Gateway

The year was almost over. She had long ago lost track of time. Living in a state of suspended animation, she drifted aimlessly back and forth between her past, present and future, without going anywhere at all.

Her inner dialogue vacilated back and forth between “present moment mantras”, and pleading with the universe to set her free. She liked to say that she was waiting for her alien to come and take her away from this place called earth.

Laying in bed wide awake at 4 am on a Sunday morning, she resisting the involuntary urge to reach for her cell phone, and get on the incessant wheel of deep diving into a vortex of news feeds alternating with obsessive furniture shopping. As can easily happen, that bad habit had solidified into an addiction. In the darkness, she told herself to go back to sleep. Inhaling and exhaling, she began counting backwards from 100. 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95.

At 94, a high pitched noise startled her. She reached over to switch on the small bedside lamp. Waiting, she lay completely still. There it was again. A tiny buzzing, not unlike a mosquito, but more mechanical. It moved from one side of her room to the other, faster and faster, as it became louder and louder, closer and closer, until the buzzing noise felt as though it was coming from within her body. Alarmed, she assumed the worst, and thought this might be a severe panic attack, or something more deadly; perhaps heart failure, or even a stroke.

Urgent to text a friend or neighbor; she found herself unable to move. Absolutely paralyzed, she tried to turn her head, but it was as though everything had stopped in time, and she was completely frozen. She could only stare straight ahead in absolute terror, as the buzzing sound escalated, and her body started vibrating from deep within her core. The sensations traveled through her limbs towards her fingertips and toes. She wanted to call for help, but she had no voice. Tears welled up in her eyes, spilling down her cheeks onto the duvet. They landed with a soft sound that commingled with the intermittent buzzing noise. She felt like she couldn’t breathe, and she knew this was the end. Her eyes closed and she lost consciousness.

A cool sensation enveloped her body. Strange metallic scraping sounds filled her ears. Through her eyelids, she could sense light. Squinting to crack open her eyes, she quickly closed them, as she was blinded by a painfully brilliant glare. Utterly confused, she tried to speak, but nothing came out. The noise was coming from nearby, and as she became more alert, she could also make out some sort of whispering. The voices sounded very low pitched and strange, and they began to move closer. She was lying on a bed, and again tried to open her eyes, but was blinded by the white light from above. She heard heavy foot steps coming towards her, and suddenly felt her hair being tugged. She tried to cry out, as a few strands of hair were ripped from her scalp. Paralyzed, she could only lay there, eyes squeezed shut, in a state of utter terror.

What had begun as a cool and damp sensation, starting at her mid chest, now slowly made its way down her torso, until it seemed to dissipate between her legs. A loud clicking noise was followed by a digital sound, and mechanical beeping. She had the sensation of vibration, shuffling and motion within her body. There was no pain. Again, she tried to open her eyes but the glaring white light made it impossible; she squeezed them tightly shut again. In that brief moment, she had glimpsed what appeared to be two very tall figures, but it was too fast and she was too confused to be sure. The wet sensation expanded over her torso and poured down along both sides of her waist, until she could feel it pooling beneath her lower back. She drifted in and out of consciousness, until again she was in the dark.

This time, her body was drifting through space. In suspended animation, she floated across the universe like a sarcophagus, destination unknown. She watched as distant flickering stars, small moons, various debris, and asteroids passed by. She was a voyeur on this journey, but also part of the universe itself. Then she saw it. The beautiful blue dot in the midst of this vast dark landscape. She knew it was her home, and longed to be there once again. Drifting along, her eyes closed, as she felt a wave of calm come over her.

She heard the low voices whispering again, and felt a brief gentle pressing sensation over her heart. Suddenly, everything went silent. A soft breeze grazed her skin, as if there was something billowing above. Silky fabric landed gently over her body. She heard the strange voices as they trailed away, almost as if down a long corridor, until they disappeared into the distance.

In the complete silence, she noticed that the light was no longer blasting through her lids. With a sudden sense of calm, she slowly opened her eyes. The room was dark. She felt the fabric caressing her skin and to her surprise, she was able to move her limbs. Wriggling her toes and fingers, a wave of relief swept over her. The damp sensation had gone and as she slid her hand to touch her torso, she felt the soft fabric of the t-shirt and sweat pants she wore as pajamas. Turning onto her side, her cell phone lay on the floor where she had tossed it the night before. A beam of sunlight streamed through the window just reaching her forehead. Slowly sitting up, she felt a renewed sense of purpose and energy. It was only 7 am, but she felt eager and excited to get up and start the day.

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