This is the ending of a short story (or maybe novella) I’m working on right now. Kind of an Apocalyptic thing. This guy Lao is in charge of eradicating and executing the usurped former governing society – his wife commits suicide, he finds out one of his friends is part of this group…(just a little context to help it make a little more sense). Anyway, this is a dream that he has and then the conclusion. Let me know what you think.
I’m lying on something flat. It’s too dark here, but my eyes have started adjusting and I can tell that I’m surrounded by something. There’s armor everywhere, which would in most circumstances be strange in and of itself. I’m naked on the floor. Everything is drawing me back to birth and I don’t want to move.
I still can’t make out the walls of this room. I know they have to be there but the only light seems to be coming from the center, it’s illuminating the floor though I cannot find its source. I unwillingly comply with some calling that I should stand. As I rise to survey my surroundings, I can see that though the floor is made of wood, there is not a single edge or crease to be found, it’s all a single piece.
I look at the panoply that is stripped around me and I am taken away by its magnificence. The care with which it had been made was truly astounding. Each article, helm, shield, breastplate, everything is completely covered with figures resembling soldiers in battle, the detail is so sharp that it seems to bite at me when my eyes hold it for too long. The time taken to construct something so intricate, extravagant, but practical strained my mind. I stand there, study it and begin to realize these images seem to be cut into the metal surfaces like scars from wear. They are the result of notching from unfathomable close calls and the glances of incalculable confrontations, each of which must have once been thought to be invoked by pure chance. But that was at the time of its engraving, this now. It’s only after great enough harm that the real affects of life can be realized.
But why were they on the floor? Something so awe inspiring had no place being cast haphazardly down. My own nakedness hadn’t occurred to be until now. Was all of this mine? Was it some part of my subconscious trying to rationalize my life’s own mutilations into something attractive? Something beautiful?
I cannot say with any authority how long I am standing, looking at the scenes etched into this adamantine wardrobe. Some part of my mind will not resist trying to match up each little nick and chink with some memorable event, though there is no discernable difference between each one. Despite my inability to draw any real conclusion, my eyes are fixed. Like an obsession, I am afraid to look away. The invisible light source dimly filling my present location is suggested in the glittering reflection mirrored all around me, and the thought occurs to me that perhaps this metal itself is actually the origin. It would make as much sense as anything here.
What kind of answer is this? Is the past needed as a light for the present and a blind hope for the future where all apparent randomness turns into purpose? Simplicity has its merits, but right now, it seems too small an answer, if small is the right word. Perhaps insubstantial, short sighted, or hollow would work better; not all of our thoughts have a language to depict them. It just isn’t enough.
Doubt floods over me like a cold pressure pinching my chest and brain, pushing my perception to some new set of eyes mounted just a few inches back into my head. It reminds me of terrible embarrassment and for the first time my nakedness bothers me, who could be watching behind the black veil that‘s expanding around me? In this light I could be seen, they could see me unprotected, ashamed and surrounded with the evidence of all my failed enterprises strewn around my feet. It is like a spotlight on my vulnerability. I need to go, now.
I take up a get-away heading like a bat out of hell. I run from the light now that I know I hate it. It isn’t me, it is just my defenses scattered and useless. It is just a shell I had once fit neatly into, but is now broken. The dim glow fades behind me and the dark encroaches. I run into nothing, but my feet always find the floor.
The walls never come; I might as well run for days. That is, until I meet some invisible resistance physically indiscernible from whatever medium I am been moving through. It comes from an awareness in me that this plain I am on has to have an end. I know that here, the world was flat and if I went too far I’d fall right off the edge. I freeze.
My feet are firmly planted on the same ground I’d found myself lying on in the floor of my armory, but they could detect that this ground had found its end. I am on the edge of an invisible precipice, the cliff top over Oblivion. What can I do?
Wait, how is the edge? Is that real? Or is it just my mind tricking me, like a child first hearing of some monster then developing a fear based solely on that new information, as though awareness of an evil somehow made it more likely to occur? This is time for a leap of faith, so I step forward, and I fall. I fall off the edge the world into nothing, and it’s not bad.
When you fall forever, eventually you realize you’re not really falling. You never get closer to the bottom when you dive through eternity. Many people, if they consider anything infinite for a long enough period of time get sick to their stomachs, but I am not one of them. I‘ve never had much faith in time, so the length of my freefall means almost nothing to me. In the black, the sheer and utter black, I am a child of the ether. I just exist.
Is this what the Buddhists had called the Void? Where was that blinding white light? What the hell is this? Uncertainty fills us with cork. We’re still the same basic shape, but all the substance is gone.