Breathe. Just breathe. I pushed too hard. Again. I looked up at the open sky and tried to figure out where I went wrong this time. 

​“You’ll get it, friend. Just keep trying.” Erik reached down and offered me his hand. I pushed it away. “Now, don’t let your pride keep you down. If we all huffed and puffed every time we got knocked on our rear, we would not have a guard at all. Now take my hand, dust yourself off and start from the beginning. I grabbed his hand and pushed off the ground with my free arm. 

​“I just don’t get it, Master Erik. I try harder than everyone else, but I just cannot channel my powers the way the others do.” 

​“The others have been training for years. The others have never seen the world that you have seen. The others do not have to reprogram their minds from the rot of being connected to the hive mind that most of the world is born into. You will get there. Your progress has been incredible thus far. Do not give up, if this is the path that you truly desire.”

He was right. He was always right. Damn him.  I shook the tension from my arms and cleared my head. I reached my fingers out toward the air, trying to feel the waves between me and the sun, between me and the earth and the oceans. I could feel the heat, smell the rot of the bones underneath the soil, taste the salt of the sea. I dug deeper within my mind.

​I began to see the connections between everything, like a web woven of pure energy. I sat in the center of it, each string connected back to me. I found the string that ran between Erik and I, then I opened my eyes, a smirk forming on my lips. I pulled the string with all of my will, sweat beading on my forehead. Master Erik moved forward just a few inches.

​“There it is, child! You have found the web. The real web.” He was grinning proudly. I tried my hardest to take him down, but before I knew what happened I was on my back again.

​I screamed in frustration. Erik reached out to me, and this time I took his hand and got back up. “I saw it! It was all there, I thought it was just abstract, you just trying to give me something to focus on. It is all tied together!” After months of work, training my body and my mind, giving up the connection to the rest of the world, abandoning my whole life and finding the temple, I finally made the breakthrough that let me know I had made the right choice.

​I reset my feet, anxious to try again. Master Erik just laughed. “Samuel, your dedication is unparalleled. We are lucky to have one so strong-willed. Let us end our lesson for today. I want to show you something.” A bit disappointed, I tried to protest, but he just raised and motioned for me to stop. I bowed to him, trying to hide my anger. He bowed back, then turned away and started walking up the steps toward the belltower. 

​“The world of technology was built to mimic the web that holds us all together. When most humans lost touch with this web, they spent centuries trying to regain their ability to pull the strings. They could not find a way to reconnect with the real web, so they created new strings to control the masses. The creators found a way to keep humanity in check by making them think they had all the power in the world at the tip of their fingers.”  We reached the top of the steps and walked toward the belltower. 

​“It was the closest that they had come to the power they lost.  They did not know that some had stayed here, curating the web. Pulling the real strings. Keeping all of the world’s powers in check. Kings, dictators, petty tyrants, popes. The world’s greatest minds and strongest warriors, every move has been a carefully planned step to ensure that the web stays intact.” 

​“Wait.. Master, what are you saying?” I thought that I had finally had a greater understanding of the world, and now it felt like the air had been torn from my lungs, not unlike when Erik had laid me on my back just moments earlier. “Was the sect responsible for..”

​“Assassinations?  War?  Genocide? Tell me, friend. Would you rather it all be for nothing? Would it make it better if it was all just senseless violence? Weak men scratching for scraps of power? We hold the balance of power, we choose who lives and who dies.”

​“I only came here to escape. This is too much.” 

​“Too much? Have we not given you everything you were looking for? The ability to move the world? The power to stop others from ever hurting you again? If you learn to control the web, you can pull the strings of time, loosen the very fabric of existence.” Erik was talking quickly now. We moved into the belltower. “Do you know why we built our temple here?”

​“No, Master. I thought it must be to stay hidden from those who you wished to keep out of the temple.” 

​“Oh no, young Samuel. We built here because this is the true center of the web. This is the center of the universe, the place where every string connects. We brought the stones, harvested the wood and made the walls, but we did not create the web.” He raised his hands as if to show off the magnificence that we were standing in. “Now, friend, I must know. Can you put aside your feelings? Can you move the greatest minds in the world, spark the next great extinction?”

​My mouth fell open in shock. I shook my head. “Master, I.. No, I cannot. I’m sorry.”  I could not be the cause of so much death and destruction.

​“A shame. A great shame. Samuel, have you ever wondered why it is called the web? Why it all scatters out from this point?”

​“Why, master?”

​“Well, the truth of the matter is, we don’t control the web at all. We curate it. We are the caretakers. I am no more a master of the web than you. Would you like to meet the true master of the web, Samuel?”

​“Yes, master.” I was terrified, but I could not move my feet. I looked to Master Erik, who was staring to the top of the belltower.  I hadn’t noticed the string that connected me to the tower until now. I followed it down with my eyes, all the way to my feet, which were bound. I reached out to touch the string. It was strong. Unbreakable. Master Erik began walking away, back toward the stairs. I tried to turn to him, but couldn’t move. 

​“Samuel, I think that you will find that we all have to follow the path laid out for us. I only wish that your string had been a bit longer. Goodbye.” I looked up to the belltower and saw a spider the size of a Volkswagen coming down the string toward me. So I guess that must be the master of the web. I closed my eyes and tried not to scream too loudly.

February 06, 2023 04:59

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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