A short story by author Dlavar Dehesh Joo
It’s both kind of strange but yet beautiful how the sun almost never sets during summertime in my hometown of Malmö. Everything feels lush and vibrant, trees and flowers grow ever tall and look majestic, bringing serenity and calm to the ever so weary and restless city. Elevating life for all of its residents during a short window within the season turning everything magically whimsical with full of life and color. With the season comes that much-needed warmth everybody craves and yearns for so eagerly during the harsh winter. Our coastline has oceans that glisten when rays reflect upon their surface and bathing in these waters lifts the people’s spirit further beyond the nostalgia of summer’s youth.
Equally strange yet uninvited is the darkness that creeps in over the city during winter season. The sun barely pierces through the thick clouds and occasionally heavy fog surrounds the city streets. And when the rays do shine through the veil it’s only for a brief moment if you’re lucky, right before darkness creeps in again swiftly. Somedays the winds that tunnel through the city are so strong and cold it will make your very bones shiver to the core. It makes you think of nothing else except for a hot bath, a glass of wine, and free time to make it all happen.
Malmö is a small town in the southern regions of Sweden and to be honest most of the time nothing significant ever occurs here. Besides the younger generation killing off each other in gang-related shootings and innocent lives being taken now and then. It’s a well-balanced society in its own contradicting kind of way. But if you’ve lived here for the majority of your life you would begin to understand that the city is getting more and more restless by the hour. The people are yearning for a change but nobody truly knows what changes that need to be made. The city is in a state of limbo stuck in the middle.
But change was in the air. And it was coming whether the people were ready for it or not. Especially for one young man living in the heart of town. His name is Cooper, and his life was about to take a very drastic and unexpected turn that nobody ever predicted or saw coming.
Chapter One: Awakening
The cell phone alarm goes off for about a minute and a half before Cooper finally lifts a finger and makes an effort to turn it off. How many times can a single person listen to the same alarm go buzzing in the morning was Cooper’s first thought when he woke up. With blurry vision and a stiff newly awoken dysfunctional body, Cooper stares briefly into his phone, he couldn’t believe in his own mind it was 04:30 in the morning. Gently turning over, he looks out the window thinking how strange it is that he could still see the stars so clearly and how the light from the pale lit moon brightens up the untouched snow that came down during the night. Except for his window inviting moonlight into the space the room was pitch black and everybody else in the house was vast asleep, dreaming away and snoring deeper and deeper into dreamland.
Finally awake after a few minutes of staring out the window, Cooper gets up and rubs his eyes for the third and final time. A slow pace in the morning is nothing new in Cooper’s world, it’s more of a daily routine for him. His body often hangs lifeless as if gravity is dragging his limbs down towards the floor while he sits on the side of the bed utterly disgusted by early mornings. Filled with jealousy and hate that everybody else gets to sleep in.
Now, up on his feet, he starts putting on his uniform and gets ready for work. Working a job as a security guard in a homeless shelter for drug addicts and other miserable people that society had forgotten made Cooper feel as if he himself was part of a failing system. Besides oftentimes feeling lost because of where life had taken him. He also mostly felt like a failure and a loser in life with no fight in him to make a change. And most of all he was scared to death to follow his own aspirations and dreams that he had once had. These days all he does is feel stuck and abandoned living with his parents in his late 30s, what type of life is he leading he would often times ask himself.
Putting on his shoes, and grabbing his keys and wallet on his way out he opens up the front door to the house and he’s instantly greeted with the bitter cold of winter as he steps out. But it’s not all bad. Because there’s something about the empty streets, the untouched white snow, and the early morning quiet surroundings that gave Cooper in his depressed state of mind some level of peace and comfort. Hearing the crunch beneath his feet and taking deep breaths of the crisp fresh air as he makes his way towards the empty bus station was somewhat southing to him. It was the best part of his day, to be honest.
The streets were calm, and the snow made everything look beautiful and whimsical, but way up in the skies above him it was everything but calm, there was mayhem of significant proportion. Which he would soon discover.
Chapter Two: Angels & Demons
Just take a second and imagine a tiny speck in the sky moving in all directions rapidly like a firefly in your house. Maybe at first glance, you would think nothing more of it other than a shooting star or a raven way up there chasing its prey. But none of it could be further from the truth because the truth would be nothing less than incredible and bizarre yet frightful.
