As my wife Beth and I arrived at the rental cabin, I turned into the empty spot next to it and parked. The pristine river flowing next to the cabin and the spectacular canyon through which it flowed were just part of the reason we were here. We were empty nesters, now, and it was our first vacation without children. As I unloaded our luggage, I noticed that the bicycles left next to the cabin by the rental office were apparently for children.
“Those bikes are way too small for us. I’ll call the rental office and see if they have some larger ones.”
“Why don’t we just walk them there? I’ll push one and you can push the other. The office is just down the road.”
I couldn’t argue with that—it stood in clear view a quarter-mile away.
“Sounds like a plan.”
I carried our bags into the rustic, musty-smelling cabin and then rejoined Beth outside. We each grabbed a bicycle by its handlebars and then pushed them toward the office. Halfway there, it began to rain. Glancing up the canyon, I noticed that a torrential downpour was heading our way.
“Why don’t you go back to the cabin and stay dry. I’ll finish pushing these to the office and then head back. We can get replacements when the weather clears.”
“Okay. Hurry back.” Beth turned and walked briskly toward to the cabin.
As I continued along, steering each bike with one hand, the rain fell harder and harder. Suddenly, an intense gurgling sound caught my attention. I turned to see a wall of water and debris consume a gentle tributary dissecting the opposite bank and burst into the river, instantly turning the clear water a rusty-brown. A moment later, a similar sound erupted farther away as another tributary abruptly flooded. Eventually, I arrived at the rental office. I leaned the bikes on their kickstands and approached the small building, which appeared deserted. I knocked on the door anyway, but no one responded.
“We’re up here. You had better come up, too. It’s going to be a big one.”
Shielding my eyes from the rain with my right hand, I could barely make out a man and woman standing under an umbrella atop a bluff several hundred feet above me. More out of curiosity than anything else, I hurried up the trail toward them. I had no sooner reached the top when the woman pointed up the canyon.
“Here it comes now and is it ever a monster.”
My eyes widened and my jaw dropped at the sight of the mammoth swell of seething, muddy water advancing in our direction and demolishing everything in its path. It was at least a hundred feet tall. I was thankful that the man had warned me in time and that I was on safe ground.
That’s when I remembered Beth waiting for me in the cabin. I was safe, but she was doomed. For a split second, my mind accepted that logical fact—I could do nothing to save her. Nevertheless, my heart felt differently: a life without Beth was not an option. I scampered down the hill with the man and woman yelling behind me.
“Where are you going?”
“Come back! You’ll be killed down there.”
Ignoring their pleas, I continued my mad dash toward the cabin too rain-soaked to notice the tears streaming non-stop from my eyes. With precious little time to spare, I burst through the cabin door, raced to Beth and embraced her with all of my might.
“What are you doing? You’re soaking wet.”
“I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”
“Well, I love you too, but…”
I pressed my lips against hers and kissed her, ignoring a roar that grew more frightening with every heartbeat. As it finally reached a crescendo, I awoke with a start.
It’s common for me to awaken from a vivid dream with my heart racing and my body dripping with sweat, thankful that it was just a dream. Many dreams stick with me for days, taunting me with their hidden meaning. Eight such dreams ended up in my first two books: Detour from Normal and The Road to Amistad. Others became short stories, tucked away in a computer folder for future reference. What wondrous machines our minds are to create such convincingly real stories from seeming nothingness.Share