The sky was a deeper blue than our own. Blue enough that the distant mountains merged with it almost without notice. The hills were closer, surrounding me like a thick woven carpet speckled with little stone houses embedded in a charming display of whimsy.
The city below was wonderfully silent beneath a canopy of trees and plants I had never seen before, flourishing in a gamut of colors that would take weeks to decipher. Grand towers of chiseled concrete rose in symmetry high above it all, their pinnacles touching me where I sat gazing down. I thought I could hear the hollow tone of a sea crashing the shore somewhere not far and I canted my head to be sure. “I have heard of this place once or twice,” I looked around and mused; “So it is real.”
“Indeed,” the lofty figure replied with a warm smile. He sat across the table from me on the patio stone, staring calmly back with eyes that were a curious blend of ardent yet gracious.
“Has it always been here?” I glanced at the city below, and he seemed to understand that I meant everything.
“Indeed,” he smiled gently again. Airborne disks with a faint glow hovered silently above once more before speeding away.
“Are there passengers aboard?” I asked.
“They inspect the seas,” he nodded, “And the stability of the immense caverns that hold our world together…and sometimes enter your world for critical observation.”
“We have long wondered about them.”
“I know,” he chuckled softly.
They looked like us but much taller, I thought contemplating the peculiar figure before me. And always lean and elegant with skin that held a trace of green, perhaps from the plants they consumed.
“So you wish me to deliver this message?” I eyed a sealed note in the center of the table; “Why me?”
“After we thought to send it, you were the first who came near.” I studied the magnificent place for a while longer, wondering how the sun made its way in. “Well…I suppose it is time,” he reached forward and slid the note across the table as two others much like him approached to lead me away again. I stared back blankly for a long moment before placing the note inside my jacket and rising to leave, looking back at him one final time in some awkward form of goodbye.
We returned to the elusive portal where I had first arrived, entering a dome-shaped vehicle that I recognized as the same that brought me here, and I was less alarmed by the strange object this time. It lifted with ease before increasing its speed gradually, and soon I felt certain we were moving faster than sound.
The passage was extensive and I could hear or see nothing, only aware that we were continually traveling upward through it and that I felt dizzy. But still it must have been a day later when we finally emerged from it and came to rest in the center of a vast mist.
I stepped from the vehicle and followed a thin road vague in the haze until I broke clear of it and the snow-covered mountains that encompassed me came abruptly into view. My pickup truck was just ahead and I walked faster, when above I noticed with astonishment countless arcs of light fleeting and swirling across the sky high over the mist in the silence of the mountains. I was on the edge of two worlds, frozen in some impalpable moment in time between the past and forever, and too stunned to process it.
The road was barely distinguishable from the snow around it as I drove away, and the two tall figures in my rear-view mirror grew smaller before fading back into the teeming mist. I headed south between tumbling avalanches in the distance on each side of me, staring nervously ahead worried that one might reach the road.
The next day as the sun was setting in my passenger window the road dipped subtly down a lengthy decline for many minutes then levelled again, and I was suddenly free of the mountains. I spilled onto the snow-cloaked prairies still heading south as night had fallen and stars filled the sky. I could not locate the moon but trusted it was someplace above.
It was morning when I watched the snow wither slowly each passing hour and the prairie appeared clad in a tattered white bed sheet. Oil rigs clattered away through the open window as I breezed tediously past and struggled to keep my eyes open.
I felt for the note in my breast pocket. I could open it and no one would know, I considered before my thoughts wandered again. What a troubled life it was. Not what I once imagined it would be, when I was younger and there were more good days. Then again, what a troubled world it was. Ah!…I was too tired to think about it.
The following morning forest replaced the prairies, erupting unceremoniously as the road continued south winding and weaving through the woods as they grew denser. By the time night fell there came a faint gleam in the dark sky over the woods ahead, and I knew the city was close.
I squeezed in with the traffic as the sun was coming up, stopping only for a quick coffee. Into the lot of a majestic old brick building marked Government Offices on the sides and front I claimed a parking space in the rear. Its bulk occupied a full city block, leaving no doubt of its importance. A sweeping lobby inside greeted me at once, with smoothed walls rising above polished Terrazzo floors. Now I, too, felt markedly important entering such an official building carrying a message of the highest urgency.
The receptionist perked up inserting a dutiful smile as I approached, “How may I assist you today?” she blurted cheerfully.
“Quite well. And how are you?” I replied clumsily, just now aware that I did not know whom to ask for.
“Very good. And how may I direct you?” her initial zeal faded.
“I have with me a message of the highest urgency,” I whispered gravely, poking at my breast pocket; “Whoever handles that kind of thing will do just fine.”
I watched her hands fidget with something beneath the counter, with a steady smile still aimed back at me, “Beautiful day,” I mumbled feebly.
“Very nice,” she agreed.
Behind me an important looking official in earnest business attire strode toward us from a long corridor lined with closed doors, “Good morning, Sir. I understand you are here pertaining to an urgent matter.”
“I am Sir,” I replied in an equally official tone.
He studied me carefully for a brief instant, “Very well. Will you follow me?” We entered a tiny room with plain white walls and a table with a single chair on each side. He closed the door behind us in the stifled little room and I glanced quickly around, pausing to see which chair was supposed to be mine. He drew a pen and notepad from inside his pocket and chose a seat, effectively resolving the concern, “Perhaps I should get your name first,” he began formally.
“I’d rather not,” I replied with caution, “I should say, I don’t believe it will be necessary for our business here. Today. Our business here today.”
He stared back for an unsettling minute before scribbling something in his notepad then putting it away, “So how may I help you today?”
“I believe it is I who may be of assistance,” I drew the note from my breast pocket and slid it gallantly across the table.
He scanned it tersely then glared back at me for a puzzled moment, “Is that everything?”
“It is,” I answered with conviction.
“Thank you for bringing us this,” he fluttered the note in his hand then rose again, signaling a hasty end to our official meeting.
But I trusted that he needed nothing more from me and was anxious to deal with the matter, as I followed him from the room, “Beautiful day,” I noted.
“Very nice,” he agreed. Back in the lobby he placed the message on the reception desk and motioned me this time toward the main entrance ahead.
“We are going to tend to this most urgent matter right away. Thank you again for bringing it to our attention,” he nodded officially as we both turned to leave.
“And what is this?” we heard the receptionist behind us.
I turned and saw that she had the note in her hand, “Oh…it is a message from…”
“From Inner Earth it says,” she interrupted playfully, then read in a cartoon voice, “Keep the noise down up there. Some of us are trying to relax. Outstanding! And what shall we do with it?” she called after the official man, who turned to say something when a ringing projected from his breast pocket.
“I have to take this,” he reached for his cell phone and waved it before us then turned away again, where he was soon lost once more down the long corridor of the official institution.