THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
A person starts to live when he can live outside himself
I remained in bed for some time the next morning still thinking about my inward identity and who I really was. It weighed upon me that I hadn't come up with a single plausible answer to this basic question, even though I thought about it through much of the night. As Mo suggested, it was a simple question, but not a simple answer.
When I got up and went down the stairs, my friends weren’t there, causing me to wonder where they were staying on the summit and not here. After brewing a coffee, I decided to take a short hike along the ridge to survey the westerly horizon where the storm clouds had swept in from the South Pacific. Viewing the horizon, my mood improved as the rising sun illuminated the glacial slopes with a soft pink glow. Splendid, I thought, like an inspiring omen portending something extraordinary to happen, though I wasn't sure what that might be. Perhaps a contract for a permanent lectureship was waiting for me in London when I returned!
It still appeared the weather would be ideal to begin my descent into civilization, although I wasn’t yet certain which route I would take. If possible, I’d like to find a way with fewer escarpments, even if it took a day longer.
I hoped my two friends would soon show up that I may bid them adieu. Notwithstanding the inexplicable incidents I experienced, the time here had been eventful; the food, drinks and accommodation were extraordinary, and the company… most compelling, to say the least. I had achieved all that I set out to accomplish, successfully ascending where few have gone or could have gone! Nevertheless, it was time to depart before being overwhelmed with more orbs, voices, wizards, nymphs, fairies and whatever else may be lurking up here.
With that thought, I smiled to myself as I headed towards the cabin to stuff my belongings into my backpack, along with a few provisions for my long descent to the Lowlands. Yes, the Lowlands of supposed bogs and swamps and hovels. With all their stories, I would never again be able to view London in quite the same way.
Thinking about home, I wondered if any of the fine young women I had dating recently were missing me, perhaps wondering where I had gone. Likely I wouldn’t receive a hero’s welcome, but still, I looked forward to whatever they may have to offer me when I returned.
When l left for the winter semester break, I told only a few of my friends about my plans to go to Chile, but I didn’t’ say anything about climbing a mountain. I didn't want to hear a lot of nattering about how dangerous that would be. In a sense, this too seemed like it may be a scene from my dream allegory where I slunk away from the Lowlands at night. If not literally at night, at least I had kept everyone in the dark about my intentions.
Likely at this time of year, just after the Southern Hemisphere summer solstice, I would have close to sixteen hours of sunlight remaining. If I left now I could make significant headway before nightfall. It will only take a few days, I thought, provided the weather continued to hold. Though I had carefully observed the mountain's topography while on my ascent, it was only from one angle and so I still had concerns about the best way down and what unforeseen challenges I may encounter on the rugged terrain. It seemed there was no simple way out.
Still, I hoped to find a better route down than the one I chose for my ascent, which turned out to be very circuitous. Occasionally I became disorientated after a few unfortunate twists and turns where I sometimes ended up going down a considerable distance to find a new way up again… I suppose much like my life.
I thought again about my mountain companions and where they might have disappeared. I didn’t see any sign of them on the trail; no smouldering campfires or anything that would indicate they were still on the summit. They didn’t say if they would return so I had no idea what to expect. But it would be helpful if I could get their advice before making my way back down. It seemed Eli knew his way around these slopes rather well; at least by the way he talked.
Hopefully he could tell me where to avoid the dangerous crevices… the ones with thinly veiled layers of melting ice. It would be easy enough to tumble down. Even if I survived the fall, it’s unlikely I would be able to claw my way up the glaringly ice fissures. Few do. To make it worse, there would be zero chance of rescue in this remote region of the world. Hypothermia would probably overcome me within a few hours and it would soon be over. What a way to go! I didn't even want to think about it. And so, even though a more direct route down may be shorter, it could take much longer should I encounter any unforeseen difficulties. Hopefully they would return to the cabin soon so that Eli could brief me before I began my descent.
As I was returning to the cabin to pick up my backpack, I was delighted to smell a waft of smoke rising from the fireplace. It was a mystery how I could have missed seeing them on the summit ridge, but somehow I must have. At least I hoped it was them who lit the fire. Nothing was very certain here. Perhaps there were other aliens taking over, I thought, while chucking to myself.
It would be good to exchange contact information with Mo and Eli before I left, assuming they even had addresses. At least that we could stay in touch if case we wanted to meet somewhere again. But that was another thing about them; they never did tell me where they lived. I assumed it was somewhere in Britain, but then, Englishmen have a tendency to live throughout the world in former colonies. Since I planned to do plenty of traveling in the future while attending various academic conferences, who knows, our paths might cross again.
When I arrived back at the cabin and stepped through the door, I was greeted by Eli with a jovial Buenos Días! Mo was preparing something on the stove while Eli poured me a dark roast coffee. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a hearty English breakfast before I began my descent. As we sat, Eli suggested possible routes I may wish to consider for my descent. Yet there was something disingenuous about his perfunctory advice, as if he didn’t believe I would be going anywhere soon.
They both could be so damned disarming with their good natured charm, yet it always seemed there was some ambiguity attached to everything they said and did, so you could never be certain where you stood. This morning they were going out of their way to be extra pleasant; perhaps there was some ulterior motive for wanting me to remain here. I preferred, however, to believe it was because they were making amends for leaving me alone last night after abruptly disappearing into the night; which still had me both curious and concerned.
‘I wasn’t sure I’d see you again.’ I said to Eli. ‘So where in the heavens did you and Mo disappear last night?’
‘Most perspicuous of you to make that enquiry, but exactly where in the heavens is not easy to explain,’ he said with a grin.
‘So did you stay somewhere further up the ridge?’
‘You might say that,’ Mo said, ‘if not further up, certainly further beyond. I'm sure you’ll see it someday.’
Yes, of course, I thought; someday, somewhere, somehow. What’s the big secret? More mystery, more intrigue. Can’t anything be straightforward here?
Gracias for the meal,’ I said, ‘and gracias a la vida. My time here has been most superb, but I really ought to be on my way. I want to get as far down as possible during daylight. I’m sure there must be some señorita waiting for me in Santiago before I catch my flight home.
‘James,’ Mo said, ‘before you go, I must ask if you’ve given any further consideration to what we discussed about your dream yesterday, and what it may mean?’
‘Not really,’ I said, although that wasn’t really the case. ‘As I said before, I normally don't pay much attention to dreams. There are more important things I have to do with my time than make sense of all the subliminal nonsense that sometimes surfaces in the brain at night. I'll admit though, I’ve never had a dream quite like that before. At the time it left an indelible impression upon me. In fact, I can still remember standing on some precarious ledge just before awakening in a panic. Guess I'll never know what that was about.’
‘A real cliff hanger,’ Eli said with a smirk.
‘It was… so to speak, but don’t get me wrong, your interpretations were most provocative, but I’ll still reserve judgement as to what this dream may or may not mean.’
‘It would be good if we could arrange for you to have a session with Dr. Jung,’ Mo said. ‘I'm sure you are aware how big he was on dream archetypes.’
‘I’m sure that would be most interesting,’ I said, ‘the only problem is he died over fifty years ago. So I hope you aren't proposing we arrange a séance with the esteemed professor, although that wouldn’t surprise me either considering everything else that seems to go on here. Not even something as ludicrous as trying to talk to the dead.’
‘We agree, a séance would be ludicrous,’ Eli said. ‘In fact, under the circumstances, it would be meaningless.’
‘Yes, of course,’ I said, ‘once you're dead, you're dead! That’s obvious! So called psychics who claim to conjure the dead are only playing the same mind games you two chaps seem to enjoy, except they charge a fee.’
‘Are you saying our narrative of your dream was only a mind game?’ asked Mo.
‘If you could give me a rational explanation, I may be less sceptical. Besides, I have difficulty in accepting the various interpretations of what you both think these symbols are supposed to represent. I’ll admit though, your narration of events line up remarkably well with my ascent up here. In fact almost too well, considering how you were able to evoke many of the same feelings I remembered except the last part when you said I was on a narrow ridge.
‘If you wish,’ Eli said, ‘we could give you a rational explanation as to why you don’t remember the ending, but then, I’m not sure you would allow it into your permitted reality.’
‘Go ahead,’ I said, ‘for once a rational explanation would be much appreciated. But before you say more, tell where you got this story.’
