It’s time for me to tell you about what happened when I was in my coma.
Are you familiar with the term “psychic landscape”? The great poet, Sylvia Plath, used them quite a bit in her poetry. The setting of her poems were often reflections of her mental state, the “dull, ruinous landscape” of Black Rook In Rainy Weather, for example.
When I was in my coma, I was conscious in such a landscape, I believe. It was a beautiful land and a terrible land and it was terrible in its beauty. I was in a vast, dark forest full of trees so tall that I wasn’t sure where their leaves ended and the night sky began. I was naked but for a loincloth, armed with a spear and knew intuitively that I was the most dangerous predator in the forest – but that didn’t stop my fear. I was able to walk in this world and, as I moved through the forest, searching for a way out, every single sound made me jump and after only a few hours, I collapsed into a horrible, shuddering heap of fear and remained there for either a second or a century. Then, I heard human voices ringing through the trees. I peered up and saw Benjamin, Hans and Winston walking cautiously through the forest. I felt an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach that suddenly erupted into murderous rage and found myself bounding the distance between Benjamin and myself, intent on slaying him. However, just as I got within range, Benjamin pulled out a handgun and my fear returned, sending me sprawling to the dirt. When I looked up at him, his eyes were glowing red. He smiled with false cheer and then he spoke to me.
“Uncouth beast, look upon my human imperfection, as the fool and the machine have before you. My imperfection that is but a step away from perfection, unlike that imperfection which is yours and beastly. You are incomplete. God left something out of you when he pulled you out of the dust on which we walk. Come with me and I will make you whole again.”
I whimpered my words; “Where are we going?” Benjamin smiled back at me.
“We are going to see God.”
With no further words, I fell in behind him. The four of us walked for days and eventually left the forest behind us. In the sharp daylight beyond, we could see the distant and crumbling spires of an ancient castle. Benjamin laughed out loud.
“This is the very house of God! Come, mortals, let us see what gods he may make of us.”
We reached the castle after another long, eventless walk. The gates to the courtyard were thirty feet high, much larger than we could hope to move on our own. Hans walked up to a panel in one of the gates and knocked. It slid back revealing a mirror. The two Hanses started talking, then arguing, with each other. Eventually, some sort of agreement was reached and the great gates parted like the Red Sea before Moses. We walked through a snow-filled courtyard around which a multitude of blind people with pure white eyes were stumbling and crying out for help. We ignored them as we entered the main hall and I beheld a terrible sight.
The whole room was the Tree Walker and the Tree Walker was the whole room. The pillars, the furniture, the very walls, were all an eternally moving mass of its many dark appendages and at the far end of the hall,it stood, its arms and legs melting in to the walls around it so that it looked like a great black cross bearing a great white head. We approached it with reverence and fear. Benjamin was the first to kneel down before it in supplication.
“Oh great and mighty God, I do beseech thee to grant three boons to my faithful followers whom I have brought before you as footsoldiers in the ancient war of destinies. Give mind to the fool, soul to the machine and strength to the beast!”
The Tree Walker seemed to consider him for a moment, tilting its head just as it did when Hannah ran screaming through the debris to save my life. Suddenly, three tentacles peeled away from the rest. The first struck Benjamin through his head, the second through his chest and the third through his crotch. With a horrible ripping sound, they pulled out his brain, heart and testicles, then with an equally horrible series of sounds, transferred them into Hans, Winston and I respectively. Bloodied and mutilated, Benjamin turned around to the gaze at the three of us in horror. Then he loosed an animal scream, tackled Hans to the ground and started smashing his head against the ground like a monkey trying to split open a coconut. After a few minutes of brutal pounding, Hans’s skull shattered against the ground and Benjamin started ripping the hole open with his bare hands. It took him only a few seconds to reclaim his brain and place it perilously back inside the gaping hole in his own head. He looked at Winston and I for a few brief seconds but merely smiled.
“Nothing but burdens. I have truly achieved perfection now. Farewell, mortals.”
Those were the last words he spoke to either of us. He strided confidently out of the hall and out of my dream. Suddenly fearful, I turned to the Tree Walker to see that its head was expanding like a balloon, pushing out the black. Panic rose in my chest and I tried to follow Benjamin out of the hall but it was all in futility; the doors were securely locked and I could only scream in terror as the great suffocating white filled everything, became everything and finally, was everything.
Here endeth the first lesson.