A little more than seven years ago I created a world. It happened without a bang, came without a word, and anchored itself into my mind with nary a concern for what it would do to my life. A forest evolved from darkness, mountains rose into view, the starry sky embraced a full moon that blanketed the lush terrain in a bath of iridescent light. I flew above it, gliding effortlessly, chilled slightly by the cool embrace of the night. Euphoria, giddiness, a certain boyish delight: they tempted me with recognition. I knew this place, though I had never before seen it.
The flight carried me beyond the forest, skimming the surface of a swiftly moving river, where I spread my fingers and trailed them through the water, gazing gleefully at the wake left as I zoomed forward. The forest returned beyond the approaching bank and I lifted once more toward the heavens. Though the sky invited me wholly, I chose instead to zag along the treetops, cutting in between gaps in the branches. I watched the forest floor, spotting life rustling below, my path all but forgotten, my trust in the guiding force complete and unwavering. I knew my destination. I knew what I would find.
When the forest thinned, the trees parting like open palms, the lush green turf broadened, expanded, and welcomed me into an open field. In the center of that field sat a solitary white crypt, tendrils of ivy coating one side of the gleaming marble surface, a faded iron door sealing the interior. I stood before the crypt, the weight of the moment abolishing my fears. I had journeyed to be here. Something magical awaited me. As if answering my call, the door opened, echoing through the field as metal ground against metal, as the hinges issued a squeal of protest.
The light from within overwhelmed my vision, yet filled me with warmth. It invited me forward. And so I walked, stepping into the light and through the doorway. My feet, which only now I realized were bare, waded across the sandy floor. I paused, the certainty that what I saw, what lay before me, held the answer to my quest, the essence of my journey. Risen upon a slab, I gazed upon the white tomb with a sense of awe and wonderment, lost in the artistic swirls along the pristine surface, mesmerized by the depth of life I sensed despite the reminder of death it endowed. Only then did I notice the angle of the lid and the revealing glimpse it offered to the interior of the tomb. I wanted to know. I had to see.
I stepped onto the concrete slab, my eyes meeting the length of the tomb, then the smooth edge at the lip. Hesitantly, I forced myself over the edge, my heart racing, and peered within and saw nothing.
That would have been about the time the music slowed, the cadence of the choir drifting to an easy completion. I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling. I may have continued that stare for close to an hour, watching the images wash over me in a continuous loop. When I finally roused myself enough to gather my thoughts, I detailed the scene in a notebook. It would be the first account, in the first of many notebooks, regarding a world called Elysium. A world inhabited, created, and saved by a character known only as The Storyteller. Only recently did I compile the five notebooks of story into a massive file. By then I had already written Book One in The Storyteller series: The Heart of Darkness.
A five-book young adult series--drawn from five notebooks full of research, character bios, locations, magical items, magical creatures, political landscapes, actual landscapes, and so much more. All drawn from countless hours of daydreaming. Daydreams drawn from a single flight above a single forest toward a single destination. A single flight drawn from one piece of music.
One song created a world.
It still haunts me. Granted, I want it to. Give it a listen. Fly a while. You'll never be the same.
Zachary Steele is usually a lot funnier than this, but, oh well, what are you going to do, right? He is the author of Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO, Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction, and the forthcoming young adult series, The Storyteller. He has been featured on NPR and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Publisher's Weekly, and Shelf Awareness, and can be found boring the world with his thoughts at The Further Promotion of ME, as well as the newly minted blog, Who is the Storyteller.