Release

sparks

Sparks from a fire rising into the night sky. Photo credit: unknown.

It had been nearly a century since the fall. He didn’t think he’d had a sense of time while his soul was being seared in its fiery crucible, but he had been aware of the passing of every day, every hour, and even the tiniest second of torture, shame, and regret.

That it had taken him so long to reach a state of correction and purification was a testament to his stubborn nature and moral weakness. All he had to do was give up his sins and make true teshuvah, but even once mortal life had departed his flesh, he continued to cling to his darkness.

Yet little by little, with the passage of time and in the company of incredible horrors, and even more horrible spirits, he progressed toward that goal which most human souls eventually achieve; a reconciliation with the Source.

Today was the day. He continued to rise through the stench and stale, smoky air of Hell, his sojourn in the realm of misery finally finished. Like a Divine spark, he flew high above the blaze, the inferno becoming a fading memory, as he soared into the fresh atmosphere of freedom and redemption. He was going home.

I wrote this for Saturday Mix – Opposing Forces, 26 May 2018 hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Today, the idea is to take a pair of antithetical statements and use them in a poem, short story, or other creative work. They are:

  • fresh and stale
  • rise and fall

I bolded those words in the body of my story so readers could pick them out better.

I admit, the first thing I thought of was “bread” or “cake” but I decided to write something more interesting instead.

In Christianity, it is generally believed that you either go to Heaven or Hell when you die and that your stay is permanent and eternal, However, some branches of Judaism believe that except for the most evil souls (Stalin, Hitler), if your sins outweigh your merits at death, Hell is a horrible crucible wherein you may continue to confront your dark nature, and ideally, with the passage of time, make teshuvah (repentance) and eventually merit release to the Heavenly court to be reunited with the Source.

I thought I’d create a brief chronicle of my character’s “graduation.” I’m sure I’m not doing the concept justice, but after all, this is just a brief sketch.

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Rusty and Me

squeak dog

Found on social media – image credit unknown

The thieves took everything except the dog. Of course there was a good reason for it. The dog was armed.

“What the hell were you thinking? Our stuff. They took all our stuff. What kind of watchdog are you, anyway?”

The small, cigar smoking mutt in the body armor took another pull from his fifth of Jack Daniels. “Back off, man. I have the mother of all hangovers and I’m in a really bad mood.”

“A little hair of the dog, eh?”

“It’s too early in the morning for puns.”

“It’s dinnertime and I just got home from work to find my place has been cleaned out.”

“So what? You’ve got homeowner’s insurance, right?”

“I’m calling the cops. Ditch the clothes, the booze, and the miniature assault rifle, so I don’t have to explain you when they get here.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be passed out in the doghouse by then.”

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The Dragon’s Library

library

Image found at “Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.” No image credit listed.

It was a dream come true. Somehow, along with all of the children, a library had been brought from her world into the dragon city in the trees. Nine-year-old Paris walked inside with a solemnness usually reserved for a holy place, like the synagogue her parents took her to in Prague when she was six.

The library had merged with the forest. Trees were growing inside and bursting through the ceiling, and grasses were taking over the floorboards. She wondered where and when it came from. The globe in the corner didn’t look modern, but most of the books she could see seemed recent.

Then she realized only some of them were in English, and about only half were written in any human language.

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What’s So Scary About Dexter Brock?

glove

Image credit Matt Seymour via Unsplash

“Oh, there it is.”

Robin looked up from her seat on the bench to see a familiar face, but didn’t have a name to attach to it.

“What?”

“My glove. Thought I’d lost it.”

He could have been as old as her Grandpa, but he was just the guy who took care of the grounds around the high school.

“Oh. Okay.” She reached over to pick up the brown, leather glove.

“I’ve got it.” He sounded nervous or maybe mad.

“Hey, I was just handing it to you.” Now she felt insulted. Who did he think he was, anyway? She was just trying to be nice.

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The Last Exploit of the Escapist

re-entry

Progress spacecraft re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in a blazing trail of plasma, as seen from the International Space Station – © NASA

The Escapist initiated the landing sequence as the ship began its rapid descent into the stratosphere, his neurochemical link to the spacecraft’s control systems making this nearly reflexive.

“Welcome to my world, Jack. Glad you could join the party.”

The voice of the Beast crackled in his audio receptors sounding as if he were a game-show host speaking offscreen; his tone exuding an untoward friendliness and familiarity.

“I have the Amaryllis with me.”

“The actual item? I’m impressed. Whole armies have been slain, eviscerated by the Negative whose sole task was to guard it unto eternity.”

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What Are You Trying to Tell Me?

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.

jewish paul

Image credit: Drake Dunaway – the Jewish Paul

He closed his Bible at the end of 2 Thessalonians 3:17 and pondered. Did Paul know that his letters, those that survived to be canonized anyway, would become binding instructions for all Christianity nearly two-thousand years into the future? Could his letters really be compared to the writing of the Prophets in the Old Testament, and especially the words of Jesus in the Gospels?

“It’s in the Bible and Pastor says that’s good enough, but is it really? It’s not like Jesus was dictating the letters to Paul. There are some parts of the epistles he said were his own judgment and not of the Spirit.”

He knew both the Jews and the Church believed Paul invented a new religion called Christianity that totally broke from everything that had been written in the first two-thirds of the Bible. If God wanted to write a “love letter” to humanity, why was it a letter that’s so hard to understand, and with so many contradictions?

If God wrote a “love letter” like so many mushy, feely people at his church keep telling him, why were there so many different interpretations?

“I know. Pastor said it was because of sin, but all of the questions I ask him, he has pat, one word or one sentence answers to. Isn’t God more complicated than that?”

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Saving the Prophet

shipwreck

The Shipwreck, a painting by JMW Turner that forms part of the Tate collection in London.

The ceiling for his craft was infinity, and its floor was an age. It provided a buffer, so that the passing of a season or a millennium was all the same. In this way, he could not only travel up and down the corridors of his own history, but diverge into many others. Once at his destination, he would descend upon that world like a single drop of rain.

The sphere shimmered half in and half out of the timespace continuum as it alighted on the shore near Muxnar Reef in ancient Malta. The unmanned probes he had sent back searched across the local decades, and discovered the exact place, date, and time of the storm and the shipwreck. They were struggling in the surf now. It would all be so easy.

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Walking to the End of My World

joplin

The late Janis Joplin

And when you walk around the world, babe,
You said you’d try to look for the end of the road,
You might find out later that the road’ll end in Detroit,
Honey, the road’ll even end in Kathmandu.
You can go all around the world
Trying to find something to do with your life, baby,
When you only gotta do one thing well,
You only gotta do one thing well to make it in this world, babe.
You got a woman waiting for you there,
All you ever gotta do is be a good man one time to one woman
And that’ll be the end of the road, babe,
I know you got more tears to share, babe,
So come on, come on, come on, come on, come on,
And cry, cry baby, cry baby, cry baby.

-from Cry Baby
written by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy (1963)
covered by Janis Joplin (1971)

He never thought he’d fall in love again. After all, he had died who knows how long ago subjectively? He was a spark in the process of returning to the Creator, but having become disconnected from timespace, he could go anywhere, to any point in history, to other quantum realities, so he could correct what Raven called “anomalies.”

The multiverse was created by the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being most people call God. However, God chose to make human beings both sentient and possessing free will, while maintaining His sovereignty over all existence. In other words, only people have the ability to say “no” to God.

That’s not the contradiction is seems to be, since all timelines ultimately come from the Source and return back to the Source in the end, regardless of how they “stray.”

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Keisha in Atomworld

light

Image: © Mara Eastern (Use with permission)

They always say “never go into the light,” kind of like “moths drawn to a flame,” but seventeen-year-old Keisha didn’t have a choice. Well, that wasn’t true. She did have a choice. She could choose to let the world burn, but after two astonishing adventures into another reality, she’d gotten used to saving it instead.

Whatever was shining through the kitchen door from the backyard started thirty minutes ago. That had given her enough time to put on the ridiculous costume that looked like a refuge from the first “Back to the Future” movie. When she saw her reflection in the mirror, there was a black version of “I Love Lucy” staring back.

She’d crossed the void to the other world twice before. The first time was in a steampunk-styled airship, and the second was in a deep purple 1930s sedan with the strangest radio in the world. What would she find this time when she walked into the brilliant amber glare?

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Reconstructing Gwen

deconstructed woman

Photo credit: Flora Borsi

Gwendolyn Anders was being deconstructed. No one else could tell the forty-five year old divorced woman was falling apart. She couldn’t afford to let anyone know. She had to keep moving, go to work each day, make sure her two kids got to and from school, did their homework, ate healthy meals, made it to soccer practice.

She did her best to adhere to the “supermom” stereotype, and as far as the rest of the world was concerned, she was successful.

Inside where no one could see, she was bleeding to death.

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