Blackness. Moist and warmth . . . drifting, bobbing slightly. He floated, in ultimate repose -- and he felt at home. Thoughts slowly bubbled through his mind, rising from the black, silent depths -- fragments of thoughts, from a young mind. Where am I? The words faded away, thinned out into nothing by the comforting wetness. They were rational, meaningless down to the basic concepts of location, being and person -- only feelings and sensations mattered. The murkiness around him whispered gently, rhythmically in his ears. Sleep. Float. The whispers stirred something; a word. It swam up through the blackness, towards his consciousness, flapping. Flailing, as if it was young and . . . newborn.
When it broke the surface, amber light seeped into his mind and roused it in recognition -- Mother! The word seemingly stuck in his mind, leaving their marks where there had only been void. He understood, comprehending not in his mind, but in his tiny arms and legs and every cell of his body. Peace flowed into him again, dimming the amber and submerging him once more into the murky, warm waters. All that differed from before was the presence of the word in his mind -- but he didn't case.
He drifted downwards/inwards. Good. Darkness and warmth bubbled gently, around him and through him. He liked that. It was safe and warm and nice. He yearned to float here forever. The yearning brought more light, cyanic blue -- what is cyanic? -- the rational thought dissolved as soon as it had formed, leaving only the light and the discomfort it had brought. He didn't like that light. It made him think of having to leave, to emerge from the murky depths into the searing, painful brightness of the . . . Sun? The word stuck in his mind, too, next to Mother. This one hadn't swum up to the surface of his mind, but had seeped into it together with the light.
In his mind, connections were made -- Sun = light, Mother = dark. It neither made sense nor didn't. It did nothing except being there in his mind. That was new. There had been nothing in his mind, before -- what is before? -- the concept eluding him, slipping away and vanishing. Before and after -- the words were meaningless. There was only now. That word also stuck in his mind, but it didn't come from outside -- it took form inside him.
The words in his mind, Sun and Mother and now, danced and twirled around each other. Sun was light and Mother was dark and now was here, and here was now and light was Sun and dark was Mother, and Mother was . . . good? The word slowly dripped into his mind, darkness and warmth taking form as a new word in his mind. Mother was good. Yes! And if Mother was good, then Sun was -- the word struck him, painfully, like a burning blue wave crashing into him -- bad. Yes, Mother was good and Sun was bad. Very bad. The pain still lingered, his mind still aching, but then the soft whispers reached him again. Sleep. Float. Dream. He did, and the pain faded. Nice and warm darkness swept in around him.
As he floated, bobbing gently, another word formed -- I. It seemed to build itself out of his body. Then, the murkiness whispered to him. Child. That seemed to fit. Yes. Child = I. Yes! He floated happily, the words in his mind dancing and twirling . . . but here and now danced slower, less happy, than the others. They missed something, because here was now and now was here, but none of them really were anything, so both now and here had to be -- the word drifted in from all around him, coming from the very essence of the moist and darkness around him, from where he floated and slept and dreamed -- Womb.
Yes. Here was now was Womb. And Womb was dark was Mother was good. He rejoiced in joining all the words together, and floated gently while the words danced and twirled and flapped and flailed through his mind. Darkness and warmth and serenity slowly, silently bubbled around him and into him. Then, suddenly, a great searing, blinding crack of pure light was torn open, tearing the darkness to shreds. The light was nothing like the amber or blue he'd seen before -- this was not a light of his mind, but a light that touched his body and made his eyes ache.
Despair washed up into his mind -- he wanted to be in the nice and comforting darkness! Suddenly he was moving towards the crack, towards the light, and he felt his body leaving the warmth and darkness, travelling down/out towards the cold and brightness outside. Outside what? Outside . . . Mother? No! No no no no no! He wanted to stay inside Mother, in the dark and warmth and peace . . . and suddenly, he was out.
Everything was cold and bright, and he was near Mother, and Mother was dark and warm and moist -- there was so much of Mother, filling up the . . . sky . . .? Mother wasn't just here, she was everywhere and she was big and black and there were parts of her that hung above him and parts of her that flailed below him, and Mother looked so different in different places, and he could see the crack in Mother from where he had come, but the crack closed and melted together and now there was nothing there except for black and big and warm Mother who changed all the time and bubbled and bobbed just like inside, and now he saw other cracks on Mother and they were opening and closing and out of them floated things that were like himself -- he knew this, even though they were all different, some white and throbbing with new parts of them coming out of them and disappearing into them all the time, some red that flapped wings and flew away and some many-coloured that crawled up to and suckered tight to the white ones, eating them . . . and suddenly, he was aware of Mother looking at him, and he was happy since he loved Mother and Mother loved him, and Mother reached for him with a part of herself that split into many smaller parts and twined around him, and he felt her wetness and warmth as she touched him, but suddenly he was afraid -- for Mother throbbed with an urge that screamed and roared a word at him: Hungry!
And Mother lifted him high and he could see more of Mother -- but Mother never ended, she went on and on and on, black and big and bubbling and changing, always changing, and suddenly he was brought down to a hole that opened in Mother, a hole that was rimmed and lined with countless yellow teeth and barbs, and he wept and begged Mother to release him, but Mother was so big and she screamed Hungry! at him, and he was very close now, could feel the musty breath of Mother as she put him inside her. She closed around him, barbs and teeth cutting into him, the bulk of Mother crushing him, and he felt his bones snap and his blood pour forth as he pleaded to Mother one last time, but Mother roared Hungry! at him again, and he realised Mother had so many children that she ate the weakest. His last feeling was sadness at disappointing Mother, then she pinched tight around him, and blackness took him . . .
Gasping, Tom abruptly sat up in his bed. Sweat-logged bedclothes clung to his goose-bumped skin, as he flailed blindly into the darkness. His hand found the switch, and blessed light from his bedside lamp pierced the blackness. He couldn't feel his heart pounding, but his pulse was throbbing and roaring like drums at the back of his head. His breathing was strained, but as he took deep, slow breaths, the pulse slowed down and the throbbing in his neck arteries ceased.
At least I didn't scream this time, he thought with some relief. That would probably have roused the neighbours from their sleep again -- he'd been getting strange looks from them recently. Not very unexpected, though -- anyone with dreams that could send them screaming out of their beds several nights in a row had to have psychological problems. Maybe that's what I have, Tom thought, not for the first time since the dreams had started. He got up and went to the kitchen to get himself a glass of water. The dreams were getting worse -- but at least there hadn't been any new dreams in a while.
The one he just had was the worst, since it started with comfort and warmth, which suddenly turned into horror and pain -- the others were just awful or at least sinister all the way through. He sometimes dreamed of jumbled stones and ruins, which lay in seaweed-coated heaps on the bottom of the ocean -- he had always disliked deep water. Another one was more ominous -- he was lying on his back on a hillside, watching the stars, which suddenly started to wink out, as if they were being swallowed by something, one by one, until the sky was nothing but blackness. Yet another one started with him standing in a subway station, waiting for the train to come out of the tunnel. But instead of the train, something else came out of the dark tunnel, something that changed and throbbed and screamed with thousands of mouths that constantly formed and disappeared, and people around him would scream and flee. The thing would lash tendrils at some, crushing them. Others it would wrap itself around, dragging the thrashing human forms in towards the mouths . . . and all the time, the thing screamed TomTomTomTom! at him, like it was out for him alone.
Tom shivered and drank the water slowly, trying to calm his nerves. The water didn't taste good. Why does the city insist on adding too much chloride every other week? He poured out his half-empty glass in the sink and went back to the bedroom. Sighing heavily, he sat down on the bed and decided to watch TV for a while until he got sleepy again. The remote control had been knocked down from his bedside table at some time during his sleep -- he found it under the bed. Tuning in to CNN, sitting on the bed and leaning back against the bedroom wall, he sat with his eyes half-closed and listened to the news reporter. Another school shooting? No, something else. He caught the words "Atlantis" and "marvellous discovery." Apparently, some maritime science team had located artificial constructions on the sea bottom. Well, well, maybe the old Greeks were right after all, Tom thought. The fact that the discovery had been made in the South Pacific seemed a little weird, though. Actually, the name of the area was familiar to Tom . . . Wasn't that where the Navy sub disappeared last month?
He shrugged the thought aside as the reporter changed subject to yet another outbreak of violence and madness. This time it was in France, where the looting of a school had gone bad -- at least sixty dead and hundreds injured. Tom swore -- the crime rate had risen astronomically in the last six months, not just where he lived, but in the entire world. He'd already had two attempted break-ins, and once someone had tossed a burning piece of cloth through his mail slot. Fortunately, he was home at the time and could extinguish the fire -- otherwise, he'd probably have lost his apartment. Two days ago, one of his coworkers had been mugged and severely stabbed, after giving up his wallet. He was still in the hospital. Speaking of hospitals, they're all overcrowded -- as are the prisons, and the mental institutions. And the morgues.
Sighing again, Tom switched off the TV and went over to the window. He parted the curtains and looked out at the city. A fire was blazing in the distance -- he could spot several fire trucks heading that way. About twenty meters below him, on the street, two gangs were busy picking fights with each other. As he stood there, a police car suddenly burst in from an intersecting street, sirens blazing, scattering the gangs. One of the youths threw a brick at the police car as he ran -- it hit the roof, buckling and denting it. A policeman scrambled out of the car with a gun in his hand. He crouched behind the open door and fired two shots at the brick-thrower, hitting the youngster. The boy sprawled on the ground, red blood forming a puddle underneath him, while the policeman promptly got into his car and drove off. Tom backed away from the window, shocked. He slowly shook his head. It's as if the entire world is going insane.
Created: May 3, 2003; Updated: August 9, 2004