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Daily Halloween Donut
Another short story I wrote a couple of years ago.  Never been shown before.  Keep in mind, it is an extremely rough draft. Reading back over parts of it, I already notice elements that I would change, but I neither have the time nor motivation right now to do some editing and rewriting!
A Black Wave is Comin’
A black wave is comin’
A black wave will fall
Touch your tremblin’ lips to your pale fingertips
A black wave doth call
So where do you go my lover
And where do you go my friend
When every face you know and every low road
They have all become dark and dim
A black wave is comin’
A black wave will fall
Touch your tremblin’ lips to your pale fingertips
A black wave doth call
So what do you see my darlin’
And what do you see my dear
I can’t tell, I can’t tell in the wild wood a spell
And the clouds forsake the sky here
So what do you see my lover
And what do you see my friend
I don’t know, I don’t know at Midnight comes a snow
I can’t see, but I hear a little hymn
I can’t see, but I hear a little hymn
lyrics by Doug Burr
story by Blake Collier
1.
The clouds could be seen tumbling across the sky like the drunken feet of the sea.  Their dark underbelly showed no silver lining to the naked eye and, yet, he looked for it.  The sculpture of a soul in deep disrepair.  Eyes planted toward the sky in vanity.  He did not know what was coming his way; a shiver traveling down his curved spine told him differently.  He planted the paper coffee cup to his lips and drank in the darkness that swirled out of the cup.  The coffee burned the roof of his mouth and caused the slightest twitch in his countenance.  No one, however, noticed as they went about their day with their caffeine in one hand and phones in the other.  God’s rumbling voice no longer adjured the attention of humanity until devastation became an existential event.  That deep voice crawling from the dark rolling clouds brought him to a stark realization that something was about to take place.  
The bum slammed into his back like, and with as much regard, as a freight train.  The coffee sloshed off the rim of the cup and streamed down his designer three piece suit.  The burn followed.  
“What the fuck, man?” screeched the voice emanating from the man’s throat.
“Oh so sorry.  I got no mind at times; just go about my way without noticing what’s in my way.  I was worried about those clouds there, needed to find shelter.  Got no way to dry my clothes without getting arrested for bein’ naked in public.  So, so sorry, I just gotta find my way…” his voiced trailed off but a mere rambling could still be heard but the man couldn’t understand it.  It seemed to be nothing more than a hum.  
“Whatever, man, jeezus!  Would you please watch where you are going next time for god’s sake.”
For the first time the bum’s eyes raised from the ground and centered on the hardened face of the man.  His lips parted from slightly protruding teeth into a deeply troubled smirk.  He took a couple of steps back and let out a writhing chuckle that seemed to come directly from the open grave of his throat.  He placed a crooked finger stiffly in front of him as if time had frozen and he was able to actually place it comfortably on solidified air.  
“You don’t know, do you?  You been deceived by those eyes of yours.  You been deceived, you don’t know what is going on around you!  You been stained! See that stain there,” his finger found its target and he continued after an uncomfortable silence, “you better start see’n, son, you better start payin’ mind before the wave comes and drowns you in its blackness!  You betta pay mind, man. Now!  Before it gets here!”  His gaze returned to the ground and he turned away gracelessly.  His pace quickened away from the man, who was in dire shock from what had just happened.
The man watched the bum grow smaller in the distance between them.  Once the bum had all but disappeared from sight, the man turned, slightly off-balanced, towards a trash can and threw in the paper cup with the remaining coffee.  He looked at the brown stain on his white shirt and the bum’s words echoed in his head until he forcefully exorcised them from his mind and walked down the street towards his office.  The dark wave of clouds followed behind him closely.
By two hours into his afternoon, the rain had begun to pour and the bum’s warning had all but drowned underneath the flood of phone calls and paperwork.  The computer screen flickered whenever the lightning made its way from the sky to the ground below.  The large window behind his chair acted as a movie screen that seemed to be presenting a feature about the end of the world.  Hail, fire and water fell from the sky in a deluge of apocalyptic imagery.  He had no idea of the ferocity of the weather outside with the spreadsheets on the computer screen stealing away his attention like a thief.  
He was so absorbed in his work, at that point, that he jumped forward out of his chair when the bird hit the window.  He turned around just in time to see the pigeon fall stiff toward the pavement below.  His eyes dropped to the window seal only to rise back up to darkly lit sky with a mellow red undertone.  The lightening was so intense that it was creating prehistoric tridents in the sky that were spearing the ground and the buildings in the distance.  Once again, the darkness of the clouds grabbed his attention and held it in a trance.  Something in them was calling to him to break through the seen-world in order to find the unseen that he was ignoring.  Behind him, the land line blazed red intermittently.  The dull ringtone was hidden underneath the layers of coarse rain drops hitting the outside of the window glass.  Little did he know, his world was about to be deconstructed like the tower that reached to Heaven in vain.  God was about to judge his pride and self-sufficiency.  
