Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter 1 - Pandora's Box

Pandora’s Box

by John Hall
© 2004, 2011


           There are many that I would like to thank, but I will put as many as the space of this page allows. First, I want to thank God, the Universal Consciousness, for allowing me the opportunity to deliver this message to the world. I feel extremely fortunate to be the one to share this story with you.
I have waited many years to give thanks to the following, my English mentors: Bernard McAlinden, Duane Langenderfer, Colleen Langan, Grethe Armstrong, and Dan Kuglich, and Mike Harrington.  I love all of you and thank you for helping me cultivate my talents through the years.
I want to thank my parents for bringing me into this world and for helping me along my way and never giving up on me.  You guys are the best.  And also my grandmother, Mrs. Lena Jackson, for being understanding and encouraging of my creative abilities throughout the years.
My undying thanks goes out to Miss Roberta Dempster, my dear friend.  When I had nothing left, I learned the true meaning of strength from her as she fought with cancer, never showing anything less than a warrior’s courage.  She is the true reason that this book was completed and I am eternally grateful for her presence in my life and the impact she created on my existence.
I want to give thanks to my good friend and editor, Ms. Bree Chaudoin.  Without you, this book could not be possible.
It is an honor and a privilege for Mr. Ian Marke, International Artist residing in the French Alps, to be the cover artist for this project.  A million thanks go out to him.
Also, huge thanks to Mr. Jason Fiscus, from 1st Books.  His dedication and persistence has helped see my project through to its completion.
Thank you to Mr. Brian Rust and Mr. Brian Morgan from Le Print Express in Bloomington, Illinois.  You guys really helped me get this project going when it was merely a manuscript.
Thank you to all of the fans and readers for your never ending praise and support.  You are the ones that truly make me shine.
This book is for my friend Luke Wall that passed away.  I wish you would have been able to read it, man, but here it finally is.

Pandora’s Box

She blinked, looking in the mirror, searching for the same thing she always had been.  For some reason the answers were just as elusive now as ever.  Who am I and why am I here?
Her face was beyond beautiful, etched to perfection, exotic, absolutely unforgettable.  Another blink, and then another as silence swept her luxury condominium. The mirror nearly sang with the image of her beauty, nevertheless, she was perplexed and confused, her lips twisting into a frown.  She let out a sigh of self pity; another Friday night at home alone with her computer.   
Noelle was twenty-two years of age, motivated, talented, and carefree.  Fresh from college, she recently secured an excellent paying position as the new face of P.R. for a major marketing corporation.  In no time, her work in the corporate world soon became routine and monotonous; it was not long before she began to despise her job. Stupid rules. Corporate politics.  She dreamt of everything but work, as the days passed by.
Outside of work, Noelle enjoyed a reserved lifestyle, avoiding the popular party scene, despite her prime age.  Noelle constantly sought alternative forms of entertainment.  She desired anything that would take her mind away from her nine to five life. 
Among her favorite interests, she enjoyed reading novels by Stephen King and Anne Rice, most recently, however, completing the entire works of James Redfield.  Movies, especially horror or science fiction, excited her eager curiosities.  Social networking and surfing the web was how she spent a majority of her free time.
       Noelle was looking for something new. Thrilling!  Exciting! She did not date.  She became tired of relationships and the insensitive and immature tendencies exhibited by most of the men she met.  For this reason she enjoyed being alone, striving each day to know herself better than the day before, growing as an individual.
When Noelle was a young girl she always dreamed of being a super hero.  At an early age, she excelled in martial arts, becoming an instructor at eighteen.  She loved Wonder Woman and collected all of the X-men comics.  The thought of possessing super human powers and using them to protect the Earth was quite appealing to young Noelle.  She soon began to develop interests and questions concerning various taboo subjects such as the supernatural, witchcraft, and interests in the occult, and more.  Noelle wanted to live this dream - being a hero, possessing powers - but before this dream was realized, she found herself already grown up.
      She thought about those days from time to time, and by the age of twenty- two, had become quite an expert regarding the previous subjects.  Following a very typical day at her job, and no plans on this historic Friday night, she enjoyed a relaxing evening at home living the life that she loved, sitting in front of her computer.  Tonight, dinner was carry-out from her favorite place down the street.   A shower followed, prompting her to put on her “Friday night” apparel.  Taking a sip of her hot green tea, she stretched her longs legs over the lion fur ottoman that matched her couch.  All of her entertainment took place on her 56 inch Sony flat screen and her wireless mouse and keyboard that rested upon her lap.  Smiling, she sipped her tea enjoying the solitude, marveling at the several prints by visionary artist, Alex Grey, blanketing the walls of her condo.  Following her brief moment of reflection, her hand darted toward the mouse.  Quickly, she began her ritual of clicking away in whichever direction her mind became drawn toward.  Within several minutes, she was virtually lost in cyberspace at the point of no return.  This night seemed rather ordinary, Noelle desperately craving a brand new experience.  Upon answering the last few messages from some old friends, it was now very late and she decided to call it a night.
            Noelle thought to herself.  I guess I’ll never find what I’m looking for.  As she began to shut down her system, an angelic figure appeared on her screen.  She stared at the figure in silence, and it appeared to be a real person looking at her, blinking sporadically and watching her every move.
 The figure was a beautiful woman who spoke softly with an indecipherable accent: “I hope you are there, Noelle.”
  Noelle’s eyes hypnotically fixed to the screen and she felt that she had seen the figure before.  She drew a deep breath, her eyes wide with focus, quickly looking over at the six empty cans on the floor to make sure that she had only been drinking soda.  As she collected herself, the figure spoke again.
“Remember me?  I’m Xenia, guardian of the Empress Aldana in the world of Xexyll Esuna.  We have chosen you to be our savior, for you possess the power to defeat the Yenzeti and bring balance once again to all in our world.”  
Noelle pulled her knees to her chest, focusing completely on her every word. 
“Eons ago when our first savior, Pandora, defeated all evil in Xexyll Esuna, she banished them into a world of darkness she then sealed away in a box for centuries.  Within this box lies the Ring of Ages and must be worn by the savior.  There has been an unexpected outbreak of evil in our world and it is believed that it has entered through a paradox created by the evil Yenzeti.  They have become so advanced and powerful that, through time and space, they can exit their world and enter ours.  Whenever evil enters, someone from our world is teleported back in their place into the realm of the banished contained within Pandora’s box.  Their plan is to completely filter into our world and ultimately seal all of the inhabitants of Xexyll Esuna into the world of the forgotten wanderers.”  
Noelle could not believe what was happening, her hazel eyes locking with those of the woman.  
“You have two choices.  Keep the box closed and our days are numbered in this world.  Your alternative, open the box, put on the Ring of Ages, and you will start to remember your powers that you have forgotten through time.  This will release all of the evil, however, into our world. You must then defeat it, traveling all the ends of the world, sending it back into the world of oblivion.  The choice is yours.  You and only you are the chosen one.”  Her expression was grave as the woman implored.  
“Time is running out.  You are our only hope for the future.  The image quickly faded away as Noelle sat there awestruck, wiping the sweat from her face, her body quaking with uncertainty.
Her screen was black for nearly an instant until a message read:

