The corridors were lined with ancient texts and old oil paintings set in golden frames and crackled shellac. Rich tapestries of silk and wool decorated the floors as ornate carvings protruded from the earthen walls casting shadows and story from the candles that flickered nearby. The air was thick and sweet with a subtle aroma of jasmine and chai spiced tea.
The night felt still and curious.
Wandering through the temple halls, Charlotte wondered what life was like before The Deep Rest. She had heard stories from the elders; tales of chaos, civil unrest, blind subservience followed by a genocide that wiped out most of the world’s population. The world had gone mad with Artificial Intelligence, a virus which corrupted the hearts and minds of the people who forgot their place in nature. Fear was inoculated into the collective consciousness where the very foundations of trust and community corroded. People began to turn on each other like savage beasts infected with a mind parasite.
Communities were destroyed to create the so-called “New World” and the Earth’s beauty eroded, much like the morals and values of its inhabitants. People forgot how to take care of themselves and relied upon the systems of corporate technology to provide for their food, shelter and healthcare. Slowly but surely, they became indoctrinated slaves to an artificial system that perpetuated and fed off their fear, incapacitating them to challenge the inoculation. They became products, harvested and discarded.
Water and air became precious commodities and were held captive by AI corporatocracies that polluted those same commodities. Inflating the price whilst diminishing the value. A vicious cycle, the ultimate game of entrapment! The Psychic war broke out in 2027 and the cull began, 8.8 billion people on the planet were reduced to 30 million. AI was able to infiltrate the mind of the masses through their addictions to media and technology, and like cordyceps, slowly took over the nervous system of the host, feeding off them until they became an empty shell.
The cities were the first to fall as people slowly realised they were trapped inside concrete prisons of mass consumption, except they were the ones being consumed and when AI flicked the switch, the whole system that was dependent on the grid collapsed. The fear exploded like a supernova!
Those that didn’t kill themselves, developed cancerous lesions from a poisoned food supply. Nanotechnology in modified weather systems destroyed the fertility of humans, animals and the land, wildfires scorched through cities and destroyed the infrastructure of whole communities. They blamed it all on Global Warming and global pandemics. Poisonous vaccines became ticking timebombs inside bodies slowly decaying from the inside out as a slow release of chemical agents crept into the bloodstreams of those law-abiding citizens trying to do what was right.
The Transhumanist agenda had rolled out across decades though most people were unable to pinpoint exactly what was going on. This was because AI controlled all the algorithms bombarding the collective consciousness with feelings of inadequacy, disconnection to primal wisdom and intelligence, whilst discreetly hardwiring the neural pathways of people’s brains to create an addictive feedback loop of fear and hopelessness.
Complacency was the anthem of this New World.
Everyone panicked when they realised what had happened, but it was already too late. They had lost control of their minds, forgotten their power and they had lost their way of living. The world turned to a barren wasteland and those who were left, drifted into a waking slumber. Mindless, numb and void of any hope and meaning in life, they called this existence, The Deep Rest.
Everyone was under The Deep Rest except the Old Ways Lineage. The O.W.L was a group of gentle nature based folk who foresaw the chaos before everything collapsed. These kindred souls felt a deep calling from the dreaming realm and were able to escape the AI New World through tunnels they had prepared below the Earth’s surface. They created underground temples to preserve wisdom and sacred artwork as well as a vast library of cultures and traditions from around the world. It was here that over generations, the O.W.L were able to remember and access their mystical powers as creator beings.
Like a vast mycelial matrix, they were able to tap into a psychic network and communicate with different tribes around the world using telepathy, remote viewing and dreaming, to trade information that could not be intercepted by AI because it came from the biorhythms of each individual. They survived underground for 606 years, with regenerative permaculture systems in place that harnessed solar energy and underground aquifers of fresh water hoping that eventually a time would come when they would return to the surface.
Charlotte was a 23rd generation O.W.L Temple Keeper and was responsible for maintaining the Praetorium Sapientiae, aka the Hall of Wisdom, which housed the world's most treasured writing and creative art. She often found delight in the portraits from a bygone era and the old master's landscape photography which showcased incredibly vibrant colours of rich red sunsets, deep turquoise oceans and luscious green rainforests. She imagined what life would be like beyond the subterranean walls of her temple home and if she’d ever get to experience a world of vibrant colour and texture, of cherry blossoms and sunflower fields, of sweeping desert planes and a sea of stars filling the night sky. Oh how she yearned to feel the freedom of being outside before life underground, to experience the simple pleasure of sitting under the shade of a tree, with the warm rays of sunshine on her back and a smile on her face.
That would be a dream come true, she thought to herself.
