He saw a bunch of buried heads suffering under a night's sky and, he was there too. Why?
THIRD PLACE in the Twisted Tales Contest by Arakun the Twisted Raccoon , July 2011
FEATURED in the WDC. Newsletter: Short Stories: Start with Why - Editor's Picks, March 21, 2018 by Shannon
FEATURED in the WDC. Newsletter: Horror/Scary: Funeral and Burial Rituals - Editor's Picks, September 25, 2019, by ~Minja~
His head was sticking out from all that gooey, sticky and confused mass of bodies and heads clustered together in this... place. Was he buried alive? He was so tired of trying to become… free. Had he just woken up to this… reality? What happened! He took a deep breath but it was too stinky to breathe and suck fresh, clean air into his exhausted lungs. He needed clean air! He felt drenched and forgotten.
"Where am I? Where is this place? Help! I need to get out of here. Help me! I can't move my arms, my legs and my body. I am not in physical pain but my head... my soul... I am tortured with this mental, constant pain... of something I did, yet, I don’t know what! I can’t remember!"
He tried to turn around. The heads around him prevented him from moving but when he looked up he noticed how dark a night it was and saw gray clouds everywhere. The clouds were darker than dark and thick goo fell from them onto his head. There was no light and there was no silence; only moaning and cries for... help. What a horrible place this was. He needed to geographically situate himself in this immense place and find a familiar face, sound, smell and even a certain sense to his dire situation but there was only density, suffering and torment around him. Is this the everlasting damnation or what?
"Help! I am in danger. Who put me here? Why? Where is this place? Why is it so dark and smoggy?"
He was frail and thirsty. He really needed fresh air... His lungs were exploding.
"Is this the way you feel when you’re burning in a fire?"
He was so tired. He didn't know his story, his past and what had happened but he knew his present, the now, still, he did not remember his own name.
"Who am I? Was my name... Ali? What? Lia? Somebody did this to me, I'm sure! This is why I'm here, like... this! No other reason. But, why... this way, in this putrid hole. I can feel other bodies around me, like millions of them, no, much more than this... billions…moving and moaning. I know something is wrong, but I can't explain why. I just know. This dark knowledge. I am not a prisoner... but I can't get out from here on my own. Help, h e l p me! Somebody... Help!"
He tried to move again. The more he moved the more he became stuck. He was tired.
"Quicksand! Yes, I fell into quicksand. But where? When? How? What is my name? Please, I can't remember!"
He heard the other heads whispering in distress and agony... thinking the same things he thought and trying to become free, too. They were becoming just as restless as he was.
"How much do I remember? How much do I know? Let me think... Yes! Fire. Explosions. I remember planes and people, smoke and suicide."
He screamed loudly and sensed a "knowledge" of something very bad. He couldn't build up the images of this known-unknown reality; what a complicated, difficult... past he must have had!
"What is past? When is it the... now? Help! Help me! Anybody! I suffer. I am in distress. Help!"
The other heads screamed and cried together with him.
"Help! Help! Help!"
"Oh, be quie!"
"Huh? What? Who... who are you?
"I am one of... us."
"Don't you know yet?"
"Ah then you must have just ...arrived... Another one!"
"Arrived... to where?"
"To this place... to The Umbral."
"The Umbral. It's worse than the Purgatorium."
"What is this? Who put me here? Who put us here? Where am I? Can I speak to him?"
"There's no him or her. There is nothing. This is the Umbral. It starts in the terrestrial crust or the outside of our planet Earth. It's an inferior and dense zone... place in between hell and heaven but this is not the so called Purgatory. There, it's better than here, you know. This is like being stuck in a dirty swamp... where you aren't suck in but... where you never get out... and worse... no one ever helps you out from here. This place is worse than anything. It's for the worst cases. Me. You. Men and women. Everyone here. We are on a long trial. We were judged and sent here. We are the worst of people, the forgotten souls. Enemies of the world, the real bad guys - waiting to be pardoned, maybe never or here... forever. Suffering. Knowing. Feeling. Remembering. Maybe... learning. I have been here for so long that I forgot. It's endless. I don't know how it starts and I don't know when or how it'll end."
"Stop this! Shut up!"
"I can't stop! I must go away... home."
"Listen. There is no more... home for you, for me! We are here because of our countless mistakes. It's the dark valley of pain and suffering, of sin and moral, religious issues. Here is where you find the clenching of the teeth while awake, there's no rest, no sleep, no way out. Daily, eternal horror! I know. Trust me!"
"I... don't understand!"
"Ah, you will. The Umbral is full of the desperate ones, the unworthy people that have no entrance in Paradise or even in Hell. The unwanted. Not even the devil wants us in the Inferno or we will compete with him! No place to go to because of... what we did to the... all the others and to ourselves."
"Ah... in time you'll remember yours. I do now... remember mine, after so long. See my clothes? From my past. Look at yours, so... different, from your present. My clothes are dirty and in rags, rotten. Yours aren't... yet. They look gray and new. They will be old and rotten like mine. And one day, in this eternity, you will understand what you did. But this spot here... where we are... it is reserved for the most horrible of actions against humanity. Got it?"
"I am bad?"
"Oh yes! I am, too."
"What did you do?"
"After a very long time I remembered... I hurt little boys."
"Do you have any recollection why you are... here?"
"I have this constant thought about terror and... about hatred, that there is only one belief. Oh... And so much hate but nothing more...It's like I am empty and obsessed with hatred. But... why?"
"One day, like me, you'll remember, cry. You will become frustrated and morally and spiritually embarrassed. You'll think of what you did everyday... but what is worse is..."
"You’ll feel, deep inside your heart, the pain you caused the people you hurt, really deep inside, cutting you like fire, cutting your soul into tiny pieces of glass that then, will cut you again and again and then they burn your body and your soul... Oh, so painful!"
"How do we get out from here, please, tell me?"
"Ah... There's no escape. Each lost soul, each dark spirit will remain here indefinitely, and each one has his own time... I don't know. Since I've been here I counted 300 heads that left the Umbral!"
"Oh... There are these powerful missionaries or good spirits that come here. These beautiful angels visit the dark valleys once in a lifetime and they pull us out by calling our names... and that's how we remember, you know, our names and then we are dragged out of this rotten stench and taken away. They... these good souls... are so pure and shiny, so brilliant that we must close our eyes or the bright light will blind us. I also think that it's a way of protecting them from us because...if we could see them, we'd grab them with our teeth for survival! I would! You would!"
"Oh... Will our souls be lost... if they don't call our names? Will there be hope for us???"
"I believe so... but it will take an eternity. This is what keeps me going every moment here. After some time, you'll feel it too."
"So, there is something to believe in!"
"Yes... but now I know that this is the darkest place for us to be in this plane, in this Cosmo, in our world and all around the planets, everywhere. Here is where the unresolved issues are in a big scale, waiting for self-knowledge and understanding in order for the lost souls to be able to cross unknown doors, sacred doors toward forgiveness and to the light, one day. According to the Laws, we are debtors. We must pay. And, maybe, our pain and suffering will be our redemption in a thousand years. Trust me!"
"Will we ever see... the light?"
"No, not yet. Besides, we have no light inside of us. We are dark. We are slaves of our bad actions, vices, narrow-minded hearts and the hurt we caused to others but mostly... to ourselves. Our spiritual energy calls for vampires and dark energy zappers to come and suck the remaining light and energy from us! They are the agents of darkness and evil, called quiumbas. When they come, listen to me, don't open your eyes. Don't think. Be quiet! Hear me? This is the most obscure, horrible place to be, ever, believe me!"
"How do you know... this?"
"Because I've been here longer, much longer than you... that's why. I've seen them. I cried when they didn't call out my name. It was the first time that I wept... so sincerely... in all my life. But, it wasn't my time yet, I guess."
"But... Who put me here? Tell me, who put us here?"
"Don't you know yet?"
"YOU did! Don't you get it? You did this to yourself with your past actions in your last existence. I did. We all here did. No escape from evil, here or there. Even the littlest of evil: no forgiveness! Do you understand me now? You put yourself here! You put yourself here with your black meanness! I did, too! Every soul here did! Do you understand? Look around yourself! You are here because of your wrongdoings!!! You might never leave. You will know what you did, one day... maybe, if you’re lucky."
And so... understanding a little more but not knowing it all he cried and clenched his teeth, wept and begged but knew that he was doomed with the uncertain eternity of being a forgotten soul.
Everything is written. We are the ones that erase it sometimes.