Printed in the Conscious Creation Journal
August-September 2000, Issue 13
A Walk Off the End of the World – Part 1 of 2
by John J. McNally
The following story is an account of an experience I had back in 1993. At the time I had been reading metaphysical texts for about 5 years, and had my share of mind-expanding experiences, however this one was to blow me completely away. It actually began as I stepped out of my apartment on my way to work. I felt my consciousness divide, one part travelling the road in the story below, and one going through the daily routine of my job. At the time, I worked as a clerk in the back office of a brokerage in the kind of job that requires lots of focus. I have no idea how I managed to function in my job through that day; except that I do remember the experience would remain paused when I needed all my focus in physical reality. Whenever I had a free moment however for example: during lunch or on the subway, I began to transcribe the below text, which relates the story as best as I can. The experience and the transcription lasted throughout the day and finally finished somewhere about ten o’clock that night.
I took a walk one day off the end of the world. It didn’t happen suddenly but rather a gradual change in the landscape as I walked. First, the houses vanished, and with them the streetlights and other comfortable reminders of city life. Next was the pavement, which turned to a loose gravelly sand under my feet. And finally, the trees thinned out, bushes and weeds stopped growing, there was only the path, weakly lit by the light of the waning moon.
As I continued on the path, I saw a form hunched over on the ground. It was a little girl. Her face and clothes were covered with the soot and dirt of the road. Small tracks of brightness down her face indicated that she had been crying recently.
“Are you lost?” I asked, not sure if I knew where I was myself.
“No,” she responded sadly, “I’m being punished. I’ve been bad.”
I looked at this frightened, weather-beaten child, and tried to imagine anything bad enough to warrant being dumped here.
“What did you do?”
“Lots of things,” she answered. “But I don’t want to talk about them.”
“Whatever you’ve done can’t be that bad – you’re only a child.”
“Will you forgive me?” she asked, eyes hopeful.
“There’s nothing to forgive, you haven’t hurt me.”
“Just say you forgive me, please.”
“Okay,” I sighed, suddenly becoming aware of how difficult those words were to say, “I forgive you.”
Instantly she threw her arms around me and cried, between her sobs she tried to say thank you. I held her, and was surprised at the healing energy that flowed between us. After she calmed a bit I asked her to walk with me. We journeyed together in silence, occasionally she looked up at me with a little smile, but for miles nothing was said.
Finally we came upon a break in the landscape. Up ahead we could see what looked like a valley. Dawn was approaching and tinges of fresh green were visible in the gray light. As the path dipped into the valley, we came across a symbol drawn in the sand. It was a triangle, equilateral, with a circle drawn on each point.
“This is important,” said the little girl, “but I don’t remember what it means.”
We stepped carefully around it and walked the gently sloping path into the valley below. Here, for the first time in hours, were green living plants, trees, and fresh running water. The first shafts of sunlight were touching the leaves and I was dumbfounded by the scope of its beauty.
“We shouldn’t be here,” said the little girl.
‘Why? It’s so beautiful. What is this place?”
“The Monk lives here,” she said, “He’s mean.”
“Was he the one who left you out on the road?”
“No,” she answered, “I’ve never met him. I just know he’s mean.”
We walked on a bit, the path now lined on each side and covered with a soft green carpet of grass. Around us were birds of all sizes and shapes imaginable. Small forest animals would stare at us curiously as we walked by, yet none seemed afraid, apparently man never hunted here.
“He’s coming! He’s coming!” the little girl wrapped herself around my legs, petrified of the approaching figure.
It was easy to see why this man could frighten a child. He wore a black cloak and was deeply stooped as he walked; his steps were measured and careful, giving him an “Igor” like demeanor.
He looked up at me from beneath his hood, pale gray eyes showing fear, and possibly contempt. He motioned for us to follow him, off the path for a short distance, to the small cabin where he lived.
The cabin was pretty in its own way. A solid almost cubed structure, with a slightly peaked roof. The wood outside had been treated with a shellac like substance which gave it an unusual luster. Inside the cabin were two rooms, the kitchen, and the monk’s bedroom. Both were plain and rather drab. The kitchen had a fireplace for cooking and a small square table with two wooden chairs. On the table were two bowls of some sort of porridge.
