I wrote this on May 20, 2011. It was the day before Harold Camping said the rapture was to happen. I sat in the park outside my house and watched the young Portland folks in their frantic frolics. Frisbees, sunbathers, ghetto blasters and cans of PBR. A man was pacing around screaming, high on some form of stimulant. The group next to me kept a bong in their backpack and would occasionally pass it around. I sat under a tree, and this happened.
The sun rose over Babylon, and from the ground they came.
I never thought to look for them. Never saw them in the dirt, never suspected. And yet I knew that they were there, somehow. Always.
The sun rose first, and the abominations gathered. Fleshly flesh of twin hearts, and twin minds. Men and women, I among them, cleaved together, dreaming of escape. Release. The sun rose golden over Babylon, and our flesh danced golden on the hills. Momentary pleasures, and pleasant diversions, as if to say ‘Here, now: let us taste in life. Let us forget how we are damned.’ Green hills. Laughter-sheen, warmth. Chemicals and bodies.
Then, from the ground, they came.
The earth pitched and heaved in mounds, the soil cresting as the sea in tumult. Germinating seeds, they burst from the earth in mole-hills. How to describe them? Dark, as the soil is dark, flecked with white, each wearing a shroud over its shoulder. They came from the earth and stood, and watched. Solemn, dark, formless shadow-features, stoic in the face of the frivolity about them. They were ominous, and a hostile presence: death and anger hiding in their robes. I waited for them to strike.
Yet they merely stood, silent vigils, as if some unseen hand held them in place. Hold. Not yet. The hour has yet to come.
Of course, I cowered at the sight. I am no warrior-prophet. I readied myself to flee from the golden hills with the masses.
The masses, however, did not flee.
They stayed where they were. They sang, they danced, they continued to partake in great obscenities. As if they did not see those evil, earth-born sentries. Or as if they did not care.
I petitioned them. A fool, I cried out to the abominations, “Come! Flee! Repent! Away!” It was as if I spoke in gibberish, a flatulent glossolalia, and they laughed, and they clapped. I was mistaken for a jester. A marijuana cigarette was offered to me, a woman sang, I stood to fall at the precipice, and the tireless earthmen watched. And. Waited.
It was as though I could not wake, though I dreamed. And I knew it then, like I always knew, that this was the day before the end of the world. I cried out for explanation and, curiously, for justice. The abominations merely danced.
At yet my pleas produced result. From the skies and high places, arrows fell, assembling upon a rival hill. White, and featureless and metal-gleaming, (to hurt the beholding eye,) they formed a geometric pattern; directly corresponding to the earth-things. The sky-things also held their ground, invisible swords held at the ready. There was a charge in the air, spark and weight and violence, hung in the vapor like a tapestry. There was a picture in it, as though the whole world was a symbol for a long-forgotten battle, never finished.
I could not say why, but I fled the abominations, (of which I was one,) and ran toward the white-sentried hill. A few cared to follow me, and we made the journey together, stumbling as we ran. Some turned back, and others fell, and yet we crawl and yet we push and yet we rise. We still flee, to this day, tugged along by a current. A river of light, bigger and brighter than our eyes can discern.
Time itself is a held-back scream, with two unseen hands readying their pawns for a final push. Hidden worlds clinging at the skirts of that river’s rushing always, and all of us left mumbling to choose our sides on this perpetual, penultimate, day.