My morning studies complete, I am escorted from the study center to the training center. Like every other day, I move into my stretching regimen and prepare to begin my 5 mile jog on the treadmill, glancing around for Father. I am surrounded by machinery and a few grey-clad observers with clipboards. Nothing unusual until the door opens.
From across the room Father enters and my spirit soars. Once again, I am warmed just by his presence. For the first time I am aware of the kindness in the lines of his face and the wisdom in his grey hairs, even the promise of a smile under his bushy, silver mustaches. If only he had reason to smile… What is happening inside me? Not sure, I never-the-less decide at that moment, that I like the color red if indeed it is associated with love.
However, as quickly as the flame is lit, it is extinguished. Behind Father, another man enters. He is, of course, dressed in green, the color worn by military personnel. I finally overheard a grey-coat whispering to one of his comrades about their presence here and learned the term, though I do not understand the meaning of the term yet. My vast studies are curiously devoid of such references.
This military man is dressed nicer than the others and does not carry on him the tools that adorn their uniforms. But he does carry a sense of strength and authority. He has authority over Father and the others and this does not make Father happy. I can sense that he does not like the man. I quickly decide that I don’t either.
“White,” Father addresses me as they approach, “we are going to do something a bit different today.” The stress in his voice is evident and my curiosity grows.
“Gener… uh, that is, I would like to see you run through a special obstacle course we have prepared for you today. And we would like to record your time. Please come with me.”
I follow, of course. I always wish to please Father, though I am not quite certain that it is Father I will please.
The obstacle course is like none I have seen before. It does not just consist of a running course with obstacles to maneuver around or over. It actually appears to contain moving objects meant to engage me physically as well as an impossibly high, wooden wall that Father soon explains I am to scale. I am not sure how I am supposed to do this, but I agree to try.
Within moments I am off, running at full speed. My body is toned and in top physical condition for a young woman in her mid twenties. I have no problem navigating over the first portion of the track with it’s usual static obstacles and I can tell that I’m making incredible time as I race.
Then I hit the second portion of the course, a walled-in labyrinth of moving objects. As I enter a boulder rolls toward me from one side. I have no place to go and for a moment I wonder if I might be crushed against the wall. But the next thing I know, I have jumped ahead on the path. Did I outrun that rock?
Another obstacle moves to intercept me, this one a sliding steel door. It is quicker than the boulder and I realize I’m not going to make it. But then amazingly, I have! The door slams shut behind me and I continue on. Several more objects of various sizes, shapes and speeds are thrown at me, but each time, I am somehow transported beyond them without even fully realizing how.
Finally, I come to the wall. There is a small handhold about half way up that I realize I must reach if I am to scale it. It appears to be at least fifteen feet from the ground, an impossible jump even for one as well trained as myself, but I make the attempt… and succeed! Effortlessly, it seems, I lift from the ground as I leap and feel the small ledge under my hands. Exhilaration floods me as I swing my legs up and find a perch. (Funny, I don’t remember there being one there when I leapt.) What has gotten into me? I’ve never felt this way before. Something has filled me with energy like I’ve never known… and I like it!
In seconds, the wall is scaled and I land on the other side with confidence, breathless but energized, my white/blonde hair falling over my face. When I pull it back behind my ears and turn to face my observers I realize that I have done something terribly wrong! The fear is back on Father’s face and there is a disconcerting glitter in the military man’s eyes.
The two of them begin to talk in hushed tones and I see that Father is agitated. They are disagreeing about something and I am reminded of the words Father spoke to me this morning at my bedside. “The others do not even fully understand the danger you face… or they wouldn’t be doing this.”
There is real danger. I sense it. That which father fears is happening! And the military man is somehow connected to it. I approach them, and overhear the end of their passionate discussion.
“…saw what just happened. I warned you it was a very probable danger!”
“Then we’ll neutralize this side of the equation and therefore extinguish the problem! We need them and I won’t let this situation stand in our way. Mr. Watson has already approached them and made his initial assessment and tomorrow morning we send in a team to grab the mind reader and see what they’ve discovered about themselves. Operation Rainbow will succeed! It MUST succeed! I will not allow years of military research and planning to be wasted because of your feelings for this… girl!”
His final word is spit in my direction as if distasteful to his mouth and I feel the venom in it though again I do not understand it. Glaring at me, the man storms off, shouting to my father to carry out his orders.
Agitated, Father approaches me.
“Father, what is wrong?” I ask, hoping he will give me an answer this time. “Have I done something wrong?”
“No, Isabelline. It is not you.”
“Then what is it that troubles you, Father?” I press him. “Who was that man and why does he upset you?”
Father glances around and then fixes me with a stern look. “I cannot tell you here or now. I fear you may know soon enough, however. I’m afraid I will not be able to stop them.”
“Isabelline, go back to your room. I will join you there shortly.” His voice has an edge to it that stings me. Seeing my startled expression, his voice softens and he reaches out to caress my cheek. This time I look around to see if anyone else notices this rare act of unashamed affection that Father is showing. He does not seem to care this time.
“Remember what I told you this morning, my dear. I fear that I may not be able to protect you much longer. They will not listen to reason. The fools! Power-hungry fools!”
“Please, tell me who, Abba!” I plead as he begins to wave me away. “Is it this military man? Who was he speaking of?”
“I wish I could say it was only him. The truth is there may be no one we can trust! Now go!”
And with that he walks away from me, following after the military man.
A grey-coat assistant approaches me to escort me back to my room and I realize for the first time that Father’s fear has become my own.