Episode 2: “Possibilities”


A NEW PLACE TO BE continued…
     Rows upon rows of computer consoles. Some sort of control room. A few steps ahead of me three lab coat wearing scientist-types stare through a slim rectangular window. They’re ignoring me. Perfect. I can use this time to—
     That girl said I was the princess. She said I was here to save them. She said I can travel between the worlds. The only—
     One of the scientist-types leans down to speak into a microphone. Through the slim window I see a young boy. Eyes closed. He is sitting on a wooden chair in the center of a vast white space. Poor little guy looks exhausted. He doesn’t respond. The scientist-type leans down again. But before he can open his mouth the little guy shrieks. The entire place is suddenly awash in a bright white light. Drowns out everything, but I suppress no urge to squint. The sensation is like being in white dar—
     The shrieking ceases. Light fades. The scientist-types are now looking at me. They don’t seem alarmed. More curious than anything. Then…
     A tinny cough whispers through a small speaker. They all turn to face the boy. A few more coughs, then, faintly, he says, “Is that the princess?”
     “He hasn’t said anything to us in weeks, but he sees you and now he’s loquacious,” the scientist-type says smirking. “So, are you the princess?”
     “I don’t know who I am. I have no idea what’s going on. Every few seconds I’m—I’m disappearing from one place and reappearing someplace else. It’s maddening. I’ve seen man-beasts hurdling canyons, exploding mountains, a girl in a strange valley and now this—whatever this is.”
     He doesn’t seem to know what to make of what I just said. Oh, I get it—it was a kind of joke, a rhetorical question. He acts like he didn’t hear my answer, thumps a knuckle against the window, “This child is going to save us.”
     “Save us? From what?”
     “A hallucination derived from a defective neural implant some call ‘the princess.’ It is nothing but a pesky bug that has dug itself deep into the minds of many of our citizens. Has them convinced that there is this savior princess on her way to lead them to glory. They’ve been erecting monuments to her, sharing delusional stories about her; we’re even starting to see public rituals.”
     ”He thought I was her.”
     The scientist-type laughs, “That’s because he’s one of them, one of the ‘sick’ ones. As a result he suffers the occasional hallucination. Probably imagined her gown draped over you. He’s been known to do that from time-to-time.”
     ”What’s her gown like?”
     ”‘Everything flowing / All over the place / Hides her in every space / For no one can ever see her face’ is how the rhyme goes. That’s what he probably saw when he looked at you. She’s a lie. She only exists in their heads.”
     He grins. Big. Boastful expression. Then…
     ”The neural implant affected this kid in a much different way than the others. Other than the princess delusion everything else about him is different. He has powers. The light thing’s just one of ’em. It’s actually one of the weaker ones. He’s exhausted though. Can’t do the crazier stuff. If he could he wouldn’t be in that room. We have to keep him depleted until we figure out how to study him.”
     Leans into the window. Nose a fraction of an inch away from the glass…
     ”I am confident that in very little time we will be able to duplicate our folly and create others. Armies of others.”
     Blackness.
     Empty room. Bare walls. Wooden floor. Old. Creaky. Several people, all on their knees, ears pressed to the hardwood. A subtle bass-line pulsates under my feet.
     “Can someone please tell me what is going on here?!” I shout.
     I am shushed immediately.
     Why is nobody ever shocked by the fact that I just suddenly appear places?! Outta the blue. Materiali—
     With a frustrated hand gesture one of the kneelers implores me to join them. I drop to my knees. Maybe my participation will endear me to them. Maybe then someone will tell me what’s going on here.
     The floor feels incredibly cold against my ear. A moment to adjust, then…
     Thumping bass. Muffled alien-like chanting. It’s repetitive. Only changes are of pitch. Up. Down. Up. Down. Not too bad. If I wasn’t confused out of my mind I would probably dance to it. Why aren’t any of these weirdos dancing? They’re not moving at all. What is this?
     I’ve had enough. I rise. “What is going on here?!”
     They try to shush me again. I speak over them, “Somebody needs to tell me what is going on!”
     They all rise. Visibly annoyed. I couldn’t care less. I’ve grown weary of all this ambiguity. Somebody’s gonna tell me what’s happening here before I disappear again.
     ”We listen to the music under the ground.” says one.
     ”Great. That’s great. Why not just go down there?”
     ”Because we—”
     Door bursts open.
     ”Because they’re thieves!” shouts the panting and incredibly dirty young man now in the doorway, “Scared, pitiful, lying thieves with no souls of their own, that’s why they steal ours!”
     Silence now. Perfect time for me to add to the absurdity…
     ”I AM THE PRINCESS!!!” I yell, loud as possible.
     All eyes on me. Even the dirty young man. A moment, then laughter. All around.
     I shout it again. The laughter grows louder. I give it another go. Now they’re guffawing, falling all over themselves. They have some nerve. Dude at the door looks like he sleeps under a sod blanket and the rest of them were just—
     Let’s raise the stakes here, “I’ve been to other worlds,” I say with mock indignation. “I’ve seen things you could only imagine.”
     They’re not buying it.
     Is this it for me now?
     Bouncing around these ridiculous worlds.
     Being a hero in one, a joke in another.
     But what was it like before this?
     ”Find me.” There it is again. That voice. Booming now. Thicker.
     The idiots, still laughing, don’t seem to be able to hear it.
     ”Please tell me what is happening to me,” I plead.
     ”Find me.”
     ”Where are you?!”
     ”I told you. I am where you are.”
     ”No you’re not. You’re not here!”
     ”Yes I am, you just have to know where to look. I’m always here.”
     I’m sick of these games! “WHERE ARE YOU???!!!”
     ”Right here.”
     ”Right here where?!”
     The dirty young man is no longer laughing. Deathly serious look on his face now. He motions for me to come to him. I do. We move through the door. In a hallway now. Dim. Candle-lit sconces line the walls. Real sense of urgency. We move fast down the seemingly endless corridor.
     ”What’s going on?” I ask.
     ”I know now—I know now.”
     ”Know what?”
     ”Something. Something important. Just follow me.”
     ”Where are we going?”
     ”Away from here.”
     ”Are we going under the—”
     Blackness.
     A castle ruin. Smooth, ruddy in color, plastic-appearing. Dead grass all around. Gray sky. Humid. Drawbridge is down. Doesn’t look like anything’s stirring inside. The surrounding moat is still. Shallow. The water a harsh green.
     Across the drawbridge I go. I announce my presence. No response. Again. Nothing but echoes return. This could work.

