Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Decker 33

He realized he was exhausted; there did not feel to be an ounce of struggle left inside him. Still, his mind swirled and railed against the fog, the rising water, the desperate isolation... it would be so easy to just lay back and sleep if the empty thoughts would stop racing.
He imagined a soft, mossy nest like the one he and Furge had once shared, tucked into a sandstone cave just a stone's throw from the chattering, tumbling river their little village abutted. Through pangs of loneliness, he felt his head easing into the soft mass, his legs relaxing into its yielding embrace.
He thought he could almost hear the burbling of the river, smell the smoke of cook fires as his eyes closed and his body relaxed. The aroma of the moss, its soft roughness, the almost imperceptible flicker of fires, stronger than memory, coaxed him into sweet, empty somnolence. At that moment, as the adrenaline ebbed from his muscles and the comfort of memory enfolded him, it seemed that oblivion was the perfect choice.
He awakened slowly, groggily, to amber light suffusing his eyelids. The smell of moss was strong in his nose, and his cheek rested in feathery cushion. A tinkle of muted applause resolved itself into impish currents over stone.
He rose with vague scenes of village life playing in the recesses of his mind, distant and unreal as fading dreams. The cave, the mossy bed, the river's chatter all remained but the bright, biting smell of wood smoke had turned sour and dead. He hesitated to step out of the cave's solitude, fearing that he would look on...
Three steps and his fears were confirmed. No footprints lay in the sand around the dying and dead fires; no gnawed fish bones, no desiccated, charred-edged leaf bowls... no sign that anyone but he had been here.
But how did he get here? He had been lost in a foggy, mutable non-reality, a damp nothingness of dead possibilities and stagnating entropy. He had nearly been swallowed by it, lost in ennui, when somehow he'd found himself here... what had been the catalyst?
"Shit and quadruple shit!" The rasping tones of his voice almost startled him. Brief echoes played among the burbles and splashes of the river, then vanished. "What is this trip, and when is it going to end?" He scratched his head, noting the soft fur there.
He was Deckren again; an amalgam of three personalities. Memories of his journey along the underground river were crisp in his mind. He thought about how, when the temporo-spatial device had failed, he and his alter ego(s) had been able to create their own "bridge" between realities. He remembered how he'd altered his recent realities. Now this... hadn't he been envisioning the world that Degren and Furge had occupied before this whole crazy trip had started?
Had he "created" this scene? Was it real, or just a figment of his imagination? "I've gone totally fucking bazonkers," he growled.
He tried imagining that one of the fires was in full blaze; it almost instantaneously burst into flame, loaded with dry driftwood. He imagined a set of stone steps carved into the sandstone bluff he stood before, and it was there.
"I'll be screwed, glued and tattooed!"
He spent the better part of an hour making things appear and disappear. Cacti, ball-point pens, dune buggies, radios, rocks, statues, even a detail-perfect cafe, the one in an old railroad dining car... but he hesitated to make anything animate. Brief flashes of people and animals crossed his waking dreamscape, but he pressed them away. Would it be weird to "create" people?
But wasn't it possible that all the characters he'd interacted with in this extended peyote trip (or whatever it was) were manifestations from within his own mind? Giant fashion-obsessed white ducks, psychedelic genius turtle professors, iconic but comedic cowboy miners, furry, superhuman hominids... beautiful, evil spy women?
He decided to fill his little cafe with comic book superheroes. One by one, in full regalia, they appeared inside the windows; in booths and at tables, just as he'd remembered them from his youth.
He walked in the door of the cafe. The walls rang with the clinking of silverware and the intense dialogue of intrepid world-savers. It was all a little thin, though. The characters were a bit two-dimensional... just as he remembered them.
Feeling crazier by the minute, Deckren made all his creations of the morning vanish. His heart thudded in his chest. His mind whirled. If he wanted to grace this reality with anyone approximating the multiplicity of dimensions that a real, live, sentient entity encompassed, he was going to have to start with a much broader palette. He was going to have to tap memories of people he'd had real interactions with; people he'd practically or really seen inside.
This was going to be a much more significant challenge.

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