Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

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The Sins of the One Outweigh the Faith of the Many

January 8, 2017

Many Americans ask what has become those rhetorical questions, “Why are Republicans pro-life? Why does the life a newborn take precedence over that of a mother? Why is abortion not an option even when the health and welfare of a child is questionable?”

We know that “pro-life” attitude only pertains up to the birth of a child. After then, they and their families are all on their own. But, why?

The answer is Biblical. It’s that commandment, “Thou shall not kill.” Breaking that commandment as well as any of the other nine sends someone’s soul the Hell.

But, surely, it would be the doctor who would pay that price, and maybe the mother, too. Let me borrow a tired euphemism of our new president and say, “Wrong!” Those Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament, written long before Jesus walked Creation in the flesh, before the promise of forgiveness through confession or grace through faith.

See, those commandments were then written by a wrathful god. That was when He (or to be fair, She) was still prone to flood the Earth.

Okay, God promised there would be no more floods. But, that one deluge was before Sodom and Gomorrah, so us mortals can’t be so trusting. Even then, He/She was still rash and not as omniscient as believers hope. God had to send an angel to investigate His/Her suspicion. And finding only one righteous soul in the city, He/She again brought destruction to the planet; a smaller devastation, to be sure, but still horrific.

So, despite a pretty rainbow and even Jesus, the distrustful faithful believe the wrath of God to this day is visited upon swaths of mortals for the sins of a few and even the one. That’s how paranoid those religious folks have become.

AIDS, 9-11, hurricanes, oil spills and droughts are modern evidence of situations in which God has lifted His/Her hand because He/She has become so disgusted with those made in His/Her image that only death quells His/Her rage. He/She used to get blood sacrifices but that was not always enough.

There is why women today are forced to give birth, why drug users are locked away instead of freed on their own recognizance, and homosexuality is disdained. It’s not just an individual’s soul that is seen at risk, rather the country itself. Because despite the love and patience of Jesus, our savior still has an angry dad/mom.

(Hell, inferring God may be a woman probably pisses Him off. Blame the opioid epidemic and shrinking middle class on that. And give Him the blood a goat, for Christ’s sake. Maybe that will help Him chill.)

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The Sermon On Squirrels

August 29, 2014

The Sermon On Squirrels
Mr. Binger

“I remember the year after Wisconsin became a permanent Republican stronghold. America’s Dairyland had always been a conservative state. “It’s full of cheap Swiss,” expatriate citizens often say.

“These same people then grow old and have delusional hankerings to roll back time. They get desperate before they die. They come home to the North and dream to freeze the date to nineteen eighty-three – before Big Brother, who is the true Satan, introduced the sinful World-Wide-Web to worldwide sinners. It was the year good folk stopped coming to church.”

“Before then, a rash of Democrats occupied the county houses and State house. These godless souls destined for Hell had been negligent and they allowed evil to saturate the countryside. So when our anointed Representatives were elected into office and seized control, they necessarily instituted decency laws.”

“Nudity was not allowed in parks, whether the public spaces were owned by cities or the State itself. But disenfranchised Liberals demanded the bill be specific. Politicians employed lawyers and every detail was defined. The law was passed with one hundred percent of votes.”

“Specifically, male and female reproductive organs were to be completely covered. The anus was also to stay unseen. A clothe or paper patch no bigger than a quarter adequately met the condition. But then there remained the distressing vision of people’s butts – their buttocks, their corn-overly-fed buns. These shined in glossy white and red pairs throughout the summer.”

“By Fall, outraged radical conservatives engineered a way to broaden the law. They found a means of forcing everyone to cover themselves more completely. These people claimed. ‘The law applies to animals, too.’”

“’The government paid lawyers to write the bill,’ grassroots campaigns and lobbyists declared. ‘There is no language that says the law pertains only to human beings.’”

