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“I demand that you tell me what you know at once!” shouted Michael for what Conrad felt was about the thirtieth time.
“As I have said before,” Conrad replied pleasantly, refusing to allow Michael to provoke a rise in anger out of him, “If you don’t already realize it, then you will eventually figure it out. If you do realize what’s going on, then you are deeply in denial, which is to be expected considering you lived your entire life in denial.”
“And just what do you mean by that?”
“Your whole life you have denied yourself happiness. You have denied to yourself the existence of others. You have denied yourself the ability to acknowledge a way of thinking outside of your own, closed-minded view of the world. Deny, Deny, Deny; your world was always full of denial.”
While Michael was unable to create any sort of negative rise from Conrad, Conrad certainly seemed to know all of the right buttons to push to send Michael into a blind rage. Ironically, Michael seemed to have felt more emotion in the past few hours than he had in years prior. Something about having personal conversations with his peers was evoking him to feel for the first time in a significant length of time.
“Let’s take a walk,” Conrad suggested, before Michael could continue his rant of unhappiness. “Perhaps if you explore your new surroundings, you will come to understand your situation better.
Yet again, Michael felt as though he should protest, but an invisible force seemed to control his mind, and he found himself agreeing to what Conrad was saying, even though it was against his better judgement.
Out of the house, Michael got a clear view of where he had ended up after jumping from his roof the night prior. Oddly enough, any remains of his house had vanished, in its place was a blank lot, as if a house had never been there at all.
In the blank lot, as with all of the empty space on the ground, feathers grew instead of grass. In the sky, he looked up to see waves lapping above him, but neither rain nor clouds.
As if reading his mind, Conrad pointed out, “I see you are looking at the lakes in the sky; I hope you enjoy the view as much as you enjoy the feathers sprouting from the ground. Perhaps if you’re lucky, you will see a fish jump out of the lake and into another pond.”
At that moment, Conrad tugged on a speechless Michael’s arm, and and they set off down the cobblestone sidewalk. Looking around, Michael noticed that many of the trees each had two trunks which joined midway up, looking suspiciously like legs, and most of them didn’t have leaves.
Rather, the majority of the trees looked like they grew grass. If the ground sprouted mainly feathers, and the trees grew grass, Michael wondered where he could find leaves, or what a flower would look like in a place like this.
Absentmindedly looking around, he continued to take in his surroundings, not really paying attention to the fact that he was holding hands with an alligator tour guide. In fact, he had come to equate Conrad with normalcy since in this dream, he was the only creature thus far which could come close to making human interaction.
Birds flew into the sky, occasionally flying into a lake to grab a fish. The birds mainly looked like pelicans, and in his mind Michael equated them as such. Unfortunately, his mental trick lapsed when two of the birds collided in mid-air and exploded in balls of fire- a quality which pelicans don’t possess. The feathers, however, seemed to be flame-retardant; for as the rest of the birds turned into ash and were absorbed by the nearest lake, the feathers floated down out of the sky and peacefully planted themselves in the ground.
“While this world may seem absurd to you, there is still a natural order. The birds plant the feathers in the ground. The trees grow grass to better nest the birds. When making the essence of quagmire last night, you undoubtedly noticed the balls of energy used to warm it. That is the most efficient source of energy we have discovered so far, and it’s also the same source of energy which causes us larger creatures to recharge so quickly. Just because you are unable to appreciate the working order in this world, does not mean that this world still is not beautiful,” Conrad stated after having walked in silence for a while.
Michael, realizing now that he had been speechless for longer than anticipated, remarked back, “You are right that this place is nice, but it’s still not real. Therefore, I don’t appreciate it. This world definitely isn’t permanent. I am probably still in bed, having the strangest nightmare of my life, and by the way, even if I were dreaming, pelicans erupting into flames is not beautiful.”
“The birds are called glanes, and it is beautiful to watch them explode, because it furthers the circle of life. All of life is a balance, and hopefully in this life, you will learn more of the balance and remember to respect its power.”
Before Michael could protest, he had become distracted by the grand sight in front of him. As he was walking with Conrad, he had scarcely thought of where he might be taking them. Now his eyes gaped before him, as he saw a deep, luscious pool of refracted light sitting beneath them.
“We’re here. In your world, you had lakes. In this new world, you have opaque pools of sitting rainbows, from which, by the way, we harvest our energy.”
In and around the rainbow, a small community seemed to flourish. Small purple men, of about an inch high, would flood in by the dozens every minute or two, each diving into the rainbow and coming out a different color. Soon after, the rainbow would be murky from the purple they had left behind when they changed color. From there, a large creature with the legs of an elephant, the body of a pumpkin, the face of a horse, and the snout of an anteater, would silently use its snout to collect the purple matter left behind by the inch high men, where it presumably pooled in the pumpkin.
“What you are watching are color nymphs, who are happiest when they are colorful, diving into the rainbow to shed themselves of the purple muck they acquire by living day-to-day. The rainbow, for them acts the same as a bathtub would for a human. They dive in, the purple comes off, and they leave refreshed and colorful again.”
