Please help me by critiquing this short video. I want to know what works for you in this video, as well as what does not.You need not be a video editor. You know what you like. Use your instincts. Please be as specific as possible with constructive criticism so that I may improve the final version.
AN OUTRO FOR NOUS FILMS
MUVIPIX FRIENDS HERE IS THE TIMELINE IMAGE
When the first domino fell, all the others came clattering down, and they did not stop until my life was in shambles.
It was Friday afternoon. My wife and the kids had all piled into the car hours ago. Barbara had driven halfway across the state, taking the kids to visit their grandparents for the weekend. She had called to tell me that they had arrived safely, were tired, and that she would call me the following evening.
I was humming; I had the whole house to myself, as I sat on the couch reading a magazine article in absolute peace. Meanwhile the television played quietly in the background. I finished my article just in time to catch the evening news, so I got up to go change the channel.
I had only walked a few steps when the sharp pains stopped me in my tracks. It felt as if I had taken a lightning bolt strike to the center of my chest. I instinctively clutched at my breast with my arm and a claw of a hand. Then I felt my knees give way, and my body went slack, and I fell to the floor. My head struck the surface with such a jolting collision, that it knocked me senseless.
After the fall, my mind merely registered blackness. As my brain labored to think thick thoughts, my mind soon succumbed to fatigue, and my awareness dwindled. I descended deeper and deeper into the darkness of my mind, finally slipping beneath the surface of a pool of nothingness.
After a long period of torpor, my mind flickered with activity, and I began to dream. In my dream, an utter absence of light produced an oppressive blackness that swallowed up everything for as far as I could see.
I found myself lost in what seemed to be a huge, stony valley. I wandered about like a blind man, staggering aimlessly across the rocky basin, in a cold sweat, my mind ruminating, wondering if I was walking in circles. I pushed myself onward, persevering for three grueling days.
My legs became so heavy that I stopped and I put my hands on my knees. I panted trying to catch my breath. I thought how nice it would be, just to stop wandering in doubt. I would rest, if only for a moment, and then press on.
I sat down on the rough rock bottom of the desolate valley. But I could not calm my restless thoughts. I was trembling, so I drew my knees into my chest and I wrapped my arms around them. In my ruminations, I was rocking myself back and forth.
I decided that I was not going to get up and walk anymore. I bit my lower lip, as shook my head; a single tear rolled down my cheek. I did not wipe it off.
I spoke to myself saying, “You can do this, the worst part is being afraid. Everything else will take care of itself; you just try not to be so afraid.”
I rocked back and forth, and took some peace in the rhythm. I still had an uneasy pang in my gut but not as much as before. I tried not to think while I rocked, knowing that I would be alone when I died in the darkness. Inside I hung heavy and felt empty.
Then I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and my heart leapt with joy—it was the soft glow of a single candle burning. It rested in an antiquated candleholder, the kind with a ring for the finger. I noticed that the holder lay precariously, sitting askew atop the small rocks that lay scattered all about. I stared into the yellow flame. It was the only point of light in an infinite sea of ebony.
I anxiously watched yellow tongue quiver, and when the gentle breeze blew, it pushed the spitting flame all the way over on its side, where it hung tremulously, clinging to the wick.
I realized that the candle was a dream symbol. It was the candle of my life force, and that delicate flame represented my mortal existence, a thing so vulnerable, and so easily snuffed out forever. At this realization, I became terrified that something would blow out the flame, and I would die. I mentally anguished as I stirred in my dream.
Quite startled, my body jerked, and I gasped coming out of the nightmare. I soon realized that it was all just a terrible dream, and as I lay there with my eyes closed, the tightness in my chest faded as my heartbeat slowed down to a regular rhytm.
My thoughts were finally clearing up. I was fully aware that I had suffered a massive heart attack. I still remembered falling and hitting my head on the living room floor. When I opened my eyes, I could not see anything. In fact, I could not even detect light. I concluded that when I fell, that I had received a head trauma. I was suddenly alarmed, but I calmed down when recalled reading that a severe concussion can result in a temporary, but complete loss of vision. It was a minor injury and the sight usually returned completely.
But then my mind dredged up the two worst words for a worrisome person, “what if…” My immediate thought was “what if it was not a simple concussion?”
After all, I had suffered a major cardiovascular accident, what if I also suffered a stroke.
What if the blow to the head caused massive bleeding in the brain, and resulted in partial brain damage? Suddenly a sense of panic completely overcame me, and I feared that I might well be permanently blind.
With no one at home when I fell, I wondered how long I had been lying on the living room floor unconscious.
Then I realized that I was not actually lying on the living room floor any longer. Having suffered a heart attack, my first thought was that the house cleaner had come in Saturday morning, found me lying unconscious on the living room carpet and called 911.
I naturally assumed that I was in the hospital. I yelled out, “Nurse! For God’s sake, help!” There was no response. I wondered what kind of a hospital this was. Then I began to think I might not even be in a hospital. My suspicions quickly grew. If I was in a hospital, why was it that I smelled none of the distinctive disinfectants or the odor sickness, urine, and disease? I felt no IVs in my arms. I heard no speaker pages for doctors or nurses. In fact, I heard nothing at all. There was a profound silence about.
I was lying on my back on a very hard surface. I swept an arm aside in my world of darkness, and scattered away bits of rubble with a clattering. I inhaled the air deeply; it was as cold as the air from a freezer. Except for the fact that the air smelled appallingly musty, stale, and like years of dust hung within it.
I had no I idea where I was. It seemed like I lay on a cement floor of a building under construction. But the floor was not smooth concrete like in construction, it was hard stone, and its surface was very rough. Also, the flooring lay littered with what felt like small, porous rocks.
That was when I had a crazy recollection. I remembered enrolling in spelunking, or cave exploring, thirty years ago in college, to blow off the physical education requirement. I had been in a few caves, and as ridiculous as it seemed, I had very serious thoughts that I was laying on my back inside the depths of a pitch-black black cave, as opposed to something civilized
I sat up, I found my footing, and I stood up on the rough rock floor. I walked about carefully, using my hands to feel about the dark, and stepped cautiously among the scattered stones that rolled and crunched under my feet. I was very curious to ascertain the physical nature of my mysterious environment.
It was darker than any lack of light I had ever experienced. I immediately assumed I was in a colossal cave, one immeasurably far beneath the surface of the earth, which would explain the cutting cold that burned my ears and bit at my nostrils.
However, after surveying with my hands, I felt no walls of any kind in the cavernous void. I felt no stalactites hanging either. Most importantly, unlike any other cave, this place had no evidence of harboring any life. There was no proof of bat guano on the flooring, nor did I smell its distinctive odor. I found no moss, lichens, or slime on the floor. I felt no insects moving among the loose stones. I heard no dripping or trickle of water. And despite the bitter cold, I touched no ice anywhere. Lastly, a deafening silence hung in the air. There was no life in this dark, cavernous realm.
I concluded this desolate rock expanse was not any one of the many different known types of caves. I was certain of this conclusion because the air had such ancientness about it, as if no pair of lungs had ever breathed it before. All caves have at least one or more entrances and exits—air can enter into a cave from the outside. It is drawn and moved within caves by natural forces of pressure.
But the air in this black abyss did not smell like any cave. I had no idea how it came to be inside this place. I was positive it did not contain any air that had once existed externally. This stony hollow was undeniably self-contained; it existed as an isolated, vast hollow space— bordered by airtight granite on every side. There was simply no way into this strange realm. And consequently, there was no way out. That was the only possible explanation as to why this place harbored no life.
