August 22nd, 2003, 07:39 AM
Thy Kingdom Come
I dreamt I saw the end of the world, only I realised it wasn’t a dream. There wasn’t any loud noise, no big bang just a blue flash in the sky that lasted only a brief second. It was odd because I never thought I’d see the end of the world, I guess nobody in their right mind would – when you consider how long mankind has been around, how many people, generations have come and gone.
Yet there I stood looking out of my bedroom window when the world ended, in my lifetime, on my watch. And I did nothing. They say that when you die your life flashes before your eyes, imagine then what a world must see as it dies, does it consider the volcanic orgy that has forever taken place within and sometimes without itself? Does it consider the seas and oceans, the landmasses and all their glorious variety or does it consider one single species upon its surface arrogant enough to believe their all importance. One thinks not. I can’t honestly say what I thought as I stood there, its one of those moments where introspection isn’t high on one’s agenda - being a more civilised inclination created when survival no longer became an issue. Strange then it should so rapidly disappear as survival became a serious issue once more. Its amazing what a few million years of evolution doesn’t change in a person, despite it being the end of the world there was still this atavistic urge deep down in me saying “Get the **** out of there” – so I did. But alas I move too fast – let me return and begin, as a famous wordsmith once suggested, at the beginning.
August 22nd, 2003, 08:33 AM
Just Another Philistine
The trouble with beginnings is you hardly ever notice they are happening. Sit in a bar in the loop in Chicago, listening to people gripe about the Blackhawks again. Watch the young women dance in and out of the bar in a vain attempt to lure some male away from what is truly important in life, losing hope after a time and moving to the next life source
Feel the chill in an October night and know that winter is not yet arrived, just the advance guard rolling through with its hint of weather to come.
Then, the old guy sitting next to you turns from his drink, looks you in the eye, mumbles something, turns back to his drink. Nothing better to do, you ask: “What did you say?”
Right then, at that precise instant, there should have been the first few bars of Beethoven’s Fifth or a lightning strike or a strobe light into your face. Right then, the end of the world began.
He turns back to you, eyes bloodshot, lips slack, speech slurred. “I said ‘the world sucks!”
“Yeah, brother, I hear that.” Trite as it sounds, it’s true. The world sucks. Twenty-six years old, masters in English Lit, no job, no girl, no life, no prospects. Yeah, life sucks.
“Think I’ll – takes him a full five seconds to get “I’ll” past his vocal chords – do sumpin’ ‘bout it.” There is an intensity in his eyes that burns with the fires of hell or so you think. You want to know that feeling. You want to feel intense about something besides the self-pity you’ve been practicing in this bar, on this stool, for a month and a half.
“You figure out what you’re going to do, you tell me. I’ll help you.” Just another witty saying to another drunk.
“I’ll do that,” he says. Leaves a five on the bar, stands, puts his coat on, looks at you one more time: “I’ll do that!” he repeats.
“You do that, old timer.” You smile, already dismissing him from your mind in favor of the much more amusing thought exercise: life stinks.
The old guy stumbles out of the bar and your memory into the Chicago night, only the chilly blast of air coming through the briefly opened door making any impression on you or the other occupants of the bar.
The Blackhawks are losing again.
Last edited by Hereford Eye; August 22nd, 2003 at 04:27 PM.
August 22nd, 2003, 09:37 AM
Edited for submission
I'll do that....." I continue to mumble as I leave the bar. I am not drunk. Can't get drunk, well not on what they serve in there. I need something with a bit more meat
Was one time on this night , that the gifts were laid out, the offerings given. Hallowe'en, Sambain. Now what, sweets! Trick or treat and bad movies!
"Sucks! The lot of it!" I bellow spreading my arms out wide. My form flickers from man to woman, to something else. Tall, nondescript "f" the horns and cloven feet. I am what I am.
What I need is a "hand of glory" something to put them to sleep while I flip the switch, wake the buggers up.
