I have led a caged life in many ways. I was born to hypochondriac parents whose inclinations were further hardened with my early diagnosis. I was born with a rare form of epilepsy, both more frequent and more easily triggered than the standard fare. Being that over-stimulation is a primary trigger, my childhood was rather dull. It was engineered to be so, despite my parents best attempts to keep me engaged and excited.
At seventeen years old I escaped the cage, but not by typical means. I did not run away or go skydiving to spite the tight controls placed on my existence. I surpassed constraints that are foundational to the human experience. The chains I broke that summer night are impervious binds to most. That night, in bed with my newly found manhood still in my hand, I had a seizure unlike the hundreds I had experienced before.
I regained consciousness as someone else. Since then, I have always associated the term “fleeting moment” with this particular experience. I sat up in a bed that was not my own. I scanned a bedroom utterly foreign to me, the noise of traffic floating up through the windows, and smelled lavender meandering through my senses. Shock overtook me as I saw the woman lying beside me, the duvet only covering half of her ample frame.
And it was over.
It could not have been more than fifteen seconds, but it changed my life forever. After a thorough questioning of my experience, I took to exploring this experience with a ferocity previously unknown to me. The knowledge gained in my youth spent poring through books of every subject and picking up two extra languages over long lonely weekends benefited me greatly in this exploration. My studies turned to a mixture of psychology, philosophy and more practical esoteric topics building upon the foundation of my prior academic pursuits. Carl Jung, Timothy Leary and Aleister Crowley became my primary tutors and I worked to combine their teachings into the radical theories necessary to explain what I had experienced.
Four years passed. They brought with them the attainment of degrees in three primary subjects and enough grant money to support a modest but pristine single bedroom condo. My parents drove me to my new residence that June, boxes upon boxes of books stacked in the van. I smiled as my parents became terrified at the small size of the tunnel right outside of town. My father insisted that the township should widen it and that it was definitely too small for a truck any larger than our van. They always seemed to need something to be concerned about, especially now that I was moving out.
My studies and newfound solitude lead me to practice an exacting diet, sleep cycle and metered meditation sessions. This tight schedule and strict limitation was only a slight increase from the restriction I experienced my whole life. I was made for this and excelled very quickly once I found the proper rhythm.
After one week on the raw diet, during my nighttime meditation, I traveled again. As before I awoke in a stranger’s bedroom. This time I was more prepared, having built a list of the most important actions to take had I been lucky enough to travel again. I tore the silky sheets aside and hopped up, peering into the mirror on the vanity. My preparations were no comfort for the shock of suddenly being an Asian woman in her thirties. I felt my face, then my neck, running my hands softly across my silky skin. I then scolded myself for becoming distracted by my newfound womanhood and ran out of the room.
I tore down the empty hall, noting the lack of photographs but finding what I was searching for. The room’s table seemed to barely support the weight of the printer and the stacks of papers surrounding it. I started rifling through the piles anxiously, paper after paper, with a laser focus on locating a bill or contract.
And I was back in my condo. I must have appeared rather ridiculous in that moment. Naked. Perched upon a meditation pillow, illuminated by a single candle, smelling of lavender and cursing like an animal. My planned and primary goal for the trip was to locate some way to contact the person who I temporarily overtook. Not only could this provide confirmation of my experience, but it would give me a method to understand the experience of the other person. It was a complete mystery to me if the other party simply continued sleeping happily, or perhaps awakened and had control over my person. Thus far I had no indication of the last case. Both times I had traveled I returned in place, as I had been, and unmolested.
I took extremely detailed notes immediately and well into the next morning. After my regimented four hours of sleep I took to analysis of the data I had collected. I won’t bore you with the details, but I was recompensed ten times over for my diligence.
Days later, my father agreed to drive me to gather some necessary supplies. A few herbal supplements and resins for fumigation. He was startled to find the cadre of construction vehicles lined up around the corners of the tunnel. It was clearly being widened to two lanes. His smiling lips slowly returned to their more frequent concerned frown, and he looked at me strangely.
“They best make sure they don’t make it too wide.”
