A CURIOUS ENCOUNTER

August 9, 2008

(Below is a sidebar story I played around with the other day.  It give another view of Windfallow.  Enjoy)

Kat had been watching the warehouse for three weeks. It sat across a wide parking lot from her dad’s factory. Kat had wangled permission from him to fix up the loft and now had a place all her own. She used candles when the sun went down so it would look as though no one lived there. It was her secret place – a safe haven in which to contemplate her life after high school. But there was that warehouse.

She’d first noticed it one early evening, when she saw a red Porsche pull up outside the big doors. “What a car!” she thought as a tall, dark-haired man stepped out and knocked on the warehouse door. The doors opened a crack, then wide enough to let the Porsche glide through. She kept waiting for it to reappear but gave up at 10:00 and went to bed.

The next afternoon she saw it again – earlier this time, but the same sleek sports car and the same man disappeared into the building. “When did he leave?” she wondered absently, then drew back in alarm as the man reappeared and looked up at her window. Kat knew he could not see her as the sun was shining straight into the tall window obviously reflecting back into his face. Still, she stepped to the side and watched as the man shrugged and went back into the building.

So the watching began. Now she knew there were four people who used the warehouse and several vehicles; trucks mainly, that would come and go through the day and night. The place looked deserted; the lettering so old most of it was unreadable. Sanf.. somebody and sons was painted in fading black and red on the side facing her.

Now she knew when they were there and when they were not. And the questions began. Why did the trucks come in empty and leave with tarps covering their contents? Where were they getting the stuff they took out? She jumped as the phone rang.

“Hello? Oh, hi, Mom. I’m just reading. Well, I’ve been busy going over catalogs from those colleges you suggested. I’ll come over Saturday and stay for supper. That sound OK?… Yeah, I’ll see you then.”

Kat looked at the clipboard in her lap. Times and made-up names for who was in and out and when the building was empty. Did she dare sneak in and see what was going on? Was she just nosy? Of course she was. She was seventeen for Pete’s sake.

The slightly built redhead, clad in jeans and sneakers, made her way around the outside of the parking lot, keeping to the trees lining the street. Seeing no one about in the dim light of early morning, she walked quickly across the gravel drive and up to the side door of the warehouse. “Of course it’s locked, you idiot!” she breathed as she stretched on tiptoe to see in the window. It was too dark to see through the dusty pane, so she walked around the metal building to find other possibilities. She had made almost a complete circuit of the property before she found another door. This one was not only unlocked, it was open a few inches!

It took muscle to push the door wide enough to permit entrance. Kat peered into the gloom of the interior. There was nothing here! No pallets of products, no machinery, nothing but a bare concrete floor! “What on earth!” Kat ventured inside. Funny, she couldn’t make out the back of the building. It wasn’t that long, so why couldn’t she see what was ahead. Ears tingling from listening for intruders… “Intruders?!” She almost laughed out loud. SHE was the intruder! “Never mind, I want to see what’s back there!”

Kat walked quickly toward the back of the building. Now a definite blur was visible. What was it? Where did it come from? She took a deep breath and walked into the mist.

A sudden disorientation made her stumble. The building was gone. Dim light made seeing difficult. She was in a tunnel of some sort. Earthen walls were smooth and featureless. What was this? She turned to go back but there was only another wall of dirt. Slowly she perceived a glow further down the tunnel. As she walked forward the glow became a shaft of sunlight shining through a break in the tunnel. With relief Kat walked quickly out of the tunnel and into a wooded area. The sunlight was filtered by trees but still brilliant. As she stepped out from under the canopy, she was brought to a standstill by the scene before her.

Skies of blue-green vied with the grass and trees for attention. The quality of light made clear this was not Oklahoma! A flash caused her to turn quickly to see a bird with glistening red wings glide from branch to branch. Another flash, this one from a stone outcropping that blazed cerulean in the sunlight. Where was she?

Out of nowhere a figure appeared before her. “Welcome. Do you need help?”

The man – she supposed it was a man – it appeared to be a man – except for the soft brown wings that outlined his figure like parentheses – waited for her to answer.

“Who are you? Where am I?” Kat kept herself from screaming by sheer will power.

“I am Angari and you are in Windfallow. Did you come through the warehouse?”

“Yes. But how did I… Where did you…” Words failed her.

“Come. You can see me so I know you are not one of the mindless. Let us walk together and put distance between this place and ourselves.”

“But, I don’t dare go far from here. I must get home!” She turned to run back into the wood. “I can get back home, can’t I?”

“Of course, but don’t you want an explanation for your presence here?”

She jumped aside as a gazelle-like creature came toward her.

“Don’t be afraid, Kat, the animals here will not hurt you.”

Kat stopped. “How did you know my name? I didn’t tell you my name! You are reading my mind! Who are you?” She dodged behind a tree.

“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. Perhaps you should ask what I am. Would you like to know?”

“Well, of course!” Kat was still nervous but her curiosity got the best of her.

“Come, sit here on this log and we will get acquainted.” Angari indicated a mossy limb hanging low to the ground. “Now I will tell you where you are and how you came to be here.”

“Windfallow is a small planet, just around the corner from Earth, but a million miles away. She was created at the same time as Earth and fallowfolk and earthlings in that day could cross between the worlds through gates. But the humans became corrupted and sinful. They abused the privilege of communing with us and the gates were closed for the protection of all. Sometimes the gates become usable as this one did. An evil being learned how to open it and has been sending mindless ones from earth to steal our rocks.”

“Mindless? Rocks? I don’t understand.”

“Mindless is the name we give to those who do not have the Spirit of the Maker within them. The Mindless from Windfallow live in tunnels like the one into which you wandered. The rocks I referred to are gemstones which we use for building stones; like that one.” Angari pointed to an outcropping of what appeared to be green glass. “That, Kat, is an emerald. We know now that you do not have such rocks on earth, but people lust after them and that is what the mindless are stealing.”

“That’s a real emerald?!! That’s what the trucks are carrying!”

“Yes, we are dealing with the problem, but you came in the midst of that operation.”

“But, what are you? And why do you have wings?” Kat felt comfortable enough to ask but she said nothing about the strange clothing or the tumbled mass of yellow curls on his head, or his seven-foot height.

“I am an Alari. In your world I would be called an angel. I have been alive since the Creation.”

“Are the fallo…fallowfolk all like you?
“No. The fallowfolk look pretty much like you do. But you will find no one here who steals or lies or does any of the things the Maker has forbidden. Would you like to meet some of them?”

“That would be nice, but I have to get back before my folks miss me.”

“You need not fear being late. Time flows differently in Windfallow. No matter how long you are here, time will not have passed in your world.”

Kat looked hard at him. “This is not Oklahoma, is it.”