-Erin Healy, Bestselling Author of Never Let You Go
I wrote this . . . It might have been back in April '10, but that might have been Unfinished Plans. All I know is that I wrote this several months ago. I didn't publish it on my blog for some reason, even though it was my longest short story yet. I personally like the story, but since it had been a long time since I wrote or revised it, I decided to let a friend of mine go over it first. You can see her quote above.
She pointed out several things that could be better, but overall gave me a good score, so I'm leaving it as it is. As I said last time, "What's done is done, and what's written is written." I think that's becoming my motto. Alright, let's make that official: it is now my motto. ^.^
By the way, except for behind-the-scenes, the title doesn't directly relate to the story. Anyway, enjoy!
The Station of Bridge Between
By Reuben Horst
He was standing in something that resembled a tunnel. The walls, ceiling and floor were all metal, and the overhead lights were an extremely dim yellow, the type that usually hurts your eyes, but not always. Bright lights appeared at either end of the tunnel, both ends about thirty yards away. Near the center of the tunnel, where the man was standing, was a bench, next to which were a trash can and a pop machine. A newspaper was lying on the ground a couple feet away.
Something about this place made the man feel strange and queasy inside.
He could hear sounds from both directions. From the tunnel exit further away he could hear doctors and nurses in worried voices talking about someone. Was it him? No way to tell from this distance.
From the closer exit, which was only closer by a couple feet, he could hear wonderful music that made him warm inside.
Something about this tunnel just seemed wrong. What was he doing here, anyway?
As the man sat on the bench, an older, dark skinned man with a grey beard and half-bald head walked over and picked up the newspaper and sat down.
The older man turned while still holding the newspaper and said, “Do you know why you are here, Elliot Winters?”
The younger man, Elliot, shook his head.
“My name is Miguel Gonzales,” the man continued. He must be Spanish, from his accent.
Miguel started reading the newspaper that had been on the floor of this very strange tunnel. Elliot sat down and looked over at the paper. It was titled Earth’s Special Events.
As the two men sat there, Elliot started to get thirsty. Not really thirsty, but only kind of. He got up walked to the pop machine and fished in his pockets for cash. To his dismay, he found his pockets empty.
Miguel, upon seeing Elliot being dismayed, and the reason why, fished in his own pocket, took out a coin, and gave it to Elliot.
“Is it enough?” Elliot asked.
Miguel only smiled and mumbled under his breath, “It is for those sodas.”
Elliot turned back to the machine, placed coin in the dispenser, and looked at his options. There weren’t very many, but Elliot didn’t recognize any of the brands: Cool Fame, Spicy Power, Cherry Wealth, Juicy Selfishness, and just plain Truth. Such odd names for sodas.
He looked and Miguel and asked, “Which one should I get? They all look good.”
Miguel took off his glasses and explained, “Cool Fame tastes good to most, and others hate it. Some just don’t really care about it. Spicy Power has a strong taste that nobody can resist unless they try hard. Cherry Wealth is something that people think makes them cool when they drink it. It’s extremely hard to find anymore. Next is Juicy Selfishness? Oh yes, although most people resent the name, they drink it all of the time without thinking. It takes great skill not to. And Truth . . . most people hate Truth. The majority of Earth hates this drink. Of course, it is one of the healthiest drinks that has ever been made.”
Even though a normal person would feel confused by all this, Elliot didn’t. Maybe it was this tunnel.
Well, Elliot thought, he was just thirsty, so he could do with something healthy.
The other drinks looked more tempting than he would think, but he pushed the button for Truth anyway.
Elliot imagined telling his friends that he had drank a pop called Truth, and it was one they’d never heard before. Oh how they’d envy him.
He smiled, thinking how Grant, the flavor king at work, would be constantly probing him for information about the taste.
Elliot’s thoughts stopped dead in their tracks. Would he ever get back?
His anger suddenly welled up. What would it matter if he got back? Nobody cared about him. Nobody ever did, except for his wife and daughter.
But his wife was in Egypt last time he knew, which was six months ago, on another of her wild goose chases, and his daughter was in Heaven with some god who cared for her and not him.
He was completely alone in a world full of jerks.