Dawn was now making its presence known and Cooper had almost reached the station to wait for the same bus he takes Monday through Friday. With a better lack of knowledge, he didn’t realize that the tiny speck in the sky above him had grown bigger and was heading right towards him like a meteor heading for impact. Suddenly Cooper stopped short in his last step and he physically froze. Everything and everyone around him was still dead asleep and besides the gusting wind, it was dead quiet. But there was something else, a tiny vibration that he felt going through his body, working its way up from the bottom of his feet. The vibration kept growing more intense and the concrete beneath him began to shake and rumble as if the town was getting hit by an earthquake. A huge wave of fear and adrenaline hit Cooper like a ton of bricks.
At this point, Cooper was more awake than he’s ever been at this hour let me tell you. Finally, after hearing clashes and banging above him, he decides to turn his head towards the sky, barely having the courage to do so. At that moment he saw a terrifying flash of light. But the moment was brief because he could finally see what it was. Before his very eyes, there were two enormous entities that were fighting fiercely above him. And just like a meteor the two finally fell and crashed in the calm and empty street, hurling everything around them in all directions forming a devastating impact crater engulfed in a blazing fire, so hot the snow around them melted in seconds.
Cooper was tossed away as a ragdoll stuck in a hurricane! Landing at least 40 feet away from where the bus station originally was. He hit the ground hard, but luckily the snow softened his blow a tiny bit. Immediately in agony from the searing pain rushing through his body and utterly disoriented from what had just happened, he was disoriented and on the verge of passing out. But he managed to snap out of it and got up to his knees while facing down. The snow beneath him was turning red from the blood running and dripping down from his nose and ears. Thankfully his vision was still intact, although feeling extremely dizzy and shaken up.
Lifting his head towards the surreal event taking place, he could see the beast-like creatures facing off against one another. In Cooper’s mind, this all felt like a bad dream and he would wake up from it any second now. But deep down he knew that this was taking place right in front of his very eyes all in real-time.
After some of the debris had settled down he could now see the tall figures more clearly. And in an instant then and there he knew that this was a battle between good and evil, between god and the devil, between heaven and hell. Because in front of him stood what was undoubtedly an angel and a demon in what appeared to be a fight not meant to be witnessed by human eyes.
Demanding respect, the angel stood very tall and mighty with a presence that would take the heart of any man or woman who looks upon the angelic entity. The holy knight wore protective body armor forged by angelic blacksmiths in heaven. The armor contained Enochian engravings and was encrusted with gems and jewels that shone like stars in the night sky. The angel’s face was hidden behind an angelic hood that would not reveal it to any human or nonhuman entity. Looking inside of the hood there was nothing but the darkest dark without shape or form. Cooper was lost for words.
In the angel’s hands was a robust herculean axe engulfed in a white flame so bright it was almost impossible to look straight at it without being temporarily blinded.
The ground beneath the feet of the warrior vibrated and crumbled just by the mere presence of his strength and power alone. And then there were the classic mythological wings. The wings of an angel that we all had grown up to witness in books and movies that shaped our minds. The angel spread out his gigantic white and feathered wings. Making the angel look even bigger and even more intimidating opposite his foe. But at the same time, they were so incredibly breathtaking and mesmerizing, that if it was the last thing that Cooper ever laid eyes on it would be the most fulfilling and magical moment of his life. He felt like nothing more than a speck of dust in the universe at that very moment.
Turning his head to gaze upon the colossal creature facing off against the angel he could see the demon clearly now that the smog had settled. Imagine every nightmare you ever had appearing in front of you while you’re wide awake and it still would not compare anywhere near to the fright that this creature will instill in your core.
Standing even taller and more robust than God’s servant with thundering dragon-like wings, a body covered in iron scales with huge horns on top of its skull, the demon was raging like a charging bull. Smoke came out of its nostrils and fire was radiating from the demon’s eyes. With huge sword-like claws, it carried no other weapons. Its mere presence melted everything around him like a lit candle melts the wax beneath it.
