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The strange thing was that he couldn’t feel the wind. He could see it gently blowing the long, tall blades of tawny grass before him and around him, for it seemed to stretch endlessly in every direction. Nothing but rolling hills of swaying gold, dotted here and there with white flowers and an occasional daffodil, rhythmically moving back and forth in the fiery sunset of a cloudless day.
His hand absently reached to touch the soft tips of grass moving about him, but he didn’t feel anything brush against his hand. He squinted, confused, watching his hand meet with the ends of multiple stocks of grass, yet feeling nothing in touch his hand.
He realized that he was cold, practically shivering, even though the orange disc of fire just above the horizon should have warmed him. This also confused him. Had he been looking upon this scene from the outside, he would have guessed it to be extremely hot in this seemingly limitless sea of gold.
He didn’t remember how he got here, what he was doing here, or even what â€˜here’ was. He couldn’t seem to remember anything from the past. It was if he had simply come into existence here, here in this field; no history, no past, no present, no future. Yet he knew that couldn’t be true, because in his heart and mind, there was something, something that had history.
His name. Thomas. Thomas Lindley. That was his name.
And with it there was a feeling, a consciousness, that was his identity. It was the way in which he viewed the world, the way in which he thought and acted.
There was something there.
There were precedents. Precedents for how he had assumed this particular identity, precedents for the feeling of anxiousness and fear and anger which seemed to course through his veins and define this identity. Precedents for the nervous twitches and overwhelming pressure he felt sinking its talons into his shoulders.
What had he been?
And what had he gone through to entrench such qualities into his very character?
There were precedents, he knew there were, somewhere beneath the scarred and shaken identity that apparently was his.
He blinked. For a moment he thought he had seen a figure moving across one of the distant hills. Maybe it had been a mirage. But those were only supposed to happen in the desert, he thought.
Why was that word so striking to him? It carried weight. Huge weight. But he had no idea why it did….
Thomas Lindley nearly screamed when he heard the voice behind him, and whirled around to come face to face with someone rather strange and out of place in this sea of endless grass.
The man was about the same height as him, and wore a black suit with a red tie. He wasn’t overweight, just a little on the plump side, and had a kind face with warm, sparkling brown eyes. He was in his sixties probably, and was balding; the hair that was left upon his head was graying.
Thomas thought he looked very familiar, and as he was about to ask the man’s name, he suddenly realized who it was, and nearly choked on his words.
The man smiled brightly, his eyes glowing up at Thomas. “Of course, Lindley!” the man said chuckling and walking up to stand next to Thomas. “I thought you had forgotten for a moment there.”
“In the flesh,” the man said, smiling again. His voice was slightly raspy, yet carried both a deep wisdom of many years and a natural cheerfulness which accompanied his warm smile. The Reverend squinted out into the fields splayed out in front of him.
“So where are we, exactly?”
Thomas Lindley didn't answer. He couldn't answer. He was confused. Not because of the fact that he was stuck in the middle of this seemingly endless sea of waving grass with the reverend of his childhood church, but the fact that he was not completely freaked out by this. Something at the back of his mind was screaming that he should feel scared, should feel disturbed, should feel something; but there was nothing.
No emotions seemed to be stirring within his gut. He was completely relaxed, at peace with the world, save for the slight shadow of anxiety which seemed to constantly be hanging above him.
"Are you okay?"
Thomas thought for a moment. "Um…yeah, I guess…"
"You look a little pale."
Thomas looked at his hands and realized that, indeed, they looked pale. Extremely pale. Almost ghost-like.
"This is a strange place," the Reverend muttered, having turned away from Thomas and now stood examining the tendrils of grass nearest to his slightly chubby hands. He frowned and turned to Thomas.
"You know what this reminds me of, Thomas?"
Thomas was still slightly dazed from all that was happening.
"Moses. You see," the reverend said, touching his forefinger to his lips in thought, "this situation is not unlike his. He was stranded in the desert." He gestured around. "This is something like a desert. I mean, the basic definition of a desert is a location devoid of diversity of landscape, is it not?"
There was that word again. Desert. Why did it ring a bell in his head? Why did it seem so important?
"Uh…that sounds right…"
"Hm. Interesting. I wonder what I'm doing here." Reverend Beasley squinted in thought, then looked at Thomas. "What are you doing here?"
"How did you get here?"
"You don't know much, do you?" He chuckled once again. "Well, I guess we can find out together."
"How did you get here?" Thomas asked, very curious to know how the reverend of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma could possibly have ended up with him in this slightly holistic-feeling place.
"That's an intriguing question, Thomas," the Reverend responded, brushing a spot of dirt off of the left shoulder of his suit jacket. "One minute I'm comfortably seated on a flight to Cleveland, going over my notes for the Easter mass I will be overseeing and waiting for the flight attendant to come by with those little bags of peanuts-you know what I'm talking about right?"
"Those little blue bags with the ridiculously salty peanuts? Tell me: why peanuts?"
"Why not walnuts? Why nuts at all? What if I'm allergic to nu-?"
"Right, sorry," he said, taking a handkerchief out of his inside pocket and wiping his brow. "It's hot out here. Anyways, I shut my eyes for a few seconds, and the next thing I know, I'm laying face-down on a bed of grass in the middle of this strange field ." He sighed. "The thing that bothers me is that I don't know how it happened."
"How what happened?"
"Did I choke on a peanut? Did I have a heart attack? Did the plane go down?"
Thomas stared at Reverend Beasley, confused.
"Reverend, what are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about how I died, of course!"
He couldn't find words to say to this, but simply stared at the chubby little Reverend standing before him.
"You're dead?!" he finally squawked.
"Well, why else would I be here?! That's one thing I know I'm good at, Thomas. Deductive reasoning."
"Just 'cause you're here doesn't mean…doesn't mean-"
"No no, Thomas, I'm pretty sure about this. I really hope it wasn't the peanuts. That would just be embarrassing-"
"Wait." Thomas took a deep breath, feeling an icy feeling beginning to spread through his stomach. "Are you saying….saying that-"
"I'm sorry, Thomas," Reverend Beasley said, putting his hand on Thomas' arm. "I really am."
"I'm afraid so."
Thomas stared at the reverend. His mouth was suddenly tremendously dry.
"You don't know that!" he burst all of the sudden. "You're just guessing!"
"Thomas, please," Reverend Beasley said. "I'm sure about this. You'd better sit down."
"Sit down where?!" Thomas shouted angrily, waving his arms. "We're in the middle of a field!!"
"Sit on the chair."
Thomas spun around to see that there was, in fact, a wooden chair directly behind him. He whirled back to look at Reverend Beasley, and found that both he and the Reverend were now standing on the wooden porch of a white building. Beyond the white balcony of the white porch was a lawn, well-tended and lined with trees and bushes. Dotting the dark green surface were many gray, stony tombstones.
There was something familiar about this place.
"I've been here before," Thomas said suddenly, unsure when or where he had been here. "I know I have."
"Well, of course," the reverend said. “This is the Oklahoma City graveyard.”
Gone. Everything that had been before him a moment before, the silent, tombstones, the twisted and practically leafless oaks, the rippling shadows spewed across the lawn: gone.
He was in his tiny little room in their tiny little townhouse, with only enough space for his bed and his greenish little bureau. He was playing with his action figures, one trying to blow the other to smithereens, down upon that fuzzy green carpet that had always been beside his bed.
He was in the large church, stained glass windows high above him, letting in colored and fragmented light into the room which vibrated with the unified voices of all who sang along with the thundering organ.
He was on the baseball field of the high school, surrounded by many his own age, each looking wild and antsy as the pipe was passed from one person to the other through the hazy and smoke-filled air.
He was packing all the clothes, CDs, pictures, papers and pencils he could fit into a large rucksack as the small window by his bed was pounded by a barrage of afternoon rain.
And then he was in a completely different place. A place devoid of all the commodities he had learned to accept in his home of Oklahoma. This place was hot, arid…..and comprised of a completely different atmosphere than what he was accustomed to…..
It was desolate. It was dry. It was devoid of all hope.
There was not a building in sight that had not been decimated, that did not stand without a gaping hole in its side.
There was not a single person within sight that did not wear that expression of complete horror, almost on the verge of being violently ill because of a soul-wrenching shock that gripped their entire being.
The sky couldn’t be seen it was so smoky; he was able to see brief glimpses of the street laid out before him, but for the most part he was practically blind.
And deaf, he soon realized. All that he could hear was the rhythmic pounding within his chest, so loud and strong he thought it might burst out from his chest.
