by Michael Parra Callas

“No Gods come here, only the ones who run Underworld,” says Dart, an Underworld Monitor.

Dart is speaking to a soul on her knees, praying as if she was in a church – the Our Father, of all things. Not exactly the right act for a soul that wants to move through the nine levels of the Underworld, this being level two and her having a way to go, that is.  

The soul answers with some attitude, as if she’s repeated this a few times, “Yes, two parts of me died through the liver, me here, on level two, and the other parts of me, that died through my crown, are in the Clouds level, 8 – Is that right? – I’m split, sir. That’s why I’m praying like this.”

She raises a hand as if to wave him away, but Dart only goes where he must, even though he’s not clear why he must anything with this dead woman. He never talks to the dead. He just monitors them and keeps the system moving.

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

The woman stands now, eyes him with a shine coming in her eyes, “None of your co-workers have ever spoken to me.”

She shrugs her shoulders and stretches lightly for a moment, “I am Nest.”   When she smiles at him her eyes shine topaz.

Dart’s never seen eyes like this, not in a living person, much less a dead one. Eyes of Topaz, alive.

“Where are you taking all those arrows, Underworld Being?” asks Nest, pointing to the bundle on his back.

“If most of you,” Dart says, “is, as you say, with the Clouds now, then those parts had to pass through the Arrows level.”

“Level six, right?” she verifies.

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

“Aha,” says the lady soul who’s moved closer to Dart, “So you’re an Underworld warehouseman stocking the nine levels of deadland?”

The part of her in the Clouds, which is level 8, had to pass through level six, Dart’s territory of trials and tribulations. It surprises him he didn’t see her; it actually upsets him he didn’t see her, but he’s not going to show it.  

“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. Seeing he’s not phased, and even though she’s worried about how much energy she has left, she tries a different approach.

In a throaty tone of voice that challenges Dart’s ability to detach, Nest says, “I bet your arrows hit their mark,” then, from deeper in her throat she whispers, “I wonder how my higher parts got through your level 6 without seeing you.”

Dart takes a step back, “You know there’s only memories of sex here in Mictlan, don’t you?”

Topaz orbs beam. “I’m sorry…I’m not strong,” Nest says, and promptly drops to her knees, by all appearances, defeated and deflated, once again a desperate being.

Dart’s had plenty of illusions thrown at him as a Monitor; normally, he just cancels illusions and goes on. Today he watches, patiently even, thinks something real is happening in all this.

Suddenly Nest shapeshifts. It happens so fast Dart’s not sure “shapeshift” is the right word. The movement goes from light to dark and back again, over and over. Her eyes either shine to the sky or they are absorbed by the dead dirt where she stands.

As if a decision were handed down Nest goes immediately and gracefully upright. This time she is all curves, which Dart doesn’t fail to notice. She wears a wide red sash around a bottleneck waist. Truly a splash of life in a placewhere it has no business.  

Dart is only thinking about reaching for her when she, yet again, drops to her knees – the shine gone, yet again.

Dart puts down the bundle of arrows. He’s seen as much illusion as anyone, but all of this is not processing normally. The most baffling of all, though, is the irresistible urge to help. He can’t touch her, for certain, but he can give her a boost into level 8. He reasons it might even be allowed in certain situations.  

But now the shift really hits the fan for Dart when he perceives a memory. It’s a red-haired girl running through tall grass. Huh? Why does he think he knows her?

Here his discipline reacts. That’s ridiculous. Monitors don’t know anyone, so they don’t remember anyone either. Monitors’ only purpose is to keep the cycle of the living and dead turning as it should.

That’s when Dart just quit thinking; he still blames, and credits, the decision he’s about to make for everything that’s happened since.

Ignoring the call of duty, Dart cups his hands as he spreads his arms. A humming sound fills the air, the hands light up in violet and white, and just grow, steady but sure, eventually growing large enough to cover Nest completely. A rich, Violet Flame pours from his hands into the kneeling figure.

Nest straightens into more erect kneeling, like kneeling for communion.

“Ahhhh,” she moans, a long release, a living moan that snakes through Dart faster and more intense that he’s used to. When the “snake” passes, Dart is left wanting, but he’s not sure what. He smiles, though, when he hears a sigh of deep peace.

He un-cups his hands and they grow in reverse, back to “normal.” She is gone.

Dart picks up his load, takes two steps and materializes in level 8, the “clouds,” the last step toward Eternal Rest, level 9, where the Universe opens new options to those who pass through Underworld.

Dart peers into the clouds. There she is…astride a palomino pony. He can only imagine how she acquired that.

As energized as Nest is in these moments she can’t help but feel Dart’s eyes on her. She pauses a moment then yanks the palomino’s reins. Horse and rider spin in the air to face him. She smiles.

Dart may think his decision to help her turned his life upside down. Others think it was that smile.

She waves and rides full bore into the clouds, but Dart must talk to her sometime before she exits level 9.

(to be continued)


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