‘I guess you were expecting us.”
He looked at me strangely, as if he didn’t know what to make of me, then he turned away and walked out the door.
The little girl and I sat and ate the porridge. It was good and nourishing, but very bland.
“I told you he was mean.” This was the first time the little girl had spoken since arriving here.
“He’s not so bad, after all, he’s given us food.”
“But he looked at us like we’re bugs!”
“Yeah, I noticed that, but I think it’s been a long time since he’s seen any people.”
“A very long time,” she said matter of factly. ‘Longer than I was out on that stupid road.”
“And how long were you out there anyway?” I asked.
“Years and years, it felt like forever.”
I didn’t want to fight with her, but she certainly had to be overdramatizing.
“You don’t believe me,” she said in a small voice. “You don’t know.”
“What don’t I know?”
“Never mind. I’m not telling.”
She wrapped her arms around herself tightly and rocked her body. Her face was locked in a tight pout, as if she was fighting back another crying fit. I decided to leave her for a while and try talking to the Monk, but as I walked through the greenery to search for him, my little friend was right behind me.
“You can wait there in the cabin,” I said kindly. ‘I won’t leave without you.”
“I’m not supposed to leave you,” she said.
I puzzled over that for a second, but decided to continue my search for the Monk.
‘He’s over that way, plantin’ trees.” said the little girl, pointing left. Intuitively I knew she was right, so I walked in the direction of her finger.
We found him fifteen minutes later, pushing a wheelbarrow full of strange seeds. I offered to take the wheelbarrow, but he brushed me off coldly, once again measuring me with that same look. We followed him in silence until he reached the border of the valley. Cautiously he approached the dirt border and from his pocket he sprinkled some tiny seeds.
In moments, small green stems sprung from the earth, and in under a minute, the formerly barren patch was alive and green. Then, he took a small trowel from his cloak, and began digging a small hole in the newly planted ground. While he was busy, I couldn’t resist sneaking one of his seeds out of the wheelbarrow. I cast a quick glance at my tiny companion and she smiled back shaking her head up and down.
The seed felt somehow warm and alive in my hand – it almost glowed – and as the Monk picked himself up off the ground, I cast the seed far into the sand. The Monk’s jaw dropped as he saw my motion, the smallest of cries escaping his throat. He stared at me in shock, eyes blazing with hatred for what I had just done.
“Oh look!” cried the little girl, pointing at where the seed had landed.
A long thick green stem was snaking its way upward; on its head was a single large bud. The bud burst open into a beautiful, giant flower, an explosion of bright pink lighting up the surrounding blighted area. Even after blooming, the flower continued to grow and metamorphose. Tiny stems, which had burst from the bud, continued to grow and thicken. Within the space of ten minutes there stood healthy blooming trees, where before had been only dust.
The Monk had never said a word throughout this development. He merely watched, with lines of abject fear upon his face.
‘Do more! Do more!” the little girl cried in delight. “Let’s do lots more!”
She ran over to the wheelbarrow, but was intercepted by the Monk who moved with surprising speed.
“AIEE!” her scream was ear piercing as the Monk laid his hand upon her. “No, let me go!” she howled as the Monk solidified his grip on her arm.
‘Hey, take it easy on her,” I said, moving towards the pair.
“Don’t let him touch you!” she screamed.
But it was too late. The Monk’s hand darted out like a snake and the moment I felt its contact, everything went dark.
* * *
I awoke in pain. For days I’d been having stomach problems, but today was something worse. I tried to call to my husband, but I could barely get the sound out. My body felt awkward and sluggish. I was burning with fever. Finally my daughter, Angelica, heard me and came in to see what was wrong.
“What is it Mommy? What’s the matter?”
For a second she looked like a stranger to me, then I realized it was just that she looked so dirty, like she hadn’t been bathed in weeks.
“Angelica, honey, Mommy needs a doctor. Where’s your daddy?”
“Daddy had a plumbing job. He’s mad ’cause you sleep too much.”
A brief wave of fear passed through me as I thought of my husband and his temper. “Go downstairs to Mrs. Collins. Tell her to call an ambulance.”
“I’m scared, Mommy.” Angelica cried, suddenly bursting into tears.
