Of Love and Death – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 9

book 1

Ola hadn’t aged. She looked just as I remembered her. Her skin was perfect and her eyes gleamed with life when she looked at me. It was like it hadn’t been twenty years. I felt her in my heart again as I used to when I loved her. It was as if she had never died and had watched Sila grow into a woman. We were a whole family for the very first time in that moment and then I heard my name being called from behind me.

“Who is that, James?”

“You must be Ola. It’s such an honour to meet you. I’m Winnie.”

“Eh… ”

“Ola, this is… eh… this is Winnie, my wife.”

“WHAT!? You moved on?!”

“Ola, I mourned you for six… ”

“I don’t care! You forgot me?!”

“I never forgot you. But I had to move on. For myself and for our family.”

“Well I met someone too. I love him more than I ever loved you!”

Sila looked at Ola sideways and then at me and then Winnie. I shook my head to reassure her. But Ola’s words cut to the bones of all of us. When I looked at Winnie I felt our love too. It was emotion on a level I had never felt while alive. It was as if I had two hearts and each were swollen with the love that I knew and the love that I had known. There was no greater or lesser. Both Winnie and Ola were as important to me. They were different, but they were the same too. In my distress Winnie came to comfort me and Ola stormed off in disgust, pulling Sila with her by the wrist.

“I’m sorry, Baby. I don’t know what to say.”

“There’s nothing to say. I knew you were married before. We just neither of us thought about this. I mean, we’re both atheists.”

“I know… what are the chances!?”

We embraced, then I took Winnie by the hand and we walked. My mind was still reeling from having seen Ola and Sila, and of course at having emerged in that place. I looked around and couldn’t believe where I was. It was the most vast room I had ever seen. Hundreds of millions of people meeting each other. You could feel the love in the room and even while I felt the weight of my two hearts crumbling I was healed by that sweetness. I looked to Winnie and she was as beautiful as ever. She looked back at me and her gaze reached inside me and caressed my wounded soul.

I could still feel Ola too. Wherever she was. I could feel her pain. And her confusion. I could feel her heart being crushed. And Sila, my sweet little Sila. I could feel her too, as if she and her mother and Winnie and I were all one being. It was painful but it was beautiful. It was kind and open and soft, despite the hurt that was being felt. It is hard to explain to a living person but I felt linked to their minds and hearts and in one whole spool of emotion I could feel them feeling me too. But Winnie needed me and I needed her too. We walked across the huge room and found a flow in the crowd that led us to a far corner. It took a long time to cross but no matter how far we walked we never grew tired.

All around us people reunited with loved ones and hugged and kissed each other. There were little children running gleefully and old women and men laughing together. As we walked we saw the whole gamut of humanity in all its forms and shapes and ages. The love in that enormous place was palpable. All the smiles and laughter raised one’s heart and as we walked we noticed that the closer we had got to the other side the higher we had floated up off of the ground. It was effortless, wondrous and enchanting. It was a feeling of pure joy. Many times I looked to Winnie who looked to me and often we paused and embraced in sheer delight. When we touched each other and especially when we kisses it was a sensation so far beyond mortal pleasure that it made earthly enjoyment seem like trivial glances.

After some time we reached the other side and were several hundred feed off of the ground. Ahead of us an array of doors were set into the top of the huge wall where it met the ceiling, which itself seemed transparent but was a in fact a clouded cream colour. We saw that as people approached the doors they opened by themselves and people entered. Then the door closed behind them. As each person entered a door there seemed be a glow emanating from within and each doorway shone from with different a coloured light each time someone passed through it. There were colours I had never seen before too. Unlike a mixture of any colours that I knew they were entirely new. How difficult it is to describe these colours. If you were to imagine the difference between black and white and take purple and orange and mix them and then picture that colour’s opposite like black is to white and then add a hue to it that is a throbbing hum of pleasure that the colour itself seems to derive from your viewing it, as if it was some living thing, then you would be close to some of those colours. Others were reflections of thoughts that they reminded you of and as multiple people looked at the same colour the vibrations in it shifted to accommodate each viewers’ thoughts. Those colours were all one but they seemed a juggling waves of vision and form too. I also saw a shade of green that was invisible when looked at directly, but when I looked at the edges of it I could, in my periphery, see a pinkness that looked like pinkish white but my mind insisted was a vibrant green. It was a jarring but beautiful newness to behold.