“I know I talk about this often, but I’m worried that Tay will never exist in ‘my’ world. That maybe her coming back to save me has doomed her. Maybe what I’m experiencing is just a possibility. An alternate reality. But then again, she’s ‘really’ here. Right now! So maybe I shouldn’t freak out over it too much. Perhaps this is the only way we will ‘ever’ exist together.”

A movie that I used to watch religiously as a kid was ‘Back to the Future Part II’ and one of the lines that often popped into my head while talking with Darby was Doc Brown’s classic: “…no one should know too much about their own destiny.” Darby’s knowledge of his daughter will no doubt affect his future. She may never exist in ‘this’ reality, but there she was, right there with him. And what about my book?! I’m supposed to be publishing it in a mere three years. But I know too much now. Well, I guess I could plagiarize myself. Actually, isn’t that what I’m doing now? This time travel stuff is so damn confusing. Speaking of which, here’s how Taylora got ‘here’…

Krishna City
          “Krishna City”

“She was in a place called Krishna City doing promotional work for GoBack Man. While there she met a man named G. Singh Free. He was this idiot savant herbalist-slash-philosopher who created an all-natural herbal psychedelic that put its users in a deep meditative state. He claimed that in this state their consciousness could travel through time.

“Free thought physicists were too preoccupied with moving bodies through time and not the thing that galvanizes the body—consciousness. Free claimed that consciousness was eternal, not beholden to human constructs like time. He called it the isness of matter. According to Free, everything possesses isness (matter’s lowest common denominator), and the universe is a wide, infinite network of matter, connected like neurons throughout space. To bounce around this network all we have to do is rapidly vaporize our isness at one point and it would coalesce, suddenly, no delay, at another point. The point where the traveler’s isness ‘converges’ is determined by where their ‘barest mind’ settles during the meditative state. This cannot be forced. Free says, ‘The travelers go where they NEED to go. In the state of deep rest they journey to a place that is one step away from oblivion. All the way down into the bowels of consciousness. Their barest mind. And it is from this edge of consciousness that they leap through time.’

