Tom Tabart – The Man
The man chose the correct roads to lead him home. Street lights illuminating his way. His hand on the steering wheel felt comfortable, gripping the fine material lining its circumference. His feet no longer serving any purpose, instead he chose to trust in the vehicles computing mind to maintain his speed.
His thoughts became unmethodical and began to drift. Some speaking louder to him than others. Important dates of the near future. The wellbeing of his closest friends. If the girl that he so desired would in fact desire him also. She always found him a joy to be with. How could that beautiful smile lie to him? What a positive soul she was.
He couldn’t help but grin to himself. He would see her soon. She would be most likely enjoying a book on the couch, or maybe watching some horrendous soap drama on TV. Perhaps then he would ask her to accompany him on a walk to the beach.
The night was close and stuffy. So to him, the idea didn’t seem all that outlandish. It was then he would steer the conversation to the more delicate side of their relationship. Yes, he would do it then. She adored the beach. The sound of the waves and the softness of the sand he figured are the main reason she enjoyed it so.
The man diverted off his all too common route home from work. He turned down a side street close to his house. He used his free hand to wind down the window. The tepid, salty air filled his lungs. Wonderful. The shoreline must be close.
The car park was empty. Yet the man parked where he usually did. Closing the car door behind him, the man strode towards the shoreline along a path of gravel. His fine suit, he was sure, was collecting all manner of foreign particles. His fine-point toed shoes crunching the small, rough chunks of tar as he stepped.
Strangely, it was now quite cool. Far colder than he had first believed. The humidity in the air had vanished. His hands found his way to his coat pockets to warm them. A short distance ahead of him he could see steps. The darkness of the night seemed to welcome him. His dark attire melted his figure into the black. He felt comfortable here. He could not be seen by a single soul.
He first thought of stopping at the peak of the stairs. Deciding against this, the man walked down the wooden steps toward the shore. The waves were louder now. He was not required to work in the coming two days. The cleanliness of the suit didn’t worry him. It desperately needed cleaning anyway. Instant coffee stains well enough.
He could feel the shifting surface of the sand under each step. The man continued slowly forwards until he was stationary on what he felt as wet, compact sand. Looking up he saw the brilliant visage of the night sky. The shining jewels of far distant stars were all he could see. Ever since he was old enough to understand what these points of light were, he had such love for them. Love and unfiltered awe. The night air was clear. Not a single cloud obscured his view of the stars.
Despite his hereditary chances, his eyesight was still sharp. And for the longest moment he watched. Observed. He could see the faint glow of the centre of the Milky Way through a spectacularly large formation of stars. This ancient mass of titanic hydrogen and helium reactions forming a faint white tinge in his field of vision.
And then, for the briefest of moments, the smallest passing of time, his mind could see and understand the immensity of what he was witnessing. The scale of everything there was and ever will be became an entity inside the realm of his imagination, as did the boundless possibility that lay in the cosmos and the true face of the infinite.
Then it was gone. Through no effort of his own, his mind had retreated from its glorious peak. His subconscious forcing him to back away from the things he could never hope to perceive without permanent damage. He felt saddened, cheated almost, that he could not force himself to re-visit that understanding. That state of mind.
He searched for many moments. Minutes. As he pressed his concentration onwards, the sound of the waves, ever so gradually, became transparent and hollow. Slowly waning into a gentle silence. The man panicked, his forehead quickly becoming prickly with worry. Was he loosing his hearing?
The voice spoke to him then. Not in any dialect, nor in any accent. The voice was of the elements, the earth, the water, and the wind. The unbounded universe. The infinite consciousness.
‘Friend,’ the word seemed to smile at him. ‘Do not let fear take this moment. Give your self a chance to allow. To believe. This is no trickery of human intervention. Nor the misunderstanding of your own self; we commune with you.’
The man was unable to speak. Unable to conjure a reaction. His neural pathways contemplated the idea that what just occurred was not real. They unanimously decided that it undoubtedly was. He was not afraid. He knew that he should be, but fear never reared its discordant self within him.
‘Your consciousness shines far brighter than all that dwell on this world. Let us use this for the greater good of all. Allow us to take you, so that you may join our conglomerate. Ascend with us now, friend’.
For reasons far beyond his understanding, the man was utterly consumed by the will to do as it asked. He knew the consequences of doing so. His life, as he knew it, would cease to exist. How he became privy to this fact was beyond him.
‘We tell you this because it is true. The man you are will never be the same as you were. A heavy price for any being. You may refuse this offer. You will not remember this should you choose to do so. You will not remember us.’
The man quickly dismissed the idea of refusal. The regret would be unbearable. The chance to experience the impossible is one he would take now and always.
‘Come with us friend. Allow us to show you what we wish. As we have always done.’
The coldness of the night air lifted, like a silk veil. Warmness filled his being. The man answered in a way utterly incomprehensible to his knowledge of logic. Soundless. Instant.
By the framework of time on earth, the man was a few days shy of his one-thousandth and twenty-eighth birthday. The cells of his body having been long ago warped and distorted to maintain his age.
He was twenty-eight when he was abducted. Abducted. He had always found this word very aggressive and unnecessary. It was his choice after all. The star beings had told him he was the fourth person to have accepted the gift given unto him. The three peoples before him were Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha and Confucius. To be the fourth in this list of boundlessly influential humans was totally unbelievable. The man took many years of convincing before he accepted this as fact.
For a full one thousand years the man voyaged across the galaxy and beyond. Learning from, and sharing his own knowledge with others so very different, and yet just like him. Barriers of language and dialect were constant, whilst the drive to learn and to be a part of something grand was something all individuals chosen by the star beings had in common. The man had amassed a wealth of knowledge akin to a god of old human mythology.
Living a life full of such richness, there seemed no room for any imperfections of the soul. Despite that, since the moment of his ascension there was a constant void within him, a seeping unhappiness that threatened to consume him. Throughout the long years of his journey, the man longed to see the girl he loved so. He had long given up hope to see her beautiful smile and her positive self again.
The man was ready and willing to die in the end, as the hope eventually died from his thoughts. As an answer to his depleted aspiration, in the last few months before his one-thousandth and twenty-eighth birthday, he met with a creature of pure energy. An energy like the charge of lightning, a brilliant and powerful source of light. Lit up with a dazzling and sparkling array of colours, many of which imperceptible to his human vision.
The mesmerizing formation of light told him of a gift. A lost technology again found. Time travel. Accepting this gift as a father who is being handed his precious infant child, the man went back to the beach that was ever so close to his old home. Through some strange twist of fate, the man had entered his old reality a mere three and a half minutes after he was taken. The one thousand years that passed from the time he left occurred in a time frame countable on a single hand.
The cool air woke him. Lying face up, He saw nothing but the stars above him. And he felt only the damp sand through his suit jacket and the wind on his hands and face. He knew the gift of long life would leave his body as a result. Very good, he thought. He laughed heartily and loud. It had worked.
The man got to his feet and was completely convinced that he was a part of the single most unlikely thing that has ever happened, at least to a human. He would tell her of the astounding ‘dream’ he had. Only after telling her how he felt.