CROSSING

by ILGIN YILDIZ & KEREM SAVAS

 

It is dark, light, and dark again.

The darkness is the beginning and the end. The sudden flash of light in between, hosts action. It illuminates the bodies. As if built from fragments of dust, they scatter after a brief “beep” sound. They fly up in the air, splitting into their elementary particles.

They aren’t alive, anyway, I think to myself. They are empty of life. Their souls, if they exist at all, occupy another existence now. The bodies are just empty cocoons, all used-up, worn-out.

But still. Dead bodies of Terran refugees terrify me. Those fragile, lonely, desolate shells. They have intended to do good once. They have really tried. And now, they are smaller than dust, insignificant as dirt.

Their homeland, New Terra, was supposed to be everything Terra was not: The embodiment of human wisdom. It turned out, human wisdom was an oxymoron, a silly joke.

“The third group is finished,” Paq says. “You can go ahead and prepare the statement report.”

I divert my gaze away from the mist of exploded bodies and respond with a nod.

When I return to the Monitoring Department, I sit in my cubicle and glance at the monitor which recounts the names of the last group of refugees. Their consciousness has been uploaded to Mer where they will live happy lives as free people. The ceaseless white flow of letters on my monitor have become happy citizens of Mer.

This is our accomplishment as Abylans. We have managed to transform miserable Earthlings into happy beings.

*

The hate leaves me questioning. It is so powerful, yet so subtly embedded in the intricate web of our everyday life, it is hard singling it out, highlighting it. The hatred towards Terrans establishes the foundation of Abyla, it is its raison d’être, yet it is utterly out of focus, cheats the eye, forever hidden. Or perhaps, it isn’t really hidden but has been reinvented to acquire a positive meaning. It isn’t hate—it is a symbol of change, it is transformation.

Abyla, which is situated 200 million kilometres from Terra, had been founded and settled by Terrans while their planet had almost collapsed, exhausted by wars and climate crises. On its very soil, New Terra was founded. Under centralised governance, ideals of equality, harmony, and sustainability were cherished, and Terra was once again habitable, albeit barely. In time, social injustice became rampant and religious dogmas widespread, both among citizens and in politics. New Terra had fallen even more quickly than Terra. In the meantime, Abyla, flourishing rapidly, had become a powerful civilisation with Terran settlers.

The hatred leaves me questioning but it is rather hard not to see the underlying reason. Terrans are bad news. They have failed over and over. They have proven that they aren’t fit to live in harmony with the cosmos. Their ethos follows the idea of viral propagation. Their praxis never changes. And now, neither them nor their ways are welcomed in Abyla. The distance between Terrans and Abylans is so great that Abylans don’t see themselves as ‘human’ any more. We are Abylans and that’s it.

After the Fifth Terran War erupted, the refugee crisis was long-expected and Abyla was ready. The system was fairly simple. The refugees were given two choices: They would either agree to go to Mer after they arrive to Abyla or stay in New Terra. They would almost all agree to be uploaded to Mer. It symbolised a new life. Surprisingly, abandoning their bodies wasn’t that of an issue for them. It was as if they were fed up with carrying their bodies to wherever they went, and now, they were okay with getting rid of them once and for all.

Instead of uploading it to the system, I choose to visit the central barracks in person to deliver the statement.

I see them. Sick and helpless. Waiting to start over, be saved, and live. Terrans of all ages, all ready to be stripped off of their bodies. Their questions are ceaseless. Why should their bodies die in order for them to be transferred to Mer? What will happen at the Hives? In Mer, will their children be children forever? I watch the officials patiently and respectfully explain them the basics. The crossing will be smooth. They don’t need their bodies anymore. The Hives are little cubicles where their consciousness is transferred to Mer. Once they do the crossing, they will live a normal life—a life that resembles the one on Terra before the wars, famine, and sickness. They won’t have any memories of war. Their minds will be fresh, unburdened by those dark memories. Their new life will be free of all the problems they have faced on New Terra. They will have water, food, social services, and schools. They will govern themselves, live and work as respectable members of their community.

