He wasn’t quite materialized, he felt like he was something less than solid, some kind of vapor held together by a material he didn’t know the name of. He wasn’t sure why he was here in this dark place, but he didn’t feel afraid, he felt oddly comforted, the circular shape of the cavernous walls made him feel safe and protected, and the light eminating from all around him was warm, and he felt still even now that he was connected with it, connected with his two lovers.
But still, the questions began to form in his mind as he began to remember who he’d been, but had he really been that person? He knew that his lovers were real, he remembered their names, but had the terrible things been a dream? Had he simply been sleeping all this time, and imagined that they lived in a world where their hopes had been snatched from them, a world where their lives were nothing but sorrow, longing, and unfulfillment?
And the thing that he really felt most all was the guilt. The guilt for what he’d done in the dream, it had been so real, the feelings of remorse, of terror, the biting, burning pain that threatened to rip his chest apart and send his soul flying out of his body in terror. The man who he had killed, his precious, living blood splattered across the gravestone of the young soldier boy who had kissed him on the far off beach.
“Jonathan, be at peace,” a soothing, comforting voice echoed off the walls, and he stared ahead into the darkness as a figure stepped forward into the bright light, his eyes a sparkling grey, his skin tan and his hair pitch black. He wore a tailored coat with a cloak fastened to the shoulders, all pitch black with silver buttons. He was smiling. From him Jonathan felt such immensity, as though this figure had all the power in all the world, and that he in fact was the world, that he was the creator of all life and that he was a part of the great, white light to which Jonathan was connected by shining tendrils.
“Why have you come?” the figure asked, “Only those who have not found peace come here, those who need guidance and answers. Have you not already been reunited with those you love? Have you not yet found peace?”
“I…” Jonathan began to speak and was surprised to hear his voice, familiar yet strangely unfitting, as though it were someone elses voice, a voice belonging to someone from the dream. But he still knew even now that parts of it had been real, and he knew that the guilt he felt was real. “I feel… sad.”
“Why?” such concern, such a maternal tone with which the black figure asked, the patience, worry, and most of all love evident in his voice. Jonathan couldn’t help but wonder if he knew this man, if somehow he was this man and he was speaking with himself.
“Who… who are you?” Jonathan asked shakily.
“I am the oarsman, I am the gatekeeper, I am the one who opens the doors to earth.” He responded with a gentle smile.
“I don’t understand.” Jonathan felt himself crying. Tears were streaming down his face, though they were just a luminescent as the rest of his body, and it felt strange to know that in this state he was still capable of crying. But oh, the relief of crying, how good it felt to finally bring his pain out into the open. He stood before the confessor surely, and how he had sinned. He wanted to be forgiven.
“You stand before me because you are not ready to move on, you are not ready to rejoin the Mother, Jonathan.” The black figure moved closer, nonthreatening, powerful but gentle, and Jonathan knew that though this man possessed power over all the earth, he would never allow harm to come to Jonathan. “What troubles you, sweet child? I see in those eyes such pain, and yet I know that you are filled with relief of the many pains you experienced in life. Is it not enough to be with your beloved David and your beloved Helena again?”
The tears burned at the sound of their names spoken aloud. So it had been real, that was truly their names, and the images flooding back into Jonathan’s mind were of things that really happened. He felt unhappy to be reconnected with that life, as though he knew intimately the man who commited those atrocities but could never understand what it was like to be him, because he was not that man, he was not the killer who splattered the blood across the gravestone. He was not the soldier who kissed the young boy on the beach, he was not the wounded man who was nursed to health by the strange tribes in the jungle. That man had finished his journey, and his lot had been of sorrow, regret, and all of the pain that had been so poorly repressed was flooding Jonathan now, an ocean of sorrow too great to swallow and too powerful to swim in.
“Poor, tortured thing. Listen to me now, for I have seen the life of every living being since the creation of the Earth, and I have known their struggles and hardships. You were blameless, a white lamb led to the slaughter, a child abused by his parents, a lover torn from the arms of his beloved. You did no wrong, you only sought to free yourself of the pain you felt, to reunite with she who you loved, and now you have that and more. You have them both, the two lovers who brought you the only joy you were ever to know in those short years of your life, Jonathan. It’s over now.”
The black figures words were comforting, and Jonathan felt soothed by them, but he would not be able to move forward until he said it aloud, until he confessed the great sin.
“I killed a man, Demetrius.” Jonathan said it aloud, and the relief flooded him just to have it said, to admit it, because he’d never admitted it to David or to anyone, not even to the one for whom he killed. And how the name of the black figure had flowed from his tongue so effortlessly, as if he had known Demetrius his whole existance. He felt that he had known Demetrius every day and spoken with him often, that Demetrius was in fact Jonathan’s inner consciousness who lived within his body and spoke to his soul. And now, by some twist, he had been reunited with himself. None of these things made sense to him, and they were the beginning of a flood of strange information and thoughts he could make no sense of.
“I see such confusion in you, child.” Demetrius spoke gently, stepping closer again, the light fully illumating his face and shining splenidly in his bright, grey eyes. “Such things that fill your mind you cannot grasp because you are thinking with a mind, something only mortals use, but it’s time to give up perception and return to your source, return to your Mother. I give you permission, I forgive you your trespasses, love.”
“Please,” Jonathan begged softly, “Let me say it. Let me say what I’ve done.”
“You may say whatever you like, child.” Demetrius breathed gently.
Jonathan filled his vaporous lungs with rich, cool air, air that felt filled with life and emotion. “I was an assassin, Demetrius.”
The black figure nodded knowingly.
“I killed many people. Men and women, some the same age as myself. Those were the hardest for me. I did it because a horrible creature promised me he would bring Helena back from the dead for me, that he would make it so that she never died and bring us together again. I wanted her so badly that I trusted him, and I did what he asked. I killed sixty-eight people, the number he said was holy, the number he said would give him the power to do the thing he had promised me he would do.”
The black figure nodded again, and as Jonathan began to remember the faces of the people he’d killed, other figures like he appeared, materializing, connected by tendrils of light to the force behind him, the great warmth where his two lovers waited for him to return. Those who appeared were reflections of the people Jonathan had murdered, their bodies and faces the same as they had been in life, and Jonathan’s sorrow began to erupt as he felt their presences and saw their faces.
Through tears he choked out words, “I wanted to be with Helena, and the worst of it was that I lied to David about what I was,” he sobbed and gasped for a moment before continuing, “And… and when I looked in his eyes, I saw something there, I thought he knew that I was lying, but he was hiding the same secret from me, and what irony that we were deceiving one another for the same purpose. Oh, Demetrius, it hurts!” Warmth bubbled from inside his chest and flooded out with the stinging tears, tears of light vapor that fell to the ground and soaked into the earth on which the black figure stood and above which Jonathan seemed to hover.
“But of all the people I killed, the most terrible for me was Feris. I don’t know if that was his real name or just the name that they gave me, but I found him praying in a graveyard to someone he’d lost, and I thought I’d send him to be with him, so that I could reunite with my lost Helena. But…” he sobbed again, oh how miserable it was to say the shameful thing aloud, in front of the strange black figure who already he knew he loved and had missed