by Josh T. Alto
Is there anything we would not do to see ourselves on the cover of a magazine?
|Here I am, sitting on a rock at the end of the world and no one can see me. People keep passing me by, looking through me, walking through me, if only they knew how many times I have already tried to contact them.
I am sure you have all heard of Simon the Almighty? No? You are kidding. Everyone knows my name. I'm the greatest magician and millions of people were watching my shows all over the world when I presented my latest tricks on my tour last summer. I was even the cover story of some magazines at that time.
My tricks, yes, they were tricks though very sophisticated and rather expensive ones, they were planned and carried out by a team of several hundreds of specialists. My crew, they were my hands and my magic wand. Sometimes not even the tricks were my own idea, I paid people who gathered the most impossible ideas for me and others were paid to find solutions to them. If there were only a few solutions and even those seemed impossible to realize we started to work on them. They were not cheap and every time we had to calculate how many people should see it to make it profitable and even earn a lot of money while presenting the new trick.
You should have known my crew, they were the most reliable people one can find, they had to keep their mouths shut but they were also paid for that. No one should ever find out any details of my tricks, people should believe I’m really the greatest magician in the world.
After our world tour last summer I was having a short vacation in one of my bungalows at the seaside. I was sort of trying to think of something new but I didn’t have the faintest idea where I should start. I knew I had to make a trick that no one could surpass and everyone would be talking about all over the world. Vanishing the Statue of Liberty or walking through the Great Wall of China would only be a child's-play compared with it.
One day after breakfast I took a short trip to the tiny second hand bookshop in the little town, a few hundred meters away from my resort at the sea. I used to go to that antiquarian quite often while staying there; I loved those old books with the scent of past days. Usually I found some old lithography that I could get framed and put on the wall in one of my houses or old artistic books of people and places I’d never seen before.
That time as I walked in there was something strange in the air. I was alone in the shop beside the shopkeeper but I sniffed an odd scent as if someone had just left the shop as I walked in, but there was no one on the street either. Although it could not be more than ten or at most eleven, the summer sun was burning harshly and the heat was almost unbearable. As I couldn’t find any acceptable reason for my hallucination apart from the heat outside I decided to have a rest inside in the shelter of the air conditioners. I took good time and looked through the books one by one beginning with the shelf near the entrance.
It was not a big shop but there were quite a few shelves full of old books so time flew by. I had spent more than an hour there browsing the shelves, I could forget about everything having so many fabulous books around me. I also collected old books about magicians but I did not score any new findings lately. I was about to take a short break and have lunch somewhere in a neighboring restaurant when I caught glimpse of a book on the shelf at the opposite wall.
There was nothing special about it but, like a magnet, it attracted my attention somehow. I walked over and took the book in my hands. It was a rather old book, bound in a brownish cover with golden intarsia on the front, lithe flamingos and graceful eagles flying over a fabulous landscape. It also had a mysterious title "The Grand Illusion" that woke my interest instantly. As I looked in it, it turned out that it was a step-by-step introduction to flying. I was sort of disappointed, first of all I must confess I never really believed man were able to fly even if it entertained scientists since man first envied the easiness in which birds challenged gravity.
I knew quite a lot about levitation from my old books, certainly read about the method of flying thoroughly described in the "Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy" and read the Harry Potter books where they flew on broomsticks, but they were only fantasy, I couldn’t think about them more seriously as they in fact were. It must be some kind of joke I thought first but judging by its worn-out cover and ragged pages it must have been used all the same extensively.
First I tried to find some dates that could help to determine how old it was but there weren’t any hints of its age or publisher not even the name of its author was printed anywhere. I asked the shopkeeper hoping he could give me some more details about how he got hold of the book but all he knew was that he had bought the book together with some other things from the legacy of an old cracked man who lived on the hill over the town. He was not quite sure but presumed that the man disappeared traceless some ten month ago and since then no one heard anything of him. As it was mysterious enough I bought the book and hurried home eagerly to sit down with my new purchase on a rock at the sea and find out what it was really about.
First I felt totally fooled, for the introduction presented different birds, how they fly and why we can never really follow them; we are too weak to lift off using our arms. The first chapter presented some incredible experiences with flying such as levitation; it was written very understandably and apparently a long time ago, there was not anything about Maxwell equations or diamagnetism that I had read about in that subject recently.
In the following chapters there were rather dry descriptions of different methods that resemble flying mentioning the anti-gravity engine or creeping through a cross-dimensional hole to take up another position in our three-dimensional world. It explained how the numberless of three-dimensional worlds net the four or even more dimensional worlds similar to a description in a book that I read years ago. It was the Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot describing the life in a two-dimensional world. As far as I understood if someone moved in the four-dimensional world it could be perceived from our world as flying. Later it explained how we could find the threads that crisscross our world and profiting them move ourselves to another place without visible effort.
Similar to the magnetism that crosses a door, if you put a magnet near enough someone on the other side would be able to sense it and even decode the information supposed you used the magnet for sending out signals. There are perturbations on the other side of the four dimensional doors that can’t be perceived by our senses but some of us can feel them with something we call the sixth sense.
Later on in the book it was demonstrated how we could develop our capacity to sense these signals and find the doors that separate us from other worlds. It is like leaving a two-dimensional space at one place and reentering somewhere else, as if picking up something at one point from a sheet of paper and dropping down somewhere else, then picking it up again and moving further. Watching it from the two-dimensional space it would almost seem like flying.
The book described how one can acquire the ability of perceiving the changes of gravity, the same way as we see the changes of light. We use a slight drop of gravity and a rise of anti-gravity force to head through the door that is suddenly opened as an exit out of our world and an entrance to somewhere else. It needs some concentration and the capability of watching ourselves from the outside. In fact, it is a kind of out-of-body experience which makes us capable of traveling to other planes of existence.
At the end of the book there were some pages missing, torn out awkwardly, it was obvious; the torn edges were still visible. I have some idea what it could have been; according to the table of contents it was about the danger of getting lost between dimensions, it sounded like a warning at the end of the instruction manual when you buy a new electrical appliance.
There was certainly no doubt that I had to try it. I wouldn’t be a magician if I hesitated. Having finished the introductory exercises I made up my mind, I didn’t have any other choice; I stepped on the rock and concentrated. In a moment I would fly like a bird, I thought. I stood there, as if waiting for a miracle to happen, eyes closed, arms spread out. I concentrated on the gravity fields, tried to feel them through my pores but I did not perceive anything. I felt kind of dizzy, I had not eaten anything since my breakfast and it was around five or six in the afternoon.
I sat down on the rock and tried to recall the instructions I was supposed to follow; closed my eyes and then suddenly I felt something, a faint but nevertheless determined inclination to stay up and walk to the left on the shore. In front of me there were rocks everywhere but after a few hundred meters there was an open beach with some shelters and cubicles to change clothes but at that time it was almost empty.
As I walked by a big rock I felt something as if I was slightly attracted by it and then slowly it became clear to me that at the very point where I stood there was a weakness in gravity, a door could be opened if I wanted it strong enough. I repeated the exercise step by step and suddenly I felt a change in my physical state, I did not move from the spot but I was not there anymore, though I was not at any other place either.
As if my body was stuck at a place between the worlds. I knew something similar from the "Chronicles of Narnia"; as a magician I certainly read all those books about magicians but it was not exactly the same. As if I was watching my world from the outside but it was not my world any more. It was a world without me. And it struck me like an arrow from behind, it was really a world without me, there were no traces of me there.
First I did not expect anything like that but when I tried I could even walk away from the rock, it was a perfect copy of my world, with people, some of them sitting on a bench not far away from me and an older couple walking in my direction. But they just could not see me. They passed me by without looking at me; they could not hear my shouting however loud I cried. I walked into the town to the antiquarian but it was closed already; I do not know, even if it had been open what would it have been good for? Nothing!
Then I went back to the seashore and sat back on the rock. A young couple came in the meantime and laid on the sand kissing. What can I add to my story? I know I can blame no one but myself; it was my excess of ambition and exorbitance that brought me here.
My only hope is to find someone, who can read my thoughts through a keyhole in the door; or I could transmit it into someone’s dream that would write it down and would find it interesting enough to publish it. I have been trying it for several months now but I suppose I was not at the right place at the right time, unfortunately I cannot see where the doors are; it is a question of time.
But I do hope someday someone will put down my story after awakening from a strange dream and I can see my picture again on the cover of a magazine.
(Word count 2142)