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The Lone Traveler Journals
THIS ENTRY WAS FOUND IN A COLLECTION OF JOURNALS PORTRAYING THE EXPEDITIONS OF A PERSON NAMED “THE LONE TRAVELER.” THIS WAS THE FIRST ENTRY. THE JOURNALS WERE LOCATED IN A CRASHED SPACECRAFT IN THE ROCKIES. THE BODY OF THE PILOT AND POSSIBLY AUTHOR WERE NEVER FOUND. THE JOURNALS SUPPOSIDLY CURED ANY ILLNESS OF ANYONE THAT TOUCHED THEM, AND RESULTED IN INEVITABLE LOSS OF SANITY. THE JOURNALS WERE SECURED WITH A GROUP OF OTHER ARTIFACTS IN A VAULT SOMEWHERE IN THE SIERRA MADRES. EXACT LOCATION IS CLASSIFIED.
Death is Only the Beginning
What is my name?, you may ask me. Where am I from? What am I doing in a place like this? These are valid questions, but it is too bad I have no answers for them. All I truly know is that I was lucky; very lucky indeed, but maybe I should put you in my shoes and give you a sense of the world that I inhabit and it me from my fateful beginning. I will take you back as far as I can remember, to my origins you may say. Time always seems and I believe seemed a lustful illusion in this wretched place, but I believe it all began several days ago in a desert that was as close to hell as the heat.
I could feel nausea inhabit my lifeless body. I could feel the chill of my skin and the heat of everything around me, as though I was a piece of meat taken out to thaw. I could not feel pain nor exhaustion as though somebody froze every nerve in my body. All my senses are dulled to the effect of being none. I slowly moved my fingers to feel nothing. I slowly forced my eyes to open, having no discomfort from the heat of the midday. I do not know who I am, where I am, or what am I doing here. Other thoughts rush as quickly in as out. I have no memories or opinions of my current situation for I have practically no senses. It is not like I am drugged, but rather like being a corpse. Am I a corpse, but I feel normal, I thought. What is normal, the idea rushed in.
I slowly lifted my head for I could barely keep my attention. I noticed a vast land of nothing but sand and dust as far as the eye could see. I was hanging in a hay, dark brown hammock attached to two dead black birches. I accidentally moved in a direction too quickly, and the hammock flipped and I landed flat on my face. This knocked some sense into me! I could feel pain in my back that was so great that a corpse could stir in its grave. I screamed, but no one heard. I cried, but no one saw. I pleaded, but no one understood.
My hand crept up my spine to feel bumps of puss and spike and heads of nails sticking out in a manner that was only skin deep. The pain seemed to only stay in the skin. I do not know how I realized that it was nails, but I did, instantly. I did not know why I was abused this way, for how long, or how long ago. I was going to find out, though. My hand traced the pain like a crude map to my left shoulder. There I felt nothing but an object that felt like a puss bubble that took the place of my shoulder. All I could feel was this monstrosity and a head of a nail sticking out. The pain was severe, but I feared that if I pulled the nail out, the puss would explode taking my arm with it. The nails by the spine column were less of a threat, but I feared to take them out for the threat of bleeding out with no help in sight.
I used what strength I had to pull myself up by the hammock and stand up. Just in time to vomit on my young, but filthy chest. To tell you the truth I was embarrassed at my appearance or at least of what I could see of it, but I don’t know why; no one was in sight of course. I had a poorly treated body. Fat was as often seen as pain and scars and were almost a part of my personality. What was I; some obese, emo freak of nature? This idea frightened me for it seemed selfish and spoken with such hate. Who am I? Where am I? I dropped to my knees in a such a manner that it seemed that blood was coming from my scraped kneecaps, but not quite. Tears came in a rapid succession, but not for pain but for self-doubt and self-pity.
I forced myself to slap myself in the face and tell myself that there were more dire things than self-discovery, and stood up in the most brisk but awkward manner. I was hurting badly, but my mind was strong, as I suspected. I may not have been the strongest person, but cunning was a more lethal weapon anyway, I thought.