“As expected, Free’s claims were roundly dismissed by those in the scientific community. He was called a charlatan, a snake oil salesman, a cult leader, crazy. Also, it didn’t help that all eleven of the people who went on his ‘journey’ died. Free claimed that they weren’t dead, but simply devoid of consciousness and that their body would be ‘resurrected’ once it returned. When Tay met him no one had yet ‘returned.’ Matter of fact, Free was embroiled in several legal battles with the families of these ‘consciousness-less’ people. None of this deterred Tay though. She was drawn to him; convinced that he could make her dreams come true.

“She truly believes that she was brought to Krishna City, not to increase GoBack Man‘s reach, but to meet Free. She believes the game, inspired by her lifelong dream to save me, was a divine way of making this happen. She believes it is the sole reason she created it.”

He followed that with some more about feeling conflicted about Taylora being here. We’ll skip ahead to…

“Moments after she consumed the ‘drug’ (a tea she said tasted like a liquefied brown paper bag) she felt anxious. Really anxious. Almost on the verge of a panic attack, but then, suddenly, she fell into a state that she described as a feeling of absolute weightlessness. She was surrounded by swirling, undulating fields of light; and just as this brilliance was about to consume her she ‘awoke.’ And she was here. With me.”

I have written extensively about the illusory nature of time on ‘another site I will not mention by name here’ because I want to avoid bringing my obsessions with all things space and relativity into the world of ‘PRINCESS GOVINA.’ I’ll keep that madness quarantined over there. When I first read the above I thought Darby simply perused that site and wrapped his nonsense in my obsessions to ingratiate himself to me. If so, it worked. Truth is I feel a kinship with Darby regardless of the veracity of his tales…

What a perfect way to segue into a little more about our brave new future world…

“Instead of TVs people have ‘view walls’ in their homes (blank walls painted white or a light color) The content-receiving device is a projector: Tiny cube, no bigger than a toy block, that receives signals from all over the world. It is very discreet; all it needs is a pin-hole to splash sprawling, rich and remarkably defined images onto your wall.

“Rotoscoped old movies and TV shows are very popular. The animators often change the race, sex and even the species of the characters to add new dimensions to the works. Tay’s favorite is a version of The French Connection with an all robot cast.”

The French Connection
          “French Connection”

“The internet has been replaced with an integrated series of networks. Connecting to these networks is called access. Access-enabled devices can connect to a variety of open-source networks that cater to a variety of needs. Websites are no longer. Everything, from commerce to dating, is ‘live’ network-driven. Think of it like a big global party line. Using their access-enabled devices people ‘call out’ their requests for information and people respond. Real people! Live voices from around the world. The networks are open insomuch that anyone who has access can ‘call out’ to them, but once they receive your ‘call’ they quickly narrow to a more specific grouping of networks. It’s a bit like a cross-between Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers. There are those who pride themselves on ‘answering calls.’ You can ‘open’ your device to receive all calls (not many do this as the gaggle of voices sounds like static) or you can open your device to receive calls about only certain things. Say your device is open to receive calls about golf you would probably hear a lot of questions about golf clubs. You can ‘call out’ your answer and those ‘open’ to golf would ‘receive’ it.

“The most popular access-enabled device are these wireless earbuds called beads, they also double as microphones that pick up your voice from inside your head cavity. This allows you to carry-on quiet conversations and access the networks even in noisy settings.”

Apparently it is a female African tech revolutionary who is responsible for this future of living networks…

“Today Tay told me about Intunde Igbo, known affectionately as IInde (toon-day). She was a bTI (binary Technical Institute) dropout who later went on to found the AfriTecha Movement. She’s also the writer of a well-known book called Synth-Light Junkies: The Generation That Refused To Look Up where she calls the people of our age complacent, arrogant, narcissistic and cripplingly fearful. She claims Western society’s fear and shaming of their own flesh drove them to create technologies that advanced the sterilized realism of simulated alternate realities—places to hide from the blood of existence.

