After a long night, you’ll forgive an old man for being surprised to see the morning again. I’ve been accustomed to rising before the Sun for as long as I can recall. This morning was no different, I awoke with a strange feeling of what might be best described as disenchantment. Maybe disembodiment is a better word.
I couldn’t feel my limbs, and I had no inclination as to whether I was horizontal or vertically arranged. If course I was lying down, I was when I’d gone to bed the night before. I had the strangest sense that I had lost time, that it was far later along than it should have been. I tried to put it out of my mind.
So I waited. There wasn’t much else to do. I should have panicked. But all I could do was think of the meaning of panick. What did it mean? Be stricken by Pan, the God of Autism shrieking at homos in the woods of ancient Greece. Besides, I was 88 goddamn years old, a meeting with Pan in the morning would kill me.
After a time I began to see the light. Morning light. But, what’s this? It didn’t seem to come from anywhere at all. I expected to see the outline of my window jamb, but instead there was a faint glow amid what seemed to be the absolute void of space. And then it struck me: I was neither cold not hot. I was insensate.
Well shit, was this it then? Snuffed by a stroke? I was holding out that a pretty young Fed (assuming they aren’t all trans by now) might have done me the courtesy of showing me her bright whites as she day of the pillowed my old ass.
My soul wanted my shoulders to shrug and for my lips to say “well, whatevah.” But I couldn’t. So I watched the light as it spread. Not rise. In time it became bright, so bright I know I should have winced. But again: I couldn’t blink. No sense of place. As time went on, the light began to morph into various shapes. And I couldn’t help but feel I was being watched by some great eye.
In time the black became white, and I felt. All at once a surge. I felt my fingers, how cold and weak they were and how of a sudden they burned like fire. I felt… Strength. But then I also felt my head. Worst vertigo is ever had. Like being sucked down with an elevator fine off the rails. Maybe that was it, the big 0 when I zero sum and finally fucking die. At least then I won’t have to ask what it’s all for any more.
And then I opened my eyes. Which was strange given that I had been watching the birth of the light. I found myself on the floor, expecting to see a ceiling light when my vision cleared. Maybe the voice of one of the neighbours checking to see if I was dead. Again.
Sky. Clear and blue. I squinted, shook my head and slapped myself across the cheek. The sky hadn’t been this blue since before Pajeet Sa’ul Afganisbeergh became the first Trans President of Colour of the Global States of ‘Muricuh in 2034 and upon putting Bill Gates’ head in a jar like Minor, took his advice and painted the sky with lead paint to prevent global warming.
Pale white clouds sifted through the blue. And I could feel the breeze. The breeze! I hadn’t felt the breeze since 2050 when H.U.D. finally succeeded in cutting down the last tree in Maine and erecting a statue of George Floyd in commemoration of ZOG’s final solution to the nature question.
I sat up, grunting, already braced for the pain that comes from many years of unretired manual labour. And… There was no pain. I glanced into my palms. No wrinkles, no scars. I began to sweat. I looked down and saw my knees, no lumps, no knots. And then it dawned on me. I wasn’t wearing pants. I was, however, wearing underpants.
Sweet Jesus, the tinfoil hats were right, they really were harvesting old folks to fuel Google’s Immortality machine.
I jumped to my feet, amazed with how easy the movement seemed. I hadn’t felt that spry since I was 33. 33. Curious.
I looked down. The soil was rich and loamy and black, with blades of grass so green you’d cry for the Scarborough Fair. And I looked around. That was it. Green grass as far as I could see. As far as I could see. When did they get rid of grass now, I can’t remember. But I’d like to know where I was…
A step forward, and another. Was it north? I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t see the Sun. But I could feel the breeze, so I turned until it was at my face and walked. I reckon the breeze had to blow somewhere. And if it goes somewhere, it comes from somewhere.
One step, another step. I walked. For a very long time. Only it seemed time had less meaning with there being no sun to wheel around the sky. As I went, I saw it. A shadow. At last! An answer. A way out. Something to do, maybe.
After awhile I saw a peak. The shadow was a gift from a mountain top. And I squinted. The light I saw in my dream, it was atop that hill. I felt it in my bones. So I walked. And walked some more. When I came to the foot of the mountain I checked my memories. Had this been a roof I’d have scaled it just so, a near perfect 45 degree angle. Nevermind what kind of mountain has such tidy angles.
I tucked myself into my haunches and did the bear crawl. It would have been a slog, but I never did get tired. It was like someone had taken away my sarcomere problem and turned me into one of Icke’s lizard men.
So it went. As sure as the night is long, the light grew brighter as I neared the peak. And the breeze became a surging, yet somehow subtle wind. The mount itself was remarkably smooth, as if sculpted by the hands of man. More: the wind, I felt, carried the strange muted voices I had heard before. Each gust struck me with feeling, as if they were a mind of their own and I was reading them.
And as I pulled myself up, prepared to drag myself up onto the plateau I could see waiting, I heard it. A voice. It stood up above the rest, clear, yet unclear. Icouldn’t describe it if I tried. The voice had the cadence of every man I’d respected, and a few I’d hated. It was a voice that filled me with a sense of anticipation; dread, relief, fear and joy echoed in my breast. I didn’t know what to do with it.
“You’ve come a long way to find me here.”
I found myself on the plateau, rising to my feet. There was a man upon a throne, not a gold and silver throne of jewels. No, the throne was hewn of stone. Not at all what I expected. What did I expect? I was missing something, and I couldn’t remember.
“You’re wondering what it is that you’re missing? Your soul’s song brought you here.”
I opened my mouth to speak, no words. Instead I looked upon the man. Here was a man girt with the wisdom of ages; his long white hair and silver beard flowed down in long locks. His hands draped over the rests of his throne, he was clothed in a flowing white robe, simple, yet awe inspiring. I knew what it was. I expected a choral arrangement, music, trumpets and gold. But why? How? My soul gnawed within me, a thing I never dated believe I truly had. But I couldn’t acknowledge it, what I saw, there must have been some sort of mistake.
“Have you gathered enough to put it all together? Do you have any questions?”
I looked down at my bare, flawless feet. I could have asked where all the scars and wrinkles had gone. Instead I asked; “why am I in my underwear?”
“Your Temple Garments,” the man said. More than a man. “The ones you refused in life will shield you in True Life. You stand on Holy Ground, none can come in their nakedness here- for all you see is my Temple, my Glory.”
Temple Garments… no… this meant.
“I’m dead,” I muttered. “And the Masons were right. I should have done the damned handshake when Hiram Augustus Messybemps told me I needed to know one to be one.”
The God frowned, “Masons? No, no, no. The Masons learned from my Servant, Joseph Smith, who now has a Temple of his own along with all his prophets. The Angel Moroni has called them home, and I have told them to make a home for others.”
I couldn’t help but stare down at my tighty whities, consecrated as they were by the God. “I…”
“Lust was always your greatest sin,” the God told me plainly- as if I had never given it any thought. Which I had, all too often, as I considered the fruits within the temple Garments of many a thickset broad.
“You should know there are no women where you’re going,” the God said, “for they cannot inherit the Kingdom of God “
“Wait…” I scrunched my face as I remembered how the Holy Ghost had come upon Mary. “I thought…”
“I take what I want, yes, no different than you take what you want from a sketch in a notepad. Mary was mine to do with as I pleased.”
I looked behind me, the voices in the wind, I could recognise them. Some of them.
“My servants have tended your soul, Saxon, though your root was cursed, the branch bore fruit and set upon the America’s and the world my hallowed kingdom, and my will was done.”
Baptism of the dead. Hadn’t I signed a waiver in life? Or perhaps that was one to drive the Jehovah’s Witnesses away. I turned back to the God. “What now?” I asked.
“Well, now you must choose. Will you accept my grace? Or will you reject it, and be banished to the Outer Darkness?”
I furrowed my brow. It was Catholic Doctrine that taught me to form my conscience, lessons I had never forgotten. In my heart, no my soul, I could not submit. The thought struck me, that there were no lies here, in this Temple of a god I never expected.
“I can’t,” I said.
“And that is truly a shame, you would have made an excellent one – a new Wōden or Zeus.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but I could feel the Wind of God blowing again. A chill, so hideous that I could feel my bones dissolve within me, a vacuum so fierce my spleen erupted and a heat so great my blood boiled within and melted my skin. The great darkness I had awoken to before swallowed all that was and held my soul in it’s womb.
And then a feeling of dreadful sleep.
Like before I awoke into the great darkness, and like before thought I should feel that weightless dread. But instead the weight of breath settled itself upon my rips, and I remembered the numb tingle of my feeble, aged fingers. It had been a dream, of course. I sat up, expecting the painful journey to end in the feeling of a worn mattress beneath me. Instead I felt… Gravel.
I waited for my dim eyes to focus, and I saw that I sat on shattered pavement. I said nothing as I squinted, and in the moment I saw the sign I heard the omen;
That dull and loathsome sound was all I heard as with growing horror my eyes read the sign, so simple and green outlined with white: “Welcome to Detroit: Home of the Mark of Cain.”
My soul wrenching scream echoed out into eternity, causing Wōden’s Ravens to fall from the sky as all memory of me was stricken from the Book of Life: