Sleeping Beauty

This is a story about space exploration, self-knowledge, bravery and community.

photo from Pexels by artist Civan D

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a short story by Joshua Brown


I was on a spaceship, made of cotton candy. There were a few bites with that sticky sugar glossed impression shimmering back into the darkness all around, casting the rays of light criss-crossing the galaxy back in a multiplicity of new destinations, denying them their evolutionary fate, my will against theirs.

There were carmel-filled chocolate bars sleeping on their way to some new fusion-massed star, bored of that existence they had lived in for who knows how many years. The gravity of my cotton candy ride imperceptibly adjusting their destination to escape velocity and complete atomic annihilation, sorry dude.

I was on my way to a wall. It was a black wall. We knew it existed because of science. LOL, get a load of this, we KNOW it exists. And I was on my way there. I’m writing this to you now because it’s so important that you know the details of the exhaust system that I installed on this crazy fast rocket, back on earth.

I saw a giant bed bug float past, fighting his wife, yelling, screaming, waving his arms around.

I saw a broad, vibing in her own little world, well there was no world around, she too was floating around, but she was just floating along, bobbing her head and shifting her hips back and forth as if there was some solace from the dark loneliness in the music, the pipe, the bagpipe that was playing in her head.

I was flying for decades, my ship unscathed by the meteorites that I met. They just nodded and passed by silently.

There was no evidence of the wall, at least to my eyes, at least not yet. But my eyes had adjusted to the darkness years ago, there was a thick film that had been crafted by my handy AI 3D printer just to protect me from the free rays gal-racing through the empty space, unable to see, unable to detect, unable to avoid collision with my retinas.

People said I would never make it, they said that my ambitions to escape the wall were ludicrous and dangerous, but I had made it out of the solar system, I had made it to the outer reaches of the Milky Way, I had returned, who were they to judge me?

The scientists knew. I knew that they knew. They had written about it in their secret blogs on the internet. They had used pseudonyms, they had tried to stay anonymous, but I had this unconscious, gut impression that it was they who were the true believers and I had the skill set and bravery to go, even if the journalists said it was all a conspiracy theory.

Temptation to use contemporary technology had been strong, even my mom told me I should take a regular old spaceship made of metal and ion-shielding, but I knew that was part of the fear-mongering to keep me from being who I was called to be, I was called to be an explorer, I was called to see God face to face, I was called to walk up the mountain and receive the law, I was called to sledgehammer the wall: “Mr. Coffman, tear down this wall!”

There, in the stars, in the constellations above, I could see my own face, drawn and sad, bearing the weight of survival. If the government was cognitious, I might have assumed they had written some fictitious astronomy with drones to bear down upon my desire for reproductive cash.

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I pinched myself and I woke up but nothing had changed, I was still there and the spaceship was still rocketing out away from earth.

I lit a candle to keep me company in this lonely 100 meter planet, I watched the cotton candy melt away, another unconscious warning against the perils that I was yet to face, against the enemies that would stand against me, against the mirror I was to flash through. The smells comforted me, they reminded me of a happier time, a less painful time, a fake world that let me flick, on and off, into reality.

There were two men, two astronauts, two seekers who challenged me.

Pray for wisdom. That passive sense of self that allowed others to be and demanded none the action of free-will but a careful acquiescence to the interstellar debris that danced past, tempting in towards violence but careful to phrase it only such that I might still condemned be by the victims of that wiseness that I had consummated.

Pray for power. That assertive violence of gravity, immovable and untouchable, lonely in that ununderstandibility. Some dance was his, that faceless smoke of war, that fog that covered land and sea at dawn, that he might enact upon those susceptible to power, his own will, free I was to enact, but only as if I was in control and to the extent that control would even work.

They took their helms of, that sad warning, that disemotional artistry of how childhood abuse works, how violence results, how swords return upon those that dream in some shallow tribal unconsciousness, choosing to sword the ears of young men, the daemons that work irregardless of proximity to the earth, to birth, that natal womb of fertility and responsible martial arts-style power reflexion.

And here I was, looking for the wall, looking for solace amongst the now-exploded remains of astronauts. Their blood stinging my eyes, their skin flagging forward in the exact disposition of velocity, destined to reach the wall with me, but not with me.

I blew out the candle and returned to a position of sleep but unable to discern when the conscious and unconscious crossed.

There were only so many people that really knew who I was, time adjusted, even post my arrival at the wall, is no less than 100 years. If it were possible for me to return before my degradation into worm food, I might consider it, but standing here were I am on the other side of the wall, looking out into the mirror, I might just progress on.

Then I awoke, flashing back into that reality of space. Or was reality flitting, only because time itself was waving? Were the edges of space dilating and folding over into themselves and had I really been at the wall already?

I was ready for this. I had trained myself for nearly 5 years in sense-making and spent the last several decades exercising the muscle, ready to walk, ready to plod, ready to embrace reality as it was at the moment I entered into consciousness. The dream state was the mirror, the stark reminder of the reality of men, of betrayal, of their own self-interested selfishness, of their predictability.

