HOPE

We assume that we can attempt, even achieve, a life without emotions influencing our choices and decisions. You find happiness in the smallest things in life. In the people you surround yourself with. The partner you begin to feel in love with. You crave what you desire the most and come to accept what you are given. And as long as you enable one another, you are gifted with a notion of hope, of something better to come.

What if you already had the greatest gift man could receive. And it was trapped inside you. And you are chosen for an amazing cause. One that would set you free. One that you have always desired. One that has its origins, since the beginning of intelligent life.

But what if its basis is wrong. What you be willing to do? Would you change everything you believe in? Would you fight it? Would you be willing to make sacrifices? And when you have lost everything and you realize hope has almost completely faded. Would you give up the only thing left that is real?

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6. Guiding Light - part 2

And as the clouds sweep in, they begin to entwine around me, but it’s not cold, and instead a feeling of warmth sweeps from my feet heading slowly up by my limbs, towards my head. The cloud moves even faster and I can barely see anything in front of me, brief glimpses of the car park visible, between the ferocious, speeding cloud. I look up, I can see the sky, but around me the cloud swirls, faster and faster until . . . as fast as it arrived, it begins to break away, from its circular trajectory around me, and begins to sweep forwards. Reeling out of my arms, like a spinning sheet of cloth, it floats a few feet above the ground, it moves, faster and further away and I can see it reach the end of the car park. Then it begins to follow the contour of the car park and begins to form a circle around it. I am at one end of this circle and the cloud begins to rotate, furiously flowing past all it encounters, faster and faster. I find myself, in the middle, almost as if I am in the eye of a storm, a storm visible from space. The speed increases, and I begin to hear scraping, and then clanking, and then rattling noises around me. The trolleys that are spread around the car park begin to move, they are moving towards the centre, an origin, one which I imagine to be also the centre of my cloud. They arrive with a crash, each trolley smashing into the other, and accompanied with a flash of white light, that last but seconds. The fading light displays the result and the trolleys stand infused with each other. The metal works bent and twisted, to enable them to merge. Another bang! And the station that holds trolleys nearest to me has collapsed. The trolleys begin to fly out of their hold, the chains snapping with the force of their flight. They move at an incredible speed, towards the centre, and merge into the remaining trolleys. More crashing, and banging, and more bright white lights, more trolley stations begin to crumble and trolleys begin to move towards the centre. A structure is being erected, from the bottom up; I begin to imagine legs, four legs. Then the remaining, a torso emerges, and then arms and a head. Then, a shimmering light of gold, a circular ring, a ring of burning light, ascends around the structure and reaches the top and then bang, it too disappears, into the darkness, leaving behind a pattern, very much like an exploding firework. The cloud begins to slow and it has almost comes to a complete stop when it speeds up again. But it is now moving in the opposite direction, its speed building up, faster and faster it swirls, until it reaches me again, unwinds itself from my arms and sweeps upwards, I am twisted and bent as the force of it makes me tilt my head upwards, my arms reaching for the sky and as the cloud embarks my body, and moves towards the sky, the music ends and all I can feel, all I can hear is silence. I wake up in the morning and there is buzz in the atmosphere. I can hear the TV, loud, and a lady speaking. I walk downstairs into the kitchen, then into the living room. I see Calvin, and my other housemates, seated around the sofa. They see me coming, they beckon me towards them, “You should see this.” Says Calvin, “Do you want to drive over there?” he asks. The sight stupefies me! I witness the red news background, the heading “Breaking news: structure appears in town centre overnight” and it scrolls sideways, along the bottom. The picture I am looking at is from above, a bird’s eye view, from a bird with rotors, hovering over the supermarket roof. And before it, glinting in the sun light, from all the chrome metal bits fused together, lay the structure, or the structures. I immediately realize the error in my understanding of it. It was not four legs but two sets of legs, which led to bodies. Each body represented the human form, with its basic elements; the limbs, the torso and the head. Each stood facing each other. They seem frozen in their pose, each representing a fighter, one about to swing upwards at the others face, whilst the other is about to bring down his fists on its opponents head. Each structure is over fifty feet tall, I hear the newswoman say. But all I see is them, standing proud, admiringly, in a battle frozen in time. And all around on the ground, the humans, petrified by the enormity of these beings, stand gazing, in awe. I cannot remember what happened after the cloud left that night and I do not know how I got home. What have I done? What have I created? What have I become? Erica leads me to the door and stops before it, she turns around and looks into me again, her look now suddenly capable of holding me helplessly, following her, I am weak, and confused. She lets go of my hand, slowly, letting it fall beside me and then turns around and opens the door, and then walks in. I follow, fluidly, and walk beside her as we make our way back, to where Amy was. I reach the partition, but the situation has changed. Amy is no longer sitting upright against the partition and she is lying on her back, her head resting on Sophie’s knees. Her skin so pale and life seems to be fading from her. Sophie has her hand on Amy’s forehead. Scott and the girls are standing behind them. Ed seems to have given up on the door and is next to Pete and Mary, who are standing beside Amy too. Erica remains by my side, and as I look down at Amy, I am stuck there, not certain of what I should do. Then Sophie looks up, “you better come closer, she is not speaking very loudly.” I kneel down, on the other side of Amy, her eyes are closed. Her right arm is crossed over her chest and her left arm is by her side. She lies motionless, except for the faint rising and falling of her chest, her faint breath now the only sound I can hear. And I tilt my head towards Sophie, and I ask her what’s wrong with Amy. Sophie tries her best, “I don’t know. She was sitting there, her eyes open, and then she just started falling and I quickly got to her side. She seemed almost passed out, she has a fever and her body is very cold.” I move my right hand onto Amy’s forehead now, I can feel the heat from it and with my left I hold her left hand, this very much colder than her head. Then Amy’s eyelids move, she opens her eyes, slowly, she looks up at me, and then closes them again. “She came around and then asked for you, that’s when Erica went out to get you.” says Mary. I turn around to look at Erica, who is now kneeling beside me. I look down at Amy. Her eyes open again, slowly, very slowly and I begin to feel a light pressure on my left hand, as she squeezes it. Her lips curl into a faint smile, and then I move closer to her face. “Hi” I whisper, and smile back at her. A slightly heavier breath, and she opens her mouth, but no sound ventures out initially, she closes it again, swallows and then replies, quietly, very, very quietly. “Hi.” Her eyes stay open now and she tries to move, and tilts her head towards me. She tries to lift her neck, she tries to get up, but she is weak, and I place my arm underneath her neck and lift her up slightly and lay her head on my shoulder. She looks up at me and smiles. Then very slowly, her hand reaches up to my face, and she places it on the side of my face, her touch is cold, “I am so sorry.” she whispers. I look deep into her eyes, I am confused and scared, for the first time this evening, my fear is taking over, but I don’t feel its presence next to me. I know Amy is in a lot of pain, I begin to imagine the pain inside her, I begin to imagine something mechanical, something I can fix. I just don’t know what, where or how to fix it. “Why?” I ask her. She suddenly breaths in through her teeth, wincing- a classic reaction to sharp pain. Her arm lowers from my face and she clutches, lightly, at her chest. She bites her lower lip, she looks at me, “I am not doing so well am I?” she asks, smiling again. “Don’t worry Amy, you’ll be fine. We’ll get you some help, where does it hurt?” I ask her, not knowing where this help will come from! But she catches me out, “You’re lying” she smiles again, and then she moves closer to my face, almost next to my ear, she then whispers. “I wish I could go back, do things differently. Be that person you said I could be. I remember the first time I saw you, in the corner of that room and it was my first day here. I couldn’t see you over the partition but I knew someone was in the corner.” she pauses, breathes in deeply, her grip on my arm is lighter, she is weakening. “I kept looking over and I didn’t understand why, I just wanted to know who was there.” She smiles. I look up at Sophie, she has a tear in her eye and so has Mary, I am not certain why she is telling me all of this now, I begin to wonder if the fever is resulting in hallucinations. I look down at Amy again. “Why are you telling me this now Amy?” I ask her, almost whispering back at her. “I kept looking over the partition and then suddenly you stood up and you turned around and you looked directly at me. I felt caught out, like you knew I was looking at you.” she whispers, smiling again. “We didn’t get to know each other for so many months after that, and then … then you left for so long . . . and I didn’t think you were coming back.” “I did come back Amy. I did.” I reply to her, I feel a great flood swelling inside me, and my vision starts to blur. “I know you did and bless you for it. You have more hope than anyone and it is what makes you keep going, what makes you so special. All those times you tried to show me the world through your eyes. How you described it me and how I longed to see it. You wanted me to aspire to be the person I am in my dreams. You adored me so much. And I am such a fool, aren’t I … please can I have some water?” she asks in the end.

