by Michael Parra Callas

“No Gods come here, only the ones who run Underworld,” says Dart, a Monitor, speaking to a soul on her knees praying as if she was in a church – the Our Father, of all things. Not the right act for a soul that wants to move on from the Underworld place known as “The Meeting of the Mountains,” locally called Level Two.

The soul answers as if she’s repeated this a few times, “Yes, two parts of me died through the liver, thus here, and the parts of me that died through the crown, are in the Clouds level already. I’m split. That’s why I’m praying like this.”

Without looking at Dart, she raises a hand as if to wave him away, but he only goes where he must.

“An evolved soul, I see…,” says Dart, “Not many souls even know they have soul parts. What is your name?”

The woman stands now, “I am Nest.” She shrugs her shoulders and stretches lightly for a moment, before she turns to look at Dart with the most topaz eyes he’s ever encountered.

Being an Underworld Monitor, however, he doesn’t show any reaction, but that doesn’t bother Nest. Topaz Eyes scan him, up, down and sideways, as if she was the one who should be asking the questions.

“Where are you taking all those arrows, Strange Being?” asks Nest looking at the bundle on his back.

“If most of you,” Dart says, “ias you say, is with the Clouds now, then that part of you had to pass through Temiminaloyan, ‘Where souls are chased by arrows.’”

“Level Six, right?” she verifies.

“Yes,” answers Dart, a bit surprised at how well this soul had mapped, at least some of, Underworld.

“Aha,” says the lady soul who is now quite close to Dart, “So you’re an Underworld warehouseman stocking the nine levels of Hell?”

The Clouds are Level Eight, on the way out, reasons Dart. Her desperation to pull the rest of herself up from Level Two, from the Mountains to the Clouds, explains her attitude, Dart believes. The part of her in the Clouds had to pass through Level Six, his territory of trials and tribulations.

“This is the Underworld, Mictlan,” he corrects,“and yes, part of my job is stocking the sixth level,” says Dart.

Nest observes him with those somewhat mesmerizing Topaz soul portals. Dart must remind himself of who he is, so as not to react.

Seeing he’s not phased; Nest tries a different approach.

“Ooh, I can see you have some Macho in you,” she says full of challenge, then in a lower, more throaty voice, “I bet your arrows hit their mark,” then, even throatier, whispers, “I wonder how my higher parts got through your level.”

Dart takes a step back. This cheap shot, roadside illusion, gets a seven at best. He doesn’t say that, but reminds her of something he’s sure she knows, “You know there’s only memories of sex here in Mictlan, don’t you?”

In response, the Topaz orbs shine up at him. Then she abruptly drops back to her knees, by all appearances, defeated and deflated once again, the topaz shine now reflecting off Underworld dirt.

Dart’s had plenty of illusions thrown at him as a Monitor, and usually he’d just cancel the illusion and go on, but he decides to watch patiently. Dart still wonders to this day if that was the right decision.

The Woman on her knees, in her apparent depression, now adds another dimension to her illusion. She shapeshifts. It happens so fast Dart’s not sure “shapeshift” is the right word for it. He notices it does take time, an element that doesn’t get much play in Underworld.

Now she brings a triumphant Nest, a “Full Topaz Lady,” with a wide red sash around a slim waist, and all her curves exactly where they should be.

When that bite of time passes, the wretched soul with the topaz eyes returns in full misery.

Dart puts down the bundle of arrows. Although he’s seen more illusion than any human can imagine, all of this is not processing normally. All he seems to know is that he can help. He can’t touch her, for sure, but he can give the soul stuck in Level Two a boost closer to the rest of her in Level Eight. It’s allowed in certain situations.   

Somewhere in the shifting and the thinking, Dart perceives a foreign feeling moving about inside him. It’s decidedly alien, but then why does it feel familiar like a memory awakened?

His discipline kicks in. That’s ridiculous. Monitors don’t know anyone, so they don’t remember anyone either. Their only purpose is to keep the cycle of the living and dead running as it should.

Dart cups his hands and spreads them. A humming sound fills the air, the hands light up violet and grow fast. Remaining Dart’s hands, the cupping grows large enough to cover the shifting soul. Within that cupping Dart releases more of the Violet Flame on Nest.

His hands sense Nest’s kneeling figure straighten up, like kneeling for communion. Then Nest moans a long release, a moan alive, snaking through Dart. Finally, the snake sensation evaporates, leaving Dart wanting more.

He is happy for her, however, when she sighs a deep peace. Parts in reunion, it seems. Dart un-cups his hands; they return to normal size. Indeed, she is gone.

Dart picks up his load, takes two steps and materializes “Where the Clouds Become Darker,” the last step to Eternal Rest, where the Universe opens new options to those who pass through the Underworld.

Dart peers into the Clouds, knows he will spot her. And there she is.

Dart sees Nest rides a palomino pony, and as he spots her, Horse and Rider turn in the air. She smiles from the Topaz, at him. Gratitude? She waves and rides full bore into the Clouds.

Dart knows, but can’t explain it yet, that he must talk to her before she leaves Underworld, sometime before she exits Level Nine. It won’t be easy. Feeling strange but determined, he says, “Shooting above one’s pay grade is always conflicting.”


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