The First Night of Annihilation
A Samuel Light Junior Story
By John Pirillo
Streamlined darkness. Lines of darkness that stretched out into infinity. Enveloped by a cashmere velvet of deep space, but no stars.
Peacefulness. Gliding through infinity with no need to do this, to do that, to hurry here, to hurry there.
"Sammie, wake up, Damnit!"
Velvet black was shattered into shards of harsh sunlight smashing into his eyes. And an ugly face. A wonderfully ugly face. Jimbo. His eyes wide with fear.
"Can you hear me?" Jimbo hollered.
"If you whisper."
Jimbo breathed a sigh of deep relief, then helped Samuel to sit up. "You took one straight in the front teeth. I thought for sure you were a goner, when you flew down backwards."
Then Samuel realized the whole baseball team was gathered around him. The sound of sirens grew. Coach Adderberry was on his other side, his face filled with anxiety. Sam was his best batter and the game was on this very night.
"You okay, son?"
He never called any of his athletes by their first names, either son, kid, or batter or catcher, or some such thing. His balding head was sweating in the near summer heat. "Someone get me that water!" He yelled over his shoulder.
A hand pushed through the amassed players and he took the Arrowhead Sports Bottle, dripping beads of sweat from the cooler it had been in. Stuck it into Samuel's hand. "Drink it. All of it."
Samuel obliged, not sure if he could. When he drank, he noticed that his top front teeth hurt and his lip. That was when he realized his lip was split and his teeth loose. He looked at Jimbo. "Do I look as bad as I feel right now."
"Worse, which is why I thought you were...you know."
Samuel almost choked on his water and everyone immediately, tried to help him. He waved them off. "It's okay. I was just trying to laugh."
Coach Adderberry smiled then in relief. He stood up and looked at his team. "Already, boys, back to work. Samuel's the same old snarky boy he used to be."
Everyone laughed, clapped Samuel on his back, told him to feel better, then marched back onto the field for their practice. Game was in ten hours. "I'm leaving you in Jimbo's hands, if that's alright with you?"
Jimbo nodded. "I'll make sure the paramedics find him."
"Be hard to miss me." Samuel cut in. "I'm the only one laying in the dirt with a busted upper lip and a mouthful of loose teeth."
The Coach laughed, patted Samuel on his head, then joined the team. Immediately he began hollering at them to tighten up, get here, get there and everything began to settle back into the normal routine of working out on the field, while striving to tighten control over the game.
"You really did have me worried, Sammie." Jimbo finally said.
"Yeah. Me too."
"What happened to you?"
"I got smacked by a line drive hundred mile per hour hardball in my mouth is what happened!"
"No, after. Your eyes were all over the place beneath their lids, and you kept muttering something about the Dark Ones are coming. What's a Dark One?"
Then Samuel remembered.
The ball was smashing right at him. He stretched his glove out to catch it. He was shortstop at the time and it missed his glove and smashed into his mouth. The was all he remembered of his physical self until Jimbo called him back to...he rubbed his jaw...reality. Ow, that hurt! He thought.
He saw himself falling down a long tunnel of white light, sort of a perpendicular tunnel of white light like the ones that people vanished into when they crossed over, but his was pointed the wrong direction. Like Alice in Wonderland he had tumbled head over heels down the tunnel and then landed on a soft surface with lots of shrubs and flowers around it. He had sat up, not feeling any physical sensation at all, just standing somehow. He wasn't even sure he had any feet.
He turned around slowly, or was it float around? What he saw was an endless landscape that stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions. On one side was a huge tropical forest with huge exotic birds playing or perched. On another side was an infinitely long row of artists with their tripods set up with a canvas, and all painting the birds. It was the most stunningly beautiful thing he had ever seen.
Imagine a world where the most important thing in life is not making money, but appreciating the beauty that nature has provided us. That God has created.
"Jimbo, when I saw that, I thought for sure I had died and gone to heaven. I just couldn't understand why I had gone down a vertical tunnel of light. It didn't make any sense to me. No one I had seen cross over ever went down or up, it was more like walking along a path before you, with it extending further and further into the light, but surrounded by a light so pure and white that it's blinding, and yet the most gentle and reassuring feeling you could ever experience."
Jimbo nodded, then Samuel went back in time to his experience again.
I stood there imagining the whole thing as if I were in some kind of cosmic dream, but I couldn't unimagine it, make it something different, like you can in a dream, so I knew it was real, but what kind of reality I wasn't sure just yet.
Then in the distance I could see storm clouds beginning to churn and darken, spreading wider and wider, consuming the light before it, and rushing forward at a breakneck pace, eating up the land, forest and birds in front of it. It was frightening, like watching the death of a world!
Samuel wavered for a moment on his feet and Jimbo steadied him. "You okay? Maybe you need to sit down again."
"No, it's just when I remember that part of my experience, it overwhelms me." He looked directly into Jimbo's eyes. "I'm pretty sure now that what I was seeing wasn't a dream, nor was it the afterlife."
"Then what was it?"
"What will happen to our world if we don't learn how to love it."
Jimbo growled. Which he often did when he was frustrated or angry. "We won't let that happen, Sammie."
"I don't know if we can stop it. We're only two human beings. We're not gods!"
Jimbo shook his head. "I may not believe in everything you do, Sammie, but one thing I know for certain is that it's never wise to give up. It's always better to keep on fighting the odds, then defeat yourself by not even trying."
Samuel smiled. "I suspect you're right, partner."
Jimbo smiled back at him. "Speaking of partners. You know that new chick in our English class?"
And so their conversation came back from the cosmic to the practical and Samuel once more helped Jimbo score with the opposite sex, while he went home in an ambulance to sleep off the worst pain he had ever had in his life.
His Mom stood over him as he lay in bed. "It's all right, Sam, they will do just fine without you."
"It's not that, Mom." He protested.
She sat down next to him and waited.
"What is it then?"
"It's just that my life...it's so all over the place. I'm not normal like the other guys. They see ham burgers and girls in their dreams. I see angels, dead people..."
She put a finger to his lips.
She put her finger back on his lips.
"You're special. God has chosen you to do things others wouldn't want to do."
"I don't want to do them either." He protested, feeling a growing sense of disgust in his voice.
She laughed. "Sam, one thing I know about you, is that you never give up and you never, never turn your back on helping others."
He sighed, feeling the weight of disgust dissolving. He yawned and closed his eyes. "But it would sure be nice to win a girl once and awhile."
She laughed so hard, his eyes popped open.
"What's so funny?"
"Oh Sam, girls aren't prizes to be won."
"Then how can Jimbo is always winning them."
She smiled. "That's for Jimbo to know, and you to find out. Now you get to sleep. I'll wake you up in a couple of hours to watch Saturday Night Live and we'll have some homemade blueberry muffins."
"But you don't have any blueberry muffins." He protested.
"I will have." She said, then blew him a kiss, and closed the door.
For the next several hours he dreamed he was living in a blueberry village, where the houses were made of blueberries and the walls were eatable, and when he woke up to the sound of Jimbo's voice below, he knew he was going to have a good friend to watch TV with. But when he smelled the aroma of fresh blueberry muffins, his mouth watered and he knew he was going to have a happy tummy that night too.