Let me tell you about the strangest day of my life … so far.
First, a little bit about me; my name is Reggie Best. I was born in and currently live in Nateley, the smallest region in the Unified Regions of Holrud. The incident happened when I was about eight years, four months, and six days old. I got up from a nap in the late afternoon that day, still yawning. Then I walked into the living room, the nondescript gray carpet tickling my bare feet. And sure enough, Mom was sitting in her accustomed spot, in that frayed green armchair that she liked better than the couch. There was some fast-cut reality show involving divers actually looking for sharks or some other such stupidity on the tube; she was rapt with interest, of course. When I opened my mouth to speak, it was very dry. “Listen … can I go outside?”
“Please do.” She picked up her gin screwdriver from the round side table, took a sip and began to swill it around in her mouth the way she always did; I guess it was to appreciate the taste. “I’ll call you when dinner’s ready,” she said. The truth be known, I still had to write an essay for english class that weekend and hadn’t started it yet; but I had all that night, the next day, and the next night to make sure that it was ready for Monday. So, I pulled on my dark blue sweatshirt, swung the front door open with some effort and began walking down to the park with my head in the clouds. I cut through a gap in the low cement wall and walked into the woods. I knew where Mike would be; and there he was, sitting on a tree stump, long-haired and wearing far too much jewelry for a young man. He was playing that guitar of his that only had the lowest three strings remaining unsnapped on it; he knew the rough approximations of many heavy metal songs, and considered himself quite the virtuoso. “I was wondering when you’d get here.”
“You were waiting for me?”
“Yeah, numbnuts. We’re friends, ain’t we?” I looked around. At the forest, at the trees individually, at random large stones on the ground before returning to his eyes to make contact. I had never had a friend in my life; frankly, my mom rarely even let me out of the house, and I was homeschooled. “Uh … yeah, man. Sure.”
He got up from his seat on the whorled stump. “Cool, then. Well, let’s go exploring.”
“Yeah. It’s like hiking, you’ll like it. We’ll walk around until we reach the edge of the woods. See what we can find.”
“What about your guitar?” I said, as he was putting it in his scuffed black case, which looked to be older than the musical instrument itself. “Out here?” He laughed. “It’ll keep.” Then, and only for a second, it seemed as if his dark pupils were leaking out into the whites of his eyes in places; by the time I had made eye contact with him again, they were normal.
I followed him further into the park and around some trees, then into a small cave. When I saw it, all I could say was, “What the hell is this?” Directly in front of the rear wall of the cave, there was what looked almost like a patch of frozen lake, but it was suspended vertically and parallel to the cave’s rocky wall. It appeared to be fluctuating in size as I watched, and swirling within itself as if it were something fluid. It hung just a couple of feet in the air from the cavern’s floor.
“It’s a rift. I’ve been coming here for the past month or more, and it’s been a different color every single time. Madness.”
“A rift? What the hell does that mean?”
“A place where our reality wears thin. A portal into … what-have-you.” Now, keep in mind that I was eight years old at the time. My concept of reality alone wasn’t all that developed, let alone the possibility of anything beyond it. But I just began nodding to assuage him while he walked forward a few steps closer to the thing. As he did, the rift turned black with swirls of red, and began to move in an uneven spiral. I thought for sure that he would say, “Mirror, mirror,” but he didn’t; must have been nerves.
“I brought him. You’re happy, right?”
Then, it spoke. The timbre of it went from the sound of metal grating hard against stone to the high pitched warble of a certain musical instrument, dependent on the instant.
“NoT eXaCtLy, mAn-cHiLd.”
Suddenly, Mike fell to his knees onto the hard, uneven stone. I began to back away from him and to the right of the rift, when without warning he began to bleed from the eyes; a thick, black, mucal discharge that was so heavy it popped the orbs right out. He also began to clutch his throat with both hands crossed over to the opposite sides, fingernails digging into his neck as he began to both bleed out and strangle himself, his head thrown backwards as if in some sort of strange ecstacy.
“hE dIsPlEaSeD mE! hE wAs gOiNg to rUn, I sAw iT iN tHe sTaRs …”
I was at a loss as to how to respond. I stared into its “eye” as best I could, steeling myself to the extent that I almost left my own skin and began to astrally project. “Sure, I see.”
“hE wAs wEaK. ArE yOu wEaK? TeLL mE nOw …”
“No,” I said, the light bulb shining as it turned on inside my mind. “No, I am exactly what you are looking for …”
So, I walked back through the public park, thinking to myself. Off in the distance, I could just barely hear my mom calling me in for dinner.