Dr. Bill Bowyer, Lead Pastor, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church I invite you to get a copy of Pillars of Power. You can do so in two ways.
Chapter One: The Old Man in the Attic
Jonathan Carter put down the timeworn book he had been reading and stared at the wall.
“That’s it,” he said aloud. “That’s the perfect title!”
Sliding the book to the edge of the desk where he sat, Jonathan grabbed a pen and scratched through the title of the document he had just printed. ‘Pillars of Power,’ he wrote instead.
Satisfied, he folded the document and inserted it into a large envelope. He pushed his chair away from the desk, picked up the lockbox at his feet and put it on the desk in front of him. After placing the envelope in the lockbox, he tossed in a flash drive. He started to close the lid when a thought came to him that made him stop and smile.
“Cameron won’t even know what that is,” he said, peering inside at the early-21st-century storage device. He decided to leave the box unlocked for the time being.
I’ll set the password later, he thought.
With a sense of great excitement building in him, he rose from the chair.
“Tonight, it will be done!” He turned toward the door to his attic hideaway. “And now to enlist my accomplice.”
Despite his seventy-five years, Jonathan was healthy and spry. He strode across the room with the ease of a much younger man. He reached the door and opened it.
“Cameron,” he called, “come here, will you? I need to ask you a favor.”
When no response came, Jonathan climbed down the stairs and headed to his 14-year-old grandson’s bedroom. With Cameron’s parents enjoying a short vacation over the long weekend, Jonathan expected his grandson might be in his room, immersed in his video games.
He smiled at his old-fashioned thinking. They weren’t actually video games anymore. Those had become long since obsolete, relics of the old man’s childhood. Today’s kids wasted away summer days and idle evenings adorned with virtual reality helmets and “sim-suits” instead of the joysticks and controllers he and his friends used to have.
Jonathan reached Cameron’s room and slipped in through the open door. Cameron’s VSC – “Virtual Simulation Console” – alerted him to the old man’s presence, and he raised the visor of his helmet.
“Hey Gramps!” he exclaimed. “How’s it goin’?”
Cameron spoke loudly and Jonathan guessed the sounds of the game were still blaring in his helmet. He motioned for him to remove it, and Cameron quickly complied.
“Son, I have a favor to ask of you,” Jonathan said. “Would you come up to the attic with me?”
The young man was incredulous.
Jonathan chuckled. “Yes, I need to show you something.”
Gramps reached the landing just below the door to the attic. He turned, smiled at Cameron and raised his eyebrows as if to say “you’re going to love this!” as he grabbed the doorknob and pushed the door open. The teenager’s steps quickened as he followed his elder inside.
“Please shut the door behind you, son,” Gramps said.
The old man’s face was beaming, and the sunshine in his eyes bathed Cameron with a familiar warm glow he had grown accustomed to. Cameron loved his grandfather’s smile. Few things could soothe his spirit like those clear and gentle smiling eyes. Many times over the last ten years, when he wasn’t tucked away in the attic, the old man would see Cameron fretting over a broken toy or wrong done to him by a classmate and would invite him to sit by his side. With his loving arm around Cameron’s shoulder, Gramps always seemed to say just the right thing in just the right tone to make his problems fade. The young man’s relationship with his parents was fine. Actually, it was well above average considering the relationships other teenagers had with their parents. But when Gramps was around, Cameron always felt extra warm, extra safe. What could this man have done to deserve twenty-five years in prison?
His thoughts were interrupted momentarily by the sights and smells of the room. Rather than a typical attic full of cluttered keepsakes and fiberglass insulation, his grandfather’s space up here was a small finished room with a floor and walls. It was more a workshop, really, with tools and instruments hanging in orderly arrays around the room and a hint of a strange metallic odor he couldn’t quite place. In one corner was a blanket covering something. He wondered if the thing under the blanket was what his grandfather wanted to show him. To his left, there was a bookcase against the wall, and it was full of books. Cameron shuffled over to it and ran his finger along the bindings, taking in the titles, while his grandfather fiddled with something at the workbench. There were history books, science books, law books, books on magnetism, and even some religious books. At least twice he read titles he thought were illegal, but he wasn’t sure.
He smiled as he thought about the contraband. He knew Gramps was one of those fundamentalist Christians. His mom and dad were too. In school, he learned about their radical and hateful teachings. His teachers explained to him that they believe people are condemned to eternal torture unless they believe the ‘right’ way and that they want to deny some people the freedom to enjoy their own lives as they see fit.
