I didn't know why was I standing at this place, but I just were. It sounds absurd and ridiculous, I know, but still, I could not recollect how I winded up here, nor could I explain my existence at this place. Maybe this is a dream, I thought, but I dismissed the idea swiftly, because the feeling of being here, of standing here, it felt so tangible, so surreal that a dream would be highly impossible. I was pretty sure that I had never been here before, and yet, I could sense an inexplicable wave of familiarity surrounding me, as if I belong here, as if I'm a vital part of it. Again, I was not quite certain.
I tilted my head a little to have a better glimpse of this place. It was bright and warm, but odd enough, I could see no sun. I wondered where did the light come from, but that was not the most peculiar phenomena. There was nothing else, not even a single organism or matter, other than me, existing in this place. I panicked, the thought of being stranded in the wilderness, terrified me. I glanced around for a second time, hoping to discover something that would calm my fears, but all I could see, was an enormous void. Then the horrendous truth dawned upon me. This is not a thought ; this is really happening.
I picked up my foot and I ran, shrieking frantically, desperately seeking for the way out, or at least another human being. Yet my attempt to escape went unfruitful. There was no way out, in fact, there really was nothing, nothing but an endless expanse of land, leading to nowhere. No matter where I run, it feels like I'm travelling in a huge circle ; no matter where I stop, I will always be at where I started. There was virtually nothing here, nothing, not even a single pebble or a tiny rock. It was incredibly pathetic. Being here, it feels like I'm completely detached from the real world. It feels like I'm going to be detained in this terrifying dimesion for eternity. And again I realized something. This is not a feeling -- I might just be confined in here forever.
I stumbled. No matter how hard I had searched, there was no exit. Tears were lining on my cheek, and I have never cried this much before. I have never been more fearful and terrified in my life before, for that matter. And yet I could not believe I was experiencing this horrible combination of emotions. I yelled and I yowled, but all that were audible, were the echoes of my pathetic cries. If death can deliver me from this dreadful dimension, I'd rather die, but alas, there was no way I could end my life here. There were no cliffs, and I didn't bring any weapons with me. As I've mentioned a lot of times earlier, there were nothing here, and I have nothing here. Nothing.
Just as I thought things couldn't be worse, the light began to dim. Every second, it dimmed a little, until a few moments later, it evaporated completely. Not a single, tiny source of light was visible. Darkness had descended. My worst nightmare had became a reality. I was stranded in an endless expanse of nowhere, completely engulfed by the omnipresent darkness. There was nothing much that I could do, other than to squirm and to squeal.
It was in the darkness that I finally heard someone's voice. It was almost silent, even quieter than a whisper. I quivered at the voice, but when all hope seemed gone, the only thing you can cling on is positivity. So I thought he was my savior, the one that would deliver me. I responded to the whisper, my tone clearly manifesting my fear. Instead, he uttered four words. Four dreary syllables.
"Look to your right,"
"But I can barely see anything!" I answered, trying to make sense of the current situation. I mean, is my savior an idiot or what?
There was no reply. Absolute silence. And I just thought of no better reason to defy this mysterious person. After all, things couldn't be worse, can they? So I did what he requested, and surprisingly, I saw light.
The light was grey in color, to be precise, but I had been surrounded by darkness for quite some time, so I did not think twice about it. I began running towards it, but unexpectedly, a boy stepped into the light. I came to a halt. Immediately I deduced that he is the mysterious person, my savior, so I called out to him. In response he did not even look at me. I called out to him once again. This time, he motioned his head towards me. As I looked into his eyes, I fell to my feet. Fear pervaded my veins and my arteries. I thought this dimension was terrifying, but this boy, evil was written all over his face.
He was clad in a torn, bloody rag, and his hair was ruffled in the most revoltant form. Nobody would ever want to have hair like his. His eyes were quiet, and yet amidst the silence, they channeled the elements of death, emptiness and wickedness. His nose was slightly crooked, and there were conspicuous cracks all over on his lips. Worst of all, there were blood lining on his face. The blood looked extremely natural, like it was meant to complement his facade of evilness. His expression was beyond terrifying.
It was as if he saw past my fear, and he shot a sardonic smile. It was chilling -- the look was ghastly and dreadful, worse than anything that I had ever seen in my entire life. I had this premonition of horror, where terrible events would occur in just a split second. There was no way out. Obviously, he was not my savior ; he was the one that would hasten my demise.
