by Lee Trapper
what happens on the other side.
| My death was a simple one. I fell asleep in bed one night and just never woke up. To tell you the truth I don't know why I never woke up. It could have been my heart, it could have been years of drinking.....I guess I'll never know. All I do know is that when I opened my eyes again I was standing in my best suit and no shoes. I was waiting on a high walkway with no floor below me and off in the distance a door way stood open calling to me. The closer I got the larger the doorway became. When I finally reached the opening I came face to face with a shadow. I say face to face because that is the only way to describe it. The creature had a general outline of a human with a place for arms, legs, and a head; but there were no real features to it. It was a blending of shadows or clouds in a tornado with no eye. When it spoke I jumped and took a step back.|
"Welcome Michael. You are late the battle is almost over." it said with no visible mouth or throat for the words to be formed. It hand raised and pointed for me to enter the doorway. I don't know why I was urged to follow his lead, but I did. I walked forward and entered the heights. The passage was not a long one and soon I was standing on a ledge overlooking a cavern as large as I had ever seen. Below me on the floor of the cavern were tower after tower for as far as the eye could see. They were towers of different sizes some small only a few feet tall and some several hundred feet tall. Between each tower was what looked like lines connecting some towers to others. Each line was of different thickness. Some stretched for miles and was a thin as a single hair. Others were only a few hundred feet long and was several feet in diameter. "What is all this?" I asked truly confused.
"This is the battle for your soul." the shade answered.
"The battle for you soul. Each tower is the accumulation of each persons life. The shorter the life the shorter the tower. So a new born's tower is no larger then a pebble and the oldest person on earth's tower almost reaches the ceiling."
" And what are the cables that connect the towers together?"
The shade just shook his ,I guess, head and answered slowly like he was explaining to a child. "They are the bonds that bind all lives together. Casual meetings create a thin line and the better you know someone the thicker the bonds."
" So the person I set next to on a plane would create a thin line and the line that connects to my wife and kids towers are much thicker." my guide did not answer but only nodded. I was feeling like I had figured this out so I boldly added " and the Devil and God are fighting over my tower, right." and immediately knew I hadn't got it yet.
Again shaking his head he explained further. "You are fighting over your own destiny. In every persons life they do either good or evil. When they do these acts they either create a being of good or a demon of evil. When a person is about to pass from their life the battle begins. The creatures of evil attack the towers with the sole purpose of creating one crack in the wall. For if even one crack is created then that soul created more evil in his life then good and is there fore bound to purgatory. If on the other side the creatures of good can protect the tower until the last demon is defeated then the person did more good and there for rewarded with paradise. Soon before your death the battle began and now it is almost over." With this he motioned for me to step closer to the edge of the balcony and watch the battle.
I slowly stepped to where I could see the battle. The creatures where like my guide more shadows and light, but they were doing battle. When one shadow attacked, one shimmering light would throw themselves in front of the attacker and they both would be destroyed. The number of shadows seemed to out number the light creatures two to one and I was starting to get nervous. Then to my relief more creatures of light came pouring out of the tower refilling the missing ranks until both sides looked equally matched. I do not know how long I stood there watching the battle. The passage of time no longer had any meaning. All I do know is that it would be over soon.
I couldn't control myself I had to get involved. After all this was my soul we were talking about. "Come on you little suckers get in there and fight.", and to my surprise they all stopped and looked up at me with eyes of shadow and light. I was frozen in fear. In every eye I saw every good thing I did from stopping a bully from beating up a weaker kid in fourth grade to saving that old man who had had a heart attack in my office building last month. What truly scared me though was the shadows. In their eyes I saw everything I was ashamed off. Starting in childhood all through my life. The final in Chemistry I cheated on all the way to cheating on my wife all those times. The longer I looked into their eyes the more ashamed I felt until finally the weight of my own body collapsing caused me to look away. When I finally was able to stand on weak legs I returned back to the battle and saw it was almost over. Something began to nag at me, for some reason the number of the creatures around my tower were starting to grow. " What is going on here. I thought the battle was almost over and now it seems like it will go on forever."
"They are not here for you. Another battle is about to begin at that tower over there." He said as he raised a shadowy hand and pointed to a tower near by. I slowly studied the tower and realized a thick cable connected it to my own.
"Who's tower does that belong to?" I asked afraid of the answer.
"That is the tower of your wife ,Sarah." He answered with such casualness like he was pointing out a landmark instead of the accumulation of someone's life.
" Sarah, is she about to die? How long have I been here? Has this battle taken so many years that she is about to die?" More fear and confusion pilled on top of the fear and confusion already stored up inside of me. I felt what little sanity I still held onto in this world was slipping away. Then he answered me and my sanity dove over the edge into oblivion.
" It has not been that long at all. Sarah is still young. It is just that she is going to be executed for you murder."
" What?! What do you mean murder? I died in my sleep."
"Yes you did with the help of the sleeping pills she gave you at dinner and the pillow she placed held over your face."
"But why would she kill me?"
"I do not know the reasons behind her actions. I just know the consequences, you died. Can you not think of a reason why she would do such a thing?"
" No. I can't we were happy. We had two beautiful children and a wonderful home." I said slowly shaking my head.
" Yes really. " I yelled still shaking my head until I my eyes locked onto the eyes of a shadow below me. Then I was frozen in the icy river of time. The entire length of my marriage stretched out before me. A minor instant in the flow of time ,but so much hurt was in that one moment. It was all there. Every time I cheated on her, every time I had gotten drunk and hit her or yelled at her or called her stupid. The time I had gotten drunk and in no uncertain terms raped my wife because she wasn't in the mood and I was. The child that evil act created and how I blamed her when that same child died unborn, even though it had been my fault she had fallen and lost it. I suddenly felt such anger and loathing for the life I had led.
I had been a success and I had helped so many strangers in my life ,but the one I should have helped the most. The one I should have loved the most I had been a tormentor to instead. I had made her life such a hell that she had finally snapped and did what she thought was right. She had freed herself from the fear and anguish with a bottle of sleeping pills and a pillow. I knew I should have been angry and wanted her to spend the rest of eternity rotting in what ever hell murders goto, but instead I felt sorrow and shame. I was not able to do right by her in life but if it damned me I was going to do right by her now. Without thinking I began to call out to the creatures below me. I tried to jump down to the floor below but something held me tight. My voice did reach them fore they stopped the battle once more and turned to face me.
"Creatures of light listen to me now. You are me. You are what ever good was inside me when I lived. So you know what I was in life and how I wronged our Sarah, but this is our chance to make things right, protect her. Leave the shadows and stop Sarah's demons. Keep her tower safe. Whether I ever showed it in life or not she was still my best friend and the love of my life. I will be damned if I am going to let her go down like this when it was my fault. Stop them please!" Slowly they turned and charged each other. My shadows and my light sped towards each other in one last volley. My words had not worked. Sarah would be lost because I could see more shadows then light around her tower.
Then at the last possible moment the light turned and shot towards her tower. They cut through the shadows like a blade. When the last of my light was gone over half of Sarah's shadows had vanished. Almost as an after thought I looked down at my own tower and saw that the shadows had attacked while the defenses were down. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe I thought the shadows would have joined the light to defeat my beloved's sin, but these were evil acts after all. Just above the entrance to my tower it started, the crack, and it ran all the way up to the top.
I new the battle was over even before it's voice proclaimed it so. I also new that now my fate was sealed, but honestly I didn't care. Maybe in a few lifetimes in purgatory I might, but at this moment I didn't. Sarah's battle was over before it even started. With the shadows greatly depleted the light surged forward and quickly vanquished the shadows and her tower was perfect. What light was left began to surround her tower till it glowed. Slowly I turned to face my guide ready for my sentence
to be carried out.
What stood beside me was no shade. Gone was the swirling vortex of nothingness. Now it had coalesced into something of pure terror. Its skin was still as black as the void, but now it was solid flesh that crawled like it was covered in black maggots writhing over each other. It's hand were sharp talons, it's feet were scraping the floor so hard that it left grooves in the stone. One for each of it's four clawed toes. What was the most terrifying thing was it's face. No one else would have been able to tell it except me, but its face was my own. It was some sort of distorted version of me with glowing yellow eyes and its mouth had been sowed shut into some kind of sick and twisted smile. There was no mistaking the fact that this was me, the evil I had done in my life time combined into my executioner.
"Are you ready for judgement, Michael? " it spoke but no words came from its sowed lips. Instead a slit across its throat opened and the words slithered and hissed out from there.
Fear had me. I knew it and so did this things. I could not speak, I did want to scream and run from this place back to my childhood where things like this did not exist. If they did exist somewhere they were driven aways by the sanctuary of my parents bed. I tried to say something but all that came out was a pitiful squeak, the cry of a child. Some how the sowed mouth spread wider into a more gruesome grin. Slowly it came for me and I could do nothing. If my bodily functions still worked I new my pants would have been soaked and I would be crying to God for help, but that is over now. I closed my eyes to keep from seeing my doom clawing its way towards me, but even with closed eyes I could still see that face. I could see it serpents tongue slithering out of the slit in its throat. Its taloned writhing skinned hand reaching for me. I began to shake uncontrollably and continued to shake and shake and nothing. No claws ripping my flesh, no tongue lick away my soul, just nothing. Slowly I opened my eyes and looked before me. The demon was gone.
Confusion replaced fear as I looked around. Then I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. Uncontrollably I jumped and spun around to face whomever was behind me. It was me, a perfect version of me. A version that I know had never existed in my lifetime, but just as I knew that black thing was me I knew this was also.
"Michael it is time to leave." its voice floated down like a church choir. The confusion in my mind was apparent on my face because it just smile a gentle smile and turned so I could see my tower behind it. My tower was slowly fading. I guess to make room for someone else's tower but before it had completely vanished I could see its perfect unmarred sides. Then it was gone and all that was before me was a bright light. I looked to my angel once more, but he was not looking at me but to someplace off to the side of us. I turned to see what it saw. There just fading was another lighted doorway. Someone was walking through, but stopped and turned for one last look. Then they smiled. When I saw the smile my body began to shake and this time tears flowed from my eyes and I collapsed onto the ground. I knew that smile. I had not seen it often in my life and had been the cause for it even less, but I new that smile and I wept for never really knowing the beautiful woman it belonged to.
The hand was gently on my shoulder once more and the voice drifted down cutting through the tears and the sorrow. "Michael you have been saved. The battle for the tower and the final test is over. You both have passed."