Everything was dark. I couldn’t see, but I could hear.
Then I realized my eyes were closed.
And suddenly I could see people. Lots of them. They appeared to be talking and pointing to something behind me. I checked over my shoulder and found that those people were also pointing to something behind me. Then it hit me. They weren’t pointing at something behind me.
They were pointing at me.
I sat up, which caused a lot of them to jump back and watch me curiously. I tried to catch snatches of conversation, but those left me more confused than ever.
“They don’t usually appear like that do they?”
“Can he talk?”
“Look! His shroud, it’s white!”
At that last comment everyone went silent as they focused on the white garment that I assumed was a “shroud.” My “shroud” looked like a white robe with a hood. What was weird was that it fit perfectly. The sleeves came right to wrists, the bottom came right to my feet, and the shoulders were the perfect width. I looked at the people circled around me. All of them wore a similar outfit, but each had minor differences. One looked a bit like a hoodie, it was baggy and had two drawstrings that hung down the middle. Another had two button-up pockets on the chest and hips and had been cut off at the knee, it reminded me of an explorer’s outfit. But they were all the same gray color.
Except for mine.
What was weirder still, was that I never remembered buying one of these, and I certainly didn’t remember putting it on before… before… Huh. The last thing I remembered was going to bed.
Perhaps this was a dream?
I began with, “Hey there can one of you-“
“Someone get Guyde!”
“Shh! Let him speak!”
The crowd went quiet once again and watched me expectantly.
“Uh right. Can one of you pinch me?”
The members of the crowd looked at one another, and for a moment I was afraid they hadn’t understood what I meant. Then one of them, a man, stepped forward hesitantly and made his way slowly towards me. He reached out with two fingers and began to squeeze my skin.
It wasn’t a dream.
“Bildur! Get back!”
The crowd parted to reveal a young man making his way through the gap. From the way the people had solemnly stepped aside, I had expected an older man. Someone wise and venerable. But the male who I saw, didn’t look much older than me. In fact… everyone looked about my age. I was 21, a junior in college, the people around me couldn’t have been more than 30. There were no children, and no elders.
It was a little disconcerting.
As Bildur scampered back, the new man approached and stopped right in front of me. He studied me for quite some time, but made no attempt to communicate. I decided to try and strike up some form of conversation.
“Hello, my nam-“
“Quiet!” He shouted.
I guess he wasn’t a people person then.
Finally the man seemed to finish scrutinizing me. If I had to guess I would have said he almost looked satisfied too. Then he spoke.
“Welcome to Cyst newcomer. I am Guyde.”
Cyst? I didn’t remember covering that in geography.
“Where is Cyst? Asia? Africa maybe?”
He seemed to expect this question and responded with, “This is Cyst. The sky, the ground, the entire world is Cyst.”
I took a moment to look around and process what he had said. This place certainly looked like earth. It was oddly reminiscent of my own city actually. There were a few more hills and trees, and a lot less skyscrapers, roads, and smog clouds. However, from the way he talked, this Cyst place was its own planet or something.
“So are you saying this isn’t on Earth?”
It had already been quiet, but when I said “earth” all noise seemed to cease. You know the oxymoron “The silence was deafening?” Everybody nodded when the teacher used it as example, but nobody thought it ever really could happen?
Well in this instance, the silence was deafening.
When Guyde finally spoke, it was slow and tinged with awe.
“You… you’ve been to this Earth? So it exists then?”
I was so screwed.