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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Journey of the Soul Linker 11: You Get Your Unicorn

It's his fault when you get lost.

But it's your fault that you don't know why you're here.

The sun shines on the sea to the right as your hiking boots crunch on the sandy rocks and fresh leaves underfoot on the trail along the cliff. A soft breeze tickles the dust off the wall of rock to your left; your hand presses against it, but you resist the urge to grip and claw. This rock's not terribly stable, and to your left it drops off into the woods below.

You just want to get down to the town. 

That's all! Your feet ache a bit, and a nice warm bath sounds good right now, because you're not even sure how you smell after so many days wandering. And in town you're supposed to find that tincture of time to help stop the world-eating slime. It even rhymes! Thank goodness you won't forget it.

Your hair sure feels sticky.

You're been walking parallel for a while, without really going up or down, when you come to a sort of fork in the road. One branch points up, into the woods.

And there, in the middle of the fork, riding on a unicorn that's on fire, and surrounded by an army of lasersword-carrying cyborg mice, you see him again.

You groan. The Master of the Caves rubbed you the wrong way right from the beginning with his self-important arrogance, and now, here he is, in all this--this--glorious--transcendent--frivolity!

"Okay, you gotta admit, you like the cyborg mice," he says, dismounting. "Don't try to lie, I hate lies. And I can read your mind."

"No you can't," you grumble, quite certain he can. You're staring at the blue flames running in diagonal rings down the unicorn's horn.

He grins at the flames, and you're angry at yourself for looking at them, as he runs his fingers along the unicorn's forehead, tangling them in its forelock, playing around the fire. "It does make friendship with humans intimidating," he says. "No one likes someone who knows the truth." The unicorn nods into his hand, enjoying the tickles. Oh, you do so want to tickle the unicorn, too--

Wait, is that like, a euphemism?

He laughs out loud, and looks at you with his head tilted a bit. "You can 'tickle the unicorn' if you want. I brought him for you anyway."

"No thanks," you say. "I don't take--uh--unicorns--from strangers."

He stares at you. "Why the hell not?"

"Wait, aren't you like a metaphor for God or something?" You stop to think, spreading your hands out in front of you as you step back. Come on, we all knew this, right? "You're not supposed to curse."

He purses his lip and muses for a second, staring at the sky. It shows off the perfect edge of his jaw. "I'm as much a metaphor as you are," he says, finally.

"I'm not a metaphor."

"But you are, a metaphor for the travel through life."

"But I'm also the reader, because this story's in--second person or whatever--"

"Yes, and you're right, it's good to pause, and remember that no metaphor's as good as the real thing. But you build your whole understanding of the world through images--images that are only symbols of the light and electrochemical processes stimulating your eyes. Everything you experience is a metaphor. So let's get back to making metaphors, shall we?"

"I--no, this is weird, then, if we both know we're in a story. Doesn't that like make you like--blasphemous or something?" You shift your weight, and flip your hair. "Not like I care, of course, but no one's supposed to pretend to be God." You gather steam. "By trying to represent God, and claiming to be a metaphor for him--or her--" You force yourself to add, artificially. "By doing that, you're setting yourself up as a false deity. An idol. You're--I guess the word is sinning."

"Melly warned you you'd ruin it," he chuckles, and sits down on the roadway, dangling his feet over the ledge. He doesn't disrupt a single flake of dust. "Your thought is well-thought. But I am not pretending." He folds his hands in his lap. "I am what I am--an image, and I make no other claims. As the reflection disappears when the mirror dulls, so I am dependent on and kept within this story. But the real thing, the thing I reflect, does not disappear if the mirror fades, and that's how you know I am not against him--by my very imaginariness my being attests to his primacy, his permanence, by contrast. I will do many things in this story that only he has the right to do. If you did them, that would be wrong. But I am not doing them, because I am only a reflection, and reflections do not do anything. I am, of course, blurred and flawed, because we’re both passing through fallen human writers, but you would never accuse the reflection of impersonating the real thing, for it has no will apart from the real thing, and can only move when the real thing moves. The being and the reflection are too connected; there is no separation of will between the reality and the image." 

He rises, and with a great smile leads the unicorn a step towards you, raising his free hand to the heavens. "But you, soul-linker, you cross these realities--you in the mirror, you in the real world--you have a separation, a unique identity, apart from the Divine, and a will, and like a real person you can choose to follow the Divine, reflecting without impersonating, in a dance, the way the follow reflects the lead without losing her own selfness. My place is the mirror--yours, the ballroom, and here, you even have your own reflection! You can only see the mirror--the story, your image interacting with his image--but if I am a good enough reflection, and the mirror's clear, by watching our reflections you can coordinate your dance…with him."

He nuzzles the unicorn again with a sigh that sounds almost as if he envies you--but of course, he cannot envy you, for he could not be happier being himself, and you can see that in the way he moves, in his tone, in his face turned to the sky. If anything, he's too happy being himself, you think.

"I can't ever be too happy to be myself," he says. "But you can, if that means never changing." 

You're about to scream at his arrogance, when he shoves the unicorn's nose under your hand, and with a wave to the cyborg mice starts on the path that leads up. "Come along!" he cries to you. "This way to the town!"

"That's clearly up!" You yell back as your hand runs absently along the ridge of the unicorn's nose. "That's into the woods!"

"It's this way to the town!" he repeats. "The other way leads to danger."

"Danger's my middle name," you mutter. You won't be following him any time soon: this is your story.

You turn towards the path that leads down.

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