Edward liked that people drew breath to live. He liked it even more when they stopped breathing. When he stopped them breathing. Nobody knew that, of course. They would send him to jail or maybe stop his breathing. They just didn’t understand, everyone always says ‘it’s the little pleasures in life’ but they would never include his pleasures. On the whole, it didn’t seem fair. But life is never fair, so Edward didn’t tell anyone about his little pleasures in life. He would sit at gatherings and smile when people spoke of such mundane pleasures – reading the newspaper in the morning with coffee, watching a sports game with friends, watching their children play at the seaside. They really knew so little of what pleasure there could be in the world.
But Edward was now beginning to understand why people didn’t include his pleasures when they spoke. His pleasures were not pleasant to experience firsthand. They were uncomfortable. And a bit frightening. The effort of drawing breath was taking its toll on Edward. If someone didn’t find him under the rumble soon, he would die. He would no longer be breathing. His breath would be stopped.
Light hit his face and he was saved. And as he drew in such sweet air, he began to forget the understanding that had began within him and smiled at the thought of a life filled with pleasures.
It’s finished, over and done with, completed. At times, I doubted that this moment would ever come, but the epic journey is now behind me. All of that doubt, frustration and uncertainty is behind me. Except that it isn’t.
First, there was emergence. It was time to bring the work into the light, the unforgiving light and to claim it as my own. Look what I have done, examine it and tell me my worth. As with Schroedinger’s box, darkness and uncertainty hold potential. While no-one saw the work, it could be anything. Its quality was unmeasured by external eyes, and mine were too closely entangled to judge.
Now, there is freedom. You must be so happy, people say. You must have a huge weight off your shoulders, feel lighter now. And look what you have accomplished. But it doesn’t work that way, at least not for me. All of those negative feelings were part of me. The weight on my shoulders cannot just be shrugged off and forgotten. I want to cut it away and fly, but I also want to crawl back into my safe, dark space, unconsidered by external minds, without expectations. I want to feel the weight of the familiar burdens that I know how to carry.
The ties that bind me to my safe box must be severed: I know this. I have been curled in its familiar space for too long. But each break hurts and the light that I am inching towards is so bright that I cannot look at it yet.
There are only a few of us left now. Huddled together in the soft yellow light – the safe light. Safe from the dark spreading out before us. We can all see it, standing in the yellow light looking out, the heavy dark. With its secrets. We can’t see them but we know they are out there… Just there. Like the cold… The cold rolls into the yellow light relentlessly. You can lose your eyes against the dark but the cold shatters all illusion. But we can also see… the white light. We see it moving in the dark. Near, far, nearer still – every time the white light comes close, touching the yellow light, there is a moment… Who is next? Who will leave with the white light? Me? The cold, the dark, the white light that leaves you behind, the waiting… But we know there is only one end – the white light. We all know the white light will come for us but which white light will take one of us away from the safe yellow light and into the dark? The cold, heavy dark. With its secrets. A white light comes closer and I know it is for me. But I am ready…
I leave the yellow light of the office doorway and cross the white light of the car headlights to the passenger door – my lift home has arrived on this cold winter night.
You arrive at a crossroads. Dark clouds gather overhead, casting deep shadows. A low mist rolls over the moors that surround you to the East, South and North. To the West, the road leads up to a wind-battered inn. A wisp of smoke escapes the chimney and swirls into the fog.
In the East, over the marshes, a faint light flickers.
To enter the inn, go to 207.
To follow the light, go to 91.
The path twists and winds, avoiding invisible dangers. The light shimmers, more distant now. You are too slow.
Return to the crossroads? Go to 56.
Try and go on? Go to 314.
An old man emerges from the darkness. He carries a misshapen bundle which twitches and cries anxiously. “Do not follow the light”, he says. “That way madness lies.”
To ask about the bundle, go to 67.
To find out more about the light, go to 3.
Ignore the man and resume your chase: go to 202.
You are alone in the dark. The light has faded into the gloom. It is too dark to turn back; you will have to make your camp here.
Go to 159.
Your sleep is feverish and cold, filled with nightmares.
Suddenly, there is warmth. You sense a blue glow around you. You do not open your eyes. A small, hot hand rests on your cheek for a moment. Your dreams light up with alien beauty you will never describe.
You wake up.
A flickering light is speeding away across the marshes.
To follow the light, go to 12.
I wake up with my head pounding. My eyeballs feel like hard-boiled eggs.
The bridge of my nose is sore, like it’s been squashed in a tiny vice.
A nose vice. For squashing noses.
God, I need a coffee…
I open my eyes to darkness. That’s odd.
I’m not sure where I am. I’m not at home. Or crashing on someone’s couch.
I reach out in the darkness for a switch, a lamp, something, but there’s just the floor. It’s cold and smooth.
I hear scratching and scuttling from somewhere above me. And… to the left?
Like a metal chair being dragged roughly across a freshly polished metal floor.
Now I hear some kind of whirring and clicking.
A thin beam of light appears a few metres away from me, floor to ceiling.
I sit up and look around. Dammit, I can’t see anything except the beam. Stupid beam.
My head and the ceiling have a meeting – apparently it’s quite low – so I Quasimodo my way over towards the light.
I can’t tell if it’s coming from the ceiling or the floor.
I reach out to touch it – it’s hot like a black coffee from Starbucks on a frosty morning.
I sniff my fingertips; they smell like matches.
More clicks, and another beam appears to my side.
Then another few in quick succession, circling around me.
They’re close together; I can’t get between. More whirs from above, and the circle tightens a little.
“Good, you’re awake. We can resume testing.”
Oh, this doesn’t sound good.