I didn’t go back to that world for over a month – not until well after my car accident. Maybe if I had, the crash wouldn’t have happened. Maybe I would have been more present, and if I kept myself focused on what I was doing, my mind wouldn’t have betrayed me like it did. Then again, probably not.
When I did return, my mind rewound the footage a little bit and I got to see things I had missed the first time. I saw that back when we had landed in the night club, Id, the barmaid, and I were distracted – dancing and gyrating with the crowd – but Ego wasn’t having any of it. He moved to the side, away from the throng. If at some point an overenthusiastic reveler approached him, he would send them away with a scowl. I got to see that his aversion to pleasure had actually helped me became aware of my surroundings, so when the club turned into the Temple of This and That, I was more ready to get on with the mission. Id, on the other hand, had the most trouble adjusting to the vanishing fun - he was enraged and engorged (yes, THAT kind of engorged), but I told him to make use of his power properly. He responded with a growl and channeled his unused energy from his dick to his gauntlets with a swirl of white flames.
I could also see that at the far end of the temple, about ten feet after the altar, and fifty feet before the balcony, there was a massive, twenty-five-foot-high statue that I couldn’t picture earlier; either that, or my brain blocked it out the first time. It was an image of a being that I knew to be some kind of god, carved from marble in the Baroque style. His beautiful naked body was wrapped in cloth that was pressed on to his muscular form by a stiff breeze. He stood atop a large, rough boulder that looked like it was in motion – hurtling through the air, yet this being stood on it, with an expression that exuded both unshakeable calm, and supreme confidence. It looked almost as though he was walking on it as it spun and flew – his left leg bent forward, like he was taking a casual stroll up a short hill. In his left hand was a long staff, or perhaps a spear. It had three blades – one that was long and stout, pointing straight up, flanked by two that were curved slightly upwards, like open wings. All three blades were bisected by a thin, golden halo – the only part of the statue that wasn’t made of marble. His calm, confident, and beautiful face was topped by a mat of gentle locks, from which protruded two large ram horns that curled down and around his ears, with the tips pointing slightly outwards.
“This,” the guide said as the four of us stood just before the altar, and well before the statue, “is your place of memory. Everything you’ve ever learned in this life, and in all the others is here. You can access it anytime, as long as you believe you can, and as long as you accept that you are worthy.”
He said that last time, but it was in the grass-floored library that was behind the magic door. That’s when I started to understand that both the library and temple as parallels of each other – another symbolical representation of dualistic pairs. Now, he gestured to the temple, so as to apply that statement to that half of the idea – with one side being secular and literal, and the other side being religious and more figurative in its expression.
Once I realized this, it was then that I looked up and noticed that the ceiling of the temple was likewise absent, and always had been. The walls and the twelve pillars all ended about fifty or so feet above our heads, but instead of a starry sky, above it was nothing but a black void, and it was from this void that the exosuit-wearing foe from the cave reappeared.
He wore a new powersuit – this one was not as overtly beetle-like, but it did have elements of an insect influence in its design. We knew right away that it was considerably more powerful than the last, and he was by himself, which meant he had no other liabilities.
He descended swiftly, coming to a hover with his rocket pack, directly between the statue and the balcony. The guide stepped back into the shadows of the balcony, with a smug expression on his face, waiting to see who would win.
Our techno-powered foe began launching missiles and firing lasers from his arms at us. We scattered and returned fire, but our bullets couldn’t find their way to any vital systems, and merely bounced off the thick, armored plating.
The barmaid ducked in front of the altar, where she found a control panel on the floor. She quickly activated it and reshaped the formerly flat floor into something that would work to our advantage. Slanted granite columns and other various shapes tore through the carpet and out of the ground, giving us ample cover from which to fire from. Now we were able to move, cover, and place much more accurate rounds down range, but our rounds still weren’t having a significant effect.
The barmaid kept altering the layout of the landscape, moving slabs of granite around like a child would move blocks, forcing our opponent to fly around to try to get a better angle on us – all the while the three of us tried to outmaneuver him. Id hit him with a blast of his channeled aggression. Ego moved and sniped from afar. I slung my rifle on my back and focused on using the blue magic. I created smalls shields on my arms to protect myself and my companions, trying to move in behind our opponent. We jumped, dove, and rolled in harmony with the shifting ground around us as the barmaid monitored and reacted to our movements. Ego, Id, and I did our part to draw his fire away from her, but eventually he managed to fire a missile at the altar where she was. She dodged it and sent the control panel skidding away to another part of the floor and then kept it moving around with her.
As we maneuvered around the shifting landscape, our opponent did his best to keep from exposing his back to any of us. It was eventually obvious as to why. The back of his suit was vulnerable and not heavily armored, with glowing tubes and wires protruding from between thin, black plates.
Knowing that he couldn’t keep us from eventually encircling him forever, he concentrated all of his firepower on Id, who roared and summoned a wall of white fire to block the beams and missiles. The barmaid knew he couldn’t keep that rage up, so she got behind our beastly companion and summoned a wall to protect them both. Ego leapt off a moving pillar and managed to land one good, clean, and fairly close shot on his head that stunned him momentarily. I signaled to the barmaid, who caused a pillar to jut sharply and quickly from the ground that launched me in a low arc across the battlefield. I sailed right behind the foe, turned one of my arm shields into a blade, and swung as I passed, cutting through the tubes and thin armor. A light-green fluid burst forth from the large gash in a torrent and he plummeted from the sky.
The barmaid commanded the floor of the temple back to its original flat shape and we gathered around our enemy. His helmet had come off when he hit the ground, revealing my twenty-year-old face underneath, with a single bloody tear coming from his left eye as he lay slumped on the ground. No one was surprised to see my younger self behind the armor, least of all me.
“You see him now.” The guide began as he approached the body, “His emotion spilling everywhere. All that power and energy got him nowhere. In the act of fighting it, you had to confront yourself. The question acted out but not spoken aloud; the question that HE wanted an answer to was, ‘What can I do about all of the issues in the world?”
He stepped to Ego, “What’s the answer.”
Begrudgingly he replied, “Accept what I cannot change, and plan around it.”
He next stepped to Id, “What do you do?”
Id simply grumbled, “FEEL it.”
The guide glanced at the barmaid who looked at me and said, “I’ll help him see the pattern and his place in it. I’ll teach him.”
It was then my turn and I answered, “I’ll be it.”
A montage played in my head as the four of us headed back up the way we came; a distance that took me months to first traverse retraced in minutes. The mood among us was morose. We completed the mission…now what?
I would later return to that inner world to meet up with my companions and have more amazing adventures, taking to the sky in a flying sailboat, traveling between island cities, and fighting the forces of an unknown fascistic military. It was fascinating and enjoyable at the time, but it all seemed to replay the same themes: Fight the horde, find the answers, achieve balance. To gain more insight, though, I would need to avail myself of another method of meditation, which would require that my adventures be acted out in the real world.