The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 38 & 39 “The Stone Bridge.” – “Mind Scape.”
Posted by inspir3d on February 20, 2005
Yu Huan Guan was ninety five. He often traveled alone now that his wife Jeannie has passed on.He chose easily accessible places that would not overtax him.
There were three runs every hour of the transcontinental undersea worm train. It would be no great matter if he were to miss his return train, time was relative at his age – very relative he though as, he plodded along absentmindedly along the artificial beach in Hyde Park, London.
Besides the trip from London to Singapore took only a little over an hour.
He walked along the only path carrying his briefcase, the fifty yards or so leading to the stone bridge.
Gazing upwards towards the paraffin blue of the sky, the old man noted the large enclosure covering the length and breath of London.
“Kinetic architecture.” He sniggered.
The sky in it’s upper reaches was too blue to be real, he thought, not like the old days.
A blue brought forth by floating, self sustaining organic membranes lighter than air, capable of expanding and contracting relative to weather, heat and occupant needs.
The sky it seemed was all the same these days, from London, Tokyo to Paris – an opaque saccharine blue.
Within the dome the ambient environment was controlled at a balmy ambient of 24◦C. Some 30 years ago, a great cataclysm brought forth by the impact of a meteorite slamming somewhere along the equatorial belt rendered life beyond the plexidome inhospitable, for a man to venture out into the open, he needed a space suit.
He asked himself as he gazed out towards the distance just making out the familiar outline of the stone bridge, whether this was the same bridge, and for a moment he did not recognize it: but as he looked on, he realized, it was there, seventy years ago, he had once first made love to her, Chan Sim – the third wife.
His thoughts passing fleetingly far back into the moment of his youth, the park was quiet.
Children were playing, and there were two or three anglers fishing for robot carp.
Again his mind began to play out the familiar cipher,
“Here I am again in the corridor of mirrors where I find myself staring at the single image reflected again and again. Wondering whether I have stepped into another fathomless inner chamber, is it possible for a man to collide with his destiny twice in a single lifetime? Is it really possible?”
Grasping these thoughts Huan Guan ambled towards the stone bridge. He remembered the bright white painted pavilion beside it.
Beyond a profusion of maples, plums, and tea bushes with hints of an oleander. The summer light fell sharply upon the white spears of dwarf lilies framing the steppingstones, repeating the light from the sky above. A beating of wings from tiny insects seemed almost to pierce the silence. A sparrow flew past, followed by a formation of flamingo’s casting long irregular shadows along the stone bridge.
Then suddenly the familiar image of a woman in a crème cheong sam with red carnations appeared.
He recognized her gait – it was her!
For a moment, he felt the door to his inner world sliding open. Huan Guan looked up at the figure as if pulled by invisible strings.
The man of ninety five years felt tears come to his eyes. He was powerless to look up at her. She faced him across the sea of time.
Her nose was the finely carved nose of those years before, and the eyes were the same beautiful eyes. Her skin glowed with a still light; the beauty of her eyes was clearer, shining through something like a patina. Age had crystallized into a perfect jewel, preserving her as if she had never aged even one day since he last saw her in the train station.
Hiding his tears, Huan Guan looked up.
“It was good of you to come.” He strained.
There was a pause, her voice like a whispering rush,
“Memory my love is like a phantom mirror. It sometimes shows thing too distant to be seen, and sometimes it shows them as if they were here, come with me my love. I want you to see something boy.”
She took him hand and together they leaned across the bridge, there was no trace of surprise in her voice, it was as if, the last 70 years of his life had never ever been lived.
There was instead a familiar sort of girlish curiosity in her eyes, and below them a quiet smile as she turned to look at him again.
Standing there motionless filled with anticipation, she held up the wild flowers and threw them into the dark waters, where a profusion of colors radiated from a single point.
Watching calmly and motionless, the man simply said to the woman,
“Only what boy?” a smile crossed her lips as she turned her large seductive eyes towards him.
“Only I wished, it could last forever.” He continued shyly looking up at her.
A long silence ensued and the woman without saying a word, led him by the hand, setting aside his briefcase with the words,
“You don’t need this where we are going, leave it here. Come with me boy, I have a surprise for you.”
She led him down a dark path through the thicket of the canopy looking back at him in anticipation from time to time, he felt that straggling sensation of youthfulness returning to him as he followed.
Eventually, the trail opened up to a clearing, where a wooden single storey American house stood with it’s wide sweeping verandah, lining it a neat row of white picket fences and beside it, a cherry tree with a swing. There hanging rustically a wooden sign read,
“Home sweet home.”
The house was framed with wide opened spaces, with the rolling hills behind it, blazing in the summer sun.
Along one side, a grove beyond the lawn maples lined the road. A wattled gate led to the hills. Some of the maples were red even now in the summer, flames among the green. Stepping stones were scattered easily over the lawn, and wild carnations bloomed shyly among them, juxtaposing against the floral cheong sam of the woman who looked on at him.
For a moment tears welled in his eyes as he looked on. He had come right through the tunnel of time, to a place that had no memories, nothing except to be with the woman who he had always loved.
Yu Huan Guan had finally come home.
2073 Somewhere in Science Park / Singapore
“Under ordinance 16, it is a statutory requirement for me to ask you one last time. Are you sure you want to go through this procedure?”
“Yes, I am certain.” The man in the wheel chair replied.
“You realize when you press the button all your memories as you know it will cease to exist completely apart from that which you have asked us to create. You know that, don’t you.”
“Yes, I know. Hurry up, I haven’t got all day.” The man tapped impatiently.
The Mind Scape® Atomic drive super computer hummed in the back ground, technicians in white coats hurriedly wheeled the old man into the room, called the hall of memories, here his brain would be downloaded into the master computer where every thought, sensation and memory would be instantly be digitalized only to exist in a virtual realm, here reality will cease to exist completely, here only the virtual reality refashioned by gaming engineers, artists, poets and musicians would be played out according to a script to recreate the known world – his world.
As the engineer in charge of the Mind Scape® that evening finalized the settings on the control board, the lone figure in the plexiglass domed room prepared to load the program he had so meticulously fashioned all these years.
The man had after all being the principal scientist who first developed the machine and now like a lone aviator preparing for his maiden flight, he had volunteered to be it’s first mind scape tourist.
As he slid the program drive into it’s hologram receptacle, a soft purring sound confirmed it was downloading and a panel at the arm rest slid opened revealing a single red button marked with the words,
Reaching slowly to press the button, the technicians and engineers peered attentively at their dials and view screens, this every man thought was history in the making – as the father of the game often said,
“When a person is lucky enough to live inside a story, to live inside an imaginary world, the pains of this world disappear. For as long as the story goes on, reality no longer exists.”
That evening when they wheeled the dead scientist out from the hall of memories after the failed experiment – they noted the strange expression on his face – the father of the game was smiling – it was Christmas day.
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