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The Tunnel

This is a short story with a religious theme, hope you enjoy 

The Tunnel

            The crash took me by surprise, and I checked myself over. There were a few cuts and bruises, but I felt fine. I crawled out of the car through the window and onto the road, mum and dad were already there.

“Are you ok?” mum asked.

“Yeah,” I replied, although I was shaken.

“Sit at the side of the road for a moment, I need to ask you dad some questions.” I obeyed without arguing, I was too stunned.

The car was a wreck in the ditch, but I did not look too closely, rather sat on a hillock as mum and dad spoke in hushed tones together. In time they returned with half smiles.

“We’re going to wait in the woods for the ambulances and police to turn up,” mum said. Dad led as we crossed through a gap in the trees to where there was a clearing.

It was a gentle place, the sun filtered through the leaves, sending dappled warm light on a the lush green grass where Christmas Roses and Columbines grew. There was the sound of birds calling and singing among the trees, and an aura of calm. A gentle hill marked the edge of the clearing, and a metal bench was opposite, set against the trunk of a large cedar tree. Mum sat on the bench, and I went to the hill.

I saw there was a large animal hole and I peered into it and saw it trailed off into the distance of the mound.

“Dad, we could fit in here, shall we see what’s in here?” I asked. I expected him to say no. We did not know what animal would live in such a large hole.

“Sure, but you go first,” he said. “There may be a monster in there,” he joked.

“Are you coming, mum?” She shook her head.

“You go. I may be along later.” I did not think mum would come, she was not really into getting dirty and would be quite happy sitting in the gentle clearing.

I went first, crawling on hands and knees, I entered the tunnel. I felt a surge of excitement. Although the ground was damp cool mud, it was firm and comfortable. The smell was pleasant, and roots had formed around the walls of the tunnel, but none barred our way. We said nothing as we made out way along the tunnel. Finally I saw some light ahead.

“There’s light ahead,” I mumbled with a furrowed brow. Dad said nothing. I was not even sure he was still with me, but the tunnel was too narrow to look back.

The light was from the end of the tunnel, and I emerged into the forest, although I knew instantly that this was not the same woodland.

The air was cool, the sky deep blue, and the first tree that I saw was a huge elm tree, but about it were fir trees. There was an old woman sat on a rocking chair before a thatched timber framed and roses surrounded the low doorway. She looked up as I emerged from the hole and put aside her knitting.

“I have waited many years for you,” she said, unsurprised at my appearance from the hole. I looked about and saw dad was beside me, smiling broadly and I thought I saw a tear in his eye. The woman seemed familiar, although I was not sure where from. “And you,” she continued, pointing at me, “you have become a handsome young man, like your dad was at your age. How old are you?”

“Fourteen,” I said. She nodded, and looked at dad.

“Over there is Paul, he will show you the way to the castle.”

I saw now a man holding a staff and was dressed in purple and blue. He was short, with a long hooked nose, a bald head and eyes brows that met. He smiled on hearing his name, and I saw that his eyes, although red rimmed, were gentle and kind. The sun was behind him, shining about his head.

“Come, follow me,” he said with a heavy accent. As we followed, the trees dropped back, and I saw a wide range of mountains.

There were beautiful snow capped mountains stretching into the distance, and birds soared high above. A castle was in the distance, tall turrets thrust skyward and pennants fluttering in a gentle cool wind.

Shortly along the path we passed a house that was a simple wooden home, low fronted with large doors on an annex which were thrown open to reveal a workshop.

“Dad, that’s like your ideal house there. You always tell mum you would love a simple life with a workshop so you can make things.”

“Yes, it’s a wonderful home there,” he said. Paul paused and turned to us, a gentle smile on his lips. We said no more, but continued our way. Paul walked quickly, despite having crooked legs and in time we reached the gates of the castle.

There were two large doors, but they were open. The walls of the castle were white; a christogram of IHS was carved into the stone above the gateway.

Inside, the entrance hall was large with golden stairs rising up either side. There was a table, covered in delicious food. I could hear constant singing, and it was so beautiful. The song went deep into my heart, making me smile as I heard it, warming me to the core. Dad was smiling too.

