March 10, 1997
A Pure White Silence.
Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as pure silence. Noise, caused by vibrations is never ending, as the minutest particles of the universe are in a constant vibrating state. What the human ear can hear and the mind interprets as sound is another matter. I’ve often pondered if a deaf person can hear themselves chew and digest their food, or their stomach growl, or if they put their palm to their ear, would they then hear the sound of their body, their heartbeat? No, I suspect not. Does their mind ‘hear’ those things where the ear cannot, because it’s that person’s brain that is causing the noise in the first place? Out of fear of being inconsiderate, I will never ask a deaf person these questions. Hell, it’s more fun to wonder about it anyway.
I myself can say that I have only experienced true silence once in my life. There was no outside traffic buzzing by, no static from some mundane appliance or machine. It happened to me after waking up from a very deadening sleep. One of those sleeps so sound that I look back even now and reminisce on those days of my past with a cautious smile. The great days when I had good sleep, but that silence, that unimaginably pure silence was unimaginable. There was something about it that sticks in my mind. Why?
When I had awoke, I tried to open my eyes but they were instinctively forced closed again as it was too bright. I couldn’t count the number of times I have gotten up in my dark room to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, only to be blinded by the bathroom light as I switched it on fumbling in desperation as you instinctively try to cover your eyes with your hands and switch the lights off again simultaneously. That same sensation occurred here, but with a much stronger intensity. But after some minutes, I picked myself up off the floor, and stood up, ready again to open my eyes, this time being more deliberate and allowing my eyes to adjust to the unnaturally bright light. I was not in my bed, a thought that came secondary to the unusually bright room I seemed to be in. My senses were immediately flooded as I looked around with a clear mind only to find an eternal clear white expanse with no evident source for this light Every direction was the same, with nothing at all. The floor was transparent and unlike glass, the transparency didn’t fade as the thickness of glass increases. No, this floor had no bottom, it simply extended down until the eye could not capture or comprehend what, if anything was underneath it. This place could only truly be described as being very similar to the deep dark voids of outer space, only eternally white instead of black and with no objects of any sort at all. Here there was nothing. Nothing at all but emptiness. No sky or earth. No sun, people, houses, or old used cafeteria forks. This place was truly a void of pure transparent white light. And here I was, standing as if inside an incredibly clear, large diamond, that was infinitely huge, the most pure of any substance I have ever seen. . The floor was the same color as the air around me, pure transparent white. There was no distinct difference between the two, only that logic told me I must be standing on something, and have the ability to walk in this frozen fluid of photonic light. It momentarily reminded me of the New Jerusalem, where the city was made of pure gold that was as transparent as glass, and there was no sun or moon for the Lord was the light. But this was no promised city in the Book of Revelation. There was no city, no mansions, no river in the middle, or twelve pearl gates. This was a vacuum, an eternal void. No ends to it all. No nothing. Forever.
Had I died?
Is this Heaven?
Maybe this was a different sort of heaven. Maybe it’s the real heaven, and the sacred texts of man had somehow got it a little wrong. But the emptiness of this place was punishingly wanting of something, anything to be there, and yet there was nothing at all as far as the eye could see. This wasn’t heaven. Nor, I suppose, it was hell. This was a place different. If I was dead, I would know it. I would remember my death. Purgatory, isn’t that the word for it? Was it a place in between?
But this was no place. A ‘place’ implies there is also a ‘some place else’ this wasn’t that. Obviously my physical being was somewhere, but everything has a landmark, a stone or tree, something to give us a sense of direction. This place had none of that. As if I was in one massive ultra-pure Swarovsky crystal ball, of which there was no foreseeable way out. My mind raced to comprehend what my eyes were seeing. I cannot say I ever felt a panic or really any emotion over this new reality I found myself in. It was more like I was frozen in place, mystified at what I saw, or rather what I did not see around me. Emptiness, nothingness. I knew it had to be ‘good’ because I felt it to be so, but within a place that has an eternal nothingness, the concept of ‘good and bad’ begins to loose its very meaning. Maybe in an eternal expanse of nothingness, good and bad also do not exist here.
Eventually I reasoned that this great void must be my afterlife. Maybe a person does not remember if they are dead or not. But I didn’t remember anything out of the ordinary last night. I simply fell asleep when I got tired enough to do so in my bed. Even so, it couldn’t possibly be a dream, as I had very clearly woken up. Besides, how is it possible to remember going to sleep the night before, if you are still sleeping? You must be awake to remember going to sleep. I am alive, I can sense things, and feel. I certainly am not floating on some cloud, harp in hand, content for eternity. I guess I am not dead.
