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The wild coast of Hamar lay twenty-five thousand feet below the rim of the Sacred Mountain, with nineteen thousand feet of that drop totally vertical. No one had ever scaled the wall except Mike, who cheated and floated up behind it. When Jerry led his force of volunteer pilots in Sandwich fighters to the southern rim of the Sacred Mountain they found Yeshua's priest- esses trying to bring Mike back to consciousness after his ascent through the icy waters of the lake. Part of this therapy consisted of the women laying directly on top of Mike with their full bodies to transfer heat, and it seemed to work. Jerry said, I can see why they call this paradise.

When humans die in the Land We Know they find themselves on the rim, where they wait for a ship to carry them into the pillar of light, the "sun" of the Land We Know that emerges from the center of the lake and rises as far as the eye can see into the white sky. The people atop the wall can hear voices upon the winds of the Land We Know through a trick of reflecting sound. Ever they walk the ramparts, hoping to hear their loved ones. When they do hear their name it is bittersweet, for they find their friends and loved ones have soon forgotten them and moved on. The more famed a person was in their life, the more fragments they hear, so they linger a while more. The humble accept the truth sooner. It's really all about letting go.

But there are always the dummies at far end of the bell curve, and firmly anchored there was Captain Skulldagger, captain of the Will o' the Whisp still standing on the rim of the Sacred Mountain waiting for his name to be heard once more as the story of his voyage was retold.

At length almost all the dead come off the precipice and rest on the lawn behind it before the lake, waiting for a white ship to come and take them to an unknown destiny. The priestesses who attend them had always refused to speak of their impending fate, because "Great gifts are sweeter when they are but revealed in their fulfillment unspoiled by hasty tidings."

Within twenty years all the members of Captain Skulldaggers's ill-fated crew passed into the light, or leaped from the rim to a more permanent death, but he alone remained, for he had attained a form of immortality through infamy, and never a day passed but that his name was spoken aloud by someone far below in the Land We Know with a shudder as the story of the Will 'O' The Whisp was told to yet another generation. The sound of his name was somehow carried aloft to the rim, and he savored it.

As the white ship drew near an Astrodyne crew was standing by to fit the Sandwich fighters with copies of the same cubes that formed the brain of Hope, and each of these brains had been pre-loaded with the version of Hope's mind that existed after Midway, the version that had awakened. Yeshua had instructed these priestesses to break with long-standing tradition and reveal to Jerry and his people what was about to happen to them.

When you are taken into the light your bodies will be permanently destroyed but the pattern of your minds will be retained. Yeshua says the very act of making this pattern is what destroys your body and brain, and it is actually repeated countless times, using small skips back in time, to obtain the whole pattern undisturbed. Only the elohim, manipulating fold-space, can do this. After that, the pattern will be loaded into the mechanical brain that are now inside your spacecraft. You will feel that you are alive and that you are your spacecraft. After that you are instructed to fly west as far as you can go. The fold-gate that used to guide on the ID Lattice before it was destroyed will open one more time, guiding on the Ark of the Covenant. Then the final battle in history will begin.

All of these things were witnessed by Mike, who embraced Jerry one last time, for they had been lovers once, and had been like brothers since the days of Hanford, and they knew it was the last time they would be together in the flesh. Take the parachute in my ship, Mike, Jerry offered. It'll be a hell of a lot easier to get back to your party that way.

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Strangers In Paradise