I turn to Erica, and she is crying, “Please can you get us some water.” I ask Erica and she nods, and rises up and walks towards the water cooler. “I am so sorry. I am really sorry, maybe if I had listened to you, none of this would have happened, I wouldn’t still be here. And it wouldn’t end like this” Amy continues, her eyes are now tearing too, and I reach out and wipe her tears. I realize I too am starting to tear and I am still confused. “Don’t be sorry Amy, you never did anything wrong. You did what was right by your heart and you lived a much fuller life, a life filled with love, with respect and kindness. My world was a dream and it was unfair for me to invite you to it. And it is so unfair that you lie here like this, so unfair!” I almost cry out, and I can’t stop a tear rolling down my cheek. I hear more sobs around me as the others realize what is happening. Erica returns with the water, she kneels down again, beside me, and reaches out with it. I move slightly, so that Amy will be upright, and then Erica holds the cup against Amy’s lips, and she sips slowly, with her eyes closed, and manages to drink half the cup. She stops then, and opens her eyes, looks at Erica, and smiles, so affectionately. She nods at Erica and Erica reaches out, touching the side of her face, their eyes flood with love. Amy begins to lean back on my shoulder, her body so cold. She breathes in again, slowly and her arm reaches out for my face, reaches out behind my neck and she pulls me closer, ever so slightly, and I respond, so that my ear is next to her, and she whispers again, “You were right, there is more to it than all of this, all that we can touch, or taste, or hear. Please don’t be sad when I am gone, I have been shown where I am going, and all I have to do is dream a little bit,” She pauses, as I look at her face, she has stopped crying, and suddenly she looks happier and she looks content. “If anyone had asked me, how I had wanted this day to end, I don’t think I would have wanted it any other way, now knowing what I know.” “Please Amy don’t say that, you are going to be fine.” I lie to her again, wishing that this lie would be true! “It’s ok” she nods at me, slowly, and I nod back, fighting the tears that are begging to flood out. “There is something you have to do now and … it is so . . . so, beautiful. You were right and I am . . . so proud of you right now” She is not making sense. “They have shown me … and they want you to know, that I will be taken care of. . . ” “I don’t understand.” I interrupt, I don’t like how is ending. “. . . They want you to come to them. There is something you must do now. Someone you must be.” Amy breathes in deeply and she closes her eyes, and is still. For a moment, my heart skips, I hold my breath, but she reopens them and tilts her head at Erica and then looks back at me, her hand reaches up to my face, and she smiles “Thank you for making me part of it too.” and she closes her eyes for the last time and her hand slips, gently down my chest, on to her lifeless body.