‘Do you really want to know?’ Eli said.
‘Of course I do… this should be good.’
‘Well okay,’ he said, ‘it’s really quite simple and rational, since we know how much you value logic. So here’s how it happened: when you weren't looking, Mo and I scampered up the stairs of your flat last October, not long after you recorded your dream. It was rather easy to walk through the door to find your notes in the top drawer. As I recall, you have a lot of junk in your desk. But anyway, we then ran down the stairs and made our way to a stationery shop that had a copier. As soon as we had made a copy, we ran back the whole way as we laughed about the prank we were playing on you. Then when we got back, we put the notes back in the drawer before you had a chance to notice they were gone. We really had it planned rather well, wouldn't you say?
And so when you finally got here, we were all set to trick you. We literally read your dream, straight from you notes! Aren’t we good? Makes a lot of sense doesn't it; no psychic voodoo going on where all is naturally explained. As all intelligent people like you realize, it must be true because there are only natural explanations for everything… isn’t that right?’
Before I was able to respond to Eli's feigned mockery, Mo took over and said in a conciliatory tone: ‘James we also understand why you often seem confused by some of the things we’ve said and what at times may appear to be rather bizarre.’
‘Like throwing sticks into the air that don't come down?’ I said.
‘Oh that… not a big deal,’ Mo said. ‘Think of it as a shooting star in reverse. They generally burn out before they hit the ground.’
‘But if that impressed you, you should see what Merlin can do,’ Eli said with a straight face. ‘Now there's a real wizard for you.’
‘I'm sure,’ I said, ‘but let's not bring Merlin into this; things are already peculiar enough here as it is.’
‘We realize,’ Mo said, ‘you're anxious to make your descent down the Mountain, but please indulge us a little longer so we may clear a few things up so you need not feel confused when you return to London. We also realize you're probably tired of hearing us talk about your dream, yet we still need to finish telling you a few things, or nothing we’ve said so far will make sense.’
‘Nothing here makes sense,’ I said. ‘However, carry on if you must, if only to confuse me more.’
‘Don’t be concerned,’ Mo said, ‘eventually you will find our answers to be most reasonable, but first we want to understand an important event in your dream that we didn’t finish telling you about yesterday. First, let me assure you, we fully appreciate why you may still have a few reservations about our interpretations. After all, your life seems to have nothing to do with marshes, mosquito infested swamps with slimy snakes slithering around in your highly coveted hovels built on sand made of wood, hay and stubble.’
‘No, nothing like that all,’ I said, ‘not even figuratively.’
‘We recognize why some of the meanings behind these images are not all that apparent,’ he said. ‘Your perceptions were formulated long ago in accordance with the temporal material world you’re most familiar with. Yet you likely wouldn’t be here now if these former constructs still served you. Our universe is entirely different than what you or your world can possibly imagine. One day, though, I’m sure you’ll understand.’
How condescending, I thought, as though they knew everything and I knew nothing. The presumption being that if I come around to see things as they do, then, and only then will I know how things really are.
‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘but I’ll be the one who decides for myself what is real and what isn't.’
‘But of course,’ he said, ‘and yet this time it was different for you, wasn't it? Remember, what happened at the beginning of your dream; the behest of the orphic voice portending your pending journey from the Lowlands to the Summit? You know within that’s the real reason you climbed up here. We invited you and you came.
I just look up at the rafters above me and shook my head... such fantasy.
‘At some level, Mo continued, I’m sure you must realize you didn't risk life and limb just so you may climb this remote mountain for no other reason than to challenge yourself to greater extremes of physical achievement and survival. Considering the danger, it would have been ill-advised and even foolhardy to attempt this expedition if there wasn’t something thrusting you forward.
‘After your dream, you understood there was more to life than you were experiencing, although you weren’t sure exactly what that may be. You just knew you couldn’t bear to live in the swamps anymore. The Lowlands had become too low and shallow for your higher aspirations. In a sense James, you never did wake up from the dream; the dream woke you up and began to change your life. After that, you knew you had to follow where you were being called; and so you have. This is it… the adventure you're now on.’
‘Sounds like you have me all figured out,’ I said, with an evident bite of sarcasm.
