Fired Up!

I opened my eyes, and it was a world different from what I had expected. Warmer, colder, both at the same time. The kind that makes the hair at the back of your neck stand. Somewhat familier, the atmosphere, not entirely different from what I had experienced before, but it is such experiences that expectations are placed and based upon.

And based on was different from what I expected.

I jolted upright, almost unwillingly, by the pain of something poking me in the back. I turned and looked; it was merely a hot piece of rock. It glows, maintaining a sort of appeal that would attract those in the dark. I suppose in a dark room, it would be quite nice to look at. Perhaps, in lieu of a candle, a nice little romantic paraphernalia at the dinner table? So long as you don't touch it, of course. I did, and it burned...

...burned me. The realisation quickly replaced the sense of awe at its glowing beauty, and I turned my head as much as I can, seeing to see if there are marks left permanently. Marks? Scars. Scorched marks. Enough to be arrested for, these days, should you get it treated. Alas, there is no marks there. As much as my eyes can tell, anyway. I reached around with my hand, better to feel ground zero, but even then...nada.

A mere figment of my imagination? It felt real. What's the difference, then, between...

"Hello, there."

I looked up, and see only a monkey swinging along from a tree branch above me. Nothing special, there; monkeys always swing about, don't they? I looked further and beyond, look for the owner of the voice, but there is no on else I see. In fact, with the exception of yours truly, there's no one about...

"Over here."

I looked up again; that seemed to be the origin of the voice. This time, I see the monkey once again, its eyes bored into mine like a drilling machine on a Hollywood asteroid.

"Are you talking to me?" I asked him. It (he? she? I don't know yet) moved its head sideways, almost quizzically. "Are you talking to me?" it repeated after me.

"Hey, that's just like Robert de Niro," I started, startled that a monkey could do a very fine imitation of the great one. "Hey, that's just like Robert de Niro," the monkey followed.

It's mocking me, I thought. "That's enough." "That's enough." "Stop it!" "Stop it!" "AAAAAAAAARGH!!" "Wow, that's mature."

I had shut my eyes when I screamed, but when I heard the monkey say something different, I opened them. He had dropped from the branch (all black, burned, almost to crisp) and stood right in front of my eyes. His fur is short, but I could smell the singed smell of fur being touched by fire.

"You can speak," I said. He looked a little bashful. "Yeah, I try," he reached around with his tail, scratching his forehead with it, "but no matter how many lessons I take, it's still difficult for me." "Well," I offered my hand in friendship, "you do well enough." "Thanks." "What happened to the other eleven monkeys?" "Oh, they're off somewhere."

I stood up, and dusted myself off. I felt an ache in my left knee that I didn't feel before. It wasn't terminal, but it was more than just a little uncomfortable. I kept this to myself, unwilling to impart with too much information with a singed monkey, however good their English may be. "So..." I looked around, "what happened here?"

"Well..." he mulled his words over in his head, scratching the tip of his jaw slightly with his fingers. It was a scholarly pose, and made me wonder where he learned his English. "It was probably about to happen here sooner or later. The mixture of all of the elements involved was just too volatile, too combustible, for things not to burn up."

We were walking together, across the burning plains. My bare feet should be protesting, but it isn't. The fire hurt, but the pain in my heart hurt even more. Looking around, everything was either burned, being burned, or had collapsed to the ground due to the fire. Nothing survived, nothing could survive. The sense of a familiarity with the buildings was difficult to escape, but escaping that wasn't something that truly bothered me. What bothered me was the sense that...that this shouldn't be happening. I don't even know what it was like before...ouch (the fire gets through once in a while)...but I do know that this is not the way it should be. It was almost unbearable, intolerable, compared to anything the fire of the real world could and would do to me.

The real world...?

"Where am I?" I stopped suddenly, asking him the question that probably should have been the first on my mind. "Where are we right now?"

"You didn't know?" I detected the hint of a surprise in his voice. I looked to him, and could see it written clearly on his forehead. Metaphorically, of course. "You sure you don't know where we are?" he smiled. It wasn't malicious, but it was taunting me. "Or is it that you didn't want to know?"

There was and is something wrong here, something that is not quite right with what we had done. How far have we strayed from our forefathers, and in truth, we need not go even that far. How far have we strayed from our fathers, from our own ideals, from our own common sense and humanity, to keep on burning and burning and pillaging and pillaging in the name of what we are supposed to believe in. What we're supposed to have faith in...that preaches tolerance, understanding, all the good things...doesn't it? Where did that all go to? Where do we go from here, knowing where we came from to begin with? Where does the fire that burns all these things down come from? How do you put it out? How do I face all this?

And why must a monkey ask all the right questions?

Definitely not what I expected.