2.
Her head slammed against the blue vinyl that made up the dashboard of the SUV she was steering through the flood that had appeared on the streets of the city.  The two or three witnesses that were present for the crash would have been hard-pressed to call the event an accident.  The SUV was sitting at the stoplight, brake lights glowing in the dim light.  Another car sat adjacent to her with nothing but darkness showing from past the windows.  Her light turned green and she began to glide towards the middle of the intersection when the other car revved its engine and careened into the side of the SUV.  The initial collision did not seem to be devastating until the other car backed away from the SUV several feet and coaxed the gas pedal down to the floor with intent to finish off the occupant of the SUV.  With the second impact, the driver’s side wheels lifted from urban river and into the air along with the rest of the vehicle as it rolled awkwardly down the street like a log being turned by the torrents of water behind it.  
Inside, the initial strike to the head knocked her out and her body went slack in the driver’s seat.  The shock sent waves all the way through her causing the child inside her to kick at the walls that would eventually close in on it.  Her body flailed with no animation as the SUV rolled to a metallic thud which sent the fiberglass roof to crumble into the body of the woman inside.  Blood was sliding down from her body and forming a puddle on the roof of the newly created cage.  Mixing with the water from the street, their blood became part of the living , breathing urban landscape.  
As the witnesses began to run toward the destroyed vehicle, the other car flashed its lights and pulled a u-turn causing small waves of water towards the wreck and then it sped off into the opposite direction.  Every account would corroborate the almost supernatural disappearance of the car into the wall of rain that was continuing to come down.  As the firefighters opened the SUV up and the paramedics carefully pulled her body from the twisted fiberglass and metal frame, the clouds washed down the sky in complete indifference.  
She died before she reached the hospital and the life inside her would never be known to this world.  
3.
An oppressive silence welled up in his office accentuating the clarion call of the phone on his desk.  He turned unwillingly from the picture before him and picked up the receiver and placed it to his ear as his eyes continued to focus outside.  The voice on the other end, stoic and disconnected from reality, asked for a Mr. Jameson.  He answered affirmatively but without interest at that moment.
“This is Dr. Pellegrino from Sanders-Hopkins Hospital.  I am afraid I have some bad news for you.  Your wife has been in a serious car accident.  Paramedics were able to get her out of the wreckage, but she did not make it to the hospital.  I am so sorry, Mr. Jameson,” the voice was tinged with sympathy but no one would have been able to tell if it was sincere or forced, let alone he.  
It took a few seconds for the words to gain consciousness in his head.  Once they did, they became devils that tormented him.  He tried to reply to the news but he was unsuccessful.  His mouth formed the words, but there was no impetus for sound to come out.  His stomach churned and the part of his chest underneath the coffee stain burned anew.  His head grew hazy and his nervous system began to melt down.  The tears traced the curve of his tightened cheeks and all that the doctor could hear over the phone was watery despair.  
“Mr. Jameson,” the doctor said timidly, “we need you to come to the hospital to view the body. I am so, so sorry.”
As his knees collapsed from under him, he slammed the phone down.  There he knelt, back bent over and his face to the floor while the violent disturbance outside began to creep in and dismantle his world.  He cried out for his wife, sending up supplication to whoever was out there to hear him in the chaos.  His drenched eyes raised once again to the sky.  It had only grown darker and more indifferent to the suffering happening down below.  It sailed on.  A black wave was comin’.
4.
After visiting the hospital to identify the body, being as strong as he could under the great pressure that settled over him, he got into his car and drove aimlessly.  The doctor had told him that his 5 month old unborn child had not made it either.  This news disarmed the last defenses he had, not knowing that his wife had been pregnant.  She had gained a little weight before she had become pregnant; he thought it nothing more than a little more weight gained.  All of a sudden, all of the late nights at work and late nights with his secretary came rushing to his head.  All of the pressed kisses on the body of his secretary that came to his head caused him to become nauseous and he vomited into the receptacle near the door of the morgue.  
Driving down the soaked streets towards the outskirts of town, the life he shared with his wife came flooding back to him in a flash of moving images.  As soon as each one passed, it felt as if they were irretrievable and that once the slide show ended, he would not remember who she was.  He fought to save her image in his head.  Her face flickered between the way he remembered her and the way she looked, disfigured, in the morgue.  His stomach tightened in knots and he pulled over to puke again onto the shoulder of the road.  The heaves were so violent that he had to get out of his car onto the asphalt, hunched over.  After they had passed from his body, he slung his body back against the side of the car and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.  His breath deepened and his eyes closed.  His head slammed against the door.  In the midst of the chaos, the voice of the bum rang throughout his head.  He recalled every single word that came from that son of a bitch’s mouth and every part of him wanted to find that bum and put a bullet in his head.  As the bum’s words played over and over again in his head, he couldn’t help but feel the prophetic edge that cut a wound in his very being.  Once he came to the part of the bum’s words that proclaimed, you better start see’n, son, you better start payin’ mind before the wave comes and drowns you in its blackness, he woke up.  His eyes were drawn to a mild glow in the distance behind a bank of trees that obscured its origins.  
