Iconoclast Rising … 23

 

Revisited:  “‘Since I am just a piece of code, I would be on very thin ice to speculate,’ the Librarian says.”  (Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson)

 

Ch 23 ~ The Seat of All Knowledge

 

She had the sense that night had fallen, although she couldn’t be certain and she couldn’t tell you what day it was.  The dear woman (yes, and at this point, she thought of herself that way) had no sense of time whatsoever.  But the purple-grey mist seemed to be gaining momentum, Mya noticed, as she, the Cyborg Collective, and the Legion of Warriors began to turn the bend in the Stream. 

A bend in the Stream of Consciousness…how ironic in some ways, Mya thought.  If only for a moment, she allowed herself to wonder about the non-linear shape of meaning…at this place, at this time within the Stream.  There was something noteworthy about this curve in Knowledge…something of some significance, but she decided rather quickly, perhaps it was just life’s larger way, its gentle reminder to all to expect the unexpected.  To realize there was a level of unknowable beyond reach.     

Her mind fell back to the present and to the silence.  The group had travelled far through the Stream, for what must have been a long time.  They travelled quietly, with not even their footfalls belying their passage and not even their thoughts conveying their presence.  In fact, they had agreed earlier to limit words and thoughts as much as possible as they approached the Canal.  It was out of necessity.  The Mountaintops — with Dryst held prisoner within — were drawing closer, and so too drawing closer, then, was the Clan of Ophania.  A chill ran down Mya’s spine as her mind lingered on these witches yet unseen, zombies yet unleashed, and some other presence yet undiscovered.

But for now, still safely within the Stream and not quite yet upon the Canal, Mya allowed herself to ruminate on a previous conversation.

“The Clan of Ophania,” Mya had muttered to anyone who was listening; thankfully, she had thought, not many could listen to the totality within the Stream except for the two…who the little child had briefly mentioned but with not nearly enough explanation.  But they were not terribly far away from the Canal and a greater urgency pulled at her. 

“What type of spells do these witches cast,” Mya continued, “What are their powers?”

“They are shapeshifters…if they choose to be,” Locomotive answered with an edge in his low, almost sullen voice.

“Like you, then…”

“No,” he replied quickly.  “Nothing like any of us.”  He gestured with his head to either side of himself to indicate the Fierce One, the legion of Warriors, and, Mya was certain, the little child…possibly even the Cyborg Collective.

“Nothing like you, either,” Cy added, speaking to Mya, then continued because he knew she had too many questions for the little bit of time they had while they had secured themselves away within the safety of the arms of the Stream. 

“The Clan of Ophania is a group of Eternals.  They would say that their line had been born at the beginning of time, but they would be wrong to make this claim.”

The warriors grunted in quiet agreement.

“The Dawn of Time brought forth with it only the Eternal Lightness of Being,” Cy continued.  “The Eternal Lightness of Being precedes the Clan of Ophania no matter how much the Clan of Ophania detests this…and detest it they do.  They stew in hatred of the Eternal Lightness of Being.  They have seethed with their venom for eons on end…since nearly the dawn of time.  And since that time, all those eons ago, the Clan’s sole desire — you could go so far as to say its only reason for existing — is to destroy the Eternals — the true Eternals — and claim ownership, yield authority over all creation.” 

Cy turned his metal head and cast a twirling glance upon Mya. 

“In very personal terms,” he continued, “the Clan lusts for the power to control your very thoughts, your very will, leaving you nothing more than an empty shell — with no choice, no knowledge, no mind of your own, no belief in yourself or in anything at all — to serve their evil purposes.  Their lust for power and total control knows no bounds.  They are never satistifed.  They will tell you what to think, what to believe, how to act, how to behave, what to feel.  They will twist your mind and demolish your will to fill it only with their desires, however terrible and destructive they may be.”  The robot paused, then added, “And they will be.” 

He turned his head back to the path and returned his gaze to the trail in front of them.  Alarmingly so for a robot, he then whispered, “The Clan of Ophania…the witches are nearly able to do this.  They have tried through the ages.  One by one stripping others of their will.  But now.  Now they will be able to mutilate all creation in the blink of an eye.  Dryst has what they seek.  He holds the last piece to the puzzle.”

“The portal…the key,” she mouthed nearly silently.

The robot nodded.  “When they possess the portal, the witches will possess complete dominance over the entire body of the Eternals for all time.”

It was as if his words echoed in her mind, yet he had stopped speaking.  But his words played on, even when the robot’s silence was filled with the gentle sound of the softly falling snow, followed on its heels with the sound of Locomotive Breath’s quietly seething voice. 

“They will have their way with all of Consciousness for all eternity.” 

Mya grimaced from a crushing repulsion that surged forth from her gut at the idea of an unending universal mind fuck.  And while her stomach swayed and heaved against itself, she saw out of the corner of her eye the cyborg gesturing slowly around himself, the Collective, the Legion, and Mya.  The cyborg nodded his head carefully from side to side, casting his senses on their surroundings and surveying the pathway and the translucent walls of the Stream. 

“We walk,” he finally said with an awe-filled respect, “through a living, breathing entity, Mya.  This Stream –” he held his arms open “– is very much alive.  It is very much a living being.  It is the inner core of the entity known as the Eternal Lightness of Being.  From which the Stream of Consciousness was created.  From which was born all of life, all of creation…even a heaping mound of metal such as myself,” he said evenly and looked at her again. 

Her mind folded over onto itself from what the robot had just said.  She tried desparately to process the fact that she was stepping lightly across and through the inside of a living entity.   But she couldn’t conceive of such a thing.  Should she say hello, she thought in near hysteria…should she introduce herself, but then she realized she was already completely known.  There was nothing the Stream, the Eternal Being did not know of her.  In any direction.  In any dimension.  In any time. 

So she ran to the more immediate, more tangible information that should could hold onto and that happened to be her sudden realization that the cyborg, in describing himself as a mounding heap of metal, had read her thoughts.  Mya steadied her mind by obsessing over this triviality, which, in the not too distant past might have troubled her, but in the here and now as she stepped across the insides of a living being that was born with the Dawn of Time, the fact of Cy’s mental eavesdropping was nothing more than trivial.  Still it comforted Mya to grab ahold of it, trivial or not.  And hold on she did, realizing that the cyborg had accessed probably more of her imagings than she even knew while they dwelled inside this…Being.  The robot waved her concern away and said, “Not everything, no.  But even without knowing all of your thoughts, I am honest about who and what I am.  I am all metal and circuitry, engines and cables, indeed.”

“But the Lightness of Being…” her voice trailed off.  Incomprehensible.

“The Lightness of Being,” the robot gently picked up her thought and completed it, “It is all.  It is all meaning.  It is all free will.  You are connected into it at all times.  We all are, but we do not know the fullness of it.  Perhaps the better statement is, the Eternal Being is fully connected into each of us at all times.”

Mya frowned and nearly laughed both at the same time.  How can this be…what on earth, she thought but then remembered that was another planet somewhere else in some other universe.  What in the heavens, she thought but then as she looked around the foresaken Origin whose only bright spot was the breathing entity through which they all walked and from which Dryst had been abducted and through which would lead her back to Dryst again but first lead them all into a Battle of the Ages between Eternals, Mya could hardly think of this land as heaven.  What the hell, she thought abruptly and then just as abruptly, she snapped her head to focus on the robot and asked, “Are we walking through God?”

“If that is what you choose to believe.”

“While you still have the choice to believe anything by your own accord,” the Fierce One grumbled unpleasantly and Mya snapped her focus back to his direction — because something about his presence, something about his voice, something about him called to her, pulled at her, commanded her — before rounding her vision back to the path in front of them.  Too much to think of.   Too much to understand all at once. 

“If God is all thought, all will flowing through the Stream, good and bad, then, yes, you could call this entity God.  But if God as you believe the Being to be is only good, you will have to find another contextual relationship or adopt the one I gave you:  The Eternal Lightness of Being, through which all thought, all will, all creations flow.  …the Clan of Ophania flows through the Stream with us.  Even now.”

The warriors growled; Mya bristled; the Cyborg continued.

“But the Clan has no power over the Eternal Lightness any more than you or I.  They flow with all creation here.  They are of no more significance here.  They are of no less signficance here.”

“They cannot control all thought here,” Locomotive Breath added.  “They cannot hear all musings.  Not here.”

“True, true,” Cy nodded in agreement.  “Not here.  But they are searching within the Stream.  And they know we are here in pursuit.  They heard our thoughts in the hills.”

“But,” Mya interrupted, “you just said they can’t know all thoughts.”

“No,” Cy confirmed, “they can’t…at least not in the Stream.”

“But outside of the Stream, it is different,” the Fierce One said through a clenched jaw.  “Some in the Clan have the power to speak the Unspoken Language.”

“To hear thoughts,” the cyborg clarified.  “This is true primarily among themselves.”

“But the Clan Queen is fluent in that ability,” the Fierce One added.  “She created the Unspoken Language.  Her powers to see thoughts reach beyond the Clan. 

“For that reason, we must be silent in mind when we approach,” Locomotive said.

“When we enter the Canal,” the Cyborg said, “We must close off our minds and our thoughts.”

The Fierce One studied the group, watching Mya most closely.  Her eyes were open but not pulled back in terror.  Yet, he could see her breath shortening.  She must not let fear overtake her, he thought with a grimness in his mind.  If she does, all be lost.

“We should now…close off our minds now,” he said.  “The Canal approaches.”

Mya looked up then, in the memory of these earlier words, just as she looked up now.  She saw the opening of the Canal, to the right, jogging along the bend in the Stream.  And as they approached even closer, and she turned her thoughts off but only watched what was happening without registering any meaning to what she saw, she cast her eyes upon the edge of the Canal.  It rode the full height of the wall in the Stream.  It curved in delicate lines of an oval shape that flowered and coiled in itself.  It pulled the pink snow increasingly into the purple-grey mist that began to dominate at the Canal’s center-most point.  And as Mya moved closer to the Canal, nearly fully within its lip, she realized why it was called a Canal. 

They were entering into the mountain through a giant ear.

 

 

 National Novel Writing Month:  Chapter 23 total wordcount:  2130 (not including this notation).  Total total count:  44,370.  (gah…won’t make 50K by the 30th but I’m finishing this nonetheless.)  

Iconoclast Rising … 22

 

“‘Since I am just a piece of code, I would be on very thin ice to speculate,’ the Librarian says.”  (Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson)

 

Ch 22 ~ High on Mountain Tops

 

This was the bad that she had sensed.  Others are with Dryst.  

She walked silently, thinking through this bit of verification that Cy had just provided.  Even with what should have been the comfort of additional knowledge, she found herself no less worried.   Dryst is still here, she sighed uncontrollably within her bones and soul, feeling such overwhelming relief from knowing where he was that tears began to pool again in her eyes and trickled softly down her cheeks.  As she walked, she casually lowered her head and lifted her fingers to her face.  In a moment, in a heartbeat, truly within her heart, she felt his hand along her cheeks, tenderly wiping the tears away.  A gasp floated softly up from her lungs and past her lips.   She held her hand along her face, as if holding her fingers along his.  She looked up, fully expecting to see him standing oh so near, right next to her, hardly any space between them…and indeed, she saw him fully, even though in this moment, in this space, he was somewhere at the top of the mountain that lay further down some miles ahead, where the Stream hugged itself lazily around its base.

Mya smiled softly for a moment.  She held to him tightly in her heart and her mind as she refocused her attention back to what the Cyborg had said. 

Who were these others, she wondered, believing full well that they weren’t the sort that one would call friend.

“Do I need to ask for more detail,” Mya said to the robot at last.  The warriors grunted silently in quiet appreciation of her increased directness, as the Cyborgs moved their fiber optics in a craning, exploratory manner along the sheer pink snowfall that served as the wall of the Stream.  Mya could see that there was some kind of invisible barrier along which the fiber optic cables spread.  The fabric tickled itself back under the cable featherings but remained firm even if unseen.  Somehow the walls provided an actual build, an actual context for all of life’s meaning.  Order in the ultimate of disorder…the yin-yang of existence.  Somehow simply being.  Mya resisted the urge to mutter “it is what it is.”  How she hated that expression (but in all honesty, disliked not the phrase itself, only the overuse of it).   And yet, she pondered as she stared at the tickled wall that rippled under the touch of the cyborg’s cables, this higher order of meaning.   It attached itself to and was defined by all of existence.  How else to describe the magnitude of power in its ultimate simplicity.  It is what it is…it exists.  It is here.  And so are we.  And along this path, so is Dryst.

“He is with the Non,” Cy said, nearly hesitating to complete the sentence.   For the first time, the warriors  turned their heads with a heaviness and looked upon the cyborgs with a grimness that unsettled.  This was troubling news, Mya realized, even to the most hardened and battle-tested of the lot of them.  She swallowed, not knowing the extent of what it meant to be with the Non but knowing if nothing else… 

The war, the little girl whispered closely, with some urgency that looped around the edges of her innocent voice.  And when Mya turned to find the source of that sugared voice, she looked into the hardened eyes of Locomotive Breath.  Somehow she anticipated seeing a teddy bear dangling around the warrior’s waist, right along side his battleworn weapons that were sharpened less for cruelty, more for finality.

“And I’m suppose to know what to do,” Mya asked matterly of factly as her eyes met those of Locomotive.

Locomotive snarled momentarily, shielding the little one who also inhabited his being, Mya knew, away from the intensity of the conversation.  Still she allowed herself to marvel at how odd it was that this shapeshifter could retain a form of its choosing yet still dip in and out of shifting voices, vocal tones, speech patterns.  Her mind journeyed back to the Event, to the day that seemed forever ago when all of this was set into motion, when Locomotive Breath came out of nowhere and hauled her off to this world.  Her memory sauntered back to when she had heard him speak and had heard what she had believed genuinely to be her own voice.  Since then, she had come to regard this creature as of her…as, in fact, her.  But how could he be, she now said with what amounted to little relief (a fact that inandof itself also surprised her).  He shifted voices, she realized now.  He shifted shapes, even into the shape of a little girl who resembled Mya as a child (no doubt a capture of her memory)…even into eyes that resembled the same energy of Mya’s spirit (no doubt a skillful duplication).  Magic she thought, and born of the capabilities inherent in his genetic makeup…it is what it is.

“How many of you are in there,” she asked with some weariness and gestured toward his large body that cut through the air like a razor-shape knife.

“Only those who serve a purpose.”

“And is that many?”

“You see them all around us.  They walk with us.”

Mya glanced back through the Legion.  She nodded in silence.  “All from you,” she said, a statement of the obvious.  The many warriors, they were clones either of Locomotive or of the Fierce One.

“All from one,” he said.

She nodded again, believing now that the entire Legion — Locomotive and the more formidable Fierce One —  along with the little one were all the same being:  the creature that had hauled her off in the first place.  Locomotive, the Adam and the Eve. 

But the Fierce One, Mya hesitated and chewed at something that she couldn’t quite penetrate until her mind trailed off.

If the quantity of the warriors was designed to meet some type of situation, Mya realized that their sheer number was an overwhelming indication that what lay upon the road ahead was wildly dangerous.  And, of course, it was, Mya knew.  But she would not stop until she found Dryst.  This she knew more than anything else, even with the full realization that the obstacles ahead, she told herself somberly, were insanely dangerous.

“What of their intentions.”  

Locomotive’s voice suddenly rumbled through her thoughts.  He directed his questions to the Cyborg, in what Mya realized amounted to the very first time that the two races (she thought for lack of a better label) had interacted.  Evenso, Mya had the very real sense that these two groups of entities — warriors and machinery — knew each other very well. 

I wonder, she thought to herself, is the Cyborg Collective from the same being that had produced the legion of warriors and the child?  Are they all from Locomotive, and is Locomotive really the originator?  Something gnawed at her with this, but before she could sink that thought into the depths of her mind, the cyborg spoke.

“The Clan of Ophania.  It is a witches clan.  It is a clan made up of Eternals,” Cyborg answered Locomotive, who grunted in acknowledgement, encouraging the robot to continue his explanations and descriptions.  “The one you seek…Dryst…he and his fellow traveller — “

“The man,” Mya interrupted.  “The man Dryst said had brought him here to me.”

“Yes,” Cy continued.  “They are being held as prisoners of a sort in the mountains –“

“Prisoners!  Is Dryst alright?  Is he harmed?  Is he injured?  Are they okay –“

“Yes –“

“Yes?  What!  Yes to what?!”

“Yes, they are unharmed.  Dryst is unharmed.  He is alright,” the robot continued in a deliberate monotone that was meant to calm the rejoined excitement that was percolating throughout Mya’s system and spilling over into the pathway. 

“Do me a favor,” Cy continued, speaking casually to her.  “Put a dimmer on all of that energy over there, would you.  Now would be good.  You’re lighting up like a Christmas tree.”  He nearly winked at her, as much as a mounding pile of metal and circuits and engines could wink, and his eyeballs spun ridiculously within his skull for a few seconds. 

“Huh?” 

The toe cap of her boot stumbled over the ankle of her other leg, all of which normally would have caused her to go tumbling like a slinky on steps, but with the help of one of Cy’s electrical chords that had swung out to catch her around her waist before she had fallen, she had managed to regain her balance.   The humorous cyborg had returned and his return had thrown her off balance.  A cyborg of quiet wit.  But he was right.  She had to keep herself in check and not announce their presence in the Stream…in case…in case anyone else was listening.  Someone, Mya thought, who dwelled in the mountain tops.  The clan of witches, she murmurred with a shudder.

“And what of this place in the mountains.  What of their intentions.  What is happening.  What is their plan,” the Fierce One fired off the questions with a deep tone, one that shifted and turned the words over slowly and deliberately as if his voice were coiling around an immense expanse of unseen power that lay hidden deep within himself…unseen or not, a power that was entirely unmistakable. 

Mya startled at the sound of his speaking and nearly tripped herself up again but somehow she caught herself.  She stared at the Fierce One and rather rudely, at that.  She watched as his gaze seared through the Stream, and she imagined his mind probably identified each and every snowflake that fell within his sight.  She couldn’t take her eyes off of this brooding, hulking power and the intensity of his presence, but even without the huge distraction of his size, power, and bearing, Mya couldn’t help but stare because yet again, she had heard something.  In his eyes, in his voice.  In his very breath, in his bearing.  She had heard something.

“Yes,” Cy said, knowing that the warrior would suffer no humor or fools at this moment…if ever.  “The way will not be easy.  They are high in the mountain tops.  They are in a room, seated.”

Her lips parted softly, her mind filled with rushed imaginings of the room that Dryst and the man found themselves in.  Seated.  She imagined in a chair.  She hoped comfortably.  She couldn’t allow her mind to think of any other possible way for Dryst to be seated, no, no.  She placed him in a beautiful room, in a finely upholstered, heavily cushioned chair —

“The Non are seated,” Cy corrected as if reading her thoughts, and in fact, he was to some degree.  “Some, not all of them are seated,” he refined his meaning even further.  “And,” his voice smiled momentarily, “some are, indeed, seated comfortably in finely upholstered, heavily cushioned chairs.”

“Why do I feel suddenly quite naked.  Oh so very naked here, right here wading through the stream of every thought and idea ever had and yet to be realized,” Mya muttered under her breath and turned away from the robots, gazing down the path that feathered along the upside down redwoods on the one side, the rolling lumbering hills on the other side.

“We know your thoughts even without the Stream,” the little one, through Locomotive, said.  “We always did.”

“And the other thoughts?” Mya chewed the question out while motioning toward the Cyborgs who were tabbed into the Stream.  “How is it that some can read the Stream at all?”

“Only parts,” answered the little one, through Locomotive, “and only as a Collective, sourcing out specific parts.”  The little one’s voice paused, then continued “There is order in disorder,” she sang, “and…there are the rare two who–“

Mya shook her head and gestured at Locomotive to stop speaking.  She frowned at last, chastising herself for her panic and for allowing her mind to divert itself to analyzing this strange fellowship that she had found herself in.  She abruptly interrupted her own thoughts and quickly said to them all, “We’ll table that for another time.  And there will be another time.  But for now –“

“But for now…it is the thoughts of the Non that we need to know.  We are getting nearer.”  Mya felt the Fierce One’s words forcibly command the mindset back to a shared purpose, allowing room for the cyborg to continue.

“What of Dryst,” Mya whispered urgently.

“He is standing in a large room that is filled with books.  The room is in the outer most tower that juts out near the top of the mountain.”  Cy paused briefly, looking up.  “There,” he said as he pointed to the tower beyond the tallest heights of the purple-grey mist.  Mya narrowed her eyes and stretched her vision beyond the falling snow and the transparent surround of the Stream.  Her vision broke through the heavy mist that lulled about the Origin; her eyes climbed the outer most slope of the mountainside until they landed on one of many towers that lorded over the tangled roots of the upsidedown forest and that pierced into the day-night sky.

“Dryst,” her lips uttered silently, her mouth moving tenderly.  Her pace quickened, spurring the collective and the legion to lengthen their strides.

“Dryst and the man stand before a gathering of sort,” Cy continued.  “Not quite a tribunal but it is some ritual of interrogation.”

“Interrogation,” Mya gasped wordlessly, her eyes widening, her stride lengthening even more.

“A stand off of sorts,” Cy clarified, then added, “but they will not stop until they have what they want, this Clan of Ophania.  For now, they are relaxed and confident.  Some are seated.  Some are perched on whisks.  Many are surveying from the tower tops, casting their gaze far and wide.  Searching the Stream.”

The warriors growled menacingly.  “For us,” Mya stated the obvious under her breath.

The Cyborg nodded.  “For us,” he repeated. 

The group of robots and warriors moved more rapidly now, their volume and energy carried forward and driven as much by Mya’s will as by their own accord; at a much faster clip without any exertion on her part. 

“But,” he hesitated.

“But…” she asked, encouraging him to speak.

He paused…”they believe victory to be theirs.  Just within their grasp.  Dryst holds the key…the portal.”

“The portal,” Mya asked completely befuddled.  “What key?  What portal?” 

“The key,” the Fierce One explained, “for the Non to control all free will.  To bend minds to their purpose.  To strip you and all of your kind of yours.  To strip all of every  kind of their own.”

“The key,” Locomotive continued, “the metal scrap you held within you very hands, that had cut into your fingers.  It is the key.  It is the portal.  It allows anyone who holds it to bend it to their will — be it of a benevolent or a malicious intent  —  to control the very Stream of Consciousness.”

Her chin fell to her chest.  She knew it.  She felt it crash along her collarbone, and while all of this made even less sense than everything that had happened since the Event with this strange fellowship in this strange land, Mya jerked her will over her mind and locked her confusion and panic away into a nicely appointed, comfortable room that could have no other effect on her confusion but to settle it down and nuture it into quietness.  She needed to think.  She had no time to freak out. 

“They will mount an assault.  They know we are in pursuit.  They read our words and thoughts in the hillside.  They followed our penetration of the Stream.  They know we are in pursuit.”

“And they make ready,” the Fierce One said through clenched jaw.

The Cyborg Collective nodded.  “They make ready,” Cy confirmed. 

“What are their numbers,” the warrior pressed on.

“Equal to ours,” the robot responded.

“What is their force.”

“Witches against warriors,” Cy answered flatly.  “Zombies against cyborgs.”

“I doubt it will be quite that neat,” Locomotive grunted with a tinge of sarcasm, and clenched his hand around the handle of his largest blade.

“There,” Mya panted, realizing they were running together as a group, flowing collectively by the force of a rhythmic pace.  “We are turning the bend…just ahead…”

“Just ahead,” the warriors growled quietly and lazered their eyes to the shape that blossommed just ahead in the surround of the Stream.

“The Canal,” the robot said.  “Just ahead of us, at the end of the stream, the Canal.  Move with care when we reach it. The most treacherous nature of the journey begins there.”

If she didn’t know any better, Mya had thought she had heard fear in the robot’s voice.

“Most treacherous…” she repeated words the robot had just said before her own voice trailed off.  The group moved quickly but silently for a few seconds, the cyborgs groping and methodically travelling along the falling snow, hooking into various parts of the invisible encasement in which the Stream flowed.

“What of the Canal,” Mya asked when at last she had found her voice again.

“It is the entrance we seek.  Into the mountain.  Filled with watchful ears and listening eyes.”

“The Clan?” Mya guessed in a voice that suddenly felt and sounded very small, as small as the sugared bubblegum sing-song of the little one.

 

 

National Novel Writing Month:  Chapter 22 total wordcount:  2920 (not including this notation).  Total total count:  42,240.  (chanting a mantra:  oh gosh this will be one massive push to the 30th and the 50K!)  

Iconoclast Rising … 21

  

Ch 21 ~ The Vanishing

 

She had run until her lungs were screaming.  She had called to him until her mind exploded.  Her thoughts were everything and nothing.  She wasn’t within herself.   Desparation and fear had pushed her outside of herself.  Something wasn’t right. 

And then something was terribly terribly wrong in the Stream.

She collapsed and tumbled, her feet flying out from under her.  She rolled harshly down the jagged hillside…her body abused by its upcroppings; her limbs flailing at the ground. 

Her hands — nails spread, fingers hooked — clawed and raked at the air.  Her feet — toes gripped, arches flexed — thrashed and kicked against the ground.  Her breath rushed in and out; short and harsh; rapid and shocked.  Purple-grey mist swam in her lungs, polluting them.  She hacked on the air, violently ramming her chest walls around the heavy mist to expel it out of herself.

Her voice broke away from her body.  She felt it yelling and throwing itself at the Stream — inconceivably far ahead of herself…completely outside of and beyond her throat, miles ahead of her own body that was crumbling wildly down the rolling hills.  Her voice had completely removed itself from her mind — which had been pushed to the back by her instincts — and had affixed itself entirely to her core.  Her screams hurtled through the land, rushing forward with abandon to the place where Mya had last known Dryst to be.

But he was nowhere to be found.  Blood pounded in her ears.  She could feel his vanishing literally into thin air, and she trembled uncontrollably.  Her knees scraped over the ground like a razor; her palms and elbows cutting into the dirt like shovels.  In her now near-hysteria, her limbs overtook themselves and lost all coordination.  Gravity yanked her bodyweight flat onto the soil until at last she thudded into the ground and buried her face in the dirt.  When she lifted her head to look up, panting and gasping and nearly hyperventilating still, long trails of tears cut great swaths through the dirt that had plastered itself to her cheeks.  

“Oh my god…oh my god…” was all Mya could say, whimpering, moaning over and over again.  “Oh my god…”

She lowered her head and clawed her hands into the topsoil and growled savagely, “No!”

She pushed the ground away — her lithe form, dirtied bodysuit, sooted golden blonde hair catapulting into the air — and landed herself squarely onto the balls of her feet and completely into her center of gravity.  Her shoulders and arms swung back; her head and jaw snapped around.  Her eyes burned into the eyes of Locomotive Breath and the Fierce One.

“You,” she barked without even trying.  Her chest heaved angrily.  “You.”

The warriors turned, the entire legion of warriors cast their gaze heavy and hardened toward her, but Locotive Breath and the Fierce One — the originators, this Adam and Eve — knew they were the two she sought.  Her eyes burned from one set of warrior eyes to the other, ignoring the multiple sets of eyes in the legion that surrounded them.  The two warriors narrowed their minds.  They focused only on her words, which came strongly, deeply, clearly, and emphatically.

“You punched a hole into this world.  You brought me here.  You dragged Dryst here,” her voice labored under an internal energy that would have no other outcome but the one to which it has affixed its purpose.

Her jaw crushed itself under an upset that spurred her will to nearly explode out of her being.  Her eyes blasted a heat that would have made any man cower in fear, and for the first time since the beginning of the Event, Mya’s ferocity in attitude and determination caused her to appear as if she had been not only born into the Legion of Warriors but had led them…had even given rise to them.

“You will burst through time and space — now — and get me into that Stream.”

And it happened in the blink of an eye.  The Fierce One approached her first, but just barely, and grabbed her around the waist before lifting her like a feather.  But it didn’t matter who began the motion because within the next breath, Locomotive Breath had her equally within his grasp, yet somehow Mya wasn’t at all torn into two.  Somehow everything — all time, matter, space…all intention, thought, belief…all desire, emotion, logic — merged into a completeness.   The rolling hills, the land, the Stream in the distance, the upside down redwoods, the galaxy…the warriors, the collective, Mya; all spilled themselves out into a massive blur:  arms and legs and weaponry that for the first time were hushed into a silence from the immense blur of movement; circuitry, gadgetry, whirling engines, chords and cables that had twined themselves tightly into a collective heap like a jumbled string of Christmas lights. 

“We are coming,” a little voice rose softly through the purple-grey mist.

Flashes of particles rose and pushed out in great cascading arcs in the sky, and all at once before she could even stop to think or wonder, before she could even realize that she had just completed her demand for them to punch a hole within the Origin, all at once life and surroundings reformed around themselves into the context and shapes that Mya had all known but the only difference now was that Mya, the legion of Warriors, the Cyborg Collectives all found themselves standing in the exact spot within the Stream of Consciousness where Dryst and Spence had planted their feet just minutes before.

“We are here,” the little voice sang and lofted like bubbles dancing and curling in the breeze.  Mya gasped silently.  She lifted her head, bending her neck a long way back, to look into the eyes of the Fierce One; to turn her gaze and lower her head just a bit to look into the eyes of Locomotive Breath. They exchanged some unspoken thoughts, some unspoken meanings.  And for a brief moment in those few seconds, Mya’s eyes grimaced with no small amount of gratitude to them. 

“We are here,” Locomotive said in a voice that rumbled.  “They are further down,” the Fierce One said in a voice that wrapped itself around Mya’s heart.  She snapped her head back to the more massive, more formidable warrior while she regained her own footing on the topsoil.  He gazed intensely with Mya and said no words…but she had heard something.  Even now…even within the gaze, which she kept her eyes and concentration locked into…she had heard something.

Whispers travelled through the Stream.  They hinted and teased around her ears.  She couldn’t quite pick out their sounds.  She couldn’t quite pick out their nature.  Was this place haunted, she thought in a moment and a chill pricked at her skin.  At last, she loosened her gaze from the warrior and scanned the area around them.  Light pink falling snow…a tunnel of sparkling gentle candy, floating like bubbles dancing in the breeze.  Why would this place had caused such panic, such alarm, she wondered, her body turning softly around to take in all paths — the stream behind them, the stream before them, the encasing walls on either side…were they paths?  Were they not?  Somehow, Mya thought, they must be, as she scanned the walls made up of pink gentle snowfall.  Somehow, the warriors had entered here, and brought this small army with them. 

“War is coming.” 

Mya heard the cotton-candy voice of the little girl.  Her voice bubbled past in the whispers and tickled along Mya’s arm and hand, as if urging her forward.  As if choosing a direction.  Forward…ever forward, the words played in Mya’s mind.  In this dimension, at this place, for this reason – her heart held Dryst deeply within – forward, she whispered wordlessly in the air.  She placed her feet lightly on the ground, one in front of the other, but turned to find the Cyborg.

“Cy,” she nodded her head in as far of a sweep as she could to indicate Cy and the entire Cyborg Collective.  “You need to hook up.  Quickly.  You need to tell me where Dryst is.”

His eyes whirled and cord released themselves from somewhere within his innards.

“Can you — ” again her head swept over the Collective — “can you manage to jack in (she didn’t even try to put this more delicately) while we walk?”

The cyborgs silently moved together in a line that stretched into each side of the Stream’s walls.  Cords and wires slithered rapidly and found their sweet spots automatically throughout the Cyborg chain, while other fiber optics from each Cyborg craned from the side of their bodies and feathered along the pink-falling snow that made up the walls of the Stream.

“All I know at this point,” Mya nearly whispered, “is there won’t be any turning back.  Forward.  This direction.”  She nodded her forehead to the path in front of them and then briefly looked next to her and caught the eyes of the Fierce One.  He tipped his head slightly in acknowledgement.  She nodded her head slightly in return.

Mya brought her attention back again to the other side and watched the Cyborgs moving through the whispers of all the universes in all of creation.  At that moment as she watched in silence, she found her own individual whisper asking, “What is this place?”  It was as if she had thrown her voice.  It was as if she was having an out of body experience, hearing her voice travelling toward her instead of from her.  But in any case, the question remained and hung in the air.  She looked at it and upon reflection, thought she was right in the asking.  And then she muttered quietly to herself, “What is this place?” fully not expecting to receive an answer.  But she did.

“It is,” Cy said methodically with absolute finality as if no further explanation needed to be offered.  Ironically enough, this amused Mya to a point of humor mixed with fatigue.  She allowed herself a moment to raise an eyebrow lazily in the cyborg’s direction.

“Please don’t tell me ‘it is what it is’…if you must answer, just please don’t give me that as an answer.”  She paused.  As they all moved forward, her gaze rotated back to the path in front of them.  She fretted with some nervousness (one that she hoped she had concealed) about where this snowy path was leading them.  She tried not to think it too loudly, but somehow she knew that her thoughts — that all thoughts — would come travelling through the Stream.  Or maybe this particular one already had and maybe no one had noticed.

The cyborg smiled, as much as a collection of heaping metal and wires and engines could smile.  He tried again, “It exists,” then added quickly before Mya could growl in protest, “it is the Stream of Consciousness.”

Her eyelids popped open like the lid of a music box.  She waved her hand — palm open, fingers spread — in tiny little waves. She shook her head in the same way, believing that she had completely misunderstood what Cy had just said, at the very least, or believing his motherboard was fried.

“It is a great deal to absorb,” the robot said undeterred, as if understanding her reaction.

Seconds went by that seemed like a round of minutes before Mya spoke again.

“Okay, Cy,” she said decisively while she pushed some whispers that had floated around her hand gently back toward him, “Let’s explore just what you mean by that another time.  (She wasn’t kidding around.)   ‘Cause right now, Cy?”  She shook her head in tiny little tremors, her eyes bugging out.  “Right now?  I’m not listening to that.  Right now?  Can’t handle that.”

Whispers swirled gently around her in a rising and lowering path that looked like an etch-a-sketch drawing but was three dimensional and vibrated softly around her body…indeed, around every form in the Stream.

“Okay,” Mya relented, her hand still gently pushing whispers and thoughts beyond her in front of her…just to give her mind space to handle the place, to process some level of acceptance over the fact that she existed in the Stream of Consciousness…some physical place, some tangible repository, some looking glass.  Not to deny, not to discount…just to give her mind space.  

“Okay,” she said to the robot, “I won’t argue it.  I just –”

“Few can read this phenomenon,” Cy continued, as Mya fell silent, absorbing the sounds and words and energy that flowed through the Stream.

“Can you,” she stammered, relinquishing the space to deal with it because she knew she didn’t have the luxury of time to compartmentalize it and look at it later. 

“Can you,” she said again.  It was more an insistence, less a question.  “Because if you can,” she continued, her voice steadying itself out as they continued to move forward down the path in the pink snow of the Stream that trickled itself through the purple-grey mist of the Origin, “If you can…there’s only one thing I want to know from all of life’s thoughts.”

Suddenly, all of the cyborgs were briefly alit with a softly pulsing light.  Their engines whirled and blended with the gentle whispers and floating thoughts in the Stream.  The warriors, like sentries, refused betrayal of any awareness of what was happening around them.  Still, Mya was certain that all the happenings were being registered by the Fierce One and Locomotive Breath, the Adam and the Eve and all of their clan.

And maybe, Mya allowed herself the ludicrous reaction of pondering other’s reactions, maybe they were really just accustomed to seeing all of these absurdly incredible things, she thought to herself.

“Yes, they are.  They are quite used to it,” Cy answered without being asked.  Then answered again without being prompted, “Everything is known here.  Everything is knowable in the Stream.”

“Okay, then,” she said, as she looked up and down the robot’s form and saw the lights burring and erupting in tiny little bursts through his machined form.  “Then, if you don’t mind, please tell me what I want to know.  And, do me a favor,” Mya said with hushed urgency “dim your lights down if not all the way off.  Now would be good.  Don’t ask me why on that.  I just feel it.” 

There were whispers born of the Origin in this Stream, Mya realized.   Swirling and bullying, choking and harrassing, pulling and thrawting life’s goodness and bright energy.  There were thoughts and desires, questions and intentions, all manner of events and cunning…bad and good here.  Acted upon and waiting to be acted upon.  Bad and good…both here and — she frowned in her mind.  What could be good in this place, Mya asked herself.   And the sense of urgency overcame her spirit even more greatly than it had before.  If this was the Stream and everything in creation flowed through here, then all the dualities of life flowed through this one place as well.  Good and bad.

“He is in the mountain.  In a room.  There are others.”

 

National Novel Writing Month:  Chapter 21 total wordcount:  2515 (not including this notation).  Total total count:  39,320.  (chanting a mantra:  oh gosh this will be one massive push to the 30th and the 50K!)  