Cooper was struck silent. But just before he could catch his breath and truly get back up on his feet the angel and the demon charged each other and collided again engaging in a fierce battle most likely until one of them was no longer breathing. Cooper’s survival instinct had now set in and he was on his feet, running with all the strength and courage that he could muster, away from the scene.
In a brief moment, he turned his head back towards the giants and in that very second, the angel swung his mighty axe like a lumberjack connecting with a direct hit to the demon’s torso splitting the foul beast in half, the impact tremor from the blow was so powerful that it once again flung Cooper screaming into the air and he landed even more softly in the snow this time around without any loss of consciousness. The demon now almost split in two fell hard on his back hitting the ground. Everything turned silent for a brief moment, and In this crucial moment, flying in the air, the demon lost something that was hurled away in Cooper’s direction landing in front of his very feet.
Cooper looked down and he saw something that looked very familiar and universally known almost anywhere. It looked old and very uniquely shaped. but it was undoubtedly a key.
Chapter Three: The Key
Time moved slowly now in Cooper’s mind, with his eyes fixated on the key and nothing else, even noise started to fade away and all he could hear was deep and powerful vibrations surrounding him. With heavy tunnel vision, he reached with his shaking hand anxiously to grasp the thing out of the melting snow. He was instantly drawn to it for some reason. Almost as if it had been something that belonged to him and nobody else, now lost and found again after a very long time.
Now closing in his hand merely touched the key and it stuck to his palm like a magnet to a metal surface. He then gripped it tightly. Afterward, his body went completely numb and there was a gradual growth of pure white light. As he closed his eyes followed by a calm veil of darkness taking over his senses. And then nothing but silence prevailed.
Cooper’s mind started to wander off completely. Floating freely in perfect peace and harmony through dreamland with no anxiety or trouble occupying his mind. He was much like in a state of psychedelic highness but in reality, he went much deeper than that, exploring his own mind like a beautiful maze. He somehow wanted to stay in this peaceful oasis, not ready to face reality quite yet.
But eventually, he starts to get pulled out as if carried through an empty tunnel with an exit at the end of it. Reaching the end he slowly starts to regain consciousness, as if waking up from the most pleasant dream.
Opening his eyes not knowing where he is, he turns his head slowly towards a blurry figure next to him. Cooper was confused and a little frightened, but after regaining his vision he could see an older man dressed in a white robe, sitting in a chair staring at him without expression. He had a very calm and assertive demeanor but he had not yet uttered a single word. Then he spoke.
Michael – “No need to worry anymore Cooper, you can rest easy. No harm will come for you here.”
Cooper – “Where am I, who are you, and what am I doing here? I had the strangest dreams before, am I still dreaming?”
Michael – “This is not a dream Cooper, in fact, it is very real. And what I’m about to tell you will make it even more so.”
Michael had a very dark and commanding voice. But at the same time, it was pure and made you listen attentively as if you were put under a spell. Cooper was mostly confused and a little bit afraid, but also intrigued. He looked down on his chest and noticed a key hanging off a silver chain around his neck. Could this be the same key he saw and picked up earlier from the ground? His curiosity got the best of him and he wanted to know more about what had happened.
Michael – “You are in a sacred place beyond human comprehension. Just know that you are out of harm’s way. I am Michael, an archangel of heaven. And I brought you here after I struck down the foul demon and ended its life. You were slightly injured after witnessing the battle, but this place is special. It has released you from pain and suffering, healing your mind and body for now.”
Cooper was lost for words then Michael spoke again.
Michael – “Listen to me very carefully Cooper. The key that rests upon your chest is no ordinary key. It’s a sacred relic that was stolen from heaven by the demon you saw me slay in battle. The key was never meant to be possessed by any human, or so I thought.
Cooper – “Or so you thought?”
Michael – “The relic has accepted you and is now fully bonded with your essence. None can take it from you, none can claim it. It’s yours to bear. The key will protect itself and its bearer against every element using very old and ancient magic. Nothing can pierce through the veil surrounding you and the key, not even the mighty strength of an archangel.
But know this, with the key comes a choice. It’s a choice that only the bearer can make. The key is a powerful object that is constantly torn between its master and its place of origin. Its desire to fulfill its task is strong. It will feed you vivid visions at night, altering your thoughts and try its very hardest to lead you there.
