Marquese Chriss could hear seagulls squawking and waves crashing. That was the first sign that something was wrong. The second sign was that he could feel himself lying on sand. Apparently, he was on a beach. He was not, in general, opposed to beaches, but his bedroom was not a beach, and his bedroom was the last place he remembered being.
He opened his eyes, and what he saw when he opened them only confirmed what his other senses had been telling him. Just a few feet from where he was lying, small waves were breaking against the shore. Bright sunlight unfiltered by clouds made it hard to look at anything without squinting. He looked in the other direction, away from the sea, and saw a line of trees where the beach ended.
Marquese got to his feet and brushed the sand off his clothes, which was a meaningless gesture when there appeared to be nobody else around to judge him for his rumpled appearance. He walked up to the water’s edge, just far enough that his (bare?) feet were getting damp, to peer into the horizon. Whatever body of water he was next to, it was too big to see the other side. Maybe it was the Pacific ocean. But on the entire western seaboard, there would be no beach this large and this pristine that would show no signs of human activity, not even a sign warning of the absence of lifeguards.
When he felt his foot hit something solid, he looked down, expecting to find a seashell, but instead finding a small wedge of cheese. Another strange thing to add to the list of strange things. He picked it up and chucked it into the water.
Reaching his hand into his pocket, Marquese was relieved to find that his phone was still there. His arrival at this beach, then, was not the work of muggers or abductors. But when he scanned his fingerprint to unlock the device, it prominently warned him that there was no cellular reception at his location. Texting his friends was out of the question, then. He opened up the maps app to hopefully pinpoint his location, but was then informed that a GPS connection couldn’t be made. That was worrying because the GPS satellite system had worldwide coverage. Didn’t it?
Not seeing any other option for his situation, Marquese began to walk along the shore. It wasn’t too hot – he could walk for miles. At that moment, he felt no thirst or hunger, and his steps through the sand were effortless. He walked easily for some time, always squinting into the distance for evidence of human presence, but never seeing any. When there was a flash of motion to his right accompanied by what could have been gritty footsteps, he almost didn’t recognize it for what it was. But when he looked, there was nothing there. He was alone.
Or was he? When he looked behind him, there were his footprints in the sand, but next to them was another set of footprints. They stopped right next to where he was currently standing. It was like that dopey wall art that his grandma had in her house, where Jesus was walking on a beach with some dude. Except Marquese didn’t see anybody that looked like Jesus hanging around. He didn’t see anybody at all. Thinking back to his long-ago Sunday School lessons, he couldn’t remember a single time where Jesus had been invisible, either. Jesus could morph through walls, but He was always visible while doing it.
“I can be invisible if I want to,” came a voice from Marquese’s other side that startled him so much that he fell to the sand. When he looked up, he saw a smiling bearded man holding out his stigmataed hand to help him back to his feet.
“Sorry for doubting you, uh, Mr. Jesus,” Marquese stammered. “Of course the Son of God can be invisible if…if that is what his Holiness desires.” He had a feeling he was botching the terminology. He hadn’t been to church in years.
Jesus shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not even really Jesus.”
“You’ve got the hair and the robe and the hand-holes and the crown of thorns though,” Marquese replied. “This would be a wack religious experience if you weren’t actually Jesus.”
“I swear I’m not,” not-Jesus answered. “Here, I’ll show you.” Not-Jesus reached into his hair and started pulling a hidden zipper. As Marquese watched with a mixture of curiosity and revulsion, the outer false-flesh of the Jesus-looking man fell away, revealing toned black muscles and a familar hairstyle…
“I’m Jesus Chrisst. The manifestation of the symbolical death and resurrection of your NBA career,” said the man who was a perfect doppelganger for Marquese himself.
Marquese was more confused than ever. “So now I die and you continue on as a reborn NBA player? Or what?”
Jesus Chrisst kicked the discarded crown of thorns into the ocean. “Yeah, something like that.”
Marquese watched the mortal form of his past self crumple into the sand, all vital functions having been abruptly cut off. “Thanks man,” he said before his feet lifted off the ground and he ascended into the cloudless sky.