(Iglesia is a serialized novel, published on Tuesdays and Saturdays at midnight ET, you can read all of the episodes by clicking on the tag.)
He woke again with the sweet and seductive smell of cedar in his nose….and the cry of a raven in his ears. His eyes opened again to the peaceful and wonder full sight of the immensely beautiful and magnificently orderly chaotic grain and texture and….taste….of the blond and tan wood. He, during his untimed sojourn here, had become so permeated and so ingrained on the wood and in the tree that he occupied, that he now experienced it on the level of an actual taste in his mouth, and not merely smell and sight. He could also tell now that the sound of water he had heard before was coming from some cataracts, or a small waterfall. He wondered how long he had been here, how long he had been sleeping. The feel of the soft leather of his strange new clothes on his skin felt wonderful and right and natural and….he just lay there…not moving…afraid to move….lest the feeling of peace and pleasure he felt right now, would flee.
He held it as long as he could….but eventually he had to sit up and look around, his troublesome curiosity overwhelming his sensible craving for the calmness he had been feeling. It was the call of the waterfall that did it. It was where he used to run to at home, when he ran. A wide short series of terraced green waterfalls deep in the jungle, where he would swim and play in the falls and in the pools after his long run to get there and before his long run back. It was a special place, and it was always with him. When he meditated, as instructed by the newly perfidious Ralph, that was the image he held in his head. And now hearing a similar sibilant sound, he could not resist the urge to see it.
And he suddenly knew now, after his long prone residence on the central pillar of the giant cedar, that he now just HAD to touch the smooth and sensuous wood of the tree, with its all of its now familiar curves and swirls. His legs were unsteady and his lungs were grasping for air and he discovered upon standing that he had a huge headache. The headache, as he discovered once he was abruptly crumpled down on his knees and was nearly retching from the now hammering pain and the sickening nausea that accompanied it, was centered in his left temple…..exactly where the bullet that had killed him had entered, as a matter of fact.
For the first time, that memory came back, for the first time he really felt the bullet entering his head….for the first time….he realized that he was dead.
Realizing you are dead is a tricky proposition, for someone who hadn’t previously invested in God or Goddess or any sort of afterlife. Heaven was an anathema for atheists, and after his years at The Center, he had stopped believing in anything but duty. It looked like he had some rethinking to do. But for now, he just wanted to see the waterfall, so he crawled through the fog of nausea over to the only source of light and warmth. The sun bathed hole that led to the outside of the tree. And whatever it was that may happen to lie beyond it.
He crawled to it and through it and out onto the huge barky moss covered cedar branch that left the tree just beneath it. And not really ready to look around just yet, not quite ready to look at this new place, this new reality…. he kept his eyes closed after barely gaining his bearings. He gathered and positioned himself to rest, his back against the giant bole and his butt on a giant branch and the sweet warm sunlight beating down upon him as he settled in against his new best friend, the tree.
When he opened his eyes…..it was all still there, all and more. The tree and the feeling of peace that was slowly but surely overtaking the nausea of his remembered death and as he opened his eyes and looked up at a scene of incredible, unbelivable, nearly surreal beauty….he began to cry for the first time since he left the little village in the jungle. After a moment or six, his mind snapped clear and he remembered the revelation he had had in his disembodied state, the revelation that his mother was still alive.
He began to bawl then, not just cry. Deep soulwrenching sobs that rocked his body and his being traveled from his feet to his head as he just…..let go, and let it all….ALL of the closely guarded and fiercely harbored and heretofore inaccesible pain, that he had carried for so long just…………go.