As we approached our respective doors Winnie and I had to enter them separately as they were only large enough for one person to fit through, on the other side I found myself on a balcony overlooking a tall cylindrical room several stories deep – at the bottom of which Winnie stood on a small raised platform. She was stood in the centre of the room and in front of her a stout woman sat on a tattered wooden bench was speaking in a gruff drawl. At first it seemed as though she was mumbling a language that I didn’t understand but as I grew accustomed to the mumbles they stretched and slowed and in less than what seemed to be a minute I understood every word that she was saying.

“…. You, Mary Elizabeth Dean, are accused of falsifying documents and unrightfully and insincerely declaring your marriage to me, your God.… ”

I couldn’t believe it. Not only was God a woman and crude of presence but she was presiding over the individual case of Winnie’s having hid in the convent under false vows.

“… Furthermore, you proceeded to renounce those despicable pronouncements for the love of a mortal. How do you plead?”

“I… God… I am ashamed. I sought sanctuary and I lived by the rules of the convent. But I was never your wife. I am sorry that I displeased you. I meant no harm. I never thought that I would come to this place.”

“Non-belief?! Yet another sin!! Ms. Dean, I am displeased by your behaviour. However, for your honesty I must pardon you. I created you as ordinance with Commission Thirty One, by authority of Presti and I am responsible for you, but you are a pure soul and do not deserve to be punished in light of your acceptance of your misdeeds. Go. James is waiting for you.”

“Thank you! Thank you so much! God, you’r… ”

“… NEXT!”

I scrambled down a rickety stairway and grabbed Winnie as the wall next to us slid open to reveal a field overgrown with petunias that ran up a mountain. That alpine tier was painted with those petals into a mass of colours, all of which were even newer to me still. They weren’t perceptible to the eye as such, more grey and dull brown than vibrant, but they screamed at our hearts and injected us with new emotions that burst our ability to feel pleasure and allowed the feeling of happiness and joy to wash over every tiny little piece of us before soaking deep into our cores. It was a wall in itself before us. A living hung carpet of beauty. And as we walked on that field, away from the room where God had pardoned Winnie, our feet were suddenly bare and the sensation of cool petals kissed our toes.

“Is this real, James?”

“It must be. I want it to be. Don’t you?”

“As long as we’re together I’m happy no matter where we are. I love you.”

“I love you t… ”

In a flash the petals exploded up into the sky and formed clouds miles above our heads. Winnie’s hand grabbed mine and when we looked back down at the ground around us we saw a meagre field shorn by war and death that seemed more a battlefield than any meadow. At once I felt a jolt and I couldn’t feel Sila or Ola anymore. I felt almost normal again, only not. Our eyes followed the land up the mountain where we saw a charging horde of beings mounted on top of larger beings, like horsemen, all in one line flowing in a torrent towards us. Even from some miles away we could hear the cries of those beings and the galloping of their strange steeds.

“Baby?”

“I know. Don’t be afraid.”

“But… ”

“Get behind me!”

I backed us up to the nearest outcrop of rock while watching the approaching mass. They looked fierce, like warriors in a rage. But I felt no fear, as if I knew them. They seemed so ancient too, as if they didn’t belong in that place but still they came closer and closer. And closer. And still I waited. Then the huge band came thundering down on either side of us and ringed the outcrop behind which we were sheltered.

“It’s ok, Baby… just stay down.”

I stepped forward as the hulking beasts on which these giants rode huffed and scratched at the burnt soil beneath us. Their riders were pale but glowing in a fervent worth of presence that was awing to witness. Then one of them dismounted and stepped out of the rabble to stand before me. It began to speak and again it took a moment but once more I came to understand the strange mumbles.

 “… doing here? I am God.”

“Em… Hello.”

“I am not your God… ”

“… oh… ”

“I am God to the Ooo. They worship me on the farthest planet from your earth.”

“… eh, yes… Sir.”

“Indeed. I don’t know why you are hear but if those clouds above us are what I think you think they are then that means you two humans have been sent here to Hyan… ”

“… Hyan?”

“.. the Ooo afterlife… ”

“… sent?”

“… try and keep up, human. Those clouds are actually your Heaven, not clouds at all.”

“Ahh… ”

“Who is this with you?”

“Oh… God, allow me to introduce my love, Winnie.”

With that the horde burst into a bizarre cackled chorus of what I thought at first was anger but soon realised was laughter. From behind God came “Puny!” and “No good for breeding!” and when he saw Winnie’s and I’s disgust at such remarks he swung around and scolded his troupe. Silence snapped shut on the group and God returned his gaze to us and apologised.

“Pardon my people, they do not know the ways of other worlds.”

“And yet you do, Sir?”

“I have been to every Olympiad since the Ooo conceived of me. We are quite ancient actually. Hyan was first imagined long before your earth was even formed and most other worlds are not even half as old as we are.”

“Em… God?”

“Yes, human.”

“How many “Gods” are their?”

“Oh, far too many to count. And of course new ones are being born every day and others die off.”

“Gods can die?”

“Oh yes. Most often it’s because the planet that their worshipers inhabit is destroyed. Sometimes one God’s worshipers wipe out another’s in a war.”

“What happens to the God who’s worshipers are all killed?”

“Those Gods become mortals on the world their worshipers had inhabited.”

“And if that planet is destroyed?”

“They’re sent there by default so they smother in the vacuum of space. It could happen to any of us.”

“Oh.”

“Indeed.”

“Em… ”

“Yes, human?”

“I don’t know what we’re meant to do here.”

“Indeed.”

“Have you?”

“Nope. Sorry, human.”

“Shit!”

Again the laughter erupted like boulders crashing down a mountain. This time it was even more powerful than before and so prolonged that even God joined in.

“What?”

“You said “shit”!”

“Yeah, and?”

“In our language “shit” means “the larger of the two nipples on the upper breasts of a drunken ultramonkey”!”

“Ok, what the hell is an ultramonkey?”

“It’s like what you would call a monkey only it is many times larger and moves almost at the speed of light. And it is has an extremely violent temper.”

“Oh.”

“Indeed.”

I looked back at Winnie and she was smothering laughter with her palm. Seeing her like that was all it took to burst out and I laughed a laugh so amplified in sensation and volume that God’s horde’s steeds all spooked and began to fight their riders.

“STOOOOP!”, bellowed God.

I stopped, frightened of being shouted at by a god.

“What was that?!”

“I was laughing. I didn’t mean to startle your, eh, whatever they, eh, what are they exactly?”

“Don’t ever do that again, human. And they are called Suug. Related to your guinea pigs only much larger, carnivorous and telepathic.”

“Oh.”

“James, what are we going to do?”

“Oh yes. Em, God, Sir. We heard a name and I think that we should find him, or her, or it, em… might you be in a position to help us?”

“That depends, human.”

“On what?”

“On the name.”

“It’s “Presti.””

Instantly I knew that I had made a mistake. All the riders backed away their Suugs and looked to God in silence.

“Human. You obviously do not know what Presti is.”

“No, Sir.”

“You should be more careful, human. There are many forces both here and in all the other heavens that are beyond even us Gods.”

“Is Presti one of the Gods?”

“Presti is the beginning of everything. Gods are not fit to worship Presti and no being in any place communicates with it.”

“Oh.”

“Indeed.”

“Thank you for not getting angry, God.”

“I can see the honesty in you, human. And your female is funny. I like her. Come with us. I will lead you across our land and bring you to the shore.”

“The shore of what?”

“Just, “the shore”. It is the only place for you to go, human. Everywhere else here is of deceased Ooo.”

“Thank you, God. You are a very goodly being.”

“I know. Now climb up, both of you.”

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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