Prologue? Maybe!

Sitting in the waiting lounge at the station, I found myself at the threshold of time, where the past and future overlap in the presence of the seductive phantom of the present. I was waiting for my guest amidst the turmoil of longing for our exciting reunion. An image was lurking, flashing unrecognizably before my eyes, reminiscent of déjà vu or perhaps a vision from a forgotten dream. The overlap was intensifying, and my surroundings began to change, merging like in a double-exposure photograph.

It felt like I sank into a dark space. A pressure was building up in my ears—the kind you feel when submerged in water at great depths. Drenched, I felt the weight of wet clothes clinging to my body. Opening my eyes, I found myself in a dark forest. My eyes were already accustomed to the darkness, discerning how the shadows shaped my surroundings. Uncertain of where I came from or where I was heading, the past and future did not exist. A void that insisted on fear, but of what? I didn’t know; I only knew one imperative: walk or be consumed.

"Hello, Gastin!" A great force yanked me from that unwelcome vision. Still a bit disoriented, I opened my eyes to see the smiling face of my guest. In his eyes, I could see enthusiasm, a passion that lit up his curious gaze.

"Ah, Hello, Clamence, welcome, mon ami!"

I sat up and hugged Clamence tightly, patting his back.

“Glad to have you here. Now you are also an inmate—a temporary one, maybe. However, in the end, you might want to stay. It has been a long time since we met for the first time in Dante’s Paradise, in that cozy bar with that odd name. “Mexico City,” it was called, right?

"Right! I remember ordering your gin and tonic from that worthy ape who presided over the fate of that establishment. That's where it all started."

"Yes! I still remember the smell of the canals and our walks past the bridges you promised never to cross at night. I have to be honest; we don’t have so many bridges around here; if any, they have already been destroyed. People are so scared of the freedom to pass them that they prefer that they don’t even exist.”

Clamence, delighted that I remembered our adventure, with a fading smile, was building up to ask a question about something that made him uneasy.

“Why did you call me an inmate?”

"Remember when I talked about where I lived? The feeling of living in prison? Well, here it is, and I think I am finally finding the walls of this place. However, let me remind you that so many others don’t even know this is their jail. And please, try not to tell any of them; the truth can make some of them violent. Anyway, I am going to describe this place with my metaphors that are only known to you and me, not to risk any strikes on ourselves if anyone hears us.

Let’s walk to Section T as I tell you about my experience. There is a place called the Temple of Thought, where I go to reflect. Nowadays, it’s deserted, and the altar welcomes me in its warm solitude. The columns that used to hold its ceilings now bear the heavy presence of the sky at night. On the main wall, there are two circular windows next to each other. The windows, which resemble the temple's eye, have a clear glass circular center surrounded by vibrant stained glass. A storm recently broke the right window; however, that does not undermine its beauty. Why talk so much about it? You will see it later for yourself.”