A Disaster in the 2nd Person
You have a memory. It is recent, but despite this it is still fuzzy, especially around the edges. It is hard to pin down, or resolve. Just when you think you’re in a position to really grasp hold of it, it slips through your fingers. There’s a sensation of weightlessness, of a grand and seemingly unending freefall. You can remember a fading of the light, a rapid and rushing darkening of the world. The feeling that you’re being swallowed by a vast and improbable nothing. The falling… Down, down, down; into the abyss…
It was sudden and fleeting.
But it also lasted forever.
Once again the memory skitters away into the dark reaches of your mind, leaving you alone in the present. You are looking down a tunnel. Its mouth, much like its walls, are jagged and irregular, studded with hooks and snares and snarls of rock. At the end of the tunnel you can see a light. It occurs to you that you are lying on your back, so it obviously cannot be a tunnel. It is obviously a hole. A hole which you are at the bottom of. You can sense that the light is far away, for it does not illuminate. It is nothing more than a distant white disc; a fixed point in space. It is a landmark. It is a street sign informing you about just how colossally fucked you are.
Your earlier memory begins to gain context, the uneven shape of the past fits nicely into a hole in the jigsaw of the present. The memory is joined by a thought:
“Oh God… I’m stuck in a hole.” you think to yourself.
Fear creeps into you, it wraps you with tendrils as black as the nothingness in which you lie. They snake their way into you heart and slither into your brain. They coil themselves around your most vital organs and begin to squeeze. The fear tries drag you deeper, to swallow you just like the ground already has.
You do not know how it is that you are not dead. You can find no explanation as to why you are not broken and shattered and made unto utter ruin. By rights you should have been rendered into dust and scree and a lumpy smearing of viscera across the uneven stone. It should all have ended with a wet sounding thump. You feel that you do not belong here, you are a fraud in your own present.
Why are you here? Are you being tested? Are you being punished? These are questions which you cannot answer. You are armed with precious few facts: 1. You are not dead, 2. You are at the bottom of a truly Stygian pit, and 3. You’re not getting out the way you came it.
It is unlikely that you can rely on help arriving. So for better or for worse, you resolve to try to find you own way out.
You wander through winding tunnels of rough, unewn stone. Paths which are little more than cracks in the depths of the earth. In these sunken warrens there is no light by which to see. You shuffle and stumble onwards by touch alone. You stub your feet on protruding rocks, you cut your palms on sharp outcroppings. There is pain and there is blood. You can feel the weight of the stone above you pushing down upon you. Tonnes beyond counting waiting just above you head, its silence an ever-present threat of its desire to crush you. It is a heavy weight on the meat of your soul. The silent malice of the uncaring stone and the pervading, lightless gloom drain you. With every step you take you are sapped of your will. Everything seems futile and utterly pointless.
“Why keep going?” you think.
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever make it out, so why bother? You feel like you want to slump to the ground and fall asleep, never to awaken. But you keep trudging onwards. Not because of any great force of will or determination, but because stopping seems like it would be more effort than not.
Exactly how long you wander for you cannot be sure, time does not seem to exist down here. Somehow you are still alive, though you how this is the case remains a mystery to you. You worry that your continued existence is simply because all of creation has forgotten about you. An unrelenting assault born of hate and malice you could perhaps deal with. Hate is something you could steel yourself against. But you are met with only stony silence. No one cares and no one knows you are here. The sheer scale of the cosmic indifference arrayed against you, that is a blade which truly cuts to the quick.
Hours pass. Maybe days. Or even years. You can no longer tell or care.
The stillness of your subterranean tunnel grave is broken by a stirring in the air. It is a warm, wet wind, like the sigh from the belly of the beast. You catch a glimpse of something other than the endless murk. The maddening rainbow tinged blackness of the void washes into grey. Then passage which has for so long been the entirety of your world opens out, becoming a vast and boundless cavern. You find yourself standing on a ledge, jutting out into the grim firmament of this space beneath the ground. At first you cannot quite understand how it is that everything is not dark. You eyes hurt and are weak from lack of use. But eventually you see it: a hole in the cavern wall, and the faint echoes of light spilling down from above. For all their faintness, this light burns and stings your retinas. There is a thin and fragile ladder snaking its way from your ledge and up into the mouth of this cave. You are weary, but you start to climb. Out of the cave, and into the light.
“Hey. Hey!” you hear your friend say
“Hmm?” you reply
“You’re looking a bit cheerier, you’ve been down in the dumps all week.” they say to you “What was the matter?”
“Oh you know.” You reply “I’ve just been in my dark place. I found the way out though.”