The best of me, tenderly, was gutted like the innards of a fish. It was so quick, I never saw it coming even with my eyes open. Death shook my hand then led me on to the river Styx. What a cold and murky place it was, but no more different than my life in the land of the living. Everyone here are their true selves, no mask obscures their faces nor clouded words disjointed their character. Is it insane to befriend the dead? But, there they were playing a strategic game of chess under the glow of tiki torches. Droplets of water dripped from cracks and crevices of the rocky cavern. Jagged concrete stairs split and eroded under mother eternity. This chess match is moving at hyper speed; opponent and challenger are stuck on repeat! What could they have done wrong to stay stuck in this moment? Is there a punishment more torturous than that? Sensing my curiosity, the lady of the river answered, “They stole time, calculated how to cheat death. Ah, but as you see, they weren’t so smart after all. Calculations are best left to us. We know when, we know where and we know how.” “So, what is my fate?” I inquire. “You are your own enemy so you must best yourself. How you do that is your business. If you should lose, you will die repeatedly. Think of it as deja vu.” I listen to her cackle and hack as her scratchy voice reverberates throughout the hollow cave. Styx rests her hunched frame in front of a crimson door that has diagonal rakes etched at least an inch and a half deep. “This door is for you.” She stepped aside and waved we through. When I step inside, the door slams and an unseen, yet loud chain clammers around the door, sealing me inside. All about me, darkness reigns. I lose my footing, crumbling to the ground. It’s wet and grainy. I push back up to my feet, carefully, one foot in front of the other. A strained voice seems to be gaining on me from all directions and I can’t protect myself from this disembodied entity. My chilled spine mysteriously is kissing a wall in hopes of putting distance between me and this fright. “What are you afraid of?” Am I imagining things, or was that my voice? A petite figure crawled out from the deep and with the click of her heels, light eminates from the ground. She is my likeness. “I said, what are you afraid of?” “I’m not afraid of anything.” “Then why are you over there?” “Self preservation. What do you want with me? Why am I here?” “You are here because I want you to be.” “Why?” “You already have the answer.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “No? Then die!” My doppelganger lunged at me slamming a clenched fist into my chest where mysteriously a knife materialized. I gasp, then cry out, “Why are you doing this to me?” “Because, it’s what you wanted.” “To be stabbed mystically?” “No silly. You wanted to feel again. Don’t you know you’re on the operating table?” My eyes widen in horror. “You’re lying.” “No dear, you tried to kill yourself and that’s how you ended up with me. You’re going to die if you don’t conquer your fear. You wanted to die because living was difficult. I’m here to help you stick to the split decision of death. Of course, if that’s what you want.” If I were to stay here, I’ll end up trapped on repeat like those chess players, or if I choose to live, life’s challenges will never stop. What do I choose?
© privatethoughtsmadepublic. 2018.