The light shone down on the little house, and as Marc went outside the difference between the dark basement and the shiny day was nearly blinding. Marc decided to go look for their host as he was the only other person who was not asleep.
Across the road, Jason and a friend were breaking down his house. Marc decided that, after one last hot and windy night, Jason decided to build a new house. The two were hard at work hammering the walls, which crumbled all too easily.
Marc walked around the house looking for Julie. He was not in the back yard, or in the shed, or anywhere that Marc looked. He wound up in the front yard again watching Jason slam away at his house.
“Well, if Jason has been working for awhile he probably saw and spoke to Julie earlier,” said Marc to himself. He walked over to the collapsed house. “Goodmorning Jason, I’m Marc. Have you seen Julie?”
Jason put down the sledge hammer and put out his hand for Marc to shake. “Back at you Marc. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you: Julie left last night. He said he was going to look for a ‘Homosexual City’ or something. He also gave me his house, that’s why I’m tearing this old thing down. I’m thinking of putting in a pool what do you think?”
“I guess if you don’t have a water problem out here in the desert, it’s a good idea,” said Marc trying to figure things out.
“Well I did have a water problem, but Julie never did. Always struck me weird that he could grow fruit trees in a desert.” Jason wiped some sweat of his brow, replacing it with dirt. “I’m hoping that now that I own his land, some of his luck will wear off on me.”
Jason’s friend walked over and stood beside them. She was cute, and had red hair and blue eyes. “I don’t think that will be a problem, luck around here seems to be growing.”
“Marc meet Anne. When I started tearing apart my house this morning, she arrived from the west and offered to help me.” Marc leaned over and shook Anne’s hand. “She was looking for a place to stay for awhile, and since I have a big house now and hopefully a swimming pool, I thought it would probably cause bad luck to turn someone away.”
“That’s awfully good of you,” Marc acknowledged. “Listen, Jason did Julie say anything about the direction he was heading?”
“No. But he did travel west last night.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about Julie,” said Anne. “I met him early this morning, going the other way. He seemed to have his head on straight. And he said that he finally knew who he truly was.” Anne winked at Marc.
A few seconds later Marc realized that Julie and Anne were the same person, and that she did understand what he had said the night before. “Well then, let me help you two. Here Anne can I borrow your hammer?”
Not long after, everyone was awake and had helped to remove the last of the rubble. The house that was not, was no longer.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay one more day?” invited Jason.
The five travellers were already on the road and anxious to go on. Meribah waved and said, “Thanks for your hospitality.”
Nathanial shouted over her shoulder, “Thanks for you food.”
“But we can’t stay anywhere long. Marc and Joel are on a quest, and we have more or less joined that quest. We’ve got to move on or we’re never gonna find God.” Meribah turned and started down the road.
“Besides,” said Lily, “you two need to get to know each other, if you’re going to live together.”
“That’s the funny thing,” said Jason, “it’s like I’ve know her for years, she’s easy to like.”
Everyone said fairwell and ran to catch up with Meribah.
“Do you think she’ll ever tell him the truth?” asked Nathanial.
“I don’t see why not. After a while he might even figure it out himself. Could be he already knows, but doesn’t care.” Joel placed his hand over his brow so that he would be able to see more clearly. “Well what do we have here? Another soon to be acquaintance, I’d say.”
Lily also place a hand above her eyes. “Looks like a girl, long hair anyway. It seems strange that somebody would be alone out here, especially a pretty girl.”
“She’s not alone,” corrected Marc. “She’s with someone else, but the second girl is transparent, only semi-visible.”
“I don’t see anyone else,” said Nathanial.
“Nor I,” Meribah agreed.
“Well there is only one way to find out.” Joel hoisted his spear, straightened his scabbard, and walked toward the girl or girls.
As Joel got within speaking distance he hit something solid and fell over on his back. He sat up and kicked his foot forward, only to hit the same solid nothing.
“Just as I figured,” said Joel to his friends, “another invisible wall.”
Everyone began to feel around the wall trying to get closer to the girl, but the wall went around the girl forming a protective chamber or cell.
“Is she trapped in there?” asked Meribah a little nervous.
“I don’t think so. The other girl is making faces at us,” said Marc.
Nathanial and Meribah looked at Marc and shouted, “What other girl?”
The ghost floated down and hovered near Marc. “You can see me?”
For an answer Marc put out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Marc.”
The ghost took Marc’s hand and said, “Marc, I’m Joan. Please come in. Maybe you can help me.”
