YEARS have passed since I last saw daylight. YEARS! or minutes. Who can be sure? What are years and months and hours and minutes in a place like this? Such places know only solitude and rancor. Time and God shirk them.
God knew well to make Hell’s wrath an eternal one. Eternity is a hell in itself.
We dwell in pits of perpetual darkness, caverns too dark for air. It is an empty blackness, a ravenous swallowing siren of gloom. Do not be misled, however; the pit is very bright. Its ceilings are lined with burning brightness, beams that scream and SHRIEK brightness! Endless eternal columns of them! Brightness that thumps your temples and tramples your retinas and sloshes the matter in your brains! Brightness so fiery it mocks!
Do not be fooled by brightness. The brightest places on earth are also among the darkest.
Within the illuminated night is silence. Cold crude stony silence. Not just an absence of sound, but of life and spirit as well. A silence that clasps the heart and smothers the mind. In this everlasting muteness, the ear has come to neglect the revving commotion that so subtly surrounds it: the monotonous ticking of the clock, trudging hopelessly toward endlessness. The relentless hummmming of the machinery. The occasional shuffles and coughs of our miserable equals.
We exist in fear. A placid fear felt only beneath the flesh, crawling through the veins and along the bone like a slug. We fear without knowing it. And we fear without knowing why.
It is not so much “Them” whom we fear—for “They” are a distant and withdrawn danger—but “Him”. He is more immediate. He is more present. And He makes an unyielding effort to permeate the pits with His omnipresence. And though we may mock Him in His absence and scoff when His name is mentioned, we will seldom deny our absolute and fundamental dread of Him.
He roams the pits in the darkness, evaluating our souls with His demeanor and His gaping grin. He dons a thin, shiny shell of sympathetic kindness. In that shell He oozes understanding and concern. Yet beneath it, He is a beetling fury. A grotesque vindictive monstrous master of exploitation and coercion. He is the sum of all hate.
Our only hope throughout the bleak dejected day is our one single mealtime. That one small slit of liberty that somehow makes the remainder of the day remotely possible. In its twenty-odd minutes—or seconds—we find reason to believe again. But it is merely a “hope”, for its frazzled fleeting moments do little to break the trance of desolation and tedium that so neatly plasters the marrow of our bones. We eat without tasting the bland mush that we so ravenously inhale. We eat until our emptiness spits us back into our pits.
Otherwise, we are machines, doomed to a perpetual cyclical misery. Our hands do not cease their rotary revolutions. We are slaves to mechanized repetition, and each turn churns out yet one more ounce of meaningless existence. Beyond a coincidental encounter in the cluttered halls or a passing moment during mealtime, we are doomed to solitude, constantly confined to our dark, silent, soulless pits. There, the colors of our world fade to a soupy bland grayness with every fleeting instant. There, we slowly die.
My pit is a cramped, decrepit, unnatural corner, denied of any element of nature. No daylight enters it. No leaf breathes of it. No wind visits it. It is a crude, sneering, wretched box of boredom and tacky manufacturing. It is the kindest grave I have ever known.
More torturous is its ravaged messiness. Even in its silent death it makes rest impossible. Cleaning and organizing does not improve its condition, for it is disarrayed by design. And its designers know all too well that the mind cannot help but mimic its bland and frantic chaos. Thus the mind churns itself into mush, thrashing itself into a frenzied cyclone of panic and turmoil and confusion, until it chafes itself down to speckled shreds of nonexistence.
He is coming.
Our hearts collapse into themselves. Our throats cringe. Our spines snap back, then stiffen to wood. The muscles in our toes and legs and arms and fingers shrivel to cork. He is coming!
He passes over us like a black shadow, His presence loud and boastful. Yet we do not dare acknowledge Him. He carefully selects the weakest among us, the one least alert or competent or worth a care in the world. He approaches so cunningly; so full of genuine love and camaraderie is He. He comes with a smile, chatting openly, easing His victim’s defenses.
Then He asks a question: a simple, casual question, devoid of substance, flat with simplicity. The victim responds, seeing no harm in such nonchalance. But the fool is terribly wrong. We all hear it coming! Like a flash of lightning, He sucks out the victim’s tattered soul and milks him of his blood. And then, just to prove His omnipotence, He frenziedly gnaws his limbs. He chucks the dry remains of His victim back into its pit. And He is on the prowl again.
He passes another victim. With one stern sharp sudden shot, He sends her plummeting to the ground, reduced to a lump of dumb bone.
He is approaching my pit.
I am choked to stiffness. I am wringed of air. My time has come. He hovers at the entrance. He is upon me now. I can hear His sternness, smell His phoniness, taste His hate. His presence permeates my corner like a black smoke, crawling through my shoes and licking its way up my spine. And when it reaches my head, it chews the bone of my skull like a rabid leech!
His hateful grin looms over me. He speaks!
“Adamson! You finished with those reports yet?”
I shake my head.
“Well, look. I’m gonna need you to pick up the pace a bit…”
“…Those things aren’t gonna type themselves, you know— Would somebody get that please?”
barrar— click. Hello, thank you for calling…
He turns to leave. “Like I always say: productivity is power and— Feathers! You enjoyin’ your little coffee break over there? Come on, you’ve been standin’ by that copier for the last ten minutes. Get it done, let’s go. Nancy? Why don’t you go ahead and confirm my appointments for this afternoon. And let Lucy Winters know that we’re gonna have to push our three o’clock to four please thank you… Thoreson! Time is gold. Less talky more worky please.”