joi, 10 septembrie 2009

The Lake of Fire

Darkness had fallen over as if an army of black clouds had invaded the air above the city from the east. Ceremonial candles and torches were lit in almost every building within the city walls. A full moon shone above the Great Temple, which in return displayed hundreds of golden glares. Calls of trumpets could be heard now and then from the fortress. On the maze of narrow unpaved streets of the Lower City, only few latecomers could be seen. They hastened to their homes, for the celebrations of the Passover had already started. Odours of cooking and spices scattered through the open windows of the limestone houses that sloped down toward the Tyropen Valley. Murmurs of the ceremony could be heard and suddenly the light of candles seemed to glow brighter.

A young man dressed up for the occasion was crossing the empty bazaar, and his body briefly quivered under his white kefiyeh. The handsome figure hurried down the Greek streets and as he arrived in front of a carpet shop he made a turn to the right, taking the road to exit the city through the southwest gate. Outside the grey city walls, the man descended along the tents of pilgrims and made his way to the dusty road that crossed the Hinnom ravine. The spells of putrid flesh and the heavy smoke from the fires made him hasten his feet and only when the city seemed far enough for any eye to catch his presence, he stopped for a minute to look back.

Moon shone in his eyes as the man uncovered his head and looked up to the walls, to the temple above, to the sky:

'Oh, Master...' he whispered. 'How could I be the one exceeding them all?'

Though there was no one to hear his lament, not even the smallest of the living creatures, the man continued as if talking to the moon itself:

'Which is the star that leads to my star? What did you have me do, my dear Master?'

The moon did not answer, its light was only a muted witness, and so the man put his head to the ground and gasped for air. He took out a map from his chest and after briefly studying it he resumed his path through the valley, which now became quite narrow and descended with much greater rapidity than before. Soon he arrived near an old tree, on the edge of a pebbly slope. This was indeed the ending point of his journey, so he kneeled down, touching the bleak gravel with his dark curly hair. Time passed by, minutes turned into hours, but the man stood there unmoved, alone with his repentance and misery.

As crimson tides started to spread from the east and the shadow of the tree grew stronger, the man slowly stood up and looked up to the horizon. He lifted his arms and said:

'Oh, dear God! I did as the plan had it laid out for me! I stepped away from the others like you told me to do... Why then... why this legion has come for my soul? Is there an end to this grief that torments my soul?'

A thick rope fell out of his cloth and the young man took it. His hands wrapped eight coils around a large noose and tucked the end of the rope through the top eye. Then, they pulled down the bottom eye to form a loop and trap the tucked end of the rope.

The man impassively assisted to the work of his own hands and when this work was finished he looked up again to the sky.

The moon was encircled in a luminous cloud and the stars had faded away. He smeared the tears with his sleeve, trying to clean his face, and then muttered to the air around him:

'Why not answer my prey? Why leave me alone when you know I'm only a man and nothing more? I sacrificed the man that clothed you, my Master. I am here to sacrifice my own future to my beholders' eye. Your horn has been raised'.

And then the man did what the prophecy asked of him to do, so that the generations could curse him and then be saved. He climbed to a thick branch five feet above the ground and properly knotted his rope to it. He placed the noose around his neck and slowly let his body slide under the branch, still holding his arms to it.

Finally, he closed his swollen eyes and he let go of his life while embracing the whole world he had known.

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