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Upon my death,
Which was quite severe,
I entered a place I knew I should fear.
I was fairly certain this place was Hell,
For I saw no Gates and heard no Bells.
I was slightly remised, I must say,
To have met my fate on that day.
All my good will was very spent,
But around the corner was coming Lent.
Nonetheless I moved my feet,
To explore this place,
Perhaps to meet my fellowman who damnation felt:
Those who bore neither pride nor depth,
Who had felt the warmth ofSatan’s breath and
Been brought here at Sin’s behest.
I found no souls that description matched,
Nor found any beasts that would attack
Me for my current position brought on by my Earthly volition.
I ventured on, with time to spare, with no direction and no despair.
This place was barren,amicable even.
There was no heat, no sweat;
My chest wasn’t heaving.
If this place was Hell,where was the fire?
Where was the punishment for my inordinate desire?
Upon that thought from the ground rose a pyre.
It grew up and up, always higher.
It ceased its growth well past my height
And from its girth I knew its might.
In the center of the thing appeared a door.
From the door appeared a woman, nothing more.
I eyed the woman with suspicion and fear.
After a time of impasse, she drew near.
I stood my ground with little resolve.
I was already dead, what would dispute solve?
When the distance could be breached by the length of an arm,
I was fairly certain she meant no harm.
She spoke to me with a smooth, solid, voice.
I stood, and listened, for I had little choice.
She did, indeed, confirm my suspicion:
That on Earth my morals were too well hidden.
I was not yet in Hell, she told,
But in a preliminary hold where I would not yet feel the weight my sins did carry.
Here, she said, I could lie in wait, in pursuance of those pearly gates.
I could stay here, and serve a penance until I was deemed worthy of repentance.
Knowing myself and my poor constitution
I said I would hate to wait for retribution;
To be left for eternity with only my desires,
That would be a fate worse than any fire.
She nodded, as if in knowing,
Then the ground began glowing.
The scenery altered,
A river began to flow.
The temperature failed from its constant, and rose.
When the water was done, its surface rippled and rung,
The noise cascading until i twas stippled.
In the wake of the still was a boat that two would fill.
A child manned the boat,oars taller than he.
The woman motioned me forward,
And the child bended knee.
I turned my head,
To consider my options,
To glance back to the start.
But, with a roar and atremble, an army of dead rose from the river (I gave a shiver).
I knew my life in the Prior was gone,
And that I must carry on ifHell were to deliver
All the horrors it promised(and surely it would for my sins were not modest).
I climbed aboard the vessel,
Surely financed by theDevil,
And sat in a seat, the only one.
It was then that I began to feel the shame, to possess the blame of what I had done.
With my heart now heaving(though surely not beating),
The boy and I set off from the shore.
The dead that rose to urge me on were now gone,
Absconded back to the pits.
I wondered if their appearance was to scare, to make me sit?
Either way it was effective,I achieved their objective, and I peered into the void.
Then I turned my attention to the helm,
To my guide in this blank realm.
I ventured to speak,
But my words were weak,
Wrought with dread.
The boy rose, whose sex I now noticed.
He spoke for me, and I did not protest:
“Ye traveler on this trail have now entered the worst of all tales. Have ye heard of this place?”
I looked into his face, something amiss, hidden by a hood.
I nodded that I had.
“I am glad because here you will find no innocence or ignorance, only dissonance. Your punishment will be relevant to your life. Do you accept?”
I did not, but I did suspect his theatrics to be an act.
I began to chuckle,
Then to laugh so that the boat thrashed.
My guide did not enjoy the humor,
But not fearing the future I laughed all the more.
In a sudden flash, quicker than my eye, and in a crash I cannot deny,
The boat was blooded, and my head on the floor.
I felt no pain, I was dead,but this position was unpleasant.
I considered my situation at present, most compromising, then I noticed something there was not disguising.
The young boy, his face calm and placid (though obviously dangerous as acid) was holding a red, shining oar.
It was then I surmised that the wit I did not care to hide had offended my guide, thus he decapitated me where I sat.
It was then I felt more fear, ominously growing near, for if this boy could hold such calm, then surely the punishments to come were to be strong.
In an act of kindness,though overstated, the boy retrieved my head and placed it on my shoulders.
He said not a word, made nota foul face. This was more than hell, what was this place?
At that point I noticed,myself a bit disheveled, boulders across the water, and land to the right.
I knew that if I could feel land, cease my trembling, I could make sense of this new life.
I questioned the driver of the land, if it could be my friend, and he spoke again, words I did not care to hear.
“Ye traveler, with such disrespect for the dead, are on a journey with but one stop. There are many ports along this river, and you, and only you, must decide where you rot. The farther we float, the more remote you become. At the top of this river is a beacon of sun. But do not think you can reach it, that is reserved for the worst of the lot. That place is there so heaven can mock. You see, the least of the dead, by approximation of sin, are stationed at the start, and they are those who win. For though this is hell, and all who reside here are disastrous,the place closest to Heaven can, will, drive you to madness. The angels in heaven peer down through the ground, bemocking the evil with cherubic sound. If you like, take your leave now, at the first stop, and enjoy the stopping of the clock.”
Unwilling to endure mockery,I stood, and glanced around.
There was no sign of life,not even the dead; not a sound.
I turned to the boy, seeking advice, and noticed he was absent his eyes.
Startled, I stumbled back to my seat, but without intention I lost my feet.
I fell into the river, just below the boat, and realized it was much more like a moat.
It was thick and adhesive and clung to my skin.
I felt all at once the pull of Gwyn.
I swam and I swam, ever towards the land, and by chance I gulped the liquid.
It tasted of iron, I swore it was blood.
Again, unwilling to endure,I began to scud.
I reached the shore, tired and worn, and turned on my back, lacking strength.
I did not know what time had lapsed, nor what length I had been.
I reared myself and caromed,searching for the boat with the eyeless boy.
It was then I knew I was alone, and that this was now my home.
I shook myself, clearing my mind, placing my past behind, and set my sights to the land I had chose.
What horrors lay before me,I did not know.
But I had chosen my station,in this life and before, and for that Heaven did abhor.
It was then I resolved to find that place, to ascend to paradise, even if I had to live these atrocities once, even twice.
West Jordan, Utah
Huber Heights, Ohio
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