18 April 2020
Very long ago but not so far away, Ollie awoke into a wiggly new day.
Try as he might, scouring Earth and Sky, neither he nor anyone could find the Well.
Ollie had been very young when his quest began. That first glimpse of the Codex had sealed his fate.
Back then no one could read it. though all the world's scholars and scientists had tried to decipher it for a thousand years.
The Codex had lay buried for ages unknown in a tomb of rainbow gemstone in the clutches of a giant crystal skeleton, harder than diamond, glowing with its own energy.
Mining for plutonium, a mile-long drill had struck the impenetrable cluster of gem. Hard as it was, it shattered and shook the earth above apart opening chasms into which the miners fell.
Weeks later a rescue team was finally able to reach the bottom where the miners had fallen. Though they had not survived, the rescuers stood agape in wonder at the vein of gem.
The giant crystal skeleton lay in peace on its back like a twenty-foot-tall pharaoh with nothing but the Codex in its hands over its heart.
The Codex too was harder than diamond and glowed as though it were made of the full moon.
Upon it was etched an array of symbols like nothing anyone had ever seen. No one could make sense of the Codex, except for one piece that was incontestably obvious: the eye gazing into the Well.
For generations the best and brightest tried their hand, and gradually the Codex was forgotten and lost in the annals of time, shrouded in mystery.
A thousand years after its discovery, the more devoted Codex enthusiasts, like Ollie, carried a Codex card with them, a token of their belonging, and a reminder of its awesome inscrutability.
Until one day a mystic singing crone cracked the code. This lucky crooner calls herself Osa Niña. She lives in a cozy hut deep in the Siberian wilderness. It was a moonless autumn night when Ollie found that hut.
Ollie had set out following a clue from his favorite Codician, Shubh Anumaan, who claimed to have found the Well six hundred years ago in the Hindu Kush mountains.
Explorers had since scoured every crag and pebble of the Hindu Kush, leaving it barren and ruined, a paved-in trash heap in the heart of Kashmir.
Anumaan's handbook had been translated from Kalash into 120 languages, and in every form it read as an unconscionable web of riddles, like the one that led him to the crone:
Moon painting birds as shadow woods shed sun sing way to foam Well.
And so Ollie found himself in early autumn on a full moon trekking into the darkest woods no one had mapped or trod listening for birds who sing at the moon.
Just as he realized he had lost himself in the forest the hut glimmered in the moonlight from under its woodsy camouflage.
Timid but brave, he strode to the door and before he could knock, the wild crone flung it open.
He gasped at her wild smile and fiery eyes. Osa wore the forest on her skin and in her hair.
The clawed toes of her bare foot scratched an invitation into the dirt floor. Ollie understood Osa's intent without thought or doubt.
Osa and Ollie stood and shared their hearts in a gaze. Ollie's hand found the Codex card in his breast pocket.
He held it up for Osa like a mirror. She jolted Ollie with her thunderous laughter.
Then Osa stretched out her arms and began to sing. The sunbeams buzzed and the trees quivered to her voice.
Rainbows cascaded through the air in the hut. Ollie could taste fruits in the colors and smell flowers in the music.
Ollie felt his face melt into his chest and his anus pucker up into his belly.
Then as suddenly as the song had started everything stopped. Silence, dark and numb, drowned the world.
Ollie became aware that even in this void, even without the world, he was here, He became aware that he is always here and now. Just as you are and I am.
From that unbounded void, Ollie witnessed strands emerge of every size, and color, and shape, at every speed, and heft, and length, intertwining and weaving with every other strand in every way they can in more dimensions than a human can comprehend.
Ollie found he could comprehend all of this. He found that he understood it all at once, and that he, in fact, was all of this. Eons passed and returned in the blink of an eye.
The strands interwove to take every form Ollie had ever encountered and then every form he hadn't but could imagine.
He dreamed a million dreams at once and then a million million and then more still. Future and past epochs zipped by.
Ollie found that he was no longer a boy, but was the void of all of these possibilities aware of itself, loving itself, and playing.
And just like that he was a boy again. He felt his inner eye snap shut like a guillotine and his outer eyes pop open like rose buds.
Everything and nothing was gone, and before him stood the magical crooning crone, Osa, covered in a woven bear fur coat softly showering him with the firelight flickering in her ember eyes.
But the world was not quite as it had been. Now Ollie could see that everything was made of foam: bubbles within bubbles all the way up and down. And those bubbles were woven of the strands he had seen and been forever in that void.
In a glance, the flames in her eyes jumped into his, and Ollie knew that Osa knew that he knew what they know: the Well is within.
From the bottom of that bottomless Well, Ollie bowed with Osa for a timeless moment then swept himself out the door and back to camp.
As he hiked along in the silver mist the night birds tittered and hooted in the canopy. The moon peeked at Ollie between the leaves to tease him with its pastel painted face.
Ollie floated just above the trail as he neared his camp. The firelight danced on the shadow woods as though the trees were molting sunshine.
His fellow explorers on this Codician expedition lay strewn about on the pillowy pine needles around the fire commiserating about the fruitlessness and hardship of today's treks in all the directions Ollie had not chosen to go.
Only Ollie had left his GPS and compass behind that evening. Only Ollie had wholeheartedly heeded Anumaan's entreaty:
Seek foam Well, you never find. Surrender lost, you fall in.
