The Maze of Time

I

2014.

11:42pm

New York, USA

The room echoed with occasional sniffs and gasps of misery; and eventually everything hushed to emptiness. The sound of silence reverberated through everyone’s heart, which was accompanied by the swift and delicate performance of the tears that rolled down their cheeks. Yes, they were sad. Yes, he is no longer here… yes, he is dead.

As of now, Robert Athens Kian is dead. ‘Time of death 11:42pm’ informed the doctor. As he left the room, Kian’s family and his allies all surrounded him in silence. Some were paying their respects, some were relieved that the greatest business tycoon of their time just passed away and some just stared at the cold immobile body; but no one had any idea of what was happening in a parallel passage of time… what was happening to Robert Athens Kian.

II

He closed the door behind him. The doorknob was covered with rubies and sapphires, each glued together with molten aluminum. His eyes still shut and the heart still pounding, like a thousand hammers on just one anvil, he took one deep breath and finally got himself to open his eyes. All he could see was nothing, all he could feel was…nothing

He stared wide eyed at the emptiness in front, and amazingly the view was very much alike his feeling. Ever wondered how it felt to feel nothing? How it felt to be empty? Of course not! No one thinks of these things, no one thinks of the scary moments; all we want is the bright and shiny days, all we want is to feel happy… only if we knew that life had a different set of plans along with its friend: time. With hands stretched out, eyes trying to see and a heart with a little bit of hope he took the first step towards God knows where. A sense of relief shivered down his spine as his foot felt something solid underneath, ‘there is a road ahead’ he thought… there is hope. Only after gathering his thoughts and refueling himself with courage did he realize he was stark naked.

After a few jiggling steps, he managed to walk normally and, not to forget, gracefully; the same way he used to walk before… you know… back when he was alive. It was weird how the idea of once being alive never crossed his mind. He was like a child trying to grasp the meaning of this impossible surrounding. He was lost and yet he was calm as the ocean just before the storm. Soon something started to appear. Out of thin air, he felt as if he could see something; something small, something sleek and yet the more closer he got the more it started to enlarge. From a thin key hole the object evolved into a door. No walls around it, no doormats in front of it…just a door. It was a simple door, except the doorknob. He stared at it with awe and admired the beauty; it was of perfect spherical shape with no key hole. It was adorned with shards of silver embedded in a plate of gold. He grabbed with delicacy and twisted it… only to realize that it was in the wrong direction. ‘Hihihi’ he giggled; astonished he was, to realize how long it has been to hear his own laughter. He opened the door with the hope that something or someone might be there waiting… just the way he was.

Now, he closed this door behind him and unlike the previous time he took a sharp turn and saw nothing. It was the same: emptiness filled the universe. But this time it was different, the floor was no longer strong as the mosaic he felt, it was more like wood. He shuffled around, and the floor creaked away… ‘Yep it is wood’ said Kian. He started walking forward again, but this time with his hands stretched out on the side. He could feel moist walls around him, with moss here and there. This continued manner of walking proved that he was surrounded by walls where ever he went, and it was somehow providing him with a path to a certain destination. After this sudden realization, Kian started to feel calm and a bit more hopeful. The floor creaked away and his fingers slithered around until suddenly the wall on the right disappeared and his face hit a wall. Using his hands as his eyes, again, he started to look for the continuation of the path. It wasn’t long before he knew that the straight path he was walking just took a sharp turn to the right. Now he was more cautious as he kept on walking with same intriguing effort. After a few similar turns, some to the left and some to the right, he figured out where he was, or at least what the image might be. It was a maze; a maze with no light but time and time; and the only thing that fuels your strive to existence is hope. He was trapped, trapped in the maze of time.

III

Soon, after what felt like forever, he found another door. This one was a bit different: the wood looked more matured, the door handle was posh. It wasn’t like the past similar knobs, it was a lever with a smooth curve at the tip and probably made of pure platinum. The handle’s elegance declared it out loud: through me you shall find a new meaning to everything. With a little bit of exaggeration in his hope, his hand caressed the lever and twisted it, this time in the right direction! Opening the door, he saw another pit of infinity filled with barrenness. He stared for a while. ‘Who am I kidding?’ remarked Kian, as he barged down the passage.

Something was different this time. The temperature seemed to have risen significantly, the humidity is surely higher and the floor, it was more like a rusty pavement: rough and occasionally smooth. With his arms on the side again, he started to walk again.

How is he here? More importantly where is he? His mind kept on wafting to these impossible questions and somehow was again brought back to sanity. ‘1 2 3… 1 2 3’ he repeated the numbers to keep his brain on track. He is completely fine: a sane mind, a healthy physique, he is walking for hours for heaven’s sake; nothing made sense and yet somehow he knew what was happening. From mosaic to woods and now to a pavement, there was this pattern which he specifically couldn’t decipher. He kept on walking, with his fingers slithering across the wall. Fragments of people were crossing his mind. It was his parents, his wife, his children; all of the memories, just like him, seemed stranded. No specific order or cycle, just random memories scattered and scrambled. He walked down the maze, this time with ease and confidence, and sudden mood swings with those memory stimuli. His first kiss, his daughter’s first step, his first salary, his mother’s death and many more seemed to stream down his mind. They were no longer random snaps of recollections; they were strong, deep and few of the most treasured moments of his life. With occasional bumps and slams on the wall, he moved down the maze. At this point in time, he was a pro at this: walking down the ramp blindfolded. He was baffled by how useless his eyes were at the moment. All he could do was trust his instincts and go with his feelings… talk about follow your gut! Only if he had followed this very same pattern while he was alive… Judged every person by what they looked like, made most of the decisions based on what others said and somehow he lost his integrity. I think that’s what killed him: the lack of ingenuity.

After walking for miles, you would expect him to be tired or maybe even hungry. The past few travelers all seemed to give up by the third maze and fall into severe depression, and didn’t start again until they met another stranded companion. Kian on the other hand seemed to be a very strong soul.

I haven’t really talked about myself have I? I am someone who was not created and will never be destroyed. People compare me with money but never respect me any same, call me energy if you want, maybe even magic; but it is impossible to define me with your earthly terms, for I am the ultimate power. Enough about me, let’s go back to him shall we?

IV

He laid there… what a surprise! He shivered down there; sweat seemed to pour from every pore in his body. He was lying down in a place he did not recognize, in a place he couldn’t even see, he missed his family, he was scared… he laid there. All those memories and blocked out emotions seemed to finally win. Tears were forced in as he shut his eyes tight and trying so hard to make this illusory, as if oneself trying to wake up from a horrible dream. He had no one. He was undergoing the perfect and the most accurate definition of ‘alone’. He was about to forfeit and lay down in a pathetic limbo of disaster. We all say that we want to be alone, but the truth is quite different: we are afraid; what if we find our true love and we lose it, what if we find our perfect match and then destroy it, what if we find happiness and lean on it, what if we find the thing we have been craving for so long only to lose it within a fraction of a heartbeat… can we survive? Will we still want to live? Maybe not, and for this bitter truth we lie to ourselves and try to harden our hearts saying this: we want to be alone.

 Kian laid there regretting all the little things he did and didn’t do; desolation started to devour each and every bit of hope he still had left.

‘Kian! You need to see this! Look baby Alena is taking her first step. KIAN?? Are you watching this?’ Screamed Arya as she kept staring in wonder and overwhelmed with happiness.

‘Oh come on! She is just taking a small step, what’s the big deal?’ recoiled Kian while giving a sharp disgusted look at his daughter. And now, as he shivers in a melancholy of pain and regrets, this is one of the memories that seem to be always there. The neglected rotten memory somehow seems to lurk in there. Funny, isn’t it, how life works? Some things you can’t remember and some things you can never seem to forget.

‘So, can you just not talk? Can you just stay quiet and stand still? I am about to do something very big and I have no freaking idea why I am doing this and….’ A 21 years old Kian kept on blabbering and was cut short by a 20 years old Arya ‘Oh god! Kinu can you just get to the point?’

Kian leaned forward and gave a deep exhalation. Arya felt the warmth in the breath and could feel goose bumps exposing her excitement. Kian felt Arya’s skin as his hands tightened around her waist. Now, she leaned forward. Their lips aligned and slowly Kian’s upper lips touched Arya’s lower one, and sparks flew. The friction between their lips was felt, eyes were closed and all they could see was nothing but what they felt was everything. Kian slowly opened his eyes and saw nothing but darkness and despair. He was back to nothing.

‘Aaaaaa….’ Kian’s scream seemed to go in vain, as he grabbed his throat forcefully and started twisting in pain. Paranoia with a hint of doubt squeezed out all of his sanity; all those years of mastering his patience and accuracy seemed to be futile.

His legs stretched far and his arms wrapped around himself, with his head lagging back and tilted to the right he gave another wheezing gasp of pain; all of those convoluted twisting caused a sudden ligament pull and jolted he got back to another horrifying memory.