He felt drawn to the woods, he felt drawn to whatever that light was in the distance.  He felt compelled to get up and go towards it.  Before his body could respond, his cell phone went off.  He removed it from his pants pocket and saw a text message from his secretary.  He opened the message and it stated: “I am so sorry.  Are you okay? Please tell me where you are.  Call me as soon as you get this.  I am worried about you.”  After he read the message, he got back onto his feet and threw his phone down the road and watched as pieces splintered off the phone once it hit the pavement.  At that point he began to cross the street and entered into the wooded area on the opposite side of the road.  Once he passed the first row of trees, the shadows engulfed him.  The tops of the trees began to sway back and forth in accordance with the wind and it seemed as if he had just entered into the deep end of a startled sea.
5.
This suburban wood, from the road, looked like every grouping of trees off of any anonymous highway.  From the inside, the expanse became an extreme example of a forest.  Bare trees were reaching for the clouded sky in futility as if they would eventually break through the fortress above.  The weaker trees gave way to the wind in a rhythmic sway; while the wind pierced the spaces between the trees playing an organic sonata.  The whole atmosphere he entered was hypnotic as if he had entered into an alien land in the multi-verse.  Though the scene was rather unnerving, his feet continued to tread a path to something in the deeper parts of the wood.  A silent siren tingled his ears and drew him against what would have been his better judgment.  The mild glow was still further on in direct contrast to the mild blue-gray hue of the night.
The trails that his tears took down the sides of his face seemed to illuminate slightly even though the tears had evaporated.  It wasn’t until he reached the thicker parts that he had problems with limbs antagonizing him.  Turning to his sides, bending under and to the side, and breaking smaller limbs, he made his way through.  The glow was getting brighter the closer he got.  He slid his foot underneath a partially raised tree root and his body followed the trajectory to the ground.  His arms saved his head from injury but what his arms hit did not feel anything like dirt, roots, or plant life.  It was soft and smooth and abounded in hills and crevices.  His head raised rather alert to this discovery and recognized what he had fallen to, her body was just as tight and supple as it had been those nights on the couch in his office when he had to work late.  Her head raised up from the ground and her lips parted but no sounds were emitted.  She just took his face in her hands and placed his head to her chest and wrapped her arms around his back, holding him firmly against her body.  He remembered that pulse, her heart rapping against her chest in excitement.  The warmth he felt in her arms was so familiar and comforting that he was losing his impetus to journey on towards the light.  
Somewhere in the distance, a cry sounded into the woods.  It sounded like the scream of a child entering this cold world for the first time.  It already recognizing the contradiction we are all introduced into: the joy of life and the dissatisfaction of feeling like we were born into the wrong world.  The cries pierced the serenity of the wood and, once they reached him in full force, the warmth left the skin to which he was clinging.  It became cold and clammy.  His head pulled away and he recognized the cold, dead body of his wife.  Her beauty still retained even if hidden under a blue tint.  Her eyes were stitched shut; finally blind to this world.  He grasped her body again and the tears graced the same paths they had before.  
“Please, please, God, bring her back.” He sobbed into her neck. “Where have you gone? Where have to gone away from me?  Please tell me what you see now wherever you are.  Tell me you are still here, tell me you see me, that you forgive me!”  
A soft voice emanated through his ear. “It is finished.  The path is clear before you and I will be here with you.  You have always been forgiven.”  He clutched her body tighter in time to feel the rough and hard trunk he had his arms wrapped around.  As he lifted his head from the remains of the cut down tree, he noticed the small puddle of blood that was soaking into the rings of the trunk.  He touched his pale fingertips to the throbbing wound right above his eye.
