From Imaginary Ripples · Stories

Wanderer I: Nowhere, Everywhere

The darkness was all encompassing. Peacefulness washed through Xavier. Despite the pervading blackness, despite the unique sensation of weightlessness, Xavier felt truly at peace for perhaps the first time in his life. He wasn’t sure where he was, or how it was possible, but somehow it felt right. Everything was slow, relaxed, simple, and unworrying. As thoughts placidly wound their way through his mind it occurred to him that he should be disconcerted, if not outright terrified by his current situation. Total darkness, floating weightless in a complete void. There was no light, yet he could see himself without difficulty. His mind thought he should be confused and disconcerted, but all he felt was safe, peaceful, and relaxed. He tried to remember how he got here, but he drew nothing but blank memories. He was Xavier, but he didn’t know who that was. He had a family. They loved him, yet he couldn’t remember their faces or their names. He knew he lived somewhere, but he remembered neither where it was nor what it was like. He knew he had a life, somewhere, but he had no recollection of anything but floating in the void. Slowly, as he contemplated the weirdness of the situation he recalled a memory. Distant, yet vivid, surreal and objective, like an observer watching a masterful movie. There was wetness on his face, and a distant feeling of pain in his cheek. He reached and felt sticky wetness, where he touched was painful yet muted, as if a far greater pain overwhelmed it. He looked at his fingers and saw blood. He felt as though he should be frightened, but he felt peace and calm, as though he was merely an observer in someone else’s conscience aware that all around him was an illusion.

The darkness seemed to lessen. Slowly receding, like the gradual lifting of layers of a veil, unhurriedly revealing the image beneath. The scene slowly resolved itself. A city, draped in the yellow and brown light of a heavy hanging moon, its face the picture of a mourning father. The city was dark, shrouded in mist and misery. The view rolled back. Rising from the outskirts of the city, overlooking the sterile sky rises and fetid parklands, were lush hills, tainted in darkness. Xavier sensed, rather than saw, the man standing on the edge of the hill, peering out over the city. The scene solidified further, and Xavier became aware of the falling rain, the biting chill of the wind, and the ill-boding stench. It was like no odour he had encountered, vile and repugnant, it seemed almost to be the essence of an evil death and decay. The wind howled, reverberating through the entirety of his essence. A detached, disembodied sense of fear, overshadowing pain, and despair flooded through Xavier. Stark clarity struck him as the man stepped forwards. Time slowed, the instant it took the figure to step off the ledge grew to an eternity. Realisation spread through Xavier. The figure, the man about to hurl himself to his demise was Xavier. He remembered standing there, he remembered casually stepping off the ledge, and the bittersweet rush of falling to the rocky river below. Dissonant waves of cacophonous terror and silent calm ricocheted through his intangible essence. His mind reeled with confusion, disbelief, and wonderment. Blackness consumed Xavier as his meagre mortal mind failed to cope with the overwhelming enormity of his transformed existence.

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