AU V Fashion Show, Nov 29th, 12 PM SLT, Shengri La Hope

 

 AU V Fashion … Late Fall Fashion Show

 

AU V Late Fall Fashion Premiere
AU V Late Fall Fashion Premiere

                       
You are cordially invited to attend the Late Fall AU V 08 Fashion Premiere
       
Saturday, November 29th, at 12pm slt
                                    
12 pieces, 1 beautiful show and social

Skins Sponsored by AOHARU

Hosted by The Fashion Research Institute, Inc., in beautiful Shengri La Hope

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Shengri%20La%20Hope/51/161/49

 

About the Designer: 

Jare Capalini
(Invited into the Shengri La Vintage Marketplace on October 24, 2008)
My Rez date was March 2nd,2007.  My Fashion line is labeled “AU V” and the type of fashion I want for my label is Couture and Avant Gaurde. My vision is to create beauty that no one else has and harness something that people have only scraped the surface of, and dig deeper into it. My Inspiration for all my clothing is the seasons. To me my favorite image in the whole world is Japan in the winter. To see modern Tokyo a high fashion and hugely electronic city, and put a large blanket of snow on it, it’s gorgous. I hope my line shows people a type of look that they haven’t ever seen, and to bring them to a place more like a fantasy that they didn’t know the loved.

   AU V

Iconoclast Rising … 20

 

“Mizu no kokoro…or ‘mind like water’” ~ a Zen phrase 

…in the face of emergency, a mind that is calm, or like still water, more accurately reflects what it sees.

 

Ch 20 ~ The Unknowable

 

The two forms had arrived out of an energy that was muffled in smoke and wisped around itself until at last their bodies began to materialize.   Their shapes were barely recognizable.  They seemed to take forever to outline themselves.

Dryst watched with some apprehension.  As the forms echoed around themselves, he wondered at this strange happening in the stream…although he was certain that if anyone could read his expression, they would see his wonderings plainly in his eyes.  But not Spence, no.  He was caged within his own space, his own mind, hooded and concealed from view.  His focus too trapped by what was heading toward them for him to have noticed how Dryst’s brow repeatedly knitted itself together. 

“Something tells me,” Spence managed to offer without changing his focus on the happening in front of them, “we’re not going to like this, kid.”

Dryst slowly rode his eyes up each wall of the stream as the smoke churned itself into some type of context before them.  He wanted to know what was happening around him while he still had the luxury of looking about his surroundings.  Something told him he wouldn’t have that luxury for long. 

“Yeah,” he replied in a slow and measured tone, “I have the same feeling.” 

Darkness was sweeping in.  Silently.  Unabashedly.  Fully.  The brilliant light of the stream was slowly being muddied away by a pinkness that would have been comforting and pure (as pink generally is), had it not been for Dryst’s knowledge that the color was being created by the purple-grey mist:  a heaviness that had rolled itself suddenly back across the Origin and that was in the process of absorbing any clarity of light that had emerged just minutes before.  Dryst returned his eyes to the smokey figures, who were no longer coiling and twisting as if ambivalent about form.  Shape had overtaken them.   The smoke and the dust had settled, and there they stood.  Only a few feet away from Dryst and Spence.

A man, of size and of presence, stood before them.  He was tall and fit, his shoulders squared back, his stance casual yet somehow also readied.  He had a glint in his eyes, a baseball in his hand, and a cigar clenched loosely between his teeth.  He nearly winked a smile to his son, who was now a much older man (probably as old or even older than the father himself), and as he did, the corners of the father’s eyes traced rivers of lines from the edge of a knowing grin…one that gently held Spence, in someway, frozen in place.  His chest — Spence’s chest — was the only part of his body that still had the wits to move.  Necessity aside, his breath could not be stopped.  In fact, his breath could not be controlled.  His chest rose and fell rapidly, as if Spence had had the wind knocked out of him from running too hard and running too fast or from trying to throw a baseball too hard and trying to throw it too fast with all of his might yet without any kind of real strength to put meaning with it, to put power over it, to put control around it.

Dryst heard – but just barely heard – Spence release a quiet sigh that brought with it no small amount of uncertainty.  Almost like a teenager who, in a moment of weakness (he would say) or in a moment of truth (the parents would say) could dare to admit to himself (much less others) that he might not actually know everything afterall.  

Dryst didn’t know why the cigar-smoking man had shocked Spence, but Dryst knew that Spence had been shocked and still was.  Funny, Dryst allowed himself a casual thought in this less than casual moment, Spence wasn’t alone in that regard.  Because there she stood.  Directly in front of him.  With her golden and white hair.  With her tall and lithe frame…a most pleasingly slender and graceful build.  Clad from shoulders to ankles in a creme colored body suit.  There she was…looking at Dryst with eyes as big as saucers, with eyes that cried for some help and rationality, that begged for a return to some sense of normalcy…something along the lines of what they had known before all of this madness had unfolded…something along the lines of anything other than being held captive in this strange and increasingly troubling place.  Surely, there must be that, her eyes pleaded.

His heart pounded within his chest wall.  His eyes locked onto hers.

“Dryst,” her mind called out to him…but with not as much presence in her voice as she had had just moments before.  (And he flinched momentarily at this.)   With not as much certainty in herself.  And he winced inside — somehow this tore at him — but he managed to furrow his brow together because it was the only action that presently kept his emotions from bursting out from his mind.  And yet one thought, Dryst was thankful this one thought, had kept shouting itself out from his brain. 

Something…isn’t…right.

He closed his mind and pulled it forcibly away from a mounting panick, but his kept his eyes continually locked on hers, where she stood motionless before him.  Two big round pools that he should know but that now drew themselves flat and lifeless and still.  Yet, he saw energy within her — not much, but enough to give him hope — as she tentatively reached a hand in front of her torso and began to extend it out to him.  But, then she stopped as if not knowing, and his chest tightened with upset and his mind countered the emotions by rapidly asserting itself over his feelings, to direct him to purpose and logic, to urge him to search for rationality or answers within the stream because…oh be damned with that, he growled inside, something isn’t right, dammit!  

And he pulled his mind back to search for what he knew to be true within his very core.

He opened his spirit wide and bared it before the rushing onslaught of thoughts and memories, of beliefs and dreams, of every point of consciousness from every being that had ever lived and who, from the living, willingly, instinctively, undeniably mapped its course out along every path of life’s journey.  He looked for answers while he looked with a burning penetration into the big round eyes that he had seen all of his life, that he had seen in every one of his lives, that he had known before they had even met and yet…eyes, in this precise moment and in this exact place, that he wasn’t entirely sure he knew at all. 

He swallowed hard and felt a cough push its way out of his lungs.  The butterfly — which had been silent and had made itself nearly invisible all this time — curled its feet a bit more resolutely around the tip of Dryst’s ear.  Dryst felt the creature — even though it was too light and inconspicuous to be felt — for the first time in what seemed like ages.  In silence, Dryst sighed a breath of gratitude; somehow this renewed awareness of the butterfly’s presence had the effect of steadying Dryst’s nerves.  Somehow he knew he would the butterfly would remind him…of what he already knew.

The creature purred softly.  Dryst clenched a fist and raised it to his mouth to smother a cough that idled its way up from his lungs and through his throat.  What is happening, he asked nearly out loud, nearly covered with irritation at this surprising other irritation that insisted upon rising up out of him.  And, then, as if in reply to his question, Dryst tasted the heavy cloud of cigar smoke that draped itself suddenly within his mouth.  He saw the answer floating along the smoke as he coughed out of his lung and it floated by like the memory that it was…like the memory that lingered in all eternity within the Stream. 

He saw Spence as a young man.  The young teenager, who looked nothing at all like the old man that Dryst knew of Spence, and thought of him, to be now.  And yet, for all the display of awkward youth, Dryst realized whose awkward youth it had belonged to…perhaps in some ways still belonged to, Dryst wondered.  Tall, gangly shouldered, but clumsy with his size.  Unsure of many things in life but never letting anyone see him sweat.  Somehow believing he could conceal any uncertainties he may hold about life even from those who had brought him into this world.  Oh, it was Spence, whistling with a pretense for ease; behaving like he was busy smelling his own potency.  The laugh was too loud.  The smile was too quick.  The witty retort was incomplete.  The words were not fully thought through.  The timing was forced. 

And yet there he was, pretending he had journeyed all paths, those travelled; those untouched both.  Like he had stepped into his own legs as fully and as wisely as the old man that Spence saw standing a few feet away…as one of them effortlessly tossed the baseball to the other while the other one clumsily played at hurling the baseball with enough force to…to what…to topple the old man…to knock him off the hill…but not really, no…not permanently no…just to nudge him a little over to the side there so that Spence could stand with him now…yes now, not later I am a man as much as he is at the top of the hill with…his father.   Dryst watched them throw the ball, saw the warm expressions on their faces, felt the genuine bond between them — strong and deep no matter how the son challenged his role as son and bridled to push it into manhood, while the father watched in quiet amusement with — yes — even a sense of pride, knowing that within this small challenge, his son had journeyed himself to a milestone…his son was undergoing a ritual of sorts that has played itself out from the beginning and would to the end…

Dryst felt the story unfold, this singular episode in time and place.  The young son; the older man.  He raised his head to view the present moment while he relived a moment in Spence’s past.  He wondered why this scene would cause him trepidation, why seeing the father here now — smiling in control of himself and in command of the knowledge about what his son was going through — why this would have been delivered to the three of them — Dryst, the butterfly, and Spence — from a rushing and heavy dark mist shrouded in foreboding.  He wondered why, as his gaze drifted back to the eyes of the soul he had known throughout all thought, his sense of what was coming down this path had been so terribly terribly off.  This must be Mya, he thought to himself. 

“Dryst,” her voice called to him as if she was winded from running too hard and running too fast.  And he looked at the tall, lithe woman who so uncannyingly mirrored the form and appearance of someone he held so vitally dearly, and he saw the woman before him with the golden white hair and the eerie lack of expression on her face, and he felt her hesitancy and awkwardness…her lack of certainty about many things in life that if she were truly Mya she would know without effort, that she would know without having to think about anything.  He saw in her vapid pools a pretense for ease and watched her tiny efforts to convince herself that she could conceal this fradulence from those who had punched through another dimension, who had altered time and space and matter and mind to find her here, to bring her back alive and full of life back to him.  

He felt an anger surging inside of himself as he stared at this pretender, who reached out again to him, trying to tap into this powerful emotion and change into powerful confusion.  And Dryst found himself reaching desparately forward but instead of reacting to what Dryst knew had to be a shapeshifter, he grabbed Spence’s arm to pull the old man back.  But instead of going back, Dryst felt Spence clasping his hands tightly around Dryst’s arm as he pulled them both forward into the smiling swirling mist of cigar smoke, and two strangers…

And they vanished.

“Dryst!”  Mya’s voice — and her body and the Cyborgs and the Warriors — continued to bully themselves over the rolling hills and push their way through the barrier of smoke that had clouded the Stream.

 

National Novel Writing Month:  Chapter 20 total wordcount:  2160 (not including this notation).  Total total count:  36,805.  (chanting a mantra:  Yes, we can.  Yes, we can.  Yes, we can.  Smiles…gah!  But smiling!)  

Iconoclast Rising … 19

 

“What’s our strategic plan?”  “It’s a secret.”  “Are you saying you don’t trust me?”  “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most employee sabotage is done by employees.” ~ Dilbert

 

Ch 19 ~ Intermission II … For Your Consideration

 

Date:  November 21, 2008; Email to:  The Author of this erm Novel, yeah, that’s it; From:  Anonymous; Subject:  For Your Consideration

 

Hiya! 

Well, okay, then, hello.  You don’t know us.  I should be more formal.  Well…but, it’s not entirely accurate that you don’t know us.  Actually, you do…and not just one or two of us.  The whole lot of us.  But, whatever (clears throat, brushes remnants of cookie crumbs off of the keyboard…studies the keyboard more closely and decides to lift it up and shake it upside down over a trash container near the desk)…there!  Better!

Okay, then.  Where was I…what?…(turns to look around the room).  Oh, okay fine…where were “we?”  Excuse me, I stand corrected.  There are, as you may have gathered, quite a few of us in the room.  Gathered, as it were.  Ironically, enough.  I like the play on words there or maybe I’m just at a loss for them as I try to write this note to you about our concerns, and so I’m probably stalling, most likely, but I’m not entirely sure, so…okay (marshalling courage), then, so why are we here, you may wonder.  And, funny you should ask because, we tend to have the same question.  Only not in quite the esoteric fashion of asking that question.  Only not in terms of this email, specifically.  You see we’re rather at a loss…  You’re rambling.  Get on with it.  Oh, indeed, I suppose I am.  (Is there any way to use a different font style for each “speaker” here?  It might not be entirely clear that I’m not just talking to myself right now.) We should be phone texting…does anyone know why we’re not phone texting.  What?  The 1700 word count?  Gah.  What?  now she’s pushing for a 2500 word count?  What has gotten into her.  Who knows, but get on with it, already.

Okay, so.  The thing is.  This snow tunnel that you’ve constructed.  Now, um.  It just seems odd that you would use snowflakes – pink ones at that – to represent All of Meaning in All of the Universes.  I mean (scratches head)…I mean my thoughts alone (clears throat), well, c’mon (shrugs rather smugly as if whatever he/she/it was going to say is entirely self-evident from just the expression, quite forgetting the limitations of email).  Well, actually (replies to the previous parathentical), the word ‘c’mon’ was the self-evident bit.  Need I say anything more after ‘c’mon’…I think not.   Let me talk…for pity sake we’ll be here all day at this rate.

Hello, this is me.  For the sake of identification, just call me “Anonymous 2.”  We are writing to you today because:

a) we are not really keen on the idea of using a snowflake tunnel to represent the highest order of thinking that we know of.  The implications of using a snowflake run the risk of suggesting that you think – or through extension, that “we” think – that higher order thinking is flakey.  And we do not think it is, although we are fairly convinced at this point that your thinking might be and we respectfully submit exhibit A “Snowflake Tunnel as Collective Consciousness” as proof, or certainly something for you to consider.  Well put…but rather mean, I must say.  Well??  (Shrugs shoulders and bugs eyes.)

b) you keep talking about this war thing, and, quite frankly, it is freaking many of us out.  Is this the effect of the Bush years?  Is everything a Terror Alert?  I’m surprised, quite honestly, that you haven’t used any type of color coding system, although the purple-grey mist and the pink snowflakes and the color changing skins and all certainly do flirt around those edges a bit.

c) the warriors never speak…and I can speak most directly to this because I have been elected to represent the group, athough I prefer that you refer to me as Anonymous 2.  But how could you really know which warrior I am.  You created only two varieties, and they all look alike.  (Raises an accusatory eyebrow.)   A legion of warriors that are clones of themselves, never speak, have no names.  Rather lazy, wouldn’t you say?  What you may not be aware of – and what I would like to now make you aware of – is that we do, as fictional characters have rights afforded to us by our dues-paying membership status in the Fictional Characters Guild.  That is to say that as minor characters – although I certainly never think of myself in those terms – but, be that as it may, as minor characters the FCG stipulates that all minor characters have a minimum of 100 lines of dialogue.  Frankly, this is atrociously insulting if you ask me.  But until the rules are changed, there you have it:  100 lines of dialogue.  (Peers closely into the monitor.)  And even with this dinky amount, you’re not scratching anywhere near the surface.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that your hand isn’t even on the correct surface, no offense.  A bit cold there…ouch, that hurt.

d) Um, yeah.  Where is this story going? 

On behalf of the members of the FCG, heretofore and henceforth known as “Anonymous,” we thank you in advance for your time and attention, and for your prompt consideration of these matters.  Sincerely,

Date:  November 21, 2008; Email to:  Dues-Paying Members of the Fictional Characters Guild; From:  The Author; Subject:  Re-For Your Consideration

Dear Dues-Paying Members of the Fictional Characters Guild,

Thank you very kindly for your…inquiry.  I have read your note with interest.  I believe I may understand some, if not all, of your concerns.  But I would like to clarify (perhaps remind) that this novel is my first attempt at committing to writing something every day over a 30 day period.  I admit, I missed a day or two here or there, but I have done what I’ve needed to in order to make up for any backsliding.  The point being, well, there isn’t really time to develop and connect the story and the characters any more fully than I have attempted to do throughout this month.  Oh, to be sure, I am certain others far more talented than I can, and do, achieve a more cogent, thoughtful, threaded piece.  And one day perhaps I will achieve this…at least one time; that would be so wonderful.  But, as for the here and now, I have to say that I am thrilled to have hung in there.  I actually anticipate seeing the work reach a 50,000 total by month’s end, which is only a mere nine days away.  This is a feat that, truthfully, at the beginning of it all – I wasn’t entire sure I could do.  I hope you share my enthusiasm for what really is our shared achievement!  All best, The Author

Date:  November 21, 2008; Email to:  The Author of (clears throat) The Novel In Question; From:  Anonymous (aka The Distinguished Dues-Paying Members of the Fictional Characters Guild); Subject:  Re-Re-For Your Consideration

Dear Author,

Perhaps we did not express our concerns as clearly as we would have liked.   We, as characters, don’t really have a sense as to time or place in this (refrains from clearing throat yet again) story.  And we find some of the literay devices you use, creative licenses you take, to be, well, um, if not questionable, can we just say convenient, yes.  Good choice, precisely that.   Not to mention you have built up to a climax oh any number of times already and we fear that you will not have what it takes to, how to put this delicately, to take us all over the edge and spank our bottoms like the very naughty characters that we are and certainly that we so expect for you to do after having toyed with us and teased us to exhaustion.  Speaking of exhaustion…do none of us ever sleep?  While I am loathe to recite directly from the Fictional Characters Guild, (I really had hoped that we could do away with such strident formalities) there are rules pertaining to number of work hours, breaks, biobreaks, food, water, sex.  Sex, sex!  Yes!  Ask about the sex!  What kind of novel has little to no sex in it?  Well there is the matter of the Clan and the Collective…but there seems to be a very strong technical aspect to their variety of sex, particularly with the Collective.  I’m not quite sure that it’s sex at all.  Have you ever had sparks flying out of your ass before? (Glares around in an effort to silence the ground; crosses eyes slightly and shakes head in an attempt to commandeer focus.) 

Um, yes.  (Blushes profusely.  Makes no attempt to refrain from clearing throat, and makes no attempt whatsoever to answer any questions related to sparks flying out the ass.)  I trust this sums the matter up a bit more clearly.  And we wait (as ever, rolls eyes for emphasis) to receive some clarity from you on these issues. 

Yet again, on behalf of the members of the FCG, heretofore and henceforth known as “Anonymous,” we thank you in advance for your continued time and attention and for what we trust will now be a more complete consideration and associated response to the concerns voiced and brought before you. (Resists the urge to italicize and bold several words in this general area)   Sincerely,  (Equally, resists the urge to put quotation marks around the word “Sincerely”…just like that there.)

Date:  November 21, 2008; Email to:  Anonymous (coughs) (aka The “Distinguished” Dues-Paying Members of the Fictional Characters Guild); ; From:  The Author; Subject:  Re-For Your Consideration

Dear Anonymouse (coughs) otherwise known as the “Distinguished” Dues-Paying Members of the Fictional Characters Guild,

My, my, my.  How kind of you.  I think I understand your meaning a bit better now.  Perhaps if you had truly wanted me to understand your concerns you would have contracted my services to have me write them out for you.  There’s no shame in hiring the services of a ghostwriter.  We all have our strengths, and yours appear to be as characters, which by all accounts from what I’m seeing in this email exchange, is quite accurate.  You are quite the character.  But let’s put that aside, shall we, and perhaps be a bit more constructive?  I do realize that there has been a great deal of action, if you will, from the very beginning (although it is quite interesting for me to notice that you would appear to be hungering for a more and different type of action).  And I do share some concern that with all of this punching through different worlds and dimensions I may have popped the cork a bit too early, to put it indelicately.  But beyond the pace that is dictated by National Novel Writing Month, there was also something else I was trying to accomplish.  I’m sure this may bore you to tears, but one of my sisters is an avid reader and claims to be able to tell a woman author from a male author based upon their writing style.  Jeanette claims that female authors take an inordinate amount of time developing and getting to action; whereas she finds that male authors write in a very fast-paced, action-oriented style.  Of course this is nothing more than her opinion, but it is something that has always stuck in the back of my mind after hearing her voice it.   And if I think about it, what I’ve probably done is a bit of both:  take an inordinate amount of time describing things and leap into action.  That said, I understand this concern.  I do see the reason behind the concern.  I’ve thought it myself.  I ask that you just bear with me and trust.  We’ll do it together.  As for the other matters, perhaps next year I will be in a stronger position to think about your biological functions.  (I must admit I was wholly unaware of the Fictional Characters Guild or any of its requirements.)  Seeing as we’ve nearly completed this first attempt together at laying out a story for National Novel Writing Month and we’ve all invested so terribly much in this, let’s agree to finishing out the next nine days without being hindered by Guild requirements, which I would have to spend precious time reading (that we don’t have) to make myself knowledgeable about the Guild’s requirements in any respect.  I am confident we can arrive at an agreement on this one point and continue this effort through to the 50,000 word mark.  Hopefully, The Author

Date:  November 21, 2008; Email to:  The “Author” (clears throat) of The Novel In Question; From:  Anonymous (aka The Downtrodden Yet Distinguished Dues-Paying Members of the Fictional Characters Guild); Subject:  Re-Re-Re-For Your Consideration

Dear “Author,”

Ironically enough, it would seem we have a failure to communicate.  How entirely bizarre that is for the author and their characters to be at an impasse.  Well…you might want to speak for yourself.  Okay, for a few of you warrior types and maybe the cyborg types too.  But not all of the characters are at an impasse.  Really.  A couple of us are quite positive about the direction of things.  (And is it really so much an impasse between the characters and the author as it is a wrestling with how best to unfold the storyline?  Particularly, now that there are only nine days left!)   Yes, well (furrowing brow), I feel it only fair to warn you that if you should fail to remedy the concerns we have raised in a satisfactory manner, my colleagues and I may have no other choice but to boycott the rest of this story.  Um, not all of us care to take such a drastic position.  – I  could have been a contender.  I could have had a shot at a significant part in the last Harry Potter book had I not been stewing about whle she ruminated on this storyline.  (Waves a hand to silence the chatter.)  Without us (looks smugly into the email textbox), you have no story.  And so yes, consider this tantamount to a character strike.  Should that occur, our next communique will consist of an email with oddly shaped newspaper letter cutouts cut and pasted into the body of the email.  You get the message.  Quite Determinedly, The Anonymous No More Mr. Nice Warrior-Cyborg-Witch-Other-Whathaveyou

 

 

Date:  November 21, 2008; Email to:  No More Mr. Nice Warrior-Cyborg-Witch-Other-Whathave you From:  The Author aka Slightly Miffed ; Subject:  Re-Re-Re-Re-For Your Consideration

You’ve got to be joking.  Right?  So this is the way you would have it?  Ransom?  I’ve heard of wrestling with the writing process, but even you would have to admit that this goes more than quite a bit beyond the pale.  Surely, you’re joking.

Date:  November 21, 2008; Email to:  The Slightly Daft One, “Author” of the Novel in Question; From:  Anonymous (aka We Mean Business); Subject:  Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-For Your Consideration

Not in the least.  And you betcha.  And, erm, before you go pointing a finger, maybe you should think about what you just did here to meet your 2,500 word quota for the day, hmmm?  Struggling, hmmmm?  Let’s hope you can wrestle this out in nine more days.  We hate to state the obvious but…who needs who here, hmmm?

 

National Novel Writing Month:  Chapter 19 total wordcount:  2550 (not including this notation).  Total total count:  34,645.  (chanting a mantra:  Yes, we can, smiles.  Yes, we can, smiles.  Yes, we can, smiles.)  

Iconoclast Rising … 18

 

“Mizu no kokoro…or ‘mind like water’” ~ a Zen phrase 

…in the face of emergency, a mind that is calm, or like still water, more accurately reflects what it sees.

 

Ch 18 ~ Minds like Water

 

“Kid,” Spence’s voice swam through the stream and reached Dryst’s mind just as Dryst and Mya were holding each other’s thoughts in complete wonderment:  like a precious creation that breathed and promised the fullness of all of its miracle, like a dazzling jewel that sparkled and shone through all of life’s facets.  And in the midst of all of this momumentous happening, Mya and Dryst did the most simple and the most profound of things.  Oh they gazed.  They stood motionless and gazed.  And oh they marvelled and revelled in the incredulity of the fact that they had found each other in this strange world at all where one event after the other event conspired to be stranger than the next event…against all odds and all probability, against all imaginings and all possibility.

Mya thought to catch her breath and breathed in his breath; Dryst thought to catch his breath and breathed in her breath.  Their eyes widened in surprise, held together in delight, smiled together in astonishment.  They each inhaled with amazement, making no sounds at all, as they stood completely dumbfounded, in awe over the fact that they were communicating in this manner…so deeply, so intimately, so instinctively on so many different levels, in so many different ways. 

Unbelievable…yet it is truth, they both thought with utter surprise and somehow at the very same time, a complete and full knowing.  How nearly ridiculous in the minds of most who fool themselves into believing that nothing is unknown beyond that which is known, or that nothing is conceivable beyond that which has already been conceived.    Proof of the incompleteness of such narrow beliefs stood there present in the Stream and there on the plateau.  Because in the face of something too large to be understood in its entirety or to overwhelming to be grasped in its completeness stood Dryst and Mya — amazingly so, stunningly so, and for them both, joyfully so — completely transparent in the Stream of Consciousness with all of each of their individual selves standing completely naked before and with the other.

The world is not flat and neither is the mind.  Neither is existence.  

And they realized that perhaps the majesty of it all was best described in its most pure, most simple of forms:  A smile.  A dance.  Their thoughts swirled and interchanged, merged and joined together in a dance of all ages and all dimensions.  And it was amazing.  And it was timeless.  And it was without boundaries.  And it was known.  Complete and total.  Truth.

Dryst smiled, softly and gently.  Mya smiled, softly and gently, too. 

I see you.  I feel you.  I know you.  Oh so well.  And oh…so very much more…

Their thoughts hovered and gazed and just about chuckled.  And then they did chuckle and giggle (their thoughts and Mya and Dryst, both), and they did so as one. 

High on the plateau overlooking the upside down forest and the rambling, lazy roll of the smaller hills on and about the land, she stood.  Her hand placed gently over her chest as if holding her heart, her eyes transfixed unwaveringly along the stream that lay far in front of her but in which she felt, and knew herself to be so very unequivocally there, Mya stood and stared in amazement at the exact spot where Dryst had paused in his walk through that inconceivable — in that unbelievable, Mya and Dryst both thought, but oh how they both believed, oh how they both knew — tunnel of pink snow that curled and blended and glimmered along the open wilderness of the Origin.  And that carried within it all at once a voice that broadcasted itself a bit more urgently now. 

“Hey…” Spence’s words moved up closer into Dryst’s face, examining and quizzing.   “…kid…”  His words just about rippled in the stream as if they were trying to break through to the other side…possibly beyond the stream?  possibly into the exact space of some person some place and who is that person and what of that space, Dryst frowned just as suddenly at the rush of thoughts.   “Still with me, kid?” Spence asked again with some amount of force even as he tentatively placed a hand on Dryst’s shoulder with some amount of care and lightly shook his arm.  

Just as…

“You are connected,” Cy’s voice whirled in its monotone fashion through the air.  She knew his twirling, humming eyes were rambling over her, registering the movements of this facial muscle, noting how the lifting of that facial muscle had bested the effects of gravity.  Oh Mya could feel Cy’s mind on her.  And she knew his articulated fingers of metal and wires and engines gingerly lay around her shoulder cap.  She could feel those, too, gently pressing around her arm.