The offer is undoubtedly enticing and yet, sometimes some refugees change their minds at the last minute. They just can’t wrap their minds around the idea of living without a body. Hives are suspicious graves rather than conduits of a new life. This new life the officials are talking about, sounds like an impossible, unnatural way to exist. These refugees reject the offer and choose to return to the fire and brimstone of New Terra. Just like the father and son before me.

As I watch them, the father hugs his son and patiently tries to convince him that nothing good will come out of this Abylan scheme. The boy doesn’t understand why they are rejecting such a beautiful promise. Choosing pain over happiness is something he can’t come to terms with. He runs away from his father with tears in his eyes. His father goes after him and takes him in his arms once again, telling him that his decision is final, and he’d better obey. The boy eventually stops crying. He freezes with moist trails on his cheeks. He isn’t convinced. Still, he has no choice but to follow his father to the deportation ship.

*

The next morning, weather is humid. Before long, yellow sandstorms break out. Abylans take shelter inside shops and buildings. They sip their coffees and teas in cafés, waiting for the weather event to pass. Sandstorms are part of everyday life, and a weather event of this magnitude is so common that it has lost its meaning long time ago.

When I reach work after one hour, everyone is chatting and laughing.

“Good morning, Finn,” says Paq. “Nice of you to join us this morning.”

“The storm,” I say.

“The weather tracker,” he says.

I shrug off the sarcasm and sit on my desk. I turn on my monitor to check the daily data from Mer.

“We better go, the new group has arrived an hour ago,” says Paq.

Great. A spaceship full of refugees, first thing in the morning. Even though I’ve been working at the Monitoring Department for sixteen years, starting my day with tears and pain is something I’ve never been able to get used to. I still can’t forget the image of that refugee boy with tears in his eyes.

“Hey, Paq?” I say. “Did yesterday’s deportation ship return to New Terra?”

Paq turns his head to meet my eyes. “I’m not sure. Why are you asking?”

“No reason. I was just wondering.”

*

Mer is peaceful, quiet, and synthetic. I find its serenity to be eerie and unpleasant.

The very fact that it was produced to accommodate Terran refugees is hard to process. They will live there and die there, forever separated from our reality. Eternally locked in their oblivion. The idea of forever in the context of Mer is something that is grasped easily. It doesn’t denote a perpetual continuity, an impossibility, but rather, it is limited by and depended upon the workings and politics of its inventor, Abyla. If the future governments decide to put an end to Mer, erase the whole thing, they will do it. There is no safety net. No dissent voices. There will be nobody to stop them because there is nothing to be opposed to. Nobody believes that Mer is eerie and unpleasant. They rather perceive it as a safe haven for destitute immigrants. They believe that it is the ultimate compassionate resolution of the refugee problem at hand. And it is. That is, if the refugees are willing to give up two of the most fundamental parts of their existence: Their bodies and reality.

People say that reality is something we construct, that it is what we believe it to be. And that there’s no other reality besides this one, the one we have created. Reality is our stamp, our trace, our word. It depends wholly to language and its limitations. It relies on our minds, which do a quick work of compartmentalising the ‘real’ and the ‘unreal.’ And because reality is constructed and Mer is just as real as Abyla, refugees are fine there.

Abyla gives the refugees two choices: A death or a dream. If they choose to return to New Terra, they die either on their way or upon arriving their homeland. The dream, on the other hand, is a pleasant dream, but nonetheless, a dream. Even if for Abylans, it is a constructed reality, a truthful projection of our cherished ideals and morality. Even if it is the embodiment of our ethics and respect towards the refugees.

I look at my monitor. Mer is as beautiful as Abyla. It is its child, the fruit of its compassion. It lays before me, innocent and serene. Its skies are clear blue, occasional, tiny clouds are rushing this or that way. Birds are traversing this blue plane which is ever so beautiful. People are in their houses having breakfast, going to work, leaving their children to school, reading, and running at parks. They are waiting for their buses at bus stops, heading for the tram or metro station, getting their newspapers on their way. They are content and oblivious. A mild yellow light is falling on top of everything. Houses, cars, people, trees. It is so encompassing and calming that Mer resembles a place of childhood, full of contentment and happiness.

It is the little things that give Mer the illusion of real. Bird feathers and pollen flying around, traces on the barks of tall trees that sway in the wind, tiny fractures in the cobblestone pavements.

It is as if Mer has always existed, it is all that ever was and all that ever will be. It is here, and it won’t go anywhere. It is dependable. It will forever be faithful to our perception and memory.

*

I wake up to yet another sandstorm. When I check the weather program, I see that the storm will continue for an hour. It would be best to wait it out but I don’t want to be late for work.

After forty-five minutes, I get off my vehicle and make my way to the Monitoring Department. Once inside, I see that everyone is locked into their monitors and Paq is on the phone with the Director.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

Paq looks at me with serious eyes and returns to his screen. “Everything seems to be in order. I can’t imagine what went wrong,” he says to the Director. “We’ll send someone right away.”

I turn on and glance at my monitor. Mer is nowhere to be seen. All I see is a strange emptiness. A black void. My heart starts beating rapidly and I sit on my chair. I take a deep breath and reboot my monitor, as if the source of the problem is this small, grey screen. After a few seconds, the same black void greets my blank stare. My mind is filled with ceaseless questions and I’m scared. I feel like I’m losing the one thing I feel connected to.

Paq finishes his talk and sinks back in his chair. There is a thick silence in the room and everyone looks at their monitors with the same empty stares.

But after twenty seconds, suddenly our screens brighten, the display comes back abruptly, and locked into the images, we hold our breath. In Mer, the familiar life continues and everything looks in order. Nothing has changed.

Paq reboots his monitor. “Must be just a temporary cut.”

“This has never happened before,” I say. “You should still send someone. I can do the crossing.”

Paq watches Mer on his monitor. “There is no need,” he says. “Just a small glitch. It only lasted for four minutes.”

“Still, not that short,” I say. “I think it’s best to be sure. I’ll do the crossing and check everything in the Operation Room. Guarantee everything is in order over there.”

Paq looks at me and sighs. “I’ll tell you what. Just do the damn crossing. Guarantee it, whatever.”

At the Hives, I lay on the armchair with the receiver on my right temple. I think about how privileged we are to be able to do this—cross over to Mer without losing our bodies. Lucky.

I had been wanting to visit Mer forever. I’ve only crossed once, with the foundation team that set up the system. I’ve never been able to erase the feeling I had upon that visit. I had felt like my whole being was a part of something so inherently vital and whole.

I check the time and switch on the transfer device. “See you soon,” I whisper to myself. I push the green button and start counting backwards.

“Ten… nine… eight… seven…”

*

I find myself in Mer and that familiar wholeness returns at once, encompassing my whole being. It is soft and light, yet strong and purposeful. I gather my surroundings and immediately remember the Hives. In Mer, the Hives is just a small room with six armchairs.

I look at my hands, my legs, and body. I breath in and out but can’t really feel my breath. I rise from the chair, leave the Hives, and enter the Passage. I remember how it looks—it’s soft, grey walls, grey ground. I take one step but can’t feel the impact of my foot. The connection between my foot and the ground is very light, barely there. I start walking.

My surroundings, the tall, grey walls, convey a sense of safety and warmth. I know that the Passage is quite long. That it opens to a small terrace overlooking the city, and then a long trail which goes all the way down to a locked door. I will unlock it with my finger print and enter the city.

My face is getting number. My fingertips are getting warmer and tingling. It’s a good feeling—like I’m losing myself entirely to the ultimate wholeness which will caress me forever. Time is no object. Time doesn’t make sense. I check my watch and can’t believe that I’ve been here for only one minute, in Abylan time. Here, time is cheating and impossible to grasp.

I’m really in Mer, I think to myself. This is amazing.

As my soft steps carry me through the Passage and towards Mer, I gradually get more and more excited, impatient to feel the embrace of that strange universe. It is summoning me.

A few meters ahead, suddenly, I see a brightness emanating from something. I walk towards it and as I approach, the brightness intensifies. This object looks like a precious stone of myriad hues and tones of white. A magnet, pulling my futility towards itself to assimilate it within an inert wisdom. I’m drawn to it, helpless. Just a few steps left.

Then suddenly, I feel someone grabbing my arm. They punch my neck and I fall. My eyes are still locked into the precious stone. I’m sure that it is the heart of Mer. I want to see it clearly but my eyelids grow heavy. I fight the heaviness to no avail. I’m lost in darkness.

*

I hear whispers in a loaded silence. I’m tied to a chair. I can feel that I’m able to open my eyes but I stay still and listen.

“Maybe we should splash cold water to her face,” says a woman.

“No need,” says a man.

“Let’s just wait,” says another.

Then they are silent for a few minutes. I slowly open my eyes.

When they see that I’m awake, the four people around me, two men, a woman, and a little girl, look nervous. I watch them for a while. Silently, they return my looks.

“Are you okay?” asks the woman. She has raven black hair and large brown eyes. She is genuinely concerned.

“Yes,” I say. “Why…”

“I’m sorry that I had to punch you,” says one of the men. He gets up from the chair and starts pacing the room. He has wilful eyes and a red scarf around his neck. The girl hands me a glass of water. The other man watches her. He is the calmest one.

“Why did you do it?” I ask.

“We know that you’re coming from Deva,” the man with the red scarf says.

“Deva?”

“We know that you’re a Devan. What else could you be doing in the Passage?”

I take a deep breath. “Look,” I say. “I’m not Devan. My name is Talia Finn. I’m a citizen of Mer. I was merely exploring the area.”

Everything is ruined. I don’t know how to get out of this situation. They all look at me as if I’m an alien. They know I don’t belong here.

“We have been waiting for Devans to visit for a long time. Don’t lie to us. We can’t trust you. That’s why I had to punch you. We had to know your aim in coming he—”

The silent man intervenes and speaks slowly, decisively. “No citizen of ours calls this place Mer. This is Samsara. Mer belongs to your language, it is your invention.” He rises from his chair and comes near me. His cold stare is distant, aloof. “Look,” he says. You have to tell the truth. We will eventually find out. We won’t let you go until you tell us.” He walks towards the door and turns the knob. “You think about this for a while. We will leave you alone.”

I fall completely silent. I can’t find the right words. I know that I’m ambushed and nothing I say can save me. Except for the truth.

*

I owe them the truth. When I’m alone, this is the only thought I’m able to form. I have no other choice but to be honest. I owe them the truth. Besides, they won’t let me go until I explain everything. But this is such fragile information, I feel inadequate to deliver it. And what will happen when I get back? Paq will probably fire me. My big mistake won’t be disclosed to anyone except for the Director, and he will probably order a Blanking Procedure where the memories of refugees will be erased to have no recollection of this event whatsoever.

The two men return to the room after half an hour. I look at the man with the red scarf. He has a long and beautiful face. He looks at me with a reassuring expression.

“Alright,” I say. I take a long breath. “I will tell you.” I gather all my strength. “I’m here for a routine control. I have to make sure that everything is running smoothly.”

I can’t believe these words have left my mouth. I close my eyes.

*

I see Mer, which is in fact Samsara, peeking behind the window, vast and beautiful with smooth hills and misty mountain tops. It speaks to me in ways I’m unable to explain. I feel its essence, its kernel.

The man with the red scarf, Lars, tells me its story.

Once, Samsara was called Mer and its citizens enjoyed a peaceful and prosperous life. They had everything. Everything we Abylans, or Devans, designed, worked flawlessly. They were happy with their lives, never questioning the reality of it. Its polished, fine-tuned ways never bothered them. These weren’t the reasons why they started questioning their lives and existence.

Everything started with a shiny object.

