Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 16

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 16

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 //

Paul did everything he could, firing at what felt like a wall of monsters that toppled over him, but it was only a matter of time.

An icon flashed on the screen. It was a stick of dynamite. Paul smiled. As one monster loomed in front of him, Paul shifted his aim to the explosive and fired. An explosion flashed through the entire screen. Monsters cried out in agony as they burned away, Paul reloaded and took several deep breaths. Jordan took care of whatever aliens remained after the explosion.

Then they heard the roar. The monster they’d been working their way toward was just up a small ladder, and they’d finally get to see it. The game’s camera panned and bounced, simulating Paul’s character climbing a ladder. 

As he climbed, he made sure to shoot at aliens that seamed to fall from nowhere. A tentacle that had to have been thirty feel long swept across the screen, and the ladder his character was on toppled over.  

Paul was ready for what came next. An alien scurried from a corner of the screen, but Paul was already aiming at the place where it skittered to a stop. Paul fired. They’d done it! The last time they played, the saw the tentacle, but that last alien caught them both off guard. Whatever happened next, they were further in the game than they’d ever been. 

They pace of the footage increased, indicating the characters were running through the burning structure. Paul took an instant to smile at Jordan as they shot their way through a hallway and up a stairwell. 

They reached a door that read “Roof Exit.”  Paul saw a hand reach for the doorknob, but the screen flashed red. That was bad. It meant they’d taken almost as much damage as they could before dying and losing the game. 

“What!?” Paul yelped. “There weren’t any enemies.”  

The flashing faded, and the scene seemed to shatter apart. Bricks and metal flew everywhere. The creature, whatever it was, had knocked out the wall. The camera panned up and backward to reveal something that looked like a combination of a rhino and an octopus. It was massive. It easily took up three quarters of the roof. 

“The damage must have come from when this thing knocked out the wall,” Jordan said. “The game wants us to take this thing on without have any hit protection.”

The beast roared. One of the tentacles flew at them, and Paul only barely managed to shoot the red target area of the appendage and force it back. Then the monster lunged at them, opening a mouth full of long teeth. Each tooth had its own hit target. The monster chomped on them, and the “Game Over” text flashed. The word “Continue?” appeared with a timer counting down from ten.

Paul reached for his card. No way they were’t going to try again. 

“It’s our turn.” The comment drew Paul’s attention behind him, where two other boys stood. 

“Dude, we have more charges on the card,” Paul said. 

The boy on the right, a square boy with scowl, chuckled. “I don’t care. We waited for you to die. Now it’s our turn.”

Paul noticed the boy’s posture stiffen. Whoever he was, he looked like a bully. He probably didn’t have the first clue who he was about to try and pick on.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 15

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 15

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 //

Paul started walking away. “I think anyone who’s ever said that never had a lot of interaction with the painful side of the rod.”

He pointedly ignored Dorny’s last comment, assuming it was some sort of statement regarding Paul’s eternal doom, which Paul figured was already a certainty. It was so strange! Nothing Dorny said seemed to line up with how Nobody acted or spoke. Sure, he’d quote scripture, but Nobody had always guided Paul to the Bible rather than using verses to win an argument. 

  Even as he made an effort to avoid thinking about it, he couldn’t stop himself from being frustrated by the inconsistencies. This place said one thing was bad. This place said it wasn’t. This place said Jesus was a person. This place said he was God. This place said he was both. They all called themselves Christian churches, and they couldn’t even come to an agreement. 

By the time Paul got to the arcade, he’d managed to work himself into a bit of a temper he intended to take out on pixelated aliens. 

Jordan was outside waiting for Paul as he approached Game World. Arcades weren’t common since most people could download and play together online, but Game World had so many different games that covered all the genres and ages. It was, to be honest, the coolest place on earth. 

“You all right?” Jordan’s eyes scrunched up when he saw Paul.

Paul shrugged. With how easily he let his feelings show, there wasn’t much point in trying to hide his anger. “That guy was there again.”

Jordan let out a sigh and gave him a conciliatory slap on the shoulder. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“Should you say that? I mean, you’re like, Christian, Christian,” Paul said. He couldn’t really explain it, but if Paul was asked what a Christian acted like, he’d point to Jordan. It’s not like Paul could rely on Nobody to pop into existence when he wanted. 

“There’s nothing wrong with speaking truth.” Jordan laughed as he said it. “Sometimes people don’t like it, but that doesn’t make it wrong.”  

Jordan smiled and pointed through Game World’s glass wall. There was Paul’s favorite game: Invasion. “You wanna kill some aliens?”

