14 October 2006

Fade To Black - A Samhain Story

Someone has been trying to speak with me. I see him there, on the periphery of my vision. I ignore him. To acknowledge would be to give him form and substance. As long as he is ethereal, I remain in control. I have all the power. But in doing so I also let my fears dictate my behavior, conduct unbecoming someone of my upbringing. So I do the unthinkable. I speak with the dead.

It wasn't the thought of people returning from beyond that bothered me, it was the idea that somehow they would be lesser, and only worthy of our derision. While we run through the streets shrieking, "Zombie!" at the top of our lungs, or head to the library for a poltergeist removal book, I fear the dead stare after us in bewilderment. Here they are, with wondrous tales quivering on transparent lips, and we are only concerned with appearances or how they smell or the fact they might have acquired a gourmand's taste for brains.

Look at it this way. The dead have been places. Places we are reluctant to even think about, much less discuss. They could tell us, for example, which religion is right. If any. Does religion even matter? Ask the corpse, I'm sure he has fantastical stories to tell. The dead doubtless join fraternities for the newly departed- Phi Theta Mortis. Some come back just to play pranks on the living, but I like to think the majority that bother to return are trying to tell us something. This is the reason I acknowledged him.

There is a communications gap between Us and Them. Because we don't want the dead near us, we don't listen to what they have to say and their voices come as grumblings on the wind. Most of the dead would rather explore their new digs rather than haunt the unbelieving, but they are compelled to give it a fair try. Maybe it's in the contract, maybe honor takes on meaning when you are newly departed. No entering heaven, hell, or GhostMart until you make one attempt to connect with the living. Some of the dead really go above and beyond. They make numerous attempts to get through to us dense brained air breathers. They haunt our days, appear like bad salesman at inopportune moments performing every trick in their limited repertoire to get our attention. We are immune, caught up in the intricacies of Living. No matter how much we loved, they have moved on and left us behind. It smarts. It rankles. It is out of our control, and out of our experience.

I understand now. The dead want contact with the living. Contact is the gossamer thread that keeps their memories alive. One final chance to make a lasting impression on the world. I was here. Do not forget me, for I will fade far more swiftly than your recollection. Tether me to this world, so even when I move on, even when I am only as dense as a breeze, part of me remains.

So I turn and face that which lurked in the corner of my eye. I invite him into the sanctity of my beating heart. I study him, dressed in ancient clothes, from a time I only read about in history books. How has he hung on so long, how has he bound himself to a plane that relentlessly moves forward when his roots are in the past? Why is he so tenaciously determined when others sip and slip happily down the River Lethe to vanish? He won me over with curiosity. I'm listening, I tell him, what did you want to say?

As he speaks, he gains substance. He solidifies until I can't imagine a world that didn't have him in it. He anchors himself to my soul. A dirty trick, because now I know about eternity. About heaven, hell, and planes of existence far beyond my imagination. I know what God looks like.

There are some things I didn't want to know. Now that I know, I can't return to my state of ignorance. I can't die and float off on a cloud to a wondrous place. No ripple of anticipation will flicker through my mind as I draw my dying breath. Damn him.

Maybe that was the idea.


No comments: