The Tale of Nathaniel Ravendrake
by Ljubo Popovich
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Two nights ago the most extraordinary thing happened. It hearkened back to that night I fell asleep at the wheel. Everything is different now. Let me explain.
In the same frame of mind, I found myself speeding down the highway at night when, all of a sudden, my heart started racing. The exhilaration was the same as when I came into contact with the ball lightning. It was total bliss. Little did I know it would come to control me so utterly!
Again the stop sign appeared. As before, it was in the center of the freeway, waiting for me. I obeyed it and then continued on. Though I attempted to regulate my speed, soon I found my foot pressing against the pedal of its own accord.
And there I was, face to face with that demon, that nightmare-inducing creature. It was the same as previously, except that it moved toward my car, drawing me in with its gaze. My heart was going crazy, my mind was swimming.
It was an exquisite and terrifying revulsion. The rush of its enveloping waves, the sensation of its internal fluids encompassing me. I felt subtly the invasion of its intelligence. The most peculiar thing yet, the way it rearranged things in my mind. I’d never realize how disordered and random my head was until it fixed it.
I was no longer in the car. The thing had taken me into itself, and was carrying me. Even so, I was a willing participant. I loved the way my mind felt. I was a flower that had finally blossomed. Everything was more vivid, more fluid and more real than any dream.
I will attempt to describe the layers and the structure of the place it conveyed me to, but I know that I will fail. It is impossible to properly describe what I saw, because the only recourse I have is to compare it to the world we know. Through this cohabitation with the angel or demon, I was allowed access to tiers of reason within myself I’d never known existed.
The immaculate panorama came in waves. The road and the trees and the stars dissolved around me. Visions of another world impinged on reality. This was a place where time was very different. Things moved slower. There was no room for error in this place.
When we stepped — I use the first person plural purposely, for we were two beings in one — we trampled the mossy substance of the soil and a pool of plasma formed in our footprints. However, in this place, our body was amorphous, as were most objects, as if life did not only manifest in solids but in gases and forms that intermingled.
Jewels of energetic particles filled the air. Phosphenes crawled into my sight wherever I looked. There was a heavy silence, and subtle vibrations resonating within and without me. The ghosts of memories floating through the very air, and the walking specters like us, with wet pools for eyes.
We were breathing without lungs, in the absence of air, breathing in the void and becoming emptier. For a time, we approached a series of cloaked figures. When things moved, they were transformed into a liquid. When they were still, they became solid. I realized I was among the incarnations of ball lightning; simmering with surreal light, these figures flexed and encompassed us into themselves, connected by invisible energies, and charged with a current that uniformly pervaded their universe.
In death, a tiny weight is stolen from the body. Without this soul, as we tend to call it, our remains are worthless. We are only so much meat without it. And it was this indefinite essence that they extruded from the corpses that piled around us. Only when we stopped moving did the world coalesce to a greater degree, and parts of it became visible.
We stood upon the flesh of innumerable human forms. From this tapestry of naked flesh, there was a constant trickling of light into the “sky.” The atmosphere I call the sky was simply a writhing conglomerate star of ball lightning, reaching from horizon to horizon, composed of souls that flared and lived. Every instant new bodies bubbled up from subterranean regions and that essential part of them evaporated into the immense furnace above.
I glanced upon the faces of these pitiful corpses and saw their last expressions frozen on their faces. Some held joy, others sorrow, and still others no expression whatsoever. In time, each body sank to be compressed into a viscous jelly.
Since my consciousness was a vessel of the mysterious beings, it was possible to perceive the underlying structures beyond what was on the surface. But, during this time, the lens of my mind had been opened to a nearly infinite extent; there were too many perceptions to comprehend.
These beings stood like columns, shrouded in a misty effervescence. Reflections of the phantom star played off their variable raiment. Their weighty intellects supported a firmament of harmonious forces, creating from the turmoil of death a static existence more beautiful than the dreams of men superimposed over a sea of molten flesh. The figures glistened, and I stayed with them for eternities that passed in the blink of an eye.
Otherwise unfathomable swarms of light passed through the vacuum, like dust motes that could have been worlds in their own right, wafting through space on the crest of solar winds.
Soon the feeling that profound knowledge was slipping through my fingers, clouding my senses. The mighty impressions are now dulled and, while the coals of the vision of that place still faintly glow within my mind, I shall attempt to write out as much of what I perceived as possible.
We so readily imagine our minds to be limitless, but I soon realized how puny mine was. There are universes beyond this one. The multitude of the beyond and the intricacies of the energies that hold us in their sway. The resources and organization I was shown are well beyond the scope of my comprehension.
Much of the knowledge I gained was sympathetic in that, during the moments I’d been a receptacle for that creature’s vast and alien mind, my mortal consciousness could glean only the slightest fragment of its significance.
The beings were part of an omnipresent sentience pervading that realm. This consciousness was instantaneous and omniscient, and capable of calling into the visible spectrum as many physical manifestations of itself as necessary in order to enact its will.
Thus, its “bodies” flashed and darted like the synapses of a colossal mind. For this mind, our universe was an endlessly malleable environment, subject to the vagaries of their manipulation of time and space.
Though I considered them each separate, they were simultaneously one. During my time with them, I forgot my body and could not identify with those drowning forms I saw lining the membrane of their world for miles around. But I was not destined to remain.
I got the sense that I would take something back, not only the memory of the reality that waits beyond death but a minuscule shred of the immeasurable awareness that had seeped into my being. Most surprising to me was not the fate of our mortal bodies but the interconnectedness of our human souls, and how brightly they shone and how densely they clustered!
In a way, we are their progeny, as each one of us is connected to every other and, as I have seen, must needs fuse with the Greater Essence in the end. Our lives, short as they are, are simply the gestation of a much longer existence.
It seems to me that these beings require us to live out our lives, searching for truth in our own way until a certain point has been reached. It is only after we have lived, after our minds and souls have matured, that they can claim and consume us.
Each man and woman contributes a unique ingredient to that essence in the form of his or her condensed spirit. It is possible that after our innumerable contributions some perfect mixture will be attained and, at that point, I can only wonder what will become of the remaining souls that are set adrift.
On the same token, our collective infancy must eventually end. Whether our race will conclude with a perfect annihilation or will simply vanish into time’s flow, the future is uncertain to me.
However, I saw how transitory were the multitude of worlds that came before in their dense chronicle of memories, as each one offered up its epitome and became another stratum. The greater powers worked ceaselessly to steer the course of life on our planet so that it became the perfect habitat to cultivate a richness of soul, and the work is far from done.
The forces that bound this realm might have sustained my presence indefinitely, but there was too much that was remote to my understanding, and I began to feel a great pain, as if every particle within me was splitting the longer I spent in that place.
Even if I’d been allowed to remain, I fear that most of what exists is beyond the scope of words and could never be translated into terms human beings could grasp. But what mattered most was the fact that our lives made up but an infinitesimal part of something greater and that the thing that supports us encompasses all time and space, and that there was truly no end, or that each end was merely an origin.
I was both sickened by the sense of power and awed by the majesty of it. Would I ever again be privy to that vastness? Would my true body, soul, mind and spirit again be joined to that sublime essence, or would I for the remainder of my days merely squabble in the dust as I awaited my final moment?
I weary now with the effort to recall the events, but I feel I’ve done as much as I could and that the rest of it will simply vanish like smoke as the wind of the world sweeps back into my head.
Copyright © 2016 by Ljubo Popovich