“’The issue went all the way to the Head of State,’ they said. ‘The governor recognized the documented will of every elected official. Not one member of Congress went on record saying, ‘Nay.””

“The problem became how to dress animals. Those kept on farms were okay being naked. There was no issue with what happened in private. And if any nude creature stayed hidden in the woods, that was not a problem either.”

“Squirrels presented the dilemma. They were everywhere. Old folks often fed cheese to them. Longhorn Colby was popular, and so much had made the naked tree-rats virile. There were so many, so activists decided, ‘We’ll make them pants.’”

“Their thinking went like, ‘If the only way animals can obey the law is to wear pants, everybody will wear pants. Let’s give them pants, for charity. It will be the thing to do, because why not? Nobody wants to break the law on purpose, except Democrats.’”

“They had to do something – cops never arrested the animals nor tossed them into jail. Every fine issued to the creatures went unpaid. Midwestern cities were losing the only new revenue available to the municipalities.”

“After school before Halloween, kids joined the effort. They and their parents chased and dressed unabashed squirrels in colorful bell-bottom trousers. The crazed campaign went a week before someone got bit.”

“After the matter, scientists found all that cheese Wisconsin squirrels were eating affected their DNA. The bushy rodents weren’t only acting frisky, they were passing on their mutated genes. The transfer was as simply practical as a blood-borne infection introduced through a bite.”

“The transmission was so effective, human beings were infected with the mutation, too. A lot of people who were bitten, quite a few Christian folks, they changed into squirrels. They became fuzzy comparisons to themselves, everyone growing a tail. All the pairs of pants they owned no longer fit.”

“The squirrel-people were the same height they were when they were regular people, their waistlines neither shrank or grew, but they had nowhere to put their tails – these always longer than their poor hosts were tall.”

“When some went naked into communities, law-abiding conservatives screamed, ‘You have to wear pants. The law still applies to you.’”

“’How,’ inquired talking squirrel-people. ‘We are neither people nor squirrels. We are a species in-between. Where does it say specifically the law applies to us?’”

“We came into existence after the legislature,” clarified a monster who was yet a lawyer. “I believe we are a special consideration.”

“Other mutants said in secret, ‘We will escape society and live in trees.’”

“And there is the Midwest today. America’s Dairyland is where everyone wears pants except where mutants live in trees. Older cheese-eaters there in Wisconsin are dying off, muffling an aggregate conservative voice. And so indecent Liberal hating-God-speech gets louder.”

“Soon, naked animals will have run of of the Capitol Dome in rodent-infested Madison. All year and not just homecoming, the rally is heard, “Liberty, Longhorn Colby Squirrels! Vida Cheddar.” Squirrel-people bark the expression with religious zeal. They do so as they crawl through people’s yards on Sundays looking for acorns.”

 

-End

Want more surreal politics and horror, well then come and read my stories – The Strange Apocrypha of Mr. Binger at Smashwords

 

 

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Buyer’s Remorse

August 5, 2014

 

Buyer’s Remorse

 

You pass by a guy squat outside a grocery store and that guy says to you, “Give me a dollar.”

You are not a judgmental soul, not by your earthly nature. If you were to judge anyone, you would judge only you. And honestly, you would be most severe with yourself.

“Why not,” you tell you. Life is easy now. God or Krishna or Christopher Hitchens down in Hell has blessed your ambivalent spirituality. This very moment, you have even got twice the cash in coins there in your front trousers pocket. That change would only go spent on doing laundry or on kindness to hapless strangers ahead of you in queue at cashier counters.

So, “Here you go,” you tell the dusty fellow there now on his knees. You give him a one dollar bill from your wallet, because you remember you have whites to do. Evangelizing responsibility, you also ask him, “What is it for?”

“Nothing,” he answers you.

Hallowed as you are, you inform him, “You get nothing from nothing.”

He chuckles. “I got a dollar. I got a dollar for askin’.

