Leaving the Cave
Emma watched the people and the buildings from the back of the police car. She should be upset but none of this felt real. The world seemed like a shadow of reality. Even the discomfort of the handcuffs felt distant and unimportant. In fact the only thing about the entire situation that really mattered to Emma was that no one believed her when she told them what she had seen. Instead they decided she was a danger to herself.
It had been three weeks since she had seen the vision of the real world. It was this world but a more real version of the world she had seen her entire life. Colors and shapes that didn't exist here filled that place. You could see all sides of things at once and yet not see everything there was. In three weeks she hadn't been able to strike those images from her mind and all she wanted to do was see more and try to understand what she had seen.
Part of the reason that she wanted to see it again was to try to convince herself that she wasn't insane. The simplest and most obvious answer was that she was insane but she had never seriously considered that. She didn't think that she could have imagined the things that she had saw.
Emma expected to go to the police station, but instead instead they took her to a house that looked like it came from early the last century. She had walked past the house a hundred times. The stories were that it was haunted.
They removed the handcuffs as soon as she was out of the car and took her to the old worn fence with white paint pealing off. They stopped at the edge of the fence, but she didn't. When she looked at the house now she could see a glimmer of the real world. It was almost nothing like before but it gave her hope that she might be able to see it again.
The front door of the house was open and so she went in. She expected to find someone here so she began to wander the house but there was no one else here. It looked to her as if no one had been here for years. But there were books scattered around the house and cans and boxes of food everywhere. Someone had kept this place but not lived in it.
There was only one bed in the house. A thin mattress on a hard wooden frame on the third floor. The only other furniture in the house was the kitchen table and three chairs one with a broken back. There was no TV or radio anywhere and so once she was convinced she was alone she picked up one of the books and sat down at the best looking of the three chairs and tried to read.
She didn't expect to be able to focus on the book. She hadn't really been able to focus on anything for about three weeks. But there was something odd about reading. It wasn't all that good of a book, but it was the first book she had read since she had seen beyond the veil and she realized that because the images and ideas in the book happened in her mind she could see the world of that book in the way that she had seen the few minutes that had changed her life. It didn't matter if it was a good book or a bad book. When she read a book it felt real in a way that nothing else did except when she could see the real world.
Once she realized that she began to understand what was going on. She wasn't the first person who had seen the other world and one of them must have lived here. There might be lots of people who had seen the same things as her but never been able to explain it. How did you explain colors to someone who was colorblind?
Since she had no idea what else to do she tried to keep busy. She read books most of the time, but she also found a typewriter in one of the closest and piles of paper and in the garage a number of woodworking tools.
The first thing she did with the tools was fix her chair. It took her most of a day. But it felt good to have a project and she began to feel a bit more connected to the world again.
It was that same day that she found a box on the front porch. It had a gallon of milk, two boxes of cereal, six cans of vegetables, a loaf of bread, a three pound bag of potatoes and four pounds of chicken. On top of all that was an old leather bound journal and a letter in an envelope.
The letter read:
Dear Miss Sullivan,
We apologize for the abruptness and manner of your isolation but have found that isolation is best for people in your current condition. You likely have deduced by now that you are not the first person to have had this experience. The journal enclosed is from one of the others. We hope you can understand it. We do not.
If you have any insights in the book, or better ways to explain it please write it down. We have copies of the book. When you are done with it simply put it in the mailbox and someone will pick it up.
We would also ask that you keep a record of your own experiences. Write down everything you see and hear. If you can write it in a way that is understandable that is preferred. If you can not attempt to use the same words as the journal. A shared vocabulary will help.
Beyond that there is very little aid we can give. Isolation seems to increase the likelihood of having moments of clarity. To that end we discourage most forms of media. News should be limited, TV and radio entirely removed if possible. Books are better and certain authors seem to have a stronger connection to what has happened to you than most.
We will deliver food at the beginning of each week. If you have specific desires or requirements simply make a list and put it in the mailbox and it will be delivered.
You may leave if you desire, but we believe you want answers as much as we do and this is the best chance for either of us.
Doctor Randy Lewis
Emma read the letter twice. It seemed very impersonal but it was the first understanding she had of what was going on. Still, the journal seemed more important so opened one of the boxes of cereal and began to eat it dry out of the box while she read the journal.
At first the journal didn't make sense to her. The writer seemed to have created his own language for what he had seen and Emma didn't know that language. But he tried to explain the words and she had seen some of what he had seen.
