Steam rose up, filtering through the drain into the cold night air. The silhouette of a man with his hands resting gently on his hips came into view. His thick winter furry collared coat turned up; his casual faded jeans looked good on his statuesque figure. His engaging smile and enthusiastic handshake felt familiar; more like meeting an old friend than a stranger for the first time. Chris had lived on the streets too long now where few people cared whether you lived or died. This generous gesture touched him deeply. There was a charisma and magnetic charm radiating all around him, finding it hard to look away. Those mesmerizing blue eyes danced with light. A flame smouldered away, as he firmly gripped with that handshake, fit for a commanding military general. His athletic physique left Chris wondering if he was used to working outdoors, completely un-phased by the harsh weather conditions outside. His whole demeanour put Chris at ease, normally preferring his own company, being a very quiet, shy man.
"Let me give you a hand’’ extending his hand.
Nobility was an old fashioned word, but it was the only one that rang through his mind, enamoured by Michael’s manners.
Patting Chris affectionately on the shoulder in those big soft padded thick suede gloves.
"Let's get you warm and dry my friend’’ before striding down the path to collect Chris’s possessions from the bus shelter. Embarrassment swept over Chris watching on, as the once-proud man had to swallow his pride. The entire contents of those black sacks held the remains of his life. All the worldly possessions he had. His life changed in the blink of an eye when he became homeless, he never thought it possible, but now it had become a way of life, survival every day. This sort of thing just didn’t happen, thinking he must be dead.
"Let's go get you that drink I promised" as he helped, bolstering him up into the back bolting the heavy door shut. He listened as those footsteps disappeared up the side before the cabin door slammed and the engine burst into life with a roar.
He'd never seen anything quite like this. Like he’d died and gone to heaven...
The cosiness of the interior looked like a glowing beacon of light, a cosy oasis. In complete contrast to merciless streets. Feeling his weary aching body being magnetically drawn inside into the warmth. The aroma transported him back to his childhood. The warm aroma of spiced apple cinnamon with a hint of gingerbread lingering in the air. It was five-star luxury crammed into a Lorry that turned into a Tardis. Finished with luxurious cushions and upholstery, Chris had tears brimming up in his eyes. Who’d have thought a quaint little tea set could set him off. China teacups and saucers, with a delicious array of sandwiches, spread out alongside. Fresh cream cakes, all his favourites.
Shuffling over the soft freshly laid and carpet with thick underlay, everything looked and smelled so new. The concrete stained floors drenched in urine were a far cry from this luxury. It was like a parallel universe had opened up and swallowed him whole. Nothing made sense, but then everything made sense at the same time. He felt like this was where he belonged, he was home and all the suffering and pain was melting away. His wet filthy clothes had gone, now clean and dressed in finery. He looked like a new man, regaining his youthful looks. He had to go and find Michael to thank him. Those aches and pains from arthritis had melted away.
Expecting to find Michael in the driver cabin area as he pushed his way through the back door, but was overcome by the heat as the humid tropical environment hit him like slamming into a wall and stealing his breathe for a moment. Finding himself surrounded by palms, dripping with condensation as he entered the serene pool area.
The sting of lemon disinfectant made his eyes hurt and he could taste it in his mouth, so alien from anything he’d smelt for such a long time, his world had been anything but sterile. Cleansing his sinuses as he drifted through it. Holding his breath at first, finding it overpowering. But the rippling reflection of the waters cast mesmerising and hypnotic colours across the ceiling helping him relax into the transition. The ambience of the tranquil lighting danced across the walls, fibre optics twinkling and waving between the vast array of succulent and desert-like plants, creating a lush tropical paradise of vibrancy and the peaceful tranquil waters looked so enticing with a perfectly smooth top. His footsteps echoed around the quiet poolroom, brushing past the hanging vines, splayed all around him. The scent from the beautiful flower blooms was out of this world. Perhaps it was because he’d been homeless for so long and this was the first sight of such beauty for what felt like an eternity.
Something touched him so deeply inside at the sight though, tears streaming at the beauty. Suppressed feelings came rippling up in his being, all the emotion becoming too difficult to contain. The soft, white, warm sands slipped silkily through each toe, bringing a blissful sensation to every part of his body, feeling such tenderness and bliss, completely void from his existence for an age up until now. He found it hard not to cry out in ecstasy, feeling beautifully alive again. A kaleidoscope of beautiful butterflies fluttered by with all the colours of the rainbow, bursting up like a sudden surge of joy, matching the emotion in his heart as they flooded up to the canopy, out from under the dew-drenched palm leaves. The hypnotic sound of the trickling waters cascaded as the waterfall churned and aerated the rejuvenating waters, refreshing the air with glorious hydrating mists. The pure sparkling waters were filled with tiny little air bubbles rippling up to the surface.
The waters of the Jacuzzi seemed to dance with the music. Spraying up into the air like a symphony to the uplifting music, the centre filled with geometric shapes in time with the beat. It was magical, his health restoring with every second, passing through the magical kingdom that was unfolding. His eyes rested upon what looked like the heavens, an illusion of millions of tiny twinkling lights created a breath-taking scene. A universe of glorious light making the ceiling look endless; no boundaries, feeling like they were falling into space and time.
He just wanted to take it all in, sinking back into his chair to take in the atmosphere. He couldn’t rest until he could thank his generous host for the kindness offered to him. It would be poor taste, just to assume that he was able to use it. But finding him was proving trickier than he first thought as this labyrinth of surprises kept unfolding. There was nothing rational about this place, logic didn’t work here. Reason was now redundant. Thinking outside of the box was the only way to make sense of anything. The two new doors that presented themselves, would have floored him if he was to reason, trusting his gut to navigate from here on. But his lungs almost froze at the first initial breath-taking intake of air as the arctic temperatures changed the air from warm and humid, to perishing cold. The air was sharp and dry, like millions of tiny needles hitting the back of his throat and windpipe. The humid poolroom was long gone and praying was the only defence he had from feeling as though his nostril hairs freezing inside his nose. Shivering uncontrollably, he attempted to acclimatise by movement and rubbing his arms vigorously, glad of a change of clothes, but still cold, nonetheless. Feeling constrained as he realised his feet were bound and laced in a pair of skates he clumsily staggered before realising he was already on the ice, the whole room was made from the stuff… It was entirely constructed of solid, thick ice. Tinged with a cool bluey-green ice colour, seen in the heart of glaciers. A geometric shape appeared deep inside, just like in the pool, changing shape every second. So pristine and perfect, a kingdom entirely constructed and carved out of ice with the precision of a master craftsman. Eternity rippling through all that existed here.
The thing he'd loved most about winter as a boy; was the perfectly poised icicles hanging precariously from the roof. Here they were much thicker, forming something resembling stalactites and stalagmites from the pristine ice. Nature’s own cathedral hanging down.
"Utter perfection’’ he marvelled, his breath catching in his throat, he didn’t wish to ever wake back up if this was a dream. It was too good to be reality. Like a spinning glitter ball with a thousand specks of light rippling onto the walls, the hanging crystals reflected all the colours of the rainbow, everything so alive and enchanting.
Experiencing the highs and lows of winter's often cruel and ruthless arrival, but also cleansing power; making the virgin footprints on a fresh blanket of snow, making everything look so innocent again. It could be both magical and deadly at the same time. Jack Frost's unwelcome whisper and bite in the air. The indiscriminate spiritual energy was sucking the life and essence out of so many souls on the streets that Chris had witnessed over the years. Those left destitute and utterly abandoned by society. The homeless had just become another statistic to governments who didn’t care. The haunting memories flooded back into his mind of finding their stiff frozen bodies face's all twisted in pain as winter ceased another victim. It haunted him to this day that he couldn’t save them.
The room spun, distracting his twisted thoughts by the ice moving inside; forming fascinating new patterns and shapes within it. Music vibrated out from within the ice, acting like a speaker. The clearest, pure sound radiating out from within. Each note has a healing quality. Every vibration went right through him with a vibrancy, highlighting a particular frequency, his heart set alight with exploding colours, like fireworks within the ice, perfectly timed to the music. The room was alive, speaking to his senses and emotions, in constant communication with his very soul. It urged him to relax... to let go, skating to the music. Becoming increasingly attuned to the room in his core. Expressing passion he’d only ever been able to let free in his mind and imagination until now. At last, he understood what it meant to feel at one with all creation. He picked up on personality, feelings, emotions and memories all stored within the room. Overjoyed as the room started mirroring everything he felt, unleashing a vibrancy all around him. He was bathing in a joy that was contagious here.
Mesmerised by the flickering images, flashing before his eyes within the ice as it started to fade into the background, becoming translucent. Peering through, glimpsing into the very fabric of space. Gliding effortlessly through the cosmos, privileged to be witnessing the astonishing beauty of the stars and galaxies speckling the backdrop and planets from distant solar systems, way beyond this place and time; in a completely different realm were somehow calling to his soul. His very essence understood what they were saying. Falling through space and time, all the while, strangely feeling completely protected. The mind-blowing experience changed him, filling him with wisdom from a thousand lifetimes, the stars of eternity bathing him in ancient wisdom.
