Prelude - The Adventure of a Lifetime.
Something has happened...I don't know what. It was more than a dream. More than a vision. More than a delusion. And yet, it was filled with so many things that are absolutely impossible. How does a person reconcile what they know happened with what they know can't be true? I guess that's what I'm going to try to do here.
I subscribe to a skeptical view of examining the universe, even after everything that's happened. As such, it would be hypocritical to ask you to believe any of what I'm about to say. Not only do I lack Carl Sagan's extraordinary evidence for these extraordinary claims, but I don't have any evidence at all. All I have are memories, and as it's been said before, "memories are carved in wax, not stone." I am convinced that these things happened, but I can't hold it against you if you are not (indeed, I can expect nothing less). With that being the case, the easiest way to look at all of this is as fiction. From that perspective, it may at least be entertaining, and even the most far-fetched fantasies can speak to some kind of truth, in their own way. As I said, I'm doing this largely to make sense of something I don't quite understand, but if others can get something out of it too, so much the better.
It was, in a very real and literal sense, the adventure of a lifetime. It's an experience that I'm sure others have had before, and to live through it must be the greatest privilege that life can bestow on those lucky enough to receive it. Like all the best adventures, it was rife with terror and danger. The greatest threat of all was that I might suffer what some would argue is a fate worse than death. And yet, it was filled with wonder and beauty - the kind that most people go their whole lives only dreaming of. What would you be willing to risk if it meant having your greatest desires granted? This is not only rhetorical - it's a question that may be asked of you one day, with far more...practical implications.
If you survive, it will only be because you are strong enough to grow as a person - to see the worst in yourself, and face it down. Not everyone can do this. Some people look at the absolute worst in themselves and don't even recognize it. Others fall into despair when confronted with their own darkness. This almost happened to me. But I am fortunate enough to know, and know of, certain people that helped me to overcome such feelings.
What you are about to read is something that can only happen in a story, and that will be apparent right from the off. But in a way, isn't that what we all are in the end? Stories? Maybe whether or not this actually happened isn't really the point, or at least, not the most pertinent one. If this is, above all else, a story, then maybe what's most important is that it is told to whoever is kind enough to listen. If you join me for this story, for this adventure, then I thank you. I really, sincerely hope that you gain something from it, however small.
Ready? Then let's begin.