After Marc had gone inside the wall, everyone else tried to follow but were stopped by the wall.
“What the heck are we suppose to do now?” asked a frustrated Meribah.
“Well,” Nathanial shook out his bed roll, “it’s getting kind of late, and we’re all tired. So lets camp.”
“How can you be so calm?” Meribah shouted at Nathanial, then to Joel, “How can he be so calm?”
“Marc can take care of himself.” Joel scratched behind his ear. “Besides, unless I’m mistaken, Lily can still talk to him, and their communicating right now.”
Lily nodded her head, and rolled out her blanket made of leaves and vines. Everyone outside the wall, including Meribah, fell asleep shortly after.
“Okay Marc, here’s the thing,” the ghost named Joan began. “The stiff sitting over there is my other half, you follow?” Marc shook his head. “Okay, I was a practising doctor and you know how logical we can be. Well it seems when I arrived here, my logical half split from my spiritual have.” Joan sunk her head in shame. “Well, she just won’t believe we’re here. She thinks we’re dead rotting in some garden. Can you imagine what will happen when I tell her we were cremated?”
Marc shrugged his shoulders, “So Joan what do you want me to do? If you can’t convince yourself that you’re in heaven, how am I suppose to do it?”
“Just give it a try. You look like you’ve been around, you can set her straight.”
Marc looked over to his friends who were settling down for the night. “I guess it can’t hurt.”
Joan floated over to her other more solid self. “Joan wake up we’ve company.” The solid Joan did not move. “Hey you lazy atheist bitch, stop ignoring me I’m you.”
“Go away. I’m dead,” said the solid Joan. “I refuse to open my eyes because I don’t have any. I refuse to listen to you because I don’t have ears. I refuse to…”
“Oh, but you sure can talk up a storm.” The ghost Joan slapped the solid Joan in the face a few times. “Snap out of it will you. I know you can hear me and I know you felt me hit you. You’re dead and well.”
“I refuse to hear you, because you haven’t a mouth. I refuse to see you because you haven’t a body. I refuse to touch…” continued the solid Joan.
“Here,” said Marc, “let me give it a whirl.” He bent down beside her. “Hi Joan, I’m Marc. How about you open your eyes and listen to me just for a few minutes. If I can’t prove that I exist you can go back to your… meditation. Ok?”
“I guess.” The solid Joan opened her eyes.
“Yes!” shouted the ghost Joan. “Early progress.”
“Now, can you explain to me where you believe you are or are not?” Marc leaned closer to hear her better.
“I know that my body has died, and my mind is slowly dying as my brain shuts down. Cell by cell, I will cease to be.” Joan took a deep breath. “You, her, and everything around us are what’s left of an active mind and strong endorphins released by my body when I first reached biological death.”
“Alright can you remember any past lives?” asked Marc.
“No, she can’t. She locked them up into me,” the ghost Joan interrupted.
“Even if I could, they would be compiled from the patients I’ve treated.” She trembled a little. “And, my ever slipping mind could easily be fooled to believe that they were indeed past lives. You and her are probably compilations of former patients as well, you do look familiar.”
“Let me try this from another angle.” Marc sat down in the same indian fashion as the solid Joan sat. “Your accent is american, probably south.” She nodded. “Did you practise privately or in a hospital.”
“Privately,” she answered.
“Okay, if I am a mosaic of people you’ve met then I would have to have a name that you heard of before. Right?” She nodded. “So have you ever met a Marc Labonté.”
“I knew a few Marks, and Labonti, I could have read that in a newspaper.”
“Alright spell Marc then.”
“M-A-R-K!” she spelled flippantly.
“That’s what I thought. I guess I’m real then. You see I’m from Canada, and I’ve a French heritage. Anyway the French spelling has a ‘C’ not a ‘K’. So unless you’re from Louisiana I’m real.”
“You didn’t prove a thing. Any first grader could have spelled Marc with a ‘K’ or a ‘C’ purely by the sound.”
“She’s got a point,” the ghost Joan agreed.
Marc gave her an annoyed look. “Alright my grandfather’s name was Ovila.”
“Poor man,” said the ghost Joan.
“Enough with the names already.” The solid Joan waved her arms at both of them. “For all I know, you could just be taking words from my dying mind and changing the syllables. Olive…Ovila.”
“This is crazy, I should leave you here in this desert,” said Marc with building frustration.
“There is no desert, there is no you, there is no her, and,” the solid Joan took a deep breath, “there is no longer a me.”