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He threw himself down the stairs. The night roared through the window, the black void of space beat on the walls. It yet another day when he walked in his sleep, and not the last in which he woke, startled, to tumbling down into the dark abyss.
He was a Fellow, but so were his neighbors.
And so were his friends.
And his parents.
And perhaps even the dog. But dogs were of little consideration.
What is the individual?
He finally landed with a dull thud on the concrete floor.
You’re unique, just like everybody else.
“There is nothing serene about sleepwalking,” he muttered to himself. These probing thoughts crashed around his skull, as he wearily rose to his feet.
There was no light, just thick Darkness that oozed from every crevice and crack. His home was made of shards of black, grey, brown, charcoal, dust.
And so were the homes of his neighbors.
And his friends.
The dog merely had the pitch-dark corner, for he was little to be thought of.
The darkness is home. Wander through the darkness.
The Fellows in society’s pantheons railed against the Light that had flowed across the plains many moons ago. Light was heresy, held heretical thoughts, poisoned you. Those who basked in the Light were witches, left to simmer and burn away in ashes. Black was always the new black, but there was nothing luxurious about metallic colors.
He dragged his clammy body to the cold wall, rubbing a growing bump on his forehead. The radiator buzzed by his ear, like a centimeter thick silver bee. The drone of cables underneath the ground rose through his bones. They ran all the way to the machines up on the second floor. Feeling for the stairs, he carefully made his way back up, as quiet as a mantis eyes wide open to the nothingness.
Mum and Pop had graciously given him a number. This was a little flag of pride, pasted on every scrap of homework or postcard or message sent through the wires.
A fine number indeed.
Grandmum and grandpop, and Aunt and Uncle, and Sister and Brother, and Cousins all complimented him on his number. He had to admit he liked his number. But like most things, his neighbors had one too, and his friends, and so forth.
Now, another thing everybody has is a soul. A soul is a radical thing, you know. Darkness could not reach the soul: it could not seep in the way it did through your windows, or grasp it tight and squeeze any Light away. Fellows feared the soul. But he was curious about it. It was on nights where he would find himself spiraling down a corridor or making contact with cold cement, that he would think about the soul. There, he stored away thoughts and emotions and feelings and other contraband. There, he gave himself a contraband name. Jacob.
Jacob was like any average person would be at his age, curious about the world and about people and sometimes his curiosity would lead him into troublesome situations. In School, he asked many questions about names and souls and where in the world is the Light?! A circle that doesn’t fit in anything, his father would huff.
After coming up the stairs much in the same way as he had come down, Jacob fell with a sigh onto the bed. It was gray, square, and hard. But his eyes fluttered open again, and he peered around the room. His tablet gave off some luminescence, the only sort allowed. He made out his stack of books, approved by the government of course, and just above his vintage poster. A smiling Fellow graced the cover, dressed in the traditional black outfits of a church-senator. A speech bubble popped out of his mouth, as the Fellow shouted, “Follow the Darkness! You will be saved!” Jacob was still a little puzzled who was doing all the saving, but he learned that some things were better left unasked. To the left were his gadgets: sleek, trim, fast as lightning and quiet as rolling thunder. Pale blue emanated from flashing screens as message after message came through the wires.
From #4356: RE: Organ practice
Tmrrw, 5-6. concert friday for the Church-Senators. meeting @ the old warehouse 15th and Desamore. b their.
Why anyone would sit through the drone of screeching organ music, Jacob never understood. But it was also not to be questioned.
The hope of sleep was long foregone. With so little as a squeak, he tiptoed to the window, where the expanse of black stretched before him, and the mutterings of wires working rattled the floors. Hopping onto a stack of paperbacks, he reached for a shelf, lifting up a velvet cover, under which stood a wooden box. Straining to hear for any footsteps, Jacob grabbed the box and rushed to the bed, diving underneath the covers. His hands began to tremble, and the tempo of his heart matched the beating wires. Uttering a silent prayer to no one, he fingered the polished latch, and opened the cover.
