Tarren’s door soon.
Tarren crept up the stairs, being careful to skip the fifth step from the bottom, because that one squeaked loudly enough to wake the neighbors. Once he reached the top of the stairs he turned to the first door to the right, and opened it. He pulled his shirt and pants off and threw them into a pile of clothes. That reminded him that Sunday was laundry day, so he was going to be up to his elbows in suds tomorrow, but he could worry about that after he got some sleep too. Tarren closed the door, blocking off the light that Eugene always left on for the kids in case they had to get up during the night, shuffled over to his bed, and collapsed on it.
A knock sounded on his door and he groaned. It felt like he had just closed his eyes. Eugene pushed the door open and stuck his head inside with a big smile on his face. “Time to get up and get the kids ready for church, Tarren! I’ll go and get some oatmeal started for breakfast!”
Tarren held his hand up over his mouth to cover up a yawn. “How did your meeting go with Frederick last night? Is he going to loan us the money?”
Eugene shuffled his feet. “Yes, but there were some conditions attached to it, since he believes we’ll have a tough time repaying the loan.”
Tarren nodded his head. “Which we most likely will. What were the conditions?”
Eugene looked away. “It’s something that we can discuss later. For now, just get the kids ready and bring them down for breakfast.” Eugene turned and walked back down the stairs.
Tarren yawned again and reached up to pull on the string connected to the light in the middle of the ceiling. He looked at his good Sunday clothes hanging up on the wall, and shook his head. There was some more money that could be used to feed the orphans. That suit must have cost enough to buy a dozen loaves of bread! Eugene insisted that every child have one nice set of clothes to wear on Sundays, even if most of them were quite old hand-me-downs.
Tarren got out of bed and threw his shirt from last night on. He walked down the stairs into the kitchen, and out the back door. He grabbed the metal bucket hanging on the hand-powered water pump, and started pumping water into it. Once it was full Tarren carried it back inside and upstairs. He stopped at the linen closet and pulled out a towel and a washcloth and continued on to the bathroom.
Once he was in the bathroom, he stripped down and started to wash himself with the washcloth. When he was done, he put the washcloth back into the bucket and toweled himself off. He wrapped the towel around himself and walked back into the hallway, down to the door to the room right next to his where the youngest children slept. “Good morning, everyone! It’s time to get up and get ready for church!”
The young children, the oldest being a ten year old boy named Wilson, started jumping up and down on their beds cheering. “Yay, it’s church day, it’s church day!”
Tarren was jealous of their enthusiasm. I bet I’d be that energetic if I had managed to get enough sleep last night. Where do they get so much energy from? Tarren smiled at them. “That’s right, now it’s time to get cleaned up before having breakfast.” Tarren lead them into the bathroom, cleaned the kids, dried them off, got them dressed, and sent them downstairs for Eugene to feed them.
Tarren went and put his Sunday clothes on before moving on to the older kids, who went into the bathroom one at a time, each claiming they were too old to be cleaned in public. Tarren sat outside of the bathroom door to ensure that none of them went over their ten minute time limit. An hour and a half later, all of the children were washed, dressed, and downstairs enjoying a meal of oatmeal, milk, and leftover bread. Shortly after that, Eugene and Tarren herded them all out of the door and on their way to church.
Eugene started singing some psalms from the Bible, as he did every week. Eugene led them, and the kids replied in turn. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”
The children replied, “His love endures forever.”
“Give thanks to the God of gods.”
“His love endures forever.”
“Give thanks to the Lord of lords.”
“His love endures forever.”
“To him who alone does great wonders.”
“His love endures forever.”
“Who by his understanding made the heavens.”
“His love endures forever.”
“Who spread out the earth upon the waters.”
“His love endures forever.”
“Who made the great lights.”
“His love endures forever.”
“The sun to govern the day.”
“His love endures forever.”
“The moon and the stars to govern the night.”
“His love endures forever.”
The church came into view down the road, and piano music poured out of the open doors of the building and down the road. The children cheered and broke into sprints into the building, and Eugene and Tarren hurried after them.
After the service the kids went to the Sunday school class that Eugene teached, and Tarren stayed in the sanctuary to help the pastor organize and clean up from the service. The pastor looked up from bulletins that he was picking up off of the floor to look at Tarren. “So, Tarren, how are things going at the orphanage?”
Tarren paused his sweeping and sighed. “Not well, Pastor Gary. The government is reducing our funding, we have more kids than ever before, and the cost of everything is going up. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to make it at this rate.”