Paul smiled. He’d be willing to do anything to keep his mind off that jerk and his self-righteous rants, but he loved that game. They approached, and the sliding glass doors opened to allow them in. Beeps, whirrs, and plinks seemed to hit them like a wall of sound. The chaos was wonderful. 

They sped over to Invasion, ignoring all the other games. Each of them reached into their pockets to pull out their pre-charged game cards. They inserted their cards and logged onto the game.

Invasion was essential nothing more than an excuse to use a plastic pistol to shoot aliens. There was a story to it if one paid attention, but the premise was simple. Shoot whatever the game threw in front of you except your teammates and any unfortunate humans who may be in the way. If you didn’t shoot the aliens soon enough, they’d kill you, and the game would end.

The game started with a cinematic sequence that only made Paul impatient, but the clip eventually ended, and the pair started shooting. The game reeled players in slowly. At first, there were only one or two monsters to shoot, and with two players, it felt boring in a way, but it was also exhilarating. Paul liked trying to shoot aliens from as great a distance as possible. Eventually, creatures started popping onto the screen as if coming from around a corner or leaping from the ceiling. 

Before a player realized it, he was surrounded. That’s when it got fun! 

Paul and Jordan defended one another. They shouted and warned each other. After a while of playing this game on a near daily basis, they had a lot of the game memorized. That knowledge allowed them to progress farther and father into the game.
They cleared another level and the screen seemed to pan to look at a burning sky scraper. They called it The Tower. Paul glanced at Jordan. “You ready.”

Jordan pulled back the plastic gun’s slide as if clearing the chamber. The gesture activated the reload action in the game. “This time we beat it!”

A part of Paul wondered if The Tower was the end of the game or not. Regardless, no amount of knowing where the critters were coming from or when they’d jump at you made a difference if there were simply too many to shoot. The screen continued to pan and zoom as if they were walking into a burning building that also had what must have been thousands of aliens crawling all over it. 

A scream echoed through the speakers. It sounded huge. Last time Paul and Jordan played, they caught a glimpse of a creatures that had at least twenty-two hit points, spots a player had to shoot to damage an alien. They died and ran out of credit on their game cards before they even had a chance to get a good look at the thing.

Beating this game was second only to figuring out how Nobody teleported through space in Paul’s list of life-goals. 

They entered the tower. There wasn’t time to think. Creatures of all shapes and sizes flooded toward them, and there was nothing to do but shoot as quickly as possible. By this point in the game, Paul’s hand started to feel numb and his forearm was sore. Occasionally, a different sort of gun or even grenade would appear on the screen, which let Paul or Jordan upgrade their weapons for a short time. The problem was a bullet spent on upgrading your weapon let some ten aliens get that much closer. 

They came in waves. Jordan managed to upgrade to an automatic rifle, which allowed him to hold his trigger down and wave his weapon back and forth like a flame thrower. The weapon gave Paul precious seconds to pick off whatever monsters Jordan’s wild onslaught didn’t hit. Jordan probably took out a third of the aliens in the initial wave.

Come on! Paul tried to force his eyes open even as he carefully shot the closest aliens. His efforts took another third of the invader’s front line. 

Come on! Paul watched as Jordan’s automatic rifle ran out of energy and converted back into a pistol. Jordan’s wave bullets became a pitiful series of shots that weren’t nearly enough to account for the remaining third of the enemies. 

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 14

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 14

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 //


Oct. 17, 2025, 3:32 p.m. 

21.9 Years Ago

“I’m going out,” Paul said, already twisting the knob of his front door.

“Is your homework done?” His mother’s voice came from upstairs. 

“I’ll do it when I get back,” Paul replied.

A steady rhythm of footsteps on the stairs caused Paul to look up and see his mother coming down. Just out of the shower, she wore a white slip, and her hair was wrapped in a brown towel. “I asked you to get it done before you went out.”

“I’m just going to hang out at the arcade with Jordan.” He flung the door open and left even as his mom called to him. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. 

Since he’d stopped fighting and started paying attention in class, his grades had sky rocketed. All his teachers went from hating him to talking to him about college. He knew he’d go. He had to so he could study more about physics. He knew teleportation was possible because he’d been visited by someone several times throughout his life. Though it’d been more than a year since Nobody’s last visit, things were better.

Paul had just had the thought when he turned onto the next street and saw a man standing on his front lawn. Oh, no!  

“If it isn’t Paul,” the man said. “Have you given any consideration to what we talked about?”

“I’m not joining your cult,” Paul said flatly.

The man, Thomas Dorny, shook his head as if he were sad. Maybe he was. 

