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Illumination

We’re trying something new here at WE. We’re devoting a section of our site to short stories (or parables) intended to inspire people to think more deeply about our Creator and the world we live in. Below the first story, titled Illumination.

—-

The knocking began at midnight.

It was so faint at first Simon thought he was dreaming. But quickly it grew louder, each knock further disrupting his sleep.

He sat up in bed and concentrated.

Knock, knock.

It sounded close this time. His front door? He had no idea who would knock so late.

Unless …

Impossible. He wouldn’t visit someone like Simon.

Knock, knock.

Simon eased out of bed and tiptoed through the darkness. He tripped over a shoe, stumbling toward the window overlooking his front yard. He regained his balance and peered into the moonlit night.

A warm gust of wind tickled his face.

He couldn’t see his front door from that window, but his driveway and the street were visible. He searched for a vehicle that might indicate who was bugging him at this late hour.

He saw nothing.

Knock, knock.

His underarms grew sticky, his palms moist. Maybe he should call the police.

He grabbed the phone by his bed. “Someone’s knocking on my door.”

“Do you know who it is?” the dispatcher said.

“No, but he won’t stop. I’m afraid he’ll break in.”

“Stay inside. I’m sending a unit now.”

Simon hid in his dark bedroom, waiting. The knocking continued. Several minutes later, he heard an engine. He dashed to the window and spotted a police cruiser slowing to a halt.

The knocking stopped.

A man and a woman exited the cruiser. Simon hurried downstairs, flicked on the foyer light, and let them in.

He glanced around. Random socks littered his floor. A TV tray stood in front of his couch. Flies buzzed around the half-eaten burger he’d left out. His face flushed. “Sorry for the mess.”

The man, Officer Patrick, asked questions about the knocking. Simon described it as best he could. As he spoke, the woman, Officer Shepherd, stared at him with clear blue eyes. They sparkled in the light, like water off the coast of Maui, standing in contrast to the pale walls surrounding her, her gray uniform, and her partner’s mechanical brown eyes.

Officer Patrick finished his questions. He and Officer Shepherd proceeded to search outside for signs of an intruder. They found nothing.

“Probably just some teens playing a prank,” Officer Patrick said. “Took off as soon as they saw us. Doubt they’ll give you any more trouble.”

Officer Shepherd stared at Simon again with her blue eyes. He stared back.

Officer Patrick signaled to his partner and ushered them outside, breaking her connection with Simon. Simon shut the door and stood still, thinking. He should have been wondering what had happened to the person who’d awoken him so rudely in the middle of the night—and if he would return.

But Simon could think only of blue.

He killed the foyer light and watched the officers march toward their car. Officer Shepherd stopped and said something to Officer Patrick. She headed back for the house.

Simon opened the door.

He froze.

Her eyes glowed, penetrating the darkness, twin pools of the bluest water he’d ever seen, swirling with life in a land somewhere unknown to him—a land calling his name. If he’d known how to swim, he would have plunged in.

“Left my keys,” she said and snatched them off the table by the staircase.

She started to leave, then hesitated. She centered her gaze on his. “If you hear the knocking again … open the door.”

Simon blinked.

She brushed past him and rode away with her partner.

His mind frazzled, Simon made his way back upstairs. He lay in bed and pulled the covers over his head. He tried to fall back asleep and forget everything that had happened that night.

Still, he saw blue.

Knock, knock.

It’s him, Simon thought. You know it is.

He needed help. He threw the covers aside, scrambled to his phone, and dialed his friend, Pete’s, number. Eventually, a groggy voice answered. “Simon?”

“Pete! I got to tell—”

“Why’re you calling me so la—”

“Someone’s knocking on my door.”

Silence.

“Pete?”

Simon heard nothing, not even his friend’s breathing. “It’s the Knocking Man, isn’t it? I know you know who he is.”

No answer.

“Pete!”

“How long’s it been going?” Pete’s voice was louder, no longer affected by slumber.

“Almost an hour. I called the cops, but they didn’t see him.”

“Of course not.”

“I want him to stop.”

“He won’t.”

“Wh—?”

