The doorbell roused Craig from his bed, where he had been contentedly watching a rerun of Sienfeld. His girlfriend mumbled drowsily as he threw on a robe.
Craig opened the front door. “Scott!” he gasped. He took an involuntary step backwards.
“Hello Craig,” Scott said. “It’s been a long time.” His eyes gleamed through the greasy hair that hung over them.
Craig swallowed. He furtively braced himself against the door, ready to slam it. “Yeah, uh,” he said. “Why are… Uh… What’s up, Scott?”
“I know we aren’t really friends anymore, Craig, but I need to tell you something. I need to tell you what I’m going to do.”
“Do?!” Craig nudged the door, closing it an inch. “Uh… What, uh, what, what are you going to do?”
Scott’s voice was low and intense, almost a growl: “I’m going to transcend.”
“Do you remember my wife, Jolene?”
“Jolene? Your wife, Jolene? Of course I remember her. I met her at your wedding. Why do you ask?”
“Six months ago, Jolene disappeared.”
“Disappeared! That’s terrible, Scott! Where, uh, where could she could be?”
“I don’t mean she wasn’t home, Craig. I mean she disappeared.” Scott moved closer, pressing against the door. He smelled of mildew and strange herbs. “Everything in the house was normal, except that the clothes she’d been wearing were in a heap on the bedroom floor. The police said she must have left me and put the clothes there as a joke. But I know the truth. Her clothes fell there when she was disembodied.”
“Has it ever struck you how all religions have opposite pairs? Allah and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, samara and nirvana, good and evil. Always a polarity, always a continuum between opposite points. Why? Why the same in all religions?”
“Because the myth of duality was planted in human cultures to deceive us! The Two want to control us, so they’ve suppressed the knowledge of the Third Way. But Jolene found it. She found the Third Way and it freed her from the continuum!”
“Um, Scott, don’t take this the wrong way, but are you alright? Are you, like–are you on something?”
There was silence for a long moment. Down the street, raindrops began to fall.
“No, Craig.” Scott’s tone was more subdued now, sober. “This is serious. Jolene tried to tell me six months ago, but I wouldn’t listen to her. I know better now. Her diary gave me the clues I needed. It opened my eyes. I’ve spent the time since then traveling and studying. I’ve learned that there are whole other planes of existence. I’m going to them. I’m going to follow Jolene.”
“So, why are you here?” Craig asked. “What does this have to do with me?”
“I came to give you this.”
Scott plunged a hand into his overcoat and drew out a shiny black object. He pointed it at Craig. Craig flinched back, then saw what it was: a hard drive.
“This is all of my research on the Third Way. It needs to be published. I can’t do it myself because I’m leaving. Tonight.” Scott looked at his watch. “I’ve got go. I have to start the ritual.”
“Tonight I transcend. You are the last person to hear my mortal voice. Goodbye, Craig.”
Scott turned on his heel and walked down the front steps. Like a curtain drawing, rain suddenly began to pour, and Scott was hidden.
Craig stared at the rain for a full minute, and then took another minute to make the short walk back to his bedroom. His girlfriend was awake. She looked up from the bed.
“Who was that?” she asked.
“Jolene, when you told me you were sure that Scott wouldn’t come looking for you, what exactly did you mean?”