Maybe that’s why he was in prison, he thought.
But Cameron never understood how people could feel that way about his parents and grandfather. They were very kind and loving to him. In fact, though they rarely spoke to him about their beliefs for fear of the Tolerance Agents, he had recently felt a desire to know more.
“I want to show you something I’ve been working on for a long time – since you were in kindergarten.” His grandfather’s voice stirred Cameron from his little daydream. “I finally got it to work just last week, and you’re going to be the first person to get to see it.”
The young man had often wondered what his grandfather had been doing up here all this time, but the need to know about his past weighed heavily on Cameron’s mind. And the sight of those books made it all the more so.
“Gramps,” he blurted, “can I ask you something first?”
The old man nodded. “Sure, Cameron, what’s on your mind?”
“Um,” the boy hesitated, “you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. I’ll understand…”
Gramps’ voice turned softer, gentler. “You want to know about my past, don’t you, son? About me going to prison?”
“Well…yeah. Mom and Dad told me about it, but they didn’t tell me much about why.”
The old man could see his grandson’s nervousness and placed his hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“I’d be glad to tell you about it. In fact, it’s very important for you to know if you accept the mission I’ve got for you.”
“Mission? What kind of mission?”
“I want you to make a very special delivery.” He reached behind him and took a small odd object from the lockbox sitting on the workbench. “I want you to take this device to the parsonage of my very first church.”
Cameron peered wide-eyed at the unfamiliar thing Gramps held out before him. Tentatively, he reached and took the object from his grandfather’s hand and brought it close for a better look.
“What is it, Gramps?”
“It’s called a memory stick. Back when I was a young man, we used them to store documents and other data.”
“Huh…so it’s like a DPP?” Cameron reached into his pocket and pulled out a thimble-sized data processing pod which nearly everyone carried on their identification rings.
“You could say that, but it can only store a few gigabytes of data.”
Cameron frowned, “that’s not very much at all!” He knew DPPs were capable of storing and processing that much data a million times over.
“Well,” his grandfather countered, “where you’ll be going, it is state-of-the-art technology.”
Cameron’s mind raced. Where in the world was Gramps going to send him? He had never traveled outside the United States before. Yet, he reasoned that if this memory stick was an advanced device, then the old man must be intending to send him to some backward foreign land. But wait, his grandfather just said he was to deliver something to his old parsonage. He furrowed his brow.
“Where exactly do you want me to go, Gramps?”
With an extra sparkle in his eye, his grandfather exclaimed, “Not where, Cameron … when! I want you to go back in time five decades and deliver this memory stick to a 26-year-old version of your old grandfather, Jonathan.”
Cameron couldn’t decide at first whether Gramps was joking, but he feared, if Gramps were serious, that the old man might not quite be all there. After all, the poor guy had been put away for twenty-five years, and his wife had died while he was in prison. That would be enough to make lots of folks lose it. Add to that the last ten years in which Gramps had little interaction with anyone other than himself and his parents, and Cameron began to have serious doubts about his grandfather’s sanity.
“I know you’re probably questioning my sanity right about now, Cameron, and that’s ok.”
Something about his grandfather’s voice and the look in his eyes – those wonderful, smiling eyes – caused Cameron’s anxiety to wane, and he shrugged more by reflex than on purpose.
His grandfather continued, “I just ask you to trust me. Trust that even if I am a little senile, I would never do anything to hurt you. Can you trust me on that, son?”
Trusting Gramps to keep him out of harm’s way was easy. Cameron’s heart, which had been comforted so many times by the old man next to him, told him that his grandfather was just too kind, too compassionate and too loving to do anything else. For the moment, Cameron decided he would go along with the mission – even if just to avoid hurting his aging grandfather’s feelings.
“Sure Gramps, I can do that.”
“Wonderful! Now pull up that chair behind you and let me answer all your questions.”
Jonathan spun around the chair at the desk and sat. As Cameron scooted his chair across the floor and sat facing his grandfather, he could hardly contain his excitement. He was finally going to get the scoop on the old man in the attic. For the next solid hour, he listened to his grandfather’s amazing story, a story that took over 70 years to write…
If you’d like to read the rest of the story, you can obtain the entire book two ways.