Passage to the Underworld (The Fall of Mephisto writing sample)

The cavern covered the riverbank completely, and there was a pale glow of light far, far ahead on the other side of a great mass of water. The mist ahead obfuscated his eyesight, making the path ahead blurry and undiscernible. Mephisto approached the figure. He wore a dirty, dark robe, and his eyes shined like fiery embers in the darkness. He said:

“My paddle reaches beneath water,

stirring the darkest depths that brought her.

Face and brace yourself to understand,

accept the Truth, unity will band.

The token of the One requested,

Shimmering eyes have arrested.

Drink and die, all of fate will wisen

Until you meet your match the hyphen.

Mephisto was arrested by the intensity of his fiery eyes that saw straight through him. They weren’t hostile eyes, they cared. Remembering the coin just given to him, he gave it to the being, and then boarded the boat and sat. The ferryman said nothing as he paddled into the dark beyond. The black water was nearly silent, except for the ripples caused by the paddle. He paddled on with a Hellenic stare; there was no judgement or error as he paddled with purpose.

              In the water Mephisto observed his dark image shift like a dream of reflections like light on a stage of spirit twinkling in the darkness. However, as they drifted across the large mass of water, while coming nearer to their destination, Mephisto felt growing unrest. Then he caught a glimmer of the dragon on the canvas of the water.

              “My dear friend, the hardest stage is almost over. You’ll see. Fix your eyes on the water, watch the waves ripple, listen as I gently paddle. Be in the moment, the here and now. Your journey behind you, yes—feel the pulse and drive, but don’t be overcome by it.”

              “But how do I not be overcome by it?”

              “Breathe and pay attention to your senses. Put your hand in the water as we drift across, feel the cool touch of wetness, smell the fresh river. But also, I simply mean that the flow led you here, that it can be useful. There is ancient wisdom in our emotions, but even they can get the better of us too.”

              “What wisdom are my emotions telling me now?”

              “They are telling you to pay attention to where you are going! To watch what path you are embarking on! I was one of the few eons ago, a traveler like you, burdened by a past the conscience couldn’t subdue. Now I return here after my time to remind myself of what I must do.”

              “And what must you do?”

              “Once a person has experienced a certain kind of hell, they don’t have a choice on what they must do next. They simply must return to aid fellow travelers upon their way. My burden is a glimmer of your burden, we are different, but in a sense, we are one and the same. Your pilgrimage once was my pilgrimage, and once an eon, I return to remember what it’s all about, what it’s all for.”

              “So, why am I here?”

              “Part of you understood why when you drank from the well of Chaos.”

              “I do not understand.”

The ferryman then began to paddle in unison with every phrase he spoke, “You asked me how to not be overcome by your emotion, instead be overcome by yourself. The dragon you sought overcomes, it overcomes grief, it overcomes destiny, it overcomes all. Ultimately, you must overcome in the act of creation. The destiny of the cosmic forces of Love and Strife written across the cosmos, to disintegrate and then to create ad infinitum is a perpetual forward thrusting—but for a fraction of a moment, the dragon’s thunderbolt strikes, and a being is hurled into consciousness, it embodies a destiny, then it is grounded, and sees within itself the ineffable myriad, the inexpressible, until it occurs—that moment of transcendence where experience widens, times and space stop in its tracks, and the original Chaos is restored.”

With an old raspy voice it continued, “To be in its presence… Well it leaves traces in our hearts for eternity. I still feel it eons later. I can say no more, anything else I might add would deviate from the ancient poetry.”

The ferryman then silenced himself, and looked off into the beyond, towards the light ahead, his eyes being a beacon that saw distant shores.

Once they finally arrived at the cavern’s dark bank of the river, the being said:

“Your destination, but a word of caution,

Think! Act! Now! Will you be as just and true,

as all of those that can before you?

Or be something else entirely?

Your choice to be or not to be.

Now remember this Redemptive Grief,

Eternity shall pass, this remains.

Struggle and strife is the bane of Cain’s.”

Mephisto stepped off the rocky boat and turned towards the ferryman one last time, and asked, “Your eyes, how did you come by them?”

“A price must be paid to cross over again. Since I did not have the coinage, I paid with my eyes. I cannot see by corporeal means, only by spiritual. Now begone, until we meet again in the great beyond!”