This blog is a three-part book in the process of being written, in the form of initial drafts of the sections, posted in the intended order, a project for which the overall name is Explorations. The book is a continuation from Hidden Valleys, Haunted by the Future (Zero Books - 2015), and also from On Vanishing Land, an audio-essay made by myself and Mark Fisher (soon to be released by Hyperdub).
Part One: Metamorphics (1 - 18)
Part Two: The Second Sphere of Action (19 - 30)
Part Three: Through the Forest, the River (31 - )
This blog is a three-part book in the process of being written, in the form of initial drafts of the sections, posted in the intended order, a project for which the overall name is Explorations. The book is a continuation from Hidden Valleys, Haunted by the Future (Zero Books - 2015), and also from On Vanishing Land, an audio-essay made by myself and Mark Fisher (soon to be released by Hyperdub).
Part One: Metamorphics (1 - 18)
Part Two: The Second Sphere of Action (19 - 30)
Part Three: Through the Forest, the River (31 - )
The Corridor Justin Barton
Rooks were cawing in the trees west of the hill. It was a sound I associated more with autumn than with summer. It seemed they had been upset by something. I was starting to think that the calls of birds and animals were always more striking in the Corridor, but the disturbing situation made the rooks’ cries sound ominous.
John had heard Tamsin and Steven talking as they walked in the direction of the lake. And we had found the bag of marijuana leaves, at the top of the hill. These were the only clues we had for their disappearance. No possibility could be entirely ruled out, and the possibilities were spread alarmingly wide. Were they in the Deep Hotel? Could they have found a way to the elsewhere? Or could they be back in the ordinary world? Were they lying concussed in the basement of a derelict house hidden somewhere among the trees?
I had been feeling both frightened and angry – angry that Steven and Tamsin had wandered off on their own at such a crucial time, and afraid, in particular, that they had been trapped in the Deep Hotel.
Everything culminated in a long debate about what to do, and who should do it. At the end, when we had made the decisions, it was late afternoon. I felt perhaps it was only the sheer positivity of what had happened the day before that was keeping me in a relatively calm state. I was surprisingly poised, given the nature of what I was about to do. I felt it was partly relief a decision had been taken, and also that I had been energised -and given a vast perspective - by my recent experiences.
Of course the encounter with Ket and Tarul, and their worlds, was in a subtle way a two edged sword. It seemed it had strengthened me, but at the same time it was giving me a reason to be afraid. However, Ket and Tarul’s disturbing warning had also helped to break the deadlock of our dilemma about what to do. It seemed Steven and Tamsin had disappeared while they were on the hill, which was one of the places associated with our experiences of seeing the Deep Hotel. And there had been an urgency about Ket and Tarul’s warning which contributed to our feeling that they had been swept off to this other world. Given they would not have been trying to get back to the ordinary world, and given that, in any case, they should have been able to return by now, it seemed much more likely they had been waylaid.
Earlier Rob and I had attempted to repeat what Kate had done with John. We had gone up the stairs to the first floor of the house, and tried to ‘call out’ to Steven and Tamsin. We had done this together, and then afterwards we had made the attempt separately, without anything happening. Neither of us had been left with any feeling we had been close to making contact.
I was sitting, with Rob alongside me on my left, facing Kate and John. In front of me and Rob was a long thin stick, maybe five feet long, making a horizontal line on the ground. Rob had been carrying this stick, and Kate had placed it in its current position, dividing those intending to go from those intending to stay. Our vague idea – clearly none of us had any strong views on the subject – was that it might somehow reduce the chances of Kate and John being swept off with us as well.
It was five years or more since the last time I had smoked grass. For two or three years I had smoked it occasionally, when it had been offered to me, but I had never really get on very well with it. Rob apparently never smoked it. Of the six of us it was only Steven, Tamsin and John who liked the effects of marijuana.
I had lit the joint. Rob had done the same with his. We looked at each other, and we both nodded to indicate we were ready.
“Here goes” said Rob. “Three, two, one -”
Despite everything I had a strong feeling that nothing was going to happen. The customary faith in the solidity of things had no doubt been boosted by the earlier failed attempts, and in any case this default conviction is not easy to shake.
But even before I had pulled the smoke into my lungs a transition had occurred. It was just the intent to smoke that started the process.
I was seeing a wide concourse, a very large luxurious room, superimposed on my view of the hill.
Taking a tiny bit of the smoke into my lungs was like an afterthought. I had put the cigarette down on the ground, and I closed my eyes and envisaged Steven, soundlessly calling out to him.
And I felt a kind of jolt - the sensation of the ground had completely changed. When I opened my eyes I was implacably in the place I had just seen superimposed across the hill, and for a moment I couldn’t even remember what I had been trying to do, or where I had just been.
We were sitting on carpet that had a pattern of straight lines running away from us – deep blue lines, and yellow lines. The carpet was luxurious but looked slightly worn and faded.
In the distance were wide seating alcoves, abstract sculptures, walls with long murals on them, passageways leading away.
In front of us – Rob was sitting on the carpet to my left – were two striking objects, or features of the room. Around thirty feet away, and a little to the right, was a metal sculpture, a kind of spiral vine of metal leaves, that went from floor to ceiling. It was made of some dark brown metal, and had a quality of looking both sombre and playful. Around the last third of the sculpture, in a spiral ring six inches away from it, there was a series of brightly coloured lights that were suspended from the ceiling. It gave me a faint impression that I was looking at a decorated symbol of the DNA helix. It also reminded me of certain kinds of ‘corporate’ art, that are initially striking, but in the end you feel are lacking in courage, uninspired.
The other object was the same distance away, but on the left. It was a white screen, approximately square, that also went from floor to ceiling, a ceiling that was maybe fifteen feet high. Every few seconds the screen divided itself into a different pattern of rectangles, with each rectangle showing a scene, such as a mountain valley, or rock formations in a desert, or an abstract pattern, or just a colour. There tended to be three or four rectangles, in different places, each time, and the views of places tended to be on their own, accompanied by muted abstract panels. Sometimes the abstract patterns were very intricate, and sometimes the patterns were symbolic rather than abstract, taking the form of arrays of symbols from unknown alphabets and script systems, some of which were faintly familiar. All of this looked distinctly casual, rather than portentous, as if a program had been written for playing, at different degrees of transformation, with all kinds of visual array.
Overall the impression was that I was in an airport, at night. It felt as if we were on a journey somewhere, maybe in transit late at night, and we were in a particularly luxurious airport lounge, which had no windows, either because it was not bordering on the outside walls, or because it was underground.
For a moment I believed this, but then the fact that we were sitting on the floor, and the fact of Rob’s presence, together somehow served to bring about a second jolt, one that gave me continuity with my previous memories, but at the same time was a sudden perturbing awareness of a radical discontinuity of my location in space.
I threw myself into seeing it all as a dream, into attempting to wake up. Nothing happened. I then closed my eyes and imagined the view of the forest and the lake. Again, nothing happened – I was implacably seated on the carpet of the ‘airport’ room. I opened my eyes, and looked at Rob, feeling deeply shocked.
Rob had gone pale, but he smiled when he looked at me, giving me the impression he was trying to reassure me, and calm himself in the process.
“The infinite foyer…” he said. His voice was full of humour, but the word ‘foyer’ sounded more than curious – I experienced one of those moments when you think about a word and it becomes empty of meaning, just a sound. I had an image that the word was a feather which floated to the ground, and then lay there, delicate in its structure, but inert.
I decided I should get up. I felt I was becoming delirial. Hearing Rob attempting to be reassuring had had the opposite effect. As I got up I realised that Rob was doing the same thing.
We looked around, seeing no substantially new aspects of the room in the area behind us. Both of us went a bit closer to the screen.
All of the top half of the screen was suddenly taken up with two live images – an image of a man’s face, on the left, and of a woman’s, on the right. The man had a soberly intelligent face – he had grey hair, a blade-like nose, and piercing eyes. . He seemed to be standing in front of an orange-gold and crimson abstract mural. The woman appeared to be in her fifties, but there was a vibrant quality about her, a kind of striking, calm energy. Behind her was a space of different shades of violet and lilac which were all continuously changing – as if there was another screen behind her with this display of colours.
Both of them were smiling reassuringly.
“You’re doing well” said the man. “We’ll be with you very soon”
“We have news about Steven and Tamsin” the man continued. “We may be able to help you get to them, although we’re not sure. They are in another world from this one, and they are in danger, although at this moment they are fine.”
Then the woman’s voice, very calm and friendly.
“We’ll be with you in twenty minutes”
The screen went grey-black, and then a clock appeared in a rectangle on the upper right. The clock said twenty to twelve. It was there for a few seconds, and then disappeared.
For some reason the clock made me think of the Cheshire cat’s smile in Alice in Wonderland.
“Shit” said Rob.
There was a silence.
“OK, let’s take stock”. Rob was looking around him, gripping the back of his neck with his left hand.
“Yes, I agreed, “lets work out what we’re doing”
Without having to discuss it we went back to the place where we had been sitting when we arrived, although we sat down facing each other. Rob sat down in a posture with one knee up, and with his hands on this knee, and I sat on my ankles with my legs in front of me, hands clasping the knees.
I repeated what I had heard the man say, and Rob agreed.
“But “in another world from this one” – what does that mean?, I said. “And do we have any reason to believe that they will help us?”
Rob’s eyes opened wide.
“No, not really. Although its true that we don’t really know anything about this.”
“But – we’ve been warned. Shall we try to go back?”
“Yes, maybe. But – then what do we do?”
I paused. “OK. Yes. We could be in a trap, but maybe we need to find out what they have to tell us.”
I was looking at the screen. The clock kept appearing for a few seconds, every thirty seconds or so. It was not an ordinary clock – the small hand was pointing straight at twelve, and it was clear that it was a countdown clock rather than something that told the time in the usual sense. The clock was now saying seventeen minutes to go.
“I think we should have a look around” I said. “I don’t think we should go out of sight of this place, but let’s look around”
I said this partly because I was beginning to feel that if I sat without doing anything I would start to panic. It struck me that even the small amount of grass I had inhaled would be having an effect. And the situation was one which on its own could create terror.
Rob instantly agreed. I got the impression he was feeling the same as me. We walked over to a wide spiral staircase in a far corner of the room, to see if we could see anything up above.
As we walked I was aware that I barely knew Rob. The idea that we could pass the time by getting to know each other came to my mind as a kind of joke – I wanted to laugh, the thought of us talking about our lives under these circumstances seemed surreal. The main thing was that we were working well together – I wanted nothing other than Rob’s ability to be in the present, and his ideas about how to respond to the situation. Not being able to see anything, we walked up to the top of the staircase. We found ourselves looking at a room which was maybe a similar size to the one below, but which was sumptuously furnished with easy chairs, inlaid tables, paintings, abstract tapestries, gauzy curtains in beautifully coloured fabrics, elaborate, delicate sculptures, and video screens in unusual places, such as on narrow columns, or set into the ceiling.
Alongside us was a wall panel three feet wide that went to the ceiling. It seemed to be made of white marble, and it had inset metal filaments, the colour of gold, in a sparse design that was reminiscent of circuitry. In the gaps where there were no metal lines there were occasional squares – inset flush with the surface - made of some kind of red precious or semi-precious stone. It was not a gaudy decoration – it gave me a slight shiver when I looked at it. It made me think of paintings by Mondrian, only it was more striking than that, more visceral.
We went back down the stairs.
“Well – maybe this is arrivals, and that’s the lounge” said Rob.
I laughed. I appreciated Rob keeping a sense of humour.
I decided to look carefully at everything, faintly hoping that if I did, the process of concentrating on one object would wake me up, and that the whole experience would turn out to be a disturbing dream. The only result was that I had discovered that objects which seemed plain often had more to them than was immediately apparent. For instance, the areas of blue on the carpet had tiny threads of gold in them. I had also discovered that objects made of wood often had a kind of grain that was completely new to me.
The clock said five to twelve.
Twelve, I thought. Midday or midnight? I wondered vaguely, knowing the question did not make sense. For some reason it felt as if it was dark outside, but when I thought about it I felt this was the impression produced by an empty airport-like space lit by artificial light.
“Well, it’s a slow day, on the haunted concourse!” said Rob, laughing.
“Don’t” I said. The word ‘haunted’ was a bit more than I could take. I shuddered.
“But I think they’re a bit more than ghosts.” I added, knowing that this line of thought was not reassuring.
Suddenly the screen showed the man and the woman again, the same as before.
“Stay calm” said the woman. “We will be coming from the direction beyond the screen”
Me and Rob both got up and walked round the screen. In the right hand corner of the room, about fifty feet away, there was the spiral staircase. In the corner on the left there was a corridor that we had looked into - it extended forty feet or so, and then went round a corner, a corner marked by a tall delicate lamp that seemed to be entirely made out dark blue glass.
In between the passageway and the staircase had been an unbroken stretch of wall. This wall was now broken by the entrance to a second hallway – one which had definitely not been there before. A part of my mind wanted to believe It had been there all along, but at a deep level I knew this was not true.
After a few seconds the man and the woman walked out of this new corridor, and came towards us, with beaming smiles – smiles that did not seem to be disingenuous. The woman was wearing a cream-coloured jacket and jeans, and she had an amethyst coloured stone – an inch across – as a pendant, across a white t-shirt. The man was dressed like an academic. He had a faded brown jacket with leather elbow patches, a white shirt open at the neck, and grey-brown trousers. But looking closely at his clothes you became aware that the cut of his shirt was quietly very stylish, and that there were other details that were striking. The belt of his trousers was dark green, and his faded brown shoes had a strip of green leather cut into the sides on a diagonal line.
They immediately pulled together two sofa-chairs – each one large enough for four people -and gestured that we should sit down opposite them.
“We’re not doing anything for dramatic effect, or to frighten you” said the man. “But the jolts help to attune you, and that means you will understand better what we’re going to tell you.”
“I’m Jane, this is Col” said the woman. “And the woman you’re about to see, if you look at the screen, is Ada”
On the screen was – Steven, and alongside him was an attractive woman in a spectacular green satin dress. Steven was looking towards us, obviously thinking about something, working something out. He looked slightly perturbed. The image then disappeared.
“That was four hours ago” said the man. “Just before he left. He wasn’t here for long”
There was a slight pause.
“Who are you – what is this place? asked Rob. And where is Tamsin?”
“And where’s Steven?” I said.
“We’ll tell you about Tamsin and Steven in a moment” said the woman. “There is something we want to show you first, to balance you – it is a way of leaving here any time you want. And as for this place, and us – one thing that can be said is that we are about knowledge, all kinds of knowledge – and we are about maintaining a safe place in which knowledge can expand, and focus itself. So this is a first piece of knowledge, that we are going to give you at the outset.
She looked at the screen, which now, again, was showing Steven and the woman in the green dress.
Steven started to speak.
“So, I get to make my own choice now?”
“Yes” said the woman.
“Show me climatology” said Steven. “ Show me meteorology - the atmosphere of the planet.”
The screen went blank for a moment, and then there was a slightly hazy view of a horizon, across a terrain of clouds, or mist, as if the view was from a plane which was in a bank of cloud.
“This is what we’re going to give you.” said Jane.
“Just imagine being a space of air miles across, and stretching to the horizon. Imagine you’re gently swirling across the ground, feeling the ground against your underside, its trees and hills, its water. Imagine you’re calmly wrapped, spherically, around the entire planet.
Suddenly I was the air above the hill by the lake. I could see John and Kate a couple of hundred feet below me. I could feel the presence of Kate, and of John, in a visceral way. And simultaneously I could feel the presence of Rob, of Jane, of Col, and of Ada, the woman I had seen on the screen with Steven. I knew, encountering them like this, that they were not human – they had a singular subtle quality of their own, and they had warmth, though it was not nearly at the level of the warmth of human beings.
At that point I was down at ground level, twenty feet away from Kate and John. Kate was holding her head, and had her eyes closed, as if she was trying to understand something. And John was looking intently at her. I felt sure that if I wanted to, I could simply decide to be there on the hill. Instead, I threw myself back into the sky, while simultaneously envisaging the place where I was in the Deep Hotel.
In that moment I was aware of everyone. Rob, alongside me, Kate and John, underneath me on the hill, but very present, and the three Deep Hotel beings. I had a moment of indescribable ecstasy.
And then I found myself standing two feet away from the left side of the screen. My whole body was shimmering with the feeling I had just experienced. Rob was standing the same distance away from the right side of the screen. I realised I did not remember having stood up.
When I turned round there was no-one in the room. I looked back at Rob, who was wide-eyed, shaking his head.
I looked, and Jane and Col had reappeared, sitting on the chair, and were smiling at us, although somehow I felt they were a little shocked themselves.
“The screens only provided a little additional suggestion, said Col “and a valuable pulse-speed. That’s the only reason you sleepwalked towards them.”
“And we disappeared – that is, we went off to the necessary distance – because your feelings are very high-energy, they can be too much for us.”
Jane nodded, emphatically, smiling at me in particular. What they were saying carried conviction. I could feel that they had been jolted – maybe even unnerved – by what had happened. It seemed that Jane was lost for words.
“So - that’s the way to get back” said Rob, speaking slowly, as if he was recollecting how to speak. I was aware there was a new intimacy between me and Rob, because of what had just happened, but there was no time to give this development any thought.
“Yes,” said Col. “If you look at any screen with the intention of – becoming the atmosphere – it will start to help you. You can also do it without the help of a screen – it will just take a tiny bit longer. You simply need to envisage that you are the sky above the lake, and then that you are the sphere of sky around the whole planet.”
“Thank you” I said. I felt very unsure about the motivations behind this apparent gift of a way back to the Corridor, but it was clear to me that something very positive had just happened. And I wanted very much to believe that I had been given a way back.
Rob and I had sat down again.
“Where are Steven and Tamsin? How are they in danger?” I asked.
Jane nodded, and after a pause she started to speak.
“They’re in a world that is alongside the Corridor. There are many of these worlds, a kind of archipelago of them, as it were. We call them arkan worlds. They have just got into this world – they just escaped from the micro-world – or the house – of a lone entity who some people call a familiast. Broadly speaking, where they are now is a very positive world, with the usual dangers of it having no solid protection from the elsewhere. The danger comes from the fact that Steven has picked up something – a kind of dormant parasitic entity – as a result of being with the familiast. One way or another, however, we are confident Steven will be alright. There are forces within the world in which they have found themselves which are likely to destroy the embryonic entity. And if they don’t, we will.
We are going to wait. There is no reason to hurry. You need us to go with you, to get you into the arkan world, and then to help Steven. But it is not safe for us to go to this world. For us to go there is a bit like someone walking around carrying a metal object during a thunderstorm. But we think the protective forces of the world will eventually do their work – perhaps while Steven and Tamsin are asleep – and so we are going to wait. If we have to go, we will go at midday tomorrow.”
“Are you sure Steven will be OK?” I asked. “What if the – whatever it is – stops being dormant?”
“It won’t” said Col. “No chance at all of that – it’s the wrong place for it become active. Steven will be absolutely fine, I promise you. The intruder will remain dormant, and he and Tamsin are in a forested un-hostile world, a bit like the Corridor – a world which in fact is much safer than the Corridor.”
There was a pause.
Rob was looking around him.
He looked back at Jane and Col.
“So, err - who are you people?” he said, smiling.
Jane and Col both laughed.
“Well, said Jane “we’re answering that continually, by everything we do.”
“But – and I don’t want to sound ungrateful for your offer of help – why are you helping us?”
“OK, that’s much more answerable” said Jane.
“You could say that we help you because of a very real affection – but this would be only half the answer. The other half of the answer is that you as beings have a very high level of intensity, or energy – and by these words I mean everything to do with feelings, intent, love, dreams and perception. The fact that you are like this is to do with you having organs, and to do with you living out on the outside. We do not have organs, and we live here in our inside world, where you see us. Because of this difference we are heightened – energised – by our contact with you. But we don’t take your energy – what happens is that your ways of being wake us, give us access to energies and abilities that are dormant or semi-dormant within us.”
“By the way” she added “do you faintly recognise us at all?”
We both shook our heads in response. For some reason I felt threatened by this question.
“That’s because our interaction – friendship, in fact – has been primarily with Steven”, said Jane.” I’m only speaking about me and Col – there are others here who you would recognise - or half-recognise, depending on your state of awareness.”
“Is this about – what happens in sleep?” asked Rob.
Both Jane and Rob nodded, but neither of them showed any signs of volunteering information on the subject.
I wanted to question them – but I felt a mis-trust in relation to the implicit claim that they knew more about our doings with their world than we did. It wasn’t that I thought they were lying - it was more that I did not want to get embroiled in their perspective on my life, given that apparently this would involve the recall of past experiences that were never normally available to memory.
“But what you need to know now is that the relationship of heightening is mutual here. Being here is an opportunity for you to acquire knowledge in extremely direct, effective ways – which is to say, it is an opportunity for you to heighten yourselves, to cross thresholds of awareness.”
There was a long silence, as if they were waiting for us to speak.
“Whats going on in the ordinary world?” asked Rob. “We’ve kind of picked up the impression that something bad is going on in the ordinary world. In – the Corridor, it gets called the Disaster, and we’ve been told its more affected, in some bad sense – more, ‘haunted’ was the word - than the Corridor. What’s going on, whats happening there?
Jane laughed again, but in a quiet, reserved way.
“Well, none of this is about ghosts” she said. What you’ve heard about is really something separate from our world’s relationship with yours – but taking us as an example, we don’t have organs like you, but we’re very much alive.”
But your question is truly a question with which you can navigate your way through the time between now and tomorrow. Because it is not possible to be apparently inactive here in the way in the way in which it is possible in the ordinary world, or the Corridor. If you sit still here for a while, you will travel, and it is good to have an aim – and a compass.”
“Your question is a deep-knowledge question – it’s very appropriate for where you are. You have just asked about one dimension of the secret intent-dynamics of your initial world, the ordinary world, as you call it.”
“You’ll need some attunement beforehand” said Col. “I’ll take you through this – its going to be a journey, an extremely good journey.”
“Imagine you’re by a wide lake in mountains, in a hot, equatorial country, on a very misty night, with a warm breeze gently blowing the mist, through the valley, and across the lake.
I wanted to call out ‘no’, but no words came. I shot a glance at the screen, thinking that a lake would have appeared on it. It was blank – a dark grey rectangle.
I looked back to my right, and Rob had gone. And a moment later I became aware that I was now alone in the room with Jane.
I felt terrified, and sick to my stomach. I started thinking I should look at the screen and set out to escape. I decided this was what I do, but I thought I should disguise the intention.
I was about to ask what they had done with Rob, when Jane spoke.
“Look, we havnt done anything to Rob – he’s simply going through a valuable process that will give him the necessary attunement for understanding the answer to his question. In a way he’s right here with us – or very close – its just that here is a place with many clusters of dimensions. Where we currently are is a place involving a relatively denuded system of dimensions.
I had been listening, but I was still feeling sick and frightened, and I now turned toward the screen.
Instantly I saw a similar view of sky and clouds to the one we had seen earlier.
“If you go,” said Jane “it will be less easy for you to come back, because in fact you have a limited amount of energy for such dimensional jumps. And why go, given that you need to be here to help Steven? Your presence will help to relax him, and that will be valuable, given we need to deal with the entity that has invaded his spirit-energy body.”
I turned away from the screen. I looked at the fabric of the part of the lounge-chair opposite me, instead of at Jane, who was sitting a little to the right. I felt afraid and angry, but I could not bring myself to abandon Steven. We had nothing else to go on – no other way of getting to him.
I paused, looking around me, and then I looked at Jane.
“Is this place – real?”
“Yes, this world is co-emplaced with the worlds you know – and what you see is real. The chairs are real, the air is real. You are here with both of your bodies, apart from just now when you leaned out of here with your spirit-energy body. Things can be brought into being without factories of course, but it doesn’t make them less real.”
I was finding it hard to concentrate. I wanted to leave.
Jane started to speak again.
“Right now I’m going to take you to a pleasant place where you can be on your own, and wait – and do whatever you want, really. You’ll like the room, I promise. It will in fact give you the option of exploring your past, but it will be entirely up to you whether you take up this option.”
Jane pointed in the direction I was facing, towards a doorway that had been over to the left when Rob and I had arrived.
“It’s just over there.”
She got up, and gestured for me to follow.
“You wont get lost” she added.
“How far is it?”
“A hundred metres, or so – pretty much in a straight line”
I got up, and followed – I wanted to be left on my own, and there was something about the large “arrivals lounge” that I found unsettling. For whatever reason, I could not bear the thought of being there on my own for a long time.
We went down a quite wide passageway, which arrived at another one, at right angles. We turned right, and then left, after ten yards or so, down a more narrow corridor
This new hallway was quite long, and initially had doors leading off it to left and right. It had a section near the end – maybe thirty feet long - whose walls and floor were what appeared to be neon panels, giving off a faint but striking ’ underwater’ light that reminded me a little of UV light. The same light was also coming through thin lengthwise strips cut into the ceiling.
As I walked along this stretch of corridor I received a sudden, visceral impression that I was not surrounded by a building at all, but that I was in an insubstantial, plasma-like world of energies that was communicating with me. The straight lines of light above my head were a statement about my life, and I knew they meant “untie the knots, lay the lines out straight”. But this statement felt as if it was coming from far away. It was a sky statement - made of light above my head. And a moment later I became sure that it was something Ket had said to me when I had been flying above the planet, something that I had forgotten until then.
I had walked through the door at the end of the corridor. I was in a plainly but attractively furnished room, with a bed, a desk, some shelves, an easy chair, and a big rug on the floor.
Jane wasn’t with me. I looked back along the corridor, through the tunnel of underwater light. There was no-one there.
And then I saw Jane in the light tunnel walking toward me, as if it had been a trick of the light, and she had been there all along, although I knew this was not true.
When she arrived she was shaking her head, and puffing out her cheeks, looking surprised and perturbed.
“You are very extraordinary” she said, with a smile.
I wanted to question her about what she meant by this, but an instinct made me keep silent.
I felt it was something to do with an insight having woken in me which had come from the elsewhere, and I didn’t want to go into the vicinity of this event.
After a pause, during which I felt she was quizzically reading my silence, Jane gestured at the room.
“Well, this is it” she said. “The place for you to wait. And to explore – or re-live – events in your life, if you wish.”
She went to one of the two windows in the room, which had dark green curtains across them, and I followed.
“This is not an ordinary view” pulling back the curtain.
Outside it appeared to be night. A night viewed – this was the impression – from an extremely tall building. There was the line of the horizon in the distance, but what was beneath us was a milky, faint luminosity, brighter directly beneath, and growing less bright toward the horizon. It was as if the planet, or perhaps something else, was being viewed as a misty white light. Above there was darkness, without stars or moon.
Jane closed the curtains again, and then went to the side of the rug in the centre of the room. This rug was circular, about five feet wide, and was a very beautiful amber colour. She pulled it to one side and revealed a square blank screen three feet across, set into the floor.
She then pulled the rug back, so it protruded a few inches over the screen.
“You sit there” she said “All of your life is down there, a tower of days, thousands of days high. You imagine an event you want to re-live, in your life, and in particular you imagine the beginning of that event. The screen will immediately show you the time and place you’re thinking about. Just relax, shut off your thoughts, and concentrate on what you’re seeing. If at this point you bring to mind how you felt at the time – you’ll be there. And after a while you’ll find you’ll be there without any preliminaries. All the time you are re-living you will have your current awareness in the background, and whenever you want to return here, just intend it, and you’ll be back.”
I thought about what she was saying, shocked by the implications if it was true, and wondering if I should go ahead and try it out.
A ‘clock’ appeared for a moment on the screen, delineated in a kind of white-violet light that made me think of starlight. It phased from faint to bright, and then faded again at the same rate. The clock said a minute past 12. We had been told we were waiting until midday the next day.
When I looked up I discovered that Jane was no longer there. As well, the door to the room was now closed, although I did not think Jane had left through it.
I went and looked through the door at the corridor. There was no-one there. I closed the door again, shuddering as I did so, as a result of Jane’s anomalous departure, and the way in which a moment before the door I was touching had gone silently from open to closed.
I pulled the rug back over the screen, and I looked around the room.
The bed was sideways to the wall, opposite the door, and alongside one of the two curtained windows. It was a single bed, and at its head, on the right looking from the door, there was a small bookcase. On that side of the room there was the other window, and two easy chairs diagonally opposite each other. The books in the bookcase seemed to be mostly about subjects connected with physical disciplines and art-forms, such as yoga, and dance, and in amongst these there were some cookery books. They all seemed to be books which I could have owned, but which in fact I did not own.
On the other side of the room, not far from the door, there was a wooden writing desk, and chair. The desk seemed quite plain from a distance, but when you looked at it closely it turned out it had tiny details in the form of marquetry inlay.
Opposite the desk, near the foot of the bed, there was a wardrobe. The rack of the wardrobe had seven or eight dresses, all of which, in different ways, were both simple – unostentatious – and very beautiful. I didn’t get much chance in my life to wear beautiful dresses, so if I had owned them they would have stayed largely un-worn, but it was clear to me that each dress was one I would have bought, given the opportunity, and a reason to wear it. I didn’t try any of them on, but it also looked as if they would all fit me perfectly.
However, there was another group of objects in the room – and this was the genuine enigma. Everything else seemed like a very sophisticated way of making me comfortable, and seemed to fit with the claim that the room in some sense was a vantage-point at the ‘top’ of my life.
On the wall between the wardrobe and the desk, facing the bed, there was a set of three shelves. On these shelves there were five soft toys. There was a rabbit with long ears, one of which looked as if it had been sewn back on, a blue elephant with impressive amber eyes, a woolly horse – again coloured blue - that looked home-made, a very threadbare tiger, and on the top shelf, a battered teddy bear.
These toys were not from my childhood. And even though it would have been possible for them to have been mine, I would never have displayed them in this way. Looking at them I received an unnacountable, melancholy impression that they must have belonged not to me, but to a child of mine – a child who I had been cut off from in some way, who had been raised elsewhere, and who might even have died. The sadness that came with this impression was like an electric shock, and every time I thought about it, the sadness returned.
I turned away, and sat on the bed, facing the door. I sensed that staring at the enigma of the soft toys was going to take me nowhere, other than into an indeterminate, choking sadness. But the effect of looking at them had taken away all interest in the other objects in the room. I felt now that the only question was whether or not to take up the apparent offer, made by the inhabitants of the Deep Hotel, of a chance to re-live events from my life.
