Great storms gave strength to an illusion that the glaciers played no role in raising an infinite sea. The soil began to drown. The age of ice and glaciers was ending; the sea levels would raise, coving the lands people called home. Suddenly, it was real. Doubt was ripped from the heart of the people, both artist and antagonist, and suddenly Noah was seen clearly: a desperate prophetic genius.
Panic flooded into the space doubt had left.
The critics flocked to be freed, and Noah turned none away except on conditions. Some tried to use their wealth (now that it was next to useless) to gain favor, and no favor was to be had: all would be treated equal. Others fought and scrambled to the front of the crowd, but these would be sent to the end of the line: violence would only place them all in greater jeopardy.
A few lied about disease or injury they did not possess. They manipulated the raw love and compassion of Noah and her artists. While most lies were not skilled enough, or dedicated (for lies eat away our most precious values the longer we defend them) enough to avoid detection, a few care so little for themselves and others, and they cared so much for their physical comfort, they smuggled wickedness on board, and kept it secret until they could use it to gain power over others once again.
But there were many, many people, and the stories of the “ark” (an old term for box) had spread far and wide, so much that other lands have other artists who were inspired to do their own work. But many who criticized instead, came flocking.
In distant lands, unknown to all in this tale, glaciers the size of future nations broke off in the spring sun and fresh water rains. They fell into the sea and sent massive tides that would forever drown the lands Noah called home.
The people were still boarding when the seas retreated from the shore. People were still running to Noah’s boat, now dropping all their belongings, picking up children, and running, as the seas towered in their return.
The wave crashed just as they sealed the door. It lifted the people almost as easily as it lifted the massive ark from the ground.
Artists threw down ropes as the doors were being sealed, still in hopes of saving all who could make it. The few who could swim, make themselves float, or grab flotsam large enough to hold them made it to the ropes. Noah’s conditions still held, but it was easier to get compliance from people in the grips of the angel of death. All but the liars had an easier time setting aside their habits; the liars still outside either gave up their ruses or drown.
Most, however could not swim, not even enough to make themselves float, and there was not enough flotsam for everyone. Those not crushed or swept away by the wave drown.
The survivors swarmed the roof of the ark. There were many horrors they could blame for their sickness, even the rocking of the boat. But it was the sight of the endless waters, and upon the waters, the corpses of everyone they knew not on the floating refuge, that drown out any other horrors they could feel. All were sick with despair for days.
At first there had been hills in the distance they could see, but over the days, more waves swept through, more rains fell. Whether it was 4 days or 40, none could really say. It was like a nightmare they could not wake from. There was nothing to do except fight for an appetite, stay alive, and not drift off into a sleep they never would wake from.
For there was illness, true, though invisible as all illnesses were. They could not say whether it was from germ, demon, or trauma. Many died in their sleep, or from despair all the same. Though, many who tossed themselves over the edge, whether to join a loved one they saw floating or to simply end the pain, were saved and convinced to live. Those who slept into death were given to the sea.
The despair grew thick. Even Noah kept to herself, overcome. She avoided the pleas of the others for her wisdom, for some action they could take. She felt completely powerless, trapped on this floating tomb. There were no materials for art. Even instruments to make music were gone, thrown over to make room for more people and food and skins to hold fresh water.
New horrors arose as they drifted in the rain. Some corpses bloated and burst, others sank away silently, and the rest attracted fish and birds. The first sailors despaired seeing their people turned into food for such animals. But one of Noah’s sons did not despair and was moved to action.
He pulled shreds of rope from the hastily made excess, and wove them into a fishing net. He lowered his younger brother down to the waters. Together they caught a feast of fish. From the death and horror, new life in stupendous bounty had bloomed.
When Noah saw this, it was then she knew there was a God behind her love, her art, her emotions, and this God must be looking out for them. When she would teach these ideas to her fellow travelers, some would take it to heart, but later many would think themselves so worthless that they would convince themselves it was a punishment sent by the same God, if not a greater one.
One morning there was a shout, a wailing, and people stirred awake in alarm. Shouting had been a sign of terror in all these days that they were confused to see Noah’s husband with joy on his face. They feared madness had taken him, but soon they saw what he saw.
On the horizon, the clouds had broke and blue sky was clean and deep and spreading towards them. Then something they had never seen before, a band of colors, all the colors in creation, faint and transparent but mo mirage or hallucination.
Noah took this as a sign from God, and noticed that the waves grew calmer, the great storms faded away over the day. They drifted in the vast seas empty but for the life and death hidden within, while the rainbow of light drifted above them and into the mists.