The Black Lake

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Summary

I recalled everything, but.... That everything is nothing? “That makes no sense,” and with those words, the last piece of land beneath my feet broke down and the black liquid, engulfed me. “I made you.” “For what purpose?” “For no purpose.” “Why then?” “So that you can live.” “But why?” “Why not?” “That isn’t an answer.” “You’re right.” “Why then?” “...”

Genre:
Other / Poetry
Author:
Martin Gráf
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
11
Rating:
4.8 5 reviews
Age Rating:
13+

Prologue

Never having done it,

Never jumping down.

I thought I would welcome it,

Not having to drown.

It will be a weird story,

If I ever do so.

But I would rather lose all my money,

Before I would say no.

To be,

Is what I was made for.

Not to be,

Is what I strive for.

They might witness my fall,

How will it happen I wonder.

This is my fate after all,

I now have no more time to ponder.

Disappointment may follow,

Below might lie nothing but sorrow.

But up here, the world is narrow,

That is why I have to come out of my burrow.

I hope there will be no monster,

There is no way for me to know.

For today shall I conquer,

All that lies below...

I found myself staring at the dim light surrounding me. Weird. How did I get here and where is here? I can’t recall anything, not even my name. It feels as if I have just woken up, but I did not sleep, or… did I? I look up. A cave? Roots of what I can only guess is a giant tree spreading as far as my eyes can see, or at least as far as the dim light (could it be fog?) allows me to. The roof of roots has but one hole. A weird shaped, almost shifting even opening filled with strange colours and echoing sounds directly above me. Did I fall from there? Speaking of which, am I lying, sitting or standing? I can’t tell. I look beneath me. Grass. It seems I am half lying half sitting. I finally open my eyes. Wait… was I not looking this whole time? No. The light and the roots, as well as the hole and the grass beneath me are still here but… Is that oil? No. Water? No. A black liquid surrounding me as far as my eyes can see. I’m on an island in the middle of a black lake. Should I touch it? Maybe. Probably not. Should I climb up the hole above me? It is calling me but that would be a bad idea… or… would it? I look around. My island begins and ends where I’m lying. It seems to be getting smaller. I stand up and most of the island falls off sinking into the pitch black liquid not making a sound. Now that I think of it, everything is silent. Then I notice it. The tension hanging in the air. Am I expected to do something? Make a choice perhaps, but what choice? Where to go, maybe? Yes, that would make sense. Well, if I’m to choose I have to remember first. What is this place? Yes, yes… something happened… I seem to remember something. Wait… All I remember is nothing... Is that it? I recalled everything, but.... That everything is nothing? “That makes no sense,” and with those words, the last piece of land beneath my feet broke down and the black liquid, thick and welcoming, engulfed me.

My mind is driving me mad. I can’t see anything, but I seem to have no trouble breathing. Was it not liquid after all? No. I’m certain it was, but now it seems to be some kind of gas. Could the gas be so dense that the liquid is able to float on top of it? No… that makes no sense. How long have I been floating here, anyways? And why can’t I see or feel my body? Do I even exist, now that all I can see is black and I feel nothing? Well… I’m still thinking, aren’t I? How could I not exist? But then again… what is this? No body, no brain, no nerves, no eyes, no ears… nothing. How am I? Where am I? What am I? Why can’t I stop thinking like mad? This is stupid. How can I be without my body? How can nothing be something? I take a deep breath. The air isn’t as dense anymore. It feels as if I’m flying upwards, but I know it’s the opposite. I fell down into the goo after all, meaning I’m sinking, or… falling rather.

Circles… I’m sure of it now. I’m floating around in circles. It’s strange how I still have a sense of space while floating around in nothingness. It’s even stranger how I’ve convinced myself that this isn’t water or goo or anything else but absolute nothing. Even my thoughts are fading and reappearing as I’m orbiting some kind of center that’s drawing me closer and sending me further. In there, there can be nothing but nothing. The ultimate nonexistence… No… That is impossible. If nothing is somewhere, it is something, isn’t it? No… It’s the other way around, right? If everything had to come from something but nothing didn’t, everything is nothing, because it came from nothing, right? No… I am, aren’t I? Even the thoughts I have right now had to come from something, so… No… My head hurts… What question do I even ask? Oh… There it is… Nothing. It’s just as black as something, but I know that I’m looking straight at it and I’m about to drift inside it. Very well then… Let me, something, become nothing…