“The advent of cell phones or personal ‘synth-lights,’ as IInde called them represented the height of this fear. In IInde’s mind they were the ‘synth-glass-wrought beasts’ that almost consumed our humanity. She says that if it weren’t for pro-organic technology movements like AfriTecha the soul of humanity would have been doomed. She says the people of our age lusted for transcendence via artificial additions. IInde and the AfriTechers argued that everything we could ever need or want was within us and around us in 360 infinite degrees. We just had to pull ourselves away from the ‘synth-light’ and get re-acclimated with the soul of the dirt, the soul of the water, the soul of our star and the soul of the unknown. I love this quote: ‘We cannot sit idly by and allow our world to be painted over with synth-light. We cannot allow these addicts of artifice to dump their synthetic solar plasma on the real blood our real ancestors spilled on this real land.'”

IInde
          “IInde”

“In her mid-20s, during the early days of the AfriTecha movement she created a videotape trading network called Tape Delay where old analog video equipment was used to record and display raw, uncut moments of real life. No editing, no cuts, no overlays or added music was allowed. Also, once you pressed record you couldn’t manually stop the recording. You had to wait until either the tape ran out or the battery died.”

AfriTecher
          “AfriTecher”

“The tapes were traded around the world via human-to-human contact. No traditional postal systems were used. Within just a couple years super hubs known as Mechas began popping up all over the world. These were places where thousands upon thousands of tapes from diverse points of origin exchanged hands. The point of emphasis in these Mechas were places known as Tape Rooms: abandoned buildings overflowing with TVs, all hooked to VCRs playing different tapes. Tape Delayers who passed through Mechas often documented their experiences. Thoroughly. Soon, much to IInde’s chagrin, footage of global Mecha-culture dominated Delayer content. Something had to be done.

“The goal of Tape Delay was twofold: to slow the speed of inorgtech (inorganic technology) based communications and mitigate the ubiquity of personal ‘synth-light’ devices. And in this regard it worked. However, IInde objected to the insulated ‘pop-culture’ her network was becoming so she sent out a manifesto that spread like wildfire via copies, and copies of copies, and copies of copies of copies. At one point there were copies so many generations removed from the original they became unwatchable. And this copy-to-elimination process was precisely what the manifesto was about. She implored Delayers to ‘copy erase’ all tapes in circulation; with one caveat: after each copy was completed the original was to be destroyed—many were collected and set ablaze in grand fire shows held at Mechas all over the world. The Day All The Screens Shown Gray marked the official end of the network.

“The Tape Delay network wasn’t the only organic technological movement created by AfriTecha, but it was probably the most influential in that it dictated the course of many major technological advances to follow (like those beads I told you about in an earlier email). IInde and the AfriTechers are touted as being responsible for what is known as The Age of Lifted Chins. She is now CEO of an orgtech company specializing in all-natural access products—my favorite is the Tin Can Tree. It’s this big oak tree with tin cans dangling against its trunk that people can use like phones. You just call someone’s name into a can and if they’re available they simply answer back! The ‘access’ is built right into the tree’s DNA.”

Amazing. Organic wireless access. Would be awesome in a park. Too bad it’s probably not going to happen. Too bad not one bit of this whimsical future is going to happen. But whose fault is this? Is it my fault for sharing the information with you, or is it Darby’s fault for sharing it with me? Actually, it may be Taylora’s fault. If she never came here we wouldn’t know anything. And we cannot forget about the other travelers, wandering around, reducing things that were destined to be to mere possibilities of what ‘could have’ been. But…if future travelers are here then that means time travel is possible! So ‘possibility’ itself is at fault! Time travel was allowed to happen. It was in accordance with the rules (or is it ‘Time travel ‘IS’ allowed to happen. It ‘IS’ in accordance with the rules.’?)…

“My daughter refers to future events as if they occurred yesterday. Please forgive me if I do the same.”

The tenses always get mixed up in yarns like this. We’re never quite sure what is ‘happening’ and what is merely ‘possibly happening.’ Sometimes I wonder if this whole thing is less about about us (Darby, Taylora, myself and now YOU!), and more about the dance our quantum souls have been engaged in for an eternity. Perhaps we are just the latest texture-maps draped over them; convinced that we control our destiny yet everything we do serves their whims. Whims locked in a groove. Dancing forever.

And with that, here’s the close of chapter one…

A NEW PLACE TO BE continued…

Stargazer
          “Stargazer”

      Perhaps this is my kingdom. The one I rule over as princess of these crazy worlds. I should look around. See if I can find any—
     I’m not ready for this. Any of this.
     What am I talking about?
     I have no clue who I am. I have no—
     If I am the only one who can travel between the worlds that means—
     But I have no control over it. Is the androgynous voice at the reins? Does he/she control my fate?
     Blackness.
     Desert. Night. The brilliance of the stars and moon is almost overwhelming. A bald man sits, long robe-like garb pools around him. He is looking up. Not moving. It is quiet here. Not a single sound. I wouldn’t mind staying here. Staring at the stars, with this—
     Blackness.
     I knew it.
     I flippin’ knew it!
     A face! A giant face! Flat. Wide. Dominates my view. Its eyes do no meet my gaze. It makes no attempt to correct this. I don’t think it can see me. Let’s yell at it…
     ”Hey! Hey big face! Hey—”
     ”Hello there,” it says back in a familiar—
     Wait a minute…
     This is the—
     Finally!!!
     ”Looks like I found you!” I say, relieved.
     ”Something like that. I know you were getting frustrated, and to be honest, so was I. I thought I was supposed to be enigmatic, ambiguous. Send you on this grand journey to find some profound personal truth. But frankly, I was getting tired of keeping up the charade.”
     ”I appreciate it, I really do. Can you see me?”
     ”Not really, but I know you can see me?”
     ”Well I guess the most important thing is that we can hear each other. With that said, what is going on here? Who am I?”
     ”To be honest, I haven’t a clue.”
     ”Seriously?! But you said you knew! That was your whole thing! ‘Find me. I know who you are.’ That’s what you said!”
     ”I know, and for that I am very sorry, but it’s just what I thought I was supposed to tell you.”
     ”What?!”
     ”That’s what they told me to tell you.”
     ”Who’s they?”
     ”The ones who claimed to know who I was.”
     ”And let me guess, they told you the same lies you told me?”
     ”Precisely. And as I later came to find out, they didn’t know who they were either.”
     ”So nobody around here knows anything. That’s great. Probably means you don’t know anything about this princess I’m supposed to be either.”
     ”Do you want to be a princess?”
     ”Not really. Seems like a lot to deal with. In one world a girl tells me I’m a savior, in another world I’m told the princess is the enemy, in another they laugh at me. I have no idea what’s going on.”
     ”Well if you don’t want to be a princess then don’t.”
     ”But am I?”
     ”That’s entirely up to you. Look, these worlds may seem to be just a series of random gags, but there are some consistencies—similarities between them. It is up to you to decide if these similarities mean anything.”
     So that’s it? It’s all up to me? I decide who and what I want to be in this place. Okay, well how about this…
     ”I just want to go back to where I came from.”
     ”Where were you before this?”
     ”I don’t know. Do you know where you were?“
     ”No.”
     ”And I take it the ones who lied to you didn’t know either.”
     ”Precisely.”
     ”Do you ever wonder about it?”
     “I used to, but then I stopped.”
     ”Why?”
     ”I wasn’t getting anywhere.”
     ”So you’re happy with this?”
     ”I have no idea how to answer that question.”
     ”Are you happy? You know, not sad.”
     ”Seriously, I have no idea how to answer that question.”
     ”It’s a simple yes or no.”
     ”I don’t think you get it, but that’s okay.”
     Get what? It’s a simple yes or no. Are you happy? Do you enjoy being? Are you—
     Actually. Let’s not dwell on that. New question, ”Can you travel between the worlds?”
     ”No, but I can communicate with those who do, so in a way I can. As long as you keep in touch with me.”
     ”How many others are there?”
     ”I don’t know. I’ve only met two others. I’m sure there are more though.”
     ”You brought me here, right?”
     ”Yes. And I can send you away. I have no control over where you go though. And I can only do this if you stay in touch with me.”
     ”Is there any way I can control where I go?”
     ”Do you want to?”
     ”YES!!! YES!!! OF COURSE!!! I WANT CONTROL!!! THAT’S WHAT I WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW!!!”
     Whoa. That was too much. I need to clean it up…
     ”Sorry, sorry. I’m just—I’m just confused. So very confused about what is going on around here. You tell me I can do whatever I want, but that’s a blatant lie! I want out of here, but I’m still here!”
     ”You have absolutely no concept of what outside of here is. You only think you do. Remember, you came to me to learn about you. I don’t know anything about you. You know just as much as I do. Maybe you were led to me so I could tell you to stop worrying.” He/she seems very pleased with that answer, “Yeah, that’s it. That’s what it was.”
     ”Oh, because you want it to be that way, right?”
     ”Precisely.”
     ”I hate this place.”
     ”Don’t focus on that. Figure out what you want to do now.”
     ”This is all just too—”
     ”Govina. I want to call you Govina. Would you like to be called Govina?”
     ”What?!”
     ”I want to call you Govina. That would be your name.”
     ”Why Govina?”
     ”Because it’s a name. One less thing to worry about.”
     ”But why that name?”
     ”I don’t know. I just like the way it sounds. Do you like it?”
     ”It sounds okay.”
     ”Well then, it’s official. You are Govina now.”
     ”Whatever.”
     ”Are you ready to leave?”
     ”You mean off to some random place where someone is going to either ignore me, laugh at me, revere me or try to kill me? Yeah, let’s do it.”
     ”You’ll be fine Govina, and remember, you can talk to me any time you want. I’ll always be here. Don’t be like those other two. Haven’t heard from them since our first meeting.”
     ”Do you know why?”
     ”I haven’t a clue, just don’t be like them.”
     ”I won’t.”
     ”Promise?”
     ”I promise.”
     ”Is there anything you think you might want to do?”
     ”There’s been something nagging at me. Something I know I should do.”
     ”What is it?”
     ”Don’t want to say it out loud, then I might have to actually do it.”
     Looks like I piqued his/her curiosity. I better change the subject…
     ”So…do you have a name?”
     ”What would you like to call me?”
     More of this ‘if you want it, it will be’ game. I need real answers. I can’t coast on whimsy. But then again…
     ”Hope. I’ll call you Hope.”
     ”I like that. I like that a lot. Thank you.”
     ”No prob—”
     Blackness.
     Damn it Hope.
     Island. White Sand. Clear blue water. Leathery awkwardly trotting long-legged creatures trudge through the sea. Massive. The backs of their round, featureless bodies scrape the cloud bottoms.
     ”Hope, are you there?”
     ”Yes, right here, always he—”
     ”Enough of that.”
     ”So what is this thing that is nagging you?”
     I shouldn’t say this, but…
     ”I met this kid, he pegged me for the princess. Looked like he needed some help. Been thinking I should go back and help him.”
     ”Are you sure about this?”
     ”No. Not at all. Actually, I know I shouldn’t even be thinking about doing something like this, but I can’t shake the desire.”
     ”Well, I’m—I’m sure it’s poss—”
     ”He saw me in her gown. The ‘princess’ gown. I wonder what it looked like on me.”
     ”If we’re going to do this we’ll have to figure out—”
     ”What do you see? Where you are.”
     ”Hazy gray mass. Within the haze a messy tangle of slightly less-gray stringy vines.”
     ”Wow. So precise.”
     ”I’ve been looking at it for a while.”
     ”Can you see where I am?”
     ”I have a vague idea where you are, just enough to pull you back here, no bead on your precise location though.”
     ”Does your hold get tighter the more I talk to you?”
     ”Just slightly.”
     ”Okay, well, that’s all we have right now so I’ll be in your ear non-stop. Do you see intersections between these lines?”
     ”No.”
     ”You mean not yet.”
     ”No, I meant no. It’s a blurry mess.”
     ”Look, I know you can get me to the kid. We just need to connect the dots.”
     ”Don’t assume that there are rules here Govina.”
     ”But you said so yourself.”
     ”I said similarities.”
     ”Same thing.”
     ”If there were rules we could figure this place out.”
     ”Exactly!”
     ”But I don’t think it wants to be figured out?”
     ”Well then it is going to have to prove that.”
     ”We must tread lightly Govina.”
     ”But I thought you said I could do whatever I wanted here?”
     ”Yes, I know I said that, but I’m not too sure about this.”
     ”Not yet. You keep forgetting that part.”
     ”No. I meant—”
     ”Come on, I gave you that name for a reason!”
     A spindly-legged thing falls. Enormous splash. Several other ones awkwardly doddle to its aid. Two fall in the process. Hilarious.
     ”I’m just as lost as you are Govina.”
     ”That’s not something a Hope is supposed to say.”
     ”Well, what should I say?”
     ”Anything other than what you just said. Makes it seem like we’re trapped inside a clueless liar factory.”
     ”Excuse me?”
     ”Don’t worry about it. Point is: we can’t afford to be lost right now. We have to be somewhere. Mater of fact, let me tell you about where I am—beautiful island, weird clumsy four-legged spider things and what looks like—”
     Blackness. Hope, “What were you going to say?”

