This time, the scene doesn’t ring a bell. It’s not always like that. The landscape sometimes feels familiar, like I’ve been at the exact same place before, like it’s a place I’m always coming back to, a secret place of my mind I’m compelled to visit from time to time.
This time my brain has invented a new location. Or is it your mind that has brought us here?
“Mindtrip fields are vast. Bigger than the universe.”
“Aren’t they part of the universe?”
“Perhaps they are. Who cares?”
Infinite is the power of the creative mind. Infinite as the universe. I know that you know. Yet you keep on asking stupid questions again and again during our trips. Never in the real the world. You are all serious and composed there, feigning ignorance about our journeys, pretending they don’t really happen except in my vivid imagination. Of course, I have never talked to you about them, so you avoid mentioning them either. Yet we both know.
“What now?” you ask.
I never have any idea, yet you always ask, as if you were waiting for me to guide you. We walk around exploring, as we usually do. Most of the times I pretend I know the way. I take you by the hand and wander in the fields of imagination, as if this were my hometown, as if I knew every single corner, every secret alley of this mysterious place.
We usually visit warm, sunny places, where we always find a shelter to kiss and make out. Pleasant walks alternating with small talk, big promises and long embraces. This time buildings stand tall, dark and threatening. I’ve never visited this place before. Monsters lurk around the corners, hungry monsters, feeding on wandering souls. This time, I feel I should protect you from something I’m not familiar with. From unexplained feelings coming after us, like monsters. We run and we run to escape, yet they’re always one step behind. One feeling after another, overwhelming emotions, chasing us, eager to rip us apart and swallow us. Rarely do I look back while running, seeking hiding places, yet with the corner of my eye I can see pain, fear, despair, sadness and numerous nameless ugly faces. One of them jumps in front of us, immobilizing us. I feel your heart pounding on my chest, as you hold on tight to me, I hear your fastening heartbeat, like a drum in my ear, making a deafening noise and your breaths are deep and short, as if the air were not enough, as if the monster steals the air from your lungs. I feel you asphyxiating next to me, your soul dying by the moment.
“Is this your greatest fear?” I ask, as the strange creature stands ahead of us, ready to attack.
You nod in fear. You tremble and hide into my arms, as I fight the demon, determination making me fearless and powerful. I don’t need weapons, or special techniques, or any fighting skills. I just look the monster in the eye. The longer I stare into those eyes, the stronger I become, yet lighter at the same time and then I fly into the night sky, the darkest sky of your soul and we float together above the clouds, like balloons, looking down at the monster, our eyes killing it little by little and the battle now seems effortless and easy, like a worry long forgotten, like another everyday task as easy as washing your teeth or tying your shoelaces. And the monster stands still, screaming, howling like a hungry wolf, until it slowly disappears, dissolving, vanishing into thin air, like smoke, making weird noises, like a bell ringing, or like a phone, until a giant phone appears in front of me, a messenger from the other side, calling to inform me of an impending danger, or to congratulate me.
The phone is ringing, bringing me back to the real world. Or to what others consider reality. Because in those trips I feel more real than ever. They are the most interesting and adventurous and visceral part of my life. I jump in fear. Not due to the phone, but because I left you there alone.
I wish I could ignore the phone. I wish I could go back to that frightening place you took me. I wish I could save you from your own mind. That’s the trouble with mindtrips. They may end abruptly, before you even have the time to complete your mission.
As I pick up the phone, my soul violently entering back into my body, wearing the mask of a working human face, unwillingly digesting my return, I take a look at you at the other side of the office. You wave at me joyfully. You are safe and back as well. I cannot be sure but I think I see you winking my way relieved and I rest assured that deep inside, without even realizing it, you are thanking me for being the blanket that covered you. The blanket that sheltered you from the monster under your bed. It was a pleasure being beside you. I should thank you for taking me with you, entrusting me with your fears, for letting me win the battle with the demons inside your head.
I humbly bow from afar and smile back.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, living and working in Athens, Greece. Her work can be found in many journals and anthologies, such as the Molotov Cocktail, Maudlin house, Menacing Hedge, Jellyfish Review, Asymmetry Fiction and others. She has published two books in Greek and a collection of short stories in English (Once Upon a Dystopia by Cosmic Teapot Publication). She’s the managing editor of Storyland Literary Review. Her find at https://www.facebook.com/milevaanastasiadou/