None of you are real
Once upon a time, there was a intelligent young boy with all the boundless energy and enthusiasm of youth; he eagerly engaged those around him in timeless debates, seeking to increase his understanding, while correcting the lies and misunderstanding he encountered. The world spun around him in brightly blurred colours, wrapped in his joy and happiness, and those around him spoke in hushed, awed tones at what they believed to be his potential.
Time passed, and with it came the endless and relentless chipping away of life; the boy became a youth, and the youth became a man. If pressed, he could not have told you when it appeared there, or how, but about his shoulders lay a mantle of responsibility, growing indescribably heavy. The surface of his memories had become coarse and indistinct, the details scratched away by the sandpaper of time; and the energy and enthusiasm of his youth were now but a faint whisper in the depths of his mind. No longer did those around him whisper in awe; instead, they fearfully pulled away, sensing something dark and ugly lurking beneath his comely exterior. One by one, the friends and family that once surrounded him had slipped away, so quietly and swiftly that their disappearance had utterly escaped his notice, until the day that he suddenly looked around and found himself utterly alone.
For the first time in so very long, the young man stopped to look around him. Gone now were the blurred, colourful images that had surrounded him in his youth; in their place, he found a world of stark shades, viewed through a lens with focus of unearthly clarity. The sharpness of the images was nearly such that it hurt to gaze upon these new sights; and the images he saw now resembled nothing of his nearly-forgotten childhood, save for a few hints of familiarity glimpsed from time to time. He gazed fully upon the true darkness of the world that had now surrounded it, and as he gazed, the darkness was drawn inward, absorbed into his very soul, the sharpness of clarity cutting away the last vestiges of youthful ignorance.
Despite no longer being able to draw on the energy of youth for strength, the man was not powerless: he had now begun to draw on the darkness of the world. Trust had been replaced by cynicism, and the bubbling warmth of joy and happiness had been replaced by the soothing cold of sadness and despair. With this new-found strength, he began to rebuild his world, once again drawing a web friends and family about him, but far more selectively and cautiously than before. Slowly he expanded his web of control, gaining power over that which he could, and discarding that which was beyond his power.
More time passed, and he began to turn once more to the battles of intellectual will that he dimly recalled from his youth. But oh! how so very different it now seemed; having fought the world in the darkness of its true form, these battles now seemed to be nothing more than frivolous silliness. It was all meaningless now; he could now see through the cloak of lies and deception, and in every case the same truths presented themselves. No new meaning or knowledge was to be found.
He began to wander aimlessly through this landscape. Visiting the darkest of the dark places, he realised that there was no longer any true horror to be found in this world; returning to the places of brightest light, he found the light dimmed and subdued, no longer the searing powerful brightness he recalled from so long ago. With each step, he gained more power, and yet at the very same time, his need for it diminished; for what need is there for power, if there is nothing over which you would exert it? Even the deep, unfathomable chill of the sadness and despair within his soul was now of no consequence; and that mantle of responsibility which had once seemed unbearably heavy was now weightless about his shoulders.
Finally, he began to sense something new. Slowly, inexorably, relentlessly; a crushing weariness was now filling his soul.
[to be continued]