Logic here was non-existent. When there is nothing at all, nothing, the concept of logic loses all meaning. This great expanse, this eternal void of pure light had nothing. It was all so amazing, and yet so strange. I felt like Bugs Bunny after he erased the entire scene of the cartoon he was in and simply stood on a pure blank white screen, until the hand of the cartoonist eventually comes and erases Bugs. Here, there was no artists’ hand. There was only a godless expanse of white light, frozen in its place.
I began to walk with a nervous gut feeling in my stomach and it wasn’t the nervousness you get before a school test or job interview, but rather nervousness because my mind simply could not compute what this place was. I took a few steps that startled me and stopped. My walking was unlike anything I experienced before, as there was no sound generated. Nothing. I clapped my hand and no sound was made. I lifted my right foot and stomped on the floor that I was walking in and again, nothing. Quickly, I realized I could not hear, and that frightened me. I put my hands to my ear and there was nothing. I soon realized that I could not hear my own body, or my pulse, or even the air in which I had been breathing. I did stomp the floor and clap my hands and put my hand to my ear to hear my pulse but no sound was made. I had gone deaf and that prospect scared me. But after a time of thought, I realized there was nothing I could do about it at this point. There existed no hint as to where I was, and I reasoned that the loss of hearing was simply part of this new anti-world, light-void I was apparently in. But this silence. The silence itself was a pure silence, unlike anything I had ever truly heard before. A crystalline silence that was calming me down and almost comforting my mind of the fact that I could not hear. I had no choice but to accept this new condition and continue on my walk, and so I did.
With no sense of direction, there is no place to walk too, but I had hoped that I would find an end to this place; a wall maybe, but I my instincts told me there would be no end. I cannot say how long I walked, as there was no concept of time, but I felt that I walked for days, never getting tired, or hungry, or anything that should happen physiologically. No, I only had my mind to give some measure of time to me as it was in overdrive trying to deduce this new existence. I wondered if I was immortal now, or if this was some crazy CIA experiment, or maybe it was some new state of mind, that this world was all in my head. Was I crazy? Well, I had always told others I was crazy, more so for the attention and not necessarily because I truly believed it to be so. But this… well, this was truly unimaginable. I used to think that maybe one day I would wake up and this life would all be just a dream. I wondered if that had indeed been the case, that humankind exists on a higher plane, or in some rabbit hole. But that brainstorm was blown when I realized that in a void that has nothing, there were no people here. I was bothered by the fact that I could not decide if I had fallen into the proverbial rabbit hole or came out of it. There were was not a soul here and I questioned if even mine was. There was only me in an endless void… alone.
“This it is, and nothing more”, a line by Poe in The Raven summed up my every conclusion for this place as I walked and walked, day after day. Truly, I don’t know if it even was ‘day after day‘, as there was no night. I was unneeding of food or sleep. I had only the comfort of my mind and the near-overwhelming silence that encompassed me.
After an unknown time, I spotted something far in the distance. A tiny dark spot far out, almost invisible on the deceptive horizon of this void. It was obvious it was either far away, or very small, but I walked towards it excitedly as finally, after all this time, something new has appeared. Maybe it was a doorway to home again, to the nice and warm bed I had enjoyed. I doubt I could sleep after this, though I hadn’t had sleep in what seemed to be months.
As I approached closer, I could see that it was a person sitting on the ground facing away from me. She seemed to be a girl with long black hair wearing a white long Roman-style toga. In my excitement of finding another person, I called out to her, only to be stubbornly reminded that there was no sound in this place. I had gotten within ten feet of her and she still did not hear me approach her. She was seated, sitting cross-legged reading a book. She viewed the book with only her hand and arm slowly turning each page. She didn’t move her head as she read it which caused me to actually look at the book itself. It was a thick book, encased in brown leather. Its pages were completely blank with no writing and one image, the same image on each page. The image was of an eye, which was grey and blended into the white background. The iris of the eye was a dark red color, an image that to this day I vividly remember.
After wondering about the strangeness of this, I decided to walk around to her front to see her and try to communicate to her. I approached her slowly and she didn’t seem to notice me. Making motions with my hands, she was too involved in her book to notice the peripheral movements I was making. I walked up to her, bent down, and crouched down and stood in front of her, and touched her on her knee to get her attention.