He pushed himself up from the ground and began trudging through the thicket once again.  The glow was getting bright enough to where his eyes were shying away from staring directly into it.  Not having full use of his sight, the tree limbs continued to lambast his body and head with the violent ferocity of the flogged Christ.  Blood was trickling down his head and his fingers as he pushed his way towards the ever-brightening light.  He was pushing harder and harder into the seemingly endless wood until his final burst flung him into a clearing of brilliant light.  His bloodied hand went to his head in order to protect his eyes from certain blindness.  The light was hot against his skin and the blood began to boil and evaporate from his body.  His body felt refreshed in the assault of the light.  His pain fleeted and his eyes grew used to the brilliance.  He dared to look directly into the source of the light and found that the light was dimming down.  And he finally saw the source of the light.  There in the distance stood a mighty, ancient tree with leaves of flame.  The flame engulfed the multiple, twisting limbs, without burning them up.  The contrast of the bright, glorious flame against the dull dark and cloudy sky of the night resonated with something deep down inside of him.  His eyes looked in wonder and his lips parted and words slipped from his mouth: Oh God.
6.
A thunderous voice stormed through his head, loud and filled with authority.  In any other situation, such power would have shattered the nerves of any person, but this voice rose in majesty and grace.  
“Do you know who I am?”
“No.  I don’t even know how this be could really be happening,” he said with a rather persistent tremble in his voice.
“I AM WHO I AM,” the flames pulsed with this proclamation.
“What the fuck is going on,” spoken less as a question and more as a command towards a power that he realized was far beyond his knowledge.
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty question him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”[1]
“I never accused you of anything.”
“Do you not think I know your every thought?  Do you not think that I took her away from you?” The words spoken caused the ground to shudder.  
“You could have saved her!!!  You could have stopped the car that slammed into her.  But you didn’t, you let it all happen.  YOU KILLED HER.”
The flames seemed to thicken and flicker supernaturally.  “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.  Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?  Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?  Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.  Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low, look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand.  Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.  Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you![2]  Show your justice and power to me.”
His head lowered to the ground, dust coming back to dust.  The tears of blood welled up in his eyes and dropped to the ground satisfying the demands of the scorched earth below.  His whole body quivered and the heat became wretched to him and burned inside of him.  He lifted up and put his hand out in front of him and noticed a hole pierced right below his hand.  He brought it to his chest and all went dark.
7.
His body lunged forward to the point where he was on his hands and knees.  He awoke.  Breath came back to his body and rushed to his lungs as he hurled the air out of his mouth onto the dark asphalt highway beneath him.  He slammed his back against his car and worked his way to his feet like a drunken beggar rising after a night of furious drinking.  His eyes turned toward the side mirror to inspect the evidence of what had just happened.  No blood flowing from his eyes.  No hole beneath his hand.  He could not believe that it was merely a dream; it seemed too real, too vivid.  It made just as much sense when he had awoken as it had when he was in that deep sleep.  
He looked down at his watch and noticed that it was midnight.  He had been out for over four hours.  The air temperature had lowered to an unseasonably cold night.  He looked again toward the wood and saw the trees swaying gently in the chilly breeze.  He rubbed his arms, bringing warmth back to them.  He felt something small and cold on his hand.  As his head turned to see what it was, a small snowflake tumbled down recklessly from the sky in front of him.  Several more followed and in a matter of minutes all had become white.  All of the impurities of the scene were no longer.  His gaze shifted vertically and he traversed the sky pierced with brilliant points of light.  A sweet voice wafted through the air from the wood, singing angelically:
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
His heart leapt in his chest and he took a couple of steps toward the sweet sound.  He recognized the voice.  That hymn had been sung by his wife as she went about her daily routine.  He never felt moved by the words, but her voice had always mesmerized him.  This time though, the words took on meaning and filled his head and his heart with joy.  All of the sorrow of his betrayal returned to him, but the sting was no longer, as if she had already, somehow, forgiven him.  The singing continued, weaving in and out of the trees in the dark night:
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
An alien warmth overcame him and he began to walk toward the wood to see if she was actually there.  Every step was determined as he focused on his destination.  Two headlights appeared several feet down the road going at a steady speed.  The windows of the car were heavily tinted and all that could be seen was darkness.  As he stepped into the opposing lane, the car sped up and swiped his legs out from under him and his body followed the contours of the vehicle until the lifeless body met the ground on the other side of the speeding machine.  The car kept driving uncovering once again what had been covered in snow.  Eventually the shape of the car melded into the darkness of the cold, dreary night.  There lay his body, contorted by pain and death.  Blood puddled in the snow and the contrast hearkened back to a story from ancient days.  The snowed continued to cover the body overnight as if it refused to allow death its cruel victory.

