Zerville Estate, 2079
“Are you coming tonight?”
The question popped out of my mouth more out of habit than anything else. It is directed at the forlorn, hunched figure before me in a room full of computers and flashing lights and posters. Equations upon equations line the countless sheets of paper strewn across his long desk. The brooding display of worlds unknown characterizes the covered walls with an enigmatic countenance.
Alister looks up at me, and I fight the urge to look away from those eyes: within them lies an emerald current, frothing with untold emotion. Since the day of the tragedy which befell us in cruel abruptness eight months ago, I have found it difficult to face his inner world. I couldn’t even face mine.
“Not tonight,” he manages a ghost of a smile.
The same answer in eight, successive months. Yet again, my thinly-veiled request for his presence is met with unmoving resistance.
“I want you physically with me in a room that’s not this one,” I push for the first time. I’m not sure if that is the truth. I think that what I’m truly asking for is solace. He can box himself up in here for however long he likes, long as I know that he’s OK with me. Asking him directly never occurs to me until I’ve already taken the alternative route: where the waters get tested and the bush gets beaten around first.
He glances at me, then turns away once again. I think he’s afraid of my eyes, too. “I don’t want you to go in that state,” he says quietly. “You’re being reckless. Coming with you means I’m condoning your behavior.”
I can teleport using Mayhem without his aid now. He showed me the ropes months ago. But it’s just not the same without him being part of the process.
I stare at the back of his head and wonder if he knows that I skip the meditations sometimes. That tonight would be one of those days that I shoot off into some distant, imagined world without first trying to align my insanely unbalanced third-eye chakra.
Doesn’t he notice? Doesn’t he care at all?
Sensibly, he should notice. But the man just keeps most speech to a minimum these days, boxed up in his godforsaken lair.
The posters around us are mostly artist’s impressions. Images of what may be and not what is. Images of mystery and falsehood, gawping at us two burdened lovers in silent scrutiny.
Our silent observers are always seething with abstract consciousness, seemingly connecting me to some other part of universal being, somewhere far. Somewhere unscathed by human prods.
My gaze lands upon one such hypothetical world. A purple giant flanked by a queer star with two beams of light shooting adjacently out of it. Cosmic beauty surrounds it. A spray of colorful nebula. A canopy of neighboring clusters.
The purple giant is labelled Xenux1289-E. It is my favourite.
Despite my love for it, I feel like the Cosmos has turned against its most avid enthusiasts. It has brought Alister and I to this point and showed us glimpses of hope and happiness, only to wrench us asunder under the weight of our densest, most heated hopes and desires created under it.
What a wretched phenomenon. For one to flare up so brightly one day, only to combust into a mere remnant of one’s original flame the next, extinguished beyond recognition.
I stare at Xenux and feel magnetically drawn to her, to her mother star. If I visualize this world accurately enough, perhaps I could risk a visit.
“You don’t get it, Alister,” I whisper sadly, walking away with a fresh imprint of my next, arbitrary destination.
“Oh, I get it,” his voice trails after me, almost imperceptibly. “More than you know.”
The door slides shut behind me, enclosing him, releasing me.
What haunts Alister is much deeper than what has triggered his state. We’re both grieving, but there’s a haunted energy about him. I can almost hear his silent shriek of horror emanating from the soul beneath the green eyes I’ve come to fear.
At this point, I don’t think I’ll ever get him back.
Trillions of light years away from planet Earth, a star of massive density pulsed.
A nuclear tempest surged wildly from the pulsating star, littering its supercharged residue along the far outskirts of the immovable atmospheric surface of planet Xenux.
Beneath the flickering atmosphere of the reactive heavens of Xenux, folds of sand stretched infinitely across its dimly lit surface.
The distant exoplanet - glowing spookily beneath the combined forces of electromagnetic radiation and the outlandish content of its thriving ether - orbited with rapid speed a considerable distance away from its blinking host.
The steady bursts of light emitted by the pulsar throbbed fiercely upon the fortified atmospheric layer of the forsaken desert-world, resulting in intense chemical reactions which cast a thick, eerie luminescence of violet upon the land, a layer canvassed by crackling wisps of crimson lighting.
Amid the great, towering cliffs of still sand, a disturbance occurred.
From seemingly out of nowhere, a gust of rotating air formed, its centre rampant with quivering strands of vivid light. Within the draft, an opening materialized, out of which immediately fell a lone, black-clad figure.
A scream reverberated into the vast distance as the figure fell, landing hard upon a sandy cliff. The opening shrank rapidly, then closed, taking the oscillating current of exotic energy with it.
I dream of a memory. A nightmare, really. I don’t care to think of it much in my waking moments, but it resides within the hidden parts of me. Parts hidden even from myself.
In this gruesome nightmare, I am walking down a road. My belly shudders under the eager movements of my matured fetus.
I am in a rush, waddling between crowds of people to catch the last speed train home.
Alister is awaiting my arrival. He’s called me six times already to check on me and our baby. I told him we’re fine, that calling a hundred times was not helping with me with my own anxiety, and that I would be home soon.
I know he worries, but I’m in an irritable space. When I’m like this, anything he says or does irritates me. When I’m like this, he can’t win.
“Will you at least tell me what sex it is?” He prods.
“Honestly, Alister,” I counter. “I don’t want to speak over the phone. We’ll talk about it when I get home.”
“Why can’t you tell me over the phone?”
“Because I don’t want to,” I say between gritted teeth. “Why d‘you have to insist?”
“Because it’s a simple question. What is so difficult about uttering a single word which references the gender of our baby?”
“Because it’s over the phone, Alister!” I reach a busy road and halt my steps. The train station stands on the other side. A quick glance at my watch indicates that I’ve got three minutes to spare.
“You’re just being stubborn as usual.”
“Can I hang up now?” I look both sides, and wait for an incoming car to advance before I cross to the other side.
I have no idea why (probably the hormones) but his words cause scorching flames of anger to burst within my entire being. “You know what, fuck you! I don’t have to answer to you in any case!”
Just as the advancing car, a red Chevrolet, gets closer, about to speed past, rough hands suddenly grip my shoulders from behind, and with sheer, malevolent force, shove me before the hurtling car.
As I stagger towards my doom, a voice grates hatefully into my ears.
I think it’s a female voice, but I don’t know. The murderer was never identified, never caught. In this dream, I am aware of this injustice.
My phone falls on the ground just as Alister exclaims my name, just as the accelerating chunk of metal collides with my soft form.
It all happened so fast. My life, it changed so abruptly. Within an instant. Within a finger’s mere snap.
The descend into unconsciousness after the collision usually sees me to my gasping wakings, a reality in which Alister’s warm presence makes it bearable again.
This time, I remain under. There is no waking up. There is no eventuality. There is no Alister. Just the nightmare. On an endless loop.
Eventually, I awaken.
How long as it been? As usual, it feels like I’ve been under for eons. Perception of time shifts immensely when you travel at the speed of light.
A groan escapes my throat as my mind collects itself. A memory about my nightmare alarms my internal system, causing a ragged, uncomfortable thud against my battered chest.
I had the dream inside the void. The energy of our tragedy has hitched a ride with me. I am here to get away from it, but like a poltergeist, it has followed me here. It has slid its treacherous tentacles into my sanctuary and rendered itself, truly this time, an obligatory part of me.
The loss of my unborn daughter has changed everything. It’s as though a long chain reaction has been sparked by the incident. Alister has ceased to be open about his emotions. I have ceased to care about mine. His got buried under his work. Mine got buried within The Void.
Words cannot justifiably explain the feeling of being a part of The Void, where only the forces of exotic matter dominate. Within the wormhole, the Void, the literal rip of time-space fabric, my thoughts cease. My emotions still. My perception shifts altogether. I go into a state of no time and space. I become omnipresent.
It’s a different world in there. The fundamental atomic makeup of the wormhole’s viscera is completely foreign. The well-known principles of the physical universe go out the window. The space within the channel defies what is deemed to be logical.
Also, travelling within a wormhole at the speed of light dilutes one’s perception of time completely, offering a welcome paradigm of frozen time.
While in there, all that occupies my awareness are visuals of sleek, laser violet light, zapping and flashing forward within the otherwise charcoal-colored tunnel, the tendrils of its hypnotic energy clinging to every part of my ethereal being, morphing it – morphing me – into a part of its own.
The Void has served me well in the last couple of months. Through it, I am able to run away from myself, from my reality, and from Alister.
Indeed, it has served me well. Except for today.
Today, instead of numbing my being, The Void has awakened the sense of sorrow within caused by my recurring dream, and welcomed it as a part of its own, just as it always did with me. It has dug its disloyal appendages into the fabric of my nightmare, wrenched it from the deep abyss of my subconscious, and disseminated it into a thing that has a life of its own.
Today, my nightmare came to life before my very eyes. In its omnipresence, it hovered over me like a giant, timeless monster as we co-existed within the nothing that made up the Void, forcing me to relive it for an eternity.
Suddenly, a chill of tiny daggers sears down my body, causing me to jolt upwards with a gasp. My eyes shoot open to a sight which causes me to close them again. It is not blinding, but it is disorienting. I open my eyes into slits and try to register my surroundings. A desert land. Sand. So much of it. Horizons of sandy hilltops. Glowing, blinking sky. Angry flashes of lighting.
Another surge of volatile energy slithers its current into my being.
“Who’s there?” My voice echoes as I struggle onto my feet.
My eyes scan my new surroundings while my brain adjusts to the scenery. There is something here. Someone? I feel it. I sense it. Yet, my eyes can detect nothing. No one. No apparent life.
From the outside, this may seem like a dead world, but it's not. It is alive. It is thriving with invisible life. Life undetectable with human eyes. I can feel it!
“Show yourself,” I shout. The blinking light of the gassy sky bothers me. I should be in awe to be upon a planet which has been birthed by a pulsating star, but too much is happening. I am distracted by the strong gravitational pull of this world and the prodding energy that surrounds me.
As I look around, struggling to catch balance, both mentally and physically, the periphery of my eye catches sight of something a few feet away. An edge of something buried in the sand, almost swallowed whole.
A swirl of gentle air materializes around my right hand, tugging gently.
The tug lures me toward the foreign object in the sand.
It’s a tablet with an engraving of a beautiful woman’s face. She is stunning. She looks like royalty, adorned in strange looking treasure about her neck, ears, face and neck. Bizarre characters are dug into the back of the tablet. Surprisingly, I am instinctively able to translate them to a name and three words: “Nefarahta, my only treasure.”
I flip the thin slab of stone and stare at the woman again through straining eyes. I look into the wide, oval-shaped eyes, and as I do, the vast world around me begins to fade into the background. I simply can’t pay attention to the workings of this planet because something on it has a stronger pull on me.
The call that I’ve been feeling from within each time I stared at the Purple Giant in Alister’s escape quarters feels stronger now.
Instinctually, I know that it is no coincidence that I am here.
As I stare, I notice a dilation in the woman’s eyes, as though they are coming alive before my very eyes.
My shock at the sight causes me to retreat. I will my fingers to loosen, but they do not. I suddenly notice that I cannot move my body as my gaze lays suspended within the deep eyes of the woman.
Like ink spreading in a pool of water, my periphery shrinks into blackness, until all there is are the eyes. Magnetic. Hypnotic.
I am beginning to feel a detachment towards my body, and this causes me to panic. My breath is coming out in shallow, panicked puffs. I shift my attention rapidly in between different body parts, all of which have ceased to move. The shutters of my eyes have ceased to function, my voluntary movements rendered obsolete.
The eyes begin to pull me, my being, into them.
Now I’m terrified. A shriek of terror I cannot even release. There is magic here at work. A deliberate influence of intention, and I am right under its powerful grip.
I cannot resist its tug. Instead, the core of me, my essence, gets sucked into the woman’s eyes until I have completely detached from my own body.
Until my very consciousness meets oblivion.
Thank God I’m alive.
I know that Alister and I are not exactly in harmonious alignment right now, but I know he would be devastated at my death. I’ve got three good friends and no family members, and so I know that my departure would affect him the most.
A wave of anxiety causes the heart within to shudder when Alister crosses my mind.
I am in a body, but it is not my own. The personal reaction tied to thoughts of Alister do not sit well with me. This is not my heart. Why, then, do I detect a personal affinity of both feeling and depth attached to my thoughts of him?
As I ponder on this, a view of what looks like a futuristic train station presents itself before me through eyes that are not my own. Bright lights flash atop as feet carry me across an isle of scattered groups of waiting people.
A lone, middle-aged woman sits at a corner, her gaze following me as I am carried to an unknown destination within an unfamiliar body.
The feet keep on walking until we find ourselves outside of the enclosed station.
In spite of myself, I am in complete awe of the vista. Grand marble towers and skyscrapers almost reach for a sky buzzing with thick currents of infrared radiation. Disks of transportation, round-shaped and golden in color, weave their way mid-air in between the flashy buildings in a slow-paced, seemingly orderly fashion. Canopies of trees rise in close companionship with the marble masonry, adding to the astonishing brilliance of the scene.
The feet continue to carry me, and as I walk, my perspective as Dahna begins to shift entirely to that of my host’s. The world around me oddly begins to feel familiar.
There is a stark consciousness housed within this host, distinctly separate from myself. With each step that is taken, my awareness of it grows.
I’m beginning to access the seams of her memory banks. Her experiences.
And, against my will, I can feel that Nefarahta, the lady in the tablet, is seizing the same access into my own private world.
We are merging… merging… until she is I, and I am she.
Until we are one.
I am no longer me. Not fully, anyway. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I have become a mere fragment of myself, topped up by my host’s essence to complete me.
I am possessed by her, enmeshed irrevocably into her world, into her story.
As we walk, she talks to me. It is an ethereal form of communication, an exchange of unspoken words from one conscious being to another.
I listen as she speaks, and watch as she shows, because that is all I can do.
She has, after all, stolen my free-will.
To Be Continued…