Like an ever-present witness, given access to a vantaged viewpoint. Drifting past different planets and worlds, very different from our own. It was clear by how pristine and natural everything was, that nature and beauty were prized over greed and technology. The energies of the planet sung, with such a high vibration, that it was hard not to feel overwhelmed with joy as he passed right through. The potential and vision that could be gleaned from these places. Nothing had a price tag, love and happiness were instantly blooming everywhere as everyone was of service to one another and creation. These planets were so much more alive and joyful. He marvelled at the inhabitants of those planets, not dissimilar to humans, but they had remained protectors, guardians and gatekeepers of their creation. They understood their sole purpose was to help it thrive in the most sustainable and beautiful ways. It was as if their spirit soared into his automatically as he flew over. Filling him with all their precious wisdom as if it spread out into the cosmos in an aura around their magnificent planet. They had shunned war after many years of abuse and were now fully committed and attuned to living in a gentle and peaceful way, fulfilling the law of love naturally. Taking care of one another as part of that precious creation was as instinctual as a Cat taking care of her kittens.
A solitary lonely tear for creation rolled down his cleanly-shaven cheek before falling. Spinning as it fell before eventually merging with the azure blue ocean. He watched as a wave leapt up to meet it and absorbed to become part of that world. Something deep inside knew that all of creation was linked, he was related to the stars, waters, every tree and person, all sharing the same essence. Everything came from the same source of existence. That only made him all the more upset, knowing how utterly deprived of love and worth people were, thrown out to the merciless streets with no food, home, love or worth, no more important than the trash. The streets and cities lay littered and polluted, the land and the seas raped of resources and treated like a dumping ground.
Everything was so different there; living purely for the sheer joy of it. A truly symbiotic relationship of giving and receiving. Bringing happiness and contentment to each other, multiplying love and contentment ensuring everyone else was OK. Chris marvelled at what a vision of love other planets and species had mastered on their worlds. It made the human race seem so infantile, watching people starve or suffer was inconceivable on these other planets; they knew how everything and everyone was connected. Everyone else's happiness depended on another. If one suffered, the whole suffered. There was no such thing as war, poverty or lack. Everyone used their talents and skills to bring happiness and love to other beings, dedicating themselves to serving and bringing out the best in others. The light and energy from their many suns and moons worked in a much more powerful way. It brought a tear to Chris' eyes, seeing a vision of what could be. The ice was acting like a gateway or portal to the whole cosmos.
As the light faded and the room returned back to the ice crystal palace, he skated towards another open door, his, awareness changed forever as he stepped over the threshold into a nautical-themed lobby. It looked like he was stepping back onto the Titanic or some other equally luxurious ship with the opulent decorations with the classical art deco theme running throughout. Across the way, directly opposite the enormous staircase, there was a brass style cage-lift. The kind where the doors opened sideways with the 'ping' of the bell, and an attentive, smart-looking bell boy stepped out. He wore a beautiful green uniform from a thick golden thread, expertly spun and finished with highly polished golden buttons.
"Up or down sir?" He politely inquired, cutting through the silence and catching Chris a little off guard.
"I don't suppose you know where I might find Michael?" feeling strange hearing his own voice again, but the Bellboy did not answer. Chris stepped into the lift shaft and watched as the cage exterior closed. He selected one of the many round buttons from the shiny mahogany panel. Relief washed over him as the lift began to glide effortlessly, coming to a sudden smooth cushioned stop and the bell pinged. The Bellboy smiled as he opened the cage doors so Chris could exit. It was all getting a little bit too surreal as he stepped out into the enchanting foyer. The vast sunny wide-open space looked like a tropical rainforest forest floor, captured in a magnificent glass biome. The column of brilliant sunshine bathed the whole area in the light. He breathed in the humid, moist smelling sweet Earth. Steam rose up from the warm, peaty floor. The dense morning fog rose up in a vale from the clearing, surrounded by a vast and abundant diverse range of trees for as far as the eye could see. He listened as it was teeming with so much life.
The shrill, high-pitched call of the birds from the canopy with a wealth of exotic species filling the air. Amazed as an abundance of crawling insects, then those in flight, momentarily disorientated him with millions of wingbeats fluttering by, dazzling his eyes. He watched the butterflies swirling around the upper canopy, their electric blue colours and vibrant designs on their wings catching the light. The warm moist air caused condensation to drip from the huge dew-drenched palm leaves down onto the feathery ferns below. Chris was spellbound, fascinated by watching the enchanting hummingbirds darting in and out of the pretty pink tubular flowers, going about collecting the sweet nectar.
He twirled on the spot, suddenly remembering to thank the bellboy, disheartened by the sight of the lift cage disappearing.
"Don't worry" came a familiar voice from up high "he knows" Chris looked up to see Michael's sympathetic face peering down over the overhanging glass balcony, slightly disconcerting to know that he could read his thoughts again, seeing he had an awesome birds-eye view of the whole forest floor from up there.
"Why don't you come up?" he invited, his eyes glistening with light "You'll get a much better view from here."