The man wakes and sees nothing.
There can actually be comfort in the darkness. This is when the thought hits him. Bowling into his head like a ball down a skittle alley. That moment when he is at his most relaxed, he is knocked for nine. What if there is something here with him? But, he thought, what if it could see him, maybe it couldn’t? Hopefully, it couldn’t! What if he took a step forward and walked into the hands of a monster? He hoped he was alone again; was he alone? Panic starts to set in; he can still see absolutely nothing. Only now, his imagination is running around screaming and shouting. Hey, what if? It shouted. Oh, have you considered this? The grey matter screamed. He feels along the ground with his feet; it is just flat and smooth. Like a stone that has cracked in half, it is soft and flawless. He drags his foot around, moving forward as he does so, looking for imperfections but finds nothing. The floor is perfect and unbroken, impeccable. Where am I? he thinks to himself.
In Limbo, my friend…
He walks forward with his hands outstretched. Slowly at first, but then a little faster, but never too fast. Once again, he finds nothing. Stepping forward, waving his hands out at 180 degrees, looking for something, anything. The floor remains smooth. It feels too large to be a room, it is just a sense that he has, but it feels right. It remains empty, a giant nothingness. The imagination of a storyteller with writer’s block, you know it is in there, but you can’t get it out.
With his confidence building, he now moves forward with more pace. Left foot forward, right arm forward, right foot and left arm. Then he feels it, his hands reaching something different. Finally, something, but what? It feels like wood, smooth but rippled slightly in places. He runs his fingers along the grain, highly finished and sanded but plain. There are a few knots here and there, but nothing more, not a hint of wax, polish or paint. Feeling around trying to judge the size, it feels about seven feet in height, four foot, give or take, in width. It does not take long, ten seconds before he attempts it. He reaches out to the middle of the object, checking both the left and the right side. There it is; he feels the handle. It’s a door!
His hand grasps at the handle. A way to escape! He suddenly stops. What is on the other side? What if it is worse! Can it be worse than emptiness? A thought flutters across his mind. He broke the law, but he did it for the right reasons.
Oh, don’t you all?
The press had called him “The Millennial Robin Hood”. He had moved money a little at a time from hacked accounts. Targeting the super-rich and transferring money via cryptocurrency to the poorest in the world. Bit by bit, little by little, he had kept it going for nearly three years. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poorest, he had saved none for himself. It was about redistribution, not making himself rich.
He twists the door handle; it can’t be any worse. Light floods the room like a dam breaking. He looks behind quickly, afraid that something may come. He sees nothing. Just an empty space as far as the light allows him. The floor is black and smooth. He turns back to the door; it is just standing alone and made from black wood. He looks around to the back of the door. Nothing there either. The door is closed on that side, weird. Back to the open door, he looks inside, eyes adjusting. He can see a large wood and just a path with trees, black trees surrounding both sides. Unnatural and very unfamiliar, but at least it is something. He steps through the door. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
He stands and looks at the forest. The door closes behind him; he hears the slamming noise and spins around. The door has gone. There is nothing behind him, just a path, the same pathway, surrounded by trees, as he had seen through the door. Turning back once more, he looks along the trail, checking for anything unusual, anything that looks dangerous. There is a nothingness here too, it takes a while for him to notice. It is unlike the first place because he can see, but there is no noise. This strange black forest, you would expect some noise. Tweeting of birds, a rustling of the leaves, but there is emptiness. Just the sound of silence echoing through the trees.
Walking forward and keeping his ears peeled for the slightest noise, he still hears nothing, not a whisper of life. The black branches hang over the path, suffocated by black leaves, absorbing some light but not all of it. A flash through the leaves brings another memory. The light, bringing it to light, so to speak. A prison cell, unguarded, and the door is open. He can see himself trying to hide in the corner as another man enters the cell. “I know you’re in here,” the voice says with a hint of menace. The man with the voice kicks the bed. It moves quickly and with ease, pinning him to the wall. “You think you can hide from me?” the voice shouts.
The voice reverberates behind him in the black forest. He can hear it bouncing from his memory to the trees and reflecting in the leaves. It stays behind him, but it is enough of a warning for him to move forward. Is the voice, the man, here with him? Is it just a verbal ghost coming to haunt him? He does not want to find out. Who would? Running forward, he remembers the punches, the kicks and the pain that came with them. The dam has fully broken, and the memories come flooding back, drowning him. He feels the shock of his ribs breaking; the shiv joins the flow, a fresh wave of hurt.
The man drives the shiv into his chest. He can feel it. The pain smashes out like an animal escaping a cage, rippling through his body from head to toe. Tearing him apart from the inside out. Collapsing on the floor, he lies on his back. The leaves above him part, he can see the cell projected on a gigantic screen above him. He watches as the man stabs the shiv time and time again into his chest. The blood flows from his lifeless body, the man smiling as he stands above him. Grinning at a job well done.
He remembers his death. He remembers the assassination in the jail. Assassinated for having the temerity to steal somebodies money. He does not remember who ordered the kill; he does not remember who did the deed. He just remembers his death. Once he remembers, he feels at peace. He feels complete. He feels like he has passed a test. He can relax, the lights dim, the screen fades. Everything goes black. He stands up, feeling fine. But where is he? He has no memory of how he got here.
How did I get here? He feels the floor with his feet. It is smooth.
We know he is back in the nothing. We know he will live this moment in Limbo. If we could help, we should, but alas, we can’t.