‘Actually, Mo’s right,’ Eli said, ‘it was the inward call that moved you beyond the mists of the Lowlands towards something you didn’t understand, and still don't. But you soon will; your world is about to change. This Mountain represents of that higher quest, and you will soon find it becoming more than just a metaphor, but rather an emerging reality. In fact, it will be the foundation on which you build your new life, much more solid than the bogs on which you attempted to build before.’
‘You don't say,’ I muttered incredulously.
‘Yes, we say this and a lot more,’ Mo said, ‘so listen carefully because we're about to give you the secret meaning that’s hidden behind all of this. It’s what you’ve been waiting to hear for a very long time, a higher order perspective, even higher than this mountain you now find yourself on.’
‘Of course,’ I said, still muttering. ‘It seems only right I should know about higher perspectives to get this high’
‘You are right,’ Eli said. ‘Indeed you've gone to a fair amount of trouble, more than you realize. In fact, it's taken you your whole life to get this far, just as it felt in your dream!’
‘Let's try not to get too carried away with the dream allegory again,’ I said. ‘I think it's been only about a week now since I left London.’
‘Well, that’s not entirely true, Mo said. But anyway, you made it this far up but you still have a lot further to go. And as you ascend further up towards higher realms, you must first go further in.’
‘Further in… to where?’
‘Further in to higher realms,’ Eli said.
‘Ah, more metaphoric posers’ I said. ‘You know, every major philosophy throughout antiquity has contrived higher realms of truth. So which one are you flogging?’
‘Not all philosophies are committed to ascending towards higher realms,’ Mo said. ‘Many philosophers, particularly today, are more interested in leading their followers to the lowest and flattest territories so they can impose their beliefs on minds that have been made too shallow to notice. We suspect that by now, you've heard enough of their claptrap, and so you're ready to advance into these higher realms of reality, whether you’re aware of it or not. In fact you're already well on your way, you just haven’t figured it out yet. Nevertheless you will… the further in you go.’
Mo continued to focus his penetrating eyes on me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. ‘And so, what we're going to do now,’ he said, ‘is take you much further in to reveal something that you may find shocking. But in the end, it certainly will take you higher. We suspect you will resist hearing us until it is confirmed from the depths of your soul. But when you come to accept what has happened, you will finally see life through eyes you didn't know could see and through ears you didn't know could hear. And though you may not at first comprehend the significance of this event, we'll work with you to help you understand your new reality.’
‘New reality,’ I said, ‘what’s wrong with the old reality? Reality is reality; it's not the kind of thing you can go around reinventing whenever it suits your fancy.’
‘True,’ he said, ‘but who says you can't more fully experience higher dimensions of that reality. But rather than inventing, it's more like discovering what's already there, though it may not always be recognised at first. That’s why we asked you if you knew who you are. You are finding how impossible it is to answer that question within the terms of normal rational enquiry.’
I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘I don’t understand what you’re getting at. To the contrary, it’s impossible to answer a question other than through rational enquiry.’
‘True,’ he said, ‘but the terms of enquiry may be more expansive that you think, What I mean, is that reason can’t answer questions that are beyond the scope of its understanding. Reason is of the mind but when it comes to certain understandings, the mind can only see shadows and distortions. Whether you realize it or not, you are more than the mental processes of your brain. Until you realize that, you're going to knock yourself out trying to understand the world. Your old terms of reference are inadequate because they are crafted in the Lowlands.’
‘Balderdash,’ I said, ‘reason is either rational or irrational; there's nothing between.’
‘True, there's nothing between,’ he said, ‘but there is something over and above what’s often considered rational.’
‘Such as what?’ I said.
‘There are various ways to understand what transcends the limitations of the linear plane which we’ll explain later on. Obviously, none of this is taught in the Flatlands, or you would already know what we mean. If they did teach it, the Flatlands would no longer remain flat.’
‘Flatlands, where's that?’
‘A place you’ve spent much of your adult life,’ Eli said. ‘Let’s just say it’s in the lowest regions of the Lowlands. But we’ll explain that later too.’
‘Fine, but your explanations will have to wait for another time and place; I really must be on my way now.’
