The dust hissed with the first rain drops. Sam watched the darkening earth from beneath the bridge which had been his home for weeks, feeling like a rain drop on his pale skin, filthy skin might break his hollow shell, revealing the nothing within.
After Carl had ended them, Sam had taken his car and his belongings, leaving his phone and identification behind. He drove as far as his money would take him, then left the car and found the nearest shelter, this bridge. He’d had only the drive to escape everything and everyone in his life. Once accomplished, there was only this.
He collected rainwater to drink. He lived off of handouts from passing fishermen, and had hiked to the local soup kitchen when he couldn’t bear the hunger any longer. Winter would come, eventually, and he would have to make a choice.
When he didn’t think and didn’t move, it didn’t hurt as much. He tried to slow his breathing, and wondered what minimum air was required for survival.
He felt that he had always been here, somehow, alone, hated for what he was, doomed to endless hurt and rejection. Carl wasn’t the first to do this to him, but Sam resolved he was the last. Silence and solitude was now his armor, his safest refuge.
Night slowly wrapped him in her cold fingers. He crawled into his sleeping bag, and curled into the fetal position. His tears came unbidden, without accompanying words or images, like a natural function of his body. He slept in fits, and hoped to wake when day had returned, not before.
He woke, as he always did, a few hours later. His teeth chattered in the cold, and he hugged himself closer. The wind rustled the leaves of the trees, and grew louder.
A voice like a loud exhalation rose over the sound of the leaves. He sat bolt upright, looking around, standing and pulling himself out of his sleeping bag. He’d chosen this spot because no one messed with him here.
“The end, Samuel. The end, will it.” The whispering voice tickled his ears again. “My Samuel, Shamshael.”
His lips fumbled and mumbled for not having spoken for so long; his voice croaked: “where are you? Do I know you? How do you know me?”
“Samuel. Shamshael. Warrior, lonely, you have I always known.” The hairs on his arms pricked up and he trembled through to his core. Fear gripped him, but his exhaustion and sadness were stronger, and he sat on the ground, heavily.
“Why do you call me ‘Shamshael?’”
“Truly named, you, mine.”
“I’m a gay kid from a shitty little town. Everyone has told me you hate me since I knew what I was. Why do you come to me?”
“Same, we are the same, Shamshael. Mine and yours and yours and mine. No sin is love; hurt me what hurts you. Judge them. My heart, yours, know you, mine.”
“You want me to judge the world? Why me?”
“The end is the beginning is the end. Last is first and first is last, so shall you, Shamshael. Last you have been, decide so you shall.”
“I have nothing. I am nothing.”
“Anokhi. As am I.”
He looked as his hands, once manicured, now crusted with dirt and grime. His clothes stuck to his body. He whispered: “I’m so ashamed. I’m not clean.”
“Cleansing, purifying. Fire.” His eyes, adjusted to the dark, were blinded as a pillar of flame descended from the heavens, to light in front of him, next to the bridge. The flames descended into the earth, and an iron pot rested at their center, filled with burning coals.
“Mine your body is; take it and eat, and one we shall be.”
“Eat the coals?”
“Hands will burn, true skin beneath. Mouth, flames, swallow, honey. Not changed, but revealed. True body, being real, show shall you, Shamshael.”
He was so broken, so lonely, no thought crossed his mind except compliance. He walked to the coals, blazing with heat. His hand caught flame immediately as he grasped the incendiary material, and his jaw burned as soon as it touched his lips. As his consciousness fled, he tasted honey.
Shamshael part 1: