It's Christmastime. David Pareman lies in his hospital bed, dying. The staff visits him, as does a drug induced cowboy and yellow-eyed monster -- so he believes. But not his children. He fears he'll die alone without a chance to share his heart.
When Arion, a stranger with vast knowledge of David's life and a shroud of mystery over his own, comes to visit, David thinks he's from the newspaper. He learns otherwise. Soon David is tripping through his past in search of the answer to a soul-searing question. "What in your life merits God answering your prayer?"
Through his past and those of his children he hopes to reach, David finds little to balance the scales against him. He believes he's no good, with nothing of merit that would make God want to help in him. Then he remembers the truth of Christmas and the love the Father sent to earth.
The walls are breathing. Breathing... In. Out. Slowly... In. Out. It's rather astounding.
It sounds foolish even to me to say that, but out of the dim glow cast from the light above my hospital bed, I can see the walls expand and contract. Over the whirr of machines, I'm certain I can hear the hiss of an inhale, and the heavy sigh of a released breath that is not my own.
The spot around the little angel that was put in my room to dress up the dingy dappled wall with some Christmas cheer, is the only place that remains unaffected by the strange aberration. That small section where the likeness of a heavenly messenger hangs, sporting her halo tiara and holding her trumpet, does not move. It remains calm and still while the rest of the walls labor to fill plaster lungs.
The pale light on that edge of the room must be playing tricks on my mind, 'cause only an idiot would think that walls could breathe. Only a fool would believe that lumber and drywall would push and contract for breath like the lungs of life. I shut my eyes and rub them. With a deep draw of oxygen from the tube below my nose, I will the aberration away.
With a quick peek, I see the walls aren't moving. Relieved, I open my eyes. The hallucination -- the reaction to my meds -- is over, or so I think until I see a black spot growing on the dingy white walls. I'm certain it's just a shadow, cast from what... I don't know. A shadow, nonetheless. So why is it growing and why is the blackness oozing from the wall in several places?
Meds again. That's it. Meds. Meds to take care of the cancer. Meds for pain. Meds for indigestion from the meds they give me for the cancer and pain. Meds to build up my blood. Meds to keep it from clogging. Meds so it's not too thin. Meds to make me sleep. Meds. All those drugs the doctors have been cocktailing in my blood are like turpentine to my brain, screwing with my mind, altering my thoughts. Redefining my reality.
As the darkness moves slowly down the white walls like rivulets of tar, even the angel seems to lift and sway slightly. I half expect her to drop her trumpet and raise her skirts so they don't touch the shadow coloring the wall. More disturbing is the way the darkness has begun to push across the room like seeping lava, heading toward my bed. The rivulets are now beginning to form fingers, fingers that splay over the floor like long talons extended and sharpened like knives, reaching for me.
I press the vein where my heart seems to thump in my head. Put a hand to the thrum in my neck. Though I am weak, my blood courses. I want to jump out of my bed and run for safety. I'm frozen.