Power

Co-written with Daberechi Ukoha-Kalu. You can read her stuff at Daberechi Ukoha-Kalu

Hello.

I speak these words to you because I know you can hear me. I do not know who you are. I do not know why am I aware of your presence. I hope you are God. I fear that you are God. I might hate you if you are God.

When my mother caresses my face whilst I slumber, I know it is not borne entirely out of love for my reposed state, nor is it because she sees a figure so precious and cherished that she cannot but touch me gently. I know it to be a hope, fluttering on weak wings, that I am dead. That the warmth and life in my cheeks become suffused with the cold gray of the afterlife. That the gentle shallow breaths of my slumber slow and eventually cease, that my soul at the least can transcend this pathetic physical shell it is ensconced in.

I hear her whisper it when her touch awakens me and I refrain from moving so as to not frighten her. I see it in her eyes every time we make eye contact and there’s the tinge of disappointment when my eyes follow her across the room. I feel it when she looms and lingers in the room out of my line of vision, but I do not fear. Nor do I hate her, for how can I blame her for wanting to be free of this burden? To be free of me. How can I fear death when death cannot touch me? To whom does the immortal answer to? When the penultimate human fear, the cold embrace of L’esprit du Mort, has taken an indefinite hiatus, what does the human mind find to fill the void?

Itself.

I do not tell my mother, but I tell you because I know you will understand. I am plagued by nightmares, as though some kind of cruel joke. Every night, when I fall under the spell of sleep, I relive the events that put me in this bed. That rendered me invalid. That make my beloved mother look at me and almost try and will my body to cease functioning.

They start out the same way every time. Oh, some small details change from night to night. Sometimes it is the time of day, other times the kinds of vehicles on the bridge. One time, the actual location of the bridge changed. But they always start out the same way, with me stumbling across the bridge mindlessly. At first, I thought once I could dream lucidly I would be able to alter the outcome, but lucid dreaming only speeds up the time needed for the dream sequence to complete. Even immortals need sleep.

I am trudging along the bridge. My legs don’t seem to want to lift off the ground completely, causing a sloppy but brisk movement. Cars hurdle down the freeway on some nights, on others the bridge is devoid of any life besides mine. I do not know if my life is a life worth counting anyway. What is the dream? Ah yes, before I lose my train of thought. I walk along the bridge for what feels like 10 minutes, but seems to be near 7 hours according to the time of the realm I spend what I think are my waking hours in. I jump from the same spot every time, and the spot is the same regardless of whatever has changed in the dream. Where I jump from, there is a string tied around the railing with knots in it. A knot for every day I have jumped. I cannot count the knots anymore. I peer down; a cold cement and asphalt road stares back at me. With a sort of exultation — the dream always makes me feel like I liberate myself when I jump — I soar off the bridge. For a brief time I am weightless, I am free, I am mortal. And then right when I hit the floor-

I wake up.

At first, I would wake up in starts and fits and in cold sweats. I know better now. I calmly open my eyes and look around the room, knowing exactly what I will see. My mother is in my room, on the same chair she always is in when I wake up. In the same dress, with the same perfume, looking at me with that slight tinge of disappointment in her eyes that she tries to glaze over with suffocating love. I will spend another day in this bed, never leaving this room, this house, before I go back to sleep.

And I will never stop this process.

I admit that I have not been entirely truthful to you, perhaps because I thought you were God. But if you were, you wouldn’t still be here. You would know what I have to say. So you cannot be God. If you are though, you are a genius beyond all reckoning.

What is power?

Power is a construct. Power is an imagined thing formulated by the animal psyche to create what we believe is order. Power is merely a delusion of grandeur that has been accepted and enforced through the acknowledgement of the party the delusion is enforced upon. It is an illusion that can only work when the people who are being tricked choose to accept it. In a way, the creation of the concept of power is the greatest trick ever pulled on humanity. But you see, it is here where God’s genius shines through. Perhaps it is proof that an all-powerful being cannot be all good; there is no good in this.

After all, what method more fitting to educate power-crazed humans than to place them in situations of utter powerlessness. Powerless to do anything awake, powerless to affect the outcomes of my dreams, powerless to die. Powerless to do anything but understand that there is no power. No true power. Powerless enough to understand that Hell is not a lake of fire, but a construct of the mind. Powerless to do anything to change these chains I have bound myself in.

What is dead cannot die, after all.

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