Standing up, I looked at myself more closely. All my clothes were dirt ridden and seemed to sweat profusely a grotesque ooze. I suspected that this was a mixture of blood, puss, and sweat, and it reeked. My underwear, sweat pants, and leather jacket were all covered with this ooze. I tried to brush it off with my hands but in vain. I held my breath to try to ignore it, but it was too strong. In the end, I told myself I had to do with what I had.
Then I looked at the hammock, which seemed to have once been infested by all types of vermin, since holes seemed to be as much of the object as was the hay and the ropes attached to the two decrepit birches. A couple inch long centipedes could be seen crawling around, and then my stomach rumbled with a roar that would make a jet engine proud. Hastily, I grabbed both the slimy critters, that were slowly enjoying the midday sunlight, and devoured them hole. They tasted terrible, but I needed more. To my surprise there were other objects laying under the hammock, launched on the ground when I fell off it, that I completely missed in my hunger haste.
The first object that caught my eye was a golden revolver, which I carelessly disposed onto the unsteady hammock as my stomach demanded something more, and a feeling of inconceivably desperate thirst hit me like a brick. To my astonishment there was an unopened package of crackers and a bottle of dirty water. There seemed to be mold chunks floating in it. Nothing mattered to me, but filling the hole of the thirst and famine that now was my body. I did just that and the results were uneasy.
I ripped opened the weathered box of crackers and stuffed them into my mouth almost choking with malcontent for they tasted even more terrible than my other, living snack. The crackers were moldy and nothing but a large package of crumbs, but it satisfied me on a fundamental level.
I picked up the water bottle and examined its contents. Is this actually digestible, I thought, seeing the chunks floating in a yellowish liquid. Before cracking open the bottle, I examined the bottle itself. The label was in a fair condition. It’s too bad that it was in a language indecipherable to me. The bent and twisted bottle was full of holes that the liquid did not seem to evacuate out of. How is this possible? Then I could not resist the urge any longer, and engaged in the questionable substance. It tasted bland and the texture was bare, say for an occasional bump of the mold. As soon as the bottle of the liquid was empty I felt my muscles spasm and I blacked in and out of the consciousness. I started getting visions of pain and people melting around me into the floor of a pristine, white laboratory. The screams and flashes were frightening, but I seemed to be somehow unaffected as though to only be an occasional observer. Then the room went black. Gas started pouring in, blinding me with searing pain.
When I could finally see without the distraction of pain, I was back in the searing dessert. It was deep in the night and I could hear whirling engines around me, which slowly bounced grains of sand off of my exposed skin, slightly tickling me. Only around my position did sand pick up at all. I felt deceptively peaceful, maybe from the malnutrition or the strange liquid that I ingested. I felt a little better, but the pain of the nails and infected puss still was there, a little dulled by the ingested “food,” but still there.
My mind was a little clearer and I could formulate a plan. The plan was to get the gun, the hammock, and anything else I could find, for everything was uncertain. Then, I would investigate the origin of the sound. Finding anyone or at least farther resources would be welcoming.
When I got to the hammock, I took the golden, magnum revolver. I was entranced by its mystical sheen for a moment before I opened it. It had but three cartridges in it, two used. One was rusted, scratched, and bent almost beyond recognition. The second cartridge was not used and had no special indications of being unique. The third, however, seemed to be nearly perfect. I left it in the chamber. The third cartridges, golden in color, was almost as mysterious as the revolver itself. I noticed a scrap of paper in it, which I quickly took out and unfolded with the most delicacy. It said on one side, “If you are reading this then you are luckier than I am, for I am bones. That object placed in your grasp was my way out for too long. Insanity has been my companion for near an eternity.” I looked at the back of the paper, “I suspect that I am being followed, and not desiring this to fall in their hands, I leave it to the next lucky traveler. Take care.” There were two letters under the note, “LT.”
Are those his initials? I thought. I had no time to dilly-dally, so I placed the two used cartridges with the note in my pocket, closed the revolver, and placed it in the same place. There was nothing left on the hammock, so I took it down with the utmost care not to damage it, and made it into a simple knapsack, which I put on. Then my real journey of realization started into the unknown.
I walked for six hours toward the origin of the engine sound, which slowly became louder and more menacing, but, in my surprise, more and more distorted, until finally, sounding like a constantly changing buzz, rather than an engine roar. An image of a large, metallically grey city appeared on the horizon. Is that a mirage?, I thought.
Then my feet gave out in exhaustion of the long desperation, continually rising pain in my upper back and left shoulder, and the discomfort of my now callused feet, and I fell over seeing everything go black. The last thing I thought was how close I was, but what a shame.
I woke up disoriented and in vast pain. Although trying to scream all my misery out, something stopped me. It was more my confusion and mental desperation than anything. I was just exhausted. I should not be alive, I thought. Maybe I am not, I concluded, for it was too quite as thought all the sounds were put out like a wax candle.
Then the sounds of a buzzing and speech, which was as foreign to me as the place I was in, seeped in to my mind. “Have you removed the sixth nail yet? The sedative will not last for much longer, and you know if we administer any more he will die,” the voice said.
Then I could hear two voices speaking in unison somewhere else in the room. One was course and grim, while the other sweet, welcoming, and soft. “Unless you desire us to fracture his spine, I suggest you stop complaining, Engineer.”
I suppose I was supposed to distinguish where he was taking the nail out exactly for it was my own body, but the pain was so vast that it numbed all other feelings, emotions, and physical responses. I could not even tell how I was positioned, or how hot or cold the environment around me was. It took me all the strength and willpower I could possibly muster to just open my right eye just a notch.
Light poured in the strangest colors. I could see blobs instead of figures; colors instead of contrast. God, that burns!, I thought. Then the pain started to recede, and the images concentrate. I could see a man, although this was uncertain, for he was covered in tattered white fabric from head to toe, except for his face, which was covered by a grey gas mask. The mask seemed to observe me as though to mock my current state.
“Our companion is awake. Too bad! He will have to suffer the worst pain of his little, unimportant life! Ha-Ha-Ha!” The masked man mocked. “What the hell are you still doing back there?” His attitude never changed. His expression could not be understood by his voice either, for it never receded from its high pitched noise.
“What are you expecting us to be, a machine? We work as quickly as we can. Besides, we are done. Let me just clean off the blade.” The unison voices spoke.
Then I heard a splash of water and metal banging and scraping on metal. Then the man in white, Engineer was it, went around the back, and whispered something to the people.
I felt straps around my legs and arms, which made me extremely nervous. I could not move even a muscle though, maybe for the still constant, unbearable pain or the sedative the man talked of. Are they treating my injuries or experimenting on me. Can’t be the experimentation, can it? They sedated me after all. My fear was hard to hold back.
I tried to concentrate on the environment, but my attempts were foiled by a large obstruction that just positioned itself in front of me. What is that?, I wondered. It had perfectly white skin. It seemed extremely tall and muscular, beyond belief. Is it alive, can’t be. Then I heard Engineer speak, “Keep him distracted, this will be painful and administrating sedative is out of question, Logain.”
“Fine, but we believe we will freak him out more than help. Be aware,” it stated its opinions on its looks.
“Do what you must,” Engineer regurgitated a response.
I could see the giant obstruction bend over. I still had a hard time focusing due to my condition, but what I saw was beyond belief, it was as terrifying as extraordinary. The creature seemed to be a perfect combination of fear and peace. It seemed to have the best and worst of all kin in its form, which seemed to be as tough as steel but as soft as any flesh.
It had two heads extending from its trunk of a body. The heads reflected the qualities of either fierceness or welcoming peace, nearly a glow in the appearance. These qualifications stretched vertically down through all of the creature I could see.
The right head had scars and tattoos on its deep concave cheeks. It had a double chin, which had sharp-ended piercings in multiple places. Its sharp, jagged teeth glared at me, while the lips pulsed in a manner as though desiring to feast on my flesh. Its nose was nonexistent, possible being there at one time, but removed or ripped off in a fit of anger at one time. Its red eyes literally glowed with sparks of anger and fits of rage as they seemed incapable of stay in one place. It had no eyelashes or any hair at all anywhere on its horrific design. Burn marks could be seen in many places. If they were self inflicted was uncertain. It was wearing a cloth helmet with golden etchings. The helmet was dirt ridden and had many holes and loose fibers in its framework.