Cooper – “Where is there?”
Michael – “Not even I carry the answer to this question. The only one that bears the truth is the key itself. I will leave you with these last words. There is a great price you must pay if you make this journey in order to find the origins of the key. So make sure you make peace with yourself, your loved ones, and even your enemies before you embark upon it. Your mind must be blank and clear of thought if the key is to guide you correctly through the unknown.
Now close your eyes Cooper and sleep peacefully. For when you wake up, nothing will be the same.
Chapter Four: Clarity
Darkness covered Cooper’s eyes. He now opened them slowly until he awoke. His body felt stiff and exhausted as if there had been a struggle in his bed during the night. He reached with his hand towards his chest, fearfully asking himself if there would be something around his neck, or was it all a dream and nothing else? Realizing there’s nothing there. He got up swiftly and searched through his bed and proceeded to fine comb his entire room. Yet there was nothing. Cooper took a deep breath and felt great relief.
Yet standing there, he also felt a little bit empty and sad. Thinking about the dream he just had and how it offered him a higher purpose, sometimes all he ever wanted was to be special and chosen for something bigger. Realizing he’s late for work as he often is. He jumped straight into the shower to get a move on. Cooper steps out to reach for his towel when he spots a reflection of something odd in the mirror behind his shoulder. Scared and confused he reaches for his phone to take a picture of his back through the same mirror.
Everything moved slowly now. He was in utter shock and he dropped his phone straight after from the shock. Because what he saw was a large tattoo of a key covering his entire back! The tattoo looked snake-like and alive as it slithered like a serpent on Cooper’s back, emitting a faint glow like a lantern in a poorly lit bathroom. Out of nowhere, he could feel some sort of power rushing and pulsating inside of him. Any doubt was now shattered. Dreams would never again be dreams for Cooper, It was all real.
For the first time in his life, instead of being crippled by fear of the unknown. Cooper chooses to rise and stand tall in the face of uncertainty. He turns around and looks straight into his inner self through the mirror. He suddenly felt overwhelmingly confident and selfaserted. He could do anything he set his mind to. Puffing his chest and taking the deepest breaths in this moment of adventure, the key inside of him reacted with Cooper’s behavior and let its power surge through his body making him very aware of their synergy. Cooper felt as if every breath he took filled his body with strength and confidence. Most importantly, he felt balanced in his mind and spirit.
He needs to leave everyone and everything he ever cared about in order to embark on a very important quest.
Chapter Five: The Road Ahead.
All packed up and ready. Cooper takes a second to breathe as he grabs the handle of his front door. He realizes that it might be the last time he would ever walk out of his childhood home. He turns around and looks at the stairway leading down to where he’s standing, ready to leave.
After three weeks with the key in his possession, he was determined to embark on his quest. But instead, he puts his bags down quietly on the floor and carefully sneaks up the stairs, and lays down on the living room couch one last time in the dark with no lights on. Not because he wanted to stay, but rather to preserve a special moment in time, a memory of home. So he would never forget where he was raised.
He stands up determined after he had truly taken his time, walks down the stairs, and grabs his bags. Opening the door and taking his very first steps out towards the unknown.
Thinking back on Michael’s story about the key and how it would feed him visions to try and control him terrified him at first. From time to time he would feel as if something wasn’t right when it came to the key’s intentions and it weighed heavy on his mind. Thinking maybe the powerful relic only used Cooper as a puppet on a string to further its own agenda, tricking him only to think that he is the master of his own fate, but in fact, he wasn’t.
But this only happened on rare occasions and occurred less and less for each step he took towards the so-called “Earth Lock Mechanism.”At first, the visions weren’t clear enough for Cooper to understand what the key was trying to manifest for him to see. But as the bond grew stronger between them, Cooper’s dreams and visions began to feel more lucid and clear. Dreams began to feel more like visions where he could interact with the environment within the dream.
When the bond had grown exceptionally strong, Cooper started to receive the same vision that the key was transmitting over and over again. The key would not show him anything else at this point and his dreams were like deja vu on repeat.