Then I opened my eyes and beheld a monster, eight legs flailing, agonizing against the galaxy, against the order. I grasped my gun, my weapon against the enemy, whose readiness I had prepared against those, and these monsters whose skin rippled as though it was a multiplicity of legions of creatures gathered together into some cohesive body.

I opened the cotton candy glass, that laced lattice of presumption that contained me during unconsciousness, I pressed myself out, my hands shaking at this obstruction that prevented that saw me and considered annihilation. And annihilation I intended, universalism against monsters, those animals and those bodies that, with unpredictability reign over, terrorize, thinking conscious or unconscious against me, against us.

Fingers grasped in the cold loneliness of space, warmed only by the thoughts of those children that I could bring to the other side of the wall, escaping from this universe into reality. Deep shouts commanded at the spinning sun, at the starfish forceful.


The monster raged into silence, that fiery eye looking towards me from the center fold, slowly opening and closing but the light of an inverse pupil dilated as if some jungle warrior warning of ready to attack, to destroy, to consume in self-preservation of self and species.

Precious moments flicked by, that oxygen tanks click into action, that slow float through space towards infinity, velocity imperceptible without the controls and dials within the cotton candy ship.

I saw his legs contract, I felt his ionic breath draw and in that moment I readied myself for a soft erasure from existence, poised for victory as a savior of genes, but contemplative of that example, that symbolism as a collective identity for future generations of astronauts, future generations who might also consider martyrdom, who might live on through memes, who might consider the weight of the unconscious, the inevitability of universality.

I felt my index finger constrict against the cold metal trigger, I saw a flash of jet fuel, I blacked out.
The dreams were vivid that night, the monsters vile and scatological in nature, a field of view obscured by nothing, and that drew on, hour after hour until finally the dream state demanded my reprisal, my obedience to the conscience, to the consequences.

The ship I awoke to was not, my own. There were hundreds of warriors, accomplished in the art of wall scaling, a society unknown to earth, but human, astronauts with dreams. There were children all around, I was in a glass box, a rose nestled in the hand where before I held gun, crossed against my breast in a peaceful state. The families, brave against the monsters, had observed my estate and intervened.

Why else would I venture into the space between the galaxy and the wall? Observed.

Why else would I build some cotton candy spaceship and fly away? Observed.

Why else would I draw weapon against monster, impossible to face? Observed.

Into the dream I slipped back, children playing peacefully nearby, fathers communicating seriously, mothers listening, their ability to flit in and out of reality their own strength, their own desire.

When I woke up, we were already back at the wall, these alien ships accustomed to travel, prepared for speed and precision, readied by hands whose unconscious drew them to instinct, to value, to magic.

Instead of questioning this state of being, I observed all around me, their walls, modeled after the wall, and their floors, complex as any human could have seen to be creating on earth.

I was not informed of what happened, instead, a questionable sense of expectancy seemed to allow that I should just figure it out, figure out where I was, figure out where my items were, observe the patterns and learn the customs to escape the salvation I had reached.

I’m still figuring it out, they don’t communicate directly with me, I am not a wall-scaler. Not yet.

For decades I had embraced and conversed as if the wall was a mirror, but looking here at the wall, observing the men most capable of the sport and victory of both advancing over and back down the wall was jarring, confusing, cognitive dissonance inducing.

For the last 10 years, I have been scaling the wall and writing of my experiences. I have been observing how to scale safely, how to draw back down, how to observe what lies beyond (if anything), how to dwell among the monster killers.

I write this as a warning to the earth dwellers, to the progenitors of natality, to the astronauts who seek accolades and fame for this, the everyday and commonplace to us.

Beware of the astronauts along the way who tempt to left and right, beware of violence against the monsters between you and the wall. Beware of the slow erosion of spacecraft by loneliness against the darkness. Beware and consider bringing others brave with you, for though we have many here, the wall is intimidating, formidable and stark.

Economy cannot save nor draw you to the wall, the beauty of choice is insufficient to draw the conscious, to draw the child, to draw the adult to see into the abyss of statelessness.

Instead I compel, nay teach, your hands to war. War against the monsters. War against the kings of the state of being.

And once again, I entered back into a dream. I felt my hands cast out from me the rose which some savior had place against my breast. I cast it into the stateless spage. Standing on top of the wall, still breathing heavily from a day’s heavy scale on the undulating wall, the movements casting out, the winds despising. Flung out from my body, from my center of gravity, cast out with force.

The petals long browned, the stem dry from years of oily preservation. Cast out into statelessness.
Within four feet of this undulating wind-walled space dam, for myself and the warriors who also had scaled the wall that day, we watched and observed as the rose flicked in and out of visibility, viciously particled in and out of states of atomic structure, appearing in different places along the stretch of visible wall, moving as if erratic for all directions, further and closer, apparently up and down.

The rose disappeared.

Then it appeared back in my hand, unscathed by time, fresh and vibrant as when I awoke.


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📅 Written October 22, 2023

📍 Written in Aurora, Colorado at my home.


Thanks for reading. This story traces so many parts of me, my dream state, my relationship to church, my understanding of power and how I relate to people who take it for themselves and what lies beyond, and if any of it matters when I am facing it with courageous people.

Please consider thinking. ❤️