“I’m so afraid that you’re lost,” Dorny said. “You don’t have any patience to even talk about your soul.”

“Look,” Paul said. “I listened to you talk. I’ve even told you I’ve read the whole Bible, twice! I even went to your church with you, and you yelled at me just for going to the bathroom.”

It wasn’t an exaggeration. Dorny had waited until the sermon, an hour-long lecture about how God was furious at how all the other churches but theirs in the world weren’t doing what God wanted, was over, but right afterward, Dorny took Paul outside and told him he was  disrespectful and “un-redemptive” to miss any single part of a sermon.   

“I’m trying to save you,” Dorny said. He had this self-righteous, patronizing smile that made Paul want to hit him. 

“I don’t want anything to do with you,” Paul finally said. He’d had enough. “I’ve talked with … “  Paul was about to say “Nobody,” but he managed to stop himself. “ … other people about God and the Bible, and they don’t sound like you.”

“That’s because they’re false teachers who are trying to corrupt you, and I think they’re succeeding,” Dorny said. The man had an argument or justification for everything, and that was what felt so off about him. He knew there was more to it, but the thing that bothered Paul most about Dorny was how he always seemed to make this about his church or even his holiness. It felt so fake. 

“Look, I have to go.” Paul started to walk by, but Dorny shifted to stand in front of him. Paul clenched his fists.

“Are you going to hit me? Is the violence in your heart that strong?” Dorny asked.

This jerk has no idea!  

“I said I have to go.” It was an effort for Paul to keep himself from shoving the man. He hadn’t hit anyone since Jordan, who strangely had become Paul’s best friend these days. Paul went to Jordan’s church once, too. They didn’t yell at him, but after going to church with Mr. Dorny, Paul figured he wanted nothing to do with organized religion. At least Jordan never pestered him about it. 

Mr. Dorny frowned as he stepped side. “Go enjoy your flesh. Make yourself happy and see what fire it leads to.”

Paul started walking away. He’d endure some sanctimonious crap as long as it got him away from the jerk.

“I blame your mother.”

The comment stopped Paul short. He slowly pivoted around as if forcing himself to move slowly was all that kept him from leaping at Mr. Dorny. “What did you say?”

Dorny smiled like some kid who got caught lying. He shrugged. “Your mother divorced your father.” He said it like that explained everything. “She’s a sinner who’s teaching you to do the same. By abandoning her husband, she’s separated you from the discipline you so desperately needed.”

Paul had stepped right up to the man just as he finished speaking. For years, Paul felt anger. He hit people because of the shame he felt about himself. He hit people because he was angry about how they made him feel about himself. For the first time since his father nearly killed him, Paul was furious.

“If I told you how my father disciplined me, you’d change your religion.” Paul didn’t even try to hide the rage from his face. 

Then Paul imagined how his face looked. He had that face memorized from the times his father wore it right before beating them. 

No one deserves to be beaten.  

This man put that claim to the test. This man deserved it. Paul wasn’t so much smaller than Dorny. 

I won’t become my father!

“All children hate the rod, but those who avoid it spoil the child.” Dorny spoke as if that, again, explained everything. 

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 10

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 10

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 //

“Not once!” It was true, sort of. Sure, since the divorce and that last beating, his mom had given him everything he’d ever asked for. She made what he wanted for dinner. She never told him what to do. But neither did she ever once say the words, “I’m sorry” or “Forgive me.” 

Nobody’s masked head nodded as if conceding the point. “But with all the times you’ve run off or changed the subject, how could she do more than she’s done. And what has that really done for you? Where has your resentment led you?”

Nobody pointed at the mirror. “Who have you become because you choose to hold onto your anger.”

Paul turned to look at his reflection in the splintered mirror. There was that face again. His own face. A face that looked far too much like the face of the man Paul hated more than anyone else. 

“She doesn’t deserve it!” Paul spun back around as he spoke, even if only to hide the all to horrifyingly familiar scowl he knew he wore. 

“Did she deserve the beatings?” Nobody asked. 

“Nobody deserves that!” 

“What about Jordan?”

Paul wanted to lash out, but how could he? Right after declaring nobody deserves a beating, how could he justify beating someone?

“Now we move on to the more interesting question,” Nobody said. He glanced at a black device on his wrist. It would look like a smart watch if it had any sort of light or symbols, but as far as Paul could tell, it was just a black rectangle about the width of a pencil.  “What are the wages of sin?” 

“What?” Paul asked.

“You’ll remember when you think on it. Look to Paul’s letter to the Romans to refresh your thoughts,” Nobody said. He started to make his way back into the stall.

