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A cosmonaut found himself floating calmly in the void of space. He was relaxed, his fingers locked behind him, cradling his helmet, legs crossed and supported by one another. He drifted freely and at ease through the endlessness. At this particular moment he was half awake, suspended between waking reality and altered levels of consciousness. Spending so long drifting had allowed the spaceman to become not only an explorer of the cosmos but also of his mind. He had become skillful at manipulating his mind and perceptions on higher and expansive levels. His current state was one of his favorite places to be mentally; it was a fun swinging feeling between two worlds, on one end reality, on the other his own unconscious, a plethora of worlds. A blurred line between what was, and what wasn’t. But he was not interested in either of these polar points currently. He was busy examining his state suspended of perception, observing, thoroughly, all around him, the void.
The danger of the unknown was ever-present, tantalizing and intriguing. If one remained dangling between waking reality and their own uncertainty mental space too long, the possibility of altering one’s own reason loomed like a shroud of anxiety. However, the cosmonaut was an experienced explorer. He toyed with his brain constantly, deconstructing and reconstructing his own psyche. To a point, it was all one could really do in his situation. He could no longer remember how long he was adrift, it had seemed like lifetimes. These skills were now second nature. A true master of the realm and of himself. Or so he thought.
With an exhale he returned to the world around him and let his awareness slowly seep back into his body. Coming back from a restful state was a journey in and of itself. The extraction of a consciousness from another world. Through dimensions, reconstructing and reorganizing, and then finally landing in this plane. This process had always felt odd to him; like a soul being uploaded into a computer. His body was tight and the urge to stretch took over him. Muscles slowly began to adopt awareness as he sent his mind and spirit back into the shell of his body. He cracked his joints and after doing a couple of zero gravity somersaults, righted himself and got comfortable once more. His breathing was slow and calm. He blinked a few times and took in the space around him. Black, with tiny, colorful lights in every direction.
He yawned, bored. Eons adrift in space and still nothing seemed to excite the traveler. It was no wonder he spent so much of his time in an animated sleep. Having lost the fear of Death long ago, the cosmonaut allowed himself to let the stars guide his journey. Floating, relaxing, and, over-all, unconcerned with where his path would lead.
“If you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t really matter which path you choose,” he thought to himself.
This attitude allowed for a lot of time for introspection. The dive inward to explore what only the imagination could conjure was a recreational activity for the cosmic explorer. He had seen much on his travels, incredible, unspeakable, and phenomena beyond measure and reason. His imagination and memory had become reflections of all the things he had encountered. When manifested and controlled the cosmonaut could travel between worlds at will. A spiritual and creative pathfinder of the mind.
The funny thing about space is that it has been around for SO long. As long as anyone can remember, really. If one were to plot out a personal chronology they would find themselves rather insignificant in comparison to the timelessness of the universe. Time, therefore, becomes a construct for the individual. And this space pioneer had abandoned that construct long ago. He could no longer remember how old he was, when he had left his home, his memories from his life. Irrelevant details in his mind. It was all the same as far as he was concerned, all part of the same journey, the same story. A cosmic web of interwoven occurrences and so he spent much of his power on simply, being present.
His gaze gravitated towards something in the distance. A cluster of stars, splayed out across the sky, a cosmic body on the horizon. It was large, the size of a small planet. A long cloudy river of speckled lights that snaked its way into the unknown. As he approached he a saw that the stars varied in size and shape, in color, and brightness. It continued to flow, on and on. He paused to observe, this was something new.
He slowed himself as he drew closer and eventually coming to a halt hovering just next to the stream. He studied it and finding a thin veil between the stars and the space around it. A film of sparkling lights separating the two of them. The ether current flowed on in front of him, un-phased by his presence. He paused there for a long time staring at the anomaly before him. He lost himself again within an instant, looping and running down all of the mental roads of information he knew to make sense of what he saw. He extended his hand outward, slowly edging it closer to the cloud. He hesitated unsure of what was to come next. Cosmic, and colorful. He could not sense any hostility within the energy of this anomaly.
It came as a rush. All at once his mind surged with sensation, knowledge beyond comprehension. It cascaded through him flooding his psyche. It was electrifying, he felt rejuvenated. His breathe removed, his body tingling, he retracted his hand and the energy slowly dispersed away from him. The cosmonaut felt shock, divided. He stared at his hand for a long time picturing the surge of energy. It’s remnants lingered softly as it left him and dissipated into the unknown. It was the feeling of struggling to remember a dream that one has just awoke from. Finally, the sensations left him, their memories hazy and faint. He was left to sort through a myriad of questions,
“What wonder, what possibility,” he thought to himself.
He stared deeply into the stream and studied it for a long time. The stars flow by him at varying speeds. Shooting stars, creeping stars, zig zagging, swirling all through the stream, it was gorgeous. A picturesque spacescape of color and light beyond the wildest imaginings. As he meditated on his experience he found himself returning to one idea: how much more he wanted to know. Countless experience, divine wisdom. For so long he was convinced he had seen and known all that there was to know. The cosmos seemed to get smaller and smaller. The more he pondered the more the yearning for knowledge grew. It was then that he had made up his mind. He hovered closer to the stream his the glass of his helmet less than inches away from the dust. He took a slow breathe, and plunged his head into the unknown.
He felt incredible. His awareness became attuned to everything around him. The stars had voices of their own, stories, happening simultaneously, hear could hear them all. His senses surged, this was awareness of a divine scope. Soft and quiet, bright and dark, peaceful and turbulent. He listened to the tiniest of sounds, a steady hum, vibrating beneath it all. He listened to the stars, felt them, their joys, their sorrows. He walked into their lives, their histories. Experiencing as they had, and he knew.
A small star whizzed towards him and careened into the side of his helmet exploding into a cloud of particles. It phases through the glass of his helmet and fills his vision. Floating softly inside, the photons glitter and sparkle until they land on his face, sinking deep into his skin. The star was no more, it’s journey, finished. The cosmonaut felt a sudden unbearable loss having been an accomplice of this star’s passing. He removed his head from the stream.
“Could it have been prevented had he not submerged his head when he did?”
The probabilities were endless, he felt as if a part of himself had disappeared. He stared long into the stream watching the stars. The things experienced within the stream, now fragmented, distant, and hazy memories. Like a mild case of amnesia, the astronaut couldn't remember what he felt within stream. Perturbed and frustrated he paused again to reflect.
“Where were they going?
What were they doing here?
What had he just began to fathom?”
The memories of the time elapsed in the stream began to fade slowly.
After more reflection the astronaut was still at ends with himself. An unbearable shroud of namelessness cloaked him. It was subtle, but heavy, like a steady erosion of the spirit.
Finally, he concluded that there was no other option. With a great exertion, he hurled himself into the stream. In an instant he was sucked away spiraling down the current. The force was incredible. He felt the pull of the current on an atomic level, molecules vibrated, elements phased in and out, the astronaut’s body was shredded into fractalized matter. His consciousness was ripped from his person and swirl outward into infinity. The cosmonaut was broken down into the components of all comprising existence. Pattern after pattern sequenced for what seemed like an eternity before he was returned to his familiar self.
Bewildered, he looked at his hands and then the rest of him. Checking to see if his body was the same as he remembered. A few deep breaths later he noticed the stars floating softly around him their speed slow and steady. He could feel their joy in seeing him. They flooded his body with feelings of tranquility and happiness. Calling out to him their voices rang like glorious choirs serenading the event. He then began to realize how loved he was in this place. How becoming one and simultaneously being one, was beautiful. He understood his own duality; manifested in individualized experience and the stars knew it too.
“Welcome,” they say softly, like fairy voices chirping around him like catty school children.
“We’ve missed you,”
“You’re in for such a treat.”
“He’s finally here!”
The stars danced about him, sensing their ease he let himself float along with them. The current had its own steady pull, off into the unknown, a river through time and space. As they floated the astronaut took notice of stars exiting and entering the stream. Before he had time to ponder about what he was beholding, a voice cut through his attention and grasped him forcefully. It answered that which he was about to ask.
“They come and go, just like you. They don’t remember leaving, or being here, only until they come back. Only then does it become apparent. None of us reside here; only the ones who have been around the longest. You know them, you’ve met them before. They’ve rode this stream as long as they can remember. A part of you is one of them. A different part of you is the new star about to enter. Their wisdom is your wisdom, their newness, is your newness. All come and go as they see fit. Even if they do not realize it, or where they are. Some enter once and are extinguished. Some enter and never leave. Some enter once and never enter again. You know this as well. Draw your attention to it and you will exit. Focus it elsewhere and you can slip in and out as often as you like.”
