It flows across noiselessly. In the wake of the spill, it traces a meandering pattern in the greens. This is quickly absorbed, but the path charted out remains.
Thoughtfully, he looks at it. The pattern, branching out into sub-patterns, which in turn branch out into more patterns look like the arteries. It looks like the veins. It looks like the systems installed in the body for carrying blood. When he shuts his left eye and looks at it from the right, it looks like the vapour clouds of the industrial skies near the Northern docks. There is something pleasant about it. There is something unpleasant about it. He doesn’t wish to think of it. He looks at the white and green can and picks it up. He has bought it from the tavern, overlooking the hallowed grounds, past the benches onto the greens, before carelessly knocking it out of his own hand and spilling the pattern.
Seated along the benches that separate the greens from the taverns, and the hallowed grounds is his place of existence. He calls this place Earth One. It is named after a book with an interesting premise. It states, there are worlds beyond the world that he knows. There are Earths beyond the Earth that he knows. And amongst these multiverses or multiple earths, exists the first Earth. The one that is the origin of all things known. Of all time known. He has renamed the greens in front of the benches that the tavern overlooks, ‘Earth Prime’ or ‘Earth One’.
Spotting a seagull waddling by, he unsuccessfully tries to engage it in conversation about Earth One. Human beings drain him. At least most of them do. They have been doing so since the beginning of time itself. He tells the seagull, ‘Not her though. She is different.’
Her mention, takes him on a different thought trajectory. Somewhere, (he thinks) in the vast multiverse there are alternate versions of him. There are alternate versions of her. In some they meet. In others they don’t. In some they make love. In others they make war. In some the genders are reversed. In others the genders are similar. There are similarities and there are differences. Each world having a version of them, which is both, haunting and beautiful at the same time.
Taking a swig from the can, he learns that all the different multiverses and their earths have their own versions of the North Lights, the North Winds, the Corkonian Haze and the Speed Engines. Far beyond the realms of the human world, is the kingdom of his father – the Tsar of the North Winds. It is his palace that illuminates the North skies. And to travel there he must use the Speed Engines. When travelling at a speed faster than thought itself, the Corkonian Haze allows him to jump through multiverses.
His thoughts are interrupted by a stiff breeze. He looks around Earth One. The self-same spot where he is seated once played host to him and her. They are there. Their bags and jackets are strewn around carelessly. There are white and green cans and pouches of tobacco. And a picture commemorating the same on his cellular phone. He calls the picture ‘Antisocial Cats’. It is a reference to their messy ways and a long standing joke between them.
Earth One, is desolate without her. She is not there in the snows or the sands of the old. She is not there in the greens or the benches or the hallowed grounds. A few more swigs from the green and white can activate the speed engines and he can see her finally. Even if it is for a short time, she is there. They are drinking, smoking, laughing and contemplating their existence in the grand scheme of things. He decides to travel through the Corkonian Haze to the other Earths. The Haze allows him to travel in the blink of a thought. When she was around, she acted as the catalyst for igniting the fuels that powered the speed engines. Now he relies on external sources as that found in the white and green can to power them.
Racing through the Corkonian Haze he remembers visiting the worlds prior to, and after the Crisis of Fates. They have shown and seen the erstwhile worlds of each other and revelled happily in the shadows. The light, even though delightful, is far less reassuring than the shadows. Travelling the Haze, he sees the inhabitants of Rare Earth. Rare Earth is one of the Earths in the multiverse which is made up of emotions metamorphosed as people. He is there and so is she. They haven’t met yet. But observing them through the Haze he realises they are gradually veering towards each other. Rare Earth is one of the few worlds that is a ‘Members Only’ club. No amount of Speed Engines or Corkonian Hazes can take you through to it, unless and until a person is permitted by the self to do so. And obtaining a permission from the self is as hard as lying to it.
During the Crisis of Fates, he remembers an incident that had occurred with them on Earth Unknown. Earth Unknown was doomed to perish in a firestorm caused by those who had been trusted to guard the sacred life fires of the world. The World Fires consumed everything but he remembers it was one of the worlds where they were together and had seen it coming. It was a hopeless time to be alive so they made their own saying of reassurance to shield each other from the heat.
Why think of this life as separate from the next? When one is born of the other. Age after age, life after life and world after world, beyond time itself, we are the same.’
The Speed Engines slow to a stop and the Corkonian Haze dies out. He finds himself back on Earth One, in the greens and the benches with the tavern overlooking the hallowed grounds. He says the saying of reassurance from Earth Unknown as he takes final swigs from the green and white can. Earth One still feels desolate. She is somewhere far away now. In a different place. Time beyond time. World beyond world. All that exists as of now is the photograph, which he calls ‘Antisocial Cats’. It reminds him of a conversation they had when the picture was taken.
‘What do we do?’
‘Pizza,’ he says.
‘No I mean about life?’
‘For now, we live the questions, when the answers aren’t forth coming,’ he says.
The picture on the cellular phone is a reminder that Earth One still exists, so they still exist. And somewhere in the vast multiverse is an Earth where they are not separated by life after life. A place where they are not separated by age after age. A place where they are not separated by world after world. A place where they are together. A place where there are no exclusive clubs, where there are no Crisis of Fates or World Fires and people do not need sayings of reassurances to survive. And because they exist there is hope that they will reunite once again on Earth One too.
It is a comforting thought he feels as he walks towards the tavern that overlooks the hallowed grounds by the greens and the spot called Earth One.
‘The Antisocial Cats of Earth One,’ he says to himself and chuckles.