The Screen Behind The Mirror
He turned around on the ground under two layers of snow.
"Why is it so cold? Does it have to be this cold?" It's snowing
"Yes, it is." It shouldn't be snowing
. "I know." I better get out
He rose to his feet and looked around. The chill from the
air was getting through his shirt and pants. Snow was blinding his eyes,
fogging the horizon. In the distance, he saw a flash of light. There must
! He started running. The faster he ran, the slower he could
move. Gushes of wind and snow froze his hands and feet; his nose and his ears
lost all sensitivity ages ago. How long have I been sleeping in there
He did not know, but continued running. On the foot of the hill, there was a
small house, the only house be could see through the blizzard. He ran to the
door and turned the doorknob. It was open, and he walked in, collapsing on the
It was warm. In fact, it was so warm that he took off his
jacket and kept only his pants and his t-shirt. The heat from the fireplace
was enough to fill the whole house. He started walking around. The house had
two rooms, which were not really connected by anything but a narrow passage.
There were two windows, one in each room, a door, and a latter up to the
attic. It was just as warm there, with hay and blankets available for many
visitors. Downstairs, instead of a wall, the fireplace was the divisor of the
rooms. He was in the one on the right, with a larger area, and an open
closet. The room of the left was smaller, but the fire was accessible from it,
too. The sink and the drawers reminded him of a kitchen, and so he came to
dividing the house into the Kitchen, and the Living Room.
The living room was also the bedroom, and the
entertainment room. As he went through the stuff on the desk, he found nails
and wires and screws and bolts, with decks of cards and papers and a single
pencil. The pencil was almost out of lead. He went to the kitchen and
sharpened it with a knife. Now, he could write.
The blizzard did not have any intention to lessen, as the
skies grew darker. He searched for a television set, but instead found a very
old radio. He tried to catch a radio station, but he was not successful. The
lights were dim, but at least they hung on the ceiling. He never liked the
desk lamps, because they were too dark for him. Furthermore, although the
light on the lamp had a light bulb and was plugged into the outlet, it refused
to turn on.
He was getting hungry. He went into the kitchen and found
some potatoes. He washed them in warm water and peeled them with a knife;
placed the frying pan on fire and sprinkled it with oil; and when it was hot
enough, he dumped the slices and stirred them. In a matter of minutes, his
dinner was ready. He added some bread and salt to it, and dined with a smile
on his face.
Since the living room offered no entertainment (because he
was alone), he played cards with himself and went to sleep early. The fire in
the hearth was dying, but the temperature of the room did not change.
In the morning, as he woke up and opened the curtains, he
saw that the blizzard had stopped, and that it was a nice snowy day. He put on
his warm clothes, which he did not have yesterday, which he could not have had yesterday
because when he needed them yesterday, he was not home to retrieve them, and
walked outside. For miles and miles stretched the endless field of snow;
except for the mountain behind the white brick house. He looked up the mountain,
but as much as he squinted, he was unable to see the top. And while his
clothes were warm, he knew that he would freeze if he tried to walk all the way
to the top. After running around in the snow, enjoying memories from his
childhood, he got tired and headed back. He changed into dry clothes, and sat
on the couch. The radio still did not work. He looked around for books, but
the only books he found were atlases and encyclopædias. He skimmed through
encyclopædias and put away all but two, both about the world. He started
reading. He read at an unusual speed, realizing that he already knew
everything about the world that was printed. To his surprise, however, he
could not find answers to any of his questions. When he looked up Greenland,
he found it on the maps, but not in the books. The same happened with atlases:
they were simply incomplete. He put all the books away in disappointment and
sat on the couch.
I want to call someone
. "Whom should I call?" He
started remembering the names and phone numbers of his friends, but the harder
he thought, the harder it was for him to remember anyone. After a minute of
remembering, he gave up. His mind was blank. What's my name? My name
He could not remember that either. "I don't want to be here!" he exclaimed
loudly. But where am I to go?
Once again, he looked at the maps. Where
am I going to go? Greenland? New Zealand? Australia sounds interesting… How
about Japan? Yea, China, or Japan, or the Tibetan Mount
… He suddenly
stopped, as chills covered his whole body.
"I'm in Tibet!"
"He's still not back!" It was late Tuesday, or early
Wednesday, and Sam still hadn't returned from his excursion. Chloe was worried
about him. She re-read his message many times, and left him many more messages,
but he had not replied. She calmed herself by thinking that he was so tired
that he went to sleep, or that he'd come back even later. Taken over by sleep,
she decided to wait 'til the morning. Getting up early the following day, she
checked her messages again, but still, none was from him. She decided that it
is too early for him to write, and went to school.
She could not calm her worries, but she could put them
away behind a mask. Only those who knew her could tell that something was
wrong; but she kept denying it. In the evening, still seeing no messages from
him, she called his house and talked to his parents, telling them that she also
did not know anything about his whereabouts. She decided to try her group. She
told them everything that happened, and asked them for their suggestions.
Everyone said that they would investigate the matter further, but presently,
there were no results.
"I am in Tibet!"
He could not find the words to describe his joy,
excitement, and feeling of supreme power. He has always wanted to go to Tibet,
and now, he was finally there. Almost there.
He started thinking. He really wanted to visit the top of
the mountain. He knew that there, he would find what he was looking for. He
wasn't quite sure what he was looking for, but he knew he would find it up
there, in the castle.
Light has left the day, and dark clouds surround the
house. Blizzard's melody is heard in the dimly lit living room. It is
accompanied by a pleasant sound of embers cracking in the fireplace, and by the
happy dancing of energetic bursts of light, reflected through the holes in the
grating. In the center, using the candles as the two main sources of light, he
takes the pencil and starts scribbling careful words on paper, expressing his
emotions into a strange journal entry.
"I am very excited about being in Tibet. I know that I
can only stay in this house for a short time, and will have to go further, but
I cannot do that now. The walk up the mountain is too long and too cold, so I
will have to wait for the spring. But I am very excited about this trip. I
wish my friends were with me now… I don't know where they are, but there is
certainly enough room here for everyone!" He wanted to put the date and time,
but there were no clocks, and he could barely remember the year, or the
century, let alone the month and date. He was lost, lost in time, and lost in
But that was not his major concern. He was looking at the
lamp, glaring at it, figuring out why it did not work. He made a vow to try to
fix it, and now it was time for this try. He unscrewed the light bulb from the
ceiling and tried to light the lamp. It did not work. Therefore, the problem
was not in the bulb, but the switch or the wire. He unplugged the lamp from
the wall and disassembled the switch. The switch appeared to work. All the
wires were intact; and in fact, had he had an ohmmeter, the results would only
reassure his hypothesis. He already tried plugging the radio into the same outlet,
to make sure that the outlet was not faulty. It worked well. He toggled the
switch and played with the wire, but could not get the lamp to work.
It was already dark, and he was hungry again. He looked
around and found some cutlets in a plastic container. However, he still wanted
some potatoes. He picked two round ones and peeled them, chopped them, and
after adding viscous oil on the pan, he started frying them. The embers were
cracking cheerfully in the fireplace, and similar-sounding fizzles and pops
were coming from inside the covered pan. He turned the potatoes over and tried
one. It was crunching as he chewed it, so it was undercooked. He continued to
wait and stir, and soon, the potatoes had a delicious fried taste. He dumped
them onto a plate and put the cutlets on the pan. It did not need any extra
oil, but he decided to pour a little water. He covered them and inhaled the
delicious smell of fried potatoes. They were steaming invitingly, waiting for
the second part of the main course. Cracking oil droplets accumulated with
condensed water vapor on the inside of the cover of the pan. As he lifted the
cover, a burst of steam and delicious smell entered his nose and his lungs.
Oil was popping happily, all the little bubbles singing in unison. When the
warmth filled all the cutlets, he placed them on the plate next to brown crispy
potatoes, and sat at the table. The dinner was superb! He finished
everything, and wanted more, but decided to save it for later. He drank a
little water, and headed back to the living room.
He played cards with himself and tried to read or write
again, but it wasn't interesting. He was bored. He sat down and started
thinking. What could he do? What did he want to do? He wanted neither to
read, nor to write. He wanted to talk to someone, but no one was there. He
wanted to play a game, but there were no games other than cards. He wanted to
build a card-house, but it was too late, and he could not bring himself to
What did he want to do? He was staring at the lamp. Why
doesn't it work? It should, shouldn't it? Everything seems to be working.
Well, I don't know for sure, but if there were a way to check…
Was there a
way to check? He could check all connections and find the source. But how
would he do that?
He looked at the lamp. To check current, he could connect
wires and see if a wire would warm up. Wouldn't work.
He could try to
connect the light-bulb via supplementary wires. Good idea, but it's too
What would happen?
He was visited by a wave of
curiosity and bravery. What would happen if I were shocked?
want to be shocked, so he was afraid of that. He wasn't afraid of being hurt,
but he was afraid of pain. He wasn't afraid of death, but he was afraid of dying.
He wasn't afraid of electricity, but he was afraid of electrocution.
But this is the only way to check! But it's
dangerous. Maybe I can do something differently? No, I can't; this is the
only way to do it. But it's dangerous.
He sat down and looked at the fire. He wanted to listen
to some pretty music, or watch and adventurous movie. He wanted to dream
He was blocked, trapped, confined to this small house. It was a perfect
location, but he did not want to be there. He wanted something else, which he
did not know. He looked outside, and saw the blizzard, the same snowstorm that
was there yesterday, the same storm that would be there tomorrow. Nothing
would change on its own, and he wanted
change. And he had the will to bring
this change. He walked outside and dove into the snow. He was dancing in the
snow, drinking melted snowflakes and eating crunchy snow. He had the will, and
it was all that mattered.
He walked back inside and sat in front of the warm
prancing cinders. They warmed him up; but he was already burning. He was
angry, and infuriated at himself. He closed his eyes and inhaled, and turned
his anger into a want. He wanted to fix the lamp. Was he still afraid? Yes.
Damn it, what am I afraid of? Electrons flowing through my body? Death?
He jumped to his feet and felt the weariness take over him. He fought
it. He walked to the fire. He was afraid of burning himself. He sat down and
closed his eyes, and relaxed. He remembered, remembered as many of his
memories as he could. He remembered music, songs, movies, games, books,
rivers, fields, forests, forest fires. He'd been around fire before, he'd even
burned himself accidentally. He had done all of it before, so what was he
afraid of now?
He went to the kitchen and turned on cold water. He let
it run all over his hands and forearms. He turned it off and went back to the
living room. He sat in front of the fireplace and closed his eyes. I can
do it. Of course I can, there's nothing impossible about it. It's not even
about the water, or the fire. It's about me. I have to overpower myself.
He took a deep breath and opened his eyes, narrowing them and staring at the
embers. There was one. He was still afraid, and nervous; adrenaline was burning
his legs and arms and stomach. But he's decided to do it, and there was no
backing out. He wasn't even thinking about it. He wanted to do it. He had to
do it. He was ready.
He reached over and grabbed a burning ember. Water was
fizzling in his hands. It was steaming, creating a veil of steam. He clenched
his hands tightly and flexed all of his muscles. His hands were burning. Let
go of the pain.
It was hot. Ignore it.
He was playing with the
ember and rolling it all over his hands, to cover as much moisture as he
He relaxed. His hands were still burning. Kill it.
He was fighting the fire, fighting the flame, fighting his pain, fighting his
fear. His fear was at his highest, telling him to release, to let go, to stop
and be happy. "NO!" he yelled loudly, gasping for air. "I WILL WIN, AND YOU
WILL LOSE!" He held the ember even tighter. His enemy was the fire. He
focused on the cinder that was already dark, and started squeezing it. He was
squeezing it harder and harder, feeling it crumble in his palms. He started
rubbing his hands together, and dispersed the black powder above the flame.
His hands were red and black. He ran to the kitchen and turned on cold water
and washed his wounds. He was panting and looking at his hands. He did not
have any scars or any wounds, but his skin was still burning hot. He turned
off the water and grinned. He defeated fire.
He lay on the bed and smiled. He felt lighter. His hands
barely hurt, and his mind was happy. He's done it, he's fire. He could defeat
His fear was almost gone. He knew what he wanted to do:
He wanted to see whether the wires worked, and the fault was in the switch. He
unplugged the lamp and tied the extension wires to the extension cord of the
lamp. Then, he wrapped the extension wires around the light-bulb, so that the
electricity flowed through the extension cord, bypassed the switch and flowed
directly through the filament. To test it, he only needed to plug this device
into the wall and look at the bulb. He held the device in his hands and walked
towards the wall. He checked his fear-he still felt slightly afraid. He
He held the plug near the outlet. Almost there. It was
millimeters away. As the potential between the outlet and the plug ionized the
air around the metal, as oxygen molecules were ripped apart and turned into
ozone, as the metal parts touched, the initial burst of current propelled the
electrons through the thin copper wire. They split equally between the wires
leading to the switch, and the extension wires that he attached to the
extension cord. The electrons were now running through an aluminum wire,
making it harder for them to travel, slowing them down. However, as much as
they wanted to stay with the new medium, the constant flow never let them near
each other: they were repelled, rushing towards the filament.
Tungsten was just about the worst thing that they have
encountered. The tiny filament barely let any electrons go though, making them
tired and weary from their swift course. They ran through the metal filament,
warming it up so much that atoms began to shake quadrillion times a second,
emitting all this energy as electromagnetic waves, also known as light.
The photons reached his corneas and entered his eyeball,
landing on the retinas. There, the pigments in both the rod and cone cells
started undergoing a chemical reaction, which sent a signal through the neurons
into his occipital lobe. He saw the brisk flash of light, following the usual
He was perplexed. He saw the flash of light-so everything
was working. But the light bulb was dark again. Nothing worked.
He devised another test. He noticed that he never felt
helpless: he always had at least one more proposed solution to any given
problem. Only when he completely ran out of options did he allow himself to
feel helpless. Presently, however, he wanted to try another test. He held one
wire and disconnected it from the light bulb; he did the same to the others.
Next, he unplugged the radio from the outlet and started connecting the prongs
to the exposed wires. He knew that as long as he did not touch both wires at
the same time, and his feet were not wet (which they were not), he would not be
shocked. The first wire encircled the first prong. He held the second wire
and touched the second prong. The trick was to push it through the small
opening in the prong and let it stay. He almost succeeded, but noticed that
the two wires were very likely to touch. When he reached to fix the first one,
the second one accidentally snapped and short-circuited through his fingers.
The same current was traveling through the same wires, into his fingers and his
arms, and through his torso and his heart, into the other hand and into the other
prong. His muscles stiffened. He stopped breathing. His heart stopped
beating. Panic was taking over him.
And then he heard a melody. The melody was coming through
the radio: while most of the current preferred his body, some of it chose to
traverse the resistors and inductors and vacuum tubes of the old machine. The
antenna captured some noise and the circuitry lowered the frequency and sent it
through the electromagnet, which sent vibrations, via air molecules, into his
ear, where it was further carried into his brain and recognized as a melody, as
tens of coulombs of electricity per second were on the course to bring him to
He recognized the melody. He has heard it once before, in
his early childhood, and has never been able to find the song again. Now, he
could hear it. It was so peaceful and beautiful that he almost forgot about
the pain. And it was easy to forget about it, because it was diminishing with
every second. With a huge effort, he forced himself to breathe again. He could
feel his heart acquire the lost beat. He was still squeezing the two wires,
but he feared that if he let go, the music would stop. He continued holding
them, finding it increasingly easier to fight the current. With a little more
effort, he blocked the current completely. The song ended; he released the
wires and dropped on the couch.
"All right, everyone. Let's start." The noise quickly
diminished. "I'm going to go straight to the point. As you all know,
tonight's meeting is about Samuel Freeman, Chloe's friend. It is true that he was
associated with Majestic, and that he was on one of their assignments.
However, Chloe informed us that he does not
work for them, and would
rather, in fact, be on our side. He was last seen this Tuesday, right before
going over to the Majestic laboratories; and no one heard from him ever since.
Now, I ask all of you to help each other and find him. Some of you are
wondering how this is going to be any different from your previous
research-apparently, there is a connection between their interest in sulfuric
acid (and kudos to Shawn for uncovering those charts), control, and
kidnapping. We very well know that they never kill anyone; but now our focus
will be on this kidnapping. Now, get to work."
The noise returned to its previous level. Chairs were
moved and papers were shuffled. Everyone divided into a few teams, to take
different approaches to find him. Chloe was the only one who was unaffected by
the ruffling around her.
"Don't worry, we'll find him."
"I'm afraid of what they might do to him."
"No, Chloe, stop it." He gave her a hug. "He's going to
be alright. You hear me? He will be okay. Trust me
She smiled. "Thank you."
He was now lying on the bed. His eyes were closed, and
his chest expanded and contracted in a peaceful rhythm. He was tired, very
tired. After the song was over and he dropped the wires, weariness overpowered
him. He had enough strength to walk over to the bed and to collapse into a
It was almost noon. He opened his eyes and yawned, got up
and stretched. He was hungry. He walked over to the kitchen and helped
himself to some eggs and bacon (he did not remember where he learned to cook
eggs and bacon), and a steaming cup of coffee with sugar and cream. He looked
outside. The weather was improving. The sun was shining brightly onto a thick
layer of snow. "It hasn't snowed at all during the night," he thought. He
walked outside and breathed some fresh air, and looked at the mountain.
A strange feeling came over him. He was gazing into the
distance, almost searching for something that was impossible to find. But he
kept looking, mesmerized by the beautiful sight. Yet, it was not the sight
that attracted him but something else. Something was calling him to leave this
place. Something or, rather, someone.
He slowly realized that he was supposed to meet someone in
this house, but that someone was not there. Where was this someone? Who was
that someone? The more he tried to remember the person, the more assurance he
had that the person was real. He was nostalgic for a past that he did not
He returned to the hut and dove into the pool of warmth.
But something about that warmth did not feel right. He was not comfortable: it
wasn't warming him up. He opened the window to let in more fresh air, but even
then it was either too wet or too dry.
Has my pickiness risen this high?
, he thought. Or
why is it that I can't be satisfied with the air?
He continued brooding in
his foul mood, trying to find the reasons for the way he felt. He couldn't.
He pulled his knees to his chest and hugged them, and, bombarded by myriads of
thoughts and flashbacks from the past, fell asleep.
When he woke up it was already dark. He walked around
trying to find the time, but no clocks were around. He still felt no hunger,
so it must have been around 6:30. He needed to finish something… The Lamp.
The lamp that did not work. It disobeyed all the laws of physics and logic,
and still did not work. The radio worked. So the wires conducted
electricity. The light-bulb didn't. So the light-bulb did not work. It
flashed for a second. That meant it worked. He tried to replace the
light-bulb with other light-bulbs. They always worked. Before the experiment,
he checked the contact between the light-bulb and the wires three times. The
fault was not in them. The light could either work, or not. It did both.
"Why don't you work?" he asked the silent piece of glass.
"What is wrong with you? Why are you so capricious?" Immediately, a déjà vu
reminded him of the same word that was used to describe someone important.
That someone was clearly not the bald glass barrier with a metal filament
inside. But who was it? He suddenly felt his stomach sink to the floor. An
emotion grabbed him and clenched him tightly in its claws. With every second,
he felt more and more engulfed by depression. What was happening? Where was
he? Where were all his friends? Why did they not help him? Why could he not
remember? What was wrong with him? Was it all his fault? Why couldn't he fix
He was holding his head in his hands and wincing from a
keen mental agony. Everything was a blur. He could not think. He could not
feel anything other than the pain in his head. It was horrible. He wanted to
cry but could not. He wanted to scream but could not. He could only squint,
and wait for everything to go away. But the longer he waited, the less hope he
had of feeling better. He wanted to hit his head to lessen the pain. He
wanted to stick it in the snow to freeze all his neurons. He wanted to swallow
some painkillers to stop suffering. Thoughts from the past were flooding his
brain. He could remember words, sounds, smells, actions, but he could not
remember anything about those memories. He still did not know his name. He
did not have one.
Chloe stopped in the middle of the street. She was
walking back from the organization, and paused a few blocks away from home.
Something made her stop. The city was quiet. She looked around. Was someone
watching her? She wanted to start walking faster, but there was no one to walk
away from. It was something different. Sam was in her mind most of the time,
but now, she could almost feel his presence. Was it fatigue? Depression?
He was alive. She knew that without a doubt. He was
somewhere-but where? In the lab? This city? Have they imprisoned him in
Almost immediately, a five-letter word popped into her
head and exited through her lips: "Tibet."
His pain dwindled quickly. He could open his eyes and
walk around, but he still shivered as certain painful thoughts pierced his
brain. He could only feel the pain; the substance of the thoughts eluded him.
He wanted to know the substance. He wanted to know his past. But the more he
thought, the more of the pain returned.
He decided to calm himself down. He closed his eyes and
started breathing evenly. He tried to expunge all thoughts from his head-and
think of nothing, nothing at all. He tried to take a nap, but it did not
work. He turned on the radio. After a long search, he found a decent radio
station. He tuned it to the best of his abilities and began to relax some
He wished for a hot tub, or a bubble bath, but he was all
out of bubbles. He wished for a hug, but no one was there to give him one. He
was alone. He hated being alone. Sometimes it was necessary, but most of the
time, he was alone simply because he had trouble forming relationships,
especially with other people. He realized, by imagining, that he was always
shy in groups of people. He wanted to change that. And he also wanted to
change something else: the light-bulb.
He was tired of it. He was tired of trying to figure out
the impossible. All the odds were against him. He didn't understand why it
didn't work, but it still did not work. It should have worked. He wanted it
to work because…
He paused. "Why do I care so much about this piece of
junk?" He saw how much time and effort he wasted on something that did not
even work. "Of course I want it to work out of pride, to make me
but is that really why I'm doing this?" He thought and growled even more.
"Okay, so now I know the technical matters; I don't care any more because this
is something that has nothing to do with electricity." He stopped.
He cared. But he didn't know why he cared. He wanted it
to work. Not for the light, not for the thought of a repair. I am
"No." I want it just to show off
. "No!" Yes!
"NO!" The faintest trace of smile disappeared from his face; he was now
submerged in gloom. "No, stop it! Stop it! Why do I keep having these
thoughts? Why do I go against myself?" Do I really? Isn't this what I'm
"No, I'm not like that." How do I know? Do I
"Stop it, stop confusing me!" He hit his head with a fist.
"Shut up, go away! I don't need you! I don't need anyone, I can do this!" I
know I can, but what's it worth to me? Nothing.
it worth to me? It's just a lamp that I
don't care about." He blinked. No, no one cares about me. I am alone.
"No, it's not true!" Then where are all my friends?
"I don't know,
they're not here." Because I don't have friends?
"I do! I do! Shut
up, go away, leave me alone!" What's the matter? Can't remember my own
"Shut up, just shut up!" He was plugging his ears with his hands
and beating his head on the wall. A small stream of blood was dripping on the
floor. He was squinting, his head was exploding; the voices inside urged him
to end it all, to stop fighting for the unknown. He had no goals, nothing and
no one to rely on; he was worthless.
He didn't need to live any more. His death would mean
nothing; but his life meant even less. He wanted to end this torture and kill
himself. He needed to kill himself. He hated himself. He wanted to stuff his
stomach with sleeping pills, but there were none. He wanted to slice his veins
and bleed to death, but it was too messy. What else could he do? He could
jump. A cliff was very close by, and he knew that he had no chance of
surviving the fall. He looked outside. His voices were right, they were
finally agreeing with him. He was
worthless, and alone. It was the
right thing to do. There was no reason for his staying alive. He stepped
outside and walked towards the cliff. That was it. The end of it. He stood
at the edge and looked around, in hope to see clues to disprove his
conclusion. Nope, this was it. The decision was final.
He turned around for the last time. He'd already said his
goodbyes and was bending his knees for a jump. However, his instinct always
told him to look behind before doing anything important.
There was a mountain. It was a tall and snowy mountain.
Someone was on its peak. He forgot all about where he was and what he was
wanted to meet him. He wanted to meet her
much. He was certain it was a her
, he felt her
and knew that she
knew him. He wanted to remember more of her, but, once again, could not. There
was a reason. There was a reason for what she wanted; there was a reason for
his being there. There had to be, because that was the only way anything made
sense. There was a reason that the light would not turn on. And there was a
reason for his wanting it to work.
And it wasn't to please himself. And it wasn't to please
her, either. It wasn't to shut up his voices, it wasn't for the light. It
wasn't for any rewards, or for fear of any punishments.
It was because it was right
. He screwed the
light-bulb back into its socket and put the shade back on. He inserted the
plug into the socket and flipped the switch. A bright yellow spot appeared on
the desk. He was right. The lamp worked.
She was hacking.
She has never been a good hacker, but at the same time
there had never been a better time to learn. Everyone on the team had been
putting in a lot of hours to get some information about where he was. Of
course they tried to gather as much information about Majestic in their spare
time as they could-but they had never known that it had this separate branch of
kidnappings and… She did not want to think of it.
They had to be careful. Majestic itself was divided into
many branches, most of which were localized, each in a large building, all of
its computers networked. The higher the branches, of course, the more
difficult it was to gain access to their files. They could get to level two,
out of many more than two. In fact, no one knew how high this pyramid rose.
They could only hack.
Hacking was simple. Of course not to her, simply because
she was quite new to the whole experience of pinging servers and then flooding
them with DDoS attacks for a mere hope of uncovering a core dump that just
might contain an encrypted password; but as they gained access to more and more
accounts, most of which were on the lowest level, they realized that even the
information was shadowed: the simple emails contained nothing that they could
use. That is why after countless hours of sieving through hundreds of emails
of a few dozen users, they would rejoice at uncovering the tiniest piece of the
puzzle. However, they believed that their efforts would pay off; and while
many of them were in it just for the hacking challenges, they still persisted
since they knew this was a real wargame. It was also their favourite game.
Chloe enjoyed it the least.
He packed as much stuff as he could conjure up. The night
was cold. He dressed up in warm clothes and looked at the lamp for a long
time. He flicked it on and off a few times, just to make sure that he had not
gone completely insane. The lamp worked. He looked around for the last time,
having already cleaned up the place, and turned off all the lights except for
the lamp that he fixed. He knew that as long as it was on, he had a place
where he belonged.
He closed the door behind him and looked up the mountain.
The night had just begun. He felt as if it were 11 at night, and it was the
perfect time for him to start his journey. He waved to the house and started
The wind and snow tried to put him on the ground and roll
him off the mountain. The slope was steep and slippery. There was no one to
support him. And he could always go back, as long as there was the light. He
looked around. The tiny house still had one window lit. He went on.
Every step drained him of his energy. He was sweating,
but if he stopped, he would freeze. He had to keep moving. Removing layers of
clothes was an idea just as bad, because the chill would get him almost
immediately. Right leg. Left leg. Inhale. Exhale. Right leg. Left leg.
He went on for a few hours. In the middle of the night,
he stopped and looked back. There was a small glowing dot. But as the slope
suddenly decreased, he was no longer in the line of sight with the house. His
hope was gone; all of his goals were entirely in his mind. He felt weaker. He
looked ahead, up the mountain, and saw no end to this night. The skies were
dark, the stars were hidden. Why was he there? Why didn't he stay in his
cabin? He tried to remember the voice, the spirit that was so close to him.
But at this dark hour, even she was somewhere else. His heart irked. His
journey was just an act of silliness. It had no meaning; it was stupid; it was
pointless. Even the spirit, his best friend, left him. But why? Wasn't she
there to help him? "Guess she changed her mind," he said out loud. Anger gave
him more strength, and he continued his march.
He knew that he was now completely alone. He knew that if
he fell asleep and froze and died, then no one would know. So he stopped
thinking, and caring. They
were gone. It wasn't their battle that he
was fighting, it was his own. He was ready to fight the mountain, even to
death, if that was what it took. And that was his goal.
By dawn, the snow began to lessen. He could now see
patches of dirt and large boulders protruding from the ground. It was still
fairly dark, but his long night was over. He didn't have any feelings in his
legs or back; his arms were just as numb (he used poles to push himself
upwards); but he continued to trudge through the snow. Luckily, the path was
new and smooth and flat. In the distance, he saw a large cliff that marked the
end of his mountain. However, he cared little for the scenery: his eyes were
fixed on a nearby cave. He walked inside, and as soon as he realized that it
was warm enough for him to sleep, he passed out.
The pieces of the puzzle were tiny drops of mercury that
merged together upon contact. Along with the lists of places, they discovered
a list of dates. Eagerly, they flipped their calendars back to the Tuesday
when Sam was kidnapped. Four events happened on that date, one of which seemed
to be a simple delivery, because the destination was the same as the downtown
station. There were three more stations to take care of, and three more
units. They never timed the events, so it was impossible to conclude which
"package" indicated Sam. The list was printed out and posted onto a wall; the
search was now directed towards those three locations. However, now what
everyone knew what to look for, it became even harder to find it. The number
appeared everywhere, just because there were two or three different systems of
counting. Some log files indicated the story of 561, 1964, and 8191,
He opened his eyes. He was inside of a warm and dark
cave. He must've slept for almost 12 hours-however, light from the outside was
still blinding him, making the cave even darker. It was a very small and
comfortable cave, which gave him a very familiar feeling. He was a little cold-he
was only wearing a t-shirt-and he had no extra ones. The skies outside were
dark-green… No, it was just his imagination, as were the howling noises and
the moving red dots. They are from a laser pointer
, he thought
initially, before realizing that they were there because he stood up too
quickly and blood rushed away from his brain.
But the cliff was quite real. It was a warm sunny
afternoon, with a slight breeze of refreshing mountain air. Far in the
distance, he could discern some form of vegetation, but at his level, which was
rather high, he only saw large rocks, boulders, and the cliff. The mountains
in the distance were a mixture of red and black, and deep below there was a
tiny blue river.
He looked around once again. He had a sudden urge to look
around to make sure that the place was safe, that there were no beeping
turrets, and that he did not have to climb through sewer pipes. But his path
turned out to be very different.
Actually, he did not even know if it turned out to be
anything. He didn't know how it happened. He knew that he had to go up. He
realized that if he thought about it for a while, he would've picked that way
anyway, but it was not his own thought. It was foreign to him. And it puzzled
him for quite a while. It wasn't her thought either. He never really gave up
on her-but at the same time, he never really knew who she was either-but this
was definitely someone else telling him what to do. But it was gone, and he
stopped worrying about it. He wanted to climb up.
The ledge was getting increasingly narrow, and
increasingly steep. He had to balance himself very carefully in order to not
slip. In the very end of the ledge, after it ran around a curve of the
mountain, there was a short ladder. It was a small red ladder that led
directly upwards. He tugged it a few times to make sure that it was safe, and
transferred all of his body weight onto it to get even higher.
The ladder was too short. On the top of it, the slope of
the mountain was a little less steep, so by leaning all of his weight onto the
rock, he was able to push himself up a few feet. Then he reached another
ledge, and followed it around another curve. As he turned, he stopped and
blinked a few times. He could not believe the change of terrain. The
mountains in the distance were now mountains many miles away, and the drop down
was completely vertical. It was impossible to move sideways any further,
because it would mean suffering from a 2-mile-drop.
But the view was amazing. If only he had wings… He
wished that he could fly, to soar above these beautiful plains and mountaintops…
But he was already happy with what he saw, and where he was. Only he needed to
go higher. He reached up and grabbed a stone. He placed his foot into a ridge
and stood on it, and reached for another ridge in the mountain. He was already
used to shifting his weight in a weird way, and he was superb at balancing.
