The temperature dipped as the climbers ascended in silence still pondering the questions of science they had been discussing. The gurgle of water flowing downhill filled their ears as they crossed over a footbridge.
In less than an hour, they reached the edge of the woods. In the distance the hikers saw mountains tops shrouded in mist. A pebble path led to the vista of a landscape dotted with rocks and boulders. The two stood for a several moments gazing upon the majesty of the scene. On the crest of Albishorn, they looked down upon the town of Zurich and the pristine Lake with tiny sailboats, their sails billowing in the breeze.
Free from care, Albert dropped his gear. With outstretched arms, he breathed in and shouted into the lapis blue sky, “Oh how I love the pure air”. Then he dropped his arms and with a smile declared. “I’m starved. Are you hungry, Dolly?”
Mileva nodded smiling, and tugged Albert’s arm, urging him off the path toward a crumbling rock façade; the ruin of a building long abandoned.
Assessing a spot near the ruin, Mileva threw open a patchwork quilt and began unwrapping the meal she had prepared.
As Mileva busied herself setting up the picnic, Albert ambled to the edge of a nearby cliff. Humming a melody, he stepped down onto a five-inch wide ledge that rimmed the cliff’s edge. Like a tightrope walker he stepped foot to heel along the narrow ledge, a drop of several thousand feet just a mis-step away.
Interrupting his reverie, Mileva’s called out. “Luncheon is almost ready, Johnnie”.
Turning to look back at her, Albert missed his footing and stumbled with a gasp. Unable to regain his balance, in an instant Albert’s body pitched off the ledge and plummeted, twisting toward the rocky ground far, far below . As he plunged, his arms flailing, the compass tumbled out of his pocket.
Out of nowhere, the hoopoe bird swooped in and snatched the compass out of the air.
He remembered, "Life purpose "33", as he descended into the canyon gorge toward it’s sharp rocky bottom.
As the hoopoe circled him, Albert felt a pressure under his back and his descent slowed. In the next moment, as he tried to gain control of his breathing, he began rising toward the ledge from which he had fallen.
As Albert was deposited gently onto the grass near the picnic site, Mileva turned back from the picnic basket. “Where have you been Joh…? She paused in mid sentence, and frowned in puzzlement as the hoopoe bird swooped gracefully to the ground and dropped his prize onto the grass next to Albert, then flew away. Her eyes widened even further as Albert, seemingly in a daze, began addressing a sparkling cloud that hovered near him. His lips were moving, but Mileva could hear no sound. Transfixed by the sight, she could only stare.
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