From your universe to you - Chap 1
“What falls from heaven will one day eventually go back”
The light was blinding, yet it was so quiet. The howling arctic wind, that was so damn cold, now turned into an intense heat that flowed through my entire body. It was so hot, yet it didn’t burn. It just got hotter and hotter like I was diving straight into the sun.
I put my hand over my eyes to shield them, but it was just so bright. I did all I could, but it still penetrated my eyelids even as I closed them.
I could do nothing, nothing at all, but shut my eyelids as tight as I could, hoping and praying that the pain in my eyes would just go away. And then…
“Hello?” I called out.
But, there was no sound, not even a whisper in the silence.
“Hello?” I tried articulating again, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t form my lips around the edges of the word.
This felt weird, the air was no longer cold, and it felt like nothing. In fact, everything felt like nothing. I tried to shout, but not a single morsel of sound escaped from my throat. I tried moving my hands and feet, but I couldn’t feel them too. Everything was numb, my feet, my throat, even my own goddamn face.
What did that snake fucking do to me?
I looked around, seeing nothing but the same empty void. It was hard to admit, but an unsettling feeling started to grow within the chambers of my mind, an unremitting thought, that whatever or wherever this place was, I no longer mattered anymore.
I was now nowhere and nothing.
I think It was the darkness that enveloped me, but maybe it’s just what your mind makes up when you perceive absolute nothingness.
Everything was now gone, the white bed, the grass that rippled from the wind, the skies filled with stars infinitely far away, hell, even my own body. I had to be tripping acid.
My entire body was missing, yet I was still here… still thinking… processing… alive… how?
Just then, as abrupt as everything had vanished, a voice so loud it echoed in my head said,
“stop screaming you sound like a—”
“Baby, how was your day? ” Charmaine said as she tiptoed to kiss me. I was picking her up from work.
“Never mind about me, how are you feeling Ah Char?”
“Ah Char” was the nickname I managed to somehow give her. When we were first dating, I brought her for lunch to a chicken rice stall, and to me that was the best store that sold traditional Hainanese chicken rice.
To stay true to tradition they always added a nice side of Ah Char – a dish made of preserved cucumbers and carrots – and as soon as she tried it, she fell in love.
“Hmmm the Ah Char here is sooo good. It’s like sweet and spicy, and it goes so well with the chicken”
“Huh, you really like that Ah Char don’t you, Ah Char” I chuckled.
Her eyebrows frowned, “stop it, I will not let you nickname me after preserved vegetables.”
“Why not? It fits you so well. You’re sweet just like the ah char and – Oh! – you’re cute like the cucumber.” I mocked but her pink cheeks still blushed, making them even pinker than it already was.
“Stop it. It’s like calling me a pickle, who calls their girlfriend a pickle huh?”
“Oh honey I love you so much – Oh sure do I my sweet little pickle.” she mocked as she imitated me.
We laughed together, and right there and then, I knew, I loved her.
After we left the store, I went back home with—
“Charmaine? Ah char is that you?”
“She is not here.” the voice in my head bellowed.
“where is she then?”
“The goddamn note said that if I came here I would find her” I said. Somehow without a throat my voice still trembled.
“I just want to see her again, one last time,” I sighed deeply, desperately wanting to cry, yet there was no tear for me to shed, “It just took her…”
“She must return to where she came from.“ the voice declared loudly.
“But I followed the note! Did I do it wrongly? Oh my god, I did it wrongly. I had to just follow one fucking instruction, and yet, I still fucked it up.”
“No mortal, you did not do it wrongly,” it said.
To me the voice came from everywhere, like somehow it was in my head, speaking from within my thoughts.
“The instructions you followed were for you to come here.” It said again.
“Here? But she’s not here! Why would she give me instructions to come here? This place is a void. There’s literally—”
“you sure? It’s your birthday, let me bring you somewhere nice for dinner” I insisted.
“No, it’s alright. I don’t really feel like eating.” She replied, her voice somber and laced with something I couldn’t really tell.
“Are you sure you don’t want to have dinner at Preludio? I have a reservatio-”
“Why don’t we go to skyville today? It’s been so long since we went there.” She suddenly suggested.
It was her 25th birthday today, and I really wanted to take her out for dinner, but after seeing how dejected she was, I just nodded.
