Daily Prompt: Use It Or Lose It

Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence:
“I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/daily-prompt-use-it/

There were three of us that night. We had been meticulous in our planning, and our training had given us the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to achieve our goal. The three gurneys were laid out next to each other, with the monitoring equipment ready to be attached. The cables were long enough for us to be able to help each other get connected before we lay down and prepared. Jason was the first one ready, (as he always was), and so he helped Lisa and I make our own final preparations.
There has been a lot written about the afterlife, and what happens to us when we die. As long term students of various experts in the field, we had found each other via our mutual fascination of society’s interpretation of heaven, hell, even limbo. After a few half-successful experiments, we were ready to go the whole hog, to really try and answer once and for all the big question that has plagued spiritual and religious people for centuries.
We had achieved near-death through a mixture of drugs, meditation and controlled medical procedures, but tonight we all three of us hoped to be able to finally reach ‘the other side’.
As our preparations were completed, and we lay down and began our deep breathing exercises, I could feel the cocktail of drugs we had worked on for weeks begin to seep through my system. A cold, flowing sensation, like tiny rivers of iced water piping though my veins. With my eyes closed, I could picture my body from above and see tiny lines of blue fire covering my body, as though the cold liquid of the medication were lighting up my skin. With the drugs came an enhanced perception of self – each one of my slowing heart beats seemed to rattle the very bones of me. Each delicate movement of my eyes behind my eyelids felt like skin rubbing against sandpaper.
There was no sound save the faint electronic beeping of the monitoring equipment, and our slow steady breathing. I knew that the timings would be carefully monitored by small computer chips in the equipment and after a safe amount of time we would be brought back from our trip beyond the veil.
As my heart beat slowed even further, and my breath became shallower, I knew my companions would also be nearing the cross over point. The long meditation training had given us the will to control the urge to fight against what was happening. The natural instinct to take in a deep, life giving breath, to reawaken the heart and fill the lungs. These things would be no good to someone who wanted to take life’s final journey prematurely.
With a one last, final thump, my heart stopped. I was aware of a complete stillness within my body – something that I had never before experienced, even with our past experiments. My consciousness spoke in the darkness of my mind, telling me, “This is it. This is it. This is it.” I would now see if all the training and preparation would be enough to bring back something worthwhile from this journey into darkness.

We awoke, withing moments of one another, with a gasp.
Some strange sensation made my chest feel funny. It took a few beats of my heart to realize that it was that blood pumping muscle hard at work once again that I felt, as though for the first time. We had done it. We had pushed the boundaries and risked everything, but here we were, lying next to each other on the same gurneys we had begun our journey from. I was in the middle of the three, and as I turned my head one way to look at Jason, and then the other to look as Lisa, I realized they too had experienced something remarkable, and we had so much to talk about. As we lay quietly, contemplating our own inner memories, Lisa spoke quietly into the silence.
“I thought we’d never come back from that one”.

River Walk

Sunlight breaking,
framed by pylons
warming riverside plants
and feeding birds.

Cocoa coloured water,
muddied and swirling,
like the chocolate river
of Willy Wonka fame.

Inquisitive dogs,
excited and leash free,
marking new territories
and running amok.

Runners chasing fitness,
pounding the riverside path
breath panting, chest pounding,
lost in their private worlds of effort.

Walking in near silence,
modern world a dream,
no traffic drone
to disturb personal contemplation.

Natures own art,
the flowing water
curving from around the bend,
framed by banks of grass and mud.

If heaven is a journey,
through our most favourite place,
to forever walk along the banks of a river,
would make dying a less fearful thing.

A Tale Of Legend

The evil beast,
with eyes aflame,
terrorised the village.
It came from darkness,
deep and foul,
to burn and kill and pillage.

The mighty swordsman,
tall and proud,
courage firm and peerless.
Did volunteer,
with heart so stout,
and attitude so fearless.

The ground did shake,
lit from above,
by lunar’s silver fullness.
The village folk,
in terror fled,
before the violent cruelness.

The hero stood,
before the rage,
sword held at the ready.
And as his nemesis,
did approach,
he waited strong and steady.

The clash of claw,
on tempered steel,
rang brightly like a bell.
The roar of fury,
from beastly throat,
would wake the hounds of hell.

The fight was fierce,
with many blows,
both landed and defended.
And each new strike,
that did hit home,
caused pain not once pretended.

As energy drained,
and strength did fade,
conflict entered final stages.
This epic struggle,
of hero and beast,
would echo through the ages.

With one last swoop,
of singing blade,
beasts life was then no more.
It’s monstrous head,
with spiteful grin,
lay severed on the floor.

Our hero stood,
with enemy slain,
satisfied in victory.
This tale of valour,
strength and courage,
written into history.

Daily Prompt: Just A Dream

You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/daily-prompt-nightmare/

The swirling darkness starts to clear, and slowly coming into focus is a room with three doors. My dream self, trapped in this seemingly perpetual nightmare, feels the terror of the previous chase subside. Whatever was hounding me, the beating pulse of it’s footsteps drove me forward like a pack of huskies driven by a cruel and unrelenting master.

I know the unseen presence that is chasing me is somewhere behind me, and is desperate to inflict a foul and cruel punishment upon me for some unknown deed. I realize in my sleeping state that one of these three doors will hold salvation, an escape from this heart hammering, stomach churning nightmare. But which door?

As I slowly approach the three portals, my breath slows and my skin becomes clammy and cold. My heart seems to beat loud enough for my unknown aggressor to hear it, surely it will bring it crashing behind me in an orgy of fear and agony?
My footsteps are as in treacle – heavy and hard to complete. My arm stretching before me, reaching for the middle of the three doors, seems to move with the speed of an icy glacier across a cold and dark arctic sea.

Without a conscious thought I have grasped the handle of the middle door. Maybe the animal part of my brain, that which concerns itself only with fight or flight, knows that this door will be my savior. This will be the one that wakes me from this dark and dreadful dream.

As if my unknown hunter can sense it’s prey is about to escape, an unearthly howl is loosed behind me and even in sleep my body clenches and shakes with fear. As my hand, slowly, slowly, turns the handle of the door I can again feel the beating rhythm of my predators onrushing footsteps.

I feel the internal mechanism of the door engage, and I feel the weight of it as it opens inward, away from me. As though granted with the grace of a falling leaf, I slowly collapse forward through the open doorway with my chasing demon surely no more than a hairs breadth away.

Fade to black…

The swirling darkness starts to clear, and slowly coming into focus is a room with three doors. My dream self, trapped in this seemingly perpetual nightmare, feels the terror of the previous chase subside. Whatever was hounding me, the beating pulse of it’s footsteps drove me forward like a pack of huskies driven by a cruel and unrelenting master. I stop. I close my eyes. I scream.

Sonnet

All that I am
she holds soft,
in hands of strength
and comfort.

To give love,
to entrust,
damaged heart re-opened
once more.

No star’s shine,
no moon’s grace,
could compare as favourable
as she.

No raging storm
of biblical fire,
burns as fierce as my passion
for her.

No words written,
no ballad sung,
could express this depth of feeling
in me.

No artists paint,
no sculptors hand,
could conjure such beauty as
her smile.

My brightening day,
my darkening night,
my heaven, my earth, my love,
my all.

Confessional

“Forgive me father for I have sinned…”
I love hearing those words. A prelude to what could possibly be another windfall, an anonymously collected pile of cold, hard cash. Sat on my side of the little screen that separates us, I hear the hesitant speech of a sinner seeking redemption and I can tell quite quickly if this latest confession will be a good one, worthy of milking for some much desired finances.
I have a carefully thought out system. Only one off payments, no continual blackmail. I make sure everything is done so that there is no comeback to me. You’d be amazed at how effective it is.
I can’t believe that no one before has thought of doing this… strike that. I’m sure someone has thought of a scheme similar to mine, and I’ve just not heard about it, which would be prudent given the whole ‘trusted member of the church’ thing.
The tag line, the dragon’s-den style opening pitch, would be ‘I extort money from peoples confessions’. Despicable? Probably. But when you’re in my position, with the seemingly unending trust of your parishioners, and your previously unshakable faith faded and gone, it would be foolish not to take advantage. And boy, there’s been some wonderfully lucrative situations.
I tend not to use the adulterers. The risk of being caught feeds their feelings of guilt and wish for redemption to an extent, but when presented with a demand for financial recompense the person who’s confessed tends to want to swallow their pride and come clean with their spouses. So, as juicy as some of the details may be (like the woman who was sleeping with her husband’s brother, father, AND sister…) they don’t really give me an opportunity for earning.
No, the ones I tend to focus on are the weirdos, the ones who have no chance whatsoever of being able to come clean and so have to pay for silence.
For instance – the man who would spend his evenings in the local health club sat in the jacuzzi. He had a special slit in the front of his swimming shorts, and he would expose himself when other people were sat with him, carefully masturbate, and shoot his load into the bubbling water. Sharing his gift, he called it. That one got me a new TV and stereo system.
Or the woman who cleaned the local estate agent office after hours. She would enjoy smearing her own urine over the rims of the tea and coffee mugs in the kitchen. When the office workers arrived the next day, their morning brew would have an extra special addition. That was worthy of a new three piece suite.
Or the nurse who worked at the local hospital, in the coma ward. She was a real piece of work. She would enjoy working the late shift, when the wards were quiet and hardly anyone else was around. She would visit the poor wretches trapped in their own minds and perform all sorts of degrading acts on them. Torture. Manipulating their bodies so that they were seen to be pleasuring her sexually, and then photographing the scene with her camera phone. With the possibility of a loss of career AND a court case that would result in imprisonment, I managed to get a new car out of that one.
I suppose you’re wondering how I actually get away with exposing them, when I would be the ONLY person they would have told all the details to. Well that’s the clever bit. I don’t actually go into details. I give enough away to make them think they’ve been seen, or caught but not exposed, and this is usually enough for them to panic and pay what I ask. In some cases, a good samaritan might go to the authorities and expose the person concerned for the sake of other people – but where’s the fun in that?

I’m not too sure when it was that I realized I no longer had my faith. It was a gradual process I know that. I used to see my life as a big balloon, and it was filled with the faith that kept me buoyed and up above all the negativity and pain in the world. I would use it to administer to my flock, to give them strength where strength was needed. But gradually, day after unending day of witnessing the horror, terror, meanness, pettiness and downright evil of the world, caused that balloon to slowly deflate. Eventually, without that faith to keep me up, I descended into the dark underbelly of the world. I realized that I could take what I wanted, rather than have to give, sacrifice, and put all others above myself.
Of course, we have spiritual advisers who are there to help us in times of metaphysical crisis but the ‘it is God’s will’ speech gets a little old after a while. And actually, I’ve found that life has become less complicated now that my motives are clear and unsullied by having to do the right thing by anyone else other than myself.

So there we have it. I accept that I am not a nice person, but I have seen so many people with the attitude of ‘I want what’s mine to hell with all the rest’ get exactly what they want out of life, that it’s made me realize that that is the only way to live. I will get what’s mine, even at the expense of others, because I have the ability and the opportunity to do it.

And now, here comes another one. I can see their silhouette on the other side of the screen to me, and there is a suddenly very strong smell of perfume. As she gets herself comfortable I can feel the little tremor of excitement and the moistening of my palms that means this could be another payday. I hear her take in a breath…

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned…”

The Night I Saw The Reaper – Part 4

As I turned and faced the weather outside, it was though a vengeful God had decided to personally attack me with all the rain and wind it could muster. The force of the raindrops driven against my face made me suck in a breath in surprise at it’s fierceness. As I squinted into the storm, I could see the road that ran along outside the pub was starting to flood, a river of water cascading along it. Although it was dark and stormy, there was enough light to see by and so I started looking around trying to spot Bill. I saw across the road a large open area of grass, like a small playing field or village green. Intermittently the lightening would flash, and this would give me a clearer view of the surrounding area, and it was in one of these bright moments that I spotted him.
He was across the road from me, about ten yards into the green.
He was on his knees with his back to me. His head was down, and his shoulders slumped. Though this sight was disturbing enough, what really caused my stomach to drop as though I was in a plummeting lift was the figure that stood before him. It was exactly as Bill had described to me in the pub. Tall, nearly double Bill’s kneeling height, with a long, dark grey cloak and a hood covering his head. I could see no face, just a black void, like the darkness between worlds. The rain didn’t seem to be touching this tall figure – it was as though he was surrounded my an aura that the water couldn’t penetrate.
I received a further jolt of fear as I realized that the giant figure had his hand on the top of Bill’s head, as though blessing him. But I knew that it was no blessing being bestowed, it was something far darker and ill of intent. I cried out Bill’s name, but neither figure reacted or responded. In the relative darkness between two lightening flashes, the scene changed and as I watched I saw the tall figure was now holding a long, dark pole or stick and at the end of it was a vicious looking curved blade.
As I stared in terror through the murk, I saw the hooded figure, (who I had unconsciously decided was Death as Bill insisted), lift up his arms and swing the long pole back behind him. With almost horrific timing, a crash of lightening lit up the night just as the curved blade swept through the air toward Bill’s head. I squeezed shut my eyes and turned away – I didn’t want to see what would happen next.
After a few seconds, I risked looking back toward what I assumed would be a grizzly scene and all I could see was a slumped figure lying in the grass and mud.
My paralysis broke, and I ran out from the shelter of the pub, across the flooding road, and into the field. My shoes sank into the soaking wet ground as I hurried to the fallen figure. As I approached him, I lost my footing, and I staggered and fell to my knees a yard or so short. From what I could see, Bill’s head was still on his shoulders which I was quite surprised at (and more than a little relieved). I began to crawl toward him, wanting to check if he was as dead as I suspected and as my hand reached out to touch him I sensed a presence.
Sound began to fade, as though someone was turning down the volume on the soundtrack of the storm. I looked up, and straight into the greyness of a long, tattered robe. With a shout, I threw myself backwards so that I was laying back on my elbows and I looked up into the dark space of the hood that topped off the grey robe.
All my focus was on the black hole where a face should be. The world around me began to fade, almost like an over-exposed photograph. And although I was already chilled to the bone through a combination of the weather and my own fear, I could feel cold radiating out from the tall figure stood before me. It was as though someone had opened a doorway to the top of the highest mountain – freezing cold and a lack of oxygen struck me.
As I watched, the dark creature slowly raised an arm toward me. A finger as white and pale as a bone gnawed clean of flesh poked out from the sleeve of the robe and aimed at my face. I couldn’t help myself, I screamed. I screamed loud enough to hurt my throat. And at that moment, with a final, massive flash of lightening, everything went black.

I awoke. For a split second, I didn’t realize where I was. I was lying on my back on grass that was soaked and I was wet and freezing. There was no more rain, the storm seemed to have blown itself out and as I lay there in stunned confusion I could see stars above me. In a heart stopping rush of remembrance I scrambled to my feet and looked around. Bill’s corpse lay where it had fallen. I stared at him for a few seconds, then realized I needed to call the police. I slowly walked back across the grass, wondering how I would ever explain what had happened. I realized I had left my phone in my car, so as I crossed the road I angled toward it and felt in my pocket for the key. With a click, the doors unlocked and I pulled open the drivers door. I lowered myself gingerly into the drivers seat, keeping my legs and feet outside. I grabbed my phone from between the seats, and before dialling I looked up into the rear view mirror. My breath stopped in my throat. I looked bedraggled and muddy, but the thing that made me take in a huge breath and begin screaming was my hair. Once dark brown, it was now pure white, like fresh snow.