It’s the late 80s.
An afternoon marred with intermittent downpours is coming to an end, too slowly. Next to the high school, a little group of teenagers meet in the parking-lot. Classes have finished but they hang around, waiting for the last stragglers. They kiss, wave their hands around, yell way too loudly just to get attention, although it’s hardly necessary – their get-up is loud enough all by itself. Their rainbow hair is too long, shaved, or stuck up with wood glue in attempts at mohawks.
They’re self-proclaimed Punks and the tuneless notes of their favourite groups can be heard coming from a little busted Walkman that one of them has put on the low wall next to the stairs that lead to the parking-lot, clattering with an unpleasant staccato noise. Their amp is falling apart, but the political slogans of their idols screaming from the Walkman are loud enough.
I’m there, leaning against the wall. They call me Triki.
None of us were actually interested in politics, even if we thought we were at the time. We were just young – very young – and a bit disorientated as we tried to figure out the path to adulthood. If it had been today, the little group might have been rappers. Or something else. It doesn’t matter: every form of rebellion results in the same feeling of anger in the revolt that goes with it. And revolted is exactly what we were.
Once everyone is there, we shuffle our way in our huge heavy shoes towards the “E.C.C”: the Educational and Cultural Centre of our town. Normally we never would have gone there no matter how desperately our parents pleaded with us… but tonight is party time. A small local group is playing covers of our favourite groups in the community centre. We’re restless with anticipation – we laugh louder than usual and gesture much too wildly, getting looks from the few people we pass.
“Yeah! We’re here!”
We push into the 30 or so people who are already waiting in front of the door, and keep pushing forward, pulling each other, and end up all jumbled together inside just as the drum machine starts its rhythmic pounding. The crowd of young people is instantly supercharged and they scream their lungs out, pushing and shoving, and start pogoing like crazy, to the great dismay of the “security”: two employees of the Centre who immediately lose control of the situation.
The group eggs them on: “Come on! Free the rage! Smash the cage! Louder!”
The night passes quickly. The neighbours complain: the “concert” is making way too much noise. The two interns who are supposed to make sure everything goes smoothly panic and call the police. A truck arrives, sirens wailing, and immediately spews out a bunch of police who swarm the building. The chaos that follows is indescribable: people running all over the place and trampling each other to get to the only exit… but escape seems impossible. “Shit, the cops are blocking the way!”
The wannabe punks fling insults at the invaders. Some of them are so worked up they attacked the police, letting a handful of teenagers behind them escape while the flood of people continues to push desperately towards the door.
I manage to get through. I’m free, ten metres from the door, when there’s an unexpected noise: “clang – psshhhhh…” It’s a hissing tear-gas canister, spilling its contents into the dark.
The gas hits me head on. I have contact lenses and my eyes immediately turn into wells of fire. The pain becomes even more unbearable when I try to pull them out with my fingers which are also covered in sticky poison. I can feel my heart beating out of my chest and I can’t breathe. I hardly notice the couple of steps as I tumble down them and collapse, suffocating, in front of the centre.
The deep darkness is blanketed in a deep silence. Seconds pass… or years. It doesn’t matter: time doesn’t exist here. My surroundings are suddenly lit by a weak yellow light; it looks like firelight but there’s no fire, it’s an object right in the centre, a giant crystal softly illuminating the huge cave around me.
A tall dark figure is leaning on a small illuminated hexagonal structure. I head slowly towards it and my movements are so smooth and fast I feel like I’m floating. The figure turns around in a cascade of tinkling sounds and its huge eyes without pupils enthrall me at once : I feel a tremendous sense of calm that I have never felt before. The face, without nose or mouth, seems to smile at my confusion, and the being tilts its head, covered with crystalline vines, which clink against each other and produce the pure sounds I heard when it turned around.
They’re not sounds. It’s a language. That I can understand…
It points one of its four arms towards the hexagonal structure and I have a look inside, where I discover a multitude of cocoons, carefully piled on top of each other.
A moment later I gradually make out a blurry face above my own. It seems to be talking, but I can’t hear anything. The edges of my vision are crazed, as if the outside world were trying to force its way towards me… I’m not quite back to reality yet. I suddenly realise that I’m in between two states.
I turn away from reality – I don’t want to go back, I want to stay here in this soothing place. This creature is so gentle, so benevolent, I feel transcended… I hear the beautiful tinkling sound again and with my inner eye I look one last time at the translucent vines composing this impossible symphony. Its face without nose or mouth smiles back at me with its enormous eyes, which open onto… what I’ve ended up calling the Other World.
The fireman is pleased – he’s brought me out of my temporary coma. Several people bustle around me, and I vaguely feel the suction cups and needles they are attaching to my skin.
But I’m not really there. It takes all my energy to retrace my steps through this strange journey as fast as I can. I don’t want to lose a second of it. I have to remember…
My brain has succeeded in its mission: it has recorded everything for me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, the pictures of the universe I have just visited will stay hidden away for ever, waiting for me to understand them.