The Emissary

Night. Charlie loved it when all was dark, when you could see the field of stars behind the dark silhouettes of the pine trees. He breathed in deeply, felt both peace and a sense of excitement which were not at odds but instead complimented each other. When he was out here in the woods, in the dark, he wasn’t irrationally afraid like many people. Instead he became invested with a sense of the vast potential of life, the rich possibilities that bided inside of everything. Not only were things going to be okay, the dark hulks of trees, the breeze through the meadow, the grass and soil beneath his feet told him; They might just end up being incredible. He closed his eyes, sighed, and smiled, his hands clasped behind his head. In the morning he would hike back down, get in his car, and drive back to his normal life. But if he could just hold on to this, this feeling, things might just be a little better than normal. Charlie didn’t backpack or even camp very often. He had been too busy these days. But some impulse had struck him as he’d lain in bed that morning: An impulse to get outside, seek out some peace and quiet. He had come to this spot several times as a child. It was a far drive, and a stout hike, but still very manageable in a day. Yes, it had been so worth it, he thought as he continued to survey the shapes of trees, the outlines of far-off mountains, and the star-strewn sky. He wanted to continue gazing into the night for hours, but the day of hiking was beginning to catch up with him. He found that he was getting quite sleepy. Finally he sighed once again, found his water bottle in the dark, and managed to climb into the tent and then his sleeping bag in the dim light. It was probably only 9:30, maybe earlier, but he soon fell fast asleep.

Late in the night—he had no way of being sure of the time—it happened. First there was a ringing noise, quite loud in comparison to the silent woods. Then almost simultaneously he had the feeling of weightlessness. He thought he was perhaps half in a dream, or that he was experiencing vertigo in the dark. But the sensation continued and he was suddenly engulfed in a blinding light to which he had to keep his eyes screwed tightly shut. Then he was lifting up. He could feel it. He was able to partly open his eyes. The light had faded somewhat. He looked down and saw the tent. Somehow he had passed through the top of it as if it was immaterial, or as if he was. He looked up and beheld the source of the light, a large shape of utter darkness he could just make out against a backdrop of stars. He was rising faster now, the ground dropping away from him alarmingly, the large blank shape taking up more and more of the sky above him. Then all in an instant he was inside of the dark mass. It was bright inside, very bright. They came forward. They were beautiful, more beautiful than the silhouettes of pines against the stars, more delicate than the foam of a curling wave lit by the setting sun. He was able to think and picture these thoughts in an instant; their beauty allowed him. They began to speak and their voices were the sublimest music.

"You, too, will be beautiful. You, too, will sing the song of life upon your tongue, shall feel it rushing in your blood."

He knew it was the truth.

"You will be the first. You will be our emissary. Go forth and sing in your heart the song that we have taught you, wherever you go. We will call you again to this place and you will hear our song and come."

This he also knew to be the truth, and it filled his body with a joy that overwhelmed him. They returned him to the earth, and he slept. In the morning he packed his tent, sleeping-bag, and other things, and walked down from the mountains. In his heart he knew that life had become something he’d always known it could be, that really it ought to be; something better, more beautiful.