I lived with my parents on a suburban street ending in a cul-de-sac. Our neighbour, Mr Maxwell, was a widower who brought us home baked pies and helped my sister with her math homework.
My high school crush, Natalia, lived in a brick bungalow three houses down. On Sundays we all went to church, and twice a month during the summer there was a street-wide BBQ.
In the winters all the kids went sledding on a nearby hill. Growing up, I considered it boring. Looking back, it was paradise.
The Abaroas moved in in November. From the beginning it was obvious they were different. They didn't attend church or make small talk by the community mailbox.
Instead, they smiled and spoke about their own faith, Aknaism. "Buddhist and Maya thought is connected," Mr Abaroa once told me, "because the Maya crossed the Pacific and colonized Asia."
Although they were never aggressive in their proselytizing, it was their one topic of conversation, and we quickly learned to avoid them altogether.
This didn't seem to phase them, however, and many of us recalled their polite but ominous refrain: "Unfortunate, but you will soon see the truth."
Those words echoed in my head when on a particularly dark February night the pyramid appeared at the end of the street.
It was ethereal, an effervescent volume of red mist,
and one by one we came out of our houses to gaze upon its impossible appearance until every house was empty and the street was filled with silent awe.
The pyramid pulled us toward itself.
And like human ice breaking from a glacier, individually we went, freeing ourselves from the loving grips of our neighbours and families.
I watched as Mr Maxwell drifted toward the pyramid and disappeared into it.
Then it took me.
Despite its tangible exterior dimensions, the pyramid was infinitely vast on the inside. Its crimson redness pulsed, and space itself hummed, and from the hum emanated the voice of Mr Abaroa.
"Welcome, Norman. Tonight you shall know enlightenment."
On impact, I arose and saw before me an axe and the kneeling, crying figure of Mr Maxwell.
"Don't," he sobbed.
Bloody spray adorned his face.
"Take the axe," instructed Mr Abaroa. "This is your destiny."
Mr Maxwell cried hysterically. His hands were bloody too.
"Understand, Norman. Everything up to now: it has been for you. All life has been for you."
My heart pumped hotly. I picked up the axe.
"You are the one."
And somewhere deep inside I knew he was right. I was special. Mr Maxwell raised his eyes to look at me—
I crushed his skull.
His body crumpled. His blood painted my face, and I fell to my knees, tossing the axe aside. I had done it!
Mr Maxwell's body disappeared.
Natalia landed in front of me.
Our eyes met.
"Take the axe," Mr Abaroa instructed her out of the hum. "This is your destiny. All life has been for you."
"Don't," I sobbed.