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The True Discovery of Neon
This is an account of how I found “The Glowing Ones”. I was exploring the woods next to my house one day many years ago when I first saw the glow. It was a cold day in December, thick gray clouds hid the sky and everything around me was devoid of color. The air was cold, but not painfully so; the type of cold that politely informs you that it’s there then lets you go about your business. The day had just begun so the grass was coated in a crunchy white frost, and the dead white trees, that reached up to the sky like claws of the earth, were still coated with ice-cycles from last weeks snow storm.
I began to walk down to the small, old creek from my childhood. It was frozen. Everything was frozen. Time itself, it seemed, had been stilled by the enduring cold. Suddenly, I realized that I did not know where that lonely creek originated, and felt an odd need to do so.
So, I knelt down, retied my boots, tightened my coat around my body and headed upstream. The creek snaked up the mountain and out of the woods; it certainly was a lot longer than I had thought. I traveled through a field and then into the rocky hills in the middle area of the mountain. As the mountain began to steepen I needed to use all of my limbs to climb up the ridges, and follow the creek who had the lucky advantage of being ageless, having the chance to make it’s own little smooth path through the rocky mountain over the years. After climbing to the top of a particularly large rock closer to the top of the mountain I decided to take a break, and get my bearings.
Looking around, I realized that I had climbed quite high; I could even see the rusty town that was about 5 miles away from my families little cottage tucked away in the dark forest. The sky was just as gray and colorless as it was in the morning, which made it very hard to tell what time of day it was or how long I had been out. I checked my watch and saw that it was one o’clock. My eyes widened with the realization that I had been out following the creek for six hours. I quickly checked my phone, and saw that I had about twenty unread texts and five missed calls from my mom all asking where I was, and telling me to come home immediately. Grudgingly, I decided that it was, in fact, time for me to head home.
So I tied my bright red scarf to a dead tree that had grown out of an outcropping on the side of the mountain like a checkpoint to make sure I, at least, made it to the same spot tomorrow.
However, as soon as I turned my back on the mountain I began to feel a longing for it, as well as a strange, almost tugging sensation in my very mind. As I turned around the tugging moved from the back of my head to the front, and I even began to hear an unusual, but oddly soothing ringing coming from the mountain. Slowly, my feet began to move my body toward the ringing. Ringing, ringing, I quickly grabbed for the phone in my pocket realizing that at least some of the ringing was my own phone. I missed the call, but decide that it was definitely time for me to head home. I shook the feelings that the mountain had filled me with. I didn’t succeed completely, still feeling a longing for the mountain, but enough to force my body to head home.
After a long walk down the mountain and through the cold wet field, I finally made it home, and as soon as I opened the door my mother rushed up to me screaming.
“ATLAS!!! Where have you been?!? I’ve been a worried sick about you all day! Why didn’t you answer your phone? I texted you at least 100 times!!” She always loved to dramatize things. “The whole reason I got you one of those damn things was so that I could always know where you were!”
My mother has always been a bit of a worrywart.
“Sorry mom,” I sincerely apologized, “I was walking down in the woods this morning, and decided to follow the creek upstream. I wanted to see where it came from.” I explained. “I must have lost track of time, and didn’t feel my phone. Sorry.”
She sighed for a moment and seemed to relax
“It’s fine dear just try to tell me before you go on these little adventures of yours, and PAY MORE ATTENTION TO YOUR PHONE!” she exclaimed with jovial anger.
“Haha, alright mom. Can do”.
I poured myself a glass of hot chocolate, and sat down in the soft, chocolate colored, velvet recliner in front of the fireplace. My mother sat down in the one across from my own.
“So. What made you want to follow the creek up the mountain any way?” she asked with an odd nervous tone in her voice
“I don’t know I just sort of, son of a b****!” I had burnt my tongue on the hot chocolate.
“Atlas!! Watch your language!” My mother exclaimed, having never heard me curse before.
“Sorry mom! I burnt my tongue, and it really hurt!” I tried to explain.
“I don’t care! I’m your mother, and I don’t want to hear you using that sort of language!”