“He won’t stop knocking.”

Simon’s heart accelerated. “He’s here for my house. Isn’t he?”

“Yes. But not in the way you think.”

“I don’t want him to touch it. I’ve been here for years. No one’s going to break in and—”

“He won’t break in. You have to open the door.”

A disturbing thought stuck Simon. He squeezed the phone. “He visited you too, didn’t he? And you opened the door. Didn’t you?”

Knock, knock.

“And then you sent him here,” Simon said. “He got to you, and now you want him to get to me.”

“Simon—”

“Tell him to leave.”

“Just listen.”

“Get him out of here!”

A pause. Simon drew a breath to shout again, but Pete spoke first. “When you’re ready, Simon, open the door.”

Simon nearly hurled the phone across the room. “I don’t want to hear that from you. You’re supposed to be my friend.”

“I’m exactly that.”

“Then why’d you send him here?”

“For you to open the door.”

Simon wanted to scream, to blame him for the Knocking Man’s pounding on his door in the middle of the night. Instead, he thought about blue water.

And that he didn’t know how to swim.

“I can’t,” he said.

“There’s nothing to be scared of. Open it.”

Should he? No. He would drown.

“Tell him to leave me alone, Pete.”

“Can’t, my friend. Open the door.”

Enough! Simon hung up.

The knocking continued.

“Go away!” he yelled, not knowing if he could be heard.

The knocking accelerated, assaulting Simon’s eardrums. He could beat this, though; it was only a knocking. He fetched a pair of earplugs and stuffed them in. He hopped back in bed and pulled the pillow over his head.

The knocking continued. In fact, it seemed louder now, even with his ears plugged and the pillow smothering them.

He squeezed his eyes shut. Just ignore it. Think about pleasant things that’ll help you fall asleep.

But he couldn’t. The knocking was relentless. Louder. Stronger. Faster. Shaking the foundation of his house.

No! This was his house. And he wasn’t giving it up.

Maybe you should just open the door. And swim.

But I don’t know how!

He curled into a ball on his bed, surrounded by darkness.

The knocking grew even louder.

He glanced around. Despite the darkness, he could discern the outlines of clothes strewn across the floor and a shirt hanging from an open dresser drawer. He couldn’t possibly let the Knocking Man see this.

Knock!

Knock!

Slowly, as if no longer in control of his actions, he found himself planting his feet on the carpet. Crossing the room. Turning toward the staircase.

Wait. He grabbed the railing. This was crazy. He didn’t know what he was doing. What would happen if he opened the door?

Blue.

As if dreaming, Simon floated downstairs and stood at his front door. It vibrated under the force of a series of knocks, rattling the entire house. He reached a trembling hand for the knob. Was he really about to open his house to the Knocking Man?

His hand kept moving.

KNOCK!

KNOCK!

His grasped the knob. He closed his eyes, drew a deep breath.

Swim …

And twisted his wrist.

The door pulled back with a creak. Simon was almost too afraid to watch. But his eyes remained open as a warm gust of wind blew back his hair and he saw what was behind the door.

Nothing.

He glanced around outside. No sign of anyone. He pulled back and shut the door. What was going—

Something moved behind him. He spun around.

And there he was.

Simon took in the Knocking Man’s appearance and felt his eyes growing in their sockets, for The Knocking Man … was a boy. No taller than four feet. He gazed at Simon through wire-framed glasses, his eyes penetrating the darkness, illuminating the room.

Blue.

“You’re not what I expected,” Simon said.

“I never am.”

“I don’t know how to swim.”

“I’ll teach you.”

Simon gestured around his house. “This place is a wreck. I’ve been meaning to clean it up, but I—”

“We’ll get to that later. For now, I just want to eat with you.”

“Eat? I’m sorry, the fridge is pretty much empty.”

“It’s okay, Simon. I’ve already prepared the meal.”

Simon turned toward his kitchen and found the table set for two. The aroma of freshly cooked salmon overtook him, and his stomach rumbled. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was.

He looked at the boy. In his glasses, Simon saw his own reflection.

His eyes, normally hazel, glowed blue.