"Let those who rest more deeply sleep
Let those awake their vigils keep:
Oh hand of glory, shed thy light:
Direct us to our spoil tonight"
I chant the words and wonder could I......
Last edited by Holbrook; August 22nd, 2003 at 09:41 AM.
August 22nd, 2003, 05:05 PM
Just Another Philistine
With the old man gone, I stare at the beer and then the tube. This end of the bar gives up on the Blackhawks. There is a pre-season Bulls game available. They’re losing too but this time I engage the guy next to me in small talk. He’s out of the University of Chicago, Sociology Major, long line of academics back to Dewey.
He’s feeling proud of himself and doing what the locals take great pride in doing, he’s bashing the Bulls.
“Do you know what the problem with the Bulls is?” I ask. He gives me a twenty minute, position by position analysis, concluding their problem is talent. They have none.
I shake my head sadly, take another sip of beer. “No, that’s not it.” I offer and wait for the bait to take hold.
It does. This is Chicago. No one can know more about their teams failures than they do.
“Okay, smart ass,” and he is just two hairs away from inviting me outside, “what is the Bulls problem?”
“Hamartia,” I respond and watch my word attempt penetration of his operating brain cells. It fails as I suspected it would. “Yeah, right,” he says, gets up and leaves. I smile sadly into my beer.
But a voice behind me, female, responds. “Ever since Pippin left, right?”
I turn around to consider the new foil. She is mid-twenties, tall at maybe 5’10”. Dark complexion that matches the copper blonde hair. Green eyes, of course. And very little extra anything.
“Buy you a drink?”
“Because I knew about Pippin?” The question is low key but very serious. It’s a what’s in it for me kind of question.
“That and for taking the hamartia bait.”
“Okay, sloe gin fizz.”
I order the drink. High alcohol content in a soft drink container, a serious drink.
“Have a seat, miss?” indicating the stool just vacated.
“Haven’t heard that one for a while.
“Granddad was a fan of McCambridge.”
“The Exorcist’s McCambrdige?”
“More “Giant”s McCambridge. Exorcist was all voice and he had thing for the flesh.”
“You don’t, I take it….no, not that. Wrong interpretation. Still talking McCambridge.”
“She’s okay. Not a bimbo, not a raving beauty. Just a talented actress.”
We spend the rest of the night talking about the Bulls. Evening comes to a close. She goes home alone; so do I. But, we leave a “maybe” hanging in the air that we can do it again. I hope so.
Last edited by Hereford Eye; August 23rd, 2003 at 06:47 AM.
August 23rd, 2003, 03:00 AM
No sound would announce his coming, yet they knew he would be there, had always known he'd be there and so they watched. They watched for they knew he would be on the well-trod path.
And the well-trodden path for all its finery had led to the bowels of central Chicago on a night where the breeze is as much a curse as immortality,
"Well almost, except the bloody breeze will end sometime soon..."
He had started the habit of talking to himself not too long ago, or at least it seemed not too long ago as time goes in this realm.
"Still too bloody long,"
And swearing, an easy habit to pick up. But it was true he had been here too long. Time, as if existing as a tangible entity, had take its toll on him, the centuries of man had been a torrid affair littered with destruction, chaos and worst of all no hope. No hope for a bright tomorrow, no past but that being made where he stood and no end, no redemption from the bitter futility of his wearied existence.
So he trudged onward down the path of time, looking neither left nor right only forward, head bowed with resigned determination. Until now, until the memory of a memory had called him to this place, an echo of the other - the place he could no longer go even in dreams.
A warm glass of something would do for now, to aid in the inability, for a short period at least, of utter forgetfulness – this realm did have its advantages, alcohol was one of them.
Wrapping the thread-bare coat around his broad shoulders he moved out into the bowery, instantly lost in the malignant black cloak of night
August 23rd, 2003, 08:58 AM
Edited for submission
I make my way to the underpass. Here among the ragtag offal of humanity I find what I am looking for this night. He sits hugging his tattered book, swaying from the affect of too much poison in his system. His face in the flickering street light is twisted, his mouth moving.
I squat on the pavement by him "Tell me preacher, tell me again."
The man begins to speak." The plagues upon man, revelations 16.
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven Angel "Go pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God"
So the first Angel went and poured the bowl on the earth and foul and evil sores came upon the men who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image"
Aye, I laughed, all the boils on all the bottoms of all the couch potatoes staring at their small screens
The preacher continued "The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died that was in the sea."
true you have blown it there killed it dead with the crap you have tipped into it.
"The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of water and they became blood."
Ditto to the seas you fools
"The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun and it was allowed to scorch man"
Ozone layer shot to hell
The preacher stopped and shrunk away from me.
"There is more" I snarl..
"Not yet..... no.... not yet...."
"Want to bet." I laugh and get up feeling the rising wind on my face.
Last edited by Holbrook; August 23rd, 2003 at 11:54 AM.
August 24th, 2003, 08:09 AM
The bar was relatively empty, as empty at least as a bar can be with the onslaught of Winter beginning its first forays into the human pysche.
This bar, for its name is irrelevant, had reached the special time in a bar's existence when the caleidoscopic menagerie of overloud mating calls, flashes of contact and penetratingly unsubtle looks gives way to a slow, swaying rhythm where balance is found, where the bar staff are neither rushed nor idle, where it is neither crowded nor sparse and where there are many happy people all comfortable in their surroundings, the Witching Hour. It is into this environment a cold wind blows, signalling the entrance of another customer who immediately draws unforgiving stares for reminding the happy bunch how transparent and fleeting the balance is. A barely visible figure wrapped inside a coat that has seen its worst days and continues to move south trudges up to the bar, quickly accepted and forgotten by those inside, after all it will be them soon.
"Triple JD on the rocks."
The young barman stares at me as I imagine he would a leper. Casually I toss a fifty on the bar then return the withering gaze, he decides it worth his while to listen now - obediantly pouring the measure before dumping the rocks in, making sure I see the alcohol that spills over the sides and onto the bar as a result. I smile, which is rare but fitting in this moment, I will allow him the victory for the war is already mine.
"Keep it coming," my voice is level but commanding, he double takes, nodding reluctantly.
Swallowing deeply, the liquid fire lining my throat, I survey the inhabitants of humanity in microcosm, it is not hopeful. In one corner the alpha males hold power, laughing regularly and loud, too loud. Splayed around their territory in various states of undress are their captives, young women with shovels worth of make-up, goose-pimple ridden skin and dull eyes. Along the line of the bar are several men, varying ages and race but all with the same slumped shoulders and beaten looks. A thought shoots across my wandering and I add myself to the list of bar dwellers. There are a few conclaves of true enjoyment, friends basking in the comfort of familiarity and lovers whose glances are all stolen zealously by their other. I make a mistake and stray back towards the apes, they do not like my look it seems.
"What you staring at old man?"
"Me? Nothing." It doesn't work, the super chemical mix of alcohol and testosterone is too great a pull to avoid.
"Yeah well I think you dirty old pervert were staring at my Sarah."
Pointing out his poor grammar, use of the possessive or that I'm really not interested in human women would probably earn me an attempted beating, I mention the first two anyway.
"I wasn't staring at your friend and last time I checked ownership of another human being is illegal." It goes down well.
His first swing is with his right hand, the one not containing a bottle, it bounces off the doorman's thick skull. I smile again, twice in one night, perhaps I should come here more often. The doorman's look suggests I won't get that chance. Apologies all round and the inevitable conversation begins.
"Cold out there, huh?" his voice is low and nasal but no lisp which speaks well for his abilities.
"Sure is, I'd hate to be out there right about now." He doesn't bite, professional aswell.
"Yeah well that ain't my problem."
But it is mine. Getting up from my stool I look at the barman, he smiles nonchantantly, it doesn't last long. I wink at the barman, pick up the fifty and walk out the door nodding to my overlarge shadow as he returns to his guard post. Fourteen minutes, must be a new record.
Last edited by kater; August 24th, 2003 at 08:14 AM.
August 24th, 2003, 09:26 AM
Just Another Philistine
You wake up the next morning, no hangover as you didn’t go that far, no companion because you didn’t go that far either. Your apartment looks the same, no reason it shouldn’t except that the end of the world began last night. Something of that magnitude ought to leave clues.
Off the loop, on the north end. Cheap because it sits next to the el. Three bedrooms, two filled with books. Combination living/dining room also littered with books. Two baths. Rent paid through the end of the year.
So, why does life suck? You inherited a very small fortune but one sufficient to keep you in books and beer for as long you remain interested in either or both. You paid cash for your education at Northwestern. You sit in on classes at University of Chicago as well as your alma mater, paying cash as you go. You study whatever interests you.
You study because you’re looking for ‘why’. You can’t seem to pull the why out of the morass. Why did the fire take your parents, your sisters but not you? Why do your cousins not understand that you resent survival? You watch this world go around, watch the games being played, the politics, the social experiments, the wars, the missionary fervor that comes on people. You watch communism and capitalism, totalitarianism and democracy, crime and punishment looking for hints, clues, threads to the ‘why’.
They don’t exist. But your parents believed; it was important to them. It didn’t help them but they believed so you cannot let that part of them go. You keep looking for the ‘why’.
Maybe, today, you’ll re-read Locke. “Knowledge is the perception of the agreement or disagreement between two ideas.” Good and evil. Because that’s where why is hidden, in the lands of good and evil. If you are ever to discover the answer, there is where you must search.
It would be nice if Mercedes could drop by. She could probably help with the search. She is more than a Bull’s fan, much more.
Ah, well, to the books. The answer is somewhere to be found; it must be.”
August 24th, 2003, 02:40 PM
Edited for submission
I make my way back to the bar. I feel a change there, something has come.
Broad shoulder, yet hunched in spirit. A fellow traveller in the game. I see him looking at the fast closing door of the bar.
I chuckle and recite the next section. Will he bite? Does he know? We read the bible, pour over it for signs and portents. Do others bother?
"The fifth angel poured his bowl on the throne of the beast and its kingdom was in darkness; men gnawed their tongues in anquish and cursed the God of Heaven for thier pain and sores, and did not repent of their deeds..... buy you a drink?" I add and laugh.
August 25th, 2003, 07:44 AM
A shiver passes through my entire being, the liquid fire instantly forgotten. An incessant shuddering begins that I cannot stop,
"I am not one of three, I am not one of three ....." It becomes a mantra I will not release lest it fail to be true.
He laughs at me, a mocking laugh that echoes down the street rising and rising it consumes my being forcing the words from my mouth in a rush of vehemence;
"The sixth angel emptied his bowl over the great river Euphrates; The water of this river dried up so that a way was made for the kings of the East to come in. Then from the jaws of dragon and beast and false prophet three foul spirits came forth; they looked like frogs but were actually demon spirits, able to work miracles, and they went out to all the kings of the world to call them together for the war of the Great Day of God the Almighty."
His eyes are on fire and I understand; the loneliness, the loss and beyond it all the weariness, if I believed this creature had a soul I would call it soul weary. But it does not, can not. He drapes his arm across my shoulder.
"You are not worthy of His army, but he is coming, the shaft has a key........."
When and to where he disappeared I do not know nor care. Long had it been since the fifth trumpet had sounded but now the end game had come and the four were preparing, the horde and the host would ride. There was nothing to stand in their way.
August 28th, 2003, 08:09 PM
Just Another Philistine
You go back to the bar and Mercedes is waiting for you. Not usual. Usual is the other way around. But she is there, green eyes shining in the early evening neon.
More not usual, she takes your hand and asks you to walk a while, she wants to talk and not fight the competing crowd noises nor share her message with eavesdroppers.
Walking the loop on this late autumn evening, breeze chilling off, no clouds but few stars able to penetrate the city’s glow, her copper blonde hair wafts, fewer and fewer people needing to be navigated through. Should be romantic. Isn’t.
She talks about things that seem at first to not register with you. Words come in, no thoughts bubble up. Stunned? Maybe. She talks stunning ideas. But, you find it is more like you are settling into the night, finally where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Right moment. Right circumstance. Everything fitting, the puzzle solved.
Comes the moment when she stops, turns, gathers every bit of your attention, “do you see it?” she asks.
When you answer it is as if you are watching yourself answer. You say “yes, I see!” and note the smile that blossoms in her eyes, the grin that supports the smile, the joy that forms the grin. “An ally is what you need and I am your man.”
Her smile broadens till there is no further room for expansion. “I know you are.”
“The other sides are not going to be happy about this.”
“No, they are not.” Now the two of you become imps, mischievous, self-satisfied. You mimic a reel, hands joined above head, hands on waists, spinning in dance. People watch, think they are watching young love, and they smile. A night for smiles.
“Little time to prepare,” she sings across the dance.
“A time for every season,” you reply, relishing the sound of the words,, the meter, the feel, how the source never anticipated their use in this context.
“And Clarke’s Law,” you add and now you are laughing. This is going to be fun.
Dangerous, of course, but this will place you in the middle of ‘why’ and what more can you ask?
August 31st, 2003, 02:34 PM
Edited for submission
I listen to his denial and smile “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of her impure passions. Sure you won’t have a drink on me, for you are one of the three. I see it. Plain. Doomed like me to raise hell, sorry to stop the rising of hell, but can you it comes in the air. By just my touching you cogs are turning. Horsemen are readying their steeds and the night will get colder..
But he no longer hears or sees me and time slips on, the days grow shorter, time grows shorter. Pale horseman you are thundering now. I need a drink and to see through others eyes. I return to the bar, enter and sink onto a stool my eyes hollow pits, reflecting hell’s coming.
September 1st, 2003, 04:24 AM
I stumble on, time has lost meaning and the stain is growing. Where did I go wrong, this was not part of the plan, I was to watch, nothing more. But now they have the key and I have indicted myself on charges against the Host, they will come and I will die the death of forever. I have no wish to die but to stand and fight will mean I am truly lost.
Spurts of cold air shoot out in front of my face, slowly I breathe, focusing the ragged movement of my diaphragm. Concentration eludes me as the first moments of sunshine adorn my body releasing a pleasurable shiver, in that moment I take in my surroundings. Michigan Avenue. Swarms of people walk around me, I am invisible, as invisible as their impending doom, I must warn them.
"Run you fools, hide, the end is coming."
People stare, feet shuffle faster, I hear laughter - a deep voice chuckles.
"Sure whatever you say ......... Elvis." The swarm laughs and moves on.
An inexplicable sadness descends on me, realisation strikes like a scythe, truly am I Fallen.
September 1st, 2003, 09:38 AM
Just Another Philistine
You sit in your apartment with Mercedes, all your books in all the rooms propping you up. Mercedes recruited you to stand at the final moment and slowly the implications sink into your muddled mind. She recruited you to stand at the final moment. Not to stand with her. No to “be her man”. She recruited you to stand at the final moment, to resist the power of heaven and hell, to not allow the world to end.
Yes, you want to know why things happen but did you want to be why things happen?
Mercedes sits the floor of your apartment, legs crossed, right arm laying on right leg with palm up, left arm lifted in admonition, index finger and thumb touching, reminding you of a sculpture dimly remembered. Given time to sort the memories, you might find the image of the yidam Tara now sits before you but she gives you no time. She instructs.
“It is a simple idea, so simple it is washed aside in the passion of good and evil. Concentrating on the relative effects of good and evil divert one’s attention. Good works miracles; evil works calamities. An orientation. Reverse your observation point and now it is evil working miracles and good working calamities. If good and evil are orientations, then what remains?
“You remain. With a capacity for doing good and a capacity for doing evil. Yet, you remain.
“Such a simple idea.”
You argue inside and out. All the books through all the centuries that point to the final confrontation between good and evil, can so many people through so much time be so very wrong? Where is the logic in that?
Mercedes appears bemused. There is a lilt in her voice as if humor supports her words but maybe that is your interpretation. Maybe what supports her is far more sinister. “Wrong?” she asks. “Did I say they were wrong? My thought was that good exists; evil exists. My thought ascribed no rightness or wrongness to their existence. My thought is that acceptance of their existence implies more than their existence.”
You wonder now if semantics is the issue? Do the two of you bandy words, each attempting to conjure meanings based on personal definitions? Is this conversation a cryptogram masking the issue at hand?
“Faith, my friend,” Mercedes says, gazing as if eye contact alone is all that is required for her mind to fill your mind with the fuel of faith.
You’re there again, where you always seem to be, confronted by the enigma of faith. Your parents had it; your sister had it; billions of people seem to have it; now this one demands that you have it. A lifetime’s agony surrounds your answer, two simple words expressing the torment of years, your ceaseless quest: “In what?” you ask, not even beginning to hope an answer exists, certainly not expecting any conceivable answer to be carried in a two word reply, as if question and answer constitute a balanced equation.
“In you,” she answers.
September 2nd, 2003, 06:53 AM
This is how it will be: I shall come like a thief.
It begins to rain, heavy almost like it has purpose and worse, venom. I do not move, moving is pointless for where should I be but here, where is there but here, and now.
Michigan Avenue, the splendour of new Chicago, buildings that reach ever upwards, a built-in human desire to be closer to .... to .... something. Something had they any sense they would build away from, but it is too late, the Host had been swelling rapidly even as I was expelled, I cannot begin to imagine their numbers now. Oh my brothers and sisters what is it that we must do, is a time of reckoning truly necessary. I start at the painful memory as my fully awakened mind drifts back over the millenia, back to the meeting of the Host Captains.
"His army grows even as we speak, we must act!!!" Sol ever the forceful one.
"Calm, Sol, Hell has nothing to do but build, we must not rush into this......" I always was the patient one.
"Rush? RUSH!!!!! Can you not see Asmodel they mean to break the balance."
"But you have both forgotten something," Cassiel, she was the best of us all. "Abaddon must break free before this can occur and he cannot while the agreement is biding of both our realms."
"But he does not belong in the bottomless pit, he will break the agreement to come here and unite us, can you not see that the forever death is infinitely more acceptable than that."
"Have you not thought that maybe we can reach a new agreement my friends." Of all of us only Uriel could call his six fellow captains 'friend'.
"That option has been removed, he has closed the channel." Gabriel, the first amongst us.
"When? When did this occur, why were we not informed?"
"You are here brother Sol, are you not? It has come my brothers and sisters, the Destroyer has decided his army is almost ready, he has six of his seven captains, he needs but one human off the soul plain and he will test the lock."
"This is madness, Michael you must stop this." I should have known from his look that the one person I held above all the Host was powerless even as I emplored him with body and soul to prevent it. Anael stepped forward, I had not even realised she was in the room, so strong was the hunter in her.
"The time has come my kin, the final battle is at hand."
I remember what happened next with a clarity that not even death itself could dispell, she unclasped the trumpet from her belt and placed it too her lips. In that moment my world had gone, I lashed at her seeking to stop that sickening note. She absorbed the blow and as Sol restrained me, Anael blew the doom of three realms with the sweetest note ever heard. The agony that comes from expulsion, the punishment for my actions, I do not want to begin to remember.
The rain has become a deluge, but too my shame it will not sweep me away.