Only Ollie had found the Well. But how could he share his discovery? He thought better than to interrupt their symphony of grief with the discordant tone of the ineffable.
Successful though he had been, the Well was not what they had thought. He wondered how he could convey the truth. He wondered whether they would believe him.
A tumultuous sea of Anumaan's riddlesome verses flooded Ollie's mind as he drifted off in his tent into the most peaceful slumber he had ever known.
Sea without surface mountain without base seat leaks always peace gaze casts ever joy
Awake again, today again, location: here, time: now, Ollie knows with the steady surety of a deep dream that no one will believe him unless they too see the Well.
In their swollen shoes, he knows he would not take anyone's word for it. It couldn't be so simple. If the Well was within us, we would have found it by now. Everyone would know.
After breakfast, he would take them to the crone. He would bow and she would bow, and he would kneel and beg for her to sing for them.
Codicians Gracie and Hugo and Trix and Quentin had roused with the sun with the taste for worms. Ollie sidled up to their circle with a sly smile. Stoking last night's coals they grumbled at the cold.
"Any of yall see that hut out there?" H: "What hut? Ain't nothing but trees and toadstools out here." G: "You heard the yokels back in the village. Nobody lives a hundred miles from here." Q: "Hang on, hang on, you found a hut? … where? … anyone there?" "Yup, yes I did. It's due west a click or so. Lemme show you. Let me introduce you to Osa." T: "Osa‽ You mean to tell us someone lives out here‽" "Yes. Someone very special. Finish your beans and follow me."
They sucked down their frijoles and assembled their kits. After considerable debate, Ollie convinced them to abandon their infectiously redundant orienteering technology: GPS watches, tricorders, smart maps, AI sherpas with quantum compasses. Hugo even had magnetoboots that directed his steps. He borrowed Ollie's spare moccasins. Trix quietly regretted her implants.
Ollie could hardly contain his joy. The foam swelled and collapsed at his will. Gracie and Q clipped at his heels as Hugo and Trix dragged themselves to follow. No one noticed that Ollie didn't touch the ground.
As they neared the hut, Ollie hushed them close. "Steel yourselves, mates. This is it! Let me do the talking." Then Ollie realized he and Osa hadn't spoken a word to each other. He couldn't remember how he knew her name.
The hut sat as unassuming and disguised as it had. Smoke trickled from the chimney, the cauldron babbled in the still forest air, and that sweet familiar must fogged up their noses.
Once again the door flung back just as Ollie went to knock, and once again Osa enticed them in with her toe talons.
This time the quaint hut was crowded. Ollie met Osa's gaze as before. Gracie giggled nervously as she noticed Osa's flaming eyes. Hugo grabbed Q by the shoulders, playfully but too rough. Trix shrank behind the rest of them.
And there they stood, uncertain and expectant. Ollie didn't know what to say. Osa didn't offer a word. Ollie understood that no word would do. Hugo guffawed, "Mighty fine hut you got here, lady." The crone paid Hugo no mind.
And there they stood, uneasy and insistent. Gracie averted her eyes from Osa's fiery gaze. Q couldn't help himself. "Mademoiselle, s'il vous plait, savez-vous où est la source?" No matter. Osa didn't mind, and spoke no reply.
Ollie sat serenely in the Well while they waited, the silence ringing and tolling in their ears. while the cauldron babbled lazily on and the birds tittered about the weather.
It wasn't the first rodeo for these brave Codicians. Gracie had combed the backcountry of seven continents. Quentin had read every book ever written about the Codex.
Hugo, whose own ancestor had cracked the vein that unearthed the Codex, had, in his own lifetime, built a hundred billion dollar empire drilling and fracking the Earth's crust mowing down the jungles and rainforests and nearly boiling the oceans with his survey expeditions in search of the Well fabled by the Codex.
And Trix was more machine than human at this point. She could give you incredibly precise data describing the present moment in thousands of dimensions a nanosecond at a time with impeccable recall.
So there were each uniquely still in shock from Ollie's casual mention of this hut, and there they stood, quivering in indignant disbelief, brimming with self-assured confidence, congratulating themselves already at having solved the biggest mystery humanity had ever known.
And so they stood. Until she toe-scratched out their seats and offered them each a bowl of soup. It tasted of the floor of the forest and its branches and crannies. They sipped politely, even reverently until the last slivers of sun slipped between the shadow woods.
All the while Trix had a thousand eyes on the situation, was analyzing the hut, and Osa, and each of them, the air temperature, humidity, and the wind currents, the soil composition, the architecture of the hut, this precise location in relation to every sacred site on the planet, and even the chemical makeup of the soup (which was just what it tasted like).
Osa spoke not a word. Ollie continued to bow. And the night got so thick they could hardly breathe. And that was that.
Ollie had found a nice old woman who lived alone in a hut deep in the Siberian wilderness. They ate her soup and returned to camp and back to their relentless searches, the desperate strives they lived as lives, and never spoke of it again.
And so Olikós Élenchos, having personally scanned every light-second of the cosmos, found the Well of Being within himself, and understanding that to foam well is to breath easy went on to live his life and find his wife tell their children bedtime stories of his adventures. And he never worked another day in his life. He cared for his family in every moment with his whole being. In fact, he cared for everyone and everything that way. And he wrote the most beautiful poems about the Well. But he never could quite tell you how to get there.