ASCENSION The three levels of the afterlife

 

I died. I am not sure how or why, but I am aware that my life has ended, and a new existence has begun. I am surrounded by people I know, knew, whilst I was alive. They seem to have died with me. It must have been some form of catastrophic event.

I suddenly feel the need to ascend. Unwillingly my essence start lifting skywards. I look around. An old school classmate comes near me and tries to cling on to my shoe. A voice inside me speaks out. You belong in hell. I kick him. He falls to the ground and through a grate. Flames rise up and harrowing cries pierce the stillness of the air.

I keep rising and notice some people are being dragged through the grates, whilst others remain rooted to the ground, jumping up and down, hoping that they too, will start to rise. I cross through the sky and then across a floor. I am at a new level. The ascension continues, but then I spot the woman I fancied. She isn’t moving.

So I stop. I stay on this level, looking much like Earth and ordinary lives. You are in purgatory, you get to relive your life as a human, before deciding your final fate. You do not have to stay here, you are meant for heaven.

But I want to, for her. Can I help her ascend?

Em comes towards me. “Why did you stop? This is purgatory, live life again.”

“I couldn’t leave you here.” She looks at me quizzically. Somewhat surprised but happy. A sudden tension fills the air around me. Out of the corner of my eye I see two people fighting. I very quickly become aware that there scuffles all around. Purgatory is not like Earth, it just seems to be like it.

As time passes I am become more accustomed to this new way of being. There are no bodily needs, there is no hunger, there is no thirst. No hot, no cold. As such, tending to one’s needs loses meaning. So what do you do in purgatory? It is a wide open space, asphalted over with some forlorn sports courts to one end, and a metal shack in the middle. There is a big house in the corner. Most people are gathered there. There is only one topic of conversation: ascension. How do you prove you are ready to ascend? Is it true that if you cling on to someone who is ascending you will be allowed to piggy back them into heaven? Has anyone actually seen someone ascend?

There is a palpable panic and trepidation in everyone’s mind and heart. The scuffles are constant. There is nothing to do, so people fight. And then the grates appear, and they swallow the fighters, the flames shoot up to the sky, and the cries are heard.

Without a life pattern, the suffering is unbearable, it is a pointless existence, a real test. I go deep within myself and think. I meditate and calm myself down. All I have suffered in life, it was for a reason. I survived that, I got through it, I can still make it to heaven. I have no fear, and no anxiety. I spend my time with Em, and she smiles and hugs me. All is well, yet somehow staying in purgatory is not a pleasant experience. I know deep within myself that I just have to will myself to ascend and I will get to heaven. I am not sure why I am so confident, but it just seems logical.

So at night, I take Em towards the back of the house, hug her and then lift my arms to heaven. I look up and I start to ascend. As I slowly rise towards heaven, Em holds on to my foot and she starts to rise too. It is working, but then, three people come out of the house and they see us. They notice Em rising with me, so they desperately cling on to her shoes. The weight of so many people is dragging me down. I begin to falter. I then make an irrational decision, out of love. I stop mid air, and propel Em and the clingers skywards. They continue to ascend, whilst I fall.

I crash on the ground with a loud thump. I look up and see them disappear. They made it. Suddenly I am surrounded by all the inhabitants of the house. There is a deep rooted anger in their eyes. Why them? Why not me?

Thunder. Echoing, booming thunder, all around. I close my eyes waiting for the mob, and the inevitable trip to hell as the punches start rolling and the grates start opening. The fire rises. I hear the deafening screams in my ears, the agonising wailing of people burning; yet I don’t feel a thing. I am once again suspended mid air, and as the flames swallow the people from the house down to hell, I rise. Once again, I ascend. All the way to heaven.

Heaven is a sight to behold. It is a city of skyscrapers built at sea. There are different levels, and as soon as you enter you realise you are not authorised to all levels, you must once again ascend between them.

Time is immaterial, yet it somehow passes here too. I don’t know how long it has been, it could have been minutes, it could have been years, but I realise that there are gangs in heaven, of people plotting their way to the top. There are also controllers, those who guard the different levels and ensure no-one rises by devious means.

I find a small group, no sign of Em, yet somehow, in heaven, no need of her, to spend the time with. Like everyone else we discuss ascension. Through the passage of time, and we guess good behaviour, we ascend a level every so often. We are mid way up the glass skyscrapers, looking down at the waves and the people in the lower levels. It is a pleasant existence. The need to ascend keeps you focused, but not having any fears keeps you at peace. Having a purpose, I realise after comparing heaven to purgatory, is essential to us.

One day, a rift forms amongst us. One of the group accuses another of being at fault for delaying our ascensions. I look on, bewildered. It seems a pointless argument, but it only gets worse as the days go by and nobody ascends. It poisons the atmosphere and brings the mood down. Rotten people still cause pain, even in heaven.

I step into the argument, trying to hold the peace, to bring everyone’s hopes up. This action earns me ascension. I ascend, I rise and rise all the way to the top, where I find Em. And joy. Blissful joy, the like of which I had never felt.

Then I hear God’s voice, in my ear. I slip out of the cloud and circle the skyscrapers all the way form the bottom to the top. Now touching the waves, now touching the rooftops.

He is coming to try and destroy this. All of this. He is evil incarnate and he must be stopped. You have suffered all your life in preparation for this, the ultimate sacrifice. You must stop him, yet the choice is yours, I will not force you. You can stop him, but you must be careful not to befriend him.

As I spin through the skies, with the words reverberating  inside my head, I contemplate the situation. I take the plunge. I’ll do it. It’s all I say. I then close my eyes and wake up under water, in hell, hugging him. The test has started.

I wake up. Once again, I really felt it was God’s voice. Does he speak to me? Is doom coming towards us? What does it mean?

Wounds that won’t heal

Today I went to see a show. It was spectacular. It starred an old friend of mine from school. We lost touch, we haven’t spoken in years…

I was reminded today of how it ended. Of how, had I known about my schizophrenia back then things could have been so much different, but I didn’t know…neither did she.

Like with her, I’ve lost so many friendships to this disease, so many people have come and gone from my life.

And it hurts. Every single one of those lost people is a wound that won’t heal…if only they had known, if only I had known. But I didn’t. And neither did they.

And now, now it is too late, whatever chemistry there once was is now gone and the gap in years cannot be made up.

So I am left with the people I meet…yet I cannot start by saying “hello, I am schizophrenic” or that would drive them away, so do I start with a lie? When exactly is the right time to say it? For if they do not know, then the outcome can only be one, the one I’ve always known…

we need more awareness about mental health, about schizophrenia. So that there is more understanding, so that I can be upfront about it and not have to fear the worst….

Oh! To hallucinate at work

This is not a dream post, but having nowhere else to put it, here it goes.

The worst part of schizophrenia is living a lie. Hiding it, why? Because nearly everyone I know tells me I should, and God forbid people at work found out. But, if no-one speaks out things will never change.

My schizophrenia is pretty well controlled, but any emotional stress and it goes off…or it can and my own self expectation can’t make it spiral downwards.

Today there was an incident at work, a very minor and trivial thing. Except it wasn’t, it meant that my assumptions as to what relationships I had built there were wrong. Someone got angry at me, I got angry at them.

Expectation and anticipation of catastrophe. I started to spiral. I started to hallucinate, here that age old voice telling me I was worthless and nobody cared less about me. What happened was to be expected, because it was all my fault, no less than I deserved.

Already angry, plus hallucinating, I was a dream employee…anything would make the vile, spiteful Arkangel rise up. Ready to sabotage me and bring me down…all to prove a point.

And then of course, come the helpful comments. Such as this gem:

“I better give you a wide berth or you will snap at me, you get angry very easily. Ha ha ha”. Hilarious. And oh! so helfpful.

With very few people knowing what’s really going on I felt trapped and cornered. What to do? Speak to someone, was the obvious choice, but then of course the Arkangel had his own views on that: she doesn’t care, she’ll just shrug.

Better not risk it then…but keeping it to myself would not help.

So speak I did…she looked concerned, but what could she do? What can anyone do, really?

Should I just go home? Admit defeat and exit stage right? Do that to often of course, and some day you won’t be allowed to return (oh yes, probably illegal, oh yes, heartless, but oh yes, inevitable).

So battle on…once again, until it is time to go home.

Something has to change, if it had been low blood pressure no one would have expected me to work, take some time, have something for it, just relaxed, it will be fine. Same for an asthma attack, or diabetes.

 

Schizophrenia? No. Is it any less crippling, no. Does anyone know or care? No. They’d probably laugh at me for it to be honest.

Someday, at some point, things will change…and I hope this blog entry goes that little way forward and changes things in the mind of those who read it.

The Gates of Hell were open…

The Horrors Unleashed

I woke up in the midst of a war. The world was a dark, nasty place; where all the evil, conniving men got their way. I was sent to liberate a group of women trapped in a prison and forced to do an act every night. Displaying their bodies in revealing dress – not naked, no, never naked, but revealing and tempting attire.

