Hard Bodies

by Eddy Burger

part 1 of 2


I trudged across a land of disembodied shades and sounds till I came unto a pulsating void. I leapt into the void and found myself in a land of bisecting planes, oscillating cavities and inside-out shapes.

Then I entered the body of a woman who was running along a zigzagging passage. We ascended a vertical shaft and came upon the roof of an enormous concertina. A great dark vortex stretched from one horizon to the other, its swirling centre looming above us, drawing us upwards with fantastic force.

We were thrust into a great white space, into the presence of a giant invisible eye. We knew the eye’s gaze was upon us. We could hear its great lids blink. We could feel the brush of its lashes when we strayed too near.

Then I entered the body of a man who was standing beside a pyramid. This land was full of people and geometric shapes. Each person’s being was constituted by their relationship to each other and to each shape.

From the pyramid, my host and I moved towards a large cone. When we were halfway between the pyramid and the cone, there was a 12% decrease in the distance between ourselves and a small octagon, which stood at an angle of 37.8 degrees from our then current position, and 16 seconds prior, we had passed 2.2 body-lengths below a man who had paused at a point five-eighths of the distance from a sphere to a small cube.

Then I entered the body of the cube and became privy to the very fabric of being, more primordial than an atom, poised on the brink of existence.

But life in a cube can feel restrictive after a while. And it was all so primordial and fundamental that I kept forgetting who or what I really was. So I tried to wake up. That’s not to say that I was only imagining it all. My spirit had left my body to explore an alternate world, and now I was trying to bring it back.

Then I did wake up, but I only dreamt that I woke up. I was in another place entirely — a place filled with flames. Then I woke up again, and then again, until finally I found myself back in my own familiar surroundings.

But it still didn’t feel right, so I woke up again, and this time I felt the true union between body and spirit, which is the mark of wakeful wholenessness. I was home at last, thank Shu! I exited my float and walked through the bubble to where Sri was wafting her scenes. We merged briefly.

‘I had trouble finding my body,’ I said.

‘Are you all right now, Engelbert?’

‘Yes.’

‘Good. Let us ingest some sustenance. My body is starved.’

‘Mine too.’

She led the way, across the abyss towards the sustenance reservoir. I was following close behind. But suddenly I lost the ability to levitate. ‘Sri!’ I screamed. I reached out for her, and she spun around only to see me plummeting into the depths of the abyss. So fast I fell, into the deepest, darkest reaches of the Earth. Then I woke up again.

I was in a totally unfamiliar place. Again I felt a true union between body and spirit, so I had to assume that I definitely was awake. But I had woken up one too many times. I slapped the side of my face. It really hurt. I had never felt so solid. It was as if I had entered some kind of hyper reality.

I was in a small box-like enclosure that had opaque walls, and I was horizontal — believe it or not — lying between large sheets of cloth, upon what appeared to be a bed! Within the box was also something that appeared to be a desk, which — I kid you not — had been constructed out of wood, and there were also several wooden storage compartments! There was even a chair — of all things — beside the desk. Good Gale!

The most disconcerting thing was that the walls and everything else seemed to be solid! One section of the wall was transparent, through which I could see the exterior world. It was crazy! There were roads and opaque motorised vehicles that people were actually travelling in! There were buildings everywhere, which were all opaque! There were a great number of people who were adorned in all manner of materials and were crowded upon very narrow walkways! Can you believe it?!

I entered the body of a woman who was walking outside, and I nearly stumbled owing to the crazy things we had on our feet.. The cloths we were draped in were uncomfortable and we had odd-tasting stuff coating our lips.

The whole environment looked so drab and lifeless, and the sky was a horrible, sickly colour — it was blue! And it had large white puffy things floating in it that looked for all the world like the bowel gases of a god or something!

We walked onto the road in front of a vehicle, but the crazy driver suddenly swerved the vehicle and steered it straight into the wall of a building! It actually broke through the wall! I kid you not! And then the driver opened the door of the vehicle, and he started yelling at us: “Why don’t you watch where you’re going, lady! You’d better pay for all this!” The man was crazy!

We went to examine the point of impact, and we were about to walk through the wall, but instead we just impacted into it! It was impenetrable! Can you believe it?! What’s more, I had bumped the woman’s head and scraped her knees. Poor woman! I left her apologetically and returned to my own body.