Still, she did not move, or give any indication that she had even noticed I was there. She simply turned the large pages of her book with a deliberate slowness. At nearly eye level to her, I noticed her eyes did not move. Looking down at the pages, she appeared as if she was entranced into whatever thing she was doing or thinking, almost not even aware she had a book in her hand at all. Her face revealed to me that she was younger than I, but only by maybe a year or two. Her hands and body frame were small and petite. A lot can be said about a person by their eyes, but unwavering, her eyes never moved, as if the emptiness of this void was reflected in the emptiness in her eyes. I looked at her for a long time, and looked at the book itself, captivated by the sight I was looking at after going so long without seeing any person or thing.
After what seemed like several hours of cautiously trying to get the attention of this oddly near lifeless girl, I got up from in front of her and begin to pace around. Angry that the one person I finally found here was no more useful than an odd display in a curiosity cabnant, reading a captivatingly interesting yet, very odd picture book. I began to scream at her in a plea to get her attention and remove her eyes from that book. It was frustrating and angry that everything I attempted to get her to respond failed. I soon grew exhausted from my own efforts to gain her attention away from that hypnotizing book. And walked 30 or so feet away from her and sat down myself.
Was this hell? I mysteriously ended up in this place that is devoid of everything. The one person I find is in an apparent state of stasis, virtually comatose. An eternal dial tone would have been more exciting a hell than this. This was pure torture. I thought to myself how paradoxal it was that I am in a place devoid of anything, for all eternity, which extends forever in every direction, and yet it is more enclosed than a prison cell. I could have been walking in circles the whole time, or in a straight line, but with nothing to do but walk, and think, the largest universe is nothing but a prison. This place was an eternal, prison, of which I can never get out. It’s a prison of no walls, objects, or anything. Even sound is banned here. My thoughts descended into a negative tone and I began not to pay attention to the girl still sitting over there, and I mentally rambled on and on to myself about the misery this place had turned out to be. As I continued on, my mind screaming louder and louder at the complaints of my dark negativity, I barely heard the words of her soft voice.
“Wait, what did you say?” I had said to her instinctively, shocking myself that I could hear my own voice for the first time in months.
“Tell me, tell me what you said.”
“Who are you? What is your name?” I asked frantically, not even giving her enough time to respond due to my own excitement of it. I had heard her say something, I knew it. And now, I can hear my own voice. I paused for a moment to give her time to speak and repeat what she had said. I watched her intently and walked to about ten feet from her and looked at her, still sitting there, still turning the pages, and still as inanimate as ever. Then, in a slow and calculated movement, she stopped turning the pages and closed the book. She didn’t move her head nor look at me; she simply raised her arm and pointed up into the distance. I did a quick turn-around to see what she was pointing at, but I only saw the eternal nothingness that I had seen for months already while here.
I had begin to notice that the temperature in this void was dropping very slowly, that this void we were in did in fact have temperature, and I was feeling its effects. She continued her pointing up towards the infinite for several minutes, before she finally spoke. “Silver,” she said in the quietest of voices.
“Silver,” I repeated almost in shock.
“What does that mean?” I asked her in response, but she said nothing thereafter. She lowered her hand, and I had noticed the temperature continue to drop, seemingly increasingly faster now. She began to open the book again, and I stepped forward and reached down and snatched the book from her hands.
Immediately, she disappeared and the white bleak void I was in disappeared too. In an instant, that universe had passed and I was now had the sensation of the floor giving way below my feet. I fell down a short distance into the frigid waters of an ocean. It was night time with a full moon in the sky.
I was confused as to what just happened. Was I reborn? Was I alive again? What happened to the great light void? My thoughts didn’t wonder long about what happened, as suddenly I was tired from the lack of sleep those last few months, very hungry, and unsettlingly cold and wet. Treading water in an ocean at night was suddenly a place I did not want to be. The dark haired girl with the book was gone and again, I was alone.
There were large rolling ocean waves, not overbearing, but I could definitely feel the constant rise and fall as the waves moved through me. I treaded the water to keep afloat though I found it very tiring. When I would come to the crest of the waves, I would try to kick myself out of water like a fish to see if I could see any land or boats to come and pick me up. There were none. Tiring too quickly, I just remained there, very alone, almost happy to be out of that void, but also missing the security it once held as this cold ocean was very uncomfortable, and I knew in my weakened state, I could not survive this long.