In theory it was an easy in and out job. All I had I to do was infiltrate the prison, release the women and exit the compound. Little did I know that the gates of Hell itself would open that day…

I got into the prison pretending to be a boxing promoter. I promised to line up a big fight inside the prison, along with the dancing girls. The Crook in charge could not resist the temptation, a big money fight, exactly what the decadent city craved and lapped up.

“Come, meet the girls,” he said with a disgusting smile, which revealed his rotten, perverted personality inside.

I nodded and followed. He introduced a group of ten women, all subdued and forced into submission.

“What an extravagantly exquisite bunch. I almost want to escape with them,” I said grinning. In theory, the intelligence officers had passed on the message and they knew that was the code word.

“That can always be arranged,” one of the women said in an enticing voice, “for a price.”

So far so good. I had infiltrated and the targets had received the message. I only had to wait until the appointed time.

As the afternoon waned I set about releasing the women. They gathered around me without a fuss, and followed silently. When we got to the main gate, where we would rendezvous with the escape team the Crook appeared.

He smiled wickedly. Then he spoke, and his words sent a chill up my spine.

“You leave me no choice, but to release my beasties.” Then he laughed. The sky turned a dark orange, the omen before a massive storm. A dark, swirling maelstrom opened up in the sky, and the screech of terror unleashed came through it.

“Gold team, with group 1, go! Red team, group 2. Blue team, group 3, on me, GO GO GO!” I barked my orders at the top of my voice. Splitting up was a plan of last resort, but necessary. It would ensure that at least some would escape.

I ran through the gate and went for the bus stop. The guards swarmed my group and separated them from me. I dove under the bench and started firing, aiming at the guards. The Crook vanished.

Then the terror came. Howling dogs at first. Feral and clearly from the netherworld. They did not notice me and went straight for the Blue team with group 3. I kept my position and continued a steady stream of fire, at the dogs, at the guards. Soon the Blue team joined me. We had gained the position.

We scouted ahead, and noticed that there was no escape down the planned route. A dark mass had enveloped that part of the world. We took a side route, towards the shopping centre.

Gold team was already there, holding the position. Red team was coming up from below. We were all facing heavy fire, and the dark mass was getting closer. The feral dogs were wreaking havoc amongst my men in the Red team. We had to shore up their defences.

“Double time, go. Never mind shooting for now, just run as fast as your feet take you. Bolster Red team’s position. GO” I yelled.

In the melee that ensued we reached the shopping centre, all the women made it inside along with a handful of men and myself.

“Right, let’s take up positions, we can hold this as a fort.”

As soon as I had said so, my heart fell. The dark mass had arrive. Wailing banshees, hags, demons, possessed spirits, fallen angels and all the creatures of Hell itself had been unleashed upon us.

I took up my sword, blessed by the Holy Father himself at the heart of the Vatican, the only weapon we had which could vanquish them. The gunfire would slow them down, but not stop them.

“Ladies, go towards the cinemas, there’s a secret escape route that way.”

The remainder of Gold, Red and Blue team, stationed outside, opened fire. The screams of terror and anguish penetrated the air. The storm came. Thunder lit up the sky. Dark clouds swallowed the sun, rain came pelting down, sharp as razor blades.

We ran for the cinemas. Inside the projection room there was a hatch, down which we could escape towards a safer position. Could we perhaps outrun the Evil?

The glass burst, and the banshees came inside. I swung my blade left and right, cutting them down. Gunfire and grenades flew at them. Slowly but surely, we made our way towards the cinemas.

“Quick, inside the screening room. Unhook the popcorn machine and go through the hole left in the floor.”

The women went first, soon they were all gone. I was swinging and thrusting, keeping our position safe. Then the growls came. The demons had joined the party.

I gulped down. We were exhausted, we would not be able to keep up this frantic pace all night. I had to do something and do it quick. I looked at Ava, the leader of the women, who stood resolutely at my side with a gun, making sure her companions had escaped.

She nodded. It was desperate, but our only choice. We drew the demons towards us, all the time stepping sideways. Then we ran for it, in the opposite direction. We ran towards the great crystal wall. Ava shot it down and we jumped into the fountains below. We fell into the water and swam for the mirror plated bottom.

The demons followed. And then. And then something miraculous happened. A burst of light shone through from the mirror and the demons fell. They were defeated by them. We went up for air, and as we gulped it in, the demons lay writhing in agony.

“Ava, snatch loose a mirror, and see if the power remains once it’s removed.”

We dove down again and swam up with two mirrors.