‘You rotten piece of shit!’ screamed his father as he grabbed Kian’s leg and dragged him, a thirteen year old boy, out of the room. He gasped in pain as his naked back rubbed on the wooden floor beneath. The burning skin was nothing compared to the ache he felt seeing his mother, Alena; a bruised female laying on her side with blood running down her cheeks and stopped by her swollen lips, finger marks were brutally visible around her neck. Kian laid there stiff; he kept staring at the movements of the shadows exposed by the light escaping from the beneath accompanied by a very familiar horrifying voice: ‘Now, where were we? Get up you bitch! Where is my money? Have you been hiding it again? I NEED MY ALCOHOL…’ and the scream ended with echoes what felt like a leather belt hitting a flesh. Kian laid there stunned and disgusted at the fact that money can change even the best of people. As he kept hearing his mother’s screams, his vision slowly blurred out and when he opened his eyes back again… he was back to nothingness. ‘Noooo!’ screamed Kian at the top of his lungs; with his stiff muscle slowly subsiding. His panting was strong yet weak, he could hear his heart beating and finally he realized lying down is making things only worse; time to send his skeletons back to their closet.

It was time, he could feel it. He lifted his back, raised his neck and pushing his elbows to the ground, he started to rise above from the ground. First the thorax then the torso and finally he was starting to get back on his feet. His gruesome facial expression was accompanied by a sincere streak of grief, but yet he still rose to his feet. It was like a seedling growing and germinating despite the harsh weather and wretched dry soil, it had to grow… the same way he had to find out some meaning to this feeble existence. His lungs expanded and the chest rose, his body reenergized, as he inhaled deeply; somehow he felt he had some hope lurking behind the same way as those disowned memories. It’s astounding how there is always a balance between ignorance and information, pain and pleasure, life and death and this holy balance somehow manages to teach us something every time.

After gathering himself together, he started to walk again… with his arms stretching sideways.

V

‘Huh, I can’t seem to see anything except the freaking doors...’ complained Kian as he saw the new door within reach. It was really ridiculous how it never crossed his mind: the fact that only the door is seen along with its handle, that even with such a detail. This was different from all the previous doors. In a very haphazard manner, different types and shapes of woods were somehow attached with nails. The knob was rustic and the door had fences stretching from both sides. He opened the door only to get welcomed by a strong gush of wind that revolted him back to his sense of existence. He stepped foot in through to the door and felt the moistened soil. With both his feet on the soil, he waited for the door to disappear from the behind. He slowly extended his hands backwards and felt nothing… no door. He giggled again priding his prediction skills. All he could understand from the sense of touch was that it was some kind of plant… wheat maybe? Or is it rice? The rustling sound along with the strong wind all suggested one thing…. He was in a meadow. This maze was completely different from the previous ones. It had neither specific route nor any walls. Just imagine yourself lost in a field at midnight, blinded you are but not seized away from the other senses. Kian decided to start walking, his soul filled with courage, as usual without a single bit of clue. His arms stretched out with the hope that he might feel something: a pole maybe or a hand trying to reach out for him, but alas nothing happened. He kept on walking in a straight line like a living scarecrow… but only if he could realize he was walking in circles and was going nowhere.

Remember the science trivia where it says a blindfolded person will walk in circles thinking he is walking straight?

Funny how science figures out such important little details and yet fails to decipher me completely.

 As Kian unknowingly circled away, he had these fragments of memories again. But this time he had no idea who they were about. His pace increased as he was trying to figure out his memories: a baby girl taking her first step, some strange yet passionate kiss with someone unknown and someone lying down... maybe a female. Oh darling, only if you knew who they were. The memories started to fade away, slowly sipping away from his heart and mind. His pace got faster and so did the memories. All of a sudden he stopped and realized he was utterly empty: no emotions, no memories, no past and no idea what the hell was going on.

‘Now…’ I whispered. After a very long time he could see something: his feet were smothered in dirt. He saw his hands dangling below and tears started to roll down his cheeks…again. His entire body ached as he raised his head and saw, what seemed like the final door, a portal of light. Strong light glared out of the door causing him to shut his eyes down. The soaring pain reached an unbelievable territory. He started to crouch down back to the floor; his hands grabbed his head and pulled it down with force and ache. The throbbing heart made things worse rather than improving. He screamed at the top of his voice, trying to utter words but failed miserably. The emotional trauma of understanding nothing but feeling everything seemed to tear him apart. But he still crawled towards the obtrusive light … soon his howling started to fade away until all that was left was silence… and finally he disappeared.

VI

Still haven’t figured out who I am?

Stop me you shall not

Feel me you shall a lot.

People give me a lot of names and compare me with a thousand of things… but darling… I call myself Time.

2014

11:43pm

Egypt, Africa

A baby boy was given birth to.