The bible makes no mention of a 'purgatory'. The word doesn't even exist in the Scriptures. There's no mention of a place where one goes to prepare for heaven. So how about a place where one goes to prepare for hell. Midian is just such a place.
Harris' breathing became ever more heavy and deliberate. He thrashed around in his bed as he attempted to sound the bell to raise the alarm. But this time he was not going to be so lucky. He was simply too tired, and his will-to-live was fading fast. Maybe death wouldn't be that bad. His best friend would be waiting for him, would he not. A calm came over Harris. It was not that he wanted to die or had nothing to live for. On the contrary, he reckoned the last couple of years had been the best of his life. And maybe that was the reason he now had the attitude he currently did. All good things come to an end, he now told himself. He loved life, but no longer feared death.
'Quick, call the doctor,' the voice wailed. 'Let me check he has a pulse.' Harris was no longer outwardly conscious, but he felt a palm grab his neck and fingers search for a pulse. The fingers searched for what seemed like minutes, before the voice solemnly announced, 'We've lost him.'
Medical staff arrived at Harris' bedside and quickly confirmed what the first medic had said. Harris had flatlined, his heart was no longer beating. Harris was pronounced dead at 20.39 on Monday 5 April. He had left instructions that no attempt should be made to revive him if he fell into a coma, and certainly no attempt should be made were he at death's door. Goodbye Harris, you are no longer a part of this world, the world of the living.
It had been a busy couple of years for The Messenger of Death, what with the huge storms in London which had killed over 200 people at once, the 2nd tsunami to hit Japan, and the various plagues and viruses which had killed over half a million people worldwide, he had been kinda busy. The thing that surprised Tendai (The Messenger of Death) the most was the sudden increase in the occupants of the kingdom of hell. Yes, it's always been the case that no one wants to go to hell (at least not when they find out what it's really like), but destination is not something someone has much of a choice on once they've 'popped their clogs', or died in the normal parlance.
All the same, Tendai had been busy. But because of the increased workload, Tendai had a request to make of God (aka Fowler).
'Good morning, God's office, can I help you?'
'Yeah, it's me.'
'Eh, who is me?' replied the receptionist.
'Do we have to go through this ritual everytime I call you? It's me, Tendai, geez like, do I have...'
'Excuse me,' interrupted the receptionist, 'but you are not the only hoodie who calls here saying 'It's me'.'
'I'd like to book an appointment to talk with Fowler, please.'
'Let me just check his roster,' replied the receptionist.
The receptionist confirmed a time and date with Tendai, the Messenger of Death, then immediately hung up. Tendai had a spring in his step, thanks to the big fight on tonight. After a lot of haggling, the promotors of the two fighters had agreed to fight in 'Mortal' mode, meaning the fight would follow the same rules and regulations as on earth. A fighter could theoretically be 'killed' in the battle (however, death in heaven is a topic best left for another story).
Monday came around pretty quick, and before one knew it, it was the agreed time for Tendai to meet with Fowler. Below are the highlights of their conversation:-
'So how can I help you?' Fowler.
'Basically,' began Tendai, 'it's my increasing workload. I am having to prepare an ever increasing number of people for hell. More than anything, it's proving draining on me.'
'So you want more help?' Fowler.
'Not so much in terms of manpower, but rather in terms of the system in place. The structure.'
'What do you mean?' asked Fowler.
'Those who are hellbound, who are now making up the majority of the dead, need to go to someplace to prepare them for an eternity of damnation, rather than that task being carried out by me and me alone.'
Fowler spent a couple of minutes pondering what he'd just heard, in silence as he always demanded, and then, 'We'll send those who are going to hell to a place where they'll prepare for the following eternity. Is that all?'
'What shall we call this place?' asked Tendai.
After a few seconds of thought, Fowler replied, 'Why, Midian of course. If there are no further questions, goodbye.'
Fowler didn't wait for a response, and straight after he'd made his decision, he vacated the room.
Harris had no next-of-kin to talk of (unless you include a brother on a Grand Theft Auto rap, with 5 years left on a jail term, assuming he was on good behaviour). His father had died a month or so after Harris' brother had been incarcerated, and his elder sister had long since disowned the family, having nothing more to do with them. Harris' funeral was all set to be a very, very, quiet affair. A bit of a loner, Harris had not been in a relationship now for just over a year. In other words, there was no chance of some 'surprise' mum suddenly showing up at Harris' funeral with some 'surprise' kids of Harris.
Harris had never really been the religious type, considering himself an agnostic. So he was genuinely surprised in death to find himself in front of a bunch of angels holding what looked like books, or indeed some sophisticated tablet computers. The angels continued to laugh and joke among themselves, paying him no mind as he sat patiently awaiting to be called. Then all of a sudden, one of the angels turned and faced Harris directly. His demeanour changed instantly and he suddenly became very serious.
'We have a live one here.' He called to his other angels. 'Someone needs judging.'
An inexplicable fear gripped Harris with a searing grip. He felt exactly as he did when he was still alive on earth, in fact, he felt a little better. The dead have no hearts, but Harris felt a beating in his chest concomittant with his fear. The beating vibrations got faster and stronger, and Harris began to stop play acting that everything was OK. He suddenly heard what could only be the cries of others who were also about to be judged. The mixture of the various cries was incisively noxious.
Two bodies went flying across towards the angels. They had been wrestling with some beasts who had put heavy marks (scrathes) on their hands. As soon as they had managed to get the marks on the hands, the beasts moved on, forgetting about their previous victims.
The two, un-tattooed bodies approached the angels. There was palpable fear on each of them. 'Come,' screamed a young Tendai lookalike. 'Come and let us seal your eternal fate.'
The two bodies approached the other angels, who were sombre in attitude, slowly and with real fear and trepidation. It was as if they'd been through this ritual before, but this was to be their first and last time at judgement.
'Show us your right hand,' said the first angel. He was shown, and the response of the angel was to point to the pit. This routine was repeated for the second body.
Fowler had given the command for a preparatory place for hell to be born, the rest was up to his underlings. They had agreed on the fundamental issues at stake. The directive had come from Fowler that the place was to be called Midian. Its location was to remain a secret until that wretched day, Judgement Day. But the point to note was that, just like hell, the place itself was alive. Unlike hell, at the moment the place was empty. Empty, that is, of human souls. Not really empty in terms of anything else. In fact, the first thing some angels decided to do was to fill the place up. Fill the place up with creatures. But these were no ordinary creatures. Describing these creatures to residents of earth, like you, is not easy.
The first thing is, these creatures are filthy. Filthy on the outside and on the inside. On the outside, they stank. This was no ordinary stink. You know, like some burst sewage pipe, or the smell of 100 sweaty bodies packed into some stale aired room fit for half that number, for a few hours. No, this was more like a chemical stink. A single whiff of one of these creatures has your insides turning as you fight to keep down the vomit coming up your throat. A second whiff and all of breakfast is coming out. You're gonna lose it and even have vomit flowing out of your nostrils. And then they are filthy on the inside. They consume their own excrement a number of times before considering it, excrement.
Midian was filled with these creatures, aka gnulliths. But that was not all. Being alive, Midian had to breathe. And the way it breathed was not ordinary. It breathed in good air, fair enough. Then after churning this air into bad air, it further inhaled this bad air into the chambers where the bodies were. It was so bad that the bodies could not breathe it. But what to do? Once inside one of these chambers, one had to attempt to breathe. And it was this attempt at breathing that was just one source of total agony in Midian.
Midian was not built or designed, it was grown. The point to note and reiterate was that Midian was alive. If one got lost inside Midian, Midian would do everything in its vast power to keep you lost. Midian derived pleasure from its occupants' suffering.
Tendai was on hand as Midian was being grown. It had been suggested to him by another of the angels that Midian should not be as bad as hell. Hell would not be hell if its preparatory stage was as bad, or worse, than hell itself. So the heat in Midian was way down compared to hell, but not much else was better off in Midian.
The two bodies looked at each other, before looking at the pit. They both didn't like what they saw. The severe, eternal agony of its occupants was mind-numbing, was bone crushing. Almost simultaneously, they let out a poignant shriek, a high pitched cry, before a third angel came and intervened. 'Hold up, hold up,' she began. 'Enough with the noise. Just because we haven't slept for over 400 years doesn't mean that we don't want to.' The crying and screaming immediately ceased. 'You're not being sent to that pit. At least not now anyway.' She let these words hang in the air for sometime, allowing the bodies to come to terms with their new fate.
'So we're free to go,' cried one.
'Heaven here I come,' yelled the other.
'I wouldn't get as optimistic as that,' declared the third angel. She continued, 'We're simply sending you to another pit. Over there...' she said, pointing towards the gnullith of Midian.
Angelina arrived at the bedside of Harris, and was unreasonably calm for a sister so close to have lost her big brother. Admittedly, Angelina was still in shock, but having died in hospital, no one could claim that Harris' death was totally unexpected. A few other mourners had already arrived at Harris' bedside and they offerred to leave the room. However, Angelina saw no reason for them to do so, and she told them so. She was widely seen as the closest person to Harris, and maybe it was for this reason that she decided to do her best to act mature.
A number of people came and comforted Angelina, as if she was a grieving widow. But she didn't mind. She had other things on her mind. Harris looked very peaceful in death. 'Surely he must be in a better place now,' Angelina comforted herself by thinking. She is and was of this world. She could not see that the angels had dragged Harris' body off to be one of the guinea pigs for the new sphere of Midian.
According to Catholics, 'pergatory is a place of suffering and anguish to which souls go to in order to cleanse themselves before proceeding to heaven. Midian is a place that souls go to in order to prepare themselves for hell. It doesn't have layers, everyone who enters is at the same level. There is real suffering, pain, and hunger in Midian. This is in order to get the soul ready for the eternity they are about to face. Unlike hell, this is not a form of punishment. A bit like an athlete goes through a set of rituals before proceeding to the race, souls prepare for hell by being placed in Midian. One startling difference with purgatory is that its exit is the inverse of pergatory, that is, the soul is granted one, and only one, final wish in order to satisfy themselves before leaving this world. For obvious reasons, no matter what one is granted, the wish expires after one 'earth day'. Without that precondition it would be too easy for one to wish their fate away.
Harris was beginning to feel the heat, literally. But it is important to note that the heat in Midian is totally different to the heat in hell. The heat in Midian was more earthly. It was simply like a very intense burning feeling. You know, like you get when you slowly extinguish a match in your hand. It was perhaps a thousand times hotter, but you get the idea. It can be described in earthly terms and it can be imagined in earthly terms. The heat in hell is different. All one can do here is to attempt to give you a sense of the heat, for it cannot be fully explained in earthly terms. Firstly, the heat is all consuming. The heat in hell is both inside and outside the body. The helplesness is the first one one notices when they land in hell. You instantly know that there is nothing one can do to reduce the heat. No matter which way one tries to move, the heat doesn't get any better. The noxious smell is enough to knock any sane man out, but the all-surrounding heat keeps one awake. The heat just will not reduce or go away. If anything it could be slowly getting hotter.
Harris landed in the pit upside-down, and the first thing to hit him was the heat. He let out a scream, but immediately realised how futile this was against the din of the combined cries of Midian's occupants. He was easily able to turn his body to face upwards, but nothing could relieve the agony of the heat. The realisation that one was going to have to bear this heat eternally was enough to send any man mad. Harris lay still for an earthly two hours, before twisting slightly to his left side. And then he saw it. The gnullith creature. But this one had shrunk tremendously and was no larger than a small lizard. It saw Harris' exhausted features and started moving towards him. Closer it got, until Harris could now smell its breath. Smelling a creature's breath in this place was simply exchanging one pungent odour for another.
The gnullith stopped momentarily, before continuing on its journey towards Harris. It stopped again at Harris' mouth, before opening it wider and beginning to enter it. Total panic gripped Harris, but what could he do. The heat meant that he did not have the energy/power to fight back and prevent the gnullith's intrusion. Slowly it entered Harris' maw. Harris could feel the creature entering him. His reaction was to let out a further scream, but the gnullith muffled it. It was moving ever so slowly, but more and more of it was entering Harris' mouth. If he was here on earth he would have choked to death already. But he was in Midian. One could not die again. He felt the choking sensation, the obnoxious breathe of the gnullith against his own foul breath. Then as if this was not enough of a burden, there was the constant heat.
The gnullith reached the back of Harris' mouth before taking its first break. It stopped moving and just waited. Half of its body was now in Harris' mouth. The task was now how was it going to get the other half in this fully stuffed mouth. This was not going to be an easy task, neither was it going to be impossible. Nothing was impossible in Midian.
The gnullith marched on. Down the larynx it went. Down Harris' throat. Harris himself was fully conscious. But he was in agony. Real agony. One of the first thing one learns when they enter Midian is that they lose control over everything. You are the subject of everything that involves you. In other words, you are on the receiving end of everything. Then there was the unbearable heat. But Harris was bearing it.
As the gnullith continued to march itself down Harris' larynx, the music started. That is, if that continuous chime could pass for music. The sound was horrible. The echoes of the music vibrated throughout Harris' body. Harris could feel all of his bones vibrating. The pain sensation was literally bone-shattering. And yet the music got louder. There was no singing to this music (thank Satan) but the volume and sound was numbing. Please could the music end. Everything would be OK once the music stopped.
Where was the music coming from? Harris could tell that other creatures had entered the room. A lot of gnulliths had entered, but there were also some vipers (female Midian spiders), gouls, Orcs, and mosquitos. There were over 50 of these extra creatures, but a handful of them made up what could only constitute a choir. In their grasp were hideous looking instruments, and the sound/noise/whatever you want to call it that came from them was beyond words. It was frightening, deafening, sickening. It was also continuous. The sound just came at you. There was no rhythm or beat. It was just a horrifying noise. And all the while it just kept getting louder. This noise hadn't been there 5 minutes ago, and now it seemed as if it had always been there and would never go away.
The gnullith had brought all of its body inside the body of Harris. Most of its tail was still in Harris' mouth, but the creature at least felt comfortable. It began to gnaw at Harris' inside. It enjoyed being down here in Midian as there was never any resistance and it could do whatever it pleased. There was no end to the food supply (Harris was just one of many) and as a result it was always eating. As long as it avoided the Orcs, it had no predators down here. It had grown to like the dark. Down here it was pitch black. Since the gnullith had more prey than predators, this was sort of convenient. Some of his fellow brothers and sisters had made the choir and were responsible for that chime that one could not miss. One day the gnullith hoped to be made a member of this choir. The total panic and fear as the choir approached another victim was a sight to behold. In other words, it was lovely.
Harris felt that the loop which led him from agony and pain to the point of blanking out and losing a form of consciousness, was getting smaller. His mind just would not, or could not, turn off. Not even for 5 milliseconds. The loop was simply continuous. At first the pain and real agony just seemed to get worse. The enveloping heat got more and more suffocating. Harris felt himself beginning to lose consciousness. But losing consciousness did not mean that the pain was erased or felt less. To the contrary, as Harris felt himself losing consciousness, the pain was the only sensation left that he could feel. Right at the limit, just as he was about to really lose consciousness, it started all over again. His mind was renewed and the pain and agony began again. This was the loop.
What was this place? What was this Midian, Harris began asking himself. The concept of time is something we pretty much take for granted up here on earth. But not so in this spiritual wasteland of Midian. Harris had no way of telling how long he'd been down here. In fact, he had just died, and he knew this, but he felt that he had been down here for an eternity. But the real horror came with the feeling that there was no way out. The heat, pain, and agony got no better no matter how one managed to position their body. It was the total helplessness that was driving Harris to the edge of sanity.
'You are in Midian,' replied the wall.
Harris turned his head left and right, trying to discover if he was alone in this dungeon.
'Sorry,' replied Harris.
'You asked what is this place,' continued the wall, 'you have died, as I'm sure you know, and come to Midian.'
Harris managed to compose himself for a few seconds. So this place had walls that could read one's thoughts, and speak too. Mind you, it really wasn't talking as much as beaming its words directly into Harris' brain.
'Midian, what is Midian? I've never heard of this place,' thought Harris.
'Not many people have heard of this place,' replied the wall. 'We are now only beginning to insert this concept into popular culture. This place is the gateway to the kingdom of hell. Ha Ha.'
'You're not joking are you?' replied Harris in thought.
'This is deadly serious,' replied the wall. 'You will never ascend from this place. You will leave this place only once, and that is on your march to hell.'
So it was true. Hell really did exist. But that was not what he'd been taught. Hell was a biblical concept. And his school teacher had debunked the theory of the veracity of The Bible. For some strange reason, despite all the agony that Harris was currently going through, he had a strong desire to warn other earthlings of the suffering he was enduring. He did not presume that this would help him, but he had the overwhelming feeling that he had to warn others of this monstrosity of a place. He didn't want his loved ones to join him here. All of a sudden Harris became selfless.
'Who do you want to communicate with?' the wall asked.
Harris let out another futile scream. 'My sister,' he thought. 'Please let me talk to my sister. I don't want her to end up here.'
'We can attempt to talk with her if you like,' replied the wall. 'But everything you want to say to her goes through us. We get to vet everything you want to say to her. If you want to say something to her that we do not allow you to say, you say nothing. That is, you don't communicate those thoughts.'
'Oh, it's a deal,' replied Harris.
The funeral went well, if it's alright to say that a funeral went well. Rose Lee had just buried her brother Harris, but she was feeling remarkably calm. She had always been considered the closest person to 'that batchelor Harris'. People always expressed surprise that the two of them got on so well when they were sort of like a 'chalk and cheese' pairing. She was Miss Prim and Proper - always on time, never had a bad word to say about anyone, forever clean and tidy. He, on the other hand, was a nasty piece of work. He'd been in and out of jail (though his last stint on the inside had been some 5 years earlier as he attempted to straighten his ways), he stank to high hell as a result of the fact that he rarely bathed, his only saving grace being that he was impossibly polite, to everyone, even his enemies.
But the brother-and-sister team loved one another. Maybe it was because the two of them never tried to influence each other, seemingly accepting each other as they were. But from the outside, no one could understand how the two of them got on so well. The fact that they were brother and sister only made the intrigue worse. After all, they had two other brothers and a sister, but nobody else in this strange household got on quite like Harris and Rose Lee. So everyone held their breath when Harris' lifestyle finally caught up with him and he died before his time. Everyone was worried about the effect Harris' death would have on Rose Lee.
Harris was by now twisted back on himself. 'You say this place is a preparation for hell,' Harris thought. 'So you mean to tell me that this place is not actually hell itself.'
'Now that's a good question,' began the wall. 'The agony you are feeling now seems unbearable, doesn't it. The truth is, you are right to say that this is not hell itself. The first thing to remember is that hell is eternal. This place is not eternal. At the end of your visit here you will be granted one wish. You can ask for anything, and it will be granted to you. However, no matter what you ask for, your wish comes to an end at the end of 24 earth hours. After that period, you will make your way to that place you've all heard of, the kingdom of hell. So, apart from the eternity aspect, there really isn't that much difference between this place and hell. Any questions?'
'Please, please, reduce the heat. Plus, I can't even talk. I can't do anything. This creature inside me is eating out my insides. Why am I suffering like this? Was I that bad a person? Can I not...'
'Enough!' screamed the wall. 'Enough of your whining. Did you have any mercy on that girl you assaulted 15 years ago? I don't think so coz you never asked for forgiveness. You knew your uncle was going to preside over the case, and as expected, you walked. No remorse. And then there's the jewellery heist that landed you in jail. Again, no remorse for the young security guard who was permanently disabled during the robbery. As far as you were concerned, it was worth it coz the police never found your stash, which you blew on wine and women as soon as you were released.'
'Please, help me, I just can't take anymore,' thought Harris.
'Enough,' cried the wall.
Rose Lee made her way to her bedroom and climbed into the double bed alone. Her husband Monroe had decided to take the kids on a week's vacation so as to help Rose Lee have some time alone during the grieving process. Rose Lee had given Monroe the perfunctory 'thank you' message when he had told her that he was taking the kids to Disneyworld again (he had taken them there six months ago when the twins had come home with some amazing results at school). She turned off the light and found herself staring at the ceiling in the dark. She was alone, though she didn't feel it, and she then allowed the emotions to overcome her in waves. The tears came flooding out. She opened her eyes in order to rub them and let out some more tears when she looked at the lamp. It was on. Rose Lee told herself that she had just turned the light off. She must have made a mistake. She couldn't have turned off the light, coz she sure was not the one who had just turned it back on again. She needed more sleep, that was the only thing that she could conclude.
She turned off the light and lay on her side in a sleeping position. She closed her eyes and began to doze off. She was not sure how long she'd dozed off but when she awoke again, there it was, the light was on again. Rose Lee jumped out of bed. Her heart started racing. She had made a mental note before nodding off that she had turned off the light. Now she knew for a fact that she had not been the one to turn it back on again. What was going on? She was alone in her room, was she not. 'Hello,' she murmured. 'Hello.' Silence was all that greeted her. Rose Lee sat on the edge of her bed, not sure what to think. Was this the result of the past few days of grief? Was she indeed losing her mind?
After about 5 minutes her heart rate had returned to normal, and Rose Lee felt somewhat better. She took a sip of water from the cup that she kept beside her bed. She told herself that she would deal with this issue in the morning. Right now, she just needed a good night's sleep. She stretched out her hand to turn off the lamp when it turned itself off.
The physical pain and agony of this place was easing a little, but not the heat. It just seemed to continuously get worse. Get hotter. 'When do I have to tell you of my final desire?' Harris wondered in his thoughts.
'Good question, I was coming to that next,' replied the wall. 'The choice really is all yours. All you have to do is tell me when you're ready to have your desire granted. Just bear in mind that after 24 earth hours, your wish comes to an end and you finally enter hell. Understood?'
The agony was unbearable for Harris. Despite the gnullith in his throat he managed to let out a cry, but somehow managed to nod his head so as to inform the wall that he understood the terms of the deal.
Midian was bad. But the wall had basically said that the only difference between this place and hell was the permanance of hell. It's dark and hell is hot. It began to make no difference to Harris when to enact his final demand. Not when he knew that at the end of his wish was permanent hell. Hell is from here to eternity. The pain. The heat. This was no ordinary heat. This was no ordinary burning. For one thing, the burning left no scars or marks. It was a spiritual burning as much as it was a physical one. 'I need to warn Rose Lee about this place. As much as I don't think she's destined to come here, I will feel better if I warn her of this ungodly existance,' Harris thought to the wall.
Rose Lee screamed with all the force of her lungs. She was in the dark now, but the room was not totally black as the next door neighbour's light seeped through the curtains. What was going on. She did not have to give much thought to the realisation that all of this madness had only begun with the passing of her beloved brother Harris. So what was the connection? Fear flashed through her as she wondered if this was the heaven's way of preparing her for her very imminent death. But she was able to almost immediately snap-out-of-it when she thought to herself that the best way to cope with this was to reject the idea of this whole thing being spiritual. She realised that for the forseeable future she would continue to breate deep and hard. At least with little effort she'd managed to gather a few folk whose aim was to get Rose Lee back to normal as quickly as possible. But they'd start coming round tomorrow.
Rose Lee certainly could not explain it if anyone cared to listen, but suddenly she didn't feel she was alone in her room. This was more than the feeling she often got that she was being watched when she got out of the shower. This was more like the feeling one got when someone suddenly vacated a room stating that they would be 'back in a minute'. But she also knew that whatever was in the room with her now was foreign. It was not human. It was a force of some kind. She reached out to turn the lamp on, and this time there was no inexplicable 'light turning on' issue. She turned on the light and simply lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. She didn't feel as if she was losing her mind, but she did feel scared. She turned on the radio and heard a woman acting as an 'agony aunt' to her guests.
After a few minutes of listening to emotion-starved women appealing to sex-starved males, she decided to go into the kitchen and fix herself a snack. Today was going to prove itself a good, warm day that was out to disprove superstician. She put the kettle on but was startled to find that the water in the kettle was at boiling point. Rose Lee reminded herself that she was alone at home. 'Who is it?' she screamed out loud. Silence was all that greeted her. 'I know you're out there. Show yourselves. Harris. Harris, is that you?'
Again, silence was all that greeted Rose Lee. She fixed her coffee and returned to her room. She was as surprised as anyone to find herself crying. These tears came to her automatically, with virtually no effort from her at all. She knew she wasn't going mad, but was afraid that something terrible was beginning to take place. She looked at her phone. There were 5 Unread Messages that had come through since she last studied it. She decided against reading the messages at the moment. With all that was going on around her, she guessed that one or two of those messages would freak her out. She dried her eyes and climbed into bed. The room was dark enough to allow sleep to take over her.
The hand on her shoulder roughly shook Rose Lee from side-to-side in order to wake her. 'Wake up, wake up,' shouted the male voice. Rose Lee quickly came to and was released from the grip of the hand.
'I'm awake, I'm awake,' acknowledged Rose Lee. As she came to her senses she realised that she could not be alone. 'Who is it?' she demanded. 'Where are you?' She turned on the light to find she was greeted by an empty room. Rose Lee let out a short, sharp scream. Her heart was racing, but surprisingly she felt remarkably calm. Maybe this was the result of just too much having gone on in her life since the death of her beloved brother. In next to no time her heart rate was back down to normal, and she actually grew in confidence. She let out a little chuckle. She wasn't sure if she was doing it so as to frighten her intruders, or to convince herself that she was OK. The lamp turned itself off. Rose Lee turned it right back on again, for the time being not being worried about the fact that there were forces in her room. Dark forces. 'Come on, come on. You're going to have to do better than that if you want to really scare me,' she said.
Her radio turned itself on and the station was in the middle of a gossip magazine show. The DJ was talking to a caller. 'Well, thank you for that insight,' concluded the DJ. 'Maybe we really are all the same after all. Anyway, it's come to that time of the night when I must call someone.'
Once again, fear grabbed a hold of Rose Lee with both hands. The voice on the radio, the voice of the DJ was that of Harris. What was going on? She turned towards the radio so as to turn it off when her cell phone began bleeping. Rose Lee picked it up and saw that the caller had withheld their number. 'Hello,' she answered.
'Hi Rose Lee, it's me. Have you missed me?' replied Harris.
Rose Lee did all that she could so as to prevent herself from letting out a horrendous cry. But she could not prevent herself from collapsing onto the floor. She still held her phone to her ear, as tight as ever. 'Harris, Harris dear, is that you?'
'It is,' replied Harris. 'But don't be afraid for yourself. I'm just sorry that we've scared you like this. How are you to begin with?'
It was one of those moments when Rose Lee seriously did not know whether to laugh or cry. There was just so much she wanted to say to Harris. But he was dead. He was dead, right? For a second she was tempted to just cut the phone and throw it as far away as possible. But then, 'Harris, is that really you on the phone?'
'Yes, it's me. You didn't tell me how you are.'
'Harris, you're dead. I was one of many at your funeral who buried you. What's going on? Are you going to say that that was not you in the coffin, that you staged your death?'
'No, it's not as simple as that. I am dead. I'm speaking to you from, what shall we say, from beyond the grave, so to speak.'
This time Rose Lee did let out a scream. Not that loud and not that long, but a scream all the same. In the process she dropped her phone. But she picked it up again. 'Why, why are you doing this to me? Why, what did I do to you? What's going on. Help me, please, God, help me...'
'Stop it. Rose Lee, my darling sister, please stop it. I didn't come to scare you. Believe it or not, I'm actually trying to help you, though you probably don't need my help,' interrupted the voice of Harris. I need to talk to you for a second. Is that OK?'
'Go on,'continued a more calm Rose Lee.
There was a dark, demonic thudding sound on the other side of the line, then, 'Rose Lee. Oh no, he's coming. He's coming. Listen, I've got to go. I'll come back to you as soon as I get a chance. Please, please, don't tell anyone of this encounter. Bye bye.'
With that, Harris cut the phone and was gone. Rose Lee really was alone again. She had time to collect her thoughts, and was a little surprised, again, with the speed at which she became calm and returned to normal. Harris had definitely said that he was dead. What did that mean? She had been talking to him and he'd spoken back over the phone? Could he not have waited, she half-heartedly asked herself. She'd only just begun the mourning process and already he'd come at her from the dead. She had had so many questions she'd wanted to ask him. But these questions were about when he was alive (wait a minute, was he not still alive?). Now she wondered if she was going to meet up with him. What did he look like? Probably like something from the TV series 'The Walking Dead'.
She turned off her phone and climbed into bed. The feeling of a presence in the room had quickly dissipated, and she was left feeling totally calm. But why had Harris had to cut the phone as soon as he did. She reminded herself of the panic that had suddenly gripped Harris when he'd said that 'he' was coming. There had been a real horrific sound in the background of wherever Harris had been. Was Harris OK? Had he been running from someone? No need to reach out to him, he'd said. Harris would find Rose Lee wherever she was and pay her an uninvited visit. Rose Lee was tempted to allow Harris back into her thoughts as if he was still alive for her. He was dead, he was dead, did she need to remind herself? But that sound in the background of Harris' phone left a chill down her spine. She was happy that at least now he sounded fine. But where was he? Was this all normal?
A few days passed by without the slightest hint of anything out-of-the-ordinary. Rose Lee continued to mourn for her beloved brother, but all along she'd kinda known that a relatively early death was always on the cards for hellraiser Harris. Rose Lee climbed out of bed and decided to fix herself something to eat. This was going to be a very late lunch, it being arond 3.30 She simply fixed himself a bowl of porridge. She'd decided against having Today's Special for lunch, and instead decided to go for the healthy option.
After her bowl of porridge Rose Lee decided to allow herself a further 20 minutes in bed so as to kill off the final traces of tiredness that still ran through her veins. Then a thought grabbed a hold of Rose Lee. Why didn't she get in touch with Harris? Why didn't she cross over, so to speak? It was true that she'd never done anything like this before. She also knew that the process was fraught with danger. A couple of her high school friends who'd tried to get in touch with the late Head Boy a few months ago looked as if they'd never get out of the secure wing of the mental hospital that they were in. Rose Lee guessed that a mental hospital awaited her if things went wrong with this sort of 'contact attempt'.