The comment stood out to me. Concerned about his mental health, I tried to observe him closely through our shopping trip, but did not notice anything out of the norm. I finally decided that it was just the typical mental pattern for him, to worry. Too narrow, too wide. The subject was insignificant, and his concern was primary. He did become rather cheerful again for a time when a retailer found him a lavender tea blend that would help with his insomnia. It was good to see him smile more than once that day.
A week passed before my efforts came to fruition once more, with excellent results. Not only did I meet my primary goal, but I also managed to extend my longevity for over thirty minutes and receive an answer to another of my important questions. As most answered questions do, they spawned a litany of fresh mysteries.
I spent thirty minutes in the body of an artist named Roland Santos. Once I had his name, and had stepped outside of his home for a moment, I spent much of my time exploring the man’s artwork. It was a rare moment in my life when I chose to follow a feeling, a vague sense of importance, over a strict and metered gathering of data as I had originally intended.
His sketches called to me. The subjects on the wall were varied. Architectural pencil sketches, sweeping rivers of human form in charcoal, sparse Japanese style inks and landscapes. However, the subject across the works scattered across the desk were identical.
Each one featured the tunnel outside of town. Some original, some containing construction machinery. It was a series through the stages of widening. The images near the top, more recent than the construction sketches, showed the tunnel starting to consume the landscape and trees surrounding it. Swallowing up the road and twisting the asphalt like a dangling limb. Pulling the trees into its gravity and setting them at incongruent angles. The topmost image showed an all encompassing hole, it’s pitch charcoal dense and gravitational.
It was my critical mistake. I know that now. To return to the world of logic and analysis, retreating from the brief flash of intuition that I had experienced. The one that might have lead me to salvation, or at least kept the abyss at a distance.
It was only two days before I traveled next. I was clearly beginning to master the process. I awoke in a trailer home confounded by neglect. From the ciggarette-butt pile stretching three inches from the nearest ashtray, to the mound of medication bottles in the corner. With me under the loathsome sheet was a woman, her body spasming slightly against mine.
“Tewah”… she twitched again in her sleep. The sound shook me. To hear it from another man’s ear was further unsettling.
“Tewah.. Tooweh…” Her pitch rising at each shudder. “Too Wide! Too Wide!”
I clutched my chest in shocked desperation and was suddenly wrenched away, finding myself gasping and rolling on the floor of my condo once more. I felt as though my whole body had been torn out of shape and constricted. It took some time to recover from the experience both physically and emotionally. I had been strongly reminded about how much I do not understand about this process, and how potentially dangerous what I was doing could be. Before proceeding to bed that evening, I mapped out a plan to visit several specialists, and spend the next sixty days re-examining all of the data I had collected before proceeding further with direct experimentation..
Attempting to exercise caution at this point, was like trying to inflate a life raft underwater.
I awoke from my carefully regimented sleep this morning covered in blood. It was In my hair, soaking my socks. Spanning my painted fingertips to high up my forearms. There is a knife in my hand. My own kitchen knife. My mind reeled back, not in horror but in clinical analysis. I completed my notes, showered, meditated for 30 minutes, went to bed. That was it. I fell asleep instantly and deeply, though I could recall no dreams.
The truth struck me. He took me! My mind screamed with the now obvious fact. He.took me.
There are bloody drag marks leading to my front door. There are scratch marks on my face, and other indeterminable tears and bruising spread across my body. There’s blood in my mouth. I can taste it. There is a body somewhere close. That is clear. There is a body, and a knife in my hand, and blood. Blood everywhere. And a dark sinking feeling in my chest.
A dark and and undeniable hole, pulling deeper and deeper. Like a tunnel. Like a tunnel that has grown too wide, and threatens to consume everything. Like a blackness so deep and wide that it would allow berth for the movement of innumerable horrors, wandering it’s cyclopian depths. Like a tunnel that lead squarely and directly to me.
It was my fault. I did not see the signs. Each time I traveled I was boring the tunnel wider and wider. Chiseling away at the boundaries that protect and separate me, entranced by the freedom and unknowing of the consequences. It is simply too wide now. I understand that. The tunnel is wide open. I’m open. And I am completely at a loss for what to do.