Nickeil Alexander-Walker rolled over uncomfortably. Annoyingly, his bed seemed a lot more firm than he preferred. When multiple contortions of his body failed to result in any sort of comfort, he opened his eyes, and that was when he realized that he was no longer near his bed, his home, or even his planet.
Staring in utter confusion at his unfamiliar surroundings, Nickeil got to his feet. He had been lying on a smooth, but distinctly unyielding, surface of unblemished tan-colored marble. To his sides were stone walls that stretched to the silvery, luminescent layer of clouds above. The walls were decorated with grandly-arched windows, but the view out of these windows was to a featureless gray void, which was what tipped him off that he had, somehow, escaped the confines of the terrestrial sphere that he called his home.
He wondered if it was all a trick of his brain chemistry, perhaps brought on by a tainted edible. But the clarity of mind that he felt seemed to indicate that he was not on any sort of mystical drug-fueled journey to forbidden insight. And everything felt much sharper, more in-control, than things felt when he was dreaming, so that possibility was ruled out as well.
Nickeil thought that there was surely a way to get back home, so he began to walk. There seemed to be no end to the hall that he walked along; it just continued into the horizon until it was obscured by the distant haze, and no amount of walking ever seemed to make real progress. However, his urgency to return home decreased with every step he took. It was a fantastic place, really; the sun above gently warmed him, there were ornately-mosaicked fountains along the walls from which to have a cool drink, and it truly seemed like no negative thought could ever exist there. It was as if somebody had devised the perfect environment for a human to thrive, then constructed it in some far-off dimension and brought him there to test it out.
Perfectly content to keep walking and withdraw into the sublime contentedness of his thoughts, Nickeil almost didn’t realize that there was now somebody walking alongside him. He wondered how long the man had been there. “Oh, hello,” he said, feeling a small amount of guilt that his human voice had shattered the peaceful silence.
“Sorry for ignoring you,” Nickeil said.
“No problem at all. We have all the time in the world,” the white-robed man answered, before chuckling. “Well, it’s not really ‘the world’, but it literally is all the time. Or none of it, depending on your perspective.”
A tendril of confusion unraveled itself within the overarching contentedness in Nickeil’s mind. He didn’t really feel like deciphering riddles. “Where are we?”
“We are in the Hall of the Thirty Point Scorers, and I am Carlos Delfino, the appointed Guardian of the Hall.”
“For some reason, my basketball career doesn’t seem too important here,” Nickeil said. Up until that moment, he had completely forgotten about his career-best 37-point performance. That part of his life had been left behind, leaving only a pure shell of untainted humanity. “If everybody who scored thirty points gets to be here, where are they?” He thought of his teammates Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, who would undoubtedly be holding a nonstop party here if they knew about it.
“The Hall’s infinite nature practically eliminates the possibility for encounters with other visitors. The Overseers become very upset with me if I allow such encounters to happen, and I am on thin ice with them ever since some interloper who called himself ‘DownToBuck’ made an unauthorized appearance here.” Carlos was scowling now, the memory of this occurrence causing him frustration.
“I know that feeling,” Nickeil answered, remembering past coaches who had directed their disapproval at him.
Carlos’ expression suddenly cleared up. “Oh! I almost forgot to give you your complementary robe.” From within the folds of his own robe, he brought out another, which he gave to Nickeil.
Nickeil momentarily stopped walking so he could put on the garment over his inexplicably nude body. The fabric was impossibly soft and swathed him with soothing warmth. His nerve endings were in such bliss that he almost hesitated to ask his next question. “So, do I, like, leave at some point, or am I just here forever?”
“Everybody leaves at some point,” Carlos answered. “But, remember, time behaves differently here. Your true self still exists in the mortal realm, albeit missing a bit of its soul, so you don’t need to worry about making a quick reappearance there.”
“I don’t think that’s quite right,” Nickeil said with a smile, and he could sense that Carlos was bristling at the implication that Nickeil knew more about the secrets of the Hall than he did. “I think my true self is right here.”
And with that, he turned and walked the direction he had came, eager to find peaceful solitude among those infinite stone walls.