“End After End”

23:32 Sun 27 May 2012
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Bethany couldn’t believe they would actually kill her. For what? In some kind of insane ritual? They looked like cheap horror extras, with a cramped basement for their stage and an altar that was despite its appearance certainly not solid stone.

But there was something in the air, something around their leader, a woman who had just thrown off her robe, and her nakedness made Bethany think that maybe, yes, they would kill her. The nakedness and the intensity with which the woman took out the sword and whispered to it. There was a growing frenzy in Bethany’s mind, panic at the prospect of death, disbelief at what was going on, and something else, a kind of anticipation that seemed to be spreading from the woman to her.

Then, pain. Pain so strong it overwhelmed the fear, obliterated it, and the anticipation too. She’d never felt pain like that before, and thought that the pain itself would kill her. The second blow was barely noticeable.

The third brought a shift. A brief release from the pain, then confusion, disorientation, as if every feeling had been shifted into another key. It took until several moments later to realize that the shift had been sudden. There was a finality to it that Bethany could not quite grasp, and a profound sense of loss without her being able to identify just what had been lost.

She was still confused when a man ran into the room and killed the acolytes before disarming the woman. Bethany expected him to free her arms and legs, but instead he put his hand on her throat. Which she couldn’t feel.

She sat up, and it was easy, easy to do so, and easy to rise, rise to the ceiling and look down on them. She felt stirrings from the acolytes. Something emerged from each of them. Even as the answer was becoming clear, Bethany said, “Where am I?”

Then she looked at her corpse, at the awful expression on her face, at the blood everywhere from her three wounds, and felt the true pain, as if every nerve ending had just realized it was raw and naked to the world. She screamed, and knew that it wasn’t a vocal scream and could never be again, and her sanity bent under that strain. The scream kept coming, and in the anguish all she wanted was release, relief, anything but this.

The woman staggered, went to her knees. Beneath the pain, there was pressure, and from the woman, counter-pressure. That pressure turned solid and strong, and it pushed. With exhilarating speed it pushed, and they were freed.

Together they rose up, away, the six of them. They expected others, others who had been there before them, but there was no exodus to follow. Instead, they pulled others with them as they rose, the dead, the first wave of something new, butting up against each other.

Searching for a place to be and beginning to make that place for themselves.

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