Cheating Death (Short Story – Horror)


The last thing that I remember was getting up off the couch to change the channel on the television set. When I stood up it was as if an excruciating bolt of thunder pierced me through the center of the breastplate. I became light headed. Confusion overtook my mind and I lost lucid consciousness, which dwindled away leaving me in a vague trance-like state.

I was aware of being in physical peril, but only in the sense as being a third party observing myself from the outside. I saw my arm clutch at the sharp chest pains grabbing my breast with claw of a hand. Then I saw my body crumple and collapse and fall hard towards the living room floor. I was surprised not to see myself lying on the floor unconscious.

Instead, the inexplicable began to unfold. I was back inside of my body now, but I continued to fall, my body unstopped by any hard surface. I watched as my form crashed through the living room floor and dropped beneath it. I continued to tumble, my body shattering the concrete as I fell through the foundation of the house, and I still I continued to drop away. I fell beneath the crust of the earth plummeting downward into the blackness. I fell like a stone, unimpeded. I continued to tumble for what seemed like hours on end.

During the entire event, my mind became weary and I dropped off into a deep sleep. I suddenly was aware that I was dreaming. However, the entry into the dream was inhospitable. It was a nightmare of sorts.

I dreamed that I saw a single white burning candle; this candle was in an old-fashioned metal candleholder with a ring for the finger—the kind people used to carry around by hand to see in the darkness before days of electricity and incandescent light bulbs.

I dreamt I saw this candle in the carrier sitting precariously on a rock-covered floor. I watched the candle anxiously, as the tiny yellow tongue of fire fluttered, tremulously clinging to the wick. I realized that this was a symbol. It was the burning candle of my life force and that fragile flame was my existence, so delicate and vulnerable, and so easily extinguished forever without warning. At the end of the dream, I was terrified that something would blow the flame out and that I would die.

At that point, I awoke. And I found myself lying here on the stony floor in this icy, black abysmal place.

Oh, frightful black void, in this dark realm of plucked out eyes, what is this bone-chilling cold that bites at my face bitterly, like unseen frost? Oh baleful circumstances, why do you conspire against me to engulf me like a tomb.

There would appear that nothing is here save the black hanging demise in the biting chill. Nevertheless, I had an overwhelming superstitious mindfulness that something was indeed there in the inky black with me. Yet I could not seem to feel it or hear it. I found my footing among the stones and then I stood up.

I turned round about looking wildly for any sign of light…but alas, darkness was all I saw.

May God, give me just a small crack of light to pursue, let him extend to me one thread of hope that I might find flight from this wretched place. All I need is a solitary pinpoint of light to gaze at for the briefest moment. I need to know. Tell me do I have eyes or am I blind! It is driving me mad…

But despite my plea, I see nothing. I find myself abandoned to the poison of sightlessness. In fear, I began to walk about the dark cavern aimlessly.

Soon an eerie emotion coursed through my veins. I suddenly sensed that some sort of beast was following very close behind me, biding its time before attacking me. A rush of panic washed over me, like a bucket of icy water. In this terror, I could swear a long skeletal hand reached from behind me. I sensed its palm cupped just shy of my mouth, perhaps to mute my screams, perhaps to silently suffocate me, or perversely, just to amuse itself with the great power it had over me.

I had an unshakable notion that its gaunt hand extended a long bony finger, and without touching me, lustfully traced along the contours of my face in the dark. I knew all this was happening even though I could not provide evidence of it.

But then I smelled a plague-ridden, putrid stench. And I knew then that something was indeed with me in the blackness and cold.

I quickly thought back in time to remember how I got here. I finally realized that I must have suffered a heart attack back in my living room, and that was the beginning of all this horror. Then I wondered if I, in truth was actually lying unconscious on the living room floor. Lack of blood to my brain could have caused me to hallucinate all of this nightmarish emotional chaos.

But I feel the stones rough under my feet on this floor and when I inhale, I experience the cold biting at my nostrils. I am here, wherever this place is.  This does not seem like a dream. This seems very real. And something dangerous is here with me.

I did seem to have a heart attack. I felt the stabling chest pains. If I did, I am fighting for my life. But why am I in this dark cavernous place of danger.

Unless this creature, of course…it can be no other than he…I realize that this beast so near me in the bowels of this black abyss is Death. Death is following me and he will try to claim me if he can. I must fight to live; I must get back to the living room. But how long can I escape Death down here trapped in his dark lair?

I immediately jerk with a shudder coming out of my thoughts. I felt something. It was a cold sensation…There it is again. It is he. Death touched me!

