Monday, April 18, 2016

A Most Unusual Task And A Most Unusual Secret

A  Most  Unusual  Task  And  A  Most  Unusual  Secret

     Laura is one of wisest and finest persons I have ever known.  And I came to know her very well because we were in the same class in school and we spent a lot of time together and were close friends until we were 18, when I left to go to college.  Laura is the only child of excellent parents, who lavished great love upon her.  They were especially thankful for her because they had been biologically unable (in spite of many attempts) to have a child until they were forty years of age.  Laura’s great intelligence became obvious to all of us living in this remote rural community because she got an A in every subject and she took high school courses while in elementary school and took ALL of her college courses while in high school AND she graduated from college a week after she graduated from high school!!  She also at a very young age did such an excellent job of performing household chores that her parents began giving her jobs to do at their bakery, which she learned so rapidly that by the time she was 13 she could do them all, after which her parents then began training her in the management of the bakery, which, by the time she was eighteen, she could do even better than her parents!!!  Soooo, her parents then, being 58 years old, and having almost worked themselves to death, retired, turned the business over to Laura, and took a long long overdue cruise around the world.  And, as soon as they left, Laura took their seat on the Chamber of Commerce, took her father’s position as Treasurer of the church, and her mother’s position as the leader of the local Girl Scout troup!!

     The college I attended was too far away for commuting, and I did not want to live in a dorm room or frat house, so that I was very thankful that I was able to live on the second floor of my Aunt Helen’s house, which was adjacent to the campus, so that I could walk to all my classes.  And it was only a ten minute drive by car to the headquarters of the company where I had my co-op job.  And, thirdly, and very importantly I really liked and respected my Aunt Helen, who, since the recent death of my mother, had become a sort of surrogate mother to me, and, if truth be told, she was actually an even better mother, who was especially helpful to me in overcoming some emotional problems I had, and she was an excellent example of a life of joy, which greatly aided me in overcoming my melancholic tendencies.

     During my sophomore year in high school I began working at my co-op job in a small plant the company had recently established in the small town a few miles from the farm where I lived with my parents.  My father was an excellent industrious dairy farmer who taught me what is now referred to as “the work ethic”, although he never used words like that.  He retired from farming when I began tenth grade, but he kept his ownership of the farm, whose fields and pastures he then leased to the farmer owning the farm to the west of our farm.  He then confined his activity to tending to the few acres of yard and garden surrounding our house, and to helping my mother with household chores as she began dying. 


     Then, after I turned 21, my father’s health began to rapidly decline, and I returned home to be with him, and I did almost all my engineering work there via computer, as I had done during most of my time at Aunt Helen’s house.  Since I inherited my father’s house and property upon his decease, from then on I lived there almost all the time, and only stayed at my Aunt Helen’s house when I needed to go to the company headquarters or to attend some event at the college. 

     After I returned home permanently, Laura and I renewed our friendship, which was a great blessing!  And we agreed that we would marry as soon as possible after my father’s death.  My mother many years ago urged me to marry Laura, and my Aunt Helen seconded the motion!    My father was delighted when I asked him for his consent to marry, and he agreed wholeheartedly, exclaiming:  “You would be crazy NOT to marry Laura!!”.  Laura received the consent of her parents while they were in Venice.  After we received these consents we formally announced our engagement to be married, and things were now so delightful as to be beyond the ability of words to express.  We were planning to meet the following day at my house in the afternoon to begin planning our wedding and marriage.  BUT we had to delay this meeting because something very extraordinary and very important intervened, with which we had to deal first, namely what we decided to call “A Most Unusual Task”.

     After I had spent the morning working at the local plant of my employer, I returned home to find Laura already there, way ahead of the time we had agreed upon, anxiously awaiting my return so she could convey to me the news of the unusual task.  To call it “unusual” is putting it mildly, as you will see.  During the morning a person she knew and trusted (but whose name she would not divulge at his insistence) had come to see her in town to ask her to convince me to undertake an ultra-important and ultra-secret task for the ultra-secret agency where he works to prevent an ultra-wicked conspiratorial gang from assassinating a woman at an ultra- remote cabin in an ultra-remote woods (several miles from where I live) which is also ultra-secret in a different sense since only a few of us living here even know about it!

