I don’t know how it began, all I know is what I heard around me. The best I could make out were words like “seizure” and “brain damage”. From the upset tone in the voices of what was most likely my parents, it was serious. My mother would cry and my father would ask, with the best emotional control, what could be done. Typically, he attempted to be pragmatic, be practical, but his emotional tones gave him away. My mother was more obvious in her reaction, all wails and croaks and hopeless consoling of a body which wasn’t reacting. My body.
All I know is that from that point, I was here, in the void. It was a strange place, essentially a blank canvas stretching as far as the eye could see. Standing within this expanse of nothing was me, or at least a blurred sense of me. I was to be the artist of this place, the architect. I was to be the creator of the world around me.
At first it was difficult. Nothing truly made sense and thus the first few builds were jarring messes filled with mutations and abominations. Nothing was right, nothing made sense. The angles were wrong, the landscape difficult to conceive and there was no sense of colour or shape. If I was to truly build, I needed to focus myself and concentrate. I wasn’t going anywhere, so I settled down and prepared to crack on.
It was best to start simple. Mass landscapes that didn’t require too much detail, too much effort on my part. I created the vast waters that were from my home town, lined by the long stone beaches that I would walk upon. From there it was a case of reverse engineering, creating the park attached to the beach. Green fields, vast woodlands, a real copy and paste job. There was no sense of scale yet, but there was at least something. I would walk around this parkland, raising ground where I saw fit and adding bushes and trees until it started resembling something definitive. After a while, itself difficult to ascertain with no sense of time, I found a pathway leading through the woods. While the distance was dark and obscured, as I stepped closer it began to fog and then clear, revealing more paths with trees flanking it either side before eventually showing me another large expanse of green.
This was a calming place. A happy place. There was nothing but rolling hills before me and a calm breeze to add to the peace. But I couldn’t truly relax. Deep in the distance there was a hum, a buzz of noise, of voices calling out to me. They were familiar, but muddled. It was as if so many people were speaking at once and their words were blending into one giant cacophony of linguistics. I wanted to listen, but knew I had important work ahead. I had no time to sit down and relax, it was time to get serious.
While the more nature-filled surroundings were good, they weren’t home. They were merely decoration for a more central hub. Developing that was difficult, with a lot of planning and consideration for what worked needed taking on board. Eventually, after a long walk through another long field, I reached a road filled with houses. Most were as blurred and indistinguishable as my own face, but one stood out mid-way down. It had a black fence, blue door and stood high before me. It had more fully formed features than the rest of the residential area, and when I approached the door, I found myself armed with a key.
Inside everything become over-powering, images and details flooding in far quicker than I could handle. It started to become chaotic, a visual scream that was deafening to the senses. I wanted to go back to the hill, back to the rolling hills and peace they brought with them. I wanted to just go back and lie down and forget about this whole mess. But I knew I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t give in.
It took a long time, almost seeming like forever, but eventually the interior of the house came together in a way I could handle. There was a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom and, of course, a toilet. Some details were still distorted and damaged, but it was beginning to look a lot more like somewhere I could call home. The bedroom especially was a comforting place, with red walls and a sofa-bed ready and open and shelves full of books and films. It was a place where I could sit back and relax, kill some time and rest before continuing with polishing the details together.
Sleep was not as comforting though. The noise was back, and it was closer, more desperate. I looked out of a nearby window down to a long stretch of grass that resembled a garden and nearly fell when I saw them. Figures, apparitions, with vague shapes and forms. Their eyes were black and faces melted into a smooth blank. There was nothing there but the vision of something being there. It was terrifying, I almost wanted to lock the door and stay away for good. But they kept crying out, kept trying to break me. I knew I had to confront them.
I stepped outside and as I got closer, the voices began to fall apart. Distinct tones and personalities were coming through. I recognised my parents, my friends and loved ones. As each voice became clearer, the ghosts in front of me became more corporeal. They became fat, thin, tall and short. Facial features moulded themselves in the haunting blanks, with eyes, noses and cheekbones coming through until something more recognizable was looking back at me. And as each person appeared, a wave of power washed over me. It was fierce, way more powerful than what I had experienced within the house itself. Flashes hit me like blows. Memories of happy times, sad times. Times of love, times of hate. It was all too much, I felt myself wanting to scream but nothing coming out. They looked over me, wanting to help, but could only watch as I tried to control what was coming at me. Part of me wanted it to stop, wanted to just shut down and let it all go away again. It would tell me that the void was better than the horrors that were hitting me. But I kept letting it flow inside me, kept letting each thought, each feeling take me over.
It was a long time before I got up. Looking up at those around me, my parents and friends and loves and even hates, they looked different. They didn’t look as sad, as despondent anymore. My mother laid her hand on my shoulder, then my father, my best friend and brother, the girl who I had always loved, even my boss. They all touched me and helped me up. They didn’t say anything, but I knew what I had to do.
Standing in front of the mirror, the form before me was a betrayal. A form of nonsense and crazed fever. But before I gave up I suddenly saw eyes, brown eyes that were determined and powerful and ready to fight. I wasn’t ready to wake up just yet, but my eyes were finally opening. I’d be home again soon.