“I never finished it.” Paul said. “I put that Bible away and forgot about it.”

Nobody stopped, standing at the entrance to a simple bathroom stall. “Liar.”

Paul knew it was pretty stupid even trying to lie to a man who could read his thoughts or had some way of knowing everything. How did he know Jordan’s name?  

“Nobody deserves forgiveness,” Nobody said. “That’s why it’s a gift.” 

Nobody shut the door. Paul darted at the door as quickly as he could, but the temperature swung again, and a flash of light forced him to shut his eyes and turn away. Even as his eyes adjusted to the light, Paul flung the door open. His tennis shoes plopped into a small puddle of water. The toilet seemed to be completely unaffected by whatever Nobody had done. 

His science teachers, the only teachers who treated Paul like a normal human being, had talked about experiments and measurements, but Paul didn’t have any equipment. He wouldn’t know what to measure for anyway. Maybe I should start with temperature, Paul thought to himself as he continued to look around the stall. He dropped down to a knee to look behind the toilet.

“What are you doing?” 

Paul’s head spun around to find a boy standing at the bathroom’s entrance. He seemed equally amused and disgusted. 

“I lost something,” Paul said getting up and washing his hands. “Have you seen a watch?”  

Paul didn’t own a watch, but at least it explained why he was carefully looking around a toilet in a public bathroom.

“No.” The answer seemed more like a cough, but he went on about his own business. 

Even as Paul let the water run over his hands, the questions about how Nobody moved around seemed to fade behind the last thing he had said to Paul. 

“Nobody deserves forgiveness. That’s why it’s a gift.”

Paul frowned in confused anger. If nobody deserved forgiveness, why would anyone forgive anybody else? And if people were always forgiven when the didn’t deserve it, why would they ever stop doing things that bothered other people?

Paul scrubbed his hands more fiercely as he thought. 

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 9

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 9

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 //


Oct. 17, 2024, 2:31 p.m. 

22.9 Years Ago

Jordan Bieliel lay on the grass as his nose oozed blood. Paul loomed over him with clenched fists. 

“Get up, punk!” It was an effort not to leap on the skinny kid and just whale on him. 

The scuffle quickly drew the attention of a crowd of students, who circled around the fight on the school courtyard. Adrenaline surged through Paul, who hoped Jordan would fight back. 

Instead, the younger kid looked up at Paul. “What’d I do?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know!” Paul stalked toward Jordan, who scrambled back while raising a hand to fend Paul off. “Trevor told me what you said!”

“Trevor’s a liar!” Jordan said. “I never said anything!”

Paul stopped, staring down at Jordan. He was a head shorter and had to weigh 20 pounds less than Paul. As the years passed, Paul grew taller and stronger. He looked like a younger version of his father, and he hated himself for it. 

Paul was about to ask why someone would lie when students started scrambling away. 

“Teacher!” Someone shouted. 

Paul didn’t wait to look around. He took off running. He’d been warned about fighting the last time. He knew the risks, but he was so angry. 

He called my mom a whore! At least that’s what Trevor had told Paul Jordan said. Nobody insults my mom!

Paul comforted himself with the thought that’d he’d at least given Jordan a solid punch. Jordan didn’t even run or try to fight back. Idiot! 

Paul ducked into the school’s science building, his favorite building. It was the only place he felt like the world made sense. He skidded to a stop just outside a bathroom and darted inside. He didn’t think anyone had followed him, so maybe he’d avoid getting into trouble. 

Paul looked at his fist where a splotch of blood sat on his knuckles. He deserved it! Paul told himself as he started washing his hands.

Then his hear leapt up into his throat as he felt the temperature in the bathroom shift from normal, to freezing cold, to burning hot and back again in the blink of an eye. The mirror in front of him fractured. Something flashed behind Paul, and he spun around.

It can’t be! I imagined it! 

It had been almost three years since Nobody had visited. It had been so long that Paul had convinced himself that it was all his imagination. Even as Paul tried to cling to that thought, Nobody stepped out of the stall in front of Paul, who noted a small puddle had formed in that same stall.

Even after three years, not a thing had changed about Nobody. It was the same pea coat. The same gray slacks. He even wore the same stupid red bow tie. The opaque mask hadn’t even faded. Almost three years had passed, and it seemed as though Nobody had stepped right out of Paul’s memory. 

“You … you’re not real,” Paul whispered.

“If I’m not real, where’d that Bible in your night stand come from?” Nobody asked. “More interestingly, where’d that note in the Bible come from?

