For Dinner: None  Yes, I am hungry, thank you very much.
Mood: . Confronting the ol' deathwish demon
Written in the Year of our Lord 3580, April  7th, Saturday night.
Location:  Somehwere near  the river  Nibulon, but that's all I know.

    Shock from the wound-- combined with me being so exhausted-- made me fall asleep, suicidal though it might be.  My night was haunted with dreams, nightmares brought by pain. There was a chilling one of Hell, where I was looking down the gullet of a giant amorphous demon, and there were little tiny buds, like tastebuds, inside and on the outside of its mouth. Each bud,as my vision grew closer, was a human head,and that human head was screaming. It was grafted onto the demon, and forced to share its thoughts, and the sheer evil of the demon's thought caused each tiny bud-head to scream from its intensity. There were thousands of the bud-heads, and they were all screaming, but they were drowned by the gigantic demon laughing....

     Then there was one of Heaven, an oddly pristine landscape, with beautiful green hills and mountains, and chariots of fire passing by overhead to a crystalline castle or city on a hill..  There were souls walking there, but they were sexless and remade, and no longer seemed human, more like crystal creatures of unbearable clarity and beauty.  I understood the ecstacy of Heaven was not in being in Heaven, but was in the state these souls were in. It was a beautiful place, but it was just a place. The ecstacy was in being remade. It was like the souls were permanent receiving sets for a bliss station...

     I came to, shaking myself out of my dreamstate. It was the early morning. Rather than green hills of  Heaven, the vegetation was all crimson, or mostly crimson, as green predominated on Earth. Two small moons were in the sky, both near the horizon, as the sun was preparing to come up....
      I was wet, in the mud, and covered with bites by insectoids. It could have been worse. By rights I should have been eaten.....
       Then I heard a cough/growl behind me.

       Moving very slowly,  very cautiously, so as not to alarm--anything--I angled my head,--only to see a large beast, somewhat suggestive of a large overmuscled wolf, or a bear with a wolf's head. It stood over four feet high while on all fours, with a mouth of wicked looking teeth. It's small eyes had the same faceted look of the sentient Lokiites, and the childbond links between the legs did not seem to hinder it at all.

        "A tyrbund," I breathed.

       I wondered why I was still alive.

        Tyrbunds for a long time were a domesticated breed, similar to horses and oxen on old Earth during the Middle Ages. However, they often turned on their owners. All higher animal lifeforms on Loki used the childbond, which meant they had no feeling of love for parents, or for that matter, pseudo-parents, like pets often do for their masters. A tyrbund would work only when compelled to, by whip or goad. There was no sense of loyalty between a beast and its master.

       Since Loki has gotten more automated, many of the tyrbunds--no longer needed as a beast of burden-- have gone wild. Imagine a black bear with the teeth of a wolf.....

         The only thing I can figure out that saved me was the smell of me and my dried blood. I didn't smell right. My blood being bright red instead of bright orange would have possibly deterred him too. Lokiite life would be slow to eat something it hadn't before....

       There's an animal this metal rich world, with more metals to play with, is literally poisonous at the first cyanide is to a human, death coming very quickly. It also heals quicker than most animals. It's called a tulg, Several other animals have the same sort of "defense" which wounds the animal, but kills its attacker.  Lokiite life would learn caution from that. So if the tyrbund thought I didn't smell like a Lokiite, he wouldn't attack me. Maybe.

        He growled as I up. The wound on my side wasn't very bad, but it hurt to move. I moved very slowly, in a non-threatening manner....but I did try to reach for a large stick.

        He made no move for me, although he followed my every movement. Slowly I backed away, moving into the tall reedlike plants on the riverbank.

         My heart had almost stopped beating audibly....when I heard  another cough/bark behind me.

        I didn't look, I didn't try, I just ran, ran, ran.  Fear of big animals eating you is a primal thing, a childhood thing, a hindbrain thing. I ran not caring what direction I was going in, not even feeling the pain at my side, literally running for my life. Minutes later, I stopped. Breathing hard, I had the shakes, I was hungry, I was in pain, big things were out to eat me except they thought I might be poison...

