The light had faded. The world was black. Nothing seemed familiar to him except a primal memory lingering on the edge of his soul. He looked down at his body but he couldn’t see its form. He lifted his hand up but he couldn’t feel it’s touch. His legs were airy.
Am I dead? he wondered.
His eyes were filled with bewilderment. Red lights flashed in the distance just enough to fade with time.
What is this place? he asked himself as he looked around the vastness. Where is my fiance? It was only hours ago that he and Sophia had been sitting together at The Fulcrum, a high run bar, planning their next move.
He could remember her last words, “Freeman, I love you, but when will you….”
That’s when the lights had gone out and he had crossed over. One minute they had been together, and the next….
Born out of the darkness came a flood of visions etched with his signature on them─Freeman’s Germ.
Vulnerable to the night, Freeman was left to his own defenses. Projectiles of his own making were hurled at him from the depths of nowhere he consciously knew.
A pride that had gone unswallowed was thrown at him. It taunted him with the picture perfect image he had had of himself. He looked around for Sophia but she was nowhere to be seen. He panicked at a sense of doom approaching.
In the background, a jester was moving about nimbly, throwing playing cards at him, They shattered like ice upon impact.
Play your hand wisely
For your hands won’t play you
If you grab the reigns of elements
And steer your wheel on through
Freeman couldn’t make sense of what the Jester had said and he fell deeper into confusion. He longed for the sight of Sophia’s soft brown eyes and the comfort of her gentle voice. But to know a veil, he had to grow wiser. His longing grew longer. The jester went on…
Hold or fold or so it’s told
Step on back to see
The mold its role is not so bad
If only you will be
The coldness was unbearable. Freeman screamed as change encroached. To him, change meant death. All he’d ever known was gone while all that he’d ever dodged emerged upon him with force. He had been swept away by the currents of his own shadow. He struggled to shield his eyes.
Freeman’s germ then grew into a monster. The mouth of a glutton wouldn’t have been able to devour the leftovers.
I am your Valentine
The one you hold so dear
Walk with me in slavery
“What on Earth is happening!” Freeman shrieked.
Listen to the bells
Listen to the whistles
Stare into the smoke
Stare into the mirror
Freeman grew angry. “I’ve had enough of this damned game! Let me out of this place!” Rage washed over his face. He saw a fire burning in the distance. The jester didn’t discriminate against the state Freeman was in, so he kept on.
Fly not with wrath
Unless you want to crash
O’er on the mountain
Where stickers won’t let go
The germ had grown fangs and began gnawing on his heart. Blood smeared across its lips. It wrapped its slimy tentacles around Freeman’s neck and smacked. The myack-myack-myack pierced him with terror. Pain ran deep─pain that seemed all too real for him to keep investing in.
Freeman began running as fast as he could into the darkness. Lightly, he struggled to ground.
“Am I even moving?” he asked to the air, but again to no avail.
The germ’s appendages were all that seemed to exist from that moment on. In them, Freeman was bound. He squirmed but he couldn’t move.
“Let go!” he demanded with fury.
The germ responded with a saliva drip. Illusion’s noose had a grip and it was getting tighter with every step he took.
A mire of filth and garbage then swamped him. Remnants from abandoned beginnings piled up to his neck. His heart was fogged. It was too late to hide though. The germ snickered with belly plump and full. The bog horn blew as Freeman sowed his fear to the fabric of the liminal stage he was in.
“I didn’t do anything! I swear!” he insisted. “Why are you doing this to me?”
With a memory still clogged, he failed to recognize his own calligraphy.
Reflections from his past were blocking the road to freedom. The dominance they held subdued him to watch their teaching. He crippled as his own creations had brought him to his knees.
Me and you and it will be
Together in eternity
Unless you play the hand of courage
Then, you can be with She
Seething below him was a cesspool begging for attention. Desires gone rabid cried for a glance, if not a stare.
“Fine!” Freeman shouted, “I’ll look!”
He set his eyes on what laid below, and without repose, he hurled up fragments too sticky for his touch. The germ let slip a tentacle or two allowing him to catch a breath. He choked. Out of the smoke, the jester didn’t miss a beat.
There is more to do
Now that you’ve stopped running
The pig and snail are cunning
Its wine that comes from blood
Freeman began coughing. His wonder teared up. “Why is this happening?” he bellowed.
The germ had no mercy for the volunteer host. Freeman tried to steer but his will was weak.
He yelled for mercy,“I need help! Please!”
“Freeman, can you hear me?” It was Sophia. Her voice jolted him, reinstilling faith in his humanity.
“I love you.” he said to her, but he had already slipped back in. A comb of the hair was all it would take for him to iron the wrinkles. He lunged and tried to cling to all that he loved but the salt had already slid through his hands leaving nothing to clench. His search out of slumber wasn’t turning up harvest.
He felt helpless.
Freeman’s ambition to get back to where he had once belonged brought the fire closer. His sins continued growing faces from the midnight excess. He grew weary from their persistence.
The germ was in him more than he would have liked to imagine. Its smell wreaked havoc. His nose twitched. The jester homed in for a hit.
It’ is a fit
Swear it away
There’s a piece that you miss
Just as Freeman had turned red, a voice had set sail to guide him.“Freeman…” it said, “look at this mirror laid in front of you. Before you become what you’ve been trying to avoid, try to take a different view.”
“Who are you?” Freeman asked the voice, not knowing where it was coming from.
“I am what becomes of the sun shining through the filter of the heart.”
He was mystified. “Why am I here? What is this place?”
“This is the place you’ll move from. Where you go depends on which direction you veer. You can run, or you can stay. Remember, the illusion is the naught. Focus on what’s true.” The voice speaking to him came from a compassion he had forgotten about. The more he listened, the more the slime of the germ turned into something glistening like dew on a fresh blade of grass.
“I just want to make everything right. I want to be with my love.”
“Take the blade and cut through the web of deception upon you. You are not your ill-fated memories at a dead end. You must untangle.”
“I just want to live…”
“Freeman, you must realize…the path of courage and diligence will set motion to agape so long as you remain patient and kind.”
“What? I just want to close this gap! I want my fiance back! What has happened to me? Where has this great divide come from?”
“Freeman, do not be afraid to take the leap.”
The jester followed with a jingling hint…
Is to follow your name
The fire then came to Freeman and engulfed him from the inside out. He let out a roar and swooshed towards the threshold. He was projected back into his body and erected upwards.
Coughing, he opened his eyes to see Sophia sitting next to him.
“Freeman,” she said, tears rolling down her cheek.
“Sophia. It’s really you.” A sense of calm had come over him.
“You’re back,” she said, smiling with compassion.
“How long have I been in this hospital?” he asked her.
“You’ve been here for three days Freeman. Three days.”
(Main Image Credit Martin Grohs)