Of Love and Death – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 26

book 1

“I see.”

“It wasn’t intentional. I fought it. I fought to hold on. I did. I held on as long as I could. I didn’t want to come here. I fought right through the last second!”

“Even though she was waiting for you?”

“I know what happens to suicides.”

“I see.”

“I’d have waited another million lifetimes to be with her if I have to.”

“I see.”

“JAMES!!”

I looked up and saw M behind a rail high above us. God fell silent then, sat on her bench leering at me with some odd intent scrawled across her wrinkled face. But M was screaming still and I could hear fear in her voice. I thought that she’d be happy to see me again but she wasn’t. She was panicked. She was leaning out over the rail almost to the point of falling, waving me towards her. She didn’t even acknowledge god. The moment that our eyes met she bellowed, “RUN!”

In that moment, before god, I didn’t even think about what I was doing. I ran. Throwing myself at it, I shouldered open the same door that M and I had both been through back when she was Winnie and god had pardoned her. As I burst out of the judgement chamber M skidded down the rickety stairs towards me and the door flung open to a crazed dry heat. My eyes all but sealed up as if I’d opened a giant oven and M moan out loud beside me as the door slammed behind us, then crumbled into dust that scattered on the ground. We were still running, but in a wilderness that we soon saw was only open blank land, so we slowed and then stopped, alone, together again at last. Looking about us I saw nothing but dark brown sand dotted with black rocks and hills in the distance. A hollow echo rang in the air and vibrated inside my chest, but I couldn’t hear it. I could only feel it. Then my eyes landed on M and that barren garden shrank to meaninglessness. The scent of her neck soaked through me. Her hands cooled my skin. Her tears moistened my cheeks.

“James, you don’t know.”

“I don’t need to. We’re together.”

“… but James… Ola… she’s turned Sila and put a bounty on your head. She bribed god. You were about to be destroyed.”

“But I didn’t kill commit… ”

“… it doesn’t matter. Ola sold her soul. And… James… she sold Sila’s too.”

“She fucking WHAT!!”

“God’s on her side. She’s bought and paid for. Your soul is to be removed from existence.”

“Jesus… ”

“… he’s can’t help either.”

“What?”

“We need to stay out of human heaven. If we return we’ll both be destroyed now that I’ve helped you. I tried to convince god and I even travelled to Hyan but their god has been deposed by his son. There’s only one being that can help us. But we have no means of communicating with it… ”

“… Presti.”

“Yes.”

“What the fuck are we gonna do? Why the fuck would she even want to hurt m… ”

“… James.”

The look she gave said it all. I had left Ola behind and raised our daughter with another woman. I had betrayed her – just like I had felt I was doing when I fell in love with M, back when she was Winnie. I loved M. And I loved Sila. But I couldn’t deny that I had made a commitment to Ola and didn’t live up to it by follow her beyond death. I followed M, twice. But not Ola.

“I know what I need to do.”

“… James??”

“We need to sneak back into heaven, Baby.”

I couldn’t accept that after everything we’d all been through I would have no choice but to leave Sila with a corrupted impression of me. I knew in my heart that she knew I loved her and that I had loved Ola, but if Ola had bribed god into hating me then Sila was vulnerable to anything. Above all though, because her soul had been stolen from under her I could not rest.

“What does god even want with souls?”

“To compete. Every century the gods gamble against each by betting souls. Because earth is so small and so young most of the other gods have far larger stocks. That’s why our god will do anything for souls. She is an amateur by comparison.”

“Good. That’s how we’re gonna do it, M.”

“What? Your soul is only one against Sila and Ola’s two, James! And you can’t leave me after everything we’ve been through!!”

“I know, M. And I’m not leaving you.”

“You want my soul too, don’t you?”

“No! Absolutely not!!”

“Then what?! How are you… ”

“… M, I need you to trust me. We need to speak to Presti. It’s Sila’s only hope.”

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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