[Takes place after a dream in which Alex is told by a Man (same one from the beach accident) that he will find the gate out to sea, he should just go and look for it “today”. “Go out to just beyond the last buoy, and you’ll see it.” Alex and Moses have left the shore at midnight in a small tin row dingy, and have seen a storm approach very quickly from over the mountains, and haven’t had time to get away.]
The boat rocked, spun and flew around, over and into the waves. One second they towered above and the next opened chasms beneath. Alex kept his feet hard against one side and his back tight against the other, underneath the seat that streched across the boat at the height of the bow. He tightened his belly all the while incase it might fly out his mouth. With his arms he held Moses, even though he had tied his leash shortly to the seat.
So much for finding the gate, he thought. I doubt I’ll ever even find the shore. Who knows where we’ll end up!
An hour passed and the storm dind’t seem to let up. It wasn’t until Alex became thoroughly exhaused and could no longer summon the strength to hold Moses and wedge himself in the boat’s barrel that finally, the waves began to subside gradually. He was almost asleep, with Moses curled by his side, when the waves but gently rocked him like a mother rocks a cradle. Opening his eyes just enough, Alex saw that light was coming from the horizon. He closed his eyes and dozed a little. A strange buzzing sound drew his attention though, and he woke up and looked around. Nothing but open ocean and – the most magnificent red-golden sunset ever seen!
Rays of crimson and gold intermingled, growing stronger so that they seemed to envelope the whole sky without fading. Yet they weren’t so bright, only very strong, and soothing. Moses slept, but Alex watched and stared into this spectacle until it took over the whole ocean and boat as well, and he could almost reach out and touch the rays as they shone around him. Soon it was as if he were right there on the horizon, passing through.
“My, the sunrise is strange on the open sea, Moses!” he remarked, half to the sleeping dog and half to himself.
Even as he spoke he realised that he couldn’t even see the ocean around him any more, only the soothing vermillion and gold, washing over him. The gentle rocking of the boat continued, and Alex had a feeling like all the blood in his body had turned to honey, which though strange, was very welcome. They floated on.
Soon the light subsided. Alex couldn’t work out if he was dissapointed or relieved, but he didn’t have much time to work it out because soon he noticed that the sky was not only above him but also below him. He was still in the boat, with Moses…
“Who…?” Alex asked the handsome young man next to him in amazement.
The man laughed boyishly. “I’m Moses! Well, that’s not really my name but I’m considering it for the future, anyway.”
Alex was confused, but had to admit he recognised the man somehow, something about him, his look, his way, did in fact remind him of his dog. But yet this man was taller than he was, and older by at least five years!
“Take a look!” said Moses.
Alex again looked out into the vast blue around them, and saw around them in the distance gigantic objects hanging in the air.
“The Floating City” said Moses, admiringly “Welcome, friend, to the Land of Light Without Shadow!”
“You know this place?” Alex asked, incredulously, as if it were no surprised to find his friend and pet was now a person, but it was a great surprise to discover this.
“Sure!” said Moses, “I’ve spent many many years here.”
“Why do they call it that?” Alex asked.
“You haven’t noticed?” replied Moses, “take a look under your foot.”
Alex lifted his foot off the boat floor, took a look, and shook his head. “I don’t see anything,” he said.
Moses lifted an eyebrow and a corner of his mouth, and said, “take a closer look, friend.”
With his head between his knees, Alex lifted his foot to varying heights off the floor, the most with his foot almost behind his head. Finally he put his foot an inch off the floor and craned his back, neck and shoulders as far as they could go – which seemed to be further than ever.
“Ah!” he said
“You could have just used your hand,” laughed Moses.
“I see it!” said Alex. “I have no shadow!” Under his foot, where there should have been a dark patch, the floor seemed to be glowing ever so faintly as to cast no shadow.
“And what else do you notice?” asked Moses.
“Take a look around,” said Moses.
Alex looked more closely at one of the gigantic islands they neared. “I don’t see any city? It mostly looks like jungle to me.”
“Yes,” said Moses, “the city was built before the forest came, but they are almost one now, and have been growing into each other for thousands of years. The people here live in structures made by trees just as much as stone.”
“Fantastic!” said Alex. “But why are they floating?”
“Well, firstly, the laws of the Land of Light Without Shadow are different to those that governing the Land of shadow and Light. Something can be in the air without something underneath it, for example. This city, in very, very old times, was… hang on! That wasn’t what I was talking about! First things first. Is there anything else strange about their being no shadows around here?”
Alex thought. Hmm… no shadows. That’s strange enough. What could be more unusual? Then it hit him. No sun! He looked up, he looked down over the side of the boat, but there was sun in either direction.
“Got it,” said Moses. “Things in this world light the themselves. Even the air has light, pleasant and blue, in this place, anyway.”