[1] A slightly changed version of Job 40:2 (NIV)


[2] Job 40:7-14 (NIV)

Daily Halloween Donut

Another short story I wrote a couple of years ago.  Never been shown before.  Keep in mind, it is an extremely rough draft. Reading back over parts of it, I already notice elements that I would change, but I neither have the time nor motivation right now to do some editing and rewriting!

A Black Wave is Comin’

A black wave is comin’

A black wave will fall

Touch your tremblin’ lips to your pale fingertips

A black wave doth call

So where do you go my lover

And where do you go my friend

When every face you know and every low road

They have all become dark and dim

A black wave is comin’

A black wave will fall

Touch your tremblin’ lips to your pale fingertips

A black wave doth call

So what do you see my darlin’

And what do you see my dear

I can’t tell, I can’t tell in the wild wood a spell

And the clouds forsake the sky here

So what do you see my lover

And what do you see my friend

I don’t know, I don’t know at Midnight comes a snow

I can’t see, but I hear a little hymn

I can’t see, but I hear a little hymn

lyrics by Doug Burr

story by Blake Collier

1.

The clouds could be seen tumbling across the sky like the drunken feet of the sea.  Their dark underbelly showed no silver lining to the naked eye and, yet, he looked for it.  The sculpture of a soul in deep disrepair.  Eyes planted toward the sky in vanity.  He did not know what was coming his way; a shiver traveling down his curved spine told him differently.  He planted the paper coffee cup to his lips and drank in the darkness that swirled out of the cup.  The coffee burned the roof of his mouth and caused the slightest twitch in his countenance.  No one, however, noticed as they went about their day with their caffeine in one hand and phones in the other.  God’s rumbling voice no longer adjured the attention of humanity until devastation became an existential event.  That deep voice crawling from the dark rolling clouds brought him to a stark realization that something was about to take place. 

The bum slammed into his back like, and with as much regard, as a freight train.  The coffee sloshed off the rim of the cup and streamed down his designer three piece suit.  The burn followed. 

“What the fuck, man?” screeched the voice emanating from the man’s throat.

“Oh so sorry.  I got no mind at times; just go about my way without noticing what’s in my way.  I was worried about those clouds there, needed to find shelter.  Got no way to dry my clothes without getting arrested for bein’ naked in public.  So, so sorry, I just gotta find my way…” his voiced trailed off but a mere rambling could still be heard but the man couldn’t understand it.  It seemed to be nothing more than a hum. 

“Whatever, man, jeezus!  Would you please watch where you are going next time for god’s sake.”

For the first time the bum’s eyes raised from the ground and centered on the hardened face of the man.  His lips parted from slightly protruding teeth into a deeply troubled smirk.  He took a couple of steps back and let out a writhing chuckle that seemed to come directly from the open grave of his throat.  He placed a crooked finger stiffly in front of him as if time had frozen and he was able to actually place it comfortably on solidified air. 

“You don’t know, do you?  You been deceived by those eyes of yours.  You been deceived, you don’t know what is going on around you!  You been stained! See that stain there,” his finger found its target and he continued after an uncomfortable silence, “you better start see’n, son, you better start payin’ mind before the wave comes and drowns you in its blackness!  You betta pay mind, man. Now!  Before it gets here!”  His gaze returned to the ground and he turned away gracelessly.  His pace quickened away from the man, who was in dire shock from what had just happened.

The man watched the bum grow smaller in the distance between them.  Once the bum had all but disappeared from sight, the man turned, slightly off-balanced, towards a trash can and threw in the paper cup with the remaining coffee.  He looked at the brown stain on his white shirt and the bum’s words echoed in his head until he forcefully exorcised them from his mind and walked down the street towards his office.  The dark wave of clouds followed behind him closely.

By two hours into his afternoon, the rain had begun to pour and the bum’s warning had all but drowned underneath the flood of phone calls and paperwork.  The computer screen flickered whenever the lightning made its way from the sky to the ground below.  The large window behind his chair acted as a movie screen that seemed to be presenting a feature about the end of the world.  Hail, fire and water fell from the sky in a deluge of apocalyptic imagery.  He had no idea of the ferocity of the weather outside with the spreadsheets on the computer screen stealing away his attention like a thief. 

He was so absorbed in his work, at that point, that he jumped forward out of his chair when the bird hit the window.  He turned around just in time to see the pigeon fall stiff toward the pavement below.  His eyes dropped to the window seal only to rise back up to darkly lit sky with a mellow red undertone.  The lightening was so intense that it was creating prehistoric tridents in the sky that were spearing the ground and the buildings in the distance.  Once again, the darkness of the clouds grabbed his attention and held it in a trance.  Something in them was calling to him to break through the seen-world in order to find the unseen that he was ignoring.  Behind him, the land line blazed red intermittently.  The dull ringtone was hidden underneath the layers of coarse rain drops hitting the outside of the window glass.  Little did he know, his world was about to be deconstructed like the tower that reached to Heaven in vain.  God was about to judge his pride and self-sufficiency. 

