Thu 5 May, 2005 10:49 pm
A short story: I hope I'm posting in the right place.
Maundy Thursday. I stood up from the desk and looked out the window of my chaplain's office over the deserted parade ground. A late afternoon rain darkened the skies. The whole base must be like this, I thought. Most of those who were not already in the war zone would be making preparations for the holiday. I thought about them proudly - my men - brave men ready to sacrifice their lives for liberty and freedom. I turned away from the window and gazed at the cross. Sacrifice. Was this the essence of existence, of humanity, of divinity? I stood transfixed by the enormity of the idea.
An ominous stillness thickened the room. The air, no, the miasma enwrapped me; menacing fingers crushed me, suffocated me. My strength failed; I lost all sense of gravity and direction. The sinister hand dragged me through the walls of the building and into an abyss, a furious vortex. The wind set up into a demoniacal howl. Dirt and debris pelted me as I whirled helplessly in what surely must have been the maelstrom of eternity. Then all was still.
I was aware of not breathing. I focused on the pounding of my heart. All of my internal organs were in a state of wildest alarm, unrestrained terror. Outside my body was a blinding brightness and a heat like the breath of Vulcan. Could this be death? With effort I moved my limbs. I shielded my eyes and stood upright. Time soon apprised me of my dreadful reality: I stood in the center of a desolate land. My clothes - my chaplain's uniform - gone. I wore a tunic. On my feet were sandals; in my hand I held a sword.
I became increasingly aware, within myself, of a ferocious battle between emotions vying for control of my senses. I felt a sublime joy - a reverential awe - over the singularity of my experience, the beauty of the wilderness, the anticipation of adventure. At the same time there gnawed at me the most ghastly and paralyzing understanding, the knowledge that this happening, whether or not terrestrial, was somehow quite separate from heaven.
I've read extensively in history, literature, science, religion, philosophy. While many have had experiences equally unique, none exists which may serve as a model. I have no way of knowing how others might have acted. I give my story in the full realization that posterity is as likely to judge me a coward as a hero, or that I might be thought more fool than sage. Yet, the story - it rages within me. I have no choice.
Curiosity got the better of fear. I chose to explore. Near me was a height of land from which I might gain more knowledge of my surroundings. As I made my way, I perceived a faint musical sound. What could it be? - the sound of wind through the trees? - waves on the seashore? In my mind I fancied a murmuring of voices, no, music. People. The possibility of other souls in this land was at once a comfort and a concern. I resolved to approach slowly.
Were there voices? Yes, it was plain now. And music. An eerie litany crawled over my skin, followed by a sound like cymbals, then louder voices. And again, amidst the babble, there arose a sound to stop my heart - a piteous cry - human - a child's. I abandoned caution to reach a position from where I could see the source of that unforgettable sound.
There exists a crossroad seldom reached where horror added to horror upon horror brings us to a separation of perception from cognition, the zenith, or more appropriately, the nadir from which further extremes are possible only by destruction of mind or life. Surely, I must have come to that destination. For what I had discovered was a church.
It was not an ordinary church. And, to be sure, many of my colleagues would aver it not to be a church at all. The name of their god was Molech. Dear readers, I am both sickened and outraged as I write these loathsome words. Before me was a church complete with a minister of malevolence conducting a service of despicable sin.
Some perversion of time or hateful warp of nature had transported me into the land of Canaan just in time to view these depraved worshipers of the Baal Molech making sacrifices to him and his Queen, Ashtoreth. Sacrifice. Here was the essence of cruelty, the most hideous worship of humanity, the detestable disease of deranged minds: Child Sacrifice! And, while they offered their infants through the fire, they danced, and played the cymbal, and beat the tambourine that the cries of the helpless might not sway their parents' ears.
The purpose of the sword in my hand became clear. I rushed to the altar, to the blood-defiled priest with his back still turned. I raised the sword. "Pagan swine!" I screamed. "In the name of Yahweh, God of the Universe, prepare to die!"
He turned. His face - his face was my face! I heard laughter, maniacal laughter, dreadful vocalizations from the throats of demons. The congregation - they were laughing at me. My knees grew weak. The world began to circle around me. I swooned.
My eyes opened to the familiar scene of my office. I was on the sofa. Merciful God, what a terrible dream! It was very late; I had to finish working on the Easter service. Easter: the English word for the Canaanite Ashtoreth. I looked at my hands. Then, at last, I understood.
I saw the blood.
I've retitiled the thread, hoping to elicit comments. My skin is thick; so don't hold back.
Neologist, I do not feel qualified to be a critic. I would, however, like to comment.
This was a NIGHTMARE for sure!!
Your typeology is excellent, and from this I read:
Alas, blood WAS shed- and For me....
Your story is good, somewhat slow and unnecessarily explanatory, but good grammar and easy reading.
Thanks. I was hoping the explanation would create an air of suspense. Didn't work, eh?
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.