It was time I explored my own building. I tried to walk through the wall of my box, but that too proved impenetrable. Like the vehicle, this box also had what appeared to be a door. Fancy having to build a door into everything just so you can pass through it! Anyway, once I had worked out how to open it, I stepped out and came to a railing, over which I could see a lower level. I could not go through the railing or open it so I climbed over it, and then — believe it or not — I fell all the way to the floor! I couldn’t levitate!

What’s more, I impacted severely with the floor’s hard surface. So I was lying on my back, in considerable pain, when Sri appeared from out of a doorway, right beside me, draped in the strange cloths. “Sri, my darling! Thank Shu!”

“Darling?!” she said. “What are you talking about? You pervert!” She walked back through the doorway and I could hear her talking to other women. She was acting very strangely indeed.

Then the other women come out. There were three of them. “Engelbert!” said one. “How dare ya make indecent advances t’ward one of ya own housemates! You’re disgustin’!”

I’d had enough of this unwarranted abuse. ‘Who the hitting-hard are you?!” I blurted.

“What?”

“Who are you?!”

“Who d’ya think! I’m Roseanne! Don’t try ta put one over on me!”

“I’m not! I love Sri and she loves me!”

“You’re livin’ in a dream world.”

“Am I?”

“Fo’ once, try ta see things from somebody else’s point o’ view!”

“How can I not!”

“You’re crazy!”

“You’re crazy!”

“Go put on some clothes!”

“Clothes?”

“Yeah! Up the stairs! C’mon!”

“Stairs?”

“Stairs!” She pointed to something behind me. I tried to turn but I had hurt my neck. Roseanne looked at me then at the railing above. “You mean ta tell me that that great thump we heard was you fallin’ from up there?”

“Yes.”

“No wonder you been actin’ so strange. Ya must’ve got concushun. Well, we’d better help ya upstairs an’ put clothes on you ourselves.” She called to Sri, “Ya don’t have ta worry none ‘bout Engelbert! He got concushun!”

The three women helped me up the stairs and were soon joined by Sri. Together they put clothes on me — composed of bits of cloth, similar to what everyone else was draped in. And I learnt some strange things.

For instance, being cloth-less was called “naked” — an expression which suggested that to be without clothes was less desirable and left one vulnerable. Apparently, everyone on this world wore clothes all the time! Honest to Shu! I didn’t like the feel of them at all but felt obliged to adhere to this world’s laws, insane as they were!

But more disconcerting was the feel of the women’s flesh against mine as they dressed me. We felt so firm and unyielding! I tried to merge with Sri but we were both impenetrable! It was appalling! And then she slapped me! Unbelievable!

Once I was dressed, the women suggested I rest up for a while — which didn’t make sense because I couldn’t levitate. Then they said I should take the weight off my feet. Certainly I felt much heavier than in my normal world but my feet were all the more heavy in the things they had just put on them! Shoes they were called.

Then they got me to lie on the bed. I decided to enter Sri. Although our bodies could not merge, my spirit could — of course — still visit her body. And having done so, we went over to my body, bent down and kissed me on the lips.

“What you doin’, Sri?!” said Roseanne. “Ya could ‘a told us there were somethin’ ‘tween you two ‘fore I went an’ told ‘im off fo’ tryin’ to come on to ya!”

“Don’t blame Sri,” we said. “I’m Engelbert, visiting. I was just hoping I could remind her of our love.”

“What you talkin’ ‘bout?”

“Well, I just mean that if she had ever felt love for me at any time, I want to try to rekindle it. And if she hadn’t, maybe I can encourage her.”

“You gotta stop callin’ Engelbert a she!”

“I’m not suggesting that Engelbert is a she — at least, not his body. The person that is talking to you at the moment is Engelbert’s spirit, which is presently residing in Sri’s body. Engelbert’s spirit actually comes from another world, which in this case is a parallel dimension in which Sri and Engelbert are passionately in love.”

Roseanne stared at us. I didn’t know which part troubled her. I thought that perhaps it was taboo in this world to enter the body of a different sex, though that seemed unlikely. Then one of the other women started whispering in Roseanne’s ear. She said Sri was sleepwalking.

“Is that what you call it here?” I said. “Where Engelbert comes from it’s called being visited or possessed.”

“Sure ‘t is,” Roseanne said. Finally she seemed to understand. “Now, hadn’t ya better go lie down fo’ a spell?”

