Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Father of All Torment by John Edward Lawson

When the world leaked from your eyes the violence of your tongue capsized, taking down five thousand lost souls with it. What were you thinking? Trying to carry the dead with you when you left…it’s unconscionable. Oh, enough about that. What can I do to help, you ask? I can keep my mouth shut, for one--something you would have been wise to do yourself. After all, the Paterfamilias of Dread would have a great interest in any word on your whereabouts. You know how it is, with all those phantoms of animals reanimated and skulking about. One truly cannot be too careful these days. Even the masturbated ghosts of babies never to be born are enough to give one pause; the vengeful bastards of monofornication would do anything to drag others down to their level of misery.
    Thought the afterlife would be some kind of party, did you? Don’t answer that, don’t say a word. Ah well, you psychics, you all think you’re just so smart, eh? Honestly. It sounds like a good scam when you are still drawing breath, but did you once consider the ramifications of your actions? Do you think this kind of overcrowding makes for a pleasant eternity, or for pleasant inhabitants? The thousand-year wait to get into the afterlife should have been your first clue, you dilletante.
    The supper electronic, the feast of neurons and protons, that spectacle will have to wait for another decade. Everything will be there. What you and I need, for the time being, is a good shadow to slither in. No, no, it’s true…I’m not doing this for nothing. You see, I happened to be there. I witnessed it when you began to leak. The sight was a thing of ragged beauty, the type that one rarely finds here. Possession of your memories friend--mind those babies!--possession of your memories is where my interests lay. Yes, the little bastards run thick as desire, I’ve already explained that you can’t be too careful. Mind your step. Always remember to keep clear of these sick generations of animals and babies as they are not what they appear to be.
    Where do they watch from? Nowhere, of course! Do I have to explain everything to you?! I thought you were the knowledgeable psychic in life. How you ever managed to convince thousands of people to invest in you to smuggle their souls--ah, we’ve no time for this. Keep moving, will you?
    “Will you stop bossing me around?”
    Oh. Oh, well, now you have done it, haven’t you? You’ve opened your mouth and given them something to track. Yes, look: here they come now, at least a hundred-thousand strong, the wastrels and lepers and insane infants, the opium-induced nightmare beasts and monochrome tigers. It’s a good job you know how to escape the tidal wave of pursuers cascading down into this valley of flavorless desolation. Oh, of course I’ve time to be flowery now that I’m not being “bossy” anymore. So, you’re ready finally to listen to me? Good. Let us away through this alley, yes, now down this tunnel, which I built especially for this circumstance. What’s that? One of them got at you?
    Look! Look now. Your needs are bleeding all over the place! The squirrels and the hounds will be onto us soon enough, friend. I’m afraid that you’re on your own from here on out. Perhaps it was fate that we separate here, perhaps it was fate that the burden of five-thousand souls overcome you just at the crucial moment, just at the gates of Heaven. And you thought your ability to communicate with the dead was a blessing in life? Ha! I’ll just take my payment now, thank you very much.
    I will concede, I didn’t keep you from being caught forever, but you couldn’t be na├»ve enough to think you could escape punishment for all eternity. Not that it matters now. At the very least you will be truly in the dark as to the nature of your guilt, and of those who assisted you, after I relieve you of your prior thoughts and memories…I would tell you to give Father my regards if I thought you’d remember. Oh, don’t look like that. Perhaps, in a few thousand years I’ll slip in and rescue you from your torments if things have cooled off by then.
    It’s been a pleasure.

John Edward Lawson has published nine books, seven chapbooks, and over five hundred works in anthologies, magazines, and literary journals worldwide. He is a winner of the Fiction International Emerging Writers Competition, and has been a finalist for the Stoker Award and Wonderland Award. Other nominations include the Dwarf Stars Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Rhysling Award. As a freelance editor he worked for Raw Dog Screaming Press, Double Dragon Publishing, and National Lampoon, has edited seven anthologies, and served as editor-in-chief for The Dream People. Recently he became a columnist at IMJ, covering events in the publishing industry.

"The Father of All Torment" originally published in Three Pieces Guaranteed to Rot in Your Drawers
Copyright John Edward Lawson


K. Ceres Wright said...

Excellent writing! Love your style. I don't always understand it...but I love it!

Anonymous said...

Love this, John! What scares me is that I completely understand it. Keep writing! You are so talented.