Happy Now?

Posted on September 1, 2013

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Warm air blew against his face as he looked out at the twinkling city lights below. The tears streaming down his cheeks turned from warm to cool.

“This city…” he mumbled, looking from side to side, taking in the scene before him. The starry-like resemblance gave everything a peaceful, disarming feeling. How could something so beautiful be so damned?

All his life, wasted here. The people, shallow, cruel, indifferent, shunned him wherever he went. But wait, he thought as he began pacing back and forth on the cliff’s edge, dirt and dead grass crunching beneath his feet. Is it really fair to blame the people? Should I really generalize a populace of over a million as being cruel, mindless sheep?

No.

He stopped, looked around. That voice…He shook his head. It was only the last bits of his sanity slipping away. He turned towards the city again and just stared. More tears streamed down his face. Suddenly it felt as if a knife had been driven into his gut. He dropped to his knees, arms wrapped around himself.

Looking up, gasping for air between the sobbing, he let out an agonizing scream. “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” The effort left his throat sore. He slammed his fist on the ground. The pain never seemed to register. “Why! Why! Why!” He yelled hoarsely. Then he stood, wiped the tears on his sleeve, took a deep breath, and stepped forward into eternity.

“Splat!”

He screamed and screamed as the pain hit him all at once. His rib cage had caved in, as well as half his skull. Both legs were broken, with bone sticking out of his right one. One arm was bent backwards and, miraculously, aside from being broken, his other arm was saved any horrible disfigurement.

Barely audible over his agonized wailing, there was laughter and clapping. A pair of black boots stepped into view. He looked up, not really able to get a good look at the man standing before him. He was dressed in all black and had his hands on his hips. Bending over him, the man said, mockingly, “Hurts, doesn’t it?”

He could only cry in response. The man nodded and snapped his fingers. Everything changed. Well, everything had already changed. He just took notice of it now that the pain was gone and he was standing up. His body was no longer bloody and disfigured, and they were surrounded in an infinite white. The man sat in a black leather armchair in front of him. He looked up at him with a grin.

“Happy now, Trent?”

Trent didn’t know how to respond. This didn’t seem real.

“Oh, but it is!” The man said, sitting up straighter and crossing his leg. “You just haven’t accepted it yet.” He snapped his fingers. Six beautiful women, three on either side of him, suddenly appeared. He uncrossed his leg as two of them sat on his lap, one beginning to undo the buttons of his shirt, the other massaging his crotch. Another stood behind the chair and began to massage his shoulders.

“This is what you want?” He asked nonchalantly. The other three women strode slowly over to Trent, the want in their eyes making him shift nervously. The man snapped his fingers, and all the women disappeared. Disappointment welled up within Trent.

“Can’t have it!” The man laughed heartily. “No twenty-some-year-old, nerdy, virgin gets that kind of action while you’re alive. So why should you when you’re dead?!”

The man laughed even harder than before.

“You’re just an all-around heartless asshole, aren’t you?” The coldness in his words and tone surprised Trent, as well as the man, who stared at him with murder in his eyes.

“You’re a judge now?”

“It didn’t take much to reach a verdict.”

The man stood, his chair disappearing suddenly. He stepped into within inches of Trent’s face. “Now listen,” his breath smelled odd. Almost like smoke. “You know nothing, nothing, about me! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO PASS JUDGEMENT ON ME!”

There was a snapping of fingers, and Trent once again found himself laying down, bloody, broken, and in agonizing pain. He cried and wailed. The man laughed. “That’s better.” His chair reappeared, but whether or not he had snapped his fingers, Trent couldn’t tell over his own screaming.

Visibly, Trent could see him snap his fingers, but again, he couldn’t hear it. To his relief, the pain went away. He tried to get up, but his arms and legs were still broken. So he lied still and waited patiently. As he did, it suddenly struck him, as he stared at the man, that he barred a remarkable resemblance to himself. Who was he?

“Think of me as your counterpart,” the man said abruptly. “Even though I’m not, technically. You can either call me by your own name or, simply, counterpart.” He crossed his leg again. “Oh,” he continued, “and yes, I can read your thoughts, since you were wondering.”

The counterpart looked at Trent expectantly. “Pffwhoaat isthh,” Trent began. “Here,” the counterpart said. “Let me fix that.” And he snapped his fingers. Once again, Trent stood before him, his injuries gone. He composed himself. “What is this place?”

