By Alex Willmott
She became conscious. Her surroundings were rich in grandeur and silence, but for the rustling of a small creature in front of her. It introduced itself to the woman, but was quickly interrupted.
“I know who you are. You’re a Link Officer. Just tell me if I can go back.”
“That depends on your reflections. That is why you’re here. Tell me about your human experience, Aiko.”
“I see why it’s called the Wild Rock. It’s unhinged, unstable. They’re just, well, blobs of matter reeling around in the prison of their own ignorance. They are leaderless. They seek neither knowledge nor peace. In truth, they seek nothing. Did we put them there?”
“No, not even the first ones. All we did was melt the layers to speed up growth. None of us could have foreseen them.”
Aiko flinched, her thoughts dragged by an unidentified nostalgia. She became anxious.
“Aiko, did you ever know that you weren’t one of them, when you were down there?”
“Only in my dreams. I saw things. Great worlds and a web of light.”
“The cosmic band of consciousness, that’s what you saw. That’s what you always see.”
“What is it?”
“It’s the unending path. It’s where you live and live again, from consciousness to consciousness. You’re on the Mezzanine Floor now, and our conversation will determine whether you return to the Wild Rock or progress.”
“Progress to what?”
“A retreat, of sorts. I’m surprised you’ve not progressed already. It’s a new design, for people like you. You’ve earned your place there, but you continue to reawaken on the Wild Rock. Your post-world reflections hold you back, it seems. Why do you think that’s the case?”
“How much do I know, about the cosmic band?”
“You know what is needed for your path. The designers are very interested in you and your journey so far. They say you’re in the top 2%, which makes this all the more intriguing.”
“Top 2% of what?”
“Awareness, of course. Every experience you have endured so far, you’ve instantly connected with yourself. You struggle with the humans, but only because you’ve never felt like a permanent resident. The designers think you might be able to move the humans forward. Maybe that influences your journey.”
“Are there permanent residents on the Wild Rock?”
“Yes, all but a handful of beings down there will never leave. Most of them choose destruction after 10 cycles. Here, smoke this. It’ll help you remember.”
The being handed Aiko a pipe made of pink glass with an odourless smoke resting inside. She relied upon muscle memory to operate the pipe and was soon drawing heavily on the substance. The high was instant.
“Aiko, do you want to go back?”
“Yes. She waits for me there.”
“You know that the chances of re-connection are impossible. What if you return and she’s half way through a cycle? Or all of the way through? You will be alone and devoid of purpose. Why would you ever consider going back?”
“It doesn’t matter. I need to look for her.”
“Aiko, what would you change about yourself, if you returned?”
“Nothing. The humans are destroying the only home they have. They need to be told and that’s what I did. I told them. It got me killed. But she was there, Hana. Did they kill her too?
“Yes, it wasn’t a good death.”
“Why can’t we be freed together? Why can’t we both progress?”
“She isn’t like you. She submits to the reality before her. This is why she is weak.”
“This is why she is strong.”
“What will you do when you awaken?”
“I will go after the powerful. I will disrupt their systems. I will find Hana and we will leave that rock together. I will not progress without Hana.
“You will not remember this when you awaken. You will be a newborn again, uninfluenced. Hana will cease to be real for you. She will be a shadow within a dream. Let’s hope you’re born as royalty this time, Aiko, so that you will not need to die as a young human again. And in your old age, may you rest in the assurance that your time on the Wild Rock is over, and progress awaits your arrival.”
“I’d rather be tortured as a pauper than see old age as a human king.”
“Be careful with your preferences, Aiko. The designers are listening. You don’t want them making an example of you.”
“Fuck the designers. The humans are like sheep without a shepherd. They lose their souls in pursuit of the world. They hack out dust in their neighbour’s eyes and wipe it across the tree trunks hanging out of their own. They cast stones at the broken and idolise the brutal. They are vipers, and those with religion on their lips are the most dishonourable of all. I will not change my tact. These creatures need freeing from themselves.”
She became conscious. Her surroundings were unpleasant on the eye. A barn with animals and foul smells made up the scene of her awakening. A man in his late teens took her in his arms, but even in her tiny frame she remembered everything. She remembered her reflections with the Link Officer. She remembered the name of her love, Hana.
On seeing herself she quickly realised that she was not a ‘she’ at all, but a baby boy. Beyond her father stood three men in garments covered in the filth of the desert. Each of them held out gifts in their hands. With each breath Aiko began to forget. A new reality ushered her former memories into the ether. She was fully human once again.
Aiko turned and saw a woman, bloodied and exhausted from labour. They held eye contact before the breathless lady spoke.
“My son, Yeshua, our saviour.”
Aiko felt something unfamiliar; a dreading of a time that had not yet passed. She was right to be afraid.