Somewhere in mid-Missouri
Have you ever had that uncanny experience of staring into the eyes of a stranger and then realizing that stranger is you? Outside the wind played tag with the raindrops; I just stood in front of the mirror staring at my reflection. I had this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach; once again questioning my decision, It wasn't an impulsive decision; I'd pondered it for months and dreamed about it for years. It wasn't that I hated my life. It's just that for the longest time I'd had this sensation that something was amiss. Something lurked just beyond my peripheral vision, waiting for me to wander away from the comfortable. Something beckoned and yet a strange sense of dread bubbled up.
Shaking my head I threw two suitcases and a duffle bag into the back seat and climbed into the car. The tank was full but I checked the gas gauge out of habit and pulled onto interstate 70 headed west. No one had waved goodbye as I backed out of the driveway. I'd planned it that way, reasoning that part of this suffocating feeling was the result of small-town life. Now there was nothing but the road under my tires and a foggy mist clinging to my car.
The youngest in a family of six, I'd lived in the middle of nowhere most of my life. Annie Noel McGee, baby of the family. I grew up dirt poor on a small farm where life was anything but mundane. I used to tell people I grew up on a haunted farm but after years of skepticism, I gave up trying to explain it all. In truth, there wasn't really any good explanation. I tried to write about it once....
"We lived in a different world back then. It was hard. Dirt roads, corn fields, and bikes. The life I lived was all I knew and I never questioned that it might be anything but ordinary. Looking back I realize that it was anything but.
We weren't exactly dirt poor but we didn't have much money either. But that didn't take us away from ordinary. There were plenty of families with the same situation. No, if anything, looking back...that just made us common. I'm not going to lie...at the time I hated that and I felt like an outsider....more from the thoughts inside my head than from anything else.
No, the thing that moved us past ordinary was not something material....a lack of money, the old farmhouse, or run down cars. The thing that I never really realized until much later was that the odd series of events that unfolded, off and on, throughout my childhood were not ordinary events everyone experiences.
I can remember being as young as 8 or 9 and hearing the front door open, footsteps, the dog barking and jumping on someone or something...that just...well it just wasn't there. Or at least none of us could catch a glimpse of it, if we dared venture into the living room and click on a light. My father tried many, many times to figure out exactly what entered. Though he NEVER talked about it...at least not in front of me. I'm not sure if he ever really discussed it with anyone. Only mother felt strong or sure enough to question the oddness of our almost weekly visitor."
In and of itself, perhaps that doesn't move us into the realm of odd.... there was more, much more but those are tales for another time. Unknown to me some of those happenings on the farm laid a pretty strong foundation that was about to be put to the test.
I sang along to Bobby McGee and listened to the tires whine on the pavement.
Somewhere in South Dakota
An empty soda can, thrown carelessly into the alley rattles as the brisk, cold wind carries it deeper into the darkness. The breeze caresses his skin as he huddles in the far corner, wedged between a dumpster and the brick wall of an abandoned building. Awaken by the sound of the can, his eyes stare hungrily into the silky night. Something stirs inside him but he can't quite latch onto it. Instead it shifts and changes shape, leaving him with a vague feeling he has never experienced before. He has no name for it but it is fear.
He has no concept of time either. He just is and has always been. The essence of his being, something pondered through the ages, something whispered about but never spoken aloud. Believers and disbelievers alike, can't quite grasp the nature of his existence. If God is the great I Am...then he is the great I Was....
He shifts slightly on the pavement, stretching his legs. He feels no pain really but the cold damp air does make his legs stiff. He has been here for hours. Alone. He wasn't always in this town. He has been in other places, at other times. Big cities with lanes of traffic, restaurant smells drifting down the alleys and people who lived in the darkness like him. Well, not just like him, as in reality, he is alone. He has stayed for a time in tiny towns but avoiding notice is next to impossible in the rural settings. He hasn't been in this town long but long enough to pick up some notice. He wonders if it's time to move on. He doesn't belong here. He doesn't belong anywhere.
The darkness wraps itself around him like a blanket and he hunches down once more. He is waiting here, in this small nondescript town for something but he knows not what. He is hungry but for tonight that hunger must be ignored. He closes his eyes and drifts into himself.
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