The Strange Land
The afterlife had a sky. A bright blue sky serrated by white, fleecy clouds.
Cirrocumulus, I thought.
I blinked the sunlight away but it clung to my lashes anyway, rendering everything in a prism-like light. Maybe this was heaven.
I tried to sit up and my back cramped. Maybe not.
I was surrounded by lush vegetation, different from the kind I’d expect of this area of the Himalayas. A green and vibrant jungle rose up around me, filled with the whispering of distant waterfalls. It felt like a dream. A hazy, hollow, haunted landscape too flawless to be real.
Joe, I had to find Joe. Standing up, I examined my body. There wasn’t even a tear in my coat, which was of course impossible considering the crash. Maybe this was a dream.
“Joe,” I called, pushing a curling fern out of the way. “Joe… don’t bull me.”
I fought my way through the thick brush, hoping to stumble upon something familiar but instead I emerged at an old ruin. A giant head of some ancient deity was toppled on its side and sprouted moss from its crown. But what stopped me in my tracks was the sprawling city in the blue haze beyond. It seemed that I was standing in weathered remnants of a temple, at the farthest edge of this abandoned civilization.
“I must be hallucinating.” It was Joe’s fault, filling my head with all that nonsense about Shambhala. I was probably dying in a ravine somewhere and these were the last images my mind was conjuring up.
I stepped up to the edge of the temple. Below it was a sheer drop into a misty river and the only way to get to the heart of this civilization was by crossing one of the many bridges. They reminded me of the Landwusser Viaduct in Switzerland but infinitely more ornate and timeworn. Carved statues flanked each bridge at even intervals and domed archways dusted gold and green, marked the entrance points.
I stared at this dreamt up Shambhala that seemed to grow out of the snowcapped mountains around it for a long time. What a strange land it was.
“I told you, bearcat,” a loud, obnoxious voice said. “And you turned up your nose at me.”
I turned around and sure enough there stood Joe, ragged as usual, his eyes squinted against the afternoon sun.
“Let’s ankle over there,” he nodded at the rising spires overgrown with foliage. “I’m sure there’s an entrance to the actual city somewhere.”
“What do you mean? Aren’t we already inside?”
He laughed. “If we were, would it look this empty?”
Even in my dreams his answers made no sense but I followed him anyway. After all, it was better to explore this foreign figment of my imagination with a familiar one.
Thanks for reading part 2. If you haven’t already read part 1, you can find it here–> PART UNO
Image credit: Uncharted Game