In a brilliant flash, Light spewed from underneath. This was not a pale blue or a harsh grey. This was the Light of ten thousand years, brought from time immemorial. It glowed in hues of gold and white, a intense heat that ran through the veins.
If Jacob was found with this Light, he could be thrown in the Center of Correction.
Or forsaken on the fringes of the darkness. Or burnt back to the ashes the church
senators said they came from.
The box began to shake and fell from his hands, the Light throbbing and pulsing
under the covers. The night slowly began to recede from under the covers as the
Light yawned and stretched. Suddenly, a firefly rose like mist from within the box,
and fluttered gently onto Jacob’s knee. He had a crooked smile and a mischievous
grin on his face
“Howdy!” He squealed.
“Shh! Have you gone mad? It’s night.”
“Pshaw, it’s always night around here.”
Jacob had to admit it was true. He wondered if the firefly ever slept.
“Thought to rustle me for a midnight chat?” The creature laughed in a gravelly voice, his yellow eyes full of life. Jacob had found the fly under a bush in a far off meadow while on a field trip, and shoved him hurriedly into his backpack. After getting over the shock of an animal speaking, Jacob realized that the fly was nothing ordinary. He knew everything about the world and light and souls and names. He even had a name: Brama. Jacob questioned him a thousand times of his purpose in the land of the dark, and Brama answered him with a wry smile and ancient eyes, “I am what I am.”
And you are one crazy fly, Jacob thought to himself.
But he learned to never question Brama, for he was Light.
“Nice bruise you’ve got there. Walking in thy sleep again?”
“You know it’s true.”
“What disturbs that troubled soul of yours?”
“Oh, you know, everything.”
“You ask too many questions, I dare say.”
“Somebody has to.”
“And I think you can answer them. Tell me about Light, Brama.”
The words were poisonous barbs in his mouth. Brama looked taken aback, and huffed. He gently picked up and flew to Jacob’s hand.
“Come with me.”
“Where are we going?”
“To see the Light.”
“The Light you pester me about all the time.”
“There is no Light…. I mean, with you I guess there is.”
“You are foolish.”
Jacob was silent, used to his rebukes.
“There is Light, powerful Light, moving and thundering beneath the soil. It moves in waves and particles and thoughts unrestricted by human hands. It was always there. It was never gone.”
“But.. why is there darkness?”
“Well, what is Light? Light is truth.
There is no truth here. Your brains are mishmashes of slurred speech and webs of electricity. People spoon-feed you their ideas. You are less than human. You are mere dust, a slave of darkness, choked in a cocoon of evil.
I will take you to the turning soil, where the Light brings flowers to bask in its glory. There are animals. Beast and human lie down together in peace. Words are formation of spools of thought, uttered in golden eloquence, taken up in pure winds, and carried away to foster the souls of others.”
Brama drifted closer to Jacob’s eyes, his shell burning brighter.
“I tell ye, the truth will set you free.”
“Follow me before the town wakes again. I will bring you to the center of the universe.”
Jacob broke out in a cold sweat, panting in fear and wonder of what the fly had just told him. What was this place? Who were those people?
“Ah,” Brama chuckled, “Fate is a funny thing, especially when the path ahead is sheathed shadow.” And with that, he flew past Jacob’s ear and made a beeline to the door.
“Well, are you just going to sit there, mouth wide open? Get a move on, I can’t open this door myself.”
On tiptoes, Jacob opened the door with caution, and peered down the hallways. Silence.
“Let’s go this way.” He cupped Brama in his hands, using him as illumination down the stairs. Wisps of grey poked through the windows, signaling the coming of dawn. Throwing on his jacket, Jacob with Brama in tow hurried out of the front door, and to the sidewalk. The sky howled at them. Heretics.
“Just be quiet, alright?”
