What is it about life that has us all so eager to hold on to it? What is it about death that makes us all so afraid? If life was a lover, she would be that cruel lover that our mothers always warned us against. Afterall, life doesn’t care about us. Life doesn’t wait for us. And life certainly doesn’t forgive because she’s never shy to throw the consequences of our actions in our face. So if life was a relationship, she would be a bad one and death would be that breakup that delivers the oh so sweat relief that puts us out of our misery. So why do we fear death when life is so hard? Why do we hate the idea of the end when it is all that reminds us to live? Why do we cry when we always knew the end was inevitable? All things die. Even stars die and they shine much brighter and much longer than any human life. So if life is a relationship, then it must not be all bad. As they say, no one stays if it’s all bad. If death is the end, why run when it catches up to us anyway?
When i was a young girl, the boundaries of my imagination were undefined. I would spend hours in the backyard of my childhood home lying down on the ground surrounded by tall weeds. I would look up for hours often losing myself in my daydreams and never hearing my mother’s voice as she called me in for tea and biscuits. In those days the clouds would form shapes of animals, people and things. Before i ever came to Paris, i saw the Eiffel tower in the skies over my home in Sheffield. I was always seeing the beauty around me and all i wanted was to be a part of that beauty. To show those around me what i saw in my mind’s eye. So i became an artist. I drew and i painted and even dabbled in some sculpting. That last one wasn’t always pretty but i loved every minute i spent doing it. In the end i graduated from a presitgious arts school in Paris. I thought i would make the beautiful world i saw around me even more colourful.
Looking back now, i realise i was still so young; still so naive and unprepared for what would come next. I’m so far from home now and the clouds have no decernable shapes anymore. My mind’s eye is plagued with horrific scenes i can’t get rid of. My body is always soar. Worn down by all the terrible acts done to it. All i want now is to forget. To drown my mind in an endless sea of intoxication. I never used to drink. But i learnt to counter the feeling of sleeping on cold tiled floors with the warmt of vodka. It’s one of the few perks of being here. We get fed to keep us alive and we are offered plenty of alcohol and drugs to ensure we are too damaged to run. The added bonus is i no longer dream. I used to dream in colours now only darkness. I look around and the world has lost all of it’s beauty. I realise now that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and a pained soul sees no beauty. My mind’s eye can’t see anything anymore. In my mind it feels like I’m stumbbling around in a dark corridor i can’t find my way out of.
I cannot wait for my death. Lately, it’s the only kind of day dreaming i can do; fantasising and imagining how it will happen. Maybe I’ll be lucky and it will happen in an instant. I hope it’s quick. But if i have to die in one painful way, at least it will be the last ever pain i feel. The only reason i haven’t taken my own life is that i know what would happen to the other girls if Victor comes back and finds me dead. He would pick one of them and kill her as punishment and as an example to the others for not stopping me. I’ve seen him do it before. It’s his way of ensuring that his products – which is what he calls all of us girls trapped here and waiting to be sold off as sex slaves – don’t try to escape, even through death. But i know i will escape this life. Victor says i will be auctioned off soon. Maybe then i will get my chance to leave this world behind. Then and only then will my pain end and if there is an after life, maybe i will get to see some beauty again.
A man walks into a small closet. At 5’10, he stands with an impressive physique. His broad shoulders, rough skin and toned muscles give him an imposing look. The scar reaching from the top of his left brow down over his eye lid and stopping at his cheek added up to an appearance that portrayed a man with a violent past. He was lucky to still have the eye. His scars however reached much deeper into him. Deep into the recesses of his being. Deep into a part of him he had long buried.
He stretches a hand into the darkness and pulls on a string that sparks light to a solitary bulb dangling from the ceiling. The bulb provides a dull glow as it flickers on and off. The man reaches up on the shelve at the back of the closet moving shoe boxes aside until his hands settle on a red one at the very back. He grabs it with both hands and delicately pulls the shoe box from its dusty spot. The man’s hands tremble slightly. The result of an unfortunate malady. It was a painful reminder of how long he had lived. The box isn’t heavy but he moves it with care as though to preseve precious crystals inside. He brings it down and places it gently on the wooden floor. Covered in years of dust, the box looks worn with the corners and edges frayed. The man takes his time opening the box blowing the top of the it and in the process spraying the years of layered dust into the air. The light in the closet intermittently catches the dust in its weightless dance. Placing his right hand on it, the man rubs on the box gently. Clearly the box and it’s contents have sentimental value and even now invoke deep emotions in him.
After a few seconds of staring down at the box, he finally lifts the lid and inside are photographs. He pauses and his eyes fill up with tears that he fights desperately to hold back. This is a man that has gone through life overcoming the things that would overwhelm most men. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn’t looked at these pictures in years. Maybe it was the pain of knowing he was alone in his final moments. Perhaps it was a combination of both, but in that moment, he felt like he would break. He felt a kind of pain that threatened to leave him shattered on the floor like dropped china.
He reaches into the box and brings out the pictures. He goes through them one by one and he feels his hands tremble slightly as he does. One by one he flips through the photographs, taking his time to spot every detail of the faces in them. Each photograph takes him back across the land scape of his memory. Every expression, every pose and every background calls to his mind events and emotions felt in those moments the pictures were taken. As the memories of joyful times flowed back to him, the happiness of those moments flee and are quickly replaced with sorrow.
He comes to the last photograph and he just stares at it. He stares as though he hoped if he did so long enough the woman and child in the photograph might move. No such luck. Instead, as is the nature of people in pictures, the woman and child simply smile at him frozen and preserved from the coninuous steady march of time. They would never get older. Only the memories of them might fade. They are beyond death. Only the polaroids may wither.
He puts the pictures down, content that he got the chance to see his wife and daughter one more time. The world has gone to hell but at least he got to see them before he left. He never believed in a heaven but hoped for the sake of his wife and daughter that they were there. If there is a heaven, it wasn’t likely he would get in. They will be coming soon. So it was good he got to see his family one last time.
He takes a deep breath and grabs from the bottom of the box what he came for. A 45 caliber hand gun. He starts to load the bullets wondering why he would need more than one. The lights go off in the room. This makes him pause. The bedroom door opens without a sound. At that moment the bulb in the closet starts flickering on and off again. A creek on the floor boards behind him takes him by surprise. He didn’t hear it come in. He cocks the gun and puts it in his mouth but is grabbed before he can pull the trigger. The room fills with screams and sounds of bones breaking and blood splashing on the floor. The only mercy Charlie recieves in his final seconds is not having to see what killed him. Then there is silence. The light in the closet flickers off and on for a few more seconds and then goes permanently off. And so darkness falls.
A long time ago, the gods fell. Not just from grace, not just from glory, but from their lofty heights above the mortal realm. It wasn’t just one set of gods that fell but all of them. From the shores of Africa to the temples of Asia, the old gods all fell.
The history of earth is littered with gods from every culture that has ever existed. This is because man has always looked to the skies and imagined beings far more powerful than him. From this belief in the divine sprang forth the mythical gods of old. And it was this seemingly infinite wellspring of belief and faith in the divine that sustained the gods and gave them their powers. Man believed so the gods lived.