5 AM was way too early for any human being to have to wake up. He knew that in the future he’d have to change this, but for now, up-and-at-em. Rushing into the shower, water way too hot, he soaped, shaved and got ready as fast as he could. As he was getting dressed Jim thought he felt a tremor, like a light earthquake but much lighter than he had ever felt before. Living in California this wasn’t anything to get too excited over, any earthquake that didn’t shake the dishes out of the cupboard wasn’t an earthquake to worry about. This looked like one more day he’d be late for work but not by too much.
Jim turned on the radio; he liked listening to the news in the morning while he got dressed so he’d be ‘up’ on current events by the time he got to the office.
“The office” he thought, sometimes Jim chuckled at the sound of that. He still marveled at the fact that he was the manager of a group of technicians for a large state agency. It wasn’t too many years ago Jim was doing all kinds of different jobs to make ends meet. That was about the time he decided that he needed to go back to college and get a degree or he was going to be doing those kinds of jobs for the rest of his life.
Two years at the State College, many sleepless nights and gallons of coffee finally got Jim the degree he needed. Not long after graduation he got an opportunity to accept a part-time state job. Jim hesitated at the offer because it wasn’t exactly his dream job. But, on the other hand, benefits and a nice retirement made him think twice and he agree to it. About a year afterward they offered it to him full-time and he accepted quickly. Now, 12 years later Jim is still there, and still pretty-much enjoying what he’s doing.
The drive to work was so routine he was almost sure he could do it with his eyes closed by now. 45 minutes of stop and go, fast and slow, friendly drivers waving their middle fingers at each other. Today seemed a little different though. People were being much more respectful of others, and he didn’t see one rude gesture the whole way to the parking garage. In the office, his coworkers also seemed to be in exceptionally good moods as well. Almost every person he passed had a hearty ‘Good Morning’ for him. Must be something in the water, or the coffee this morning he decided.
In his office, going through the morning’s email, he realized he too was in a better than average mood for a Monday. Plowing through redundant messages, but humming an old song to himself all the while. Suddenly, another tremor hit, a bit stronger than the one he had felt at home. His secretary stuck her head into the doorway, “You feel that one?” she asked. He nodded, and asked her if she’d felt the one earlier. She hadn’t, but had heard about it from many others.
Susan was her name, and she’d worked for Jim for almost two years now. She was usually shy and did not engage in much small talk, but this morning she seemed almost effusive. She actually came in to his office and sat down to chat. Jim couldn’t remember if she’d ever done this before, but it certainly was pleasant now. Their conversation was fast and animated, and Jim counted at least six times they had mutually complimented each other. Had he had some of this coffee too? No, couldn’t be that, but something sure seemed different. Not bad, just different.
Before they had finished their conversation, another tremor struck. Not much stronger than the last one, but lasting much longer. Jim counted off in his head what he thought was about 20 seconds of shaking. That was unusually long for a California tremor. Jim stood up and looked out the window of his office, Susan joined him. The rumbling had stopped but now there were many faces in the windows of other nearby buildings.
“I hope this isn’t a run up to a much bigger one.” Susan said to him. Jim reassured her that sometimes tremors are just small adjustments deep in the ground and don’t necessarily lead to anything else. But, in his own mind he actually shared her concern too. “Look at the people down there.” Susan said as she pointed down at the sidewalk. Jim saw that lots of people below were all looking up in to the sky. His office window did not afford much of a view of the sky so they couldn’t see what the people were looking up at, but they were all smiling about whatever it was. Jim suspected it was one of those airplanes that pull a huge advertising banner behind it. Maybe it had a cute message for someone on it.
“What do you think they’re pointing up at Jim?” Susan asked in almost a whisper. He was getting very curious too. Maybe it was time to go see what was going on, he thought.
“C’mon, let’s go out and see what’s going on.” Jim said. But, before they could start out of the office another temblor hit, and Jim silently counting it got up to 55 seconds. Very unusual he thought, very unusual.
Jim, Susan and many of their coworkers all began to leave the building at the same time. This wasn’t a typical earthquake since it had kept shaking for so long and it seemed like it wasn’t going to stop. The shaking wasn’t terribly violent, and the building wasn’t coming apart, but almost a full minute of quaking made it very weird. Things weren’t falling off shelves, and nothing seemed damaged, but that was weird too. As they made their way outside they noticed the sky seemed to be dimmer than normal, as if clouds had suddenly rolled in. But, as they looked up, it wasn’t clouds that were blocking the sun. No, it was something huge, something so much bigger than any of them had ever seen before, it made Jim gasp.
