Dean Patrick © 2019
Listen to me.
Please. I beg you to know what I saw, but more importantly, I must tell
you what I know. My name’s Thomas Springer, and, of course, you don’t know me
from Dick. No reason to trust me. I know this. But I’ve a story to tell that’s
required of me. I have no choice. I’m dead, you see. On hold. A pause if you
will. A waiting period. I have no idea how long, but what I do know is this:
it’s a story that must never be forgotten.
Late one weird and creepy evening when things are far too silent in
Manhattan, I'm minding my own business at 18th Street, waiting for
the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. There I am, just smoking a cigarette, trying to
mask the stench of whiskey that’s soaked my breath, when the Lexington subway
murders me, knocking me into another world. Or another place in the world, actually.
I’m exhausted from the all-night drinking and drugging. Coke. Crown
Royal. A Xanax bar, maybe two. Had just ended a relationship with woman
number...well, only God knows. And He does; of that I'm certain. This one’s
name is Cecilia. It ends in the same fuckshow they all end in with me wrecking
shit to an impossible, irreparable state. The screams. The endless arguments.
She throwing dishes into the walls and slapping my face cold. Raking my face
with razor nails. Tearing the skin. Shedding hot tears of shame for the hatred
I caused. My leaving over and over to the bars to drown in ethanol, and leer
sickly in porn-driven dance clubs. I am clueless, of course, that this
particular night will end. Literally. That I’ll be knocked into
another dimension feeling nothing but the cool blast of SWOOSH! right into the
next life. The After Life.
I know why it’s called the After Life as it’s the very split second you channel
from this life… after this life, to the next… whatever
that is. Probably a shitty way to explain it. Think of a dream. A graphic one.
Where you can taste the very tang of an orange, see into the beauty of a
mirrored lake the purple light swirls. Then you awaken in a flash second to see
and smell those same things exponentially more surreal.
The moment my body feels teleported –
not blasted, into Never Never Land, I find myself walking…well, not walking,
but wisping I guess you can say…or shifting…across the backyard of a small
ranch I’d never seen before. Never in my previous life did I know such places existed,
other than what I know, of course, from books and film. Reality’s different,
especially this reality, this obscure and uncanny visionary landscape
that I can’t touch or feel, but envelops my being as a living, breathing
auditory and visual hallucination brought on by death, not acid. Music
is swimming in and out of the visuals like an endless scarlet ribbon so wide
and so long that eternity becomes tangible.
I am in this ranch setting alarmingly aware that not only do places like this
exist all over the earth, but also knowing more of literally everything.
I have keen awareness of each sound I see in the ribbon, each light I smell…every
aroma ever conceived in every gourmet Chef’s mind, every chemist’s creation in
madhouse laboratories. I see a rush of endless understanding, much like I
imagine a prodigy in math can see the answer to any equation long before a
single step is worked through to find a possible solution.
know who lives here, that he’s a man somewhere near my age – or the age I am
just as the Lexington Line kills me. His name is Daniel and he loves his
live-in partner more than he’s ever loved anyone, or anything for that matter.
Daniel’s a selfish man. He’s an alcoholic, but one who’s found sobriety of many
years. He’s an addict. A fierce one who fights just about everything. A man in
constant turmoil. I know this because he’s telling a story to his partner,
Bethany, about his uncle. An uncle who died in obscene loneliness. An uncle who
was also an addict and alcoholic, but his true addiction – his drug of choice, pornography.
Sick shit, Daniel says.
sick. And Daniel’s angry about it. Ragingly so. But controlled.
I decide to go into their home and
listen in more closely, get a view of the story in real time. Daniel’s anger is
more a cauldron, to say the least. He’s speaking faster than he wants when
suddenly, quite startled, he looks over his shoulder toward me. So does Bethany.
She, too, looks in the same direction. It takes a moment before I realize it’s me
who they notice in the same room watching them. Why wouldn’t they
notice. Ghosts are real, this I’ll tell you now. And they’re everywhere. This
is one of those instant pieces of knowledge I just mentioned. I don’t move even
though I can move with the same instant of a camera’s flash. I’m in a
state that defies mortal physics, you see.
“Did you see that” Beth says in alarm,
whisper-shouting it. “It’s our ghost. Did you see it?”