The astronaut peered into the veil with wonder.
“You have the power to do this... focus your attention on separating yourself from your body and then do with it as you please.”
The cosmonaut slowed his breathing and focused intently on his own psyche. He set an anchor, deep within himself, it would serve has his returning point. He paused taking as long as he needed to bring himself to move. With a mighty exhale he disassociated and slingshotted the himself away through the veil and out into space. The astral anchor tethering him like a rope. Exiting with great propulsion, he feels his perception bungee outwards only to be quickly retracted, blasted back into himself. The rush is unbelievable, again and again he flies to and from, breaching the stream like a dolphin in water. The stars rejoice as he frolicked in the endlessness. From within the stream his mind can feel the sensation of free falling, as if his anchor has become his own gravitational force. Adrenaline and endorphins explode within, filling him with energy. He continues to do this until he no longer feels necessary returning to his body.
After some prolonged floating, a large star began to approach the party from behind. It startled the cosmonaut and the size of the gaseous ball was nothing but alarming. As it drew closer he became aware of its energy. The new force is large and impending, an inescapable gravitational pull. Slow and steady, it hummed powerfully in a low frequency. He turned away from it in an attempt to flee but was soon swallowed whole. He is sucked through the gas and his body melts away into plasma and vaporizes.
There is a long pause; any notion of time dissipates. The space explorer is unsure of his own existence. He is somewhere unfamiliar. Finally, he becomes aware of himself. Immediately after there is something new. A low, steady, powerful voice rumbling through the emptiness. It is speaking to him although the words are unclear. He becomes aware of the vibrations emitting from deep inside the star’s core.
“Who is there?” the voice boomed.
“Hm... hmmmmm…. Ho ho...hello little one! I almost didn’t notice you there. It has been some time since we have spoken.”
The voice became more clear but remained fragmented like a radio signal cutting in and out. It was strong and wholesome and filled the cosmonaut with a warm peace.
“Ah, yes, you remember don’t you? Old friend…”
A sensation of deep love flowed from within the star and wrapped itself around the cosmonaut.
“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t… I remember you… how many times our paths have crossed…”
From the center of the star the vibration was noticeably the strongest. It was simple, the lowest of frequencies resonating down to the astronaut’s fibers and beyond. The wavelength of existence perpetually generating in tandem with the cosmic giants.
Together they existed in silence for a long time. Knowing each other deeply and intimately.
Suddenly the voice struck from the deep.
“Ah, time for you to go... until... next time…” the star echoed as the cosmonaut became aware of his consciousness being drawn away outside of the star. His body began to reform and the echoes of the core were soft but strong, staying with him with invigorating energy. He emerged from the elements and floated behind the large star as it continued its journey. Around him unfamiliar stars float by seeing to their own journeys, he was met with warmth and steady joy. He took a long moment to contemplate and reflect on all that had happened.
So much to process
Amidst his musings he had failed to notice his increasing speed. The more he put his brain to work, the faster he moved. His thoughts raced, kicking into overdrive, looping in upon themselves. Introspection, analyzation, hypermania; soon he had no longer had control of them. It felt as if his brain was a whirling machine that was quickly reaching a critical level. He closed his eyes and tried to shake the thoughts away to no avail. A sense of dread began to manifest. The speed was uncomfortable. It crept up his spine and through his breathe, it was cold and dark. Suddenly, a black cloud began to appear before him. It snaked its way down his spine around his legs and up his chest until it floated around his vision. It spoke, it’s voice shrill and screeching. It cut through the silence like crashing waves.
“Hah... you didn’t think I was here, did you?... I’ve been waiting for you to notice me... Did you think it all goes away when you leave? Foolish.”
The cloud paused and let loose a long hiss. Slowly, it shifted into a new form, twisting and contorting, becoming more solid. After a moment the cosmonaut was gazing into his own reflection. This frightened him deeply. An energy of darkness and death crept forth from the cloud like a haze. It’s eyes were like windows full of nothingness.
A flash burst from within the eyes and with it the cosmonaut saw all the pain and hate, deep within the universe. Deep within himself, reflected back upon him in magnitude.
“Don’t act so surprised,” the voice hissed from within a mouth of thunder. Its words crackled like sparks.