     ”That there was something flying. In the air. Looked like a—”

     ”Hey.”

     ”What?”

     ”Where are you right now?”

     ”Nowhere.”

     ”I can kind of see you right now. Stay there. Try to stay there.”

     ”I don’t have con—”

     ”Govina, where’d you go?”
     A vehicle zips by. Staggering speed. Large. Bulbous. Chrome surface. Reflects the faint-light of the dim sun that hangs above.
     ”Where’d you go little princess? Govina, I need you to say something to me.”
     ”We gotta get in a rhythm. Visuals, sounds, scents—they come hard-and-fast here. I’m somewhere new now. Shiny vehicles buzzing all around. Round, but not spherical. Different sizes. They zip by me, but I cannot feel their presence. The sky is clear. The sun directly over my head, but the light is faint. It’s dimness is remarkable actually. I can look right into it. See every bend of its disc.”
     ”What?!”
     ”I’m trying to paint a picture for y—”
     The city. Wow! The city! The surface of every one of the narrow buildings reflect the sand-hued sunlight. Gangling, yet graceful beings move inside cylindrical glass tunnels that connect the edifices. Their large numbers and brisk strides suggest a bustling metropolis.
     ”Govina, I need you to try and go back to that other place.”
     ”I’ll be back there soon. I’m gonna go check out these beings.”
     ”Check out what? I don’t understand.”
     ”Oh my—”
     Wow. Wow. These—
     She is so beau—
     I can’t even—
     ”Govina!”
     ”It’s okay, I’m here, don’t worry. I wish you could see this!”
     ”Please. Just go back to that other place.”
     ”I’ll be back there soon.”
     ”I’m losing you.”
     Blackness. “No you’re not.”

     ”Stay there. Please.”

     ”I already told you, I can’t do that!”

     ”But I can almost see you!”

     ”That’s great, but I can’t stay here.”
     Inside a flying winged contraption. Expertly assembled. Wings flap in circular alternating motions. Over an erupting volcano. Its orange molten material provides the only color here. It flows down the sides via jagged well-worn tracks which at the base transition abruptly to a more linear, geometric system of ducts that run perfectly parallel in several rows before splintering out into different parts of a village.
     ”So where are you now?”
     ”Ice world. Volcano. I think there are—”
     Over the village now. Stone buildings. Some square, some rectangular. Sparse windows. A vascular network of translucent cables glowing with magma wrap themselves around each structure. Is this a source of power? Heat? Both?
     ”You think there are ‘what?'”
     ”I’m past that. Over a village now. Seems they’ve found a way to harness lava, use it as an energy source.”
     ”Maybe there is another place. An original place.”
     ”Excuse me? I was just talking about lav—”
     ”The place before this. Where we came from. The place that gave us what we know.”
     ”We’ve already talked about this Hope.”
     ”Are you sure you don’t remember anything about it?”
     ”I thought you were done wondering about that.”
     ”Sorry, a little curious I guess; and since you were just there I thought that you might remember something. I was kind of hoping you did.”
     Blackness. This is all I have Hope, take it or leave it, “The only thing I can remember is that I was there. Don’t know where there was, I just know I was right there.”

     ”All I know is that here isn’t there.”

     I can’t do this right now. Let’s move on to the bigger fish, “You said you can almost see me here. What do I almost look like?”

     ”Like a little light. Still gray, but not as gray as everything else. Very small. Very faint.”

     ”Am I always in the same place when I come here?”

     ”No. Not at all. That much I’m certain of.”

     ”Okay. Perfect. Is there a way you can kind of remember the location of these points?”

     ”I can try. Why?”

     ”Don’t know how we’re gonna do it yet, but I think we might be able to draw some lines. Connect some dots.”

Chrome Thing
          “Chrome Thing”

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