It could most properly be called a Cathedral. Not one of those decaying medieval edifices whose stout doors defiantly face the rising sun, daring medicants and fallen angels alike to do their worst. No, this place contained several citadels of holiness within an imposing curtain wall. Labrynthine pathways crouched between stone work huddled together from all pervading sin. The occasional rocky countenance of a gargoyle leered down covetously at passing souls, forever calculating. It was a proper place of foreboding.
Somewhere within, he fled.
He ran down a corridor, open to a courtyard on one side, it’s ceiling covered in unhealthy crimson splotches. Past narrow pillars he could see rose bushes in tightly ordered rows, their blooms burst open like over-ripe fruit and wilting in the chill twilight. Amid the distance of storm-tousled skies he perceived spires, like spears, stabbing heavenward; slicing. Piercing out from the wound to the well. Laughter echoed around him like the swirling shadows cast by candle light.
His pursuer was close now.
The bag thrown over his shoulder was heavy. It had grown heavier as he’d run because of the need to accumulate the things in it. There had been no choice, it was about survival. Every fleet step of foot denied him some small portion of courage he would require to make his stand. Every length of ground gained was ground that would be lost later. Not slowly either, but all at once and suddenly. Fatigue fell over him like a shroud, blinding his mind long enough to trip him. Scraped knees and hands did not concern him.
The he realized he was cornered.
The hall had terminated into depressed gazeebo. A shortened pew gasped shortened out from each of its five sides. Some obscure idol rose from the center to gaze outward at the garden. He stumbled down to the far railing, kneeling on the bench there. Beyond the marching bushes the blank face of brickwork creeped out unabated in all directions. Not a single egress presented itself. Flash of lightening and again the laughter. Infinitesimally closer.
He turned back toward the statue. It’s face hung above him like the waning moon. Sculpted eyes gouged the space below it disdainfully. The nose bent over a mouth which had been shorn away. The debris of the defacement lay littered around the base. He was out of time.
The tendrils of It’s presence unfurled around the open space. He watched it approach with a sense of claustrophobia. Slender as a stiletto and sheathed in midnight robes, It’s sallow skin seemed to ripple with each fluid footstep. Lengthy strides precise and deliberate. Straight hair, the colorlessness of newly formed specters, descended below skeletal shoulders. Emerging from cavernous sleeves, spidery fingers crawled from hands webbed with scars. A blade striking from the darkness. This seemingly fragile vessel had traveled from the belly of some long forgotten age. The malignancy of It had claws grasping from eons past.
Sweat tore from him in torrents. The storm of mortal understanding-a flash which polished his mind with abrasive sands until it shone like a star. with a light that would not be seen until long after it’s source’s demise. The realization that the only redemption is found in the pulse of struggle is no simple acceptance. You must simply accept it.
But acceptance does not necessitate surrender.
He raised his fists, his only defense, but there came a billowing of black robes like the bellowing of brass bells-the silence.
Flash of lightening , another unhealthy crimson stain, and again the laughter.
About ” The Reality of the Garden”
This started as part of a very strange dream I had during a period when I was reading a lot of H. P. Lovecraft. Go figure. Anyway, I wrote it with the intention of telling a story about a man running from a personification of death/time within the confined of a labyrinth which I thought of as a symbol for our societal structure. The garden of life is always just a step away , but man never thinks to take it because he sees no way to escape that way. Man continues to flee within the structure because he thinks the structure was constructed to offer a way out, never realizing the structure circumscribes his existence.
I wanted to tell a story about humans obsessive beauracracy-building siphoning the joy from life, creating the rat race against time where only emptiness and fear are found surrounded by the structures man has constructed in an attempt to create meaning. That’s why the Church like setting and allusions to the religious belief.
Unfortunately, this has never become the story I wanted to tell. It really hasn’t even become a story. There are some great lines in it though, so it hasn’t been a waste. I’m sure I’ll continue to play with this periodically and maybe someday it will become something.
I’m sharing it because I’ve been drowning in a vicious sort of writer’s block, but I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about time so I’m hoping someone’s comments might stimulate some momentum.