As I awoke I stood on a great plain, canyons snaking through the terrain like wrinkles on the ancient face of the earth scoured by the elements. A harsh wind blew on my face as I turned it about to face a thing that I would never have expected.
From a depression in the earth, an immense tower of stone rose at least a mile above the surface. It looked nothing like the human edifices of steel and glass I was accustomed to from my urban childhood, save for the shape. Trees and shrub were growing from cracks in the rock, the monolith seemingly indifferent to such minor aesthetic impurities. At the top, at the very edge of my vision, a glint of light. A window?
As I gazed slack-jawed at the view, I noticed going towards the foot of the tower a group of bipedal creatures. They walked with the gait of great apes and were covered in thick beige fur. As they reached the foot of the tower they immediately started climbing the great column. Their ascent bore little resemblence to how humans would climb. Seemingly bearing little regard for their own lives, they would leap and weave upwards on the stone, confident that they would find grip, and scrabbling for hand-holds as little stones would rain down from their effort.
I knew in my heart that I would have to enter this citadel to have it relinquish its secrets. Though I did not know why. How had I gotten here in the first place?
Would I have to climb onto the backs of these brutes to get to the top? Or was there another way in?
Looking about the base of the tower, one patch looked unnaturally square. A door, perhaps?
I began my approach.
For a moment my reverie seemed to break. I wanted to tell him that every moment is the beginning for all others, that this was just one of those. A drop in the ocean of time. To ask him whether he said that to all the girls. Instead I kept silent. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I became acutely aware of the clothes on my skin, the position and shape of my hands as they wrapped around the glass.
I took a sip from the lemonade. It was cheap. Probably from concentrate. Cheap stuff bought in bulk from a big distributor, produced in nameless factories by nameless people I would never meet. In the clarity and awareness of that moment I could perceive my mind going down a rabbit hole of connections and immaterial consequences, all trying to distract myself from the intensity of this strange and yet all-so-familiar feeling that I knew Ralph from a different life, a different existence so far removed from this one that it must have been someone else entirely.
“I’m packed and ready.” I finally say. My heart was pounding. Just a hint of pulse coming through my voice as I spoke. “Where are we going? Will my father be there?”
“Oh my dear, the revolution would not be long for this world if we just gave our locations away willy-nilly. You’re going to have to trust me and simply follow. Please hand me your phone.”
With only a moments hesitation I pulled out the thin black object. For a brief moment I wondered what I was giving up about myself. Of myself. What that device knew about my hopes and dreams. How that thing was part of my mind. He took out the chip inside.
And then the rectangle was flying out of his hand. Around it turned, the sun reflecting on it as it sailed out under the ever-watching sky and down into the waves below.
“Let me tell you about your father.”