But with no way in and no way out, how did I wind up inside of here?
This damned place reminded me of a poem I read long ago. I could only remember one line of its prose.
…Oh, frightful black void, in this realm of plucked out eyes, what bone-chilling cold, like unseen frost cuts at my face. Oh baleful circumstances, why do you conspire against me and engulf me like a tomb…
Recalling that verse to mind, my hands began to tremble. The poem brought on a superstitious dread of my surroundings. The longer that I had been in the dark, the more wary I had become of this dark abode.
Soon an eerie unrest coursed through my veins. In my mind arose a nagging feeling—something was different…some change had occurred. One unsaid word lay silent on my tongue, “caution.” I blew warm breaths into my cold, cupped hands, trying to draw the numbness out of my fingers. Suddenly I stopped, my breath was silent, and I felt my heart pump harder, like a fist clenching inside my chest.
I could never explain or make reason of my sixth sense, but when I focused deeply, I could detect and feel the presence of things that I could not see with my eyes; dangers, which came lurking within close physical proximity to me.
As the moments passed, I strained, intensely, concentrating on the open space about me. I listened for any sounds within the silence; I strained to “feel” for any movement within the black curtains of dread that hung everywhere.
I felt my sixth sense arise with a tingling that always produced a state of heightened vigilance. Someone was in the dark lair with me. My concentration radiated outwards like invisible concentric circles of energy. Then my mental awareness quickly wrapped around him like an invisible net. I sensed his form for a split second—arms, legs, upright, tall.
Who is this, is he lost in the blackness here as I am? Perhaps I should call out to him.
I heard the quiet crunching of slow steps on the floor. Surely, he had to take careful steps, so as not to fall, wandering blind in this darkness such as I did.
But my gut reaction was not to call out. I did not wish to alert him as to my awareness, so I did not make a sound. He was carefully stepping towards me from behind. I did not turn back towards him, as my feet would have made sounds if I twisted.
He drew in close upon me, and then suddenly halted directly behind me. He stood as still and as silent as a statue. I did not move. I did not even breathe.
We were obviously both aware of each other’s presence, as we remained frozen in the blackness. The silence between us was deafening. I wondered what his intentions were. If he had wanted to seize me, he surely would have by done so by now. Perhaps he sensed that I was a danger to him. I thought it best quietly to speak to him, in calm, reassuring voice,
But before I did, I felt an intense, unyielding stare on the back of my neck.
He does see in the black!
His abnormal ability to see me struck me as so disconcerting that it sent a shudder through me.
If he could see me and yet did not call out to me, then I had to consider him hostile in nature. Yet he stood like a stone right behind me. Another moment passed us in silence.
Then I felt something like a weak electric field tingle past my ear. I sensed what seemed like a huge hand as it reached around my neck and face from behind. The hand was much too big to be dark that of a man. It was that of a great beast. I wondered how a beast came to be inside this closed bubble within a sea of granite. Did some force transport him here as it had done to me.
This was perhaps the only thing here which possessed life But in this dead place, the only living creature? What would he eat to survive?
I felt the creature holding its bestial palm just shy of my mouth. Whatever this thing was, it was taking great care not to touch me.
Maybe the creature was planning to suffocate me. Or more perversely, maybe this beast was studying me, and amusing itself with the power it had over me. I could not deny my senses. I became convinced this thing was curiously measuring me up and nettling me, much like a child would do with an insect.
Tingling sensations crept about my face and cheeks. I perceived that the creature had extended a long bony finger and was lustfully tracing along the contours of my face.
It was almost a form of torture; the beast was eliciting feelings in me, heightening my fright, keeping my mind unclear of what the beast wanted of me—all this accomplished simply by not touching me.
But why was a brute stalking me in this isolated hollow lair? Was it just to toy with me as a creature insignificant in his eyes? Unless this creature… this beast so near to me in the bowels of this abyss… of course it must be…
The hand withdrew and disappeared behind my back. It had satisfied its curiosity; it decided that for the time being that I was not a hazard. It easily could have killed me. Hopefully he would leave, having grown bored with me
I immediately jerked, coming out of my thoughts. I felt something! It was a cold sensation… I felt it again. In the numbness of terror, I realized the monster had extended one of its bony fingers and tapped me on the nape of my neck two times. That odious appendage, having been chilly upon my neck, made we want to wretch!
Suddenly, the beast roared behind me furiously, I jumped in my tracks, terrified. The bestial snarl came accompanied with a rattling knock that reverberated like a tiger in the jungle.
Panic overtook my mind. I suddenly knew what it ate to stay alive. How could I have been so stupid?
Every man’s mortal life is a debt he must pay back when it is time. Yet no one wants to die. I did not want to die either. I stumbled ahead in the dark, stones rolling beneath my feet as I tried not to fall. The beads of sweat on my face were as cold as my panic.
Yet the brute knew I was vulnerable, and he followed my every step, cruelly, by waiting to slay me. He followed me patiently as I grew weary. I supposed he enjoyed seeing the panic in me. I knew that that he would follow, relentlessly, and when I was to weary too continue, only then he would finally seize and devour me.
My mortal life’s tenacity, and the instinct to live, forced me to press onward blindly. My legs grew heavy and I was losing my footing as I tried to flee. How much longer could I stave this monster off, in my blindness, and in my state of weakness? I was surely doomed.
But then suddenly, there in the infinite black—I saw a small spot of glorious light, it was just ahead of me. I ran towards the source.
Much to my astonishment, I recognized that I was looking at my candle of life…the symbol from my dream, and it was resting in its iron holder sitting on the stony floor just as I had dreamt it. The fluttering flame of my mortal existence was still burning. I was still alive!
But then my heart sank as I heard the monster swiftly coming up from behind me. He inhaled, and the sound of rattling, strings of mucous knocked as his lungs pulled in the icy air. My foe held his foul breath and prepared to spew it from his cracked lips, in order to snuff out my candle. It blew the stream of cold black air from his lungs forcefully. The repulsive breath hit my back and deflected around me.
Looking down before my feet, my flame of life still burned! The beast growled behind me with a primeval rage. Looking past my candle on the floor, I saw even more light. A few steps ahead of me, I detected a brilliant rising vertical line of radiant light. The line of light surged brighter.
The beast immediately took several steps back as if scared of this light. Then he turned and walked away. The crunching of the stones beneath his feet got quieter and quieter until he was so far away that I could not hear his footsteps.
Feeling safe and intensely curious I approached the line of illumination and found that it was actually the crack at the opening between two massive metal doors. I pushed at the doors with all of my might, and as they slowly opened, the dark cold lair was breached with divine, life-giving light. This light was as warm, blessed, and as alluring as the sun.
I walked forward into the vast glowing chamber of safety. Never again would I suffer in darkness. Never again would I shiver in the cold.
I turned back one last time to look into the shadows of the dark abyss. That was the one and only time I saw the monster with my own eyes—the beast was Death himself. What an atrocity to the senses he was. Utterly vile and repugnant, he stared at me with cold black eyes and curved venomous fangs.
The infamous reaper of mortal life was standing just shy of the light. My fear of Death faded as I saw that he would not approach the light from the shadows. The brute seemed petrified of the lighted chamber.
Death did not appear angry, and instead of roaring at me, he coolly regarded me. For a moment, he was silent. And then he looked me and seemed to laugh aloud, in deep shudders of a croaking, then he turned away and slowly walked back into his dark abode.