This was fun! He was climbing higher and higher, sometimes shifting to the
left, sometimes-to the right. He did not think about anything other than his
enjoyment of this activity.
But soon he got tired. The sun was already setting, and
he'd used up most of the energy in his fingers and his toes. He was also using
up his skin-this much friction was hurting him. He had numerous scratches on
his wrists and elbows, but he continued to climb. He was drained; he could
barely do anything else. The sun had set, and darkness had descended upon the
mountain. The air was cool, not cold, and very pleasant; the bright stars and
a crescent moon in the dark sky were beautiful. He was resting on his feet and
his left hand, and gazing upwards. He was filled with excitement for being in
this place. But he did not know what to do next.
After some more climbing (he was barely making any
progress), he wondered if there were an end to this mountain after all. Maybe
he could just go 100 feet to the right and find peace there? Maybe he'd been
going the wrong way all the time? But something was telling him to stay on his
track, and this something, this sense of security, made him happy.
A sudden sharp pain in the back of his head made him stop
and shiver. He winced. His happiness was gone. He realized that something
didn't make sense. Where was he going? What was he thinking when he started
the ascent? He was listening to this voice that told him what to do. Of
course it was fun at first, when he was ignoring everything around him
but now he was stuck on the mountain. He could fall and die, easily, and no
one would be able to save him.
But there were no alternatives. He couldn't climb down
anyway, and jumping into the river would kill him. If he stayed, he'd run of
out ideas, and therefore, this urge of bravery was an attempt to save him. But
it was someone else trying to save him. Why?
His feelings were mixed up. On one hand, this entity was
helping him, but on the other, it didn't feel right. Should he trust his
intuition? For a moment, he thought that this was ridiculous, being in this
dilemma, trying to decide why he was up there, as opposed to finding a way to
get out… But it was important to him. Besides, he was too tired to continue
climbing, so this short break was necessary.
He closed his eyes and asked himself what he wanted. He
wanted to go home. He asked himself what the voice wanted. He concentrated
The voice wanted to help him. It wanted to point him in
the right direction. But why? Because the voice… Cared.
He was confused. Never in his life had he such an
intimate contact with anyone. He didn't want to believe it, but it was just
there. The voice cared. He did not know whether to be happy or scared. It
made no sense. He wanted someone to just tell him what was going on. He
wanted her to come back.
Chloe was getting frustrated. She had a hunch that 1964
was referring to Sam, but there was no way to verify that. Furthermore, the
locations did not make sense either. They were scattered all around the globe
(thanks to the list of coordinates that were acquired from a level-2 computer),
but there were two or three types of them. They were referred to,
respectively, as Type 1 and Type 2 locations. Some were untyped, so they were
suspected to be of Type 3. "Either that or $_," said Shawn. Shawn was
interested in PERL, and in torturing himself by spending hours looking at code
that made no sense.
He was frustrated. He was mad. He was powerless over his
situation, and that always made him frustrated and mad. He continued climbing
slowly, but with every move, he was getting weaker and weaker. And at the same
time, the idea of someone helping him was getting more and more attractive. He
needed this help; he needed that someone to fix the situation.
He suddenly heard her. She was telling him to do what was
right, to make the right decision.
And that was what he needed. He knew what he wanted to
do, and he knew what someone else was offering him. All he needed was
someone's faith and hope. And he had it. It was a very confusing feeling, and
to deal with it, he had to attack it from many sides to get the full picture.
It wasn't a battle, it wasn't a debate. It wasn't a matter of life and death,
in fact, it was nothing like any cliché. She wasn't his guardian angel who
would take care of him, and she wasn't someone over whom he was responsible.
She was someone even closer than the voice, who had complete trust in his
judgment and actions. And there was the voice, who wanted to help. But the
difference was that this voice… This voice never wanted him to express
himself. The voice didn't appreciate his sovereignty.
So what was he to do? He was not a pawn in anyone's hand;
but he did have the option of siding with someone. Should he?
But for real, it wasn't really siding. All the voice did
so far was tell him what to do. He felt smothered by its presence, by having
it all around him. A déjà vu reminded him that he'd had that feeling when he
was told things-opinions and beliefs-without descriptions or proof. He could
not talk to people ruled by ambiguity; he had to be with those who were
responsible for their behaviour.
And even though she
was confused, she was giving
him the respect that he was craving. And all he felt from the voice was
He was deriving energy and strength from this point of
view. He needed not be with anyone else, for he always thrived when he was
alone and with someone in his mind. And now, he had her. He sneered at pain
and spots of blood left by his fingers. His muscles could still work-so he
still used them. He pulled himself up and up. The voice was persisting, it
was telling him to choose it, to trust in it, to reciprocate its care. But he
was getting full of these lies, for lies they were and nothing else. He was
climbing higher and higher along this vertical wall. Sometimes he even got to
segments where bumps made the slope negative, but he still managed to pull
himself up, extend an arm and hold on to another bump, put his leg against
something and push up and sideways. He was so tired that every muscle in his
body was in pain; his sense of balance was wasted and over-trained. At first, he
could feel his blood pump in his brain when he could use only two points to
hold on to the mountain; he would be terrified knowing that if he tipped either
way, he'd fall; but now, he felt a flow of energy from the rocks into his
bones, he knew that he was getting stronger the more he relaxed and trusted in
himself. And that allowed him to climb. Every pull-up scratched his stomach
and bleeding knees, his face was a galaxy of cuts and dried blood; but he
refused to stop. He wasn't doing it to avoid the voice; nor was he doing it
because she trusted that he would. He did it because of what he got out of it,
and that was himself
. By climbing, he was rediscovering himself and
redefining his strength and willpower. And he needed it.
The skies were getting brighter, and the cool air was
warming up. The path of red was trailing down as far as he could see, and the
top still wasn't there. And neither was the moment that he would give up.
More pull-ups. More stand-ups. More pushing off the rock, more searching and
scraping, more hugging the mountain. He was in love with it. It was giving
him a form that he could feel. He was happy. Happy not because of the sight,
and not because of his immediate ascent, but because of his accomplishments and
of what it has given him. He found his truth.
Fragments of songs were entering and exiting his head.
Sometimes, a Rhythm would be a Dancer for a few minutes at a time before being
replaced by another song. But he kept climbing steadily, despite his inability
to do so. He already realized that physically it was impossible for him to
have gotten this high. He was supposed to have fallen to his death a long time
ago. But even that did not affect his determination. He had the will. He
wasn't going to listen to some stinking logic or anything else that tried to
prevent him from reaching his goal. He stopped listening to the voice hours
ago. Now, he was on his own.
His hand reached a flat surface. With a final pull-up, he
dragged himself onto level ground. Relief, accomplishment, excitement, and
perfection occupied his mind, his neck and arms and torso and legs. He relaxed
and fell asleep.
Afraid that he is being
brainwashed. Starts to hate Majestic.
He woke up on a beautiful plateau. The grass was green;
the sun was shining brightly in a perfectly-blue sky; there were barely any
clouds; the view of the horizon was stunningly beautiful. And far ahead in the
distance there was a monastery. He had known about it for quite a while; that was
the reason he was climbing up the mountain. Was it a monastery or a church in the
Himalayas, he did not know. Frankly, he never even knew the difference between
the two, because it never really mattered. What mattered was the city that was
enclosed by large brown walls. He called it Cathedral City.
Cathedral City was a beautiful place. It was giving off a
sense of adventure and excitement; everything beyond the mysterious walls was
Unreal and seemingly perfect. However, there were no entrances. The only
gate, marked by two large lime-coloured rhombi, had no intention of opening.
He even thought of finding a secret brick to depress, but the wall was level
and the task was impossible.
There was a pool. Small fish were playing chase with the
playful rays of light on the bottom of the pond. Water lilies (or were they?) secreted
a sweet aroma, just inviting him to take a swim. He dove, held his breath, and
approached a large opening in the side of the pool. The opening was a twisted
tunnel that in the end led under the wall into the Cathedral.
He was in the antechamber of this ancient place. He did
find the switch on the wall-it was a wooden lever with a loop on the end-and
opened the front gate. The sun was glistening beautifully, and its warmth was
drying him fairly quickly. After a few minutes of exploration, all the water
A déjà vu, a strange feeling, buzzed in him as he headed
from the antechamber into the main part of this Temple. (The main gate had
already closed by a perfected mechanism.) There were a large stone gate and a
small wooden door that led inside. His hand shivered as he touched the ring to
open the door-nightmares ran through his brain and his limbs. He squinted, for
a second, and then all came back to reality. He stepped through the door.
"Mai Hasegawa. That's your name, isn't it?"
The stranger looked confused. "But how do you know? You
don't know your name!" He stood in shock. Only now did he have a chance to
look at the stranger.
"You're me!" he yelled.
"What a surprise."
"No more time for questions little girl."
"Who the hell are you talking about? I am not a little
girl, and my name isn't Mai!"
"But you are confused, and I am here to help you."
"Help me by confusing me with someone else? I don't think
that's going to help me."
"Help you by telling you where you have gone astray, and
pointing you in the right direction."
"You're lost. You don't know how you got here, or what
you are supposed to do now. You're trapped in your mind."
"I guess that can describe how I feel…"
"You don't know who to listen to; you don't realize who
helped you survive last night. I was there, I felt you, and I know how you
achieved the impossible."
A shiver ran through his back. "How?"
"Even though you rejected the voice, the voice never
"It still cares about you. It-"
"No, it wasn't the voice, it was me."
"You are mistaken."
"No, I know what I felt, and I felt my self; it was my own
energy that I used to conquer that mountain."
"Is that what you really think?"
He was starting to doubt himself. He remembered her.
"That is what I know."
"Why is it so hard for you to see that you are
interconnected with everything around you?"
"I know that I am."
"Then why can't you accept the voice?"
"What is it about the voice? You sound like it was God
talking to me or something."
"You're slow for someone who's supposed to be bright."
"And you want me to accept him?"
It was the climax of his emotions; all that he's felt last
night was gathering into a single emotion, a single response. "No one shall
ever tell me what to believe. I know what I felt last night, I know what it
took to get up the mountain, and I know that I had no help from the being you
mention. I have my own religion and my own beliefs, and I will not let you
impose you opinions onto mine."
"You have spoken. In the end, there can only be one of
us. You now shall see who will be favored." The stranger extended his arms
towards the sky and flexed his muscles. He took a fighting stance and waited
for the stranger, who was running towards him. The stranger jumped in the air
and kicked his left foot forward. He strafed sideways. The fight began.
They were facing each other, he and the stranger, throwing
and blocking kicks and punches. He didn't know that he that he could fight so
well; but in the expression of the stranger he saw condescendence. Was the
stranger really favored by some supreme power? Yea, right!
More punches followed. It was an unstoppable repetition
of fists being blocked and ankles meeting to prevent a direct hit. He extended
his arm; the stranger caught it and pulled it; and he performed a somersault,
landed on his feet, and jabbed backwards with his elbow and his wrist. The
stranger, about to punch, backed away, and they continued to face each other.
"Your potential is almost as great as mine," muttered the
stranger. He bent his left knee, and thrust his right foot into the stranger's
face. The stranger used both of his hands to catch it, and he jumped off his
left foot and drove it into the stranger's stomach. The stranger fell
backwards, raised his legs in the air, and sprung right back up. He got up as
"No more games." The stranger performed a giant leap and
was about to land on top of him. He jumped towards the stranger; they met in
the mid-air, and kicked each others' feet. He landed facing upwards, doing an
arch supported by his hands and feet. He kicked his feet up, brought them over
his head, and stood up. The stranger was charging towards him; and he jumped,
twisted in the air, and planted a kick right into the stranger's chest. The
stranger didn't even slow down, and punched him right in the stomach. He fell
down a few feet away.
"Who the hell are you?"
"My name is of no consequence." They continued to fight.
The stranger was getting increasingly stronger; and his punches were
increasingly harder to block. As he was backing against the wall, he ran up
the cliff and somersaulted over the stranger. The stranger wasn't giving up.
As he dodged a punch, the stranger tripped him; he rolled sideways and jumped
up on his feet and jumped again into the air. On his way down, he extended his
feet to kick the stranger, but the stranger shifted his feet sideways; he
kicked the stranger's feet and tripped the stranger over, kicking his right
foot downwards right into the stranger's chest… The stranger extended his
hands and blocked his kick perfectly. He fell on the ground as the stranger
tripped him and planted a kick into his solar plexus. He rolled away and tried
to catch his breath, blocking and dodging punches and kicks. He was
panicking. He was losing the fight-and his life. He dashed sideways and
rolled over and tried to get up.
His foot fell asleep.
He started bouncing on his left foot, trying to move his
right one. He could not feel it at all. It stopped working. He was knocked
down by a kick in the chest and landed on his back. Everything was slowing
down. Stranger's footsteps seemed remote and Unreal; his own body started
shivering. His foot was still asleep. He looked at it, questioningly, trying
to understand what happened. It didn't seem right. He tried to reach for it
but he had no energy left to move a muscle. The stranger approached and lifted
him up. They were headed for the cliff.
He saw the end of his life. The stranger won. The
stranger was going to throw him off the cliff, the cliff that he conquered by
himself. His arrogance took the best of him.
Maybe he should've accepted the voice? It would make the
stranger happy; it would make everyone happy. He'd still be alive!
But it was too late. His body was limp like a wet cloth;
his foot was as stiff as tree bark. That darned foot. He tried to move it.
It felt like flexing a muscle that does not exist, like reaching for something
impossible to reach. But it
is possible, it's my foot!
to feel it, unsuccessfully. He was dying moments before his death.
He could already see the cliff. He imagined flying down
from this lofty mountain, air all around him, his insides tied in a knot.
His insides were already tied in a knot.
He was still alive.
He shivered. He was alive, and he wanted to fight for his
life. He wanted to wake up from this horrid nightmare, to jump off the
stranger's shoulder and to throw the stranger into the cliff. It was his foot;
his foot was spreading poison through the rest of his body. He shook it, with
no luck. He was too tense, too tense to move, too tense to think. He relaxed.
His body was already limp, but he relaxed. He relaxed
every tiny muscle he could feel. He relaxed his neck and his shoulders and his
stomach and his thighs. He made a conscious effort to stop all signals sent
from his brain into his spinal cord. And he started feeling. He felt for a
split second, and came back to his pain. He relaxed again, for half a second.
Then for one second. His foot felt twisted, for even though he knew it wasn't,
it didn't feel right. He gathered all his strength and relaxed, leaving space
and stopping time. He pushed his foot forward one inch. He tried again,
developing this muscle he had never used, and slid his foot forward. He
gathered even more strength and kicked it. His body jerked and he fell off the
For the brief minute that he lay on the ground, he
regained total control of his body. He was completely relaxed-and completely
powerful. He got up and looked at the stranger. The stranger threw a punch,
and he caught it, merely holding the stranger's fist with two of his fingers.
The stranger tried to kick, but he kicked the stranger's foot and the stranger
flew backwards. The stranger was just as tense!
He took a fighting pose and indicated his willingness to
fight. Not one of the stranger's attacks hit him; instead, they were advancing
the cliff step by step. He threw a punch, the stranger flipped backwards, and
took another step back-a step too far. The stranger's foot slipped, and he
tipped backwards, quickly slipping from the edge of the cliff and falling
backwards. He jumped forward in an attempt to help, but it was too late.
He turned around and headed into the castle.
Shawn takes her out. She
realizes what a great friend he is. And has been for a while now. She also
realizes that she is doing what is right because she is convinced that he is
happy in this new state. Stops hating Majestic.
