Welcome To Eden
The light’s intensity died slowly, and Vaan opened his eyes, gasping, sweat pouring down his face. He stood, trembling violently, his breath matching the rhythm of his rapidly pounding heart. He saw they all remained in the corridor, but ahead of them was no longer pitch-black darkness. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, an opening or an exit even.
Blaine had fallen and sat with his back against the wall, staring blank and emotionless into the ceiling. Luma threw her extinguished torch aside: it was useless to her now. The end of the passage looked as if it led outside, back above ground. “Shall we go on?” she asked.
“Go on?!” Vaan yelled, “Go on? What the hell was that? The light, the tower, the . . . the woman?” A shiver ran down his spine.
“You saw the Eye?”
“The eye? What are you talking about? I had this, this vision. There was this raging storm. I could see a massive tower, and on top was the same light that blinded us. There was this woman, her eyes were gouged out, she had a gaping hole in her stomach, like something had eaten through her, and she was asking if I had her baby. I couldn’t move, I was terrified, it was all so real, like a vivid dream, and I couldn’t wake up. Where are we, Ma? What the hell is going on?”
Luma ignored the questions, quickly turning to the other twin. “What about you, Blaine? Did you have this vision too?
Blaine sat in silence and continued to stare into the stone ceiling.
“Ma,” Vaan called, “Tell me what is going on!”
Blaine suddenly snapped, crying out, like waking from a bad dream. “Oh gods, no!” He was sobbing. Tears ran along the crease of his cheeks.
Vaan took his brother’s hand and pulled him to his feet.
“I thought I was gone!” Blaine cried. “I thought I was dead.”
“What happened?” Vaan asked, “Did you have a vision too?”
“I-I don’t know what it was.” Blaine quivered. “It felt was so real, but then again, like a dream, and I couldn’t wake up!”
Vaan felt relief and alarm at the same time. He was glad he wasn’t the only one who experienced whatever that was. “What was it? What did you see?”
“A terrible storm.” Blaine said, “And this tower. I stood at the top, in a forest.”
Vaan shot a quick glance to his mother, and back to Blaine. “I was there too. I wasn’t on the tower, but on the ground, at the edge of the forest. What else did you see?”
Goosebumps flooded Vaan’s skin again.
“What’s it?” Vaan mumbled, thinking of the woman.
“The light. I touched it.”
“You touched the Eye?!” Luma bleated.
Both brothers glared at their mother.
“What eye?!” Vaan spat, again thinking of the story of the ring.
Luma sighed, “I will tell you whe-”
“When we get there?” Vaan interrupted, wiping the cold sweat from his brow, “No, you’re going to tell us what the hell is going on right now!” An hour ago, he would have never guessed he would be talking to his mother this way. Especially down in some deep, dark hole under their home he didn’t even know existed.
Luma grabbed both of her boys and hugged them tightly. “What you both experienced were just visions. That’s all. And I’ll explain them to you if you boys would please just walk with me a little farther? I promise, we are almost there. Look.” She pointed to the opening.
Trying to recover from what had just happened, he had almost forgotten about it. Surprisingly, he didn’t really care. He wanted to be back inside the cottage, in his warm bed. He was exhausted.
Blaine, on the other hand, was seeing the opening for the first time. A draft of air was channeling through the corridor towards them. It had a crisp, refreshing, almost woodsy smell. He could see the same beautiful orange moon dangling in the sky off in the distance. They looked at their mother and nodded silently in agreement. She smiled and gave them a final hug before proceeding down the passage.
As they walked, Vaan looked back, and saw the strange archway now getting farther and farther away. A plethora of questions and emotions filled his mind, and he knew his brother felt the same. After all, it was a lot to take in.
“Blaine?” Luma said.
“What happened exactly when you touched that light?”
Blaine looked at her and thought for a moment. “I didn’t exactly touch it. I tried to, and it’s not really just a light.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“It’s like this glowing glass sphere, a giant orb. When I saw it, it’s like I couldn’t look away. The way the colors of the light twirled together felt hypnotizing, like it was pulling me towards it. I could actually feel it, it was all so real.”
“I was going to touch it. Somehow, I felt like it wanted me to. When I reached out my hand, it exploded, and sent me off the side of the tower. I was falling, helpless, and I thought it was going to kill me. Then the light became bright, like it did when you did your hand waving shit, and I snapped back.”
Luma was going to say something about his language but didn’t. She tried to see it from their perspective and knew this was hard for them to understand.
“I saw that!” Vaan belted.
“You saw what?” Blaine replied.
“The explosion, the light! I had a vision, this-” Vaan paused, “woman, this - thing -- thought I took its baby. She - It, went berserk and started running towards me. I couldn’t move, but then the light on top of the tower burst and began shining bright again, blinding even. I woke up.”
“Did you have a vision, Ma?” Blaine asked.
Luma hung her head. “I didn’t.”
They left it at that, to be alone with their own thoughts while they continued walking. They were less than one hundred feet from the end of the corridor.
Blaine kept giving quick glances toward his brother.
Vaan noticed, and finally asked, “What? What is it?”
Blaines mouth quirked up a bit in the corner, “Race ya!”