Light. A bright light has emerged from an opening above me. My body materializes from the everpresent blackness as the light touches my skin. What is this? I thought that there would be nothing within nothing. Yes, I have floated around for a while but… A hand reaches from the light. I grab it. Gravity seems to be working again. It’s pulling me down, away from the hole, but the hand is stronger. “You’ve been there for a long time. What did you learn?” A voice echoes through the cave I find myself in. My body seems to be in stress, yet I feel relaxed. Why is that I wonder? “Well?” he urges. I look at him. A tall, brown-haired man with impregnable expression, light beard, sharp jawline and semi-closed brown eyes full of expectation is standing over me. He is strangely familiar. “What was I supposed to learn?” I ask him. One of his eyebrows raises. Clearly, a gesture that is natural to him. “Who are you, anyway?” He seems to be surprised by my question. “You don’t recognize me?”

“No. Should I?”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“Nothing,” I reply with a smile about the double meaning of my answer. “I see…” He says with a trace of understanding in his voice. Does he know what I meant? “Were you in there, too?” I ask, wondering how he knows. “Yes… But not as far as you. I lost you when you drifted too deep. I couldn’t risk getting lost inside so I returned back up.”

“Getting lost where?” He points to the opening. “In there, but since that’s what you did… What’s inside?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re as helpful as ever I see…” Heh, it would seem he’s used to me answering elusively. “So… Since I can’t remember. Who are you?”

“I am Sofiá and the man waiting at the entrance is Fronésis.” Then he simply turned around and started making his way up the tunnel, stopping only to ask: “Are you coming?”

A man I wouldn’t hesitate to call Sofiá, if he didn’t hold an ebony cane in his hand and Sofiá himself wasn’t climbing right in front of me appeared in what seemed like an exit from the shaft. “What did you learn?” He shouted down at us. “Nothing.” We shouted back at him simultaneously. He raised his eyebrow. When we finally reach the exit, a small chamber with several mineshafts, much like this one, leading to where reason can’t reach, with a tiny elevator in the middle, just big enough for the three of us. “Where do those mineshafts lead?” I ask, even though I probably guessed the answer beforehand. “Here and there… nowhere really, but you should know that, you dug them after all.” He speaks as if he already knew of my condition. This ‘Fronésis’ was an odd fellow. Same voice as Sofiá, same face as Sofiá, same posture as Sofiá… Just the cane and his eyes make him different from Sofiá. cane with an aura of nobility and experience and eyes made of carefully hewn stone, looking smart and reliable, unlike Sofiá, whose fresh step and deep wise eyes and their open-minded spirit gave off an intriguing and youthful aura. “Where do we go now?” I ask but instead of an answer, they enter the elevator. “Up.”

We’ve been wandering these long, narrow corridors for hours, no doubt. A dark and a confusing place this was. Not at all like the sense of wonder and slight fear I felt down at the mine. That place was simple and honest, yet mysterious and with much to discover. These halls had carefully worked obsidian walls with torches emitting a dim light sticking in the walls and a carved map on the end of each corridor. These maps were by far the most interesting thing this place had to offer. Each map clearly depicted its area, but it was obvious that these maps weren’t carved at the same time, because on some of them there was the entire area, but others showed only one or two major paths with a tone of question markers in the numerous blank spaces next to them. It is also worth noting that there are holes in the ceiling from time to time. Some with ladders, some without and they all seem to be in their original forms, unlike the neat and glossy corridors right below them. Were they used to enter these halls, perhaps? “Is there a complete map somewhere?” I ask when I see another one. “Well… that depends.” I raise my eyebrow to Sofiá’s answer. “There was never a need for a complete one. Both you and us know this place up to the slightest detail. I’m sure you’ll remember shortly.” And Sofiá followed up: “But no… there is no complete map because these tunnels aren’t finished yet.” That would explain the maps but… “Why finish them?”

“You never know what you’re going to find. You should understand that. It is you, after all, who insists on finishing them.” Me? That doesn’t sound convincing. “Do they have an ending?”

“Don’t know.” I can’t even tell which one is speaking. Their voices are too similar. But no matter. “Why would I want to finish them?” My question seems to amuse them. “You asked that already, but very well. Perhaps you’ll remember after we take you to an unfinished one.” Take where? I laugh. “Do you always answer in a manner that raises more questions?” A dark gap suddenly popped into existence on my right. “Wha…?” But one of the two interrupts me: “Look at what you’re doing. This is why we haven’t found the end yet. You keep making new openings.”

It’s almost as if that place was filled with raw darkness. “Should we enter?” In response, Fronésis simply sighs and sits down. “Let’s go.” Sofiá declares eagerly. I do want to know why Fronésis isn’t coming too, but no matter.

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