There once was a young boy who liked to play outside. He would run around the yard, run through the trees. He liked to sit down by the river and watch the fish swim by. Sometimes, he would lay in the grass and look up at the clouds and pretend he were in some amazing new land.
One day, as he was watching the clouds, he felt himself become lighter and lift off the ground. He panicked at first, but then found that it was fun. Higher and higher he rose. The clouds were getting closer. Soon he was in their midst and could see nothing.
After about twenty minutes of floating in the cloudy whiteness, his vision cleared and he saw beautiful blue skies above. The sky was a deeper blue than he ever saw while he was on that other world. Below him the billowy, white ground stretched out in a great vastness in all directions. There were hills and mountains. He saw a lake of clear water above a dark, grey ground. Electric bolts swam through the lake as he watched. “Were these electric eels,” he giggled to himself.
The boy found himself on a path that appeared well-trodden. The cloud beneath his feet was pressed down and firm, and not as billowy as the surrounding ground. He wondered if there was someone else up here, since the clouds were so well-trodden. He decided to follow the path and find out.
Interestingly enough, the path only followed one direction. The place where he had entered this cloudy wonderland was the start of the path. Not giving it a second thought, he started to run. He ran with wild abandon, knowing that if he fell, he would tumble onto a soft surface. The path twisted and turned and there was no way for him to know which direction he was traveling. Were there directions in this world, he pondered as he ran along. He leapt as he ran, floating through the air. It seemed to him that he took longer to fall. Maybe gravity was weaker in this world and he could jump farther. He threw his arms up and laughed as he tossed himself forward, ever following the cloudy path.
The cloudscape around him began to dwindle some, but the path remained. He looked off to the left and saw a dark border around cloudy hills. He wasn’t too worried. He figured he’d find out what it was eventually. Maybe that was how night fell, or rose, here. He continued to run along until he saw patches of blackness in the ground ahead. He slowed to a walk, but he pressed on. He wanted to find out where this path led, and he wasn’t about to let a few dark clouds stop him!
Only, they weren’t clouds. That was the problem. He was approaching a place where the clouds were dissipating. In place of clouds was a deep blackness. He continued to walk, cautiously now, along the path. Soon he reached a place where the clouds ended, save for the path. He pulled a rock out of his pocket (for his pockets were always full of odd objects he had picked up). He dropped it into the cloudy path in front of him. Bump. The rock landed on the road, embedded a little within the surface. He picked up the rock and held it over the edge where there were no clouds beneath. His fingers opened and he released the rock. It fell. And fell. He never knew if it landed, but it was gone.
Taking a deep breath, he stepped out onto the path, black pits of nothingness on either side. The road was wide enough for him to lay across, but it was still unnerving that there was nothing to either side of the road. If he were to fall, who knows what would happen to him? He began to walk slowly along the path; toward what, he did not know.
After walking for a few moments, he glanced behind him to see how far out he was on this cloudy pier over a sea of black. He could faintly see the cloudy land that he had been on, but it was quite a distance behind him. He sank to his knees and crept to the edge of the path. He wanted to look over the edge and see if he could make anything out below.
He was unable to make out anything specific, but he did see the sparkle of stars. “That’s impossible!” he blurted out. Stars beneath him but not above? Was he upside down? He felt his shoes to see if they were sticky, but found that they were not. He looked again and saw a few faint glows of red. Fire, perhaps? It was much too far below to tell. He hoped he would never find out. He felt the path tremble a little. He looked back the way he came and saw that the path had begun to dissipate from the cloudy island he had been on and the emptiness was moving toward him.
Now, he was in a panic. He had to move on to keep the cloudy path beneath his feet. He continued along the road at a cautious walk, glancing behind him as he went. It was still gaining on him, so he sped up to a slow run. Still, it was catching up to him. Casting all caution to the wind, he ran as fast as he could. In front of him the path stretched out. He began to see another island on the horizon in front of him. He was sure he could outrun the nothingness and be victorious over this obstacle. The island was getting closer as he ran, but as he glanced behind, so was the end of the path. He put forth every ounce within him to make it to the island before being swallowed by darkness.
Just as hope reared up and gave him faith that he would be successful, despair swept around as he noticed the edge of the path in front of him begin falling away from the island, moving toward him just as it was behind. If only he had a few more steps! He recalled that he was able to jump farther in this world and in his last bid for salvation he pushed off – a moment too late. The path had disappeared from beneath his feet and he fell.
Darkness engulfed him. Sudden changes in temperature – hot to cold, cold to freezing, freezing to warm and back to searing. But he saw nothing. Stars were falling at him from below, but every one missed. Howling winds stung his ears. Great concussive booms shook his body as it fell rigidly through this void. This fall was not as fun as floating up to the cloudland earlier.
A star appeared beneath him, but he was unable to move. The darkness faded as color exploded from the center of his eyes, radiating in all directions. He felt pain. Great pain. He screamed but the winds carried the sound far away to lands beyond the mortal realms.