The easiest thing was what he had choose to call the second depth. She understood that almost immediately though it wasn't the word she would have chosen to use. Like width, depth and height what she had seen was like those but it wasn't any of them. It was separate from them.
It was in that second depth that everything else she had seen existed. It was as if everything she saw was a shadow of what was real just like a drawing was a representation of three dimensions.
He explained why he used the word shadow by talking about the allegory of the cave. It was a philosophical idea created by Plato. He spoke of captives chained in a cave so that all they could see was the shadows on the wall. They lived their entire lives that way. They learned to understand the world by seeing the shadows without ever seeing what created the shadows. Then one of the men escaped the chains. He saw the real words and understood that it was far more real than the shadows. But when he returned and tried to tell the other people they didn't believe him.
That explanation fit what Emma had seen almost perfectly. She wondered, as did Peter, if Plato hadn't seen the same thing that they had. But there wasn't any enough evidence of that besides the story. That said, there was plenty of evidence that Peter had seen the same thing and that made Emma feel far better.
What was more important was that he had seen it many times. He had been in this house for thirty five years. He had first seen the other dimension when he was thirty, four years older than her and it had been three months before he had seen it the second time. But it had become more common over the years.
One of the things that he believed helped was routine. But it wasn't just routine. It was monotony. He had oatmeal every morning, bread and broth for lunch and chicken and potatoes for dinner.
It was only three days after she began follow Peter's routine that she had a second vision. She was cooking her breakfast when everything in the house seemed to change. It suddenly went from a drab and largely empty old house to a museum of wonder. She wasn't certain how much of it was because Peter had interacted with things here and how much of it was that everyplace was so beautiful but she began to look around trying to understand what she was seeing.
The vision lasted about five minutes but it rejuvenated her. She had began to grow weary being here alone all the time but now she knew it was important. She began to record what she saw using the words of Peter. She found he had described far more than she had understood before. Things that had made almost no sense before she had seen them now seemed so simple that she wondered how she had missed it before.
But there was something else. Something she hadn't seen before. Peter had hinted at it. He spoke of the others. And Emma had seen something the first time. About the size of a person though it didn't look human yet she instinctively believed to be intelligent or at least alive.
She tried not to think about that too much. If they were there at all she didn't see any reason to believe they were dangerous, but knowing there was someone else in the house made her uncomfortable enough that she sent out her first question to the mailbox. She simply asked what happened to Peter Long.
He had died of a heart attack which convinced her that what she saw wasn't him. But she was also convinced that information was being kept from her. The journal was old and handwritten but it was a single book about fifty pages long that covered thirty years. But according to the journal itself he wrote every day. It was part of the routine.
But she couldn't just ask what information they were hiding. Even if they admitted they were withholding information they wouldn't give it to her. But she had began to get to know Peter from his journal. He was a bright man and a little bit paranoid. So she decided to assume he had hid a notebook.
They would have searched the house. That was likely how they had found the other journals. But she could look places they couldn't and if he had learned enough he might have been able to put something into that second depth.
It was another four days before she saw the real world again. This time she was in the bedroom and she began to search for anything he might have hidden. The problem was that while the room was small when you added another dimension it held considerably more space so took considerably longer to explore.
Still she was reasonably certain that there was nothing there.
It took a month and a half of searching to find what she was looking for. It was in the garage. Somehow he had put several books into the second depth. The problem was that while she could see them she couldn't pick them up but it seemed that was the next thing she needed to learn.
Since rushing to the garage every time she saw the deeper world would make finding anything difficult she instead moved the mattress into the garage so she never had to leave the garage except to eat. Two days later she saw that world and the small pile of books, but when she tried to reach for them she couldn't touch them. She continued to try for some time. She moved around the books trying to see them from different angles in hopes that she might figure it out. She hoped it was simply the same problem someone might have if they didn't understand depth and tried to reach out and grab the sun out of the sky.
Her ability to see the world beyond faded away without having reached the books. But she had an idea. She kept the box of cereal with her and when she she could see that again she threw out handfuls of the cereal. They scattered in every direction, including into the second depth. But unlike the books she knew about how far they were and so she was able to pick them up.
It was easiest when she didn't think about it that much. She had picked up cereal plenty of times in the past and this wasn't actually any different. Except of course it was. Some of it seemed to hang in the air while others were below where the floor should be but so long as she didn't think about it she could pick them all up and it began to feel a bit more normal by the time she was done.