"Who are you?" I found myself asking, against my better judgment. At this point, fear nearly subdued me.
"Don't you want to know why are you here?" he questioned me back, his expression unaltered. The chilling grin was still there.
"Yes," I gulped.
"I led you here," he answered, and out of the sudden, he burst into laughter.
It was the creepiest laugh that I have ever heard. The laugh did not lighten the mood at all. In fact, it intensified the fear in the atmosphere. It was scornful and patronizing, yet extremely terrifying. Its power was sufficient to traumatize anyone who hears it.
"Who are you?" I asked for the second time. My fear escalated a thousand times, and my whole body was literally trembling with terror. My voice was slurred, more timid than ever.
For a moment, I was baffled. There was no way I could be him. I did not notice any resemblance, and I certainly will never soak myself in blood. There was just no plausible reason to explain his answer. Yet, there was also no reason for him to tell a preposterous lie such as this... Unless he was telling the truth.
Even though I was completely overwhelmed with dread, I found myself taking a step forward. And another step. And another step. It was then that I realized I was only standing five feet away from him. To know that I was in his vicinity, was the most dreadful feeling in the world. I looked directly into his eyes. This time, I was petrified. It was as if something had frozen the movements of my limbs, and I found myself physically paralyzed. The hollowness, wickedness and lawlessness that his eyes were exhibiting... They were telling a story. A story that I once heard. A story that was buried deep in my subconscious mind. Until now. It exhumed from where it should be. He was right. He is me, but I am not him. I was him.
This could not be possible. It didn't make any sense that I had a doppelganger. And yet, there he was, standing right before me. He was not a spirit, nor an illusion. He was a full flesh human. I didn't know why was I so certain about that, I just were. At this point, intuition was all I had left. He is me, and he wanted something from me.
"What do you want?" I bellowed. Even though fear was still running wild in my veins, I knew, that was exactly what I had to do. This was a battle where I had to combat alone.
"Simple." Beneath his polite and civil tone, there were atrocity and lust.
"I want you to be me," he grinned, as if he was expecting me to agree with him. To be pure evil yet still able to feign cordiality is something I was a master at. Something he is absolutely capable of doing.
"No. Never. I would never want to be you. Not anymore." This time, fear drained out of my system. All I could feel were anger and hurt. All I wanted was to be aggressive and bellicose. I had nothing to lose, not at this point. This was my fight.
"Oh, sweetheart, don't be silly! You crave to be me," He chuckled, before proceeding to say something that would scar me for life.
"Remember how satisfying it felt to have someone's blood on your palm? Remember how sensational it felt to sleep around with people, breaking families apart? Remember how thrilling it felt to be the mighty arsonist that had set the whole neighborhood on fire? Do you remember any of these? Do you? I bet you do. And I know beneath that angelic facade that you put on, you desire to rekindle all these feelings again. Don't lie to yourself. You can't... Oh wait, you will never turn over a new leaf. You will never be a good seed. This, is who you are. Embrace it, mi amore."
I tried to stifle my memory from haunting me, yet I found myself recalling everything precisely, including those feelings. I remembered everything, exactly how he described them. Suddenly my heart ached, and I felt as if my body was on flames. Remorse and guilt permeated into my heart. He was correct. No matter what I do, I would always be that repulsive human being. To me, moving on is something like a fairy tale that would never come true. My transgressions are too many. Atonement can never be the solution. Yet above all things, I would not want to be him again. I just could not continue to wreak havoc to this world anymore.
"No." I looked directly into his eyes, with great solemnity. I wanted to clarify my decision, that no matter who I am, no matter what happens, I will not choose to be him.
"Well... we just have to do this the hard way," he smirked, completely unaffected by my stern expression.
He took a step closer. And another step. And then another leap. Fear surged in again, but I knew I musn't let it conquer me. Fear is the sign of defeat, and so is flee. I stood there, waiting for him to cast his first move on me. There was nothing much that I could do, other than to fight for the sake of my life.
Within a few moments, he was already standing in front of me, face to face. It was like standing in front of a mirror that has no frame, a mirror that completely reflects my past. He reached out his right hand and he groped my arm. Then, he strangled me with his left hand. I tried to fight back, to resist his touch, yet I felt completely powerless. His grasp was usurping my energy.