“Oh, we are in no need of rest at present. But while on the subject of my visit here, I must confess that I’m a little concerned about getting back to my own world. I woke one too many times and am thus grounded here, which — as you know — can make return rather difficult.”

“Sure, it’s diffcult,” said Roseanne. “Now I really do think ya should get ta bed.”

“What I really want to know is whether it is easy to travel to different worlds from here.”

“’Course ‘t is. We do it all the time.”

“That’s comforting to know. But tell me, how do you stay contented, living in the only world in which people and things cannot merge with one another?”

“Well, we jus’ get by the best we can, dear. But enough talk! Ta bed with ya!”

“Does this Sri sometimes sleep at this hour?”

“I’m certain of it.”

We allowed Sri’s body to be led to her box. At least, “I” let it. There seemed little of Sri in her body. Maybe she was already asleep. I was interested to see what her box looked like.

As well as a bed, she had a desk, chair and storage compartments. There were also many pictures on the walls! There were even photographs! Of all things! One depicted Sri and I sitting in chairs that were large and padded, like beds, and she had her hand on top of my knee! Anyone would think she was trying to keep it from wandering away!

There was also a photograph of a woman in a forest — of all places — and she was on the ground! It was crazy! There were also photos of other places. This world was obsessed with concrete representations. I mean, if you wanted to see something, wouldn’t you just visit someone who was there? I guess it alleviated the frustration of having solid, opaque walls everywhere. I hadn’t noticed any in my box. Maybe I was abnormal.

Once Roseanne had secured us into bed, I returned to my own body, thinking it best to let Sri rest. No one remained in my box, thank Shu! I was having trouble coming to terms with it all. How could these people possibly bear being so solid?

I once visited a world where humins were similarly physically disadvantaged, though to a far lesser degree than here. In place of air, a gel-like substance filled everything, from the mouth, lungs, ears and eyes, to the insides of wafting apparatuses, sustenance reservoirs, eco-plants and libraries. Of course, merging was still practicable, but moving your body and doing anything physical was more ponderous.

By the same token, other things felt much lighter and everyone had big muscles. When I went there I entered a man who was wearing magnifying lenses and was halfway up a mountain. Then someone threw an elephant on us. It came from a man down the bottom of the mountain.

He then spoke to us in sign language. At the top of the mountain was a man with lots of elephants. We picked up our elephant and threw it at him. Then I entered a woman who was flying through the gel, in tight formation with a thousand other women, and they were all beeping and humming like dolphins.

As for the world I was now in, I had a very low opinion of it. Unseen by my fellow occupants, I exited the building, keen to find something redeeming about it. The walkway soon became congested, which seemed a sure sign that I was headed for something of merit. Not that there were that many people.

We were all crowded onto such a narrow strip of ground. I kept absentmindedly walking into people, or straying onto the road. Some of the vehicles even honked at me! They actually had horns! My clothing didn’t help, either. I felt as if I was not outside at all but encased in a cocoon. So I decided to fly. I forgot that I was unable to. I concentrated on rising myself aloft but I didn’t move an inch. In my confusion, I unwittingly paused amidst the roadside dining area of a sustenance provider.

“Would you like to order anything to eat or drink, Sir?” asked a man in funny clothes.

“Come to think of it, my body is very hungry,” I said.

“Can I interest you our Super Deluxe Banquet?”

“Oh yes! That sounds very nice. Thank you very much!”

“Won’t you please take a seat. The first course shan’t be long.”

It was comforting to learn that at least this world provided sustenance for its population.

I examined a vacant chair that stood beside a vacant table. Everyone who was ingesting was actually sitting on one! Can you believe it?! Anyway, I decided that I didn’t want to take it anywhere. I quite liked it where it was. I faced my back to it, stuck out my bottom and lowered my bottom onto the seat. Sitting felt strange but it did decrease the pressure on my feet. No wonder they used chairs in this world!

I leaned back against the upright part, like everyone else. But then I noticed a much nicer looking sustenance provider across the road. I picked up my chair and started to cross, but I forgot about the vehicles again. A driver swerved and crashed straight into the table I had been sitting at! Good Gale! Everything was broken! It’s a good thing I moved when I did! At least I saved the chair! Crazy driver!


Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2008 by Eddy Burger

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