Rage filled Paul, and he charged the man. Nobody caught him in an embrace. Paul didn’t want a hug; he wanted a fight. He wanted to beat Nobody to death.

“You abandoned me!” Paul shouted. As strong as he’d become, he couldn’t free his arms from Nobody, who simply held Paul. No matter how he struggled, he couldn’t gain any leverage. 

Nobody was strong, but he was strangely gentle, only using the energy necessary to keep Paul still. Paul was easily one of the biggest kids his age, but he was still a teenager in the grip of a grown man.

“You’ve never been abandoned,” Nobody whispered. “Just because you haven’t seen me, it didn’t mean I wasn’t there.”

Tears started to fall from Paul’s eyes, and his anger faded.  “I was so angry! I was so alone!”

“We feel alone sometimes, but it doesn’t mean we are,” Nobody said. “You had your mother.”

The comment hit a nerve in Paul’s heart. He managed to shove himself away from Nobody. “But she just let it happen! I called the police! I saved us! What did she do?”

“So were alone because nobody wanted you, or were you alone because you didn’t want to forgive your mother?” Nobody asked. “How many times has she tried to talk about it?”

“Shut up!” Paul yelled.

“How many times has she asked you to forgive her?” No matter how loudly Paul shouted, Nobody’s tone didn’t raise a bit. 

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 8

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 8

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 //

“Maybe the verse inspired me to do what I’ve wanted to do all along, but that’s still just me,” Paul argued.

Nobody remained silent and still for a few moments before eventually bowing his head and taking in a deep breath. “I’d like you to consider what you read over the next few books of the Bible. Could you ask yourself what happened every time the Israelites looked to their own strength?”

“Why is it so important to you that I read the Bible?” Paul asked.

Nobody turned his head in Paul’s direction. “I gave you the Bible. I will ask you questions about what you read, but I’m not making you read it.”

“That doesn’t mean you don’t want me to.”

Nobody nodded his head. “When I first spoke to you, you were hurt, and you were looking for answers.  I want you to read the Bible because I know the real answers you’re looking for are there. Sure, I expect you’ll read everything you can get your hands on that the world has to offer to understand how I visit you, but even if that does eventually help you understand how I move from where I was to here, it won’t tell you why you were beaten. It won’t tell you how you should act. It won’t tell you why your mom stopped coming in to comfort you.”

“And the Bible will?” Paul didn’t even try to hide the scorn in his voice. 

“To be honest, you’ve already read the reason, but you haven’t yet read the explanation,” Nobody said. “You have half the answer, but it’s not one any person appreciates hearing. That’s why you need to wait for the other half. You have half of an equation, and you won’t even be ready to consider the truth until you find the rest.”

That didn’t make any sense to Paul. He wasn’t even close to being halfway through the Bible, and he didn’t have any answers on why his dad was the way he was. 

“I thought it would be over,” Paul whispered. 

“How so?” Nobody asked. 

“You can read my mind, so why are you asking?” Paul asked.

“Because you get annoyed when I tell you what you’re thinking, and I really don’t want to annoy you any more than I have to.”

Paul cocked his head. Nobody didn’t admit he was a mind reader, not in so many words, but the man did admit he knew what Paul was thinking.

“I thought I’d call the police, and my dad would get thrown in jail, and that would be it,” Paul said.

“Life is a journey,” Nobody said. “I’ve come to think of it like a testing ground in a way. Trials come to test you. But there are good times, too.”

Paul’s lip trembled. It wasn’t the words Nobody used. It was the hope they implied. Paul couldn’t remember being happy. He wondered if he ever was. The last twelve years of his life seemed filled by nothing but pain and sadness. Was he ever going to have those good times.

Nobody stood. “I promise you that one day, you will see the reason for all of this. I promise you, God has a plan, and it is good.”

“How is getting beat my whole life any good?!” Paul kept shouting even as Nobody calmly walked out of the room. Paul’s rage fueled him even more. “How is my mom and I nearly dying a good thing?! What possible good can come of me being hated by my own father?!””

The temperature swung back and forth, just like it always did when Nobody came or left. A part of Paul noted that the effect wasn’t so easy to feel this time, maybe because Nobody was farther away? He didn’t see the flash of light, but he did hear that strange sort of electrical surge. All of those things registered in Paul’s mind even as he shouted.

“Why did it have to happen?! Does your stupid book say that?!” Tears were streaming down his face. It hurt. It hurt so bad, and that jerk told him it was good! “Why did it have to happen to me? What did I do?”