I stay there, for what I must have been a very long time, and then slowly I lift her head, and lightly kiss her forehead. But it too is now cold, as cold as her arms. I slowly lay her down, gently on the ground. Behind me, all I hear is crying. I wipe my eyes, and turn around to Erica, she is in a state of shock, and her hand is covering her mouth. I look up at Ed, and shake my head slowly. He nods in understanding, and takes off his jacket, and hands it to me. I gently place is over Amy’s upper body, covering her face. I think she found peace, and true happiness. And for the briefest of moments, in the end, she was content. I find the need to look at my phone, to look at the time; it reads 17:35pm. I stand up. And I look around me. These people I work with, these people I have seen every day. And from those who are left, I realize I have never seen any of them like this before. They have witnessed something they shouldn't have, something they cannot understand, and I too am left confused, and lost this night. But I slowly put my arms on Erica’s shoulder, and then lower them by her side, and raise her up. She turns around as she stands and then leans towards me, we hug for the very first time, and I whisper into her ear, “There is something I need to do.” She moves her head back, she wants to say something but I look at her quickly, and slowly shake my head, don’t say anything I motion. And roll my eyes over at the others. She nods as she understands I don’t want them to know. I then turn to Ed, I call to him and I walk towards the entrance to the office, with Erica beside me and Ed behind me. We reach the entrance and I turn around to them. Neither of them heard much of what Amy said, so I decide not to repeat any of it. “I need you to be here with all of them Ed, they are pretty shook up and they need someone thinking straight.” I tell him. “Probably best to get everyone something to eat and drink and stay warm. I think we might be here a while.” “Ok.” he accepts, “but we should really try and get out of here.” He says, looking out the window. I look at him, for a few seconds, and then I slowly say, “I don’t think it’s that simple mate, I think there is something bigger at play here.” I try not to say anything about what I think it maybe, but he understands and nods his head in agreement and walks back towards the group. I turn to Erica, and reach out and I hold both her hands, she looks a little bit better now, a look of concern, but the initial shock has departed. And as I look at her face, I guess we both look pretty torn apart.

“I have to do something now, Erica. Something I was going to do before.” I pause, she probably knows what I am about to say, “I have to go up there, and I cannot explain why I am drawn to it or why I need to this. I just know that, it is what I meant to do.” I say to her, but she is already shaking her head. “No!” she says, “You can’t just go. I heard what Amy said. What did she mean? What is it that you are right about?” “I don’t understand all of what Amy said. All I can think of is that she was shown something, or has seen something, and I believe it was influenced by whatever is up there.” I speak honestly, I trust Erica entirely and I know she will not repeat it to anyone. “How do you even know something is up there?” she asks, almost pleadingly. “I know Erica. I have been hearing things. Things none of you have heard but I didn’t tell any of you. I thought you might all think I am crazy, hell I act like it most days. But, all what has happened is beyond explanation and I think I am right, and I am not crazy.” I say, with almost a passion. “I have to do this; I need to this, for all of us at least.” She looks at me for a long while, “Ok . . .” she nods slowly and her grip on my hand tightens. I pull her close to me, embrace her, and whisper in her ear, “You have to stay with them. We can’t both go away now, they need you.” But she tries to refuse, and pulls back, but I hold her head, “Please.” I ask of her. And then we separate. She looks at my face, and nods as she smiles at me. I walk back slowly, I can feel the door behind me and I gently edge it open, and slip out of the office, I keep my eyes on Erica, till I cannot see her anymore. The footsteps, they have returned, the same slow beat as before, calm and rehearsed. I begin slowly up the stairs- each step takes me a few seconds. I realize it is not fear that holds me back, they are all probably still downstairs, I am not certain what is holding me back. I reach the landing, the last one before the final set of stairs, and then I turn and look down at the second floor. I almost wish I could see the fears now. At least I wouldn’t be alone. I begin walking up the last few steps, slowly and almost a minute later, I arrive at the door. The source of the footsteps, now inches away from me and I can hear clearly the sound, and almost feel their eyes looking at me, whoever they are. These souls that have requested my presence, who wish to talk to me, who have summoned me! I reach for the release handle, to open the door. It is cold underneath my touch, but then, for the second time tonight, I feel a warmth slip into my hand. Like a warm glove being worn on a cold hand, the warmth surrounds my palm and squeezes into my fingers. I don’t even look back, I know already what it is and I know who it is. “Not without me.” says Erica. And I smile, I look over my shoulder and there she is, and there she has always been. I grip her hand tightly and push on the handle, and I am not being held back anymore. I push open the door and I step into the darkness, with Erica, right behind me.

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