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by Lewis M. Carlock
March, 23, 1940

      In a long room with a high arched ceiling a venerable looking old man was seated behind a tall desk at one end of the room. His kind face was partially covered by a long white beard, and he was clad in a robe of white with gold trimmings and there seemed to be an aura of light radiating from his head. On his right were two rows of chairs on which were seated twelve men, also in white and gold robes and a white light seemed to be radiating from them as though the room were being lighted by some indirect method. On his left was standing a row of people, like people in a bread line, all kinds of people. Most of them were men, young men, dressed in ragged clothing which resembled military uniforms.

      At the rear of the room there were two doors. Through the door at the right one could see a stairway which seemed to lead to an upstairs room. The room above seemed to be well lighted and if one listened closele he could here soft music coming as it seemed from somewhere above. The door on the left also opened to a stairway but this stairway went down and at the bottom was an open door leading into a room from which no light came.

      Immediately to the right and in front of the ancient judge was a seat. The people in the line were taking their turns at this seat. After a few questions were asked by the old man and replys given by the person in the seat, a consultation would take place among the men clothed in gold and white robes. Then the old man would indicate one of the doors at the rear of the room and the person in the seat would enter the door which was indicated to him. The venerable old man seldom made any mistakes. Occasionally when he would indicate one of the doors for the person seated before him, there would be a rumbling like the sound of thunder overhead, whereupon the discussion would be resumed at the end of which the old man would indicate the other door.

      The first person standing in the row of people wearing a military uniform was a youth of about twenty-four. When it came his time to take the seat before the old man he answered to the name of John Miller. The young man had a bewildered look upon his face. He was thinking of a wife and child back in Devonshire. He was wondering where he was and why he was there and if there was anyway he could send word back to her. The last thing he could remember before entering this room was a battle scene in the mountains of Greece which seemed to have concluded by a terrible explosion. The whiskered gentleman spoke to John in a very reassuring tone of voice, telling him there was nothing to fear. Immediatly, John's mind seemed to clear and the look of bewilderment left his face. In fact he felt brighter than he ever had any other day of his life. His entire life seemed to be a panorama before his mind. Every detail seemed to be right there before him. He suddenly realized where he was and why he was there. Looking directly into the eyes of the young soldier the old man asked, "Is everything clear in your mind, John Miller?" John nodded his assent. "You are aware, John, that before you came here you were responsible for the taking of the lives of several other young men there in the battlefields of Greece."

      "Where are they?" John exclaimed, "Please let me talk to them; I didn't realise what I was doing." The look in the judge's eye assured John that his pleas would not be answered. It was too late for that.

      "Why did you kill those men, John?"

      A feeling of helplessness seemed to permiate John's body, he felt an agony that was different from anything he had before experienced. Finally, he collected his senses and stammered, "Those were my orders, sir." whereupon the venerable old man pulled from beneath his desk a slab of stone on which was an inscription in some ancient language. He read from the stone in a language understandable to John the words:

      "THOU SHALT NOT KILL."

      "But, sir," replied John, "it was not to my liking to commit such bloody acts, but what is a fellow to do? I had my orders to kill, and no man can keep his self-respect if he does not obey the orders of his superiors. If what I have done is wrong, that may be as it is, but surely no righteous God could judge a man as sinful who is doing only what he thinks is right."

      The old man said nothing. The men seated on the right began talking among themselves, some nodding one way and some the other. Finally they seemed to agree and the ancient judge indicated with his left hand the door which led into the darkened stairway.

      As he walked the length of the room, John was wondering if he would ever see his wife and child again. His own fate seemed unimportant to him; his only regret was that he would not be able to help his bereaved family. As he approached the door he hesitated momentarily. He thought he heard a noise. He stopped and listened again. He was sure this time.

      Distinctly he could hear the roll of thunder.

- THE END -

     This story was written 21 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the U.S. into World War 2. However Britain and France were already at war with Germany and it was only a matter of time before we were involved. This story was written by my father who entered the war in 1942 as part of General Patton's third army. He landed on Utah beach in Normandy, France on August 6, 1944, 60 days after D-Day. The war took him through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and into Germany right to Hitler's "Berghof" in Bavaria after the war ended.

    L. Carlock



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