The Painted Landscape

The Painted Landscape

By robodread, Sourced from Adobe Stock

I Am.

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I Exist.

I am All Things and all things are me.

I am Eternal, unchanging, complete.

I am content, I am Bliss.

I am not content. Something new is happening, something within me.

While I am all things, and all things are me, I can sense within me that not all things are also one with each other. I am all things and yet things are separate, individual, different, unique. Within me is one such uniqueness, a thought separate from all others, a thought asking, no, demanding, My attention.

A thought, a word…. Baxter.

It is an irritant, persistent, and yet tiny. I understand it though, the only way to satisfy this thought, this minuscule need for attention, is to do something unthinkable.

I must lessen.

I begin to shrink, to become less than All.

It is strange and new, there is now that which is within me, and that which is without. I am no longer All Things. I feel my boundary and I see what is without and what is within. I feel a force tugging on me, something outside of me, and I recognize the force of Time. The thought I am following exists for a moment in this thing called Time, and I must focus myself, concentrate my form, if I am to be able to remove that irritation, remove, or answer, this Baxter.

I am no longer Eternal, but now merely encompass Eons, and soon only Millennia. I go from All to only being a Universe, and soon only galaxies. I focus more, the demand seems to come from a specific point in Space and Time, and I must go there. I become decades, years, I am a spiral arm, and now a small part of empty space. Why empty space? What is causing me to come all this way for but a patch of nothingness? As I reduce further and I see a planet approaching, this ball of dirt and rocks and iron, circling a sphere of fusing gas, which in turn is spinning around a galaxy that is mostly empty space. I reduce myself even further, the world is now below me, lights of cities, green fields of grass. Is it a blade of grass that I am seeking? In one such field I see individuals, the thought pulls me closer, and I see two men, they are dressed alike, green clothing, black boots. One is lying on his back, lying on the grass. The grass complains but he seems to ignore them. I am concentrating, trying to travel to stay where I am, time keeps moving, the world under me keeps spinning. I sense the forces around me, until I am but a moment in time and I surrender to the passage of time, I surrender to gravity, let it carry me along as the planet moves. The thought is there, in the body of the man lying down. A body that seems so strange and yet so familiar. A body that was once a part of me, no, was once all of me?

I feel drawn to the body, the warmth, the beating heart, the blood flowing through his veins. The thought is all but overwhelming now, strong and demanding. I can hear it now, clearly in my mind. Wake Up!

The man standing next to the man lying down, the man standing next to Me, is saying that, saying it again and again, “Lieutenant Baxter, Wake Up!”

No, he is not saying it again and again, he has said it only three times, and those three times lasted for Eternity, dragged me out of Eternity, bright me here, brought me too now.

I feel the blood flowing, I feel air in my lungs, my lungs! I inhale, I move the mouth, my mouth, “Looooooootennnant…” I moan. “Baaahhhhhhxxxterrrrrrr.”

The man speaks again, “Yes, you are Lieutenant Baxter, and you need to wake up.”

I tighten my stomach muscles, straighten my back. I sit up, I hear the grass cry in relief, no longer supporting my weight, no longer blocked from the sunlight. Still sitting, I look around, open my eyes, and look around again. It is noon, or midday, the sun is shining, I am on a hill covered with grass. I only exist in a moment, in a single body, alone and yet within me there are cells and microorganisms, I am still a Universe, just a much smaller one, and yet still a part of the greater one as well.

“Lieutenant, Baxter, I need your report.” the man asked.

“Reeeeeeportttttt.” I exhale, my mouth forming the word.

“Yes, Lieutenant, were you successful? I was afraid we were going to lose you there for a moment. Were you able to use the Remote Viewing successfully? Could you see the factory?” he asked.

So many questions all at once. Do I answer them in order? Yes, yes, and yes.

“Lieutenant?” he persisted, placing a hand on my shoulder.

Words, he needed me to use words. So, limiting, so inefficient. My brain had to take the thoughts and turn them into sound images, which in turn I had to form with my mouth, so he could hear them with his ears and then translate the sound-images back into thoughts, hopefully the same thoughts that I had made. So inefficient, so time consuming, so many chances for mistakes, why can’t I just give him my thoughts directly?

“Lieutenant Baxter, your missions were to do a reconnaissance of the site code named Blue Factory, find out its defenses and what they are working on, were you able to succeed in your mission?”

What could I tell him? Thirty thousand years ago by his measurement of time, on a world in a neighboring galaxy, a artist known as Idim, pulls out a canvas and brushes, she knows the erupting volcano is about to kill her entire city, and yet she is moved by the beauty of it and must spend her last moments of life trying to capture it in a painting that will die with her. Four hundred years from now, in a world but seven light-years away, a comet strikes an ocean, a fledgling species just discovering the ability to walk on land is destroyed. In five billion years, the very sun warming my face will explode, destroying this world. How does that factory matter in the face of all that?

There is the thought again, the irritating, nagging. The Mission. That is why I had to grow small, that is why I had to lessen. The Mission.

