I was considering the possibility that all words served the purposes of the dark master. Do all words serve the purposes of the dark master, I asked? Is this how he controls us to do his bidding even when we wish most sincerely to speak bravely of the right of every human being to freedom, dignity and the possibility of self-determination? Even speaking thusly, in good faith as we do, do we play into the hands of the dark master?
These are the questions I found myself wrestling with. These, and many other questions like them. Many other questions. Many questions. The darkness of the darkness is very dark I said then to myself, nonsensically. I repeated this inanity a number of times, lost in a fog. I could see nothing in that fog – all I could do was keep going around in circles, repeating this foolish sentence as if it actually meant something. The darkness of the darkness is very dark, I told myself. The darkness of the darkness the darkness of the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness the darkness
And then – eventually – I pulled out of it. I started to emerge from the deadly fog. I came back to myself, back to my right mind. I have come through it, I realized. I have survived the ordeal – the dreadful punishing ordeal. I’m still here. I didn’t feel very good it was true. I felt like a weakened enfeebled shadow of myself. I didn’t feel right in myself at all. “One minute to go Mr Smith,” said the voice in my head. Sounding very official, sounding very businesslike. “One minute Mr Smith.” I had to get a move on I realized, time was moving on. I had to gather my scattered wits. I had to sort myself out but it was very hard because I was so dithery and tottery. I kept forgetting things. I kept forgetting what I was supposed to be doing.
I’ve beaten the darkness, I said to myself. It didn’t get me after all. I had survived the psychic attack, as intense as it had been. I’m a veteran of the psychic wars, I said to myself. I’m a survivor – scarred, somewhat unstable emotionally, full of traumatic memories of things that had not yet happened, alternative pasts and the like, but I was a survivor all the same. I had survived to fight another day. Then it occurred to me that I was late for work. I had been distracted by my own thoughts about being a veteran of the psychic wars, which no one knew about apart from me. I had left the hot tap running and the bathroom mirror had steamed up. I went to wipe a portion of it with a towel and then froze in numb disbelief, staring at my reflection in the mirror. I had turned old, very old. I was at least one hundred years old, it occurred to me. I had a wispy white beard and hair that went down to the floor and my face was all gaunt and skeletal. I hadn’t beaten the darkness after all I realized – the darkness had beaten me. The darkness was having the last laugh. I’d been a relatively young man when I had gone to bed last night I knew, but now it was as if half a century or more had past whilst I had slept. It hadn’t even been what you’d call a good night’s sleep either.
I was Rip Van Crinkle I realized. That was my name, not Mr Smith. That had been another world, another age. That had been an alternative past. My name was Rip Van Crinkle and the darkness was having the last laugh. Struggling with the darkness, wrestling with it, wandering around and around aimlessly in the fog, that hadn’t been just a few minutes – that had been my life. “What was that?” I asked myself, “What was that thing, what was that thing that just happened?”
“Why – that was your life!” I replied to my own question, feeling more than just a little bit surprised at my own foolishness. “Didn’t you recognize it…?”