     This ultra-secret person also told Laura that he had just finished installing in and around this ultra-remote cabin an ultra-advanced audio-video monitoring system which is set to broadcast to the ultra-advanced reception equipment which he had then installed into an unused out-of-the way room in my house.  And, finally, he had placed there in an ultra-secure way an ultra-large amount of money to pay me for his intrusion and for performing the aforesaid monitoring and relaying it in an ultra-secret way to him and his assistant at his ultra-secret location.  As weird as this sounds, hold your hats because it becomes even weirder when I tell you what I know about this cabin and this woods which he apparently did not know.


     Immediately after Laura told  me this, I told her what I had learned from my father when I was twelve years old:  namely that this woods was LETHAL, and he warned me NEVER to enter it, and made me swear that I would never do so!!  I also learned that our ancestor was given this same warning by the Indian chief from whom he had bought the land on which our farm is now located:  the tribe regarded this woods as tabu – never to be entered!!  This warning had been passed down from father to son, and no one in our family has ever violated it.  I therefore warned Laura NEVER to enter this woods, which scared her so much she immediately promised that she never would.  She then left the room and went to the kitchen to prepare a batch of chili con carne and mashed potatoes and a salad for our lunch.

     While she was doing so, I returned my attention to the AV reception equipment, which suddenly indicated that at the periphery of the cabin forming a circle around it were twelve extremely wicked men, and that their leader was in the air hovering directly above the cabin when SUDDENLY they were ZAPPED and immediately fell dead, and then their remains disappeared!!!  WHEW !!  Well, I guess that Indian chief and my ancestors knew what they were talking about when they said this woods was lethal!!

     I immediately followed the instructions to contact the mystery man and to forward the AV of this event to him.  It only took six seconds, so rapidly had the bad guys appeared and then been zapped.  After I hit the “end of transmission” button, I was immediately contacted by the mystery man’s assistant, a woman who thanked me, and who then reported to me that just a few minutes ago her boss had staggered into their HQ half dead; and a few seconds later he dropped dead!!

     I then asked her, “What about the woman who was supposed to be coming here to enter the woods?”.  She replied that she did not know where she was because their surveillance of her had failed.  Then I asked, “Does the death of the assassins mean that there is no further danger to her?”.  She replied that she did not know, and that I should continue my monitoring, which I promised to do, and then I signed off.

     After pondering for a while the obvious questions raised by what had just happened, I could see no answers, and so I gave up and went to the dining room where Laura had just finished setting out our lunch onto the table.  During our conversation at the table I shared with her what had just happened, and the questions I had.  She was astonished at what I told her and she too had the same questions.  After a brief session of prayer, I suggested that we go to the barn and saddle our horses and ride along the rough trail which surrounds the lethal woods on its east side to see if we could find the mystery woman or any clues about what was going on.



     I LOATHE saddles, all saddles, that is, except for the special comfy saddles I have for my two horses:  sitting on them is as comfortable as riding in a luxury car!!  It was great fun riding with Laura again – it had been over three years since we had done so.  But we did not see the mystery woman or any other sign that she had been here or anything at all that shed any light on the questions we had.  After we returned home, Laura said she would wash the dishes and clean the kitchen and prepare some tea and cookies for our marriage planning session, and she suggested that in the meantime I go to the special room and report what we had done.  I agreed that this was a good suggestion, and I headed toward the special AV room.

     I was gathering my thoughts for a report when I received a call from the lady at HQ.  She had two items of news.  First of all, the autopsy on her boss’s body indicated that his death was produced by radiations similar to those emitted by the explosion of a hydrogen bomb.  Secondly, the mystery woman had been found and was now back under surveillance; and there now is some evidence that the danger to her may be past, but is not yet conclusive on this.  She will let me know when more info is available and she asked me to continue the AV monitoring of the cabin.  I agreed that I would do so, and I told her that nothing had been found by Laura and me on our horseback ride.

     In our marriage planning Laura and I agreed that the state has no right to grant a marriage license or to conduct a marriage, and that it is not necessary for a clergyman to officiate.  Therefore Laura arranged with a friend of hers who is a legal whiz to compose an affidavit of marriage which was signed by Laura and me and by our two witnesses – my Aunt Helen for me; and Jim, a cousin of Laura’s for her and to be notarized by the lawyer, who is also a notary public.    They all came to the courthouse to accomplish this result.  We also decided that we did not want all of the huge expense and hullaballoo of what many now think is needed for a wedding.  Sooo, our becoming husband and wife was not a lot of work and did not cost a lot of money and NOW starting tonight we can live as husband and wife, to which I am very much looking forward!!  But first we needed to do a few mundane things in re our jobs – Laura at her bakery and me at my engineering work on my computer, after which I went to the secret room where I found a message from the mystery man’s assistant indicating that her supersecret agency had located the supersecret bad guys’ hideout where they found that its only members were the thirteen aforementioned criminals slain by the lethal woods!!   

