Fatigued and frazzled, I strain myself to hold onto the flickering strand of consciousness. As I see the waves of demons through my drooping eyelids, I ponder if it is worth the struggle to forge a path ahead. Nevertheless, I embark on this seemingly futile endeavour to finish off these fiends.
After tons of slicing and stabbing and slaving my way through this drudgery, in the deafening silence, I stared at the floating ash dyed white under the moonlight. Bzzzzt. A jolt ran down my spine as a high pitched shrill filled my ears. I spread my senses around only to find a duster on my table and my body laden with chalk powder and pierced by hundreds of gazes. Damn! Not again!
In this digital age, life runs at a refresh rate of a million Hertz, and at times it is imperative to just disconnect from our social (more often than not virtual) networks. Switch over to an old hobby to destress? Nah… to do away with insecurities entwined with a monotonous routine, there stems a desire to be a part of something more surreal. Nowadays, it’s as simple as donning a PlayStation VR headset and jumping right into a game. The urge to break free from the shackles of reality and dive deep into an outlandish place to seek solace is real.
As the soul drifts it crosses dimensions, but the wildness of the path trodden and the mysteries unraveled, fades away like sand falling through one’s fingers, leaving behind a void, yearning for the zeal it once glimpsed. “The Third Level”, a short story by Jack Finney, tells the tale of a man who chases behind a mirage-like place.
Charley, the protagonist, is an average joe with a mid-life crisis (crying in student life crisis). Wandering back one day from office, he finds himself at a hidden level of the Grand Central Station. Venturing out in this hidden level, he realises that he is in a place from a century ago, a place full of peace, happiness and free of tensions.
Upon his hasty return to the present,Charley yearns to go back to the yesteryear(yestercentury rather) place, embarking on a quest to find the hidden floor of the Grand Central. His friends chalk this secret escapade to merely a figment of his imagination and the quest an attempt to break free from his monotonous life.
The more one revels within magical planets based on figments of their imagination, the blurrier the lines become. As reality dawns, the lack of those dreamy-fantastical abilities makes one feel inferior to one’s dream-self. Thus making us Charleys, fueled with the desire to escape to illusory places. Despite the enticing fantasies one sees, the onus of resolving oneself to stay rooted to reality is vital for a healthy mind and making headway.
A Piece by Abhinav