Dave had taken the day off from work. He hadn’t taken a day in months. It had been too long since he last played hooky to go mountain biking. In recent months, life had taken it’s toll on Dave. His girlfriend had left him for his best friend. His apartment was robbed. His job had just laid off half the staff, and he and the few coworkers who were left, looked at each other like piglets in a tigers cage. All of them wondering, who was going to be devoured next? He was determined not to let the stress of the situation affect him. While the staff had been cut in half, the amount of work had effectively doubled, along with the pressure. Dave’s time off had dwindled to nil.
This day was special because a big project had come to completion, and it was time for some long overdue R&R.
The morning air was crisp, and the sky was clear. Dave arrived at one of his favorite mountain bike parks and was unpacking the car. The parking lot was empty, except for two cars parked at the far end of the lot. Just as Dave was locking up the car, two riders popped out of the trailhead, on the opposite side of the parking lot. Dave saddled up and rode towards them.
The first rider, had a light coating of dust covering his bike. He replied,
The second rider was covered with mud. He looked as if he had ridden thru a pigs trough. From the back of his helmet to his ass, was a four inch wide strip of brown mud. He had certainly taken a different path than his buddy. He nodded and said,
Looking at the two riders, Dave asked,
“How were the trails?”
The first rider replied,
“Great! They were exceptionally fast today. That brief shower last night was just enough. The day before it was so dry that I couldn’t hold a line. Now the trail is packed and fast.” At hearing this news, Dave smiled and said,
“That’s just what I wanted to hear. Thanks.” As he turned towards the trail entrance. That’s when the mud covered rider said,
“Watch out, at the bottom of the Blue blaze, it’s a real mud hole.” Dave grinned and thanked him for the tip. At least this explained how the guy got his mud suit.
Dave headed towards the White blaze trailhead. Off in the distance the other riders shouted,
“Have a good ride,” He raised his hand in acknowledgement.
With anticipation, Dave rolled down the asphalt path which, led in to the woods. He was euphoric, as he guided his bike, Up and over, down and around, a quick left and then a slight right. The trail was almost completely covered with a carpet of fallen leaves. The leaves crunched under the force of the tires. He hammered through the trail, making turns almost on instinct. As he made it to the top of the second climb, Dave knew that he had been pushing too hard. He was winded, his time away from his bicycle had taken it’s toll. He needed a short break to recover. He paused at the top of the hill taking in the autumn view of the trees whose branches were now bare. After a few moments of reflection, and his breathing returned to normal, Dave continued his ride.
He exclaimed in his thoughts,
“It’s repayment time!”
As he started his descent, he whipped down the hill. Like an eagle diving onto his prey, Dave stretched out, positioning his body rearward. The heavy down pour, from the night before, had cut a deep rut into the trail, which the bike’s wheels found. He was suddenly forced off the trail and into the soft, fertile soil which quickly swallowed his tires, bring them to a stop. The kinetic transfer of energy was too quick. Now, it was nature that was demanding repayment. Dave only had time to utter an expletive when, the bike pitched forward. Tumbling through the air. The horizon flipping past more times then Dave could count, then it all stopped as suddenly as it had started. Dave lay on the ground, with his back to the sky, motionless. Slowly he started to move and check that all his body parts were in place and working as expected. Determining that everything seemed to be in working order, he rolled over and sat up. From his vantage point on the ground, he could see his bike in the distance caught up in some vines. Dave stood up and made his way towards his bike, all the while expecting to see the worst. To his pleasant surprise it was perfectly intact, without even a bent wheel. All that he needed to do was remove the packed mud from the wheels. Dave started shaking the mud from his bike, when he found a tree branch wedged between the front tire and the fork.
Dave spoke aloud,
“What the hell,” And a voice said,
“It looks like you had an accident.” Dave spun quickly to see where the voice came from. Behind him, stood an elderly man who looked to be in his eighty’s. Dave thought that the old guy looked a bit like his grandfather, but he couldn’t really be sure, he had passed away when Dave was very young. Dave replied,
“Yeah, It would appear that way. I didn’t see you there.”
The old man looked at him and shook his head.
“Well, I’ve been standing here all along. I watched you come barreling down that hill. I suppose it’s a good thing you fell, or you would have ran me over!”
Dave thought to quip a quick answer but decided out of respect, to just smile and say,
“My apologies, I hope I didn’t spook you?”
“Nope, like I said, I saw you comin’.”
“Well, I’d better get back to my ride.”
The old man gave him a stare and said
“Are you sure that’s a good idea, you don’t look to well.” Dave felt a little indignant,
“How’s that now?”
“No… I think you better come back with me to the cabin till you get yourself together.” Dave thought, ‘get myself together? I feel fine.’
“Thanks, but I really need to get back to my ride.”
Dave pulled the tree branch free of his wheel and thought about what the old man said. He looked up, to see the old man just staring at him. Dave asked, in puzzlement,
“What cabin? I know this park, I’m sure the cabin’s were removed a long time ago.”
The old mans eyebrows furrowed as he replied.
“You’re mistaken. My cabin is down in the valley, just past the tree line!” Dave knew of no cabin anywhere in the park, least of all where the old man was pointing. Dave thought,
‘I took a bad fall but, this old man must have wondered away from his nurse or something.’
After a brief pause, Dave decided the right thing would be to go with the confused old man, just to make sure nothing happened to him. After all, Dave didn’t want to read in the newspaper about some old guy that had gone missing.
