I knelt; not by chance but by compulsion. I fell to my knees and begged, for my time had come. But, what was it that I was begging for? It's not as though I particularly enjoyed life; far from it in fact.
Life, an endless carousal of pain and suffering. The maddening cacophony of creatures continuously killing and feasting on the fetters of others. Intelligence, a glimmer of hope; used instead to produce systems of control to make efficient the aforementioned turmoil. A great serpent mindlessly and pointlessly gnashing its teeth into its own tail.
Rather, I was a certified coward that feared the unknown beyond the silken veil of death. I would have killed myself on several hundred occasions had I been decently convinced that it would have bettered my situation. But, secure in my estimate that my standing would be unchanged or worsened, I trudged forward in the hope that someday I would find reconciliation for the ills and suffering of life and being.
Years I spent contacting the dead, trying to understand and prepare for what lay ahead. Now, death nearly upon me, I am humbled only in stature. My body bent by pains brought forth by the sin of gluttony; I did beg. Oh, what a hedonist I had been. The sex was sensual and the food was savory; and my God the beers and wines I did swoon. Lost, stalemated, in my quest for liberation; I sought instead to satiate my longings by drowning myself in sensational pleasures.
Before me appeared the Reaper. He lifted my spirit from the ground and brought me before the throne of God. I knew that I had no chance in Hell before the alleged throne of justice. Unsurprisingly, I had been rejected from Heaven; reserved for the forever torment in the lake of fire.
Until the appointed time of judgment is appointed, and God establishes his world governance to replace Satan's, I was placed in Death's charge. I decided to appeal my judgment before Satan. I intend full well to plead guilty and beg for forgiveness. For, I hoped that the Devil, rebellious as he was in his own ways, might have a hint of mercy for a man such as myself.
Death ushered me through the river. The wailing and gnashing of teeth clamored on incessantly to the point where, curious as it was, I didn't care anymore. The pain and suffering of billions didn't matter anymore when measured against the pain and suffering in my own heart. Which, in turn, had droned on for what seemed longer with just as fruitless a resonance.
I turned to seek sympathy from the face of Death; but saw only empathy instead. An empty, meaningless empathy. As if this figure out of time was just as confounded by it all as I was. As if the darkness within his eyes sought to cling to some salvation from mine. As if he had hoped that I had somehow brought something back for him from the world beyond. As if he was expecting me to have learned or felt something from this thing called life. But, at the end of it all, I was hallow.
I flung myself to the ashen floor and begged for resolution from Lucifer. The angel of light looked on me with pity. However, he could not bring himself to forgive me for my betrayal. Several times during my life the prince of darkness did try to recruit me, body and soul, to fight for him in his ongoing struggle against Heaven and the faithful. He said that he had a plan to topple the tyrant on mount high and bring the roaring fire of enlightenment down to man. That he would establish his own order upon the Earth before the Almighty's was complete to set forth a new law for a new age.
I confided in him, time and again during those meetings, that, even though I thirsted for enlightenment above all else, I saw no difference between his goals and methods and those of the tyrant. I could see conflict in his eyes, but he stood resolute in his position. I proceeded then to use the symbol of the Cross of Calvary to ward him off. I would confine him to trees and coins; forcing him into agreements that would set him free if he did spare my life but a little longer and lay no claim upon my soul.
Now, rejected from Heaven and barred from Hell, my worst fear had been realized. An outcast among outcasts; I had nowhere to seek refuge and no one from whom to seek solace. I was released from Death's charge until God's judgment; that much Satan arranged for me.
I expressed to him that I was lost. That I had nowhere to go. I saw a tear in the angel's right eye. It did smote the floor. The Devil, known not for compassion, reached into a furnace and pulled forth an ember. He commanded me to remove the innards of a nearby gourd; that I was to keep and shield the ember within.
This was his token for me, a gift to light my way. He told me that without a current destination, I would be required to roam the spaces between Heaven and Hell. That, until the time comes for his great war, that my soul would need to seek peace elsewhere.
And so it was that I spent the prevailing years sojourning the globe. I looked in every dwelling, seeking out someone, anyone, with a suitable solution for my vexation. For my situation did bind me, and I wished for a release. Perhaps there was some ancient wisdom that held the key to my escape and ascension. Perhaps I was only fooling myself. Regardless, what option had I left?
Some nights my wailing could be heard for miles, carried on the nightly wind through dead trees. The living began to engrave my grimace on gourds and set them on stoops and within windows to greet me. As if to meet me with an almost mocking apology for their inability to help. Concerned with the daily wares of life, they had no time to solve the ensnaring mystery.
And so it is that I make this record; a tome of my acquired knowledge and ruminations on wisdom. My hope is that others might draw insight from my plight. That when my time does come to be tossed into the molten lake that glows like the lantern that passes for my illumination; that you might well be spared my fate.
Bound is the blood of my sacrifice and the tears of my sadness. Wrapped within by the tendrils of my mind and the laughter of my madness. Soaked in the wine of a world passing me by. Clung to childishly in hopes of abolishing the lie. Used to ward off the spirits of yore. Containing within lessons from lore. In hopes that within the keys to deliverance are mine. In hopes to find mercy in the eye of the divine.
Jack of the Lantern