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A Visitor in Valhalla

by Ward Webb


October 16, 2086

When I woke up this morning, Plato was gone. I went out into the yard and looked around. I even walked to the end of the block and looked off down Butterfield Lane, but there was no sign of the old man.

I couldn’t help feeling saddened. I can’t explain it so that it makes sense, but even as frustrating, weird, creepy, threatening, fragile and suspicious as the old philosopher was, I was almost sorry to see him go. Yesterday I declared everything would be better if he was gone and things were back how they typically were, but now that there’s no sign of him... I miss him?

I sat on the porch for the better half of the day today. I spent the morning watching the last tendrils of smoke curl out of the charred mountain of ash down at the clearing. Rather than rush to pile fresh wood and start the pillar back into the mud-colored sky, I watched as it died away for good. After Plato, maybe luring people to me wasn’t a good idea. There were certainly all kinds of highwaymen and criminals out there and I didn’t need them coming to destroy my peace.

When the sun slid behind the mountains I got up from the rocking chair and went inside. I fixed myself a can of beans over the kerosene hot plate and settled down in the big chair to finish The Count of Monte Cristo — again — and as the night swaddled down around me, I felt comforted knowing I’d done the right thing by staying here at my house in Valhalla.

There was nothing left for me in New York. Plato’s appearance gave me one thing, though: I now feel I might not be the only one left. The great wave of loneliness that gagged me has subsided somewhat, and I feel a lot more calm inside than I did a few days ago. So I guess that’s the one benefit of his surprising visit.

I have so many questions. I’ll never have the answers, and somehow that has to become okay.

October Something, 2086

Today I woke up. I don’t really know the date. I lost track of time, which is easy to do. I’m sure you can understand. Everything is always the same, regardless of what Plato said.

One thing he mentioned seems to be true however; when I went out onto the porch this morning to stretch the sleep off, I looked up into the billowing, rust-colored skies and could see the vague, cancerous dot off to the west growing larger every time I checked. So it seems there is another rock coming. God only knows where this one will land.

Maybe I should have gone with him. I’ve been questioning it a lot lately. I don’t know. I hope he made it safely to where he was going. He said he wasn’t going without me, but then he vanished.

I’m so confused. This isn’t life, this is lingering. It’s almost not even worth it. There is no quality anymore, just surviving and trying desperately to cling to some kind of hope, something to make it so that I can keep from going insane. I should have gone.

Shortly before lunch the rock was the size of a pencil eraser in the distance. A storm pressed in from the south and covered it for a while, which made me feel better. No one wants to watch his executioner show up for work.

I guess this may end things once and for all. I’m not sure. I’ll try to stay optimistic until the end. It’s the only way I know. But I really think I should have gone.

As the clouds parted and the black menace came rushing through the atmosphere, bursting into violent shades of orange, purple and red and making such a noise I could hear it in my bone marrow, I knelt down on my knees in reverent prayer on the front porch.

Framed by the open door behind me I closed my eyes and waited for the quake. The rippling shock wave that would be cast across the globe would come like thunder; like last time, when those balls of metal and rock the size of school buses came slamming into the surface of the planet like the vengeful fists of God.

I should have gone with that old guy regardless of how crazy he was.

He was right about everything after all.

Copyright © 2012 by Ward Webb

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