“Okay, I’ll walk with you to your cabin. By the way, my name is Dave.”
“I’m Peter. That’s a good idea Dave, you’ll see…”
The two started on their journey to the supposed cabin, Dave with his bike in tow and Peter, who waddled a bit as he walked. Dave wondered why he didn’t see Peter with his bright red plaid shirt and straw hat. Peter cleared his throat,
“You’re new to this area, aren’t you?”
“No, not really. I’ve been riding here for years”
“Are you sure? I’m positive I’ve never seen you here before and I know everyone who visits this place.”
“You couldn’t possibly have met everyone who’s been here. After all this is a big park, many people don’t even come this far.”
Peter smiled, then adjusted the brim of his hat and said,
“Well, Dave, I can understand how you might think that, considering your condition.”
Dave grimaced and sneered at Peter.
“My Condition! What condition is that?”
“I didn’t mean to upset you. What I meant, was that you’ve had a rough trip, and I know you didn’t expect to take that fall.”
Dave found himself becoming impatient. He rolled his eyes and asked,
“How far is this cabin?”
“It’s just around the bend. You’ll start to feel better soon.”
“I told you, I feel fine.”
Dave and Peter continued down the trail, a cabin came within view. Dave couldn’t stop feeling that something was out of place. Dave was sure the cabin wasn’t there before, he had passed that spot a dozen times and never noticed it. Dave rubbed his head, and as they approached the cabin his anxiety grew. He had thought the old man was confused, but now Dave wondered if he himself wasn’t the one who was confused. Something was wrong, he felt it in his stomach. Peter turned to Dave and smiled,
“How are you feeling?”
“I feel fine. I don’t understand why I’ve never noticed that cabin.”
“You’ve never noticed because, until I told you about it, it didn’t exist.”
Dave looked at Peter, and shook his head. Peter pointed to the edge of the trail,
“Look at those flowers.” Dave looked and Peter continued,
“Are you absolutely certain the flowers were there before you saw them?”
“Of course they were there…” Peter grinned and said,
“Can you prove it?”
“You’re just having fun with me. You can’t prove they weren’t there all along.”
“I don’t have to prove it, the moment you looked at them they existed.”
Dave chuckled at Peter’s response. The pair now stood not far from the front of the cabin. Dave’s eyes carefully scanned the cabin. It was as he expected, old and in disrepair. Dave let out a deep breath of uneasiness, as he tried to integrate the idea of a cabin being where he never expected. Dave said,
“I have to admit, I’m amazed that I didn’t get injured.”
“You should be amazed, you’re not even scratched. How do you really feel on the inside?”
“What? I’m not sure what you mean, by on the inside? As for my accident, I was just lucky that’s all. There is no mystery to it. I just got lucky.”
“How do you explain it?”
“Dave, look at yourself. You didn’t even break your skin. By now, you should have some swelling but you don’t. How do you explain it?”
Dave looked himself over and shook his head. Only then did he notice that he didn’t have aches or pains. In fact, he felt better than he had in months. This bothered him, he felt too good. Peter continued,
“Don’t you know how you feel?”
“Look Pete, you seem like a nice guy, but I really don’t know what you’re asking me. You’re starting to make me feel… uncomfortable.”
“Then why were you walking with me?”
“Well… You sounded a little confused and I didn’t want to leave you alone in the woods. Obviously, I was wrong about you because there’s your cabin. I should be on my way.”
“You’re already on your way. You’ve come this far. You’re so close. I’ve got a few things I want to show you. Things you need to see. They’re just inside the cabin”
“What’s inside, what is it you want to show me?”
“Wonderful things Dave. It’s all about you. I know how that must sound, but inside that cabin, is your life. You have embarked on a journey, a journey of discovery. Beyond that door lies the truth that, you have been searching for all your life. You may not want to admit it, but you have always felt that there was something more to life than the cold hard facts. Something more. The truth awaits you Dave.”
Dave was both overwhelmed and intrigued. He knew that Peter was right. Dave had always felt that he was searching for something more. Something that would validate that gut feeling, that there is more to the world than science could explain.
“Don’t fight it Dave, you’ve come this far. You have ventured down a path from which there is no return. What you once knew as your life, is past. You can only stay where you are or move forward. If you stay where you are, you’ll be lost in a place that is neither here nor there.”
“What kind of truth?”
“The only truth that there is, a world beyond the world you have known. The truth of how the world is when unmasked. Existence revealed. You’ve based your reality on what you perceive but, there is a truer reality that you can’t perceive, a true reality that has been hidden from your conscious mind!”
“Old man you’re speaking in riddles.”
Peter gave a curt nod, formed his hands into a steeple and said,
“If you believe what I’m telling you is nonsense, then step inside. All you’ll be doing is proving me wrong. If you stay out here you’ll never know…”
Dave felt apprehensive, as he stared at the cabin door, and yet he felt drawn to it. Almost compelled. Dave had to know, he wanted to know, if something was there or not. There was only oneway to know.
Peter stepped up to the porch of the cabin and beckoned Dave. Dave approached and Peter said,
“You must open the door.” Dave’s eyes glanced at Peter and then fixed on the door. As Dave touched it, it began to glow.
Dave pushed it open and he was bathed in a bright white light.
Dave walked through the door and in a flash, Dave, Peter and the cabin were gone.