(Prerequisite reads: around half of the chapters I’ve previously released, so it’s better to be up-to-date with the story before reading this chapter.
Make sure to play the video below so that you can hear the accompanying soundtrack for this chapter)
It felt as though I were waking from a long dream, surrounded by the weirdest of trees; twisted and spiraling around themselves, with crows clutched upside down to the long branches.
As I looked above me, to the vivid cloudy sky, my body shifted. No longer was I observing the sky, but instead falling towards it. However, passing through the thick clouds, I saw no infinite skies beyond them, but ground, coming closer and closer.
Death felt inevitable, as I braced for an impact that was bound to annihilate me without a trace.
Only I landed through a pit in the ground, one that seemed inexhaustible.
But it wasn’t as limitless as I had originally mused, for a soft light appeared straight ahead. Bigger and bigger it got the deeper I descended. I was soon ejected out, and propelled violently towards what looked like a magnificent structure.
Looking up, I read the word “Babel” on the wondrous tower, and then all became clear. My destiny awaited me in this magnificent tower built by man, yet graced in the lands of gods.
To my dismay, lightning struck the tower with so much might that the whole world quivered. Bricks were sent soaring from the tower, as their fall was shifted upwards, towards a whirlpool in the waters of the sky.
The tower was my only sanctuary from the onslaught of nature, which prompted me to run inside in a desperate attempt to avoid the wrath of the world, now hitting me with its all.
Within the tower, glowing red glyphs adorned the walls, with ancient symbols and writings.
I ran forth, absolutely confused. Everything was dark, grotesque, and frightening. The structure felt as though it were a living, breathing being, experiencing pain due to the assault.
The more I ran, the more the tower shook around me, moving and fighting back.
I finally reached stairs, coal black, with golden engravings all over the hand rails. Walking up, I marveled at a room that felt as big as an arena, yet possessed unmatched beauty.
In the middle sat a bearded old man, with the keys of a piano right under the tips of his frail fingers. He strangely reminded me of the prophet, only his long lush hair was pitch black. His fragile hands moved oh so delicately as they played the soundtrack of insanity on the beautiful piano, while bricks fell all around him, to which he gave no attention.
“Have you come to learn?” He still gave no notice to the destruction taking place around him. I, however, could not ignore it.
“Old man, do you not notice what’s going on around you?”
“Around me? And what exactly is going on around me?”
“I can’t see how you’ve failed to realize this but I’m guessing it comes with old age… It’s not much, really, except that you and I are both going to be obliterated into nothingness if we don’t move RIGHT NOW.”
“Oh we are? I apologize, for I didn’t notice.”
He looked towards me, as if seeing right through me.
“As a matter of fact, I am quite sure it’s not. You said you know how to play?”
“THIS IS NOT THE TIME.”
“Exactly. This is not the time. It is the time in which I live that is the time. You are already aware of the fragmentation of time. Why do you insist to assume it works the way you have learned it does? You and I, we are not living in the same time right now. Come and play.”
“Your insanity will be the death of me.”
I began walking away.
“Ignore me and you will die, naive one. You will be crushed under the wrath of nature. Come. Play.”
“No more questions. Play or leave.”
I approached the piano, as he stood up and left me space to sit. With my eyes closed, I began playing. I improvised a piece that came straight from within my soul. The melodies filled my ears with comfort and happiness, the kind I hadn’t felt for such an agonizingly long period of time. Yet with every note I played, I came closer to being crushed under the collapsing tower.
The interruption irritated me, but before I could say a word, he sat right next to me.
“You are limited by the physical being of the instrument. Its resonance should not be mere keys and strings, but a divine force creating the music from beyond the physical.
“Have you never found it odd how music, when made sense of, feels rather limited? ‘Do’ marks the end of one octave, but it is also the beginning of the new one. The same note. Isn’t it peculiar? Does sound begin and end at the same resonating note, or is it infinite? Does theory take over music, or is spirituality capable of achieving what theory has always failed to touch upon? Did it never occur to you that the two can be completely unlinked?
“See, there are sounds exclusive to spirituality, sounds with effects that the mere human mind cannot grasp. Each has its own beauty, darkness, and secrets. All you need to know is one, a secret note that marks the infinite. That is no regular note, it is played backwards in time. Yet our ears don’t hear that, a reversed sound. The way this note resonates in your ear defies all sense and logic.”
“How would I play a note backwards in time?”
A huge brick landed mere inches away from me.
“Just like you play any other note. Do not think. Just play. Feel. You have 10 seconds at most before this building collapses so I’d get to work if I were you.”
My heart was racing. My trembling fingers reached out for the keyboard once more, yet this time my mind was absent. It was elsewhere, in a place so serene, with infinite lights illuminating it from within the heavens. My fingers felt light-weighted, my head spun, and my ears flew into realms of seraphic music. For a sound like no other was surrounding me as I stood within that light. A divine note that the strongest of imaginations could not foster. It was the note of the heavens.
Suddenly, I opened my eyes, and found myself in the exact same room, only all the bricks were maneuvering right back up to where they fell from. The walls were sturdy again, and time broke. It was finally done.
I could still hear the thunder banging and pounding, however, which suggested I had only bought myself limited time to escape the tower.
With a deafening piano bang to my right, I saw the old man’s head fall dead on the keyboard. He wasn’t breathing, yet a smile adorned his still face, now at peace. I grabbed each of his arms, motionless and coarse, and placed his two hands on the piano, then walked away towards the exit, leaving behind an intense yet tragic scene of harmony between man and sound. “May the world you are in now be filled with all the beautiful music that not even you are aware of, old man.”
On my way to the exit, I heard a soft, beautiful piece. Very woeful, yet optimistic, complimenting the raging tempest in a ballad of life and death. I needed not look back to know the author of the melody, playing his own death piece.
Walking away, I ended up in a long dark corridor, with sounds all-too-familiar resonating within the space. Gunshots, rainfall, cheering crowds, running footsteps… A beautiful waltz that sent chills down my spine. And there she stood, towards the end of the corridor, an image I’d gotten used to, forever out of mine own reach. Her alluring black wings fluttering slowly in the distance, only this time, no one was attempting to stop me from reaching her.
I approached her slowly, only to hear her voice echoing all around me before I reached her. “I’ve already told you I’m in your head, silly!”
Her laughter filled the hallway, weakening me, deafening me. And she was departed once more, with no warning.
Yet that was not the end of the torment this hallway had to offer, for the footsteps got louder and closer, as a chant filled my ears. “We do not forgive. We do not relent.”
What a petrifying memory it triggered, and what an intense sense of fright it translated into, as I began running towards the darkness, coming within an ace of the end in what seemed like an endless hallway.
The mirror facing me seemed to materialize out of oblivion, yet there it stood by a worn out wall painted with blood splatter. I could hear the chants getting closer, as I crawled straight into the mirror.
I had no time to comprehend where I was, really, before I saw a sight so terrifying, it made me shiver from my very core. I was there, laying down on my deathbed, motionless, unconscious, stripped from life. It was then that a voice, one which haunts me to this very day, spoke out.
“I am aware of your biggest fears, your burning regrets, and the very core of your emotions. I have fed on them, and I have grown through them. Never has someone watched you so closely, and altered your perception of the world like I have. You can forsake the light you’ve been seeking for so long, my child, for I now welcome you to hell.”
To be continued…
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