In Pursuit of William Riker

Posted by lec** on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 21:31:13 GMT        
The sun was setting on a clear afternoon in late October, the sky violet to the west. I had just stepped out of the store into the mild ouside air, and drained an entire bottle of cold Jana, an fabulous brand of pure, Croatian spring water. With my thirst quenched very effectively by the beautiful liquid with it's perfect ratios of dissolved minerals, I glanced up towards the tops of the trees lining the other side of the road and admired the colours for a moment. I heard the door of the store open again, and turned, expecting it to be my friend. Instead, out of the store came a man in a cream-coloured travelling cloak, with squinting eyes, neatly brushed dark hair, and a moustache and beard to match. My shock kept me frozen in place, all I did was follow him with my eyes as he made his way down past me and into the street. There could be no mistake, I had just seen William Riker, first officer of the starship Enterprise.

Jana water
The bottle of Jana spring water
I regained control over some primary systems by the time a long-haired man known as Lapsang, a friend of mine, emerged from the shop as well. I uttered two sentences about what I had just seen and what we now must do. He had obviously recognised the importance of this encounter, since we departed from the location immediately, rushing along at a brisk pace in the direction that Riker had gone. As we turned the corner, we caught sight of him, about fifty meters away, walking quickly with long strides. There was no doubt that the man was either Riker himself - or his doppelgänger. Whatever the true scenario might have been, we needed to catch up with him at any cost, so we set off after him, walking quickly.

Riker was fast. Though we walked as fast as we could, which is faster than most people jog, Riker did not seem to draw nearer. In fact, the faster we walked, the faster he seemed to go, and when we slowed slightly, he seemed to slow down a bit too. Effectively, we always maintained the same distance from him, never coming closer or dropping further away. Finally, we broke into a run as we crossed a little car park, but so did Riker - at that precise moment, he started running, nullifying our efforts, keeping a distance between us. The man was highly interesting, and I had no idea why. I had never been a huge Star Trek fan, though I had seen an episode here and there, yet the man in front of me who bore an indisputable likeness to William Riker had stunned me into following him, not knowing what I would say when we caught up with him, or why I was trying to catch up at all.

There was an arbitrary, whimsical quality to the events, yet for some mysterious reason we just kept following him, past the rows of trees and parked cars, the cracking facades of flats across the road, framed against the darkening sky for a good while. I did not know how far we had come, or how long we had been going. My watch seemed to have stopped, but by the darkness that was slowly engulfing the rustling leaves, and the last traces of twilight dying in the distance, merely flashing between buildings... it must have been at least 10 minutes, though the perception of time, forever fragile, seemed completely shattered on this shadowy road. Gravel crunched under my shoes. I was following him through a park, silent and empty, except for the whispering trees and the quiet crunch, crunch, of the gravel. The bushes lay black and silent, but now the flickering orange light of sodium street lamps was sieving through a line of tall conifer trees. Where was this man going? Why am I here? Crunch... crunch... I realised my footsteps were the only ones in this park. My friend was no longer here. How long had I been following Riker? Had I lost track of time? Riker was walking quite slowly now, going across a road. No cars seemed to be around, no people and no obvious signs of anything, except for me and Riker.

As I too crossed the road, I found myself in a familiar place. So far I had felt the surroundings to be only been vaguely familiar. I recognised them without thinking, as parts of the town I live in. This time, maybe I had made an effort to see where I am because I saw that the next stretch of road was the road in front of my school. This made no sense. I had passed this way a while ago as I followed Riker, and now I seemed to have come back here, from the same direction, though we had definitely been going farily straight. This had jogged my to my senses slightly. What was I doing? I decided to stop following the man in the cream coat in front of me, and crossed the road to go down a set of stairs to the left, which I knew would take me in the direction of my home. The night had fallen, and it was as dark as ever. Not to mention there was an uncomfortable chilly breeze in the air, and I had not taken my coat. To my surprise, Riker had also crossed the street, and was walking down the same steps that I was just about to take. This was interesting. Maybe I could follow him a little more.

Riker was heading uphill along a dull road, bathed in orange light, with cars on every side. By the darkness that surrounded me, it could have been the early morning. This guy sure was funny. Who would walk around pointlessly on a Thursday evening? But then again... was it Thursday? I could not remember what had happened to me today, or maybe I didn't want to. Currently the important thing was to catch up with this Riker and get some questions answered. And then, I ran. I ran as fast as I could, pounding the black asphalt, running up the road, which curved to the right. Riker was out of sight now, though I sensed he was right behind the corner, just out of sight. I would surely catch him at this rate... but Riker was nowhere to be seen. The road stopped curving, and I doubled over, panting. I raised my head, and looked ahead. Riker was across a wide road, going slowly up a steep little road that was completely dark. I walked across the road as fast as I could, a stitch in my side, hot and sweaty from the sprint. I jogged up the short road, and then clambered up some steps at the end. I caught sight of Riker's coat whipping out from behind the top step. I was gaining on him! Finally I reached to top, and staggered across the pavement into the road.