In the numbness of terror, Death extended one bony finger touched me on the nape of my neck. That odious fetid appendage, having been chilly upon my neck, makes me want to wretch!

My body jerks, startled and alarmed as I hear the beast roar furiously. Its low base snarl is a rattling knock that echoes like a tiger in the jungle.

How many souls has this executioner liberated from their living bodies? Mortal life is a debt everyone must pay to the reaper in time. Yet everyone evades the beast when he or she can, it is our nature. No one wants to die. I do not want to die.

Yet Death is following my every step. The beast is forbidding. He is methodic, relentless, and most cruel of all, infinitely patient.

My mortal life’s tenacity, never wanting to yield, forces me to press onward blindly, wandering in the black cavern. My legs are weary and heavy and I am losing my footing as I try to flee. How can I stave off Death? I can see nothing here and know not any way out of this black cavernous throat of stone, a realm that Death knows better than I know the back of my own hand. I am surely doomed.

But then then suddenly there is hope. What is this that I see? Right before I stumble from fatigue and Death can overtake me, a miracle occurs. There in the infinite black void just ahead—I see a light!

Oh wonderful, glorious, life giving light, It is just ahead of me.

I approach the illumination running as I head for the source.

This miraculous light in the lair of Death… it is my candle of life…the candle from my dream, resting in its iron holder sitting on the stony floor just as I dreamt it. The fluttering flame of my mortal existence is still burning.

But then my heart sinks as I hear Death coming up from behind me and he sucks loud, rattling, strings of mucous inside his lungs as they pull in the icy air. My foe holds the foul breath in his lungs, that when blown from its cracked lips, will threaten to snuff out my candle. But now that I am standing before the flame, maybe I can try to guard my fire of life from the creature that wants to extinguish it.

I feel and smell Death behind me and then I feel him blow the stream of breath from his lungs forcefully. The repulsive breath hits my back and deflects around me.

My flame of life still burns! Death cannot hurt me now. Indeed, he cannot snuff out my candle as long as I stand here.

The beast growls behind me with a primeval fury. However, for all of his ferocity, the beast roars in impotent rage. Death is singular in its insignificance now.

Looking past my candle on the floor, I see a brilliant rising line of radiant light on the far wall. I walk nearer to find that the vertical line of illumination is actually the crack at the opening between two immense metal doors. Peering through the crack, I see a vast chamber. It has no end. And inside it is a source of infinite life sustaining light.

I push at the doors and as they slowly open, the dark cold lair of death is breached with divine light. This light is a radiance as warm, blessed, and as dazzling as the sun.

I leave my candle burning on the floor of Death’s dark lair and walk forward into the vast glowing chamber of safety.  Never again will I suffer in darkness. Never more shall I shiver in the cold.  I shall live in this glorious warm realm of hope.

I turn back one last time to look into the shadows of the den of Death. Then I see Death himself standing just shy of the light. What an atrocity to the senses. The creature is utterly vile and repugnant as it stares at me with cold black eyes and curved venomous fangs. Nevertheless, I stand bold, as it will not approach from the shadows. The beast seems petrified of the living light.

Death snarls at me in anger and the ground shakes.

Then I realize that I am in peril. I am suddenly alarmed as I left my candle behind. On the floor in the shadows, I see its flame burning with no protection. Death inhales and blows against the yellow trembling tongue of fire and it flutters. Then suddenly the flame of my life is snuffed out forever.

I instantly panic, but in time, I realize that I am unharmed. I am still alive because of this sacred brilliant glow. I realize with joy that I have beaten death. I laugh at death, mocking him.

In a rage of defeat, my foe pulls hard at the metal doors and they crash shut between the two of us. I turn around and face the light. I immerse myself in its warmth. Light is everywhere, there is a world of life in here.

Suddenly I realize where I am. I am in Heaven.

I stand in the illumination of God omnipotent in fantastic joy. Then I wait for the holy sounds. I always wanted to hear the angels in Heaven sing like sirens.

I long for the angel’s mellifluous chorus. Yet, the music does not come. However, I hear something even greater. It is louder than ten thousand trumpets.

I hear what I never imagined I would hear in Heaven. I hear billions of blood-curdling screams come from within the sun like glow.

Then it hits me and I know where I really am.

I am in Hell.

The intense light grows with an escalating heat until it is so hot that my flesh begins to sting.  I see this endless chamber for what it really is. It is a place of raging fire, conflagrations, and a realm of infernos. There are explosions like geysers that send rolling flames rocketing upwards. All around me are a perilous number of lava pits; they bubble, boil, and vomit liquid stone and burning sulfur.