The huge gates of the ancient temple slammed shut behind
him, leaving him trapped in this labyrinth of doors passageways. The temple
was abandoned a long time ago and was unkempt; some of the walls, statues, and
columns began to crumble; weeds were growing through the cracks in the floor,
laid with huge stone bricks. He did not know where he was going, but the general
direction was up. Staircase after staircase, through a few dark rooms, he was
advancing to the top level of this immense castle. On one floor he found a
room full of etchings and inscription describing the pictures. They told him
that there was a battle long ago between the priests and the invaders, and the
invaders killed all the priests and left the place. There was also a secret
that the invaders did not find, a large crystal. The prophesy said that a
stranger will wander through the temple and activate the crystal, giving the
priests back their power. He was sad. He knew that he would find the crystal,
but there would be no one to use it. The energy would go to waste. He
continued looking at the engravings depicting the battle scenes between the
priests and the invaders, and the secret crystal. It had three powers. The
three pictures showed that it was connected to a device that looked like a huge
laser gun that shone a laser at a small outhouse. Only it was more of an
elevator than an outhouse. It was rising up into the skies, but he could not
tell where exactly. The second picture showed the crystal being hooked up to
another laser gun, only this time it was shooting a laser beam at a large tower
and exploding it. He was awed at the power of this ancient technology. The
third picture, however, only showed a person inside a crystal, and a crystal
inside a person. Light was spreading from within the person, but no more
conclusions could be made from this picture. He proceeded to other rooms,
exploring the castle. He entered a dark passage. It twisted and turned so
that no light could get inside. He placed his hand on the wall and walked
forward. He was walking slowly, hearing his own footsteps, feeling the cold
moist textures of the brick walls. The passage turned to the left and he
almost bumped into another wall; however, his senses told him to stop an inch
from hurting his nose.
He felt the wall. It was shaped very strangely, almost
making a U-turn. He felt the walls to determine exactly what the wall was
doing and encountered a large brick sticking out of the wall. He pressed it
and opened a secret passage, letting bright beams of pink light fly out of the
concealed room. He slowly walked inside, squinting and adjusting to the bright
light. He was standing in front of the large crystal.
The crystal was warm. It was effervescent and
translucent, filled with turbulences and made of condensed gas. It was hot,
but as he was bringing his hands close to the crystal's surface, he felt kind
warmth protrude from it. He touched it, with both hands, and almost collapsed
from the amount of energy that passed through his body. He tried resisting it,
but it was almost impossible. He relaxed. His hand was entering the insides
of the crystal. He wasn't trying to resist, but just let this awesome energy
control him. He raised his knee and stepped into the crystal, relaxing all his
body parts and smiling with pleasure. He has never been this relaxed and this
powerful. He felt a strange source of power, being consumed by a power
stream. He moved his arms, slowly, trying to feel the walls of the crystal
from the inside. He did not know how he continued breathing, but every breath
filled him with more and more happiness. He arched back and turned sideways,
cracking his spine vertebrae. He stretched, letting blood and life into his
muscles. He looked at his hands again, and felt that while he was moving them
in front of his eyes, he could touch and feel every inch of the wall just by
looking at it. He looked at himself, and realized that he was growing taller
and wider, expanding out of his skin and outside of the crystal. His physical
senses were still confined to his own body; but he could just as well feel the
area around the crystal-the crystal was inside of him. He had its energy.
He stepped outside and turned the lever, summoning the
elevator. He had to go up. He ran through a few more passages and stepped
outside, on the edge of a tall cliff. He looked up and saw the descending
elevator. The door opened and he jumped inside. As it was carrying him
upwards the door was closing slowly and leisurely. He relaxed and smiled, and
tried to think of his home.
He was trapped.
He suddenly realized that he was trapped. His journey, from
Tibet to this castle, has been nothing but a search for an exit. He was tired
of being trapped in these amazing places; no matter how beautiful or fancy,
they were not home. He wanted to go home. Although he didn't quite remember
what home looked like, he knew-he was certain-that he would recognize it in a split
second and remember absolutely everything-including his name. He thought of
her. He didn't know her name either, but it would be nice to remember that as
He was remembering more people. He knew that he had more
friends than just her; and that they needed him. He needed them. He wanted
back. In fact, could they not be in trouble right now, while he was strolling
through the elaborate hallways of an ancient temple? Why could he not just
reach out to them and be there for them? Why could he not help?
Why could they not help him? Why was this temple
abandoned? What was going on anyway? Someone knocked him over and dropped him
off in Tibet, so that this someone wouldn't have to kill him directly. He was
supposed to have frozen in the snowy planes, without ever reaching the hut. He
wanted to come back, but what if someone tried to do the same? Someone did not
want him back. Was it the voice? He did not understand the voice. While
logically the voice wanted to guide him on his path back, he did not trust it.
It was almost as if the voice threw him to Tibet to show off its abilities,
expecting him to recognize and praise it. He wasn't going to praise any
But at the same time he felt that she didn't want him back
either. He knew she did, but he also knew that if she didn't find him soon,
she would stop looking and…
He stopped and leaned against the wall.
And find someone else.
What? No. She…
She knows I am alive. She…
Chills ran down his spine and he started shivering. He
could see it
, he could feel it
. He needed only to think about
her to picture her in his mind-not her appearance but her
… Her… Her
soul. She was there, never doubting him, always knowing that he is alive. But
there was something around her, the combination of the voice and someone
who tried to kill him. That
was telling her otherwise. He wanted to
touch her and to shout to her what he knew…
But his time was running out. Someone
to take her away from him. He wanted to run, to chase her, to make her turn
around and see him…
But why? Why, why would he do that, if she didn't have
enough faith in him, if she would never understand him and would never realize
the truth? Why did he bother doing anything, if he knew that at the end he
would die, and the world would be unchanged; that no one would remember him;
that no one cared about his existence? Why?
Because he wasn't created for them; he didn't live his
life for them. He was alone, always alone; but he was alone not because he had
never succeeded in making friends, but because he found no need or interest in
being with many people; he did not care for popularity or leadership, for he
could acquire it rather easily; he didn't care for pleasing many people,
because… Because he would do shallow and petty things to please people; and in
return they would only treat him like their servant and only show up when they
needed something… They would depend on him without ever offering anything in
return. He only told them to be independent.
He wasn't going back for her either. Or for himself. He
didn't know why, but it was the right thing to do. The doors of the elevator
opened and he walked through a series of passages and corridors into the heart
of Cloud City.
She finds a lead, Shawn offers
to drive. Looks really suspicious. Her feeling inside is dormant.
Shawn asks her what is
inherently wrong with Majestic. She has no info. She is happy, to be
He was lost. He was lost and confused. He did not know
what was going on, where he was headed, or even why he was where he was (which
he didn't know either), but he distinctly remembered when it began. It began
approximately thirty minutes ago, when he walked through the large portals into
the Cloud City. He started exploring the large village houses filled with
books and tables and candles and bedrooms and cellars and attics, and he
tripped. He tripped and flew across the room and landed right by a chair and a
table. They were both made of red oak and decorated with elaborate patterns.
The top of the table was a smooth circular block of green marble. He sat on
the chair and leaned on the table. He could feel the cold surface and bread
crumbs on his cheeks as he put his head down; it was uncomfortable and strange
Strange was the best word he could concoct to describe that anti-homesick
feeling that bubbled in his stomach. He got up and walked around the room,
trying to remember and understand what was causing it. However, he kept
descending via this downward spiral into the depths of discomfort. He was
stiff and almost shivering; he wanted to get out of that place and he did, but
the feeling followed him.
He felt regretful. Did he do something wrong? Did he say
something wrong? He felt resentful of himself. Was he mean to other people?
Did he hurt someone he loved? He felt guilty. Did he take a shortcut or not
finish something he started?
He did not know the answers to those questions. He didn't
even know his name, or the name of his friend. All he knew was that he wanted
to get out and remember. He felt that only by remembering would he get out.
He walked around the village to the barricades, past which
lay the edge of the city. He walked towards the edge and lay down on his
stomach, looking downwards. He saw one of the most beautiful sights he'd ever
seen in his life: he was floating on a tremendous rock, high in the sky, high
above clouds. He was awed by the sight, but at the same time, he realized that
he wasn't going anywhere from where he was: he was trapped.
