Now. The tremor in your leg. Now. The beating of your heart. Now. That feeling that you sometimes have when things are out of whack.
Now. A feeling which intensifies. In sudden jumper cable jolts.
Now. Now. Now. Here.
Your sight returns (so it was gone?). A sudden shock – brain struggling to process visual data. Unfamiliar. Strange. Weird.
Now. You are afloat. Now. In liquid…air? Now. Three tubes of silver attached to naked skin.
One. Between the eyes. One. Between the ribs. One. Between the legs.
That’s odd (that’s more than odd). And yes, you have been shaved. There is no hair. Not even…your eyebrows.
You should feel scared, you really should, but your limbic system does not comply. You just float. Languid. Equanimous. Weightless, submerged in something that is neither liquid, air nor gas. You stretch your arm. You graze a surface.
And there – a visual cacophony. A string of odd squibbles and shapes spring out from where your digits touch what seems to be a wall. A string? No, many. Colourful arrays of coruscating light, obtuse displays of queer geometries, a story emanating from your point of impact, new universe expanding anemone arms, a never-ending mandala of you. They flit and flourish, crack and burn, surround you and your silver tubes, highlighting the borders of your confinement, making a sphere.
Unfamiliar. Strange. Weird.
„Alien“. And there, outside your translucent cage, where three lustrous lines converge, connecting you to…blank space – a nothingness? – there it stands. Or swims. Or is. A creature, tall and slightly humanoid, its skull an inverted triangle, reminds you of a…
„Mantis. Yes, I know.“ Dit it just roll its eyes? „Not here to bite your head off, though.“
„Then why?“ Your voice – you spoke! But the tone seems off.
Your..captor(?) clasps, unclasps its hands. Three fingers, long. It wears a cape of sorts, the dark fabric bleeding into the nonexistent background, a gaping wound into reality’s antonym.
„I am…“ A pause. The raw blackness at its back seems to shift. In pulses, brief, like static. „…a messenger.“
„A message? Is it good or bad?“ The dark is agitated still. „You ask of binaries? I’m sorry, they do not apply. Not anymore.“ Soft lids descend over large, elongated eyes, slitting them. „Maybe I picked a wrong term. I find it hard, this…funneling of perceived experience. This silly reductionist precision of the lower frequencies. Yet, one has to try.“
„Maybe the word is something else. I am…“ A click, the darkness seems to rise, like a chthonic dough drunk on nightmare yeast. „…a reaper.“
Fear grips you then. Your tongue runs wild. „Why me? Why me? Why have you abducted me? For sport? For research?“ You claw helplessly, trying to unplug the silver cords, but as you tug your nerves give shout to cries of flame. You stop, tears are running down your face. It’s wet. So wet. You recall the stories, from online sites of questionable repute, of humans put in labs by beings from another world. The tube between your legs feels colder than before. Then a numb calm. „So it’s true then. You’re actually doing it, you reap my DNA to create some hybrid race?“
The inky unreality behind the creature blossoms slowly, transmuting from one Rorschach flower to another. „Oh, you fledgling thing.“ A hint of exasperation (and bemusement) in its voice. “What is your name?“
The question takes you by surprise. „My name?“
And for the life of you, you can’t recall. Amnesia? Some alien trick? But then it dawns. It’s not because you have no memory. It is because you have them all.
Your name is Ahmed. You have a child, a daughter, you carry her on your back to school every day, through the ruins of a city whose cratered sores are never given time to turn to scars. You love her, yet it’s not enough, for love must break when one day all you find is one arm torn away, still clutching a pink satchel filled with imploded dreams.
Your name is Lisa. Strobing lights and sweating flesh is your panacea against the lurking terror that appears every time you close your eyes at night. You hate to sleep. To know and feel the bullets you let loose against that band of too small enemies. But one day they will grow to kill, just like they burned your father to the blackness of his bone. You pop a pill.
Your name is Putra. The sharp kris, a family heirloom, lies there next to you. Small cuts seem black under the moon, your arm is limp. You were not sure what you intended when you climbed on to the roof, but if you can’t love Adi what is left? Perhaps your father would have killed you anyway.
Your name is George, but here you’re Omar. These brothers are the family you’d never known. They give you strength and purpose, fill you up. You know that you are fighting for a better world, nothing can be renewed without a cleansing. The machete in your hand is not a weapon, it’s an instrument of truth. The scarlet darkness that erupts from the throat of he who kneels before you is a penance and a boon, and you do not know, you can not face how the raging of his blood is a mirror to your own, torrents eroding you within.
Your name is Ludmilla. You are not here. You do not feel what they are doing to you. If you did, you couldn’t live.
Your name is Håkon. You are not here. You do not feel what you are doing to her. If you did, you couldn’t live.
Your name is Jeanne, Sebastian, Mohamed, Laura, Fatima, Minda, Lionel, Siyush, Kamini, Peter, Cora, Janne, Roger, Jesús, Wisdom, Janusch, Pälle, Sahand, Gintare, Olga, Raol, Javid, Sienna, Juliet, Lykke.
„Yes“. The voice penetrates your confusion. „You are everyone, every single human being. Throughout existence. Simply put.“
The dark splotches behind the alien presence are settling down, a sea after a storm. „I have been searching for a term I couldn’t find. You see, I am a combination of several things. A messenger. And a reaper. But also, and maybe most importantly…I am a midwife.“
Slight shiver through silver strings. „What?“
„I am not your captor. You are. Trapped within an egg of your own making. But it’s time. You’ve been having birth pains of late, contractions increasing in severity. Haven’t you?“
„I…“ Yes. You have.
„This, right now, right here, is a collective dream. I speak to you as One. Focus on my voice. And breathe.“
There is a breaking. There is a sundering. There is a reckoning. There is. There is. There is.
„Breathe. And wake up.“