“That’s impossible!” I yelled. A few people turned to look at us, but I was too shocked to care at the moment. “You died. I saw you die. You got impaled through the chest!”
Patrick looked down, as if confirming he was still intact, and then back up to me. “I died?” He didn’t seem too disturbed about it.
“Yeah, like two days ago.”
Patrick raised an eyebrow and I got the sense he was beginning to regret saving my life. “Two days ago? I’ve been living here for as long as I can remember… Are you sure you’re alright?”
My mind reeled. Just what the hell was going on here? Logically, he couldn’t be the Patrick I knew, but then again, logic didn’t have much hold here anyway. I was definitely starting to draw more attention, and the curious scowls around us didn’t look welcoming. If I was going to figure this out, I’d have to act quietly.
“I’m sorry,” I said, trying my best to look like someone who wasn’t all-together (not as hard as it would seem, given the circumstances). “I’m probably still a bit disoriented from almost drowning.”
Patrick smiled and placed a hand on my shoulder. “That’s alright. Just take it slow. Honestly, I’m just as confused as you are.”
Oh, I doubt that, kiddo.
Patrick led me deeper into the new area of the city. “What’s your name?”
“Eden. Ring any bells?”
Patrick shook his head. “No, sorry. I’ve never been further than the outskirts of our town and you’re the first person like us to come down here. We’ve had a few small animals stumble upon us, but nothing like this. It’s a tight-knit community, so believe me when I say we haven’t met.
That explained the looks I was getting. I had a feeling that not everyone in town was as welcoming to strangers as Patrick was.
“Anyways,” he continued, “You can call me Scoria.”
I stopped. “Scoria? Not Patrick?”
We kept walking, but inside I felt like my stomach was trying to claw its way out. Even for this world, something was just off.
“So, uh, Scoria,” I said. “Where exactly are we going?”
“To see God”
He didn’t even blink.
Yup, no problems here.
“Uh huh. And when you say ‘God”…you mean, like, the God?”
Right. Of course. How silly of me.
“So we’re just going to stroll on over to God and say hi?
“Is it not like that where you’re from?”
He smiled again. “Well, don’t worry. God always looks after us. That’s why we can survive without our covering here, it’s holy ground.”
“So you said. What would happen otherwise, if you left without your…covering? You found me without a helmet-thing, and I’m fine”
Scoria frowned, but didn’t say anything more.
We walked in silence for a bit after that. The people around us slowly began to thin out the further back we went.
I was still trying to figure out the logistics behind the whole thing. If “Scoria” had been here, that meant Patrick and him existed at the same time. Maybe they really were two separate people…long lost twins? That didn’t really make any more sense.
“We’re here'” he said, stopping by a small doorway that looked just like all the others. Clearly, God didn’t care that much for standing out.
We ducked inside and the tingling feeling in my body increased. God or not, there was something weird going on deeper within. No sooner had I thought that, I looked up to see…
There wasn’t really any other way to explain it. The cave walls cut off abruptly, as if someone had taken a giant knife to the side of a building thousands of feet in the air.
I closed and opened my eyes to check if I was just hallucinating from some underground toxin.
Nope. I could even feel the breeze on my face.
“I…I don’t understand,” I said.
“My first memory is waking up here,” said Scoria. “All of us, actually. We were all naked and confused; no one had any idea what happened. But we saw God watching over us, and knew that we had been chosen to build a kingdom in his glory. After years of work, that’s the city you’ve seen today. Our home.”
“But what about the tools? The crazy outfits?”
“God gave us those over time.”
“You had mining tools fall from the sky?”
“Of course not. God doesn’t only show us this vision.”
As if on cue, the sky shifted and became translucent. After a second, we were staring out across a vast desert, the sun beating down on us so bright I had to cover my eyes. A small pile of sand tumbled down onto the cave floor, and I finally realized what their ‘God’ was and where I had felt the tingling sensation before.
“It’s a portal,” I said. “You’ve been worshiping a giant portal.”