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Mirrored Man (Jordan James Levers-Lafayette, LA)

Unbearable fire. A flame ignited within his very veins. "My mother's face." That was the memory he tried most desperately to resurrect during his faint wanders between dreams and the verge of death. All he could seem to muster of her memory was the warmth of the womb, buried deep in his subconscious. Indeed, the vivid warmth of this viscous liquid might have been called comfortable, if not for its restrictive pressurizing force. So long as he didn't struggle too hard he found it admittedly pleasant. What his mind did NOT sit so well with, however, was this nagging feeling in the back of his head that he did not want to be in this place. This place built in white, bright with lights, his--what appeared to be a giant glass tube--reaching from floor to ceiling on a dais at the center of the room. Perhaps his vague distress arose from the unnerving lack of windows? If not for the single door, visible only out of the widest degree of his peripheral, he would not have been able to imagine this place as having any location at all. Was he dead? If dying was this painless he could accept it well enough, but what of this confusion? Weren't all the answers supposed to become apparent in the afterlife? Surely he would sit with God and all his family and friends and discuss, in no hurry, all the long unanswered questions of life. Or was there no God? No hope to ever understand or be understood? No. He was sure he was still alive and if he ever did get to meet his family, or friends, it would be the first time for him. That is what anchored him in those long moments--or was it days?-- of confusion: the knowledge that he had been this confused before. The solution to one confusion by way of another. He could remember this feeling of specific blankness once before. No, better than that, he could remember waking up in another place so blindingly white. Only he didn't remember being surrounded by liquid with the resistant force of concrete. He began to drift and with naught but white to distract his flitting attentions, his eyes danced between solid light and the emptiness of darkness. He had no mother. He fell asleep.

Once again, as if to awaken him from lucid dreaming, the waves of heat ran circuits around his entire circulatory system, enveloping him in a biological fortress of fire. This time he was determined to hold onto what few moments of life he could remember. The rest of his story could only be written from the other side of this glass barrier lest he rollover and play martyr for these self-righteous, leeching white coats. He wouldn't let them deny his pursuit of happiness with their vague assumptions that someone in his position would be more than happy to live life a vegetable for the "greater good." 
The mutated portion of his adrenal gland was pumping hard now. The natural injection, bringing his blood to a near boil, was the single most excruciating pain a human being could endure, yet, being as he had only lived out several moments of memory, he could never know the difference between strain and agony as so many were painfully aware of. This high degree strain was more than enough to decimate the reforming memory-stealing virus as it burnt a path of collateral destruction through the war inside his body. Engulfed in adrenaline, he knew only the here and now while the invading memories of fear and of love were deported as unwelcome offenders. This free-country sucking the ample surplus provided by this expendable body, their assumed newly acquired mobile real-estate of muscle and mind. This time he dreamed of another place.
He took one last look at his pursuers as if to whisper, "I'll never give up this life," turned, and ran. He ran with the passionate adrenaline of one who had not the memory of putting one foot in front of the other. Through the charred landscape he performed the most deadly dance, painting the picture of madness as he vaulted streams of molten rock and sprays of liquid fire until at long last through the ember-lit darkness, the slightest crack of the suggestion of the light broke into his world.

It was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid his newborn eyes on. The pink glowing sun rising over the jutting cliffs of the charred wastelands, painting the world of darkness in soft, warm light. He longed to see from the top of the great mounds of ash that blocked his first sight of natural sunlight; so, despite his deafening exhaustion and intense urge to collapse, he began running again, full tilt, towards the top of the very highest peak of rubble. What he saw upon reaching the crest made him sob hysterically with what he would only later be able to identify as sheer joy. How long had he been denied this simple pleasure of looking out over the world the way it was intended every creature of the earth should? He would have been terribly vengeful and angry at his captures for denying him this natural birth rite yet, instead he could feel nothing but intense joy. The joy of co-mingled passion and exhaustion, understanding and confusion, love and hatred, retribution and forgiveness; in short, the joy of a free man. What he could see from his vantage could only be described as the first footholds of pure life; valleys of lush green, teeming with the laughter of animal calls and the rush of bright azure waters. Some day when he could allow himself to rest for longer than these brief moments, he would come back to this place and help to regain life's many years of lost ground against the wake of humanly destruction. He would lead the reclamation of this world of concrete ceilings and steel pyres, restore this vast cosmic house to a the home it had once been.


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