The ocean itself was well lit up, with a full moon over the water, reflecting off the waves. It took a few minutes for my eyes, which had been grown used to the bright white light of the void, to adjust to the pitch black ocean, but as they did, I found that I could clearly see for quite some distance. The moon was a silvery full, and I was happy for it, but also very uncomfortably cold, I could feel the wind against my face, and I had begun to shiver in the water. As I continued to look up into the sky, I began to stare intensely at the stars as a way to distract me from the cold which was taking over my body. The longer I looked, the more I realized that the stars were not fixed in the sky. I could see them minutely moving around, and it was then that I realized that wherever I am, it is not the earth I knew. It looks familiar but it is not the same. The stars began to increase their movements, and flowed around in the sky in a fluid movement, somewhat like that of a school of fish. They whirled around the moon and around each other forming random patterns in the sky, and as their speed continued to increase more and more, the large formation of stars broke up into two groups of them, and then four, and so on, until they were all moving fluidly, but to their own courses and patterns. It was entrancing to watch the stars, as it reminded me of an animated version of A Starry Night, but how was this even possible. This all looks like my world again, but now the stars have minds of their own? What gives? The stars provided me with a lengthy distraction from the chilling ocean water for what seemed like 10 minutes, until I noticed that one star, was falling. It grew bigger as it got closer, and it became obvious that this star would land in our ocean. They must not have been the massive burning balls of fire that I had thought, though, it was big. It hit the ocean, not with a massive splash, but simply penetrated the surface of the ocean, and then sank. Immediately the Ocean turned an instant cold, and turned to ice.
Massive ice blocks pushed the ocean up, creating sharp, jagged massive slabs of ice. I was pushed up out of the water by one of these blocks below me, but before I could hit the ground again, the ocean around me had already frozen, and I landed on solid ice. Happy to be out of the water, but unbelievably cold, I climbed to the top of one of the ice blocks. As I looked out, the entire ocean was frozen solid, and had a forest of ice blocks, everywhere. It looked like a geode with crystals in it, millions of them, shimmering in the moonlight. The stars had ceased their movements and had returned to normal, but the ocean was frozen, and I realized it was going to be very difficult to navigate around. But, just like in the light void, I knew I could not just stand here, I had to walk. And so I walked in the icy cold of the Ocean, over ice projections, and around sharp ice sheets. Many of them stood six or eight feet tall, creating for me quite a challenge.
I was cold, and I noticed that the moon did not set or give way to the sun the next day. It seemed to be perpetual darkness with only the moon as light. And while I did not dress for a winter wonderland of ice boulders, I was happy that I knew, if I walked long enough here, I would reach land. But, I never did. I walked for what must have been a week constant. I noticed that, like before, I didn’t feel the need to sleep. I was tired, yes, but could not sleep. I truthfully did not want to sleep on a boulder of ice either.
Well, on a particularly windy day, a light snow dusted the ice sheets, and made things increasingly slippery as I sometimes jumped from boulder to bolder to speed my transition across this Ice ocean. With the moonlight so seemingly bright, I grew confident that I could jump from one to the next. There was an ice bolder that had expanded and heaved upwards, but was about 4 feet away from my boulder which was tilted to the side. As I ran back to get a small, but decent running start I jumped and landed on the other boulder, but this time, I had lost my footing and I had slid across the sharp ice and off the other end onto another ice sheet, that dropped me to the ground, face first. Cold, tired, and exhausted I laid there for a few moments, ready to give up on my life and its fortune. I could not explain to myself how in the hell I am experiencing these strange phenomena. But I knew I couldn’t I had come too far. I was out of the void, and now in a new place. All I had to do is get up and get going. And that is exactly what I did; I stood up and noticed that my leg had been cut open sometime during my slip and fall. As I tried to straighten my leg up to walk, I saw a shiny object in the shadow of the ice boulder, I reached down to pick it up and before me was a small silvery coin.
I analyzed the coin for a few minutes, looking it over, and feeling genuinely impressed that I found a coin in the middle of the ocean. How lucky could I get? From out of nowhere, a loud sound of a ship horn was going off somewhere near by in short bursts. I climbed atop the Ice boulder, to get a better view, I could hear the ship horn continually sounding itself, but I could not see the ship.
And that is when I opened my eyes and realized that there was no ships horn, that the sound I was hearing was my alarm clock. I was in my bed, in my house. The clock said 6:20am, my normal get-up time. I sat up in my bed for a minute, with my eyes wide open, recalling the dream I just had, about some light void, and frozen ocean. The entire dream did not make sense to me; it was another of my adventure dreams. As I usually do, I wrote down the happenings of the dream on paper, with various reminders, so when I go back and look at it those reminder words will trigger the full memory. The coin, a 1942 Franklin half dollar which my Grandpa gave me was laying at my side. Reaching over to grab my wallet on the nightstand next to my bed, I put it in a pocket within the wallet. It would remain with me for another twelve years. At 25 years old, that simple, sentimental coin would gain a whole new meaning for me.