The other head, the left one, had a helmet of the same origin. I would have said they were clones except for the fact of the condition of the left. It was in a perfect state, from the gold etchings to the fibers, which were in the ordinate places like the creature’s golden-red, silky hair. The hair was well washed, conditioned, and tucked in the back. Its eyelashes, which were long, dark, and dazzling, seemed nearly as perfect as the hair. The creature blinked in the most elegant manner as though to seduce my mind. The eyelashes only complimented the shining light-blue irises of the temptress. The eyes seemed to gesture its attraction to me, which raised my self confidence a pinch. Its small nose was well cared for with no blemishes. Its small, delicate lips, which had a sharp red tone, complimented its skin complexity, formed a kissing form and a little giggle coming from them seemed to be a jest at me. Its round face and chin had the form of a perfect huntress, seductive and dangerous. The final touch to the whole package was the skin. It was soft and delicate to the sight, elusive yet welcoming.
I was distracted to the extent that a slight chemical reaction in my system could have caused me to confuse it for love at first sight. The creature, or at least the attractive part of it, was very lovely and my heart rose to the skies. My fantasies caused by this creature were rudely interrupted by a shock that entered my infected, monstrous shoulder. The shock went down my arm disabling any movement I could have had in it. The immense pain triggered something in my mind, as though turning a memory or a thought on again.
I was in a dark room shivering my remaining sanity away. The room was too short to stand and not wide enough to lay. I was completely naked physically and mentally. A smell of decay filled my nostrils, which made me become nauseous and nearly vomit. A voice spoke, but I was too tired to understand. It commanded, but I did not obey. In response, electricity surged through my body. I pulsed with a concoction of terribly painful spasms. The flashes eliminated the room, and shrouded my conciseness. Another surge woke me up, but I was not present in that hell hole.
I was in a room of a very different origin. It was well lit and I was in a more comfortable position. Thank god, I thought, not knowing what it meant. I felt a little soothed by the plain aromas in this place. I was laying on a nice wooden posted bed, though the mattress was in less than perfect condition. I was staring at a metal sealing, which cradled a single light bulb that swiveled with a squeaking sound.
The walls were plastered in spots and welded with chunks of warped metal in others. There were worn paintings grasping the walls, but they fortified me. The images were of crude death scenes staring right at me as though foretelling my demise in so many ways. The more I stared at them the more the victim seemed to be me. I pulled myself out of that situation just in time, for a man wearing a hockey mask was about to pull a trigger, or I thought he was. “What is going on?”, I yelled. “I cannot handle this. Why am I being put through this?”
A hot tear dripped down my cheek onto my outfit, which was not the one I originated in. It was completely composed of fine, elegant silk, more fit for a high stakes gambler than a delusional amnesiac. The outfit fit as tough it was custom designed for me. I reached into the pocket of my dinner jacket, by impulse, and took out a handkerchief, which was itched with the letters L.T. That is when I heard a voice, no, a memory say, “How about you take a bullet for me, buddy. HA-HA-HA!”
Everything started to spin. Get a hold of yourself, I told myself, and smacked myself on the side of the head. I felt a sharp pain and then everything was set into focus. That pain was not my wounds. Wait why can’t I feel anything? I felt around my back, my shoulder, and just about everywhere else, but there was no response. Did I strike a fuse, I smirked. “Somebody get me out of here,” I screamed.
I have to find what is going on around here, I told myself. I noticed a door on the outside of the room. Dashing there, I yanked the handle. Infuriated that it was locked in, I kicked the door open, while drawing the golden revolver from a holster by my side, by some distant instinct I suppose. I will not question it for now. I could feel anger pulse through my veins.
The mid-day sunlight and the smell of burning flesh disoriented me. The first thing I saw were, to my horror, mutated creatures, if I could even call them that, roasting dismembered body parts of my fellow kin. I could see every head, or at least what I thought was a head, turn in my direction, tasting the air. I could sense the terror in my trembling hand that wielded my weapon.
“What in the god’s name are you all staring at,” I could hear the familiar unison voice. All the mutant creatures lowered their heads down in a sulking manner. I jumped slightly in surprise.
“And you,” the two headed creature pointed at me. “Put that weapon away, before someone gets hurt.”
“You know what. No,” I mustered to say. I did not feel brave, but at least pretended to be. I think the creature knew this and ridiculed me for it.
“Why not?” The creature seamed intrigued or at least playing with me.
“I have questions. Too many questions! And I am not moving until you answer them.” My voice sounded cracked and nervous.
“Alright. I will give you two choices then, the easy and the, well…” the creature paused. “Let’s just say less easy. Come with me where you will get your precious answers or enjoy the sweet, sweet ‘therapy.’” The creature accented the last word with its fingers.
“I’ll play your game. I’ll come.” I did not dear to know what this therapy was, after all I have been through.
“Good,” the creature gestured to follow.
We walked past the creatures that hissed as I walked by. Then, we walked through some similar back alleyway of abandoned building of a time long forgotten multiple times, but that did not strike me as strange. Many things in this weird world seemed identical. When I was about to suspect that the creature was taking me in circles, it pushed me into one of these abandoned structures, and closed the door. The last thing I heard from it was, “Keep your precious weapon close to your heart, maybe then it’ll remain.” It laughed gruesomely and vanished.
I was confused, but then realized that I was trapped. I was scared once more and, in panic, I relentlessly tried to find the knob in the dim light of the afternoon sun, but there was none to find on the door. I tried to kick the door open, for I was now in a state of delusional fear, but I guess luck does not strike twice. I nearly cracked my knee in that attempt, but no hard feelings. I felt no pain from it, but I was going to feel then next thing that hit me.
Something had torn through my flesh with the precision of striking the spaces between the ribs. The impact launched me across the room, where I graciously dented the wall. I was in terrible pain, but I managed to take out my revolver. I heard a voice that entered my mind as though attempting to influence my actions, “Take a bullet before the bullet gets you, buddy! HA-HA-HA!”
The demon that ripped my side open was a gruesome sight to behold. Its body slithered in all directions, splitting and rejoining. Its head was cloaked by a hood of tiny little scraps of metal and paper connected by fog. Its face was nonexistent, but for its dozens of glowing specks of eyes, constantly shifting. The specters flesh was but fear. It possessed no ordinary appendages, but knives, spikes, hooks, and other objects of torture, which constantly shifted and changed. It seemed to spell out my demise. I coughed up blood and, apparently, the remains of my sanity, for I figured defending my squeamish being.
It rushed at me as I attempted to stand, and repeated the memory I had received in this place, “Take a bullet for me, buddy.” As the creature was ten feet away, I raised the revolver and fired. Time seemed to slow down. I felt my heart beat, I saw my breath steam, and heard the scream of the hunter. The bullet penetrated the masked cloak of the creature. The head split and splattered into a thousand pieces. I felt nothing for the creature, as it did for me. It was either me or it.
The room started filling with a nauseous smoke, a sweet, sweet chemical. My head turned to a sound behind me of rust scraping decrepit metal. The opening of my escape was an elevator shaft that had long lost its elevator resident. The cord that took the elevator up was still there, but in a condition far from stable. A scraping sound came from the shaft as the cord scraped the sides of the elevator shaft. A fine crimson dust poured out into the oxygen, as though to take its first breath. This is my way out, one way or another, I thought, trying to hold my breath. I forced the pain to the back of my mind and entered that shaft. My fingers were ripped by the jagged fibers of the cord, but I had to move. I had to know that there was light at the end of this long, miserable tunnel.
The vertical tunnel was well lit by a source coming from an exit above. The only exit it seemed. Rust fell on top of me with every movement of my body. My nose burnt and itched from the never-ending shower. The discomfort was not bearable, but I had to bear it, still. The scenery never changed and the struggles seemed to never end. I climbed until my hands bled and every joint in my body ached, and then I climbed even longer, until I reached the source of the light. Only through sheer will was I able to climb into that large, long room. The room was filled with art, illustrating everything from fine dinners to unspeakable riches, from sexual intercourse to a life of worship, from happiness to greed. Everything you could think of was portrait here. I was puzzled and amazed by the level of detail of the artwork. They brought pleasure to me but only on a fundamental level. How can anybody create works of art, such as these?, I asked myself. A person could stare into those images for the rest of their life, and be pleased with their existence.
This almost was my fate when I saw the painting of a happy family around a circular dinner table. They were laughing and enjoying an afternoon drink of some kind, tea perhaps. The father seemed to be telling a story, the mother chewing on a biscuit, the older daughter giggling at things she was hearing, and the younger son sipping at his drink from a fancy teacup. This was a perfect scene, an illusion, but a perfect illusion. I knew this, and so I kept going. “Why can’t this be the reality,” I cried out loud.
“It can be, if you truly desire,” a voice came from the far side of the room.
There stood a golden throne illuminated by exotic flowers and precious gem stones of all kinds and varieties. My mouth dropped at the sight of this object. An old man sat in the throne, whistling a tune. He was old to the sight, but the whistle he rang was the liveliest thing I ever heard or saw. The tune had a gothic pitch to it, which scratched at my soul. Then the tune stopped and he looked onto me. “Mortal you have come far and I shall put you in any scene you desire in this hall, but on one condition,” he said.
“Why are you offering me things?” I was nervous. “Why is this place so elegant, while the rest of the world is so decrepit? Why was I put through this, and are you the one who organized this torture act, old man?” I yelled at the old man.
“I offer answers to you and much more if you promise to end my life. My life is too long and I have seen things no person should. I desire for you to end my life. This is all I ask of you,” he said in the most casual voice. There was no emotion in it whatsoever.
“Are you crazy?” I yelled at the man. He must be. No creature, no matter how strange, desires to die. “Is this a trick?”
“What is your answer, mortal. Anything you desire will be yours if you will sacrifice one life to restart another.”
“No,” I stated. “There has been enough pain and misery in this world, where-ever it is. The offer is tempting, but your words do not hold. If I learned one thing from this hell hole is that nothing can bring sanity into this world, not even some old, wise, decrepit man.”
Then, the man broke out into laughter, which terrified me even more when the men’s skin melted off and turned into golden ash. This being transcended reality itself. This was not a man in front of me any longer, but a spirit. It was glowing and beautiful. It radiated warmth and kindness. It was otherworldly. “You have passed every test thrown at you, in life and death. You evaded self-pity, withstood nature’s grasp, used cunning and strength, portrayed resilience, and most importantly, showed mercy and wisdom. You are a true immortal.”
“You put me through this? God damn you. No person should have to go through what I did? Did you torture others?” I was p***ed beyond belief. I did not know what I felt at that point, disbelief perhaps. I paced from the rush of emotions.
“Your race put you through this. I will tell you the story if I may.”
“You better!” I screamed.
“This place is where your race lived long ago. They prayed here and were happy, but they were struck by disease and agony. They tried to heal themselves with medicines and technology, but all was in vain. All their options were exhausted, but then another race descended on them and offered them a choice. ‘You can perform our ritual and be reborn or die from your illness,’ they said. Your whole race performed the ritual, trying to save themselves from the inevitable extinction. You are the last to do it. You are the only to come out.”
The grim truth struck me. “I am the last of my kind.” This was how things turned out, and I could do nothing about it. “I am the last of my kind.”
“Do not despair, being,” the spirit spoke. “Your race is not dead and it shall never be for you are an immortal. Your race was promised a salvation and a better future; your race did its part of the contract and now the second will be fulfilled.
It motioned its hands and beside its throne opened a portal eliminating sights to behold, smells of the most pleasant aromas, sounds of birds chirping and trees softly bending in the wind. Then the spirit spoke, “Enter your new world, your afterlife, your race’s afterlife, and live a happy ending to this terrible tale.”
“One last question before I go.” I said knowing at the bottom of my heart that I would never see this creature again. “Who are you?”
“I am the spirit that lives in every being, large and small. I am the hand that guides people forward, but the ideas that hold them back. I am the fierceness of a storm and the pain of the deep, as well as the giggle of a child and the love of a mother. I am the meaning of all, but the vision of nothing. I am what you make of me.”
The answer was more than what I expected, and I knew it was not lying. I gestured a good-bye and embraced the ending my race desired, whatever it may have been. I stepped into the portal and was swallowed by the ever embracing light.