This message is to be presented to the chosen one.  The road that lies ahead is one of tremendous challenge and difficulty.  Even a brave soul would turn back now!  The task at hand requires the mind of the brightest scholar, the skill of the mightiest warrior and the courage of the bravest hero.  Only once in an eternity is this honor bestowed upon an individual with the ability to achieve this level of accomplishment.  Gather your wits.  Prepare yourself to face unspeakable danger amidst the most impossible odds.  When you tire, continue on your quest for the end; it is much closer to the beginning than you might believe.  Do not doubt yourself in the least, for it is the skeptic whose soul rests with those of the forgotten.  Do not look outside yourself for the unknown answer.  It lies within the event horizon of your soul.  Be cautious at all times and proceed with confidence in the direction leading you further toward infinity.  Travel with haste my dear and do not forget: Everything is.  Nothing is not.  Everything is nothing. And nothing is everything.

          Breath taken, Noelle looked on in complete suspense as the last words climbed to the top of her screen.  She was spellbound.
 Noelle asked herself in amazement, speaking out loud “Me?  They have chosen me?  How can I…”
At that moment, Pandora's box appeared in the middle of her screen, tantalizing Noelle's every emotion. She froze from the very aura of this mystic, ancient relic, hypnotized by its seductive elegant splendor and seductive facade.
 What now? Noelle thought, as an incredibly bright icon appeared below the box.  The blue icon flashed luminously as it read: “OPEN”.  Given the circumstances Noelle had just experienced, few options remained.  She now possessed the opportunity to live her dream if she succeeded, or meet her early demise if she failed, falling victim to this unknown force.  Contemplating, she realized this was not far from the truth of every day life.  She looked around the room, taking one last deep breath before closing her eyes and clicking the box, her hand shaking nervously.  At this moment, she questioned her own sanity, wondering if she had become the subject of some strange practical joke.
         Immediately her speakers began to roar, undertones of garbled digital voices scoured the air around her.   Startled, she was taken aback from the dazzling display.  Opening her eyes, she found her computer screen transformed into virtual hyperspace and millions upon millions of shimmering particles dispersed in every direction.  Some of the sounds were gruesome, while others merely electronic bleeps and zings.  Everything consisted of the seven colors of the spectrum, intense with stunning illumination.  The particles seemed to only increase in number and speed, and the sounds became higher pitched and rapid, while the light slowly began to diminish.  Suddenly, it seemed the process was now somehow reversing.  Instantly, it seemed as though all of the sound and light combined into one as it collapsed upon itself bringing about sudden darkness, then immediately the most intense white light, blinding Noelle with its unparalleled force. 
       Frozen, Noelle felt suspended in time.  For some reason she believed that she was connected to this force even though it appeared to be taking place within the confines of her computer screen.  Could this be possible?  She could feel a synergy between the force and her being, something she now understood almost like language, speaking to her through wordless riddles.  Noelle began to lose her fear and uncertainty and the answers were now coming at the speed of light throughout her awareness.  Filled with this immense enlightenment she knew now what her soul had forgotten upon its arrival into the physical realm - the secret that had been trapped in time.  This information had always been at her immediate disposal yet the illusion of reality caused her to overlook the fundamental truths that had always been apparent.  At this moment she understood who she really was, and what she was.  Noelle now knew what the world around her truly was and what everyone else was within the continuum of life.  Understanding this, she knew exactly what she had to do and how it would upset the natural order and balance if she attempted to do anything else with all of her conscious energies.  Realizing this, she embodied the meaning of destiny and the path to infinity was now made clear.  Amidst the magnificent events taking place, Noelle became increasingly conscious of the words Xenia spoke, tucking her hair back behind her ears. 
As all was quiet, the Ring of Ages suddenly floated in front of her, virtually within her reach.  At this time, Noelle realized that she was, in fact, not in her room and she was not sitting in front of her computer anymore.  Remarkably, she was completely immersed within the world around her as her former reality and the reality she now existed overlapped synchronously without thought.  She reached out as the paradox began to spiral in the distance, howling at her as it swirled.  Touching the ring, she felt a shocking sensation from its static as it enveloped her being, gripping her every nerve, telling her of its power.  Noelle grasped the ring in her hand and slid it on the ring finger of her left hand as thunder clapped, lightning flashed and she was swallowed into the eye of the vortex instantaneously.

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