That small step also let her see the world far longer than she had before as well as hearing and smelling things that she suspected were from that place. Still, when she stood up to move towards the books she snapped out of the half trance that had let her see the world as it truly was.
The next day when she woke up she saw the world differently. It wasn't like seeing the other world. It was more like the quick look she had of the house when she first arrived here. Like she was seeing part of that reality all of the time. But it was still a day before she saw the deeper world again.
This time she understood why she had failed before and was able to pick up the books. She then put them on the shelf and then sat down and enjoyed watching everything without having to try to do anything. It was just the garage in an old house but it was beyond beauty. It was beyond anything she could have imagined before she had seen it.
They journals were far different than the other journal. Even the handwriting was different and as she read the journals she began to suspect that people were trying to control her or at least limit her information.
One of the main points in the journal were the strange movements he spotted from time to time. It seemed they really were creatures living in the next dimension up. He assumed that most were animals or at least unable to communicate with him, but there were intelligent creatures too and they seemed to understand English.
The other thing that interested her was that he described some of the things you could do. The first she already understood. It was possible to put things into the second depth that no one without a connection to that world could reach.
It was also possible to enter the second depth completely. When you did that you had a number of major advantages. The most useful was that you could walk around things that seemed solid in the three dimensional world. The way that Peter explained it used a two dimensional creature inside a circle. To it there would appear to be no way to escape the circle, but anyone in the third dimension could just step over the line. It wouldn't even be difficult.
Of course she had to be careful. She would be invisible to everyone while in that extra dimension but she wasn't in full control so she might pop out from anywhere at any time which could be a problem if she was seen, or worse if she found herself inside a wall.
Once she began to understand the possibilities it became almost easy to move in and out of that dimension. Not that she ever left the house.
It took almost three months before she felt safe enough to walk out of out of the house.
She made it past the wall but then was met by one of the creatures. She had by that time seen a few small creatures but this was larger than the average human and it's entire body moved and twisted all the time. It was almost as odd as the first time that she had seen the second depth.
It was still like trying to look at a person through a prism that was constantly shifting.
"You are not ready to leave yet," it said. The voice itself was almost normal. More real than anything she had heard before though she had occasionally heard sounds from the second depth.
"I'm not interested in being a prisoner anymore," she said. She wasn't certain in which sense she meant that, but she had faith that this creature was probably smart enough to understand both.
"I am glad to hear that, but you're not a prisoner. You're a child who isn't old enough to go out alone. You don't know the dangers of this place and you're likely to wander into the road," the voice said. It sounded like a woman's voice.
"Then why have you left me alone? Shouldn't a child be taken care of and taught?"
"You're eyes are barely open. You struggle to recognize my face. We teach what we can but the most important part of learning is time."
"All I want to do is tell people that there is something more than this world," she said.
"They know that. We've been telling them for millennium. You call it many things. The afterlife, the spirit realm, even heaven and even hell."
"So you're saying that you're God?" Emma said.
"Not at all. We have no idea how many steps there are between us and God. He might have created a thousand dimensions and we can see four. It's just that we see one more than you. We fit a bit better into the place of angles, muses, even aliens. Those of us who interact with you are teachers and messengers."
"And what are you trying to teach us?"
"That there is more in heaven and earth than is dreampt of in your philosophy," the creature said, and it was difficult for Emma to believe it was lying. There was no real reason for it to lie because the one thing she was certain wasn't lying about was that it was like an adult talking to a child. If it wanted to stop her it could and it didn't need to say anything.
"But you sent people to stop me from telling them?" Emma asked.
"We gave them the idea to get you and bring you here because you didn't know the truth. You knew that you had seen something strange but didn't know what it was. We have put a lot of effort into the message. You were brought here because this place was already made safe."
"So what do I do now?" Emma asked.
"What all children do. Grow larger and stronger and eventually become an adult. For now though stay close and I'll show you around. It then held out its hand.
Emma looked at the odd twisting hand and then reached up and took her hand and the two began to walk down the street while she considered what the world might look like with a fifth dimension added.
The idea of higher dimensions and worlds beyond our own is one that has interested me for some time. I also like the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and used some of the ideas he put into his own work into trying to write this because the problem is that by writing about something that is unimaginable you run into the problem that describing it makes it imaginable. To that end most of the descriptions here are vague or allude to things that you can't understand. I mention at least once colors other than those we know. That is a more specific reference to A Colour out of Space.
I know the allegory of the caves is better understood people people who are not me, so if you want to know more you can start by going to the wikipedia page