Clouds hung in the sky thick and gray as a brain as I headed out to the caves on assignment for The Independent, my mind full of thoughts of a parallel reality where space and time flip. The pineal gland supposedly being a natural hypergate, I couldn't help wondering if I might not be on the verge of literally entering another dimension. Space-time on the outside, time-space on the inside.
Genius derives from the word Genii. The Genii is a spirit, and the genius is a vessel. To receive the spirit of the Genii is to be in spirit, inspired. Those in tune with the frequency of inspiration relax the brain, and let it receive. Our electromagnetic minds, in tune with the planet's own electromagnetic field, transmit and receive.
Ideas are in the air. When we meditate, turn inward, clear the mind, and calm the thoughts, we tap into the source, the record of the all. To reach consciousness flow state is to feel as one with the creation.
Consciousness is everywhere. The subconscious mind connects with the conscious all around us at all times. There is a river of consciousness, a universal mind. I learned to connect with this place quite by accident, it would seem. I believe my brain rewired after multiple near-death experiences in my youth, physical and mental trauma which caused my mind to compensate for damage by rewiring neural circuitry. Three times in childhood I nearly drowned. A severed toe was severe, as were many other traumatic instances, yet likely it was the head trauma resultant from a long fall from a rope swing onto a hard dirt road which stimulated the pineal gland.
Subsequent to the fall I saw a vision with three figures which appeared briefly and inexplicably before me, three bearded men glowing and wearing robes, the central figure beholding me with upraised palms. Sometimes I know things before they happen. One time when driving alone a voice came into my mind which saved me from a collision.
But I wanted more.
What would happen, after many years I wondered, if I spent twelve and a half days and nights in a completely dark cave? That would give me the three hundred hours required, according to the research, for pineal gland stimulation above and beyond my already unique experiences. My experiment would prove to me firsthand the veracity of the isolation supposition. As a writer, naturally I would record my findings.
Several reasons preclude my specifying the location of the cave where I conducted my research. Nor in the time required for my experiment did anything of note occur other than the routine of meditation and maintenance of body functions. After poking my way through dusty rubble far enough in for absolute darkness, the hardest part was turning out the light. Everything I would need to survive was in reach. I set the alarm on my watch to go off in 312 hours, giving an extra half-day to the time required, just in case. With food and water sufficient for three full days more than needed, and having appraised my brother of where to seek me in the event of an emergency, my only remaining worry was for potential bacterial inhalation problems, and issues with insects, vermin, mountain lions, and bears. Paper and pen were close at hand, as well as a voice recorder. Before sitting in my chosen spot, careful scouting all around seemed wise. When I had investigated the chamber sufficiently, finally I felt at ease.
I turned out the light, a camping lantern from past ages. Immediately the chamber went pitch-black. Fishing around with one hand for my writing implements from where I sat cross-legged on my sleeping bag, I had to tune out the image of latching onto a scorpion.
Envisioning an article for the paper, originally I thought I'd have a lot to say about preparation. Packing the gear, driving out. Maybe receiving the wave of a tear-stained hanky or two. And if nothing had happened, that probably would have been interesting material enough. But none of that is anything compared to when my mind snapped. And I heard it snap. It sounded like a tiny light bulb cracking. This was the sound of my pineal gland expanding. As soon as it did, a dim red light came on. I could see inside the darkness. Like looking through eyes with infra-red lenses. The first thing I saw was that I wasn't alone.
Out of the darkness appeared before me an extraordinary hybrid. It stood about six feet-tall. One side looked like a short Bigfoot, and the other side looked like a tall gray alien. The large almond-shaped alien eye was closed when I first saw it. Only the Bigfoot-side was looking at me. The other half seemed asleep. Then the eye opened, and I felt it perceive me, felt it poking around in my mind. I sketched it while it did.
"Okay? You okay? Are you okay?"
He looked worried. I looked around. What happened to the hybrid? I wondered.
"Did you see it?" I asked, though I could see that he hadn't. XimitimiX. That was the hybrid's name. Somehow I knew. The more I thought about it, the more I remembered an entire history of two separate beings merged into one.
My brother turned his flashlight off. He had already turned the camping lantern on. Never had he looked so dejected. The disappointment he conveyed should have stopped me from telling him about the cracking of the gland, Third Eye awakening, and the subsequent appearance of the extradimensional. I was too busy being amazed with alien intervention and the duality of man to perceive his concern.
We took his truck back down the mountain. In dappling light flashing sidelong through the trees I explained to my brother that activating my pineal released what my eyes needed to adjust from the darkness, and let his skepticism slide mindful of his unawakened state and my being pretty ripe after a week and a half of not bathing. At the bottom of the mountain when he stopped at the store to pick up some beer I stayed in the cab of his rig so as not to give the loafers hanging around outside a complex once they got a whiff.
Now natural chemicals released enabled my blood to get much more out of oxygen. Simian freak strength shattering rounds, my mind replayed the visit of the hybrid, and the things that the hybrid wanted me to see, with disturbing intensity. It was as though some sort of painkiller had run out. Coupled with shock, however, was energetic inspiration such as I had never known, equally physical and intellectual.
Plowing through the cord, I saw language differently. Anagrams popping into my mind appeared like higher forms of prayer. I saw lines of poems that could be read diagonally. Some lines had additional words hidden between the words. Other poems were composed of palindromes. And all of these new ways of experiencing language worked like fractals showing me secrets to the universe answered everywhere which no one language can ever adequately express.
My brother told others and they all acted worried because that was what they wanted. Writing the article fell by the wayside. The paper wouldn't have even taken it anyway, turns out. But that wasn't why I didn't write it. I didn't write the article because I was still too busy living it. Also because I now knew it would be impossible to accomplish. The only way anyone would understand would be by going through the same sets of experiences, which could never precisely happen anyway. I wrestled with this issue alone in the dark in a moving car early in the morning during one of my part-time cobbled capacities. "Those who speak do not know, and those who know do not speak" is a very wise saying that requires somebody to speak it, as is "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see." For that matter, moderation in all things would be immoderate. Because the wisdom of the world was wrong, perhaps I could show what had never been shown. Deep down though, I wondered if maybe I couldn't write the article because someone or something, this XimitimiX, wouldn't let me.
Deer appearing in my headlights made part of me want to get out and chase them.
My task this early morning was to acquire a pallet of newspaper bundles up north where they're printed and drop them off at various locations on the way back down. Hearing the unstoppable music in my mind and seeing the unstoppable trailers to mental movies at all times, not exceeding the speed limit proved an exceedingly difficult task which I barely passed. At various locations during my late nocturnal trek I when witnessing windmills spinning on hilltops considered the Bigfeet hidden about and aliens of all kinds around at all times. I could feel in my bones the magic in the land. Were the land to split open, secret power would appear like the glittering treasure of a giant pomegranate.
Some of the people I see early mornings on my rounds seem like they might recognize me from the paper. They treat me like I'm Col. Kurtz. Others, of course, have no idea, and so to them I'm probably more of a Travis Bickle because that's what they want. Not everyone is ready to accept that the ones at the top of the economic heap have the weakest minds and frailest bodies. But then not everyone's Third Eye is open. Expand the gland, that's my advice. I feel like Zeus in disguise everywhere I go. And I take note of what I see.
The transient on the library steps got a new sleeping bag. Seeing the cosmos, solving the problems, it occurred to me fresh in the glow of pineal activation that what cops could do is hand transients tickets. Tickets to jobs. Call it the Golden Ticket program. The person sleeping on the street takes the Golden Ticket to the job. Probably a factory. A full-time job, with benefits. Managed by people who rose through the ranks. Participating businesses would receive incentives from county, State and/or Federal levels. Provisions for abuses also considered. On my rounds I saw a cop, in fact, and mentioned in passing my inspired idea of the Golden Ticket. A slobby-looking guy, he replied, "Oh, they have options." He didn't want to feel any empathy for them. Later that morning making a deposit at the bank, same sort of response from the teller. So from what I saw, places that should have some compassion for humanity didn't show it. Somebody, at least, got to feel good about handing over the sleeping bag.
That same morning, a homeless individual tried out some begging on me. I considered rolling him. Anybody has more money than I do, and I bet he didn't get up at three and drive an hour-plus to be there with his begging like I was with my working. I dismissed him, however, taking note of the occurrence as I did all else I saw.
The beggar at least was part of things. It was an active pursuit that brought him results. Would he want to have to change? If handed a Golden Ticket, he might well throw it away. But then there would have been a definite option.
All my life I wanted to be part of something and did the work I had to do while I waited to get my share. I was waiting, of course, for something that would never happen. Yet hadn't I been given a Golden Ticket? With the vision of the hybrid came the awareness that we are surrounded by infinitely more than we see.
Then it came to me: I need to help others become aware.
In the days that raced by as I made necessary arrangements, the insanity of the unenlightened world could not have been more clear. Yet another upcoming anniversary of the supposed attack, for example, reminded that most people don't question what their authority figures tell them. Clearly a free-fall demolition, not possible to have happened in the manner officially stated. It was crazy to go through the motions, crazy to enable the perverse theater. How could anyone not know about Jekyll Island and the invention of the Federal Reserve? How could anyone not study the history of advertising? Who invented the television? What's the story there? Most people wouldn't be able to say. Those in the middle of it all think that it all is normal.
What was it that people said of Copernicus? Ah yes, that he thought he was so superior.
The best bet would be to find someone on the outside, someone on the fringe. But of course, the transient on the library steps. There was another Golden Ticket. Perfect candidate for me to help. So when the time came for me to pick up those papers and drop the bundled news in the black of the morning when the world is one great cave, I slapped those babies in front of the library doors, turned to the shapeless lump of transient whose wakefulness did not escape me, and addressed him.
"You ever read any of those books in there?"
"Didn't miss a beat. That's good." My car was still going, music muffled. "Every week I drop off papers I see you here."
"I know who you are," he said.
Wasn't sure what he meant by that. He recognized me from dropping off papers, anyway. "You've heard of the Third Eye," I said.
"The pineal gland?"
"What about it? You want me to tell you how to open yours up?"
I wasn't sure what to say to that. Took me completely by surprise. And it wasn't only what he said but the way that he said it. Library light in the winedark night showed the patient restraint in the transient's features, like a passenger in business class having to put up with a line of coach passing by.
Entirely presumptuous. The temerity. Stole the punchline. Tantamount to plucking a bite right off of another man's fork. And followed it up with a dirty look. I'd been lifting a lot of exceptionally heavy rocks of late with incredible results and considered lifting the transient bodily from the concrete and crushing him. Pinchmouthed shammy rag of a man. However, I had initiated this contact. So I loped the few steps back down to my wheels. Something prompted me to turn around and have a look at this guy one more time before getting in my car.
Words can't describe my amazement when I saw he had completely vanished. Mess of sleeping bag, sundry bits spread around, everything. Poof, gone.
Orange and white road reflectors snaked like electric candy in the dark as I considered how the hell the guy had disappeared. When I was young I read up on Harry Houdini. I studied him, and practiced all sorts of escapes. I know about misdirection. I know how these things are done. But here I was absolutely baffled. There was nowhere for him to go. My back was turned for a couple of seconds. Three seconds at the most. Then without a sound he vanishes. It didn't make any sense. Unless...could he have been another extradimensional? Extraterrestrial? Maybe he wasn't even the real transient, but only posing as him. Or maybe that was a form he took months ago or more.
Of course such things sound nuts. But consider: Try to imagine we're the only intelligent life in a roughly 15 billion year-old universe--this isn't even taking into account other universes which also likely exist--and think about ancient cave depictions of bipedal beings with extra-big heads and extra-big eyes, visually consistent strange representations around the world from ancient times, and all based on...nothing? That premise would be completely crazy to accept. But this gets back to why I spoke to the library sleeper in the first place.
There's a molecule in every living thing called DMT. The pineal gland is a natural DMT-producer. What I'm seeing now are real beings to which I have reached greater access than I have ever known. It's like everyone is a living computer, accessible to communication from outside sources. And sending out information without ever knowing it.
Gassing up at a station I went inside to pay, lightly scanning as I strode past the pumps for perhaps another genii in disguise. Someone else was at the counter, taking her sweet time with the lottery tickets. Still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of the pineal gland being a natural hypergate, I didn't pay much attention to the TV that the cashier had on. It was a young woman getting the tickets. She had a gypsy look, one of those traveling women who seems like she might actually be cleanly. I could smell her hair from where I stood and didn't mind her taking her time at all.
I wanted to say something to her, but I couldn't think of anything. Nothing except, "You will go to the cave with me. Together, we will have amazing adventures. You will recognize that together we have the power to share the most incredible romance on the Akashic record. Woman, recognize your loverman. Turn and face me now." Of course it probably wouldn't have gone over that well if I'd said these things out loud. And yet it was practically as though I had. I had only been kidding, kind of. But right when I was thinking it, she did in fact turn around and smile.
"Sorry I'm taking so long!"
"No problem," I said, noticing the array of newspapers nearby. "Take your time."