Vaan’s face - an expression of several emotions - now bore a huge smile. He thought it’d be good to lighten up the mood a bit. “Oh, you’re on,” he said, launching in a dead sprint without a moment’s hesitation.
“Hey, wait up! We were supposed to count it off!” Blaine laughed, and chased after his brother down the corridor.
Luma only grinned and continued at her own pace. Thinking of how she was going to explain all of this. This was going to be a long night for all of them.
As the boys raced, the clicks and clacks of their boots against the smooth stone filled the corridor. Vaan held the lead against his twin until right at the very end as they came through the exit of the passage together in a blistering tie.
“Beat ya!” Vaan belted.
Blaine laughed. “Um, no! That was a tie and you know it! Besides you had a head start!”
“Pffft. You said you wanted a ra-.”
“Vaan look!” Blaine interrupted.
They now stood on atop a large balcony made of polished gray marble that overlooked something that seemed right out a children’s tale.
“Gods,” Vaan murmured.
Strange mountains and crags of beautiful shining crystal outlined and enclosed a beautiful nighttime countryside. The giant formations shimmered iridescently as waterfalls cascaded gently down from mountaintop springs, plunging into a pond reflecting the beauty of the stunning moon and the stars that accompanied it, twinkling in the vast dark ocean of a crystal-clear night sky.
Many peculiar and strange flora blossomed, and painted the rolling hills of the dreamscape, neighboring many trees of considerable height. Most trees were as they knew them, but a few were different, unlike any they’d ever seen. From their roots, all the way up to their winding branches, the trunks of these great overseers were ashen-white, almost silvery. Their leaves, pearlesent and glassy, and made a tinkling chime as a soft nighttime breeze rippled through them.
Off the balcony to the west, an outcrop of shimmering crystal jutted out of the ground in colossal, towering shapes. “Look!” Vaan saw torchlight, and lots of it, coming from a far-off village surrounding its base. Much bigger than any of the places he had visited, like Perith, or Myrka back home. He smiled. Back home, he thought. After all that just happened in just a little over an hour, home felt so far away. He still wasn’t entirely convinced that this was really happening. That he had somehow boarded the train of dreams after all and had gotten off at the wrong stop. “Blaine?”
Blaine turned toward his brother, looking slightly dazed. “What?”
“Are you really here? Is this all real?”
Blaine laughed, “I was thinking of asking you the same questi-”
Blaine fell silent mid-sentence, looking past his brother, and into the beautiful night sky. Vaan looked at him questioningly before he turned, and then he too stood marveling at what caught his brother’s eye.
“Is...is that...?” Vaan stuttered. There was the infinite array of glimmering stars. There was the awe-inspiring full moon, but none of that held up to what loomed overhead. They stood speechless for what seemed like several minutes. “Is that what I think it is?”
Blaine said absolutely nothing, just standing in silent fascination, eyes wide as melons.
“That’s correct, Vaan,” Luma said, merrily walking out of the corridor. “Welcome -- welcome to Eden.”
Vaan could barely let Luma finish before bombarding her with more questions.
“Unh, Unh, Unh,” Luma shook her head, wagging her finger back and forth, and brought it up to her lips in a shushing gesture. “I told you both we are almost there. I will explain everything.”
Blaine jutted in impatiently, “You’ve got to give us more than that! Where is there? Why is the Gods-damn Earth above us?”
“Watch your tongue, Blaine,” Luma said sharply. “I know this is a lot to take in, boys, I truly understand, but we are nearly there and I will answer any questions you have, I promised you that. Do you see that village?”
Vaan didn’t even acknowledge the question. He stood staring at the enormous blue-green planet above him. How is this possible? He thought. How do you go from a normal day, an amazing meal, to discovering a hidden hatch, that led to a hidden cellar, that led to a hidden corridor, that led to watching your mother draw glowing symbols in the air with her fingers, to standing here looking at the Earth directly above your head from a place she calls Eden, and that tower, that light, that . . . woman? Another shiver ran up his spine. I have to be dreaming, or at least hallucinating. Bad shrooms maybe? There were imposters that looked similar to the edible ones their mother used in her delicious stew. That must be it, he thought. That was the only explanation.
Vaan snapped out of a trance.
“Earth to Vaan!” Blaine laughed. “Ha-ha, I can’t even say that anymore.”
Vaan gave his brother subtle smirk, and cupped his mouth with his hands.
"Kiskk, Involuntary comet drifting through space to Blaine, come in Blaine. This is Eden, I read you loud and clear, over. Kiskkk"
They both laughed, almost forgetting where they were. Luma had told them stories about the mysterious people that were called ass-trow-nots. People that wore strange cloaks, and would get in massive ships and sail into the sky by fire. ”Some even landed on the moon," she had said and how they sailed across the lunar sea and docked at things called space stations. Is that what this was, a space station?
A hand laid across the brothers’ shoulders. “I can’t image what you both must be thinking, but this is certainly all real. We are really here,” Luma assured, “Once we reach the village, I will explain everything. Or maybe, perhaps it will explain itself.”
The brother’s eyes locked and spoke the same words in unison. “Definitely - Dreaming.”