Beyond my back yard on the acres that I inherited from my grandparents sits the edge of the whole world. Maybe the edge of the universe. No one who hasn’t seen it would ever believe it, and everyone who’s seen it is dead now besides me. The last one was my brother when he came up from Spokane last month for a visit.
“I’m going to go on a hike up to the spot,” he said after we chatted for maybe fifteen minutes. “Do you want to come?” I almost asked him what spot but I knew which by the look in his eyes. There was something else there too, something that scared me. I declined and he took off out the house and up the hill with out another word. He hasn’t been seen since.
I know he’s gone, I can feel it.
It’s kind of a hike to the spot, due north from the property line up a forested hill through loose and rocky soil. It takes at least a half hour to get there even for a person in their prime, and by the time you arrive your legs are screaming and threatening to give out on you from trudging up through the constantly giving ground. But then when you’re just about to give up there it is, the Edge of the Earth.
You can only see it if you stand in a certain area, a rough circle with about a 10 yard diameter. Outside of that you see nothing but thick forest sloping up to the precipice of Mount Colville.
Inside the circle though, you see a rocky cliff suddenly dropping off into a grey and brown valley below. It’s always night in the valley, the stars shining as bright as a Disney film and with the Milky Way clearly visible. Only it isn’t the Milky Way exactly, at least I don’t think. It’s a strange color of yellow and rusty red and is always at a different angle than the Milky Way is supposed to be from what I read. I’ve tried finding out for sure with a compass but the few times I’ve brought one to the spot it refuses to move from whatever orientation it held when I walked into the circle.
In the far of the valley you can make out black dots on the other side of the brown river that bisects it. Binoculars reveal that they are strange, castle-like buildings made of what looks to be obsidian. I would almost say they were ruins if not for the red shapes that sometimes dart between the structures so fast I can’t focus on them.
The near side of the valley is covered with a forest of things that are almost trees, but not quite. They look like they have skin and their branches move about like appendages. I once saw one snatch what looked like a bird out of the air and then pull it down to the trunk area. The rest of the area is covered with sand and shrubs that look like they were painted by a schizophrenic.
I would never go near the edge of the cliff, but my brother Jared was always more daring than I. He’d go right up to it, gaping in awe at the forest and the buildings. As soon as I got to the age where I realized that the spot wasn’t just a curious family story but something that shouldn’t, couldn’t exist but did I stopped going near the place.
Not Jared though. He went there at least twice a year up until that last time he went up there and never came back. “I love that place,” he said once when we were boys. “I think that’s where we go when we die, or at least me.”
I tell you I know he’s gone, but part of me wants to KNOW know. He’s never coming back but I need to know what happened. I’m thinking lately that need to go up there with a pair of good binoculars, get on my belly, and scoot right up to the edge of the cliff and look down. Maybe I’ll see where he fell, where his body sits broken and lifeless. Or maybe the trees got him and I’ll find nothing. Either way I have to know. Maybe I’ll do it tonight.