“Oh God, help me!”
One by one, I would hear them. Sometimes their voices overlapped, together one resounding cry for help, to relieve some pain, to help them, to save them. Lately I have not heard too many cries. Actually, thinking about it. It has been quiet lately. Something is changing. The voices don’t come as often as they used to. My head is pounding. This quiet. It’s strange. I can feel my eyes closing shut. My vision is blurred. The world is going black. My legs collapse under me. The last thing I remember is my head right before I hit the ground. The pain never came, no echoing thump. Just floating.
I can feel myself waking up, before I open my eyes, I feel around me, the floor is hard and cold. I open my eyes and the overt brightness fights the dark for space. I need to figure out where I am. When my eyes adjust, the floor is a shade of light brown, like sand, but smooth like marble running below my fingertips. I am facing a pillar, a singular white pillar in the center of the room. I think it’s a room. I look toward the ceiling and the pillar goes so far up that clouds have settled in the space where the roof should be. I get up and look around. Nothing is in this room, if you can call it that, just this pillar. The walls of the room are not visible, but there is a sense of boundaries. “Where am I?” I whisper.
“Does it matter?”
“Ahhhh!” I spin around choking on the air too quick for my lungs. Leaning against the pillar, a man. Dressed in a grey suit. “Yes, it does. Who are you?” I ask. “I am the end. I am the beginning, and I am the in between.” “You. I know you. You…” I pause. He watches me carefully, smiling at me as he sees the grim look on my face as I am faced with my fate, “You’re Death.”
“That’s right old friend. And sadly you are dead.”
“No.” I stand tall, “I can’t die! I cannot be dead,” I plead.
“Unfortunately for you my friend, you can and you did.”
“There is too much for me to do, too many things in my care, I can’t just leave.”
“Had… to do. You are no longer in control of those things. Someone else will take your place, maybe they already have.” He smiles at me.
“Come on.” He nods his head in the direction behind him. “I know this is a lot to get used to, but I know you will come to accept wha-”
“Accept?” I interrupted.
“Yes, accept your demise.”
“No!” I spit at him, “Those people, the ones calling for help, They need me!”
He motions for me to go ahead of him. “Please.”
I walk ahead of him, unsure of what else to do. “Where are we going? Who is going to help them, if I am not there?”
“In due time my friend. It will be explained. All of it. Why you are here? Who is taking your place? What are you going to do now?”
I turn back to him “One question.” He smiles and rolls his eyes, as if he knows what I am going to ask him. “Very well.” I take a deep breath, “If I am dead, where am I?”
“Technically, this would be your heaven.”
“Heaven? OK. I didn’t know I would end up here. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d die either.”
“No one ever thinks they’re going to die. This way, please.” He motions and we continue walking.
We come to a door. I turn to see how far we have come, and the pillar is in the same spot it was before we started walking. “Is it following us?” I ask. “What the pillar?” he laughs, “No. It’s just with us.”
He opens the door and inside is a wooden table its edges lined in gold in the center is the world, the greens, and blues, and whites of the world, constantly moving, constantly changing. The table extends toward what seems like miles of a white void, chairs line its sides. Death pulls out a chair at the head of the table, “Here, sit.” “What are we doing?” I stare at him as I take a seat. “This is a meeting.”
A moment later, a man walks from the far end of the table, in a black suit, a red and gold tie bounces on his chest as he walks up to me. I do not know who he is. He takes my hand, “Hello, welcome.” He takes the seat to my right. “Thank you,” I say confused. Before I could ask who he was, a woman in a bright white dress sits on my left and greets me just the same, “Hello, Welcome.” This continues man after woman, woman after man, and beast after creature, all greeting me and taking a seat. Before long all the seats I can see are filled. Hundreds of men and women, beasts and creatures, some who look like your average person, light, and dark skinned, blonde haired, black haired, curly haired, long nosed people. Some I have noticed have blue skin, several arms, and a third eye, some with the head of a wolf, an eagle’s head, even some animals take a seat.
The room is filled with life, the characters that sit at this table are talking to one another. All of them talking, of cultures, of my world, about the languages spoken, the wonders created, the worlds destroyed. I look up at Death who is standing by my side. “What is this?” I ask. He leans in and whispers, “This, old friend…” he looks around, the man with the red and gold tie, and the woman in white are both staring in our direction. He shouts, “… is a meeting of the Gods!”
Everyone is quiet; their attention is on me. Some of them are smiling; some are watching with sympathetic looks, others are looking down to avoid my gaze.
“A meeting of the gods?”
The man in the red and gold tie responds, “Yes, a meeting of the gods. Someone needed to tell you what is happening with you. Who better than us?”
“And just who are you?”
“Ah! I am so sorry. I am Zeus, King of the Gods. Those ‘Gods’ being the Gods of Olympus. And this lovely woman to your left is…”
“I am Isis. Egyptian Goddess of Life and Magic.” The woman in white, reaches out her hand her gold bracelet changes positions and the head of a snake wraps itself around its body at her wrist. The one with blue skin begins an introduction, “My name i-”
“All right. Will someone please explain to me why I am here?” Zeus motions to the one with blue skin and nods his head, Blue Skin sinks back into the chair. “You died. You have been forgotten. Your world has moved on without you.” He says as if the words do not mean anything.
“I am dead. I get that, but how? I can’t have died!” I shout, looking back between Isis and Zeus.
Zeus Continues, “You di-”
“Zeus!” interrupted Isis, “don’t patronize. Death is not easy to accept. Don’t forget how you reacted to death. When the world forgot about you and moved on to Jupiter you were angry.” She turns to me, takes my hand and looks me in the eye, “You are dead. The world has found a new god to believe in. No one has prayed to you. Do you remember how quiet it was right before you blacked out?” she asked.
Confused, I ask, “How did you know that?”
“Because it happened to all of us. Like the creatures we watch over, the worlds we create, the beings who worship us, we too do not last forever.” Isis replies.
“I am God! The one and true God!” I shout. I kick the chair from under me, “I have toppled cities, I have washed away sins, I have created plagues, and miracles!” I am at my full height, My chair lays three feet behind me on its side. Death has backed away. Zeus has his hands clenched into fists. Isis has her eyes closed and does not look at me. “I am not a weak being that can me tossed away like the relic statues in crumbling buildings! I do not fall prey to the tricks of those who want my power! I am not you! I do not die! I am the all mighty, the all knowing, everything. I am God!”
I stand there both hands gripping on the edge of the table. Isis looks at me, and stands and calmly says, “Like Zeus said, the world has moved on. You have been replaced. Just like the rest of us, you are just another god in a long line of gods waiting to be replaced. You had your time with your world. A time that was much longer than what some of us had with our own. We all wanted to stay in our world. We had plans for our worlds, plans that will never come to be. So understand this, your reign as the all mighty everything is over. Your world is no longer yours. You can sit here and be sad, bitter, and angry, or you can enjoy the legacy you have left behind.” Before I have time to respond, she walks down the table and disappears into the abyss that is the room. One by one the room empties. I stand and watch as each one leaves, no ‘good byes’, no final words of wisdom.
When all, but Death and I, have gone, I lift my hands from the table and turn to Death, “Now what,” I ask. “Now, I have a job to get back to. I hope you can find a place here. I know it isn’t easy, I have watched them all, you’ll be fine.” With that he pulls out a metal box from his jacket pocket, lights a cigarette and walks out the door we came through. I pick up my chair and fall in. I close my eyes and sigh. I am dead.