It was such a shock, discovering my brother’s charred, deformed body in the middle of my yard. Now, a week later, I stare out the window at the place he was found. Yellow tape, like morbid streamers, still hangs between the trees.
The cops poked through everything – under the porch, through the flowerbeds. As though the cause of his combustion could be found in my azaleas.
I close the shade, allowing the house to swallow me again. I haven’t left since that night.
With excruciating care I open the door to the basement. In utter darkness, I feel my way down the almost ladder-steep stairs. I don’t realize I’m holding my breath until my lungs ache.
A glow begins in the far corner and I let my breath out in a slow release. Moving toward the illumination I take inventory. The worktable, the drawers filled with materials, the locked chest, and the obelisk emitting that soft, enticing glow.
I pull the key out from under my shirt where it hangs on a chain and open the chest. My brother’s journal seems to give off a glow of its own, but maybe that’s because I know what it contains. Every brilliant thought George had, he transcribed here. There are scientific notes that even I do not understand, but I comprehend enough to know he was not the crackpot everyone considered him.
I reach out a finger and it trembles as I press it against a diamond symbol on the obelisk. The diamond glows against my fingertip. Heat builds and a surge of energy pours through my body. If I had any hair left it would be standing on end. Goosebumps rise like a tide, sweeping across my skin.
Then the obelisk goes dark and cold, but I feel alive. Vibrant, ecstatic and full of such energy I can barely hold still. I flip on the light over the worktable and thumb through the journal to find the sketch of the obelisk and the instructions in George’s maddening shorthand. I lay the obelisk down.
Already the energy is fading. Cold begins to creep into my bones. The feeling of life is almost gone.
With a tiny screwdriver I remove the base. Something is wrong. Something is keeping it from producing the power George intended. I trace my fingers across his notes and carefully begin to work.
I have done this every day now for seven days. Ever since I found the box with the journal and the obelisk in my basement. The night after my brother died.
I have been on the cusp of victory for two days. I feel as though I am just missing the solution. I move a wire, tweak a connection, breathe a curse as my fingers slip and I have to start over.
Then suddenly I know I have done it. Adrenaline fills my veins and I have the entire thing reassembled and standing almost before I can think.
I reach to the top and tap a circle. There is a low hum. The ground vibrates, the obelisk pulses. With my thumb I touch a wavy line about midway down the obelisk and stretch my pinky over to reach a matching line on the opposite side.
There is a high, sweet noise. My heart pounds. The obelisk begins to glow and I turn off the incandescent bulb, the light seeming sacrilegious next to the purity of the obelisk’s radiance. My breath comes in short gasps as I reach out one last time to touch that diamond.
The heat is beyond words, the energy so intense my entire body arches upward and suddenly I am floating, flying. A beam of light stabs through me, then another and another as each symbol etched on the mysterious surface of the obelisk glows white hot. The light carries me. Through the ceiling into the living room and then through that ceiling into the bedroom.
I see it all in vivid colors, experience it as I never have before. Then I am through the roof and the sky is blue and cool and clear and the sun is growing closer and then I am no longer me. Far below, on the vague form of the earth I see my body, charred and twisted like my brother’s, but that is not what I truly am. I am more alive than I have ever been as the blaze of the sun shimmers out to call me home.
(c) 2010 Rebecca Thompson
All Rights Reserved