(My previous thirteen adventures into other Realms of Awareness can be read in sequence on their own page, ‘Prelude’ just up there on the header, or you can catch up with individual episodes over to the right in the ‘Topics’ section, under ‘Prelude’)
I’m not a patient person, (I learned, endurance, when I was stuck in hospital for five weeks – and one day but who’s counting – unable to walk and waiting to see if my leg would heal) but I’m an even-tempered person, for the most part, even if it’s not something that comes easily. My ‘line in the sand’ is quite broad but once the far boundary’s been crossed, I don’t take prisoners.
It had been a week since my last adventure and the tickle in my throat did indeed develop into nasty head-cold that knocked me out of action for the entire week, and although I was over the worst of it I wasn’t in any mood to take prisoners.
Almost before my Journey began, a formless, and as yet, directionless anger rose up from my gut and settled itself at the base of my skull. (probably because seven-tenths of me thought I ought to still be in bed with a hot water bottle, aspirin, and a bowl of restorative chicken-carrot-and-ginger-soup to keep me company)
A enormous marketplace came into being around me but although its teeming denizens thought they were free because it was so big, a great wall surrounded the entire space at the horizon’s edge.
I made my way slowly through the maze of stalls selling all manner of things. Spices, dried pulses, cloth, jewelry, wickedly sharp weapons, household goods, and many, many other objects whose usage was beyond my mortal abilities to comprehend. Those who catered to a more unsavoury clientele hawked their wares beneath low hung canopies, patched and frayed at the edges, all the while casting furtive looks into the crowd. Soothsayers, of the genuine and charlatan variety, flung their saying of sooths at anyone foolish enough to make eye-contact. Food vendors wandered the narrow alleys and wide boulevards selling freshly cooked seafoods and meats, pies, and veggie kebabs.
I ran the finest of fabrics through my fingers, reveling in the sheer sensuousness. I smelled the aromas wafting at me from all directions. I tasted meats and fruits of unknown origins and species, knowing full-well I could indulge my tastebuds as I had left my Anglo-Saxon digestive system far behind me.
Dust from ten thousand feet plumed around me on its way up into the violet-tinged sky.
I enjoyed myself to the hilt, but my convalescent state had left me vulnerable to this cornucopia of excess. Eventually the cacophonous avalanche of bleats, clangs, bangs, screeches, and people shouting at each other, drove me from the main concourse and I ducked down a side alley where the noise, if not the dust, became bearable.
I stood in a small cobbled courtyard, bound on three sides by cascades of hanging plants festooned with tiny droplets of water from a cleverly hidden misting device. I relaxed my shoulders and breathed deeply of the softer air.
In the center of the courtyard stood two high-backed ebony chairs side-by-side, each with a small white porcelain urn on its seat.
Without warning, the urns exploded. Shards flew everywhere, a few punching through my clothes and drawing blood. The chairs shattered into bits of kindling that caught fire and were reduced to ashes in a few moments. For some reason this infuriated me more than my tiny wounds.
“What a fucking waste!” I shouted. “What’s the point?” I shook with rage and turned to go back to the bazaar. At least there the dust and noise made sense.
A sheet of metal with a huge hole punched through it blocked my way. Whatever had blown up the urns had escaped through the hole. Incensed at still more destruction I made up my mind to pursue it.
As I clambered through the hole I cut myself quite deeply on one of the jagged and rusty edges. I swore at my clumsiness, which didn’t help matters much either.
Back out in the market, one of the food vendors exclaimed at the tear in my shirtsleeve and the blooming bloodstain. Because I couldn’t be bothered with explanations, I just flexed my will, healed the wound and erased the stain.
The vendor fell silent and backed up into the crowded thoroughfare. The silence spread from person to person, stall to stall, like some sort of pestilence. It soon encompassed the whole place, right out to the far distant walls.
The moment of silence stretched out like a giant rubber band, pulled to its limit.
Suddenly everyone started talking and gesticulating louder than ever and the noise crashed back over me like a tidal wave, although quickly returning to its normal level, to my relief. I couldn’t’ve withstood such an assault for much longer.
My rage and confusion engaged in a neck-and-neck race to the finish line. What the hell was going on?
Another scene flickered into being around me, then flickered out just as quickly. And another and another, so fast that I couldn’t make any sense of them.
I wondered if this was just an after/side-effect of being sick. (this was the first time I’d been unwell since I began my adventures) If it was, my impressed-ness was underwhelming.
I shifted my attention away from the texture of my Journey to create a ‘pause’ in the proceedings, and contemplated ending my Journey.
This work was tough enough when I was healthy, and it was clear to me, finally, that I wasn’t in any shape to continue. My physical body had the shakes, which probably meant I ought to be in bed with a hot water bottle, aspirin, and a bowl of restorative chicken-carrot-and-ginger-soup to keep me company. It would’ve been the first time I’d returned from a Journey before its end and a part of me felt like I was letting myself down, like I was cheating.
Well, I think that must’ve been the last straw for whatever or whoever was orchestrating my current misadventures, because my shivers suddenly increased beyond what was physically possible.
My attention snapped back to my Journey.
The flagged stones underneath the entire marketplace buckled and heaved. Cracks opened up in the ground and the heavens split apart. Blasts of white-hot steam burned everyone and everything they touched. Screams filled the air and felt as though they were tearing me apart.
The shaking continued as my insides liquefied.
“Alright!” I snapped. My anger rose beyond my desire to control it. “If that’s what you want, lets take it all the way!”
