“Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad:
whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive,
we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.”
– John le Carré
The stars blinked out as we landed that killing blow; the dying universe that had been dreamed so well and for so long, gone in an instant. We stood in a circle, or at least imagined we did, in that moment beyond space and time. Behind each of us streamed the flickering lights of a life, a dream, a memory of the world from which we had come. I looked around and saw my friends as children playing on beaches, as disciples in lonely monasteries, as soldiers in training. To my left stood Lilac, haloed in the white of the snow, and to my right Kyrhien, surrounded by the glittering stars of a memory beyond our understanding. And I knew that when others looked at me, my world of green fields and market days would be visible behind me like a comet tail.
We spoke to each other, then, without words – for what use were mortal words between us? We talked of what we had, and what we had lost, and what we had hoped for the future.
We looked beyond each other at the blackness and knew that there was nothing else but us, alone in the void. We knew that we were gods, creators of the universe yet to come. We were all that lived in existence, and the future of it lay in our omnipotent hands.
I saw each of our shadows flicker with a thousand different images as we imagined what that meant. I saw my friends as rulers of vast empires, as prophets adored by millions, as free spirits of unlimited wealth, but each image soon faded.
“None of it matters, does it?” I thought, and the others agreed. After all, what meaning had power to those who now stood omnipotent? What meaning had wealth for those whose who had torn down empires? What meaning had love for those who would have to create the people to love them?
At last the flickering ceased, each image back to the memory it once was, each ego subsided – for try as we might, none of us could imagine a world more perfect than the one from which we came. Through all our hardships, in all our battles, we had fought for each other; our family and friends; the people who were depending on us. What right had we to decide for them what world they wanted?
“Will all this happen again,” Rachel thought, “if we change nothing?”
We supposed that it would. We thought, perhaps, that we should restrict the power of dreams that had brought existence to its knees. But we understood that we were each the sum of our dreams, and others’ dreams of us, and we knew that without them we would be nothing. Humanity must be allowed to dream, wild dreams and crazy dreams and dangerous dreams, because that is what it means to be human.
Someday, would the world be torn apart again? Maybe. And on that day, would heroes like us arise to set it right again? Certainly, because that is a dream that each and every person carries within their hearts.
Knowing this, the images of worlds that streamed out from behind us as individuals began to merge into one, a consensus reality, the sum of all our memories of how things were before.
“And what of us?” Lilac thought. “Are we to remember this?”
How sad would it be to have stood as gods and yet not remember? But how much sadder would it be to remember all our time together, knowing that we were the only ones like ourselves and that no-one else would believe a word? To remember what it was like to be a god, and be unable to achieve it again? How many of us would live out our lives as madmen, convinced of a reality no-one else would ever know?
“No,” thought Kyrhien. “It is better to forget.”
The world behind us was fully merged now, a single band of images. Our experiences combined; our world fully realised. The images grew, upwards and downwards until they made a sphere surrounding us, then took on depth, images textures over shapes, a world forming from our memories.
We closed out eyes, each of us finding in the work of creation a peace beyond thoughts or words.
“We will forget,” I said. “But perhaps, we might leave a few clues…”
Our world collapsed and expanded, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, rushing ever outwards; a world of laughter and sadness and love and pain and light and dreams and infinite possiblity.
The sun crested the treetops to the east of the village of Arcadia, spilling light through the window of a young man who should have awoken long ago to help his mother prepare for market day. He groaned and rolled over, but a warmth on his chest kept him from sleep. He sat and looked down, expecting to see the old dirt-stained pendant that he always wore. But this morning it was clean, and clear, and hot, and glowing with a golden light from within.
A world away, another young man awoke to sunlight, not with a glowing pendant but instead with a glowing mind full of ideas and thoughts and memories that begged and pleaded to be written.
He sat, pen in hand. And this is what he wrote:
“With the wind in your hair,
love in your heart,
and a dream in your soul,
anything is possible.”