Sunday, December 16, 2012

The End


They say every ending is another beginning. I never really believed them; I had seen too much to believe them. Seen the dead lowered into the ground to be forgotten, knowing that one day I would suffer that same fate.

There were just too many ways to die. Too many. Trip over a cliff; drown; get hit by a car...

...Why do I even care?

My mother was a wonderful woman, right up to that last day. She always had this smile on her face; a kind of thing that only came after years of thought and consideration, a kind of inner peace that a monk would envy. "Keep the faith," she would say.

Faith in what? In God? In nature? In humanity? I didn't know. I didn't even care. But I did care for her, and she made me feel at ease.

And then she too was lowered into that cold ground. There was nothing left, after that. I didn't have any relationships; not even my friends, the ones whom I had grown up with, stuck around. I sank into a deep depression. Was commited for a little while. The shrinks gave me pills. They took the edge off; they took the edge off of everything. Couldn't feel happy, couldn't feel sad; and that, in itself, made me even more depressed.

I eventually was cleared to return to society.

People made me nervous after that. They just... I don't know how to explain it. It wasn't just the looks; it was the emptiness. A bunch of walking, talking mannequins, parading around in clothing, eatting their meals and pretending they're going to live forever. It was something I could never understand.

And then I died.

That's the best part, really. The end. No more pain, no more pleasure, no more existence. Right?

Wrong.

It's not like any of the books say, you know. Not like any of the images. There were no angels or devils come to take me away; in fact, as far as I can tell, the afterlife, as a whole, doesn't care. It just sits and watches; eternal, patient, and cold. It leaves you in a place of many paths without a map and says...

"Now do something."

I feel like a rat in a bizarre experiment, as I may well be. A man walking along rocky bridges and valleys, looking down at the swirling fog and up at a sky that twinkled with starlight, led only by instinct.

How could this place be so empty?

There were times when I wanted to cry. One would think, being dead, you wouldn't have to think about such things. One would be wrong. Eventually, I did; just collapsed and cried right there on the rocky platform, tears falling to the earth, staining it dark; and from those tears, sprouts grew.

Sprouts?

And they twisted, and grew thick, and then I was looking at a man with a scraggly white beard. He was wearing a tattered robe and looked at me with a smile.

"Had enough?"

What is this, some kind of sick game?

"No. It was a test. It's all a test. Life is a test."

Fuck you. Fuck your test.

"Have it your way."

When he started to walk away, I panicked. What was I supposed to do? I grabbed his robe.

"OK, OK. You win. I've had it with this place. What do I need to do?"

And then they lifted the VR visor off my head. I was sitting in a room, surrounded by technology. I was whole again.

My brothers; my sisters; we had been alive longer than we cared to remember. We had never had a death to conquer, and I knew, finally, that death would never come for me. I stood up from the chair and was replaced by the next waiting in the long line.

Death would never come for me, and that, in itself, was a kind of torture. I went to the end of the line and waited.