He then spits and says, “I musta asked a hundred people today, forty-times-forty. You’re the first person whose given me what I asked you for.”

“Well, maybe if you made an effort,” you suggest.

“I asked.”

You tell him specifically, “Maybe if you give people something of value.”

“Oh yeah?”

You nod. “Hmm-hmm.”

He agrees with you. “I got good advice I can sell you for two dollars. You don’t get that for one.”

Curious and flush with coins less valuable than a quarter, I propose, “I’ll give you another dollar for your two-dollar advice. You can keep the first one I gave you.”

“I intend to.”

“Here you go,” you say in good faith and pour a fountain of bronze and nickel into the man’s open palm.

He tells you nothing.

Irked, you insist, “Well?”

“The advice is two dollars.”

“I gave you two.”

“A dollar bill,” he claims. “And that doesn’t count. That was for asking the first question. Thanks for giving me the idea.”

You think about charging him for your consultancy, but at this point, you anticipate a court battle.

“Give me my money back,” you resort to say.

“It’s not yours,” he tells you. “You gave it to me. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

Frustrated, you throw up your arms and walk away. Your back is turned but before you think you have vanished from everyone’s sight, the guy yells to you, “There’s your lesson.”

You go home angry.

As graced as you find yourself to be at home, today was another outside you became less charitable. And there is what you learned, what you paid for fairly. Your bitterness is not more than buyer’s remorse.

 

— Matthew Sawyer –

 

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Do Fruit Take Pleasure In Being Eaten

July 30, 2014

Sunday, my new neighbors were having sex while kids on skateboards and roller skates rode outside on the public side their bedroom window. The sidewalk makes a loop around the apartment complex so the children made multiple passes. Here is where a clever or indecent allusion should go, but won’t. This post is about mundane reality. And psychiatric hearsay might claim there alone is the reason for my neighbor’s untamed hedonism. That is according to my knowledge, carnal and otherwise.

I don’t know if the anxious couple next door could hear the noise outside, not above the moans she made. The children didn’t notice or care. I’m sure it was something they’ve heard before anywhere around this neighborhood. An old woman who walks by everyday for sake of exercise heard. I know she ignored them. Yet I was distracted. I try to write, so when I see one of those two, I think I will let him or her know, “I heard you stub your toe.”

“Why would you say anything?” readers are expected to ask, that is the writing convention. If America is truly a Christian nation, 85% of the literate population is intended to have stopped reading. I don’t need an argument for these good folks. The transgression is understood.

Only an Evangelical would insist I show these sinners a picture. But, hey, maybe they can’t take a subtle hint…

Inferno

 

 

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A Good Look At Him

July 14, 2014

I am aware readers are frustrated Pazuzu is not flying about terrifying people throughout the Pazuzu Trilogy. That’s not what the story is about. The trilogy follows the fiend from person to person until it settles on a body to possess. That comes halfway through Emergence. Readers who would rather visualize the demon in its monstrous shape would probably prefer Gaunt Rainbow, an addendum to the Pazuzu Trilogy.

It’s also about Identities, Yeah, the root of the Pazuzu tale is Pazuzu who assumes the shape of a boy and calls himself Davey, but there is is also Ben and the dead priest with the same name, There is Robber, who Ben was supposed to be before a visit to the center of the universe erased his mind. There is the anonymous Pontiff, the rotating priests. Readers jump around, sure, but these are all aspects of the demon, ripples of its manifestation. Emergence is when Pazuzu Emerges. And he is undone, forced to abey and reveal his true image.

 

 

 

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My Paul. His Name Was Saul. Mine Is Ernie.

July 5, 2014

A WIKI article written long after the destruction of Khetam…

Ernest W. Bartman

Ernest W. Bartman (born 7 March 1559, died 1614) was a late, self-proclaimed Mortui philosopher. Bartman forsook a Church assignment during the doomed 16th century Pagan Resurrection movement in the southwestern quarter of the Shur desert. Prior damnation, he was already censored and he promoted blasphemy against the Church, forging over 37 books, including seminary doctrines and printed educational material made available to UnChosen migrants. He evaded detainment by the military and was sentenced in abstentia for heresies promoting heathen mythology. Bartman incited criticism of Church doctrines, dominance of the Chosen tribes and the development of early Chosen foundations.

Education

Bartman grew up Chosen in Sodom when the extinct oasis existed in the Southwest, and attended a satellite military school for seminary induction and civil indoctrination, where he first questioned the existence of the Mortal God and the heathen Living God himself. During his 3-year residence, he obtained contraband stone tablets and made claims to have deciphered the original pagan language. The Church threatened him with excommunication when his clandestine research was uncovered and revoked his privilege into the Promised Land. Bartman then vanished into the Shur wilderness in 1591. His writing emerged in Chosen oases in 1593. Heathen leaders exploited UnChosen doubts caused by overwhelming distribution of the meritless revelations and promoted their errant messiah. These heathens claim Bartman found the Living God in 1599, sought out the single nomadic tribe and appeared to the chieftain, Mordant Frathe, so that he could hear prophecies concerning the arrival of a physical god in mortal flesh.

Career

Bartman was born into the Dan family of the Chosen Tribe. His writing consciously illustrate the privilege the Chosen caste savor over the UnChosen. Despite patrimony he enjoyed as a teenager, he questioned the curse upon the UnChosen tribes. He sought why the perpetual migrants would not execute the heathen Living God when the trespasser first manifested in the Shur. The question occupied him throughout prerequisite seminary preparation for the Church. He became convinced the contradictions and discrepancies in the Chosen doctrines lacked harmony. There was no reconciliation between the edicts of every Pontiff. Nevertheless, he remained Chosen until his excommunication and later identified himself a Pagan philosopher after documenting his encounters with “insubstantial monsters”.

Bartman was first enlisted for seminary induction and civil indoctrination in 1588 after four years of vocational education in military textiles. He missed an undocumented number of induction and indoctrination classes while he continued his occupational training and remained uncertified for either career. His writing assert he was a vagrant fisherman in 1593.

Bartman continued to produce forgeries and original blasphemous letters until his death in 1614. After his initial mailings, he never again wrote how he sustained himself. The Church and military maintain he abetted heathen terrorists.

Heathen leaders openly boasted Bartman made undocumented visits to their camps and confessed to arrogance, waste and indolence inherit to the children of Chosen tribes. Historic heathen commanders including Gregor Lane, Ennis Dinouza, Linklous, Even Gregg, Walter Daniels, Billiam Trent Peters and Weiss Jones each claim he provided pagan prophecies to the enemy and he went unmolested throughout the Shur Desert.

In 4003 and 4015, Bartman’s writing was discovered in the ashes of ruined Khetam. Heathens have since quelled an uncommon UnChosen renaissance and destroyed the pagan-inspired propaganda. Half the encampment became raised to the ground and its surviving population forced to eat the slain.

The Church and military assert nothing survives of Bartman except statistic documentation.

Works

Bartman wrote extensively upon popular issues with Church, over 52 original epistles including a single, unplagarized commentary on the origin of separation between castes and seven direct revelations from “alien powers outside the Shur”. All his works have been discounted by the Church and heathens alike. Copies of his writing have reportedly been discovered etched in stone. These, too, are destroyed.

And after twenty-five centuries, scholars say they hear about his prophecies and philosophy by word-of-mouth. Even among the elite clergy of the Chosen Church, sources say to have “heard about Bartman when [they] were growing up”. Everyone agrees, he had written what is known. Bartman repeated the Creator does not dwell with His creation. There are no gods in the Shur and mankind is the eminent authority.

Bartman is believed to have then disgraced the Church and wrote heathens believe there is no hope if there is not a Living God. He accused the Church and wrote the Chosen cannot control the elements with prayer. Indulgences purchased by both Chosen and UnChosen people only enrich a corrupt oligarchy.

He signed his name to the letter and declared there was never a Mortal or a Living God. He said there is something more and it is something we all know. “That which we have forgotten”. It is hidden and he alone had seen the reality.

Bartman argued a demon came to the Shur in the flesh of Immanuel (sic Joshua). And that Immanuel spoke truthfully when he expected no god will come to the Shur again. Bartman amended the prophesy and foretold no “good God” will visit the “Waste”.

The letters received after his death and testified to have originally been written by Bartman return to the topic of division between Chosen and UnChosen castes. Anyone alive today know sloveness is the greatest sin. The Church and heathens agree on the matter. The meek demeanor of the UnChosen is written to have doomed them to an existence of servitude. And before his death, Bartman wrote he agreed with the facts doctors and scientists have presented all through time. The UnChosen undoing is in their genes.

Death

The sheared truth of the conclusion is no one knows when and how Bartman died. The vanished pagans are rumored to have believed the bodies of their prophets dissolved to dust after three days and their immaterial souls ascended or descended into another life. Bartman himself gave no credence to this ignorant idea or most of their foolish beliefs.

The Chosen military had submitted a bleak, unsigned prognosis to the Church. This evidence is archived in Chosen-occupied fortresses across the northern quarters of the Shur. The document states Ernest Bartman was certainly dead. Heathens traditionally disembowel trespassers alive and leave their victims to perish in the desert. Captain Johno Kris wrote in the report, “It is reasonable to think, if Bartman found any heathen camp, they fed his guts to their pet lions. The passed his corpse around the desert so it could be said to make absurd confessions.”

 

 – – Matthew Sawyer –

 

“Aren’t you a little curious about my horrible world? Don’t be scared, read my Pazuzu Trilogy…”

Manifestation – the first book in the Pazuzu Trilogy. This book is all background. Sure, there are elements to hook readers into the story, but wait for more of Robber in the second book.

Emergence  – the second book in the Pazuzu Trilogy. Chapter 10 is the climax of the original half of the trilogy. Here’s the story folks, when what has manifested now emerges.

Abeyance – Armegeddon! All die when even greater evil comes into the world.

Gaunt Rainbow – severing the cosmic web, that undead umbilical chord forever leeching life from all existence. A cursed girl can do that.

Lazarus The Pig – a documented supernatural event told to children in a mandatory Sunday school class.

The Plagiarized Forgery Of The Chosen Gospel – not much seperates the world of the Shur from reality – the book of Mark as written in a godless world overrun with evil.

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It’s Not a Revision

January 15, 2014

January 2014 has come and so have my latest self-published book editions. They’re not revisions, for the most part. Sure. I corrected instances of missing dialog punctuation but these fixes do not truly set the 2014 editions apart from those of the previous year. There are exceptions, but these are so minor that I let the refreshed publication date record their histories.

Take a look at my printed books at Lulu or my identical ebooks at Smashwords.

A big exception is Pazuzu – Manifestation, the first book in my Pazuzu Trilogy. I made clear alterations to its ‘Prelude’ and the first leg of chapter one, ‘The Wilderness’. And here they are…

 

Prelude

Rage makes the swollen hands of this ranked priest tremble. Captain Ioannu is the victim of extortion, that or lacking amphetamine makes him angry. He tugs a collarless white shirt and finally removes his heavy black uniform jacket. The UnChosen caste calls his choice drug ‘Ape’ – the street name for a new junk that typically changes users into anxious, howling gorillas.

Such base consequence could never happen to a priest, a born member of the upper echelon of the Chosen caste and an officer in the Church. The associated pomp and dignity granted the position guards against that uncivil lunacy. No, the unquiet phases of the chemically grown monkey would not drive Josiah Ioannu into madness. The Church had promoted this middle-aged priest to captain because his genetically endowed discipline gives him immaculate willpower. After all, Captain Josiah Ioannu had been born a Chosen. Even without a rank, birthright grants him authority over his Mortal God.

Nonetheless, his responsibilities crush Ioannu under stones. “The Church presses too much work on mid-grade priests. They drive me to use the damned drug.”

The wretched soul rationalizes, “I’m old.”

He also confesses to himself, “The problem with Ape isn’t the drug, but rather not having any. Nothing at all.”

Sobriety-sharpened nails press into his chest and head. Beneath his tormented rut, the priest tells himself, “Being clean banishes the blessing of knowing exactly what to do in any situation… and making sense of other people. Nobody listens to me when I don’t have Ape, they just babble and interrupt me when I talk.”

Sobriety truthfully compromises the man’s ability to control his god – the Mortal God and all those forsaken UnChosen dwelling inside his squalid quarter next the Wall.

Materially, he deals with an unprecedented crime inside the walled city of Khetam. Very recently, there on the sands of the Chosen’s Promised Land, Reverend Elmer had been murdered. The man was a subordinate priest Ioannu had assigned the parish custodianship of Saint Erasmus. He thinks aloud, “A sympathizer killed him.”

The Wall separating Khetam from the world of the Shur foremost protects the city from the ravages of heathen terrorists. “No full-blown heathen can get into this city,” Captain Ioannu mumbles. He righteously believes no one passes through the Wall without the approval of the Church or its military. He tells everyone, “The Chosen exercise exclusive entrance into Khetam.”

All UnChosen once permitted behind the Wall now live in desolate parishes like Saint Erasmus. Ioannu thinks, “A suitable batch of hovels for those spineless degenerates.” Still, the caste and status of the murdered victim raises the severity of the crime to an act of terrorism. The Church and its military’s censors had debated if news of the crime should be made public, but the single body never made a decision.

One thing Ioannu was certain – the presence of pagan tablets on the altar inside Saint Erasmus will never be reported to the public. The Church had immediately confiscated and destroyed the sacrilegious objects. Whatever the dead Reverend Elmer had once planned with them is better undiscovered. The blasphemous controversy goes with him into death. Withal, the late Reverend Elmer brought the awful fate upon himself.

In the midst of Ioannu’s coping with his withdrawal from Ape – that and the murder of a priest too curious about an archaic and forbidden religion – the phone in his office rings. The man on the other end of the telephone line calls him, “Sir.”

Reverend Benedict Gage calls, again. The Aper is a non-commissioned bastard from the city of Gomorrah. Captain Ioannu had just hung-up on the irreverent extortionist.

“Why do you keep calling here?” Ioannu shouts into the phone inside his dark and private office at the Church. He tells the caller “Stop calling me.”

“Captain – Ioannu.” Reverend Gage stutters with the aggravated squall of an addict. “I know you don’t know me from Adam, but you have something I want.”

“A demotion?” threatens Ioannu. “How, in the name of the Mortal God, can you even dare speak to me with such lack of respect?”

The two priests share an addiction to Ape, with a difference. Ape helps Reverend Gage lose respect for his superior officers, sending him out-of-the-way to a place like Gomorrah. The drug gives the non-commissioned priest arrogant hopes and ambitions – whereas Ioannu had already gladly achieved his own pinnacle.

Uncovering his hand, Gage says, “Listen, I know you’re related to Judah Ismael, the crime-lord in this city.”

Hopefully, despite the truth, this blackmailer didn’t know how complicated the relationship between Captain Ioannu and Judah Ismael had become. The captain is the crime-lord’s connection with the Church. Although, in-law Judah’s patience had grown thin with Josiah, resulting in Ape becoming difficult to find in Khetam and impossible to obtain. Like Ioannu, many of the priest’s brethren in the Church had stopped coming to their offices at headquarters. Those nervous wretches who report this morning are useless and hide in the dark behind locked doors.

“That is a sad coincidence,” Ioannu claims. He speaks of his relationship to the UnChosen crime-lord.

“I know you keep the military away from Gomorrah,” Gage states. “And I know Ismael is your Ape connection.”

“I know you are a dead man, Gage,” Ioannu shouts over the phone. “How dare you call me with your crazy accusations.”

“Listen.” Gage shouts back. “Military patrols will come to this city, whether you like it or not. Ilu Yehowah is here in Shur’s northwest. Colonel Onesiphorus himself is coming here.”

Colonel Onesiphorus’s trip to Gomorrah presents a bigger problem, one Ioannu should have anticipated – he knows the colonel sweeps through the region annually. Captain Ioannu reports to the colonel, as would Gage when the bishop arrives at Gomorrah. Gage, the tattling Aper, may tell their superior officer anything.

Ioannu capitulates. “What do you want?”

“An assignment away from Gomorrah and heathens,” Gage barters. “This city will fall to terrorists next, Yehowah is here.”

“Let me think,” Ioannu replies immediately. The solution comes to him with a staggered breath.

The situation seemed to work itself out – a custodian position has recently opened at Saint Erasmus and a priest materializes who will shut his mouth if he’s invited into Khetam. Josiah does not think when he offers the position to Gage, though this wretched extortionist may again one day twist Josiah’s neck. Nevertheless, the treacherous possibility fails to occur to him and does not stop Josiah from asking Gage a more crucial question. “Will you bring Ape into Khetam?”

“No, of course not,” Gage denies with a strained snort.

“Please, there’s none here. You won’t find Ape behind the Wall.”

Gage thinks he cannot trust Captain Ioannu with the truth. To his treacherous ear, his supervisor’s plea sounds like a trap. “No,” he squeaks.

“That’s unfortunate,” answers Ioannu before hanging up. Josiah had looked forward toward another batch of Ape for himself.

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The Wilderness

This morning, the colors of the sky possess weight. At the faraway horizon, where a wide, blue bruise is caught between dark and light, the hues are luminous gases – layers of yellow, orange and pink pressed together by the nothingness of the previous night. The rising sun pushes warm colors upward, burning them away, and bleeds sore purple from the sky. A stumbling, shirtless man then falls into the morning.

He knows where he is, but the bare wraith cannot remember who he might be. Beneath caked dust, he appears overall red and covered with angry pustules. His torso resembles an antique table dusted by careless strokes. With each of his heavy steps, the dirt encrusted upon his chest and back drops off in flakes.

His own shoulders bear upon him with a foreign weight he wants to throw off. The extra fleshy padding around his waist only adds to his burden. The gain had crept upon the smoldering man with stealth, over years of denial and through moments of complacent acceptance. Growing fat once seemed a natural process of age. The extra weight had introduced itself as a hobo trespassing the rails, a sneaky hanger-on who refused to be shaken off. Overweight as he is, he feels he is Chosen.

The tired posture and swollen, blistered gut of the man make him a forlorn caricature. His arms swing with the weight of pendulums knocked from their paths. And this broiled devil lumbers across a desolate, alien world – the only living thing exiled and cast into Hell. Desperate thirst comes without warning.

He feels his insides bake and he imagines his already bulging belly will bloat until the skin bursts and all his juices bubble out. The very last of his fluids will evaporate even before dripping to the ground. Such is not the death the empty man desires. He will not die sizzling in his own fluids. Instead, he prefers drying-up. He wants to disintegrate, to become part of the dust – blood red dust.

A clear, familiar voice speaks into his left ear and sounds like his own. “You have certainly wandered enough.”

The disconnected specter speaks with finer clarity than the stumbler – absent of the muffled hesitation he struggles to overcome in ordinary conversation. This voice sounds rehearsed and confident, far from his own verbal fumbling. His voice, like a nasally monologue recorded on an answering machine, seems an amputation, separate from any concept he believes about himself; whatever that could be now.

The better voice resonates as if echoing inside an empty room. Just as abrupt, it vanishes and a second of stillness fills the void. Leaded footfalls on packed dirt and a muffled ring in the man’s head dispels the silence; much like listening to a radio station when an announcer misses his or her timing – until a burst of sound jolts the dead air. Yet the voice is not scratched with static heard on radios. Nothing disturbs its dismembered words. The voice and the man’s plod across the dry waste remain exclusive and opposite each other.

The wandering man does not bother looking around, because the sporadic company of the invisible voice is his only companion. It had joined him earlier that day, or mayhap the day before. Time passes as fleetingly as the voice. This moment, the sun has traveled only a quarter of its path across the sky when the waste becomes miserably hot and bright.

The suspended days and endless expanse of dirt disorient him. There is no, and there was never relief. The previous night had been sweltering, and the man had stumbled through the darkness, unsure when one day ended and another began. Yet he must walk and find his way or die.

From the road, the desert had never appeared so large. He would have easily spotted scant landmarks if he rode in a car or truck. Regardless, the man thinks he can recover his bearings. His sense of direction had always been amazing, or so he believed.

Though he could not recall why he found himself in the middle of nowhere, he suspects he had a destination when the dangerous trek began. The ‘when’ is now long ago, hidden beneath hours and unending dunes of sand. If he had brought any water, it was now gone. He did not know what supplies he had packed for this journey, and he now lacks a pack and even a shirt. All he apparently owns are a pair of scuffed laced boots and crusted khaki pants with empty pockets.

“Hey, wouldn’t a tall glass of cool water be great?”

The voice, barely noticeable beneath hot winds, teases like some subtle siren – hidden within whirlpools transformed into sand dunes. The thought of a gulp of water lights in the mind of the stumbling man, but he deliberately quashes it; none is to be found here and he will not torture himself. Entertaining pleasant fantasies seems more conducive to his survival.

The wanderer dreams he finds that siren and she takes the poor, baked fiend to her dune. They lay down and her bare skin is cool, like the ocean in which she was born. Her eyes, green as kelp, compete for admiration against lips that flirt and glisten with the sheen of pearls. Rescued and transformed, he tires of the colorless desert and travels back to her sea. He will never be thirsty again, and never care and recall how or why he discovered himself alone in the desert. Finding the bliss of love and the sea are the answers, and she is the reason for his journey.

Dehydration had afflicted him long time ago and stumbling on his feet was currently just a pretense; he was already lost and dead. Heat exhaustion was near, but still, the voice calls. It names him.

“Benedict.” This time the voice shuts out every thought. “Ben.”

Ben jerks leftward with such violence, he twists completely around, a marionette thrown into a clumsy pirouette by an amateur puppeteer. The momentum pulls him off his feet and he falls forward as if his strings are cut. His shoulders remain hunched while he lies face down in the sand.

With a huff and small cloud of dust, Ben flips himself over and sees the orange cauldron of the sun over his toes. He had stopped sweating, which is not a good sign, but he lacks any will to worry. His name will be forgotten, if ever really known. He recalls it now, because the voice had reminded him. His name is Ben.

Ben closes his eyes and pictures rippling waves drift upward from his body. He feels stuck to the ground, a part of it. This land might also be called Ben and he is merely a piece of desert, like the dust stirred by his steps. The particles will eventually settle back down and rejoin the suffering man; misplaced specks relocated from one part of the desert to another, but still part of the whole.

His breath becomes the hot breeze and he exhales a gust that singes the inside of his gaping mouth. When Ben opens his eyes, the sun hangs directly overhead as a white whirlpool in a smooth blue ocean. A mighty hand had polished away the waves and ripples; “Not God’s hand.” The Mortal God was gone. The voice told him, although the man already suspected.

“Ben, you’re wasting the day, dreaming.”

****

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