Over the next few days I worked to pay a couple of bills and purchase the necessary provisions for a serious spelunking excursion. There was nothing to stand in my way. This was the trip I'd needed to take my whole life. I knew that now. Everything had become so clear. I needed to devote some serious protected time toward a story idea about a guy who sleeps in a bed reputed to have been owned by Jack the Ripper. After receiving illuminating astral visits from the legendary murderer himself, Eske, the hero of the story, harnesses the power of the world's most famous serial killer and becomes...UNBALANCED. I dared not speak of the story to anyone for sheer fear of bleeding the body of the story dry before it was written. Sometimes the story came alive in the middle of my work, appearing before me in amazing scenes silently enacted. Not that it mattered, working as a day laborer, and all. If anything, zoning out actually helped. It's easier to perform repetitive physical labor with a mental foot in another world.
Otherworldly vignettes set in hillsides filled with tightly-packed housing played like trailers to non-existent movies in my mind while I worked with an axe for my money and saw scenes from the life of Jack the Ripper, the better to be in touch with the character I was creating for my story. I'm always deeply disappointed by the type of mind looking to regard things literally, figuring every damn thing a writer ever writes is automatically autobiographical. Good God, have we finally devolved to the level where all hope of imagination is at last lost?
I can't wait to get into more of that Jack the Ripper shit. Digging down to the septic tank this morning I didn't just think about caves. Oh no. I thought about the Michael Caine made-for-TV Jack the Ripper movie, too. At the store when I was done for the day only a couple of hours ago, I bumped into this one gal from over a year ago at least. Actually she called out to me. I had seen her when I walked in. She was over at the videos. I didn't say anything in order to be polite. Anyway we got to talking. I didn't need for her to know about my making arrangements for my caving expedition. Didn't tell her about the story, of course, but I did happen to mention I'd recently written a few poems about Jack the Ripper. She thought I was kidding. That was fine. Just looking at her made my pineal gland expand even more.
Why had she called off our getting to know each other at the last minute a year ago? Holy hot damn she's not wearing a bra. That looks good. I can feel my pineal gland shoving against the inside of my skull. There's nothing I can do. It's gonna burst out. At first she'll be surprised, then she'll grab it with both hands. She sure is making a lot of eye-contact. Maybe she's changed her mind about me. She looks like she has. I should go ahead and ask her out.
"So whaddaya think, should we do a little socializin'? Up for a drink or a bite to eat?"
So glad I didn't tell her about the cave. It's gonna be great. Especially to not see her.
Note to self: Bring Dostoyevsky audio book CDs.
Also: Bring mood music for Ripper story.
All packed up and ready to head on out to the cave. In 21 days I'll be back here again. I've got my voice recorder hooked up with my voice recognition software, so I'll be able to catch whatever happens just by speaking into my headset.
It occurs to me that this fascination I feel for a serial killer-powered superhero, all this slashing and ripping that I see, could well be the result of an extradimensional being's influence working through me. Very similar to accidentally picking up an online virus, or the flu. All the more reason, I suppose, to safely contain myself away.
I wonder if it isn't XimitimiX. Is XimitimiX taking over? Is it too late?
Gotta go now.
Wouldn't it be odd, I thought, if I bumped into the woman from the store heading into the cave? Certainly that would be stranger than fiction, but it didn't happen. Nothing Anybody Says is True, there's a better saying. I took a few shots with my TracFone on the way out to the cave. Of the road. Of the river. Of the entrance to the cave.
One other person knows of this cave entrance, as far as I know, and that's my brother. The entrance is inside the tree. There's a hole that widens down inside. That's the beauty of this cave. You'd expect to find it against the side of a mountain. And it kind of is. Except it's hidden by a hollow tree.
The super-effects resulting from my previous pineal expansion, such as seeing anagrams everywhere and chopping wood with remarkable vigor, seemed diminished now. Frankly the feeling was horrible, like the dawning awareness at work when the coffee buzz is gone, yet nowhere near lunch.
Goddam, I worked my ass off. I paid my dues. I earned my pineal gland furtherance of expansion many times over. And no I wasn't being cranky, I just wanted to get that booster feeling again, for the sake of wisdom. That's all.
Regarding my car, I had shown the rather amazing presence of mind to bring several huge cammo tarps, and I parked it perfectly secure there was no way in hell anyone was going to find it in the next three years much less three weeks. So when I entered the cave, first scanning around with my exceedingly powerful flashlight, it was with the perfect calm assurance that I was home, and all was well. Benignly smiling, I retrieved my spirit guide mask and wore it.