I gasped in fear. I realized I had walked through the metal doors into the hall of light, and foolishly left my burning candle behind in Death’s lair, unprotected. Death slowly moved toward it, he inhaled, and then blew out a stream of air. I watched helplessly as trembling tongue of fire began to ripple and flutter. Then the flame of my mortal existence disappeared into the blackness, snuffed out forever.
I immediately panicked, and in a surreal numbness, my stomach sunk in a twinge of hopeless disbelief. Ten seconds of sheer fright consumed me. And unexpectedly I realized that I was unharmed. I was still alive. The sacred glowing light inside the chamber saved my life. I realized I had beaten Death. I said nothing and in the shadows Death turned his head back to look at me. But I could not help myself, and I laughed out loud at him.
That was the only time that he approached the light. Grimacing into it, he approached the light. He grabbed the metal doors, pulled hard at them, and they crashed shut between the two of us. Safely inside the chamber, I had no more worries about Death. There was a universe of living light about me; the chamber produced much more light and life than all the souls on earth would ever need. I walked further into the illumination and it began to pulse as it surged brighter. As I basked in the light, it grew exponentially in its intensity. The brilliant radiance grew warm.
That is when I heard a countless number high clamors start to sound. The many tones seemed as if a great chorus was warming up to play. Soon there was a massive increase in volume. There came a high vibrant range, a myriad of tenors—a sound like ten thousand trumpets.
Next, joining in, the din of thousands of piano wires all pulled too tight, then plucked, in dissonance. Then a tremulous cacophony—like countless fingernails screeching across a massive chalkboard. The squealing of the nails was sickening. The sum of the complete series of unsettling sounds unified and became recognizable. It was an unendurable symphony; the paramount agony of millions of hideous, screams, cries, and blood curdling shrieks.
Then I understood the chamber for what it really was.
The golden brilliance inside the grand chamber burst into a raging inferno of conflagrations, and rolling flames rose up in the air. All around me within the flames were a perilous number of molten pits; they boiled, and vomited up liquid stone and the stink of burning sulfur gasses.
A fissure cracked open in the floor beneath my feet and a volatile blaze came from within. Flames wrapped around my form like serpents and a burning cocoon of flames consumed me.
All I could think of was running, dropping to roll on the floor, and snuff out the unbearable flames. However, I dared not move near the pits of fire. For in all the burning sulfur pools, I saw flailing skeletons hopelessly more doomed than I was.
Those were the poorest wretches, those souls who ran in fear, and fell into the hellish sinkholes. They had become nothing but blazing frameworks of animated bones. The screaming skeletons wailed inconsolably. Their outcries were beyond what a scream should contain. Their skulls bobbed at the surface of the magma, tilting their cervical vertebrae backwards, and their jowls yawned cavernously, gasping for breaths of air.
Occasionally, a few carcasses managed to grasp the sides of the spewing sulfur pits. Skeletal hands arose, reached out to the edge, and the poor devils pulled themselves up to rest on the bones of their forearms.
Imploringly the skeletons held their arms out to me, begging me to pull them out of the flaming pools. The bony hands of panicking ones grasped wildly for my legs. I knew I must not move. I knew I must never run, no matter how afraid I was. I would surely be in one of the pits if I ran. The best things to do were to stand still and simply endure the searing flames as they consumed me.
Some of the damned were not in the pits and these skeletons bumped me as they clambered past. These ones ran wildly in a panic, wailing aloud as their bones burned until they became dry and cracked with a pop; others were seized when blazes exploded, taking them into the air with the rising inferno.
The longer I stood there in flames, burning, the more I began to escalate into a wild panic. As I burned, languishing in agony, I smelled my flesh burning, and it began sloughing off of my bones like sheets of 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 all shriek 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 hellholes. 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.
Yet for all the fire that consumed me, I would not die. Never spared the agony, I felt everything. But this made no sense as Death snuffed my candle of life. I should be dead. And then I realized that I was eternally dead and that I was going to burn here infinitely.
I cried out to God, praying for mercy and forgiveness. I said he was a merciful God, and I plead, begging him to spare me this burden, an existence that I could not possibly bear. In sheer terror, I waited for an answer to my prayer of genuine remorse and shame.
And God was stony silent.
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.
It was awfully hot outside, and Tom, was dressed in a suit and tie. He was moving his feet fast to make it down the sidewalk and get to work on time. He almost tripped over his scuffling shoes, barely avoiding a fall, as many cars whisked past him on the street.
He saw the cross walk just ahead. Impatient to cross that street he took, long, quick strides to get there. But he just missed the signal. And the pedestrian walking sign now burned in red “Don’t Walk, Don’t Walk.” He stood there on the edge of the sidewalk seething; he was on the very edge, almost standing in the road.
Tom had just stopped smoking. When he noticed that he was unconsciously rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, he immediately stopped himself. He recalled earlier that day, when the therapist said he would do things like that when he went through the nicotine withdrawal. He would have twitchy fingers, anxiety, and even superstitious behavior if stressed.
A honking car speeding by within mere inches of him brought him out of his reverie, Tom edged back away from the street. Speeding cars were swooshing past him, obscuring his view of the pedestrian walk signal. He looked at his watch impatiently, His watch read3:00–lucky number.
Then a taxi whizzed past and blew the hot street’s contents up from the asphalt, and he grimaced at the grit thrown up into his face, covering him. It all smelled of hot tar. His forehead squeezed out drops of sweat that rolled down into his eyes, stinging them. He wiped his eyes, grimacing. And then he looked back up.
The cars kept swishing by but he got a glimpse of the crosswalk signal. “Don’t walk, Don’t Walk,” it glowed portentously through a speeding bus’ windows. Then he could not see the crosswalk light again for the cars passing.
He waited a long time to see the light again. When he did the pedestrian signal still flashed “Don’t Walk, Don’t Walk.” It seemed hours had passed since he looked at his watch. He looked at his wristwatch, 3:07 lucky number again.
Then he was quite angry as he realized that he had never pressed the pedestrian “walk” button on the crosswalk pole. His fingers twitched and in the heat, his nerves screamed in anxiety. He saw a broken compact mirror in the street. Bad luck—cannot cross here—No! this is the superstition the counselor talked about…I’m just hot and anxious—this is only nicotine withdrawal, superstition, twitchy fingers—and there is no such thing as bad luck.
He looked up and the crosswalk signal flashed, “Walk, Walk,” but Tom hesitated due to fear from the broken mirror, catch the next one, he thought. No…That is just superstition; it is the nicotine withdrawal nothing else. Walk now Tom, Go, Go, Go!
So he tried to make up lost time, and scurry across the street, but the crosswalk signal was already blinking red, “Don’t Walk, Don’t Walk.” Tom was standing in the middle of the busy street. The traffic light for the cars turned green. A car screeched to a murderous halt on hot tires. Then another car screeched to a halt, then another.
Tom touched the hood of one car; he was hot, and confused. From under the hood came a honk and Tom jumped. The cars with a green light could not move for Tom blocking them. They honked in a furious, disharmonious symphony. He finally came to his senses and scurried back towards from whence he came.
Damn it, never again, he vowed; it is the nicotine withdrawal and nothing else. Now you will probably be late for work at the bank at 3:20 p.m. He remembered the warning. “Tom if you are late just one more time,” the bank manager, had said, “I’ll have no choice but to let you go.”
Tom made it back to the side of the sidewalk from which he had started and he pressed the crosswalk button on the pole six times rapidly, anxiously. Sweat was now running off his brow and stinging his eyes again. He wiped his eyes so he could see. Sweat stuck to the starch of the neck of his dress shirt. He hated that. God, this is unbearably hot, and now, my damn job… I really wish I had just one god damned cigarette…”He looked up at the crosswalk sign. This was taking much too long,”
“Don’t walk,” “Don’t walk,” “Don’t walk,”… come on damn you, change to “Walk.” He had to make the next signal or it was his job. He anxiously looked down at his watch, and then his stomach sank in dread, his watch read “3:13,” bad luck, really bad luck. something ominous.
He looked up and the crosswalk signal flashed, “Walk, Walk” I do not know, maybe I should wait… I cannot go now—No stop it Tom! this is nothing but superstition again. Do not be a fool you have to get to work. “Walk now Tom, Go, Go, Go! Tom leaped into the street.
Instantly everything faded to dark. Suddenly something disconnected Tom’s brain from reality.
When Tom came back into conscious awareness, a dim light seemed to be falling around him. Where am I? Am I dead?
No, I am alive because I can feel my arms and legs moving. My mind works. I know who I am. I can think so I must exist.
Did a car hit me in the crosswalk? My arms and legs are fine.. But yes, that must be what happened, a car in the crosswalk hit me, but still I am alive. I am probably in a hospital bed right now, and unconscious. I will just have to wait in this place until my body awakens, then I shall reenter my body. Then there will be light all around me. Then I shall return to my body and be whole again.
Tom looked at his wristwatch. It was precisely midnight. A chill ran through him.
He found himself walking down an abandoned street of a vacant district. A dusty house of cards in the middle of nowhere made just for him. Why is this realm so dark? I can barely see. He did not know where he was, or where he was going. The shops unlit, the buildings sterile, everything smelled of yellowed paper, mildew and dust. He walked a long way in isolation. He checked his watch again; it was exactly midnight. That cannot be, it was midnight half an hour ago. I must wind my watch. Tom began to wind his wristwatch. Fully wound? How can my watch be fully wound? Something strange is happening here. I see no people. No dogs, not even sewer rats not even insects. This place is desolate. It is like being on the moon.
He instinctively knew that no one worked, or lived in this town because the streets were covered in a heavy dust and there were no track of cars or pedestrians in the dust. As he squinted, trying to see as he made his way down the alleys. He strained to see in the shadows. As he walked and the streets were so quiet, he could hear his own heart beating. Then through a cloud, a sick, pale moonlight shone down on a town he mistrusted. Smoke-like fog rose up from the ground in whorls and covered the streets. Tom looked at his watch again, exactly midnight. What is wrong with this watch? He shook his forearm and wrist vigorously. Then he looked carefully at his watch. The second hand is not moving and this watch stopped exactly at midnight.
A chill ran down Tom’s spine, he folded his arms over his chest. Tom noticed that he was soaked with sweat but cold.
He started walking along the vacant streets to keep his mind occupied. His shoes stepped in dust, which had the consistency of powder. It was as if Tom was walking on the moon. He looked behind him and saw the deep imprints from his footsteps. He kicked at the dust, curiously, and a cloud of powder filled the air. He coughed violently. He looked at his shoe; a layer of dust coated it. He tried to wipe his shoe clean by rubbing it on the back of the left leg of his slacks. He was irritated with himself. He was also beginning to be afraid because there seemed to be no life in this place.
Tom walked around the corner into an alley. Tom squinted in disbelief, as he was certain that he saw a person standing in the distance. Tom smiled and waved. The person waved back at him.
Tom ran, encumbered by the dust, towards the person. When he was close, he realized it was not a man. He saw it was a beautiful woman standing there. She was in a short dress standing in the shadows of the dark street. Tom thought; she is smiling at me and I feel greatly relieved and aroused… It is almost as if she has been waiting there for me to arrive.
Even in the pale moonlight, I could see her dress was bright red—and…her lips they were red as well.
As I walked to her in the night, her eyes were fluid in dark swirling colors, of red wine, Arabian coffee, and Indian ink.
“Your lips are stained crimson,” I said to her.
It must be from a drop of her pricked blood. She surely smeared the blood on her lips.
My curiosity aroused, I leaned in towards her and I said, “I imagine that you rubbed that foul crimson tint in between your thumb and forefinger and colored your lips with you finger didn’t you?”
She did not reply but smiled again in a most becoming way. She then licked her lips. Then she smiled at Tom. Her smile was amazingly seductive.
She wants me, and I want her passionately. I want to make love to her.
Then she spoke to Tom. She leaned into Tom’s body space and whispered, “I would adore it very much if I could kiss you. I only want my lips to touch your lips—so gently that it makes us both ache, our lips—like a butterfly’s wings gently closing, and scarcely touching,” then she exhaled into Tom’s face. Her breath smelt divine, like roses and lavender soap.
I must taste her lips so I will know if it is her blood.
As if she read his mind she cooed. “I want you to taste my lips. And when we pull our lips apart, I want to them to cling to one another, reluctant to part—like new lovers.” She smiled cunningly with those red lips against teeth so white that they shined, even in the pale moonlight.
And then Tom leaned in to kiss her. It was a long, deep, sensuous kiss. It is her blood on her lips; it tastes like a mild percentage of both salt, and copper. I liked that. But more importantly, how did she ever learn to kiss like that? Who taught her—that is the best kiss I have ever had. He smiled and pulled back away to look at her again.
That was when he saw it; he shivered in horror.
“What the hell is this—what did I just do? I did not kiss a beautiful woman I kissed a monster. As I look before me I do not see a beautiful woman in a red dress, I see a being with elephantine skin, large cracked lips, and thick mucus dripping off them.”
The monster wore a dark hooded shroud. When he put his hood back on, his face was no longer visible. He was a hood and cloak of darkness standing there facing Tom.
Before Tom could gasp in horror, Death had its cold bony handover his mouth. Death then exhaled a deep, foul, breath, emptying his lungs.
And before Tom could beg or say that one last prayer for forgiveness Death put its dry cracked lips on Tom’s mouth. Then Death sucked in from Tom’s body and snuffed the fluttering candle flame of existence, sucking his life out of his very soul. Death took Tom’s life into his foul lungs and walked off.
Tom had no more thoughts or cognizance. Tome left behind only a corpse lying in a hospital bed but was not aware of it. Tom was gone—forever.
Right now, I am afraid and I am alone in my panic room.
My heart beats wild with the startling jaggedness of colliding pins in a bowling alley.
There is nothing in my stark room except a clock on the wall.
And the sound of the second hand worries me because it seems to take longer in between ticks.
My stomach is wet, queasy, and tied in awkward knots like a circus balloon.
I can feel a pair of teeth eating its way out of my stomach from the inside.
My gaze looks inwards and everything appears so ambiguously exigent in there.
The trembling cold heart inside of my chest gnashes its teeth silently so no one sees.
Source : How to Use the Power of the Printed Word, Doubleday
Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.
These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful — ? And on and on.
Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.
The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.
So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head. Continue reading
Entirely overwhelmed, Barbara abruptly stood straight up and screamed out uncontrollably, repetitively, and hysterically. She shrieked out in a number of strident cries that caused the windowpane glass to quiver. She was having a full-blown nervous breakdown.
Barbara’s dark emotional sky lit up with her screams in a volley of shooting stars. Her frantic shrieks hurled across that dark canvas of her firmament, painting it with the long, luminous streaks of the colors of a fiery meteor shower.
Her soul’s heavens heard the screaming colors of blazing emerald terror, the roaring conflagration of crimson rage, the unheard sound of the smoldering ashes of denial, and the whispering hiss of the waning coals of dark hopelessness.
Oh, frightful black void, I wander perilously about in your vast rumbling bowel. What else occupies you besides infinite night and the deathlike chill that hangs about?
In this realm of plucked out eyes, the inky null is blind, and bone-chilling cold bites at my face bitterly, like unseen frost. Oh baleful circumstances, why you conspire against me to engulf me like a tomb.
How did I come to be here in this place of icy coldness and such utter darkness? Oh, blackest shadow of all shadows, which engulfs me, is there no light that shines within you. How did I arrive in your gut? How did I come to be in such an inhospitable realm of dark, icy, unfriendliness?
I recall I was at home with my family. We were all in the living room and watching television after dinner as we always do. I sat in my overstuffed high back chair watching television with my wife and the girls. Today was an ordinary day just like any other day.
No, wait… something odd happened did transpire. I recall something quite bizarre happening in the living room. However, that was all just a ridiculous dream. I must have dozed off watching television as I often do after a stressful day and a large dinner.
I must admit that the dream was indeed quite vivid. A more superstitious man might think it had truly been real…that what happened in the living room in fact really happened… However no, that is all preposterous! It all had to be a dream.
Yes, and perhaps I am still dreaming the very same vivid, outrageous, dream this very second. Except, now the dream has changed, and instead of being in the living room, I am now dreaming I am here, in a realm of utter black, I can find no light anywhere, and I am shivering in this icy void…It is all one big dream.
Yes, that would explain everything that happened since dinner until right now. I fell asleep in the chair. I am still asleep in the chair and dreaming. All I have to do is work my way back to when this all started. Then I can wake myself up.”
Going back to the beginning… I was in my chair watching television. Barbara and the kids were there with me in the living room. I was desperately trying to calm down after a very nerve-wracking week at the office. I was very irritable and tense. My neck was in knots.
In the background, my daughters were arguing. The fight was about whose turn it was to choose what we would watch on TV tonight. My daughters Stephanie and Rachel both swore it was their turn to choose the program for tonight. The two would not stop bickering. I was getting more and more irritated.
My daughter Becky was not involved in the fight. Yet she was driving me to madness by sitting back in her chair and banging the back of her head against the wall incessantly.
Suddenly pains started shooting down my right arm…Stephanie and Rachel were bickering loudly, but I could not quite understand what they were saying. Their voices sounded as if in a tunnel.
Everyone stopped fighting and regarded me oddly. Everyone watched me standing in front of the television. I started to perspire and felt woozy. I lost my balance briefly and had to put my hands on my knees.
“Dear, are you all right? You look pale. Why don’t you sit down for a minute?”
At that instant, I felt like a thunderbolt struck me in the chest. It knocked the breath out of me. I felt as if a horse kicked me. This agony lasted several minutes. It became unbearable.
I had the strange sensation of sinking. Nevertheless, I was standing on my feet in the living room.
Then, all of a sudden, all that pain was gone. I grew quite serene and wonderful warmth filled me. I felt safe through and through my existence. It was as if all of the stress was gone and nothing could touch me. At that time, I became profoundly sleepy. Everything faded to black.
However, this somnolence melted away leaving me in a state of intensive wakefulness. That is when the bizarre part of this dream started to happen…it was the queerest thing of all; I was just standing there as if nothing ever happened.
I was standing there in the living room, fit as a fiddle, fine as you please, while at the same time, I was looking down at the living room floor, beholding my own body lying at my feet.
As I stood, it was as if ropes bound me. That is I could not move from where I stood. I was a sort of passive observer, almost like a statue, looking down at my body lying on the floor.
I saw my wife and my three daughters. All of the girls were frantic and I could not comprehend why they were all down on all fours and gathered around my body. I tried to speak to them, to comfort them. I wanted to tell them I was standing right next to them and that I was perfectly well. However, when I spoke to them I was mute. It was as if I had no voice box. I could not make a sound.
I saw my body’s arms and legs splayed open, rigid. The appendages lay sticking out underneath the girl’s arms and legs. Stephanie, Rachel and Becky were hysterical. One was shaking my left leg and the other two were tugging at my arms.
As I stood erect above this whole scene, I observed as Barbara desperately began to shake my body. My body moved back and forth when she shook it, but it only moved mechanically, simply echoing the exertion of the forces she applied. Nevertheless, Barbara kept shaking my body, speaking wildly and incoherently. I tried to reassure Barbara, to calm her. However, I was confounded as once again, I was mute.
Barbara finally stopped shaking my body and stopped. All was still and there was a lull for several long seconds. My wife and daughters became still and silent. I was glad that they had calmed down.
Then all at once, everyone in the room began to scream out in a sort of primal hysteria, like wailing animals. Altogether, this sounded as if it was a surreal recognition of some sort of utter despair—so again, I was befuddled, for I was entirely well. In addition, as I suspected, when I tried speaking to console the girls I could not communicate. No sound passed my lips.
I had to stand there silently, helplessly, like a sculpture and watch them suffer. I saw the girls weeping, Stephanie was howling. I saw Barbara run to get the phone, she dialed, and then she returned to my body on the floor. She had her one hand on her forehead talking almost incoherently into the phone. She finally hung up and dropped the phone on the living room floor beside my body.
All of the family hesitantly gathered around my motionless body. They touched it lightly while they cried. The girls hugged one another while they wept. It was quite upsetting to watch my loved ones suffer needlessly.
That is all I remember and that was the end of my completely bizarre dream. No, wait I recall one more thing…the falling…I fell endlessly.
At one moment, I stood beholding my body with the family crying around it. Then unexpectedly, the floor caved in below my feet where I stood. I fell through the living room floor. I fell down, beneath the house, and I continued to fall, dropping away from the whole scene, and down into blackness. I fell down beneath the crust of the earth. I fell fast, dropping down unimpeded. It seemed that I fell forever.
During the entire event, my mind became weary and I must have dropped off into a deep sleep again. Because I remember, I began dreaming again. It was a mild nightmare of sorts. I dreamed that I saw a single white burning candle; the candle was in an old-fashioned metal holder with a ring for the finger—the kind of candleholder people used to carry around by hand to see in the pitch-black darkness long before incandescent lighting.
I dreamt I saw this candle in the carrier sitting on a rock-covered floor. The candle was all alone, and burned with a feeble, trembling flame. I watched the burning candle anxiously, as the tiny yellow tongue of fire fluttered like a flag rippling and folding in furls, waving in a hard wind. I watched powerlessly while that flame tried to survive, tremulously clinging to the wick in the blowing wind. For some reason I was terrified that this flame would be blown out.
Suddenly I awoke from that silly nightmare. That is the moment I first realized that I was standing here in the unknown dark, cold place where currently stand. That explains the bizarre imagery and dreams preceding right now. However, it does not adequately explain why I am here in this inky artic void.
I either dreamed this whole thing, and I am still dreaming right now—or, the unthinkable explanation; I was never dreaming at all, and everything that I recall actually happened. All I know for sure is that not being able to wake up is scaring me witless.
If I am not dreaming and this is really happening, where could I be? I am no longer in my home. I have no clue of the location or nature of this black abode. I might think I was inside a sepulcher but no, this is somewhere else. I wonder if it is merely black all about me, or if I am now blind. It strikes terror in me to have no sight in this realm of plucked out eyes.
In addition, in this bone chilling cold, my shuddering jaw shakes as my teeth rattle and knock off one another until they chip. My unseen breath blows an invisible ragged cloud of artic steam into the blackness.
To add to the misfortune, to my jeopardy I find that am standing with naked feet, anguishing in misery on a flooring of vicious stones with cut edges. To walk one just one of these razor-sharp stones would be perilous. However, if I do not start moving I will freeze to death. Therefore, I force myself to take just two steps.
The jagged flint edges cut deep into the soles of my feet. I bite my lower lip in bitter agony. Unseen crimson in the blackness stains the bottom of my feet with blood. Oh damned, execrable place, I heap curses upon you, and I spit upon your floor of cruel stones with scorn!
A cold chill runs me through and through. I frenzy in a fit of wild mental agitation. I swipe my arms about aimlessly in the void seeking walls, hanging things, anything to scrape with my fingernails. I am all affright.
With great effort, I allow the panic to flow through me and go out. I regain my faculties. My hands are empty despite all my grasping in the dark cold all about me.
There would appear that there is nothing here. Yet, I have a superstitious mindfulness that something is indeed here in the inky black with me. Another rush of panic washes over me like a bucket of icy water poured down on me. I turn round about looking wildly for light. My bare feet tear on piercing stones, the heels bruise. My feet are torn, crimson runs black and invisible from my feet.
May the gods, just give me a small crack of light to chase,
Let them me a thread of hope for flight from this place.
My startled heartbeat is drumming in my ears. Its beat is irregular and panicked. Its drubbing bangs in my head. In my cranium, it rings like and old well pump with a clanking metal handle. It spurts out blood from the wellhead just as it gurgles in my veins.
Give me a fleeting pinpoint of light. I need to know. Do I have eyes that see in darkness? If not, do I exist with eyes plucked out of my head? Tell me do I have eyes! This unknown abode is driving me mad.
I suddenly have the uncanny feeling that Death is upon me. Yes, by my sixth sense I swear that Death skulks about me perilously the void. It is as if Death was a beast hunting me in its lair. I feel like its quarry however, I cannot make out the predator in the dark.
Should I pray to God? No, do not be absurd. There is no God or man would not have such abundant suffering on Earth. I will not waste my thoughts with God just because I am afraid. I must fair this dark abode alone. So I must think. What do I know?
I know without a doubt the creature known as Death is here. I sense its presence. Yet for some reason it does not touch me. Is it mocking me, does it want to needle my fear?
I sense that this beast is trailing me closely. I swear his long bony hand reaches just ahead of me. Its palm cupped parallel to my face; the bones of its skeletal hand move like long, arthritic piano keys as its grasp clenches silently in front of my non-seeing eyes. I cannot see the creature, I cannot touch it, but I know Death’s open hand is just beyond my lips.
The primitive pillager is piqued with curiosity. Thoughts of ripping at my face enchant the creature’s instincts. The Beast with its crooked finger traces above the contours of my face while not quite touching them. He seems enamored by their curves. What is this perverse abomination? This monster regards my face with a cruel besmirched finger.
I am lost in Death’s lair, as I walk from the beast. No matter how far I painfully tread on these stones like axe blades, the marauder trails me everywhere. In my every effort, I desperately search the black obscurities of this realm for some exit. My feet are weeping from piecing anguish.
Thick gelatinous blood clots coagulate between my toes in the bitter cold. Nevertheless, I must press on to keep from freezing. I must pace onward, one excruciating stride at a time to keep away from the hideous creature tracking me. My feet’s hide is flayed open.
I am without sight but I can smell the moldy odor of the damned creature. As I feel Death draw close, I smell its putrefying flesh. This stench adulterates the air, and the smell of rot floats about me in this cavernous realm. These disgusting fumes swirl and twist, biting at my nostrils like scavenging vines.
The revolting stink makes me gag. Suddenly I bend over. I begin to vomit, and then wrench out dry heaves upon the jagged rocks. I shiver; I am as chilled as a tombstone. I must keep moving; otherwise, the one that strikes terror in my heart will seize me. I also must keep moving or suffer death frozen hard in my tracks.
A lightning bolt of Panic strikes me. Curses from Hell, what is this! I feel something touch me…it is the beast! I scream as Death vulgarly runs something of rot down along my spine. It must be the tyrant’s perverse, skeletal finger. The thing of terror that haunts me in this black arctic void extends one bony finger. It taps me at the nape of my neck. Slick festering flesh falls off the finger and sticks to my flesh. That odious fetid appendage, chilly upon my flesh, travels tracing a sticky line down my backbone.
I shout. However, my call is mute. No sounds travel across my lips. The scream is only audible to me. I hear my scream alone. It is as a shrill, piercing, primal cry of a desperate prey. A panicked last plea of the victim offered for the mercy in the last second of attrition of the predator. The outwardly silent scream is shrieking aloud in my head.
The noise, vaulted inside the bones of my skull is deafening. Within the folds and contours of the gray matter in my brain, the scream resonates in the recesses of my mind. The disconcerting animalistic shriek goes echoing through my neurons, jumping from synapse to synapse, ringing out unendingly.
The tyrant that haunts me is evil; its resolve is pitiless. To achieve the means to its end Death is methodic, relentless, and most cruel of all, infinitely patient.
My body wrenches, startled and alarmed as I hear the monster roar furiously. Its low base snarl is a rattling knock that echoes as the tigers that roar in the jungle.
When I feel the creature’s cold, humid breath on my back, I stumble and fall face down on the blades of stone. It is another painful and futile attempt in which I fail to evade my stalker. I cut my hands forcing my lacerated body back up and I painfully stand. I must move on.
Yet I still smell Death. I sense the indifference of the creature in the stench of its decaying breath. I feel the oppressor’s exhalations on my back—each one manifests in goose bumps on the top of my forearms arms and on the back of my neck. The follicles on my scalp tingle in the cold panic and my hair rises as I tremble in terror.
As I feel the Animal digging in-between my shoulder blades with its long twisted, finger. I wrench my body away and stumble forward. My brow sweats beads of cold, salty terror. A briny drop runs down my cheek, invisible in the icy blackness that engulfs me. Sealed in the lair of Death I am desperate and vulnerable to curses of desperation and terror.
The ogre of Death behind me sucks loud, rattling, strings of mucous inside its lungs as they pull in the icy air. The gunge is thick and the stomach-turning knocks of loose phlegm sound like the death rattle of an old dying man.
How many souls has Death liberated from 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.
Death is a foul wisp of air. Death draws into its lungs the fatal breath, the breath that when blown from its cracked lips will snuff out the flickering flame of the candle of a human’s mortal life. This is a flame so effortlessly extinguished. When one is in the face of the beast, their candle’s flame of life becomes a trembling, yellow flag of surrender. No one wants to die. I do not want to die. I must bear the sharp stones cuts.
Death is cruel. The tormenter bides its time. It toys with me as if a cat, and I the mouse. Its claws swipe at the air slicing it behind me. It seems entertained by my panic as I desperately attempt to flee in the pitch-black murky lair of this impossible maze.
I am wandering blindly, slogging around in patterns in this maze. I painfully stagger, going back over the same futile paths in my desperation to escape. I am relentlessly approaching dead ends in the maze of Death’s lair. At the end of every route, a snare of peril in the dark and stony cold awaits me.
My mortal life’s tenacity, never wanting to yield to the beast of death forces me to press on.
Oh, my fearful flight, how my feet stumble wearily in alarm. I search for light in this realm of sightlessness in purposeless ineffectuality. Am I blind? I swipe my arms about wildly searching for a shred of hope. Yet I have no optimism in my hands for all my efforts.
How great is the strength of my mortal will? Death is somewhere right behind me in the freezing inky void. I am growing weary. Yet I can never stop.
Festering thick saliva drools long from the beast’s unseen fangs. Yet I still exist, I survive just out of reach of the plunderer of life. Yet for all my efforts, I only can stay ahead of the Death’s grasp by mere inches. My debtor is greedy for the payment of my mortal life that is overdue. He purses me incessantly.
My heavy naked feet drag as if full of lead; they drag late behind me as I trudge on flint fragments that cut my flesh and mark my heels. The animal pursuing me inhales the aroma of my blood like perfume. Moreover, its appetite lusts for imbibing the gurgling lifeblood that pounds through my temples. Death is behind me.
My knees are stiff, their joints unbending. I am moving only by fear pushing me forward. My mortality is faltering. Still I slog on the jagged edged stones and my legs’ endings are now bloody stumps.
My bases torn to the bone, I am walking on skeletal remnants of tarsal and metatarsal bones uncovered, their bruised marrow throbbing. Oh execrable sharp-edged stones, how you are pitiless as your spiteful edges nick my skeleton’s end as I touch the ground. Hear me, my bare bones, move I say, move on!
I drag on by an ebbing power—I must keep the quivering flame of the candle of my life clinging to the wick.
My limbs bound, rigid, stiff like iron by the severity of agony. The ends of my legs, sluggish with the weight of the earth in them, these bones stumble in a marathon from the wild creature. Oh, bare wearisome chipped bones. My will is weary; still I march by this waning spirit as I flee the animal Death.
My blood is feeble of oxygen that does not dwell in this inky place of terror. There is still no light. What did light look like. I cannot remember with the lack of oxygen to my dying brain.
Blue air starved blood, I feel it whoosh, and a pain like throbbing liquid hellfire pulses through my temple veins.
I draw shallow breaths, rapid breaths. I start to perspire in spite of the cold darkness. My forehead oozes beads of bitter, brackish, cold sweat. Still my appendages move on, stiff jointed I drag myself forward. My limbs animated only by fear as my personal monster drives me onward.
I know nothing except that this beast is lethal, evil, and it is following only inches behind me. It is hunting me, cruelly mocking me, and torturing me with its hideous finger.
What is more, I am so tired. A few more steps and I will lose my last shred of hope. That will be my flickering flames’ peril.
Death readies to devour me. Death purses its lips’ forming that disdainful current of air—oh what a cruel zephyr waits to whorl up into a miasma around the frightened flame.
What is this that I see? It is a stroke of fantastic luck right before I stumble and die. A miracle has occurred. There in the infinite black void—I see a light! Oh wonderful, glorious, life giving light, It is just ahead of me. I approach the light running on exposed skeletal remnants. I come to the source.
This miraculous light in the lair of Death is my glorious candle of life. My fluttering flame is still burning. Now that I am here, I can guard it from the creature that wants to extinguish it. I will stand between Death and my flickering fiery life.
I feel and smell Death behind me. Its horrible beastly breath hits my back and deflects around me. My flame of life still burns! Death cannot hurt me now. It cannot snuff out my candle of life’s flickering flame.
The beast growls behind me with a rattle worthy of the jungle. It is a primeval roar of fury. It is a terrifying roar. However, for all of its ferocity, the beast roars in an impotent rage. The monster is singular in its insignificance now.
Suddenly I see more light. A brilliant rising line of radiant light shines behind the candle on the floor. I walk past the candle to examine the light and I find a wonderful illumination source shining through a vertical crack in the hardest metal I have ever seen. What is more the metal is warm, heated from the brilliant light on the other side. The metal holds this glorious, nurturing warmth as tenderly and loving as the womb.
I place my eye at the vertical line of light in scrutiny. I see that this rising line of light is actually a crack between two colossal metal doors. Peering through I see a universe of infinite light, it is a light for countless more besides me.
I pull at the doors and as they slowly open, they let in a divinely designed light. Life-light of a glowing luminance the likes of which no one has ever seen. It is warm, sweltering and it is burning as brilliant as the sun. Bright and warm, this light is the infinite light of life. I could want no more it is so giving. I step past my candle towards the amazing light.
I move on inside the doors. Now I am in the light of lights. Brilliant illumination bathes me in ecstasy. I am free of the inky void and the bitter cold of the lair. Never again will I suffer in the void of darkness. Never more shall I shiver in the cold lair of Death.
I face radiance so bright I cannot bear to look straight at it. I turn around and look back towards the lair of Death. Light shines into the darkness of Death’s realm. Beyond the open metal doors, the light shines into Death’s dark lair. Then I see it.
The beast Death is standing in the shadows behind the open metal doors. It is too hideous; I cannot possibly describe it with words. What an atrocity to the senses. The beast is utter vile repugnance as it stares at me with cold black eyes and fierce fangs. Nevertheless, I stand fearless in the face of death, as it will not approach the light I now stand in. The beast is afraid of the light.
Death snarls at me in anger and the ground shakes with the sound of the roar. However, I am no longer afraid of the beast. Death purses its cracked lips and blows a stream of foul breath. On the floor sits my candle of life burning. Death’s breath reaches the flame on my candle and the yellow trembling tongue of fire flutters. Then the breath suddenly extinguishes the flame. I panic. The flame of my mortal life dies to the cold and blackness.
Nevertheless, I am still standing in the light. I am still now alive. The beast of Death has not taken this brighter source of life from me. I laugh at death, with a mocking superiority. I throw my head back and roar in laughter as I point at the beast, humiliating it.
Death stares at me vile and contemptuous, and I stare right back at the beast. Then Death roars in a rage of defeat, angrily the animal purses his cracked lips and blows so hard the metal doors shut between the two of us. I am victorious. I turn around and face the light. I am in the loving light. I must immerse myself in it.
Suddenly light surges out from behind me. Then light flares at my left. It flashes at my right. The brilliant illumination is everywhere around me. I am hot and sweat beads form on my brow. I shield my eyes with my hand and look around. Then I know. There will never be darkness again. Light is all over the place, it is everywhere, there is a universe of life. The light surrounds me.
Suddenly I realize where I am. I know this place.
Illumination upsurges passionately, omnipotent, in a blinding glow.
Then I hear it. The sound I knew I would listen to once I realized where I was. I always wanted to hear the angels in Heaven sing like sirens. Yet I never believed in heaven until now. There is definitely a heaven. I now know it exists.
The light all about me explodes and curls up into the air with long rolling streams of white. I want so much to hear the angels sing. I know now that heaven does exist and God is real. I long for the angels’ mellifluous chorus. Nevertheless, I hear something even more intense.
I hear what I knew I would hear in this place. I hear billions of blood-curdling screams come from within the sun like radiance and searing heat.
This light so brilliant—this is not the light of life. Yes, I know exactly where I am.
I am in Hell.
This is an endless exploding realm of infernos. There are roaring plumes of fire all around me. Explosions, rolling up searing fire like mushroom clouds. The floor here can burn my feet, it is lines with a carpet of red-hot coals. All around me is a perilous number of infinite sulfur pits, the boil and vomit liquid fire.
I dare not walk.
A flame explodes under me. An explosive blaze consumes my body. It wraps around my physique, spiraling up around me like a serpent. I am in a searing cocoon of flames, consumed by flames, flames of death that roll and ripple across my appendages and trunk. My face burns in the fire and flesh melts away from it with a sickeningly sweet odor.
I want to run wildly, to roll and snuff out the excruciating flames. However, I dare not move near the pits of molten fire. In all the burning sulfur pools, I see flailing skeletons everywhere on fire. They all ran. Now they are nothing but flaming figures of animated bones, flailing, trying to tread in the red-hot liquid, and merely trying to keep their skulls above the surface. I see the skeletons grasp at the sides of the vomiting sulfur pits. Skeletal hands emerge from the molten lava on the bones of a forearm. The bones visible on the hand, the flaming phalanges grasp wildly as the screaming skeletons attempt to pull themselves out of the pit. I must never walk.
I stand still. I am on fire.
Running skeletons scramble past me, all that exists of these agonizing frameworks besides the bones is their hideous screaming. They run on fire, running wildly in a panic, screaming as they burn. They suffer hopelessly as they fly up off the ground when a flare of the devils flaming tongue explodes upwards, taking the skeletons with the rising inferno. I am in a wild panic. I am on fire and my flesh is charred and falling off my skeleton like melted cheese. I lose my senses.
I am one of the many in Hell now. We scream piteously and go unheeded by God’s mercy. All we live for is to run away from the inescapable fire. Millions run and dodge exploding flames, and others fall and drown in bubbling molten pits.. A billion wretches are burning and all screaming so hideously the wailing commits an offence against the mind.
Today I am one of those voices screaming. I will scream unending. I will be shrieking after a month, a year, a millennium. I cry for mercy. God is stony silent.
Skeletons inhale flames into their lungs, screaming as they run through a barrage of rising, exploding, and flaring geysers of infernos. They are like soldiers running through a field in mortar fire. All here have abandoned hope.
We have no ability to talk to one another. We exist only to scream. In truth there is no “We” I realize I am in a sea on fire with billions other skeletal wretches—and I have never been so alone. No one here matters at all here but oneself.
I have gone mad. I run without a destination. I flee the inescapable in a wild mental paroxysm. The waves of the stormy sea of Hellfire toss me; they pull me under the exploding molten lake that. I feel what it is like to drown. Under the sea of pitching belching lava, I inhale flowing lava into my lungs. I suffer in indescribable agony. Yet for all the fire consuming me, I do not die. I cannot die. I am already dead. I suffer on without end. Give me a chance to escape this please God. God turns his back on me.
To my horror, I now realize that I will burn here in Hell for eternity.
There comes a time when every small boy discovers how to use a magnifying glass to create fire. If he lives in the Texas Hill Country, where the houses are five miles apart, and a lad has no play mates, he usually finds out through serendipity. This is by far, the finest way to find out about the wonders of the glass and the sun. It is more magical to discover the glory of creating fire all by oneself.
Out in a field somewhere there is a young boy. It is a summer day, bright and sunny, and the boy’s face is moist. Down on his knees, the boy is bent over. He balances his torso, with his lean left arm, pressing it down on the ground. He rests the weight of his torso on his left hand, which is flattened with its fingers splayed out wide; the skin on the top of his palm is red, and his knuckles are white.
His neck and upper body are now arched fully over, and the boy holds the large magnifying lens in his right hand, about four inches above the ground. He is peering through it, his right cheek and eye almost touching the rounded lens. In the shadow cast by his body, he studies the anatomy of twigs, leaves, spear grass and acorns. He is seeing them with never before seen resolution or clarity.
His right eye strains in concentration as it peers through the lens. But his left eye is pressed shut tightly; as if the left eye were an angry child, just after a quarrel with the right eye. In protest, it refuses to look at anything that the right one looks at. Continue reading
The men’s public restrooms’ toilet stalls at least in Texas, where I have lived all my life, are almost always covered wall to wall inside the stall with graffiti. Most of the colorful epigrams are scribbled in ink, or sometimes magic marker, which the authors must bring with them just for this purpose. A certain percentage of the graffiti is etched into the paint with a key, or possibly a pocket knife.
Despite constant, periodic attempts, in the more upscale restrooms, to paint over the tasteless works of all the ribald authors, the walls are instantly refilled with the unstoppable phenomenon of graffiti, written by squatting defecating men.
First of all, 60% of this “prose” just is the two classic words “Fuck You.” Then ranks lusty sexually graphic descriptions of how , a guy who is surely taking a dump,” loves pussy” and fucking in general. At the University, a guy who I am assuming was Biology major wrote “I live for the titration of vaginal fatty acids.” I have to give full credit to higher education in the field of natural sciences. Continue reading
The small train limped slowly along the snow-covered tracks. It was not a strong engine pulling the six passenger cars and caboose. To cut expenses there was no berthing car and no commissary or diner area. It was primarily a third rate, lower class transportation means meant only for the poor working class, those who would bring their own food to eat and sleep on the seats of the passenger cars, wrapped in old mildewed blankets, exhausted and sunk into a mass much like wet, heavy sacks of bad potatoes. It was the least expensive passenger coach that could make the 750 mile slog from El Paso, Texas, up and through the mountain passes to its final destination in Rifle, Colorado.
Along the climbing, route through the passes in Colorado, the tiny train rounded the powdery bases of the immense white, snow-swaddled mountains. The tiny engine carriage smokestack coughed and hacked up thick black plumes of smoldering coal residue, the furnace constantly gasping for air, as the fire powered the steam engine and it ascended arduously through the peaks and snowy passes. In the engine car, the fireman worked double- time shoveling coal into the fire box. It was all he could do to feed the fire, to heat enough steam, to keep up the train’s present sluggish pace.
Inside the second passenger, carriage was a small frail girl. She rode all by herself, alone and insignificant, sitting on the hard wooden passenger bench. The girl had a one-way ticket to Colorado, all paid for with money scratched together, and donated by numerous neighbors of the girl’s parents. She had no other money.
It is the poetry of primeval instincts, written in elegant, serpentine prose; a flowing cadence of words, from the barbed tip of your thorny quill; a quill immersed, and thereby baptized as it were, in the fateful inkwell; the quill’s tip wetted as it plunges into the blackest ink of the blood of blasphemy and taboo.
Your contemplations, uninhibited and shameless, pour out as unexpurgated thoughts, being expressed in verses of palpable poetry; and your prose is excruciatingly engraved into the parchment of my mind—written in that black ink of thantos; ink that is permanent, like the eternal stillness of death.
Poetry, perilous yet hypnotic, like a primordial, ritualistic, chant; your verses like the incantations of self-sacrificing natives; fearful and confused minds, all worshiping primeval instinct. Continue reading
The jungle along this section of the river is without empathy. It did not grieve for the explorers who anchored here and struggled into the labyrinth, the thicket of trees, vines, and who disappeared, the ones whom the roots came out of the ground and made prey of. Blind roots that searched by touch. The roots, which bored through the soil, came up, and seized the natives. It wrapped round legs, and then twisted up torsos, winding round them–and squeezed the life from them like pythons. Then the land was bound to the living men, and the land fed off their blood. Look at this place, just look at it. It is a plague of cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death– skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. These forgotten men died like flies here. And if we anchor here so shall we.
Imagine the panic that shall rush coldly over you, when you breathe your last breath, turn blue, and the doctor in a hospital pulls the sheet over your face. Some stranger rolls your gurney, one of its wheels wobbling, down the back passageway, along the ramp that ends at the morgue; suddenly it is very cold, and you realize you are naked. Its ok they have seen every sort of dead naked there is. You may feel embarrassed being naked in front of everyone, but no one will make fun of your body—unless they get bored.
Someone soon comes and twists the wires of a toe tag, which you feel constrict around your big toe. The toe tag hangs there motionless from a cold stiff toe. This is the moment that the surreal realization hits you. You are dead. Continue reading