Time is relevant to sound. An infinite voice sings life into this universe, and I’m but one note resonating within this expanse of boundless potential. While that’s an easy abstraction to grasp, my own potential remains elusive. After eight parallel lifetimes I’ve been adrift somewhere between struggle and mastery, both of which I now see as an illusion.
I first realized there was something unusual about me in my ninth year, shortly after winning the lottery to go on a camping expedition. My friend Wade and I had taken climbing classes to prepare for our hike up Emerald Mountain. Because of our age, we were restricted to the beginner wall which soon ceased to challenge us. When Headmaster refused to move us to the next level, we waited until the athletic center had closed for the night, then snuck inside to climb the advanced wall. The ropes and harnesses were locked away, and we ascended without them. Finding it difficult to handle grips positioned for longer limbs, I fell during my descent. After Wade yelled out my name, the outside world disappeared.
My awareness returned in the hospital, but my body remained unresponsive. I screamed and cried out in silence when I heard a doctor tell an Overmaiden I was in a coma and wouldn’t last beyond the week. Seven days later my condition remained unchanged. To alleviate my increasing restlessness, I imagined myself exploring the deathlands. They had fascinated me ever since I learned about them at school, but the poison left over from the Great Cataclysm meant I could never visit them. The Earth I created had no limitations. There were no fumes to contaminate my lungs and no scourge to keep me from venturing too far beyond the dome. My arms morphed into metallic wings, and I flew over crumbling cityscapes that swayed like ghosts within the murky gray atmosphere. I searched for other life forms, but all I could see in every direction was a ceaseless expanse of decay and ruin.
Melancholia accompanied me on my lonely flight. I recalled Master Franklin’s last lecture and how I expressed curiosity over the deathlands. He patiently reminded me that the mind of man has a flaw which makes us destroy ourselves. Without the curative implant to protect us from this flaw, we’d still be like the Outsiders, fighting each other. Envisioning the Ancients’ graveyard gave me some comfort. If I were to die now, I’d die knowing the truth. Nothing existed outside Unity. Only in Unity could we resurrect a lasting peace. I was thankful to have the curative implant to spare me from the scourge. I was also thankful to the Overseer for selecting me to be born in Unity.
My sadness vanished as I flew over a massive seven-circuit labyrinth. I took a deep breath and blew away the haze to get a clearer view. The structure glistened like an opal under the sun. The elaborate output of my imagination inspired me to create my own reality to live in. I gave myself the powers of a god and returned the Earth to its pristine state before the arrival of humans. Trees grew, flowers bloomed, and rivers flowed freely again, begetting life to the deathlands.
After the Earth had healed from its injuries, my body transmuted into a spaceship. I glided through celestial seas, exploring distant galaxies and planets. The reality I created was more vibrant and exciting than the one I left behind, and I eventually forgot I was in a coma. Lifetimes of experiences went by, and I got older but never aged. I could’ve stayed here forever, but I was still tethered to a physical body, alive and waiting for me to come back.
The last world I visited had a crimson sky with black vegetation that sparkled under a red sun. When I landed to survey the terrain, a girl with the physiognomy of a cat approached me and said, “You don’t belong here.” She waved her hand in a circular motion and everything melted into blackness.
First came recognition, then dread as I remembered I was lying on a hospital bed, held captive by a body that imprisoned me. I heard female voices from the outside world talking about their lunch plans. I want to die! Please, let me die! If my thoughts were audible, they would’ve been loud enough to shatter the dome. I tried to revert to the paradise I’d created, but the darkness persisted. I begged, prayed, and pleaded until the tiniest speck of light materialized in front of me. It glimmered for several seconds before exploding and bathing me in a warm stream of light. I was ready to surrender my life to the light, when a low pitch began to drone, and the blackness resumed. “No, I don’t want to stay! Please take me with you!”
I looked to see what was making the droning sound. It was an incubation tank with a baby floating in liquid white light reflecting the colors of the rainbow. I pressed the palms of my hands against the glass and felt a warm vibration. My whole body resonated with the tank like a tuning fork. More notes rang out, delivering the most brilliant chord I ever heard and still, to this day, haven’t been able to identify.
A female voice called from behind me, “Six begin, Six alone, Six unite.”
I turned to face a woman with light brown skin and large dark eyes. Her black hair cascaded down past her elbows, unbound by the regulation braids of Unitian women. “You cannot keep ignoring me,” she said. “You must remember.”
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Eleni Papanou is an author of visionary fiction. She wrote her first poem when she was an outcast at school. Honored with the name “Greek Freak.” She started to believe life was plagued with misery, torment and endless suffering. A spontaneous kundalini awakening thrust Eleni on a spiritual path that constantly tested her to the breaking point by challenging her world-view and everything else she held sacred. Through visions and personal insights, Eleni eventually discovered the Universe had a sense of humor. She started laughing more—mostly at herself—whenever she caught herself taking things too seriously. After many years on the path of self-rediscovery—along with the addition of a husband, two daughters and a bout with cancer, Eleni had a lot to say. Having already written several screenplays, she decided to describe her experiences in novel form.
In addition to writing, Eleni likes to spend her free time with her husband and two daughters that she home schools. Her hobbies include audio recording, photography, collage art, singing, songwriting, photography, graphic arts, bodybuilding and hiking.
For updates, please visit Eleni Papanou’s site.