The Dead: Book 1 (Frag. 5)

Submitted by Ken Watts on Fri, 02/15/2008 - 15:53

PETER interrupted.

"If this is headed where I think it's headed, you need to know that I'm not going along with it. I may or may not be the kind of "independent" creature you could relate to, but if you send Daniel to Hell, you're going to spend eternity without me, as well."

The figure shook his head.

"Even after all I've said, all that Daniel has said, you still think I'm being unfair?"

"I don't give a damn whether it's fair or not. Daniel's my friend."

"That's one of the reasons for this meeting. I want you both to understand:

"I'm not going to send Daniel to Hell. He was partly right, when he spoke to you earlier. People send themselves to Hell. Hell is the lack of relationship to me, the ground of all being.

"It's been called 'outer darkness', which suggests extinction, and that's certainly closer to the truth than eternal torture. But it's not exactly dead on, either.

"Relationship has two elements: connection and separateness. You can't lose your connection to the ground of your being."

Peter cast a worried glance toward Daniel.

"You mean—he's losing his separateness?"

The figure nodded.

"Haven't you noticed how much fainter he's become, just during the interview? Even by rejecting me you'll have more of a relationship with me than he will."

"You're re-absorbing him?"

"I'm not doing it. He is."

Daniel looked from one to the other in terror.

"I didn't mean it, honest!"

"Can't you stop him?" Peter asked.

The figure focused on Daniel.

"What didn't you mean, Daniel? Tell me."

"I didn't mean to believe in You. I don't believe in You. Is that what You want?"

"Why don't you believe in me, Daniel?"

"Because You're not real, because You're an illusion, because You're evil,—I don't know—because You don't want me to."

"You see his misery, Peter?"

Daniel knelt on the floor, face down.

"Just tell me, what do You want me to say, to think... Just tell me..."

Peter bit his lip.

"Can you help him, then?"

The figure on the swivel-chair nodded.

"Daniel, calm down. Relax. Focus. Listen to me. What do you want? What do you really want?"

The tension went out of Daniel's back. He sat up, looked at Peter, then at the figure on the throne.

"I want to do what You want me to do, to lose myself in You, to become one with You."

"You're absolutely certain?"

Daniel released a deep breath.

"I am."

"You see, Peter?"

Peter stood, and offered Daniel his hand.

"Goodbye, Daniel."

Daniel smiled.

"Goodbye, my friend."

When Daniel had completely faded from sight, the figure in the swivel-chair raised his eyes to Peter.

"You can have the same, you know—if you want it."

"I don't think so."

"Will you be hating me, then, for all eternity?"

Peter smiled, and slowly shook his head.

"I don't think so."

"I see. That's good. I think I'll take tomorrow off."