the following is original content by Ink & Espresso
“How have you come here?” the darkness asked him.
He opened his eyes and saw the universe rushing beneath his feet. As he raised his eyes to look further out, the stars and galaxies moved slower. The ones in the distance were at a standstill. He guessed he was in some sort of tunnel, moving through time and space.
“How have you come here?” the darkness asked again, this time a little more forceful. It almost sounded...afraid.
He craned his head around, trying to see where the voice was coming from, but there was no one there. At least no one visible.
“I...I don’t know.” He replied.
It was the truth. Even as he answered, he tried to remember the accident, but the more he focused on it, the more of it slipped out of memory.
Despite the speed at which he appeared to be moving through space, there was no sound, to say nothing of how he was even alive. There didn’t seem to be anything around him that suggested he should be safe or able to breathe for that matter.
Looking ahead, the he couldn’t tell where he was going. For all he knew he was getting ever closer to an exploding star. Or maybe he had been rocketed away from one that had collapsed? It was clear that some kind of force was propelling him, or pulling him—to what, he didn’t know.
He could see that he was travelling along some kind of tunnel. There were strands of light flying past and all around him, forming a translucent border.
“What-what is this? Where am I?” He asked.
The darkness didn’t answer, but then just to the right in front of him, a strange dark cloud began to form. It seemed to gather matter and dust from nowhere, imploding outwards on itself to grow it size. It finally slowed down, and the voice spoke again.
“I’m afraid you don’t have the ability to understand exactly where you are. I suppose...the best way I can explain it is that you’re somewhere in between two worlds.” When the voice spoke, the cloud lit up as though there was a tiny storm somewhere deep inside it.
“Am I alive?” He felt silly asking a question to a small storm cloud, but reason and logic were notably absent, so why not?
“I’m not sure...” The voice seemed hesitant, but curious.
“Do you know how I got here?”
“I was hoping you could tell me that, honestly.”
He barely remembered his name, and was struggling to keep even that in his mind.
“I wish I could. So who are you?”
“I am the Cicerone. Up till now, I thought I was the only one who could travel these paths.” The cloud said.
“Well whatever happened to bring me here, I don’t think I did it on purpose.” He closed his eyes, trying to focus on the pieces of his memory.
“Oh, I don’t believe that...One thing is for certain, you can’t arrive here by accident.”
That was interesting. Although for the life of him, he couldn’t ever imagine wanting to get to a place like this. Or how he would have even done it. This was something straight out of science fi—
“A scientist!” He exclaimed. The cloud flew backwards a little bit, surprised by his outburst. “I’m a scientist! Or...at least I was. I remember that.”
It sounded so trivial a thing to recall, but considering how much information he had, he felt like remembering that was an incredible step forward.
The cloud slowly moved back to its normal distance from him, concluding there was no danger. “If that is true, it is remarkable you could find your way here. By all reason, you shouldn’t have been able to with your level of technology and intelligence.”
His brow furrowed at the thought of being insulted by a talking cosmic cloud. He took a moment to think about defending himself, but figured he didn’t remember enough to do so. For all he knew, the cloud was probably right.
He sighed and looked down the tunnel of light in front of him. There didn’t seem to be an end to it. The strands of light on the sides all converged on each other far in the distance, but he had no way of knowing exactly how far away that was.
“Do you know where I’m going?” He asked.
“Yes I do.”
“Where is it?”
“You’ve never heard of it.”
“What does that matter?”
“If you’ve never heard of it, what does knowing its name matter? Your understanding of it will not have improved—you will merely know the name for something you know nothing about. If that is your goal, then you can name it whatever you wish because a name without understanding is meaningless.”
Cheeky little cosmic cloud. He sighed, unsure of what to do.
“Are you able to help me in any way?” He asked the cloud, unsure if it would even be willing.
“It depends on what your definition of ‘help’ is.”
That sounded suspicious to him, but he didn’t have a whole lot of options right now.
“Well I can’t remember much right now; can you read my mind or anything?”
“I already have. It didn’t take long.”
“You arrogant dust ball...” He muttered under his breath.
“Well what was in there? What did you see?”
“If you don’t remember much, how will telling you any of it help since it will all be unfamiliar to you anyway? In that case, I could make up anything I wanted and—“
“All right, I got it!” This wasn’t working. “Well how about—can you, help me remember any of it on my own somehow?”
The cloud stayed silent for a moment before answering. “I have something I could try...”
“Oh good! Well anything is worth trying at this point.” He didn’t think it could hurt at least.
“Please don’t move.” The cloud said, fully aware he was completely suspended in a tunnel made of light, flying through space somewhere between one and infinity miles per hour. He couldn’t tell if that was its way of making a joke.
For a minute, nothing was happening. He looked at the cloud for any kind of reaction, but there was nothing. Without warning, a small lightning bolt shot out of the cloud and struck him square in the chest.
“Aghhh!” He screamed, partly out of sheer surprise, but also thinking he was being electrocuted.
“Did that work?” The cloud sounded curiously unsure of its tactic.
“Did it work?! You just struck me with lightning! That was your plan?!”
“Perhaps it would be better if I struck your head—hold on.”
“No, no! Cloud—I swear, if you strike me again...” He hadn’t thought further about what kind of threat would be viable against a cosmic cloud, but he did recall something in that moment. He remembered her.
It wasn’t much, but it was there. Tears began forming at the corners of his eyes. Oddly enough, he then started to laugh. This seemed to completely unnerve the cloud as it moved away again.
“It looks like your lightning bolt worked...I remember what I was doing.”
“Truly? I mean, of course it worked. What did you remember?”
He took a deep breath and wiped his eyes. “I’m in love. Do you know what that means?”
“I have seen it before, but have never felt it myself.”
“Ah, well then I’m afraid the finer points would be lost on you my little cotton ball, but it’s something truly wondrous. It’s what brought me here actually.”
“How does love bring you here?” The cloud sounded small; almost ashamed that it didn’t have the knowledge that he did.
“I remember, the one I loved—she...she went away from me, back there.” He nodded his head in the direction behind him. “But I found out where she went, and then I found a way to go to her.”
“Found a way? I don’t understand.”
He grimaced and bit his lip. “Well it took an enormous amount of energy, and I only had one chance to get it right, but it looks like it worked. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I completely destroyed the world I came from.”
“And you’re okay with that!?” The cloud flew up close to him, shocked and impressed by his conviction to destroy an entire world to achieve his goal.
“Let me tell you something my cosmic fluffy friend.” He motioned for the cloud to come even closer. The cloud made small jerky movements, nervous about his intentions, but still inched forward.
“When you find the one you’re meant to love, your existence moves beyond logic and reason; the passion, beauty, and light of it hits every part of your body, mind, and soul, and there is no defending against it. You could never hope to experience something so wonderful if you had all the time in the universe to imagine everything that could ever happen that was filled with happiness. It is just something you have to feel to understand.”
He thought he heard the cloud make a frustrated sound; evidently it was bothered by not understanding what he described.
“Was there no one to object to you destroying the world you came from?” The cloud asked, but sounded genuinely indifferent about the whole thing.
“I don’t think that makes any difference.”
“Why is that?”
The soft light at the end of the tunnel was growing brighter; he was getting closer. He looked at the cloud with a smirk on his face, “Because a world without her simply doesn’t matter to me.”