by Andrew J. West
Fated V: Wordless Being is the fifth of five short stories inspired by existentialism collectively entitled, “Fated”. Each piece can be read as stand-alone or as part of the connected series.
Fated V: Wordless Being
It’s pitch dark, blacked out, having woken while sleepwalking in the dead of night, so dark I wave my hands in front to try and figure out where I am, that is, I think my hands are waving in front of me—I can’t see them either—so touch them together, I think my hands are touching, they must be, though I can’t be sure because I’m not sure if I can feel them or not… no… I definitely can’t feel them, like they’re numb, I can’t even tell if they’re moving, it’s like they’ve been amputated and I only think they’re still there: phantoms that have lost all feeling… but I must have hands… I realise I can’t feel anything at all anywhere in my body, not a single sensation, it’s like my whole body has been amputated, an impossible thought that combines with the darkness to overwhelm and completely disorientate me, and I try to steady myself by stretching out my arms, but instead of steadying me, my arms—if I have arms—only flap around like a madman’s, sending me spinning until I lose my centre of gravity and start swinging wildly without an axis, spinning out of control and tumbling through the darkness screaming, but not even I can hear me in this vacuum of silence, and questions race through my mind—where am I? is this nothingness? maybe more importantly, who am I?—and try to remember something, anything, about myself: nothing, not even a name, I’m as blank as these surroundings, I’m not even sure if this is my own voice forming these words or if there is a voice at all or if these words are even proper words, given substance through the act of being spoken out loud or printed on paper—language itself has fallen silent or become invisible—and I’m not sure at all about any answers to these questions, so much so I’m not even confident in the questions themselves and wonder if they are at all relevant or should I be asking something else, when it suddenly occurs to me that I could be dead and in some sort of afterlife, although I have no memory of having lived an individual life and can feel no body of my own, I know I am… or at least was… a person, there’s no other explanation, as I’m somehow aware of most generally known facts such as that people waste their lives and die alone and that people don’t know what happens after death… sure, people speculate, sure, some claim to know, such as Christians, who say there is a God, if so, He’s not here; others claim we come back in another life, such as Buddhists, if so, my next life has yet to begin; yet others claim that there is nothing after death, such as skeptics, if so, then this nothing seems to be something: nobody really knows, but before I can continue speculating any further about these existential questions—assuming that there is time in this void—I suddenly realise I might be falling, maybe for eternity, or I could simply be floating, there doesn’t seem to be any up or down, any left or right, and no floor, ceiling or walls around me, it’s like I’ve been buried alive and woken up in a coffin six feet under, only my casket is made of the softest cushions ever conceived so much so that I can’t feel them and the walls are made from the most malleable material ever created so much so that they recede whenever I reach out, leaving me no option other than to try again to remember who I am and try to recollect something such as my face in a mirror, if I was married, if I had kids, what my parents looked like… but, although I know what these things are, I have no idea about them in my own life and can’t be sure of anything, so I think harder, I mean I think I think harder to try and find the key (“I think, therefore I am”: Am I thinking? Am I? Is this doubt really proof that I do exist?) but, when nothing comes to me about my own individual life and circumstances, I fall back on assuming that somehow I may belong to one of the belief systems that many people blindly regard as “The Ultimate Truth”… I could be a Catholic in some sort of Catholic Purgatory or a Buddhist in some sort of Buddhist Nirvana; if I’m in Purgatory, then maybe I was a Catholic who sinned while alive and am being punished; if I’m in Nirvana, then maybe I was a Buddhist who had accrued good karma while alive and am being rewarded, but I have no idea what is true or false, fact or fiction, reality or imagination… if I could just remember what I’d done to deserve this fate then maybe I’d know if it was worth this punishment or reward… or perhaps I’ve been cremated and am nothing but ashes inside an urn or I could be a decapitated head preserved in solid-state hypothermia, a cyronaut conserved in neurosuspension and awaiting reanimation… somehow, though, I do realise something: that the inexhaustible potential which had always resided innately within me, of which I’d only ever used a tiny fraction, has now been released and here I’m unleased from the bonds that had always held me captive: the chain of materiality; the chain of personality; the twofold chains of pleasure and pain; the twofold chains of good and evil; the twofold chains of virtue and vice; the threefold chains of time—past, present and future; the threefold chains of place—the three dimensions of length, breadth and depth; and the fivefold chains of perception—seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting… and it suddenly dawns on me that my individual past, whoever I was, no longer has any meaning… I’m finally liberated from capricious life… I am and always was pure energy that can change but can never be destroyed and these words that flow like the moments of my life had done one after the other depending on the chance sequence of limited possibilities are no longer—and never were—any use, only in my death have I found freedom from life’s illusion and the empty terms needed to express it, and become my wordless being.
- Part 1 can be read in Eastlit August 2016.
- Part 2 can be read in Eastlit September 2016.
- Part 3 can be read in Eastlit October 2016.
- Part 4 can be read in Eastlit November 2016.
Editor’s Note on Fated V: Final Wordless Being:
Fated V: Wordless Being is not Andrew J. West’s first work to appear in Eastlit. His previous published pieces are:
- The Mansion was published in the June 2013 issue of Eastlit,
- Art of Evil appeared in the August 2013 issue
- The Puppet Tree was published in the October 2013 issue.
- The Student featured in the December 2103 issue.
- Self Portrait appeared in Eastlit February 2014.
- Three Worlds, the online photo-poetry exhibition was in Eastlit April 2014.
- Perfect Present was in Eastlit June 2014.
- City of Clay featured in Eastlit September 2014.
- Great Goddess was published in Eastlit December 2014.
You can also read the Eastlit Andrew J West interview.