And like a flood, dark memories of my past deluged into my mind. I recalled all things, events that I never want to remember. How I accidentally killed a boy in a hit-and-run incident. How I dissoluted families by having inappropriate relationships with married men and women. How I broke the hearts of my loved ones by constantly telling lies to them. How I nearly murdered the whole neighborhood by setting fire to a house simply because I despised the owner. And when I found out that he survived, I made sure he would be the one to take the fall. All in all, I was almost the incarnation of a demon.
For once, he pinpointed his answers precisely. No matter what I do, that is who I was. I can never change the fact that I had completely defiled my conscience, and that I will always be a profanity to the human species.
I attempted to break free, but all I could do, was to let him rob away the essence of my life, to allow him to slowly steal away my soul and my spirit.
I thought of death, and I have never imagined, not in a million years, that I will die in my own hands. And if I die, I believe he will be the one to take my place ; my body will live, but it will contain his soul. I looked at his smug face, a sense of defeat rushed to my head. All of a sudden, my mind raced towards two questions. Questions that I never bothered to answer. Enigmas that I've never even tried to decipher. Between the brink of life and death, I found myself contemplating at these questions, wondering, if the answers may keep me alive. At this point, I would do anything to keep my heart beating.
Where is this place? And why was he here? Suddenly, these two points connected, like an incomplete puzzle that is finally assembled. Everything has finally made sense, and the light to my darkness appeared.
This place... It never was concrete. This is a dimension that I've created over the years, when I was still him. All the guilt and remorse that were accumulated, they are the primary and only constituents of this dimension. The deprived hope and faith were the elements that took away the light and caused darkness to descend. And because I've lost all hope, faith and direction, not a single source of light was visible. I was carrying nothing but a huge load of guilt and remorse all my life, which probably explains why there was nothing in this dimension. And he was here... because I've never truly let go of my past and move on to the next phase of my life. I knew I could not change the fact that I was a sinful man, but I never really understood it. I clung on to guilt and unforgiveness, because those were all that I had left, because I thought I do not deserve more. But now, I realized I was wrong. I may have been a wicked man, but I can live the rest of my days as a righteous person. I am not defined by my past. The reason I was here... was because I had been doing that for a long time.
I opened my eyes and I looked straight into his face.
"I forgive you. I forgive me. It's time I should let you go," I muttered breathlessly. For once in my life, I spoke a sentence whole-heartedly, with full sincerity.
Miraculously, his grip loosened, and he lost all power and control over me. He began to drift away, our distance bigger with each second ticking away. And slowly his body morphed into something that seemed like dried foliages. Soon before I know it, he faded away completely, leaving nothing but a vague memory to me.
Light poured from above. Darkness could no longer persist. Suddenly, this place wasn't terrifying anymore. All I could feel, were relief and mirth, like I had just tossed a huge rock off my shoulder. It took me so long to uncover the revelation. Truth is, forgiveness always prevail. It has been a long time. I should have let everything go and move on.
I strolled along the pathway, relishing in the relief and happiness that I've just gained. I walked for a few minutes, before I saw a glorious gate emerging from afar. I ran towards it, adrenaline rushed in with each step I was taking. I opened the gate, and I thought I saw someone's endearing smile. And then, everything seemed to have turned into an indistinct memory as well...
I opened my eyes and I saw the ceiling of my chamber. I peered through the curtain and I saw the towering corporation that stood opposite the apartment. At last, I'm back in the real world. However, to me, what happened wasn't a dream. Yes, it was crazy, extraterrestrial and supernatural, yet I'm very certain that all those were real. Everything happens for a reason, and from my journey to the wilderness, I realized something priceless. If I continue to dwell in things that cannot be changed, eventually it's my soul that will perish. No matter I've done, as long as I know how to let go, repent and turn over a new leaf, I will still have a fruitful and beautiful life. After all, human beings are infallible. It is okay to fall, as long as I know the right way to stand up again.
I got up from my bed and I sauntered into the kitchen. As I was making a cup of espresso, I felt a jolt of exhilaration, felicity and peace. I do not know what life is going to bring me, but I do know, it will be the best one that I'll ever have.