This offer was extremely attractive, and was probably more attractive for me than it would have been for most other people. All through my life – from when I was child - I had had a tendency to yearningly re-experience my past, almost as if I was trying to keep awake the events and people involved. This very deliberate tendency on my part had been a great source of joy for me, and of longings that somehow were also a form of happiness. My childhood friends were there in my past, the happier forms of my parents, the beautiful, so- intelligent horse who I had been lucky enough to befriend as a child, my grandmother who had died, my cousin who was killed by a car, the lost, tiny house in the country, the man with whom I had been deeply in love when I was in my early twenties – they were all there, in my past.
The offer had been designed for me. I was a deliberate, obsessive dreamer of the past. Did that make it less to be trusted, or more? Was it a genuine offer, or some kind of trap?
In the end, what helped me make my decision was what had happened as I walked along the corridor that led to the room.
“Untie the knots, lay the lines out straight” Ket’s voice – I was sure now that I remembered her saying this to me, as practical advice about my life. And the fact that I had remembered it as I arrived in the room made me feel that it was the key to the situation. I had to accept the offer, but do this it in a way that was about strengthening myself, untying my knots.
But there was something I had to attempt first. I wasn’t going to do anything until I had tried to get in contact with Kate and John – until I had tried to reassure them that we were alright. And I also wanted to test what I had been told about the method of leaving the Deep Hotel.
I pulled back the rug from above the screen, and almost immediately I saw a space of clouds, and when I peered forward I realised I was looking down on the hill by the lake from two hundred feet up. I could see Kate and John. I felt that I had been thousands of feet above the air with the first, and that the action of moving forwards had slid my viewing position down, bringing me to the height of the view of the hill I had experienced earlier.
I had not forgotten what I had been told about being able to leave simply by envisaging, but I wanted to test what happened when I looked at a screen. I nearly allowed myself to be swept away by what I was seeing, but at the last moment I pulled back, as a result of the concern that had been in my mind all along – what if this view was not of the present, but of the past?
I went and sat, cross-legged, facing the wall at the opposite end of the room from the shelves with the toys. I set out to imagine the view I had just seen, keeping my eyes open, initially, and then trying with my eyes closed.
After a few minutes I suddenly found – as if I had asleep for a second – that I was seeing the view, only now I could see Kate and John standing up, and the light seemed to be a lot less bright than before – it was evening, the sun had set. I found immediately that I was focusing on Kate, and after a second when I had a faint view from a few feet in front of her, I shifted perspective and was seeing through her eyes, and getting an awareness of her feelings. She was frightened and worried.
Without using words I tried to communicate to her that everything was alright, that we were waiting because it seemed if we did we would be able to help Steven and Tamsin. Somehow I transmitted all of this as a single block of feeling and thought. I felt Kate brighten in response. I felt her hearing me. I went through everything I had just communicated again, trying to do it in a more focused way. Then at the end I changed to using words.
Take turns getting sleep, we’ll be back tomorrow – don’t go, stay there.
And then I was in the room in the Deep Hotel. It felt as if I had been pulled back by an elastic cord. But I also had an intuition that it would have been simple to snap the cord if I had wanted.
It felt good that I had just been with Kate and John, and that at the very least I had made an attempt to reassure them. It was also a relief there had been an - apparent - confirmation that I had a way of returning to the outside world.
I experienced astonishing happiness in that room. I discovered that, as Jane had said, I merely needed to envisage an event from my past, and then after a transitional moment of seeing the event on the screen, I would be swept up into a full re-living what had happened. I re-experienced whole events from my childhood in this way, the people, the sunlight on my skin, the evocative smells of the places, the feelings. Everything felt as real as the first time, or more so. The one difference was that there was a continual, lucid background awareness that I was my future self re-living the event, and it was as if this took the place of any grinding anxiety or neurosis in the process, which in turn seemed to mean that I had an increased awareness of everything. As if energy had been freed up for inhabiting perception rather than just letting it flow past.
That room was the apparently cosy, enigmatic summit of a world of immense possibilities – the world being my life, with all of its stored energies, and with everything that it revealed about the world. But the enigma of the room was dangerous, and it had a guiding effect which eventually asserted itself, meaning that the cosiness of the room was very much an illusion.
My re-living of events concentrated on my childhood, and on my experiences of being in love, as a teenager, and as a young woman. I also re-lived times when I had been in very beautiful places, and times when I had experienced sustained, spontaneous creativity, playfully inventing songs, or dancing, or dreaming up amusing situations. However many of these times were also simultaneously memories of a relationship.
Eventually I re-lived an event from a time when on several occasions I had thought I might be pregnant, and when me and my boyfriend at the time had talked about, eventually, having a child together. I started to think about times when my background desire to have a child had become a powerful force in my life, and at that point I remembered the soft toys on the shelves behind me. What did they mean?
In the past I had dreamed on several occasions that I had in fact had a child, and that it was being brought up by my mother, or another member of my family. I began to wonder, initially as a kind of bizarre thought-experiment, when this event could have taken place, if it had. What period of my life could have been confabulated to hide a pregnancy and childbirth that for some reason I would not allow myself to remember? And hanging over this process was the haunting, horrific idea that the child had died.
At one point, while simultaneously caught up in this problem, I went to the wardrobe, and started absent-mindedly looking through the dresses. At this stage I was slightly dissociated and I was feeling that the dresses were mine, but a moment later when I remembered they had come with the room, they still somehow retained something of the glow of much-loved possessions. I decided to try one of them on – a beautiful, pale blue dress, knee-length, simple, and made of a material that looked a little like cotton, but moved like silk.
Without considering what I was doing, I took off all my clothes to try on the dress, maybe partly because I wanted to feel the fabric against as much of my skin as possible. As I was putting it on I remembered a phrase a female friend had used once – “sorrow has many lovely dresses”. I didn’t particularly identify with the phrase, because it seemed to suggest a sort of self-indulgent melancholy, but it was true that I was feeling sad, and it was also true that it was a very beautiful dress.
It fitted me perfectly. Abstractedly I admired myself for a moment in the mirror of the wardrobe.
Then I returned to the screen in the floor. I wanted to re-live a particular event when me and my ex-boyfriend had talked about having children. The room was warm, and the dress was all the clothing I needed.
I had become embroiled in thinking about two different things. The first was the ongoing, disturbing problem of whether it could be true that I had had a child and then repressed all memories of the event. The second was the idea that in some way there was something off-putting, for men, about my way of expressing my desire to have a child. The overall effect of these two problems, in tandem, was to locate me squarely at the viewpoint of an intense yearning to become pregnant with a baby, a yearning that was not really mine at the level of my entire being, but was more – an extrernally heightened - desire of my womb on its own.
I was now very skilled at using the screen. Sitting cross-legged I would lean forward a little and envisage the beginning of the event as it might have been seen from a few feet above. Immediately I would see the place – this time it was the kitchen of my ex-boyfriend’s flat – and myself, and whoever else was there. Then I would return to a balanced sitting position, and this movement would bring about an instantaneous switch to seeing everything from the perspective of my previous self.
I was sitting at the table in the kitchen, stroking a cat that was lying was on my lap, and smiling at the absurd song my boyfriend was singing as he made coffee.
I had just been multiple. I had just been a lake and the creatures in the lake, simultaneously.
I had been the water, and the feeling of the night breezes rippling my surface, and I had been large fish, three feet long, and eels, and many other creatures – a shimmering world of beings. The large fish had been hunting for smaller fish, and parts of me had kept dying in pain, but this had been in a sense irrelevant because I was the whole space of the lake, inanimate and animate, and no part of my awareness died when the fish died.
It had been a misty, tropical night the entire time, full of the calls of insects, and threaded with cries of animals. The feeling of being the water of the lake had been extremely pleasant, a kind of gentle bliss. But overall, the joy and lucidity of the experience had been that of being the lake, and of being the multiplicity of the lake and all the creatures within it.
I was now back in the room from which I had started, with Col sitting opposite me. But my perception of the room was different – it was distributed, multiple, and felt, the same as my perception of the lake had been. I was Col as well as myself, I was the air in the room, the screen, the artworks, the chairs, the light.
I was worried about Ffion. Without thinking about what I was doing I started trying to find her by expanding my field of awareness beyond the confines of the room.
“Very good” said Col, and I could feel his approval of what I was doing - a kind of calm, distant enjoyment of my emerging ability to expand my awareness in specific directions.
“Maintain your spherical tactile vision, and ensure you keep staring at your entire visual field. Don’t focus on anything in the centre of it, or if you do, accidentally, go back immediately to looking at everything at once.
“Ffion is in that direction” he pointed behind him. “She has also been crossing a threshold – she is re-living events from her past.
After a moment of staring at a kind of hard perceptual wall – a wall that made me think of ultra-violet light - I was through this barrier, and I could feel Ffion’s presence there. I could feel she was in a calm, positive state, although I sensed a faint note of sadness, as if she was re-living something that was poignant or slightly distressing.
“You need to come back,” said Col, “and just focus on this room. You’re nearly ready. The kind of expanded but focused awareness you have reached is perfect for what you’re going to do.”
I did what Col had said, and I was back, spread out across the whole room.
Ever since Cass had told us what she had about the ‘ordinary world’ I had wanted to know more. Her voice had conveyed a certainty, and what she said had fitted with a deep intuition that had been with me since I was a child, an intuition that I had been hiding resolutely behind my laughter, and my playful, light-hearted attitude toward the world.
“I think we have to hurry” said Kate.
Steven and Tamsin had been talking about whether it was wise for Steven to go into the Deep Hotel, with Tamsin arguing, cogently, that his escape the previous time might really have been a disguised release in the direction of the familiast.
Kate was sitting alongside me, facing the house, her left hand resting on the stick. The house was now standing out against a slab of dark-grey cloud. There was blue sky to the north, and it seemed possible the storm would slip past to the east. But Kate was not talking about the storm, or not directly, at least.
“As long as I’m thinking about what we’re going to do to get Ffion and Rob out of – where they are – I feel alright. But I start feeling panicky when we – move away from thinking about it. I’m sorry, I know we’ve needed to talk about everything – but I think its urgent, we have to do something.”
“You’re in charge” said Steven. “It’s you who has had the link with Ffion.”
Twice the previous evening Kate had experienced brief dream-like states where she had seen or heard Ffion. The second experience had been extremely clear – she had heard Ffion say we should stay here on the hill, and that her and Rob would come back the next day. After that, during the night, Kate had also had a series of faint flashes of Ffion in a very positive state – there had been more than the feelings, but Kate was not able to remember any details. The last of these flashes had been just before dawn.
I didn’t like the fact that Steven had put the responsibility on Kate. It frightened me.
“Its obviously me who should go” said Tamsin.
Tamsin’s face was flushed, and she looked on the edge of tears.
“With Rob it’s the equivalent of Kate with John. And yes – Kate has a link with Ffion, so maybe it should be me and you, Kate.”
Kate nodded, slowly. She took my hand for a moment, and pressed it. Her touch was calm, but somehow urgent at the same time.
“I think I should go. And I think I should do it right now. But I think it should just be me, to reduce the risk.”
“I don’t know anything. I don’t even know if I’ve been in contact with Ffion, maybe they were just hallucinations, what happened. But I think I can – call them, Ffion and Rob. And I don’t think we should risk an extra person.”
I felt distracted with fear. The thought of her going at all was a nightmare - but on her own!
And Kate was showing a side of herself which was new to me. Her calm assurance revealed her resolution – I knew she was going to go – and somehow made me even more aware of the danger. She had responded to extreme peril by reaching the best part of herself.
“I should go with you” I said. “I think I’m no longer vulnerable – I think I’ve been inoculated.”
Kate gripped my hand a second time.
Tamsin was protesting vehemently that she should go with Kate, but while she was speaking Kate, to my horror, stood up, and sat down on the opposite side of the stick. It was like watching someone leaping onto a boat that was leaving for a battle.
Steven was talking to Tamsin.
“I want to go as well.” he said. “but what you said is right. And at the same time we have to remember that your intent the last time was pretty good, but even without smoking grass – you were snatched by the familiast. So what might happen this time?”
Tamsin had tears in her eyes.
I looked back at Kate, who smiled at me reassuringly. She had picked up a joint that I had rolled, so that we would be ready when the decision was taken. I had never seen her with a cigarette of any kind in her hands.
Suddenly I felt calm, as if Kate’s mood had been transmitted to me.
Faint thunder rumbled in the distance. And I remembered something – something that I had briefly remembered earlier in the conversation, and then forgotten again.
I spoke to Kate.
“When we came over here – the four of us – and we were in the halfway place, in the Deep Hotel, you stamped your foot to get us all out here, didn’t you?”
Yes! exclaimed Kate, straightening her spine, and leaving her mouth open as she thought about it.
“I’d forgotten” she said. “It was like something in a dream. That’s it. That’s what I’m going to do.”
There was a town around me, but everything was upside down. The sky was beneath me, beyond my head, and I was attached to the ground in the same way as normal, but with the impression of being stuck, by gravity, to the underside of a gigantic spaceship. The town was an English town, with medieval buildings, faintly familiar in a dream-like way.
I was walking in a narrow street – or a wide alleyway - running between old-looking buildings. There were a few people around, walking along the street. Ahead the street turned left, and a man walking ahead of me followed the street out of sight. I was aware of a grey, unpleasant presence within the man, and within the other people in the street – and within myself. When I turned the corner I could see the man again, and I became aware that there was something else in the street. A kind of amorphous, grey entity alongside me and a little ahead – its outlines were blurred, like a cloud of smoke, but it was roughly humanoid in shape. I was simultaneously aware that there was another of these beings moving alongside the man, almost touching him. I could see that the grey presence inside the man – it was in his head - was somehow an energy formation of the same kind as the being outside, and that the entity was extending itself toward the presence in the man. And then, a moment later, the entity was superimposed across the man, so that the two beings were in one place – the figure of the man now looked shadowed, darkened.
The other grey entity had now done the same thing with a woman who was walking towards me, in the opposite direction. The grimly shadowed woman went past me, but I noticed she looked toward me, in an unthinking way, as if she was aware of me watching her on some level. I could hear people in the distance. I saw the shadow detach itself from the woman, and I was aware that the entity had disappeared around the corner in the direction of the people whose voices I could hear.
I was alone on the street. I saw for a moment how everyone sees the world as concrete, rather than seeing themselves as being a world of intent within a wider world of intent. I saw how there was a kind of grey, rapaciously fearful ‘concrete mind’ within everyone, a mind that at a deeper level was all about control and self-importance and judgemental gravity.
I shuddered with horror, and suddenly I was back in the Deep Hotel.
Col was looking at me.
“If you want I can show you our relationship with your ordinary world”.
I nodded. I was shocked by what I had just seen, but I wanted to understand.
I was now in a world which stretched immensely above me and all around me.
Underneath me there was the end of this world, there was the space beyond it. And just over the border into this space there was the world of human beings. This world stretched in every direction underneath me, and consisted of transparent and sometimes opaque globular shapes, suspended from the surface beneath me like a forest of amorphous sphere-like sculptures. These spherical forms were human beings. Beyond them there was the immensity of the sky, stretching down for miles and going out toward the cosmos.
Everything around me was intent - was feeling and ways of awareness. This included the entire space and its features, and all of the beings within it.
Everything in the human world beneath me was also intent, but here everything was far brighter. It was an astonishing world of love, delight, dreams, abstract worlds… There was a whole sky of interfused dreamings, and of spaces of perception, and abstract perception.
I focused for a moment on the wider features of what I was seeing. The world by which I was surrounded had its own sun far above me, which shone its dense, hot intent through thick spherical spaces of energy. These spaces of energy in fact continued out for miles into the sky beneath me – they were the sky. But although this world was a beautiful, astonishing sight, I knew I should focus my attention on the human world and what I could now see beyond it
Because here and there were lines of escaping energy which were swept up into a kind of calm sky vortex to the south, a white, slow twirling that evidently lead to the elsewhere. Also, across all of the remaining sky – which was white, like a misty sky with sun behind it, as if the sunlight was diffused through cloud – there was a zigzag space of black lightning which moved extremely slowly, new strikes taking minutes to appear and disappear.
The human world was now very much around me, with the planet and its softly glowing sun -and the Deep Hotel – extended above me. I could see the worlds of intent and feeling that were human beings, women and men children, and clusters of human beings. And I could see how eerily, strikingly beautiful everything was. How everything was shot through with love and delight and sensuality, and with captivating insights and dreams.
But then – there were swept back balloonings of energy. Individuals and groups went up in an intensification of their lives, but at the same time they were swept backwards, away from the fundamental energy source, the sky vortex that was everywhere above them but which was primarily in the sky to the south.
The problem in each case was that the outer, predominant intent was wrong. The intent involved kudos, or sexual conquest, or power and pleasure through sexual submission, or the desire for familial or social respect, or a religious-tribal anger against another social group. It was clear that people were letting go – whether toward an outside of their ordinary experience, or towards a person – and in doing this their lives were being heightened, but it was also clear that they were letting go in the wrong direction. As a result of some element of their mentality that had been placed within them, as their lives went up, they were also swept sadly back, away from the intensity, away from freedom.
There was a large town all around me and beneath me – I knew that this town was Oxford, an eerie, inverted Oxford suspended above the sky. It was night, and many people were asleep, but a few individuals were up working. I could see both the town and the world of the human spheres, superimposed through it. In front of me I saw a new ballooning of a scientific and mathematical project. Within the sphere that was the scientist a new structure of time came into focus. The scientist had known the individual elements already but now the base of the man’s sphere had extended itself into the world above, and was in close contact with beings from the Deep Hotel. As the scientist grasped the new structure of time, with the help of the world above him, he became exhilarated at a deep level, and his envelope expanded in the other direction, toward the sky. The man was suffused with the new structure of time that ran on a line through him, and his thrilled state expanded his boundary. However at the same time his excitement poured itself upwards, in a kind of sensual gratitude, toward the beings above him.
Several streets away I saw a woman working on a story, a fictional world. Again, I saw how a being from the Deep Hotel was showing the way in which a series of events and ideas the woman had already imagined at different times could be arranged – and then suddenly, there was a world of virtual spacetime extended through the woman, a story that was partly religious, a whole world of places and events, with an irruption at the end of something from the beginning which had lain dormant within it. And I saw how the woman was entranced by the world that had arrived in her, and how a part of her was sending an intense glow of affection toward the Deep Hotel entity with whom she was in contact, and how her dominant form of awareness did not see this being, and yet at the same time she believed herself to have been helped by something beyond her.
For a moment I understood something fundamental about the whole process of the interaction between the Deep Hotel and the human world, a relationship which is unequal, in that the Deep Hotel knows about humans, but in general the reverse is not true. What I saw shocked me in the extreme, although – bizarrely – it had the feeling of being something completely natural. What I could remember afterwards was the idea that the beings of the Deep Hotel were involved in a process of modifying aspects of the world of human desires and beliefs in order to ensure that the right kinds of energy came from it. Sexualised dreams about the future would be modified, systems of values would be fostered, new attitudes toward knowledge and social enterprises would be developed . I was not at all left with the feeling that this process was necessarily negative for the human world – it was more that I had the knowledge that it was primarily in the interests of the Deep Hotel.
And then I was seeing a woman out in the street, who was feeling the glow of the Deep Hotel above her, but who was reaching out toward the sky vortex – a bright, light-hearted song appearing from nowhere in her head, a song with a beautiful melody. And suddenly the world flipped the other way up, and I was in a different place completely.
I was in a valley in the Carpathian mountains. It was a forested valley, running south, with a few fields around a river. I was standing in a field by the river at night, facing the brightness of the sky vortex above the end of the valley. People were living there, in some scattered houses. I was experiencing a place which extended toward the sky vortex, and which was fundamentally about the love of wider realities, and about the lucid perception of space, along with the perception of time. And I was being greeted by three amazing people – two women and one man – who were standing forty feet away at the end of the field. They waved toward me, and they let me take in their ways of being. They communicated with me by letting me become their intent – their ways of being - and at the same time they told me that I was no longer in the Deep Hotel, and that I should remember their doorway to the elsewhere. Then they all waved again, smiling, and walked off in the direction of one of the houses. As they went one of the women gestured with her hand toward the sky vortex.
I wanted to follow them. But I knew I could not. Ffion needed me, back in the Deep Hotel.
The decision to go back had been taken, and suddenly I was standing in a small room, with Ffion sitting on a bed in front of me, with tears in her eyes. She was wearing a pale blue dress, and looked stunningly beautiful.
We hugged, standing in the middle of the room.
“A lot has just happened.” I said.
“And for me” said Ffion, with intense emphasis.
“Are you OK?
“Yes” said Ffion. “Especially now you’re here”
Why have you been crying?
Ffion shook her head, eyes wide, indicating it was not possible to explain.
[section to be included when Explorations is published]
I was afraid of the place where I was going – afraid of never coming back – and I was also afraid of smoking the grass. The last time I had smoked grass – a long time ago – I had experienced severe negative effects from it, a kind of sliding claustrophophic distress that had lasted for around two hours.
I tried to envisage Ffion and Rob – I brought to mind how they were when they smiled, the particular world of positivity that was revealed when their eyes shone. I called to them – imagining them in a world that in some sense was underneath the hill.
I pulled smoke into my mouth and inhaled it.
Nothing had happened, and yet somehow I felt the shudder had not been an ordinary one.
I was aware of the others looking at me, but I didn’t want to lose my concentration, so I avoided eye contact with them. I had a feeling that I was being very closely watched from somewhere else, and it was maintaining a focus on this somewhere-else that was important.
I thought about Ffion and Rob again, this time managing to envisage the room in which I had seen Ffion during the flashes the day before. But they weren’t there, they were off to the left.
I took another small pull on the joint, wandering if I was going to become too stoned to keep my focus. I concentrated very hard on clearing my thoughts and just perceiving the space in front of me, and again I tried to reach out toward my friends, calling to them.
This time the shudder was more intense, and I felt a membrane had nearly snapped.
For some reason I suddenly had a sense of extreme urgency. I took a long pull on the joint, inhaling all the smoke and holding it in my lungs, and then I did exactly what I had just done. I called out to Ffion and Rob, but this time with a piercing intensity.
The hill, John, Tamsin and Steven, the lake, the forest – they all disappeared.
Ffion and Rob were in a space somewhere to my left, and I had been deflected into perhaps the most beautiful room I had ever seen. The room was full of delicate, exquisite objects, and nothing was substantial – everything in fact was a world of feeling.
In front of me was a slender sculpture four feet high that culminated in a spherical amberish-white glow. This glowing sphere of light had an astonishing beauty. It was a feeling. It was a feeling of astonished delight and abandon, like the feeling of a young woman’s first orgasm with a man with whom she is in love. It was a captivating sight, and yet – I knew I had been deflected.
I felt toward Ffion and Rob, and clearing my head, I willed myself into the space where they were, to my left.
On several levels I was intensely shocked by what had just taken place.
I decided I had to take stock, and work out what I really felt, with full perspective, about what was taking place, and whether or not I wanted to have a child with Rob.
Rob seemed to know that I had become abstracted, and for a while he caressed my body. I felt glad he was attuned to me, and his caresses gave me energy, although it was also true that they were part of a sensual process that could subvert the outcome of my assessment of what we were doing.
I remembered the wall of white light.
And then I realized that my memories were a fabric of contingencies, floating with me. They were not my in any way my essence. My memories were what had happened to me, with all the habit-patterns that had been insisted upon by the human world, and with all the extra ones that part of me – that wasn’t really me – had created to fend off the wider spaces of reality. What mattered about your memories was how they helped you navigate in the now – how they helped you orientate yourself in relation to your love for those around you, and for the world. Everything else was ongoing damage, and intricate confusion masquerading as a source of comfort. Suddenly I knew that I could let go of all of my memories, and yet who I was would still be there: my love, my lucidity, my delight in being a perceiver, my hostility to being attacked, my affinities. I felt suddenly that I was floating free from something that had been heavy and unhealthy. I was walking somewhere in an area of forest, with the wall of white light visible through the trees to the south.
[section to be included when Explorations is published]
There were a few seconds of mounting ecstasy. My decision –if it could be called mine – had been taken, and I had become a delirially blissful world of feeling, of total abandon.
And then – crack, the sound of a foot hitting the floor.
It was Kate.
I had turned my head. Kate was standing in the corner of the room to the left of the door.
And now I understood everything, and I could act on my understanding. Kate did not look in the least judgmental, she merely communicated our need to leave the Deep Hotel. And I did not feel embarrassed, although maybe the jolt of Kate’s presence had something in common with embarrassment.
I stamped my foot again, in response to a kind of anguished lack-of-focus I saw in Rob - a distress about having been caught in the act of having sex with Ffion, and a kind of horrified shock whose source I couldn’t completely see. I was seeing both Ffion and Rob as roughly human-shaped fields of coloured energy. Ffion was intensely bright, a solar white that shimmered with tiny flares of colours, and that had a kind of amber corona around it. Rob was not nearly as bright, but he had a fiery white core that was close to her brightness, and that was shuddering with glints of electric colours. Somehow in looking at them in this way I was seeing their states of being, and in looking at Rob I knew that something had just been happening involving inhabitants of the Deep Hotel.
“Tamsin and Steven are safe,” I said. “They’re with us on the hill.”
Ffion came over to me, a coloured world of energy, who I saw clearly as Ffion, even though I could not really see her physical form. As she had got up from the bed I had seen both her and Rob naked for a moment, but now she had put on her clothes.
For some reason Ffion took hold of my left wrist.
Rob was with me a moment later, and he followed Ffion’s lead, and took my right wrist.
A kind of current of energy went through me when Rob took my wrist – it felt as if something very positive that had been passing between the two of them was now passing through me as well.
“The hill, now” said Ffion. I was grateful to her for holding her focus. What I was experiencing from contact with her and Rob, together with the effect of the drug, was bringing me to the edge of being disassociated.
“Yes” I said.
And I brought my foot down a third time, with the greatest force of all the strikes. The strike had the greatest force, and yet somehow at the same time it had a calm implacable quality about it – the degree of force was an aspect of the act, rather than it being a result of desperation.
And then we were all standing on the hill.
There was a moment of relief and joy – a moment which I experienced from the points of view of all six of us. What I remember about that moment is very complex. I remember being all of us simultaneously feeling the exultation that Ffion and Rob and I had escaped, and at the same time I remember the knowledge that something was impending.
It was not over - at a level beyond words, I knew this. I could feel it coming.
A strike of lightning ripped open the sky in front of us, and it was followed almost immediately by a gigantic sound of thunder, and an earthquake-like shaking of the ground as the charge cracked into the ground. I felt certain that the sexual act between Ffion and Rob would have reached its culmination at the moment of this lightning strike, and I was relieved that I had prevented this from happening.
And then – in a matter of fact way – I was in another world. It was matter of fact because I had been sensing it was possible to be in this place, and now the lightning had given me the energy I needed to reach out and be swept away to it. I had called out, toward the elsewhere, the outside.
I was surrounded by a white mother-of-pearl iridescence. This world of mother-of-pearl light went through me, and had indeterminately formed features suspended in space around me, some relatively near, some far away, in a sphere of perception – I could see in all directions at once –where all of the forms gave the impression of being indeterminate only because I could not bring them fully into focus. Their size was unknown, and they gave the impression that they could have been the size of planets. I felt a warmth and lucidity coming from all of these forms – I knew that they were clusters of distant beings which in some sense were similar to me, but that they were at a vastly higher level, and that some of them were willing to teach me. Each one was utterly different, but each in a way was – visually – a space of intricate cloudy iridescence, a glittering, shimmering multiplicity, seen across a gigantic space of the cosmos, or through a barrier between dimensions.
There were five of these worlds which came into focus, in different directions all around my sphere of perception. Two of them were more or less below me, in relation to the planet, although all directions were now outward. The one on which I focused most closely was in front and a little to the right. It was shimmering with serenely electrical colours, and had the form of a tall thin cloud with complex translucent edges that had a kind of wax-like, wing-like precision.
In between the five worlds there were gaps which took up more than half of the spherical, mother of pearl sky around me, and in these gaps I could faintly see more worlds of the same kind.
But then I was aware of someone communicating with me from the tall world in front of me. There was a warm, wild calmness about this being, a feral alien energy, crackling with intensity and full of affection for me.
“You’re too open” it said, speaking fast, although it had spoken even more quickly a moment before, but I had not recognised the sounds as speech. “You’re not coming towards any of the worlds, you’re not taking decisions, you’re just open. You need to leave now.”
The being shouted the last word toward me, and I felt a jolt of galvanising energy, a gift.
There was something in extreme proximity, coming towards me from behind me to the right.
I knew, without pausing to think about it, that I had opened up with the entirety of my energy – my spiritual, sensual and abstract energy – and that something was simply coming to consume it. It was an unknown entity, with a predator ferocity, and it was about to kill me.
I opened my eyes, and a split second later I heard the words “keep your eyes open, think normal’ coming from the being who had just warned me.
I looked at the trees in front of me, beyond the lake, and then attempted to look in a calm way over my right shoulder.
There was an object like a megalith on the hill, only made of a dark meteoritic rock that was more intricate than any rock I’ve seen. Its intricacy was in some way an expression of its predator intent.
It was about to attack.
I was aware of everything around me. A moment before – before the lightning strike - John had been hugging me, and then John had been pulled away by Tamsin and Rob. At that moment Ffion had been hugging me from sideways on, from my left, and I knew that she had realised I was in a trance-state. Now I heard her shocked intake of breath as she followed my eyes, and saw the black megalith, an upright hideous presence that was covered in tiny whorled, and angled prutrusions, and looked as if it was made of black metallic stone.
And then I was aware that the predator entity was perceiving the thunderstorm. A streamer of plasma was about to emerge from the entity’s highest point, plasma that would draw the lightning toward it. There was nowhere for it to go but down.
It went down into the Deep Hotel.
It was gigantic in its force, but the Deep Hotel was even more vast.
For a moment there was a cataclysmic explosion of fury, and then this became an ultra-intense orgasm of submission.
I knew that instead of being killed it had been libidinally trapped, it was now utterly complicit in its own entrapment.
Rob had fainted. I had felt him pass out, his legs buckling underneath him. I knew he had just seen what I had.
John was now in front of me, calling out to me, grasping my shoulder, trying to get my attention.
I could hear Steven saying “we have to get off the hill!”
Suddenly I was able to speak, and move.
“I’m OK, I’m OK” I said to John, clasping his shoulder, and then I turned and pressed Ffion’s arm as well.
“Rob’s fine” I said. “We’ll carry him. We have to get to the house.”
* * *