     To conclude, I never learned any more of the agency’s secrets, and they apparently did not know of my secret – the secret lethal woods!  Their kind of secret is what you would expect of such a group, but MY secret woods is a most unusual kind of secret!!


 Forrest W. Schultz
Grantville, GA, USA
April 18, 2015

Wednesday, January 13, 2016



By  Forrest  W.  Schultz


     Sherry Thompson’s Narentan Tumults series begins with Seabird, one of the best fantasy books I have ever read, whose greatness is due primarily to its attractive central character, Cara Marshall, whose absence from the ensuing books in the series to date is lamented by her fans, one of whom, Michael Dunne, expresses the hope that he’ll meet Cara again.

     I am pleased to announce my discovery that Cara is continuing her adventures here on Earth, beginning at the very moment she was returned from Narenta.  But here she has no exalted title nor does she battle enemies like the sorcerers on Narenta but rather foes like the student bullies at her high school.  And, rather than being in the limelight, she stays in the background and encourages others to lead the battles.

     In one sense this seems like a different Cara, but it isn’t:  it is Cara adapted to her current environment – a senior in high school in a small rural town.  Cara does NOT resent her return to her humble milieu, but embraces it and decides to bloom where she is planted:  and bloom she does, as you will see in the episodes narrated here.  And these stories are written for you not as works of literature, but as simple statements of what has happened in Cara’s life since her return, which are quite interesting in themselves and not in need of any literary embellishment.

     OK, here now, without any further ado, are





     After Cara completed her mission on Narenta, she was returned to Earth at the exact time and exact place from which she had been taken.  The beach was the same but Cara was now a very different person.


     She immediately had the opportunity to express her new self here as she saw the class bully, Melissa, threatening several little kids.  Cara had named her Mal – issa, because, unlike Abraham Lincoln, she had malice toward all and charity toward none!


     As Cara approached Malissa and “called her out”, she was reminded of her encounter with the Narentan sorceress Rabada,  except that Melissa was not beyond redemption, so that she treated her accordingly.


    She rapidly immobilized Mal and threw her on top of an incoming wave.  Mal’s shock was so great that all she could do was sputter, “How in the world did you do that??!!”.


    Cara wasted no time in getting to the point.  “I will explain later, but for now what I want is for you to join me in my campaign against bullying.”  Mel immediately consented, “Yeah!  I’d like to!  When do we start?”


     Cara's reply was that Mel would be in charge of mobilizing and organizing a lot of concerned students as anti-bullying "police":  enough to monitor all places outside the school building and in the school buses and inside the school building:  classrooms, hallways, lockers, cafeteria, restrooms, etc. with the purpose of (preferably) preventing bullying,  and of stopping it if it breaks out.  (Mel had no problem doing so:  the students were wowed by the leading bully now running an anti-bullying campaign!!)








      Cara then explained to Mel that the scope of the campaign was not limited to bullying as ordinarily understood, but also included the abolition of football because of all the harm its collision and tackling involve, which has finally and very belatedly being given attention in the news.  They had to move very rapidly because there was just barely enough time to get the high school football team abolished and replaced by a soccer team.  Their first stop was to visit the person who would be in charge of that:  her friend Harry, who was the Quarterback, (who immediately agreed, with gusto, because of his great concern, so great he was seriously considering dropping off the team).  Well, to make a long story short, he along with Mel and Cara quickly got everyone on board – the coaches, principal, cheerleaders, student council, school board, etc. – so that, just in time the football team was abolished and replaced with a soccer team!! WOW AND WOW AND WOW and this was not only a great achievement but LOTS OF FUN !!!  And, this is just the beginning – lots more adventures were to come!!


    As important as this is, there is something even more important, and, in fact, of greatest import.  When Cara met for the last time with Alphesis immediately prior to her return to Earth, she expressed her sorrow at having to leave Him.  He told her in very plain words, just as Aslan told Lucy in Narnia, that He was also present on Earth (where He has a different Name), which she soon found to be the case, and He is the One now guiding her and helping her here!!


     More will be said about this in Cara’s next adventure (Cara #2), which will be especially interesting because it itself deals with interesting things!!  So, stay tuned!!











     If this were a TV series, I would begin by saying, “Previously on Cara…”: and then proceed to note that as soon as Cara returned to Earth (during her summer vacation prior to her senior year) she set into motion for her high school:  (1). An anti-bullying campaign headed by the former chief bully [Melissa]; and (2). A campaign led by the Quarterback [Harry] to replace football with soccer!  The newspapers loved reporting these, using headlines like “Former Bully Heads Anti-Bullying Campaign” and “Quarterback Leads Campaign To Abolish Football”.  Cara was rarely mentioned, which is exactly what she wanted! Her purpose is to set things into motion, not to run them or gain notoriety.


    She followed this same principle in her next project:  having high school subjects taught so that the interesting things in them would be included in the textbooks and classes instead of being excluded, as is usually done now, which makes it look like the subject is boring.  One step toward rectifying this in Cara’s high school was unwittingly taken right after the end of the last academic year when a biology teacher was hired, Jane Smith, who was named after Jane Goodall, and who even worked for Goodall for a while, and who taught all the interesting stuff in biology in her classes.  Cara rejoiced in this although, of course, she was not involved.  Cara now did get involved by taking steps to get two more interesting teachers on the faculty.  One is Kurt Schmidt, who was named after Kurt Goedel, and studied under him for a while at the special advanced study program up at Princeton.  Cara’s uncle, who is an engineer and a friend of Schmidt, at Cara’s entreaty, asked him to become a teacher at Cara’s high school; and Cara rejoiced when he agreed, was interviewed by the Principal and hired.  He is very knowledgeable on the interestingness of Goedel’s Theorem and other things in math and physics and logic, which he will include in his class lectures.


     The next addition to the faculty was Dr. Ernest Donald, an excellent young historian, whom Cara persuaded to join the faculty where he now teaches US & World & NJ history and also Latin, and delights in telling his students all the interesting stuff in them.



     Dr. Donald is also an excellent comedian who uses humor in his teaching.  The only comedian in the USA which I know of who is funnier is Donald Trump!  The students, recognizing this, call him “The Donald in Our School”, claiming that the only one who can trump him is Trump!


     Cara’s grandfather has shared with Cara a lot of interesting things he knows about all kinds of stuff.  Cara in turn has shared some of this with the teachers via her assigned papers, and with many of the students, who often use these in the papers they write for class.  This plus the popularity of the three interesting faculty members – Miss Smith and Mr. Schmidt and Dr. Donald – began to gradually affect the other teachers, some of whom are now also beginning to include interesting stuff in the classes they teach.


     Cara’s grandfather told Cara that the reason that there are so many interesting things in all subjects is that God is interesting, a fact which has been omitted from the systematic theology books.  Yesterday Cara went with him on a trip to Philly where he turned over a copy of all his research into these interesting things to a young theologian who will be including them in a new systematic theology book he is now composing.


     The most recent interesting thing that her grampa wrote was a response to an answer someone gave to the question of what the Devil’s greatest triumph was:  this person claimed it was the Devil convincing people that he does not exist.  Cara’s grampa rebutted this by claiming that the Devil’s greatest triumph was to convince people that the Devil is interesting, and God is boring.  The truth is that The Devil is boring and God is interesting.











     Cara’s first two achievements after her return from Narenta greatly improved her high school by making it free from harm from bullies and football injuries, and by encouraging the teachers to include the interesting things in the subjects they teach. Cara’s third achievement has just begun and will be improving and expanding as more and more people put into practice the recommendations recently reached by the local think tank.  Cara contributed much to the thoughts behind their manifesto but her main contribution was to get them to start DOING them instead of just discussing them! 


     The first recommendation was that people should get married shortly after puberty so they can enjoy their marriage sooner and can more easily avoid sexual temptations.  The other recommendations are closely related to this.  People also begin working at a younger age than they do now, which in turn involves the adoption of a work/study program similar to the co-op plan developed long ago by Drexel U. in Philly, where students earn much higher pay at these co-op jobs than the typical kind of jobs college students are now able to get, e.g. working at Mickey-D’s.  In other words, they start working at good jobs while going to college instead of having to wait until they graduate.  Eventually also the current 12 grade system will be reduced to 8 grades with students learning more material at younger ages, which is not only possible but which was done in the nineteenth century, as can be seen by looking at the McGuffey Readers and other textbooks used then.  This will make it easier for marriage to occur shortly after puberty,  because it will coincide with the ending of the 8 grades.  And the “classical school” methodology will be used, the one advocated by Dorothy Sayers.  AND, heeding Cara’s warning, those advocating this do NOT refer to the current retrograde system as a “Dumbing Down” of education because this terminology is indicative of the very thing they are opposing.  (See if you can figure out why!) 






     This plan also advocates working at or near one’s home either by continuing to work for a big company far away but doing your work at home on your computer to avoid the outrageous amount of time (and gasoline) wasted in commuting or, preferably, working at or near your home in your own business which you establish.  AND in this set up it is not just the woman returning to the home but the man also, who establishes his business there with his wife as his administrative assistant, which also avoids the sexual temptations when his wife works for another man.  This plan therefore does NOT adopt the usual plan most small towns do, namely trying to get a big company to build a factory in or near their town.  The idea is to preserve the nature of the small town where people know and care about each other and where in this town there are small stores of all kinds so people can shop there instead of driving to a humongous shopping mall some distance away.  Cara’s grandfather had a great influence on her thinking when he told of the small town near the farm where he grew up – this town had EVERYTHING in it – the elementary and high school to which he went, as well as their doctor, their dentist, their barber, their bank, their post office, their grocery stores, hardware store, pharmacy, bakery, photographer,  movie theatre, and the people living in the town could walk to most things or at most drive their car a few blocks to get to where they wanted.  Our modern setup is NOT an advance but a RETROGRESSION!!  The next main recommendation in this plan is to pay cash for everything, including houses.  And since hardly anyone today can afford to pay the outrageously outrageous high prices of today’s new houses, they advocate systems such as the Amish use where the whole congregation builds the house or barn for the family needing it or something like the plan used by Habitat For Humanity.  AND when a church needs a new building the members work together to build it, which was done by a church which Cara’s grandfather went to several decades ago.  And, finally, settle down in a small town and stay there – quit all this stupid moving.  Btw, this is easy to prove from the Bible from looking at the passage talking about the qualifications for an elder.  The only way this can be known is if people live in a place long enough to know the man, which they can’t do if they keep moving.







     Cara and Harry are planning to marry immediately after their high school graduation in June.  And they both will be attending (part-time) the college located a few miles from their town, and they both will be working (part-time) for Harry’s parents, who are the co-founders/co-owners of a candy store on Main Street behind which is the large building where the candy is made, about half of which they sell in their store, and the other half is bought by several stores in nearby towns.

     Harry lives with his parents on Third Street, a block behind the candy manufacturing building, AND next door to the house where Cara lives with her parents.  So, Yes!, Cara will marry “the boy next door, who works at the candy store”!  Cara says that she was not influenced by the famous song by Johnny CASH, but she says that the song might have been counter=productive if it had been sung by Johnny CREDIT!!  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  Yes, Cara has not only returned to Earth but her humor is very “down to Earth”!!

     Because of their community improvement work and their good grades in high school, Cara and Harry have each been awarded full tuition scholarships to the college!!  Their only expense will be the (high!) cost of their textbooks and the (low) cost of commuting to the college, which is only a fifteen minute drive away.

     Cara and Harry after they marry will be moving into a house given to them by Cara’s father, who recently inherited it from his uncle.  Her father will also pay for the renovation cost and the furniture.

     Their jobs at the candy company will be low paying at first but they will soon be promoted to managerial level jobs, which will be high paying, and then, after they graduate from college, the business will be given to them, and then Harry’s parents will be enjoying a long-awaited and much deserved retirement beginning with a cruise around the world.


    The local think tank manifesto plus the example Cara and Harry are setting by following its principles is affecting many other community residents and former community residents.  For example, several young adults who had moved from the community to a big city have changed their minds and have returned to their roots.  One young man, disgusted with city life, has returned to take over his father’s business, a local German bakery; and a young woman for similar reasons has come back to take over her mother’s salon.

     Much more could be said but this, I believe, will suffice to show that Cara is doing fine and does not resent her return, and the adventures just keep on coming, small though they may be.  And Cara has never regretted their size – she has never, like Naaman did to Elisha, complained of not being given “some great thing” to do!!.  We would do well to follow her example!  Amen!




     There are many other worthy and interesting deeds Cara did after she returned to Earth.  Those I have narrated  here are but a sample which are presented to you to show you that Cara's adventures did not cease after she was returned to Earth. 

     These adventures of Cara continued and will continue for the rest of her life here on Planet Earth and for the life she will then lead in the New Heavens and New Earth.  In short, the adventures of Cara on Planet Earth will never cease!!  Amen & Amen !!!

Forrest W. Schultz

Grantville, GA

February 22, 2016