Preludio was the hottest restaurant in town, and to get a reservation there was like getting a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
I had also bought the ring too. Mother had given me it months ago, and I was just waiting for the right time, like maybe tonight. However, as much as I love to see her fish the ring out from her lobster bisque, I could imagine that she wouldn’t really enjoy it. Somehow, It wasn’t starry enough for her.
Charmaine never opted for the most popular or trendy stuff. Instead, she always went with the options that were most astral.
Where most girls would go for a movie with their boyfriends, she would stargaze with me. Where most girls would spend their time with their boyfriends in the mall, she would spend them with me at skyville, far above everyone else, and closer to the stars.
I never had a problem with it, but I never knew why though.
why she always seemed so close with the stars and…
“Space? What are you talking about?”
“You said this place is nothing, but this is space.”
“That’s impossible. If this was space, there would be stars and galaxies all around us,“
”How do you know this is space? You’re just a voice from my imagination, talking with me because I’m going crazy in this fucking void.”
”you’re not wrong that this is a void. However, a void is still in space. It just so happens to be in a space outside the universe where matter doesn’t exist yet.”
“Maybe this might be more familiar.”
In an instant, infinity collapsed on itself, and the blinding light flashed again. The intense heat enveloped me again and everything around me started to stretch violently, space was warping around me and the darkness began accelerating away.
“What the fucckkkkk.” I yelled with my final breath as my chest tightened inwards, the sucking force had pulled every cubic volume of air out of my lungs, and now, I was sure that they were going to burst. But then, like nothing had ever happened, everything just stopped.
The light and heat were gone, and the once black void, was now filled with countless stars and galaxies, nebulas, and celestial bodies; like an empty black canvas, now splattered with paint by an artist.
I gasped, inhaling back the stolen air that was taken from my lungs. I placed my hands on my thumping chest and realized my body was back. I was no longer a mere voice in the abyss, but now a physical body in the middle of the cosmos.
“Who are you?” I stammered, still reeling in shock from that fucking space Jump.
“God, how I wish I had a telescope.” Charmaine sighed as she stared at the stars above.
We were lying on the wooden benches at skyville, a rooftop garden on top of a public housing estate fifty floors tall, where we were far above the worries of life, and closer to the heavens.
Her head snuggled beside mine, and her eyes were glued to the world above, but my eyes, they were glued to hers. I couldn’t help but smile as her cute lips and rosy cheeks lifted as she saw a shooting star past bye.
The constellation was reflecting off her glasses, and for a brief second, I swear I could see stars in her eyes.
“Baby, I have something I want to give you today,”
She rolled her head from the sky and towards me, her cute pink nose meeting mine in the process. Our eyes connected and she stared into them like they were something more spectacular than even the stars above.
“What is it?”
“You know how you always said you wanted to go to Iceland?”
“No you did not!” she gasped.
It was impossible not to smile after that, seeing her cute little face perk up, and her eyes, widen in excitement.
“Well, I’ve been saving up for some time now, and since it’s your birthday, I decided maybe we could-”
“No you’re kidding! You did not buy us tickets to Iceland”
“Yes I did baby! Plus, I rented an Airbnb just for the two of us where we can huddle up and watch the northern lights.” I said, grinning bigger than a Cheshire Cat.
“Oh my god! I love you, I love you, I love you so much!” she squealed as she jumped up, and hugged me with such force, it knocked me to the Plastic grass patch below. I brought her down with me and rolled her playfully to the side.
My mind flashed to the ring in my pocket. Now seemed so perfect of a time, but I told myself to wait till we were in Iceland.
“Alright, alright get a hold of yourself. Now about my payment?” I whispered to her flirtatiously, and with a coy smile of invitation, my lips moved to meet hers.
At that moment, nothing in life had ever felt so—
“Good! You’re almost right.” the voice exclaimed cheerfully.
“I’m not God, but to you, I do look like one.”
“then what are you?”
“The universe?” I asked.
“No no, but I do live in it,”
“I am Eternity.”
“But eternity is a concept, an abstract idea, how are you-.”
“Consciousness is not confined to just flesh and bones, Mortal.”
“Consciousness simply put is like a pattern,
energy rearranged into this complex yet elegant pattern. This pattern, this arrangement of matter, leads to self-awareness and subsequently, consciousness.”