Immediately I felt like a character in one of my own stories. In Omandruin, Uly wears a mask that talks. Why did I ever write it all the years ago? I used to spend incredible energy devoted to visualizing caves. All day everyday, if at all possible, I saw caves, surrounded myself with caves, wrote about characters in caves. Why? Why did I feel the need to write that article?
I hadn't said anything here about constructing my mask. I didn't want to. It wasn't time yet. The mask resembles what I call my spirit guide. That's all. I don't really know for a fact if it really is my spirit guide or if I even have a spirit guide at all. Could be some sort of parasitic extradimensional.
Pushing invasive questions out of my mind had by now become imperative. The closer I neared the truth, the more obstacles appeared. Always something about the past. Always something about other people. Things that were pointless, things beyond control. Distractions. Yet little by little, through sheer force of will, I finally managed to let go. I sat still. Without question. I let go, sat still, and wore my mask alone in the dark. Listening without listening, seeing without seeing, touching without touching, I experienced experiencing without. Gradually I realized I was not alone at all. I was being watched.
Images of slaughtered bodies lit up in my mind. A palpable terrible presence pervaded. A wet scent like the copper-tinged taste of blood filled the chamber, yet my resolve remained intact. There was no going back now. I was committed. I understood that the world outside was the true illusion.
Then, eventually, a slim ray of light distantly glowed. Eyes closed, I arose, moving with my mask in the night-black cave by the sight of my inner eye only, steps unfaltering toward the growing glow.
I'm still wearing the mask, and I still haven't opened my eyes. I've got pen and paper in my hands because my voice recorder won't work down here I've found. I'm not sure what exactly would happen if I was to open my eyes. I just know that I can't do it. The dim red light by which I saw in the darkness when my pineal gland first expanded seems to have worked that time only. The deal is, I have to use my Third Eye now. But if I stop using it here, it will be like an astronaut's space suit suddenly disappearing in outer space. I say deal loosely, yet there is a sort of bargain. I feel as though there is some sort of force that pulls me, that wants me to find it, and another force, also beyond my ordinary senses, which wants to keep me away.
It looks like there's a huge pyramid down here. Walls of giant stone extend all around. There's a huge gaping portion of construction missing, looks like from an earthquake, with access to giant steps leading down and down.
Everything in my life has been preparation for this. I keep moving forward. I have to see more. Every single step I take shows me more, takes me deeper into architecture resembling the ruins found in Puma Punku. It also looks Egyptian. Some of the stones are fully as large as those found in the Baalbek. The deeper I go, the more I find. Everything here--the steps, the walls, the doorways--is built on a colossal scale. I'll have to turn around soon and go back because I didn't bring any of my provisions, but now that I know this is here I'll return right away and investigate as far as I can.
Or will I? Is it really wise to leave now that I've come so far? I can tough it out for science quite a bit further. I will. I wish my voice recorder worked down here. Maybe if I disconnect it from the voice recognition, and switch positions in the batteries, just in case. It would be great if I could walk and talk without having to stop and write.
So there it is. I'm hustling back up to my camp.
Holy crud. Now that I want out, it does feel kinda spooky.
"I almost didn't turn this voice recorder on. Apparently it was the batteries. I'm not sure. I only know I damn near left this cave entirely. Almost packed my gear right the hell back out. But no. Better or worse, I'm in this all the way. Even though I did hear really strange sounds behind me. Wasn't echoes, either. Someone, or something, was definitely following me. No question about it. And not only that, whatever it is seems to be just beyond my vision right now."
This is what I said, uncertain the recorder in my hand even worked. Just when I did, a figure appeared at the far side of the gallery from whence I had emerged. The golden light which had been there, now much dimmed, faintly revealed my subterranean stalker. Immediately I saw she looked familiar. It took me a second. Then I remembered. The woman from the gas station getting lottery tickets. What was it I had thought standing in line checking her out? You will go to the cave with me.
I had taken off my mask upon reaching base camp because I didn't want it getting in my way in a fight. A big rock made a table for me to spread out my gear, which I had largely done on arrival, planning as I was on a three-week stay. Nearby, rocks and roots formed a natural ladder to ascend into the tree. If the woman following me hadn't been so good-looking, I doubt my disposition would have been so equitable. Indeed, I began to relay that very information to her, yet before I could say a word, she silenced me with a finger to her lips. Bewildered at her indications of caution, more dumbfounded than compliant, I looked where she pointed toward the shaft of light angling down at the entrance of the cave through the hollow tree above. Something broke the light. Was someone up there, investigating the tree? Did I just hear a couple of low voices? I would have supposed they were friends of the woman from the gas station, but.for her attitude indicative of silence. Cautioning still further, she motioned me to near.
