Two - The Gateway Opens

                I awaken in a field of tall grass with the warmth of a star on my face. Putting my hands on my knees after sitting up, I am instantly aware of my purpose. “Life,” I whisper, “I am the only living being in existence and I must find a way to be happy.”

                I stand up and start to stroll through the lush green garden. There is a brook that contains the substance I know as water creating a soothing sound on its way to a pond.

                No other life. No one to talk to or to help achieve my purpose. A stone bench comes into view and I sit to ponder. “This place is beautiful and peaceful, yet I know this will not be enough for me to be happy. I am life and there needs to be more of me.”

                A shape slowly comes together in a cloud overhead. Slowly descending, it touches down in the distance and I make my way toward the cloud, which transforms into something I will call an animal. Animals will help me figure out how to be happy. The garden is no longer devoid of life besides me.

                “Hello, Atlas,” introducing myself, “I am the Initial and you are my first creation.”

                Atlas understands my words immediately. He quickly asks, “What do you call my form?”

                My eyes examine his body, fur, and face as I try to think of what to call this type of animal. I never named one before, so I blurt out, “You are a wolf.”

                Atlas grins and then looks up at me. “What is my purpose?”

                “To help me figure out how to make all of life happy. Now that I have created you, if I can manage to make us both happy, my purpose is fulfilled. To aid me in my quest, I have imbued you with a power. Knowledge. You shall know all that transpires in this garden and your memory is absolute, therefore you will not forget a thing, so I do not make the same mistake twice.”

                “I am alive with a purpose,” Atlas began, “I am happy… are you?”

                “I do not think so. I am alive with a purpose as well, yet something is missing. At first, I was lonely, now I have a companion to aid me and keep me company. Now I yearn for a feeling known as love. I want to be loved by all my creations and I want to love one unconditionally over all the others.”

                Atlas thought a moment about this, “You gave me life and a purpose. I love you and I am your only creation. Do you love me?”

                “Of course. I love you and I will love all my creations no matter what they do with their lives, but I know I am not content with just the two of us. There must be more life and it shall be a cycle. For example, you will get hungry and you must hunt prey to eat and survive.”

                “Hunt what?”

                An enormous, looming cloud above breaks off into thousands of tiny shapes. They fall onto the garden and transform into numerous animals.

                “Deer, squirrels, rabbit… too many for me to name right now. The important thing is that you survive and have fun so that you remain happy.”

                “What happens to the animal when I eat it?”

                “Death.” I whisper, “Death is a concept I have thought about and carefully constructed.”

                Atlas has a look of intrigue on his face and I change the subject. “All you have to know about death is that it is not the end. Look, there is a fawn over there by the water.”

                His head turns sharply, ears pointed up as I lean close to him and say, “Have fun.”

                He sprints toward the baby deer and I look away to avoid the image from imprinting on my mind. I head away from the pond, through the grass and up a hill toward a group of birch trees. Two altars of stone that catch my eye look eerily out of place. Ivy sways in the wind, wrapping around their legs. How can they look so old and worn in a new garden? Without contemplating it for long, I wave my hands and again clouds fall from the sky, one landing on each altar. This time, the clouds take on a form similar to my own. The two bodies lie motionless on the cold stone.

                They gasp for air in unison as if waking from a nightmare. Observing my creations, I look over to the burly one now sitting up with his hands in front of his face, examining his hands. A handsome face with a trimmed beard and a pair of bushy eyebrows look back at me. I swallow a lump in my throat, as I fear I may have outdone myself with this new form.

                “Where are we?” the other creation asks, sounding frightened. He is handsome as well, just not so much as the other. Tall, yet not as muscular and with a clean shaved face, this one wears robes of white, the other, a dark gray cloak with black feathers over the shoulders.

                “You are in my garden and I created you both,” I stop to let that sink in as they look confused. Before I can continue speaking, the man in white asks, “What am I?”

                My train of thought derails as I try to think of another name for the new forms.

                “Well, your forms are like mine, yet different in subtle ways. Your minds think another way and I created you, which makes you lesser than myself. I am the Initial, a woman, and you two shall be known as men.”

                The man in white looks slightly offended, while the broad-shouldered man in gray smiles.

                “To the Initial who gave us life!” he cheered. “Since this man in white and I are both men, how will you address us separately?”

                “I will give you names, you shall be Onan and the man in white is Atech.” As I name the two men, Atlas approaches with fresh blood on his snout. He looks distressed, not at all surprised by the new forms.

                “What is the matter, dear Atlas?” I calmly ask.

                Atlas’ eyes meet Onan’s, Atech’s and mine before responding, “Eating the fawn was satisfying, but I do not know what happened to its spirit. I thought I was to know all there is.”

                I crouch down to feel the leaves and soft dirt at my feet. “Sweet Atlas, you know only that which transpires in this garden, the spirit of the fawn has left this place. As soon as its body perished, its spirit was sent to the core of the garden and beyond your sight.”

                Onan seems very interested in this as one eyebrow of his rises. “So, if anything in this garden dies, it goes to the core? Then what?”

                “Two outer planes also exist outside this garden,” I continue, “And the fawn’s spirit is in the core deciding its own fate with the help of the Advocate. The Advocate is a guide that will show the spirit where it can go and what it may become next.”

                My face becomes stern as I rise to my feet and glare at all three of my creations standing in front of me. “Atlas, Onan, and Atech, we have a common goal and I created you all for a reason. I need help, help in finding a way to make all life which I create happy.”

                Atech’s look suddenly becomes determined. “How do we assist you? We are only men.”

                Extending my arm in front of them, I open my fist. Two small stones rapidly reform into rings in my palm and I look first to Onan in offering. He takes the black one of Onyx and I then shift my hand to Atech who in turn plucks the one made of white pearl. I smirk at their perplexed faces.

                “Pretty.” Onan says in a sarcastic tone. He glances at me with a smile, “A gift?”

                “A key.” I retort. “To an outer plane, one for you Onan and one plane to you Atech. You both have the same goal as I do, and your own playground to help achieve that goal and to answer the question.”

                “What question?” Atech asks anxiously.  I have my audiences undivided attention. Looking to the star in the sky and wincing at the bright light, I answer. “How do we give life meaning?”