Cooper – “I would fall asleep every night trying to make sense of it all. I always found myself hungering for more knowledge of the key and its origins. Closing my eyelids and turning in every night only to open them up again in the sandman’s realm. Deep within my dreams I often step out of my room and find myself in a dense jungle far away from our civilization, it all feels so otherworldly every time.
Pulsating with life everything is lush and green with every insect and animal you could imagine from the smallest butterfly to the mightiest elephant. In this dream, they all have their eyes on me as I’m making my way towards the ancient hidden stone bridge that only the keyholder can find behind the lush camouflaged greenery leading to its first steps. As I make my way across, I can hear powerful waterfalls from a distance.
Reaching the end of the bridge the jungle becomes less dense and the space opens up dramatically looking like something out of myth and legends. The waterfalls surround the center acting as a barrier or protective shield, crashing down in an endless pit below them. And in the center of it all, a huge boulder stands firm. Unlike any rock I had ever seen before it was engraved with an ancient language that I could decipher. The markings swirled around in a perfect circle leading the unknown words into a tiny opening in the middle of its surface. This was “The Earth Lock Mechanism.” In my dreams, this area was teeming with life, especially white butterflies, thousands of them were always covering the boulder, always close by hovering around it, never straying too far.
Going to sleep night after night and waking up each morning with vivid visions of this other-worldly place, I finally understood where my journey would take me.”
Chapter Six: The Journey
Cooper’s search for this mysterious location took him far and wide across great lands and vast oceans. From the endless deserts of the Sahara to the incredible and tall mountain ranges of the Himalayas in Nepal, Cooper knew that this quest would be everything but easy. Even though he could clearly see the origins of the key in his dreams and in his visions, the path that he chose to take was never straightforward. It was rough, grueling, and extremely challenging.
But at the same time, it was beautiful and rewarding and every step of the way made him appreciate what he went through, experiencing all that pain and hardship he found even greater motivation and clarity to fulfill his vision. The key gave him strength and motivation when it was needed, Cooper was determined to see this through. With the key guiding him to secret places, he was constantly discovering new signs and ancient scripts in every location he was led to. Leading him one step closer each day to his final destination.
But from time to time Cooper would set aside the will of the key and his humanitarian instincts would take over. He would stop in his tracks and think, clear his mind. Converse with the locals in the country he was residing in and enjoyed the company of other interesting people he met along the way. He would swim in the crystal clear waters of Bali, watch beautiful sunsets in Zanzibar, and fall asleep on hammocks on the white beaches of Phuket. He would also explore different cities and learn more about their history and culture. Putting the mission aside his curiosity had grown stronger and the need to revitalize more and more was apparent.
The key would never dare try to intervene with Cooper’s human nature and curiosity. In our universe, it’s a force to be reckoned with and needs to be explored to withhold the balance. The conscious part of the key knew that holding Cooper back and only driving him towards the quest would disrupt the very synergy between the relic and its bearer. They were at the time equals in a perfect balance.
When Cooper arrived in South America something odd happened that hasn’t occurred before. He could feel the guiding power of the key rapidly getting stronger and more intense. Cooper’s reality was lining up more and more with his visions and he knew that he was getting closer now. His latest clues and discoveries indicated that his next destination inline after landing in Santiago would be in the remote regions of Patagonia.
Patagonia is a harsh rugged chain of glaciers and mountains located in Chile. Trekking through the wild landscape is no easy task and is extremely dangerous. But Cooper knew from his previous visions, that somewhere in these cold unforgiving mountains The Earth Lock Mechanism lies hidden. Just waiting to be found.
Chapter Seven: Lock & Key
Trekking through the tough terrain took every bit of experience that Cooper had gathered from his recent travels. From his very first step out the doors of his childhood home to his first step out into the frigid mountains of Chile.
Winds would howl at night, mercilessly finding their way through every crack and crevice singing the songs of Patagonia in its darkest hours. Cooper would often be forced into small caves that would provide him with shelter during these horrific nights. Shivering to the bone he would often close his eyes, thinking about the warm bed he left behind. The family he walked out on. And the hot plates of food he would eat in front of his laptop. To say he missed it all would be a great understatement. Many tears were shed during his most weak and breakdown moments. But after the tears in his eyes would dry up there was clarity and a will to keep moving forward.
