Awake, Thou That Sleepest . . . Arise From The Dead [A Horror Story]

[after Philip Larken's poems, "Aubade,"

"The Old Fools," and others]

. . . Awake, thou that sleepest, and

arise from the dead, and Christ shall

give thee light.

---Ephesians 5:14

Smuggly well-oleased with himself, he

crawled into his solitary

bed.  From one apartment, upstairs,

he heard noises---two boys (legal

age, in college; both in need, yes

very great need, of short haircuts;

always clad in baggy blue jeans;

always shoeless, almost always

shirtless; most of the time barefoot,

though sometimes they liked to flaunt their

stripey socks---soles often grass-stained)---

who were what real men called "queer for

"each other," or "fairy faggots,"

now, in this night's deepened silence,

they were kissing (from the giggles

that he heard); to soon the sound of

tenderly rhyrhmic exertions;

and, he knew, this would be followed

by soft sighs, and moans of pleasure

surging as they reached achivement.

All of this, he could imagine;

all of this he hoped not to hear,

and that slumber would envelop

his mind in a dreamless resting.

He despised the dreams of night---the

terrors and bizarre mutations;

people, whose faces were twisted,

speaking like the freaks that they were,

speaking something he could not quite

understand.  He yawned and settled

his head on the thick, plush pillow.

Life is hard and then you drop dead,

he consoled himself; but death is---

so firm was he in believing,

so convinced of his conviction----

a state of full unawareness,

as the neurons in the brain fail;

as the cells within the brain break

open and their fluid leaks out;

and the flesh has chilled and stiffened,

and no thought or sense or feeling

can remain within that carcass.

From this "wise" accommodation

with the whole concept of dying

(so he told himself), he took peace,

comfort, cheer, and consolation.

When he died, he would not know it;

just one second after death came---

total, medical cessation

of his body's vital functions---

he would not be bothered by it,

not be daunted by its coming;

not be shocked by its arrival;

not afraid of the collision

of his mortal soul with full death.


But he woke to his own sounds of

screaming, in a frothing lake of

hell-fire; searing, singing, boiling

his soul with the fiercest, worst of

agonies, beyond all telling;

and around him was a darkness,

that the conflagration's glowing

could not break.  He felt a panic,

dizziness, and though he might puke

from the sensory distorion;

from the pain that singed and burned his

nerves that seemed to be acutely

sensitive, more than they ever

had been in his past existence,

Nor could he find any way to

measure passage of time there;

everything seemed to be halted,

except for the heat of Lake Fire,

hotter than a seething star's core,

hot enough to fuse the atoms

of which lead and iron consisted.

And this was (to give it measure---

which is only estimated)

just one nanosceond of the

flow that is eternity, the

vast forever.

                    When they found him,

a cold corpse in his apartment

(as the boys, upstairs, watched closely;

and the boys had put their shirts on,

and their darkest socks to be a

sign of respect when the first heard

the emergency responders

call him in, "dead).  While they moved him---

from the bed he had disheveled,

as if in some fierce upheaval---

on the cart, the gray sheet cover

over him, slipped in the breezeway:

that old man's visage was twisted

in a rictus of raw horror

his grim features much distorted;

and his face was deeply purpled;

and his bulging eyes, distended.

And his mouth kept falling open,

no matter how much they tried to

keep it closed; as if it jaw

had been broken; as if trying

atill to scream, but no sound came out . . . .



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