Chapter 15 Yuri: Limits Enforced

Thomas, Bull and Cedric stood back and looked at their day’s work. A brand new, spacious wooden cabin now stood on the mountain side. Shrouded by trees, yet with a clear view of the community below.

“The Hermitage,” declared Bull.

“Sort of,” chucked Thomas. “This is somewhere we can withdraw to. Somewhere to be alone, ponder, pray and rest. It’s a way of being that none of the men have ever experienced, hopefully they will try when they see our example.”

“What’s the situation in the community?” enquired Cedric, who’d been helping them with the heavy lifting.

“They’re beginning to organise. They soon realised that fighting was achieving nothing, and they were getting frustrated that nobody was coming out on ‘top’,” replied Bull.

“They picked the first committee last night. Names out of a hat. They’re all fed up enough to try anything now, just to get some semblance of normality,” continued Thomas. “It’s dawned on them that this is their reality now. They want to eat better food, drink better drink and generally get on with living here. And they all know that it takes organisation for that to happen.”

“They were all gang leaders in the Previous Age, weren’t they?” observed Cedric.

“So, they know the importance of organisation. Though this time it won’t be crime, it’ll be harvesting the crops, processing the grain, baking bread, fetching and distributing water,” said Bull.

Thomas smiled. “Jesus knew the right mix of personalities to put together. They were always going to burn out of their violent tendencies once they realised it didn’t achieve anything. These are tough but pragmatic types. All of them understand the importance of teamwork.”

“There are some communities where there are only a handful of people. But whatever the size the personality mix is always skilfully arranged by Jesus so that each person has the best opportunity to mature. Attitudes from the Previous Age need to be mirrored in others so that they start to see themselves more clearly,” said Cedric. “Ultra-violent tendencies are stopped by my Seraph brothers and sisters. People usually start relating to others, or they withdraw into highly solitary existences. But, even then, the flashbacks and memories start to shine God’s loving light on what they need to address.”

“The composition of each community has to be finely tuned, but that’s why only Jesus could be trusted to arrange it,” said Thomas.


Yuri was soon at the field he had been posted to by the committee. Owl was already there.

“You’re late,” he said without looking at Yuri.

“And what?” said Yuri, defensively.

“We can’t have that,” said Owl.

Yuri began to drive at the ground with a hoe.

“The only difference between chaos and order is commitment to a plan.”

“Alright, alright,” mumbled Yuri. “I am here now, so shut up.”

Scattered over the field were several men, digging up root vegetables. The muddy dirt had made their appearance peasant-like, as their clothes were often unwashed and un-pressed. Some of the men loved the physical labour, feeling the strength in their new bodies being put to good use made them feel a oneness with the earth. Others, like Yuri, struggled to get used to the new situation with a committee telling him what to do.

By the end of the day the men had brought in several large wheelbarrows full of turnips, parsnips, potatoes and carrots. The warehouse on the edge of the settlement provided a hub. It was there that they sorted the crops into various storerooms, with a few sent directly to the kitchen department. It was not unusual to attempt to take the best items from the harvest back to their dwellings, each vegetable smuggled out being seen as something of a victory over the committee.

Most evenings the men would gather in the central square. It was here that card games were played. Some men would sing songs recalled from the previous age, and food would be served.

A couple of men were sweeping, another wiping tables with a cloth.

Owl dealt out a hand to each of the four around the table and then looked over his shoulder at the slim, blonde-haired singer who was holding forth on the small stage in the corner.

“I wish he’d sing up. I can’t even hear what he is singing!” one of the players growled.

Gripes such as these could end up in an argument.

“Come, let’s just play the game,” urged Owl. “If you have a complaint, bring it to the committee tomorrow evening.”

The other player groaned.

“Arguments. Committees. Work. Pissy weak beer. Day after day. The same people. The same place. I’m bored as hell”

“Nothing ever happens,” added another player in the circle. “If Jesus thinks this is how to punish us then he’s pretty stupid.”

“Look on the bright side,” said Owl, shuffling the deck. “If we’ve stopped brawling, that means we’ve made progress. I am convinced that hard work is the way we become disciplined.”

“We only stopped fighting because it became useless and boring,” remarked another player. “And now everything is boring.”

“But there is order,” said Owl, bluntly. “We may have taken a while to settle into this but look – we all know what we have to do. We work hard, and then we get to enjoy a game of cards.”

“What about them?” asked one of the men, motioning with his head toward Thomas and Bull. The two friends were sitting in the shade of a tree at the edge of the square. Eyes closed, they simply sat with legs crossed. Other men looked on. They had been doing this for months now, and after drawing some incredulous comments and insults, the other men had become used to seeing them meditate twice a day. Some had even been up to visit the hermitage, and learned about prayer, contemplation, and listening to Ruach.

“Those freaks are lazy,” snapped Owl, though he knew it was a lie.

“No mate, they’re not,” said another of the card players.

“Well, what do they think they are achieving, just sitting there? It’s pathetic.”

Owl angrily shuffled the deck once again.


“The two idiots we found passing notes are in solitary confinement,” reported Yuri to Owl. “They’ll be in there for months. It’ll probably break them for good.”

Owl had been randomly picked for the most recent committee. Many different combinations of men had tried to run things, but some had more aptitude for the frustrating work of organising the work.  

“We can afford to keep them in for a good while,” said Yuri, who still relished the chance to enforce discipline, even if it meant hurting people. “We have to make them see that divisive gossip won’t be tolerated. I still think we should hurt them properly.”

“Torment them one at a time,” Owl suggested, savouring the thought. “You’ve changed your mind about work, Yuri?”