“It’s your hell,” the counterpart said matter-of-factly. “Anything and everything that ever brought you pain when you were alive will be here to continue the job for all eternity.”

Trent’s heart sank. He looked down, not sure what to say.

“I’m sorry,” the counterpart said consolingly. “If you had died happy, everything happy would be here instead.”

Trent looked up at him. “Is that how it works? Die miserable, and everything that made you miserable follows you?”

The counterpart nodded. “Die happy, and everything that made you happy follows you.”

“Seems sorta strange,” Trent said, sitting down. “What if what made you happy was considered a sin in God’s eyes?”

The counterpart shrugged. “He gave up on trying to make you all obey Him. As long as you appreciate the greatest gift He’s ever given you-life-then He doesn’t care what you do so along as it’s not utterly evil.”

“And I guess I just spat on His gift and gave it back.”

The counterpart nodded. “Pretty much.”

“So…what now?”

The counterpart smiled and stood. “Let me show you the world through your eyes.” He snapped his fingers.

They stood in the middle of a deserted street. Windowless buildings to either side of them.

“This…” Trent said, looking around. “This…is downtown.”

Next to him stood the counterpart. He nodded. “Just as you would see it.”

Trent looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”

“It’s also as the how the world would see you.”

“What do you mean?!” Trent begged. “I don’t understand.”

The counterpart snapped his fingers. A tall building at the end of the street suddenly collapsed into a heap of rubble. Then he looked at Trent. “You acknowledged that this was downtown, but didn’t you noticed anything different about it?”

Trent looked around and thought some more. All the buildings were grey, windowless, and eerily similar.

“So…they seem a little more generic and lifeless…” Then something dawned on him. “Hey, wait. Where are the people? I do see people in my world, you know.”

The counterpart scowled at him. “Do you? Do they see you, too?”

“I…I would think-what are you getting at?”

The counterpart sulked. “Nothing important…”  Then he began to walk towards the collapsed building. Trent followed close behind, still observing the world around him.

“What is the meaning of life, Trent?”

“Shouldn’t you know?”

The counterpart turned and faced him, enraged. “Shouldn’t you?!” He yelled. “No!” Trent yelled back, surprised at the sudden outburst.

“Why’d you kill yourself?! Huh?”

“Those are two completely different que-”

“Are they?!” The counterpart turned around and stormed off, ranting. Trent followed at a distance. “You felt lonely,” the counterpart said. “You had friends, two, three, at most. No lover. You felt pathetic. Felt like a loser. Thought you would never become normal.” All his words hit Trent like a ton of bricks.

“You had no hope for the future. The fact is,” the counterpart stopped and looked up at the clear, blue sky. “He…He doesn’t have plans for you, or for anybody.” He turned and faced Trent again. “You make your own destiny.” He poked his index finger in his chest. “You create your own path. Your misery wasn’t predetermined by the Almighty!”

“Bullshit!” Trent shoved the counterpart to the ground. “How can it be that such an all-powerful being can LET HIS CREATIONS SUFFER?! Has He no mercy?! Does He even have the power to call the fucking shots?! Or was-was this, all this,” he spread his arms wide. “Was this some fucking experiment He never had control of from the beginning?!”

The counterpart, looking down at first, slowly lifted up his head, gazing into Trent’s hate filled eyes. To Trent’s amazement, he was crying.  In almost a whisper, he said, “How…dare you.”

The ground immediately started to shake. Subtlety at first, then gradually more and more so, until Trent could no longer keep his balance. He fell to his hands and knees. When he looked up, the counterpart had gone. All round him the buildings started to crack, chunks flying out from their frames.

“Where-where are you?!” Trent yelled.

That doesn’t concern you. The voice came from inside his head. A building a little ways down collapsed. Trent laid on his side and curled up into a ball and cried.

Nerdy, hopeless, little virgin. Never amounted to anything in your life, yet you think you can come to this one, insulting the Creator? Your problems with women, with people in general, were all your own. God does what He so chooses, and if He decides to observe rather than play puppeteer, then so it shall be. He doesn’t manipulate, judge, or damn. People do. Remember that.

One by one, the buildings all around Trent collapsed. The last thing he saw was the darkness through a window.

Happy now?

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Posted in: Stories