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Chapter 10.0 - EPILOGUE - YEẒER HA-RA'

A sound, muffled, distant, reached his ears; someone was crying, wretched, their pain visceral. He attempted to shift his head to pinpoint the sobbing, but movement was restricted. How could this be? He tried to wriggle his fingers, move his legs but he seemed immobilised, even his eyes would not open, they were fused shut.

The sound continued, it bore some familiarity, a closeness, yet its identity remained obscure. Then he heard two words. “Forgive me.”

What did this mean? Who spoke? What was to forgive?

His mouth stayed sealed, he could not cry out, could not enquire who mourned somewhere in the darkness.

Then, unexpectedly, he felt moisture. A trickle slid either side of his mouth, tracing down to his ears, sliding off his lobes. His tongue managed to slip between his lips, and he tasted something; sweet, coppery, warm. Memories unknown to him invaded his mind, he was seeing through someone else’s eyes. Then...

He slept, but for how long, he knew not. Time had no meaning where he was - there was no way of measuring it. Neither dusk nor dawn greeted him, nor summer or spring and no winter chill seeped into his bones. He was - nondescript.

Ghostly images penetrated his mind, their blurred shapes and colours confusing; A man, smiling, heaving sheaves of wheat upon his back. He was familiar, he sensed a closeness; kinship?

Other images flitted across his mind - huts, animal pens, fields of millet, rye and corn, and a hill - it felt vaguely significant. Distant echoes - laughter, children, and a woman calling his name; she sounded loving, warm - maternal. Everything was so muddied, obscure.

And amongst those reverberations came another voice, this one clearer. He sensed holiness, a spiritual presence. With this visitation came understanding, clarity.

“Thou knowest what thy seek? Thouest was once pure of heart,” the voice said.

“Was I? Am I?” he asked.

“The Yeẓer Ṭob foreordained thee; blessed is he that considereth the poor.”

“Blessed? And what of he who did impute such ignominy as to have me slain? Doth he lay beneath a pile of rocks, mere collops for worms?”

“He doth not. But, his days’ art numbered. Truth shalt prevail, and justice will be served.”

“Then I beseech thee, adjure me to such venture now.”

“The trial is ordained by God Himself. It shall be delivered by the one whose heart was consumed by the burning ague. He, and he alone, is more subtil than any beast to slay the ones who incited such emulation. God hath marked him, he must carry out penance according to His law.”

“And must he dureth such penalty? For assuredly, he was victim to canker.”

“It is the only way. He shall bring forth the ravening of these abjects and their issue.”

“And who shall offer him redemption?”

Silence. At that moment, clarity was borne; a need to do what was right.

“I will pardon his anathema,” he said, bold, determined.

The voice laughed. “Thou art not worthy of granting such pardon.”

“And who so sayeth? I shalt be the one to cleanse his soul, for his punishment be wrongful. I entreat the Yeẓer ha-Ra’ to carry out that which is just and fair.”

“Thou art to remain within God’s fold!”

“God cannot have me! I renounce Him.”

His body then felt pain so intense his sealed lips tore open with his cry. A weight was pressing on his chest, crushing him, but eventually, it started to give, alleviate. Air, dank and musty, filled his lungs; he gasped, then coughed and gasped again. His limbs felt as though they were burning from within. The sensation increased and coursed through him bringing, heat, then pain and intense tingling. The need to scratch was overwhelming, and gradually his fingers moved, but there were still limitations, some form of restraint.

A violent spasm shook his entire body: another jolt and another. There was a shift around him, and he was able to move more.

A new sound approached. At first, it was a distant rumble, but it opened to a sharp grinding noise. It was frightening, deafening; he sensed it belonged to something heavy, enormous.

Something showered over his face, and he felt it next on his arms and legs. Soil? Was that earth? He tentatively opened his eyes, scrunching them closed when another smattering of dirt fell on his face.

Bright light burst forth and a rush of warm air swept over his face with yet more soil falling around him. His eyes shot open.

Above him, some enormous construct hung, like a giant mandible with squared-off teeth, attached to a long neck of sorts. He had never seen the likes of it before; he was terrified. The ‘jaw’ dropped down, moving closer, somewhat articulated. What was this monster before him?

Shouts erupted nearby. “Stop! Stop! We found something.”

The huge jaw plummeted...

He bolted upright gasping for air, his body coated in sweat. Dragging his fingers through his hair he cleared wayward strands as they clung, damp, to his cheeks and brow. He felt almost fevered. After waiting a few moments, allowing his eyes to adjust to the darkness, finally, his breathing fell into a more regular pattern.

The dream still haunted him; everything as vivid as the day he was ‘discovered’. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to rid the memory then reached for the drawer in his bedside table. He pulled it open and took out a book.

Dragging himself against the headrest, he then reached over and flicked on a lamp. Settling into the pillows, he opened the book and started to read the same verses he read night after night.

He sighed, heavy, staring at the names on the page. After a moment, he laughed, a little bitter, thinking on how tonight’s encounter should have gone - had Luke not been his usual ass-hole self and ruined everything.

“I will find you again,” Cole whispered. His fingers traced over the name ‘Cain’. “And thou shalt know me by my birth name...Havel.”

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