“I’ve found my place. I always was good at laying down the law. No one crossed me in my organisation, and they won’t cross me here,” Yuri said plainly. “Keep them in agony. If we simply inflict wounds on them, they recover. But, if we clamped their knees in a vice for hours on end, tightening it every so often, they’d be in constant pain,” Yuri said without emotion.

Owl was impressed with Yuri’s commitment to order, though he suspected Yuri was probably rather sadistic. “Any joint really ... or the head?”

“We could impale them?” suggested Yuri. “Nail them to something?”

The two stood, discussing the various options for torturing the prisoners. After a while Yuri had the main doors opened. He darted in and dragged out the man he found sitting nearest the door.

The man cowered on the floor, a hand over his face to try and shield himself.

Yuri and Owl dragged the man along the dusty ground until they were in a quiet corner of the settlement next to the tool shed. He lay helpless on the ground with his hands now tied behind his back. Yuri laughed as they looked through the array of tools, making crude suggestions as to what they could do with each item.

“There, that one,” said Yuri.

He picked up a large spanner.

Returning to the writhing man, Yuri stooped down and began to tighten the spanner around his right elbow. With every twist of the ratchet, his groans got louder.

Suddenly a loud thud was heard and dust flew everywhere. Yuri and Owl spun around.

“No,” said Cedric the Seraph in his terrifically deep voice. “That’s enough.”

The man whimpered but was also staring wide-eyed at the Seraph that towered above the humans.

“No one gets tortured.”

Cedric stepped forward and flicked open huge claws from his mighty paw. Incisively he cut the prisoner’s bonds.

“You may have your fist fights and lash out at each other from time to time, but no one gets to inflict constant pain on anyone else,” Cedric continued.

“So, this is when God finally intervenes?” scoffed Yuri.

“I am not God. But yes, I act on the boundaries that Jesus has set. Nothing on the New Earth is without boundaries.”

“What about freewill?” asked Owl.

“Freewill is yours, but always within boundaries,” said the Seraph.

“What were they in the Previous Age, then?” retorted Yuri. “I never knew of any!”

“Death was the ultimate ringfence,” said Cedric. “The worst anyone could do to another, was kill them. But that sent them here. That’s the way it went. Now humans can’t die, but neither can anyone keep another in constant physical pain.”

“So, the likes of you will stop us every time?” said the prisoner, chiming in from behind.

“We see and hear it all. Do you think God is unaware of what you are doing? Do you think you are abandoned here? Not for a second. You are here to learn the futility of your violence. The New Earth has no anarchy occurring anywhere.”

“Anarchy reigned in the Previous Age?” said the prisoner, incredulously.

Cedric was now holding the three men’s attention. “Humans constantly acted out of ignorance, without patience or empathy. But what might be called ‘anarchy’ was only confined to a tiny blip in time. Everything that happened in your Previous Age was part of establishing you as a being. Not all of it was happy, but you’re here. You have begun,”

With that, the Seraph spread his mighty wings, flapped them and left the three men in the dust his flight kicked up around them.

“What he said makes…”

“Shut up,” spat Yuri.

Yuri turned around and swung the spanner into the side of the prisoner’s skull, knocking him down and sending blood splatters high into the air.

Owl scoffed and walked away, brushing dust from his blue shirt as he went. “Order must be kept!” he stated loudly as he went.

Owl passed several dwellings on his way back to this own. Glancing through windows, he was surprised to see men sat or knelt on their floors, eyes closed. This sight troubled him, the last time he’d seen this behaviour was in the years after Thomas and his group had arrived at the community of survivors in the Previous Age. Owl had prided himself in creating and looking after that enclave of refugees from the Great Suffering. It was there that he had seen his law and order succumb to what he believed was the weakness of friendship and care.

Passing by another dwelling, through the curtains he saw a man sitting quietly, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile on his face.

Owl pushed open the door to the dwelling, the man’s eyes opened in surprise.

“Committee inspection! What are you doing?” demanded Owl.

The man got up and pushed Owl’s chest.

“Get out of my hut!” he yelled angrily, trying to shut the door.

“You were meditating, weren’t you?” shouted Owl.

“So, what if I was?” the man said, blocking his doorway with his body.

Owl frowned and walked away, ridiculing the idea in his mind.


The next evening saw the weekly gathering in the square. Some of the men were in particularly good mood.

“Why so happy?” asked Yuri to another man who was sitting next to him and clearly jubilant.

“You need to try the chilli sauce we’ve made. We’ve perfected it!”

Yuri folded his arms indignantly, trying to pretend he wasn’t interested.

Owl stood up and clapped his hands three times to signal the start of the meeting.

“Listen up. As we hand over to the next committee, I want to point out that I’ve seen a lot of you wasting time aping Thomas and Bull and their pathetic daydreaming. Such practices are folly and I want to put forward a motion to ban it.”

A murmur of discontent rippled across the gathering. Picking up on it, Owl doubled down.

“Oh what? You’re all Buddha now? You’re all enlightened are you?”

The man Owl had confronted the night before stood up.

“Look, don’t knock what you haven’t tried! You need to loosen up, Owl. Live and let live, yeah?”

The man next to Yuri stood up.

“Go with me here, fellas? So, a few of us have been working on a chilli sauce, and it was only after one of us meditated that we knew what we needed to do to perfect it. It’s not the hippy-dippy nonsense you think it is, Owl. It’s a way of thinking more clearly and focussing on what is good!”

Owl dropped his hands from his hips.

“Fine. You do what you like, I’m done with the committee anyway.”

He sat down with arms folded tightly over his chest, clearly sulking about being challenged.

Another man stepped forward with a wooden box covered in black cloth, a hole for a hand to reach through on the top it. He began to call names for the next committee.