Up Through the Clouds (Part Two)

Continued from Part One….

They rose higher, until the blackened sky swallowed them up. Thereafter they kept climbing for some considerable time, as the cloud grew steadily lighter and brighter and the air became warmer. At length, Angelyne closed her palm and the light disappeared.

“We are approaching an altogether lighter and happier place,” she announced. “From now on, merely carry your light within you, secure in strength, steadfast in purpose!”

David closed his fist too and watched the globe vanish. He noted a warm, comforting glow close to his heart. Just as he did so, he found his feet back on solid ground – earth this time, not ash – and the clouds parted to reveal a magnificent city close by, surrounded by green meadows and towering forests.

“Welcome,” Angelyne said, “to Imagavista.”

David felt immense relief as he and his guide walked across soft grass toward the great sparkling city. A warm yellow sun bathed the land in light. The city walls were built of beautiful white brick and beyond, high gleaming rooftops glinted brightly.

“Imagavista is the City of Dreams,” Angelyne said. She glanced at David. “Here you may make your every desire a reality.”

“Really?” David gasped. “Anything at all?”

“Oh, yes!” she replied. “For while most things on Earth take time and prove a struggle, here you need only think it and it will be so.”

They entered on to a shining road that took them quickly up to the gates of the city. They stood as high as a house, firmly closed.

“Do we knock?” David wondered.

“I don’t know,” Angelyne replied quickly. “What do you think?”

David shrugged his shoulders, stepped up to the doors and knocked. Nothing happened. “Maybe we should shout for somebody,” he suggested.

“That’s up to you!” his guide said.

“Hello!” David yelled. “Is anybody there?”

There was no reply and the doors remained firmly shut.

“Remember,” Angelyne said softly, “this is the realm where you determine not only the question but the answer, the problem and the solution also!”

David thought about this for a moment. “Then I command the doors to open!” he shouted.

The doors to the City of Dreams promptly sprang wide open and David and Angelyne were able to walk inside. Wide streets fed off in various directions between tall, impressive stone buildings.

“But where are all the people?” David said.

“Where do you think?” prompted his guide.

David hesitated. He snapped his fingers and instantly the streets were filled with people hurrying busily to and fro. David gasped.

“So,” Angelyne said quietly,” now that you are here, what would you like to do?”

David looked around, thinking hard. “Well,” he said, “after surviving Abhoria I feel pretty hungry…”

Angelyne pointed to a nearby doorway. “Try in there,” she suggested.

David pushed open the door and discovered a vast dining hall. An enormous table dominated the room, piled high with food. He looked back at Angelyne, who smiled just a little. “Evidently you are hungry,” she observed. “Go ahead – it’s all yours.”

David spent some time devouring a great quantity of food. He had never seen such an amazing and abundant variety before, and tried as many different kinds as he could. Eventually he was so full that it felt painful. He sat down in a chair and clutched his stomach. Angelyne stood quietly nearby.

“Now what would you like to do?” she enquired.

David thought hard about this. His thoughts started to race as he considered the endless possibilities of a realm where anything could happen in an instant and all that was needed was desire.

“When my dinner has gone down,” he said, “I’d like to ride a horse – a huge white stallion!”

A second later his stomach no longer hurt and he was clinging to the back of just such a horse as it charged across the rolling meadows beyond the city walls. Angelyne watched from a nearby hill.

At length, David grew tired. “And now,” he said, “I want a thousand people to attend my birthday party!”

Within a heartbeat, he found himself in the middle of an ornate palace room, cutting a birthday cake that was bigger than he was while hundreds of guests clapped and cheered.

“And now,” he announced, “I want to drive a sports car through the city!”

And so he did.

“Now,” he continued soon after, “I want to fly on the back of a pterodactyl!”

And he clutched at the back of the flying dinosaur as it swooped and shrieked over Imagavista.

“Now,” he gasped, “I want to win a swordfight with a knight in armour!”

For ages he clashed swords with just such a warrior, David clad in armour also, until at last he was victorious.

“And now,” he declared, dropping his sword, “I want to live forever!”

At this, everything stopped moving and a strange chill came over him. Angelyne walked across the castle room toward him.

“Alas, David, that is the one request this realm cannot grant you,” she said. “All other desires the city may answer.”