Someone grabbed his arm with a powerful grip, and he turned to see a man shorter than he, wearing sweatpants and a simple plaid shirt with a white and red design. Then he realized the man was screaming, crying, tears flowing down his smoke-stained face to drench his equally smoke-stained shirt.
The man was gesturing wildly, screaming at the top of his lungs pulling Thomas through the smoke at a run. Thomas had no time to react, no time to do anything but follow this man. The drums thundered in his ears, louder and quicker as he ran deeper and deeper into the gloom. He briefly caught flashes of other people hurrying here and there, but he had no idea why or where. He seemed to have lost his sense of smell as well, which made the experience even more fleeting.
They passed through what used to be a stone wall, but now had a gigantic hole in it. Debris littered the ground; great chunks of buildings, pieces of clothing, a shoe, what looked like pieces of tire, and some sort of red liquid that Thomas couldn’t identify at the moment…
And then they were there, and the man had let go of him and had collapsed onto the ground, picking something up in his arms, still screaming at the top of his lungs. They were standing in the remains of a house, though now all that stood was the doorway. Splintered wood, chunks of rock and slabs of concrete littered the ground about them. The air was still extremely smoky, making everything about them a sickly orange and brown color.
Something terrible had happened here.
The man suddenly raised his head and screamed to the sky, then turned around and revealed what he held in his arms to Thomas.
It was a girl, no older than ten, wearing a red dress. She seemed perfectly normal to Thomas, just sleeping in the man’s arms, until he saw her face.
Her right eyes was gone; all that was left was a gaping, hole, dripping blood onto her white, exposed cheekbone. The little skin that was left on her face was brunt, charred, barely resembling anything close to human epidermis. Her left cheek was gone, revealing all the teeth on the right side of her mouth. Her left eye was swollen shut, and her forehead was charred to the bone, making her countenance seem more like a skull than her actual face.
He was numb. Dumbstruck. All the feeling had been beaten out of him. What on earth had happened to this child? How could anything be so horrible, so inhumanely merciless, to be able to do this to a ten year old girl?
The man had crumpled to the floor, writhing over the mutilated child, presumably omitting horrific sobs of agony, of grief.
Who had done this?
Something struck him in the face all of the sudden; something hard and rough. He landed on the ground and felt hard blows strike him again and again and again; whether someone was kicking him or punching him, he didn’t know. All he knew was that he didn’t feel the pain, didn’t hear the blows landing on him; all he heard was the pounding of his heart.
The blows stopped. Thomas opened his eyes and looked around, trying to see who had attacked him; his eyes wandered about the smoky ruins, the crumpling walls and burnt doorways, and finally saw the crumpled pile of crimson that was the little girl.
And slowly, quietly, the numb that had encased his body was penetrated. From somewhere inside, deep inside, he felt a candle flicker; a candle of an emotion that he had never felt in all his life. He couldn’t put words to it, couldn’t find anything to compare it to. It was….a burning. But also a piercing. It was……
Her hair was black, so black, darker than any black he had ever seen. What was left of her face looked so calm, so peaceful, so at home in this hell. Her tiny little crumpled figure was so small, lying there in the midst of the debris. So small, so full of life, of possibility, of growth. There was so much she had to do, to see; and so much she had done and had seen.
And then his eyes fell on another crumpled pile, not far from the little girl, a pile that still moved and writhed on the ground. It was the man, the man who had shown Thomas the dead girl, the man who had screamed. He was struggling, holding his chest, red liquid spurting out between his fingers.
He was dying.
Someone grabbed him and hoisted him up, wrenching him from the sight of the man. Thomas turned and saw a young man, wearing a helmet and dressed up in a soldier outfit, carrying a gun and a pack. He had a wild look in his eyes, and was doubled over, sweating. The soldier was saying something, asking it seemed…..
Then Thomas’ eyes fell on the soldier’s gun, still smoking in his hands, and something clicked.
“Are you okay, Lindley?!”
Thomas could hear again, could hear the soldier’s shouts over the loud wall of noise surrounding them, but he barely noticed. He was looking at the man on the ground, gasping and spluttering blood all over himself, desperately trying to hold on to life.
“You shot him?!”
The soldier looked strangely at Thomas, his brow furrowed.
“YOU SHOT HIM?!” Thomas repeated.
“Yes!” the soldier yelled. “He was trying to kill you!!”