“I’m with you always, just as you are mine always. But, you should know, I cannot hurt you, only you are capable of destroying that which is yours.. I cannot be, if you are not. You cannot be, without me.”
As the cloud whispered the cosmonaut felt it. Grief, fear, loss, heartache. It was all there. Every bit of his own, every bit of those around him. He felt the emptiness within as the cloud wisped around him like a boa constricting its prey. It hung like a veil over his eyes, ice crept down the glass of his helmet.
“Hurts doesn’t it? It always does,” the cloud chuckles in its own sadism and passes through the his body only to rest back within. It spoke to him again from the depths, echoing in the chambers of his mind.
The astronaut focused his attention on his reflection’s eyes. They were black, abyssal. From within, tiny specks of light flickered, dancing. Gradually increasing in number and speed. Soon, images of death, decay, and the macabre sprung forth from deep within. Eons of pain and suffering flowed like visions from his reflection’s eyes. He could not avert his stare, he plunged further into the black, absorbing the darkness until it consumed him. Like a black hole eating itself he was sucked in. And from there, he descended.
Ages passed as he sank deeper and deeper. He was alone with his own monsters in a place where they thrived and spawned. The demons of the universe closed in on him in a relentless assault. Unspeakable terrors from unfathomable places shook the poor space explorer to his core and beyond. Time passed, until finally the horrific images around him became commonplace. They passed him, in and out of his mind. After a long time he studied them, assessing their nature, and finally he realized that there was a fineness here.
As if it had known in an instant of the astronaut’s awareness the cloud spoke from the unknown. The images faded and the astronaut exited the eyes of his reflection and it vanished before him.
“Do you see now?... There is no escape, because there is nothing to run from. Fear begins to vanish when we realize we are all comprised of the undeniable. There cannot be light, without the dark. When balance is achieved, the current flows.”
The astronaut quieted his mind, and reflected.
Before the question could manifest the cloud appeared in front of him, this time in another new form. It was humanoid, with legs of a goat and the torso of a man, tattooed with skin of gray ash. It was dressed like a monk, iconography and trinkets accessorised its person. Atop the torso, the skull of a steer rattled in the chill. It exhaled, cold mist billowing from its nostrils. Antlers of infinite expanse crowned its head. The creature turned to face him, the bones and teeth chattering manickly. The skull’s sockets were as empty as the vacuum around him. In the middle of the forehead, one large eye pulsed frantically peering in all directions before focusing on the cosmonaut. The shrillness in its voice had been replaced by a hollow softness.
“None know of the end…”
The astronaut spun to face the current behind him. When he turned back the the thing had disappeared.The stars remained unchanged, floating on as if nothing had happened. Their presence was warm and soft. Like feathers they dance and laughed like fireflies. A sense of calm filled him.
“Only those who have finished the journey know of what lies beyond…”
The astronaut closed his eyes and again quieted his mind. He brought attention to his breathing, to his blood coursing. He went deeper until his atoms felt his own awareness. Deeper, until he became aware of the raw energy he could create. From there he channeled his awareness back through his body and to his brain carrying with it the waves of energy. It erupted from his forehead and swirled before him in the current. Like water flowing from a dam it splashed and began to take shape around him.
“The journey is yours…” the dark voice melded into his own conscious voice.
The light began to become solid, surrounding the astronaut. He began to hear all of the voices around him again, a chorus of harmony. The energy continued to swirl faster and faster engulfing him. It shifted from abstractness into the tangible until it transformed in sheets of metal boxing him inside within.
“What you do with it, is your own…”
A seat formed beneath him, the controls followed, blinking lights and noises filled the cockpit. Memories of the launch came rushing back. The glass pane liquefies into existence before him.
“Energy is neither created or destroyed…”
The astronaut punched the controls triggering the engines. They hummed with power and began to shake the ship violently. Thrusters engaged, the astronaut fixed his eyes on the infinite horizon.
He finally exhaled, his task complete; certain of what lay before him. Hands wrapped around the throttle, the ship’s rockets whirling with fire ready to launch. The rush of new adventure fueled by boundless curiosity erupted from within.
The voice echoed around him once again,
“You are the result of countless ages of cosmic evolution. Matter and energy realizing itself… you have power beyond imagination. The power to shake the fabric of space, time, and beyond... manifest wisely...”