Thursday, 23 September 2021

F Fic, Non-fic

Firth of David

by Adrian Encomienda

firth david title image

David stood inside the lighthouse. Outside, the wind grew fierce and the sea became airborne; water spiraled up and came down upon the windows of the lighthouse. In the distance, he saw nothing, because the fog and wind blinded him from seeing what lingered far off. He had attempted, just moments prior, to call his wife, but the storm ruptured the connection. He cowered on the floor, beside the window, peering out at the sea. The winds raged and if they were able to speak, David figured they would bestow words of wrath upon him. The window before him, though sturdy and strong, bore a great crack. The other panes of glass were in more or less the same condition as the one he cowered next to. He began bethinking himself of his loved ones -- his wife and children. They, especially his children, worried for him in the wake of the storm.

Sitting against the wall below one of the windows, David closed his eyes. He hoped that the closing of his eyes brought him closer to the storm’s end, but even he knew that was only wishful thinking. There, against the wall, he fell into a short-lived, deep slumber. In his dream, he found himself at a large park, near an overflowing fountain. Beside him was his departed father.

“Do you remember, son, when I visited you near a set of crystal stairs?”

David turned toward his father and nodded, “Yes, I remember, father. You told me to follow you, but I refused. Why do you bring this up?”

David’s father placed his hand firmly on his son’s shoulder and pointed toward the sky. David saw that there was a funnel in the sky. The ‘funnel’ was more akin to a whirlpool than a tornado. “Many people run from it, but I tell you today, my beautiful son, when you find yourself within in, don’t attempt to run from it -- there is no way around it!” David’s father concluded.

David then found that he was speaking to his father from the other side of a wall of living, breathing water. The entire wall vibrated and shook as a great white bolt of lightning struck it’s surface. This woke David from his dream and he found himself trembling with a cold sweat, lying in the same position in which he fell asleep.

He stood and peered out through the window, which was now clouded, and saw that the storm grew in intensity and strength. The windows rattled each time the whistling wind blew against them. As David stood, admiring the storm, he heard a frantic banging on the lighthouse door at the bottom of the spiraled staircase. Upon hearing this, he hurriedly ran down the stairs. The stairway was wet from a leakage in one of the walls; rain water seeped in through the fissure and made the stairs lubricious.

“I am coming!” David belted out as he scrambled to the door. At the door, he heard the fierce, wrathful weather. For a moment he figured the knocking was an illusion cast by the storm, but again, the knocking started.

“It is getting bad out here!” the man outside the door shouted. “I see your truck outside. If you won’t let me in at least take the wounded rabbit!” he continued.

David opened the steel, blue door and was greeted by a rain-soaked man who hurriedly rushed in. After the man entered, David shut the door and bolted it. He turned to the man and saw that the stranger was cradling the wounded rabbit in his arms as one would cradle a child.

“Thank you for letting us in -- the Lord will bless you,” the man said, still cradling the rabbit.

“What is your name?” then asked David as he pointed at the staircase, signaling for the man to follow him to the top.

“My name is James,” the man said, reaching out to shake David’s hand.

“I’m David.”

“It’s getting worse by the minute out there. I found this wounded fella on the side of the street. You never want to see what it looks like out there in the city.”

“Why is that?” said David as he made his way up the stairs.

James followed him up the stairs and said in response, “There were many ugly things; flipped over cars, debris from houses, animal remains, and worst of all, I saw people -- many people.”

“Were they dead?”

“Indeed, they were. Many, I reached out to in an attempt to help, but the wind blew them further down the watery road.”

David reached the top of the stairs and pointed out at the sea and said, “Look, it is blowing violently! Do you think my family is safe? They live in the city!”

James then shook his head and placed the rabbit, who was wrapped in cloth, down on the floor. James sat beside the rabbit. “This isn’t a storm; this is something worse. If you would have seen what I saw, you’d know for certain that the ones in the city are anything but safe,replied James.

“Do you have a family?”

Again, James shook his head. “No,” he said as he leaned over to pet the wounded rabbit, “It is just the Lord and I.”

“What about your mother? What about your father? Surely, you have some blood family alive.”

“My mother and father passed away thirteen years ago -- they’ve been gone for a good while. But, you are right, I have a brother,” replied James. In between his words, loud thunder shook the lighthouse windows.

“Well, aren’t you worried about him?”

“He lives in Oregon with his wife and children. I do pray for him nightly, but right now he is doing great! I dread the moment he finds out that I am one of the casualties of the storm,” James said as he took his black backpack and set it beside himself and the rabbit.

Casualty of the storm? You can’t be meaning death, right?”

“I do mean death, David. Being realistic, the only way we’re getting out of this alive is if God himself stops the storm and carries us to safety. How do you see us getting out of here?”

“Well, why’d you come knockin’ if you knew this place was going to result in death?”

“The choice was either stay out there and die or come here for a last touch of humanity. Also, look,” James said, pointing at the rabbit, “I wanted to give him a chance at survival.”

“Can we just wait here until the storm passes us by? This storm won’t last forever -- surely it’ll be gone within the next four hours,” then said David. The thought of death brought intense feelings of both dread and fear into his heart.

“This lighthouse is old. It is frail like a towering stack of porcelain plates. This lighthouse will fall before the storm subsides,” James said, appearing calm.

“This lighthouse which we speak is sturdy; brick and clay make up it’s structure. You mean to tell me that some whirlwind has enough power to bring it down? Many storms have come and gone -- why would this one be any different?”

“Don’t doubt the power of God,” replied James.

“I, like you, fear God. I am not doubting Him, I am just clueless as to why he would send the whirlwind down on this day. My family needs me still. Why would God do that?”

“You’re asking the wrong person, Davy,” James said in a lighthearted tone. “Man can’t possibly know the motives of God.”

“Now that we are on the topic, I must admit, I haven’t talked to Him lately. Of course my family and I attend church -- we still read the scripture. But, the speed of life makes it so that I’ve hardly the time to speak to anyone.”

James nodded and took from the black backpack, two small cartons of raisins. He slid one across the floor to David. “Our lives were meant to be lived around God. We were meant to resort to Him in the wake of trial, tribulation, and strife. I say this in past tense because our lives are about to end,” James said, opening his carton of raisins ever so peacefully.

“But, how can you be at peace? Do you not have things that are unfinished here? Be realistic, James, do you really think death is better than life?”

“No -- not at all. Death is not what I am anticipating; I anticipate the Kingdom of God that awaits us. David, I tell you this sincerely, nothing here can compare to the beauty that is heaven. Think about it; death is only a mere moment -- just a transition.”

Upon hearing this, David sighed and placed a raisin into his mouth. God, he knew, was the overseer of all. His will, David knew, would be done whether or not he was ready. But, in his head, his family stood by their pickup truck waving him forward. In David’s head, he and his family were to find a new home and build acres of land upon the residence. In David’s head, life with his children and wife was more precious than life in the presence of God. This he knew was wrong.

“It is terrible to know that so many lives are being ended at this second. Even we are assumed dead by now. But, David, we deserve this,” said James. He continued chewing; David knew that James savored the taste of the raisins. “But, this white rabbit is innocent. It is why I brought him here. I figured the rabbit had a better chance surviving here than out there on the flooded streets,” James concluded. He then used the black backpack as a pillow to lean his head on.

“James,” said David, somberly. James looked toward David; David wore a frown and his eyes were full, puffed, and red. “I can’t be so sure of my ascension to heaven; I have not been the greatest man.”

“David, God is ever merciful; I am sure you have repented, right?”

“I have. In fact, I do so nightly. But, for someone as full as sin as I, is there even hope? I sinned despite having the knowledge of truth in me.”

“Well, speak to Him from your heart. No words are necessary if you speak from the heart. I was way worse than you,” James said, resting his hands on his chest as he lay with his head against his backpack, “I was into the occult; I would use tarot cards -- I would visit psychics, mediums, and witches. I thought that would somehow fill the hole in my spirit, but it only widened the hole. But, the light brought me away from the darkness. David, I cannot decide anything for you; I can lead you and guide you, but ultimately, you have the final say in which way you choose to go.”

“Well, death is imminent. Are you not afraid? There is a slight chance that God is not there!”

“That is your problem. You doubt the existence of God and still expect Him to protect you and your family. Well, which is it? Is He there overseeing yours and your family’s safety, or is he non-existent?” James said, pointing at David enthusiastically.

Upon hearing this, David bowed his head into his knees and closed his eyes. A sole tear ran from his eye and landed on the raisin carton. The entire ordeal seemed like a dream; not only did it feel like a dream because the strangeness of the situation, but because his personality seemed not like his own. As the two breathed and wept, the thunder outside the lighthouse continued it’s relentless rampage. Outside, the wind continued it’s aggressive howling. Outside, the sea continued to fly and bathe tall trees, skyscrapers, and the lighthouse. The crack on the window widened and David heard it; the sound was akin to the sound of creaking ice. When this was heard, both David and James looked at one another. David then felt a cold chill atop his head. He turned and saw that water began to leak in through the window. David hurried to his feet and took his green coat off.

“What are you going to do with that?” asked James.

“We need to patch that fissure. We need to patch it or its going to break and we are really going to die.”

“David, put the coat back on and rest. The more you resist, the harder it will be. Just relax, man,” said James.

“I am not like you -- I can’t relax knowing that in a few moments I’ll be dead. If I leave now, there is still a chance!” David barked. “Your courage is unmatched -- death does not even scare you. The Lord is certainly with you,” David finished. After that, he placed his coat back on and started toward the stairway.


