The nothingness beyond everything
Time slipped by like an autumn leaf down the rapid flow of a mountain river after a deluge of rain. Though I never knew the better as the second had on my watched seemed to lazily float to the next hatch on the dial face. I was in mother’s kitchen and I could smell fried chicken, and cabbage stew. The sweet smell of homemade corn bread wafted from the oven, and she was turned away from me, her back to the car port door of the old colonial style home. The hardwood floors of heart pine did not betray my presence to her. I placed a hand on the counter and felt the ice cold hardness of the granite counter top, and I could only think how happy I was to be home as I watched mother hard at work icing a cake.
I must have arrived earlier than planned as it seemed they were still reading the house for my welcome home party. I could hear several voices along with my father’s in the den. His deep and hearty laughter was unmistakable, and I could picture his read cheeks shaking and belly rolling with his laughter.
I spoke to my mother though she seemed not to hear me. I could hear her humming a tune and singing the words from time to time as she often did while cooking. For some reason I decided that I would let them have the pleasure of the surprise and eased back out the door, slowly easing the spring on the screen door as not to make a loud crash as the door met jamb.
I walked to the back yard where the boat shed and barn was, the country air smelled sweet and fresh with hints of honey suckle in the air. The cool breeze and warm sun made a perfect harmony for the late spring. I guess it had been about sixteen months since I left, how I missed those song birds that used to wake me so early each morning. I hated them until I realized that without them around I could never feel like I was at rest. The cardinals and wrens so delicate and beautiful made this a moment I would never forget. I called for my dog, but there was no response. I thought it very odd, but maybe he was out chasing a deer or rabbit. If anything had happened to him, the family would have told me.
Behind the shed and down the hill a few hundred yards stood a centuries old Live Oak that had served as the foundation to our old tree fort, that me and those wonderful friends from my childhood had made. We camped there many times; we told jokes, laughed, cried, talked about girls there. The memories it brought back hit me like a ton of bricks. My how we changed, aged, went our separate ways, from this place we used to smoke cigarettes and drink beer we stole from our parents.
I don’t know how long I visited those memories but it seemed to be getting dark, though I could have sworn my watch just struck two in the afternoon. None the less the light was fading fast now. I was sure that my parents would be worried about where I was. So I jogged back up the hill toward the house.
There were many more cars in the yard now, one of which was a large black limo. I could only guess at the reason it was there. And I knew I was sure to be pleased by the reason. As I came to the house the light had faded into twilight and I felt weighted down and lethargic. No doubt it was from the long flight back home. 28 hours to include layovers, though the flight itself was fuzzy. I could remember getting on the plane, or at least I thought I had. Suddenly I was hit with a solid rush of adrenaline and great fear. I quickened my pace toward the house, but why I did I could not say.
Each step I took toward the house it seemed I took three more backward. The adrenaline surge hit harder and I began to run faster and faster though I could only lose ground. I checked my watch it was fifteen seconds after two p.m. in the afternoon yet twilight was fading into a deep blackness. So deep there were no stars to be seen, though on a clear spring night in the country side billions of stars should have been noticeable. Fear amplified my hearts pounding, so loud and fast I thought it would burst. Each beat sounded like an explosion, and the ground seemed to shake from it. I screamed for my mother, then my father, over and over; but there was no response as I slipped further from my home into the darkest abyss I could have never imagined.
The ground shaking explosion seemed to become more irregular now; my ears were assaulted with ringing and piercing noise. I could hear small arms fire, and explosions. Someone was holding my hand saying my name. Why was I here on the ground in day light now? Time seemed to return to normal, and I felt tremendous pain in my belly and I could not feel my legs. I was crying and muttering to myself. I could hear Jim saying, don’t you dare, don’t you dare die on me.
Where the hell was I? What is going on? I was just at home I thought. I was scared as hell and the light again was fading fast. I called to Jim, “what happened Jim? What happened? Am I dying Jim? Hold my hand Jim, hold my hand.”
“I am.” He replied as a single tear trickled down his cheek. The sun hit it and reflected into the brightest light I had ever seen. It seemed to pull me into the radiance of it.
I noticed once more though that darkness was coming. I could see Jim lift his hand to my face and pull my eye lids shut. “Jim what are you doing?” I asked. “Hey man quit screwing around, I feel fine it must not have been that serious.” But Jim did not respond.
Just as suddenly if felt my self being pulled into a torrent of emotion, light darkness emptiness, fulfillment all at the same moment. And I was back in mother kitchen. This time it was empty and I heard sobbing in the den. My family and friends where there, all dressed in black. I tried to ask them what was going on, but no one seemed to hear or notice me. Frustrated and sacred I screamed and sobbed and again I was ripped into a torrent of unexplainable emotion. I saw myself laying in the desert behind a rock with Jim kneeling over me. Except it couldn’t be me, my left leg was gone, and my stomach was ripped from the belly button to the sternum and several scraps of metal could be seen sticking out of my gut in about two dozen places. Fear and panic gripped me it felt as though my heart was being ripped from my chest with a hot iron.
I felt a hand on my back, and thought that this must be when they reveal the joke to me, though it was not a very funny one. I slowly turned to see who it was, but before I could see the persons face, it was like someone smacked me in the back of the head with a baseball back. Light faded from my vision once again. And then…..