User:AndrewM/Breaching the Curtain

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I pull up the curtain and close my eyes.

The radiant pastel-blue sky stretches out across the horizon in every way I look. A forceful pressing sensation strikes my stomach, upon which I lay - but many hundreds of feet above it?! I'm soaring on billows of a thick, humid air, strong enough to bear all of my one-hundred and fifty pounds and laced with the sweet smell of nectar and fruit. Life! I tip my head down and brave the hot air, rising up in column-like plumes with the force of an overcharged hair-dryer.

A massive forest sprawls before my wind-burnt eyes. Nature's empire of green cut through by a wide, gushing river - curiously red in color, but evidently very healthy, like the forest's lifeblood flowing through an artery. Plant life still does not fear the water, for vines and saplings criss-cross the occasional fallen trunk and dangle down into the river itself. The music of the forest carries well to my ears from the updrafts: the throaty percussive howling of a monkey, the stark treble winds of a flotilla of cicadas, even the slight hint of a snake slithering and hissing in the background. The backdrop of life thriving and in balance overjoys me, quickly passing me by as heady jet drafts launch me forward.

No longer able to bear the hot air, I tilt my head back up and instantly recognize the source of the red in the river: a spindly, jagged mountain with a broad, flat top and soaked in the color of heme, its foot blocking the expanse of the forest kingdom up its sheer cliffs. A powerful waterfall shoots off its top, far exceeding my own altitude and thus invisible to me. Even before it begins its race down the face of the mountain, the river's water has been painted red. Already, I could guess how this mountain formed: at the top sits a crater lake, many miles wide if not greater, fed by rainy clouds cruising up the opposite side of the mountain. The irony rocks gladly impart their ruddy hue into the relatively stagnant water, which has more than enough time to dissolve the outer face of the lake basin.

A clearing at the base of the waterfall reveals more surprises. The river which directed me to this mount is but a single arm of three rivers, each taking a unique path through this immense thicket of jungle. I feel the air supporting me weaken as I cruise on towards the mountain, so I swing my momentum around and find a countercurrent to take me down the path of one of the other river branches, this time following it downstream. It directs me away from this mesmerizing world, which now trails behind me as the river continues to guide me. Though I glide at a slower pace, I see the land grow increasingly thin and barren. An arid desert horizon looms ahead of me, the blood river dividing into tinier and tinier tributaries and eventually melding into a delta. At once, several sights rapture me: a majestic city capping the delta and siphoning its water contents, and the glimmering navy-blue sea which stretches out to no end, punctuated by giant needly pillars of that rust-red stone.

I sit atop one of these pillars and point myself back towards the continent I had just traversed. I become aware of the baby-blue shirt, which I received for surviving the swine flu pandemic of 2009, now sagging on my shoulders with the heft of the moisture it absored. Pandemic. As far as I can see, there is not a trace of disease here. Death, yes, I saw that from the felled trees spanning the river. But everything else thrived - the forest did not belch forth any obnoxious smells, only sweet, uplifting fragrances. Nor do I notice a sick soul in the city down below - its tall mud-brick towers, nearly skyscrapers, finally clear to me from my bird's-nest view, stand up proudly in the wind-swept deserts. Its citizens - tall, celadon-skinned humanoids with short legs and finned arms - show no signs of illness as they frolic about in the water, children and adults alike. How human of me, I'm looking for flaws where none exist.

I glance out to the sea, a quick turn of the body away. Suddenly, a detail I missed in the turbulence of flight captivates me - the horizon is tapering off more rapidly at the edges than I usually see. Barely perceptible, but instantly noticeable for anyone who holds intimate experience the sea. Looking for more changes, I glance up at the sunswept skies to notice that deep in that radiant blue swatch, there hangs a glaring red sun appearing larger than the sun. This is no Earth - I sit atop a completely different world. The curtain has taken me very far from home to a nameless, silent planet far outside its view. But although she does not call out to the universe, she greets her visitors with open arms and lets them know they are at one with her. I feel more at home here than I do at home. Pride sweeps through my veins and I stand to attention, facing back at the continent, awaiting my mother planet's call.

And she answers in kind. I feel the world spin around me, hastening its natural process but keeping my senses suspended to the normal flow of time. She has separated time itself, speeding up everything but my senses. A flock of odd birds darts by me as the sun passes over my head, reaching high noon directly above my vantage. I stand at this world's precise equator, its most ecologically blessed zone and thus its most vibrant and lively. As the sun proceeds to set to give way to the night, I thank my mother planet for showing me her best and brightest features - but the finest of sensations are yet to come.

The brilliance of the nighttime stars nearly blind me - I was never accustomed to seeing stars this bright anywhere on Earth, insteading bleakly staring at pathetic, dull specks in a greyed sky tainted by our own lights. Not so here: a pitch-black backdrop plays host to multicolored cosmos beyond one's wildest imaginations. Multiple constellations of red, blue, and yellow stars flash themselves before my eyes, coupled with great streams of galactic gasses. I spot several shaped like the animals of Earth: an eagle straight ahead, a turtle over to the left, a dog to its celestial south. Most spectacular, though, were the few but numerous supernovae, irregular expanses of gas a few sizes bigger than the surrounding stars and prismatically iridescent: lime-sage greens and Starburst orange-yellows and shades of forget-me-not bordering on lavender. As I looked upon this mind-bogglingly vast expanse of cosmic dust, I contemplated on the nature of each of those specks of light. Each represented a depressing history of world which failed to see fruition, which failed to evolve the ability to sense itself. Yet these tiny specks were just as impressive, detailed, and massive as the planet atop which I stood myself - and here I was, fully able to observe and relish them. They might have been useless to themselves, but they were of great use to me: and, again, I thank Mother Universe for the opportunity for me to see this: she gave me a planet, a body, a history, and a set of laws which conveyed to me the fantastic splendor of this grand land of four dimensions.

She waves to me! A comet darts across the sky, scattering a trail of shiny particles behind itself, its path completely harmonious and unfettered by outside influence. It is the path of my mind and my life. I have entered into my track of thorough and graceful flow, and never have I felt more at peace than I have now.

I wish my mother goodbye. She slows down the time around me just as the sun was scheduled to come over the horizon. It pokes around the edge of the planet and sweeps the sky with its light, a magical world of cosmos shrouded in an instant - but not erased, never erased. This time, it is my turn to respond to her.

I pull down the curtain and land safely, laying in my bed in the dead of winter, staring up at my ceiling and listening to my music. I have found my inner sanctum, hidden by the light-years, always open for me.

-- written 24 December 2009, with the finest of auditory inspirations