Something passes overhead, underneath, a shadow jumping from the darkness to take shape before my eyes. Once I was like you, I saw as others saw, but that was before the unknown event, before the thing that happened that so changed my thinking that I can no longer say what it was. I went in one end of the carnival tunnel called time at 1:00 am and came out the other at 1:15 am, three days later, unsure of what had happened.
Oh indeed my mind made many suggestions about how the sky changed color and the clouds gathered in a swirling mass over my head before the lights overtook me. Someone, some thing ran around the perimeter of the field, something small and quick, always just concealed from my direct sight, making the tall wild grasses ripple. I felt an even measure of awe and fear. The realization that nothing like that should be here is what made it terrible. Perhaps if I had forgotten the other world entirely, the world where you are walking down the side walk with a scarf wound tight around your throat clutching a steaming paper cup in your hand, if I had lost all memory of that world that we have shared, then perhaps I would not have thought,
“These things should not be here.”
And if I had not thought that, then I might not have been frightened. But reality, you must understand, was being torn slowly, painfully torn up like a dirty worn carpet. Is there anything worse than seeing your living room floor without the familiar carpet? Seeing the concrete or wood that lies underneath, hard and cold and comfortless? So imagine this terrible thing happening to the fabric of reality, the world where you are hurrying away from an argument with me, waiting for the traffic on the corner and frowning without noticing that you are frowning, the fabric of that existence being jerked out from under me, the me that I was at 12:59.
Realize that by 1:00am I was already becoming a new person. I was frightened, but curious. I needed to see that those shadows were nothing, or that they were something, so I ran after them, hearing the grasses whip around ahead of me, following that sound until we came to the bridge that crosses the river, to the place where the trees rise up and crowd around, tall and skinny and white.
I stood on the bridge and the wind whirled around me, making my clothing flap like flags around my skin. They were among the trees now, and I shivered with the impression that they were like something I had glimpsed before. What had I heard about such things as these? Terrible frightening things.
But then I thought, wait, I have yet to see them directly. I should not confuse these things with old stories. I wanted to run away, now more than ever, but I felt the importance of remaining calm. I was already being transformed by this occurrence, I knew already that the me of 12:59 was gone forever, and I understood that what I did now would define the me that was in the making.
What does steel do when it is being forged into a blade? It holds still, in fire, under the hammer, and in water, it holds still and lets the smith shape it.
I stood on the bridge and the light from overhead grew brighter and brighter and I thought,
“This is the fire! Be still or you will melt into nothingness!”
At least this is what I now tell myself that I told myself as the brightness engulfed me and held me for an agonizing second.
Then I was standing on the bridge alone. The sky was dark and the air was still. Shadows were behaving once again as shadows should in this world that I have shared with you. I looked at my watch and it said 1:15am. I felt as if I had been dreaming and couldn’t remember precisely what had happened. My mind had been altered, stretched during the course of the unknown event, and now that it had shrunk back to scale the unknown event could not be recalled as it had happened. I arranged this story when I returned to our little apartment and you screamed ,
“Where have you been? God damn you! Where have you been for the last three days?”
I told us both something we could understand, even if only vaguely, even if you called it an alien abduction. I cannot call it that.
Once I was like you, I saw as others saw, but that was before the event, before the thing that happened that so changed my thinking that I can no longer say unwaveringly what it was. I went in one end of the carnival tunnel called time at 1:00 am and came out the other at 1:15 am, three days later, and I could not say what had happened in the tunnel, only that something had transpired there, something that is only known to the me that I was between 1:00am and 1:15am for those three days that I was gone. To this other me, the one that now talks to you, that something is and will remain unknown.