‘Certainly,’ Mo said, ‘but when you come to discover the answer to the question we’ve been asking you, only then you will fully understand what is meant by the term Flatlands. Knowing who you are has little meaning to anyone who lives there, but if its residents cared to find out, they would soon leave for higher ground, such as on this Summit. It’s too constricting for anyone to remain on such a plain once they discover who they are. You may spell that both ways; plain and plane, since they both apply.’
‘Good to know… along with your other riddles and metaphors! Possibly we can discuss these recondite abstractions another time should we ever meet in London.’
‘Before you go, have another scone with jam and tea,’ Mo said, ‘I still need you to tell me if you’ve given more thought to that question I put to you.’
‘You mean about understanding who I am? I didn't want to get into another big epistemological/ontological debate at this time, so I just shrugged and said, ‘sure I thought about it but I didn't get too far. But if you really want to know, I can tell you I'm a male Caucasian of British citizenship, thirty three years of age, six feet one inch, 198 pounds of lean muscle and bone, with enough brain tissue left over to be a Professor of Philosophy in London. And I might add, a connoisseur of fine wine and women, though not necessarily in that order. Sorry to disappoint you, but as far as I can tell, that's about all I’m prepared to tell about me at this point.’
‘I'm not disappointed at all,’ Mo said. ‘In fact, the point of me asking you the question was so you would discover how little you know about who you are within and how difficult it is to find a serious answer. But don't despair, there is an answer, and we trust you will know it before you leave.’
‘Well okay, then let’s have it. I've got a few minutes. What's the big ontological secret that has forever eluded mankind? Just the bottom line please, so I can be on my way!’
‘When you are ready to know, you will know,’ he said, ‘not because we gave you an answer, since no one can do that for you. It can't be learned, it can only be discovered. But not by the mind; only the heart knows. Do you remember what the ancient inscription on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi said?’
Of course, NOSCE TE IPSUM! Pythagoras and Plato, along with many other Greeks were obsessed with this, just like you.’
‘And that, James, is why you are here: To KNOW THYSELF!’
‘That's most excellent, but I know a much quicker way. It’s on my ID tag hanging on the chain around my neck. I had it inscribed on a pendant in case I had an accident or got killed climbing here.’
‘Oh really,’ Eli said. ‘Did you hear that Mo: James has his identity hanging on a chain. So let's see what it looks like.’
‘I felt around my neck. ‘Bloody hell… it's not here! Where did it go? Did either of you see it lying around? Damn! I hope it's not lost. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this earlier.’
‘What does it look like,’ asked Eli?
‘It’s on a silver chain with a pendant and gold cross.’
‘A gold cross, I thought you said you weren’t religious.’
‘I’m not, but it has sentimental value. Apparently it was given to me when I was a child but I just recently came across it in an old box that had been left for me. And so I put it on my pendent chain for good luck.’
‘Oh, for good luck;’ he said, ‘so you’re not religious; just superstitious.’
‘Well, actually, I’m not either, but you know what I mean.’
‘I wouldn’t worry about it,’ Mo said, ‘I'm confident it will find its way back to you.’
‘Damn it anyway… it’s got to be here someplace, it's not like I've gone anywhere far.’
‘No, but your chain, cross and pendant may have,’ he said.
‘What do you mean?’ I said.
Mo got up to his feet, stretched, and said, ‘why don't we move over to the fireplace so we can relax by the fire. Bring your coffee; and we’ll see if we can help locate your pendent by reviewing where you went. There are few other things you need to know about what happened.’
‘Okay, but let’s make this quick, I just want to find my ID before I go.’
‘We'll help you find your ID,’ Eli said, ‘and when that happens, it will be time for you to return home. But it may take much longer than you think.’
‘What was that supposed to mean?’ I said. ‘Are we talking about the same thing?’
‘You've been curious about much ever since you arrived,’ Mo said, ‘so now we're about to tell you everything. Quite possibly more than you wish to know. Understand, the more answers we give, the more you will have. So take your seat, get comfortable, take ten deep breaths, relax, and centre within. This will help you find your identity, but it won’t be on a chain.’
‘What's this, some freaking yoga class? I just want my chain so I can be on my way.’
