Transmigration of the soul. I believe in it. I even have proof.
Listen, now, to my story …
James Elroy opened his eyes and started screaming. His bellowed cries were intervened by short, gasping chokes. Here was a grown man, wailing and contorting his fingers. His shrieks were soon joined in chorus by the surrounding townspeople, who had just watched Elroy hang.
James bawled, out of what may have seemed discomfort, though we know better now. A length of fibre was tightened around his bruised neck, which was red raw from the scrape of rope burn. It hung loose metres away from him, having just been cut. The frantic kicking of his long legs brought up clouds of dirt and dust, leaving particles flickering ominously in the air above the murderer who was, only a moment ago, put to death.
The sky was red, stained by the rising sun. A priest had thrown down his sacred book and was now clutching his cheeks in despair. He was moaning something, over and over – words lost at sea and drowning among the terrified shouting of those who had come to observe the sinners end. ‘His soul was rejected, even at Gates of Hell, and sent back to us! Sent back to torment us further!’
It certainly seemed a befitting fate for James Elroy, who had terrorised the village for endless days, stalking the streets whilst the moon glowed brightest, a blade gripped tight between two bleeding palms. The beacon in the night watched silently and without judgement or intervention as James slit the throats of five young lads and seven ladies, all of whom had been unconscious in their beds – the last thing each witnessed was their own subconscious, projected back at them in the dream world. Then James had slipped away as dawn broke, and wails of grief had woken even the roosters that cold morning.
It was but two days later when the man had returned, and, as a surprise to us all, presented himself as a gift, with wide arms and a smug glint in his eye. He had deprived those angry husbands and fathers of the hunt, which they so dearly hungered for. It was all the watchmen could do to stop them from taking Elroy’s life in the dusty streets. So a hanging was declared for the following morning. Word had spread fast, and most of the town had shown up for a show.
They got one.
Men and women alike were too afraid to approach James as he screamed in terror on the cracked earth. The gallows towered over his torso, spilling shadows over his warming flesh. We had watched the trapdoor drop and Elroy’s leg dangle and swing in the soft breeze of morning. His eyes had closed, taking in the darkness of death, only to open moments later and explode with new life.
A screaming corpse – Elroy had returned from the dead. Hell didn’t want him, and now the dead breathed on the shores of the world. His horrified cries, one could only assume, was a result of having seen Lucifer himself. The image, we imagined, was branded onto the backs of his eyelids for an eternity.
‘Kill it! Stab it! It’s a monster! A monster back from Hell!’
One brave farmer finally stepped forward, a scythe gripped in one hand. To the rest of us it was a picture we would never forget. Man had become Death, and he brought the scythe down onto the head of the living corpse, reaping for brains until Elroy’s screams finally stopped.
We waited. He did not return. Hell accepted him at last.
Or did it, I wonder? I knew of this ‘reincarnation’ – a devilish topic, but one couldn’t help but ponder the idea.
The idea that after a soul passes, the same soul then returns to this world, encased in new flesh. What if … said soul had taken a wrong turn, say, and ended up in the body of a fully grown man? An undeveloped mind, infantile, trapped in the torso of a killer?
Impossible. But … still, during my most restless slumbering I could hear the confused, childlike wailing of James Elroy, a man who had taken life, stared death in the face, and smiled all the while.
Had we murdered a newborn?
Perhaps, then, if we were to believe reincarnation, its soul had passed on once more to a new body?
A comforting thought.
So why can I not sleep?
Oh, James …
Ryan Angerame (c) Copyright 2010