Rose Lee knew instantly that she did not have what it takes to attempt a visitation. She began to return to her old state of mind. The dead should be left alone and occupy themselves with whatever occupied them up until now. She couldn't deny that it was tempting, but she was a God-fearing woman and she was not about to jeapordize herself now when her and her family had lived in the relative safety of the Christian household. It was the weekend. It was 4 o'clock.
Harris had to confess to both himself and the wall that there had been a temporary relief in his anguish and agony. It was still agonisingly hot, but not burning. The salty feeling in his eyes had all but disappeared. Now there was just silence. The silence was then interrupted by the wall. 'Welcome back Harris, that was the first stage of your first visitation. How did it feel?'
Harris decided to collect his thoughts before thinking out loud. He'd made contact with his beloved sister. He could not tell how long it had been since he'd died and entered this place Midian, but he knew that he missed Rose Lee like crazy. It was fair to say that she really was the only person he missed. He missed many activities (especially the many hours he would spend at the casino) but as far as people went, he only missed his sister. 'It felt fine,' thought Harris. 'But I've got to finish talking to her. I didn't get the chance to warn her of this, this place.'
'Patience, patience,' said the wall quietly. 'You're not in a place that has time constraints. We need a little quid pro quo. You know, I'll rub your back if you rub mine. My job is basically to grant you your final wish. Everything else is just auxiliary to that. I didn't get a chance when you died to run you through the highlights of your life. Now would be as good a time as any. Would you like me to do so now?'
'No need,' replied Harris. 'You've already told me that I'm destined for hell, so what is there for me to benefit in a trip down memory lane. If there was still a possibility for me to change my fate, then I'd be the first to ask for such a journey. But because of what you told me, you can stick your trip up your ....'
'Alright, alright,' replied the wall. 'No need to get your knickers in a twist. So I gather you want to continue with the visitation to your sister?'
'Yes, that's right,' replied Harris. 'How do I continue talking to her?'
'This is not a problem and can easily be arranged,' said the wall.
Rose Lee decided to go out for a walk. Alone, or at least without any other person. She'd just take Heifer, her German shephard. On her way out she remembered that she'd left her phone charging. Should she or should she not take it? She decided to take it. Not because she was hoping for another visitation from her brother Harris (she was actually hoping for this) but the office might call. Plus she might decide to get in touch with her hubby Monroe.
Into the park Rose Lee and Heifer strode. She had John Legend on her mp3 player. Although she had told herself that it would not happen this time, the walk turned into a jog turned into a run. After 45 minutes or so she was done. She was panting, and Heifer was panting a little too. As she was striding up the driveway back home something told her to turn around. She did, but saw nothing, except for the post box. She quizzed herself as to what had made her turn around, but could not figure it out. 'Ah well,' she thought to herself. 'May as well clear the mail in the post box.
She went back to the post box and emptied it out. As she was again striding up the driveway she went through the post that was in her left hand. A couple of marketing letters from various firms (including one offering to sell her house for cash). Then there was a brown envelope that made her heart stop. It was simply addressed 'Rose Lee' with no other physical address on it. No stamp either, so did this mean that this letter, in a brown envelope, had been hand delivered here. She decided against opening it here in the driveway, but instead would read its contents once she was safely inside her room.
Rose Lee was inside her room in no time. She closed the door behind her and stared at the letter before spilling out its one page contents. The first sick thing that Rose Lee noted about the letter was that it was written in red. Not written in blood, but in red ink. It was short and said only the following:-
'Hi Rose Lee, it's me your long lost brother. Please call me anytime tomorrow on 07725181386. Love Harris'.
Fear and panic gripped Rose Lee like it had never done before in her life. Over the past few days she'd done everything to hold things together. To keep her mind in place. But this felt now that she was close to the edge. The edge of sanity. She resolved to stay calm for at least another day. She told herself that she would not lose it. But what was going on? But she straight away knew that she was going to call the number. And this was not to get any kinda resolution to the issue. No, she just wanted to talk. She wanted to talk to her brother Harris. Her dead brother Harris.
Rose Lee woke in the middle of the night, not really sleeping well. She'd been a few months now without taking any sleep medication, and she wanted to keep up her record so she didn't take any. In the middle of the night, Rose Lee began questioning her own sanity. Was she losing it, was she going mad? The visitations, the presence she was beginning to feel in her room? Maybe she shouldn't call the number on that letter but instead she should perhaps turn herself in. Get help. But what help could a mental institution give? They would just drug her and would not answer the hundreds of questions she had for her brother, Her dead brother.
It was midmorning of the following day and Rose Lee was alone. She'd eaten and done all her chores. She was having trouble now coming up with an excuse as to why she should not call the number on the piece of paper in her hand. She resigned herself to the fact that she was definitely going to call the number at some point this morning. The only question was what was she going to say. She decided that she could not answer this question without striking up an initial conversation with 'the other side'.
She picked up her phone, took a deeo breath, and then dialled the number. After a couple of marketing econet messages, the phone started to ring on the other side, After a few seconds:-
'Hello, can I help you?'
The first thing that Rose Lee noted was that it was a female voice on the other end of the line, A voice she did not recognise. 'Ah, yes, hello. I was phoning to soeak to Harris,' Rose Lee replied. There was a long silence. Rose Lee began to feel real foolish. Was she really calling her dead brother. She was just about to slam down the phone and forget this whole sorry episode when, 'Oh Harris. Yes, may I know who's calling please.'
'This is his sister Rose Lee. And may I know who I'm speaking to.'
'This is his embalmer,' said the male voice sternly. Then there was a hideous laugh. A deep, gutteral laugh. From a female voice to a male one immediately. Rose Lee felt her heart pounding, but she remained on the line. It had taken all the courage she could muster to make this call, this was not enough to make her throw up her hands and quit. The laughing became quieter before it finally subsided, Then the female voice said, 'Hold on a second.'
There was a bit of a silence, and then. 'Hi, Rose Lee, my darling sister, how are you doing?'
'What is going on? Is this really Harris? You sound like him but I want to know what's going on,' replied Rose Lee.
'Rose Lee, Rose Lee, hang in there. It's me. It's really me. Harris. I gotta apologise but I'm in a strange place, A strange world. And I'm surrounded by strange people. You gotta hang in there, I know this doesn't sound normal.'
'Normal, normal,' cried out Rose Lee. 'You're damn right this doesn't sound normal. You're my brother. You're supposed to be Harris. Harris, I buried you. You're dead, remember, dead. And yet strange shit is going on this side and I'm calling you. Calling a dead person on the telephone. Maybe it's me with the problem. Maybe I should commit to myself. I don't know what's happening to me. I don't know if I should...'
'Stop worrying about you and start worrying about me for a while will you,' interrupted Harris. 'I do apologise but right now this is about me. I'm in real trouble and I'm trying to do good before I, before I...'
'Before what?' asked Rose Lee. Then there was static noise on the line. Then a vibrating sound. Then all of a sudden a shrill scream came over the line. The scream was piercing, but it did not sound like the voice of Harris. An almighty crashing sound followed before the line went completely dead. 'Hello. Hello is anyone there?' tried Rose Lee, but there was no response.
The wall was silent for a while. 'So I've kept up my end of the deal,' it boomed, 'but you have not.'
The heat was constant but the agony and pain was beginning to return to Harris. 'No, wait, please, wait,' Harris began. 'I tried to warn Rose Lee of this place, but the line cut. You're supposed to help me. AAaaaaargh, what's going on. I can't take much more of this place.'
'Your problems with Rose Lee are not really my problem,' replied the wall. 'What concerns me more is our deal. You are supposed to find me another recruit for this hell hole and I'm supposed to keep Rose Lee from ever coming here. I'm keeping up my end of the bargain. I showed you that Rose Lee was scheduled to die tomorrow from a snake bite, but because of the nice person that I am, that's no longer going to happen. But you are running out of time, if you don't get me a new recruit pretty soon, well, let's just say all Midian is gonna break loose.'
Slowly but surely the agony began returning to Harris. Bucket loads of sweat were pouring off of him, yet his physical weight remained the same. The heat was now coming in waves. But Harris was convinced that this was being done more to ensure that Harris did not become accustomed to the heat. This was being done to remind him constantly of the heat. He'd figured out a way to broadcast some of his thoughts to the wall, whilst he'd taught himself how to keep other thoughts to himself. He knew that the wall had raised a valid point. They had made an agreement, and now was time for Harris to deliver. For Harris to deliver a sacrifice. Harris' thoughts were no longer clear, but he knew he had to offer up someone for the wall. For all he knew, maybe someone had offered Harris to the wall in exchange for something.
Harris' mind began racing. But it didn't have to race for that long. He had what one could only consider as a 'lifelong enemy'. Hubert had bugged him all the time he'd known him. And even though they were sworn enemies now, Harris was not sure if this was not because of Harris' attitude towards Hubert. In other words, Harris was all too aware that Hubert had never really shown hatred towards Harris, but he only ever seemed to respond to the actions of Harris. Harris had it in his head that Hubert was a no good son-of-a-bitch. They'd met at secondary school, and initially they hit it off very well. They were good buddies who always seemed to move together. But then, six weeks into their friendship, they'd had a fist fight. Everybody, even their teachers, thought this was nothing more than a juvenile scrap that always happened between mates at that age. Nobody knew what had caused the fight and Harris and Hubert never, ever spoke to each other again. Not a decade later. Not two decades later. Never. They both left school with good grades, but everyone knew of their hatred for one another, Harris knew that it was he who always provoked a reaction out of Hubert, and never the other way around. It seemed as if Harris was constantly expecting some sort of apology from Hubert, but if so, this apology was not forthcoming.
So Harris was continuing this feud from beyond the grave. Harris did not have to think long and hard over the issue: he was going to offer up Hubert. 'OK OK, I've had time to think of someone,' broadcast Harris. 'What would you have me do?'
'Good, very good,' announced the wall. 'And I take it that this person knows you? This is the only condition I have.'
'Oh, for sure, this person knows me,' replied Harris.
'Very well,' continued the wall, 'so it's agreed. I will arrange for you to visit this individual and lay a trap for them. You will have an earthly 45 minutes to ensure that you kill them. I just ask that they die alone. Think of it as not wanting to have any witnesses, even though earthly figures cannot see us. May I ask, who is the individual in question?'
'Oh, of course you can ask. His name is Hubert. Let's just say he was an old high school acquaintance.'
The wall vacated Harris' presence for the time being. The burning sensation and the agony subsided quite considerably for Harris. He felt, almost, comfortable. 'What had he just done?' he began questioning himself. He asked himself if he had not taken his personal feud with Hubert a little too far. After all, he had seen the sad look that had overcome Hubert when he'd heard of Harris' death. Was Hubert really that bad that he deserved this eternal punishment?
It had been a long and hard week, and Hubert decided to reward himself with a quick pass through the local pub. What better way to relax than with a colleague over a pool table on a Friday night. After all, it was payday. When was the last time he'd been at the pub on a Friday payday having a game of pool with Jack, or with Todd for that matter. He knew that on a day like today they'd be in there. To be honest, they didn't really need an excuse to be in the pub. They'd be there on any given day. Hubert turned his battered, old Peugeot into the car park, parked his car, then made his way to O'Hagan's. It was a nice day. It was warm still, and the sun looked beautiful as it began to set, For the time being, life couldn't get much better than this.
'Jack, how did I know I'd find you in here?' maliciously asked Hubert.
'Oh, you just got lucky,' replied Jack. 'How you doin'?'
'Lucky. Yeah, that's right, I got lucky finding you in a pub on a Friday night. Just like I got lucky the last 5 Fridays I looked for you in here on a weeknight after work.'
'Glad you see it my way,' replied Jack. 'Some people would have thought that this was more than a coincidence. I'll have a Castle lager, thanks.'
'What the heck,' butted in Hubert. 'Your glass is almost full and you expect me to buy you another drink.'
'Ah,' replied Jack. 'Is the glass half empty of half full? Let us discuss the merits of this argument over a couple of cold beers.'
Hubert didn't have the energy to argue with Jack. He was actually pleasantly surprised to find that Todd was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he'd taken the family to Kariba Dam after all. He resigned himself to buying Jack a drink, but resolved that he would ensure that Jack got the next round (which would be a first for Jack in about 5 weeks).
Hubert placed his order at the bar, handed over the money, and then asked the bartender to hold the drinks until he returned from the toilet. For a busy Friday night Hubert was very surprised that he was alone in the Gents. 'Oh well, I'm alone to get on with some of nature's simple pleasures,' Hubert thought to himself. This he did before meticulously washing his hands. Hubert noted the black crow sitting on the window sill. He made his way for the exit and noticed that the door was stuck. Tried as he could, Hubert could not budge the door. It was as if the door was locked from the outside. 'Hello,' he shouted. Then he banged the door a little. No response from outside, from where Hubert could hear the loud thudding of music that was coming from the DJ. Hubert banged the door ever louder, before bellowing at the top of his voice, 'Hello, hello, can you open the door please. I'm stuck in here.'
There was no reply. After a few minutes of this, Hubert began to panic. There was clearly a crowd of people right outside the Gents door, but why was no one responding. Maybe he'd have to let himself out of the window, Hubert thought to himself. He turned around, to find the crow on the inside of the window. In other words, there was nothing between the crow and himself. This put Hubert in a worse state than before. What was the crow doing on the inside of the window? How had it crossed through the burglar bars without so much as making a sound? Then the crow turned its head a little and looked Hubert direct in the eye. 'Hi, Hubert,' it said, with the voice of the Late Harris. 'How have you been?'
Hubert quickly turned round to face the locked door once more, and started banging on it for dear life, 'Open, open this door,' he yelled. 'Hurry, please, open this door at once.' He didn't turn round, but knew that this crow was the cause of all his current problems. He could feel something chipping away at his heels. He looked down and saw the crow there. 'AAAaaahh, ah, stop it, please Mr Crow man, stop it,' he began. Through his shoes, the crow began biting at Hubert's heels. Blood began spurting out of Hubert's feet. 'Help me,' screamed Hubert at the top of his lungs. But despite him attempting to yell, no sound was coming from his throat. He felt like he was suffocating. 'Who are you? What are you?' asked Hubert, but despite the fact that the words wouldn't come out of his throat, he knew the crow could hear him, understand him.
'It's me,' said the crow. 'You mean you don't remember me,' it continued, between biting chunks out of Hubert's heels.
'It's you, it's Harris, I know your voice. But you're dead. What's going on?'
'I'm dead am I. Well, come and join me here. I wanna see you. See your spirit.'
The crow stopped biting at Hubert's heels. There was quite a lot of blood on the Gents floor. Hubert felt some relief, some respite, but it was not to last. The crow looked straight up at him, then flew straight up into his face. His beak dug itself into Hubert's throat. It started biting away. It tore at Hubert's larynx. His voice box was gone in a short period of time. Although he had not been making any audible sound for a few minutes, when the medics found his body, this would be the explanation. There was blood everywhere. Blood began to fill the Gents. Hubert collapsed to his knees. He was writhing around in pure pain. Again he tried to scream, but there was no sound. The crow just chirped away at his throat, like it was enjoying a surprise meal. Hubert didn't take long to die. The whole ordeal was over in less than 20 minutes. Hubert was dead.
Rose Lee stopped questioning her sanity. She knew she was not going mad. There had been no change in her mental state. As part of her ethic, she had always kept her body and mind in good shape, in good condition. Her mystic beliefs told her that this was an effective way to guard the soul. She was pretty careful with her diet, exercised on average 6 times a week, and always did pretty well in the daily crossword puzzles in the newspapers. She knew that whatever was going on in her life was real. It was probably the work of her Late brother Harris, but she was not imagining it. But she knew that on paper, this all sounded absolutely crazy. This is why she resolved not to tell anyone about her experiences, at least not yet.
Although tempted, Rose Lee also resolved not to involve a spiritualist in her affairs. Yes, she would continue to try and communicate with her dead brother Harris, but only by conventional channels, only by means that she believed he was directing her to use. She looked down at her cell phone. No new messages. There had been no incoming calls to her the entire day. Surely there was no network. She would wait a while to see if her brother attempted to get in touch with her again. If not, she herself would become more proactive.
'Are you happy now?' Harris asked the wall by thought.
'Not bad, not bad. You've done good. I'm used to snakes and lions being used to kill people, but never crows, And I still don't know how you spoke through it. Maybe one day you'll tell me how you did it,' replied the wall.
Harris went silent for a while. They both were silent. Then: 'Hubert will be here soon. But you needn't worry. You'll be in a different sphere. I'm gonna move you.'
'But,' interjected Harris, 'why is he being punished immediately and being brought to this place. His lifestyle was not that bad, was it?'
'No, not really. It wasn't,' replied the wall. 'I think it's about time you learnt a little bit about me, and in so doing you might get to learn a little more about this place Midian that you are in.'
'Go on,' replied Harris.
'Well, the first thing you should know about me is that I'm all powerful. At least before the final judgement. Before that final judgement I can do as I please with you souls. Whatever I choose, without impunity. And I've decided I want another soul, but I want you to bear the consequences of that soul being brought to this place,' said the wall. He went silent for effect, 'Do you not have anything to say?'
'But, it's just that I thought that the afterlife was a place of justice.'
'Oh but it is,' continued the wall. 'Did you not hear what I said, up until final judgement. I guess what I'm trying to say is, what makes you think this is the afterlife. Justice is indeed served in the afterlife. But the afterlife is the life after judgement.'
'Oh,' said Harris. A sudden jolt of agony swept through Harris, reminding him of where he was. But then it subsided.
'Here comes Hubert now,' continued the wall. 'Time for me to move you.' Straight away there was a flash, and then Harris found himself alone. No wall. He didn't feel as though he'd moved though.
Rose Lee had waited long enough for her brother, her dead brother Harris, to get in touch with her. But still nothing. She'd kept herself busy during the day, but she was beginning to feel guilty about the fact that she was avoiding her husband. She felt that she was blocking him out of the most important part of her life. Anyway, for now she was alone again. She picked up her phone and began dialling the number. It rang for what seemed like an eternity (if she had been dialling an ordinary number it would have cut by now). Then the phone was answered. She was almost relieved to hear Harris' voice on the other end. 'Hello my dear sister,' he began.
But hearing his voice scared her again. She almost slammed the phone down, but she managed to compose herself. 'Hi, Harris, we need to talk.'
'That we need to do,' he replied. 'Let me go first, please. I've done something. I've done something awful. I'm responsible for someone else being here.'
'You can't blame yourself for everything that's going on around you. But first of all, where indeed are you? I'm talking to you Harris, I'm talking to a dead person aren't I?'
'Yeah, I died,' he replied. 'I guess you could say I'm in the world of the dead. Thing is, I'm still learning about this place I'm in. I'm communicating with you coz I don't want you to ever come here. I can take almost anyone else ending up here, but not you. Not after all you've done for me. This place is a prelude to hell. I'm going to hell Rose Lee. But no one can be surprised with that statement given the life I led.
Rose Lee began to sob. Then her sob turned into a rush of tears followed by a full-on cry. Tears and all. Harris remained silent. He didn't like to hear his sister like this. She would be the only one who cried for him. But he had to go on. 'Rose Lee, dry your eyes. You're a lovely person. You have a lovely family and I am so happy about that. No one I know deserves this more than you. Yes I'm dead. Dead in the human sense of things. But I gotta warn you about this place. I don't believe you're destined for this place. But don't change. Please, don't change.
In between sobs and tears, Rose Lee managed to utter: 'But, no, but, I wanna see you. I wanna help you.'
There was static on the line, then it went dead.
Hubert was writhing around in absolute agony. Just before he'd died he'd recognised the voice of the crow. It was the voice of his old nemesis, his old foe Harris. But he'd heard that Harris was dead. He had thought that that was the end of him. Obviously not. Where was this place? The first thing he noted was the heat. The heat of this place was all consuming. It was all around. He'd never experienced such heat in his life before. Surely the heat would subside in a moment. But this place was also dark. Physically dark that is.
Why had he heard Harris' voice? Where was he? Then all of a sudden it dawned on him. The crow in the Gents seemed like it had happened a thousand years ago. He was dead. What other conclusion could he come up with. This place was lonely. He was just so alone. What had he done to deserve to end up in this place. Yes, he knew that he was dead. No, this place was no heaven.
'Hello, I trust you are comfortable,' boomed the wall. 'May I introduce myself?'
'Where am I?' Hubert thought to himself. 'Who is that? Where is Harris?'
'Oh, so many questions,' replied the wall. 'All will be revealed.'
'Wait, I didn't speak. How did you...'
'This is how we communicate,' interrupted the wall. 'Just think a sentence and I can hear it. So, are you comfortable?'
The heat was beginning to subside a little. Or was it just that Hubert was beginning to get used to his predicament. He was suddenly too weary to continue his conversation with the wall for now. He just could not stop thinking of Harris. He knew that that bastard was the reason he was here. That bastard was the reason he'd died. After all, it was his voice in the crow wasn't it. He had learnt to hate Harris, but this time Harris had gone a stage too far.
Hubert was told about Midian. He was told how it was really a prep stage for hell. It wasn't hell itself, but it may as well be. Yes, the heat of the place was excessive. But it was the kind of heat that was the thing. It was both inside and outside of the self. It was everywhere and everything. There was no escaping it. Hubert was told how the only significant difference between this place Midian and hell was the finality of hell. The time was coming soon when there was a temporary reprieve from Midian. The subject was granted one final wish away from Midian before they were cast into the eternal fire of torment. It soon became obvious to Hubert that this indeed was another form of torture.
Then Hubert was told of the condition under which this game was played. He had to offer up someone from the living to join him in this agony. It dawned on Hubert that it must have been Harris who offered Hubert up. But why, he asked himself. Did Harris hate him that much. If the tables had been turned he knows he would never have thought of offering up Harris for this final torture. He knew of many folk who succeeded in pissing him off to the max, and it was one of them to whom he would give the privilege of journeying to hell, forever. The heat began to intensify. Hubert didn't like this place.
Rose Lee went cold. It was all too much for her to take in. The death of her beloved brother, now this communication with him. Again she began to ask herself if she should get medical help. How could she be so sure that she was not having a breakdown caused by it all. After all, when you're dead you're dead. Right? She needed to keep busy. Occupy herself. Occupy her mind. She jumped into her VW GTI and headed straight for the bookshop. She was not interested even slightly in sport. So she headed straight for the 'Sports and Games' section. What sport interested her the least? She thought for a second. Badmington maybe. She had seen her husband Monroe watching Motor Racing recently on television, and that had sent her straight to sleep. She found the Motor Racing section and then delved into it. She picked up the first book she could find and started reading:-
'Nico Hulkenberg, Force India VJM07, Bahrain 19.02.2014 'A very positive and satisfying day. We had a busy programme and we learned a lot,' said Nico after day one in Bahrain. And no wonder he was happy, he'd completed 79 laps in his Mercedes-powered VJM07, 428km in total and ended the day at the top of the time sheets. Promising indeed...'
Rose Lee resolved that she would keep herself busy from now on. No matter what. No matter how bored she was destined to become. After only a few short sentences she was hooked on Formula 1 Motor Racing. But she would not end here. Her brother had said something about being in a hellish place. A place that she was not destined to go to. She also resolved not to make any more contact with her brother. Her dead brother. Her phone started to vibrate. Someone was trying to call her. She looked at her phone and immediately recognised the number as that of Harris. She managed to halt herself as she was about to answer it. No, she told herself.
She would find out no more about this hellish place her brother was in. She turned back on an earlier resolution she had made to find out more about the dead from other cultures (what had the Myan dynasty said about the dead, she cared not). From now on, the only things that would occupy her mind was her family and Motor Racing. Nothing else in the world mattered. Mind you, those two things were enough to fill her day she told herself. She flipped a few pages and read on:-
'Nico Rosberg, Mercedes W05 Bahrain, 22.02.2014 Mercedes is playing down the 'title favourite label' it picked up after the second pre-season test in Bahrain, but it's hard to see why the team will not be fighting at the very front. Nico set the fastest time of the test by a large margin, whilst his race simultation runs included pit-stop practice for the crew.'
'There's no answer,' Harris thought to the wall. 'Sorry, she doesn't want to hear from us anymore.'
'That's too bad from your point of view,' answered the wall. 'It will soon be time for you to transfer over to full-blown hell. Start thinking of your final request.'
Hubert had been briefed about Midian. Midian's occupants were constantly dying of many things, including loneliness, despite the fact that the place was packed, and new members were constantly coming in. All of its occupants were told the same story. Of how Midian was a prep-school for full-blown hell. How they had to give up a member of the living to join them. Of how they would be granted a final request before being cast into eternal fire. Hubert asked the question, if someone is chosen to come to this place, wasn't this taking the element of destiny away from the individual. If someone entered Midian, was there nothing they could do to prevent themselves from entering hell. So many questions, not enough answers.
Rose Lee read on:-
'The sights and sounds of F1 2014 are going to take some getting used to. While new rules concerning impact structures at the front of the car have led to mirth on the internet and parodies on Top Gear, the reality is that for once we can recognise distince differences between different teams' designs.
Rose Lee was sat infront of her computer at work behind yet another spreadsheet. She was just about to turn the data into a graph when the phone on her desk rang (this was the internal work phone, not to be confused with her cell phone). 'Helo Mr Peters, how can I help you today?' asked Rose Lee.
'Oh, if you've got 5 minutes could you please come straight away to my office please.' Mr Peters was being extra nice, Rose Lee thought to herself. This was a massive improvement on the shouted grunts that Mr Peters routinely gave out to his staff.
'Sure,' replied Rose Lee. In a couple of minutes she was sat facing her boss Mr Peters at his desk.
'How was your weekend,' Mr Peters asked. 'Did you get up to anything nice?'
'Oh, I was just on the sports channel. Nothing exciting I'm afraid.'
'That's not such a bad thing,' responded Mr Peters. 'Actually, that's partly the reason I've called you in here. The truth is, there are a number of people here that are worried about you. You've developed a routine that has become so regimented. Basically, a few people are saying that you changed overnight. And it seems to be without reason. No reaon, except for the fact that there are those who feel that you didn't give yourself enough time to grieve for the loss of your brother, who we all knew you were very close to. Is this a fair thing to say?'
Rose Lee composed herself for a moment. She really hadn't seen this coming. She credited herself with correctly guessing what it was that Mr Peters was going to say to her. Today she was going to be credited with how quickly they had reached the half-way stage of Project Blue. She might even get the chance to squeeze in talk of a small raise. But no, she had called this one incorrectly. She began to ask herself a series of questions. Had she told anyone at work about her communications with Harris? She was sure the answer to this was no. Rose Lee replied, 'I've simply done my best to return to life-as-normal as quickly as possible since the passing of Harris.'
'I appreciate that,' said Mr Peters. 'But there are those who feel you've moved too quickly. I'll be honest with you, there are people within this organisation who say your behaviour is so off the charts that they think it would be in your best interests to be committed.' Mr Peters allowed the silence to linger for a short while.
Rose Lee remained seated in her chair, dumbstruck. She became consciously aware that she had developed a number of coping mechanisms to deal with her loss. The excessive cleanliness. Her sudden obsession with all things motor sport. But she was sure that the route she had taken was a lot better than the alternatives. She knew that people dealt with grief in a variety of ways. A lot of the time this involved substance absue of one kind or another. But she was doing better than this. The trouble was, she knew she had been contacted by her dead brother Harris. And she, too, had communicated with him. Was she wrong to do this? But what was bugging her now was that she was sure that most of her coping mechanisms did not look bad from the outside. Was she wrong? Were there other things she was doing that she was not aware of? 'If I may ask, Mr Peters, without delving into the who's, but what is it that I've been doing that has got so many people worried?' asked Rose Lee.
'Sure you can ask,' replied Mr Peters. 'To be honest with you, nothing I, personally, have seen has got me worried. The main concern from your colleagues seems to be your sudden withdrawal. A withdrawal into yourself. Remember how you used to be the 'life of the party', the centre of all things gossipy around here? People miss that.'
'But I've only just lost my brother. What do people expect. Am I supposed to just brush that off like a scab.'
'It was a while ago that you lost him, Rose Lee,' countered Mr Peters. 'What's got people worried is the fact that you didn't seem to grieve. Your behaviour just changed overnight, according to those closest to you. You simply became a different person. Like I said earlier, I don't have any problems with how you've reacted. But as your Line Manager it is my duty to inform you of your colleagues concerns.'
The heat that Hubert was feeling was now constant. He had learnt how to communicate with the wall, and now had the distinct feeling that Harris was the reason that he was here. He also knew that he would have to offer someone up to this place as part of the package deal for being here. Should he bring someone in that would hurt Harris? Was so doing stooping to Harris' level? But the time had not yet come for him to have to come good on offering up someone. Hubert was suffering like everyone else in Midian, but he did not seem to be suffering as much as Harris had at this stage. Maybe, like heaven, Midian had different levels within it. But Midian was so lonely. You had no contact with other people in this hell. Funny, you could quite easily communicate with those you had left behind in the world of the living, but you could not communicate with other inmates.
'I need to talk to you,' began Hubert.
'What,' replied the wall.
'This place is bad,' continued Hubert. 'I know that I haven't lived a perfect life, but this place is real bad. And yet you say there's worse to come. That all I have to look forward to is hell. Hell being this place continuously.'
'That's right,' replied the wall. 'But what do you want me to do about it?'
'Answer me this, if you will. Is that it for me? Is there nothing I can do to get out of this mess?'
Silence. Followed by more silence.
'Did you not hear me?' continued Hubert in a louder, more forceful thought.
Still silence. Then something strange occured. Hubert sensed fear in the wall. 'Hey,' screamed Hubert. The feeling of fear rose in the wall, and Hubert could sense it. But what was it that the wall was afraid of. Hubert was onto something, but he wasn't sure what. Was it something he'd said. Hubert wasn't entirely sure, but he knew that he had the wall on the back foot. But how could he use this moment for his advantage? 'I'm beginning to like it down here,' continued Hubert. 'I may not take you up on your offer of a respite from this place.'
'But, but you have to,' replied the wall.
'Not if I don't want to I don't,' replied Hubert. He was discovering all this as he went along, but his voice gave nothing away. As far as he was concerned, as far as the wall was concerned, he knew what he was talking about. He was growing in confidence, and equally the wall was declining in the same. Even the agony of the place was lessening. He almost wanted to stay here for real.
Hubert had quickly realised that the wall didn't like it when the person speaking, or should we say thinking, to him was doing so with confidence. They were supposed to cower, beg and plead. But he didn't feel that this was all. What else was troubling the wall? He'd press on and try and find out. But in the meantime, he had to maintain his attitude. Call it confidence. Call it arrogance. Whatever, he had to continue with it.
'What do you want?' asked the wall.
Silence. Hubert felt that this was his turn.
'I said, 'what do you want?'' For a moment Hubert decided to play the silence game as well, but he detected a slight rise in the wall's confidence level, and we couldn't allow that to continue, could we.
'I wanna stay here,' continued Hubert. 'I wanna stay right here with you.'
'I don't understand,' said the wall. 'We're trying to work out a deal for your exit, your respite from this hell.'
'I don't think you heard me straight. I said, I wanna stay here with you. I'm gonna stay here with you. Are you afraid...' There was a sudden uptick in the suffering that Hubert was enduring, but he quickly ignored it. He was going to do his best not to show the wall that he was in pain. 'Afraid of a little competition are we? Well, truth is, you can't get me to leave this place if I don't want to.' Hubert wasn't entirely sure that this was true, but it sounded good.
For what seemed like no reason, the wall entered a panic state. 'Listen,' began the wall, 'I'm sure we can work something out. But you gotta leave. And you gotta leave now.'
'Seems to me like you're threatening me,' replied Hubert. 'I refuse to leave. How else am I gonna get you if I'm not here with you.'
This really got under the wall's skin (or should I say tiles). 'No, please, you don't understand, you gotta leave.' Hubert's agony went up considerably, but to a level that he was still able to ignore it, or at least put on a show that he was ignoring it. However, he could sense the panic and sheer rage within the wall. Then it occured to him. The more the wall made him suffer, the more the wall suffered itself. It seemed to be a reciprocal process. He realised that previously, whenever the wall made him suffer, he, the wall, would disappear soon after for a while. Were these two events connected? Hubert began to wonder. Where the wall disappeared to Hubert would probably never find out, but he was more interested in the why. Why did the wall disappear at these crucial moments? Hubert knew that finding the answer to this could be vital for his survival.
Hubert was beginning to enjoy Midian. And the more he enjoyed it, the less he suffered. The less agony and torture he seemed to be suffering. And he seemed to become cloaked in some kind of shield which kept the worst of the heat away from him. The heat seemed to dissipate both inside and out.
Hubert felt a peak in the wall's agony and suffering. Then there was a sort of collapse, before the wall seemed to break down. 'No, no, please don't hurt me,' began the wall. 'I never meant you no harm. Yes, I may have made you suffer, but it was all to get you to leave this place, Don't you wanna leave this place and return to your comfortable life. Anywhere is better than here, surely?' The wall stopped for a breather. He was truly suffering now. And the more the wall suffered, the less did Hubert. In fact, for anyone looking on in, at the moment the wall seemed to be suffering more than Hubert. Hubert wasn't still entirely sure what the game was, but he decided that he had to press on with this route, especially as at the moment he was in almost no agony whatsoever. 'Where do you want me to send you?' tried the wall.
Hubert took a breather. He was in control now and was not going to allow the wall to dictate terms. Silence followed. He allowed roughly earthly minutes to pass before he uttered, 'I don't think you heard me right now did you. We are negotiating at the moment. And we can't exactly negotiate very well if we're not together. So, I'll say it again, in fact, I'll say it as many times as you like, I'm not going anywhere. If anyone is going back to that earthly hell, my friend, it's you.'
'AAAAAAaaaaaaaaa,' screamed the wall. Hubert's last comments had a marked effect on the wall. He absolutely paniced. 'Hubert, that's your name right, Hubert. Please, listen to me, we gotta help each other. Don't you know, I can send you back to wherever you like, however you like. It's really time you got going. Again, where would you like me to send you?'
For a short while, Hubert's mind began to wonder. He thought of his family. The perfect family he had on the outside. The extremely hot girlfriend he had privately. He had to admit that he had a good life. The only gap he had at the moment was wanting to find out why he'd been sent to Midian. He suspected 'that devil' Harris, but he could not be entirely sure. If he could confirm his suspicions then he'd like to use his new found powers to even the scores. This place stank. No doubt. But he was gaining strength and power here. What was that saying: better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.
'If you don't have a problem with my actions since the death of my brother, then I don't know what this meeting is for,' said Rose Lee. She had done her best to conceal her innermost feelings since the passing of Harris, and was not sure where she'd gone wrong. She had felt a change come over her, but was convinced that these were non harmful changes. In fact, she was pleased to hear Mr Peters say so as well.
'In case you hadn't noticed,' continued Mr Peters, 'I'm on your side here. I'm actually calling this meeting in the hope of preventing worse happening. Some of your colleagues want to call in the 'folk in white coats'. I, personally, don't think that that is necessary. But if a number of people say this to the right people, I'm sure it's no longer in my hands. This meeting is really a heads-up. Just know that people are watching you, and their words and actions may not be that, shall I say, beneficial to you.'
Rose Lee took in all that was being told to her with a sigh. Her heart slowed down its pounding. When she'd heard that Mr Peters had wanted to see her, she paniced. She was a little afraid, but was certain that she could not be in serious trouble as she knew that she hadn't done anything seriously wrong. She was certain she hadn't said anything to anyone about her visitations from her dead brother, but her actions had led to some around her being concerned. Concerned enough that they wanted to call in the doctors, 'Snakes,' she thought to herself. If they were so concerned about her, and if they truly had her best interests at heart, then why had they not come and spoken to her directly, rather than go behind her back and attempt to have her committed to a mental institution. She had better learn to watch her back, so to speak.
Hubert's strength was almost complete, and he could feel it. For whatever reason, the wall was petrified. Roles had been reversed. 180 degrees. It was Hubert who was now shouting at the wall, as the wall cowered and pleaded for mercy. The wall was suffering too. Suffering worse than Hubert ever had done in this place. The heat was driving the wall mad, and Hubert was loving it. Still, Hubert was not entirely sure what it was that had given him such strength, and what had weakened the wall. He tried to rationalise. The wall had not once been able to shout back when Hubert shouted at him. At first Hubert had just put this done to petty pride. But he noticed that the transformation was too dramatic. Things that had previously made the wall scream at Hubert now had the wall begging. He also noticed that the few times that he'd relented and allowed the wall a little freeway, his own suffering had suddenly increased, and vice versa. Was this why the wall had always been so hostile towards him? Was it merely a self-defense mechanism.
The more Hubert screamed, shouted, and abused the wall, the stronger he became. At times when he was at his peak, Hubert felt absolutely no pain or agony.He was beginning to enjoy this place. But deep down he was missing home. But he realised that the wall had only promised him a temporary visit home. A final visit home. And he was afraid that if he mentioned that he would like a trip home, the wall would become aware of what Harris' deepest desire was. And Hubert could be sure that the wall would use this against him.
After all, Hubert knew that he could make visitations to the other side, couldn't he. He might have to think of this place as home. Think of this place as a permanent home. All the time, Hubert grew in strength. It wasn't long before Hubert was calling the shots to the wall in Midian. The tables had fully turned. No longer did Hubert cower at the wall's booming voice. In fact, it was soon the other way around.
Hubert began to impose his own laws in his home. He began to make demands of the wall, some of which the wall complied with, others the wall could not. As long as Hubert shouted and assumed authority, he was in charge. Hubert began to feel like a god. Most of his demands were being met. Unlike on earth, he rarely had to ask for anything twice. The wall had since given up pretending that he was in charge and was only asceding to Hubert's requests. Whatever he'd done, however he'd done it, Hubert was now in charge. Hubert was the new 'don' in Midian. He was beginning not to worry as to how he'd come to rule. But this attitude could soon become fateful. If he didn't know how he'd come to power, if he didn't know how he'd overthrown the last boss, the wall, then what was to stop himself being overthrown? Arrogance, hubris, was beginning to overcome Hubert. But was this not the very thing which had brought down the wall?
It had been a while since Rose Lee had had a visitation from Harris. Not that long ago the visits had become less regular. Harris had not hinted that this was on the cards. Rose Lee was not sure what to make of it all. She loved communicating with her brother. But the thing was, he was dead wasn't he. She soon began to realise that the visitations were having a draining effect on her. After each visitation, Rose Lee was left feeling totally exhausted. The draining effect was becoming more pronounced as time went by. Rose Lee loved hearing from her brother. But had he somehow sensed the draining effect he was having on her? As time went by and the visitations became less frequent, Rose Lee found herself obsessing over death. She thought of almost nothing else these days. She didn't want to die because she was depressed with life, rather she just wanted to join her brother. But she knew nothing of death and the afterlife. To this day she still could not be 100% certain of where she would end up if she took her own life. Did the way you die have an effect on what happened to you in the afterlife, or was it all dependent on how one had led their life? Not knowing the answers to many questions, suicide was no longer an option. Rose Lee's obsession with death soon overtook her obsession with motor sports.
She began dressing in black as if she were a widow. Under her bed she kept a replica human skull, from which she drank liquids that resembled blood (e.g. Ribena). She no longer left her room on a Sunday, and the stale air in it stank. She read all she could about the afterlife: the Christian and Jewish doctrines, with heavy emphasis on the Hindu doctrine. She was thinking of buying a coffin in which to sleep, but she knew that this would not go down well and would certainly have her family calling for immediate medical treatment.
Maybe Midian had won in the end. Rose Lee did all she could to find out more about this mythical place, but to no avail. Her contact with Harris declined quite rapidly, but she knew that she had been scarred for life. She also had no intention of returning to her old way. The change had become her coping mechanism. But there were very real negative effects of the, one can only call it, metamorphis. Rose Lee's interest and devotion to personal hygiene fell sharply. She only bathed once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. The stains on her teeth became noticeable. In other words, she began to stink. The funny thing was, deep down she felt happy. Happier than she had
felt in decades.
After Rose Lee lost her job ('Times are tough Rose Lee, I'm afraid we don't have enough sales to justify this huge department and so we've decided to let some of you go.') she began to withdraw into herself for comfort. Within an earthly year she was beginning to lose her mind. Mr Peters heard about Rose Lee's decline, but decided against calling the doctors and having a former employee commited. First it was the hallucinogens. Somehow, not without temptation, she managed to stay off of heroin. But Midian had started to wreak havoc on the living, and this was probably Midian's greatest legacy.
Hubert was feeling rather pleased with himself. He was the new ruler of Midian and he loved it. He'd had many offers to return to life as normal on earth, but he'd turned them down. Midian held no fear for him anymore. He wasn't suffering anymore. No more agony or pain. He'd felt himself change as now he received an insane pleasure from acknowledging the wall's agony and suffering. Hubert had become the new god of Midian. He had only one true desire, to find and punish Harris. Once this was done, he felt he could die (assuming there was death after Midian). There was no heat for Hubert. And whenever he felt himself lapsing, with the wall growing in confidence, all Hubert had to do was think of a suffeing wall, and the wall would back down and begin the equivalent of crying. Time was endless and constant in this hell of a place. The place was filthy, but the place was now Hubert's permanent home.
Hubert began drifting. That is, visiting alive members of earth. He started with Harris' sister Rose Lee. Everyone knew how close the two of them were. She'd know where he could find Harris, if indeed Harris was in this place. After he'd perfected the art of visitation, Hubert decided to check on his family. He had thought that the screams of his wife would bring down the moon it was so loud and piercing. Then a few friends before the fateful visit to his girlfriend. To his surprise, his gorgeous girlfriend had gotten over his death quite quickly. She'd sold the jewellery he'd bought her, and in next to no time she'd moved in with her new beau. But seeing the pain his mother was going through brought him back down to earth. But despite the sadness and pain he'd caused many, Hubert had no regrets. After all, it was not as if his death had been a suicide that he should feel guilty about being in the world of the dead. But seeing the pain some family members were going through did pull at his heartstrings.
The visit to Rose Lee had gone badly. She'd wanted to kill him (though he'd already died) and this only confirmed to Hubert that Harris was behind his new home. Yes, he was happy here. But no thanks to Harris. If he was the guilty partner in this debacle, he had had no intention of Hubert's happiness. All said and done, Hubert was happy here and had no intentions of going away.
Rose Lee was struggling to cope, although the truth was that she was going to be OK. In the end she'd avoided being committed to a mental institution by the skin of her teeth. However, she'd voluntarily checked herself into a Doctor's couch. She'd found the therapy useful, plus she'd avoided her worst fear of getting drugged. Her husband was the only person she'd told about her appointments with the doctor, and she preferred it this way. For whatever reason, the visitations from Harris had stopped, and Rose Lee was convinced that this indeed had nothing to do with her regular doctor visits. She knew she had to do something when her own daughters began crying regularly, saying that they had lost their mother. When they told her that they had to lie to their friends when explaining the change in 'mommy' she knew it was time to seek professional help. It was time to 'lay on the couch and let the doctor solve her problems'. From the outside it looked like just another bereavement issue, but her and her doctor knew otherwise. The doctor had avoided Rose Lee's invitation to join her when she made contact with Harris, but he knew that in Rose Lee's mind, these visitations were real.
The experts would debate both night and day on what Midian was. Was it indeed the afterlife's preparation for hell? What was the difference between itself and hell? The so-called experts liked to call it 'purgatory for hell', but perhaps there was more to it than this. There is no mention of such a place in the bible, nor in Roman Catholic doctrine. But there are those living who can testify to feeling the presence of hell whilst still on earth. Since they are clearly still alive they cannot be said to be in hell itself. Is this indeed a form of Midian?
Those who claim to have come back from Midian, or who somehow claim to have visited the place and lived to tell the tale, seem to claim the same thing. The lonliness, the agony, the pain, the stink, the deals. But now those coming back were reporting a new wall. A more vicious wall than had previously existed. As have been said of heaven and earth, Midian was said to be alive. The place was sometimes happy, and sometimes sad. But despite the huge number of people who seemed to reside in this place, no one had ever seen anyone else there. All who came from there spoke of the intense lonliness. Some experts said that Midian was infinite in its size, and hence you never felt the presence of anyone else there. Some countered that Midian was a state, that continuously renewed and gave birth to itself. In other words, everyone had their own Midian. seoarate from everyone else's.
The infinite hunger drove many of its occupants insane. No one who entered Midian, or who had a supposed visitation from someone in Midian, was ever the same afterward. Rose Lee is just one example of someone affected by Midian. In between reading about Formula 1 motor racing and MotoGP, Rose Lee lost her mind in books on psychology. Her latest craze was a book by David Eagleman called 'Incognito' - The Secret Lives of the Brain. She was interested in the mind because she really felt that she was losing hers. If she could find out a little more of what the experts said about human psychology, maybe she could save herself. Rose Lee began to read Incognito with the same passion she read about motor sports:-
'If the conscious mind - the part you consider you - is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing?
In this sparkling and provacative new book, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries: Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why do you notice when your name is mentioned in a conversation that you didn't think you were listening to? What do Ulysses and the credit crunch have in common?
In the end, Rose Lee thought of life itself as nothing more than a game. Sometimes you were on top, and sometimes you weren't. Even those, especially those, who were supposedly on top had their off days. She avoided the temptation to write, though. And it were not as if she didn't have things to write about. Death also became her all consuming passion. She didn't really know about Midian, but she knew that Harris was in some place that was new to her ears. She'd heard the name Midian mentioned, but she couldn't recall its name. So although she avoided writing, she did dictate notes on her typewriter.
The question she kept asking herself was, where was Midian? Was it indeed a physical place? Was it below the ground as hell was supposed to be? Surely it couldn't be in the clouds, up in the sky, as that was where heaven was wasn't it. And although she was not sure what Midian was, she was certain that it was no heaven. Not for anyone. But finding out about the place was not proving easy. Harris had stopped his visitations, and although she wanted to, she, too, decided against visitations to him. One day she went to the edge of a large kopje and threw away her cell phone. This was her only known way of communicating with Harris. She'd heard it said by associates that it was entirely possible to contact the dead through n'angas (better known in English as 'witchdoctors'). But she told herself that this was wrong. She'd had a Western upbringing, and although a few of her colleagues despised this, she decided to be consistent and not tamper with the souls of the dead. What was there to gain, after all, she asked herself. One day, and it may not be that far away, she would be dead too. Then she would finally find out where Harris was, find out what Midian was, and the like.
She told herself that Midian was in and out. That is, Midian was everywhere and nowhere. In this life one could not see Midian, but one could certainly feel it. Midian was in your heart.
Hubert grew strong, and a little arrogant. He felt destiny was at hand in his situation. He'd resisted the temptation of a return to earth (wherever that was) and decided to make Midian his home. Now it was he who made others offers. He decided to stick with the current system of offering all newcomers a final wish, before eternal damnation. He was omnipotent, all powerful. There were, of course, things he missed about his past life, about earth. Here there was no water, and it stank. He could visit whoever he chose on earth, but visitations drained him. And as long as he had new occupants coming in, he really didn't suffer that much. He soon realised that he drew strength from the suffering of Midian's occupants. Hubert was the new wall.
And so the cycle went. New recruits came, and then went to eternal damnation. They were told the rules and made their final offer. Hubert was terrifying in that no one dared to backchat him. Frightening new occupants was his way of survival. Once they had been frightened by some of Hubert's tales, they often broke down. At this point, Hubert could do and say whatever he liked to the new occupant, and if ever he felt they were regaining confidence, he screamed and shouted at them. It was soon 10 earthly years that Hubert had been in Midian, but it felt like only yesterday he'd joined Midian from the men's room of a bar in Harare, Zimbabwe. The bitterness towards Harris had gone, to be replaced by a steely confidence which only comes from honing one's skills set and perfecting it.
Unlike Hubert's many occupants, Hubert no longer allowed himself to be angry. He'd learnt early that this drained him. But this did not prevent Hubert from 'acting angry'. He would scream and shout from time to time, but as soon as he felt the terror in his new occupant's heart, he backed down and resorted to acting normally. Midian was the source of all evil thoughts, and all evil actions emanated from here. Maybe it was this fact which succeeded in keeping Hubert feeling down, constantly. Feeling down is not to be confused with feeling depressed, for Hubert loved his new home, despite the heat and stink. He believed he knew what he had to do in order to remain the new wall in Midian. It had worked for him since he became the wall, and he had never looked back. Hubert never found Harris, but then again, occupants of Midian never found anyoen else in Midian, despite the fact that the place was packed to the rafters. But the place was in an eternal duel with heaven and purgatory. No one who entered Midian ever came out the same person on the other side. There was no love in Midian. No food, no water. Just eternal heat. Eternal pain, fear, anxiety, loathing, hatred, hunger, thirst. And more pain. Everyone who entered tried to escape to a normal world. But 'tried' being the operative word. People prayed when they realised where they were. But the electric 'prayer convertor' made appeals to God futile. The power of the prayer was twisted and in turn gave extra strength to Hubert.
Years later and Rose Lee was still struggling to come to terms with the fact that her brother was never far away. But she knew better than to contact him. She had finished reading the book 'Incognito' by David Eagleman. She remained sane by constantly finding new passions. Whenever she found a new passion, she gave up all of her old passions, and went for the new one 100%. Midian altered everybody it came into contact with