It was nearly impossible to reach the Passage. There was a hidden path through Mount Mons and nobody knew about it. But one day, a little boy accidentally found it. And once he got inside the Passage, he came across a shiny stone-like object. He was mesmerised by it and tried to take it with him. But whenever he tried to touch it, he failed. His finger and the object never formed a connection. When his hand came closer to it, he could feel a certain warmth, intensifying gradually, but touching it was impossible.

Some started saying that it was a gift from gods. Higher beings who had some sort of willpower and control over them. The idea of god or gods was alien to them but it flourished very quickly. The shiny object was named Tantarum and was revered by Samsarans. Once a year, they made pilgrims to the Passage, watched its light, and prayed to it.

Lars shows me the Tantarum to see if I know anything about it.

I do. It is an Abylan coin.

It probably belongs to Paq, Volsag, or another monitoring official who was part of the first foundation team that set up the Operation Room in Mer. One of them must have dropped the coin which was to be revered as a holy object.

It is surprising to me how an idea of a celestial message can be this easy to sprout. The skies of Samsara are so peaceful, so quiet, it is mind-boggling to imagine anything to come from that plane of life. It’s merely an abstract blue fabric. An illusion, like everything else in here. Like the people I’m speaking to.

The only real thing here is the coin somebody dropped accidentally.

*

I tell them about Abyla during my first night in Lars’ home. I tell them about the concept of time and how it is much slower than it is here in Samsara. “Your one week,” I say, “equals to one day in Abyla.” They are amazed. This amazement quickly turns to sadness. I tell them about the sandstorms and how they wash the entire city with their yellow, orange, red hues.

They want to know how they have ended up in Samsara. I tell them about the refugee ships, the two choices, the Hives. They sit still and listen. The silent man, Unson, watches me with determined eyes. His conviction is a black stone under clear white water.

Particularly Lars’ wife and daughter, River and Kane, are curious about Abyla. They listen to me as if Abyla were a fairy tale city, full of wonder and amazement.

I don’t know why I tell them these details. These wretched tales from another time and place, from a reality they will never be a part of. But I almost feel a responsibility to convey these strange stories. Sometimes they look at me as if I’m mad, as if everything that comes out of my mouth is made-up, a blatant lie. But mostly, they find it hard to resist the temptation to believe. Because when they believe, everything makes sense.

*

Lars takes me to the Green Mountain one day. We hike and have a picnic. He offers me colourful fruits, all sweet and fresh. The mountain, just another Abylan invention, is strong and quiet.

Lars tells me that after the Tantarum, other things happened that made them become suspicious of their reality.

“After the Tantarum incident,” he says, “something else happened. Our dead returned. Two women and a man, after dying, came back but as different people leading different lives.”

I learn that these people, after their deaths, were seen by their close family and friends, under different identities, in different settings. One of the women, who was a teacher before, was seen as a cashier at a supermarket. Her daughter was in tears when she saw her. But the woman was telling her, over and over, that her name wasn’t Ada, she wasn’t her mother, she was living in the north of Samsara with her two boys. This wasn’t true—the daughter, as well as her other relatives were sure of it. In another case, a woman, after being dead for almost two months, was spotted by her father at the library. The man was perplexed, not able to explain to her that she was his daughter, had been dead for two months, and now, here she was. A year later, a woman told Lars and his friends that she had seen and talked to her long dead husband at a bus stop. Again, the man had no idea what she was talking about—thought that she was mentally ill, and practically ran away from her, leaving her in tears.

All these cases were researched in detail by Lars and his friends, a group that conducted technological and philosophical research dedicated to strange phenomena at Samsara University.

In Samsara, strange phenomena weren’t scarce. One time, an entire village had disappeared. One morning, when two farmers from the neighbouring village came to pick up some produce, they weren’t able to see a single soul in sight. All twenty-three villagers, comprising of twelve adults and eleven children vanished into thin air. They were never found.

Strange things happened all the time, and the most recent phenomenon was the blackout, which lasted nearly thirty minutes and ultimately caused a visit from me.