“It’s okay, sweetheart, but I need you to be a big girl right now. Go downstairs to Mrs. Collins. Tell her that I need an ambulance, okay?
“Okay,” she bit her lower lip and then ran from the room.
I buried my head back into the pillow and smiled, at least I had done one good thing in my useless life. If only Thomas weren’t so violent, if only.
I drifted into sleep for a while and experienced some strange visions. I saw the ambulance men placing me on their truck. Why did I look so pale? I drifted close enough to the driver to hear the word “appendicitis”. ‘So that’s what I have,’ I thought, ‘They had better do something quick or I will die.’
Meanwhile, I saw Angelica, holding onto Mrs. Collins for dear life. I followed them back into her apartment, wishing somehow I could communicate, just to tell my daughter that I was alright.
I saw my brother-in-law, Joey, enter the house and thank Mrs. Collins for watching Angelica. I heard her ask “How is Marlena?” Joey only shrugged and said he was waiting for a call.
Angelica didn’t want to leave – her fear of her Uncle was almost tangible. I never really liked Joe, but I couldn’t recall him ever doing anything to Angelica.
“Can I make mommy a get well card?” she asked.
My brother-in-law barely answered her a mere mumble and a nod, as he headed towards the refrigerator to look for a beer.
Angelica, meanwhile, had something special planned to make her Mommy feel better. She took two pieces of drawing paper and attached them lengthwise with Scotch tape. Then, she took out her markers, and her paint set.
While she began making the card, the phone rang inside. I listened as Joe just shook his head and said, “Oh, my God,” over and over.
‘What could have happened? Did Tom get hurt rushing to the hospital?!”
“Oh, no – my card!” cried Angelica. I turned to see the small jar of red children’s paint spilled sideways across the homemade card, and drip down onto the living room rug.
“What’s going on in there!?” Joe’s voice made my blood freeze. I watched in fear as he barreled into the room.
“What the hell is this! Look at this fucking mess you made, you stupid kid!”
Fear quickly turned to helpless rage as I tried to tell him to shut up.
Angelica was now on the floor behind the easy chair; terrified.
He strode across the room removing his belt in a fluid effortless motion. He reached behind the chair and jerked her out with his powerful arm.
“This is what you get for ruining the carpet!” he snarled and the belt came down with a whack.
“Mommy!” she screamed, “Mommy, help!”
I tried, I tried to do anything, but I was helpless except to watch.
“Your Mommy’s dead, you little bitch! She’s dead! And it’s your fault for being such a bad girl!”
I was horrified at what he was doing to my daughter. I tried to stand between them but his blows passed right through me. It wasn’t until after the beating finally ended that I realized what he had said.
Dead, me? Really dead? Where was the fanfare, the pearly gates, St. Peter? I didn’t feel dead. In fact, I felt very alive, and if I could touch things, I’d show Joey just how alive I was.
Finally Angelica fell asleep crying, her back arms, and legs a mass of bruises and welts. I noticed that Joey carefully avoided her face. I had always suspected but now understood why his wife had run away one night and never came back.
Days passed. I saw the funeral arrangements made. I stayed around the house and watched my brooding husband and his brother drink themselves into a nightly coma. Angelica was left basically to take care of herself. No question was ever raised about her bruises.
But then nobody ever asked about mine either.
Images began to turn fuzzy and years passed by in a blur. I saw images of Angelica fighting in school, being hit by her father, and on what looked like a New Years Ever party, raped by her Uncle. Finally, the scene slowed again one final time. Angelica was a teenager, a pretty girl, despite her brutal life. She was in a park with her friends. They looked like a street gang, in her hand was a bottle of beer.
I watched in sadness as she downed one beer after another. Then one of the boys started passing around pills. Angelica downed them with a vengeance. Soon she was lying there alone and cold in the night air, a chilling and depressing end to what could have been a beautiful life.
* * *
Slowly the garden came back into focus, the Monk stood before me, no longer holding me. Angelica was there too, only she turned and fled as soon as she got her bearings. “Angelica! Wait!” I ran after her, feeling suddenly very heavy in a physical body once again. I chased her through the garden for some time until I gave up. I had lost her.
“Angelica, come back! I’m not mad at you! I love you!”
From a thick stand of bushes came a small voice. “But I killed you. I was a bad girl and I made you die.”
Tears filled my eyes at the horrible sincerity she spoke with.
“You didn’t kill me, honey. You had nothing to do with it. I died because I couldn’t take the beatings anymore, and I couldn’t summon the courage to leave.”
“But you left me, Mommy, and then Uncle Joe and Daddy…” She broke into tears again, completely overwhelmed by their power.
“I know I left you, sweetheart, and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t live with the beatings anymore. When I met you on the road you asked me to forgive you, and I did. Now I ask you forgive me.”
“But,” she hiccoughed, ” I was bad, not you.”
“Please, I said, “It’s important to me.”
“Okay,” she said, stepping out of the bushes. “I forgive you.”
I wrapped my arms around her and we cried for a long time. Finally, when we both felt better, we went back to find the Monk. We returned first to the cabin and got ourselves a drink of water. There was no sign of the Monk to be found.
“Wait. Listen.” said Angelica.
Far off in the distance we could hear music. A haunting melody of sadness and longing, played on some sort of flute.
“He wants us to come.”
I didn’t question how Angelica knew these things. It had become obvious that she was more at home here than I.
We followed the sound of the flute, and very soon found ourselves following the same path that brought us here. Only we were continuing deeper into the valley. As we walked, I had a brief vision of the old Pied Piper leading the rats their destruction. As soon as the vision appeared, it was gone, however, its strength drowned out by a deep inner feeling of trust. I took Angelica’s hand in mine and together we walked on to the source of the music.
We came upon him at the far end of the valley. Here everything was still green and beautiful, but much of it was enshrouded in mist. He was sitting on a large rock, a small bamboo flute in his hands. Past the rock the mist became unbearably opaque.
Our now familiar path seemed to fork and branch in all directions. One moment it looked as if it led through more of this paradise, the next I saw the barren plains that I had crossed to get here. Seeing us, the Monk stopped playing his flute and turned to regard us with his indecipherable gaze.
Seeing us holding hands, I could swear that just for a second he smiled. Not a real smile, but that tiny flicker you sometimes catch your parents doing when they are trying to lecture you.
“He smiled. I saw it!” Angelica exclaimed. “I saw you smile!”
The Monk made no response, but instead resumed playing his flute. The melody was strangely familiar, yet I couldn’t place it, or even the time frame it was composed in. We sat and listened, and when he finished he looked to the mists, as if expecting some sort of response. I decided that this would be a good time to apologize for upsetting him earlier, and perhaps give myself a chance to learn more about this strange land.
“I am sorry about earlier. I didn’t know that my action would upset you so much.”
He looked at me and opened his palms in a gesture of helplessness. His stare told me that he didn’t really believe me.
“You’re right, of course. I knew that disturbing the seeds would upset you. But somehow it just felt right. It felt good to see that seed take root, and become something so beautiful, especially in such a dry and empty land.
Now the Monk really did allow himself a brief smile, and a nod of sympathy. This was a feeling with which he was quite familiar.
“This place is so beautiful,” I said curiously, “But, if you can spread the seeds further, beyond the valley floor, then why not just hurl them out by the handful?”
He lowered his head and closed his eyes for a moment, looking regretful. When he raised his head again he held out his hands, palms up, before him. He wanted me to touch them, that much I understood. My body however was reluctant to move – I was almost paralyzed with fear.
He waited patiently, expectantly, but I just couldn’t bring myself to walk towards him. I stood there in helpless rage, railing against my body for its sudden refusal to obey. I was almost ready to give up when my hand moved, just a little, and I became aware of something off in the distance.
It was music, a melody not unlike the one the Monk had played on the flute; this one, however, was full of joy and inspiration. It gave me the strength I needed to move my body. I crossed the distance to the Monk easily, and took a firm hold of both his hands. Instantly, the world around me faded, and I once again found myself drifting into a deep sleep.
Continued in Part 2
©2000, John McNally. Printed in the August-September 2000 Issue of the Conscious Creation Journal. http://www.consciouscreation.com (Feel free to duplicate this article for personal use – please include this copyright notice.)