“Why can’t I live forever?” David demanded.

“If you would attain Eternal Life,” his guide instructed, “you must first place Goodness above desire in your heart – this above all things. For the Life Eternal is not bound by desire or whim but is a holy fact.”

David nodded slowly. “How about a room full of gold?” he suggested a moment later.

He had hardly finished speaking before he was alone in a vast room piled high with gold ingots and treasures of every kind.

“How about my very own palace?” he cried. “A palace full of servants – just for me?”

Instantly, it was his. David spent many hours wandering through the enormous palace, exploring its many rooms and riches until at last, exhausted, he discovered a huge bedroom with a gigantic four-poster bed. He climbed between the sheets and fell into a deep sleep.

The following morning, he awoke to find his mind filled with many further plans and possibilities. Initially, David felt great excitement. However while sitting in a huge bathtub filled with foaming hot water, he noticed that his elation at the prospect of fulfilling lots of new desires did not seem to last. It seemed that every time he thought of some new plan or desire, it was as if he had already fulfilled it in the instant that he conceived it. He sat down at a huge breakfast table, while a dozen servants waited nearby, and Angelyne appeared at his side.

“It’s a strange feeling,” David said, “but when you can have anything you want, just by thinking it, suddenly you don’t really want it anymore.”

“Why do you think this is?” Angelyne asked. “Surely you are the luckiest boy who ever lived!”

“I know,” David said. “But I don’t seem to feel that way.”

“Yet you can have your heart’s every wish,” she persisted gently. “Most people spend their lives trying to fulfil their cherished desires…”

“But that’s just it,” David sighed. “When it’s this easy, there doesn’t seem to be any fun in it!” He looked around the palace room. Polished marble gleamed in the morning sunlight. A feast lay on the table before him. Servants awaited his command and Imagavista stood like some colossal genie, eager to grant his wishes.

“I feel,” David sighed, “that if I go on endlessly thinking up new wishes and living them out, I will be trapped in a dream of my own making. And if that is so, I must not be awake but asleep. And while I may wish to live forever, I certainly do not wish to sleep forever.”

“Then perhaps, like the Nighted Ones, you also have learned a lesson in futility,” his guide responded. “Empty your heart of desire, child, and make room for Goodness instead. Come!” she instructed, holding out her hand once more. “Let us journey on!”

David took her hand and immediately the palace and the City of Dreams itself receded beneath his feet, vanishing into cloud. He and Angelyne floated upwards once again, into new realms of light.

This time, as they ascended, the clouds were flooded with streams of light that passed before them and around them like currents of glowing water. David looked up and saw incandescent fire high above, where the clouds seemed to thin into virtual non-existence.

“Yes,” Angelyne said, “now we are high up indeed, high in the firmament of the Lighted Lands. For you see, David, we have journeyed from darkness unto dream, and in due course from dreams unto wakefulness.”

The clouds parted and David felt his feet touch down on soft earth. He looked around and realised that they now stood on a little hill, high in a hilly land. There were snow-capped mountains in the background and, far below, a river as fine as human hair wound through plains and valleys toward a distant shining sea.

Nearby, a small white building balanced on the hilltop.

“See, here is the little temple for us to visit,” said Angelyne.

David gazed up into the sky. It shimmered and shone with ever-shifting colours and hues of light, and streaks of fire.

“It looks like the sky is burning!” he gasped.

“That is God’s Fire,” Angelyne replied. “The only fire that can do no harm.”

David followed her across the grassy hilltop toward the temple. She halted outside.

“After you!” she said.

David opened the roughly hewn wooden door and stepped inside.

“I must wait here,” Angelyne announced. She smiled and drew the door shut. David looked around the tiny room. It was scarcely bigger than his bedroom. The floor was made of wood, and the walls also. There was a small table in the middle of the room; upon it lay a pen and several sheets of paper. Other than this, the temple was empty. A single window afforded a view of the mountains.

David glanced up and realised that there was a hole in the roof. It was directly above the table. A shaft of sunlight entered through it and struck the surface of the table, right where the pen and paper rested.

Suddenly a man stood beside the table. He was quite old. He wore a robe of fine white cloth.