“Amazaing,” sighed Alex. “It’s all so beautiful.” He stretched back in the boat as it floated, through the perfect, untainted and uniform blue, towards to the first of the islands. He was curious about many other things. He wanted to ask Moses more about the place. What he was talking about just before was sounding quite interesting. But at that moment, the blue seemed to calm him to the core, and he couldn’t have been bothered to speak.
“This city wasn’t always here,” Moses said.
“Did you read my mind?” said Alex, with a happy grin and not much other movement.
“Most people here can feel what you are thinking, more or less,” said Moses.
“God,” said Alex, “I’d better be careful then.”
“I don’t think you need to worry,” said Moses. “You’re here, and you wouldn’t have got to the gate of this world if you weren’t up to scratch.”
Alex felt a little relieved. “Go on,” he said, “about the city. Where was it?”
“Yes. This city used to be a part of Earth, actually, or world just like it. Probably a bit smaller, actually. It was a difficult time. The people started arguing more than usual, many sufferred the pain lives of hunger, and war. Worse than Earth. The people were really horrible – except for some. A great man came to this city, while it was surrounded by these troubles. People listened well to whatever he said, because it was like honey to their ears. I mean, it wasn’t the kind of talk that foretells pleasures and fortunes, but the kind of lovely talk that makes one feel happy and hopeful for everyone.
“So the leaders of the world outside this city knew that this Man had brought with him a lot of knowledge and strength, things like science. The people in the city never contact the outside world, they did everything themselves, they didn’t need anyone except each other, who they trusted. So the warlords weren’t really afraid, but they wanted what the people from the city had. The common folk didn’t know what to think, but the warlords made sure they were afraid of the people too. They said things like “they are preparing an invasion!” and “they want you as slaves!” and worst of all, “we must strike first!”
“In the end all the armies of the world stood outside the city. But the good leader had no intention to fight. And those of his people who were good at heart believed he was right. He knew that some of his people were warlike at heart though, so he allowed one cunning warlord from within the city to form an army. Those who listened to their good leader’s teachings stayed behind, with their familes, awaiting their fate. Those who valued the rocks and earth though went out of the city and made war.
“When the last of them had left the city, the world seemed to split in half. Not only that, a great shadow fell over all the lands, and fire rose from cracks in the ground taking everything with it. The whole world seemed to burn itself from the inside. It fell into the…” Moses whispered… “the Land of Shadow”.
“Oh!” whispered Alex. “But what about the good king and his people?”
Well, as the lands outside fell, so did the city rise, and it vanished from the Land of Shadow and Light, what your world is called, in fact, and appeared here, in the Land of Light Without Shadow. The people who live on these islands, and there aren’t many left now, are the descendents of the good people and their king. Actually, the King’s succesor is who we’re going to see.”
“But how long has the city been here?” Alex asked.
“All that happened a few thousand years ago,” said Moses.
Alex looked dumbfounded.
“People live quite long here, perhaps eight hundred or a thousand years even. And the king, he wasn’t from this world, but another…..
- Alex “wakes” on a calm sea with Moses meside him. Soon he sees a magnificent sunrise, and instinctively heads toward it, like in a trance. In a second he is right there on the horizon, heading into a brilliant red tinger sunrise. He has entered the gate! Soon he is in the boat going through a pure azure sky, except the sky is both above him and below him! Around him here and there float magificent islands covered in jungle and ruins. This is the Realm of Floating Ruins. In the boat beside him is the angel he met on the beech. He tells Alex who he is, and where he is, and that they are old friends. Together they land on the biggest of the floating islands, a tall ziggurat. They go through it from bottom to top, taking short cuts here and there, briefly meeting a few of the inhabitants. Moses explains the history. The floating ruins are all that is left of a world that once stood here in space. However the world became corrupt, and as people mind’s became shadowy, so the whold land one day dissolved into the land of shadow, an awful palce of fear and way. However the inhabitants of this city followed a great Man who kept their minds bright and peaceful, so the city was seperated from the rest, and even the land of light and shadow, and became a part of the ladn of light without shadow. The residents are the descendants of those people, now there are just a few, they live in the trees amongst the ruins and their needs are few. At the top of the ziggurat they meey meets a mysterious man, thin, robed in white, with a long beard and a friendly nature. He is the disciple of that great Man in history. People live a long time here, six or seven hundred years but this man has lived even longer, one and a half thousand years. But he still look OK. Says that Alex used to live there when the Great man was still there, and that they were more or less brothers. “How is this possible?” thinks Alex. The man entrusts Alex to a task. Moses is not allowed to go back to the Land of Shadow and Light. Not sure what the task is! But before he returns to the shadowy land, he is made to drink a forgetful potion. That is in accordance with the Universal Law.
- When Alex has returned to the world is in the hospital bed, and has a lingering feeling that he knows exactly what he must do with his life and how to do it, but the feeling slips away and he can’t remember what that is, just a few IMAGES. Perhaps a face… a house…. Some very few poignant and particular things.