Randy Metzner lands in a white room after a freak accident. Miles Bruford, a heavenly emissary, explains he has to help two people fall in love if he wants to enter Heaven. Randy receives three miracles to bestow but cannot affect free will. Will he gain his wings or be escorted down below?
“I love the view from here,” Randy Metzner said from the summit of a rolling mountain in the upstate New York countryside.
“God’s work in full bloom,” Sandy Combs replied.
Randy rolled his eyes, but kept his mouth shut.
“I know, I know,” Sandy commented with a smile, seeing his friend’s face.
Randy laughed. “Shall we head back?”
“I can go a little farther, unless you’re tired.”
“I can make it to the top of that mountain over there, the way I feel.” He pointed off slightly to the right. He watched Sandy study the terrain as though he was considering going.
“Hmm. There might be a creek at the bottom we’ll need to cross in order to get there, but it would make for a nice round trip.”
Randy glanced down the mountain. The base wasn’t visible through the trees. “You might be right. At least if the water isn’t crossable without getting wet, we can circle back. We won’t have gone that far out of our way.”
Sandy smiled. “Let’s do it.”
The two started down the slightly steep incline. About halfway, the angle softened for a spell. The trees had thinned out some, too.
“You do know I’m not against it being God’s work, right?” Randy asked, slightly bothered by the earlier exchange.
“You’re skeptical, but not close-minded. That’s okay.” He grinned. “You’ll come around.”
Randy shrugged his shoulders. “How can you create this beauty in six days?”
Sandy lowered his eyebrows a little. “Our day is dictated by the Earth’s rotation, is it not?”
Randy pursed his lips. “Of course it is.”
“If you look out in the night sky, you get a sense of how small the planet is. When the universe was created, all this didn’t exist. And if that’s the case, how could time be measured by the Earth’s rotation?”
Randy shook his head, with a smile. “You always have some sort of answer.”
“Not always. Some explanations I have to take on faith.”
At least he never tries to push it off on me. Randy gave a half-smile. No one else I know is so optimistic, though.
Randy heard an explosion off in the distance. He recognized the sound. “Someone’s doing a bit of target practice.”
Sandy pointed off to the left where it sounded like the shot had come from. “As long as it’s way over there.”
Another shot was fired. “Right. It has to be at least half a mile away.”
“These mountains let it echo all over the place.”
“Yeah, but it is muffled.”
“True. It isn’t sharp like you would get if it didn’t bounce off the landscape.”
Randy looked ahead. “We’re coming upon a steep drop. This ought to be fun.”
Sandy patted his pockets. “I didn’t bring my rope. Guess we freehand it.”
Randy laughed. “I like a challenge.”
The two took their time climbing down. There was enough pitch that they weren’t going to fall, but it would have hurt plenty if they’d lost their grip and started rolling down over the jagged rocks.
Randy reached the base of the incline first. “That wasn’t so bad.”
Sandy smiled. “Exhilarating nonetheless.” He pointed a short distance away. “I see a creek down there.”
“From here, it doesn’t look like much of an obstacle.”
“I think you’re right. Let’s head over to that clearing. We can get a better view from there.” Sandy nodded toward a place next to the creek with low grass and dandelions for color.
Randy smiled. “Lead on.”
When the two reached the clearing, they walked over to the edge of the water and glanced up and down as much of its length that they could see. Randy spotted a wider section with large rocks sticking out of the water. The added width gave the water more room to spread out, slowing down the flow. The current wasn’t high enough to lap against the rocks, so the tops were dry.
“We can cross over there.”
Sandy examined the location Randy had indicated. “I agree… That is, if you can keep your balance.” He smirked.
“Piece of cake.” Randy strolled over and, after a second to study the rocks closer, he stepped off onto the first rock. From there, he leapt to the larger boulder, almost overshooting it with his momentum. After a few hand waves and rubber-leg wagging, he stabilized his stance.
“Good thing that was a large rock,” Sandy commented with a sly grin.
“I think I overestimated because of its size. The rest are a little more tricky, but I’ll make it easily.” He continued quickly and made it across in well under a minute.
“I guess it’s my turn.”
Randy grinned. “Don’t mess up.”
Sandy rolled his eyes before setting up for his first step.
“You had my experience to draw from,” Randy said upon his friend’s last jump to the bank on the other side.
“You’re right. I learned from your mistakes.” He snickered.
“Okay, I’ve got your number,” Randy said while nodding. He pointed at a short vertical incline at the start of the next mountain. “How about this challenge?”
Sandy studied it. “Definitely doable. Plenty of outcroppings to grab onto.”
“And I’ll be nice enough to let you go first. That way I can learn from your mistakes.”
“Sure. I’ll go first, and I’ll still beat you after you watch me.”
Randy raised his eyebrows slightly. “Care to put your money where your mouth is?”
“Ooh a little wager. Five bucks good enough? I don’t want to break your bank.”
“Let’s make it ten,” Randy replied.
“Ten it is. Give me a count of three to start.” Sandy walked over and gazed at its surface, looking for the best route.
Randy looked at his watch and let the digits draw close to the minute. At fifty-seven seconds, he called out “Three…two…one…go!”