“Welcome to Inspiria,” he said quietly. “The Realm of Ideas!”

“Where did you come from?” David gasped.

The old man appeared amused. “Where did you come from, did you ever think about that?” he replied.

“Doesn’t that hole let the rain in?” David said, pointing to the roof.

The man chuckled. “There is not water in the sky but fire,” he answered. “Fire – and light.” He promptly vanished.

David wandered around the room a few times before seating himself at the table. He stared up at the hole and back down at the paper where the light struck, perplexed. He supposed that he should come up with some bright ideas of his own; healthier, he supposed, than the dreams and desires he found in Imagavista. Perhaps then, he thought suddenly, he could go home. By now, his parents must surely have returned and be very worried. So he sat for what felt like a very long time, racking his brains and waiting for ideas to come. None did. He held the pen in his hand and could not think what to write.

David sat all through the day, until the light faded and the temple grew dark and cold. Finally, when there was no more light, he got up from the table very reluctantly and looked out of the little window. Overhead he saw countless brilliant stars, shining far more brightly than he had ever seen before. Up here, he thought to himself, the stars are dazzling! Yet somehow the same strange shifting lights and fires remained visible too.

“God’s Fire…” he whispered.

He sat down once more and stared at the table. His head ached. “It’s no use!” he cried aloud, finally. “I haven’t got any ideas! My mind is empty!”

As soon as he spoke, there was a crack of thunder from overhead and a great flash of light. Lightning flickered in the sky and struck down through the hole in the roof. The table split in two and fell apart, and the blank pages burst into fire and burned up in the air. The pen glowed white hot as it clattered to the floor. David fell out of his chair and crawled back against the nearest wall in shock and disbelief.

The thunder rumbled around overhead and faded into silence. Wisps of smoke rose from the broken table. The pen still glowed. David approached and knelt down to examine it. He reached out and tapped it with his shoe before gingerly touching it. To his surprise, it was cool. Filled with a newfound certainty he picked up the pen, crossed to the door and opened it. Angelyne waited patiently outside.

“That was quite a clap of thunder,” she remarked. “Heavens above!”

David held out the glowing pen. She nodded in approval. “Not all who visit here leave with a gift,” she remarked. “Cherish it, won’t you, and use it wisely.”

David nodded. Together he and Angelyne gazed up once more into the sky. The lights shone and flowed in coloured ribbons, and the stars burned with fierce passion.

“Remember,” Angelyne murmured, “there are worlds beyond the world, and worlds beyond the worlds. There is no end; there is no limit. Work with what you have been given today, and some day we may venture higher still, beyond even the fire and among the stars.” She turned to face David and took his hands in her own. Her smile was quite brilliant. David instinctively took a deep breath and then he was stumbling back through the impossible attic door, the storm and the wind at his back. It slammed shut behind him and when he turned around he found only a brick wall to greet him.

He made his way through the attic, back to the pool of light and the ladder. Switching off the light, he descended the ladder and pushed it up again. But he was not tall enough to close the trapdoor, even standing on the stool on tiptoe. Hurrying downstairs, listening to the storm still battering the house, he found that it was only seven o’clock. A mere hour had passed while he had been away.

The front door promptly opened and his Dad hurried in, looking concerned. Rain dripped from his coat. “Are you all right?” he enquired. “I got your message – what’s all this about noises in the attic?”

David put a hand in his pocket and felt the pen lying there. He tried to adopt a blank expression. “I don’t know,” he answered. “ I had a look up there, but I couldn’t find anything…!”

His Dad nodded. “Well, as long as you’re okay.”

A short while later, David went to his room, closed the door and sat at his table. He took out the pen and a pad of paper, and thought for a few moments. Then he wrote: My name is David Griffiths and I have been to the Lighted Lands…

As he wrote, a beam of light shone out from the pen and created a three-dimensional picture nearby. As David looked on in astonishment, an image of him climbing the attic ladder sprang to life. He continued to write and as he did so his story unfolded in light nearby, in miniature but living replica. He watched himself discover the impossible door, encounter Angelyne and journey to Abhoria, perfect in every detail…

They might not have believed me before, but they will now he thought. How could they not? Here is my adventure for all the world to see!

He gripped the pen firmly and wrote on.




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