The hollowness followed by its absence was such an abdication of importance I had forgotten about it before I had even ceased hearing it. In the void that replaced it was a hum of life, as if on the periphery of my vision creatures lurked and watched.
The darkness was no less complete, I could make out stars that seemed to be all around me but a shimmer distorted some of them while others seemed obscured in patches of nothingness.
Slowly my eyes adjusted and my ears begun to catch movement. Below me the stars undulated and I realised that they were not stars but merely a reflection of what was above.
My eyes adjusted more and I saw what I first took to be an ocean before me, then I saw trees and shrubs breaking the surface here and there and realised it was not an ocean; it was a patch of marshland that reached to the horizon.
I stepped forward and felt my boots pull free of hungry wet earth, the pits they left were three inches deep.
No, I heard the marshland say, come back; let me embrace you.
I shuddered as I realised I would welcome its cool embrace even as my oxygen starved body cooled amid the roots that formed its base. A part of me welcomed it, perhaps because it was where my species were born, and perhaps because it was the world we would leave behind us when we were finally gone.
The marsh smiled, hearing me; and I felt its smile had teeth like needles.
Through the trees a lantern swung, each time the light penetrated the sodden forest I saw a wooden path raised above the earth on thick wooden posts. It wound its way between the trees and into mystery. I looked down and I saw my feet upon it and my footsteps leading off behind me into the distance.
I’m to walk it then, I thought, knowing the dream would not be denied.
I complied; I walked.
Dream-time was not like waking-time, dream-times connection to real time was no more or less accurate than waking-time, it was just a delusion of one rather than a delusion of many. Time was a construct, and it was only faith that kept it ticking. Age and time were measurements of decay, one of the body the other of the universe around it.
“The most accurate timepiece in the waking world was based on the decay of uranium.” I said into the marshlands. “Time is a measurement of decay.”
I did not know to whom I was speaking; perhaps it was to the God of the Green.
It did not matter; no one answered.
The path angled upward and as I walked I could see the marsh draw away from me as if disassociating itself with mankind.
Wise, I thought and smiled.
The mass of vegetation had more sense than most people I knew. People who were an endless parade of abusers and abuses, and victims both aware and unware.
Tree branches brushed my arms and if I reached out I could cling to their highest limbs. I looked behind me and the path on which I walked disappeared amongst the green shadow, I looked ahead of me and saw the pathway rise into the stormy blue of what might have been a threatening dawn, or the moments after sunset.
But I knew what it must have been; after all it was always just after midnight in my mind. Even though I had to admit to myself, that time was an illusion; so anytime could be midnight.
The treetops fell away, and the path – suspended on impossibly long posts that now seemed little thicker than threads – arced over the marsh like a wooden rainbow.
“There is only forward.” I said aloud to the sky; and laughed.
posted by Alan Preece
on November, 16