BY MARK THOMAS
Copyright is held by the author.
SEVERAL YEARS ago, I regularly experienced vivid hallucinations and suffered enormously for those misapprehensions, so I was understandably slow to react.
After all, some scenarios are infinitely more likely than others. At the point of contact two possibilities presented themselves. One: my Silverado had struck a large snow goose executing a sloppy take off from a nearby sluiceway; or Two: I had clipped a smallish angel who was walking on the loose gravel shoulder of Highway 27B.
Which would you believe?
There had been an undeniable thump and then a ragged ball of feathers careened into the ditch underneath an orange “dangerous curve” sign.
Well, surely, I’d hit a goose. The drainage pond was a known migration stopover, and I’d seen several flocks there recently, preening themselves.
But I’d also registered the image of a very pale humanoid face pressed against my passenger-side window at the very instant of contact. I continued driving despite that disconcerting vision because my current mental stability had been achieved through monumental effort and the prospect of backsliding into imaginary worlds was terrifying.
Within a few minutes, however, I found myself wheeling around and heading back to the accident scene. Uncertainty was debilitating in and of itself. I was suddenly gripped with the absolute need to verify that I had killed a large bird rather than a celestial messenger. I performed a second U-turn when I saw the orange hazard marker, and parked teetering on the very lip of the ditch.
I exited the Silverado to investigate and, at first, all I saw was several pinkish sand bags anchoring the sign’s base along with some tatters of white construction plastic. But upon closer inspection I realized I had, in fact, run over a winged Seraph. His child-like body was curled around one of the stanchions, limbs impossibly long and articulated with numerous bulbous joints. I gently cradled the supernatural form in my arms, carried him up the grassy embankment and gently placed him in the passenger seat. It was an easy burden because the angel’s bones were hollow, like those of a bird. He had several sets of stubby wings, but they were quickly reabsorbed into his fragile torso.
I turned on the heated seats and within a few minutes the pale figure seemed to shudder awake. He turned to me, and I asked him if he was alright.
“Tired,” he replied, flexing his slender shoulders. “It’s exhausting, dragging eternity to and fro.”
“Can I help?” I asked. “I’ll drive you to your next intervention.”
“Thank you,” he said, and gestured elegantly with an elongated finger. But as I shifted into drive he looked at me sadly, and said “they’ll never believe your story. They’ll say you deliberately ran me down for the usual tawdry reasons then drove around with my rotting corpse belted securely in place in a pathetic attempt to expiate your guilt.”
“I know,” I replied, determined to help never-the-less. “Righteousness is exhausting” and we drove into the snow-flecked night.