That was when Elliot noticed he was already drinking his soda. So this is what Truth tastes like? It actually tasted amazing. And that was when Elliot noticed that it was Juicy Selfishness that he was drinking, not Truth. When he had pushed the button, both had fallen down.
Elliot immediately threw the Juicy Selfishness away and picked up the Truth. He caught Miguel looking at him intently.
He slowly opened the Truth, put it up to his lips, and drank.
At first he could taste nothing, but then the terrible, bitter flavor hit him like a punch in the face, and the next thing he knew, he was laying on his back.
Alright, he hated Truth now. What had it done to him? He was shaking all over, from head to foot, and his heart was pounding as hard as his mom usually did when she was gave him one of her massacring massages.
He looked up to see Miguel get up and walk away toward the closest end of the tunnel. The one with music. Wait, Miguel was leaving him? No, Miguel couldn’t let him die here, which is what would happen if he didn’t get help. Was he having a heart attack? If he was, it would be an opposite heart attack, which would be himself dying from his heart beating too hard.
Miguel disappeared into the blinding light. Has he really abandoned me?
Elliot noticed the newspaper that Miguel had been reading was now on the floor, next to the bench. He reached out and grabbed it.
At least there was something to read.
As he weakly flipped open the Earth’s Special Events, one of the headlines caught his eye. It was an article with the title Accident on Micah Street.
Funny, he had been driving on
Elliot started reading down the page, and his fears were confirmed.
“A tragedy in
"The truck driver was shaken badly; survived without much injury, but Winters was shipped off to
"Stay tuned for more information within the next few days.”
Elliot didn’t bother reading who wrote it. It didn’t matter who wrote it. He was in a hospital, dying. Is in a hospital, dying.
He finally managed to pull himself up onto the bench, putting the can of Truth on the floor.
But when he let go of the can, it stuck to his hand. He tried shaking it off, but it wouldn’t come off. After that he tried every way possible way to get it off his hand, each attempt failing miserably.
When a few minutes had passed, he gave up and went back to reading the newspaper, with the can still stuck to his hand.
Earth’s Special Events was a very unique newspaper. It was full of accidents and deaths.
Eventually he found a page that visited old accidents. That’s where he broke down.
"This is a sad story, and I cry every time I think about it. Whenever I revisit this accident, it’s hard for me to bear."
Elliot couldn’t read the rest. He was sobbing by the time he got as far as he did. He couldn’t help it. It happened every time he thought of his daughter’s death. Nothing could ever stop him from crying about it.
Minutes passed in the tunnel with him thinking about his daughter and his own impending doom, and then hours.
When Elliot finally looked up, he threw the newspaper across the room and screamed.
The newspaper landed next to the can of Truth, a few feet in front of him.
Wait, hadn’t that can of pop been stuck to his hand?
Elliot looked at his hand, and saw in despair that it was drenched in Truth. The purple liquid dripped down onto the bench.
He looked around for something to dry his hand on, and saw a drinking fountain that he hadn’t noticed before.
He got up and walked to the machine and pulled the little lever. Instantly, purple liquid spurted from the fountain.
Oh great, the drinking fountain was full of Truth.
Elliot looked around in despair. As he was looking, the Truth that drenched his hand fell to the floor in a small puddle, and made its way toward the can.
He watched as the puddle and the can came into contact. At first he could just hear a sizzling noise, but then the can exploded.
Elliot cried out as Truth spewed everywhere, and then came back together into the form of a monster. The frightening Truth beast looked like it came right out of a Square Enix game.
He immediately started sprinting towards the nearest tunnel—the one with music. Unfortunately for him, he hit an invisible wall within a few feet. Bad news, because the purple monster had noticed him and was advancing.
He quickly got into a defensive position, but it was too late. The monster threw itself at him, and he landed on his back, trying as hard as he could to keep his mouth shut.
He slowly and steadily lost the battle against the Truth that was flowing wickedly fast all around and on him, and he screamed.
Immediately Truth filled his mouth and throat and he experienced the worst feeling in his entire life. It felt like he was being skinned alive.
Elliot’s screaming grew louder and louder, torturing his own ears. When he couldn’t scream any more, it came as a relief, but by then his pain was so horrible that he barely noticed.
Finally giving up on trying to breath, Elliot Winters was dying. Very slowly and very painfully.
