Chapter 022—Braving the Fountain of Blades

The King of Death said, as long as one made it through the Fountain of Blades, they could be brought back to life. He reminded us meticulously. ‘I would like to clarify that I’m not trying to exaggerate things. But for millenia, only the fewest of the few souls could successfully go through the Fountain of Blades. Most of them were scattered within the fountain. They would even lose their chance to reincarnate. You must ruminate over this matter! If you insist, I would like to give a word of advice, that is, to reincarnate and give up your past!’

Everyone thanked the king’s kindness, yet their hearts were determined to return to their old lives. They jumped into the fountain one after another. I watched the departed spirits queueing in front of me dive into the water, one by one. Apart from the clear, sharp diving sounds and the ripples on the water surface, nobody outside the fountain could see what was happening inside. The fountain was as limpid as a beautiful, transparent crystal, so much that nobody could ever associate danger with it. 

It was my turn now. Without giving much thought, I leapt into the water.  

Immersed in the water, I was shocked to hear wails coming from every corner. It turned out that there was no water in the fountain at all. The ‘water’ was actually blades that were pliant and firm! The souls who had come down earlier were torn to pieces. Yet, none of them were crying for help or begging for mercy. Instead, they were pleading the blades to end it all. 

I was still in great shock when a sharp blade stabbed right into my back, pierced through my heart, and flew right out of my chest. The moment it impaled my heart, memories flooded my mind. They morphed into three dimensional spaces, so I could relive my experiences as an ‘observer’.

The first set of memory fragments involved pedestrians anxiously performing first-aid on me, while calling the police before I took my last breath. But after that, the fragments did not stop playing immediately and kept on going. People who I had considered kind-hearted, whipped out their phones together by mere coincidence, took pictures of my remains, and uploaded them online. Some kept muttering under their breath, blaming me for blocking the traffic, holding up their way to work. One of them even approached me in the name of ‘carrying out first aid’ and stole my watch and my wallet…

Was this an illusion created by the fountain, or was it the naked truth? 

At the same time my doubts arose, an excruciating pain grew from my wounds. Under the agonizing ache, I couldn’t focus on my reflection. My train of thought was still intact when my heart was dragged across blade after blade, and memories appeared in front of me, fragment after fragment.

My good son despised me greatly, and he was simply putting on an act to inherit my fortune. As for my business partner, his behaviour was just a charade. He took advantage of me when I let my guard down,  editing the document by using other means. He also secretly stole my share of the company. Meanwhile, my wife had been obedient to me on the surface, when in reality she was cheating on me with another man. My parents…

All of a sudden, my fond memories turned into horrors, and the desire to resurrect had vanished without a trace.

‘It isn’t real! It isn’t real!’ A soul shrieked out nearby, interrupting my thoughts. The visions in front of me had thus become sporadic, flickering at different intervals. Through the translucent hallucinations, I could see that he was barely injured. Among all deceased souls, he suffered the least! What did he do? He chose not to believe in the illusions!

It finally dawned on me. I desperately tried to recall my initial feeling of everything in life and stopped ‘believing’ in the additional frames the illusions provided me with. The memories went back to how they were, showing my true perspective of the world. Pedestrians acted out of good will. My son was obedient. My business partner did his part in earnest. My wife truly loved me. My parents… It offered me a peace of mind, and I stopped questioning the lovely things I had when I was alive.

I suddenly remembered how I lost my life: committing suicide by jumping off a building. After becoming a businessman, the dog-eat-dog world of business unwittingly built up my paranoia. It slowly went from maintaining a sharp vigilance on competitors, to distrust among suppliers and subordinates, Then, it unfolded into an endless stream of suspicion of my partner. Gradually, my working habits had eroded my personal life, including my family, relatives, friends, strangers… 

Perhaps, it wasn’t the fountain that created the illusion, but my own mind. The fountain merely did the job of projecting my inner headspace out, while its blades helped me break open the walls that stood tall around my mind.

Yet, every change had to be determined by the change of my way of thinking.  

I let go of my grudges, curing my physical and mental wounds instantly. 

What a pity. Many deceased souls couldn’t give up their fixation, instilling pain and fear in themselves, as well as preventing their passion for life deep down to be awakened. Millions of lost spirits dived into the fountain, and only three made it out alive. Down, down, down they sank into the bottom of the pellucid fountain. It was quiet. It was peaceful. Little by little, I succumbed into slumber…

I opened my eyes wide. I was drenched with blood, and I was on the ambulance, receiving first-aid from the paramedics. 

‘How can a person be only slightly injured after jumping off the fortieth floor?’ The paramedics found themselves perplexed.


TOC


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