The firefly hovered before his eyes, and began to zoom down Desdemoc Avenue. Jacob had to run to keep up with him. In silence, they veered through the center park, past dim lagoons and across leering shadows. The duo hit the edge of the town, and continued into the forest, screeching with silence. It teemed with all manner of demon-like things that Jacob couldn’t give name to, and they whispered in his ear, the darkness will swallow you. You will be punished. Panting for breath, he struggled to match pace with Brama, who ducked underneath branches and looped through the menacing trees.
“How much farther?”
He didn’t answer. Jacob had already lost track of time, but guessed they had been on the run for 2 hours. On the run. Like criminals.
“Almost there, chap.”
Who knew the center of all being was so close, he thought sarcastically.
At once, they came to an abrupt halt on the edge of a field. The earth was a sea of tall weeds. The wind sung a gentle tune across the plains. And the sky. There was Light. The ground began to rumble under their feet. It shook and trembled, and with a roar it split on a jagged line, and Jacob felt himself tumbling, once again, into nothingness.
He woke to the sounds of rushing water. The wind was now a lively tune, picking up on the tempo of…. Songbirds? He opened his dazed eyes, and a bright fury blinded him. In the distance, he heard a lion roaring, not in anger, but in a serene roll. It took him a moment to adjust his vision, and the world opened before him. Or rather, the center of the universe did.
The corners fell away at four edges, sloping away into a band of gold and white that burned like Brama’s eyes. There was no sky, but rather a ceiling of gleaming stalactites. Water crystal blue dripped gently from their tips; joining a cascading waterfall. Mist rose from a pond at the base, as streaks of rainbows caught in its delicate net. Beasts of all manner- he could see proud lions, lumbering elephants, sleek cheetahs, radiant flamingos, and grizzly bears- all gathered around this majestic pond to sip the pure waters. Fish, shining like polished marble, jumped through the air to the tempo of the falling waters. Emerald grass sloped gently across the ball of earth. Trees, laced with moss, dotted an eastern corner. Beneath the lush canopy lay people, much like himself, but they were resplendent across the green carpet. It was as if they had just been shaped from some greater hand. Jacob crept closer to a pair of them. At their sides dozed leopards and sheep in harmony. They had hair as though fashioned from golden wheat, and eyes dazzling like inlaid gems. It was a natural beauty, untouched by the artificial applications that Jacob knew from his own world. The humans observed the land spread before them with satisfaction and peace. But the most beautiful things that he heard were the words that spilled from their mouths. They spoke of people, and ideas, and souls, and names. Everyone had a name and a soul full of ideas. Such mortals Jacob had never seen.
“Welcome to Elysium.” Brama was suddenly at his ear, aglow in an even greater light.
He winked at Jacob, and before his eyes slowly evaporated. In his stead lay a book. A halo surrounded its edges, and when he picked it up, it vibrated ever so slightly. It
had no title, no author. It was blood crimson, and the pages did not separate. A voice
coming from nowhere in particular, called to him. It sounded like wind rustling
reeds on a river bank. Behind, a holly bush burst into purple flames, but it did not
Jacob, take this book, and go along the path you have followed to Elysium.
You have seen the Light, Truth, and the Wisdom.
You and your people have come from darkness, and to darkness you shall return.
So take this book, and bring these things home. You will be not be alone.
He pounded across the plains, through the woods, past dim ponds, and leering shadows. He ignored the shouting trees and the roaring sky, for something in his feet pushed him forward, and forward, until he had reached the highest summit of his town.
With a great fury, Jacob threw the book.
The Light blinded his eyes, and he cried out in pain. It exploded from the pages of the book, filling every crevice and crack in the world. The darkness screeched in horror as the Light drove it towards the ends of the horizon. The underground wires lashed from their places, burning and fizzing away. The streets overturned, as homes crumbled away. A wicked howling persisted as the Light forced its way in. The moment lasted an eternity, the ground pulsing and throbbing in every direction..
When the Deed was done, the grass was green. There was water, and there was air and rainbows and creatures. There was harmony and there was calm sounds. Wisdom and Truth had seeped into the soil, and trees laced in moss grew from those seeds.
And Jacob, lying quietly on the ground, whispered, “There is Light.”