I dare not walk.

The floor at my feet cracks open and a volatile blaze consumes my body. It wraps around my form, like a serpent. I am in a burning cocoon of flames.

I want to run wildly, to roll on the floor, and snuff out the unbearable flames that overtake me. However, I dare not move near the pits of molten fire. For in all the burning sulfur pools, I see flailing skeletons hopelessly more doomed than I am.

They are the ones who ran in fear and fell into the hellish sinkholes. Now they are nothing but flaming frameworks of animated bones, thrashing, screaming, and trying to tread in the red-hot liquid. They scream, trying merely to keep their skulls above the surface. I see them grasp at the sides of the spewing sulfur pits. Skeletal hands arise from the molten lava, reach out to the edge, and rest themselves upon the bones of their forearms. Skeletal digits grasp wildly for my legs as the condemned attempt to pull themselves out of the depths of despair. I step back away from the languishers lest they pull me into the molten prison with them.

I stand still. I know I cannot run. I must not run as the others did.  The best things I can do are stand still and suffer the fire.

Some of the damned in Hell are not in the pits and I see these skeletons clamber past me.  These ones run wildly in a panic, wailing aloud as their bones burn until they become dry and crack with a pop. They suffer hopelessly as they fly up off the ground when a flare of the devils flaming tongue explodes upwards, taking them up into the air with the rising inferno.

I am escalating into a wild panic. I am on fire and my flesh is charred and falling off my body like melting wax. In all the fear, I went mad. I could not help myself. And I began to run.

I am one of the countless runners in Hell now. We scream wretchedly to no avail. All we live for is to run away from the inescapable fires and try to jump over the molten pits. Some of us run and dodge the exploding flames, like soldiers running into mortar fire, and others fall and drown in the boiling molten depths of despair. So hideous is all the howling that it commits an offence against the mind.  All here have abandoned hope. For us there is only panic, screaming, and torment beyond bearing.

I ran for a far-reaching distance but then I lost my footing, I stumbled, and I fell into a molten sinkhole. Dipping under the pool of spitting and belching lava, I tread in magma to brink my skull above the surface. Gasping for my breath, I draw burning sulfur fumes into my lungs. I cough up lava and fire as I suffer in unspeakable torture. Yet for all the fire consuming me, I do not die. I feel everything. But this makes no sense as my candle of life, was snuffed out by death. So I should be dead.

To my horror, I now realize that I am indeed dead and that I will burn here in Hell for eternity.

I am truly repentant for how I lived my life in sin. I was wrong and I know this. But God is forgiving. I cry out to God praying for mercy and forgiveness. I plead that God spare me this burden, an existence that I cannot possibly bear. I wait for an answer to my prayer of genuine remorse and shame.

And God is stony silent.

THE DEAD LITTLE BOY AND ANGRY ACCUSATIONS


The day seemed like a curse; unfortunately, it was not over with yet.

The Dead Little Boy in his Sad little Coffin


Back at the Cemetery there was only one car left in the Funeral Parking lot. It belonged to the parents of the dead little boy. The father and mother were still rigid beside the grave inside the cemetery. Even the Funeral Director awkwardly excused himself to abandon the unfinished burial ceremony to escape the unendurable iciness.

The father and mother were in an out-and-out state of helplessness and hostility.

The exodus was a big reason for why the father and mother remained there at the grave, standing silent and motionless.

The other reason is that they did not want to go home and be alone with one another. They might have given the impression of emotional numbness to the casual eye. However, beneath their stolid outer surfaces, emotional discord plagued the two spouses. And there had been a noticeable rift between the husband and wife ever since the death.

Be it the loss of the boy, the abandonment of the burial by others, or the ill feelings between them, they refused to face the problem, which they easily accomplished by not talking about it. And this is how they each dealt with their contaminated emotions in their marriage—disconnected and uncommunicative. And this almost seemed normal to them by now.

But all the horrible feelings that they had been pushing down and avoiding the whole time began to revolt. And repressed festering emotions and unsaid thoughts began to climb themselves out of each person’s throat unassisted, and they wanted to scream of their existence.

“Let’s just go, Joan!” the father barked without looking at her. He left her there, and took off toward the car.

The mother looked up, hopeless and crushed; she scurried after her husband trying to catch up. She ran behind him imploring, “Tom, Tom!” Her husband increased his gate but she still chased after him.

“Tom! We have to talk about this; we have not said two words between each other since the accident.”

The father did not respond, he just pressed on ahead of her, his face was red, his temple veins were visible, and his facial muscles were rigid..

“Tom!” she grabbed his arm, “It was an accident!”

“Is that what you are calling it now, Joan, a mere mishap?” The father jerked his arm away aggressively and her fingernails accidentally scratched at his suit cuff, fraying fibers, as her arm snapped back. The father swung his arms as he hastened his stride to the car.

“Tom, why not just say what you have been thinking all along? It is all over your face.” She started sobbing, “Just go ahead, and say it; say it, and get it over with!”

The father stopped, turned towards his wife, and glowered at her with sharp eyes and narrowed eyebrows, “What do you want me to say! Our only child is dead Joan” He talked with his hands in the air, gesticulating vehemently, “Caleb was 8 years old—8 years old!” he barked. “And he died with such a horrible death; his body bore a permanent frown that the mortician could not even straighten!”

He grimaced looking down at the ground in devastation, “For God’s sake, Joan, they had to drag his body out of the ice with a grappling hook.”

The father’s mood sank into a lull of despair. Then his anger surged back again. “And now I have to live with that image in my head! I have to see it every day, for the rest of my life.”

“And I don’t Tom?” she said angry and hurt, “Don’t you think I would give my life in a second to bring Caleb back for 5 minutes?”

The father shook his head in anger. “It’s a little too late for that Joan. He is dead.”

“You are not being fair Tom; I have to live with this just as much as you, and even more,” She said in cold, cutting tone, “Yes, much more Tom. I have to bear the burden of your silent eyes’ accusations.” I see what you think in your eyes; it is always there, every time you look at me.”

The husband said nothing; he just snorted air from his nostrils while shaking his head forcefully, and it was body language invalidating her entire statement.

As if trying to convince her she pleaded her point, “Tom, it was nobody’s fault. All of those children were skating on the lake. They all always have skated on that lake. Even in late August.

And there has never been any danger. The ice has never once broken, ever, even in September.” She begged, “Tom this was November. It was just a horrible accident. No one could have known this would happen, especially not in November.”

Both parents got to the car; each opened their own door and they got in the car. The father sat in the driver’s seat, blood boiling; he heard the pressure of blood coursing through the veins of his temples with a whoosh.

The mother sat in silent anger towards her husband, and also self-loathing, as she snapped her seatbelt on in the passenger seat. She had been so upset she forgot to shut her door. In fact, both doors were hanging wide open.

The husband’s key was not even in the ignition, his keys clenched in his left hand squeezing his fist around them like a nutcracker. Bob looked into his wife’s face with fiery eyes. He started fiercely pointing an accusing right finger in her face.

“Damn it Joan! This is not just another November! There has never been a November this warm in 25 years! You know that Joan, it was on the news every day for a week and you even commented on it!

The father shouted in her face, “Caleb never should have been allowed to skate on that goddamned lake this November!” He turned away and slapped his right palm on the steering wheel forcefully, slapping at it two times, and looked out the left open door, he bit his lower, he said nothing, he breathed, he thought, he shook his head. And finally, he shook his head. He turned his back towards the passenger seat, snapping his head to stare her directly in the eyes. “But he did go skating on that lake this warm November Joan, did he not? I am pretty sure that Caleb did not ask for my permission. In fact he never could have asked me that day because I was at the office at the time.”

“What the Hell does that supposed to mean!” screamed the mother defensively, “Well! What are you wanting to say?” she demanded, “You think I killed Caleb? Is that what you are you saying, Tom?” The mother’s eyes were horrified. “Oh my God, that is it Bob isn’t it, you think…do really blame me for this horrible tragedy?”

“All I am saying Joan…” He paused to think, “…All I am saying Joan, is that if I had been the only adult at home; Caleb never would have been allowed to go near that lake; and he would not have been out there skating, not even in November, not in this warm spell.”

“So that’s it after all isn’t it Tom? The mother’s voice became frantic; I let him go skate with all the other kids so I am some sort of a murderer?” She broke down sobbing. “How can you imply I did this knowing what would happen! How could you even say such a think?”

“I did not say that Joan, you said it!” barked the father. “Ok, you really want to know what I think.”

The mother cried, “Yes! Yes! Put me on trial Bob, no jury, and no appeal, just pass your sentence upon me, and send me to the executioner.”

“All right Dear, it’s simple, if I had been the one at home, I never would have let Caleb go skating on that unstable lake. You were at home though and you let Caleb go despite the weather reports. You knew better Joan! But you sent our boy out onto that deadly ice anyway!” He screamed, “If it had not been for you, Caleb would be alive right now! Yes, god damnit you killed our son when you sent him out on that dangerous ice! That was your child that you gave birth to, and he will never come back because of you!”

The mother’s eyes stared a thousand yards away, she focused on nothing, and she was in the hell of her own mind. Joan tried to speak but let out only a silent word; it failed to come from her terrorized face, which cried a torrent of tears in two briny streams. She could only writhe in a grimace of horror, and merely mouthed out mysterious words from a crooked mouth, mute and crooked from agony. She censured herself now.

And now that she agreed with what her husband had said to her so abusively, she now said those words, those accusations, to herself. Moreover her own accusations against herself, would forever speak at her, over and over, like a tape recorder playing inside of her mind, and the voice that Joan heard on that tape would be her own.

Thus, it did not matter what the truth was any longer. It would not change her mind. She believed what she told herself. She had tried, judged, and convicted herself of being guilty of all of it. And there would be no appeal or expiation for such a crime.

Similarly, her husband’s job was finished; he need not bother to exert the effort to accuse his wife any more. Bob did not need to blame his wife ever again, for the simple reason that she would endlessly do a much better job of torturing herself with pain and guilt and blame than he could ever possibly do.

And now she would never give herself no pardon from the felony, for the atrocity, for here sin of sins that she committed against her own flesh and blood. Emotionally beyond salvage, she would go to her grave with this.

Bitter shame soon overcame the father with regret for what he said. But the mother said nothing at all, completely defeated, she sat silently in the car, still staring at nothing with dead eyes.

She lost something inside of her that she needed desperately and now and it was gone. She did not know how to get it back. She did not even know what to look for.

She became limp and slowly slumped over upon herself, her face fallen between her knees. Her arms wrapped around her knees and she rocked silently.

Then at first the faint sound, a unsettling noise. And soon the sound grew louder and brasher as she rocked. Joan was forever marked from that fight, for she was not crying she was wailing, grieving in a helpless child-like manner.

Then in a primal, visceral fashion, she began to howl in a ghastly disconcerting manner. The distressed emission was not like a human. It was an eerie howling sounded much more like that of a wounded animal, than a cry like that of a person.

The father jumped out of his seat and stood up. He stood motionless for a few seconds, and then overcome with tortuous emotions; he began to take his fist and pound the roof of the sedan over and over, as hard as he could. The metal slightly dented under each blow. He was so worked up he could not feel his hands. Then he realized that they were bleeding badly and he gave it up and stopped.

He lay the side of his face on the bloody roof and burst out in bitter weeping and sorrow. His son was gone. He had hurt his wife. Yet he did not feel he was wrong. And he still blamed her and had not intentions to forgive her for the death of his son.

A surge of hate soon poisoned his natural weeping. It was hate for himself, hate for his wife, hate for the loss of his son, and hate for the ruinous curse of the funeral.

He wiped his tears on his sleeve, walked around the car and shut his wife’s door, he shut it so hard and quick that they glass almost broke, but his howling wife did not even flinch in her grief.

Bob walked back around the car and climbed in his side; he shut his door, and put the key in the ignition.

He reached for a cigarette, but then threw it away. He started the cold car and began slowly pulling out of the parking lot. He did not say a single word to his wife driving home. And all that while, his wife had never stopped howling, she could not control it, and as the car drove out that wounded animal-like howling was the only sound heard until the car was a good distance away.

Living in “The Now”


LIVE IN “THE NOW” AND YOU WON’T REGRET DYING.

If one thing is true it is that, we humans all naturally tend to forget to appreciate the wonder of the little things happening around us in the present moment i.e. “The Now.” I suggest that these things are all that we ever really have. And in a very real way, I would propose that there is nothing that truly exists but what is happening “Right Now.”

Actively living through these actions and things can make our life in the present stop being boring and become glorious. In hard times, finding something ecstatic in “The Now” can serve as something hopeful.

In really hard times, we may even use this rapturous simple thing to hold on to it for our very lives, when we find we are treading water far from land, and we can grab it to stay afloat and survive long after the ship has sunk

It is not hard to notice these things if I actively, and continually try.

As these are the most obvious things in my life. I am talking everything in “The Now,” that I can cherish. I am talking about regularly involving my mind in spiritual practice (Spirituality can be either religious and with God, or Secular with the Universe and Nature). We are a social species and we need to be in mutuality, we need touch and embrace, and we all need love. If these are not readily available in humans, I find my dog has more than enough to take their places. Continue reading