“For one of those gnostics, the visible universe was an illusion or, more precisely, a sophism. Mirrors and fatherhood are abominable because they multiply it and extend it.”
~ Borges, Jorge Luis. Ficciones.
I stumbled out of the beer tent staring at the ethereal green and blue glow from the ferris wheel reflecting of the clouded night sky. Ana, although I didn’t know that was her name, not yet, slipped her hand in the crook of my elbow. It felt good to have a woman on my arm. I didn’t even question who the hell she was. We walked in lockstep for a few strides down the midway before I got the courage to look over at her. I expected the vision in the corner of my eye to be a mirage that dissipated as soon as I looked, so I held off looking at her as long as I could, but curiosity killed the cat, so they say. I looked, and she looked back. “Way out of my league,” was all I thought. She was ash blonde hair, bronze skin, and brown eyes that made me melt, all atop a strong, athletic body.
“The hall of mirrors is my favorite,” she said.
As we entered, the mirrored walls exploded into life. Floor, ceiling, walls, all perfectly reflecting our images ad infinitum. “Welcome to infinity,” Ana said. “Every man and every woman that ever lived or ever will live is reflected in these walls. You are all men. I am all women.”
How the hell do you respond to that? I said, “That’s poetic.” Trying to sound intellectual.
She hugged me tightly. “And combined we become humanity itself,” she said. “Want to see a trick? Look into my eyes. Don’t look anywhere else.” Her forehead touched mine as I fell into the depths of her almond eyes. “At the count of three you’re going to turn your head to the left and look into the mirrors.”
“Holy shit.” I saw Ana and me times infinity plus another woman standing behind. I turned to touch her, to make sure she was real. She had the same face as Ana, but her eyes were an icy blue, her skin was a pale blue, her hair was raven. Ana was dressed all in white, this woman was all in black.
“Where did you come from?”
“From the mirrors, of course. I’m Ana’s reflection.”
Ana giggled. “This is my identical twin, Zuza.”
“But you two don’t look identical.”
“Yet we are, different aspects of the same woman, cleaved apart in the womb.”
“Twins. Every man’s dream.” I was no Don Juan.
“Don’t you just want to eat him up?” Ana said.
Demons and angels danced in the mirrors at the edges of my vision. The reflections of Ana and Zuza transmogrified into serpents wrapping my body. I turned to look in the mirrors and saw only them hugging me – no angels, no demons, no serpents, just infinity.
“That was surreal,” I said, throwing out one of the few words I remembered from an art history course as we walked out of the house of mirrors.
“No, out here is surreal, profane. In there is reality stripped clean of the vulgar veneer of life. It’s pure essence,” said Zuza.
What the hell is a guy supposed to say to that? Nada. I put my arms around them and walked.
“Come on Jeffrey, let’s get in your car, we’ve got a special place to show you.”
“How did you know my name?”
“Didn’t you tell me? Doesn’t matter. Come on, the clouds have cleared and it’s a beautiful starry night.” No, I never told her. I’m sure of that, but I wasn’t going to ruin an opportunity with beautiful twins by arguing the point.
“Give me the keys, I’m driving,” said Zuza.
I’ve got a rule that nobody drives my car but me. Last time I broke that rule, my car got totaled. Of course, if Zuza drove, Ana was going to have to sit on my lap, because I didn’t have a back seat. I handed Zuza my keys.
The smell of dead leaves and pine needles filled the night air. As Zuza drove us down twisting back roads, Ana and I made out. The last road was dirt and dead ended half way up a mountain. “Time to walk,” Zuza said as she parked. I grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniel’s from under the seat.
We hiked through wind-blown scrub pines until we broke the tree line, then it was a sheer granite rock face to the summit. The peak was flat, sheered off by glaciers centuries ago. We lay looking at the stars, Ana on one side, Zuza on the other. We drank whiskey. Insanity ensued.
The rotation of the earth quickened; stars created arcs of light as the sped past through the heavens. Light and dark, day and night, faster and faster the earth spun, then stopped, reversing itself. I could see from one end of time to the other. Ana and Zuza whispered secrets into my ears, most of which I forgot.
“All men are one man. All women are one woman. Man and woman are the same human,” said Ana.
“And that one human is you,” said Zuza.
“Separate the physical from the spiritual.”
“The universe is but two energies, positive and negative.”
“Continually in conflict.”
“Humanity is just a conduit, an expression of this energy in the physical world.”
“Think of me as the negative.”
“And me, the positive.”
“One requires the other.”
“A fight to the death, either I win…”
“Or I do.”
“The loser is abolished. The universe becomes eternal good or eternal evil.”
“Religion, politics, race, individualism, these are my weapons of war. They thrive on my negative energy.”
“Love and unity are my weapons. If humanity realizes they are all one living being, like drops of water in the ocean, then I will win.”
“But humans can’t overcome their ego, so I will win. Ultimately war will destroy all.”
By the time the earth slowed, and the sun rose, I felt old. My hair had thinned and grown down past my shoulders. I had a long beard.
“What happened? Why did you tell me all this?”
“We created your universe as a test, a simple wager between ourselves, a game, if you will,” said Ana.
“You are going to go and prophesize to the world. You will tell them our plans, our secrets, and they will laugh at you. By sharing the truth, humanity will think it a lie, a joke, and dismiss it,” said Zuza.
“Nobody believes a madman,” said Ana.
“But I’m not mad.”
“That’s just what a madman would say.”
“I won’t play your game. I won’t say a word of what I know. You can’t use me.”
“You won’t have a choice. Truth will flow from your mouth like a fountain.”
“I have more self-control than you think.”
“We will see.”
“We have one final secret to share, come closer.”
I looked up into the azure sky. I remember seeing two eagles circling. Ana and Zuza leaned into me. I thought they were going to kiss me. Ana placed her mouth on my left eye while Zuza placed her mouth on my right. Quickly they sucked my eyeballs from their sockets, spitting them out to dangle and bounce by their optic nerves across my bloody cheeks. Time froze. Chaos, disjointed images, their breasts, my cheeks, the mountain, my beard, eagles, darkness, madness all flashed through my mind.
The eagles swooped down. Their talons dug deep into my shoulders. Each bird plucked one of my dangling eyes clean from their nerve fibers, the eyeballs wedged firmly in their beaks. One bird flew high into the sky while the other flew down the mountain, low to the earth.
I watched through my severed eyes as the earth grew small through my left eye as one eagle soared upwards beating its wings hard against the pull of the earth up through the clouds and upward still until I could see the curvature of the earth through. The other eagle flew low and fast, swooping down the mountain, giving me a view of the valley below. My eyes and my being were being pulled in opposite directions. I felt the universe expanding with each wingbeat. My world then contracted as the second bird turned and flew with my right eye high into the sky towards the first. At their apex at the edge of the atmosphere, they dropped my eyes. Space contracted as the eyes accelerated towards earth while time expanded as they reached terminal velocity far above the earth’s surface, so high as to make the descent imperceptible. There was no sensation of falling as my body remained firmly on the ground while my sight was far above the earth. Up became down and down became up as my eyes spun wildly through the air with no pull of gravity upon my body to help me orient in space. As my sight dimmed, time and distance and velocity and acceleration and orientation in the universe dissolved into one. Space became time and time became space, up became down, forward became backward, and past became future until everything in the universe converged upon a single point in the center of my mind’s eye. A great labyrinth of space and time with no dimensions yet containing all that ever was and all that ever would be, imprisoned me in a world I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to escape.
“You see, not only is humanity an illusion,” whispered Ana into my left ear.
“So is time and space,” whispered Zuza into my right.
I have become what was prophesized by the twins, a madman telling truths to the world. I sit alone in my room, connected to the world by internet and social media, trying to convince the world, yet no one listens. Mad, vengeful, ego driven, yet I’ve glimpsed the truth, much of it remains at the edges of my mind. I am all humanity, just as the twins had said.