I focused my rage, my horror of what was happening in the bazaar, on my internal shaking, on the breakdown of my body, and I … pushed.
I pushed the rage deeper and deeper until it reached my cells, until the structure of the cells broke down into their atomic composition. I used my anger like a scourge and goaded the breakdown further, down to the quantum level where matter ceased to exist and only energy reigned.
I wasn’t done yet.
I spun the quantum field anti-clockwise, (the original widdershins) and whipped it up with my anger to create a shift of energy that I could control, could work with.
Soon the field was spinning so fast it didn’t need me to sustain it so I moved myself to the center where everything was still and reined in my anger. It had served its function.
Something foreign, alien, began to stir within the field. The centrifugal force had shaken it loose from where it had lain undiscovered for who knew how long. It expanded like a mushroom cloud and grew until it broke out of the quantum field. It coalesced first into its atomic structure, then into physical matter, and finally scurried to hide within the cells of my body.
I continued the outward pressure until it oozed through my pores like some hideous doughy fungus. It began to harden until the suffocatingly obscene substance completely encased me.
But, just like everything else on this Journey, this attempt at suffocation triggered my anger and wrenched it out of my control until it was an entity separate from myself.
I flexed my will to crack open the disgusting thing encasing me and escape. It gave way for a moment then reformed even more solid than before.
My anger exploded with enough force to erase the cosmos, (or so it felt at the time) and I found myself standing on the outside of the pillar of gray-black solidified oozy substance. Relief that the uncontrollably destructive force of my anger had been contained left me feeling light-headed.
I turned away and almost stumbled over the staff I received as a gift last week.
I warily nudged it with my toe. If I took it up I’d have to use it, but given my state of mind, along with feeling weak as a baby kitten from the head-cold aftereffects, I feared what would happen if I unleashed the power of the staff on something that had already proven itself to be, perhaps, equally powerful.
“Pick it up.” An imperious voice commanded.
I shook my head and whispered, “No.”
“Pick. It. Up!”
“No. I won’t. It’s not safe.” I wasn’t sure whether I was talking about the staff or myself.
“You only get three chances. Pick it up.”
I knew the alternative to picking up the staff, to basically reject the ‘three chances’ rule, was probably akin to a fate worse than the other side of death. I’d experienced a whole bunch of fates this side of death and I had no desire to go through to the ones on the other side.
(My first few adventures were mostly about establishing what worked for me in these other Realms of Awareness, and what didn’t. These ‘rules’ are different for everyone. The tricky bit is what you have to go through to figure ‘em out!)
Still, I thought it was profoundly unfair to take advantage of my weakened barely-convalescent state. (let’s keep the fact that I chose to drag myself out of bed and do this Journey, just between us, shall we?)
I flicked the staff up with my foot and caught it in both hands. I swung it over my head and struck the solidified oozy pillar, once.
It was a colossal blow even if I do say so myself. The concussion alone threw me out into the now deserted marketplace where I landed flat on my back with an almighty thump.
The staff was nowhere to be seen, I didn’t know it it’d been destroyed, but the pillar certainly had. I rolled over and painfully clawed my way to my feet, aware that some elemental force had been liberated. Whether for good or ill, remained to be seen.
My immediate family of origin was broken long before it completely imploded when I was twelve.
Each of us acted out that brokenness in our own unique ways, but all of them were self-destructive and, as is the way of self-destructiveness, another sort of destruction rained down on all others within the blast range.
My parents dealt with their anguish in ways I, as a child, couldn’t understand. (although I gained some insight as an adult, as you do)
I chose to emotionally shut down and silence myself so as not to be visible. Only coming alive when I was alone in the wild bushland.
I had/have a younger brother. (I say ‘had/have’, because I haven’t had any contact with any of my family of origin since the late 80’s) His defense mechanism was to be highly visible, loud and belligerently visible, and take up as much space as possible.
One day he and I got into a verbal fight. Well, he fought and I retreated, hurt, and angry that he was picking on me simply because I was the nearest target. (me, pointing that out didn’t help matters much. Funny that)
We were standing at opposite ends of the dilapidated remains of a small barn that my father had begun but never finished. (he was good at never finishing things) There were raw logs, old ropes, rusty hand tools, rotten planks in frowzy chaotic piles everywhere. (a kid’s paradise, if you weren’t in the midst of a shouting match with your sibling)
My brother wouldn’t stop pushing at me, (I doubt he knew how to) and the more he pushed the angrier I got. In my child-ish way, I knew this was not a good thing. (my mother was half Irish and I’d inherited every measure of her temper) I told him I was getting angry and if he didn’t stop there’d be real trouble. (we were both kids, remember, so ultimatums were our default response) My brother, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue, and me imparting another bit of information only inspired him to new heights.
We were almost screaming at each other when my anger shattered my conscious thoughts. I picked up a rusty hatchet (a small axe) and threw it at him.
It thudded into a wooden post about two centimeters (an inch) from his left ear.
We both froze.
His face went from crimson to bleached terror.
He bolted in one direction and I took off in the other. (by unspoken agreement we never mentioned the hatchet incident again, and certainly never told our parents)
I have no memory of picking up that hatchet and throwing it. I could’ve killed him. I knew that if I went into that enraged place ever again, the risk would be just as great, so I didn’t let my anger, my ‘temper’, off its leash, until this particular Journey.
One more Khatia for the road.
At the 48 minute mark you get to see her perform a couple of four-handed pieces with her sister, who’s no slouch when it comes to tickling the ivorys herself!
A fitting ending I think, to my Khatia mini-music-festival.