The dark trees were still now. Riker was standing still on the other side of the road, looking forward with his back turned to me, apparently speaking to another man. This is it! I shouted inside my head. As I approached, he did not move. Something isn't right, I thought. Or did I? In this place it was so hard to determine which thoughts were truly yours. Where am I? It was the shop from which I had emerged just a little while ago, where I had seen Riker. How can that be? It's impossible! The road could not have possibly lead here. Riker turned towards me, ending my confused thoughts. I gazed into his face with a spark of glory, but... this can't be right. I was looking into my own face, looking at my own confused expression. For a long moment, I stood paralyzed. Finally I looked past my own face, towards the other man. It was me again! Good God, what is happening? There seemed to be another man behind him, and then another... I could only see a little bit of them, and there appeared to be many more. Suddenly, I had a strange suspicion, and turned on the spot. Right there, walking slowly across the road towards me, was another me. He - I - stopped short, just like I had done. There was some confusion on his - my - face. This can't be! What is this place?! I watched in horror as he turned too, to face another me, coming to join the line. I spun again, in front and behind, there were hundreds of thousands of my own self, like some sick version of feedback generated by a camera filming it's own display, or a microphone recording it's own recording... so many, so many - there were so many, and they were drawing closer to me, sliding towards me, being forced towards me. My mind was filled with a blur, a terrible cascade of sound and colour. This was impossible, yet where was I, and who was I amid these replicas? Which one was I, or was I all of them together, or was I no one at all? Am I dead, alive? Am I still standing in that street, or have I disappeared into non-being? The sound was a deafening, roar, impossibly loud, loud enough to split bone, but do I still have bone to split? I was at that moment, which lasted an eternety of forevers, and never happened at the same time, everywhere and nowhere. All I could see was white... black... white, black, white, black. Finally, they exchanged so fast, I saw only a dull grey. Then, I opened my eyes. It looked like it was shortly before twilight. The sky was violet, the trees were rustling again. Cars passed on the road in front of me. The unopened bottle of water slipped from my right hand, and tumbled across the ground, rolling to a stop beneath a parked car. I turned on the spot, slowly and deliberately, stopping to watch the door of the store intently. Out stepped a man that resembled William Riker from Star Trek to the smallest detail, wearing a cream-coloured coat. He slipped around the corner, and I, slowly and carefully, inched backwards bit by bit. Finally I could see around the corner. Riker strode forward taking large strides, and finally, when he was about 50 meters away, he stopped, took something out of his pocket that turned out to be his car keys, and sat into his gray Renault Clio. I heard the engine turn on, and he drove onto the road, and I lost him amid the other cars.

A bell tinkled, and the door of the store opened. I turned and saw my friend step out, and approach me with a little carton of ice tea he was drinking through a straw. He looked amused by my facial expression - "Process not responding, right?" he asked me. I didn't move or say anything, trying to analyse what I had just experienced. "Come on, what's up with you?" he said, stopping when he saw that I had not moved. I forced myself to walk forward. Though I had thought that I had been at infinity multiple times, because of what infinity is, you may reach it, but you can't determine anything from there. Everything is as uncertain as before, maybe more uncertain. There is always something smaller and something larger, every question yields an answer that ends in a question. The loop, like the one I went through following Riker, is unbroken. Life is neither simple nor complicated, just like there is no polarity in anything, no limits or constants. Everything borders on uncertainty, because everything is precisely set but impossible to determine. Life had never made sense less to me than now, when I had tried so hard to see past the layer upon layer of limits, each time they could be expanded further. Now I had expanded them into infinity, I had gained nothing, explained nothing. I was looking at the ground, and kicked some red-brown leaves around. "Humans will never be able to explain their own existance", I said. "But to enjoy this, what is referred to as life, they don't need to" I added. A leaf fell through the air, dancing and swaying as the nitrogen molecules rubbed past, finding the path of least resistance. The sky was simply beautiful.

Kthar's avatar
May 01 2008 @ 13:04:18
Riker was fast, indeed. One can even say too fast. I, unfortunately, failed to get even a glimpse of his face. It was an event which scarred me for life - I have never gotten over the pain of missing the chance to personally experience the feeling of being in Riker's immediate presence.
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