Jim looked right up at it, and found himself trying to blink it away in disbelief. It was just so completely fantastical that it was hard for his mind to accept what it was seeing. It literally looked like a planet in the sky. Obviously it couldn’t be a small planet, but it was huge, truly the biggest thing he’d ever seen floating in midair. It was so big that it was hard to tell how close it already was, but it seemed as if it was very slowly moving closer still. It was a dark bronze color with a greenish hue, and large deep vertical crevices, but yet a perfect sphere. Jim couldn’t hear any noise coming from it, but he did feel something he couldn’t explain.
By now there were hundreds of people in the street, and everyone seemed to be streaming in the same direction – down the main boulevard towards the great park in the middle of the city. He wasn’t sure why everyone would be heading there, but when he stopped to think about it, something inside him made him feel like he needed to go there too, so he did. Even Susan was walking to it several yards ahead of him, as if she didn’t even need a moment to wonder why.
Most people were just walking, some jogging, and some were actually running towards the park. Jim joined the people that were walking at a slightly faster pace. Everyone was seemingly in a very good mood; smiling, laughing and chatting with anyone and everyone near them. No one seemed to be afraid of this giant sphere in the sky, and Jim had to admit to himself that he didn’t feel fear either. How could he not be afraid, he wondered, of the most irrational and abstract thing he’d ever witnessed? He had no answers.
As he was walking Jim felt somebody run past and brush hard against his arm. It was a woman, and as she stopped to apologize for bumping into him, they looked at each other and Jim realized he knew her. It was Jane, a woman he dated several years ago. They smiled at each other in happy recognition. He hadn’t seen Jane in over 5 years, after an abrupt and unceremonious breakup which was completely his fault. Yet for some reason, he didn’t feel embarrassed or guilty anymore. “Jane what’s going on with all this?” He asked her, before he could think about why he’d ask her this question.
She looked at him and smiled very calmly, and she thought for a minute before she answered him. “They’re really here” she said “My people have finally come, and now they’ll all be here with you, with us.”
“You’re one of them?” Jim asked in surprise. But even as he was asking that, in his own mind, Jim knew that this was true. He’d always felt she was kind of unusual, different than most any other women he’d ever dated. She was calm, thoughtful, loving, and very wise for her years. Someone he thought of as an Old Soul. She had definitely been different than any other woman he’d ever slept with. Slow and quiet, sensual and sensitive – and she had made him feel the same way. Like time had stopped while they were together. Now though, at this moment, he couldn’t even remember why he’d broken up with her, but maybe it didn’t matter anymore.
“What’s going to happen, why are they here now?” Jim asked her.
“They’re here to join us, to live with us, to teach us. Well… all of you anyway.” She said, her face beaming. “Listen to your inner voice Jim, you already know there’s nothing to be afraid of, everything is going to be just fine and you can trust that feeling.”
With that, she turned away from him quickly and began running again towards the park. As she left she shouted back “Jim don’t worry so much, you’ll see me again. We met for a reason and this is it. I’ll meet you down there and you’ll soon understand.” He wasn’t positive what she meant, but he trusted that she was right, that maybe he’d understand it all very soon.
Jim mixed back in with the flow of people who were all moving towards the great park. The park was an enormous green space the original city planners had placed in the center of the city almost a century before. It was prime real estate, and many a developer had tried unsuccessfully to purchase it from the city. But, each time they tried they were met with almost unbelievable public outcries and demonstrations. Jim couldn’t help but wonder if there was something unconscious in the back of people’s minds that helped motivate them to protect this space. Maybe something planted there long ago.
As Jim arrived at the edge of the park he could see people slowing down and gathering in small groups, speaking in low tones. Everyone was smiling and happy like they were at the state fair. No fear, no panic, no sign of slightest amount of distress appeared on anyone’s face.
The gigantic sphere seemed to have stopped getting closer, it looked to be about a mile up in the sky now, not moving. As Jim moved towards the center of the park he could see a narrow beam of light was emanating from the bottom of the sphere downward to the grass. It made a circle of light like a stage spotlight, but not quite as bright. Somehow he knew that this was the exact spot where these new visitors were going to appear.
He saw Jane just across the way, on the other side of the beam of light. He made eye contact with her and she smiled broadly at him. As she walked towards him, Jim felt a warm sensation all through his body, like pure pleasure coursing through his veins. He knew he was about to witness the changing of everything he’d ever known, and he was as excited as a child on Christmas morning.