I muttered something obscene, which they may or may not have heard. It didn't matter, I really didn't care; I already had plenty of deep breathing on my way up. So now he's telling me to be patient and centre within! How could I remain composed at a time like this… and why do I always let them push me into doing things in their whacky make-believe world? At times I wondered if they might not be part of some weird cult.
‘So what's next gents,’ I asked, ‘satori or charades? These might be fun games to play too.’ Though I tried to keep the sarcasm to myself; it was difficult to remain cool and not appear any more agitated than I already was. But in any case, I breathed in and out several times to keep the peace. Hopefully then, they would help me to find my chain.
When I was done, Mo said in a soft, conciliatory tone, ‘James, there’s something we need to tell you that’s very important. It’s more than your identity, and your chain, although it’s about that too. We appreciate you’ve been waiting for us to explain why things are they are here. Now's the time; we think you’re ready.’
‘It sounds as if you’re about to go really weird on me. So what is it?’
‘Like I said, this may shock you,’ he said, ‘so be prepared. Much has gone on that you're not aware of. You will likely find it utterly unbelievable. In fact, it may take a bit of time before you come to terms with what we have to say. However, after making a few mental adjustments, I'm sure you will come to accept what happened and no longer deny anything we’ve said.’
‘Wait a minute,’ I said, ‘let's back up a bit. What do you mean: what happened… what’s happened?’
‘What recently occurred,’ Mo said, ‘has to do with the hidden part of the dream you’ve been suppressing. This is what will now be disclosed to you. But we won’t disclose it, you will. I’m sure you will find it to be the most significant part of your dream; everything else is preamble to this.’
‘Oh please, let’s not go back to discussing that goddamned dream again. Can’t we just move on; I’ve got a bus to catch.
‘I think your bus left the station some time ago,’ Eli said.
This was beginning to feel a little like trying to have a rational discussion with the Queen of Hearts.
‘Can we cut to the chase?’ I said, as I sat up in my chair as if I was about to leave. I was losing my patience, but tried hard not to react as emotionally as I did before. If I didn’t play it cool, they may never tell me anything.
‘We want to answer your questions James, all of them,’ Mo said. ‘But what you seek to know is already found in your dream, which, whether you realize it or not, has become your new reality. As soon as you acknowledge this reality you will have all your questions answered. Trust us James, were not making any of this up.
‘As you already know, it was all presented to you in your spectacularly vivid dream that portended all that was to come. That’s why it's imperative you now realize that your dream has merged with all you’ve experienced here. We only reminded you of your vision so you may know what it was trying to tell you.
In fact, you may soon come to consider the dream allegory to be more real than anything you considered real in your past. And so, at some deep unconscious level you understood what was about to happen before you landed in Santiago.
‘And that, my friend, Eli said, ‘is what brought you here. So are you ready to hear the rest?’
‘Of course, I said, whatever you mean by the rest. I’ll admit it’s possible that my dream may have some merits as an interesting allegory. To be honest, after giving it more consideration today, I probably understand more than what I've been letting on, especially the allusions about swamps and snakes. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more it sounds much like my work environment; especially the snakes in the grass,’ I chuckled. ‘But let’s hurry this along, where do you want to start?’
They didn't answer me, but looked at each other as the atmosphere suddenly became sullen and deadly serious. I could tell this session wouldn’t be just a literary analysis on the composition of my allegorical narrative. They remained silent for a few moments as they stared at me, waiting for me to settle down and remain quiet for a while. I felt an eerie foreboding. Did I really want to hear what they had to say, or should I just bolt for the door. I studied Mo's graven countenance and understood something important was about to be said.
‘What is it, Mo?’ I said. ‘You're making me nervous. Is there a problem?’
‘There's no problem,’ he said, ‘but first you need to hear the rest of your story.’
‘What do you mean, rest of my story?’
‘The part where we ended,’ Mo said. ‘But didn’t really end; actually it’s the beginning! We've been careful to prepare you for this ever since you arrived here in order for you to be ready for what we have to tell you. It will answer why things here with us sometimes seem be so… ah, different. It will also help you to understand where you can find your pendent and cross.’
‘Then just tell me, do we really need to keep getting worked up about this dream and how it may or may not have ended? After all, it's just a little allegorical lesson from my subconscious mind to teach a few edifying lessons about life, learning, growth and values. I’m sure there are times when dreams can do that, but I also think we can get carried away in over-analysing things, don’t you agree?’
‘You see James,’ Mo said, ‘it's like this: that little allegory, as you call it, merges with your space/time reality more than you know, having little to do with the way you normally think. This is not about analyzing…. this is about knowing.
‘Knowing what?’ I asked.
‘A while ago, you were wondering why you woke up from your dream in a panic. There was reason why, but your dream didn’t tell what it was. That’s why you don’t know. But now it’s time you find out.’
‘What more is there to find out; I woke up… dream’s over!’
‘Do you remember what was happening at the end of the dream,’ Eli asked, ‘and can you feel the fearful premonition you had? This drama at the end of your dream actually took place not far below from where the chasm opens to a very long way down! You felt the panic twice, first in your prescient dream last October and then once again not long ago here.’
‘Sorry, I still have no idea what you are going on about.’
‘Subliminally you do,’ Mo said, ‘but your conscious mind doesn’t wish to hear about it. So to make this easier, tell us first what you remember happening before that. Close your eyes; go deeply within. Take your time… what do you see?’
‘Well, I remember it was a very tough scramble the last leg of the ascent. I was really knackered! So I had a long rest in the ravine before going the distance. Then, as I got closer to the summit, I saw something that was most extraordinary.
‘At first it appeared there were two or three shimmering orbs than I imagined as aliens from space, not that I actually believe in any of that. But the bright lights had me curious. I was anxious to pass over to the other side of the chasm so I could find out what was going on. But crossing this chasm seemed too treacherous, so I took another route. It was strange; like I was having a vision of where to go with a voice directed me towards a hidden fissure in the precipice. That’s how I made it up the summit from the left side of the chasm. Likely, it was just my imagination, but it seemed most peculiar at the time.’
‘But don’t you also remember taking another route too,’ Mo asked; ‘the one across the chasm?’
‘That’s interesting you should ask that. I remember crossing a chasm somewhere along the way, very much like this chasm below.’
‘Close your eyes again, James,’ Mo said, ‘and this time take a really deep breath, then relax and tell us what you see. What happened as you were crossing the ledge to the other side?’
‘I’m not sure.’
‘Take your time, and think. Did you cross over?’
‘Well, I must have. Here I am.’
‘Indeed, here you are,’ he said, ‘that much is certain, no doubt about it, you did cross over. But did you cross over in the way you think?’
‘What do you mean cross over in the way I think; aren't you listening, of course I crossed over, what other way was there?’
‘The route you just mentioned, the one you said the voice directed you towards. Didn’t I just hear you say you came by way of that approach?’
Even before Mo said this, my last words caught in my throat because I knew something didn’t sound right. How could I have done both at the same time?
I got up from my chair, now feeling a bit dazed. I went over to the stove to pour another cup of coffee, then stood there looking out the window. But I didn't see anything. For the moment, I remained lost in my inner world as I imagined what happened next.
Mo’s question was triggering something within me; something I felt hidden deeply within. As I stood there, I closed my eyes, concentrating on what was stirring. I wasn’t sure what I would see, but whatever it was, was beginning to scare me. Then slowly fragmented scenes of blurred cliffs and escarpments started to emerge in my mind: first they appeared as still frames, then coming together in slow motion. The images then quickened, running seamlessly in vivid detail, as the whole horrific scene played out.
In an instant, I felt my body falling through space; a torrent of wind swishing by me with the force of a tsunami. I heard my cup fall to the floor as I continued to fall through an abyss of oblivion. I observed craggy rocks thrusting upwards over and past me, and next I could see slopes of scree and snow approaching me from below. Then nothing! All went blank, there was only darkness… the veil of amnesia had lifted.
I felt myself gripping the window ledge, as if to hang on so I wouldn’t fall further. I don’t know how long I stood there, but finally I shuffled back to my seat and slumped there in silence as the reels replayed the scenes over and over. Each time the images became more vivid and fearsome. As much as I wanted to believe none of this was happening, I couldn’t deny it. I was mesmerized by what I saw, unable to look away.
