An old man claiming to be the “Master of the Third Quadrant” had almost nonchalantly handed me to a “Guide” who would “do the rest” and all I had to do was to do as I was told…
“Guide? What Guide?”
As I stood there wondering what to do, I heard a voice behind me, “I will be your guide.”
I turned to see what must have been the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in real life. I mean, I knew this was a dream and all that, but heck she was beautiful. Maybe this is what they meant when they said dream girl…
“As the Master said, it is time you stopped thinking of this as a dream. And thanks for the compliment.” She was almost brutal as she said this.
Here was another mind reader. I had to take this slowly and as it came. Here I was, in “Backspace,” whatever that was. An old man claiming to be the “Master of the Third Quadrant” had almost nonchalantly handed me to a “Guide” who would “do the rest” and all I had to do was to do as I was told. And the guide turned out to be a beautiful woman dressed in a white shirt and ice blue jeans. Her long black shiny hair (I’ve been waiting to use this description for oh so long a time – I’ve never know any one with ‘long black shiny hair’) fell about her shoulder, framing her lovely face… I could go on, but I’d rather go on with what happened.
What happened next kind of set the tone for the rest of my rather protracted association with my guide. As I watched, the beautiful lady changed in a flash into an old hag, her skin hanging on her bones and her clothes had become smelly rags. And before I could hold my nose, she had transformed into a dragon, about twenty-five feet tall, with flashing red and gold scales and breathing fire – she directed a jet at me which just singed my eyebrows – and as I was recovering from it she was something that my mind still has not comprehended – it looked like a giant locust except that certain parts of it were missing, but still seemed to be somehow whole – it must have been moving in at lease five dimensions, only three of which both my mind and senses could perceive. And almost as suddenly, she was back to her old beautiful self – white shirt, jeans and all.
“Caught you by surprise, didn’t I?” she laughed.
I was still recovering, taking a couple of steps back and staying there.
“Wha… What was that? And what are you?” I managed to stutter.
“Good. Now that you’ve stopped ogling, perhaps I can tell you a bit more about what we’ll be doing.”
Sounded pretty reasonable. “Okay…” I said.
“Feel your eyebrows,” she said.
“Feel your eyebrows.”
“Will you just feel you eyebrows?” She sounded like she was talking to a kid and I decided to oblige. I felt my eyebrows. They felt raw and burned.
“Aargh! You’ve scarred me. You burnt my eyebrows off…” I could smell the burnt flesh.
“Now, do you believe that this is not a dream?” she asked.
The thought hit me rather hard. As I kept standing there, looking stupid and feeling even more so, she came up to me and took my hand. I must have recoiled, for she said, “Don’t worry, I won’t bite. At least, if you behave.”
I allowed myself, rather meekly I might add, to be taken by my hand. She walked me to one end of the room, where there was an ornate door I had not noticed before, and we walked out into a huge forest-like garden. It was nice – the birds were singing and there was a faint breeze. It was not too hot, neither was it very cold. We walked side by side till we came to a shady spot, where there were some rocks. We sat down, and she started talking.
“Listen to me carefully. And fully. Don’t interrupt till I finish. Then I’ll answer your questions. At least those which I can,” she said. I nodded and she went on. “You are now in Backspace, a place which, put simply, is reality’s backstage. What you perceive as reality is but a tiny fraction of what reality really is. There are millions of dimensions that are beyond you, and the only thing that keeps you alive is the shield made by your senses. They carefully allow you to perceive a mere speck of the vastness that is reality, so that your tiny minds can handle what little they perceive. And that too they do rather unsuccessfully.” She looked almost scornful as she said that.
“We, on the other had, are those whose being spans all dimensions. We are not many, but neither are we few. We are beyond numbers, and being pan-dimensional, we have almost unlimited powers in any finite set of dimensions. And we make all reality for those like you who are dimensionally bound.
“Administratively, we are divided into four groups, or Quadrants to you. You met the Master who heads our Quadrant. The four Masters report to the Supreme One, who usually settles disputes between the Masters. I am one of the deputies to the Master of the Third Quadrant.
“The reason you are here is that we need you to do something for us. In one of the numerous three-dimensional worlds, there is a prophecy that needs to be fulfilled. A saviour is to appear who will lead the people to a victory against a great evil. And we have decided to give you a chance to save civilisation as you know it in a world akin to yours.”
She stopped, looking at me. I was bursting with questions, and yet, I could ask none. Finally, I managed to come up with one, rather weak question.
“How long do you need me here? I’ve got an assignment to submit tomorrow and my attendance is really bad. I can’t afford to lose another day’s attendance. And what am I going to tell my parents?” I would have gone on if she had not cut me off.
“All that really does not matter. Once you finish saving civilisation, we’ll return you to your bed the same moment as you left it. Time, for you, is standing still. I thought you would have worked that one out by yourself.” She sounded disappointed.
“Then it’s okay by me. Saving civilisations is something I’ll never refuse. What was all that back there, when you became all those things? And if like you say I’m in Backspace where dimensions are not the same as on Earth, how come I can see and hear and feel things?” The questions were breaking loose now.
“The answer to all that is the same thing. Reality Generation. Your mind cannot handle any reality that is bigger than three dimensions. To us, reality itself is a game. So, in order to interact with you, a reality is created around you where everything you see around you is generated by our devices. They take inputs from your mind, create a version of reality that you would most like to perceive, and put it around you. Which is why you see a forest around you and me as a beautiful woman.” She waited for me to take it all in.
It took me some time, and I asked her, “So what are you, actually?”
“Your ‘actually’ cannot take me in. I exist across dimensions and above dimensions. So I really cannot give you an idea about what I am. Take, for instance a creature that is two-dimensional. It would have no way of comprehending three-dimensional entities. Imagine this,” and as she said, out of nowhere appeared what seemed to be a sheet of paper.
It floated around between us and she said, “That’s a two-dimensional space for you.”
I looked at it sideways, and saw that it had no thickness. It disappeared if you looked at it from the side.
“Now, imagine a creature living in this space,” she said, as a dot appeared on it.
“If a three dimensional entity were to pass through this space, what would the creature perceive, and how would it comprehend it? Watch carefully,” she said, as a transparent sphere appeared out of nowhere. It hovered under the two-dimensional space before it slightly touched it. Where it touched the space, it appeared blue in colour. Slowly, as I watched, the sphere passed through the space, and as it did, I could see the blue dot grow into a circle which slowly expanded, then slowly shrunk till it became a dot again and totally disappeared when the sphere passed completely through the space.
“The creature could not even have perceived a growing circle. All it would have perceived would have been a line that grew steadily longer, then steadily shorter before disappearing completely. Now, how can you explain to the creature what a sphere is?” She looked at me, waiting for me to answer.
“Now that you put it that way, I understand. That I cannot and should not try to perceive the whole of what you are. Anyway, I’m perfectly contented with what I perceive now.” I was grinning like an idiot as I said this.
“Which is why I went through those changes there – I took all those images from your mind, but I was really them. You see, as far as you are concerned in Backspace, you literally make your own reality. So, to grab your attention, I had to do that,” she somehow seemed contented now that she had explained burning off my eyebrows.
“Okay, so how do I go about saving civilisation? And by the way, will you be going with me, or will it be just me on my ownsome lonesome?” I asked.
“Oh – we’ll be going together alright. And we’ll have company. In fact I think he’s here right now. There he is,” she exclaimed.
I turned, and what I saw left my mouth hanging open in surprise.
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