Their light shone and the demons fell. Soon we were surrounded, by corpses, and by their living friends who now wanted revenge as well…

Him, Her and the Voices

NOTE: The following is a play based partly on experience. It offers insight into the schizophrenic mind.

Act I Scene 1

[He storms into the room and slams the door.]

HIM [yelling at the top of his voice]It can’t be! Yet another time. For heaven’s sake, how can this be possible? [lowers his voice to normal volume] Why, why does this keep happening to me?

VOICE 1 Because, you bring it upon yourself. It’s your fault!

HIM [He shakes his head] No. It can’t be. It’s them, it’s all their fault, they do this to me. I just suffer. They are useless, hopeless, ignorant bastards. Always attacking me, always hurting me. I do nothing wrong. I can’t stand this any more.

VOICE 1 Then don’t. End it. Have the courage, go on, it’s easy.

HIM [looking scared] What do you mean? End them or end me?

VOICE 1 Yourself. It’s not worth carrying on, you know it, you said so yourself. Finish it. Go on, have some guts for once and kill yourself. Stop wallowing around in self pity and end your miserable life, what are you waiting for? What do you think is going to happen?

VOICE 2 Don’t listen to him. That will not solve anything. It is simply running away from the problem. You are stronger than that, face up to the trouble and it will get better.

HIM [with violence in his voice] When? When will it end? It keeps going on and on and on. I keep telling myself it will ge better, but it doesn’t, it won’t. They all hate me, and I hate them back. Nobody cares about me, and to be honest, if I did kill myself, who would even notice? Who would care? I don’t care any more about anything, maybe I should do it.

VOICE 1 [viciously] Look at yourself, you pathetic weasel. You can’t even kill yourself. You do nothing right. No wonder nobody likes you, no wonder nobody cares about you. You’re scum, you’re worthless and you deserve to die alone. Soon you will start crying no doubt. Always complaining, always somebody else’s fault. You’re just a poor little victim. Pathetic. Enough. At least have the decency to end your life.

VOICE 2 What would that solve? What is you want most? To be loved. Will you get love if you are dead? Either you take the religious approach, where you go to hell to eternal damnation and suffering, or you take the scientific approach, where you become dust. What happens then? Nothing. No love, in either of them. So, if you kill yourself, do you get what you want?

VOICE 3 There is another alternative. You could kill them. That would solve the problem, don’t you think? You can make them pay for what they have done to you. And, if it all goes wrong, just kill yourself to escape. You’re thinking about it anyway, so why not?

[He clutches his head in his hands and kneels down. Then shakes his head violently, repeating “no, no, no”]

HIM Go away! Leave me alone!

ALL THE VOICES We’re not going anywhere, we are here to stay.

HIM I can’t think properly. I..I…don’t know what to do.

VOICE 1 [simultaneously with Voice 2 and 3 below] Kill yourself.

VOICE 2 Stop, do nothing.

VOICE 3 Kill them.

HIM NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Enough. Please God, help me, deliver me!

[His face turns, bloodlust in his eyes]

HIM Perhaps I will. Enough is enough.

[He grabs a dagger from the table and takes it to his chest.]

VOICE 1 Do it! Come on, show some courage, end your life!

[He breathes in and out, inhaling and exhaling ever faster]

VOICE 1 C’mon, do it, you can end your life, just plunge the knife, one inch at a time, a little bit deeper with every breath and you will be done. Take the step into bliss, and freedom. Do it!

HIM No, I can’t. I don’t have the courage, I wish I did, but I don’t. [Throws the knife on the ground.] I’ll just carry on, until the end of time, miserable and alone. Crying into my own pillow, soothing myself to sleep…even if there is no point carrying on I will…

Scene 2

[A knock on the door. The door opens. She walks in.]

HER What’s going on? What’s wrong?

HIM I…I..help me.

HER Is it them again? The voices?

[A silent nod.]

HER Don’t worry, I’m here, I’ll help you, I’ll take care of you. Whatever they are saying, don’t listen to them. Remember! Don’t do anything they say, and come straight to me. Look for me, call me. I will be there for you. What happened, what’s wrong?

HIM I-I can’t. I don’t want to talk about it.

HER Please, tell me. Keeping quiet does not help, talking about it will. If you tell me, it will help you feel better, you will feel less alone. Don’t worry, I will always be here.

[She walks towards him. Him, still on his knees, leans in towards her. She kneels down and embraces him.]

HER There, hold on as tight as you wish. I am here, they can’t hurt you, I’ll protect you.

HIM I love you.

HER I love you too.

END

Death of the Sergeant

The phone rings. PC Bellew has an urgent phone call.

