No One Is an Island

Deep Dream Image (Detail) of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (Cropped) © Image by Kyle McDonald via Flickr:

Bu woke up with a trembling body. What was that? Was everything okay? Bu looked breathlessly at his own hands and felt a tightness. Bu tried to move their fingers, one after the other. They obeyed, and a relieved Bu blew the air out of their lungs and looked at Su. Su’s small body rose and fell, their breathing went smoothly, their eyes were shut, everything was all right. Bu wanted to remember now, but Bu’s dreams almost always escaped their memory moments after waking. Not this one though. Apparently, a great deal of meaning lay hidden within it. 

Sascha Ehlert

Bu considered getting the cell phone from the living room and trying to write it down — maybe this dream was a good start for a new story. So, Bu got up and glanced out the window; the sun had already risen, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Still, it seemed to Bu that the outside was just as gray as yesterday. Bu briefly felt content as the Nespresso flowed from the recycled aluminum capsule into the cup. When the machine was finished, Bu looked at the phone. For once, no breaking news on the lock screen. Good, good. If Bu had started reading the news now, the memory probably would have faded immediately. And so, Bu laid back down with Su, placed the coffee down next to them, and opened Notes.

I woke up and immediately knew where I was. I was floating in the air above an island. The whole world was drawn in absurdly saturated colors, as if the island that made up this entire world had been the idea not of a god, but of a man. That is, the island actually looked completely uninteresting, at least from up here. I found myself probably several thousand meters up — and that reassured me. I could have simply stayed up here and might have been content forever. A little later, I would curse my curiosity, but at the moment when I saw it, my brain and body were working like that of an ordinary person. Something was going on down there. Something that didn’t quite fit the picture. I knew there were people on the island, how else could it be? There were other mammals and fish too, but they were merely props. This world, which always seemed so artificial to me, revolved around people. I knew why they were there, here on this island. They had been playing their game there for ages, round after round, following the same rules. This didn’t allow for what I was seeing now, though. It was something that I couldn’t describe, something that left me speechless at the sight of it. I felt an urge from within to get closer to what I saw because maybe in this way, I thought, I would find the words that were currently failing me. So, I set myself in motion. I went down, at first slowly, then faster and faster. My mind went blank, and I became a captive of my terror. So now, I was whirling all over the island, attempting to make sense of what I was seeing. Grimaces that would haunt me forever, mouths torn open, bodies broken, lonely symbols of the luxurious past of this world, which now seemed ready to devour itself. It was horrible, but I wanted to see more and more of these people to whom indescribable things seemed to be happening. What had they done? 

Wasn’t this all just a game? Why didn’t the game keep going? Fish, bird, or human being — everything was frozen as if the world was simply standing still because it could no longer bear all this. I continued to buzz around and looked for clues that could tell me what had triggered all this. But I remained unsuccessful. Instead, I was more and more afflicted by a gloomy feeling that settled irrevocably in my thoughts. Those grimaces. I tried to look away, but I couldn’t. Atom atom atom. Again my speech left me.

When I began to come to my senses again, after those moments of madness, I asked myself how I could live up to my responsibility. What could I do to save this island that was a whole world? A completely and entirely stupid thought — or was it? Wasn’t everything just a game without consequences? No, it occurred to me at that moment with all the weight that the epiphany of a truth brings. I had to save this world, no matter the cost. But then... Suddenly, a pain shot through my thoughts. And that was that. 

Bu closed Notes, nodded twice, satisfied for themself and feeling good now. Then, Bu decided to wake up Su. After all, it was almost noon. 

Logo Das Wetter © Das Wetter This article was commissioned by and created in collaboration with Das Wetter – Magazin für Text und Musik.

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