There was a bloodcurdling scream from behind them, accompanied with gurgling as the man’s throat filled with blood. Immediately, Thomas moved towards the man, preparing to sprint as fast as he could, but was grabbed by the soldier almost instantly.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!” the soldier cried incredulously. “We have to leave!!”
“Get off me!!”
“LINDLEY!!” the soldier shouted, spinning Thomas around. “If we don’t get the hell out of here, they’ll leave without us!!”
“GET OFF ME!!”
“HE’S DEAD!! LEAVE HIM!”
Thomas turned and saw that the man had stopped writhing on the ground, had stopped crying out. He was still holding his hands to his chest, his mouth and eyes still open wide as death took his last breath away.
Thomas stared. Inside, the nameless emotion was taking hold. No longer was it just a flicker, just an ember; it had grown into a fire.
He turned and slammed his fist into the soldier’s face, the fire within fueling his body to act without him even thinking. He screamed between blows;
“YOU- KILLED- HIM- YOU-”
But then the soldier threw Thomas off him, and they both gained their balance and stood looking at each other, panting, sweating.
“What- ,” the soldier gasped, “is wrong with you?!”
“Why did you kill him?” Thomas growled.
“What do you mean?!” the soldier demanded. “He was going to kill you!! You killed his daughter!”
Thomas stopped panting, stopped glaring at the solder.
“You blew up their house!! You were in the tank!!”
The little world that was still standing began to crumble around Thomas.
He looked down at himself, and realized that he was wearing the exact same outfit as the soldier before him; camouflage pants, jacket and boots. Pack on his back, gun slung over his shoulder.
“We got orders that we had to take out the snipers in the building! Did you FORGET?!”
The fire was spreading, running through his veins to every extreme of his body, engulfing every inch of him in the faceless burning.
“YES, LINDLEY!! IT HAPPENED!! GET OVER IT!!”
He couldn’t see, couldn’t breath over the red-hot flames.
“STOP SAYING THAT!!”
He ran over to the crumpled red mass, the girl without a face, the girl with so much to do. The flames were burning his brain, his mind, his soul.
“I did this….?”
He down into her charred face, once full of beauty and truth and life, now burnt, now dead.
“We have to go, Lindley.”
“Oh God, please no!”
“NO!!” He bent his head next to the girl, his tears falling from his living face down to the remains of hers. He felt the charred skin next to his, felt how cold and inhuman it felt.
He couldn’t control his sobs, couldn’t stop his entire body from shaking as he tried to let out some of the fire that was inside him. The emotion was so strong that he actually felt it eating his insides, felt it carving at his heart.
The soldier wrenched Thomas up, making the girl’s body fall down to the ground.
“WE HAVE TO GO!!”
The fire was too much to bear, too much to adhere to.
Thomas couldn’t take it any longer.
He grabbed the tip of the gun that the soldier held in his hands and put it to his forehead.
“DO IT!!” Thomas screamed. “KILL ME!!!”
The soldier looked at Thomas in alarm, panic flashing in his eyes.
The soldier wrenched the gun out of Thomas’ hands and took a step back.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” he shouted, no longer composed, looking fearfully at Thomas.
They both stood looking at each other, breathing heavily, each overcome with emotion. Thomas was shaking, bent over as the unnamed feeling ate at his insides. Tears still leaked out of his wild eyes, and a cloud of desperation was beginning to descend upon him.
“C’mon, Thomas,” the soldier said, his voice cracking slightly. “Let’s just go back-”
But even as he said this Thomas had already started to act, had already grabbed his own gun, had already cocked it.
He put the gun to his head.
And then everything went blank. It wasn’t white, it wasn’t dark; there was literally nothing.
He opened his eyes, and found himself sitting in a wooden chair upon a wooden porch, overlooking a somber-looking graveyard. And sitting beside him was Reverend Beasley.
A long moment passed. The Reverend was watching Thomas closely, as Thomas stared out into space, trying to grasp what he had just seen.
“I……..” His eyes focused on the Reverend. “I killed myself?”
Reverend Beasley took a deep breath.
“So it seems.”
“And….” He tried to steady his shaking voice. “I killed…”
The Reverend sighed and squinted out onto the field of tombstones, now in shadow as a cloud passed over the sun.
“You were told to.”
“Why would….how could-?!”
Thomas struggled to put what he felt into words, to try and describe the anguish within him, put nothing came. He just sat there, boiling in his rage, in his confusion.
“Come on, Thomas,” the Reverend said, standing up. “We have to go.”
The Reverend turned and looked down at Thomas.
“Obviously, we’re here for some reason,” the Reverend explained, grabbing the young man’s hand and helping him to his feet. “Why else would God have brought us here?”
Thomas had no answer. His body was once again numb and still extremely pale. Now he knew why.
“It is my job, you know,” the Reverend continued, putting a hand on Thomas’ shoulder and guiding him down the steps to the lawn, “to find meaning in….well, everything. I think we’re supposed to be here. Unless this is heaven.” The Reverend frowned. “I didn’t think it would be Oklahoma City, though. Seems like an odd choice…”
Thomas had no control over himself, didn’t feel anything as his legs moved automatically beneath him, he and the Reverend weaving through tombstones and trees as they walked. A wind had picked up, and the sun was still covered by a dark gray cloud. Raindrops whizzed past Thomas’ vision, splattering against his stony face and pale skin: still he felt nothing.
The image of the girl’s crumpled little body would not leave his mind.
“I think there’s people up ahead,” the Reverend said in a whisper, squinting through the clump of trees that they were walking towards. He walked on ahead of Thomas, peering around the grove, then suddenly straightened up, realization spreading across his face.
Thomas noticed the change in the Reverend’s tone, and moved next to him to see what the Reverend was looking at.
But then he saw it. A group of people, all gathered around a man in robes, were silent and still. They were listening to the robed man, who stood slightly above the rest, holding a black book in his hands. It was a funeral. Directly in front of the robed preacher, between him and the small crowd of people, there was a casket, uncovered and exposing the dead man who lay in it.
“Who is it?” Thomas asked, trying to stand on tiptoe to get a better view. “Who’s in the casket?”
The Reverend didn’t answer.
“Reverend?” Thomas asked, turning to his preacher. “Who is it?” The Reverend sighed.
Thomas stopped craning his neck to see over the heads of the crowd. His throat was suddenly extremely dry.
“This,” he managed to get out. “This is my funeral?”
“It would appear so,” the Reverend breathed, looking at the crowd with a slightly puzzled expression.
“I guess we should get over there.”
“Thomas,” the Reverend explained, putting a gentle hand on Thomas’ arm, “there must be a reason for our being here.”
“To see myself get buried?!” Thomas demanded.
“Yes, I admit, it’s a little barbaric, but it’s the Lord’s wish that you are here to see it. Why else would we have come to here?”
Thomas had no answer. And as if on queue, the words of the presiding priest suddenly floated over to where Thomas Lindley and Reverend Beasley stood talking.
“-gathered here to remember someone who was special to all of us in his own way, and left an impact in each of our lives. Though he has passed on, we know that he lives still in each of our hearts and our memories. “Thomas Lindley was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1987. For 21 years he lived a good life; though he never had much of a knack for school, his heart was in the right place.”
“How the hell does he know that?” Thomas growled, glaring at the priest. “I don’t even know this doucheb-”
“Shh!” Revernd Beasley warned. “Listen.”
“-attended church every Sunday, always gave his best in every one of his may ventures: sports, music, school, church and eventually, the military. He died an honorable death, fighting for the country that he loved. It was while in Baghdad that Thomas was killed, shot in the head by an Iraqi insurgent-”
“WHAT?!” Thomas bellowed, but the preacher carried on without noticing.
“-after having destroyed a supply base, saving countless lives-”
“WHAT?!?” Thomas screamed, having lost all control of himself; all that he could see was the girl, her body crumpled on the ground, surrounded by blood and dust and debris. “SAVING LIVES?!?”
“Thomas!!” Reverend Beasley called to the man marching feverishly towards the preacher and the group assembled. “They can’t hear y-”
“-who knows how many innocent lives were spared because of Thomas Lindley’s actions-”
“I KILLED HER!!!” Thomas yelled as loud as he could, having nearly reached the group. “I KILLED HER, YOU MOTHERFU-“
“-so today we gather to honor this great American hero, for that is what he truly is: an American through and through.”
“NO!!!” Thomas shrieked, almost animal-like. “I’M NOT!!!”
He reached the group of people and made to barge through the crowd and up to the priest, but as soon as he made contact with the people on the outermost edge of the group, he slammed to a halt. The people wouldn’t budge. He tried again, ramming his shoulder against a man in a black overcoat, and again, his shoulder slammed against the man as if he were made of stone.
