This is a continuation of the Ugly Duckling series. However, the story is still not completed:
Yet few are needed, indeed, only one.
The will was read, the kingdom divided. The shares of Shalom Corporation had passed to a bizarre mélange of charitable foundations, institutional investors and the odd trustee or two. And nothing—Moshe Levi, the multibillionaire, the head of a world- girdling business empire, had left nothing to Enoch, his presumed heir—except a small wooden box and a grand sum of a hundred pounds.
Enoch walked out—plunging into the sun and wind. The white, black and golden monolith that was Shalom’s London headquarters towered above him, knifing yearningly into grey, unreachable skies. He focused inward and then above—a barren wasteland, dry and cracked, hemmed in by blinding prison walls—a grey counterpart of external emptiness.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
He trudged slowly down wintry streets, past palatial abodes of banks, through oblivious crowds and around solemn statues; the dreamscape of the City loomed and ebbed, a foaming sea of musing thoughts and fiery frenzies. Enoch felt his burden compounded by the unceasing oppression of an empty world.
Then the cityscape inexplicably vanished. Enoch looked around. He was in one of London’s ubiquitous parks, standing on soft soil lightly clad with snow. A shimmering lake, half frozen, stretched yawningly from him into grey mist.
Left alone—bereft, helpless. Again. Why did he choose to return? A golden memory loomed on awareness’ fringe—a song of unspeakable grandeur mocking his smallness and misery.
Why did he choose to return?
There was no answer—no voice of thunder and mystery. The Voice had faded, the Light vanished, the Power no more. And Moshe was dead. Only darkness remained—a silence of God, the abandonment of men, an absence pierced by desert thirst and despair.
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
How long, Lord? How long?
Silence—and a parched, stony heart. The words of the Old Woman tormented him again:
Grim, hard earth will be your lot—for you must share the fate of the fallen humanity you wish to serve. You must drink, and drink deep, of their misery before you can alleviate it. That is the law of grace—the law of solidarity and of love.
Guided by a strange instinct, Enoch knelt down and plunged his fingers deep into the icy soil.
Dark, moist earth—warm blood-pulses of brooding soil; rotting corpses of leaves and worms; burrowing busy ants in cavernous dreams. Life feeding on death, eternal calm feeding motion; light of buried beauty whirling sorrow songs of rhythmic deeps.
Enoch jolted awake. Hours had passed. The earth had seemed alive, throbbing with vast surges of life dancing with playful death. Had not such visions faded? Again, he plunged his fingers into the ground.
There was nothing.
The early winter night had come and the last light died. Gripping the barren, unyielding earth, Enoch lowered his tearful face, trembling in cold and painful despair.
“Yet, there is another way.”
A strange voice—unfamiliar and oddly authoritative—intruded from the dark. But the park was shrouded in choking mist, and it was desolate and empty. Enoch lifted his head, suddenly alert, a tense warning filling his heart.
“Who are you?”
The grey gloom seemed to stir, but no one emerged. Enoch stood up with eyes flashing and his left hand unconsciously gripped tight—as if around an invisible staff.
“Who are you? Show yourself!”
This time, the darkness seemed to coagulate. But there was no clear form. And when the darkness spoke, it was from within.