Tom drifted through the darkness, or so he hoped, since there was no reference point from which to judge motion on this plane. Yet he must move forward, by probing ever onward; else there would be nothing but an eternal empty womb of tantalizing newly draped shadows drifting by on this plane--a veritable hellish torment, to be forever bound to dwell so close to truth, taunted by insubstantial ghosts of reflected light draped in equivocal darkness.
There was no sense of time here; he might be drifting but for the space of half a heartbeat, or for a hundred years. There was only his will: the power of his mind to maintain his presence on this plane and allow him to probe onward towards the light as long as his strength remained. That strength had failed him many times before, but he was determined that it would not do so now. So he pushed onward, ever forward, focusing the considerable power of his mind to penetrate outward, to bring him closer to the realm of truth.
The silent battle raged on endlessly for Tom, his faculties weakening, his receptive abilities dulling and fading. And yet he pushed onward, beyond endurance, beyond reason, and nearly beyond hope. Then, as only the faintest glimmer of psychic strength remained, he seemed to sense a distant change--an evanescent, far off shimmering hint of light. He pushed on with the last remnants of his ebbing mental strength and was rewarded by a more palpable presence of light. It was just a bright point at first, like a too-distant star just at the fringes of perception. Slowly, steadily it grew, with no further effort on his part. His drained strength palpably returning to him very gradually, as he was now pulled in by the light, rather than having to push towards it, as though he had crossed the event horizon of a black hole. The darkness seemed to draw him to it, towards the light, like a ravenous vortex that fed upon the void and transformed it into energy and invigorating life. It grew for Tom, as he approached it, and the vague shadows increased, only now visibly trailing auras of their true essence, making much clearer impressions upon his consciousness as they rushed past him, some passing through him, away from the light and into the darkness now receding behind him.
As his mental strength slowly increased, Tom felt a new distraction interfering with his concentration; a far off force was pulling him backward again, away from the light, clouding the sharpness of his thoughts with diffuse, distant, ephemeral shimmering of remembrance. For an instant, he thought of his old friends, especially Chrissie again, but also Phil; he almost heard her voice, and saw her reassuring face in his mind’s eye. He seemed to share again a special warmth, the gentle stirrings of long-suppressed emotions which awakened an old longing and gently strummed his nearly atrophied heart strings.
But he caught himself in time; on that road lay only perdition, for he could sense the power of his emotions fighting for control, seeking to pull him down, to submerge him in the shadows and replant him in the baser clay from which humanity sprang, weighing him back, as always, away from truth into the muck and mire of pedantic life.
He focused once again the now reinvigorated power of his mind, pushing down the destructive emotions and memories where they could do no harm, severing the restraining bindings of the flesh which sought even now to keep him from obtaining final communion with the realm of the forms. Through a supreme effort of his uncommon intellect, he reasserted his will and finally inexorably severed the chains that bound him to the flesh. He sprang forward as an arrow released from a powerful longbow, propelled with increased force inexorably towards the growing brightness that, in the absence of the restraining power of his emotions, could freely once again draw him to itself.
The luminescence quickly grew brighter and, though still distant, became painful as it touched him directly. The undistilled essence of every abstract idea humanity had ever formed burned through his mind along with raw feelings, and the pure essence of every living thing in the universe coursed through him all at once. And still the light grew, as did the intensity of the ever-purer forms exploding into his consciousness, consuming his mind with their irresistible power, and searing his soul with their unbearable import.
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