Some nights the ferocious winds would suddenly calm down as if they went to sleep and your ears would tune into the rest of the world again. As if the earth stood completely still for a brief moment. On these occasions Cooper would lay on his back gazing upon the billions of stars covering the night sky, just accepting and enjoying the silence surrounding him. Trying his best to push away any thoughts of loneliness or doubt that would enter his mind.
Cooper opens his eyes as dawn approaches. He could feel the gentle breeze on his cheeks as he came to life. He could still see the full moon in the sky as it would soon fade away. The smoke from the tiny fire that he managed to kindle the night before rose peacefully next to him. The skies were clear and the sun was showing its beautiful warmth and yellow glow.
As he rose up on his feet he looked ahead through the thick fur of his hood. Scanning the vast landscape for anything of significance. Suddenly something caught his eye and there was a big sigh of relief and a smile started to grow on his face. Tears were falling from his cheeks and he wept until his eyes turned red. But these are not tears of sorrow or pain but of joy and happiness. He had made it, just ahead was the entrance to the place he had been looking for all this time.
He had finally found The Earth Lock Mechanism. He’d never felt the presence of the key so strong around his neck. It had once again taken physical form, ready to connect with the lock. And Cooper for a brief moment did not feel the cold, the hunger, the pain nor the struggle. The only feeling present was the one he had when he promised to fulfill this journey on his first step out the door of his childhood home. Confidence and joy were flowing through his body and spirit.
Reaching the entrance of the deep tunnel after the final trek. He felt warmth on his face. Tropical warmth, Cooper closed his eyes for just a minute and took long deep breaths just to savor it fully. As he walked further into the cave toward the bridge the atmosphere started to change completely but he was not surprised because everything lined up exactly as it did in his dreams and visions. Taking his winter clothing off piece by piece as he entered he did not need it anymore. For each step he took he felt as if he was entering another world. Reaching the end of the tunnel Cooper was struck silent.
As if in a trance he was now standing right in front of the boulder and lock with nothing but the key around his neck. He knew this was it, this was the moment he had envisioned. The moment he had dreamt about a thousand times. Surreal as it all was he knew this was reality. With his bare feet connected to the earth, white butterflies serenade around him, the power of the mighty waterfalls slowly drowning out all other noise. In Cooper’s mind, it all went silent. He slowly now reaches around his neck, grabs the chain, and takes it off carefully.
Holding the key firmly in his trembling hand he looked at the keyhole one last time and without any further hesitation, he pressed the key inside the lock and turned it decisively. He just wanted it to be done. He wanted to fulfill what he set out to do. For once in his life, he would not be hesitant and afraid. He had faith and ultimate trust in himself at that moment.
Chapter Eight: The Next 35 Days
What happened next can only be explained as if it was told straight out of a fairy tale. The white butterflies that calmly rested upon the boulder all burst into flight, surrounding Cooper’s body vigorously flying around him in circles, and just like a tornado lifting up a weightless object into the air. He started levitating up towards the sky, there was a huge rumble in the earth beneath him, in Cooper’s final moments he closed his eyes with feelings of wonder, magic, and accomplishment within him. When he drew his final breath his body burst into small particles of pure light falling down like snow on a winter’s day.
As the particles slowly came down and landed on The Earth Lock Mechanism the boulder cracked open and out of it burst millions upon millions of white butterflies in huge waves lifting towards the sky in a ravaging pace going straight up into the air. It seemed as if it would never end. And when the last butterfly took flight out from the cracks of the boulder they started to migrate all across the globe. Healing everything they touch and come in contact with. Restoring everything that was once beautiful but destroyed by our ways. With hopes of bringing back serenity and peace to the world once more.
They were absolutely everywhere. People from all around the world were amazed by this global and mystical phenomenon. During the next 35 days the butterflies would keep spreading across the world and creating wonders until the planet was completely healed from sickness and destruction. When their task was complete they would once again take to the skies and fly as high as they could, swiftly taken by the wind and disappearing into nothingness.
This was humanity’s second chance at treating the world as it should be treated. This was what he left behind, his legacy, his sacrifice.
And ultimately his choice.