“What’s the creature doing collecting the purple matter after the color nymphs have left?” asked Michael, simply accepting the initial existence of the color nymphs for the time being. Somehow, in this case, curiosity outweighed his need for logic in this scenario.
“That is a crowscar,” replied Conrad, with a hint of excitement that for once, Michael was not questioning everything he said, “They collect the purple matter and turn it into the energy we discussed earlier. They never need to sleep or recharge, and they are always in good moods, due to their close proximity to the good energy. Never touch one, though, they are exceedingly rare due to hunters with dark energy preying on them.”
“What does that mean?”
“There are two types of creatures in this world, those who rely on good energy for survival, and those who rely on bad energy for survival. They have been at war with each other since the beginning of time, and are supposed to remain at war with each other until the end of time. The crowscars are a symbol of happiness and good energy, and will present themselves to those who may rightfully harvest the good energy and distribute it throughout the land. On the other hand, those with dark energy hunt them, as an attempt to weaken this energy as a whole. The vast majority of creatures are of good energy, but there are always dark creatures lurking about, and they make their presence known when they choose to do so.”
The thoughts of an eternal civil war between light and dark energy forces being fought vicariously through living creatures was enough to send shivers down anybody’s spine, including Michael’s.
Sensing his frustration, Conrad changed the subject. “Look further into the lake,” he said.
Michael, looking for a distraction, listened to his suggestion, and gazed further into the rainbow, where he saw a cluster of small, dark holes. One by one, a line of frogs jumped through the holes, each coming out the other side with wings and a tail, and flew out of the rainbow, and into the blue sky. They tended to make nests in the trees, and jumped from grass cluster to grass cluster, occasionally making longer flights from tree to tree.
“The wings are temporary, and the frogs will have to jump through another hole in a rainbow tomorrow to get them back. Nobody knows the story behind the holes. Many have peered in them, but the holes look different to each being, so nobody can agree on what they look like. A select few attempted to enter the holes, but most do not fit, and those who do are never seen or heard from again. If any creature besides a frog enters a hole, the hole seals itself and the creature disappears forever. Nobody knows why the frogs are immune, and why they jump out and sprout wings, but the scientific community is certain it has something to do with their energy levels. They are generally light-energy creatures, but their bodies seem to interpret contact with dark energy differently than other creatures. The scientific community believes the holes must be powered by, or contain some sort of dark energy.”
Without even realizing it, Michael had spent three hours staring into a rainbow with Conrad, taking in the different sights. While the flying frogs and the crowscars were undoubtedly the most fascinating creatures he had seen in the rainbow, there were probably a dozen more creatures as well: snakes who mated in such a way that they joined together and flew out of the water as a single mouse-sized hippo, mouse-sized hippos who would randomly fall apart into a pair of snakes, a creature which appeared to be a two-foot tall triceratops, muskrats with stingers the size of a monkey’s tail, and many others as well.
They all seemed to get along in perfect harmony, until they didn’t. Suddenly, the entire rainbow community, including Conrad, went silent. Michael joined them in their silence, and made sure not to move a muscle, as the rest of the community also seemed frozen in place. He heard a rustle in the distance, but it sounded like it was moving this way. It came closer and closer, until a pack of wild hamsters came into view. There had to be at least three hundred wild hamsters forming a tornado-like pack, charging at full speed towards the rainbow.
“Hamsters!” shouted the triceratops!
All of a sudden, everybody began moving again at once. The stinging muskrats lined up in a way which suggested they were preparing for battle on the front lines. All of the snakes, lined up behind the muskrats, looking ready for battle. The crowscar ran at full speed away from the hamsters; it could move shockingly fast for something which had the body of a giant pumpkin. The mouse-sized hippos were all turning back into snakes, preparing to fight, and all of the flying frogs seemed to take aerial positions in the grass clusters above.
“We need to go now!” Conrad shouted, finally showing a bit less of a casual tone.
Without thinking, or speaking, he grabbed Michael’s arm, and ran as fast as he could with Michael in tow, hoping he could make it far enough away to stay out of the path of destruction of the tornado of wild hamsters. Out of breath, they finally stopped sprinting once they
From above, Michael could see the hamsters gnawing away at trees, cutting down anything and everything in their path. As a team, the wild hamsters were truly creating a path of destruction, and in a matter of a minute or so, would arrive upon the makeshift rainbow army, preparing for battle.
“You are about to witness your first battle between the light and dark energy. Brace yourself, once the battle commences, anything is fair game. I just hope we are far enough out of the way not to be targeted by the hamsters.”
“You hope?” Michael exclaimed, not comforted by the uncertain tone Conrad took with him.
“I can only hope.” Conrad said, maintaining his worried look, “Pay attention, if you survive the fight you may learn a bit about why you are here to begin with.”
For Michael, this raised many more questions than it answered, not the least of which was “Where was here?” But before he had time to ask any of his questions, the battle commenced.