Sometimes I go to this dark place where ghosts roam free and fears cackle in the wind. A place in my mind that takes an ongoing battle to repress, but often, it refuses to be silenced, pushing itself to the surface like a blowup clown toy, its face deceptively happy, but truly disturbed.
I wonder if everyone has this dark place. I have a feeling it exists in all human minds. But some have better control sending it back into the grave where it belongs, while others, I being among them, secretly enjoy spending a little too much time there. Because it’s a world where I sometimes must go in order to create stories, to understand villains, and to allow my alter ego access to places and notions my real self would never dare to tread. It is here that I play with monsters, walk the line of insanity, and dare myself to run further into darker, forbidden parts of the forest.
I feel the beginnings of a story. But did the following actually happen, or was it just pure imagination? You be the judge.
Morbid Thoughts, they were called, armed sentinels of destruction, sent by Darkness himself. They stealthily crept up behind me. My mind, unsettled and wildly on the verge of becoming disturbed, only fueled their violence as they abducted me and dragged me to the edge of the dark forest. There we waited for their master. I’ve only ever known his name as Demon.
He suddenly morphed from the gray mist like a mugger in a dark alley.
“What if you were meant to die young?” His voice was calm and crisp, yet filled with the worst kind of venom.
I battled Demon with this reply. “My genes are good. Three out of four of my grandparents are still living.”
He smiled, fangs shining, glistening with predatory anticipation. “Your grandfather who is no longer among the living passed away of cancer. Your other grandfather is predisposed for colon cancer. Your aunt had breast cancer. Your own brother had to have part of his stomach removed.”
Behind me, there were no longer just the two sentinels of Morbid Thoughts. Demon’s army had grown a thousand fold. Demon called his soldiers Fears, and now Fear after Fear had multiplied, their thirst for blood aroused by my growing sense of dread, as Demon continued to list all sorts of health issues in my family. Cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, cancer.
“I exercise five times a week and have healthy eating habits,” I argued, but my answer was weak, even to my own ears. Demon and I both knew very well that diet and exercise were only a part of the equation. And also, Demon knew I hadn’t been to the doctor in ages.
“You could be dying as we speak,” he said. “Enjoy all your pretty plans for your birthday this year because who knows if you’ll live to see 40. You many never get married, have kids, experience any—”
“Shut up!” I yelled, but he continued ruthlessly.
“You might even die before the end of the month. Hit by a car or severe food poisoning. There are no guarantees that you’ll even make it to your 30th birthday.”
I mumbled something then. His eyes narrowed lasciviously, and his grin spread in near victory. “Speak up now. I do so love it when my opponents concede.”
“You’re right,” I repeated, louder this time.
But he was wrong. I hadn’t conceded. I had just remembered something.
My voice grew with confidence. “You’re right that I might die. But that’s okay.”
The fears fell back, dispersing into the shadows. They were cowardly soldiers.
Demon staggered back, shock claiming his once self-assured features.
“What do you mean, that’s okay? Explain yourself,” he demanded.
“Sure, I could go to the doctor, get my routine checkups, eat right and exercise, but then still end up dying young. But you’re wrong about there being no guarantees. There is one guarantee. Death is not the end—it’s only the beginning.”
“How can you say that?” he screeched, his features stretching in frustration that drenched him in ugliness. “How can you be so cavalier about death?”
“Because,” I said, “Death has no power over me. I know this because God has claimed victory over death through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Only God gets to decide when He will take me home, and nothing can stop Him from His perfect plan.”
I glared at Demon right in the eyes, daring him to prevent me from leaving. He was powerless now, shrinking into a miniature version of himself. He was still there, but I wasn’t going to wait around for him to revive himself.
“It’s time for me to say bye bye,” I told Demon, who was now as tiny as an ant. “I’ve spent two minutes too long in this darkness, and that is worse for my health than binging on two family-sized bags of potato chips any day.”
“Until we meet again,” I heard him whisper, almost inaudible due to his size, but still there, and still sounding confident that one day he would defeat me.
“I’ll be ready,” I said.