I should mention before this begins; the ethereal existence I am speaking of is that existence that transcends one life and continues to lengthen every night in dreams, the entirety of existence, not always recognized by the properly functioning mind. This existence is seen as the simple light of day when I am hypo-manic. This is the best description of my last trip, which was haunted by the reasoning that I was neither who I was nor where I was, for the record.
The town of Riddles is half way between two lakes with mythical monsters, deep places where elves and other little people live underwater. Many people visit this place in their dreams. It is a place where people who have taken a lot of grief in their ethereal existence can live freely and peaceably with one another in harmony, it is sometimes considered never-never land. It is a funny looking town, made of wood and stone, saturated with varied architecture and an important mix of race and religion.
There are a number of streets that are famed from people’s dreams. There are restaurants that people want to come to because they recall them vaguely from hundreds of year prior, places that when the travelers arrive the servers are the same people and the food is as delicious as they remember. There are harmless dragons flying above, those spirits are seen at the tops of the lakes on the higher layer of earth and considered as many great beasts documented but debated by great minds.
The roads weave a labyrinth that some can be lost in. The mailboxes dance as you pass through the mazes unharmed. There are well cared for houses, with spindles and towers, flights of stairs on the outsides and ghosts in silent windows. The alleys are narrow and marked with old paint from history, advertisements for outdated products and things that are not yet available. There are glorious murals of many kinds showing the color and character of those that decide to stay and live in this city of the spirit.
There are a very many angels in this town. Unbeknownst to some, they all work for the light – as it is a path that any spirit will find eventually. Mostly these folks appear as humans to help people find their way, as many travelers wind up in a town of Riddles. They will also appear as the birds, cats and other animals that people want to be within their dreams. The city is riddled with deer, which are living here in harmony with the people. It is a place the confused come across, whether or not they are searching for answers. It is a place that people wind up when they need to learn a lesson, before they are sent back to where they came from by falling asleep. It is common to see a group of children walking down these streets singing, “We all went to heaven, went to heaven last night!” next to people lucid dreaming, trying to fly and laughing idly as the gracious coffee shops that make them feel at home. There is always music in the streets.
I made a shop on Main Street in the town of Riddles as a trap.
It sold abstract art and had a hardwood floor that sent long lines from the front door of the narrow refuge to the small rooms at the back. The first of these two rooms was decorated with miniature scene of a red and ramshackle city where people who worked on the tops of trophies lived. Tall houseplants made the miniature city under a forest. At the entrance to the room there was a path the second back room, which mostly kept buckets of paint and mops for the coffee spill that once kept me from sitting on the couch.
A month after the coffee spill I was sitting on the windowsill out front smoking and a scared man charred by fire danced towards me uncomfortably. He was smiling when he saw me, so I recommended the Indian restaurant next door. As a local, I explained that he was in a different dimension and he raised his chest, making a strange noise but not saying anything. I told him I would meet him inside, closed my shop and entered the delicious restaurant.
There were tables on both the floor and ceiling of this restaurant, with a flight of spiral stairs in the corner that would allow you to reach the other level. The walls were deep purple with beautifully rendered portraits hanging both directions. The buffet was at the back, near the kitchen and you had to walk on the ceiling to reach the food. Only once did food fall from the ceiling to the floor, and at that moment the chef transcended to a higher level of earth, having learned everything he could have in Riddles. He was never seen again by anyone I know well, although his wife told the paper that he still lives in town, and that he has his own restaurant. I have never been able to find it, but I digress.
The charred man and myself sat in the corner booth at the back of the ground level, at his request. He ordered from the menu, I walked to the buffet. When I sat at the table the charred man gave me a note. I have transcribed it in full, and it is as follows.
“This is a serious and big storm.
Tens of millions take their minds off these woes and light a candle, fearing the night and the loss of life that marks its grand tone. Some monastery with its highest order finds me here and I must run and hide, for them to watch me and wait longer for the great nights of later life. Wondering about these shapes, I remain.
When they come to me, I fall with them. I have their options and along their lines I find truth. Wondering with these like-minded selves I have inside me, but separated from it, I must slither along the forest floor and find my options spiked with diseases and sullen wrapping. It always makes my silent light quiver to know that these dripping mazes are for me. Kindly old elves make their way to me, if nothing else because it is the right thing to do. They help me rise to them and note that I cannot see.
Shine with the others, belittling dances and foreign jobs taken by our middle class families. I am not like them, and they watch through silver jail walls. This is the mistake made by some and also the path of the righteous man. Sheep, never the wiser, remain at the holy vineyard and bah peacefully at the grapes that must be harvested for the coming batches of wine. They will never find the truth until they see the fallen stars.
While sitting and waiting I must find the failed state and bring it to me like a shining watch that sits atop a dresser and is never used because it is not deserved of the attention given to the one that the man bought himself. It tells time just the same, but does not mean the same thing to him. Shy as he is, he cannot mention that he does not want gifts.
Later they found out that the greasy monkey sitting on the fence found it’s home wandering through the gardens of the mighty signs brought towards the gracious sign that watches me from the shining light of the outdoors. I cannot go out there, or the peaceable sorts will get me. I cannot belong because the sheltered form is for me. The elves keep me here because they must. I am happier knowing that I can just sit in this home and learn about the world as best I am able. These are the graceful things I find, those that belong to me.”
I asked him if this was something from myself. He raised his chest and made an odd sound, the sound of the small microphone with too much gain, a sharp red tone that filled the whole room. The pattern of the sound made me feel he had something to say, but I could not understand it.
I nodded and began to eat my food. The charred man began to shrink, becoming wrinkled and seeming longer. A smell rose from the obscene incident, but it was not unpleasant. He then began to laugh, with the same harsh tone that marred our discussion before. The way he rolled his head back told me it was a laugh. I knew he was laughing because I felt that I was in customer service, or maybe it was because he realized I was not on his side. After that we ate in silence. I drank water. He drank nothing.