“I said I was sorry! It won’t happen again.” I promised.
“It better not. Now go on. Why did you want to follow the creek?”
“Oh right, well I was just walking through the woods, and I just suddenly got the urge to find out where the stream was coming from. So I followed it upstream, and I lost track of time.”
“I see,” she said quietly, “and did you see or hear anything…unusual, when you were on the mountain?”
“Unusual? No. Why?” I asked confused.
“Hmmm must not have made it all the way.” She mumbled to herself.
“What?” I questioned not hearing her completely.
“Hmm? Oh it’s nothing dear, but I don’t want you going up there anymore those rocks can be dangerous. You might hurt yourself. Now come help me with dinner.”
That night I dreamed about climbing the mountain and finding the origin of the creek in a cave deep within the mountain, but the area around the mountain didn’t look the same as it did when I looked at it in the real world. It seemed as though time was speeding past me, and I could see everything the mountain had seen. I saw the dinosaurs, the rise of man, the first civilizations, everything was happening right before my eyes, but the mountain stayed the same even when other mountains around it grew and withered away, this mountain was always there. Then I heard something. It was coming from a cave within the mountain. It was calling out to me. I couldn’t resist it. I entered the cave, and was blinded by a bright light. My eyes began to adjust, and I began to be able to make out what was in the cave. Then I woke up.
That morning I woke up dazed and extremely confused. Then I felt it. I felt the need. I quickly put on my warm clothes, boots and jacket, told mom I was going out for a while, and ran out the door. I got outside jumped down the stairs, and started sprinting to the creek. As soon as I got to it I turned, and started running upstream. I don’t remember the journey up. It was like I was at the woods near my house one second and at my checkpoint near the outcropping on the side of the mountain the next. Suddenly I stopped. I could hear a faint sound. It sounded familiar. I followed it. I took a short climb up to another rock slightly higher up on the mountain. The sound was stronger. I stopped, looked around and realized that I was in the exact same spot I was in during my dream. The sound continued to ring in my ears. It was the same sound from my dream. I turned around to look at the spot where the cave had been in my dream, and sure enough there it was. Every molecule in my body was telling me not to go into that cave. I even tried to turn away, but I failed. Slowly I started walking into the cave. I began to cover my eyes, expecting the same bright light that had blinded me in my dream, however there was no bright light, only three dim red ones. They hovered over the creeks origin, leaving trails of dim light in their paths. I tried to look closer to see where the lights were coming from, but I didn’t see any source. The lights continued to float around randomly until suddenly, they stopped, and the ringing sound that apparently they were making stopped as well. Then I heard a calm yet powerful voice in my mind.
“Welcome Atlas,” it said to me, “we are glad you made it here…unharmed.”
“What are you?” I asked out loud.
“Please, there is no need to use such crude, primitive sounds to communicate with us. We can hear your true voice perfectly fine, now to your question. ‘What are you?’ you asked. The answer is We Are.”
“You are? What does that mean?? Do you have a name?” I thought in my mind. Apparently they could hear my thoughts.
“Names are merely a way for your kind to categorize things that you do not understand so that they are no longer unknown, and you do not fear them. The diluted pieces of our energy found in your air, however have been given a name by your scientists. They have called it Neon. They have studied it quite extensively, and made up many facts about it. They have broken it up into three types, or isotopes, as they call it.”
It began to list them.
“Neon-20: Mass-19.99amus, Percent Abundance-90.48%. Neon-21: Mass-90.99amus, Percent Abundance-0.27%. Neon-22: Mass 21.99amus, Percent Abundance-9.25%. From this “data” they have gathered that our diluted energy has an “Average Atomic Mass” of 20.37amus. They have also decided that it has 10 “protons”, and 10 “neutrons” in its “nucleus”. Also they say that it has 10 “electrons”. They seem to think that we are very stable. These scientists even gave us the title of “Noble Gas”. We were quite honored.”
“How? How do you know all this, and why are you telling me?” I asked concerned and very, VERY confused. It answered with one word.
I was never heard from again.