“It is fantastic here,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied, “there is nothing wrong at all.”

“Please,” said Paul, “eat your fill. Even you, Jack, can have the wine.” It never occurred to me that Paul knew my name, for I was too interested getting a glass of wine. At home, I had only been allowed wine at Christmas.

I took a plate of food and a glass of wine, and sat to eat with Paul and dad. Then some other men came in, and there were ten others. They all looked wise but friendly and normally I was shy, but they quickly set me at ease.

As I spoke to Paul on my right and dad on my left, I overheard some snippets of conversations;

“He will arrive soon. The king is coming.” I was about to meet a king. I thought I must be dreaming, for the place was surreal, but if it was a dream I did not mind, for the place was too wondrous.

After a feast like none other that I have had, I stepped outside with Paul and dad. I looked out across the endless mountains, where forests nestled around the foothills and snow capped their peaks. In the far distance I could see the tops of a city and it seemed to glow as if made of gold. There was no sun, but it was warm and light. I glanced at my watch and saw that it had stopped.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“Soon it will be time to meet the king,” Paul replied. I frowned at his answer, but he continued. “We should go back to the house.”

I was a little disappointed, but I knew we had to get back to mum. We took the short journey back along the path, but stopped at the wooden shack. The old woman was there now, waiting.

“You go in, son, get the kettle on,” dad said. I went to the front door, it was open slightly but there was no handle. Dad would be able to fix that easily. Inside, it was surprisingly comfortable.

There was a stove in the corner, although it was not lit, with a pile of wood in a basket alongside. A table in the middle had six chairs, and the wall had a hanging. There was clutter all about, and I passed from here into a kitchen. It was neat, and I saw an Aga cooker. Taking the kettle, I looked for a tap, but there was none. Instead I looked out of the window and saw that there was pump.

“Dad should buy this place, it’s so rustic,” I said to myself. I was about to leave to get the water when I heard a knock at the door.

“Come in!” I called, but the reply was another knock at the door. Placing the kettle on the table I saw a figure at the door.

I opened the door and saw a tall man with long dark brown hair, a full beard and piercing kind brown eyes. He wore all white and the light behind him illuminated his head as it had Paul’s.

“Hello Jack,” he said. “You know who I am.” His voice was gentle and although he spoke, the words seemed to be in my mind and heart as well.

“Yes,” I replied, although I had never met him before, “you are the Lord Jesus.” Stunned I stepped back, “come in.” And as he stepped into the room, so it was that light followed him, I looked about the room again.

I noticed that there was a shelf with a picture of me, dad and mum. There was a pair of boots in the corner that were dads, and on the table, his cup that I bought him at father’s day. In front of the now lit stove was a black dog, and I knew it was Kruger, our Great Dane, who had died two years ago. He and dad had been inseparable.

“What…?”

“You have let me in, and now you see the Truth,” Jesus said. “Come.” He took me outside, and dad and the woman were waiting, Paul had left. I looked to the sky and saw that they were not eagles soaring high, but angels in many colours, although with human faces they were beautiful beyond words.

“Dad, what is going on?” I asked, tears in my eyes.

“You know where we are,” he said.

“Heaven? That means I am dead.”

“No, Jack, not you. Sorry, but I never walked away from that crash.”

I had tears in my eyes, and was sad, but also I was not sad. There can be no sadness in Heaven.

“I wanted to show you that I will be fine. One day we’ll be together again.”

“The tunnel, we came through that together.”

“I was not with you. My tunnel was filled with light until I got here. Now you must go, mum needs you.” I threw my arms around him, a great tight hug, tears spilling down, but with a warmth knowing he would be happy.

“Let me lead you back to the tunnel,” Jesus spoke. So it was he led me, along the path, past the thatched cottage, to the tunnel.

“So it is,” Jesus spoke. I entered the tunnel, and moved quickly along it. When I emerged, mum was still sat on the bench. I could see through the trees, the flashing of ambulance lights. Mum rose from the bench and took my hand.

“Come on, let’s go home,” was all she said. It was all she needed to say.

©Copyright Alan Grace 2014

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