Carefully I crept toward her, with all possible stealth, but there was no way to cross the short distance required and not make any noise whatsoever. The acoustics of the chamber magnified the faint crunch of each footstep with aggravating clarity. I would have much preferred to stay and wait for whoever wanted to climb down inside and find me. The woman, however, made perfectly evident her desire that I should yet hasten to her. With a finger to her lips, she took my hand, and when she did, the light around her faded. Here was the perfect position to attack pursuers. Ducking behind a wall of rock, I could have let loose a barrage of stones and been able to see my targets outlined by the outside light filtering in. Instead, I let this strange woman pull me into the recesses of the megalithic structure hidden in the mountain.
It seemed to me we would have to retrace the steps I had just taken, meaning a long straight line of sight for anyone approaching from behind. If they carried flashlights, which they would, we would be exposed, and here without the advantage of rubble from which to select rocks to chuck. Yet again, she surprised me. A faint glow from the palm of her hand somehow was emitted as her nimble fingers sought some secret catch in the slim seam of the smooth rock wall. The next thing I knew, cooler air and greater darkness greeting us revealed the activation of the mechanism. Quickly we stepped inside, and the rock returned to its former position.
Here she whispered in my ear that still we needed to be quiet. It is no exaggeration for me to say that up to this point the proceedings of a three-week camping trip which I had envisioned as abundant with inner reflection and repose had taken an unexpected and confusing turn. "No stopping now," I thought. "I almost never meet women in the usual places, much less a text book beauty." So I suffered her to lead me quite a little ways down winding narrow passages until at last we reached a room where she felt free to speak.
At first I thought that the shape of the room affected the acoustics, because she spoke so softly, yet I heard her words so fully I felt like I could taste them. Then I realized she wasn't speaking aloud at all.
There was a sort of pedestal in the center of the room with nothing on top of it, and beyond it, against the far wall from where we entered, stood a huge stone throne. The room was much taller than it was wide, with a ceiling which must have stretched forty feet up at least, and all around the walls towering figures with beards and wings were depicted in raised relief from the smooth, perfect stone.
"I've seen your writing online," the nameless woman said. "I've been checking you out for a long time."
Even as she said this I didn't understand how I could see her at all. There was a light source somewhere, but I couldn't figure out where it was located.
"What is this place?" I said. "Who's following us? Who are you? What the hell is going on?"
"Your Third Eye is open," she said. "Use it."
I thought I had been. Walking all over the place with my regular eyes closed mere minutes prior. Underground, no less. Apparently that was nothing. "You were the one I heard following me first."
"I've been trying to help you," she said, "for a long time."
Third Eye. All right.
"Your name," I said, ticking down the alphabet like a safe-cracker turning a dial. At M I stopped. "Miruna. That's your name, isn't it?"
She smiled. "Keep going."
"The pedestal. It looks empty. There should be a bowl there. And that throne was made for giants. You're not from around here, are you?"
"Keep going," she said, not with her mouth.
From somewhere beyond the room came a hollow, ominous thud. A muffled impact, more felt than heard, like a battering ram not far away. Instantly, the tremor of shock Miruna felt conveyed itself to me.
"They've found us," she said.
Standing by the colossal throne, its smooth perfection comprised of a strange black stone, I found that touching it altered my perceptions. Suddenly I saw both in the room and beyond it. When I withdrew my touch, the ordinary perspective returned, and all I could see was the interior of the ancient chamber, and Miruna regarding me with growing wonder. When I touched the stone again, again I saw beyond.
At the point of hidden ingress, two men sniffed like bloodhounds for the secret latch.
"They're reptoids," I said, "aren't they?"
Miruna nodded. "They're here to stop you."
I didn't say anything to that. I didn't have to. My disgust with her lack of not merely faith but common sense had to be evident to anybody with only two eyes open, much less a third. And immediately I understood that this chick was not a good judge of horse flesh at all.
At that moment, I saw more than I wanted. When my pineal gland first expanded, I saw someone else and thought that meant I wasn't alone. Now I saw the real truth. That no matter where we are, we're always alone. Alone in our perception. Alone in our perspective. Alone in our experience. Alone in our mind. Here was a totally luscious telepathic woman who knew about hidden pyramids and could make the palm of her hand glow like a high-grade flashlight, but even she couldn't see..
There wasn't anything special about these guys. They both wore the same precious little suit. Black suits, dark glasses, expressionless faces, bland pasty skin. Couple of garden variety asswipes is what these guys were. Apparently their being asswipes was incredibly impressive to Miruna. I couldn't wait. I couldn't lose. With my hand on the throne I kept an eye on them while I looked around the room for fun things to fuck up their day. The unearthly power of the strange black stone charged me, advanced me into areas of thought I'd never imagined. This indescribable feeling was as energizing and magical as falling in love, and carried that palpable sensation of returning to some sublime heaven, an amazing home of dreams. I felt connected with all consciousness, and the more this feeling grew, the more that I tapped into the greater reality, the more fervently the reptoids sought ingress.
"They fear your power," said Miruna. "They want to stop you before it's too late."
Hard to tell how much of my mind she could read. I got the impression that not all thoughts equally appeared. Ultimately though, I just didn't care. If Miruna learned from reading my mind more than she wanted to know, then that was her fault.
Images of taking her over the pedestal with butchered reptoid parts scattered all around.
In the stream of consciousness accessed by touching the otherworldly seat of power, cracked pineal gland expanded, I saw the Area 51-like secret underground black ops base hidden nearby, the office where these guys worked. Telepathically I asked Miruna what she knew of this place. She didn't respond. So I asked again, and then I realized that as long as I touched the stone, she couldn't read my thoughts. Aloud I said, "Miruna, you haven't told me who you are. We don't have time for me to figure everything out with my Third Eye right now. Who are you? Why are you helping me, and what the hell is happening here?"
"My name is Miruna, I come from an advanced civilization deep inside planet Earth and other planets, and I'm trying to help keep you alive because I've been watching you all of your life, and I see in you particular quality which my people and I seek to enlist."
Mental mists parting in dawning awareness, I realized that my suspicions of hidden hands occasionally guiding my life were in fact well founded. "You haven't only watched my life. You helped steer it, didn't you?"
Smiling, Miruna nodded.
"You and your people live extraordinarily long lives. You cultivate the best candidates for whatever it is you need done. You haven't just watched. You've affected my life's course. Haven't you?"
She didn't say anything. Only looked at me. She couldn't read my mind, but I could read hers.
"Eventually, after investing so much time, you didn't want to lose me. So you stepped in. Didn't you? You sure did. You kept me from getting jobs. Because you wanted to keep me busy getting acclimated to these very conditions right now. Hidden pyramids. Aliens. Area 215--that's what they call it, isn't it? Don't bother replying. I already know I'm right."
"Yes," she thought, and I heard her mind clearly in the energizing current, "you understand now. You are to be my champion. Prevail for me in what I am to ask of you, and if you wish, I promise that you will be restored."
Mind reeling, I watched the reptoids at last divine the latch, and hustle past the giant stone door, swinging on its secret hinge.
All those times I wondered what the hell was wrong, what could make a person act so possessed? Why did she abandon me, on vacation, after twenty years together? Why is it that every time I'm on the verge of getting something normal, something always ruins it? Always for no reason at the last second. I couldn't figure out why that one place passed me up, even with all of my experience, for someone with no experience whatsoever.
"You sabotaged my life. So that I could help you. You say you can restore it all?"
"I know in your deepest heart what you want. Of course you understand that the people in my world can travel through time. We can take you exactly where you want. We can return you to your life's true course."
All the connections inexplicably severed. All the pointless petty squabbles with the people around me. Abandoned. Abandoned on vacation for no good reason by my own true love. All because, like an invisible herd dog, she isolated me.
I know in your deepest heart what you want.
The reptoids were outside the door.
All that pain and suffering. The breakup of my family. All those nights I woke up screaming No, No. This can't be happening. No, No, No.
First one reptoid head appeared, then the other through the ancient chamber door. Instinctively my hand went to the knife at my side. Bright blade drawn, and with a sudden high-pitched cry, I leaped into the midst of the reptoids, slashing as they emerged, and drove my unbreakable steel with lightning speed into their necks and skulls with all of my substantial might.
I wasn't aware of it at the time, but when I leaped across the room, part of the throne stayed with me, as if it was a part of me, seeming from Miruna's perspective to stretch like a giant jet-black hand holding a weapon, that weapon being me. I had caught the reptoids melting with malice into the room through the closed door. I don't know why the first door held them back for awhile, yet the second one didn't slow them at all. I don't know why they wore suits--or why anyone else does, either--and I don't know why they needed to travel together in a pair. All I really know about reptoids is they have pretty tough heads.
