The descent of Lorne Hailstrom. Comments appreciated.
| I can’t describe what impulse drove me to such a decision. I still can’t fathom what was able to rouse me from my state of arrogance. You see, indifference had long since rooted itself within me, and compassion slowly grew engulfed in its treacherous thorns.
Why, then, had I made this choice? Why fall prey to the whim of an unknown sage? Why entrust my life to the self-proclaimed wisdom of a seemingly insane man? Maybe it was something deeper I could sense about him. Either that or it could’ve just been that I desperately wanted something interesting and worthwhile to happen. Maybe it was divine intervention, for that matter. The hell if I know.
And so I found myself wandering through a desolate expanse of desert. Not having felt the weight of harsh toil in years, I began to find it a chore to even keep up with the old man. Yet my enduring arrogance kept me from showing any sign of frailty. I wearily trudged onward with a pretense of strength, yet I beckoned to some unknown power that I may be blessed with a mirage – that I may find solace in the bliss of such an obvious illusion. But this comfort never came, as my prayer remained unanswered, and I was forced to push farther.
Now unable to endure the growing length of silence, I began to speak, using empty words without meaning or intent. I knew they wouldn’t be met with thought or consideration, let alone insight. Yet, with the deafening silence eating at my mind, I continued, nonetheless.
“So, uh... You’re sure he’ll be there?” The empty echo of my own voice instilled yet more doubt in my heart. A slow dread was brewing – unfounded, yet menacing. And despite my fears, something pushed me to continue the futile task. Something about that man... “Well, how do you know he’s there, anyway?”
He kept walking. He didn’t take any notice. My fear began brewing into a mild frustration. “Is it that easy to dismiss what I say?” He continued onward, in what seemed like some sort of trance. The frustration began to set fire to a shallow anger. “Old man! Listen!” He stopped, but did not face me. The anger deepened, as we both waited in a state of inaction. Something wasn’t right. No admirable purpose drove this man: he was taking advantage of me. He was betraying me. He would harm me. He would torture me. No, he would surely kill me. I sharply inhaled as he wordlessly turned to face me.
Rage. “What are you up to?” I no longer had the strength to shout or yell. Fear was holding me back. My contempt was expressed in whimpered phrases. “Why are you-“
“You wish to find your friend, yes?” His worn voice cut through the empty air. A grandfather’s voice. My face contorted into both a scowl and a grimace. “Then remain silent. Follow me.”
And suddenly, nothingness. Fury had consumed itself. A void within me was both growing and disappearing. I was strangely content, and I didn’t feel the need to question any of these things. As the sage continued toward our
destination, like an obedient child, I began to follow – this time easily keeping up with him.
In what seemed like a matter of minutes, the setting sun met a dilapidated building on the horizon. I didn’t need to ask – I knew. The contentment took a sudden leave of me. I grew irritated at the realization.
What the hell was Lorne doing in a prison?
Darkness began to take hold as we approached the worn gate. The withered ivy that clung to the prison walls. I could’ve sworn that ivy was slithering...
An armed guard obstructed the entrance. I needed to get past him. As I began to formulate some “messy” ways of getting through, the elder guide stepped forward.
I offered a warning in a low whisper, as I attempted to push the old man aside. “What are you thinking? You can’t think that you can stand a chance against him.” He pushed my hand aside and took a step forward.
I began to panic – for a man I did not know. I prepared myself for a hostile exchange, but he turned aside. Under his breath, he replied in his own soft tone. “Again I find you without faith. Stand aside, for there are more efficient means than bloodshed to accomplish this task.”
Again, a sudden, broad comfort came upon me. The reassuring words of the wise one had a surreal effect on my mind. He remains a mystery to me. I stepped back and allowed him to continue. He approached the guard.
“We seek the outsider. Will you please bring us to him?”
The guard hesitated. “I cannot let you through.”
A smirk crossed the old man’s face. He turned toward me. “Leave the two of us to settle this.” I walked away. Brooding in a silent uncertainty, I waited.
A moment passed.
In my impatience, I turned, but found him motioning me to enter. Motioning toward the guard, who stood aside of the door – beaming. I walked in first.
Before me sat a man in an incredibly small cell. What looked like a broken man. Dressed in tattered rags sat a man. A disheveled man. Brooding in the darkness sat Lorne Hailstrom, the greatest business entrepreneur of our time.
Darkness is a gift. Light is a nuisance.
Thought is an asset. Emotion is a liability.
Pain is redemption. Great pain is salvation.
It may as well be my mantra. I have until I am dead to occupy myself. Why not make it interesting? It’s not like I’m given any other alternative.
Every day is the same. Every hour is the same. Every second beckons toward uniformity. It’s been years since I’ve been able to tell the difference between dawn and dusk. Between noon and midnight. I have grown accustomed to uncertainty. Ironically enough, it was only through this uncertainty that I was able to achieve true certainty. Darkness allows for thought. Thought breeds to consume itself. In this way do I seek both everything and nothing.
Most of the others find themselves anxiously awaiting their due torture. Of course they don’t enjoy the pain, but they enjoy the change of pace. I loathe their need to mutilate my body. No, I’m not like the others. I cannot be bothered by the pain. I am, instead, greatly disturbed by the interruption.
There was a time when I was thought to have been in control of my life. I was more of a slave then than I am now. The only remnants of the meaningless life that I truly miss are the blackouts. A kind of controlled chaos, from my perspective. Yet the control even contributed to ending them. In this way did I aspire to rid myself of the controlling power – to kill God. I still do not know if I have been successful in my task. I can hope...
Funny, there seems to be no room for hope within me. Am I contradicting myself? Perhaps self-loathing is essential to the achievement of true nothingness. And, at the same time, the fulfillment of the very opposite goal.
I am growing to the point where I can no longer remember much of the past. And I am thankful that I am rid of it. My life began here, and it will end here.
What’s this? That boy looks familiar. He looks over, taking particular interest in me, for some reason. I try to stop thinking about the unwanted visitor.
Now... The old man. I can still see that faint gleam in his eyes. Who?
Trying to remember and trying not to remember at the same time, a flood of thoughts begin to pour into my mind. Like a slideshow going way too fast. There are so many of them...
The boy approaches the edge of the cell. In a scared, uneasy voice, he begins to whisper. “Lorne?”
Was that my name? The thoughts continue to overflow my mind. I suddenly realize that I’m convulsing. The sheer volume. The immense thought.
Suddenly, they stop. I become still. Anshaz. The old man’s name was Anshaz. Then the boy must have been the one of them that came with me. I see, now.
Anshaz starts moving toward me. “What is wrong?”
I manage to begin uttering a phrase. “Anshaz...”
The boy starts grinning. “I knew that you wouldn’t forget.”
Anshaz’s words just begin to formulate the phrase in my mind. What is wrong? I thought for a moment.