Here’s the first page of the book:
Chapter 0 – What and Where is When?
The Grove was burning. The air around him tasted like soot and he could feel countless embers lighting on his skin. There were coconut and apple trees ablaze in every direction, and entire crops of wheat, corn and barley were ruined. The closest body of water was The Holy River. It loomed in the background as a place of refuge as the number of troops incurring plasma burns continued to mount. The Ophanim started panicking because all of their eyes were stinging from the black smoke and they were paralyzed. The shrieks of millions of angry brethren started to shred his ears. Even at that distance he could glimpse The Leaves and smell their chestnut scent, but now his direct line to them was blocked. His lips were cracked from dehydration. As he turned to look up, he was sloshing around ankle-deep in puddles of acrid purple blood. What he saw when he looked up meant there was more bloodshed to come.
Was the Cocoon showing him this? Was this a dream?
Or a prophecy?
He didn’t know. And then it was time to be born.
Far northeast corner of The City
Inside the Creation Complex, Room 12
Creation Cocoon #6
Pain shot through his back as he stirred his wings with that initial flutter; wings make a funny porcelain crinkling sound the first time you move them.
The inner jelly of the Creation Cocoon was beginning to melt around him, and he smelled himself. Or rather, he smelled the very typical creation smells of burnt candle wicks, oranges and pauperie. He felt the cocoon’s glowing BirthSilk strings dripping down his shoulders, as he slowly stirred out of the fetal position and moved into kneeling. His tongue felt like chalk as the sweltering heat of emergence continued to caress every millimeter of his taut pink skin. He would later wonder if there wasn’t some kind of strange, fleshly painting process going on. He couldn’t tell if the creation jelly was melting off of him or into him. Every Cherub’s beginning in the pearl encased Cocoon was sacred unto The Throne, yet he knew inside of himself, before he could even feel all six of his incandescent hearts beating…that somehow he was something special.
His dream was still somewhere inside of him. He wasn’t sure where. Yet.
Thoughts can move faster than words, so his brain was full of ideas his tongue couldn’t quite articulate. His throat reeds sounded very tinny as he breathed. His biggest concern was the fact that he was stone blind. He didn’t know yet that the last things to fully form are the eyes, and no matter how many pairs one had, it seemed that so much of The Realm was blurry and out of focus after emerging. The eye sockets may as well have been filled with tangerine jam for all the good they were in those first few days. At least, that’s what all the brethren said to him later. His experience was no exception, but he wondered why that was so.
Did he hear a call while he was emerging? Was he being personally addressed? He couldn’t quite tell. The frequent and confusing audio static was either in the cocoon or in his head. “Birth ears are not your friends,” they’d tell him later. He felt what seemed to be three pairs of gentle hands around him, but couldn’t make out whose they were. These mysterious hands were embedding something in his still-forming guts, something metallic…and he couldn’t wait to be able to see well enough to discover what it was. He felt soft somehow, almost lumpy, like manna dough; not the greatest feeling. Creation Day experiences were nebulous at best.
His very first cohesive thought after emergence? I’m a mushy metal mess, he said to himself. I love it. Give me more.
It must have been eighteen full days or so in timelessness before he could see worth anything. He realized upon waking from what had been a series of naps, deep slumber, and whiteout sleep, that his sides still felt really strange. But maybe that’s normal too, he thought. He looked down towards his abdomen and discovered pipes! And tabrets! His lower rib cage seemed to be made of reeds, similar to the ones that made up his larynx. This was awesome. This meant he was a Sound Generator and not just a Responder. That also meant, according to the Data Stream that was fed to him during his cocoon cycles, that he was most likely going to be a part of worship in The Realm. Like worship for real. It was such an honor for any of the brethren to be involved in worship at any level, because it meant being closer to The Throne on regular occasions.
Though that would involve a certain level of danger.
It also indicated that he was a naturally created leader, and the perks of that were beyond imagination. At least, according to the Data Stream that is. He was still newborn to The Realm, and aside from hearing the assorted and jumbled whispers of the brethren (because he had no proper name yet), the Data Stream was all he had to go on. That didn’t stop his skin from going all goosebumpy with anticipation.
And then he sat up too quickly, clonked his head on the pod ceiling and passed out.