When darkness was closing in but showing no help with the pain, Elliot felt someone grab his hand and pull him up.
It was Jasmine.
Elliot blinked. His deceased daughter stood before him, looking prettier than she ever had on Earth. She wasn’t smiling, but looking at him intently.
The two embraced each other. Jasmine must have come through the nearby tunnel end, which Elliot finally concluded must be Heaven.
After a few seconds, the Truth monster picked itself up and hurled through the air, hitting Elliot dead on, but Jasmine immediately pulled him out of the creature’s grip again.
The two of them dodged around for a while, avoiding the monster’s attacks, and finally Elliot whispered, “What am I supposed to do?”
Even through the din of the Truth Monster, Jasmine seemed to hear him and replied, “You need to face the Truth, Dad.”
The movements of the advancing creature slowed as they continued.
“How can I face a monster made out of a soda that tortures me?” Elliot cried. Jasmine looked around.
“That is not a soda, Dad,” she said steadily, “But pure, raw truth.”
Realization hit Elliot like a fist. And so did the Truth Monster. Elliot was sent flying backwards against the wall.
“Dad,” Jasmine was screaming over the noise, “You need to face it!”
Elliot got up and whispered, “I need to face the truth. And the truth is that I’m a jerk who doesn’t deserve to live or go to Heaven.”
“No, Dad,” Jasmine screamed again, “The true truth is that you’re not!”
Elliot paused, though his limbs were hurting badly.
“You need to believe, Dad,” his daughter continued. “You need to believe that you are beautiful inside. And you need to believe that God can save you!”
A tear slipped from his eyes. “I don’t know what I believe anymore,” he managed.
At that moment the monster rammed into him, devouring him by any definition. He started screaming as the pain started all over again.
No, no, no, Lord! Help me!
Suddenly the pain started to ease off, though Elliot could still feel the liquid flowing all around him. He saw a light above him, and a man standing in the light.
It was Jesus.
Suddenly Elliot believed. He believed in himself, he believed in his daughter and, most of all, he believed in God.
He jumped up and screamed. Not in pain, but in strength. He could handle the truth now.
Immediately the creature shrieked and withered away, leaving the can behind. All of the Truth around in the tunnel dried up, and nobody would ever be able to tell that it was there in the first place.
Elliot looked and saw that Jasmine had been crying for him while he was engulfed in truth. But suddenly the tears of sadness were replaced with tears of joy as the two ran and really embraced each other this time. Tears poured from his own eyes as he wept for joy at seeing her.
It was almost as if he hadn’t noticed her before. Well yes, he had, but the realization had never hit him that this was, in fact, his daughter who he had lost to an automobile accident six years ago.
Seeing her and seeing Jesus had just turned his world upside-down. Or, more accurately, right side-up.
“I love you,” he cried, hugging her as hard as he could.
“I love you too, Daddy,” she replied, laughing.
Elliot and Jasmine suddenly found themselves at the end of the tunnel that lead back to Earth. At that moment Elliot knew that this meant he had to go back.
He finally pulled back from his daughter, and she let him. She too knew that he had to go.
“It was good to see you again,” she whispered.
Elliot smiled. “Good to see you too,” he whispered back.
With that, he stepped backwards through the tunnel exit, and found himself being flown away in a land full of light. He could still see his daughter waving, and the old man Miguel next to her, nodding his head, and the savior Jesus on the other side, smiling at him.
The next moment he was lying in a hospital bed, looking into the eyes of his wife Sarah.
They blinked at the same time.
“Sarah,” Elliot cried, “You came to see me!”
Sarah shrieked for joy and immediately called for the nurse.
“He’s awake!” She shouted.
The nurse came running in and stared at him, unbelieving.
In the next hour Elliot was told about all of the injuries that he had had in the crash, and how he had just died three hours before he woke up. Evidently some miracle had been performed and somehow he came back to life.
Yeah right, Elliot thought sarcastically.
When Sarah had heard of the accident, she’d raced back to the states as fast as she could to see him.
Elliot sat thinking as he was told all of this. He kept thinking back to his daughter and Jesus. It would be good to see them again. Someday he would, and that thought made him happy.
This short story actually was inspired by one scene in Deadline, by Randy Alcorn, which happens to be my favorite book ever.
Anyway, feedback please!