Paul snickered derisively. “What the hell is that?”
“How to know what the right thing is.” Nobody returned to his backpack and lifted it onto his right shoulder. “You’re laughing like it’s the dumbest thing, but you’re the one standing there wondering how to find the right answers. I don’t imagine you’ve read it.”
A blast of air representing his distain preceded Paul’s response. “No.”
“So how about this.” Nobody strangely made his way toward Paul’s closet. “Read one chapter a day. Read it all the way through. Hold back your judgement and questions until after you’ve read the whole thing. Then see how you feel.”
“I’ve had plenty of preachers and so-called holy men try and tell me I’m a sinner, and I’m going to hell, and I need to be saved,” Paul said. “Why would this book be any different.”
“Did any of those men ever tell you how loved you are?”
The question froze Paul in his thoughts. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time anyone ever told him they loved him. His mother stopped just before she stopped coming into his room to patch him up after a beating.
Nobody pointed at the Bible. “That’s absolutely a book with rules in it, but it’s not a rule book. It’s a story. It’s the story of a creator who loved you so much, he sent his son to die for you. That son chose to go and die for you. You are loved so much, he died so that you could live. He did that even though humanity had turned away. He did that even though we are sinners.”
“That’s all just a story.” Paul had found his skepticism somewhere. “People don’t die and come back to life. The world wasn’t created by some creator. Miracles don’t happen.”
“How’d I get in your bedroom then?”
Paul’s mind raced even as he responded. “I don’t know! Some sort of trick or science.”
“And who created science?” Nobody asked. “The very nature of science calls for cause and effect, but if this universe is the result of some effect, what then is the effect?”
Nobody opened the door to the closet. “I’m sure you’ll search for those answers, but they’re far less important. The answers to your first questions, which I think are more important, are in that book there. And if you want to dispute or debate that book, you still have to read it. One chapter a day.”
Nobody stepped inside the closet and shut the door. Paul darted at the closet, sucking in a breath of air as the wounds on his back protested. He stretched out a hand for the closet door when the air again seemed to swing from normal, to freezing cold, to boiling and back to normal in the blink of an eye. A light flashed, causing Paul to dive to the brown carpet floor and hide his eyes. Something cracked nearby. Paul took a few breaths nervously waiting for his eyes to adjust. The darkness of his room caused him to worry for a moment that he’d been blinded, but after a few moments, his vision adjusted, and he could see.
He gritted through more pain as he shot to his feet and threw the closet door open. The closet was empty. Paul stepped inside and jerked a bare foot back after it stepped onto a wet spot. It felt like someone dropped a glass of water on it.
Paul shoved the fact aside and threw the shirts and jeans hanging above him around. Only occasional sharp pains that warned him he might reopen his wounds caused him to slow down as he searched around hangers and pressed against the walls of his closet. As strangely as he’d appeared, Nobody had vanished.
Paul remembered the sound he’d heard. He stepped out of the classroom and looked around. A crack had split his bedroom window and caused a spiderweb of smaller cracks to spread.
He panicked. If his father saw that …
He scurried toward it as if he were going to wish or worry it away. His foot hit another strange wet spot on his carpet. He reflexively shifted his foot, and it banged into something hard.
He grunted, pursing his lips to keep a yelp from escaping. He knelt down to look at what he’d hit. Whatever it was, it was wrapped in some strange sort of silvery material. He unraveled the object and discovered a window. It looked exactly like his own window except the white paint wasn’t faded. He noticed a note tapped to it.
He let out an exasperated breath and made his way to his nightstand. He had a tiny pressure-activated flashlight in there, and he pulled it out and used it to read the note.
“Window is easy to replace,” it read. “Just pull the levers at the top and switch it out. Your dad won’t notice. Remember, one chapter a day.”
…to be continued…