Three days of beautiful weather has made the canoe trip absolutely perfect to this point. You all sit around the campfire sharing random thoughts and ideas. Tomorrow, you have to start back toward civilization and your real lives. It will be another three days to get back but the feeling of going back will be there. The reality that the week is coming to a close. Tonight is the last shelter against that reality.
The conversation slows, not because you have run out of things to say, bu because one by one each of you turns your thoughts inward. What is it that is attracting your attention? It’s hard to put your finger on at first.
It’s like a slight breeze has started and has been slowly building in intensity. Except there is no breeze. The smoke from the fire is streaming straight up into the night air where it obscures some of the stars.
As everyone becomes quiet, you hear the breeze. At least you think you hear the breeze. Only it sounds more like water slipping back out into the ocean after a wave has ended its crash up the beach. As you try to place the sound, you realize that you don’t actually “hear” anything. Like the breeze that isn’t there, this sound seems to exist only in your mind.
You look around at each other, wondering if the others feel it too. From the looks on their faces, it’s obvious that everyone is hearing and feeling the breeze that doesn’t exist. You all stand up, instinctively, because standing doesn’t serve any purpose. There is nothing to see by standing up. There is nothing more to feel or observe.
The breeze continues to build in strength and the hair on your arms and neck seem to stand on end. The breeze seems to be “blowing” toward the west. Everyone looks east and west trying to see what could be causing it or what is at the other end. Nothing.
The breeze is now a strong wind. It feels like dust is pelting against the skin of your legs and arms, and yet, still nothing moves. It’s all in your mind.
Hurricane forces and now it feels like the dust and gravel is traveling through your body, tearing bits and pieces of you off as they go through. You look down and don’t see anything. You clothes aren’t moving and no bits of flesh and blood are flinging off. All of you are facing west now as if to protect yourself from the flying debris, even though you know there is no debris.
Then it slows and abruptly stops. What must have taken an hour to build in strength drops off in less than a minute. Nothing moves and there are no sounds. Not even in your head. It still feels like your body is missing pieces of itself but like the breeze and sound, the feeling is just in your head. Your body appears just as it did an hour ago.
You look at each other, wondering what it was that you just felt. Before anyone can speak the question on everyone’s mind, a bright light erupts from the west. A blast of light shoots straight up into the sky, up into space it seems, and then drops back down. The light doesn’t stop from the bottom. It’s as if the darkness of the night pushes the light back down from where ever it came from.
There is a thunderous crack as the light hits the ground and then a large wall of light bursts out in a circle from where the fountain of light once stood. The wave quickly expands with part of that circle headed for your campsite. You think about running, about finding cover, but the wall of light is upon you too quickly. There is nothing to do but to duck into it as if you were trying to brace against impact. There is no impact.
As the wall of light passes over you, it feels as if all those teeny bits of your body that were ripped out by the hurricane are being put back in . . . and more.
You turn to the east and watch the wall of light flow away from you until it fades from sight.
Everything is dark and quiet, except for the light and crackle coming from the campfire.
Posted at 02:10 PM in Camping, Level 1 | Permalink Comments You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.
I look around at everyone expecting to see the same look of “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!?” on their faces, and am rewarded. I quickly check myself over to see if I have any damage that I can see orfeel. I run to my tent, grab my flashlight and a gun I brought along just in case we ran into a bear and run back out to everyone and ask, “Who wants to go check out what the hell that was with me?”
Posted by: mark | 11/20/2008 at 04:10 PM
That light appeared farther away than a few minutes walk, so I’m thinking if we’re going to check it out, we need to break camp. I’m collapsing my tent and stowing my gear in my pack. And it’s a good thing we didn’t waste too much ammo shooting at cans for “practice” this week. Or the guns (I’m sure we all brought one “in case of bears”) would be expensive billy clubs by now. Let’s all pack up and head to the west where we saw the light.
Posted by: John | 11/21/2008 at 08:14 AM
“I’m game. Just give me a sec, Mark.” I duck inside my tent grabbing a day pack that has my video camera, spare batteries, a water bottle about 3/4 full, and a very basic first aid kit which includes a cheap compass. It’s my basic hiking kit. My head lamp is lying by the tent flap and I scoop that up as well. Once outside I add my opinion, “I say we get there as fast as we can. Does someone want to stay back to pack up and join us later or should we come back for the gear after we check it out?”
Posted by: Lynette | 11/22/2008 at 09:44 PM
“If we’re going to get there fast, then it’ll be by canoe. Two people per? John and I in one, Mark and Lynette in another. Anyone else coming?”
I pack up my tent and stow it and the rest of the gear except the radio since we’re going to be heading back to civilization tomorrow anyway. Since the food pack is almost empty I throw it and my Duluth pack into the center of the canoe and pick up a paddle.
“I’ll paddle the first part alone, John. See if you can pull up a news report about hurricane winds and mystery lights on the radio.”
Posted by: CV Rick | 11/24/2008 at 05:55 AM
“I’m a little baffled by all your desires to go CLOSER to the big glowing thing from space that just shredded us to bits… I agree with John, if we go to investigate, we should break camp, because we might have to get out of here FAST.”
I’ll help John break down the site, keeping my machete out… just in case. I smirk at those who brought guns for protection.
Blades don’t need reloading.
I also hand-crank the dynamo-powered emergency radio I brought, and tune into the shortwave radio frequency, looking for a weather report.
Posted by: bex | 11/24/2008 at 08:06 AM