In a matter of moments, he had become the clouds. He felt himself fading away from end to end. He felt patches of himself dissolving into nothingness. He saw the Above and he saw the Beneath. He felt footsteps upon himself, sweat dripping from his body to feed the plants below, energy flowing through him. He felt powerful, and he was Power. He was the nothing that held him, and the one held by the nothing. A rock landed upon him and the colors ceased. All went black again, and he sensed nothing.
Time once meant something when he laid upon the grass, a simple child. It meant nothing now. He had become All, eternal and encompassing. Everything that existed was part of him, and he was part of all things. It had always been this way, though realization had occurred just now.
But wait! Once again he had thought. Where was he? What was he? He tried to turn his head, but found himself encased in packed dirt and stone. He was buried, but how did this happen? He closed his eyes to block out the darkness. He let himself sense. He became one with the ground above him, around him. He received a vision of the mountain above him. He wondered how he came to be underneath this mountain. He felt the earth around him shudder. Then again. And again. Each time it shook harder. He felt a shuffling above.
Out of nowhere, light blinded him and he was flying again. His back half was still embedded in the earth, and he faced down, watching the ground flee from his presence. He saw an enormous leg and realized that this mountain had been picked up by a Titan. He felt dizzy as the ground and sky spun together as he launched high into the air. With a lurch he stopped spinning as the Titan caught the mountain. Darkness once again engulfed him.
He couldn’t see his surroundings, so he focused on his other senses. He inhaled deeply, drawing in all of the smells that he could. He first smelled leather. Maybe a boot? Or a quiver filled with arrows? Was he being taken hunting? Then he smelled something else – an odor of fish. Although faint, it was a ripe smell. He also smelled sweat. This was odd because it smelled like his own sweat, although he was not sweating. Finally, he smelled an earthy smell. It smelled a bit like wood mixed with soil.
He listened. He heard a recursive swishing sound, like fabric on fabric. He heard the high and low pitched knocks of hard objects bouncing together. He listened harder and felt he must have been focusing so deeply on trying to hear more that he did not realize that the swishing and knocking had stopped. He felt himself rising again, within his current location. After some time, he felt himself bouncing around again, and heard the swishing resume.
An echoing giggle briefly met his ears. He tried to pinpoint the source, but could not. Was it himself? He began jerking around harder, his face smacking into objects he could not see. He was not hurt, but was disoriented. He heard laughing. “Are you laughing at me?!” he called. There was no response.
Soon, the bouncing stopped and the soft, swishing sound slowed. Moments went by and he did not know what was happening. After what seemed like an eternity, he felt giant fingers on his face. He struggled to brush them off but his arms were still trapped in the mountain from behind. He felt movement again, and then he was falling. He fell into a soft, white foam. It felt comforting. Then he was lifted again and the entire mountain was tossed into a dark void. He felt a familiar sense of falling, terror beating at his mind.
It was then he realized that he was the stone that he dropped when he was in the cloud world. He had just discarded himself. The familiar temperature changes returned and he felt betrayed. Even he didn’t want himself. Perhaps this time in the void his existence would end and he would be released from the loneliness. As the temperature changed to searing, he felt the stone that embraced him heat up. He felt great pain as his body heated up. Finally, the stony prison melted away and he was free again to move as he fell.
He flailed wildly at first, caught in the winds of the blackness. After a few moments, though, he willed his movement to sway methodically. He began to fall more slowly, almost like he were drifting. His temperature rose, but it no longer hurt; it no longer burned. His nerves must have been seared away – it’s the only reason he could think of that would allow him not to feel the increasing temperature.
He drifted, swaying purposefully in an effort to find a way to control his destiny. He noticed several flames in the blackness, some giving off more light and heat than others. He swayed his body to move closer to one. As he drew near, he stopped, aghast. The flame was attached to a person – a living torch. There was little glow or heat – just a sadness in its eyes. He swayed himself over to another and found the same. The glow was a little brighter, but not by much. The person was struggling to escape the flame as her eyes found his. Help me, they read. But he could not. A wind blew and he drifted like an ember across the vastness of the void. He was deposited before a great flame, spinning and dancing. Swaying in a rhythmic motion. Before this flamebound person was a small, blue globe that traveled slowly around and around. He looked to the flame again to find a soft smile on the face of the one free within. A flickering thought spoke to his mind, expanding into a roaring firestorm of kind words.
“It is well to be what I have become. When we realize our potential to make a difference, our fate does not seem so bad. To know that I have purpose, keeping this world warm, sending my energizing rays of light to bring life to the vegetation, has allowed me to become great. But with such greatness is much responsibility. I am as much a servant as a master. Go and find your purpose. Let your flame blaze strong.”