2.

Her head slammed against the blue vinyl that made up the dashboard of the SUV she was steering through the flood that had appeared on the streets of the city.  The two or three witnesses that were present for the crash would have been hard-pressed to call the event an accident.  The SUV was sitting at the stoplight, brake lights glowing in the dim light.  Another car sat adjacent to her with nothing but darkness showing from past the windows.  Her light turned green and she began to glide towards the middle of the intersection when the other car revved its engine and careened into the side of the SUV.  The initial collision did not seem to be devastating until the other car backed away from the SUV several feet and coaxed the gas pedal down to the floor with intent to finish off the occupant of the SUV.  With the second impact, the driver’s side wheels lifted from urban river and into the air along with the rest of the vehicle as it rolled awkwardly down the street like a log being turned by the torrents of water behind it. 

Inside, the initial strike to the head knocked her out and her body went slack in the driver’s seat.  The shock sent waves all the way through her causing the child inside her to kick at the walls that would eventually close in on it.  Her body flailed with no animation as the SUV rolled to a metallic thud which sent the fiberglass roof to crumble into the body of the woman inside.  Blood was sliding down from her body and forming a puddle on the roof of the newly created cage.  Mixing with the water from the street, their blood became part of the living , breathing urban landscape. 

As the witnesses began to run toward the destroyed vehicle, the other car flashed its lights and pulled a u-turn causing small waves of water towards the wreck and then it sped off into the opposite direction.  Every account would corroborate the almost supernatural disappearance of the car into the wall of rain that was continuing to come down.  As the firefighters opened the SUV up and the paramedics carefully pulled her body from the twisted fiberglass and metal frame, the clouds washed down the sky in complete indifference. 

She died before she reached the hospital and the life inside her would never be known to this world. 

3.

An oppressive silence welled up in his office accentuating the clarion call of the phone on his desk.  He turned unwillingly from the picture before him and picked up the receiver and placed it to his ear as his eyes continued to focus outside.  The voice on the other end, stoic and disconnected from reality, asked for a Mr. Jameson.  He answered affirmatively but without interest at that moment.

“This is Dr. Pellegrino from Sanders-Hopkins Hospital.  I am afraid I have some bad news for you.  Your wife has been in a serious car accident.  Paramedics were able to get her out of the wreckage, but she did not make it to the hospital.  I am so sorry, Mr. Jameson,” the voice was tinged with sympathy but no one would have been able to tell if it was sincere or forced, let alone he. 

It took a few seconds for the words to gain consciousness in his head.  Once they did, they became devils that tormented him.  He tried to reply to the news but he was unsuccessful.  His mouth formed the words, but there was no impetus for sound to come out.  His stomach churned and the part of his chest underneath the coffee stain burned anew.  His head grew hazy and his nervous system began to melt down.  The tears traced the curve of his tightened cheeks and all that the doctor could hear over the phone was watery despair. 

“Mr. Jameson,” the doctor said timidly, “we need you to come to the hospital to view the body. I am so, so sorry.”

As his knees collapsed from under him, he slammed the phone down.  There he knelt, back bent over and his face to the floor while the violent disturbance outside began to creep in and dismantle his world.  He cried out for his wife, sending up supplication to whoever was out there to hear him in the chaos.  His drenched eyes raised once again to the sky.  It had only grown darker and more indifferent to the suffering happening down below.  It sailed on.  A black wave was comin’.

4.

After visiting the hospital to identify the body, being as strong as he could under the great pressure that settled over him, he got into his car and drove aimlessly.  The doctor had told him that his 5 month old unborn child had not made it either.  This news disarmed the last defenses he had, not knowing that his wife had been pregnant.  She had gained a little weight before she had become pregnant; he thought it nothing more than a little more weight gained.  All of a sudden, all of the late nights at work and late nights with his secretary came rushing to his head.  All of the pressed kisses on the body of his secretary that came to his head caused him to become nauseous and he vomited into the receptacle near the door of the morgue. 