“You mortals have this pattern too, in the series of neurons and grey matter that makes up your brain.”
”Concepts can take on this pattern too, given enough time, and when you’re eternity, it doesn’t take long.”
“Although I do not have a physical body, I am as alive as you are.”
I was dazed, and my mind, ajar. The words it spoke were like a stun grenade, and when it was thrown at me, it scrambled my perception and left me unable to think.
Slowly, I digested what Eternity had said, slowly swallowing down the massive implications that came with it. In what seemed like an instant, I now knew what consciousness was. Where philosophers and scientists all over the world have tried and failed so many times to unlock the secrets of consciousness, I had simply been given the answer.
Sometimes It’s funny how, the mere knowledge of something, even if it’s just the mere acknowledgment of its existence, could so greatly alter your future; like how meeting just a single person could change your life forever.
And as that thought floated through the congested highways of my mind, everything soon seemed irrelevant – even the secrets of consciousness – as I remembered the reason I was here in the first place.
I came here to find—
“Charmaine come on!” I grunted as I dragged her out of the car.
As soon as the car door opened, she transformed into a goblin that just wanted to return to its warm cave, and at every moment it wasn’t, it complained.
“Come on. I thought you wanted to see the northern light!” I grunted, slightly irritated.
“co-cold, so cold.” she stammered as I pulled her along by her hand which she covered in two gloves.
“We are literally in Iceland during its winter, the land of ice during its coldest, did you really expect it to be warm, Mrs Einstein?” I chuckled.
We trudged through the barren snow and towards an open field ahead, the cold heavy silence only cut into by the rhythmic crunching of the snow beneath our boots. We were from the tropics, and so, even 4 layers of clothing couldn’t help soften the blow; a blow 30 degrees celsius of difference deep.
Somehow, even underneath all those layers, my skin was still harassed by the cold dry air that was so prevalent and immense. The warm comfort of our cave seemed to be the only place the cruel air hadn’t infiltrated yet, and so, we yearned so much to return, but I told myself that no matter what, she would see the northern lights.
Gasping, I pointed my glove towards the overarching sky, “Charmaine look!”
The sky ahead, once only illuminated by the distant stars, now contained what seemed like a faded shade of green. It was so faint yet there it was.
The northern lights.
I once heard that viewing the Aurora borealis is a life-changing experience, but it didn’t seem so life-changing – to me at least. It just looked like a faint cloud of green, with some stripes of purple running along with it- thrown in just for effect.
I looked down from the somewhat disappointing spectacle and towards Charmaine to see what she thought of it.
Honestly, I expected her to still be shivering uncontrollably with her head tucked down to her chest. However, like a moth fixed to a light bulb she was transfixed to the lights above.
“Charmaine?” I called as I slowly walked towards her.
She was no longer shivering and hunched back like a goblin. Instead, her body was unnaturally upright and erect, her head tilted up to the lights at an impossible angle.
“Charmaine?” I called again, my voice this time more audibly concerned and worried, yet she didn’t break her gaze.
Her face, still shrouded by the darkness of the Nordic land, was unmoving and stiff yet her eyes… They told a whole different story.
Her eyes were filled with so much hate, longing, loss, happiness, sadness… They were so brimmed with emotions, emotions even I couldn’t describe, that they seemed to almost overflow.
And then, they did.
A single tear formed from the corner of her eye, leaving a trail of softness from her cheeks to her Chin, before it simply succumbed to gravity and rolled off. I watched almost in slow motion as the perfectly round pearl drop fell silently through the air until it hit the snow where it splatted.
Immediately after, I felt a huge surge of energy flow through me, and as if something had pushed me, I was knocked back
Charmaine then spoked.
“I must go back, Adam. I’m sorry, it’s just so—”
“Beautiful isn’t it, huh?” The voice said.
“The universe is truly someone special…”
“I want to see Charmaine,” I said, my voice trembling again, but this time more from anger than sadness.
“I don’t care what it takes, I want to see her.”
“Mere mortal,” eternity sighed
“I know you want to see your beloved, but you need to understand first, then can I bring you to her.”
“She’s here? She’s actually here?”
“Not quite…” eternity said.
“Then what do you mean you’ll bring me to her?”
“Mere mortal,” eternity sighed again.
“This is why you’ll need to understand first then can I-”
“Okay, then let’s go! make me understand, show me what you need to show me!”
“This isn’t a process you can rush, mere mortal. You need to open your mind, then can you truly understand.”
“How do I do that then?” I said impatiently.
“Lie down and I will show you.”
“What? We’re literally in space, how do I lie down?”
“Lie down and I will show you.” eternity repeated, clearly more annoyed.
Although I was in space, my feet were still bound by a force to an invisible ground, and although it was disorienting, I could still walk straight as if I was walking on flat ground.
With slight hesitation I got on my knees and placed them on to the invisible floor. slowly I leaned back, moving lower and lower and becoming less convinced there even was an invisible ground, and then, just as my back was titled to the point I almost flipped backward, I felt a force on my back supporting me.
Somehow I was lying down in the middle of space on an invisible floor.
And you know what was more absurd than lying on an invisible floor in the middle of the universe? The fact that, somehow, the invisible ground felt soft, like a bed.
“Okay, I think I’m lying down,” I said unsurely.
just then, as I was thinking of how I was even speaking in space, my thoughts were interrupted by eternity.
“Close your eyes and breathe, slowly. I will bring you back.”
For the third time around, the blinding light flashed again – and who could forget? – The immense heat soon came after.
Like riding a rollercoaster over and over again, you’ll get accustomed to most of the ride, eventually. But there’s always a drop you can never get used to, no matter how many times you ride it, and that for me, was the way infinity seemed to fold onto itself.
The heat and light was something you could get used to, and you could also hold your breath, but the feeling of every cell in your body, slowly warping and getting stretched, as if everything was being ripped apart, is something no one could ever get used to.
And then, there was darkness – again.
But this time I could open my eyes though, and as I did, I got treated with the same night sky I had seen before the abyss. Similarly, I was lying on the same grass bed, and as I had remembered, I was in the middle of the same meadow surrounded by the same grass field.
I looked around, my eyes slowly adjusting to the winter darkness. The tall grass still rippled in the wind, and the sky still twinkled with the same familiar stars. The wintry leaves rustled as the Nordic wind blew, and as the familiar coldness slowly seeped into my bare skin again, I wished I had my jacket back.
“At least those things aren’t here,” I said, reassuring myself and messaging the forgotten tightness in my shoulder. Those things can’t come in here, thank god.
I sat up, the dry grass crackling underneath as I propped myself up.
“Eternity?” I said with a voice as dry as the straw that laid under me, a voice that wished it was all a dream, but that it wasn’t as well. In the moments that followed where everything seemed to stop, where the wind itself stood still, I listened closely for its voice…
“I’m sorry,” Charmaine said in a quivering voice.
“I must… I must go back.” She whimpered as her eyes were still transfixed to the northern lights above.
What was happening? What was she even talking about? And what in the hell was that weird energy surge that pushed me?
I had so many questions, but not a single answer.
“Charmaine, what are you talking about?” I asked, this time even more concerned than before.
I glanced up to the northern light, and to my surprise, what seemed like a faint green cloud before now turned into a mesmerizing light show of green and purple.
The aurora borealis now actually looked like the ones you find online, where they would dance in a spectacular display. However, the weird thing was, they were somehow getting brighter, and to my utmost dismay, even closer.
I turned back to Charmaine again, but this time her dark brown eyes had turned into a chilling shade of dark green which bared a terrifying resemblance to the northern lights.
“Charmaine lets go,” I said, now In full-blown panic mode. I know they said that the northern lights could change quickly, but this… this wasn’t normal.
I yelled at her, screamed at her to go, but even after all my frantic calling, She still didn’t budge. With an outstretched hand, I pulled her away.
In an instant, an immense energy struck down around us. The green aurora had come down like lightning, and now, surrounded us with its curtains of light, roaring and pulsating with raw power.
“What the fuc-” I cursed as I fell backward onto my back.
That’s when I saw it. Charmaine was starting to rise. Her feet had slowly lifted up until they were completely off the ground, and now, as if she was held up by an invisible hand, She started to float.
Her body was limped in the air, her legs and arms dangling behind her torso as her body rose unevenly. The northern lights were carrying her up, sucking her into the skies.