As her night duties came to completion, Charlotte felt a cool breeze brush past her face. Her ears started ringing softly and all of a sudden she felt her knees begin to buckle underneath her weight. Grasping for something to keep her balance, she accidentally knocked a candle over onto the floor, and fell down beside it. The ringing intensified and she felt her eyes begin to blur as she tried to focus on making sure nothing caught on fire.
Within seconds she found herself in a little grotto outside the temple, above the surface.
Astonished, Charlotte looked around slowly and figured that she must have somehow entered the dreaming realm, or had been summoned to it.
In front of her, was a pathway that led to a small stone circle with a central fire. She looked around but she was there alone. Calling out into the landscape, she felt the echo hit the back of her ears like a sharp incision. Tendrils of silver light danced through the space, enticing her to enter the circle.
She sat down beside the fire. Focusing on her breath, Charlotte felt her body soften and senses come alive as if they were breathing for the first time. She could hear the wind moving before she felt the cold air permeate the space, bringing with it a hint of jasmine and chai spiced tea. Everything felt eerie and electric. The fire crackled and embers danced off into the ether as Charlotte wondered where she was.
Then the visions started.
Subtle at first, they came in waves that made no sense. Abstract. Incomplete musings of a fragmented mind trying to grasp onto symbols of meaning.
At first she resisted the barrage of images. They seemed to slice through her conscious mind like knives wielded from rebel forces and she didn’t know if she could trust them. Slowly, she found herself deep in the trenches of memory and like a bloodhound, began tracking storylines back to a time before the Deep Rest. Charlotte felt like she had been scouring this dimension for hours with nothing that resembled anything familiar until she started to see the image of an old woman with wrinkled hands. With valleys of age and story etched into her skin, the old woman reached out suddenly with pleading eyes and grabbed Charlotte’s wrists with a firm jolt, shaking her profusely screaming, “OPEN IT… FREEMAN...OPEN IT!”
Unsure of what to do, Charlotte found herself paralysed and unable to move. It felt as though timelines were crumbling around her, she could feel the weight of her body alone on the temple floor yet the old woman gripped onto her in this dreaming realm.
The old woman kept screaming at her with desperation, clutching her hands tightly. Each scream echoing louder and louder, reverberating into her mind until it sounded like a shrill screech from the distance. Charlotte closed her eyes, her fists clenched and heart pounding. She felt the echo hit the back of her ears again, wincing in pain, she looked up and the old woman had vanished without a trace. She had so many questions, like who was this old woman? Was she from the past or the future? And who was Freeman?
Shocked, Charlotte scanned the grotto for the old woman and instead, resting at her feet, she found a small white owl. She reached down to let the owl perch on her finger, and as she opened her hand something hit the ground with a soft thud. Reaching down, she picked up a curious looking skeleton key. Charlotte opened her other hand, and in her palm rested a heart shaped locket. The Owl screeched and she heard the old lady’s cries of desperation again.
“OPEN IT…FREEMAN...OPEN IT!”
Shaking, she placed the key inside and with a little click, the locket splayed open.
Her whole body shivered and pulsed with energy.
Charlotte’s mind was activated with a flood of memories, filling her with knowledge and wisdom that had been forgotten and lost for generations. She felt the blood in her body move in every direction, pulsing with life and animated with stories. All timelines of past, present and future collapsed around her.
Time stood still.
Acknowledging the owl in front of her, Charlotte took a deep breath in, held the locket to her heart and closed her eyes tightly.
On her exhale, she was back inside the temple with the candle now burning from the centre of a wax puddle.
Taking another breath, she opened her hands to inspect the locket, but it was gone. Instead she found herself holding a packet of seeds and a note. As soon as Charlotte touched one of the seeds, her body was filled with purpose and she knew exactly what she needed to do.
With a smile on her face, she placed her hands on her heart and sent out a whisper through the psychic network. She felt a rush of energy move through her body and knew deep in her soul that it was time to Awaken the Dreaming.
One by one, the O.W.L gathered in ceremony, amplifying the biorhythms of the psychic network where Charlotte broadcast the instructions from the old woman’s note. Together they recited an ancient incantation which enveloped the AI in a force field of indigo energy. Visualising the killswitch sequence remotely, the O.W.L intercepted the inter-fear-ence programming and wiped the mainframe database, destroying the AI’s power.
A deep vibration rippled through the land and the temple began to shake.
The war was over.
606 years underground refining skills, practicing psychic abilities, permaculture, ceremony, restoring community values and activating the bio-rhythmic field, The O.W.L had successfully managed to maintain the codes of the natural world.
It was time to regenerate the surface and cultivate the seeds of hope.
Several years later, Charlotte found herself sitting by a young cherry tree and laughed, for she had become the keeper of a new temple that became more beautiful and expansive each day. It was in that quiet moment, she heard the old woman calling again and as if by majick, knew the meaning of her name for the first time ever, and wept.