The hats and glasses fell off fast. Vertical red pupils in solid black eyes shot hate. Several seconds of hate from the first reptoid, and about double that for the second reptoid. Stabbing their skulls as they passed through the door trapped them mid-process, power of the unearthly throne guiding each thrust. Effectively the reptoids were caught in stocks, and could not budge, melded as they were with the door, while I stabbed them to death as quickly and humanely as possible.
It took only a few moments to kill them. When this was done, instantly the throne snapped back to normal.
And instantly I felt terrible.
I couldn't believe what I had done. I looked at my knife. I looked at my hands. But I couldn't bear to look at the mutilated heads of those two dead reptoid men sticking through the door. What in the world could have possessed me? Was I acting in fear of my life? Not really. They died together. By my hand. I could still hear their screams and Miruna's and my own intermingled.
I felt terrible, but there was nothing I could about it. The vision of Miruna's promise shone like a beacon in my mind. It was true, she did know my heart's deepest wish. Whatever it was she had yet to ask of me, however it was I would serve as her champion, I felt a grim confidence toward the task, and only wanted to get on with it.
The ancient room was silent now. We had to get out of there. Terrible as I felt, my sense of guilt increased when I saw the dead reptoids' bodies hanging out the other side of the door, like Pooh Bear after too much honey, and almost burst out laughing. I did my best to hold it in, mostly succeeding admirably. Following up a double-murder with peals of maniacal laughter never did top my agenda. Thing was, she must have known. At one point I did sort of squeak in suppressing a laugh with my face turned away, then kind of covered that up with a cough. She could probably tell, though.
We walked on out together, retracing our steps to the door with the secret latch. I wondered if Miruna had ever touched the throne. Did she see and feel the same sorts of things. I asked her but she seemed not to hear.
Upon exiting the megalithic structure I availed myself of trickling groundwater rivulets running down the cave wall and went about busily cleaning the blood from my hands awash in thoughts of my life restored. Soon I would climb back out of the cave. Except this time I wouldn't emerge in the redwoods. Instead I'd hear shrieks and laughs coming from above. Little people would be running around. Grinning faces would pass by. I would see my wife. I would see my kid. From that time those years ago. We would marvel at the simulation of the cave and talk about where we wanted to go next. Peering at pirate treasure as we ducked around the winding path, my wife and I would tell our kid how it used to be Tom Sawyer Island.
"You killed them."
"You didn't even give them a chance to talk. You just killed them."
"Since you can read my thoughts, I'm sure you know how bad I feel."
"I don't know, you seemed to think it was pretty funny."
"We're underground," I said, wiping off my knife and sheathing it, "in the dark, with weird reptoids stalking. I didn't play their game. They should have politely knocked. You said yourself they were trying to kill me."
"I said they were here to stop you! And we'll never know if I was right because you didn't give them the chance to speak!"
"Look, I'm the one who had contact with the throne. I know more than you about this. I know for a fact they intended to zap me with crazy reptoid mind tricks. So I stopped them. The old-fashioned way."
"Okay, that's it! I've changed my mind. I am so done with you!"
"Where are you going?"
"Go to hell!" she said, descending into the darkness.
"What about our deal?"
I wanted to say, "How can you do this to me? Have you no shame? Goddam it to hell, you fucked up my life!" But I didn't. "What about our deal?" was all I could say. "What about our deal?" I said as I watched her walk away.
Eventually I made it back to base camp. Staggering around gathering things from my pack tossed out by the reptoids I tried to wrap my mind around all that had occurred. Somehow I managed to collect my crap and climb back out, the whole time hoping there had been a change of mind, hoping to find myself emerge at that time, that place. And I wanted it so much, for a moment I did think it might have happened. Some movement flashing from above--but it turned out to only be branches.
I climbed out. Took in the air, shielding my eyes from the dusky light. The tree looked inconspicuous. Certainly no one would ever have guessed the secrets held below. But someone decided to leave nothing to chance. About three weeks later, I returned to the tree. Alone. I don't know why, exactly. It was all filled in, though. Everywhere inside the tree was hard-packed dirt. When I dug a little ways with a stick, I reached solid rock.
I've given my kid the gist of all this, and am deeply satisfied that my kid does understand. When I tried to tell my ex, though, I got a different reaction. Still fooled by the demon's trick, she thought the problem was that I didn't have enough money. I don't have any money, so to her it's like I'm not a man. I responded that she has no heart, so to me it's like she's not a woman.
But I only said that because the truth would drive her mad.