“No!” I screamed, pushing myself off the ground and running towards her. She was rising, up and up until…
“I got you! Stay with me Charmaine!” I yelled as I launched myself towards her. I managed to grab her dangling legs, and now, hung on for dear life. I was right, an invisible massive hand was holding onto her, and as soon as I held onto her, I could feel its grip tighten around her body.
The green barrier now turned hellish red, it’s circumference only getting smaller and smaller by the second.
A faint green outline of the colossal hand was also now present. It’s finger wrapped around her body as if she was a doll, but I could see its grip was loosening.
I looked up, preparing to face the massive creature to which the hands belonged to, but there was none. The hands just stretched out into the roaring northern lights, and seemingly faded into it, leaving only its forearm and hand in view.
As I tucked harder I could feel her body slipping and the fingers around her body weren’t as tight as before, the massive hand was losing its grip. With a twist of my feet, I plunged my boots deeper into the ground, and with a deep and powerful inhale, I pulled with all my strength.
“I must go, Adam,” Charmaine begged, now with such volume that it reverberated through my chest. “I must go, Adam!” Her demonic voice boomed again, sending powerful waves through the barrier of light.
“No! I will not let you go!” I howled, and with all my might, I pulled harder than I ever had in my life. I could feel my body physically shaking from the strain, and my muscles, overwhelmed with fatigue, but with what could only be described as a war cry, I yelled and yanked her, as hard as I could, from the grasps of the lights, and then, sweet release.
Charmaine fell, and the lights and massive giant hand dissipated, dispersing into the heavens above. The curtains of red lights had also raised and retreated like the rest, not even leaving an imprint of its presence on the snow.
The northern lights were no longer there, and all that remained, were the clear empty night skies.
Charmaine was now In my arms, safe; she wasn’t going anywhere.
“Charmaine are you alright?” I whispered as I stroked her face; ever so soft and sweet. She looked so tired like she was deep in sleep but rudely awakened.
Her eyes then slowly opened, now back to it’s normal, and familiar, dark hazel brown. Then as slowly as she blinked, her lips, with such minuscule movements spoked.
“How did you bring me back?”
“I didn’t bring you anywhere mortal, you were always here” eternity said as his voice echoed in my head.
“Then what was all the light and heat?”
“And if I was always here, how did I end up in a void, and then in the middle of the universe?”
“I didn’t move you anywhere Adam, I simply moved the universe through you,” eternity said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Simply.” I scoffed.
“Anyway, why’d you bring me back?”
“Do you remember this place—”
“It’s okay baby, I’m bringing you back,” I said as I turned away from the road and towards Charmaine. She was propped up against the window of the car, still weak and cold.
“What happened?” She uttered as she lifted her head from the window.
“I’m not sure baby, but everything’s okay now,”
“You just rest now alright? Here take this.”
I took the wool blanket from around my neck and with one hand, wrapped it around her. She gave a tired nod, and with a soft moan, fell back asleep. I looked back at her and rubbed her shoulders. Her body temperature was still low, but at least she was warming up now, in the car.
My mind flashed to the ring in my pocket again. I was planning on doing it tonight, before… before all this happened. But It didn’t matter now, all that mattered was that she was still here with me.
We didn’t drive that far out so we were back to our cottage in less than 15 minutes. I could swear, In those 15 minutes driving back, I was undoubtedly the most paranoid I had ever been in my life.
I looked up from the road, constantly, to check for any hints of green, and every minute or so, I’d look in the rear mirror to check whether the lights were following us. Luckily, they weren’t.
Soon after, we reached our cottage. I didn’t want to wake Charmaine up, and so, I carried her out of the car and into the cabin. We didn’t leave the cabin doors locked as we were surrounded by nothing but snow, making it relatively easy getting her in without much hassle.
Using my aching shoulders, I pushed the cabin door open, walked to the bed and laid her down; snow flying everywhere as I stepped in. The cabin wasn’t very big. The kitchen and bed were literally in the same room where the glass door was attached to. In Fact, the cottage was tiny, but considering the fact that it was just the two of us it was rather cozy; especially when we turned on the floor heating.
As Charmaine slept, I sat on the small couch that was in front of the kitchen and sipped on some cold gas station coffee. I looked out through the glass door into the pitch-black sky, a feeling of uneasiness growing within me.