“What is it now?”

“If you are leaving,” James said, getting up from the ground and reaching into his black backpack, “then at least take this.”

David looked and saw that James held a key chain in his hand; on the key chain were several keys -- all were either silver colored or gold colored. “What is it for?” asked David.

“One is for my car, the other is for my house, and the others are of no use anymore.”

“Why would I need these?”

“Your truck -- you know the engine is shot. You know, as well as I, that you thought you’d never get out of this alive. How were you planning on escaping? I mean, even if the hurricane hadn’t become so strong -- what were you going to do? Were you going to hitch a ride?”

David felt prone now that James knew of his denial of death. He opened his mouth to speak, but whatever words lingered, fell and became scrambled. He mumbled and fell to his knees near the stairs.

“I came here, David, to die in the presence of someone else. I wandered off in search of a safer place. I came in sight of the lighthouse and decided it’d be best to take shelter there. Then, I saw your truck -- I saw the debris covering the hood. I knew that you were inside -- I knew that you had no way of escaping. I decided to come in so that we can have a last peaceful chat and pass together -- you, the rabbit, and I,” James said. He seemed to be holding back tears as his eyes, like David’s, were puffed, red, and glossy. “But, now I see that you aren’t as willing as I to accept death. The storm is stronger than anything any of us has ever seen. The reason I didn’t lead you out to my car and take you with me is because the roads are flooded. Now, I hope you believe me when I say this; today you and I will die. Even if you do manage to get somewhat far away, soon, the storm will catch up.”

“We can try! You and I can run to your car -- we can hide in there!” said David, excitedly. After he said this, the window with the fissure burst and water began to flow in. Turbulent winds came howling in through the window and knocked David down. He rolled down the steel steps, but held onto the bottom of the railing to keep himself from falling further. James scooped up the rabbit and walked over to the steps. As he walked, he held onto the walls, railing, and the lens of the light.

“David! Hold on -- it is almost finished!” he shouted at the top of the staircase.

David heard this and began to understand that it was really happening; the storm was really going to take him. Water from the sea found it’s way in through the window and crashed upon James, sending the rabbit and him down. The wind sung a mighty song; no trumpet or horn held a candle to the storm’s song. Thunder roared and more wind followed the thunderous electric bolts.

“This is really happening -- it is really going to be,” muttered David unto himself. His ears were full of water; the sensation only made the entire ordeal seem more like a dream. “Is it going to pass?!” shouted David, referring to their lives.

James nodded and said, “Be patient, David -- be not afraid.” After he said this, he put his arms up as if to surrender. David saw this and began to cry; he cried because the end was truly going to play out just as James lectured. David looked and saw the remaining windows burst as water flowed through the empty spaces where the windows once were. Then, he saw as James was washed away by the turbulent water. The wind blew with might and astonishing force; the lighthouse began to come apart. Bricks began to fall from the walls and the entire lighthouse rattled. David hurried to his feet and ran down the remaining stairs with the water chasing him. He approached the door and attempted to unbolt it, but the water caught up to him and, with the speed of a semi on the highway, crushed him against the steel door. When he fell to the ground, water washed over him and the door swung open. Howling wind entered the lighthouse.

David crawled, with broken limbs and lacerated flesh, out into the stormy day. Still with ears full of water, he turned and looked around. The sky was entirely gray -- almost black. Water flowed over the faraway roads and hefty trees lay thrown about the grass. Like dandelions, large trees were carried by the wind over the skies. He continued to crawl farther from the lighthouse and heard the many bricks crashing against the rocks that encircled it. One of his eyes began to lose vision; debris and water filled it. Once he dragged his body as far from the lighthouse as possible, he turned and saw it crumble, like a pillar of dirt, into the sea and across the grass around it. Both his and James’ vehicles were crushed by the debris.

David looked out toward the sea and saw a horrendous sight; a tidal wave, so immense it blended with the sky, was approaching inland. He attempted to stand, but like a dream, he found that he was sluggish, inarticulate, and immobile. As the tidal wave neared, he heard the storm become silent; the howling ceased as did the thunder. He lifted his arms to the sky and spoke, without words, to God. He found that his heart poured his thoughts without stopping -- like an overflowing fountain. On his knees, before the wave, he closed his eyes and remained with his arms to the sky. He heard the silent wave, like a giant tiptoeing, come nearer and nearer. Then, he felt but a brief, cold touch against his face.

Adrian Encomienda was born in Phoenix, Arizona. His fiction and poetry are inspired by such authors as John Milton and John Bunyan. His newest short story, "Cicatrin, Quien Te Trajo Aqui, Cicatrin", can be read in the summer 2017 issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected. His highly acclaimed poem, "The Candlelight", can be read in the spring 2017 issue of Indie Soleil Magazine. He is currently working on his first full-length novel.

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