The Stolen Man: Into the Wilderness: 4-5
(S.M. Table of Contents)
The door says L4 and under that:
Too much sound deafens us; too much light dazzles us;
Seven turns to you before opening the door, “Ready?”
The door pushes open and you fight back a rush of vertigo; fearing for a moment that you are suffering the vision again, because the room you enter is the Diamond Room from your nightmares. More oddly though, instead of being part of the vision you are watching yourself in it, for there just in front of you stands Six and he is yelling at someone, you, in the chair.
“Who are you?”
Seven nods at you to continue in, and so you do. Walking right up to Six and the you in the chair, you examine them, watching them as they verbally joust. For their part they seem completely unaware of your presence, as if you are an invisible ghost, or they are a moving tableau, a presentation for your benefit, but not real. You listen as you ask what time it is, as Six, angrily asks what you know, as you appear more and more confused. This you’ve all seen many times in your dreams, but then where you normally wake, it keeps going. You watch fascinated, unsure if this is an accurate depiction of what happened, memory dredged up by the drug-induced hallucinogenic nightmare you are engaged in, or more nonsense induced by the same chemicals.
Six seems angry about something else now, “You had it all, the thing everyone wants. You had harnessed a power that kings have sought and now you squander it, and for what?”
“What are you talking about? I’ve been powerless. I only thought I had power. It was all a lie.” You hear yourself talking, but you’ve no idea what the words mean.”
“No, it was truth. It was all truth. You are the master of truth; you owned truth. You alone had discovered how to gain it, harness, it, use it. No one could hide anything from you. That’s power!”
“And if I couldn’t find it, I could always create it right?”
“And why not? But now, you just throw it all away? Why? How can someone with so much information be so stupid.”
“Too much honey makes a man vomit.”
“Only if you’ve not got the stomach for it. I thought you did. But then you’ve not really been you for awhile have you? You should just let me do it. I won’t vomit.”
“Yeah, you’re actually greedy for it. You think knowledge is more important than anything. You sacrificed everything for it. I only want to give up information; you want to give up everything for information.”
“And that’s why I will win. I hold all the power while you give it all away.”
You are now standing behind the “Troy” in the chair looking at Six. This did happen; these words. They ring of truth, and yet, this event, just like this, never took place, not like this. The image in front of you blurs, dances, like flickering fire, sometimes Troy is standing,sometimes sitting, sometimes Six is there, sometimes he blinks out only to reemerge in the fire. Sometimes, Dan is there, sometimes Seven. And somewhere in this shifting changing landscape is the truth. The Truth. Realizing you’ve received another revelation, you look at Seven, “I wanted to forget. I chose it.”
Virgil/Seven nods and opens the door back to the stairwell.
As you walk back towards it, what should have been a short distance, seems to be taking inordinately long. Without warning the wind and rain from Level 3 returns, but with less wind and more rain. The drops are hard, almost pointed, like mini daggers slicing across your skin, but leaving no signs of damage in their wake. You hurry to get through the rain, to get to the door where Seven stands, waiting, seemingly unaffected by the rain. (And why should he, it’s not his conscience creating this rain.) Before you can reach Seven a hand reaches out and restrains you pulling you back. Turning you see Dan, smiling Dan. Only he’s not smiling. His expression is difficult to discern. He looks pained, but unnaturally so, like a bad actor engaged in a death scene. He doesn’t look actually injured so much as he looks like a cruel and hateful man pretending to be injured. Like a predator, playing the victim.
“Why?” he growls at you.
“What,” you ask.
“Why do you hate me?”
Your answer comes without thought, or even, to you, much meaning, “Because I know the truth about you.”
“You know the truth about everyone. “
“But I don’t hate everyone.”
“You are a cruel man. No one can withstand such scrutiny. It’s your fault you know.”
You strike at Dan, more angry than you remember ever feeling. He collapses under your blow, and you push to the door where Seven stands.
Once in the hallway, Seven closes the door, shutting out the rain.
“Five revelations Troy, and five circles. We’re more than halfway to level nine.”
IN surprise you look at the door. It now says, L6.
“Work it out, “ Says Seven, “What truths’ have you learned?”
You think and tick them off on your fingers,
“1)The first one I’m not sure about. It’s a small universe?”
“Time to move on Troy,” You look searchingly at Seven. Is that the revelation from one, or is he just telling you to go to the next? Who knows? Your head hurts again. Sighing, you move on.
“2) Trust no one, but find out for yourself. I said that. The revelation is that I lived by that. I was an interrogator of sorts.”
Come on Troy, we already know that. What about the list? Do you remember the list?
Was that Dan’s voice? List? Seven makes a gesture for you to continue,
“3)Maybe that all truth is not equal. That truth is not the justification for everything. That not all truth is worth every cost…and I found that out somehow.
4) Something important here, but I’m not sure I see it.”
“You saw it enough to move forward to the next level.”
“That I wanted to forget, I guess. That somehow after all this lust for truth, I chose to give it up, even forgetting myself?”
“5) No one can withstand such scrutiny. That’s what Dan said. It sounds right, but I’ve no idea why. And that I hate Dan I suppose. “ You realize with surprise this is true. and one more thing…”And that I used to love him. My brother has become my enemy.”
This last part sounds like a quote to you even as you say it, but you’ve no idea from where. Your head is starting to hurt again.
“Can we be done now? Can I just wake up please?”
“Well, Troy, that’s entirely up to you. Are we done?”
You wait…just you, just seven, just the stairwell.
Seven continues, “Well, apparently there’s more to remember. Maybe even who you are, Troy.”
“Maybe I don’t want to remember. I messed up somewhere. Big time. I see that. I questioned the wrong people. I forgot for a reason. Maybe I should stay nameless, faceless. I’m tired. Can I just be done with this. I’ll go back to my room in Sunnyvale. I don’t care anymore. I just want to sleep.”
You are completely unaware of it, but two people stand listening to this speech, which you’ve spoken not only in your dreams, but in your sleep, out loud, and they like what they are hearing. But in your head, where you now stand, where Seven is waiting, nothing happens. You remain locked in your private Hell, four more levels waiting.
Turning from Seven, you see the door behind you says L7.
“Wait, what happened to level 6?”
“We’re on it now Troy.”
“We are? But then what was the revelation?”
Seven shrugs again, pushes open door L7 and the two of you pass through. You are relieved to be one more level through so easily…and then you remember what is in circle seven…