Date Of Birth

Entry by: Phidgers

30th October 2015
Date Of Birth

Many people believe that death is not the end. This is a fair and correct assumption. They ponder their own mortality, and overlook the other boundary of life. They never wonder if birth is the beginning, or merely a continuation from what came before.

Marcus stood in a room with two doors. Neither of them would open for him, until he had finished cleaning. The walls, once marked by a lifetime of choices, were scrubbed and dusted. They were almost bare, almost good enough. Except for the stain. A blotch of red that refused to come out, no matter how hard he tried. It moved around, warping into grotesque shapes, endlessly enacting a scene he would rather forget. He looked down at his hands. They were almost transparent now, just like the rest of him. But like the walls, there was still a trace of red. A single choice that shackled him to this place, and kept the doors firmly locked. It moved throughout his being, a crimson line that refused to dissipate.

‘Marcus’, said a voice behind him. He turned, and gave a small bow. This was customary when greeting an angel.
‘What news for me, seraphim?’ he asked. ‘Am I to be free?’
‘Your task is not finished,’ the angel replied. ‘You cannot become One with the universe whilst you are still marked.’
‘So much of me is cleansed now’, said Marcus. He knew that debate was futile, but it had been so long since he had the chance to speak with something other than himself. ‘Why must I suffer for a single mistake?’

‘Your choices built your prison. Your regrets sustain it. I do not hold the key to your way out. You believed you were a good man, Marcus. Good men do not easily forget when they commit murder.’
The images on the wall intensified. Marcus cringed as he watched. His glasslike eyelids made it impossible to look away. A man, prone on the ground. A caricature of Marcus towered over him, a cruel whip in his hand.

‘He was a slave, but I should not have killed him,’ he muttered, as his wall mounted counterpart struck the man hard and repeatedly. ‘But then, he should not have looked in such a way at my sister.’
‘Your actions have consequence only for yourself in the afterlife’, the angel said. ‘Your justifications are not needed. You chose your situation, no one else. The man you killed has long since ascended to Nirvana. Yet your actions cling to your conscience’. It looked around the room, then back at Marcus. ‘I remember when you arrived here. The walls seeped with regret. You have cleaned your soul of most of it. But even after all this time, you cannot assuage your guilt. I do not believe that you ever will. For this reason, you will not find your way to Nirvana.’

‘There must be hope’, Marcus replied, desperate. ‘I’ve learned so much in this time of reflecting. I believe I’m close to redemption. The next stage seems close at hand for me. I even hear sounds from beyond one of the doors. They’re muffled, but I hear them. Voices, and music sometimes. The language is unlike anything I know, but I believe that the messages are those of comfort.’

‘You will soon leave here, Marcus, but you will not join us in Nirvana. Not yet, at least. We do not take souls such as yourself out of benevolence. When someone comes to us, they join their life force to ours. All of their experiences become our experiences, and ours become theirs. We only accept those who provide some form of benefit. Our existence is one of tranquillity. Your invincible regret would threaten that. There are murderers who have joined our ranks. They found a way to forgive themselves. It is not the memory of the act that we avoid, but the negative feelings that come with it. I could destroy this room, and wipe away any trace of your actions. But then, all of you would be empty. Your other memories are intact, tuned perfectly to exist in harmony. They are the toll you would need to pay to open the door to our world. Without them, you offer nothing.’

‘Then what is to become of me?’

‘You are correct in that you have learned much, Marcus. I do not believe that you would repeat the mistakes you made, if you were given another chance to live. Only one of the doors in this room leads to Nirvana. The other leads to a place you have visited before, although it has changed much with the passage of time. The voices speak to you from behind that door. The people there have forgotten your language. The Caesar you know and glorify is no more than a vague face on an ancient coin. But already, their speech begins to seem familiar. Over the last nine months, you have grown accustomed to listening to them. A woman’s voice, in particular. You will go to these people, and try to live a valuable life. Perhaps then, you will find a room that you can wipe clean of all of your choices. Now push, Isabelle! Push! Keep going, you’re doing great!’

The angel’s voice had changed from an ethereal whisper, to the muffled voice of a man. Marcus struggled to make out the words. In fact, he struggled to make out anything. Suddenly, he did not remember how to speak, or that he ever knew how to speak. He felt a crushing pain, and an indescribable feeling that he needed to get out from his surroundings. A woman’s voice, so familiar, cried out in agony. Then, a blinding light. He took a gasping breath, and his cries were music to the people in the room he had arrived in. No one noticed a rather striking change of personal circumstance.
‘It’s a girl’, said the doctor, cutting the umbilical cord. He handed the baby to her mother, who was exhausted and elated in equal measure. ‘Date of birth, Saturday the fourteenth of March. Just two minutes after midnight, you almost had a Friday the thirteenth baby, Mrs Evans!’

The new mother didn’t hear the doctor, as she was too enraptured with her baby. The infant had opened her eyes, and was gazing up at her. Isabelle thought about how strange reality must look to her daughter. She was right, although perhaps not for the reasons she expected. The world was almost two thousand years younger when the child had seen it last.