A nurse, a scrawny stick of man wearing deep blue hospital scrubs, came scurrying into the room. “It’s ok!” The nurse’s voice was gentile, but urgent. “You’re safe now! You’re in a hospital. No one’s going to hurt you.”

The nurse must have thought Paul had woken from a nightmare. The man slowly wrapped an arm around Paul, trying to comfort him. Paul just kept crying. He didn’t understand, and he didn’t think he ever would. 

The end of Chapter 3.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 7

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 7

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6


May 1, 2021, 9:31 p.m. 

26.5 Years Ago

Paul woke up in a hospital bed. His leg and arm each had a cast. Despite his grogginess his eyes darted around for his mother. Instead, they found Nobody, sitting in a plastic chair next to his bed. 

“Your mother is fine,” he said. “Or at least, she will be.”

He was dressed exactly the same as he was moths ago. The same gray slacks. The same black pea-coat. As messy as Nobody’s black hair was, Paul wasn’t sure a single strand had moved from when he’d last seen him. The opaque mask Nobody wore still made it hard to see any details in his face.

“So dad stopped?” Paul’s father had come close to killing him twice, and the man nearly killed his mother at least three times. They’d get rushed to the hospital and treated for what was always somehow described as an “accident.” They’d move after the “accident” to be sure the hospital didn’t have an accurate record of how many times the family had visited.

“No,” Nobody answered. “The police showed up. By the grace of God there was an officer near the house when you called. Your father is in holding. He’s been charged with domestic abuse, assault, and attempted murder.”

“I don’t think he was really trying to kill me,” Paul said. He was confused just an instant after he asked the question. Why was he defending the man who’d just beat him and his mother to within an inch of their lives?

“He had a knife on him when the police entered your home,” Nobody said. “Apparently, he saw the phone you used. One might debate if he really intended to use it or not. Even your father claimed he had the knife to attempt suicide.”

Paul’s father had done that five times that he knew of. His mom would threaten to leave, and he’d pull out a knife and threaten to kill himself. A part of Paul truly wanted that to be the truth. It was one thing for his father to pull one of his typical self-threatening displays, but another part of Paul knew that the knife was meant for him. 

“How do you know all this?” Paul asked.

“The same way I know everything else.” Nobody said it as if it were an actual explanation. 

“And you didn’t do a damn thing!” Paul yelled.

“Please don’t use that language around me,” Nobody said.

“Fuck off!” Paul shouted. “You appear in my bedroom and hand me a Bible when you could have knocked on the door with a police man.”
“The language you use is a reflection of your own heart,” Nobody said. “And you’re trying to make me angry and defensive. It won’t work. Tell me honestly what would have happened if I had shown up with a cop? If you hadn’t had called the police and your father didn’t actually kill you, what would  have happened?”

Paul opened his mouth, but no words came out.

“I imagine, if he hand’t killed you, he would have taken you to get patched up. He’d have claimed there was an accident. Then you’d move.”

Paul’s mouth remained open in shock. It was almost exactly what Paul thought his father would have done.

“Did God just magically teleport the Israelites out of Egypt?” Nobody asked.

Paul jerked his head. The question felt like it came out of nowhere. On moment, we’re talking about my dad, and the next moment he’s asking about Exodus? 

“Moses led them out of Egypt,” Paul said. “I’ve been reading like you asked.”

“Why?” Nobody asked.

“Why what?” Paul asked. Why did Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt?

“Why have you been reading?” Nobody slowly rubbed his hands against one another. It seemed like a habit. The room wasn’t particularly cold.

“I don’t really know,” Paul admitted. “I mean you asked me to, but a part of me was just curious.”

“And your other reading? Any luck finding out how I do it?” Even through the mask, Paul heard Nobody’s amusement.  

“I think you found some way to teleport,” Paul said. 

“Have you considered perhaps that God moves me?” Nobody asked.

“No,” Paul said. “What you’re doing is real.”

“And the Bible isn’t real?” Nobody asked.

“No,” Paul replied. “Science has proven there isn’t a God.”

“Really?” Nobody cocked his head. “I should like to see that scientific evidence.”

“The world wasn’t made in six days,” Paul said. “We didn’t descend from just two people. There aren’t miracles.”

“There aren’t miracles?” Nobody asked. “How then, do you explain the fact that you’re alive right now?”

“I’m alive because I called the police,” Paul said. 

“And what were you thinking when you made this call? What was the last thought you had right before you pressed that emergency button?” 

It was unnerving looking at the man’s opaque mask. Paul couldn’t really see the man’s eyes even if they were as intense as Paul felt they had to be. More strangely unnerving was the last question Nobody asked. 