It’s the sergeant. There’s a fire, a very big one. He is needed there. But, just as the sergeant tells him where the fire is, the line cuts. Desperately, he puts on his helmet and heads out.

There is chaos and turmoil on the streets. The fire brigade are doing their best to control the population and the flames. As PC Bellew approaches the fire area, a fireman comes and orders him back.

“I have direct orders from the Sergeant, I need to get there. I need to help him.”

“Get back! No written orders, no access!”

PC Bellew goes back, knowing he can’t argue with that man. He tries to go around, through another road. This time he is allowed through. He rushes towards the police station, not knowing where else to look. He is too late. Way too late.

The firemen present explain that there was no saving the policemen inside. The Sergeant is dead. PC Bellew looks around, for some comfort, he can’t help but feel it is his fault. He spots the Sergeant’s wife.

“Why didn’t you save him? You should have been here sooner! You’re a murderer!” She shouts at him.

As he tries in vain to formulate a response, the rest of the building crumbles, bringing down the flats next to it.

The whole town, still aflame, blames PC Bellew for the misfortune. He runs back to his flat, trying to hide, not to get lynched by the angry mob.

The Attack of the Football Fanatics

I had several dreams tonight. All of them worthy of a blog entry. I only remember one, once I had woken up in the morning and gone back to sleep.

I find myself in a shopping centre in Cartago, Costa Rica (it looks like my brain is slowly making the migration). I am with several of my aunts and cousins, looking for my cousin’s daughter’s ball which she has misplaced. I decide to drift around the shops looking for something interesting.

As I get towards the other end of the centre I hear an explosion, and then people screaming and saying that there’s been a chemical leak, so a section of the centre is closed to the public. I think it is the end I’m at, so i walk around trying to get to the other end, and see massive walls, barring my progress. I got the end wrong, it is the end I came from.

I start running towards the door, when I am tripped deliberately by a football fan sporting purple. He runs away, I follow for a bit and quickly realise it is a setup, there is a horde waiting and they want blood. I am really confused as I am wearing a Southampton shirt and not a local one. I walk backwards and jump over a fence.

The horde makes it to the fence, they are manic, psychotic wild eyes in their sockets, screaming for mayhem and trouble. I am find myself cornered with other individuals. I jump to a platform and hurry towards another exit, thinking I’ll make it out on foot. My half conscious brain evaluates the situation and realises there is no way we’ll survive on foot, so I re-write the dream and go to the car. Only I have not yet bought a car, so it quickly turns into my mother’s car, which is an SUV.

One of the fans clad in purple, who does not want trouble, guides me through a labyrinth through the bathrooms and the prostitutes towards the car.

I have to make it around the blue stadium to my aunt’s house. The road through the stadium is blocked, because of the football fans. I realise the horde has spotted my car and is making for it. I accelerate.

Two British radio presenters are following the action. At first they were there on the ground, but then the dream got re-written and they were through the phone, on video call.

I quickly drive past the Stadium road and up towards a hill. There are the ruins of a medieval town, and a Swiss looking scenery with Alps and Lakes. I quickly scramble my brain and re-write what I am looking at to make it Costa Rican.

I go north of the stadium, onto a dirt track, always accelerating. The road ends suddenly, so I veer to one side down another tarmac road. This one goes to close to the stadium. I see the horde in the distance, only now they are clad in red and black. I go north again.

Another dirt track. I am destroying the car’s suspension. Two more roads and I’ll be past the stadium and to my aunt’s house. We (suddenly there are people in the car with me) have to drive through a pill factory. The girl working there stops us and tells us to hide inside, we won’t make it she reckons.

We hide inside but my mum walks outside to see where the horde is, they spot us. They come to start a fight. I start fighting with all I’ve got, throwing punches left, right and centre. I am a big lad, I throw a good punch, people start falling to the ground, but we get word of an even bigger horde. No way out, no escape.

My brain quickly re-writes the dream. We are still in the car. We go past a destroyed dirt road and unto the intersection with a dirt track coming from the stadium. There is a steep hill coming towards the intersection.

The horde, now clad in red and yellow, is at the foot. Do I ram them? Or do I stop? I do not want to be responsible for the death of anyone, however justified it may be. I go slowly, the horde surrounds the car and starts the attack. The wing mirrors fall, the glass cracks. Hand are inside the car.

My leg muscles begin to cramp as they tense from the panic. My brain re-writes the dream. I ram them, I go through them at full throttle and they do not stand a chance, and a I make it past the security line from the riot police.

I wake up with a start. With a blazing headache and aching muscles. Very real, physical pain, from the stress and tension of the dream.