29B - Atonement/Apotheosis Redux - "Not My Brand"
The best way I could describe the Borderlands video game franchise is as a story-driven blend of first-person-shooter and role-playing game. The aesthetic is Mad Max in space with insanely cool weapons, quirky characters, dangerous beasts, and violent savages to contend with as you hunt for treasure on a hostile, desert planet in search of the valuable remains of a lost, alien civilization. I bring this up because it’s in this kind of world that I found myself one April morning in 2020 while I was deep in meditation. My mind’s eye came upon the scene, like I was watching it all play out on a kind of immersive TV screen, and I could see myself walking through a desert in the cool pre-dawn light with two other beings that I knew to be my Ego and my Id.
I was wearing something like digital camo fatigues that were very much worn in and mostly faded, as well as a long, red scarf that was partially wrapped around my head like a hood. I had metallic elbow and knee pads, as well as bracers, and a chest plate. I had a small backpack on my back, a futuristic-looking combat rifle in my hands, and a pistol on my right hip.
Ego was portrayed as a tall, thin, extremely pale, elvish man with long, white hair that framed a beautifully carved face and pointy ears. He wore a black, tight-fitting, hooded outfit and had a large, futuristic-looking sniper rifle on his back, and long, straight blades on each thigh.
Id was a hulking beast of about ten to twelve feet in height that walked on his knuckles like a gorilla. Instead of hair, he had craggily gray, reptilian skin, and something like massive ram horns that protruded from the front of his head and curled around behind his pointed ears – the smoothness of each horn was interrupted by large, random spikes, some of which jutted out from the main stalks like deer antlers. He wore simple, brown pants, something that looked like a mix of Roman and Samurai armor on his torso, and thick, bronze-colored gauntlets on his hands. Although he had a face like an orc, complete with two large, upward-protruding tusks, he wore a pleasant expression, devoid of the aggression that one would expect from such a beastly character.
As the sun came up, we arrived at a series of ruined pillars that jutted up from the desert floor. Here we encountered massive, metal worms that burst from the sand. We tried to shoot them, but our bullets had little effect. We climbed atop the pillars and I found I could summon a kind of somewhat electric, somewhat tangible magic, very similar to that featured in the film John Carter (a highly underrated movie whose only flaw was a garbage marketing team). This power could be commanded from and with my hands and used to act upon the physical world, less as a weapon, and more as a tool, but always in relation to a threat. I managed to use this newly discovered power to create and encase the worms in a massive dodecahedron, made from rock, summoned from deep within the earth.
Once the shock and surprise of my newfound ability wore off, we moved on toward a small, ramshackle town that sat just over the next rise. The scene then cut to just me entering a dilapidated tavern, complete with rough-looking raider types that eyed me suspiciously as I came in from the sun. I dropped my bag on a table and went to the bar. One ruffian said, “We don’t allow egos in here.” To which I replied, “That’s why I keep the head of mine, and my Id with me in that bag, to remind me to be better.”
I turned to a beautiful barmaid and placed my order. She was a tall brunette with good muscle tone. She had the beautifully carved facial features that I like, but wore a sour look on her face which made her far less attractive than she could be if she wasn’t trying to convince everyone else of how hard she was.
As I looked around the dusty, dirty tavern, I saw bits of the background change, as if sections of a holographic projection glitched, and I could see that the whole tavern was actually a yoga studio in disguise, complete with Buddha statues and the decorations of glyphs written out in gold leaf on the walls. I made a mental note of the symbols I saw, as they didn’t look familiar, but I would later see one of them in the real world, on the window of a studio I hadn’t seen, or hadn’t remembered seeing, until AFTER my meditative vision. That glyph is pictured in the center of the banner for this blog.
I picked up the drink that the barmaid had poured and as I did, a two-foot-long, translucent centipede came out of the cup and crawled around my hand. With that dream-like “knowing” I was aware that I wasn’t supposed to be able to see it, so I didn’t react at first. I took a sip and let the thing dance around my eye, but I ignored it. I rested the cup on the counter as it crawled up my sleeve. I stifled my fear and disgust and let it crawl towards my chest, at which point I grabbed it between two fingers, put it on the counter and said, “Not my brand.” The barmaid’s eyes glared, the whole bar stood up, and somehow at that moment, the soundtrack I was listening to switched from low ambient music to a battle track (again, I have no idea how this timing happens) and the fight began.
I fought a few goons hand-to-hand as they came at me, and then I shot a blast of the blue magic at my bag on the table and the bodies of Ego and Id immediately sprung up out from their heads, fully formed, and I was glad that the ruse worked! My companions aided my fight as I leapt over the counter, quickly battled the bar maid, incapacitated her with a blow to the head, slung her over my shoulder, leapt back over the counter and out the door. Ego and Id followed as we jumped in a rover parked outside with the ruffians quickly following behind in an assortment of vehicles, with violence on their minds.
I started to bind the woman as Ego drove away. Once I had the barmaid secure, him and I switched positions, and he operated the turret. I tried to convert the truck into hover mode to gain more speed, but the control panel wasn’t working, so Ego, the more tech savvy our troop, came up front to fiddle with the wires. Id tried operating the turret, but the trigger was too small for his big paws, so he started picking up tools from the bed of the truck and hurling them, quite effectively, at our pursuers and their vehicles. We eventually got the ship to hover and blasted far enough ahead of the pack that the ruffians gave up and turned back as we disappeared into the sea of sand. In the real world the track I was listening to faded out, and my eyes opened on their own, signaling that the session had come to a natural conclusion. As curious as I was to see what happened next, I knew that my ability to channel my hyperfocus was just about exhausted, so I left it alone for a while.