          I was by a small pond. I suddenly realized I couldn't see the river. I wasn't even sure which way the river was. I had just panicked.

          Words that you don't usually associate with priests were popping up, over and over...

          Finally I sighed, peed (I had just woken up a few minutes ago, remember? Although it seemed like several lifetimes....) and took stock of my situation. Which was not good.

           No buildings in sight. No roads or paths in sight. Not even sure which way the river was. I should go to the top of the hill and see what I can see...but there were animals out there, bogeybeasts whom I didn't understand. I'd do that later. I stopped and cupped hands, and at least had some water. The odd taste of Lokiite water was heavy, but bearable.

          I just wanted to give up. I stared at the pool, and thought about my wife, and my kids, and a mocking inner voice went, Go ahead, you'll be with them. You love them so much, and you don't doubt the afterlife, do you? Or are  you a hypocrite as a priest?

         It wasn't a demon, not in any supernatural sense. It was an old pesonal demon, a deathwish that had manifested itself a couple of times in my life.  There was at least one suicide attempt I made, that haunts me still.  Now the seductive voice of cessation  was back again. It never really left. It's part of me.  I thought of the traditional Catholic  answer to suicide, but my deathwish only whispered, Oh, come on! You don't have much chance of surviving. Do you really want to starve to death, in the midst of plenty? Do you want to be eaten by a tyrbund which has a cold in its nose, or knifed by some Lokiites who don't notice your weregild necklace until too late?

         Or do you not really believe, and you're just afraid to find out you've been wrong all these years, that you gave your life to a lie? But even if that's the case, all it will mean is sweet peace. Only if your God exists, and is cruel enough to send you to everlasting fire for doing the sensible thing, will you lose. Surely you can't believe a loving God would be that cruel, do you?

        I hate it when I don't have good answers for those questions. There was part of me that always found the idea of peace, of cessation, of nonexistence, appealing. Yet I didn't move toward the pool. I wasn't taking this Virgil's tour of Hell-- only to end up in theWood of Suicides. No sadder scene is in literature, for me.

        Yet I recalled my wife, laughing and making my every deed full and complete, when I realized I finally wasn't lonely anymore.  When I would wake up, and there would be a beautiful woman under the sheets with me, and touching her lightly, and having her stir as our skin touched.
       I remembered my laughing daughters on the playground, and wanting me to push them on the swings, and them riding my sholders.  I remembered one blowing out her birthday present and the way they squealed at Christmastime when opening their presents.

        I wanted the three females in my life....the lovely one who made me less lonely, and the two we created together, and whose laughter made our lives even greater. The ones that the fire  had snatched from me.

        I wanted them so bad it was worse than the pain, or the hunger, or the fear. I wasn't going to do anything to endanger being with them forever.

       If I'm wrong, and there's no afterlife, then I'll never know it.

       If there's a different afterlife, there's no way to choose....there are too many I just try to lead a relatively decent life while here.

        In a sense....and this sounds odd for a priest to say....I didn't trust God. I know that sounds heretical, but this is the same God that allows earthquakes, and disease, and other things that make life miserable.   I'm not saying that God isn't loving and kind.  I can think of some reasons He might allow such,  but other reasons are wrapped in Mystery.  I trust Him in the long run, but I can't always understand, or trust what will happen, in the short run.  I don't pretend to know all the answers, so I'm not going to risk eternity on how I second-guess God.

         Thou shalt not murder.  I have no guarentee that doesn't also mean...murdering myself.

         I sat by the pool, and the waters lapping sounded like the laughter of children. The wind sounded like the sighing of a satisfied woman. Yet I was alone.

         Oh so alone.

        I suppose it might have been a strange sight, a lone human, on an alien nonhuman world, crying by a pool, like a little child.

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