This was an image I’ve had for a long time and really wanted to use for an Image Flash but, no matter how long I looked at it, I couldn’t decide what to do. After a while I came to feel that the line of the cut was the most solid thing in the image. It was there, like a solid, tangible, impossible thing. The rest was just picking a genre and rolling with that idea.
“Did you know that the sun is four hundred times the size of the moon? But, because the sun is four hundred times as far away, they appear the same size. Do you know what the odds of that are? Being so exactly proportioned and distanced so that two things that are massively different appear to be relatively the same?”
She swirled the straw in her soda and shrugged. “Nope.”
If he noticed she was uninterested it didn’t deter him. Michael continued. “It’s virtually zero. Just like the odds of life even happening at all. There’s just too much coincidence. Too much improbability. There’s got to be something to it. This all can’t be just chance.”
Oh shit, she thought. He’s religious. “You mean God.”
He shook his head vehemently. “No, no. Absolutely not. Religion is simple misapplications of pattern recognition without the full picture. I’m talking about seeing it all, the whole pattern, and then understanding what’s behind it. Understanding it enough to utilize it.”
“Utilize the size of the moon?”
“Kinda. No, not exactly. It’s hard to explain. It’s like this…” He grabbed her silverware and spread it out; knife fork and spoon into a triangle. Then he did the same to his own.
“Okay, these two triangles are the universe. They’re in balance. The odds of that happening if I’d just tossed that silverware onto the table is impossible. Couldn’t happen. But here it is, in balance, and we know it because we see it. There is something at play here. Now, what happens when I do this?” He plucked out coffee creamer from the dish and put it inside the left triangle.
“Kind of. It either means that somehow, another creamer is going to show up in that triangle, or else somewhere, there’s another set of triangles, one with a creamer, that we don’t see . A bigger pattern.”
“But there’s no other creamer. I don’t get it.”
“Right, not now. But if there’s some sort of larger symmetry at play then what goes where isn’t accidental. There’s something intentional behind it. Understanding that, would allow you to move something, in such a way, that you could control the outcome, because you knew how things were going to balance out.”
Sara liked weird guys. Weird ideas were fun. A lot less dull than normal guys. But this was pushing it. “So, if not God, what? Aliens?”
He scoffed. “No, that’s absurd. If aliens exist they’d be bound by the same rules. It’s just something else. Like God, but not. It’s what’s behind all this; the universe, our world, us.”
“But you don’t know what?”
“No.” He leaned back in the booth and smiled. “But I know where.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
“You up for a little road trip? Out to the woods?” He certainly was more interesting than the last date she’d been on. If it was a pick up line, it certainly was creative.
“You’re not going to rape me and leave me in a ditch somewhere are you?” She asked.
He put his hand up. “Scouts honor. I’ve just got an idea and wouldn’t mind some company. It’s not too far off the beaten path.”
“Fine. I’m game.”
He paid the bill. She noticed that he arranged the coins for the tip into a snowflake pattern before they left.
Michael took his shirt off as soon as they were out of sight of the car and headed down the trail. It surprised her some, but it was warm enough out (despite being early fall) that it didn’t seem too strange. He tucked it into his jeans muttering something about not wanting to get all sweaty.
He was attractive and she realized that she wouldn’t be tolerating such behavior from a less handsome man. The thought made her a little nervous, but she had her cell phone and had just texted a friend where she was headed on the ride over. She let Michael know it too. He didn’t seem like he was up to no good, and she was far too free spirited to say no to adventure, but she was taking at least a couple precautions.
He walked ahead of her, leading the way through the woods. The wind in the trees, with the hum of insects and infrequent bird, was relaxing. It was all very pretty. Tall straight trunks of dark wood rising up to the sky. Their leaves hadn’t started turning yet, but some of the ground plants had. It was like walking in a color scale picture going from orange to green to blue; ground to trees to sky.
Michael stopped dead.
The spot didn’t look any different than anywhere else. “What’s here?”
“Like I said, I don’t know. But it does things to people.”
He didn’t turn to face her has he spoke and his voice had taken on a reverential tone.
“What sort of things?” She asked.
A gash appeared across Michael’s back and along into the tree next to him. It was flat, geometric, and appeared without warning. It trickled blood.
She felt a searing pain across her chest and a red line appeared in her flesh. It extended into the tree to her right, some half dozen feet away.
There was another pain, cutting across the back of her knees, hobbling her. She fell to the ground. At her side, a long horizontal line appeared in a log. She was bleeding badly and when she tried to get up, it stung like crazy and she fell over.
“Michael! Help me!”
He turned and she saw his front for the first time. It was covered with a lattice of perfectly layered scars on his chest. He smiled.
“I don’t know why, but whatever it is, it seems to like women more.”