I could not move. I could not see. Was I dead? No, I was still alive. I felt the cold earth around me, crushing me from all sides. I was somewhere amidst thick, unendingly heavy, bone crushing layers of rock, clay, sand and dust. I gasped in the absolute darkness for air that didn’t come because air doesn’t exist here. My mind started to count down the seconds left, in utter, pacifying fear. My hands frantically started to search for something, anything to pull on. I pushed forward, pushed against the rocks, against the earth with every fiber of my being. My brain synapses became lost and discorded.
Where is up? Where is down? I pushed forward with all my strength. My muscles started to snap from the pressure, one by one. I felt the roots of trees and grasses lash around me as I pulled against them. I tore apart through the gray lines and ripped across the veins of roots, breaking up through the grass and moss.
Air! Delicious air! How I’ve missed you. Light shined upon my shut eyes as I opened them, layers of earth crumbling off me.
I’ve dig oneself out of the earth and escaped a place from which there is no escape.
I stood on the grass, covered in dirt and moss, covered in torn roots and white follicles of the earth. An earthworm fell off my shoulder, plummeting down and crawling back into the ground. In front of me the green forest gently moved back and forth, its leaves and needles whispering a simple whooshing melody overhead as they rubbed against each other.
Beams of sunlight broke through the leaves, dancing on my face. I smiled wholeheartedly. I was alive. I was reborn anew. The storm was no longer above me.
How long was I in the depths of the earth? How many days, months have passed? There was no sign of snow about. The grass was glittering with pure shades of emerald. Trees were covered in newly born, green foliage. Spring flowers sparkling with colours of rubies and emeralds bloomed in the sunlight. If I had to guess it was somewhere between spring and summer. I walked across the green field, into the forest, listening to the chirping sounds of the birds, picking up speed and running forward, between the trees, faster and faster. I wanted to move forward, wanted to fly, wanted to see what lay ahead. The colors flickered, the sounds of the forest faded out, all motion stopped as I pierced through layers of time, accelerating forward at an exponential rate. Click, click, click, I jumped forward and forward, until the forest became but a fuzzy blur, vanishing in streaks of light and I now ran across a mountain plane, flat as a pancake, littered with colorless crystals and sand. I jumped forward. The sand begun to sparkle, crystals began to increase in size. Click. Blinding light and feeling of lightheadedness.
I stopped, blinking. I was in a small cavern, carved out of silver and blue mountain rock. Silver cracks littered the ceiling and floor.
Before me, a cloaked and still statue-like monk, covered in gray and silver drapes.
Suddenly he raised his head and spoke:
“Welcome to transfer terminal 3747 B, humble traveler from time immemorial.” The monk opened his eyelids, and spoke to me, wrinkles running across his eyes and mouth.
“Ammm… who are you?” I asked the ancient monk.
“I am but a memory, left by the travelers that created this port, before time immemorial, hundreds of thousands of decades ago.”
“Oookay… What’s the meaning of life?” I asked again, expecting a more realistic answer.
“Life is but a bird in your hand, trying to get out and be free.” the monk smiled, opening his fist from which a golden and orange bird had sprung up, flied off and vanished in another instant.
“Now, young traveler. Choose your path. Forwards or backwards. Choose your destination and there you shall be taken.”
“I see that you have traveled much and far. Now the question is, whether you’ll go farther or return back to the point of origin?” his soft voice wrapped around my mind.
A third eye flashed on his forehead, illuminating the cavern. A watch on his wrist begun to spin its dials and the air fluttered in motion.
Behind him, the cavern lines converged, shaping two doors, one labelled “Back” and another “Forward”, as the golden letters above the doors indicated.
“I need to find Nova. Kimmy Nova, wherever she is.” I told the old man.
“Awww… ain’t that shweet. I was once in love too you know.” The monk smiled.
“Well then. You’ll need a door of a whole other origin.”
The golden veins of the cavern slashed outwards and erased the “Back” and “Forward” and shaped a new door labeled “There and Now”.
“Go on, young traveler.” The monk smiled. “I will no doubt see you here again, in another century…And let Time Immemorial smile upon your path, so that you may find and catch your own fate.”
As the old monk bid me adieu, I thanked him and passed through the “There and Now” door.
Illustration for my sci-fi novel: [link]
Wacom Intuos 6x8 tablet, Canon 300D
Licensed to Simon Cléroux as cd cover.