This love I know is wrong. It fills up my heart and cuts through my skin. Yet here I am wondering if you can even hear me beyond the grave. Even if just for the thrill of your recognition of my demise. I’m too weak to shed my tears. It’s something that’s just too sad for me to experience in this hallowed state.
I wonder who I have to talk to that’s madder than me. Welcome to the dwellings of the dreadfully decrepit, and deceased. The mad musings of this mischievous, molding, and macerated corpse. The antiquated surroundings of grooving dirt being turned around by undulating green worms doesn’t shock me. I must have to kiss my life goodbye, and join death’s dastardly orchestra in order to escape.
Someone’s turned a key for me. The other ghostly spirits of this graveyard pull me up now that I have made my decision to join them in their exultation. It doesn’t matter who I was, or who I am. It only matters what I do and what I choose to see. So you think I’ve passed away, and never will return? The dead are given what the living desire at the end of the day. We get the things that you don’t realize you’ve thrown away.
Luck isn’t a factor in the world of nightmares. They really aren’t that scary when you can’t be harmed. Everyone’s rich with despair, and greed. Where is it that have I ended up?
The glowing walls of this woebegone house embrace me in strangling dust, and cobwebs. I am introduced to my host for this evening. He is neither mad nor passionate. Simply, he is cold, and aloof. I don’t ask for his name.
“Do you enjoy music?” I am asked.
“I used to.” I respond.
“Do you remember how you ended up here?” I am asked next.
“No.” I respond again.
“Why is there a slit across your throat?” My host pretends to look concerned by leaning forward, and holding up my face to have a better look at it.
“Well either I was killed by someone. Or I killed myself.” I answer humorously, with a sly little grin. My host does not share the amusement. He lets go of my face with disgust at my disregard.
“Do you know what the most important thing is during death?” I am asked. My host was picking things up on his desk, like this was his first time being here as well.
“That nothing happens, so that nothing is revealed to the living of our life after the sun.” I say.
“Correct. After which, the dead are ours to do with as we wish. To have as much fun as we like. So they say.” My host bows gracefully.
“What would you like to do with me?” I ask. I cross my arms, only to reveal the white skin that has begun to crumble like pie crust.
“As it happens there is a monetary system down here that is very rarely operated with. Most of the times when the deceased die the money they possessed in life go back to the living. However, there are rare cases in which the treasures of the deceased were never meant to be found and so become ours. You were buried with jewels and such were you not?” My host examines a fingernail. The fingernail is holding his coat. His cot is hanging off of the fingernail, on the greasy beetle, and mucky wall.
“Correct, what would you like with them?” I ask. They are not mine anymore.
“I’d like to have some fun with the living for a change. Well it’s not really for a change. Every now and again, I make an appearance to re-instill fear, and everything that goes with it.” My host smirks. He taps his knee in a hurried manner.
“What will I get in return? I can not deny you now.” I answer lowly. My face does not lower itself, only my hopeless voice.
“The chance to say what you wanted before you became another member of the deceased. That is all I can offer you. It is not so very rare that things like this occur. So there is not a greater prize.” My host apologizes. He crooks his head pointedly as though he wishes there were.
“Understood. Take them then, before some other grave robber does.” I smile. I uncross my arms.
My host disappears and returns a moment later with my sack of jewels. Maybe it was a day, or a month. I no longer understood the concept of time. I no longer starved, and I no longer bled.
“What did you have to do not to be recognized?” I ask out of curiosity. My host turned to me with that special red grin.
“I posed as a grave robber.” I was answered.
“What else would you have been?” I ask. My host shrugs. It is none of my business I suppose.
“Have you regained any part of your memory?” I am asked repeatedly.
“No, should I?” I ask.
“The longer that you are here instead of being dead, the quicker your memory will return in order to give you some purpose of existence.” my host answers my questions directly.
“Does this happen with everybody?” I ask.
“For those who end up staying here. Yes. You are not special.” my host seems to expect this to offend me. It does not.
“Could I end up staying here?” I ask. I have no hope of staying here. I don’t want to be part of anyone’s games anymore. I want to be absolutely nothing. The problem with humans that are alive, is that they think the dead still want to survive. Really, I am past that point. I’m tired of surviving, of living, of dying. I want to be at peace. Which is where I’m supposed to be at the moment.
“Depends on if you’re useful enough to be your own sin.” my host answers cryptically. Does he think that I want to stay here? If so, well, he’s wrong. Then again, maybe I do want to survive. The second unspoken truth may be that I want to talk, and in order to talk, I must survive. I think…when I was alive…I didn’t like talking at all.
“Are you your own sin?” I ask my host.
“Not exactly,” my host responds.
“Why do you torture the deceased then?” I blink.
“It is not my job to torture or judge the deceased. That is covered by others. My job is mainly to record their stories. Your story, from when you were living that is, is so normal, it’s almost not worth recording. That’s why I’m messing around in it.” My host pats me on that decomposing shoulder. He is not afraid.
“I suppose I should thank you, but somehow I don’t feel like that will be the case by the time that you are finished. Will it be the case? Or won’t it?” I ask.
“Depends, it will be for you to decide. The future is weighed according to the decisions you make based upon the arrival of your memories. Bit by bit, falling through space and time to re-enter an already deceased soul. How ridiculous! It just makes more work for those involved upstairs. He would rather I not have any fun of course. He hates it when I mess in his humans lives. However, once they’ve fallen down here…they’re mine not his.” My host was talking. To himself really, not to me.
“Understood. When will everything begin?” I asked somewhat eagerly.
“It already has. Please, take a seat by the fire. There’s plenty of heat to go around.” My host offered. I took him for his word. For the devil’s assistant leaves no room for doubt.
The second day of my residence at hell’s intermediary hotel, I was once again waited on by my host.
“So are you obtaining my revenge?” I asked sitting in the brightly lit bug and decomposing plant filled area. It felt very warm, and very dark. The perfect place for mold and viruses to grow.
“That would be the official way to do it. I’ve never been very professional in what I do though. There are generally too many emotions involved, so I’m forced to be creative.” my host smiled again.
“Is this your place then?” I asked. Disdainfully picking up a wilted lily.
“Yes. I shall do what I should have done while you were dying.” My host frowned suddenly scooping me up in my creased burial clothes.
“They did try to dress you nicely you know. It’s really only your neck that’s damaged. All things considered you haven’t turned out so bad.” my host muttered to himself.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked. This person, or being, or thing, or spirit, jumped up onto the highest tree branch, before jumping off into the wind. He didn’t answer my question, but I didn’t care. I had no right to care anyway.
We flew quickly, and invisible. I didn’t ask how it was done. Why would I? Why ruin the fun? Just when I thought that we had flown all around the earth, I realized that we weren’t even on the same planet. Because surely a place like this could not be real?
The place where my mischievous host had taken me was too beautiful to be witnessed by something so lifeless.
The sky was as smooth and shiny as light blue satin. The meadows were bright green and covered in all kinds of flowers that sparkled like gems. The sun seemed to be laughing as it almost tilted from side to side. Tall, and slender fruit trees slowed down the lavender wind. A watery mist was provided by the most beautiful lake I’d ever seen. The lake looked to be made out of pure, and molten gold. Two large golden geese swam and paddled around the surface. Leaping, liberated goldfish merrily mulled around the bottom of the shining gold lake. A splash of water landed on my mouth when I leaned too close. It sensation reminded me of champagne. Champagne…yes there was champagne…
“This is…” I began to cry. What a wasted life I’d lived! I’d never tried finding anything resembling this. I’d been content with my monochrome, and boring existence. I hadn’t learned to contribute anything worthwhile to my fellow sufferers on earth. I’d…
I stopped when I saw my host laughing wickedly. He’d planned this! This was his torture! Villain! I didn’t glare at him. I just sat on my knees staring dumbly at the ground. He patted my rotting shoulder again. I flinched away from him.
“I know, I know. Go on then, pick a flower will you? Let’s leave.” My host said in a saturnine tone. Why should he be doleful when it was I that he tormented? It was I that he reminded me of my vacuous efforts to make the world more beautiful which is why I’d ended up in that place. I consoled myself in picking a puffy and pink velvet flower. I took as long as I could walking back.
“We may have all the time in this world and the next, but this trip was not to teach you pleasure.” My host mumbled irritatedly. He flew over, and scooped me up again.
“Why do you talk to me like I’m free?” I ask when we return to the parlor which feels much too hot now. My host simply took my velvet flower away.
“Formalities. You’re not allowed to run away from here after all.” he said viciously. He twirled my flower in his hands, and picked off the leaves before handing it back to me. I made a snatch for the leaves, but my host dodged. He curled his hand tighter and tighter around them, till he revealed that the tender leaves had been turned into a wilted, brown mess. I almost felt like glaring.
“Where would a corpse go to hide?” I ask. Flailing my arms around, and hurting my shoulder.
“Have some of your memories returned now?” he asked again.
“Yes, I hate them.” I seethed. They had returned. I had learned that I was wretched.
“I thought you might. I’m afraid that there’s one more trial that you must go through. It’s to keep you from interfering in my business. Not that I need protection from a weakling like you.” My host sneered at me in disgust. He was right to do so.
He led me into a room full of bones. Bones, muscles, nerves, eyeballs, toenails, fingernails. It looked like a doctor’s autopsy experiment gone wrong. There was no blood anywhere. It was like a twisted collection of despicable human bodies. I was led to the sections of the mouths.
Managing to shock me, the mouths opened all in synchronization.
“Feed us,” they begged, and I couldn’t deny them. Now I knew why I had been allowed to pick that flower. I held it out with a shaking white hand. It’s life essence was drained as it wilted. I began crying again. This wasn’t right. That little flower hadn’t done anything wrong. These mouths were dead, so why were they still hungry? Why did they still want to devour everything?
“That is the punishment for your existence.” my host said cruelly tossing away the wilted flower onto the pile of other wilted flowers in his office. I let the salt particles from my tears on my face and dress crystallize into a crumbling crust by the fire. My host gave my corpse a flask of diseased blood to drink. I drank it. Those diseases couldn’t harm me. It had a gustatory sensation like a briny wine. The consistency was like chocolate syrup running through my devoid, and destitute body. My toes wiggled.
“ There now, that’s all over and done with. You may as well find someplace to sleep. I will be away messing with your life for a few hours.” I was told.
I did as my host bid me to do. For once I was not troubled by nightmares, or those guilty feelings that I hadn’t done enough. There were no more memories either.
My host returned with pink tinges on his pale cheeks.
“You were sunburned,” I said.
“No, it’s just blush one of your earthly friends put on me. I doubt you remember her though.” My host narrowed his eyes. I would rage if I had any rage left in me. I noticed now that there was a steady amount of brackish slime growing underneath my fingernails. It wouldn’t bother him if he was touched by this soiled hand. Then again…it might. I kept my hands to myself.
“You were beautiful when you were alive.” My host tells me in a leering and disgusted way.
“That’s not always a good thing.” I frowned.
“Trust me, I know. I’ve seen far too many women who are cursed by that nonsense. That’s really what got you into trouble. If that man hadn’t noticed you, he wouldn’t have recognized your mother. Would he?” my host asks. I shake my head.
“No he wouldn’t. If I hadn’t looked like her. I doubt very much that Thomas would have even looked at me. Let alone fall in love with me again.” My mouth turned into a sort of frown. I really had been nothing but a fool. Allowing that monster to make decisions for me, believing that I would be safe, when that was never his intention. Being tempted by silly declaration and flowery flattery.
“He was interested in who I was of course. Yet, he won’t figure that out till it’s his end.” my host mused. He dived underneath his desk and returned with a bizarre looking recording device.
“Do you know what this is?” he asked me. I shook my head.
“It’s a Dictaphone. My own personal Dictaphone. You see, it’s special. It’s why I do what I do.” My host looked at the machine fondly.
“Of course, I could still do what I do without it. That’s not really a problem, but I made it to make myself feel more interesting.” he grinned.
“What will it do to me?” I asked.
“Nothing, nothing at all. I told you, it’s for my use, not yours. All that you have to do is tell this machine your story, and I’ll be able to see, and mess around with your memories. Change things, erase things, make things real, make things false. All of it. Stop things before they have a chance to sin.” My host looked at the floor darkly.
“I see, it’s a manipulation device.” I grimaced.
“Yes, not that you will even notice how it affects you. I told you, it’s not torture. That part is over.” My host waved a hand impatiently. He motioned me to move over to a seat that was closer to his desk. I did as I was ordered.
“Don’t you already know my story?” I asked.
“Yes. However, it’s like reading a book versus watching a movie. You don’t know what a movie is do you?” My host asked. I shook my head.
“It’s like seeing something that’s theoretical, or imagined, move around in real life. It’s wonderful. It’s a shame that they weren’t invented during your time just yet.” My host frowned. He pushed a button and I jumped. The machine began to whirr and hum like a clock or a music box. There was also a sort of minimalistic ticking sound. A dingy little light bulb glowed. The large speakerphone piece was turned towards me.
“Now, tell me your story.” my host smirked in a bored way.
“This is the only biography that I’ll ever tell.” I began solemnly. Regretfully, relentlessly, and resignedly.
“I was born the illustrious daughter of Madame Maria Bespochadny, a noble Russian woman who had a great deal of money. She fell in love with my father, a penniless writer writing and scratching out his last book. I was cared for, I was loved. They ensured that I never knew hunger or sadness or suffering. Therefore, I never really cared about anything else. I was dead…” here I paused with a rueful smile but my host glared at me. Daring me to make a joke.
“I was beautiful, because they raised me to be beautiful. They controlled what I ate, how I washed my hair, how I dressed, everything. I didn’t mind it, I didn’t know anything else. Perhaps, inadvertently, my parents were the reason I died. Because they loved themselves so much, each other, and myself, they chose to make me look like my mother. A permanent reminder that who I was…existed because of them. It was due to this fact that one of my mother’s old lovers recognized me. I knew what love was. Yet I didn’t know what was right or what was wrong. My mother’s ex-lover was a boy around my age. He’d seen my mother as a grand lady at a young age and had been infatuated with her ever since. They’d had an adulterous affair while my father had been working on his novel. My mother was 45 years old, but still looked to be about 35. This boy met me, and talked to me, at my 13th birthday party. My father didn’t like him. My mother told him not to mind, and she made the rules. I always wondered if she was jealous of me. Technically my mother was an adulteress, I was not. I think my father suspected that something was about to occur. Soon it had been around 5 years that I had known the boy. Tom was older than me by only 4 years. His name was Thomas Theodore. Tom Teddy I called him for “fun.” Our other friend, Violet La Flora insisted that we call her Vi. She was another daughter of some rich person. Otherwise I wouldn’t know her either. I was 18 years old. Tom was 22. Vi was 19. Tom had been around 12 when he met my mother. My mother wanted to throw another celebration when my father finally finished his book. Another party, more champagne, more dresses. Nothing extraordinary. Vi did my makeup that night. Saying that it had to be special because she knew that Tom would propose. It didn’t surprise me to know that Tom was in love with me. Tom asked my father if he could marry me. I suppose Tom thought that if he couldn’t have my mother, then I would do. My father said no. He argued with Tom. My father knew that Tom had an odd crush on my mother. That maybe they had even carried on some sick relationship.
Tom grew upset, asked me whether I wanted to run away with him or not. At first, I said no. I wanted to leave that world entirely. I had overheard him and my father arguing. I grabbed all my jewelery and clothing from my room. I ran away. I ran away without saying goodbye to my mother, or to Vi. I wanted to hide everything. To change the person I had become. To tell them that I didn’t want their love, or their control. That I wanted my freedom. That I deserved my own voice. I buried my jewels and clothes in a place that no one but me could find. Then I was hit on my shoulder with some kind of square object. It could have been a book. Then I was cut with a knife. I’m not sure who did it, but I died…” I finished my forsaken, and unappealing story. My host wrinkled his nose, and crunched up his mouth. He was entirely displeased with it’s contents. There was nothing to be done about it, for it was the truth. I didn’t care how he manipulated it. Who he caused in the world of the righteously living to benefit or to sin. How he made things false, or intertwined. Changed my memories, or my friends. There wasn’t much he could do.
“Do you want to know what I truly am before I change your memory?” my host asked. I gritted my wobbling teeth.
“No, how would I know that you hadn’t changed it already?” I answered with a tongue that was filling with a browned version of the diseased blood that I drank earlier.
I wanted to escape to the peaceful existence that I felt I was entitled to. Somehow I wondered why my host prevented this. Still I rested here, somehow I was still in love with them all. The people who had destroyed me, and taken away my freedom. Maybe I needed to be satisfied with my death. To truly be at peace. The action and reactions of my murder were blurred, and baffling. Had it been Tom? Had it been my mother? Had it been Vi? Maybe it was my father. I didn’t talk to anybody.
Hovering over me. Listening to the Dictaphone. Writing things down like some underworld secretary. I took to hell only through the undermined truth that I have revealed to my secondary subconscious. The curse I knew wouldn’t let me run away. The hold had unfolded, but I didn’t move now. My burden was a sort of mindset that I didn’t know how I forgot. The motion to walk or to run. I was finding myself lost as a child who didn’t have the chance to live a ticking life.
Holding on to my memories was not a choice that I would regret relinquishing. The embraces that I sacrificed had already been worthless.
In my restlessness, I hugged myself with twitching fingers. I revolved an eye around in my aching head. The things that my host did to me! I felt exceedingly enthusiastic!
“There we are. I’m glad that went well. Would you like to take my arm?” My host offered holding out an arm.
“What went well?” I asked eagerly.
“Exactly. This was my first time doing this you know?” My host looked at me cautiously with a raised eyebrow.
“Your first time? Where are we going?” I asked being led down a hallway encased with flexing red muscles. Throbbing like a heated heart.
“To a party. The party of the deceased. You are not one of those souls that deserve peace my dear. Therefore this is the place we send those souls who want to thrive but are permanently dead. You have proved yourself to be a worthy performer in death’s orchestra. Grab an instrument and join the crowd!” My host rushed through breathlessly. It was funny that he sounded breathless because he wasn’t alive either!
“So what was this for you then?” I asked daringly, glancing at a violin. I’d always wanted to learn how to play the violin. Now I would have all the time after life to learn!
“A final test, as it were. I will not be returning at all. When I am finished with you. They will bring in another demon for another soul. No matter how us demons judge, we always get recycled back into that sparkling field of flowers. It’s the only way that we ever get to contribute anything good.” My host frowned. I was too eager to join that bizarre, bumbling orchestra. I barely heard him. I also doubted that I would remember.
The minute my host let go of my hand, I recklessly hightailed it venturously into that dark void of glowing, exquisite music. This was my ending, and I would take it.
“All at once we are scattered, and all at once we are assembled. All at once I am my boss, and also his assistant.” My hosts words echoed in my empty head. I knew what the wall of talking skulls was for. I knew what I was for. I knew what he was for. We were for the nothingness of the darkness. I don’t expect this phrase to make sense to someone who is alive. The music grew steadily earsplitting. My host was disappearing away.