Suddenly, I noticed the faintest of green. My heart jumped; frantically I rubbed my eyes only for the pitch-black sky to peer back. My eyes were getting tired and the darkness wasn’t helping me stay awake.
On most nights we would not lock the door as we felt relatively safe being surrounded only by the winter landscape and some farm horses, but tonight… I just wanted to get out of here and head to the city. Surround myself with actual people and not just snowmen and horses.
I got up and walked to the glass door and with an audible “click” that carried into the darkness, I locked the door.
I went back to the couch and told myself that I wasn’t not going to sleep, but instead, keep watch that night. As soon as dawn broke, we would head to the city.
“We lock the doors at night not because we are scared of the darkness heading in, but scared that as we look into the abyss above, we will head into it.”
“Yeah, I remember this place,”
“This was where I met you,” I added.
“That’s correct.” eternity said.
“Yeah, I had to come all the way here and sleep on this bed,”
“That was before all this crazy—“
I jolted awake. I don’t know how, but I fell asleep. It was either because the coffee wasn’t jack shit or I was too tired after holding onto…
“Charmaine?” I called as I jumped onto the balls of my feet. The bed was just beside the couch, and so, I got up and checked on her.
“Charmaine,” I called one more time, as I moved directly beside the bed.
I thought, maybe she was just angled weirdly, and so, I couldn’t see her underneath all the blankets, but the bed…the bed was empty.
A cold shiver went up my spine and I almost threw up the coffee that, for sure, wasn’t jack shit. I ran to the glass door and opened it, still in my thermal wear. The sky was still dark and everything was still eerily silent, but there were footprints in the paperwhite snow.
I frantically checked for Charmaine’s boots. They were still there, mockingly upright beside mine, but those footprints… those slender imprints on the snow… it must have belonged to her.
Just then, as I followed the footprints to the back of the cabin, I spotted the haunting green aurora hanging in the sky…
“NO!” I screamed and dashed forward; my boots slipping on the ice.
The sky was illuminated in what I could only describe as a frenzy of paralyzing lights. They danced forbiddingly with a dizzying array of colors, pulsating and roaring like a hungry caged lion.
like a violent tornado ripping through the field, the lights twisted into a vortex on the farmland, and then, I found her.
“No…” I cried as I fell onto my knees. I could do nothing, but watch in terror as her body rose up into the sky.
Her body went limp as the invisible hand grabbed her and pulled her up by her waist.
Her legs dangled lifelessly as her head tilted back at an impossible angle as if her neck had been snapped.
From the looks of it, she looked dead. Her spine was bent as if cracked in half while her limbs hung freely like a warped wind chime.
But she was alive and smiling. Her eyes were now enveloped in deep green while her lips twisted into a sickening and god awful smile.
She looked as though she was enjoying it, embracing what horrible fate had come upon her, her grin only getting bigger as she rose higher and higher up.
I was helpless. She was so high up that there was no way I could get her. There was no way out from this ordeal.
Her mangled body continued to rise until it was so far up that She was merely a speck in the distant sky and then, like a ghost in the corner of a dark room, she vanished.
The Auroras soon began to diminish as well. The once-powerful lights now merely a faint green that seemed to serve only as a taunting reminder of my failure.
For what seemed like an eternity, I stood there, boots deep in snow, muscles frozen stiff, and my mind, drained of thoughts.
The silence that followed would forever haunt me; a silence birthed from helplessness, filled with so much hate, anger, sadness, and loss…
It just took her… the northern lights… it just took Charmaine.
It was just a moment ago she was beside me, in the car, sleeping, and now, she’s gone.
I just sat there, my mind paralyzed with grief. The image of her body rising as the hand picked her up was just seared deep into my mind, it’s massive fingers gripping her, raising her, and oh god why? Why was she smiling?
My mind was still blank, but slowly, I got up and walked towards the Farmland. My feet carried me as my mind replayed the scene over and over again; my daze only broken by the occasional breaking of branches as I stepped onto them.
As I reached the Farmland, I noticed a piece of paper, in the middle of the field, lying heavily on top of the white powdered snow.
I walked over, the letters and handwriting becoming apparent as I got closer.
“Was part of it, the instructions she left behind,” I recalled.
“This place was a part of her—”