The Pacific banana slug is a mollusks inhabiting the coastal forests of the Western United States continuously from Alaska to Santa Cruz with pockets all the way down to San Diego. They can grow to over twenty-two centimeters long and thrive in the moist cool misty forest floors.

And why are they important to this story?  Peter Gollinger is a graduate of US Santa Cruz, where the banana slug is the school mascot.  And seven thousand years ago, someone put a banana slug on an ancient artifact…

 

And with that, the good Father undoes the buttons of his tunic, exposing his chest. Zara wonders what this is about. He was non-responsive to her advances on the plane. He pulls out a medallion hanging next to his crucifix and shows her the side with the Cygnus constellation.

“Zara, someone I loved very much, and truth be told, I still do love very much, loaned this to me. It was in her family for generations, much like your pendant. This medallion is why I search for the object. No mysterious agenda from the Vatican. Merely this medallion.”

He pauses while she looks at it, and then he says, “The writing is six to seven thousand years old. This is the tail of the bird constellation, Cygnus, same as the oral tradition states. The giant is Peter’s watcher or alien or merely a giant, as the oral tradition says. The text says, ‘Beware of the giants of the star.’”

Taking it off over his head, he places the artifact in her hands. He clasps her hand and says, “Zara, what you are going to see will change your life. Forgive me if this change was not what you had wanted, but we are on the verge of losing the object if we do not address this moment in time urgently.”

Zara braces herself, for she understands this priest does not talk idly about such things. He turns the medallion over, and she beholds the long rectangular object with a woman touching it. And she remembers what her grandmother Roza said: “We spouses have been like their other half, and between the pair, we are closer to Allah together. It takes both halves to make an apple.” The woman on the medallion had two halves of an apple. How did Roza know this?

“Zara, the text says, ‘She hears the voice of God,’” the good priest states.

As did her Jesuit professors at Georgetown, Jean-Paul is trying to enlighten her with inquisitive interactions. He points to the worm and asks, “Why do you think this creature is here? It seems so out of place.”

She looks at it and agrees it does seem out of place. “It is just a worm, Jean-Paul. A simple worm.” She pauses to reflect more deeply, having previously experienced how Jesuits never accept simple answers. “The woman has purified her relationship with God by cleansing the apple of the worm.”

Jean-Paul smiles, serenely, but maybe hiding a chuckle at her answer. “Look closely. It has eyes and spots.”

She looks more closely. It does have spots! How?

Jean-Paul pulls the logic string tighter, going for closure. “Remember Mei’s yellow earrings, the ones you wore but tossed at Peter on the plane? The yellow bugs with red spots. The mollusks, according to Peter.”

Zara, the woman who is fully coherent and functional during a rainstorm of thousand-pound bombs, freezes with this thought. It could not be. It simply could not be. How could someone seven thousand years ago envision a banana slug would be next to a woman who speaks with God? Is this idolatry which she should ignore, burn, destroy? Or is this truly the sign from God?

 

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