I asked for help.  

“And who were you asking for help from, Paul?” Nobody asked as if Paul had spoken out loud. “After you asked, who helped you?” 

“I did it myself!” Paul said angrily. No all-powerful being gave him the strength to press a button. He’d pressed buttons all the time. There was nothing supernatural about a phone call.

“And what about every other time you could have done it?” Nobody asked. “Why this time? Why did you gain the strength and courage this time?”

He emphasized the words, implying he knew exactly what verse was running through Paul’s mind when he made the call.

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 6

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 6

PT 1

PT 2

PT 3

PT 4

 PT 5

Paul would normally huddle up and be ready for whatever his father dished out. This time, he stood up and tried to shove his father. However, the man caught each of Paul’s arms. The next thing Paul knew, something snapped and he was launched into the air. He slammed into the wall that divided the kitchen from the living room. 

Silence. Pain. Paul opened his eyes, and he wasn’t sure how much time had passed. His right arm and left leg felt wrong. His arm didn’t look any different, but his left leg looked like it had two knees. 

His mother screamed. Paul squeezed his eyes shut, trying to shake the pain out of his body and the fuzziness out of his mind. He stood to fight! Wasn’t that courageous? Wasn’t it strong to stand up to the man trying to hurt his mother? What was the point of all those words in the Bible if they didn’t make him strong enough to defend his mom?

Paul opened his eyes only to see his father shove his mother down to the ground. 

“Everyone here thinks they’re so much better than I am!” His father unleashed a kick that caused his mother to rise from the ground a little. She let out a strange coughing sound. She couldn’t breathe!

Paul tried to get up, but the moment he put any weight on his arm, he fell in pain. He tried to pull himself up, reaching for the nearby kitchen table. His left arm pulled him to a seated position, but that leg seemed to scream. Paul let go and held his injured limb. Something clattered to the floor. His mother’s cell phone.

His mother had said they’d lose his father if he told anyone. She said the family couldn’t survive without the money he earns. She said she loved him. 

Paul didn’t have the strength to physically fight his father, but did he have the strength to do what nobody, not just the man who visited but no one Paul knew, had the strength and courage to do?

“I slave away, working like a dog for this family, and this is the thanks I get?” Paul’s dad screamed as he lifted his mother up only to punch her down to the ground. She bounced off the floor and stopped moving. 

Paul stared at the phone. It was less than an inch from his head, but it seemed so far away. What would happen to his family if he called the police? What would happen if he didn’t? Would his mom hate him?

A part of Paul thought it would be easier to die fighting his father. Touching the phone seemed strangely more horrifying and difficult than fighting a man twice his size and weight. 

“Get up!” His father screamed. “You brought this on yourself!” He lifted Paul’s unconscious mother off the ground, but she still wasn’t moving.

Be strong and courageous. 

Help me! Paul thought. 

He reached out, activated the phone, and pressed the emergency button.  He heard a soft ringing tone and then a voice he couldn’t quite make out. His head still felt like it was spinning. 

“1009 Centurion Way,” Paul whispered. “If you don’t show up soon, I think he’ll kill us both.” 

Paul muttered the same thing a few times, but a loud smack drew his attention. His father didn’t care that his wife was unconscious. He slapped her again and again. Each blow sounded like the crack of a whip.

“Leave her alone!” Paul screamed. He used his left elbow to slide his body toward his father. “Put her down!”

His father slowly turned his head toward him. “You haven’t quite learned your lesson have you?”

“Actually,” Paul said, “I think I did.” He wasn’t ever able to fight his father, and the man would kill Paul long before he ever got strong enough to fight. What he needed was the strength to do what he desperately wanted someone else, anyone else, to do. 

Paul’s father stomped over to him and grabbed him by the front of his shirt. Paul rose high into the air. His leg felt like it was on fire. Something kept poking out of the skin of his calf. Lifted up like that, he actually had to look down his father’s arm and into his eyes.

“What makes you think you could take me on?” Paul’s father was always so loud. The neighbors or even someone down the block had to hear it. No one did anything. Not until tonight. 

“Why do you feel so weak around us?” Paul asked. The question just sort of popped into his head, but it made sense even as he asked it. 

He was a huge man who’d spent ten years working in a factory. He would always challenge his drinking buddies to arm wrestling matches and even full-on wrestling matches. He did everything he could to show people how strong he was. Why would he do that unless he was afraid they thought he was weak?

His father eyes widened, and his face melted into one of pure rage. He reached back a large right hand. Something blasted Paul in the face. Darkness took him before he could make sense of anything, but Paul thought he heard a siren.

