not understand. Curiosity finally overcame his fear, and he moved toward the rubble heap.
“Ben,” Tom called. “What happened?”
Benson said nothing. He just sat staring out at the mountains. Tom came up to him and looked at him for a long time. Benson had been crying. His eyes were bloodshot and watering.
“What happened, Ben?”
“I’ve got to leave,” Benson answered. “I’ve got to go now—into the mountains.”
“Why, Ben? Why must you go? What happened here last night? What’s out there Ben?” Benson looked at Tom for a long time. Staring at each other, they exchanged thoughts with their eyes that left both of them, for the moment, content.
Then at last Tom said, “Will you need your gear?”
“No. Tell Mike all that you can. Follow me if you want to. If you lose me, go back to the city.”
They looked at each other for another moment, and then Benson stood up and walked away.
“I’ll pray for you,” said Tom and he watched his friend walk away. He felt strangely content. This was because Tom had seen something when he peered into Benson’s eyes. He had witnessed what a man looks like who has seen his own destiny—exactly as it is going to take place—and answered it yes. The heaviness of Being was upon Christopher Benson. And it was bearable.
Benson had seen something too, looking into his friend’s eyes. It was a prayer. It had meant something. Perhaps enough to help Christopher Benson through stage three.
The sun stood high as Mike Mc Leon and the Reverend Thomas Hope made their way over cactus-covered, orange rock. They had argued for some time about whether they would go back to the city or follow Benson. Mike, upon hearing what Benson had told Tom, was ready to return to his wife. Whatever it was Benson had found, Mike had missed, so he thought. Tom, however, in seeing and talking with Benson, knew that he had only found a part of what he was looking for. Tom wanted to go on. He suggested that Mike should go back without him, but Mike felt that he should stay with Tom and make sure he didn’t get hurt. Mike found this surge of conscience in himself thoroughly annoying. So they went in search of Benson together, climbing over hills that were growing into mountains.
Night came. They had searched and called for Benson but had not seen anything of him. Their only hope now was that Benson would see the light of their fire and try to reach them. Mike sat at the fire cooking a freshly caught rattlesnake while Tom looked on, lost in thought. The moon was full and every feature of the surrounding terrain clearly visible.
“Very visible,” thought Tom—so much so that what he only thought he was seeing at first quickly snapped him out of his reverie. He looked more carefully into the distance and saw red light filling the sky. Wind began to blow, and clouds appeared—not from a single direction in the form of a weather front, but above their heads, out of nowhere.
“What’s going on?” Mike had also noticed the change.
“I don’t know,” replied Tom.
They stood up and stared at the sky. The wind blew harder and lightning began to flash. The moon disappeared in the clouds, and the whole area was immersed in dark crimson brightness. The wind whipped in and out from every direction, now, blowing so hard that they had to struggle to stand up. Then it rained—a deluge pouring upon them all at once. Tom dropped to his knees and began to pray while Mike stood on the verge of panic. Hell had relocated itself to space and time, and Mike and Tom had been caught in the move. The ground began to rumble and a fissure cracked open in front of them, spewing fire and lava. Then from this fissure came a horrible vision appearing all too real.
A mammoth creature rose from the earth, spewing forth fire and dripping saliva which burned the rock beneath it. It had eyes of firelight surrounded by almost liquid skin that arranged and rearranged itself along a man-like skeletal structure.
Mike screamed: “What’s happening!”
The creature was not more than fifty feet away from them. Mike turned to run.
“It’s alright!” Tom answered.
He stood with a smile on his face, as if his prayer had been answered. “Mike, we’re seeing a vision, but you must believe that it’s real.”
“Who cares what it is! Let’s just get out of here!”
“No wait! You must understand