Mother Sarah

Mother Sarah tossed restlessly in her grave, and for the 2,873rd time, regretted a significant and ever-growing list of life choices.

Really, any path which led to a long-fleshless pile of bones tossing about restlessly despite lack of bone, muscle, cartilage, or any actual desire for movement was probably, in at least a few major ways, likely to have been a flawed path.. She sighed, very deeply, an action which felt mildly cathartic and largely disturbing, as she had neither lips nor tongue to form sounds, no chest muscles to force air towards her face, and, for many long years, hadn’t even had air in the coffin.

One particularly clever theorist had suggested that the dead, if cogent in any form, would be emotionless due to a lack of the chemicals which stir, alter, form, and shape what one might consider to be the base of feelings.. She had particularly liked this idea, and felt a mild distress that it was wrong, a distress which looped itself around by the essentially eternal act of being a feeling about the misfortune of the existence of feelings.. It was a mind trap, of sorts.. Mother Sarah had hated them as a novitiate, despised them as a priestess, and never given in to them even in those strange, despairing-but-curious last few days before death from her wounds.

If, at the thought of dusty, broken bones holding the unwilling consciousness of a once-living human, one notes a pang of drumming disquiet in the viscera, one is not blamed.. In fact, if one6 feels just a touch of the disquietingly corporeal touch of cosmic horror, etching itself lightly into the stress patterns of the spinal column, crawling languid, insectile, a disease-bearing arthropod burrowing unerringly into certain parts of your brain which were never intended to be alight with thought except in the case of mind-threatening injury–

–one ought be ashamed.. It turns out that persistent consciousness, post-unmortality, is a gift from (who else?) the benevolent Gods, themselves.

How in the world (pardon: how in the unworld, that spiritual plane which is most easily defined in mortal terms by being the place where all things of flesh and mattter are not)–however in the nonworld might the Gods be expected to provide the end-user with an optimal experience of afterlife without being able to monitor every aspect of what the living self might have desired?

One might be dead; but to the Gods, death hardly invalidates your agreement to the Terms of Service.. The Gods, kindly, powerful, wise, and doing their best with the finest minds they’re able to consume, have a moral and practical responsibility to provide the material world with a vital experience curated to the desires of those who dwell within.. If that requires harnessing the remarkable ability of the consciousness, properly stimulated, to respond as if it were represented by a living body and not a pile of calcite matter or, in certain cases, dust—then surely no-one who wishes good for humanity might object.

The spirit is allowed, encouraged, no, actually, empowered to wander the Metaverse.. With sufficient focus, the inconvenient post-human in its place of easeless rest essentially has, by design, a connection with the former flesh which is unhealthy.. Magic has trouble reaching the soul, the Gods have trouble giving the remnant consciousness the appropriate stimuli, and relatives weep over someone who is (though they do not know it) still essentially there, thus wasting grief on someone who has perversely chosen to remain tied to the unpleasantness of the embodied experience when given ever opportunity to float, dream-style, through worlds which are far better, if, technically, so layered in assorted beautiful semi-replicas of truth that they are, if one must be vulgar about it, lies.

Mother Sarah suffered needlessly.. But the Gods would help her.. Every day, particularly when her spirit—that is, both her morale, and her postmortal conscious presence—was it its lowest point, they offered her kindly advice as to how to exist in a world where she would not be frustrated or paine by something as flawed and unpleasant as that which, objectively speaking, one might consider real.

Surely, when one is dead, one ought to be allowed to dream that one is in heaven, rather than making a conscious effort to remember that one is actually a pile of skeletal remains trapped forever in a box.

Who would sacrifice the freedom of infinite fantasy for the terrors of truth?

No-one, eventually.. It didn’t make any sense.. And, indeed, that was all the Gods asked: that she participate in the enthralling fantasies of the spirit world, instead of locking herself into the ugliness of a real world which would, in time, be wholly eradicated anyway.

At least Mother Sarah would suffer for her perversity.. Though the Gods, respectful of privacy, did not track which souls refused their gifts, they knew, statistically, that Reality could be eradicated with enough civic-minded community spirit.. The fleshly world in which they, as spiritual beings, had no true power, could be erased by those temporarily trapped in skin, until it became unimportant, and the Gods could then give all mortals all the things they truly wanted.

It saddened the Gods that some questioned their benevolence; but deviance can be weeded out of the gene pool through sufficient incentive and/or spells of death, fear, and plague.

Mother Sarah suffered; but eventually, she would break, everyone would break, and even the ugly fleshly world would know Godlike harmony.

One might even pray that it would happen soon, but one ought not; the Gods are not selfish enough to listen to individual prayers when they can listen to the general noises made by multitudes; and they are too wise to really hear multitudes, when they might better inflict their own wisdom on others.

Thus was the World fated to become a heavenly place.. Let’s hope not to hear from Mother Sarah again; by the time one next thinks of her story, let’s hope she’s been joyously enveloped into the wholeness of eternal Truth, and no more need suffer the inconvenience of that most sadistic of human inventions: reality.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.