The Nature of Permanence


The Priest noticed that in one of the church’s back rows there was a strange man. He had not noticed the man there before, but he could well have slipped in at any time. People did that sometimes. Some people preferred doing that. Besides, it was a big church with plenty of gloomy patches.

The Priest began walking up the aisle to speak with him. The man looked old and tired; his hair and beard were shaggy and he had bags under his eyes. He was gazing at the Church wall where a crucifixion statue hung with a deathly thin Jesus writhing on the cross with large nails protruding from his hands and feet.

“Can I help you with something, Sir?” the Priest ventured as he got near to the man. If the man knew he was approaching, he had not so much as moved a muscle to acknowledge this. All he did was continue to stare at Jesus’s cold marble form.

The Priest reached the man and sat down next to him. He suddenly shivered as a chill ran down his spine. This side of the Church was particularly shadowy and there was a strange coldness in the air here.

“Can I help you with something, my child? Is something troubling you?”

Slowly, the man broke off his gaze from the crucifixion and looked at the Priest. Despite the rings under them, the man’s eyes were a striking blue and had an incredible depth to them. His eyes reminded the Priest of a Vietnam war veteran he had once counselled. The Priest had a theory that this war veteran had seen such terrible things that God himself had put beauty into his eyes–kind of like a filter–to try to protect him from the world thereafter. It was a nice theory. The man sitting next to the Priest had eyes like that, and the Priest instantly found himself believing that this was a truly damaged soul here.

“Priest, when you lost your baby and then your wife, what did you feel?”

The Priest was a bit taken aback by the directness of the question, but he had on many occasions publicly explained his path into the Church. He had not always been a man of God. When his child had died and his wife had left, he had been a broken man and the Church had saved him. This man could well have sat through a sermon or spoken to someone who had. None of this was a secret.

“I-I felt pain, my child. I was lost and in pain, like Jesus walking through the wilderness. Do you feel this way, my child? The Church saved me and it can save you too if you let it. Tell me how you feel, my child, and I will try to help?”

The man’s gaze did not move nor even flinch. His brilliant blue gaze continued to bore into the Priest’s eyes. The Priest shifted his weight and glanced away briefly. When he glanced back, the man was staring at the crucifixion scene again.

“No. No, Father, I do not feel like that,” the man began speaking slowly and then started to pick up pace, “I’ve done what I always do: I’ve grown bored. All of you run around warning people of Hell and damnation, but your lives are brief and you all go back into the same box to be played again next round. The greatest gift you can give a consciousness is mortality while the greatest curse you can inflict on it is immortality. The temporality of mortality makes things beautiful because they are fleeting; even the flaws, horrors and suffering has a beauty because they cannot last forever and they are temporary, never to be repeated again. This is very different for the Ageless Ones. The real war of the immortals is one against boredom. Perhaps your God and your Lucifer are both just trying to fight the boredom of eternity? Did you ever consider that? Perhaps Jesus as well? I think he actually just staged the whole thing to give colour to a new cycle. Muhammad probably too, yes. I reckon that God probably doesn’t even like Muhammad, but is just playing along for now because it is more interesting than not playing along. I guess it is all just trying to fill up eternity. I am bored, Father, and I am very tired–very, very tired–of being so goddam bored.”

The Priest was a bit surprised. That was not the answer he was expecting. So he took a moment to gather his thoughts before answering the man the best he could.

“So,” the Priest began, “In Psalms, Isaiah says that we must not fear for I, the Lord God am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The Priest paused for a moment before continuing.

“I can see that you are feeling lost, my child. God can help you, but only if you let him in–”

The Priest stopped talking as the man turned slowly to look at him again. Time seemed to stop. The Church and the day outside disappeared. The man’s gaze was so intense that it held him. The gaze bored into the Priests mind, unleashing strange thoughts there. These thoughts appeared at first in the Priest’s mind and then began to balloon into all-encompassing images exploding through his whole being. It started with darkness. Emptiness. Space. And then he saw that the vast expanse of a starless nothing that was filled with monstrous, ancient leviathans. Countless, ageless, infinite beings brooding on the edge of all galaxies. It was dark and so cold in this abyss. These pre-cosmic horrors were just floating there with alien motives driven by immortal, inhuman desires. These gargantuan, apocalyptic beings were just drifting there. They were floating in a darkness older than time and they had only their dark dreams to keep them company across the millennia while they plotted the chaos of world just to colour their existence. And then a vast, tentacled being floated silently by him. Its form was an indescribable abomination with clawed appendages bigger than entire planets and its world-eating mouth stretched out like a deep space black hole crowned with Antediluvian teeth.

Suddenly the ancient leviathan opened an immortal eye and looked directly at him!

He gasped and leapt up from where he was sitting. His heart was racing and his palms felt sweaty. It had been such an intense daydream–or daymare!–that he had lost all sense of awareness. His skin felt cold and the hair on the back of his neck was raised while he tasted something foul and bitter in the back of his throat.

The Priest realised that the man was no longer there. The row in front of him was empty. He looked around the Church, but he could not see him. It did not seem that much time had actually passed during the Priest’s daymare. In fact, it seemed that the daymare had been but mere moments. There was simply no sign whatsoever that a bearded man with a shaggy hair and blue eyes had been sitting right there in front of the Priest.

The Priest shook his head and began slowly walking back down the aisle. He believed in God and all the angels. He believed in miracles and the wonders of the Bible. But that also meant that he believed in the Devil, and all his tricks and wickedness. He also had to believe in all the demons of Hell, and their wicked agendas. But–and he could not shake this thought no matter how hard he tried–could there be others? What if there were dark, ancient beings floating in the starless parts of old space and the twisted, timeless corners of the universe? What if they were immortal, and existed beyond the comprehension of men? What if they walked among and through us? What would we call them? What would they want from us? What would they dream about?

The Priest did not know these answers, but he felt cold, small and insignificant in a dark, inhuman universe.

A couple decades later, the Priest died. A couple centuries later, the country fell into civil war and the Church ended up bombed into little more than rubble. Nearly a millennia later, humans wiped themselves off the face of the earth. Of humans and all their achievements, there was little more than a cosmic echo left that bounced through the universes and galaxies left there.

At one of the dark edges of pre-cosmic space, something still floated. This gargantuan being floated in a starless vacuum, dreaming its dark, inhuman dreams. And, then when the last echo of humans died out to complete silence, this ancient leviathan rolled over in its timeless slumber. Its dreams drifted from the world of men to a new world. The beast was and will always be seeking out the next thing–anything!–to try to stave off the fate of all immortals: boredom.

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