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Ujung Kulon - from The Lair

 

The Lair

He opened his eyes. The difference between having them shut and having them open was so extraordinary, so confusing, that for what seemed like a very long time he just lay there, opening and closing, staggered at the beauty of so much light. Again and again it shone like a pinpoint in the distance, then swirled in luminous fast-approaching clouds, enveloping him in a warm mist of well-being. It came in wave after wave of soft colour, glowing and fading and glowing again. He was travelling into it, swimming, gliding, as if down a radiant never-ending tunnel. What was confusing was that it was brightest when his eyes were closed.

The glow seemed to fill his head and wash through him, a quiet unavoidable light, searing with a fierce gentility at the surplus cargo in his mind. He was speeding into it, faster and faster, feeling it dislodge large segments of his life, projecting them with a precise clarity, like a beam from some other dimension, beyond thought, beyond judgement, out into the open, as if on a vast screen where for all to see he was reminded of his relative insignificance, a small speck of transparent dust, imperfect, impure, dwarfed by any comparison.

He stared into the centre of the tunnel, the walls of light rushing by. A sensation of ever-increasing velocity and simultaneous stillness swept through him. He was tumbling, falling, as if drawn irresistibly towards some distant all-attractive source. The possibility occurred to him that he was already dead but it seemed so absurd he found himself laughing out loud. There was no death, there was no darkness, there was only light, a vast sea of light. He became aware of the sound of his own laughter and opened his eyes. Instantly the vision disappeared and again he was lying in the cold wet mud, the walls of the lair glistening with larval glow-worms.

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Ujung Kulon, John Edmiston

 


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