The Dead: Book 1 (Frag. 1)

Submitted by Ken Watts on Sat, 02/09/2008 - 15:43

D, author of the Books of the Dead , was probably (with one or two possible exceptions) a single person. D holds to no single worldview, and any attempt to find a single theme or strand of world-view which spans all of the Books is doomed to frustration. It is doubtful, in fact, if D is really addressing the issues that surface in these narratives at all. More likely, the points are subtle, limited to the context of the period preceding the Second Enlightenment, and opaque to those of us not fortunate enough to have lived in that very interesting period.

Ed Wilde, Curator, The Gates Collection,
M. J. T., O.L.A.

"AND WHY WERE YOU in a car with an atheist?"

The angel was both more, and less, solid than Daniel had expected. But then so was everything: the room, or place, they stood or floated in, the sky, or ceiling (which was it?) overhead, the others who milled around them, the air, the quality of the light...

The angel waited, patiently, for an answer.

Daniel pulled his brain (mind? soul?) into focus, and tried to reconstruct the question.

"I'm, I—sorry. My mind was..."

"I asked," said the angel, "why you were riding in a car with an atheist?"

Daniel swallowed, or the ectoplasmic equivalent, and stole a glance at Peter, who stood quietly beside him. Fear and shame wrestled in his soul.

"Oh, uh, him... Well we were going to a baseball game together. He's my neighbor, and we both like sports, so..."

The angel gave no sign. Was he on the right track?

"I was, well, I was trying to build a relationship, so I could talk to him one day, about, well, about..."

"You were trying to convert him?"

Daniel tried to read Peter's face. Disappointment? Betrayal? He swallowed again. The stakes were just too high.

"Well, yes. I was..."

The angel turned to Peter.

"And you. What were you doing in a car with a Christian?"

"I wasn't."

"You weren't in a car with a Christian?"

Daniel had seen that stubborn expression on Peter's face before. It was only going to get him into trouble here.

"I was in a car with my friend."

"I see," the angel said. "Follow me."

They really had no choice. Since they were in the angel's charge they moved where he (she? it?) did, whether they wanted to or not. Daniel assumed that the angel could hear everything they said, but felt compelled to take Peter in hand.

"Look," he said, "I think you'll admit that I have a slightly better understanding of this place than you do. I—well, my church—just may have been wrong about a point or two. I mean, you're here, aren't you? They haven't sent you to Hell yet, and maybe—I'm not sure, understand—but maybe there's a chance still. For you, I mean. But you're going to have to play along. Be more cooperative."

Peter raised an eyebrow.

"Was I your friend, Daniel? Am I?"

"Do you think I would have wanted to save you if I didn't care about you? Just follow my lead, okay?"