Challenge #02232-F042: To Stand in Judgement
"I've known nothing but struggle and heartbreak... and yet I fought to survive, certain it would all be worth it in the end and my prayers would be rewarded... And now I learn THIS? I discover that, from your point of view, my entire life, from the moment I was born until the day I die... well, died... that every day of it is... er, was... just a bit of idle entertainment?!"
"Well... though that's a terribly dark way to put it... you're not wrong." -- Anon Guest
They say that when you die, you stand in judgement before your creator, and they weigh your heart or intents or... anything really... in the balance. To be found wanting is to be sent to the worst of afterlives. To be found worthy is to be sent to paradise.
I don't know much else beyond... this was not the creator I was expecting. They seem surprised, too. Sitting at some strange altar that displays a multitude of things in a multitude of rectangles, half turned away from whatever strange ritual they were doing with the board of sigils at their hands. Staring at me through odd lenses that distorted their very eyes. Everything about them was odd. Their clothing, their colour, the way they were made... The peculiar knot they had tied themselves into.
We spoke the same words at the same time. "What the flying hell?" We shared the same confusion. The same fear. And yet, this peculiar stranger knew me and I knew them not. I couldn't work it out. Not yet. I still breathed. I could feel my heart in my chest. I could feel the world around me for all that it was not the world I knew.
The stranger boggled. "You... you look just like Kantho..."
"I am Kantho," I said. "How do you know me?"
"I've been writing you for years," said the stranger, untying themself and rising from their altar. "I just... I just wrote your death. You..." They walked oddly. Given their former knot, it wasn't hard to fathom why. Yet they still managed to walk over and touch me, as if they doubted my existence. "You can't be real. You're a figment of my imagination. I'm losing it, or... This is it. My sleep deprivation, anxiety, and whatever else is fused up in there has finally snapped. I've conked out and I'll wake up to a whole bunch of keysmash or something." They worked past me, to another room just as bizarre as the one they inhabited. To a door that revealed the night sky and street lamps with an unnatural glare. A different, foul atmosphere wandered in through the door. "Nope. That seems real enough."
I watched as they shut the door again and slumped against it. "Interesting question... when faced with what cannot possibly be real, yet shows every evidence of being so, how does one tell that it is real. Or not?"
This was not one of the traditional Five Questions from the Gods. Yet this creature didn't seem at all godly. "Which deity are you? This is not one of the questions that the Gods ask..."
"I'm not a deity, I'm a millennial. We're way worse if you ask the press." They darted past me again and began making themselves busy with small storage places, strange items, and unfamiliar ingredients. "Though... if you think about it another way... I'm the one who made your gods, so... ultimate creator of everything you know? Or just plain old off my goober, I can't tell from here and I'm making you a PBJ because that's about all I can handle at the moment." They peeled slices of bread off a loaf like a man taking pages from a sheaf of them. "I don't have hrokka tea and it takes too long to make a facsimile before I'm due at my shitty-ass job... I wonder if being insane counts for sick leave?"
"You talk too much. What is this place? These are not the halls of judgement. Where is Thaniis? Anaeron? The Weaver?"
The supposed creator tapped their skull. "Your reality is a figment of my imagination. They're imaginary. You're imaginary. And keep it down or you'll wake my housemates and I'll have confirmation or denial of my sanity status and I really can't deal with that at four in the morning, thankyou." They finished with the pastes and the slices of bread and held it towards me. "May I offer you a sandwich in this trying time?"
"These are the Faelands," I decided. "I know better than to take the food of the Faelands."
This fae creature took a bite of their own offering. "That. Is. Hecking. Brilliant!" They had gone from puzzled confusion to seeming divine intervention in the space of moments, and spoke as they chewed. "You're not dead. You're in the Faelands. It's perfect since you don't know what the spell was anyway and..." They rushed over and landed a kiss on my forehead. "Bless you. I was really hoping I'd find a way for you to not be perma-dead."
The illusion faded around me and I was standing in the Faelands. Many things were the same, but this creature before me was more a Fae Patron than a shambling imitation of a Human. The purple hair remained, though it was much more artistic than the former vision before me.
"Well done for seeing through it. Call me... Hae'na. I've pulling the strings of your fate."
This was somehow more real than reality, and yet I had the faint vision of the shambling creature I'd seen earlier, bowed over their altar and pressing at sigils. Urgently, because their time was not as infinite as it was for the Fae. That image would always be there. Playing in my dreams. Lurking in the background whenever I debated with those who had more power over my life than I.
A wreck of a Human, fighting to make something of us both. Writing my fate... purging their soul into their altar... and for what? What was I to them? A dream? Some silly fantasy?
Or was I a last straw as they, too, fought their own suffering in the small ways available to them?
Whatever it was... Whatever I am... All I can do is hope that I'm at least decent at being it.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / ChrisTefme]
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