“I felt it more than saw it, but yeah.
I think so. Seemed different than before.”
“Right!?” Bethany says.
“Yeah. Pretty creepy. Let me finish
the story real quick, you still okay?”
“Of course. I wanna know. Just try to
keep it together, okay?”
They’re both looking directly at me
still…concerned I guess you can say, when Daniel turns back around and
continues his tale facing Beth again.
“Yeah, well, it doesn’t help we just
maybe saw the ghost. Anyway, the only thing I can imagine is my uncle’s lying
there on his back, not able to get to the oxygen machine because he’s too fat. Or
not able to operate it. Something like that, I guess. A complete disaster. He’s
wrecked up on I don’t know what and has surrounded himself with a shitload of
porn because that’s all he’s ever cared about anyway. He’s so obese it’s
disgusting. Maybe he can’t reach the devices on the air tanks. Maybe his heart gives
out trying to reach the knobs, or whatever. Then his lungs just give out and collapse.
Dies alone suffocating in his own breath, or chokes on his tongue. Maybe it was
more. Who knows. No one really knows anything. Not his girls. Not his son. My
own mother has no clue.”
Daniel pauses for a bit, almost for
“God, that’s awful,” says Beth, really
“Yeah, it is.”
“It’s sad, too. Don’t you think it’s
sad?” she says again, her eyes swelling.
Daniel looks at her puzzled. “I never
thought of it as sad. Desperate and pathetic, but not sad.”
“Oh come on, where’s your compassion?”
Beth says. She looks at Daniel with more sincerity than I’ve seen in a
long long time come from anyone, living or dead.
know. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve only been dead since just recent. But
how long have I really been here is anyone’s guess.
Of course, I don’t know the full story
of Daniel’s uncle’s death. Don’t know anything about it other than what he just
told Beth. But as Daniel’s finishing up, what I do know as he’s talking about the
uncle’s addiction is something far more severe than I could have ever expected:
a fierce and sudden understanding of addiction at the genetic level, and the
same understanding of withdrawal pain. A pain that is an ear shattering pitch
of insanity; a cooked vein ripped right out of the arch of your foot; a slashing
I’m the very nature of it.
am everything and anything that addiction ever presents itself to mortality…the
aching endless dilemma of an incurable illness. Or at least my core is. And
with who or what I am now, it’s all core. As I’m watching this couple
talk about this sad and sickening death, I am nothing but a craving, gnawing,
piercing, acid prick of frightful shock that IS endless withdrawal. I also know
there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t drink. I can’t chug. I can’t smoke.
I can’t slam my own vein which of course will give me the quickest
relief. I’m helpless to its torment. A spiritual torment. As much as I must
drink, must use, must devour anything that’s the cheapest fix,
it’s impossible on that same genetic level of understanding I have of addiction
I have no cells. I have no bones. I don’t know what I am but a spirit. Maybe
this is the story. The requirement I feel so pressed upon me to complete. Because
after hearing Daniel spew out the horrible story so viciously, all I want to do
is absorb whatever it is I’m made of in something that will stop the insane
thirst I cannot possibly quench. As I said before, who knows how long I’ve really
been here. How would I really know. What benchmark is there available to
measure such time?
I don’t wait for anything further from
the couple as I shift instantly away from them in a shame I’ve never known. I
shift across their living room area, across the kitchen floors, through the
back French doors, and into the back yard looking all around me to find some
sense of understanding, even praying for some hint of relief. The deeper the
ache of withdrawal burrows into whatever it is that I am, the greater the fear awakens
in me that the endless steel trap of withdrawal will never end. The word “never”
takes on an entirely new meaning, gives me a frightening realization that it
means exactly its intended definition: something – in this case, withdrawal – that
will last for eternity without any hope. How is this possible? Doesn’t the
Bible teach the After Life is a place of rest? A place where everything’s
While I’m scouring in perusal of such
torment, I look ahead of me to the left to what I instantly know is another
spirit who’s sitting over, not on, a large oak log that sits between two
massive trees in Daniel’s and Beth’s back yard. The spirit looks more like a
black ink blotch that bleeds into a shape-shifting shadow than a human
apparition. It has branch-like filaments, also black ink, in place where there
should be arms. It turns its stump of a head around, and over its shoulder,
toward me clearly feeling my presence and panic. Maybe it’s fear. I don’t know
because I can’t tell what feelings I’m experiencing other than the ones I used
to have as a mortal. Or what I think I had.
It’s a massive face of a man who looks
hundreds of years old. Maybe thousands. His face is stacked with scarred,
ancient crevices, deep cracks that look more like inverted burnt wood chunks.
His body is covered in a tattered shroud just a shade different, a shade
lighter than the heavy ink of his dark shadow frame…a massive frame that matches
his face. To hold it. I can’t see his feet as the tattered shadow rags cover them.
That is, if he has feet. I have no idea what to say, of course, when he breaks
the shivering silence of the lone ranch back yard.
“If you’d like to mull over your
dilemma, have a seat here. We can go over it; I’ll tell you everything I know.”
Vincent,” says the shadow spirit as I instantly move to the oak log we’re both
now hovering over.
Springer,” I tell him as if to cue his last name, but no such luck.
figure out why you’re here?”
answer him way too fast. “Clearly, I’m dead because a train hit me –“
not what I’m referring to and I think you know it.”
I look over Vincent as carefully as my eyes
have ever looked over anything. Never have I seen anything so serious. No person.
No place. No thing. Vincent’s ancient face is more the very definition of death
than anything else. Even though literally every one of the five senses I was
born with – adding a few others I never knew possible, what I do know is
Vincent understands more of everything than I’d ever thought possible. Even
though I just met him, it is the newly keen sense of understanding I have
myself that tells me he understands everything at a new level.
tells me I’m here because I’ve not been told exactly what I’m supposed to do in
order to move on. That I have to figure it out as he’s been doing. As he’s been
doing for longer than he can remember, which of course triggers in me even more
fear. I think things over before just blurting out nonsense. Thinking itself
also has new meaning as I realize a panic attack now begins to overcome me.
It’s overcoming every thought with a sense of dread that is more than just
paralyzing. More than just my heart beating fast enough to burst apart into
fleshy shards that can penetrate nearby bones, like my sternum or ribs. Except
I have no bones or heart. I’ve suffered through panic attacks my entire life,
especially when needing a drink that I couldn’t have. This is not that. What’s now
clinching my breathing, strangle-holding every last breath, is both an endless
pain of withdrawal, and a soul-crushing panic attack just as endless. If
a human being can die twice, certainly this is how it feels.
shifts closer to me in what I know is a comforting gesture. With what I’m going
through, how could it not be?
Listen to me. You’re going to need a lot more effort now than you’ve ever needed
before in order to maintain any kind of sanity. Any kind of wherewithal to
function. You’ll have to learn to relax in ways you never learned. It’s more of
a must than a need, actually.”
look at him incredulously. “What is this? What am I feeling? Why is everything
so overwhelming? I feel like I’m in some massive funnel being sucked downward
into …What? What am I being sucked down into?”
to settle down, okay? Try to settle in, that is. I’ll help you. I have
to help you, that seems obvious now.” He’s looking upward and around as he says
this more to himself than anything else when he turns into me, looking
into me with a depth of genuine empathy that one may see in presidents or
prophets who haven’t yet turned to the dark side. “For whatever reason, this is
the place you’ve landed. This ranch. These people. Person, actually. I believe
it’s Daniel in there where your next move lies, if you want to call it that.
The story you just heard him tell the woman. I believe that’s the story you
must follow in order to tell your own.”
why are you here?” I ask, finding myself with the same empathy he shows
looks upward again as if to take a deep breath. “I wish I had an answer for
you. Maybe it’s to meet you. Help you in some way so I can find my way. There’s
no manual for this. No instructions. I know there’s plenty to read about
regarding death and dying, but when it actually happens it’s so unexpectedly
different that everything you’ve ever read or studied vanishes. So, since it
feels right, since helping you may indeed help me, I suggest you follow
Daniel’s story about his uncle.”
dead uncle? How do I do that? If he’s as dead as you or me, how does that even
make any sense?”
Vincent says next cripples me more than the withdrawal. “Maybe you need to see
him die, much like I did you.” He raises his voice and says it again. “Maybe
you need to see him die.” He says it once more in literal thunder as he stands
up and over me. “MAYBE YOU NEED TO SEE HIM DIE!”
bellow then turns into an echo. An echo that seems to chase after itself, but
with the volume being turned down lower and lower until the bellow turns into a
distant chime. A forgotten ring tone that sounds off from a forgotten cell
no longer with Vincent. No longer at Daniel’s and Beth’s ranch. In fact, Vincent
and the ranch seem as far a distant memory as the forgotten ring tone that loses
all volume. I feel like I’ve moved through a vast tunnel in what I believe a
worm hole must look and feel like, if such things even exist. Then again, maybe
it is a worm hole. Maybe such physics certainly do exist, but that in mortality
we have no access to them. I can’t actually see details of any such movement,
can’t feel any sense of time or space. It’s much like the camera-flash movement
I possess, but on a scale of some designed transportation system for such
movement that’s beyond anything architecturally possible.
I’m walking around the yard of a small house that sits on an acre or so of
land. It’s a rundown place. Very old. A few broken concrete steps lead to an entry
door that’s just as broken and ruined. Door falling off its hinges. Screen torn
in so many places it looks more like patches of smoke. To the left of the entry
door is a large cherry tree that’s more a fusion between a weeping willow and a
massive cactus that’s bled its last drop. I see there’s a dim light on from
what I gather is the living room area. Maybe it’s a bedroom. Before going in, I
move around to the back of the house where I find a large shed. Quite large,
with a huge single panel, sheet metal door for multiple vehicle entry, and one
small entry door clearly custom built for easy human entrance. Mountains
surround the entire area. The yards, both front and back, haven’t been tended
to in ages. Thistles have overtaken any grass. Weeds are more like vines the
size of large snakes.
they moving around like snakes?
they snakes themselves that have turned this entire place into some heartbroken,
yet fierce living tomb?
hear movement inside that draws an instant summoning to see what’s going on. To
see who’s there, or what. Before entering, I move around the house further to
get an overall perspective of what I’m dealing with since being here must have
a direct correlation with what Vincent shouted to me in terror. If I’m going to
watch someone die, I want a detailed prevue for better understanding because I
clearly don’t know shit. My greatest confusion being that Vincent watched me
die. Why would he tell me that?
move into the house much as I did Daniel’s and Beth’s just moments ago.
Moments, however, that seem to have stretched into such an achingly slow motion
film strip that, once again, prove to me that I really have no idea how long any
of this has been going on. Death that is.
inside I’m just as shocked stiff at the stench as I am the frightening amount
of filth and hoarder mongering that’s been going on here for God knows how
long. I’m in a living room area that’s no larger than a few hundred square
feet. Yet with piles of trashy trinkets, broken dishes, stacks of broken
picture frames, hundreds of soda cans and plasticware thrown all over the
floors, stacks and stacks of thousands of papers…receipts, torn bills, note
pads – and nearly as many stacks of pornography. The room is so crammed and
stuffed with garbage, surely no one can actually walk in such a place. There
are hundreds of broken record albums, an old guitar case, heaps of heavily
stained pillows. Coins and old bills look like they’ve been thrown into the
room by a random dirty farmer with an angry shovel. It is a stench that is a
biting, fierce acidic blast of ancient piss and shit. Probably animal and human.
it is the smell that’s so striking, because it is smell, I just realize, that’s
still with me. Just like hearing. I can’t feel anything with any sense of
touch, but my sense of smell must be as keen as a black bear’s. There are odors
here decades old. I’m able to make out aromas of rotted foods and drinks,
different greases and perfumes and foul air filters never changed. But it is
the human and animal waste that is so overwhelming. It is this kind of stench
that must have swarmed around with the physical torture in Auschwitz, Belzec,
in a tattered and ruined blue cloth recliner that hasn’t been moved since the
house was built, is an entirely new being who greets me in a voice that croaks
more than speaks, clearly female.
Her legs are crossed
ever-so-seductively the way women do when they know men cannot possibly turn
their heads. I can see all of her legs, all the way up, perfectly sculpted, her
feet cradled in some bizarrely twisted Dior pumps with heels at least three
inches, her feet knurled and broken. Yet her body is porn perfect, long boney
fingers, nails even longer. Like talons painted in a purple I’ve never seen. A
royalty I’ve never known. But it is her face that is most astonishing. She
possesses wrinkles that seem etched inside her hollow cheek sockets she surely
has carried with her thousands of years. Her eyes are a death blue, her pupils
dancing in a wigged-out trance, her hair so wired and grayed and rotted I’m not
even sure it’s hair.
I take a deep breath as my eyes
continue straining in focus to catch even more detail of the horror that sits
before me. Her ancient, death-shrouded face that is somehow placed on the body
of a Greek Goddess just as ancient. Is the head sewn on? Are those hundreds and
hundreds of stitches I see wrapped around her leathery neck? So leathery it
looks more like ripped bark than leather straps.
To each side of her, to each
side of the chair, within her finger-length distance stands—or hovers—a
pillar-like structure, an obscene hologram designed to the perfect shape of an
engorged erection. Massive veins more like wet ropes are wrapped around each hologram
with such definition and striking color they look to move in unison to strange
and haunting musical rhythmic thumps (or is the music pumping?) that
suddenly come from the corners of the room more intense and majestic than any
Bose OmniJewel Satellite system one might hear in the finest concert halls.
This ancient priestess, or
whatever she is, strokes each of the swollen holograms in slow… up-and-down
motions… a foot or so up… a foot or so down – her hands inside the holograms as
if to tantalize from the very cores of this façade pleasure vision. Racing up
and down and in and out of the holograms are hundreds of thousands of brightly
colored insects – blues, pinks, oranges, reds. A rainbow of gore-ish dancing
bugs that feed on every inch of the fascinating and kaleidoscopic holograms of
male sexuality taunted by what must be some demon whore who’s come to harbor in
this hellish mountain house. To top off the greeting, resting at the demon
woman’s dangling right foot sits another hologram hovering about a foot above
the destroyed carpet, is a massive, oozing, hugely ribbed single gray maggot
the size of a large Dachshund. The maggot hologram shifts at her foot as if any
domestic pet purrs in love with its master.
Oddly, I have little fear, but
still want to scream in what I know is a defining moment of pure terror.
“Who are you, and why are you
here? What is your name?” the demon speaks in a voice so shredded and raspy it
sounds like she’s clearing her throat with a razor blade.
I don’t really know what to say,
so I challenge her.
“Does that matter? If you’re
here and I’m here, isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?”
“I don’t like your arrogance!
This is my domain for now. Who sent you?” She whisper-shouts it.
“No one sent me. At least I
don’t think so. It was more like a suggestion of what I need to see rather than
a send-off, or a request.”
“Does the owner of this
suggestion have a name?”
“Said his name is Vincent.
Nothing more. I’m Thomas Springer. At least I was.”
She laughs at this. More of a
thick, syrupy cackle, actually, when I ask her, “Who are you, or what are you?”
She looks at me with those dead
blue eyes and wigged pupils in such a stare I feel yet a new fear on top of the
agonizing withdrawal that’s done nothing but increase its endless vice grip.
She begins speaking in tongues, or some awful, terrible death chant that turns
to howling. The obscene holograms start changing colors in rapid fire strobe
beams as she looks up to the rotted ceiling, her eyes now literally busting
away from her forehead. I feel paralyzed in such a trance that only God can
slap me out of, when her head snaps back into a position to face me. Her
seductive, leg-crossed posture never moving. Not even a shift. Not even to the
increasingly intense pulse music that mercilessly pounds the walls and floors.
“I am here only because I was
invited. Only because this dying, sickly man could never refuse me. Because he
turned his soul over to me. He is my slave, my fleshy toy to wreck and slash to
pieces any of his last hope. I’m here now to dash apart everything he ever was,
and certainly is now. But I will tell you this, spirit Thomas, if you’ve landed
here, you’re exactly right. This is where you’re supposed to be. Slave’s in the
room to my right, down the small hallway. There are a few others like me in the
room with him, as he’s their slave as well. Go ahead to him. I’m going nowhere
until his death is sanctified.”
I do what I can to keep her
stare, tell her with as much courage as I’ve ever mustered, “That wasn’t what I
asked. I asked your name same as you asked mine.” Once again, the demon whore
looks upward with that same horrible chant, then snaps her head back again, this
time far more violently. Violence that would break any neck into shards of
“Such bravery. Perhaps that’s
why you’re here. I’ve been called Min by some. Others… Pothos. Mostly, I prefer
Qetesh. But what is a name other than a label, and surely a label doesn’t have
such control as I’ve over the pathetic and silt ridden slab that lies on his
bed in sweaty gore. Surely such obesity that writhes like a larva in heat could
never succumb to a label or a name, yes? Best for you, Thomas, to know me as
Harlot or Trollop. Again…does that matter? I was invited here and
there’s nothing you can do or say about it. You’re here as a conscientious
observer, isn’t that what you said?”
I nod to her question truly not
wanting her to continue. Of course, what I want means nothing. “Go to him,
Thomas, before I change the rules here. Because no matter who told you what,
this is still my domain.”
The Harlot then smiles with her
mouth completely open, her smile turning into a freakishly oversized, upside
down crescent moon. A four-pronged lashing tongue fires out of her mouth in
such a frenzy, with such nauseating lewdness, I feel I could vomit endlessly,
even though that’s impossible.
“Go, go, go, Tommy Boy. Run away
now, and play!” she says to me in a shriek of hissing finality.
I have no idea his name, of
course. Only that he’s Daniel’s uncle.
He’s lying on his back as if
he’s been shot by a 10-gauge rubber slug that’s pummeled him against the
surface of a soiled king size mattress, arms stretched across to each side of
it as if the mattress itself can somehow save him. His hair is a mass of curly
brown blotches pasted to a brassy forehead. Same blotchy brown mustache
overgrown and greased. I see eyes that perhaps were once golden brown, but now
a charcoaled orange. Massive stomach that must weigh a hundred fifty pounds on
its own has busted through a tattered white T-shirt as effortlessly as rising
dough bursts the seams of those paper cylinders that contain chewy delights.
The store-bought kind. He’s wearing boxer shorts perpetually soaked in human
stains. His arms are the size of small logs, fingers more swollen and ripe than
breakfast sausages. Legs are gushy tree trunks. Feet so sickeningly fat I’m
sure the veins will blast out in a bloody mist spray. His head is propped up on
six or seven extra-large pillows. To his right side is an oxygen machine that’s
hooked up to his nose. CPAP mask halfway falling off his twenty-pound slab of raw
face. Also, to his right stands one of the two demons the Harlot mentioned. To
his left, the other. Twin demons dressed in scarlet robes with charcoal hoods. Twin
faces that are oblong to such a distortion they look more like inverted beaks.
Their skin marbled and laced with rusty wires that thread in and out of their
lips, nostrils, and the far corners of their hollow black eye sockets.
They turn to me in unison. Each
of them raises a grotesquely long, crab leg index finger to their blackened, tortured
lips signaling absolute silence. Also, again in unison, is their hissing
“sshhhhhhhh” at such an insane frequency I’m sure it is this that will
finish off Daniel’s uncle. A searing, slashing cut through silence. But my
alarm is short lived as I realize the uncle can’t hear the dead or demonic with
any such clarity I must suffer.
The bedroom itself is just as
tossed and wrecked as the living room. All carpet is torn in large shredded
patches exposing rotted wood and foundation rubble. The hoarder mongering
that’s taken place in this room, however, is primarily…and I mean this quite
literally…thousands of porn mags piled around each other in exhaustive stacks
that lean and fall into tatters of ragged and dogeared volumes. Cracked and
faded covers of made-up velvet whores anywhere from 13 to 80 years in age.
Every form of hedonistic, animalistic, bombastic, ritualistic sexual depravity
done in every imaginable position of sickness and perversion is spewed all over
the entire room like one shattered orgasmic dump of semen carnage. A dumping
ground of ruined flesh holes. Human juices look sprayed and saturated across
every inch of the walls and floors like a maggot infested web of yellowed
cornstarch paste. To the left of the bed is a sickly and sunken kitchen area
with dozens of dishes, broken cups, rusted silverware heaped and piled in such
a catastrophe I cannot see any faucets or even the countertop.
My throat is a gob of vomit that
I cannot hurl no matter how aggressively the need. Here I am dead, yet it is
the living, for whatever reason, that’s shaken me the most since the subway
train knocked me into this fucked up reality I never asked for, never wanted,
certainly never believed possible. I don’t understand any of this. I’m also
powerless to leave, so understanding it means nothing. I have to endure it. But
being forced to endure it doesn’t mean I can’t question it, which I should have
done the very instant I heard The Harlot’s first croak.
“What is my purpose here?” I
shout at the two scarlet-robed demons. “What does any – “
“Silence!” they both shout in
return, in unison, of course. I now understand that everything these two do is
in perfect terrorizing harmony. Their voices together make the sound of a deep
resonance that is hollow, yet pure rage. A sound that’s as much heavy bass, as
it is a crunchy howl that’s under a few inches of water.
“How can you, the addict you
once were, the addict now who still suffers in your own death…how can you not
know your purpose here?! This IS your story! Were you anything more than he has
ever been? Did you ever reach for anything deeper, anything more poignant, than
what this dying mount of sickness has ever done? Did you do more than
he? Did you ever prove more valiant or worthy? Ever pursue anything better or
grander? Doesn’t matter how death took you, what route death took to find you.
This was you, nothing more, nothing less. To think differently will only cause
your pause to draw out longer and longer until you’ve been at it at such
length, you’ll forever fade into an eternity of hopelessness. A decay that
forever rots. An open blood wound that never heals, that perpetually oozes in
an awful state of eventual drainage – that never drains! THIS is OUR slave
whose soul itself has become slavery. Watch now as he gives his life over the
same as you did yours!”
I try to absorb everything the
twin demons have rattled into me in a merciless yawp. I want to debate them, to
hush them and demand a chance to speak. A chance to justify. I want to scream
in blood curdles that I was hit by a fucking subway train! That I am NOT the
same as what’s dying in front of me. I am not this Neanderthal who’s helplessly
strapped down on a filth-ridden mattress by his own frightening weight.
Just as I’m about to begin my
retort, the demon twins turn their backs to me and face the back wall of the
head of Daniel’s uncle’s bed. They look straight ahead, then upward to yet
another ruined ceiling. I immediately understand that it’s their way of leaving
me alone with him.
It is a loneliness that’s absolute.
A loneliness more empty than
space, yet even darker.
It is a place where no Savior’s
found, where no phone will ring, no child will ever walk, no movie ever to be
I’m at the foot of the bed
looking down to his face. The music from the living room has now danced into
this fuckery den I now stand in, louder, harsher. Vulgar and crude. I can see
he’s been savagely struggling to get his oxygen machine to work. Even just to
turn it on. His failed CPAP mask hangs even more pathetically useless. His eyes
are the defining vision of fear and exhaustion, bugging sockets that stretch to
threads of repugnancy. All hope is vanishing. I watch his chest attempt its
last forceful upward motion in a desperate aching search for one final morsel
of air. His entire body rumbles in heaves and tugs that weakly roar through a
parched and extinguished throat. I do, because I cannot, absolutely nothing
when his last grotesque movement is a useless slap to his sternum followed by a
cracked and thick chug sound that slurps through his nostrils and ends with a
final fling of dead mucus that lands in shock on his unwholesome and repellant exposed
gut. His body looks now to weigh a thousand pounds.
The demon twins quickly shift
back toward me, then just as quickly leave the room. I follow them back to The
Harlot. Surely that’s where they went. But she, too, is gone, leaving the
living room even deeper in upheaval and catastrophe. The single light that was
on when I entered has been switched off as if to signal the death of anything
that’s ever lived here, leaving a darkness where no light can ever escape.
As I turn back for one last
glimpse of Daniel’s uncle, I am shocked still in fright as Vincent stands in
the entry way to the bedroom.
His mountain bog of addiction.
I race away and out of the house
in spiritual hysteria as Vincent bellows that same thunderous voice before The
Harlot greeted me: “Go to my nephew. Go to Daniel. Go to him. Warn him this is exactly
what awaits him! It’s what awaits every slave…”
Dean Patrick, with the publication
of “Vincent’s Warning,” is
now a five-time published horror author. Dean is a professional technical
writer and editor with Masters’ Degrees from The University of Houston. He’s
loved horror his entire life as he finds it the purest form. His greatest
achievement he says his is sobriety (nearly 4 years) as he’s battled alcoholism
for decades. Dean’s hometown is Houston, Texas, but now resides on a small
ranch in Morgan, Utah, with the love his life, Lisa.