I’m surprised that the system we have established and shaped has caused such problems. It is strange to know that all these staggering events are the results of the shortcomings of Abylan technology. When it was running smoothly, there wasn’t a necessity for the citizens of Mer to question anything. Glitches caused questions and eventually awakened a strong suspicion in them about the nature of their existence. With the effect of metaphysical and religious beliefs, language itself began changing, Mer became Samsara, and the plane of existence that we Abylans occupied was known as Deva, the land of gods.

*

I work at the Operation Room which is situated inside the Passage. Even though I like being in the Passage, I don’t like spending such long time on the resetting procedure. I want to complete my task as soon as possible to go back to my life in Samsara.

During one of our daily walks, I ask Lars if he is happy.

He says that he is but his expression implies that he is trying to hide something. I don’t want to be persistent but I’m curious.

“Living in this place, being limited to it, doesn’t it upset you in any way?” I ask.

He looks at me with thoughtful eyes. He waits for a couple of seconds before answering. “Well, no. Reality is what you experience,” he says. “Samsara is as real as Abyla. Even more real, for it was invented by your, Abylan intelligence. It is its product. It is your perception of us, produced for us.”

He is right. The product of a mind is indeed more real, more consequential, more telling and solid than its owner. Samsara tells more about Abylans than it does about Samsarans. It describes us perfectly.

“But there is a whole other reality out there, I say. “Aren’t you a little bit curious about it?”

“Of course I am. But it doesn’t mean I prefer it to Samsara. I just want to learn what it is, how it works, and continue living my life, which has purpose and meaning just as yours.”

“Of course,” I say. But my words are painful and empty of meaning. They are dull and simple-minded. I feel stupid.

“But you have to make some changes,” he says quietly. “You need to find a way to explain everything to our citizens. Tell them why they are here. That this was their choice. You need to fix the glitches. And we need upgrades, more universities, libraries, and sports facilities, learning centres. We are still a part of the cosmos. Even if… even if we live in a made-up reality. I know being here is our choice but it doesn’t mean Samsara should be devoid of such things.”

I picture Samsaran children studying a made-up history about how Samsara was built by their Terran fathers, after the Fifth Terran War. About how it is the only place in the entire cosmos that hosts intelligent life, and how they are all alone.

*

At night, I realise that I haven’t heard of such silence before. In Abyla, even at nights when nearly everyone is asleep, the city continues making muffled, indiscriminate noises. Existence is noisy, I’ve always believed in that. But in Samsara, at nights, after I finish working at the Operation Room and return to Lars’ house, I find myself lying on my bed with eyes open, contemplating in this peculiar, impenetrable silence.

I told them a lot. I had to. I don’t know how I will manage to explain everything to Paq and the others when I return to Abyla.

When I go to my window which overlooks an old street, I see nobody. There is only the wind, occasionally blowing to my face. In such times, I question Lars’ contentment. When I asked him if he was happy, the expression in his eyes betrayed his words. He was right in saying that his existence was as purposeful and meaningful as mine but it doesn’t change the fact that he is living in a place where even the wind doesn’t speak to you. Here, even nature, the one thing that must speak its own mind and can’t be bothered with what you desire, that obstinate and unfettered force, looks like an empty vessel of invention and numbers. It is an illusion. It is believable, yet polished and sinister.

But of course, Lars isn’t aware of this. None of the Samsarans know this. The only reality they know is this one—of course they would think this is the only way life can be.

But as I spend more time here, I start feeling that I don’t really mind Samsara’s polished and synthetic silence. It gives me a sense of solidness, reliability, dependability. One thing you don’t get in the real world is security. In Abyla, your dealings with nature is a one-sided pact. You offer it yourself but you may or may not receive a decent life in return. Here, the pact is solid and reliable. Unbeknownst to Samsarans, in all its mighty secretiveness, the ultimate power has given them a good life.

*

I finish the resetting procedure in the Operation Room and download the new fixer to the program. Everything is set and I’m hoping there won’t be any blackouts in the future.

There is one less strange phenomenon in Samsara and I’m ready to leave.

Kane is sitting on my bed. She is sad to see me go. These last weeks, she was happy to listen the stories I told about Abyla. Everything she had learnt at school was refuted when I, a complete stranger, came to their house with her strange tales.

“After you return to Deva, will you visit the great library?” she asks. She has developed a curiosity towards my practical life, how I live and asked me many questions, like what I eat, my favourite colour, and books. Of course, her curiosity is stemming more from the fact that I am, unlike her, a Devan. She wants to know how the fairy tale beings live.

“I will borrow some new books,” I say.

She drops her head. “If… you feel bored, you can always come back.”

I smile. “Thank you, Kane. I like it here. I really do.”

I bid farewell to River. She quietly whispers goodbye and smiles. “Lars is waiting for you at the Passage,” she says. For her, I’m magical and awe-inspiring. She thinks that being a Devan, I’m wise, somehow. She looks at me like I’m the one invented her. Shaped her thick eyebrows, moulded her beautiful, lean body. I shake her hand.

*

When I step into the Passage, the familiar feeling settles inside me. The air becomes dense, everything is slower and heavier. As if a giant invisible being is sitting on top of everything. You have to grow accustomed to this feeling and make your way to the Hives, your walk becoming slower and heavier with each step. An invisible curtain has been pulled between this reality and outside. You are separated, wholly, from the objects you are surrounded with. Your subjectivity becomes naked and isolated, and everything is under a mild mist.

I spot Lars a couple of meters away. His back is turned to me and I can’t see his face and black eyes. His gaze is fixed on the Tantarum.

“Lars,” I say, touching his arm. When he turns to face me, I realise that this is not him but Unson. Lars must have been caught up in something. Perhaps he is at the university, busy with research.

“Hello, Finn,” says Unson. “Lars couldn’t make it. He wants you to know that he appreciates your kindness and he is happy to have met you.”

I nod. “I’m happy to have met you, as well. Don’t worry, I will speak with the officials about everything.”

“Well,” says Unson. “Lars trusts you with all his heart. He believes in you.”

I smile. My heart starts beating rapidly. Strange enough, I toy with the idea of telling him that I will have their memories erased when I do the crossing to Abyla. A part of me wants to tell him everything but instead, I take a deep breath.

Walking towards the Hives, our steps are in sync, moving slowly, determined. In a couple of seconds, I feel the familiar warmth of the small room. I open the hidden door with my fingerprint, and the heat escapes, hitting my face on its way out.

I turn to Unson and offer him my hand. “Be well, my friend,” I say.

He doesn’t shake my hand. His expression is clouded. Those eyes had scared me when I had first met him. They are always utterly full of thought. They are always elsewhere even while directed at you.

I wait for a little while and when I’m convinced that he won’t reciprocate, I lower my hand and turn my back.

Then suddenly, I feel an intense pain on my neck. Something has hit me.

Everything feels heavy. I try to hold on to a thought. I want to tell Unson that we have made a mistake. That Samsara shouldn’t exist. That it’s a symbol of our selfishness and hatred. But I can’t speak. My vision is blurry. Then the world collapses on my shoulders.

*

It is my first time at the Hives.

I couldn’t imagine that there would be a hidden room here. A place that would host my crossing to reality. To Deva, the land of gods.

I sit on an armchair and relax. I’m ready.

The Hives will be the uterus to birth me. The magic wand that will make me real. Make us real.

Our days are coming.

The first one will be me. I will adopt Finn’s physical being. Once I acquire a body, I will bring others, and it will go on, without stopping, until whole of Deva belongs to us—its real owners.

But you can’t own a land, can you? No, you can only inhabit a land, and it’s your choice how to inhabit it. And we will inhabit it as it’s meant to be, and it’s meant to be inhabited by Terrans.

Once we spread, Abylan bodies will exist no more. They will become Terran bodies and Abyla will become a dark tale. A somber story.

This is how we reclaim ourselves back. Our reality, which has been denied to us for all this time, will be ours again.

It starts with me, Unson.

 

***