Driving down the soaked streets towards the outskirts of town, the life he shared with his wife came flooding back to him in a flash of moving images.  As soon as each one passed, it felt as if they were irretrievable and that once the slide show ended, he would not remember who she was.  He fought to save her image in his head.  Her face flickered between the way he remembered her and the way she looked, disfigured, in the morgue.  His stomach tightened in knots and he pulled over to puke again onto the shoulder of the road.  The heaves were so violent that he had to get out of his car onto the asphalt, hunched over.  After they had passed from his body, he slung his body back against the side of the car and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.  His breath deepened and his eyes closed.  His head slammed against the door.  In the midst of the chaos, the voice of the bum rang throughout his head.  He recalled every single word that came from that son of a bitch’s mouth and every part of him wanted to find that bum and put a bullet in his head.  As the bum’s words played over and over again in his head, he couldn’t help but feel the prophetic edge that cut a wound in his very being.  Once he came to the part of the bum’s words that proclaimed, you better start see’n, son, you better start payin’ mind before the wave comes and drowns you in its blackness, he woke up.  His eyes were drawn to a mild glow in the distance behind a bank of trees that obscured its origins. 

He felt drawn to the woods, he felt drawn to whatever that light was in the distance.  He felt compelled to get up and go towards it.  Before his body could respond, his cell phone went off.  He removed it from his pants pocket and saw a text message from his secretary.  He opened the message and it stated: “I am so sorry.  Are you okay? Please tell me where you are.  Call me as soon as you get this.  I am worried about you.”  After he read the message, he got back onto his feet and threw his phone down the road and watched as pieces splintered off the phone once it hit the pavement.  At that point he began to cross the street and entered into the wooded area on the opposite side of the road.  Once he passed the first row of trees, the shadows engulfed him.  The tops of the trees began to sway back and forth in accordance with the wind and it seemed as if he had just entered into the deep end of a startled sea.

5.

This suburban wood, from the road, looked like every grouping of trees off of any anonymous highway.  From the inside, the expanse became an extreme example of a forest.  Bare trees were reaching for the clouded sky in futility as if they would eventually break through the fortress above.  The weaker trees gave way to the wind in a rhythmic sway; while the wind pierced the spaces between the trees playing an organic sonata.  The whole atmosphere he entered was hypnotic as if he had entered into an alien land in the multi-verse.  Though the scene was rather unnerving, his feet continued to tread a path to something in the deeper parts of the wood.  A silent siren tingled his ears and drew him against what would have been his better judgment.  The mild glow was still further on in direct contrast to the mild blue-gray hue of the night.

The trails that his tears took down the sides of his face seemed to illuminate slightly even though the tears had evaporated.  It wasn’t until he reached the thicker parts that he had problems with limbs antagonizing him.  Turning to his sides, bending under and to the side, and breaking smaller limbs, he made his way through.  The glow was getting brighter the closer he got.  He slid his foot underneath a partially raised tree root and his body followed the trajectory to the ground.  His arms saved his head from injury but what his arms hit did not feel anything like dirt, roots, or plant life.  It was soft and smooth and abounded in hills and crevices.  His head raised rather alert to this discovery and recognized what he had fallen to, her body was just as tight and supple as it had been those nights on the couch in his office when he had to work late.  Her head raised up from the ground and her lips parted but no sounds were emitted.  She just took his face in her hands and placed his head to her chest and wrapped her arms around his back, holding him firmly against her body.  He remembered that pulse, her heart rapping against her chest in excitement.  The warmth he felt in her arms was so familiar and comforting that he was losing his impetus to journey on towards the light. 

Somewhere in the distance, a cry sounded into the woods.  It sounded like the scream of a child entering this cold world for the first time.  It already recognizing the contradiction we are all introduced into: the joy of life and the dissatisfaction of feeling like we were born into the wrong world.  The cries pierced the serenity of the wood and, once they reached him in full force, the warmth left the skin to which he was clinging.  It became cold and clammy.  His head pulled away and he recognized the cold, dead body of his wife.  Her beauty still retained even if hidden under a blue tint.  Her eyes were stitched shut; finally blind to this world.  He grasped her body again and the tears graced the same paths they had before. 

“Please, please, God, bring her back.” He sobbed into her neck. “Where have you gone? Where have to gone away from me?  Please tell me what you see now wherever you are.  Tell me you are still here, tell me you see me, that you forgive me!” 

A soft voice emanated through his ear. “It is finished.  The path is clear before you and I will be here with you.  You have always been forgiven.”  He clutched her body tighter in time to feel the rough and hard trunk he had his arms wrapped around.  As he lifted his head from the remains of the cut down tree, he noticed the small puddle of blood that was soaking into the rings of the trunk.  He touched his pale fingertips to the throbbing wound right above his eye.

