A nighttime stroll soothes an anxious mind. Its cool air wicks tension away from a hectic day. Todd’s had begun the moment his alarm clock jolted him from bed and didn’t end until the sun sank into a pool of blood in the western sky.
Todd lived alone in an apartment of other lonely people who seldom did more than nod or wave as they ducked past to get on with their lives. It just seemed that he had nothing in common with those who spent their spare time at the nightclub down the street, bellied up the the bar across the street, or glued to their “devices” at all other times of the day. If the zombie apocalypse did happen, no one would look any different and all the zombies would starve for want of brains.
Witnessing the day’s death, he decided to actually do something other than spend the evening scrolling through options on Netflix until it was too late to watch anything. Tonight, he’d walk out behind the apartment complex and explore the wild growth at the back of the parking lot.
Sitting out on his balcony as he finished the last bite of his mac and cheese dinner, he felt gooseflesh prickle his arms. After rinsing his bowl and setting it in the dishwasher, he grabbed his jacket and locked up.
The parking lot heaved with weeds and roots, pebbled and cracked in every direction. In the falling dusk the trees hung like giant Ents with 70s Jerry Curl afros, swaying to a jazzy tune. By the time he stepped into the woods, his eyes had adjusted to the gloom. Besides, in the city there is hardly a square block that isn’t polluted with the glow of street lights.
Since this wasn’t his routine, he hadn’t counted on the number of mosquitoes that sprung from the dark, alighting on any patch of exposed flesh, drawn by his living scent.
The little vampires!
Turning up his jacket collar and keeping his hands in the sleeves, he jogged through the trees, down through a dirt clearing where bikers did tricks and smoked pot, then up to a field he had never seen before.
Away from the streetlights, which were blocked by the cluster of trees, this field felt like a world away. Looking skyward, he saw stars battling with the clouds below for access to the earth. The gentle breeze felt like a breath from heaven.
The tall grass slapped his pants as he plowed through and found a path. It wasn’t an official walking path, he could tell. It was probably a trail cut by kids who’d found a short-cut from school.
Todd’s mind wandered free as he walked along this path. He considered his lonely existence and the grand scheme of the universe. Thoughts of quantum physics and multiple dimensions existing one wrinkle from the fabric of our own played through his head in an endless loop.
What if heaven was actually not a place so far removed from earth, or in some distant outpost of our expanding universe? What if God and heaven were actually a mere step away, through a tear in the dimensional fabric of space and time? What if angels and demons were truly all around us, just veiled from sight by a quantum portal? Yet, if they could slip through, or if we could venture over, we’d find they were just as substantial and real as we consider ourselves.
Todd stopped walking and looked up at a building at the top of a gentle rise: a church. The building was old, weather-worn. But it had stained-glass windows and a steeple. it sat near a small cemetery where the faithful awaited their resurrection. Or, perhaps, the joining of two dimensional realities?
Todd found the building fascinating. There were no roads that led to this place, so the building had to be abandoned, the property owned so that the city couldn’t simply tear it down and re-purpose the land.
When he stepped foot on the hill where the gravestones poked from the grass, he felt the temperature drop ten degrees. Excitement built in his gut as he waded through the grass and tombstones, up to the humble chapel. The wind had picked up, too, giving the scene a Halloween quality that sharpened this experience to a razor’s edge.
Todd had long since abandoned his fear of the dark or of creepy buildings, which allowed him to savor this little adventure. Walking up to the church, he circled around till he found the steps up to the large, black, double-doors. Tiptoeing up the concrete stairs, he felt a thrill of entering where he didn’t belong.
He stopped, sensing he was being foolish and following some whim down a path that would end badly. While there were certainly no monsters or zombies, there might be some homeless folks who would see his presence as a threat. Many such people were formerly in mental institutions and wouldn’t think twice about killing him and rolling over to go back to sleep.
I’ll be careful.
Wrapping his hands around the knob, he began to turn the loose, creaky latch to open the heavy door. Continue reading →