Back and forth, constantly back and forth, I pace the black and white checkered floor, in this white silence, this hateful void that is either a realm of sleep or an eternal curse. Around me curdles a thick gray fog, which winds its coils through the air, smelling of nothing, but cold.
Thoughts surge through my mind that have no logic, no coherence. They come and go, and afterwards, I cannot grasp them again.
Sometimes they escape my lips in a ragged whisper, a voice that is somehow not my own. I know not the details of them, but they are pleading, begging for a way out of this hellish white silence. I wonder if I am insane, locked away in a mental realm out of which only death would permit escape.
The checkered floor is glossy, smooth, and looks as though it was recently polished, which is crazy, because there is no one here but me. The floor is the only distinguishing feature of this place, for the fog cloys, thickens.
Someone…please…let me out…let me….
I’m begging whoever governs this place to free me, but there is only cruel silence. What have I done? What could I have done to deserve such a wretched, maddening punishment?
I was just like anyone. I had friends, had hopes and dreams, had a life. I never hurt anyone. Why here? Why?
In a fit of stark panic, I race ahead, my bare feet slapping furiously on the cold floor, trying to find an exit, a doorway, some beacon waiting somewhere in the fog. The chill air rushes past my ears with a whoosh, and already, only after a few feet, fatigue sets in, and my leg muscles burn and cramp.
Ignoring this discomfort because it is miniscule in comparison to the agony of the silence, I rush ahead, running, running, running for innumerable amounts of time, and the pain only increases until it is white-hot, searing, like a thousand tiny daggers ripping through my legs beneath the skin.
Please, don’t keep me here, don’t keep me…here…no.
It is terrifying solely because of its nothingness, because of the feeling that this is some kind of purgatory, a prison perhaps, in which souls are tormented not by demons and fire but by the perpetual feeling of being lost and alone. Hopelessness.
I just can’t go on. My legs give out, and I collapse, sweating, gasping, begging for help, pleading to forces that may or may not be here.
After a long while of lying on the cold floor, feeling the tendrils of mist slide across my skin, listening to the perfect hush that is a denial of all life and movement, I laboriously crawl to my feet again, and resume my crusade for freedom at a slower, brisker pace. A nagging thought tells me to stop this meaningless behavior, and then it slips away into murk. What else is there to be done? If there is an escape, I must not miss it, for certainly a purpose exists for this place, as strange as it may be.
And finally, my efforts are rewarded; I see an end, the door I was looking for, looming vaguely behind the curtain of fog. A brown door, perhaps wood, with a shiny brass knob that glimmers, beckoning.
With a cry of excitement, not caring whether it leads to a good or bad place because it is somewhere else than here, I snare the knob and fling the door open, and I am greeted by a flawless wall of darkness.
Nothing can be seen on the other side but a black abyss, relieved in a few places by a few glimmering points of light, and it reminds me of a foreboding vacuum of space.
And like a vacuum, it is sucking, pulling, an invisible vortex, a force of unimaginable power, and it suddenly brings me past the door, out of the white silence and into some other realm, in a shattering instant of wild, chaotic wind.
I am tossed through the air and thrown like a rag doll onto cold dirt, and the wind is knocked out of me. Wheezing, I try to struggle off my stomach to see my surroundings, but weakness prevails.
If this is a dream, why is sensation so real…why?
The air is also damp here, and smells of things I have never before smelled. These odors are sweet yet sickening, pungent and repellant. The aura of this place is undeniably alien.
I finally manage to gaze up and see mountains, gray, jagged peaks thrusting into a terrible black void too empty to be called a sky.
I am in the middle of a vast gray plain, flat and dead. There are no trees, no bushes or grass, only the featureless soil that seems to spread for miles and miles. Desolation. Alienation.
I desperately search the void above for stars, for moons or suns, any source of light that could comfort in this lonely darkness, but this is not Earth, not any world humans would ever want to see. Shimmering multicolored particles fall and float like flakes of snow, dancing before my eyes. They are beautiful, in their own way. This must be the sole light but it is not enough, each light only a pinpoint, a dim candle that hides more than if reveals.
Dread fills me when I realize my presence here has not gone unnoticed. There are other things here somehow, things of infinitely dark design. How this is known is uncertain, but a realm as strange as this drives one mad with its bottomless confusion.
I lie here indecisive, trying to figure out which is worse: the impenetrable white silence or this bleak and somehow malevolent void, as though there might still be a choice.
Breaking me out of fevered contemplation, a voice calls out.
Its timbre is deep, male, and full of emotion perhaps as potent as mine. The words are faint, but the message is clear, that same ceaseless broken record of fear that has been going through my mind since I came to this place.
I find new strength in the sounds of the wanderer. Perhaps we can team up and find a way out of this nightmare. Thoughts of escape fill me like helium, lifting my muddled mind partly out of its confused sludge.
I scramble up and bolt toward the beseeching voice.
The particles rush past me, disorienting, sometimes dim, sometimes dazzling, and I call out too, screaming that I’m here, that I can help, that whoever is out there is not alone.
The ache in my legs never stops, but my rush of hope temporarily dulls it. The voice seems to be coming from over a small hill, the only one to blemish the flatness of this plain. How could such a cold and empty void harbor life? How could I know?
I reach the hill, climbing to the top, and my lungs heave with nameless weakness. I look down at the land below, expecting to see a man, someone who also looks for a way out.
But instead, there is nothing. No one. Just the dead emptiness, the expectant silence.