Just as…

I see you, Dryst and Mya said together.  And I see where you are, Mya added in hurried, hushed tones, not entirely sure why she suddenly lowered her thoughts in an effort to make them even smaller in the stream…in an effort to make them invisible to the world and visible only to Dryst and Dryst alone.  She suddenly felt other thoughts awakening around them but not of their own; she suddenly felt other intention emerging into light, but again not of their knowing…at least not fully of her awareness as too much was coming at her in the Stream…but maybe Dryst could know, she wondered, and in response, he frowned at the randomness and currents and rush of the waves as he surfed through them.  But Mya carried a growing sense of foreboding still and questioned why this would suddenly come over her and give her pause, but, come to think of it, she thought…

War is coming, the little golden haired voice sang.  Here here, all around, the butterfly purred.

Just as…

Yes, Dryst agreed, and then, just like Mya, he reduced his thoughts to flow along a single stream that consisted only of their minds while the minds from all over — conceivable and inconceivable, intelligible and unintelligible — tossed and swirled chaotically and randomly…with several thoughts butting up insistently against those of Mya and Dryst, trying to seek them out with great deliberateness.

Just as…

The Other scowled deeply in thought.  Ophania’s mood snarled in unison, but that was nothing out of the ordinary for Ophania.  Still, she felt something more perplexing that usual in the air.  She edged her head out of the open window, and cast her eyes down from the tallest of the library towers that spiked upward and sliced into the sky.  Ophania detested this library.  Oh, the height of its exterior was of no worry to Ophania.  It was the confines of the library interior that caused her jaw to clench.  The room was too big and yet for all its size, conveyed itself in such a claustrophic way as to make an Eternal whail.  Every surface, every appointment was pristine and glossy, clean and shiny, buttoned and zipped and tied with such a neatness and a politeness as to be tantamount to tortureous and enough to set her skin crawling in a rebellious outburst of frothing raging colors.

What is happening, the Other spoke at last.  Her tone clipped.  Her words sharpened.

Just as…

Alarmed, Spence stepped forward.  He was about to take both of Dryst’s shoulders into each hand and shake the kid but good to snap him out of whatever trance had seized him.

And then…

I will come to you, Mya said breathlessly.  I see you.   I will come to you.

And also then…

Stay here with me, the way you are..I will find you…where I see you…Stay, Dryst said urgently.  It’s becoming too dangerous…stay the way you are.  Stay, he said with an almost pleading insistence, as much as Dryst could ever possibly plead but for all of his strength and evenness, for all of his brilliance and wisdom, even without complete immersion into every bit of cosmic consciousness great and small, he knew a danger was gathering and pursuing and nearly upon him.   And after all that he has been through, after all that he had done to completely alter the world to find her, he couldn’t tolerate Mya being put in the line of fire.  He could fight for his life better — with a ferocity of mind and body, and an abandon of reserve and worry, and a primal instinct of unbreakable determination and resolve — knowing that Mya was safe and away from harm. 

I will fi–

And then her thoughts broke off and his thoughts broke off, scattered about — their threads stretching and thinning but holding — by a fierceness of mulling that had bullied its way in.

Dryst exhaled sharply and pulled himself upright, startled and nearly panicked.  Mya gasped and lunged forward down the plateau, down to the lumbering fringes of the rolling hills.  She raced forward headlong, body outstretched, as fast as her legs could speed her; she cut through the air with her lithe form, her torso constricted, her arms and legs pumping tightly, her feet biting into the ground.  She ran blindly into the purple-grey mist, the cyborgs and the warriors silently, stealthily cutting through the atmosphere with her, moving rapidly with a powerful singlemindedness of purpose — unspoken and undenied – that contained a growing alarm.  They ran hot and direct, deep and unstopping, knowing with absolute certainly exactly where she was going.

Dryst knew.  He sensed deep within his soul.  And still he knew that Mya was safe and away from the gathering storm.  He knew.  He sensed deep within himself that the Stream of Consciousness roiled as if from a mounting energy that dragged and pounded forward from the force of an insurmontable tsunami that originated in some massive thought-quake from some epicenter of being.  And even through all of this, Dryst managed to place his hands calmly around Spence’s wrists and slowly lowered his arms down. 

“I’m fine.  I’m fine,” he managed to say, evenly and quietly.

“Kid,” the old man’s voice hushed itself along the snowflakes.  “kid…” his tone betrayed his disbelief, “what’s happening to you.”

“It’s not me,” Dryst said quietly.  “It’s not what’s happening to me,” he whispered as if he was talking to himself.  He looked straight ahead, along the center of the stream, along the glistening pink snowfall that tumbled more heavily now, more clustered together, more intensely, and with more brilliance.

Slowly, Spence followed Dryst’s eyes.  He turned his body, but he didn’t have to turn at all, because it was true in the opposite direction.  It was true in every direction.  The snow had increased, nearly blizzard like but not quite.  And yet they didn’t freeze in it.  They had never frozen in it.  The only effect that the Stream had…that the snow had – other than its profound effect on Dryst — was that it cast their skin and clothing in a slight pink hue.   But now Spence began to notice for the first time what Dryst had noticed several minutes ago.  The stream was beginning to shed all hues.  The stream was transforming itself into a brilliant light.

“This…shouldn’t…seem…to…be…a…big…deal…” Spence mumbled sluggishly.   His voice was as thick and as heavy as mollasses. 

“Yeah,” Dryst asked more than he said, then added, “I feel as troubled by all of this as you sound to be about it all, old man.”

Dryst and Mya, the warriors and the butterfly, the cyborgs and Spence, the Other and Ophania and her clan all watched — frozen in mind and in time — as a brilliant and pure radiance began to unveil itself from every part of the Stream.   Its brilliance ribboned its way through the Origin and outshone the galaxy on the floorbed of the upside down forest.  And all at once…there was light…and Dryst and Mya…and the warriors and the butterfly…the cyborgs and Spence…the Other and Ophania and her clan…all at once and altogether swallowed a collective gasp as they witnessed the land of the Origin display itself before them.  The redwoods hung magnificiently upside down, their broad branches swaying in the breeze near the floorbed…their roots, dividing and expanding, twisting and twirling themselves into the clouds, shaping and reshaping where and how they knitted themselves into one huge connected organism that was rooted in the skies.  And as the Stream continued to almost cleanse itself, Dryst thought, and the light began to spread, some of them marvelled in fascination and others of them ground their teeth in anguish as the galaxy on the forest bed began lifting itself up and merging its particles with the radiance of the Stream.   The light grew brighter around Dryst and Spence, and absorbed itself evenly and elegantly, rapidly and smoothly throughout the Stream, washing away any greyness or heaviness and sweeping itself down the path on its way to the foothills and the mountain that Dryst could clearly see for the first time stood beyond.  Something had pulled his mind there, something had told him all along to look there…there there there, the butterfly whispered earlier so quietly so lowly Dryst hadn’t even noticed at the time…

He raised his head to the mountain, high above, and with the help of the bright light, Dryst saw the great concrete towers that spiralled out of the mountain top like a jagged and mighty crown and smoked themselves into the endless night…which was rapidly becoming overrun with light. 

For all but Dryst and Mya, the blossomming radiance mezmerized all living beings into place, holding life captive either with extreme pleasure or extreme fear.  But Dryst kept moving his eyes and his mind.  He stepped slowly forward, one foot deliberately in front of the other.  And Mya hurtled even faster down the rolling hills, her pace challenging the stamina and endurance of the warriors, her energy bursting out even louder than the cyborg collective when it was fully jacked into itself and hooked up to the internet. 

They had sensed the fear, Mya and Dryst had.  Eons ago.  What seemed to be eons ago but really was minutes ago.  They had felt its arrival, Mya and Dryst had.  They had felt it unfurl itself slowly at first, imperceptively at first, but at the edges most definitely within the Stream.  They had known it…even before the fear itself had known of its own presence…even before the darkness itself had armed itself with the weapons of uncontrolled anger.

 “Ophania,” the Other growled.  She swallowed her rage, a rage that contorted her delicately painted face, a rage that spat in the face of her manufactured sense of order.  Her veins throbbed with revulsion at the exposure of her world laying open and bare before all, and she choked on the deliberately proper and controlled voice that she strained within herself to find. 

“Ophania,” the Other repeated again at last.   

The witch’s eyes hissed at the ground.  Ophania’s pupils shuttered rapidly out in the shape of engorged spiders.  Her hair writhed and screamed in knotted fury.  Her skin flared red and purple, coiling over itself from a steaming protesting angst.

“Unleash your worst.”  the Other snarled.

And then…

Just as the brilliance began to ascend and conquer the vestiges of greyness and flatness around Dryst and Spence and began moving forward, down deeper ahead of them on the path, Dryst knew — every bone in his body told him — he would see something.  He would see someone.  He would see his worst fears coming at him down the path.   Emerging out of what had been slowly lifting shadows from the furthest end of the path but had now become a cloak of purple-grey darkness that swept back into the Stream came two images.  They were covered in darkness and unfolded themselves mangled and twisted fashion.   

 

National Novel Writing Month:  Chapter 18 total wordcount:  2665 (not including this notation).  Total total count:  32,095.  (still behind gah! and still determined and…yes, I can, smiles.  Yes, we can, smiles.)