Ch. X p,3

. . .


Maria’s eyes pierced the darkness, searching for a light. Was she mad to think that there was anything here at all?

No, keep looking, she told herself, clutching at Frank’s dangling feet for comfort. I was guided here for a reason.

Kneeling, she paced her breathing, taking slow, gentle draws as her senses negotiated with the black. At first, more darkness, then… Blue… Lights…

She wasn’t sure what she was looking at. A swirling body of glowing specks? Or merely the effect of staring into the dark for too long?

Hello, ” they said. Or maybe she imagined it? It was really the oddest thing: as she watched the dots, she got the feeling of “new” and the feeling of herself and the dots overlapping. And then her mind translated the feelings as “hello,” or more precisely, “first hello,” as if she had known how to speak this way all along.

She hesitated to reply to the greeting. The emotions she had felt were no different from her own, so how could she tell she wasn’t making it all up?

Then, more images and feelings: comfort, plus an impression of the clearing. I’m safe here, she thought. Certainly, a foreign feeling… Then, a negative feeling and an image of her flashlight. She understood.

“My name’s Maria,” she whispered softly. But the luminescent specks disagreed. “You are…” they said, and a warm emotion flooded her chest; bright, if a little lost, a little hurt… and immediately familiar. More familiar than anything else she had ever known.

“Now you recognize your self,” she heard, either from herself or from the being. “More meaningful than any name.”

Then she felt what the being was. Something lonely; something weary; something with a caring soul, underneath it all. Maybe too caring… Somehow, she knew it had been human, once, and maybe still was.

“I see who you are,” she whispered, careful to focus more on her feelings than her words. “You do understand what I am saying, right?”

In response, the being helped her imagine that she was speaking her own language. But instead of comprehending the words, she heard them only as sounds, devoid of meaning.

“So how do you understand me?” she asked.

Again, she saw herself speaking unintelligibly, but this time, beneath the softly voiced syllables was an undercurrent of emotion, and much in the way that someone can say “I love you” with their words, but mean “don’t leave me, I’m afraid” with their heart, she saw that no matter the words, her feelings were an earnest request for understanding.

She sat with this for a moment. As she did, she felt a warmth in her body, seeming to come from somewhere else. She felt safe, as the being had said; safe to wait, safe to rest, safe to ask questions. She squinted, trying to see if the specks of light had arranged themselves into any shape she understood, but only saw more darkness. She had so many questions…

“Is this… telepathy?” she asked. Beneath her words, she wondered if all people were endowed with some sort of telepathic capacity.

“Yes,” was the reply. Then came an image of each person’s and each animal’s feelings being broadcast constantly, as if from a radio tower. Then she saw the being, capable of receiving and interpreting those thoughts. She saw herself… focused on a self-contained loop of her own concerns, unable to feel the feelings of others.

“But I understand you now…” she said. “I feel your thoughts”

“My emotions are strong enough to penetrate your psyche. You even mistake my thoughts for yours.”

“So is that why I don’t feel afraid?” she asked, “because you aren’t afraid?”

“I cannot tell you what to feel. I can only suggest a feeling for you to experience. It is your choice whether or not you submerge yourself in the sensation.”

The being’s voice sounded clearer now, as if coming through a properly tuned radio.

“Then, did you guide me here?” she asked. “I thought it was… something inside of me. But it was you, wasn’t it?”

The specks danced dreamily in front of her.“Yes, and I have a purpose for that. I needed to see you face to face… so that I can guide you home.”

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