With a strong inhalation of breath, the person within the flamesphere caused him to move closer to the blue globe. Once again he felt a pulling upon him as gravity clenched him in its iron grip. Pulling him close, he was plunged under the blue flames and extinguished by the water he now understood it to be.
He was not prepared for the plunge into these icy depths. His lungs filled with a burning coldness and he knew that he would soon drown. He did not even fight. He chose to let the water collapse his lungs and shut out the supply of Oxygen that his body needed to live. He knew that water doused fire and the case was no different here. His eyes closed – and then he saw her.
She was surrounded by a glittering aura. She wore naught but a tiara, a seaweed ring on the little finger of her left hand, and a saddle around her midsection. He opened his eyes and she disappeared. “Come!” she spoke in a lovely, yet water-warped voice. He closed his eyes again and saw her reach a hand toward him, beckoning him to come near. “We have much to do before the Violation.”
What would be violating the seas, he thought. Is it pollution? “We will be violating the waters,” came the reply. “The ceremony shall be soon. We must prepare.”
He began to object. He did not want to violate anything. He wanted to leave things as they were, as they always had been and should be. He wanted things to go back to normal, where he was but a little boy playing again in the fields and forest near his home. “Open your eyes and see the truth,” she spoke in a hypnotic voice. He did as he was told, and he wished he had not.
The glorious blues he had previously seen had turned to blacks and various shades of red and green. He saw great cities within the underwater currents. As the currents moved, the cities changed, transformed, constantly evolved until they were not able to support themselves and dissolved into new cities and landscapes. He saw a current, red as blood, jetting toward him, then veering off at the last moment. A shark appeared, lured by the coppery smell, and began to circle him. A green shadow rose up beneath him and lifted him to safety, higher and higher, up out of the water. The green turned to disease and his body erupted with boils and festering wounds. He closed his eyes to block out a burning fire in the sky, one who would dry up the seas and the wonder within.
All was calm once again. “We will bring about a new age,” soothed the woman. “Mount me and let us be off.” He climbed onto the saddle on her belly. Her hands found his and held him softly, yet firmly. They jetted forward, her reassuring smile unnerving him at the same time.
It felt like they rode for days; perhaps they had. But then a grand sphere, black, yet glittering like the stars, appeared before them. She headed straight for it. As they hit the wall, she disappeared and he was trapped within. The walls were alive, and their image was that of the woman. She had become the sphere, surrounding him, smiling down at him from above. The saddle was gone, but the ring and tiara remained. “What now?” he called to her. She only smiled, but spoke not a word.
He walked around and looked at his surroundings. The first thing he took note of was that he walked. There was no water in here. He also realized he was once again breathing air. The temperature was a comfortable cool, with no breeze. He was wearing nothing, he now noticed, and he was not a child. The frame of a table stood in the center of the room. He walked over to it and examined the parts. It was not complete, he noticed. He turned to face the woman on the wall. “Where is the tabletop?” he asked.
Without warning, the two table legs each shot out a strap and wound around his legs. “What is going on?!” he yelled. His voice reverberated throughout the sphere and it shook violently. He fell over backwards onto the table’s frame as the other two table legs shot out their own straps and bound his arms to them. His chest and belly had become the tabletop. He was unable to move but he could see the woman smiling down at him. “Peace,” she breathed.
As she opened her mouth to speak her word of comfort, a serpent, a foot long, dropped from her mouth onto his belly. He could feel it slithering along the table and was in a state of panic. “Peace,” again. The serpent began to grow and wrapped itself around him and the table frame. He knew he was to be constricted. He closed his eyes to find himself still in the sphere, but it looked like many forces were assaulting the sphere from outside. “Peace.” He opened his eyes.
He took a deep breath and forced his body to calm down and relax. “You have the knowledge of what is going on. Do you have the drive to bring restoration and violate these venomous waters? Only when you do can you be free.” He looked down his body and found that no serpent bound him to the table frame – it was himself. He was wrapped around himself, binding himself and he needed to find some way out.
He stopped forcing himself to relax, and instead allowed himself to relax. She smiled. He slowed his breathing and with every breath saw a wisp of knowledge go forth as the sphere became smaller. With every breath it shrunk, although his size did not change. Soon, her face in the wall was right before him and he felt the walls of the sphere surround him like a garment. With a final breath he was one with her – both of them a part of the sphere.
In this instant, he was the knowledge of good and evil within the world. He was the passion to make a difference. He had become the peace that indicated that everything was pure once again. He was life, death, and rebirth. He saw the Circle of Life in three dimensions; now the Sphere of Existence. And within his core, he felt all of these realizations binding together as one. A simple seed drifted slowly off his tongue.
He felt love erupting from his body and he saw the violence around him cease. He saw the world he lived in as it should be, in restored glory. He opened his eyes and found himself laying in the grass staring up at the clouds. All was right in the world. He would make sure of that. And he ran home as fast as his little legs could carry him.
Copyright ©2013 Robert Adkisson
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