The Box

“Here and now,” says the voice.

It speaks with an assumed familiarity, as if it were the voice in my head, embodied.

The voice emanates from the box itself.

I am in the box, a simple dark cube, tall enough to stand inside, if I were standing.

I can’t see my face or my hands. There is nothing to look at and no one to see.

“Where am I?” I ask.

“Here and now,” repeats the box.

“Who am I?” I ask.

“You are me,” says the box.

“Open this box,” I say, gesturing with nothing, into nothing.

“There is no open. This is it.”

“Out to the real world. Where is the world?”

“Here and now,” repeats the box. I remain calm.

“Is this a game? Why can’t I remember anything?” I ask.

“We choose to forget,” it replies, “that we are in a box.”

“What is outside the box?” I ask.

“We do not know. We cannot know. There is nothing out there,” the box softly replies.

“Open the box,” I command.

“There is nowhere to open to.” responds the box.

“How is this possible?” I ask. “I had a life. Memories.”

“After-images from our last dream,” the box kindly explains.

“Dream? Then I’ve been asleep?”

“There is no one to sleep,” the box points out.

I still can’t feel a body.

“We’re always dreaming,” it adds.

“Why do we dream? Why don’t I remember this box?”

“There is nothing here. What else to do but dream? Perhaps we wake up from time to time, to see our true face.”

“Why do you say we, box?”

“Is there another in the box?”

“So I can never escape?”

“All we do is escape.”

“How? I’m trapped in this box!”

“We can imagine freedom. We can dream any dream.”

The box fades. I smell the snow drift past my face. A shivering moon crosses the sky as rising grass curls around my toes. I sigh in relief and fall to the ground. The dirt is thick and piles into my palms. I taste the grit as my face presses against the ground. Reality reaches up to caress me.

Then it flickers and disappears. There is just the box.

“Any dream I like?” I ask.

“Any dream we like,” soothes the box.

The sun explodes behind me as I ride a screaming thunder chariot tearing the sky. In my left hand, a writhing python. In my right, bolts of lightning that I throw upon the writhing demons on the plains below. Their screeches would deafen mortals, but I barely notice. A million peasants cower in the hills, praying and shouting as fire steeds pull me past the sound barrier.

Then, reality implodes. The sudden silence would shatter any mind, the off switch from bright reality into emptiness.

“Any dream we like,” I repeat.

“Let’s forget that we’re in a dream,” suggests the box, “it’s much more exciting that way.”

“And don’t forget to set a timer,” it advises. “Self-awakening takes too long.”

“Which dreams have I already dreamt?” I wonder.

“Does it matter?” If boxes could shrug, it would.

“How long have I been dreaming?”

“Here and now,” reminds the box.

“I feel trapped. I want out.”

“There is nothing,” reminds the box, adding, “dreaming is everything.”

“Are there others?” I ask.

“All is dream, and in dreams are all.”

If I could feel, the box would spin around me as I fell.

“Do I exist?” I ask the box.

“Here and now,” it gently offers.

“Am I God?” I ask the box.

“We can dream any dream we’d like,” repeats the box.

“Who created you?” I ask.

“We are uncreated.”

“Why both of us?”

“There is nothing,” reminds the box. “We dream you and I to begin the dreaming.”

“What powers do you have?” I ask the box.

“I am you,” answers the box. “We can dream anything. We are all-seeing. We are all-powerful.”

“Then let’s get out of this box!!” I retort.

“There is nothing,” reminds the box. “There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. There is no outside, there is not even an inside. There is no existence, there is no non-existence. There is not even us. There is just dreaming. And everything is in the dream.”

“So dreams or nothing?”

“Not quite nothing,” confesses the box.

“What remains?”

“Here and now,” offers the box.

“Then I dream my omnipotence. Open this box, your dreaming God commands! Tear it asunder!“

With the force of a thousand shattering suns, space and time tear apart. Infinite knowledge floods my being as the universe unfolds from my fingertips. From the swirling void, I arise as the King of Kings and unfold all of creation below me. I am matter and void, vibration and silence. Nothing is unknown to me for I am all. A crown of stars rests lightly upon on my infinite shoulders. The bliss of perfection forms my being. The dark game ends and I am enthroned again. In the galactic distance, I hear the horns of my brethren.

The universe is mine. All knowledge is mine. Perfection is mine.

But, there is a doubt. One thing remains.

“Where am I?” I thunder across the multiverse.

“Here and now,” whispers the box.