Sine Waver

Millie Montoya and Becker Freeman are a couple enjoying their vacation in the shadow of Mount Adams when they decide to take a midnight swim under a waterfall. When Becker is sucked into a vortex below the falls the pair are subject to a seven-hour ordeal which tests their mental, physical and spiritual strength at the hands of an alien civilization.

Millie and I are celebrating my 33rd birthday with a week in Portland, Oregon. It is my first trip to Oregon. Restaurants, bars and the Oregon Zoo have been our destinations so far. Watching flora and fauna through triple-pane windows has been the norm. For the celebration of my birth there is something else in the cards. Today we become one with nature. Her idea. I am behind the wheel of a red Jeep on its way to Stagman Ridge on the southwest slope of Mt. Adams. We have crossed over the border into Skamania County, Washington. Millie insisted we spend a day hiking and picnicking in the jungle. I never, never say no to Millie.

Somewhere along Highway 141 a club of bikers appear in my rearview. Big men in black jackets and bug-eyed sunglasses. They start their pass as the road begins to curve back into solid lines. Half of them in front and half behind us. Strange. Having brutish-looking men surround my vehicle doesn’t bother me. Any group of guys that wear the same colors must carry with them a sense of honor and loyalty. I feel comfortable around people like that. It’s the scrawny, unpredictable weasels looking out for themselves that pique my fear.

We approach the Y at Trout Lake and take the road less traveled – Mount Adams Recreational Highway. I give a wave to the caboose rider as the M.C. goes by my window. He throws a short salute with a right-handed Boy Scout sign.

I slow our single-celled caravan to a stop on bridge over the White Salmon River and look over at my event planner who looks back at me. “Once we cross there’s no turning back,” I say hopeful that she will tell me to turn back. “We can always stay over there at Kelly’s Inn. The guidebook says it’s a whimsical mix of Irish and Victorian. Last chance for whimsy. Left or straight ahead?”

“It’s only eight miles, pussy! Go for it!” she says with a bright smile and a raised fist.

I smile back and cross. The light energy of the moment makes my foot a little heavy. Soon we are flying out the other side. Our eyes again return to a locked position as our flight settles into confidence.

“Oh my God!” she screams. The Jeep careens through a lunar surface of muddy divots and craters. We catch some air from the turbulence and enjoy a fearful sense of weightlessness before the eventual slam back down on Earth.

“Are you OK? I was looking at you and didn’t see that coming. I’m so sorry.” Millie was too busy readjusting the knit cap she had pulled over her eyes to hear what I said, except for one thing – ‘sorry’.

“I’m OK. But one of your water bottles broke in the back,” she said. “At least we’re in a Jeep. See! I told you it would be worth it to rent a Libra-mobile.”

“Mighty Girl! Mighty Girl! Mighty Girl!” screeched the bird.

From the pit of my throat I felt an awful presence rising. I rolled over just in time to vomit the piece of birthday cake Millie had been careful to hide away from me until just the right moment. I wretched again. The sound of a man dying drew more birds to the scene. Soon I was surrounded by a flock of Grey Parrots, owls and crows.

“You have to go back to the start now, Mr. Crawley,” said the voice.

“My name is Becker Freeman,” I said wiping the spew from my lip with a leaf. “Crawley is the last name of my ex-girlfriend from ten years ago. Why do you keep calling me that? How do you know anything about me?”

The voice wasn’t interested in my education – only instruction and destructive criticism. “Go back to the start,” she said calmly. It occurred to me that I had heard those words before. The voice belonged to a relationship counselor I had seen with Millie. After our sessions were over I had seen her a few times on my own in an attempt to figured out Millie’s ups and downs. Her name was Sabina Smithers. A beautiful, sophisticated Irishoman with golden hair, sparkling eyes and porcelain skin. Why was she here?

After walking back down the steps into the bunker I made my way to the sink. With my head under the faucet my fingers searched for the handles. I twisted both open. The water was ice cold. The shock of low temperature reminded me of the falls, but inspired less fear this time. Once the grit was off my face I backed up into the closet for a towel to dry off.

As I lowered the cloth from my eyes I heard Millie crying. “Becker, where are you?” she moaned. Then I heard a whistle. Three long, shrill tweets followed by silence. Then they repeated.

“I love you, Millie,” I thought to myself.

The whistling paused. “Becker? Is that you? Where are you? Are you alive? What’s going on?” she frantically quizzed.

I followed the sound back toward the sink. I peered down into the basin and then noticed movement from the corner of my eye. It was the water glass. In the half-empty glass I could see Millie looking around for me. “I’m somewhere… else,” I yelled at the glass. “I heard you before and thought you were here with me. Are you still in the forest?”

“I’m here with Khristophe now. He told me that he was really you in a new body. I prefer your mind and love in his body so after careful consideration we have decided to get married,” she said robotically.

“Married!” I screamed aloud. “Are you insane?” Khristophe put his arm around Millie and then gave her a kiss as the vision of them both faded from the glass. “Millie! No!” I screamed.