Fiction: The Thing

By Colin Punt

Many years ago, a freighter went down in a November storm on the Great Lakes. A single hand survived, spending nearly two days bobbing about Lake Superior in a tiny dinghy. He had nearly frozen to death when they found him. During his second night on the lake, when things were really looking really bad for the poor man, God visited him to provide him comfort and tell him the Thing. The Thing was important and God wanted him to remember it. It was the sort of Thing that you shape your life around; that you could use to change the world if you only have the will to do it. Well, the man survived, but mostly forgot the Thing. God sent reminders from time to time; sometimes little nudges, a star in the sky here, a pretty flower there; and sometimes big reminders, like the most vivid dream the man ever had or the televangelist yelling the exact Thing specifically at him as he flipped past that channel to the Packers game. On two occasions, he almost got it back. It was like lightning had lit up a stormy night sky and for a brief moment he could see everything—everything—clear as day. And then it was gone and everything was dark again. Eventually, a 50 pack-year cigarette habit on top of everything else had him in a hospital bed awaiting the rapidly approaching end. His son and daughter were both there with him. His eyes opened so wide when the Thing came back to him, but the cancer had sapped his breath and he couldn’t tell them.

Colin Punt was born, raised, and still lives, in the Midwest. He does most of his writing as a practicing City Planner, envisioning the future of cities. When he's not planning the future urban form, he enjoys reading books, riding bikes, and sailing boats. His fiction has appeared in Steam Ticket and will be included in an upcoming edition of Midwest Review