“MOVE!!!” Thomas bellowed, trying to push the people out of the way, but having no success. “MOVE!!”
“-let us never forget Thomas Lindley and the service he had done for us. Let us not forget his bravery, even as the enemy’s bullets rained down upon him, even as he sacrificed himself to save those around him-”
“THAT-” he shouted as he slammed into person after person, “ISNT- TRUE!!!”
“-he struggled saved both Iraqi and American lives-”
“I KILLED HER!!” he screamed, tears streaming down his face contorted by rage and pain. “I KILLED HER, YOU LYING SON OF-”
“-please join me in prayer for the great sacrifice he has made to his fellow soldiers, to his family, to Iraq, to America.”
“STOP!!” Thomas shrieked, kicking and punching the people with every ounce of strength in him, screaming like a wild animal.
“Please welcome him into the Kingdom of Heaven, Lord, for here is a truly incredible person, a man worthy of the title â€˜hero’-”
He fell to the ground, sobbing and weeping, clenching clumps of grass in his hands as he writhed on the ground. Reverend Beasley stood beside him, watching him sadly as the priest continued with the prayer.
“-I hope each and every one of us can find within us the strength and courage that Thomas Lindley possessed-”
His sobs grew louder as he lay face down on the grass wet with the rain that now fell softly and steadily.
“-in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ-” The sobs now grew fainter and less hysterical, and Thomas had stopped writhing. “Amen.”
It was whispered in unision, and almost immediately after, the crowd dispersed. They slowly began walking in different ways, all in the general direction of the parking lot to the east. Reverend Beasley bent down next to Thomas.
“C’mon, Thomas,” the Reverend said. “I’m sorry, but we have to keep moving.”
Thomas didn’t answer, but simply stayed lying upon the ground.
“Thomas,” the Reverend whispered. “It’s time to go.”
His voice was choked with tears. Reverend Beasley took a deep breath.
“We have to move on, Thomas.”
“No,” Thomas said, and, with much effort, he sat up. His eyes were watery and red. “No, what I meant was….why are we here?”
“The Lord wanted us to be here.”
“He wanted me to see this?”
“I’m not sure. Yet. It will become clear soon, though. The Lord often works through mysterious ways, but in the end, all becomes clear.”
“How do you know that?” Thomas shouted, glaring up at his preacher. Reverend Beasley opened his mouth a few times, but nothing came out.
“Well?!” he shouted, glaring.
“I guess,” Reverend Beasley said, sighing, “I don’t know that for sure. I’m just hoping that’s the way it is. I mean, what else can you do?”
Thomas didn't answer. He looked at the people retreating from the casket, walking across the wet lawn towards the parking lot.
"So they," Thomas said, still breathing heavily. "They're going to believe that I'm...I'm a hero.”
The Reverend looked out at the small clump of people all dressed in black.
"Yes. They will.”
"They're going to go on thinking that I'm a great American hero, and there's nothing...nothing I can do?"
His breaths were coming sharply now, and he was sweating profusely.
"I'm going to go down in history as a...a savior?! A war hero?!"
Thomas Lindley looked up at the Reverend.
"Time? Time for what? What are you ta-"
The Reverend looked up towards the sky, and put a hand on Thomas' forehead. "Oh Lord, please welcome your son into the Kingdom of Heaven-"
"Reverend?" Thomas said, confused, but also beginning to panic as he felt his body begin to numb. "Reverend!"
"-where there is no sadness, there is no pain-"
He couldn't move his arms or his legs, and his chest was becoming so weak that he was having trouble sitting up.
"I have to go..go tell them!" He was gasping for air, and his vision was blurring.
"-so that he might spend eternity under your loving rule-"
"Reverend!" He barely got the word out before he started choking and gasping for air. He closed his eyes, hacking and coughing. He could no longer hear the Reverend's words, but could feel his hand on his head. "Reve-reverend..."
Everything was becoming extremely bright, extremely white. It was completely silent.
"Please! They...need to know..." He didn't know if he had actually said it because he didn't hear anything. He felt vocal chords emitting some sort of sound, and he hoped the Reverend had understood.
There was no feeling here, no sound, no taste, no smell. It was almost completely white, completely still and unmoving. He wondered what would happen now. He wondered where he would go.
The white departed. And all was dark.