Friday Night Story

Heaven's Insurgence

He was a poet, once. Not the kind who spends hours writing about flowers, or the crooked limbs of a tree; he believed words to be the strongest tool at humanity's disposal, that words could change the world if properly applied. He wrote poems the way Tom Waits writes songs, narratives dipped in honey and experience and weariness and a smile.

And he died young and early when a vein burst in his brain, before he accomplished anything. Those he left behind called it tragic and unfortunate and a waste; he didn’t have the venom in him to denounce his lot, he simply shrugged, and mumbled half a thought about wishing he’d touched the world before realizing neither he nor anyone needed to hear the conclusion.

Then one day, while walking through the reeds in the Elysian fields, and watching the lightning strike his fellow pilgrims while leaving them untouched, he found someone. Someone he lost long ago, but not to death’s cold grip, but to a different life. They had left things badly, and though he remembered her slight, and the coiled words he wished to use for her, he could no longer feel them.

He wandered long and far. He recognized his losses well: his hate, his anger, his rage, and his justice. He sat on the shores of the river Oceanus, to compose for the first time since he arrived, and he found his words impotent. The words would not come, and those he forced were dull and dry and powerless. He stared at his image in the rushing waters, doubting, until he felt himself falling, and the chilled breath of the river all about him. He stayed against the river bed, upon a shelf of pearl-round stones until he convinced himself he could not drown.

He contemplated. He had not bathed since his arrival. Although the sun was always warm, the winds were cool, and he did not sweat, or become unclean, and dirt would not stay upon him or his garments. He decided to bathe, and while cleaning himself, he found that a blemish he had since a child, a mole upon his shoulder, was gone, and he realized his body was no longer his own. His muscles were firmer and stronger than they had ever been in life, his hair silkier, his flesh without mark.

He walked through the streets with a golden hue, and understood now that he was the unhappiest man in paradise, even if his unhappiness was denied him. And he did what the discontented often do, he sought like minds and counsel.

He found greatest favor with the unaccountables, who died before understanding the difference of right and wrong. As a grace, they were aged to the peak of adulthood, and given the faculties of their unachieved prime. Their main deficiency was in experience, but what they lacked in wisdom, they attempted to make up for with a gentle innocence.

Their grievances met his in many things. When he asked why they died, why they suffered so in doing, they cried out their approval. When he begged of them reasons the powerful so often trod over the righteous, and regaled them with the limited horrors of his experience, they wept.

The host, however, remained unmoved, and those with will took deeper offense still. The guard descended upon the poet, and to his credit he stood with pride when approached by the children of perfection. His apostles stood away, and covered their mouths, for even the unaccountable understood.

The guard drew their swords, and closed in on him, so that the gathered crowd could not discern his fate. The captain of the guard crossed his arms in and told them: “There are no insurgents in Heaven.”

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