I thought I may have seen myself looking down on my body at the bottom of the canyon’s ravine. But how could I do that? I was fascinated, bewildered and horrified with what I just witnessed in my mind. How could I not have known about this before? Mo and Eli must have seen it happen. Would that have been them, standing there on the Summit above, appearing as orbs of light?
Finally I said in a faint whisper, ‘I must be losing my mind. I just had the most horrific phantasm you can imagine. It was dreadful! I was hurling down through the chasm into the void. Next, I saw my body lying in a bloody lump at the bottom on a sheet of ice.’
‘Yes James,’ Eli said quietly, ‘and that wasn’t the first time you saw it lying there. You also saw if immediately after your fall. Indeed, that was your body in an almost fatal fall off the chasm’s ledge. And yes, we saw it too, just as you were just asking in your mind. We witnessed the end of your dream… and the beginning of your new reality.’
I muttered, ‘but it couldn’t have happened, I had to be reliving a nightmare, you know; the part of the dream I didn’t recall when I awoke in a panic. It didn’t actually happen.’
‘But it did,’ Mo said, ‘and not just in you dream, it occurred not far below this cabin, in third dimension space and time. If you’re ready we can tell you exactly what happened; the part presaged in your dream that jolted you into awakening. It was not yet appropriate for us to tell you everything when you arrived here. You had to first be ready to re-experience your fall so you would realize it was more than a dream.’
‘I would much prefer it be just a dream,’ I said, ‘rather than the horror of what I just imagined in my mind.’
‘Not what your mind imagined,’ Eli said, ‘it was what your mind recalled but censored because of the trauma it invoked. Only with our prompting were you able to witness what had been suppressed by your conscious mind. So let's go back once again and see if we can help you remember what caused your fall when you were crossing over. Can you recall that last step?’
‘No, I don’t believe I can.’
‘That’s because there was no next step. The thin ledge gave way as your body went flailing down the chasm, through the canyon, twisting and gyrating before your body hit the slopes, as you continued to slide down to the bottom of the ravine.’
I shook my head in disbelief, not wanting to accept any of this, though I knew it was what I had seen and felt.
‘James,’ Mo said, ‘you need to accept what your mind is telling you so we can reveal what happened next. Don’t fear it. It’s all over now, just accept that you were this projectile. Do you not recall how your whole life flashed before your eyes as you flew down? Over a hundred yards below this fateful crossing and a few ricochets off the precipice on the way down, you tumbled through the air, your legs broken and bashed after deflecting off an igneous protrusion. Being in shock, you felt nothing. But then, as your body hit the screed slopes, something snapped. It was your neck, and you remembered no more.’
‘That’s ridiculous,’ I said, ‘my neck doesn't even feel sore. In fact, my body has never felt better.’
Mo ignored my comment, then said, ‘James, please understand that under normal circumstances your body should be dead. But as Eli just pointed out, the impact was buffeted with a thin layer of snow and underlying scree that caught your body as it continued to slide all the way down. Had it slid much further, it might have fallen over another steep precipice below, likely never to be seen again.’
‘We too observed your body lying there, mangled and bloodied’ Eli said, ‘yet it still breathed, barely alive. You then left home as you had known it in its familiar earthbound vessel.’
‘You are with us now, James,’ Mo said, ‘just not in that body.’
 This last statement of Mo’s made little sense to me until I later discovered that it was in reference to a quote about what has lasting consequence in life: ‘Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.’ I Corinthians 3:12 (KJV)
 The first writing I know of that uses the term flatland, at least in the context spoke of here, was a science fiction classic simply called Flatland (1884) by Edward A. Abbot (1838-1926), a London headmaster, scholar and theologian. Then later, Thomas Mann also wrote of the flatlands in his seminal novel, The Magic Mountain (1924).
 From Alice’s Adventures Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, first published in 1865.
- The first book of the Elysium's Passage series is expected to be released by mid March.
- If you wish to read about the series' intriguing Back Story, I invite you to visit my website at:
www.elysiumspassage.com where you may download the free ebook How it Came.
- To access all articles posted on this blog the link is: https://digitalbloggers.com/articles/elysiumspassage