Leap of Faith
[Begin of excerpt]
As a gentle touch awakens him from a peaceful slumber, Sean Collins is scared almost back to death at the sight of the lonely figure facing him.
“Azrael, please have mercy on my soul.” he whispers.
“Azrael? As in the Angel of Mercy? I am nothing of the kind, dear fellow.” The solitary figure says as the bright sun lightens up his immaculate gown.
“But I see the white wings on your back.”
“White wings? Oh, it must be my robe flapping in the breeze.”
Sean blinks and as his eyes focus he sees that the other is right. No angelic wings, just a dazzling white cape floating in the wind. The Incandescent Man helps him up and they start to walk through a valley surrounded by lush, green hills. Sheep graze the hillsides, a serene stream curls lazily through the landscape and two robust, grey-bricked buildings along a deserted road come into view.
“Who are you? What are you doing here? For that matter, what am I doing here?”
“Questions, good. First of all: I am not a person nor an angel. Consider me an avatar accompanying you in this phase of your existence.”
These words, softly spoken as they are, immediately give a ghostly touch to the pastoral scene surrounding them. The ground remains firm beneath Sean’s feet, a fresh breeze blows through his curly red hair and the environment resolutely stays that of an Iron Age Ireland. Still, there is this nagging feeling that it’s not real. Something’s not right. Maybe it’s just too perfect or whatever. Wait a minute: it’s all that sunshine in clear blue skies. Ireland without clouds is about as unlikely as an Irish pub without Guinness.
“Where are the clouds?”
“You want clouds?”
“Do I want clouds? Ever seen a cloudless day in Ireland? Haven’t been there lately, have you?”
“Indeed not. But if clouds make you feel better...”
The second the Incandescent Man finishes his sentence the sky is overcast. However, even without direct sunlight, the Incandescent Man keeps glowing.
“That’s overdoing it. Just make it partly cloudy, with some dark ones threatening to rain down any minute but just not doing it.”
“That’s more like it: summer in Ireland. Now let me guess: this was all set up to make me feel at ease, right?”
“Correct. You are recovering fast.”
“Recovering from what? And where are we really?”
“Sean Collins, you have been through a rather traumatic experience. In order to preserve your sanity we have temporarily blocked this episode in your short term memory. Things will be made clear, but we have to take one step at a time. So for now take it easy while we see how your personality upload is functioning.”
This last remark evokes even more questions from the baffled Sean, but he decides to follow his avatar’s advice and take it slow and easy. No problem for a real Irishman, that. At a relaxed pace, they climb the hill path leading to the buildings.
Coming closer, Sean’ll be darned if one isn’t a pub.
[End of excerpt]
- Originally appeared—as “Bridge Across Forever”—in In the Outposts of Beyond, edited by Tyree Campbell, August 2003;
- Reprinted in Neometropolis #9, June 2006;