Cædmon was a strange boy. No one knew who his parents were. He wandered into the town one day as a little boy. The townsfolk assumed he was abandoned. He slept in barns and bathed in the creek, eating wild fruit and whatever scraps some townsfolk would share with him. He seemed insensible to cold.
He never spoke a word. The townsfolk assumed he was “slow”. Indeed, the boys called him a “retard!” By common consent, he was the village idiot. A few of the townsfolk were protective, taking pity on him and treating him with kindness. But the boys used to beat him up.
As a teenager, he was genial but aloof. A handsome lad, girls were curious, but he didn’t reciprocate their interest. He seemed to be intently observant. Once he rescued a child from drowning in the creek. Another time he recovered a lost child. He had uncanny tracking skills. He had greater affinity for children than adults–reinforcing the assumption that he had the mind of a child.
He had a mysterious affinity with wild animals. He could summon birds. They’d perch and sing on his outstretched palm.
One day there was a solar eclipse, followed by a lunar eclipse and a meteor shower. The countryside was convulsed by earthquakes. Sinkholes opened up in town, swallowing homes and cars. Lightning strikes set trees and crops on fire while twisters appeared out of nowhere. The town was plunged into darkness apart from the hearthlike wildfire and flashes of lightning. It seemed like the end of the world was upon them.
Then Cædmon became luminous, unveiling his hidden identity as one of God’s angelic reapers, winnowing the wicked from the righteous, as the town became a threshing floor for Judgment Day.