You Are Not Alone [Journey Review]

By James Hawkins in Reviews
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 10:00 am
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​A digital wind carries handfuls of sand. In the brightness of the sun, the sand's crystal particles exude a shimmer of wetness. This liquid, though, is just the sun catching the exact angles that sparkle. This desert is dry. It is barren. It is littered with scarf-adorned tombstones and, just inches below the dust, fragments of another civilization's rest. Sometimes the stone pillars breach the surface, their arcane sculptures giving character to the rolling dunes before me. There's a light-emitting volcano in the distance. That's where I'm going.

This is my journey. Each step I take, I draw closer to that mysterious, monumental precipice and meet light and shadow along the way. I grow as I discover, my vitality is made stronger by my breadth of knowledge. But that distant mountain, I'm compelled to go to it. Sometimes, driven there by an invisible propellant. There is a fluid ebb and flow to my movements. Each attempted deviation in my quest eventually leads me back on path. There's a light-emitting volcano in the distance. That's where I'm going.
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It was a while before I ran into another on his same journey -- he was scaling a dune in the distance, riding across a living tapestry toward ancient pillars. I sang to him, piping out my scales at different volumes, gliding down the steep hills in front of me. I was relieved to witness life. He moved toward a structure that would transport him to a god's palace, and on to the next leg of his quest. I saw him disappear. I sat in the structure and too was given wisdom by a spirit.

Outside this mythic tabernacle I pushed forth, only feet behind my companion, ascending a light-filled obelisk. We were driven upward by this magic scarf. I was pleading to him in my multi-tonal song, though I did not know his name and couldn't tell his motives. Could he hear me? Was I too quiet? Was this a journey he made peculiar to him, and he was eschewing those who broke the experiential spell? He rushed to the god's temple, leaving me to witness a series of hieroglyphs and giving him a ample opportunity to pull away. When I emerged, he wasn't as far ahead as I would've thought.

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It was only in small moments of revelation did he turn to me knowingly and we would turn to gusts and take to the skies. It was a competition, he scaled walls and launched himself skyward. I was slower, less experienced, and he was out of sight quickly. The competitions to move upward across these platforms were unfair based on depth of skill. It felt the whole time like I was annoying him and being left behind.

But I kept moving and met the next god's chamber. And there was my companion, waiting for me. He waited for me. And he sang his song in celebration that I was there, and the orchestral rush lit up the evening. This is a man I will spend my whole journey with.

And together we walked. There were points where he became severely injured, and I drew close to him, comforting almost, to keep him trudging onward. A monstrous being charged us, and he dove in front of me to save a sliver of my remaining scarf.  This man, one I've never known or will never know again, was here to walk to God's gates. He was determined to not be alone. 

The hum is now of fluorescent lights. The off-kilter concert of melodies, now shapeless in form, come from the quiet television perched high on the wall, and from the arrhythmic hiss of the plastic accordion that pumps in your air. The antiseptic-scented sheets on that small bed, those are your shimmering desert sands. The pulsing clicks, those are your songs. I've caught up to you. Or, at least, you've slowed enough and I've caught up to you.

I'll crawl in now, between the thin, dripping machinery and the papery sheets to warm you. Like I should have, back then. I'll slide my arm behind your heavy head, and take you by the shoulders. And this time you'll be suspended above the ground not by a scarf, or by wings, or a length of rope. This time, you'll be carried there by me.

The Official Verdict: 5 out of 5

Follow James on Twitter @JamesHawk1ns

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