He pushed himself up from the ground and began trudging through the thicket once again.  The glow was getting bright enough to where his eyes were shying away from staring directly into it.  Not having full use of his sight, the tree limbs continued to lambast his body and head with the violent ferocity of the flogged Christ.  Blood was trickling down his head and his fingers as he pushed his way towards the ever-brightening light.  He was pushing harder and harder into the seemingly endless wood until his final burst flung him into a clearing of brilliant light.  His bloodied hand went to his head in order to protect his eyes from certain blindness.  The light was hot against his skin and the blood began to boil and evaporate from his body.  His body felt refreshed in the assault of the light.  His pain fleeted and his eyes grew used to the brilliance.  He dared to look directly into the source of the light and found that the light was dimming down.  And he finally saw the source of the light.  There in the distance stood a mighty, ancient tree with leaves of flame.  The flame engulfed the multiple, twisting limbs, without burning them up.  The contrast of the bright, glorious flame against the dull dark and cloudy sky of the night resonated with something deep down inside of him.  His eyes looked in wonder and his lips parted and words slipped from his mouth: Oh God.

6.

A thunderous voice stormed through his head, loud and filled with authority.  In any other situation, such power would have shattered the nerves of any person, but this voice rose in majesty and grace. 

“Do you know who I am?”

“No.  I don’t even know how this be could really be happening,” he said with a rather persistent tremble in his voice.

“I AM WHO I AM,” the flames pulsed with this proclamation.

“What the fuck is going on,” spoken less as a question and more as a command towards a power that he realized was far beyond his knowledge.

“Will the one who contends with the Almighty question him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”[1]

“I never accused you of anything.”

“Do you not think I know your every thought?  Do you not think that I took her away from you?” The words spoken caused the ground to shudder. 

“You could have saved her!!!  You could have stopped the car that slammed into her.  But you didn’t, you let it all happen.  YOU KILLED HER.”

The flames seemed to thicken and flicker supernaturally.  “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.  Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?  Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?  Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.  Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low, look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand.  Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.  Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you![2]  Show your justice and power to me.”

His head lowered to the ground, dust coming back to dust.  The tears of blood welled up in his eyes and dropped to the ground satisfying the demands of the scorched earth below.  His whole body quivered and the heat became wretched to him and burned inside of him.  He lifted up and put his hand out in front of him and noticed a hole pierced right below his hand.  He brought it to his chest and all went dark.

7.

His body lunged forward to the point where he was on his hands and knees.  He awoke.  Breath came back to his body and rushed to his lungs as he hurled the air out of his mouth onto the dark asphalt highway beneath him.  He slammed his back against his car and worked his way to his feet like a drunken beggar rising after a night of furious drinking.  His eyes turned toward the side mirror to inspect the evidence of what had just happened.  No blood flowing from his eyes.  No hole beneath his hand.  He could not believe that it was merely a dream; it seemed too real, too vivid.  It made just as much sense when he had awoken as it had when he was in that deep sleep. 

He looked down at his watch and noticed that it was midnight.  He had been out for over four hours.  The air temperature had lowered to an unseasonably cold night.  He looked again toward the wood and saw the trees swaying gently in the chilly breeze.  He rubbed his arms, bringing warmth back to them.  He felt something small and cold on his hand.  As his head turned to see what it was, a small snowflake tumbled down recklessly from the sky in front of him.  Several more followed and in a matter of minutes all had become white.  All of the impurities of the scene were no longer.  His gaze shifted vertically and he traversed the sky pierced with brilliant points of light.  A sweet voice wafted through the air from the wood, singing angelically:

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

His heart leapt in his chest and he took a couple of steps toward the sweet sound.  He recognized the voice.  That hymn had been sung by his wife as she went about her daily routine.  He never felt moved by the words, but her voice had always mesmerized him.  This time though, the words took on meaning and filled his head and his heart with joy.  All of the sorrow of his betrayal returned to him, but the sting was no longer, as if she had already, somehow, forgiven him.  The singing continued, weaving in and out of the trees in the dark night:

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

An alien warmth overcame him and he began to walk toward the wood to see if she was actually there.  Every step was determined as he focused on his destination.  Two headlights appeared several feet down the road going at a steady speed.  The windows of the car were heavily tinted and all that could be seen was darkness.  As he stepped into the opposing lane, the car sped up and swiped his legs out from under him and his body followed the contours of the vehicle until the lifeless body met the ground on the other side of the speeding machine.  The car kept driving uncovering once again what had been covered in snow.  Eventually the shape of the car melded into the darkness of the cold, dreary night.  There lay his body, contorted by pain and death.  Blood puddled in the snow and the contrast hearkened back to a story from ancient days.  The snowed continued to cover the body overnight as if it refused to allow death its cruel victory.



[1] A slightly changed version of Job 40:2 (NIV)

[2] Job 40:7-14 (NIV)

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