Well, not trapped. He always knew that there would be a
way out of wherever he was. Only he didn't know it. He walked on a bumpy road
along a curvy passage, eventually reaching a large round house. He looked up
and saw that it was also the tallest house in the village, at least three
stories high. He opened the door and walked inside. It was a tall structure
with only two floors. It was very odd and clumsy; he could barely find the
stairs to the second floor. From there (it only had a table and a few chairs),
he climbed up even more, into a well-concealed attic. He felt like he was in
the wrong place, in the wrong time. The building looked like an ancient
church. He had nothing against churches; only this time, it didn't feel right,
or real. Something was wrong. He quickly thought that maybe he should repent
his sins… Only who would he repent to? He realized that the voice that
pretended to be his guide really needed a guide of its own. In fact, at a
certain point there could be no guide for him; he needed to discover the path
He suddenly felt sad and alone as he remembered his
friends going away and not doing anything with him. He wanted to stop them, he
wanted to hang around them; but they had to go. Sometimes it was by their
choice, sometimes it wasn't; when it wasn't, he usually awaited their return
with great hopes; but when it was, he felt like they had made an irreversible
decision that built a wall between them. Maybe that
was his fault?
He always had different ideas. He couldn't stand thinking
like other people; and while he knew that he may not have been right, he still
explored all his thoughts to learn. He yearned to learn, to know as much as he
could remember. He wanted to experience, to feel; he wanted to be able to
survive the most extreme situations, even though he knew there would never be
But there were. His journeys, from the cabin to here,
have been extraordinary. Were they
the tests for which he trained? Why
tests, is life a test? No, a life is a life; and I really don't think that
there is someone who controls us and tests us… I think we devise our own
challenges, for whatever reason.
So, did I devise this one? If I did, then I should be
able to solve it.
But he couldn't. He was staring into the ceiling, into
the cloudless sky filled with millions of dim shimmering stars. He wanted to
escape his present. He climbed onto the roof of this chapel. He had a little
more control of his mind now. He sat down and closed his eyes. He wasn't in
the right place, but he had to manage. He had to make this the right place.
But he was so new at this… And there was no help. But there was never any
help; the moment that he started relying on other people was the moment he gave
himself up. He still had his own life to run-and that was what he was planning
He had to change his surroundings. He lay down and closed
his eyes. He inhaled through his nose and exhaled through his mouth. He told
himself to relax, picturing every tiny part of his body being filled with
relaxation. Then with energy.
He pictured himself lying in a room. But he was on top of
the chapel! No! It was a room, he wanted it to be a room. He was scared,
terrified to imagine a vision he wouldn't be able to handle, and realize that
it was true. But that's why he was there. Every time he felt tense, he
relaxed; every time his visions became blurry, he forced his eyes shut even
tighter and concentrated even more. He imagined himself in a room. He was
lying down on a bed, or a couch, or something similar. Where was he? That
wasn't important. He got up and looked around. There was a door. He walked
towards the door and opened it, preparing himself for the outside world. He
was standing between columns in front of the entrance to a large temple. What
was inside, he didn't know; moreover, the outside interested him even more. He
missed something about the fresh air, even though it was only fresh air that
he'd breathed the past few days? Weeks? He didn't remember.
He saw her. She was there, walking around, trying to find
him. She wasn't alone; someone was with her. Shivers ran down his spine as he
sat up from his trance and opened his eyes. The vision was still in his head;
and there was something about her companion that he didn't like. In fact, he
felt that her companion was hiding a terrible secret. He lay down again and
tried to relax, but he couldn't. That was his problem: he couldn't relax. He
wanted to get up and run around, doing things.
But this was not the time to use his muscles. He forced
himself to relax every muscle and see the same vision. She was looking for
him, and he was in that room. He got back to himself. He was tired and
exhausted. He wanted to move. He looked as his hand. He felt warmth travel
to it as he concentrated on its surface. There was something itching on the
back of his hand, and it wouldn't stop. He thought of his other hand. Then
his arms. Then his whole body.
He could feel himself, in his new body, in a room in a
temple. Now, if he could only remember his name…
His concentration died again. He sat up and rolled
around. He thought of the crystal, of expanding beyond it. Was it just a
dream? No, he decided, it wasn't. Suddenly Cloud City seemed so small! He
looked around-he was sitting on the roof of its highest building-and saw that
it was nothing but a huge rock floating-somehow-in the middle of the sky. And
he was larger than the rock. He ran to the edge of the roof and jumped, and
landed on the ground. He was not hurt, he had no broken bones. Matter was
dissolving as he was gaining control over it. He concentrated-without using
any strength-on a house. Then he walked up to it, and, without thinking about
the force, punched through a wall.
He didn't know how he was doing it. All he knew that in
the back of his head he knew what was supposed to happen. He was aware of
every millisecond of this punch, from start to finish; he expected his hand to
go through the wooden log, splintering it and leaving a large hole in the
middle of this wall. It felt so strange and so unreal. He felt like he was
writing the equations governing physical objects of the cloud world he
But he knew what he was doing.
He was learning to change.
He changed the walls. He changed his fist. He changed
the air and he changed the gravity. He was using this world's energy as his
own source of power to exercise control. That was what he needed to learn;
that was why he needed to come back. It was because he was a part of the
universe, and he had to complete his personal quest. He wanted to make it a
better place. He wanted to make things right. He wanted to use himself-and
everything that he could use-to do what was right. He felt the deepest respect
to this spirit, the World, which consisted of absolutely everything within it;
he felt love towards everything and everyone around him, as they were also a
part of this world; he felt extreme joy and happiness from knowing what he
wanted to do, and doing it.
He thought of her
and he finally understood. While
she had faults and was not ideally "perfect," while she would never fully
understand him or always be there for him, he knew that no person should've
been like that; she was beautiful to him and he wanted to be with her. He lay
down and closed his eyes and thought about her. She was trying to find a room,
but couldn't because the room had a hidden entrance into it. He tried to tell
her where to go, but he couldn't remember her name. He tried to feel his body
again and see if he had an ID inside his pocket. Even if he did, he doubted that
he would be able to read anything, or even move. He could only fly around as a
Could he change things in that new world? He tried, but
he tried to use his body. It didn't work. His body-strange and foreign-was
not the source of his power. His spirit was. What could he do? He
concentrated on his forearm. He felt like he had a splinter; after trying to
move his hand to take it out, he gave up; but after relaxing his "skin muscles"
and imagining it fall out, it did. He felt some pressure on his head. He
tried to push it away, but instead, he moved his bed forwards. He slid out of
his helmet. He was free. He tried to push the door open but it was locked.
She was the key.
But she could feel him. He was getting excited, and
nervous. He got a hold of himself and told himself to stay down. He was
getting tired of concentrating; he wanted to relax and to go to sleep. He had
to fight; it was the only chance to get her to get to him. He panicked, but
realized that he was too inexperienced to do anything. He wanted a guide. He
needed a guide.
A warm feeling came over him suddenly as he realized that
he was his own guide. He knew perfectly what he needed to do; he just hadn't
learned it yet. He thought about her, entering her mind-from within his dream,
from the ground of Cloud City. It was a piece of cake, telling her to turn
around, to press a brick, to open a secret door to a hidden room; it was a
piece of cake to get back to his own body in this dreamy new world and to get
into his own mind and to think about himself. His new self wanted his old self
back. She wanted him back. It was time for him to leave. He only needed to
say the magic words.
"You are Chloe Gordon," he whispered.
"Yes, I am Chloe Gordon," she whispered back.
"And I am Samuel Freeman," he whispered again.
"Yes, you're Samuel Freeman, and I finally found you."
Cloud city disappeared in a blink of his mind's eye, and everything turned
black. He suddenly became aware of her soft hands as they were caressing his
face and his hair; he opened his eyes and looked at her beautiful face. She
leaned over and kissed his forehead, he smiled weakly in return.
"Hi," he whispered.
"Hi." They smiled. "Shh! Don't speak. It's going to be
okay. You're with me now."
Part IV: The Gravity Of Love