… the end of Chapter 2 … 

Visits From A Man Named Nobody Pt. 4

Visits From A Man Named Nobody Pt. 4

Paul stood up, shivering as his foot hit that strange wet spot in the floor where Nobody had appeared. He walked over to investigate the window. Sure enough, there were two levers on the top of the cracked pane of glass. 

Paul quickly unhooked the broken window and replaced it with the one Nobody had left. He thought about how Nobody had brought it. It definitely couldn’t have fit in the backpack he had. Maybe he just brought it with him and set it down before Paul had rolled over to see him. That still didn’t really explain how Nobody got in Paul’s bedroom and out of his closet with nothing but a strange shift in temperature and a flash of light. 

Paul kept trying to figure it out even as he crept down the hall. His father lay passed out on the couch like always. Sure, the window wouldn’t be noticed, but if Paul woke his father up trying to sneak the broken part out of the house, nothing else would matter. His father had an odd habit of never being as drunk as Paul wished. The man would be dead to the world when Paul wasn’t even making the slightest noise, but then he’d jerk awake and angry after Paul used the bathroom. 

It had something to do with how drunk his father was when he’d passed out, but Paul never really could figure out the pattern. 

There was nothing to do but go for it. Paul rose to the tips of his toes and crept through the living room. The brown carpet made it easier to muffle his footsteps. Paul held the window close to his chest to keep it from hitting the coffee table or the wall. Then he reached the living room door. 

It was big and heavy. It almost always could be heard opening and closing through the house. Paul considered trying to go back through the living room for the sliding glass door. It was quieter, but it was also less than two feet from his father’s head. Paul looked from one door to the other. The choice could mean his life. Waking his dad up was life-threatening enough. Waking his dad up while holding a broken window, no matter that the replacement was already up, would mean the end. 

Paul took a deep breath. He’d already walked through the living room. He turned the doorknob as slowly as he could and opened the door. As always, there was a soft crack as the seal of the door separated from the frame. The strange bristly bottom of the door, maybe there to keep dust from forming along the door’s path, whisked as Paul opened it just enough to fit through.

“Shut that door!” Paul’s head jerked to see his father shift his body on the large leather recliner he’d passed out in. He was just getting more comfortable. Paul let out a breath of relief. An empty bottle of booze fell over as his father repositioned himself. Maybe he would trip on it when he got up to pee. 

A tear rolled down Paul’s cheek. Am I the only kid who dreams of his father tripping and dying? I don’t really want him to die; I just don’t want him to hurt us anymore!

Paul shook his head and used a shoulder to wipe away the tear. The screen door was much easier to keep quiet than the main door was. Paul dipped out, rushed to the trash can at the top of the driveway and gently pressed the window into the bin. There was no need to worry his father would see it there. Paul was always responsible for the trash. Paul once considered running away. He could easily tie a bag of clothes and supplies and hide it there and sneak out, but he couldn’t leave his mother. Someone had to protect her. 

Paul made his way back inside and held his breath as he shut the door as quietly as the darn thing could shut. His father muttered and shifted around again. Paul watched, terrified of what it would mean if his father woke. Thankfully, he didn’t.

Paul started to cross the living room again when he saw the bottle that had fallen over. His father really could trip. It was just close enough to the recliner to be unseen and far enough away to maybe roll. The coffee table was right there. 

It could happen.

Paul slowly got down on his hands and knees. He reached over and lifted the bottle up the correct way. He didn’t know why he did it. Sure, maybe his father would trip, and maybe he wouldn’t, but it’s not like it would have really been Paul’s fault. Nevertheless, Paul made sure to creep on all fours past the recliner and to the steps before getting up to make the climb. 

Even as he crept back to his room, Paul couldn’t understand what caused him to take the precaution. It just felt right. But what was right? Was it right to protect his father from something as stupid as a fall when his father wouldn’t hesitate to beat him to within an inch of his life. 

What is right?

Paul crept into his room and looked at the Bible that was still on his bed where Nobody had dropped it. What could it hurt?

Paul grabbed up his little light again and gently got into bed, still trying to avoid the welts and cuts on his back. He opened the Bible and flipped through the first few pages. Genesis. The first chapter was only about five pages. He could read that in no time. 

He’d take Nobody’s challenge. It’s not like anyone’s life could really change just by reading a book.

The end of Chapter 1. 

… to be continued … 

Visits From A Man Named Nobody Pt. 3

Visits From A Man Named Nobody Pt. 3

Click here to read Part One. Click here to read Part Two.

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…