"Didn't mean to scare you," I said.
She looked away for a moment in the shy way a teenager might, so I squatted down to be at her eye level and introduced myself.
She looked back at me with eyes much older than I expected.
"We aren't living the Insights here," she said.
I was taken aback. "What?"
"The Insights. We aren't living them."
"What do you mean?"
She looked at me sternly. "I mean, we haven't figured it out completely. There's more that we have to know."
"Well, it's not that easy . . ."
I stopped. I couldn't believe I was being confronted by a fourteen-year-old like this. For an instant a flash of anger swept across me. But then Natalie smiled--not a large smile, just an expression at the edges of her mouth that made her endearing. I relaxed and sat down on the ground.
"I believe the Insights are real," I said. "But they aren't easy. It takes time."
She wasn't letting up. "But there are people who are living them now."
I looked at her for a moment. "Where?"
"In central Asia. The Kunlun Mountains. I've seen it on the map." She sounded excited. "You have to go there. It's important. There's something changing. You have to go there now. You have to see it."
As she said this, the expression on her face looked mature, authoritative, like that of a forty-year-old. I blinked hard, not believing what I was seeing.
"You have to go there," she repeated.
"Natalie," I said, "I'm not sure where you mean. What kind of place is it?"
She looked away.
"You said you saw it on the map. Can you show it to me?"
She ignored my question, looking distracted. "What . . . what time is it?" she asked slowly, stuttering.
"I gotta go."
"Wait, Natalie, this place you were talking about. I--"
"I gotta meet the team," she said. "I'm going to be late."
She was walking fast now, and I struggled to reach her. "What about this place in Asia, can you remember exactly where it is?"
As she glanced back at me over her shoulder, I saw only the expression of a fourteen-year-old girl with her mind on soccer.
Back at home I found myself totally distracted. What was that all about? I stared at my desk, unable to concentrate.
Later I took a long walk and a swim in the creek, finally deciding to call Bill in the morning and get to the bottom of the mystery. I retired early.
At about 3:00 A.M. something woke me. The room was dark. The only light was seeping in around the base of the window blinds. I listened intently, hearing nothing but the usual sounds of the night: an intermittent chorus of crickets, the occasional drone of bullfrogs down by the creek, and far away, the low bark of a dog.
I thought about getting up and locking the doors of the house, something I seldom ever did. But I shrugged off the idea, content to let myself ease back into sleep. I would have faded away altogether, except that in my last sleepy glance about the room, I noticed something different at the window. There was more light outside than before. I sat up and looked again. There was definitely more light coming in around the blinds. I pulled on some pants and walked over to the window and parted the wooden slats. Everything appeared normal. Where had that light come from?
Suddenly I heard a light knocking behind me. Someone was in the house.
"Who's there?" I asked without thinking.
I walked out of the bedroom and into the hall that led to the living room, thinking about going to the closet and getting out my snake rifle. But I realized the key to the closet was back in the dresser drawer by the bed. Instead I carefully walked on.
Without warning, a hand touched my shoulder.
© 1999 by James Redfield. All rights reserved. Published with permission of the publisher, Warner Books.
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