Two personages with their arms outstretched, wearing only white blood-stained loincloths, blurred in and out of my sight. They sat on a slim oaken ledge of a vertical post with a two-foot silver nail pinned in their feet. Both men looked bloodied and bruised from some assailant’s maul.
Someone bolted our wrists to a crossbeam that formed into a ‘T.’ My eyes considered the scene an acute blight. My hands and feet burned and throbbed after my mind and sight had awakened within that present. With every movement, lightning struck within my nerves.
An invisible light bulb brightened above my head--an unknown being crucified the three of us for some offense.
What offense, or crime?
My compressed lungs withheld each breath as they stung like pins and needles.
I had met my match--death could not come fast enough--it, I prized more than anything. At my internal depths of despondency, the person three feet to my left perpetually asked about my well-being. I rolled my blood crusted eyes and ignored his wheedles.
A source of light blanketed us, yet no sun beamed. It beat on our bared skin withdrawing the secret truths hidden within our flesh. My thoughts flashed like a shuffled deck of playing cards. Our broiled epidermis’s scent wafted into the air and agitated my roiling stomach.
To my right, there was a limestone hill with spurts of green grass and various small shrubs I would tower over. Underneath the hill was an outlined skull limestone rock formation with deep eye sockets staring back at us.
The depths of the skulls glower brought unwelcome minor and uncontrollable shaking.
I joked: none of us had received graces from God(s), or aliens or whatever had created us. All I knew is that my luck had never been so paper thin.
My head pounded, even more as the questions from the mellow peer to my left stammered on. Finally, my slender veins on my forehead burst. I closed my eyes and answered in a deep surly tone, “Obviously dying a slow and painful death.”
I rolled my eyes again when he replied, “Are not we all?”
I wondered why he had wasted any arduous breath.
Who would do this?
Their scourge made it difficult to tell the men apart except by their voice. I noticed the man on the left had a spirited voice, as if from a warm and fuzzy story, whereas, the man on the right said in a gruff and crotchety manner, “There is no reason to rejoice.”
The former exclaimed, “The Host is coming with his profound glory. I speak of good news, that there is a Host who loves us.”
The latter responded, “There is no Host; there is only the reality of this suffering!”
“Man is the reason for our suffering, and this Host supports us through our trials without any abrogation.”
“Oh, then, where at the present is the host; whilst I am so near death and need his buffering?”
The Spirited Man soaked in the invisible rays, with his eyes closed, as if divine light showered and praised him. In response, the Cantankerous Man looked to his left as far as he could and the same to his right.
The Cantankerous Man said, “I am a prudent gentleman, where is this Host, for my time presently, is grim?”
“The Host is on his way and our pains he will smite.”
The Cantankerous Man chuckled. “You are as delusional as I thought or completely mad!”
The Spirited Man composed himself. “I pray that the Host’s light breaches your inner temple and then awakens you from within the darkness your mind is clad.”
The other scoffed. “That is just an insult and proves your hallucination is infinitely quantum.”
Our suffering lingered but only I trembled with fear. I wanted to know about the two fellow sufferers, however, I focused on my present predicament and their bickering. Hope helped the man on my left cope as did the dispiritedness of the man to his left. Their backbiting added a dark cloud and I just wanted to drown the mood with any draft of beer. My scratchy throat yearned for water. Long ago hope departed--now at that present, I felt bereft.
It turned out, the spirited man’s ramblings passed the time better than the incessant silence. As the eternal timepiece ticked away, my pain felt more severe. When dying slowly, time is your enemy. For we endured raw hemorrhaging wrists and lashes that had festered. Only the Spirited man never winced or complained whilst his eyes intensely twinkled.
Finally, I implored of the Spirited Man, “Do tell of this Host?"
The Cantankerous man sneered a mocking smile. “A dying man on a cross has a follower in deference.” The Spirited Man’s faith for this so-called Host, the Cantankerous Man had not broken.
His lungs took in slow and deep breaths as the dry stale air pestered. His neighbor derided him again since the story teller’s tongue inaudibly wrinkled. Something distracted him. I did not know it then--he had heard a subterranean melodic invocation that overcame his prayerful utterance.
His eyes backtracked, his mind crafted a euphoric daymare whilst my tolerance lost its battle with my own free willed prance. A blood gurgled scream sprang from the caverns of my lungs. The scream startled the Cantankerous Man.
I closed my eyes and readied myself alike the Spirited Man. I welcomed the present ordeal and opened my soul to a possibility: that there are truths I too could redeem if I copied the Spirited Man.