I took a deep breath and began to speak. “The factory currently makes nothing, but in nine days will be ready to begin manufacturing a deadly gas that we do not have a name for yet. There are one hundred and twenty-two men guarding the Blue Factory.” I answer. “There are 32 civilian scientists and workers there as well, but they will not fight. Of the one hundred and twenty-two soldiers, eighty-three are recent recruits, draftees fresh from basic training, but they are led by a few veterans, and there is a team of twenty-five men recently transferred from the front lines in order to reinforce the Factory. Those men are battle hardened veterans expecting this to be a quiet assignment” All this is true, accurate. Does he need to know that eight of those men have pregnant wives at home? Does he need to know that the base commander is buying a dog for his son’s next birthday, a small puppy the boy will name Rudolf and will go on many happy adventures with?

No, I try to limit my thinking again, so many thoughts, so many names, so many answers. I feel my weight crushing the grass under me, simple grass, it has done nothing to harm anyone, and yet I am harming it. I shift my weight trying to cover as little as possible, careful to avoid a worm I know is near my left boot.

The man next to me nodded, He is also a lieutenant, I see we are dressed the same, except he is not Baxter, Baxter is me, we are both lieutenants but only I am Baxter. “Where are they the weakest? How do we capture the Factory?” he asked.

My mind races. If I lie, say they cannot win, I see things in the sky, airplanes, dropping bombs, I see men dying, I shut it out. If I say nothing, I see a great army of men marching forward, men behind walls shooting their guns, more deaths. I try to compose my words, each thought changing the future, flooding me with different images.

“Paper” I say, and the man hands me a small notebook and pencil. I begin to draw, and as I draw, words form in my mind and mouth, a future unfolds in front of me. “At eight fifty seven by your watch,” I point to the watch on his wrist, a shiny thing he has darkened with paint so it doesn’t reflect the sunlight, his girlfriend gave it to him, does he know she is cheating on him while he is gone, but it doesn’t matter because he dies next year before he comes home, she feels guilty for years after that… no, I force my mind to focus, I am here, I am Now, “Tonight, at eight fifty seven by your watch,” I repeat myself, “one of the soldiers there,” his name is Simon, he was drafted last year, he is scared, his anxiety keeps him up at night, “will leave by the south side door to urinate. He will prop the door open so he can get back in. Take Sergeant Doherty with you.” a large man, from the same county as Baxter, very quiet, “He will capture that solder alive, quietly so he cannot raise the alarm. You and… five, no, seven other men will enter the factory,” I draw more lines on the paper, the map forming as I scribble, “and you will find the commander in his bedroom at the end of this hall.” The commander will have just finished a drink, a cognac he had in his drawer despite it being against regulations. “You will have to kill him quickly,” the son no longer gets the puppy, the puppy is now adopted by another family, and they named him Brutus, the dog Brutus is still happy, “but after that there will be little resistance. The second-in-command will not know you are a small group, will think they are already overrun and give the order to surrender. The draftees will surrender immediately, happy to not have to fight. Seven of the veterans will ignore the order, three of your men will be wounded but only one will die.” Sergeant Doherty will lose a leg, but best not to tell him that. “And three, no, two of the veterans will escape. Two will escape into the woods and your men will not find them, the third will also escape, but his hands will slip while descending the ladder off the roof and he will break his legs. He is abandoned by his friends in the woods, and he dies there alone.”

The Lieutenant, who is not me, is nodding, taking notes in a notebook of his own. He looks at the map I handed him, the door, the halls, the drawing of the factory itself. “Wow, that is a lot of information. I guess Remote Viewing really worked. Well, we won’t know for sure until tonight, but…”

He continues to talk, but I no longer listen. The irritant is gone, my Mission is completed. Sergeant Doherty will be sent home after he loses his leg. He goes on and writes a book that is eventually turned in to a movie seven years after his death. A worker at the factory who goes by the nickname Lefty finds a cure for a disease that hasn’t been discovered yet. The draftee with the nervous bladder spends the rest of the war as a prisoner, but after the war he goes home and has four kids, who in turn give him seventeen grandchildren, grandchildren that would not be born if the factory had been bombed.

Wordlessly, I apologize to the grass, and I lay myself back down, careful to avoid an ant walking by. I will not be there long; I think to the grass. Soon the other lieutenant will see I am no longer breathing, and he will call for help, and my body will be carried away and the grass will no longer be blocked from the sunlight or crushed by my weight.

Baxter is no more; the thought has been finished and no longer binds me. I pause as I exit Time and Space, before I return to being Eternity, and I look in on Idim. She rushes to get in every stroke of the brush she can as the wall of fire approaches her. She is creating in a time of destruction, capturing an ever-changing landscape consumed by fire. She is smiling, she is at peace. I am the only witness to her unfinished masterpiece, but I hold the memory of it for Eternity. I leave as the wall of fire reaches her studio and I continue to expand.

I am a galaxy, I am a universe, I expand beyond time and into Eternity.

I become One with all things and enter Bliss.

I Am.

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