TWILIGHT



From Dr. Ehirllimbal's private journal—

July 10th, 1954: Has it only been a week since we reached São Paulo de Oliverça? It seems much longer. Time has become slippery, due in large part to the fact that we no longer have the circadian rhythm of life along the river to guide us.

I recall a sensory deprivation study I took part in during my undergraduate studies. We were blindfolded, our ears sealed with cotton and wax, and we were laid out in padded coffins for several hours. Several of the volunteers lost their nerve within a few minutes; I lasted nearly an hour, but I can still remember, quite vividly, how it seemed like I was trapped in that coffin for more than a day. I couldn't calm myself, no matter how I tried to meditate or calm my breathing and then, after what seemed like several hours (and I never did get a satisfactory answer why the technicians failed to hear my requests to end the study), I began to hallucinate.

Which, in the end, was probably the definitive moment that set me on this course. Did Dr. Schoenbrüche know? Ostensibly his study was to examine the effects of sensory deprivation, but had he considered the idea of this hallucinatory dream state, this wakeful oneiric awareness? I should investigate his publications in the last fifteen years. I should contact him.

When I get back. Yes, when I return to the world of academia, the "civilized" world of pursuing publication, of chasing funding, of semantic (and pedantic) arguments among the psychiatric cognoscenti.

My dreams have started to intrude upon my waking hours, or possibly, it is my waking life that is overlaying my dreams. Much like that old optical illusion of the pyramid, reality has become a matter of perception. Neither answer is right; neither answer is wrong. The fruit clusters of the peach palms are filmed with a white fuzz, ball lightning that seems like fluffy down. Phantasmal rodents—in the trees, in the brush, darting across the narrow paths we have found—follow us like eager children. I have met three ghosts already, and this morning, I saw five more watching our camp, but they vanished as I approached them. I have not seem them since.

My spirit guide wears his jaguar mask constantly now; I have not seen his face since we left the city. He is most visible at twilight now, more so when he is between me and the garden. Mr. Gaultier saw him last night as he was circling the perimeter of our camp.

He was much more reserved about it than I would have expected. Just a narrow tremor, followed by a tightening of his body and the nervous flicker of his eyes. I may have given myself away by looking to see what had startled him, and not reacting to the white flicker of the jaguar mask in the jungle.

Twilight is brief, here in the jungle. The sun lights the tops of the trees on fire as it sinks past the horizon, and the flare of orange and yellow lasts only a few minutes before night wraps the leaves in purple and black. The jungle awakens at night, filled with even more strange noises than during the day. We try to sleep during this time—restlessly, half-awake, afraid of the imaginary monsters created by our nervous imaginations—and that fact seems like a perfect summation of how man has detached himself from the animal kingdom.

We are sun seekers, children of the day. Acolytes of light. We have turned our back on the night. We dismiss dream as the ephemera of children and idiots. At twilight, when the sun abandons us, we die a little bit.



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