I had been out of high school for just over a year and had taken a job as a security guard at an apartment complex, Indian Creek Apartments specifically. It was a slightly chilly night in late autumn, but the air hadn't yet taken winter's crispness. There was a light fog beginning to cover the area. The sky had clouded and, as such, neither the moon nor stars were visible. The only light came from the street and traffic lights, so the buildings were lit by dim shades of green and red.
I was returning from my rounds, approaching the guardhouse from the poorly lit street. As the night air cooled, the fog grew thick and the colors of the streetlights seemed to spread in the air around me. It gave the walk back an eerie quality and I had a notable tension about me. I was only a few feet away from the guardhouse when the streetlight overhead went dark and the entrance to the complex was suffused with a dull red glow. With the streetlight completely dead, the color spread throughout the area like a plague. It's funny, I think, that while something so simple as a change in lighting can elicit such an intense reaction as nervousness or fear, something equally simple, such as a door made of glass, can alleviate those same feelings. Thus I visibly relaxed when I unlocked the sliding glass door of the guardhouse.
The guardhouse was arranged so that the charger for the radio sat just beside the door, a subtle reminder for the guard on duty not to leave it behind if out performing other duties. With one foot inside the door I placed the radio on the charger. I'd have taken that second step and shut the door behind me had I not heard the noise outside. It was familiar yet there was a strange, almost alien quality to it. Looking around I saw nothing, so i shook my head telling myself I was imagining things when I heard it a second time. It was clearer this time and I quickly rationalized that what I had heard must be the snort of a large dog. It had come from the general direction of the main road. I stepped down from the guardhouse closing the door, my radio inside its protective boundaries. Fear had been replaced by curiosity, one of mankind's most self-destructive qualities.
The fog had grown very thick and the hues of the traffic lights had become seemingly tangible. It was difficult to see but very easy to hear. The snort came again, loud and distinct. The air around me changed color. I looked to where I had heard the sound, the radiant green glow cutting the fog like a razor sharp blade, and saw a stag standing proudly across the street. It appeared as though the fog had parted just for him, as if in deference to his majesty. If I'd had the presence of mind to count the points on his antlers I might have found eight or nine, but instead I stood in awe at the sight of him. It must have been the sudden turn I made to see him or perhaps the sharp intake of my breath that caught his attention, for his gaze settled on me.
There are those who speculate that the human sould is housed within the body at a sort of center point, located somewhere between the stomach and the heart. I don't know of this is, in fact, the truth, but that is where I felt the stag's gaze. As we locked eyes there was an intense stabbing sensation that worked its way past my heart and into that central place. It was fierce and agonizing, as though my insides were being wrenched aside to see something that lay hidden. There was pain. I couldn't move. It was sharp and penetrating. I couldn't even speak. I could feel it throbbing, a wound I couldn't see but knew in my heart to be as real as the stag. It hurt to do so much as breathe. After what felt like an eternity, but was in truth only a few moments, I felt the stag withdraw his stare. The pain subsided, giving way to a calm, soothing peace.
The light changed and the fog once again overcame the light, sealing the gap that had framed the stag. I felt a great sorrow sweep over me, for even though I could no longer see the stag, I knew that he had gone. I found myself standing there, the glowing red fog clinging to me, no longer quite myself. There was something new, seated there next to me in that place of internal speculation. It was primal and unconfined, yet regal and awe-inspiring; something that I desperately wanted to assimilate, making it part of the whole that was me.
This event is now ten years in my past, but I can still feel that something extra. It's not as strong as it once was, so I don't know whether I've started to successfully integrate that extra fragment or if I'm simply losing touch with it. I think I'd give anything to know and even more to feel it again today like I did so long ago.