Homecoming (Shortstory)

Time? Time is for the mortal. Or so they used to say. From experience, however, I can tell you, that time is for everyone. A curse on all of creation. I know time. Let me tell you a tale about time.

It was the most peculiar thing. I was not sure at first what it was. It was not silence. The cities vomited their cacophonies of life, just as they had since the beginning. The language of man, machine and animal alike, were ever present. This was not what unsettled me so this morning. I remember the day like it was yesterday.

The sky was the color of a TV tuned to a dead channel. Rain fell as if with purpose, insulting me, humiliating me. I stood at the corner near my home, plastic bag in hand, filled apples. Red apples. My favorite. In fact, the only thing I ate at the time. The only thing I could eat. I must have stood there for a long time. Maybe a decade or two. Nobody noticed me, as always.

I quieted my mind; tried to drown out the world’s whine until only a whimper remained. Water dripped from my nose in single, rhythmic droplets, each one exploding on the asphalt below me, drowning worlds beyond your comprehension. Then I knew it. It had been there since the first day the light came. It had been there when he loved me. It had been there when he left me. And it had remained there as a constant reminder of what I had lost. The sound of heaven. The bells of the one god. Mortals usually don’t hear them. Those that do are often deemed insane by others. But they were real.  And now … they were gone.

I looked down into my bag of apples. I reached for the biggest one and took it out. I gave the rest to a beggar who had appeared near me a few days ago. He knew me. He could see me. Many of those derelict outcasts could, but they were usually never sane enough to know what they were seeing. I bit into my red, gleaming apple and savored its taste. Guilt, sin, shame. The prayers of His children.

I began to walk. My first step took me nowhere, the place where everything that ends goes. My second step took me everywhere, the place where only I can go. My third step took me to heaven, where only those go that have gained His favor. I stared at the gates in front of me. Humans always imagined them as vast and pearly. They were wrong. The gates of heaven are different for everyone who faces them. For me they were a garden gate. They had not always looked this way, but over time they had changed, along with me. The last time I was here, maybe a few hundred years ago, they had been closed. Now they stood open. There had never been anyone guarding them. This, like so many things, was a human folly; to think that He would need Saint Peter to guard them.

I could smell the ocean. I could not remember heaven to smell like this, but He always changed things whenever he was bored. Was this an invitation? Was it maybe an offering to reunite with His son? I took the last bite out of my apple and dropped it to the white, shiny floor under my feet. I stepped through the open gates and entered the kingdom of heaven.

Gabriel lied in front of me. His body emaciated, his eyes shriveled and dried out, the back of his head crushed and penetrated brutally. What had happened here? I stepped around his body and continued to walk through the eternal, heavenly halls. The white, shiny marble floor was warm under my feet. Then I found Michael and Daniel. They, too, had suffered the same fate as Gabriel. I looked around and tried to remember my old home. Hadn’t there been houses and halls, hunting grounds and palaces? Where was Valhalla? I remembered the singing and fighting coming from that place. Where were the golden houses with its waiting virgins? Where were the doors of life or the heavenly clouds? It was all gone. In their place was now a ruined city.

The floor beneath my feet grew cold and wet. As I looked around I felt a change in the air. A shiver, a sliver, a push from … beyond – a space beyond heaven. It was cold, it was wet and slimy. And when I turned around I stood in the center of a vast, ruined city. A city of bizarre architecture, along a dark and dreary coast line. Seaweed had covered most of the ruined buildings, and ooze and mud were now under my feet, where before the marble floors of heaven had been. The salty ocean smell had become overwhelming and then I heard the voice coming from behind me, some distance away.

Was this a trick? Has He taken me here to make me suffer again? Had I not suffered enough for their sins? Had I not suffered enough for His? Anger filled me and I began to walk towards the voice, along the coastline. I walked and walked and saw no end to this vast corpse-city. The voice was now a chant and I turned towards the city, from which it appeared to be coming, now. I did not hesitate and walked towards the center. Then I saw it. It was His throne. Its back was facing me and He was sitting in it. Before him stood a king drenched in darkness, only his crown visible and gleaming golden. I increased my pace and shouted “What have you done, father! What is the meaning of this play?”

I received no reply. Instead the king took a hold of the throne by its sides and spun it around. There he sat, my father. The king now stood beside him as he stepped forward and I could see him now. He was dressed in yellow garbs and from his mouth, ears and nose came tenebrous shapes that were eating from the opened skull of God. And God spoke with the voice of a drowning man “Welcome home, Lucifer.” Then he began to sing “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” and the yellow king began to laugh.

I felt the universe push in from behind me and as I turned around I saw the unfathomable. I am still not sure what I saw but it was beyond even my imagination and it was large, large in a sense that no mortal can understand. It came from the ocean and it rose above me, its tentacled head the size of the world.

It consumed me.

This was long ago. Where am I? I have been here for so long. So long.