Friday, October 14, 2005

of death and the return from beyond

Last night, I died. I died and went straight to hell. No where to be seen were the typical red rocks and flames. Instead, I found myself in some kind of creepy industrial complex. Set at regular intervals in the floor were large vats of a bubbling yellow liquid. Everything else was steel.

I wasn't the only new arrival. There were dozens of people, all milling about aimlessly. All of us were confused as to where we were or what was going on. At each of the bubbling pools, well-dressed men in shirts and ties were smiling joyless smiles at us. There was something malevolent about them, an aura of dread. They motioned for people to come closer and we did, having no other option but to comply.

As we lined up at the vats, the well-dressed men began to coax people to step into the vats. There was no panic or fear in the air. Quite to the contrary, everyone seemed genuinely excited about what might happen. For some reason, no one could resist the gentle urging of these men. One by one, I watched people step into the yellow bubbling broth and instantly begin to scream and dissolve. As if eaten away by acid, soul after soul was slowly destroyed amidst a chorus of tortured cries. There was no fighting. There was no thrashing or splashing. Just compliance and a horrible second death. Even amongst the crowds, there was no fear. As though I alone could hear the screams of the dissolving, everyone else chatted easily amongst each other - blissfully oblivious to the horrors in front of them.

Somehow I remained outside the well-dressed demons' sphere of influence, and managed to hide behind a large stack of steel pipes that lay beneath a tarp. My back pressed against one of the vats, I made eye contact with one of the other souls waiting in line. He smiled at me awkwardly as if to say "Why are you hiding down there?" Seconds later he was screaming in pain as his ethereal skin sizzled off of his ethereal body in the yellow vat.

After his death, there was a call from the well-dressed demons to stop, having apparently reached their quota. Again, the uncertainty of what was next filled me with a panicked fear. Instantly, the vats were gone - either that or all of us had been immediately transported to a new location that looked like the floor display for a clothing store. More demons entered, this time dressed as young, hip socialites. Each of them was leading a soul on a leash.

The few of us who remained were then informed that we had one option: we picked out an outfit and became slaves or we would be destroyed. What followed was an oddly ominous series of makeovers. Once ready, we were all funneled into a glass elevator and returned to the surface of the Earth where we were instructed to return to our families and wait for further instructions, an order that made me dreadfully nervous.

We were going to be used as weapons to kill people. I don't know how I knew, but I knew. We were enslaved, already dead, and the perfect tools for assassination. Everything was off - my family was concerned about where I'd been and why I looked so different. Meanwhile, I seemed to only be able to pay attention to the other waiting assassins.

We all kept a close eye on each other. One of us stepped out of line with a hint of rebellion. An hour later, the police were carrying what remained of his disfigured body out of his apartment on a stretcher. I remember seeing the white sheet slip from his head as they carried him past me on the street. Though still well-dressed, his white shirt was soaked with blood. Where his head had once been was now the exploded head of a horse. The message was clear: we were powerless to resist.

When I finally awoke, we were grimly marching our way past a dance club full of people, none of whom suspected that they would all be dead soon. There were four of us, and we were on a mission of mass extinction. We were the four horsemen and we'd come for Mankind.


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