Pastor Gary smiled at Tarren. “Sounds like you have some praying to do then, Tarren.”
Tarren shook his head. “No offense, Pastor Gary, but what good is praying going to do us? Is it going to bring us more food? Provide us with the money that we need? Or possibly make the government change their policies, or reduce the cost of goods? Prayer isn’t going to help us.”
Gary’s face turned completely serious. “That’s exactly what prayer will do, Tarren, if you combine it with a little bit of faith. God puts us in situations, like the one that you are in right now, where it seems like it’s impossible for us to make it through, and it is… on our own. God wants us to put our faith in Him, to trust his promise to take care of us and provide for our needs so that He can grow us.”
“I’m pretty sure that Eugene has enough faith for all of us, and he had to go and get another loan from Frederick with some terrible cost that Eugene is too scared to tell me about. I’m afraid that I don’t see God working too much in our problem.”
“God works out everything for His purposes, Tarren, and everything in its season. When you get to the point where you have no other choice but to trust in Him, where nothing else can possibly explain how your needs were met, that’s when you will see Him work. Try having a little faith in something other than the rebellion, Tarren.”
“At least I can see that the rebellion is trying to make a difference, pastor.”
Gary shook his head. “I obviously can’t tell you what to do, Tarren, but if I give you some verses to meditate on, will you at least look them over and think about it?”
“I suppose it couldn’t hurt. Which verses this time?”
“I want you to look at Isaiah chapter 40:26-31, Romans 8:28, and Matthew 6:25-34, and consider what is being said in those verses. We can talk more about this after you’ve had a chance to study them a bit.”
Tarren, dressed in all black, snuck through a hole in the fence that surrounded the mines closest to Hope’s Landing, the town that the orphanage was on the outskirts of. Hope’s Landing was the first colony established on Aquore, and was named after the rocket that brought the first colonials there. John pulled the hole in the fence open wider, and motioned for the others to go through quickly. Once they were all through, he followed after and pulled the hole closed so that it wasn’t noticeable if you didn’t know to look for it.
John turned to Kyle and whispered, “Kyle, stay here and keep your eyes open for the Enforcers patrol. If you see any coming, give us the signal, and then get out of here to the rendezvous point.” John turned and looked at the other nine rebellion members. “Spread out and get to work, but do it quietly! The next patrol should be by here in an hour, so we want to be out of here in forty-five minutes, so get as many machines as you can. Now let’s get to work.”
The group broke up, and Tarren started heading closer to the entrance of the mine, stopping at each piece of machinery as he went past, pulling out pins and loosening bolts. He considered cutting some of the wiring in the drills, but decided against it. That was too obvious, and the mine workers would be able to find the problem and fix it too fast. Besides, they wanted it to look natural and not arouse suspicion. Tarren’s heart beat loudly in his chest, so loudly that he was certain that the other members of the rebellion – if not Eugene back at the orphanage – could hear it, but if they could, no one was telling him about it. Tarren was nervous, because he knew that if the Enforcers found him doing this, he’d get much worse than a beating, but he was excited at the same time to be doing something that would actually benefit the people.
Tarren started work on loosening the bolts that held the wheels onto a mine cart, and the wrench slipped out of his hand. He fumbled with it, knocking it up into the air over and over again in his efforts to grab it, but eventually it fell onto the steel track that led down into the mines. A loud ping sounded into the night, and Tarren flinched. He picked his wrench up and started working on loosening the bolt on the cart faster than before.
John came up behind Tarren quietly and laid his hand on Tarren’s back. Tarren jumped and started to juggle his wrench again, but John reached out and grabbed the wrench before it could fall again. “Do you know what that noise was just now?”
Tarren gave John a sheepish grin. “Yes, I do. I sort of dropped my wrench onto the track. Do we need to abandon the mission?”
John shook his head. “I should have known that it would be you. Keep working, but keep your ears open for the signal. I’m going to check in with Kyle and the others to see if anyone has seen anything suspicious. The patrols shouldn’t have been close enough to have heard anything, so I don’t want to abandon this mission if we don’t have to. Try and keep it quiet, Tarren.” John sneaked away and vanished into the night.
Tarren finished with the cart and was moving onto the next one, when he heard a sharp whistle. That was the signal that Tarren had been waiting to hear, the one that signaled that it was time to go to the rendezvous point. Tarren got up from the cart and started quickly moving to the southern part of the compound, to another hole in the fence. Tarren heard someone running behind him and turned to see John. John reached out and grabbed Tarren’s shoulder with one of his muscular arms and pulled him along.
“The Enforcers are here, we need to get moving!” Other dark shapes appeared out of the night running behind them. Tarren broke free of John’s grip and started running on his own. Tarren reached the fence and pulled the hole open and motioned for John to go through. John stopped and tried to urge Tarren through first.
Tarren shook his head. “We don’t have time for this, John. Out of the two of us, I’m the one that would want to get into a fight with the Enforcers! Now get through the fence!” John growled at Tarren and forced his way through the fence. The dark figures that had been running behind them turned out not to be Enforcers, but Teresea and Donald, other rebellion members. Tarren ushered them through the fence, and then followed them through and pulled the fence closed.
They continued to run until they reached the rendezvous point, which was a dock by Lake Toureen half a mile away from the mines. Two other members were there already waiting for them. Lewis, a young mine worker frowned at John. “What’s going on, John? Was it the Enforcers?”
John nodded. “Yeah, Tarren dropped his wrench, that was that noise we heard, and that alerted a local Enforcer patrol.”
Lewis looked at John questioningly. “I thought that the Enforcers weren’t supposed to be around here for another half an hour?”
John shrugged. “Maybe they decided to change their patrol routes. Kyle got caught.”
Tarren’s eyes opened wide. “What?! Why did we run away and abandon him? We should have fought against them and freed him!”
John shook his head. “No, Tarren, you know how I feel about fighting! There were too many of them for us; all we would have accomplished was being caught.”
Tarren shook with rage. “Fine, I’m going back to help Kyle. It’s my fault that Kyle got caught! I was the one that dropped the wrench.”
Tarren turned to start running back to the mine compound. John wrapped his arms around Tarren. Tarren started struggling and trying to get out of John’s grasp. “No, Tarren. You can’t go, think about the orphanage! If they catch you, how do you think they’ll react? Do you think that they will hesitate to cut the orphanage’s funding? Or arrest Eugene for housing you? Besides, it was Kyle’s own fault he got caught. He was sleeping at his post. I saw the Enforcers coming up behind him before I gave the signal. Now let’s just wait to see if any other members got caught.”
Tarren stopped struggling and John let him go. Tarren started pacing back and forth, muttering angrily. He turned and looked at John. “What are they going to do to Kyle?”
John looked at the ground. “I don’t know. Arrest him, at the very least. They’ll probably question him to find out what they can about us. If he refuses to talk they may just kill him.”
Tarren shook his head. “No, we can’t let them do that to Kyle. We need to go and help him!”
“I already told you that we can’t, Tarren”
Tarren pointed his finger at John. “You need to call another meeting of the rebellion. We have to find some way to help and get Kyle out of there.”
John sighed. “Fine, I’ll get the word out, and we’ll have a meeting in two days.”
Two days later, the rebels met once more in Obadiah’s basement, the basement was filled with the murmur and laughter of the members as they talked about their victories at the various mines on Aquore. The room slowly fell to silence once Scott walked down the stairway. John and Tarren were standing on a table on the other side of the room, and it was to them that he spoke. “Why have you called this meeting, John? I don’t recall any other plans that were to be implemented at this time.”
John bowed his head to Scott. “Scott, thank you for coming. A problem has arisen and we need your assistance to sort it out.”
Various people in the crowd called out, “Problem? What problem, John?” “Yeah, what happened?” “Tell us!”
John motioned for everyone to settle down, but before he could respond to them, Scott interrupted. “Yes, what is the problem, John? I’ve received reports from each of the squad leaders that everything went very well with our plan. Machines fell apart and the work was slowed.”
Cheers filled Obadiah’s basement. John shouted over the cheers, “Kyle was captured during our operation!”
The room fell silent and all eyes were once more on John. Scott frowned. “I can see how that would be a problem. How was he captured? Didn’t his squad post a lookout?”
John gritted his teeth. “He was a member of my squad, and he was our lookout. He fell asleep and didn’t see the Enforcers coming up on him.”
Scott shook his head. “I don’t see how this is the problem of anyone here. Kyle got himself captured by his lack of of commitment, and endangered you and everyone in your squad. I say we let him rot in prison and let it serve an example to the other members of the rebellion. Perhaps then this will be a mistake that is never repeated.”
Some members of the crowd murmured their agreement, and many heads thoughtfully nodded. A few shook their heads. Tarren spoke out from his perch next to John. “Kyle is one of us, and we can’t just leave him to rot in prison! He risked his life to try and make this planet a better place for each of us, for each of our families! He made one mistake. All of us have made mistakes before! I say we have to go and try to rescue Kyle! I guarantee you he would be giving this speech right now if it were any of us!”
A man in the crowd shouted out, “Yeah! Kyle saved my life when we broke into the Enforcers barracks and stole their uniforms! I would have walked right into that patrol if it hadn’t been for him!”
A woman in the crowd nodded her head. “That’s right, Kyle saved my little Tye when he ran in front of that car!”
The crowd started chanting and cheering, and John smiled. “What do you say, Scott? We’re going to need your help and expertise if we’re going to try and pull off a rescue attempt.”
All eyes turned to Scott, who was still shaking his head. “I cannot advise that you do this. This is far too aggressive of a move! If you do this, more will be caught and the government will strike back against the people. If you do this, you are only going to make things worse for everyone! We’ll have another massacre on our hands, and this one will be even worse!”
The crowds shouting and chanting died off into a fearful murmuring. “It is just one man, and if we do anything it might end up being all of us.” “Kyle did this to himself, I’m not sure we should risk everyone else’s safety for one person.”
Tarren shook his head. “We can’t let that possibility deter us. We all decided to unite together, no matter the risk, to try and make this a better world for all to live in. Kyle is our brother, united in a common cause, the pursuit of justice. If we do nothing, then we’re no better than the government that we complain and fight against. Think of what will happen to Kyle’s family! His wife, and his two young sons. If we do nothing, his children could end up as orphans as well. Is that what we want to do? Is that what we stand for? Bringing more suffering to those around us? Those we claim to fight for? Join with me, my brothers and sisters, and together we will bring Kyle back, and show the government that we are not something to be taken lightly!”
The crowd burst into cheers, many thrust their fists up into the air, and a smile crossed John’s face. He patted Tarren on the back, nearly knocking Tarren off of the table and into the crowd, and John jumped off the table. He made his way through the crowd to where Scott was looking disapprovingly at the crowd. John held his hand out to Scott. “What do you think, Scott? It sounds like they are up for a rescue mission to me.”
Scott frowned and swatted John’s hand away. “You all are going to your deaths,and you are risking everything this rebellion has worked for on one man. You will have no aid from me in this mistake.” Scott turned and started walking up the stairs.
“Scott, wait! We’re going to need you to get us some blueprints of the layout of the castle! We won’t be able to break in if we don’t know where we’re going.”
Scott turned around and glared at John. “Good. Maybe that will stop you all from performing this fool’s errand. You will receive no help from me, John. If you come to your senses, or somehow survive this, I’ll be in touch.” Scott turned and stalked up the stairs.
John sighed. He turned back to the crowd and quieted them down. “I am happy that you all agree we need to help Kyle, but we need to make a plan. Does anyone have knowledge of the layout of the Pedestal? It won’t do us much good to make a rescue attempt if we don’t know which part of the building to go to or how to get there.”
A man in the crowd called out, “My dad helped design the place, I think we still have an old copy of the blueprints somewhere that we can use.”
John nodded. “Excellent, now we need volunteers that would be willing to go in with Tarren and myself. Any takers.”
Hands started to go up in the crowd, when an old man shouted out, “John, you and Tarren must not go! If something were to happen to you, the rebellion would be without a leader, and if Tarren was to be caught, the government might strike out against the orphanage.” Everyone turned and looked at the old man, who pushed himself through the crowd. “It’s fantastic that so many want to help out our brother in his time of need, but we have to be careful in whom we choose. We’re going into the heart of the government’s power, there is a chance that things may not go as well as we want them to. I’m old, my wife’s dead and my children grown. I have nothing left to lose, so I volunteer to help Kyle.”
The crowd started murmuring about whether any of them should go or not, and John bowed his head in thanks to the old man. “Thank you, Matthew, for your wisdom and your courage. Are there any others who will volunteer? We need someone to lead this mission!”
Hands went up once more in the crowd, but this time there were fewer, and they went up less enthusiastically. A young man named Tyler stepped forward. “I volunteer to lead this mission, John.”
John nodded. “We have a team chosen, now we have to come up with a plan. I am open to suggestions, anyone?”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more stories like it, check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page for updates on the stories here: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read. Don’t forget to come back on Monday when I will post part of one the next chapter of the Super Morpher. Also, if you enjoy reading my stories, and you enjoy drawing, I’m looking for pictures of my characters. If you want to send me your fan art, I promise to include it with some of my posts! I look forward to seeing that art!