Light the Lamp and Get Started
There’s a knock at the door.
Through it you hear the rustling of papers, spilling of liquid, and something heavy hit the floor inside.
”Hello!?” a voice shouts back at you nervously before getting quieter, “Wasn’t expecting any company so soon.”
You hear footsteps haphazardly approaching the door and instinctively retreat a step backward. A few heavy locks finally come undone as the door swings inward revealing a man in a white t-shirt, thick grey pajama shorts, and black socks inside comfy slippers. The stranger eyes you warily, glances around outside, and then back at you before seemingly remembering something with a gasp.
“Oh! Are you here about the blog!?” a maybe-too-crazed smile lingers as they await your reply, but carry on without really waiting for it.
”Well you must be, nobody else knows about me ‘round here. Come in, come in! Please feel free to take a look around the place, it’s not exactly new, just new to this particular place and time.”
The stranger ushers you in gently and, as you peek back over your shoulder, you catch them peering into the darkness outside before nodding with a harumph and pulling the door closed. You don’t hear any locks clicking this time and begin to look around the dimly lit area.
Everything is covered in paper, and whatever isn’t covered in paper is home to a candle, oil lamp, or torch lending an incredibly warm orange glow to the entire place.
And it’s huge. You can see stacks of paper, books, and bookshelves stretching in all directions from this initial entryway, not only on this first floor but the endless floors above and below. It’s like standing inside of a tower with the capacity to go on and on forever. The various staircases going upward were made of wood, while those going deep below were worn-smooth stone steps. As your attention returns from the incredible display back toward the immediate area, the stranger quietly steps out in front of you some distance and splays their arms, gesturing vaguely like a game show host about to give you a brand new car.
”Ehhh? Whaddya think!?” their proud, toothy grin was liable to crack their cheeks.
Your brows raise in astonishment as you slowly give a distracted nod and your gaze continues to wander over everything. It was simply far too much to take in.
”I hope you like it. I do anyways,” they shrugged, “I know it’s not as nice or elegant as what others have built but it’s been my life’s work—so far. Well,” they recalled, “whatever I could manage to put together outside of work, on nights and weekends; and train rides, plane rides, car rides…any downtime, really.” They keep glancing around the room and back at you, seeming anxious but proud at what they’d accomplished so far.
It certainly was a mess—a master architect and designer they most certainly were not. Though you can see what they’re going for and understand the general idea, it’s as if you were standing inside the head of an inventor or philosopher, nearly stepping on all of the ideas, plans, and goals they’d come up with over a lifetime.
Before you can concentrate on the underlying themes and thought-processes that may have gone into what you can see from here, the stranger notices your curiosity and walks up to you with an outstretched hand.
”My name’s Christopher, by the way, you can call me Chris,” he finished with a nod, and upon shaking your hand with a gentle yet firm grip, continued on, “This is my place: a room of my own, home away from home, and a quiet space to dream and create.”
Walking away from you, toward the center of this first area with arms wide, “What you’re seeing is every thought I’ve thunk, rumination I’ve reasoned, and dream I’ve dreamt up. Or at least the ones I was able to remember or jot down at the time.”
An excited look came over their eyes as they whispered to you from almost too far away, “Let me give you a tour!”
Chris brought you around the ancient main floor where the strongest, most fundamental thoughts and ideas were archived and seldom moved. They weren’t dusty or dilapidated, but it was as if they’d acquired density over all that time and you could almost feel how weighty they were now. Though, despite how solid each bookcase, volume, or stack was you couldn’t help but worry that it could all vanish in one fell-swoop if anything were to go catastrophically wrong. Everything was being saved so precariously, relying on things working out just-so and leaving little room for error. Chris was passionately carrying on in the background with the tour.
”For example, this area here houses my general thoughts on the human condition. Down that way is scientific knowledge and personal philosophy—constantly under renovation—and these few stacks encompass my religious background, or lack thereof,” he leaned close and whispered to you without checking to see if you were even listening, “They concluded a long time ago,” and moved on.
Not wanting to get lost in the seemingly endless rows and halls of the main floor, the two of you returned to the entrance and descended the long stone steps down below.
”Watch your head and your step! it gets a bit darker down here,” he paused as an aside, “pun fully-intended!” then giggled to himself.
As you descended, the orange light of the main floor above gave way to an almost eerie, green hue. Upon exiting at one of any number of floors down, the two of you enter through a wrought iron gate bathed in green light, sending light rays through the intricate designs.
”This is my laboratory,” Chris began, “Down here I experiment with concepts and test new ideas. I have full creative control down here and can conjure up anything I can imagine!”
You notice the green glow is emitting from various jars, beakers, and vials lining the shelves and walls of the rooms, while additional green goo flowed along the edges of the hallways and rooms like aqueducts or moats, lighting the otherwise dark catacombs. There were several other blues, purples, and oranges mixed in amongst them but the vast majority were bright green.
As you peer into a cauldron of swirling colors, looking to you like a fluorescent galaxy floating in space, Chris calls out to you from the other side of the room, ”Feel free to mix and match whatever you’d like down here. There are no wrong answers or bad ideas, only new and undiscovered ones. Let the creativity flow!” The two vials he was mixing promptly overflowed and ran down his arms.
Eventually, the two of you continue up, and up, and up to the farthest reaches of the tower, passing by and through the warm orange glow of the main floor again and into a brighter, full-color paradise. The dazzle of it shocked your eyes to the point that you had to squint to wait for them to properly adjust. It was like standing in the clouds, and floating in the ocean, all at the same time. Everything was weightless, formless, and ever-changing up here. Just when you thought you had focused on something long enough to figure it out it seemingly vanished from existence without registering in your mind what it ever was. Chris floated over to you as if wading through a pool.
”Up here, I can do anything.” He continued to float around you in a lazy circle. “I can make plans and break plans, set goals or change them, all while moving within the vast limits of life and time.”
You didn’t really get what he meant, yet you kind of understood it all.
He continued after a while, “I can set my sights on anything, just as quickly as I can change my mind completely. Nothing is permanent up here and everything is up to me.” He slowly pointed in a direction you weren’t sure was left, at something you didn’t understand the shape of, “Some of these things have been around for nearly as long as I have which, to me, is as long as is physically possible. Forever, yet really just a blink.”
The two of you roamed for what felt like a lifelong moment before finding yourselves trudging back down the stairs to that same-old orange glow. Breathing slowly, and moving slower, your eyes slowly adjusted to the darker conditions and harder reality.
”While there may be many like it, this one is mine, and for the first time (in this timeline, anyway) I’m opening it up for you to enjoy.” The look in his eyes was hopeful, if not slightly worried.
”So, please, make yourself at home. Food and drinks are over there,” he pointed back by the door, “pick up a candle or lamp, and read whatever you’d like. I’ll be around if you need anything or have any comments, questions, or concerns.”
Chris paused a moment and then remembered one more thing, “Oh, and of course, you can leave whenever you’d like. I’m certainly not abducting you here. Come and go as you please, just make sure to share what you learn with others, or even bring them with you next time if they’d be interested. That way this big old place can live on even after I’m gone,” he stopped, “Hopefully just to another timeline!”
And with that, he dove back into his work. The rest is up to you.
The knowledge, creativity, and experiences here were now a part of you as much as they were a part of this place, and you know you could now take them with you wherever you went. Always returning for more.