Above and beyond us was darkness—infinite darkness like a starless night. It was somehow clear, and perfect, visible through that murky darkness in which I stood. In the distance, much further than any horizon on earth, there appeared a tall, thin column of light. Seeing as it was so far away, I can’t imagine how tall it really was. Slowly it grew taller: it was approaching. It grew thicker also, faster than it grew taller. It was widening. It was coming toward us; or perhaps we were moving toward it. Though it was too far away for me to observe this, I somehow realised that the light itself was not widening, but rather the darkness was drawing apart like curtains to reveal the light behind it.
Others in my crowd began to notice the approaching light. The people around me grew nervous, pushing and panicking. All the bitter and self-righteous talk ceased, and was soon replaced with screams and shouts of warning. Now everybody was watching the light. It approached faster. It was like an expanding mountain, filling up more and more of the sky. People around me were terrified, and began violently scrambling over one another. I began to feel sick, frozen in dread. A frenzied mass of bodies shoved against me and I fell to the ground. As I struggled to clear myself from the wreck, in the darkness somebody grabbed my right hand and tried frantically to wrench away the severed ear.
“Give it to me!” a woman snarled, though I could not see her through the haze. A fist struck my face twice, and then its owner went back to prying the ear from my grip. “Let me have it!” she shrieked. I ripped my hand away from the woman and kicked out in her direction. My second kick hit her full force—in the head, I think—and knocked her back. She spat curses at me, her voice like a squealing pig, as I scurried away for dear life.
Hideous screams and wails filled the crowd. I looked out again at the approaching light—it was now upon us! It filled the sky, or burned it, or swallowed it up—I don’t know. That great light was revealed, and it was above me, before me, upon me. My heart melted. The terror I felt far surpassed the fear of imminent death, and it was inescapable. I cannot tell you the thousandth part of what it was like, but if you were to experience it for even a second you would never be the same again. That light was a destroying light. Around me was chaos and fear, and sickening cries full of regret. It is unpleasant, but if you will imagine the screams of a mother finding her young child dead, you will have some minute idea of what I heard on all sides. I too began screaming. It is frightening indeed to feel it necessary to scream, and yet know it will have no effect on your situation.
Horror set in. Fear devoured, noise tormented, and the light burned. The sound of the other crowd shook my bones; I thought I would break in pieces. Then, somehow, for some reason, in the mayhem I took the severed ear in my hand, raised it to my lips and began yelling into it. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was a cry for help. Immediately there was silence. Every voice ceased. The other crowd, now shining as clear and bright as the light above us, stopped singing too: that great light was about to speak. I wished for death. Suddenly, I was yanked backwards as though being sucked through a giant straw. I felt I was being drawn away at electric pace, but to my eyes it appeared I was being removed from the crowd slowly. The scene around me began to fade. Just before I was taken from that awful place, I noticed a young man crawling around on the ground. He saw me too. He looked at me with the most pathetic hopelessness and fear. Though he was ugly beyond any creature, I felt pity for him. Driven by some unknown instinct, I threw him the severed ear. The last I saw of that vision was the young man desperately picking up the ear and holding it like a treasure.
© 2018 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED