Phoenix Rising

“The fields of the dead”

The sky was covered with gray clouds, blending perfectly with the somber mood of the landscape. A man was standing, naked and confused, in the middle of a barren plain. With him stood what seemed to be hundreds of people, all in his same state of nakedness and confusion, all spread out across the plain as if tossed by a giant hand like grains of salt on a midday meal. None of them knew why they were there, and had been stripped from all memories depicting their pasts. For these were the fields of the dead, with the gates to Heaven and Hell just a few steps away.

The man could not remember anything from his past, but unlike the rest of the people there his memories had not been stripped away from him, just blocked. He was special, and had been so since the dawn of man.

The sound of a trumpet filled the sky, and a shiver ran through the man’s consciousness. He looked up, and saw the clouds opening up, and in that spot where they parted its color changed from dark gray to clean white, and the color shift was so subtle and hypnotizing the man could not take his eyes from it. But he did, when he saw what was revealed beyond; a winged being, as big as a house, holding an enormous trumpet. Behind it were a horde of more winged beings, smaller than the first, their clothes white and with a translucence that barely revealed the nakedness of their glowing bodies beneath their flowing robes. They all had two pairs of wings, but besides this resembled Man in every other way.

As the horde descended upon the barren plain, the first creature remained among the clouds, playing its instrument with great solemnity. The other creatures started to escort some of the naked souls back to the heavens, and the man watched with an increasing sense of uneasiness as each winged being went past him without taking him away – all they did was look at his face, and keep going. Another soul, also being neglected by the heavenly creatures, went running straight to one of the beings in an act of desperation, dropping to its knees and begging to be taken. The creature then gave the condemned soul the saddest expression of sorrow the man had ever seen; a moment later it flew back to the heavens, carrying a more fortunate soul. None of the heavenly creatures could be discerned as either male or female – their features were confusing and ever changing, and the man decided that they had no sex.

Now, a second spectacle got the man’s attention. Far away in the distance was what seemed to be a huge cavalry. Some horsemen were dressed in red, and some in black, and all were mounted on horses that matched exactly the colors of their clothes. Besides this, however, there wasn’t much more detail the man could discern from where he was. Then he heard the sound of Heaven’s trumpet one last time, its last cry signaling the end of the winged creatures’ task in the fields.

Without warning, the red and black army stampeded on the remaining souls, which were the majority of the original flock. The resulting cries of terror would have shaken even the bravest warrior, the shrieks of agony piercing the man’s mind like a dagger on soft flesh. The red horsemen were seizing the souls with spiked whips, while the black ones were using scythes to grab them. One of the red horsemen went past the man, glancing only once before continuing his gallop. The man could finally appreciate the horsemen’s features: their faces were burnt, the eyes without pupils and reddish all over the eyeball, as if sand had fallen in it, swelling the eye; their lips were sewn together; their red cloaks had a dirty look, like clotted blood, and their hands showed bone in some parts. The man was horrified, and he had the strange sensation that he had been in such a situation before. It was the first thought he had that resembled a memory, but given what was happening around him he did not took notice of this fact, neither cared. And then, as suddenly as it began, it ended.

The desolated plain was as desolated as ever, not a single soul remaining apart from the man. He was alone now, and frightened. He did not know what he was supposed to do, or what new things would come his way. The previous scenes were not reassuring; the pattern of events indicated that things were only getting worse. But what could be worse than the hordes of such a hell?

He was about to find out.

Copyright © 2001 Samuel Pérez


"Journey into the unknown"
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