Chronicles from the Future: Fainting in the Past (1921 AD) and waking up in the Future (3906 AD)

Chronicles from the Future: Paul Dienach

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At night I felt extremely nostalgic. Everything I had ever loved, everything I had been used to… My whole life triggered torturous memories that made me cry like a baby. If only I had something here from my own place and time; anything, even lifeless, to keep me company and make me feel like home.

The awareness of the existence of an incredibly long time gap felt like a heavy weight on my chest. It gave me a feeling of a moral abyss that proved much more frightening in my mental world than in the physical one. The idea of an intentional escape from life entered my mind. The image that penetrated my mind at all times was that of my beloved grey-haired mother, desperately crying over the lifeless body of her child in some hospital in Zurich was unbearable. “Mom!” I’d cry out sobbing, “Mother, I won’t see you again…”

That first night before I woke up here, while lying in bed half asleep, the vivid memory of Ann once again conquered my mind. I had spent the evening on our beloved hill with the windflowers. When the darkness of the night fell, it found me there. I returned home walking through dark and deserted streets so I could hide my tear-filled eyes from the world.

I lay down on my bed, careful not to make the slightest noise that would wake my mother, who was lying sick in the adjoining room. She had been exhausted lately. When I switched off the light and it became completely quiet, I could hear her breath, I remember. Her presence, the feeling of being in the company of my mother, somehow sweetened the misery caused by the loss of Ann.

Paul Dienach sick

I was burning up with fever. My eyes hurt when I blinked. I knew I had a  bowl of water beside me and a towel to wet and put over my forehead if I needed to; but I was so tired and worn out that I couldn’t find the strength to get up, so I tried to cool down my eyes and forehead on my cold pillows, changing positions all the time. Then, I remember the sensation of slowly falling asleep, and I thanked God for that sweet salvation, even if it lasted only for a few hours. My last thought before I fell completely asleep was that the next day I’d go sit under the two fir trees.

Waking up, however, was really painful. I realized I had a very high fever. My mind went straight to the bowl of water and the towel. Without opening my eyes I tried to reach it but couldn’t even move. After a while I passed out from the fever.

These alternations between consciousness and unconsciousness lasted for several hours. And the moments of consciousness were excruciating for me. I felt like I was falling into an unfathomable abyss without touching anything. The agony of the abyss never left my side.

Amidst the dizziness of fever I remember seeing, as if in a dream, males and females standing over my head. I was aware of my situation, that is, I knew I was sick and I thought that they had moved me to a bigger city, to another hospital and that all these people were doctors and nurses. Nothing else was clear in my mind. Oh! And my mother! I felt that my mother wasn’t by my side.

Then I thought I was having nightmares. “Why are they dressed like that?”, I was wondering. The setting around me looked completely different and unfamiliar compared to what I used to up until then. “No” I thought to myself, “it can’t be a hospital.” I blinked and caught glimpses of the countryside, the sky, shades of blue and green blended together and a pink light reflecting on the crystal walls, so bright and so beautiful…

Paul Dienach looking at the mirror

I also recall breathing the scented spring air and sometimes, a celestial melody coming to my weary ears. It resembled a prayer sung by children’s voices. I could distinguish the sound of the harp. I had never heard anything more melodic and more extraordinary in my life, and I wished it would never stop. And then I wondered whether I had died, but if I had why would I feel sick and feverish?

Another crazy thought crossed my mind: when I was still at school, I had read that our beloved Earth might not be the only planet in the universe. But I ruled that possibility out after remembering the people I saw standing over my head. They were humans, they were ours. And I had also taken a glimpse of our good old earthy sky.

All these tangled and scrambled thoughts dominated my tired mind every time I somehow opened my eyes in the midst of the dizziness of the fever. And the truth is that they didn’t leave me with an unpleasant memory. But it’s hardly possible to describe the surprise that awaited me one morning, when I had completely recovered and managed to get out of bed - I get shivers all down my neck and back even writing about it- “God! This body! This body isn’t mine!” A young man that happened to be there looked me in the eyes with a face distorted from terror. I thought I had lost it. I cried for help. I sensed someone running towards me. I choked and blanked out.

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Copyright Achilleas Syrigos. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be republished.