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Revival(5)
Stephen King

Then Reverend Jacobs passed his hand slowly above Peaceable Lake, and I forgot about being nervous. There was a low humming sound from under the makeshift table, like the sound our Philco TV made when it was warming up, and all the little streetlights came on. They were bright white, almost too bright to look at, and cast a magical moony glow over the green hills and blue water. Even the plastic cows and sheep looked more realistic, possibly because they now cast shadows.

“Gosh, how did you do that?”

He grinned. “Pretty good trick, huh? ‘God said, Let there be light, and there was light, and the light was good.’ Only I’m not God, so I have to depend on electricity. Which is wonderful stuff, Jamie. Such a gift from God that it makes us feel godlike every time we flip a switch, wouldn’t you say?”

“I guess so,” I said. “My grandpa Amos remembers before there were electric lights.”

“Lots of people do,” he said, “but it won’t be long before all those people are gone . . . and when that happens, nobody will think much about what a miracle electricity is. And what a mystery. We have an idea about how it works, but knowing how something works and knowing what it is are two very different things.”

“How did you turn on the lights?” I asked.

He pointed to a shelf beyond the table. “See that little red bulb?”

“Uh-huh.”

“It’s a photoelectric cell. You can buy them, but I built that one myself. It projects an invisible beam. When I break it, the streetlights around Peaceable Lake go on. If I do it again . . . like so . . .” He passed his hand above the landscape and the streetlights dimmed, faded to faint cores of light, then went out. “You see?”

“Cool,” I breathed.

“You try it.”

I reached my hand up. At first nothing happened, but when I stood on tiptoe my fingers broke the beam. The humming from beneath the table started up again and the lights came back on.

“I did it!”

“Betchum bobcats,” he said, and ruffled my hair.

“What’s that humming? It sounds like our TV.”

“Look under the table. Here, I’ll turn on the overhead lights so you can see better.” He flipped a switch on the wall and a couple of dusty hanging lightbulbs came on. They did nothing about the musty odor (and I could smell something else as well, now—something hot and oily), but they banished some of the gloom.

I bent—at my age I didn’t have to bend far—and looked beneath the table. I saw two or three boxy things strapped to the underside. They were the source of the humming sound, and the oily smell, too.

“Batteries,” he said. “Which I also made myself. Electricity is my hobby. And gadgets.” He grinned like a kid. “I love gadgets. Drives my wife crazy.”

“My hobby’s fighting the Krauts,” I said. Then, remembering what he said about that being kind of mean: “Germans, I mean.”

“Everyone needs a hobby,” he said. “And everyone needs a miracle or two, just to prove life is more than just one long trudge from the cradle to the grave. Would you like to see another one, Jamie?”

“Sure!”

There was a second table in the corner, covered with tools, snips of wire, three or four dismembered transistor radios like the ones Claire and Andy had, and regular store-bought C and D batteries. There was also a small wooden box. Jacobs took the box, dropped to one knee so we’d be on the same level, opened it, and took out a white-robed figure. “Do you know who this is?”

I did, because the guy looked almost the same as my fluorescent nightlight. “Jesus. Jesus with a pack on his back.”

“Not just any pack; a battery pack. Look.” He flipped up the top of the pack on a hinge not bigger than a sewing needle. Inside I saw what looked like a couple of shiny dimes with tiny dots of solder on them. “I made these, too, because you can’t buy anything this small or powerful in the stores. I believe I could patent them, and maybe someday I will, but . . .” He shook his head. “Never mind.”

He closed the top of the pack again, and carried Jesus to the Peaceable Lake landscape. “I hope you noticed how blue the water is,” he said.

“Yeah! Bluest lake I ever saw!”

He nodded. “Kind of a miracle in itself, you might say . . . until you take a close look.”

“Huh?”

“It’s really just paint. I muse on that, sometimes, Jamie. When I can’t sleep. How a little paint can make shallow water seem deep.”

That seemed like a silly thing to think about, but I didn’t say anything. Then he kind of snapped to, and put Jesus down beside the lake.

“I plan to use this in MYF—it’s what we call a teaching tool—but I’ll give you a little preview, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Here’s what it says in the fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Will you take instruction from God’s Holy Word, Jamie?”

“Sure, I guess so,” I said, starting to feel uneasy again.

“I know you will,” he said, “because what we learn as children is what sticks the longest. Okay, here we go, so listen up. ‘And straightaway Jesus constrained his disciples’—that means he commanded them—‘to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side of the water, while he sent the multitudes away.

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain to pray—’ Do you pray, Jamie?”

“Yeah, every night.”

“Good boy. Okay, back to the story. ‘When evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightaway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.’ That’s the story, and may God bless his Holy Word. Good one, huh?”

“I guess. Does spake mean he talked to them? It does, right?”

“Right. Would you like to see Jesus walk on Peaceable Lake?”

“Yeah! Sure!”

He reached under Jesus’s white robe, and the little figure began to move. When it reached Peaceable Lake it didn’t sink but continued serenely on, gliding along the top of the water. It reached the other side in twenty seconds or so. There was a hill there, and it tried to go up, but I could see it was going to topple over. Reverend Jacobs grabbed it before it could. He reached under Jesus’s robe again and turned him off.

“He did it!” I said. “He walked on the water!”

“Well . . .” He was smiling, but it wasn’t a funny smile, somehow. It turned down at one corner. “Yes and no.”

“What do you mean?”

“See where he went into the water?”

“Yeah . . .”

“Reach in there. See what you find. Be careful not to touch the power lines, because there’s real electricity running through them. Not much, but if you brushed them, you’d get a jolt. Especially if your hand was wet.”

I reached in, but cautiously. I didn’t think he’d play a practical joke on me—as Terry and Con sometimes did—but I was in a strange place with a strange man and I wasn’t completely sure. The water looked deep, but that was an illusion created by the blue paint of the reservoir and the lights reflecting on the surface. My finger only went in up to the first knuckle.

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